Saturday, February 7, 2015

I Can Write That Quick Start in 2 (or 4 half) Pages - Thoughts on a Home Game Quickstart Doc for Far Away Land

As most of you know, my weekly Saturday Night group plays via Roll20 / Google+ Hangouts. It has most of the benefits of playing at the dining room table without the drawback of driving and cleaning up after a half dozen people afterwards.

It does have a noticeable drawback - you can't pass the rulebook around the table as you would in a face to face game.

This hasn't been an issue with most of the games we play as most of the OSR rulesets are available for free in PDF (often in "art free versions") or they hue close enough to the rules they are modeled on that one can always pull out the original edition rules for the session.

The same is not the case with Far Away Land and I can't expect to strong-arm my group into ponying up for a game system sight unseen, even if a few have already expressed interest in playing, as in "When are you going to run FAL!?!"

I figure I can explain character creation, boons, flaws, gear and task resolution in about 2 pages with maybe a paragraph explaining the default setting. Or maybe 4 pages, so it could be printed out on a single sheet of 8 1/2 x 11, folded in half like a pamphlet and insertable in the printed book as a handy reference sheet.

I really want to run a session in 2 or 3 weeks, and I think something like this is really necessary for my group's situation.

Assuming I can put this together with all of the curve balls real life has been throwing lately, I'll reach out to Simian Circle Games and see is this is something they would allow me to distribute on a larger level (or if they would want to do so.)

Speaking of that weekly game, the time is near as I write this!

Android Users - Games Workshop's Talisman is the Free App of the Day at Amazon

Talisman was the go to board game for my gaming group throughout high school and college. It was a blast and a half.

Today only (and there are only 6 hours left in "today" as I post this) it is the free app of the day in the Amazon Android App Store.

The price is right and I've just installed it on my phone (I'll put it on my tablet later.)

Frog God Games is Kicking of a "Daily Deals" Promotion on Monday

The link to sign up is here.

I don't have any further information on this promotion (that's a hint to the powers that be that they may want to spill some more beans ;)

Deals start Monday and you can be sure I'll be highlighting some of the more exceptional ones (at least in my opinion) here at The Tavern but remember, these deals only last for 24 hrs each, so you need to strike fast for the ones you want.

Mini Review - Isle of the Rat Wizard (Far Away Land - PWYW)

If there is a single sentence that defines how Isle of the Rat Wizard is written and meant to be used, it is this:
Maybe the bridge is worn and once the PCs and ratlings are fighting, it begins to collapse or break apart?

Maybe not.

The DM decides.

Isle of the Rat Wizard is about options. It is effectively a mini sandbox. The players have a goal (get off the isle) and an offer for help if they help the small settlement in return, but that's it.

There is no script. There is no hidden flow chart.

NPC, monsters, locations, items, random encounter charts (and a random weather chart) and "go!"

From what I've read so far, the mini adventures in the Far Away Land series of adventures are episodic, with each adventure it's own little sandbox.

Isle of the Rat Wizard is 7 pages long, 5 pages when you remove the front and back covers. Priced at Pay What You Want.

From the blurb:

A mysterious island with a big skull shaped mountain. A jungle full of ratlings. A crazed ratling wizard with a magical amulet. A town who needs heroes. Are you up to the challenge? Isle of the Rat Wizard is the first module in a series of Far Away Land RPG mini-adventures.

This mini-adventure module is designed to be a primer for GMs. Each of our mini-adventure modules provide a history and context for the adventure as well as location descriptions, maps, weather guide, wandering monsters, NPCs, items/treasure, and a list of adventure ideas and scenarios that can be played out during the adventure. Isle of the Rat Wizard is 5 pages and full color.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Roll20 is Hiring - Part Time Online DM - If Only This Was February 2016 ;)

Roll20 is looking to hire a part time DM / GM for live game broadcasts and Q&A sessions. If only this were 12 months from now and I was a newly retired civil servant. Much like my bartender said on Wednesday, after I had 5 rounds bought for me by a guy that won $20 grand in one of the Superbowl pools - "Timing is everything."

So, it's not a good for for me, but it might be a good fit for you:

Note - US only apparently

Far Away Land - Tome of Awesome - Hardcover in Hand

I ordered Far Away Land - Tome of Awesome on Sunday. Five days later I have it in hand. That is probably the quickest turn around I've seen from Lightning Source / OneBookShelf.

The pages look nice and crisp. I don't see any bleed through, and this book is chuck full of full color art.

Tomorrow the plan is to look at the setting material. I must say the maps look very nice. I wonder if they used Hexographer.

I've got some ideas for adventure seeds or encounters using Far Away Land. I'm sure they'll be post here on the blogside, but I'll probably also cross post to The Tavern's underused forums. I'm surprised at the lack of activity on the official FAL's forums, so I'll see if we can have some success over here.

I apologize for the slow pace of posting, especially this week and probably into next. Wearing two hats at work, writing a "Dummies Guide" for every procedure and responsibility my unit has AND writing an updated section for the bureau's guide regarding my unit's responsibilities.

Far Away Land has been the perfect distraction ;)

Thursday, February 5, 2015

If Only All Publishers Were This Responsive to Criticism (Far Away Land)

A few days ago, in my initial post about Far Away Lands (which for some damn reason I always want to pluralize. Much like my constant substituting of "Time Shorts" for +Tim Shorts ;) I mentioned I had two minor criticisms.

1 - copy / paste was disabled in the Far Way Lands: Tome of Awesome

2 - the PDF lacked bookmarks.

Lo and behold, what do I see in my email this morning?

Now that is a boatload of Simian awesome :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Frog God is Offering 15% Off at Their Site Through Feb 15th

You can go to the Frog God website here> Frog God

The Myth & Magic Player's Guide Kickstarter - Still Shoveling Sh!t After Nine Months of Silence

Are you still waiting on delivery of your Myth & Magic Player's Guide? If so, you may be the victim of nefarious forces located within the US Postal Service. Seriously:
I just wanted to post an update, albeit terribly overdue (Hey folks. Grumpy here. Let me just state for the record, 9 months isn't "terribly overdue", it's "stick you head in a hole like an ostrich overdue"), to let you know things are back on track as of January 19th, the day I was able to secure some loan money and earmark personal funds to complete the GMG project and to ensure that all orders are fulfilled. It was senseless to update you during the process of securing the funds (because an update instead of 9 months of silence would be... senseless), since it was a total roller coaster and I had no idea what to expect. 
Player's Guide Domestic Shipping: I shipped all domestic orders via priority mail (emphasis mine) and although only a few came back to me, most show a confirmed delivery and some do not. I want to make sure that everyone receives their books. (not one comment to this update indicates a book received.)
If you did not receive your PG order, something happened (or didn't happen - most likely, Tom didn't mail shit). Either I did not have your correct address or something else got screwed up. I just set up a new email address to ensure I have your most up-to-date information. If you did not get your book(s), please send me your name, backer level and updated address. Use the following email: imfullofshit@wasteddreams.doh

Here's a telling comment to this update:
I'll be blunt - I do not believe you when you say you have shipped the domestic orders, because SURELY someone would have made mention of this fact (given that it would have been quite from the blue). 
I personally have received nothing, and I'm pretty sure that the same address information that worked for a KS that funded and delivered within the last year was what you got, given that I haven't moved in a decade. 
I'd love to be proved wrong on this, but I believe that this update is more owing to my repeatedly contacting KS Support about the GMG project not delivering ANYTHING and them then contacting you as opposed to any progress being actually made.
Because we all know Tom is a font of honesty (Update from December 5th, 2013)
I have a lot of returned mailings to send out (or un-mailed mailings - returned from "storage" perhaps), mostly wrong addresses, some mailings that slipped through the cracks, and a lot of international mailings. Everything will get done by or right after the holidays. The list grows and of course so too does everything else in my life at this time of year. I generally take a week right after the holidays to decompress so that will provide me the time necessary to punch it out.
Do I believe in Tom's honesty and integrity? Not after he posted my shipping info in the comments of the project for all to see. I had to complain to Kickstarter, and they promptly removed it. Why did he do such? Because Tom didn't appreciate me calling him on his shit.

BTW, I do have my copy. I may sign it and donate it to the NTRPGCon Midnite Auction. I know they got stiffed on the books themselves.

Want more perspective on this? +Jason Paul McCartan over at OSRToday makes some excellent observations.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What Do You Look for in an RPG That You REALLY Want to Run?

I have my go to rulesets, with Swords & Wizardry leading the charge. I feel comfortable with S&W, much like a favorite pair of shoes.

As you can see from my recent postings, Far Away Land has me really excited. I want to run some story arcs - 2-4 sessions, then take a break for a 6-8 weeks, and then bring the players back for another arc. It really seems to be a system built for such, and I think the breaks are good for keeping the system, setting, and quirkiness fresh.

What excited you with newly found RPGs? What newly found RPGs really excite you and why?

Peering Deeper into Far Away Land - Tome of Awesome ("Adventure Time" Styled Fantasy Heartbreaker with Heart) - The Sandbox and Beyond

You know what part of adventures I always just skim and never read through thoroughly before running them?

The backstory.

Most of the time it seems to me that the backstory is the adventure writer's excuse to show their chops at writing fiction. It's usually a less than successful attempt and rarely, if ever, has direct effect on what the players will learn and encounter in the adventure.

How does Far Away Land handle backstory in the Companion Rules?

Less is more. Fast and loose. Start small and build out. Perfect.

The whole section on adventure building is actually pretty good and easily carries over to just about any RPG you'd like to cobble together an adventure for.

There is a table with 26 adventure ideas, each define by one or two words, such as "Get In, Get Out" (exception that proves the rule) or "Justice". Each of those one or two words is then given three or four example Adventure Ideas of two sentences each. Seeds to plant ideas in the GMs mind.

For "Get In, Get Out", one of the seeds are as follows:

The Settlement Builder looks like a quick and dirty way to get an idea about various villages and towns (and smaller and larger communities) and gives you enough to present to your players without bogging down in the details.

Heck, it even includes a table of 125 rumors. Nearly any one of these could be the seed to an adventure, especially if you are playing fast and loose with your sandbox.

Did I mention that the Companion Rules also cover such diverse aspects such as setting up kingdoms and mass combat? How about it's own take on Microscope, allowing the players and the GM to build their own world and it's history together.

Or just use the world provided in the next part - Tales of Awesome - which I will look at next.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Peering Deeper into Far Away Land - Tome of Awesome ("Adventure Time" Styled Fantasy Heartbreaker with Heart) - Concise & Complete Descriptions

Longtime readers of The Tavern may recall my pondering of a universal and easy to read stat block for OSR games, much like Classic Traveller's stat block. It never went anywhere, but I really appreciate it when a monster description or a spell description can cover the necessary bases without rambling on. My attention span post chemo (years post chemo) is not what it once was when presented with walls of text.

You can imagine my pleasant surprise when I started reading the spell descriptions in Far Away Land. No blocks of text but still able to present everything the caster needs.

First line - name of spell and level of spell
Second line - damage if any and range (a # in parentheses indicates a radius effect)
Third line - duration - rounds, minutes hours, whatever - the amount is determined directly by level of the caster
Fourth line - quick and easy description

This I can read. This I can retain. Something like this can become my new AD&D 1e or Swords & Wizardry, as I'll need to reference the rules in a minimal fashion at most while running a session of Far Away Land.

Now, if you step up to the Far Away Land monsters (which aren't included in the core book, but are included in the Tome of Awesome or stand alone in Creatures Volume 1) you see a very simple but easy to remember entry for each one. Each entry is set up the same way for ease of reference.

One thing to realize about Far Away Lands is that combat can be lethal. For PCs, Hit Points only increase by 1 point per level gained, and the average first level character will have 13 HP. Strangely enough, that is the same amount this 1st level Blonin has.

I like the description. Three simple sentences that give the GM enough to work with and retain. The accompanying art reinforces what we are given in the description.

I've found a lot to like in Far Away Land and little to dislike. Well, two things to dislike. The Far Away Land Tome of Awesome PDF does not have bookmarks. Coming in at 307 pages there really is no reason why it shouldn't. A minor quibble, but an annoying one. The second? Copy and paste is disabled in the PDF. No idea why but it is a bit frustrating. Ah well, small things in the grand scheme.

More to come the deeper I peer into the Far Away Land ;)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Issue #5 of Gygax Magazine to Ship Soon - Is Anyone Still Reading It?

I'm not sure if the above is just a "placer" cover or the real cover. If it's the real cover, it's accurate as hell, because I've been having a question mark hanging over my decision to subscribe to Gygax in the first place.

Let's be honest, it goes for the look and feel of classic Dragon Magazine but has little if any relevant content. The first four issues felt more filler and "ad driven articles" than the Dragon of old. Heck, I can't even call it a house organ as it has no true house to call it's own.

Gygax #1 released nearly 2 years ago. The quarterly mag has barely managed a twice a year pace. I'm not even sure if my subscription ended with Issue #4 or ends with ends with the upcoming Issue #5. New subscriptions start with Issue #6, not soon to be shipped Issue #5. Yeah, color me confused.

The folks behind Gygax are good folks and people that love the hobby, I just wonder if Gygax Magaine is ever going to find an audience. It tries to be everything for everyone while pulling the nostalgia strings of old school gamers. This has left many of us (myself included) wondering what this doppleganger of Dragon Magazine really is. At $8.95 an issue, I don't think I can afford the price of wondering any longer.

Mini Review - Far Away Land ("Adventure Time" Styled Fantasy heartbreaker)

Sometimes when you check out the most recent free releases on RPGNow, you start a journey that leads you to an awesome not free release. Such is my story when it comes to Far Away Land.

You see, when I stubbled across Far Away Land RPG Adventures: Journey Into the White I was intrigued by the cover
art. It seemed old school D&Dish with quirky as hell art. As it was PWYW, I was able to peek for free. And peek i did. And it was good. Short, but good. It also seemed to be sandboxie, which I like.

In for a penny, in for a pound. I almost bought the core book in print with PDF for $25, but then I saw the Tome of Awesome, which is core plus 3 expansions, was $35. Damn it! Yes, I'm in.

So, what is the system like? It reminds me a bit of a hybrid of Old School D&D, Tunnels & Trolls, Adventure Time and a bit of crazy. It is a D6 system where you roll a pool of dice and just keep the highest roll. Fairly simple. Pools are based on one of three Stats - BRT (Strength / Con), DEX (er, dex) and WIT (Int / Wis / Cha rolled into one) and Boons (think skills like melee for combat, arcane for spell casting, subterfuge for picking locks and dealing with traps - you get the idea) and Flaws (narrowly defined disadvantages.) Armor absorbed damage (much like T&T), there are hit points, levels and spell levels (the spell list certainly hues close to D&D.)

The art is simply amazing to my eyes. You'll either love it or hate it. I love it. It captures the quirkiness of the system and the setting (from the little I've read of the setting.) I've only read the actual core rules thus far - there is so much more to dig through.

The PDF looks nice on my tablet, but I'l be waiting for my print copy before digging to0 deep. Still, really enjoying whatI've read so far.

There are 4 mini adventures available for Far Away Land priced at PWYW as well as a print and play Pawn Pack. This may be one of the rare times I'll use minis while running a game via Roll20.

I'll do a follow up review once I read thru the setting material.

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