Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Official Unofficial Announcement - Old School Quarterly from InfiniBadger Press

Some of you may have heard rumblings, but I've been given the go ahead to make the official unofficial announcement (or it an unofficial official announcement) - +Jason Paul McCartan and his InfiniBadger Press label will be putting out a quarterly RPG magazine - Old School Quarterly or OSQ for short.

Jason has set a high bar - approximately 256 digest sized pages quarterly. He's damn close to having the content ready for Issue zero too. I do need to write my regular column - it's Kickstarter related. Who would have guessed? ;)

Print on Demand and PDF versions.

Oh, and it's not going to be solely D&D / D&D Clones either - if it's old school in nature, it very well could make an appearance.

The cover (as well as the logo) is a mock up, so it may not remain the same, and the systems indicated may change too, but the plan is to have multiple adventures from multiple systems in each issue.

There'll be paid submissions (paid for in part by advertising) , so Jason will be looking for contributors, artists, etc in the future.

Website will be up and running in a few weeks. I'll make sure to link it when it does.

Shit, I probably should interview The Badger for more details...

Giving Away a Free Print Copy of Sword for Hire / Blue Frog Tavern (Tunnels & Trolls Double Solo - US Only)

Thanks to the generosity of Tavern patron Vlark (a finer dwarf is hard to to find) and an extra copy being placed in a package by Flying Buffalo, we have a print copy of Sword for Hire / Blue Frog Tavern (Tunnels & Trolls double solo with a fairly complete version of the T&T 5e rules included.)

Vlark is willing to ship via media mail to any address in the United States, including Hawaii & Alaska.

If you are in the confines of the US and are looking to snag this, comment below. Tomorrow night, sometime after 8pm New York time I'll pick a random winner from the comments below.

Good luck to all :)

The Winners of Keys to the Computer Game Pillars of Eternity Are...

Time to award the keys to Pillars of Eternity that were generously donated by a patron of this very Tavern. Three cheers and hip hip hooray!

Key number one goes to - mwschmeer

Key number two goes to - erik johnson

I need the above to email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing and I'll get those keys to you.

Another giveaway coming up later today - this time it's in print, US only and generously donated by another patron of the tavern :)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kickstarter - Darkplane (a 5e Setting)

I fully blame +Timothy Brannan for pointing me at this.

Darkplane is a "weird" horror setting for 5e. More importantly, the art is awesome. Damn, I'm really becoming an "art" guy, even if it's just as someone that appreciates awesome art.
Here are a few ways that the Darkplane setting changes the core assumptions of a campaign.
The World Appears Mundane. To the everyday inhabitants of Vinramar, magic is only a dark legend. Half-believed traditions of the supernatural prevail among commoners—whispers of spirits, strange magic, and unexplained terrors—but few people come in contact with such things. Darkplane campaigns focus on those special few.
Perilous Horrors Hide Under Every Stone. Beneath the facade of the everyday world lies a nightmare realm, the true reality that would drive common folk to madness. Magic is rare and dangerous. Vengeful abominations creep into the natural world from other dimensions, sowing chaos and fear. Frightful vestiges of pre-human civilizations lie hidden in the earth, and some of their immortal denizens live unseen among mortals. When such supernatural forces come in contact with average people, the scars they leave are deep and troubling.
God is Dead. Shortly following the creation, the supreme creator Sowm was killed by Her son Daemoth, plunging the Heavens into an endless war. The key players in this conflict are unfathomable gods who rarely visit the mortal realm, but their followers are all too eager to drag the world through milennia of bloodshed and carnage. These priests might be showmen, sages, or warmongering vipers, but if their faith is sufficient they can channel powerful wonders.
Industrial Revolution Has Created Wide Technology Gaps. Some cultures resort to ancient practices like hunting and gathering to survive, while others have developed specialized crafts like printing and glass blowing. In Trentsmund, steam power has irrevocably changed the kingdom’s infrastructure. Traffic between these societies is still limited enough to preserve the technological disparity.
The Darkplane Encompasses All. The four worlds are surrounded by an endless void beyond natural reality, called the Darkplane. The Darkplane is populated and ruled by mysterious aberrant powers so unnatural that their comprehension is almost beyond mortal minds. Daemoth’s slow conquest of the Darkplane has driven these alien horrors into the four worlds, where their presence infects and twists natural creatures into unspeakable aberrations.
Now, what entails "weird" horror led me to follow a link to darkplane.com, where I found the following:
The Darkplane universe is a campaign setting for 5th edition that blends Gothic horror and weird tales with a rich, culturally diverse history. Its mortal world, Vinramar, can be a perilous place, whether you’re leading witch-hunts in Trentsmund’s colonial provinces, searching forgotten ruins for the secrets of the cosmos, or taking desperate flight from the cannibal-infested wastelands that once were the kingdom of Welluxia. 
Darkplane is weird fiction. That means its stories rely on an overarching, seductive sense of dread and mystery. It’s about cults, hauntings, twisted monsters, and breaking away from moral simplicity. While there are elements of high fantasy, it won’t take you long to see that this is not a setting modeled on Medieval Europe. It pulls from the mythologies and folklore of many different cultures in an attempt to support a wide array of horror stories.
I don't like "Darkplane is weird fiction." Roleplaying might be a form of story telling, but fiction is not an RPG. Writing an RPG adventure or setting is not writing fiction. Yeah, this irks me a bit. Can you tell?

But then this part of the Kickstarter page kinda explains it:
I'm Graham Ward, a writer, actor, and filmmaker living in Denver with my awesome wife Bethany. Darkplane is my baby. I began early work on it in the days of 2nd edition D&D, when story and imagination were at the center of the game. I've been writing adventures, running campaigns, and expanding the world of Vinramar ever since. It's been a huge source of fun for my friends and me.

I'm the creator and lead writer on this project, but I'm helped by a great team of collaborators who have contributed concepts and writing over the more recent years of the setting's development: Kristy Eagar, Mike Eagar, Adam Rodger, Derrik Young, and Kent Lloyd. 
I started playing D&D at age 10, and it's stuck with me for most of my life since. I've run campaigns all over the country in various cities I've lived, and even ran a short campaign in London while there for a study abroad. 
Right now I work full-time as a professional actor at several theaters in Colorado. It's a bizarre career, but I love it. More recently I've been getting traction as a writer and filmmaker. Check out my recent no-budget short film...
There's more, but I stopped reading. Graham is very creative. We get it.

I'm intrigued by the setting, but that's because I took the extra step to actually find additional info. The Kickstarter is funded and jumping through stretch goals, so Graham has done something right.

Then there is this piece from the "Risks and challenges":
A note about copyright: Wizards of the Coast owns Dungeons & Dragons and its associated intellectual property. This project will not be published or distributed in any way that violates copyright laws. It's a personal project that will be delivered as a gift to those who help fund its creation. No profit is expected, and no infringement intended. If no other avenue is provided, in a worst-case scenario, it will be printed without system-specific rules and backers will be provided with digital packets of the "crunch" for printing). 
"Dungeons & Dragons" and "3E" are trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, LLC. Graham Ward and Darkplane: A Campaign Setting are not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast LLC. We make no claim to, or challenge to, such trademarks.
I don't think that not expecting profit makes a difference if WotC thinks its copyright is being violated. I'm not saying WotC is going to go in that direction, but I don't think it would be a defense if they were.

I'm conflicted on this. Weird fiction isn't about story telling or story creating or looking back and saying "holy shit, that makes an excellent tale", it's a story that is written and told. Maybe "weird fiction" is just a poorly chosen phrase.

Do I back or do I not back.

I'm on the fence on this one. Thankfully I have over 2 weeks to decide

One Day Sale - The Black Monastery - HC $20 - Frog God Games (S&W and Pathfinder)


Today's Daily Deal:
The Black Monastery Hardcover
Only $20! (Regularly $34.99)
Use this coupon code during checkout:

Offer expires Midnight Tonight! (PST)

This is one that has slipped by my radar. $20 for Print and PDF of The Black Monastery and available for Swords & Wizardry? May need to add this to my endless gaming collection myself.

Level range 7-9.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Giving Away Two Keys to the New Computer RPG - Pillars of Eternity - Comment, Friend... and Enter

"Eternity aims to recapture the magic, imagination, depth, and nostalgia of classic RPG's that we enjoyed making - and playing. At Obsidian, we have the people responsible for many of those classic games and we want to bring those games back… and that’s why we’re here - we need your help to make it a reality!

Eternity will take the central hero, memorable companions and the epic exploration of Baldur’s Gate, add in the fun, intense combat and dungeon diving of Icewind Dale, and tie it all together with the emotional writing and mature thematic exploration of Planescape: Torment."

So, I've got 2 Steam keys for Pillars of Eternity to give away thanks to an extremely generous patron of The Tavern. They will work on Windows, OS X and Linux.

How do you get into the mix?

Comment on this blog post. Sometime on Saturday morning I'll be randomly picking two commenters to receive these free keys.

So, what are you waiting for? You know you want this :)

(these are $45 retail)

Tenkar's Tavern Tankard - Currently One of a Kind

I must say that +Eric Quigley 's art looks damn nice on a beer stein!

Would there be an interest in me getting these up for sale via Cafe Press or the like?

I know I'll be ordering a few more for myself ;)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Suspect a Far Away Land Adventure is Hidden in This Bag

Sometimes inspiration is found in the damnedest things.

There is an adventure in this bag of gummy bears for Far Away Land.

Where do you find your inspiration?

Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight - 830 PM Eastern - Right Here at The Tavern

Tonight is another weekly Tavern Chat. We use the chat box on the right hand side of this page.

I am wary of setting topics, as the participants seem to do a fine job of finding their own.

We did launch the Far & Away podcast for the Far Away Land RPG this past Saturday. If you haven't listened yet, there is a player for the episode in the upper right hand corner of this page - or you can find it on iTunes :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Would be Your Top 10 List of OSR Games?

Logo Dysonized by Dyson

+The Padre asked me about a Top 10 List of OSR Games / Rulesets earlier this evening, and it got me thinking about how varied the answers would be if thrown out to the OSR Community.

I would consider OSRIC, Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry as the triumvirate of the OSR, but once you go beyond that I think the list would grow in some awesomely divergent manners.

So, I ask you. What is YOUR Top 10 List of OSR Games?

Doing the Death Spiral - Bringing T&T's Death Spiral to S&W and FAL

If you don't know about Tunnels & Trolls' "Death Spiral", this is it in a nutshell. As a monster takes damage those numbers come off it's Monster Rating or MR. Damage dice and adds are directly determined by MR (MR doubles as HP in D&D terms. MR is recalculated at the start of each round, so as a monster takes damage, it's ability to deal damage also goes down - therefore the "Death Spiral."

As I've said elsewhere, converting to another system is more art and less science - you go for the feel, not the reproduction.

For Swords & Wizardry, you could replicated such an effect by making it "1" harder for the monster to hit for every 5 points of damage taken as well as make it "1" easier to hit them for every 10 points of damage taken. I think something like this would be more appropriate in a Swords & Sorcery styled campaign, where heroes are expected to be heroic and perhaps in sessions with fewer PCs, as it helps change the balance as an encounter goes on.

Far Away Land has a much smaller power curve than S&W or T&T, so I would go with a lighter touch - when a monster has taken half it's hits in damage, remove 1 die from Brute / Str for purposes of attacks. At 1/4 hits, remove a second die. At no point can a monster go below 1 die.

Monday, March 23, 2015

So, Why Does the Same Creature have Such Completely Different Stats in Three Different Systems?

Over the weekend I wrote up the Failed Lich for S&W, T&T and Far Away Land. Three different systems. Three very different write ups, even if the non-stat description is the same.

What's up with that?

Well, I tend to start with Swords & Wizardry as my baseline. I can think in S&W - it is a language I am fairly fluent in.

I'm also fairly fluent in Tunnels & Trolls. As such, I know it's weaknesses (at least in 5x.) One of those weaknesses is ranged attacks. it throws off the math. I either avoid it like a plague or a count it as a long melee attack. That's why the failed Lich's attack become a spite damage fueled extra fire damage.

Far Away Land is a system I'm still feeling out in many ways. I'm not even sure if my FAL Failed Lich "works", but I think it's close enough.

In any case, that's why the three versions of the same thing are so different.

Pile That Plate High - A Look at the Projects And Other Time Sinks I Have In Place

Last week, one of the players that played in my short run Sunday Morning Crypts & Things campaign two years ago wanted to get members of my old (high school, college and beyond) to commit to a Sunday morning ongoing campaign via Roll20. Needless to say, I'd be running it.

I felt a need to point out the following: I'm in a regular Saturday Night Roll20 group and run a more or less monthly Friday Night Roll20 group. I moderate a chat here at The Tavern on Wednesday Nights and record The Brainstorm Podcast on Tuesday Evenings. Every other Sunday afternoon, we record the Far & Away Podcast and I owe the fine patrons of The Tavern a monthly Hangout on G+. I owe two fine folks content for their Kickstarters, I owe my Patrons content on the blogside and I put multiple blog posts up on a daily basis. Not to mention a 43 hr work week when not working overtime as well as finding time with my family (uncle duty is most Wednesday Afternoons and Saturday - All Day - auntie is on duty too.)

Needless to say, I could only commit to every other Sunday Morning ;)

Actually, if I showed this breakdown to Rachel, she'd probably tell me I'm insane... heh

Buy One, Get One 50% Off Sale - Frog God Games - Until Midnite, March 24th

There's still time to get lucky! 
For St. Patrick's Day, we are having 
Buy One, Get One 50% Off Sale! 
Use the following Coupon Code at Checkout to get 50% off of one item when you buy one of equal or greater value. 


(offer expires Midnight on March 24th, 2015)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Failed Lich - Swords & Wizardry, Tunnels & Trolls and Far Away Land (Stat Blocks)

Nichole Cardiff
The Failed Lich

Swords & Wizardry

AC: 2[17]
Attacks: Hands 2x(2d4)
Saving Throw: 6
Special: Can throw balls of fire up to 2x per round
              for 2d6 damage each
Move: 12
Challenge Level: 9 / 1,100 xp

Tunnels & Trolls
Reid San Filippo

Monster Rating: 80

Combat Dice: 9D6 +40

Special Damage: 3/ - Flaming Fists do an extra 5d6 damage

Far Away Land

HP: 25, AC: 1, ACT: 10
BRT: 2, DEX: 2, WIT: 4

Magic: Fire Beam 1d6+2

and here's the "fluff from the previous post:

The Failed Lich is pretty much what is says on the tin. When a high level wizard attempts to grab nigh infinite power and undying life, their chance for true success is minimal. Blinded by thoughts of what may happen they fail to take into account what probably will happen.

Burned to a cinder with their soul shredded and shared by devils and demons alike is a far better failure than ending up as a Failed Lich, so close to success that is now forever out of their grasp.

Unable to rest, forever seeking a state of existence denied to them, the Failed Lich is obsessed with extinguishing life. They hope that with every life they take they'll be closer to either Lichdom or oblivion, but their curse is that lives lost at their hands heal them by absorbing some of their victims souls. 

If they are defeated, they will rise again in 1d6 days if their skull is not crushed under the heal of a hero. What defines a "hero" is open to much debate.

There are reasons the Failed Lich has different powers for each of the three systems, but that's the topic for a whole 'nother post ;)

Further Thoughts on Converting Established Settings to the Far Away Land RPG

Now, I say "further thoughts", as this was one of the questions brought up on the first episode of the Far & Away Podcast - do you tweak the rules to fit the setting or do you pick from the setting to bring pieces to Far Away Land?

I said "leave the rules intact and bring in the setting in pieces" but in retrospect, that answer is a little lacking and depending on the setting, it might not be the totally correct choice.

Case in point: I've got this idea burrowing around my head to use the FAL rules to run a Red Dwarf campaign (you know, the classic British SciFi show). This would require a mostly new set of boons, which is easy enough to do but kinda opposite of what I suggested with my original answer.

So, my revised answer would be pretty much as follows: understand the setting you wish to port over and what defines it. Don't worry about rules so much as history, personalities, geography and the like. Port that over. Tweak the FAL rules by adding or removing boons from the list - allowing one to change flavor without effecting the core rules system.

The core rules of Far Away Land are easy to learn and use, but you don't want to tweak them to make them needlessly more complicated. If you find you can't convert the setting with a light touch, it may not be a good fit for FAL.

As a side note, the power curve in FAL is greatly tamped down compared to most OSR games. PCs remain vulnerable to weaker threats throughout their careers. Settings like Forgotten Realms may not fit well without changing some of the base assumptions of the setting.

The Far & Away Podcast Episode #1 is Released!

I've got to hand it to +Vincent Florio . He turned the episode around in record time, as we had just recorded it earlier this afternoon. I must say, I had a blast recording this with Dirk ( +Far Away Land RPG ) and Vince.

Want some highlights?

- Dirk talks about some ideas about a NTRPG Con themed Far Away Land adventure

- We discuss ideas on converting OSR adventures and settings to the FAL ruleset

- Lean the background behind the FAL setting

- FAL Quickstart?

- Dirk discusses licensing plans

- Info on the upcoming seaborne supplement

- Lots more!

It's about 51 minutes from start to finish (well, Youtube video is a tad longer.)

It's not up yet on iTunes (not sure how long that takes) but you can listen to the episode here onYoutube:

Mini Review - White Box Omnibus - The Kitchen Sink for Swords & Wizardry White Box

What can I say about the White Box Omnibus that I haven't previously said about some of it's previously released parts? Quite simply, the sum is far greater than it's parts.

To the new classes previously presented, we now get a monk, the implementation of is simply dead on and a perfect fit for White Box.

To the adventures previously presented, we now get a micro-setting, town and sandbox included ( +James Spahn is the hex map 5 or 6 miles per hex or something else? I can't find the scale - edit - 20 miles per hex - thanks James - no longer a "micro"-setting ;) Oh, and of course some adventure seeds to truly expand your use of the sandbox.

There is enough here between new classes, class tweaks, new magic items, new monsters, adventures and micro-setting to keep a campaign fresh for months of not years. All in one 120+ page offering.

If you haven't picked any of James' White Box offerings yet, THIS is the one to get. If you have picked up some of James' White Box offerings previously, you should have a discount link in your email (I did.)

Edit: James told me I'm allowed to share the discount link with all, so here it is:

White Box Omnibus $7.99 Discounted Price

James, I do have one further question - when is the POD of the Omnibus coming out?
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