Saturday, November 22, 2014

D&D Tools Website Falls to a WotC "Cease & Desist"

I'm going to post the link to what's left at the D&D Tools website as well as their latest (last?) post, but I'd like to make some observations first.

The D&D Tools website was up for 5 years and it's only now that WotC has gotten around to a "Cease & Desist."

It's not like it was a hidden website. It's Alexa ranking is 114,870. For comparison purposes, ENWorld comes in at 44,688 and The Tavern at 237,743. It's highly doubtful that WotC had no idea that D&D Tools existed. (Google is, of course, #1)

Is it that the 3x era OGL rules that were referenced were too close to 5e? Or was there a fear that the current OGL could allow D&D Tools to replicate the 5e rules?

Just some thoughts. In any case, here's the last post at the D&D Tools site...

D&D Tools – End of an Era...

Hello everyone,

TGG here. As you have probably gathered, we have received a Cease and Desist letter from WotC (well, from a law company under WotC rule). I'd like to take some time now to comment on this.

I started D&D tools some five years ago as a tool for me to find "all the feats that affect criticals". From then, it grew up a lot, both in content and audience.

At the time of this letter, the site served roughly 1.000.000 pages a week.

100 races.

500 items.

1.000 classes.

3.000 feats.

5.000 spells.

Everything was interlinked with each other. Feats listed requirements as links. You could find what a class had for prerequisite and click it right away. Wanted to know what spells are there available for a class in campaign settings? No problem. Lots and lots of filtering and searching.

At November 14, 2014, I've received a letter requesting that we put the site down. As of now I have to comply, since I have neither time nor law skills nor resources to do otherwise. Also, I'm not allowed to post the letter itself here.

... about future?

First of all, the site itself is open source project. The sources are my intellectual property and I'm free to share them as I wish. About a year ago I created a repository at github – https://github.com/dndtools/dndtools. The setup notes might not be up to date, but it's possible to get it running with OGL contents. Since it was there long before the C&D letter, I feel free to share the knowledge.

Second, there is also great mobile app for android a Google Play (sorry iPhone users). It comes with full OGL contents. If you are friends with Uncle Google or Web Archive, you might even find a more interesting database for it. I myself cannot claim to be the creator of it, so please do give some love to the author on the app page!

Third, since the sources codes are available for public use and the database itself was distributed among users, there is nothing in my power to prevent others to try to resurrect the site.

Final words

I want to thank very much to all the people who put a lot of effort to see the site grow! Without you, it could never have grown into what it did. Thanks!

I'd also like to say something to WotC. The game you created is great. I spend a lot of time playing it. You have moved to 4e and then 5e. Why do you try to destroy what your fans have created? Things that can help players, that encourages them to play more? (I'm talking about all the sites that went down over the years) You'd better invest the money into creating something yourself than to spend it on law companies...

tgg out.

Castle of the Mad Archmage - Session Report "Whatever" - More Fun Than a Barrel Full of Drunken Monkeys!

We had a blast during last night's session of the "B" Team's adventuring in the Castle of the Mad Archmage.

+Douglas Cole says it was six weeks since out last session - it felt longer than that. Our last session was postponed due to me being sick and rescheduling wasn't easy to do. To make up for it, we are aiming to get our next session in in two weeks.

+Peter V. Dell'Orto , +Tim Shorts and Doug rounded out our regular trilogy and +Joe D and +Reece Carter brought out numbers to five for the night. First time in a long time that all four core class rolls were covered even if three of the five are pure fighters.

The group descended from level 3 to 4 last night, which surprised me as much as anyone else, as i couldn't find the stairs down on the map if my life depended on it (like I said, our break from last session was a long one.) Amazingly enough, the party found it in about 10 minutes of play (intermingled with about 50 minutes of bullshitting at the time.)

Level 4 should be a blast. As +Joseph Bloch said elsewhere, level 4 of CotMA is chuck full of role play opportunities should the party accept it. If not, there are stairs leading to lower levels (and possible death.)

I award my players a 10% experience point bonus if they do a write up of the session. Thus far, Doug, Peter and Tim have done so. Click the links and enjoy yourself. I know we did.

Knocking Your Noggin - Helmets in AD&D

Last night during our more or less monthly delve into the Castle of the Mad Archmage, obscure rules from the AD&D 1e Dungeon Masters Guide came up. For me, one of the classics is the rule for helmets on page 28 of the DMG:
It is assumed that an appropriate type of head armoring will be added to the suit of armor in order to allow uniform protection of the wearer. Wearing of a "great helm" adds the appropriate weight and restricts vision to the front 60" only, but it gives the head AC 1. If a helmet is not worn, 1 blow in 6 will strike at the AC 10 head, unless the opponent is intelligent, in which case 1 blow in 2 will be aimed at the AC 10 head (d6, 1-3 = head blow).
I always found this to be a strange rule for a game with an abstract combat system and no called shots rule.

Not that we didn't try using this for a while, but it didn't make much sense for us. If you couldn't "call a shot" in the game as written how could you "call a shot" for an unarmored head?

It was least painful to the magic-users (whose magical armor and bracers covered them head to toe) than it was to other combatants whose armor (magic or otherwise) only protected from the neck down.

Also, what kind of AC does a chain coif or leather helm give? 5 and 8 respectively probably, but EGG doesn't say.

About the only thing helmets protected from in our campaigns was ear seekers, and you had to removed your helmet to listen anyway...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Lulu Hardcovers 50% Off Thru November 24th

I'm kinda glad that my Lulu card crashed the other night and I was too pissed to go through the motions a second time, because I found this over at +joseph browning 's Sorcery & Super Science blog:
FYI - Lulu's having a big sale - 50% off hardcovers (HC50) and 30% off softcovers (FLASH30) until midnight on Nov, 24, 2014.
Damn Lulu! Damn you to hell!

Ah well, just adding to the bandwidth.

Pandantilus - Petty God of Gong Farmers - In Technicolor!

Props to +Jim Magnusson . B&W version will be appearing in Petty Gods :)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Let's Open our Books to Chapter 7 - Centerstage Miniatures Files for Bankruptcy (No Surprise There)

Our New "Fucked up Kickstarter Mascot" thanks to Jim Magnusson
So, remember they fiasco otherwise known as CenterStage Miniatures various Kickstarters, in particular Tome of Horrors Complete - 28mm Heroic Scale Miniatures. Well, it appears the final shoe has dropped - Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been filed. Now, like true venture capitalists, backers can expect to get back pennies on their dollars - if they are lucky. Woot!

From the comments on the Tome of Horrors Complete Kickstarter from earlier today (not my comments - I didn't back this train wreck):
After filing a complaint with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office last week, I received 2 correspondences from the attorney Matt has retained to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It was clear in the letter, and his response to my questions, that he (the attorney) is still waiting on Matt to provide a bunch of documents so that they can proceed with the Chapter 7 filing. It looks like we are considered “customer deposit creditors” in this case, (but remember, I Am Not An Attorney).  
It was mentioned that there was a review of the possible sale of his business by Mortal Arrow LLC, but the bottom line was that Matt realized it would not resolve all the problems or guarantee that all creditors would be paid (that could mean us, or other businesses/entities). It was emphasized that Matt was not happy going this route, but it seemed inevitable.
So from here (once all the paperwork is filed, court costs paid, etc. , there will be a Court supervised liquidation sale. The attorney indicated that “For the purposes of distribution in the Bankruptcy context, consumer deposits for undelivered services and products have the highest priority under the Bankruptcy Code.  
He also indicated that a business entity might be willing to purchase the inventory, molds, customer list/goodwill of the business for a significant enough sum from the Bankruptcy Estate to warrant a meaningful distribution to creditors  
When the Bankruptcy case is filed, all creditors will receive notice in the mail of the date set for the “debtor’s examination” and other terminal dates. You may attend the Debtor’s examination or you may review the Petition once filed. It is public record and It will disclose all assets and all creditors. 
So, there you have it. A Shit sandwich for all.

The success of the various Kickstarters killed CenterStage Miniatures as they apparently failed the basic math of funding less fees (Amazon & Kickstarter) less additional cost of generous stretch goals must => cost to fulfill and ship rewards.

Again, thanks to +Jim Magnusson for the generous use of his art ;)

Dragon, Dungeon, Adventurer and Other Magazines Archived and more (AnnArchive)

So, earlier today I was looking for a cover picture of Dragon Magazine #68 for my post on weather in RPGs. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled on an archive of Dragon Magazine, Dungeon Magazine, Adventurer (mid 80's RPG mag from the other side of the pond) and a whole lot more.

I give to you:


Scroll down and I see Amber Diceless

Wacky Weather - Six Feet Under (Buffalo & Homlet, Perfect Together)

Looking at the weather in upstate New York, where parts of Buffalo are looking at 6 feet of snow, it makes me think of the campaign I had that died before the players ever reached their destination. Not because of random encounters but due to random weather.

The party was going to adventure in the village of Homlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil, but they had to get there first. We had decided it was winter in the campaign (as it was for us in real life at the time) and I broke out Dragon Magazine #68 (found a link to the PDF here) and used the enclosed weather system to add some realism.

This was fairly early in my gaming career (if you can call it that) and I was very much "play it as it rolled." We didn't fudge.

Well, the damn weather system dropped 5 1/2 feet of snow on the ill prepared party in less than 2 days, with temperatures remaining below freezing for at least the next few days. The party had no shelter. They were first level and were lucky to have bed rolls.

They died.

We never used the weather system again.

Come to think of it, that was my first and only TPK inflicted without rolling an attack roll (or ten) against the party.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kickstarter - Silent Legions (OSR Sandboxed Modern Horror)

+Kevin Crawford has done some excellent Kickstarters. Spears of the Dawn and Scarlet Heroes are both great games, shipped early and put an amazing amount of quality art that was released to the gaming public (and publishers) to use for free (here, here and here)

This time around we get an OSR Sandboxed Modern Horror RPG - Silent Legions.

Kevin explains it better than I can:
Silent Legions is a modern-day Lovecraftian role-playing game, one built to support a sandbox style of gaming and the creation of your own diabolical Mythos. While compatible with the Stars Without Number game system and many other classic old-school games, Silent Legions is built to stand alone and provide you with everything you need to develop a grim world of unspeakable occult secrets and mad, sorcerous scheming. 
Silent Legions is 160+ pages of specially-designed material to help a game master create their own cosmic evils and mysterious alien powers. Rather than simply recycle the traditional Cthulhu Mythos baddies, Silent Legions gives you the tools and techniques to make your own, the better to shock and dismay your players with fresh horrors that haven't already been wrung dry by familiarity. The creatures and cults the game helps you build are also fully compatible with most classic OSR games, allowing you to export them to other settings or mix and match with material you've drawn in from your other games. 
More than that, Silent Legions is designed to help a GM create a true sandbox horror campaign. Instead of sending the hapless investigators along an intricate story arc, the GM creates a region, seeds it with points of interest, and then uses the tools in the book to quickly and easily create content for the heroes wherever they may go. The faction tools help keep the nefarious cults in motion even when the heroes are otherwise engaged, and both players and GMs are allowed the special excitement of not knowing how their desperate struggles are actually going to end. Will they crush the insidious powers of darkness, or will they miss some cyst of evil until it is far too late?
It is, quite simply, the horror game I've been waiting for. How can I be sure? Because the moment I pledged, I was able to download the the complete draft of Silent Legions.

I think it's going to work very well with some one on one play with my wife.

Yes, color me very impressed.

Oh, and it funded in less than 24 hrs. And than some. Hoy shit...

Does Your Party Use Henchmen / Hirelings?

Back in my early days of RPG gaming (late 90's) all of our PCs had henchmen, but we rarely if ever used them. I'm not sure we understood the concept 100%, as we saw henchmen as "the new PC to replace my old PC when he dies and gets to inherit all of his shit."

Heck, even the old TSR adventures that had pregens (because they were inevitably originally tournament modules) didn't include henchmen. The adventures were balanced (if we can dare say that word) apparently to not need henchmen.

In the late 80s to mid 90s - the college years - my players experimented with a henchmen or two, but they inevitably became "party henchmen" or even "party controlled (N)PC." More than an NPC, less than a PC, controlled by the players with final decision making by the DM.

Yeah, I don't know if we ever really grasped the concept ;)

So, did you use henchmen / hirelings back in the day? Do you use them now?

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Name That Island! (Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting)

Way back in early October I played around with opening up a small sandbox setting i had mapped out using Hexographer to the community based here at The Tavern. I figured if a dozen folks decided to work on bits and pieces it would be a success.

Six weeks and 128 G+ Community members later, The Tenkar's Landing Crowdsourced Sandbox Setting has literally exploded beyond my wildest dreams.

I am forever in the debt of +Milton Murphy and all the other 126 members of the community (128 less Milton and myself ;)

In any case, we did a huge poll on the G+ Community side and whittled the list of possible names of the main island of the setting down to these six:


Scarlet Coast

Dun Halden

Eilean Dubh (Black Isle)

Tangrell Island

Windbreak Isle

When the setting gets released to the gaming community at large, it will under the name that is picked via the poll in the upper right hand corner of this page. The poll will be open for a week.

Here's your chance to have a part in naming a setting. How cool is that? :)

Just 30 Hrs Left in the Death & Taxes Boxed Adventure Set Kicktarter (OSR / Pathfinder / 5e?)

The Death & Taxes Kickstarter is down to it's last 30 hrs or so. If you haven't pledged yet and you were a backer of Whisper & Venom, obviously you somehow never got the message.

In case you don't already know, the Whisper & Venom Kickstarter (predecessor of the Death & Taxes Kickstarter) was one of the most successful Kickstarters I've backed. Not by money raised, but based on what the backers got for their money. A complete boxed adventure, minis, dice, a beautiful map - and the shit was on time. +Zach Glazar understands Kickstarter.
Death & Taxes is Lesser Gnome's follow-up box set to Whisper & Venom. It was nominated for an ENnie, for those of you who are into that sort of thing. Twice!* 
Death & Taxes is an adventure for 4-7 players using characters level 4-6. Although designed for classic rules, the ultimate goal is to create total conversions of the game for popular modern systems. Once the goals for project funding and the backer surpass the initial stretch goal targets all options are on the table, As backers, you will have a seat at that table to decide which one will happen first! Look for the results to be revealed in our Stretch Goals section as the campaign progresses. The Gnomes are ready start to translating Death & Taxes into Pathfinder/OGL and (we hope) fifth edition compatible versions. 
The Premise 
South of the Whisper Vale lies a land of gentle slopes with forests and greenswards. Small townships have sprouted alongside decayed municipalities. The area’s sparse populations are independent and self-reliant. Sporadic trade and a dim memory of avaricious rulers connect them.
So, here's what you get for your $70 bucks with Death & Taxes right now (although with so many easily reached stretch goals lined up, the list is sure to grow):

Currently included in the Deluxe Box Set-

2 Books-

Setting Guide
Adventure Guide
Chessex Dice plus 2 Custom Gnome Dice
24" x 18" Poster Map Monster Cards
PDF Copy Tokens and Maps for Virtual Tabletops

14 Miniatures (this is the $40 mini pack too)

Goblin Herald
Bone Byrgh
Torlings x3

Add-on Figurines

The Auditor ($15)
Hydra ($20)
Coming up in the last 48

125 Backers- PDF for each system release. Annoying choices no longer required.

$16,000- GM Map Reference Booklet

$16,500- Signature Dice Upgrade (Deluxe Box & Up) and Dice Bags (All Boxes)

$16,750 For whom the bell gnolls (first custom gnoll figurine unlocked)

$17,250 For whom the bell gnolls, part deux (second custom gnoll figurine unlocked)

$17,500 Fifth Edition Conversion* Option

$17, 750 Second Pack of three Torlings join the swarm.

$18,000 Hydra Fountain Terrain Set

*This option will start conversion in May of 2015 (After Pathfinder). It is dependent on a friendly interpretation of the OGL from WotC. Other, more prominent, game companies have started producing titles for it. Why should they have all the fun?

PWYW - The Lizardmen of Illzathhatch (OSR)

My first reaction upon seeing The Lizardmen of Illzathatch was "how did I miss this?" Then I noticed it released yesterday, so I didn't really miss it ;)
The green dragon Illzathatch has been dispatched by local heroes “The Shields of Atreu”, thus ending his reign of terror across the countryside.  Only one problem remains, the adventuring party left to raid the lair of the dragon, they have not been seen since.  
A OSR Module for 4 - 6 Characters Levels 3
No, I haven't read it yet (probably tonight) but the price is right - Pay What You Want.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Axes & Anvils - Resurrected (again) - Andrew Shields Writing (again) - Will Nystul F@ck it up? (again)

"It's like deja-vu, all over again."

Yogi Berra

It certainly is Yogi. It certainly is.

The Wandering Wizard has put Axes & Anvils in +Andrew Shields capable hands. It's not the first time Mike has done so, and I highly suspect the moment Andrew submits something that is highly improved on Mike's last attempt, Mike will inevitably pull a Nystul and pull the plug on Andrew.

Still, in the realm of things Nystulian, there is now a glimmer of hope.

Here's the latest update from the Axes & Anvils Kickstarter fiasco:

New Designer (Update #76)
It has been a tough couple of years. 
At this time, I am attempting to pull my life together and get to a level of stability with my health and my finances. I am also trying to make good on the Kickstarter projects that I owe my backers. Trying to do all this at once is hard on my focus and my morale. In the end, the only way I will ever be able to complete my Kickstarter obligations is if I get to a point where I have more discretionary time, income, and energy. 
I need to concentrate on getting my own life together. However, I do not want to completely suspend progress with Axes and Anvils until I can give it more attention. I have brought Andrew Shields on to get the Axes and Anvils project to the next level of development. He will take the draft that was developed for playtesting and released in July 2013, and continue work on it with his own design style. The foundational concepts and design goals that inspired my vision of Axes and Anvils will be the base for Andrew’s work on the project, and I will still offer feedback and advice. 
On the project home page, I laid out my plan for the game. These principles will guide Andrew as he continues the work on Axes and Anvils. These are the criteria we will use to judge the game’s success: 
What can you expect? 
Dwarfiness: Everything about the game is intended to put players into the right frame of mind to play dwarves. It is a celebration of all things Dwarf from what a Dwarf's beard says about him to what the deal is with Dwarven women. 
Simplicity: Because this is a niche game many people will turn to for a "pick up and play" experience the system has to be simple and character creation has to be fast and fun. It is possible to create a Dwarven clan and a full party of 4 to 6 player characters in under an hour. 
Cooperation: Whenever possible the game places more value on "we" than "me". Your party works together to solve whatever problems face their clan. The combat system is also structured around team play. Work together and victory shall be yours - fight alone and face an ignominious defeat. 
The design is axiomatic, meaning a few simple rules drive everything instead of having a special case rule for every situation that could arise. Character development is based on the idea that you start simply and add depth as the campaign unfolds, which allows players to get started quickly and learn any complexities they may add as they go along. 
A key concept is that the Dwarven Clan is treated as a character unto itself. As you develop as individuals the Clan for which you fight will gain respect and wealth. Your Clanhome will also expand to suit your needs. This gives an Axes and Anvils campaign a focus that many games lack right out of the gate. 
This decision has not been easy for me. However, I believe that bringing Andrew back on the project is what is best for everyone at this time. 
At this point it is too soon to project out reliable timelines. There will be an update at the end of November that will have a lot more information. 
For now, please join me in welcoming Andrew Shields as designer on Axes and Anvils!

Lulu Has a 35% Off Sale Through Dec 2

Huge thanks to +Jason Paul McCartan over at OSRToday for pointing out that Lulu is running an amazing sale. 35% of through Dec 2, 2014 for those that use the coupon code SAVE35. It's a one time only use code, so fill your cart and make that one time purchase.

I'll put up a post tonight or tomorrow with some of my picks but I wanted to get this code into your hands as quickly as possible :)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ah Sh!t, Another Kickstarter Post! Let Me Link a Blog Post From 2007 in the Comments in Protest!

I'm passionate about the OSR and a huge part of the OSR overlaps with Kickstarter projects. They are easily the number one and number two topics I cover here at the blog. That's not a secret.

If you don't like my OSR posts, don't read them. Same goes for the Kickstarter posts. Don't read what you don't like.

Do not, however, drop 7 year old links to some random blog posts because you do not like the topic.

Andre is entitled to his opinion. See, I didn't delete his rant, I just deleted his random link.

I have an EXTREMELY light touch as a moderator of the comments here at The Tavern. If I delete a half dozen posts a year that's a lot, and it probably also includes the handful of spam that makes it past Google's screening.

I like to encourage conversation. Random blog links are not conversation. Just a small note, I DO allow links within comments that are on topic or nearly so, but shit like the above just pisses me off.

Oh, Andre had been dropping links for a while, but this time he was nowhere near the broadside of a barn...

The Tavern's Free Pick of the Week - Blackmarsh (Sandbox OSR Setting)

In case you missed it, the suits over at RPGNow have no idea what a quality free RPG product actually is. Their last weekly pick was the antithesis of what such a highlighted product should be. It might even be consider an insult to anyone of average intelligence or higher.

So, how do we rectify such a miscarriage of gaming justice?

With a Free RPG Pick of the Week here at The Tavern. In this case, I'll be including PWYW in the mix, as they are free with the option to tip.

What's out first Free RPG Pick of the Week?

The OSR classic - Blackmarsh by +Rob Conley 
In the days when man knew only the working of stone and fought for their existence against the orc and the goblin, the sky turned to ash and down fell the fiery mountain onto the land. The world tore open and the grey waters rushed in. 
Those who survived the impact were lost as boiling clouds rushed out in all directions leaving a wasteland in its wake. 
The Mountain That Fell left a gift; magic. Near and far, those of learning and strong of heart discovered new powers to shape the world. In the desolation around the Smoking Bay the adventurous found viz, magic in physical form. And there was more, scattered amid the landscape were strange artifacts and stranger creatures that survived The Mountain That Fell. For a time men, dwarves, orc, goblins, and other races braved the dangers and fought each other in the wastelands. Then the elves came into Blackmarsh expelled the feuding races, drove the monsters out, and healed the land. 
In the present day, many come to Blackmarsh to harvest viz, kill monsters, or seek the strange artifacts left by The Mountain That Fell. The only force that stands against the wilderness is the Blackmarsh Rangers. Anyone who is willing to defend the land and its people are welcomed into their ranks. Powerful kingdoms outside of Blackmarsh are beginning cast a covetous eyes toward the land's riches. Will the adventurers of your campaign become wealthy and powerful? Or will their bones join the many that have sunk into the swamps? 
Blackmarsh is a complete, ready to run setting for your campaign. It can be run as its own setting or an expansion of your existing world. Contained in Blackmarsh are 17 geographical entries, 78 described locales, and one detailed town; Castle Blackmarsh. Each entry provide one or more adventure hooks to use in your campaigns.
Blackmarsh is free in PDF and a mere $4.95 in print. I've run it in the past and will probably do so again in the future.
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and Humble Bundle as well as Patreon. Your patronage is appreciated and helps keep the
lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

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