Saturday, May 16, 2015

AD&D 1e DMG Has a Reference to 2,000 Coppers in a Treasure Hoard - How Did I Miss This!?!

Is that 2,000 coppers in your pocket or are you
just happy to see me?
A tip of the hat to +Greg Christopher for finding this diamond in the rough ;)

From page 92 of the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide:
Electrum will be most unusual, gold rare, and scarcer still will be a platinum piece or a small gem! Rarest of all, treasure of treasures- the magic item - is detailed hereafter (PLACEMENT OF MAGIC ITEMS). If some group of creatures actually has a treasure of 11 gold pieces, another will have 2,000 coppers and yet a third nothing save a few rusty weapons. Of course, all treasure is not in precious metals or rare or finely made substances. Is not a suit of armor of great value? What of a supply of oil? a vial of holy water? weapons? provisions? animals? The upper levels of a dungeon need not be stuffed like a piggy bank to provide meaningful treasures to the clever player character.
Now if only I could find a reference to nine giant rats in the 1e DMG my quest would be complete...

Ishstarian - New Monster for White Star and Swords & Wizardry White Box

For use with White Star (discount link) and Swords and Wizardry White Box (free download link)


ARMOR CLASS   4 [15]
HIT DICE   5+1
TOTAL HIT BONUS   +5 (+7 / +3)
ATTACKS   Pincers 1d6 (on a roll of 6, add another 1d6) 
SPECIAL move thru earth at 6, attack from surprise 1-4 on a d6, 1st attack is at +2 to hit, subsequent attacks have a -2 penalty to the hit roll
HDE/XP 5/600

Ishtarians burrow through the ground as their preferred manner of movement.  Usually hunting in packs of 3 to 8 (1d6+2) they attack their prey from below. They can sense the vibrations of movement above them and usually surprise their prey. 

Their purple leathery skin is prized in the making of handbags and boots on certain worlds, and will fetch a high price. Leather armor made from their skin sells for 5 times the normal price and offer 1 point of AC protection better than normal leather. It is also quite stylish looking.

RPGNow Deal of the Day - Barrowmaze Complete

Yeah, it's been a while since I highlighted a Deal of the Day, but this one is worth it, at least for some folks.

Barrowmaze Complete is $21 today in PDF (normally $35). Hardcover is $75 and with PDF $85. It's not cheap but there is a campaign (or two) worth of material within.

If I didn't already own this from backing the Indiegogo project I'd be grabbing the PDF today. Barrowmaze Complete is really two megadungeons in one neat package, but it's more than that. It's made so that much of the content can be used on it's own and dropped most anywhere - modularity is it's strength.

From the blurb:

Local villagers whisper of a mysterious place deep in the marsh - a place shrouded in mist and dotted with barrow mounds, ruined columns, and standing stones. The tomb-robbers who explore beneath the mounds - or rather the few who return - tell tales of labyrinthine passages, magnificent grave goods, and terrifying creatures waiting in the dark. Are you brave (or foolish) enough to enter the Barrowmaze?

Barrowmaze Complete (BMC) is a classic old school megadungeon for use with Labyrinth LordTM and other fantasy role-playing games. BMC includes everything in Barrowmaze I and II in the same book in addition to new material, art, layout, and cover art by Ex-TSR artist Erol Otus.

Barrowmaze Complete will keep your players on their toes and your campaign going strong.

BMC is brought to you by the Old School Renaissance (so don’t forget your 10’ pole).

This edition includes art by the aforementioned TSR artists Erol Otus, as well as Tim Truman, Jim Holloway. New old-school artists include Peter Pagano, Cory Hamel, Stefan Poag, Zhu Bajie, Stephan Thompson, and others.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Mini Review - Outer Space Raiders Volume 1: Classes (White Star)

White Star hasn't even been out two week and the 3rd party releases are already hitting OneBookShelf. It looks like +James Spahn will get his wish - White Star will be well supported.

Outer Space Raiders Volume 1: Classes is 16 pages of gaming material covering new classes for White Star for $1.49. It's also the first release from +Chuck Thorin 's Magic Pig Media.

First, a surprise. The Table of Contents has hyperlinks. Nicely done Chuck.

Now, on to the content linked to via the Table of Contents ;)

The Alien class is the first one we come across. Not content with just 2 options in the core book, your Alien characters can now pick 2 special abilities from a list. Yep, they can now be fairly unique.

Astromancers fit into "the world was once much more advanced than it is" type of setting. The get "Formulas" which is kinda like spells. They won't fit every setting, but for Swords & Super Science they may a good fit. There are a few pages devoted to their Formulas.

Engineers are the gadget freaks: "Highly skilled Engineers can build a laser pistol out of a rock, a magnifying glass, and some duct tape." This is my kinda class. They have a well detailed list of their abilities per level.

Lost Worlders are the barbarians of the future. If you want to kill things and break things and aren't concerned about using advanced technology, this is the class for you.

Scoundrels fit into just about any sci-fi campaign. Han Solo and Mal are just two examples I can think of off hand. They get lucky breaks and a random bonus determined at the start of each game session. Pretty neat.

Warp Ninja - a monk like character that harnesses the power of a dark star. Not going to fit in the average sci-fi setting, but might make for a good NPC bad guy.

Random Humanoid Species Appearance Charts - want to make sure that all of your humanoid races don't look like straight up humans? These charts are for you. I'm a big advocate of less is more, so I'd probably only roll on one or two charts per species but they do make for great inspiration.

Pretty good value for a buck fifty and an excellent first product for Magic Pig Media.

Free - Far Away Land Quick Start

It's here!

Far Away Land (FAL) is a fantasy heartbreaker-esque role-playing game set in a strange and bizarre fantasy heartbreaker-esque world. Players take on the role of a character and adventure and explore in a medieval fantasy world created by the Game Master (GM). The world is quirky and weird and strange and sportive. The mechanics are sandboxy, open, and lite in both form and spirit. And now they are available... for free.

Here they are, the Far Away Land RPG: Quick Start Rules! Get into the epic world fantasy world of Far Away Land right now. The Quick Start Rules contain...

Conflict Resolution to get you playing in minutes.
Character Creation
Experience and Levels
Magic and Spells
Combat Rules
Character Sheet
and the FAL adventure module Isle of the Rat Wizard

The Quick Start Rules are a no-risk way for you to pick up and play FAL right now. What are you waiting for?

Mini Rant - Apparently I'm Not Negative Enough...

Let's see.

I really like Swords & Wizardry. Scroll down the right side of this page and you'll find a quote from me about that very topic.

I REALLY like White Star. Is that a secret?

Apparently I REALLY like it because +James Spahn is my friend. Therefore, the posts about White Star Pocket Settings and the work I'm putting into it are for James' benefit and not because I'm fucking enthused to the point that I lie in bed brainstorming at night.

Here's a little secret. I enjoy writing about stuff that I like much more than I do stuff that I don't like. Imagine that.

White Star hits those special gaming pleasure zones for me. Ready to play out of the box and extremely easy to house rule without breaking. Oh, I really like to house rule. Ask any of my players. I don't do "by the book" very well.

So, if you are offended by my "Bully Pulpit" because I don't post the "right" posts (but you read The Tavern every day anyhow), go fuck yourself and get your own.

(negative enough for ya?)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Far Away Land - Quick Start - New Art and All You Need to Play the PWYW Adventures - Coming May 15th

Tomorrow you'll be getting the nuts and bolts of the Far Away Land system for free with the Quick Start.

I'll try and run a pick up session in late June or early July via Roll20 (as well as run a session or two at NTRPG Con the first week of June.

White Star - Pocket Settings - Sailing Upon the Sea of Black - New Class - High Programmer

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic...

Thus we have High Programmers, humans cybernetically enhanced with matter and energy manipulation protocols that "execute programs" powerful enough to violate the laws of reality as understood by the common man.

High Programmers are the only ones that can work the more advanced technology from the Age of the Imperium. Almost a secret society, High Programmers do not share their knowledge with outsiders, although they will work with outsiders to recover ancient technology.

They use the magic-user class from S&W White Box with the following basic changes:

They start with four programs (spells) of 1st level and learn two new spells with each level of advancement of a programming level they can access. Programs are rarely found otherwise. (i may tweak the list)

They do not need to prepare programs in advance. So long as they have available programming (spell) slots of the appropriate level, they can execute the program.

They can only use primitive weaponry, as the energy fields of high powered technology weaponry disrupts their cybernetic energy field.

The replacement of one eyeball with a cybernetic replacement results in a -2 adjustment on all ranged attacks. In exchange, they can "see" heat signatures within 10'.

(work in progress - but a good idea  on where I see it going as a White Star class)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Coming Soon to RPGNow - Far Away Lands Quick Start Rules


Very soon.

Assimilation countdown starts now...

Elevator Pitch - White Star Pocket Settings - Sailing Upon the Sea of Black (Piitch #1)

(I'm going to be doing a series of "elevator pitches" for the White Star Pocket Settings series of posts. Let me know what you think of them.)

Sailing Upon the Sea of Black

In a planetary system of eleven inhabited planets (and an assortment of moons) ships sail the Sea of Black using solar winds. Pirates and privateers, emperors and bandit kings, magic and technology - all vie for supremacy amongst the scattered ruins of the Imperium.

Search for artifacts from the Age of the Imperium, make your fame and fortune under the color of your letter of marquis and perhaps claim a moon of your very own.

Uses both the White Star rules and the Swords & Wizardry White Box rules

The Poll Has Spoken - The White Star Pocket Settings will be (mostly) Unconnected

The poll on the Pocket Settings closed last night, and the vote (with nearly 50 votes counted) was 2 to 1 in favor of independent settings. Which it will be, mostly. There may be times where I have an idea that fits well with a previously posted setting and I won't avoid that, but I'll try to make the linked setting pretty stand alone at the same time.

I've been brainstorming ideas, and some are pretty much sci-fantasy in nature. With the straight up compatibility of White Star and S&W White Box, that shouldn't be a huge surprise. Consider yourself warned in advance.

If all goes well I'll have some "elevator pitches" ready to be posted in the next few days.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thoughts on Random Encounters - How Random is Random?

If an encounter, of any of the possible types, will happen six times in six chances, is it really random? Sure, the event chosen is random, but the chance of there being an event isn't - there WILL be some kind of encounter or event each time.

That's my main issue with Star Temple of Saturgalia.

But lets take it in another direction. What is to prevent a GM from rolling the random encounters ahead of time? Not the chance for an encounter to happen, which should always be it's own roll, but the actual encounters itself.

Say, for example, your encounter / event table is as follows:

Roll 2d4

2 - 2d4 orcs
3 - 3d4 giant rats
4 - 3d6 coins scattered cross floor
5 - random piece of writing on wall
6 - 1d2 ogres
7 - 1d4 giant spiders
8 - 3d4 goblins

Now, you plan on rolling a 1 in 6 chance for an encounter / event every turn (10 minutes) and again when they make significant noise (smashing doors, fighting, etc)

You guess that 6 or so random encounters will happen during the game session and you decide to roll them in order in advance. It's still random, but rolled prior to the session, giving you time as a GM to make them somewhat special. I have 2d4 right now, so lets make this a live experiment.

I roll 2, 4, 3, 8, 6 and 5.

So, the first random encounter will be 2d4 orcs. I roll a 3. 3 orcs wielding spears and shields. They are moving fast, as if they are fleeing from something.

Second encounter / event is 3d6 coins. 11. I figure 4 coppers, 6 silvers and 1 gold along with a coin purse they spilled from.

Third is 3d4 giant rats. We get a 9. They are charging through the corridors in search of food or prey. The party will hear their chittering as they approach.

Fourth is 3d4 goblins. There are 7 of them. They are encountered in a tight formation, nearly a circle. If the party charges them, they will flee in the opposite direction as fast as their feet can take them. If the party holds it's ground, they will throw their spears while being ready to flee if approached. If the party flees, they will chase them, screaming war cries the whole time.

Fifth encounter is 1d2 ogres. We roll a 1. The ogre is surrounded by 3 orc corpses in addition to the one he is currently gnawing on the arm of. Around his waist hang 4 dead giant rats, apparently food for later. The ogre will leave the party alone if they leave him alone. Subtract 5 HP from his HP total for prior wounds.

Number six is writing on the wall. We decide it will make reference to the giant spiders roaming the corridors - "Beware the tangled web."

Now, i am not good enough to come up with these fleshed out encounters on the spot while interacting with my players. Simple truth. So may be able to pull such off, but its not me.

So, do you prepare your random encounters in advance?

Mini Review - Star Temple of Saturgalia (WhiteStar Adventure)

You and your team have been sent, or forced to go, to the Star Temple of Saturgalia. There you hope to find the fabled Star Amulet that may turn the tide in the Space War. Ignite your Star Saber, strap on your blaster, and prepare to avoid the Imperial Customs - you're going on an adventure. Prepare to enjoy a couple of hours of FUN!!!

Uhm, maybe I missed it, but I failed to find Imperial Customs in this 4 page adventure (6 less cover and OGL.)

There is now way this adventure will last hours. Two tops. Well, unless you go along with a 5 in 6 chance for a space encounter checked for 3 times and a 6 in 6 chance of a wilderness encounter checked for twice.

I always though it was supposed to be a chance for an encounter and than a roll to see what it was. Or at least no more than a 3 in 6 chance for an encounter.

The problem with the random encounter reliance is that it puts at least half the game session on the GMs hands to improvise on the spot. It's lazy adventure design.

The adventure itself is a basic dungeon crawl, which isn't bad in and of itself, as it allows for players used to traditional dungeon play to have familiar yet different surroundings. The dungeon, while small, doesn't force a railroad on players. There are multiple choice of direction to take, which is rarer than it should be. Score points for dungeon design.

BBEG could be the start of a series of adversaries the players are always one step behind. There's potential here for long term use.

Overall? Well worth the buck the Star Temple of Saturgalia costs, but make your own random even tables.

Oh, almost forgot the Reaction Chart for Diplomacy. That might actually belong in the White Star rulebook.

Monday, May 11, 2015

New Tavern Banner - Far Away Land Style

I had to crop it to fit the banner in from the banner - er, you know what I mean. Here's the full piece of work. I'm the bartender with glasses ;)

I'll do a proper cropping job later.

Big thanks to Dirk, otherwise known as Mr +Far Away Land RPG

Sunday, May 10, 2015

White Star Pocket Setting Survey - Time for Input

This is the plan on how I'll make the presentation of the Pocket settings work.

Each month I plan to present approximately 8 pages of material for a White Star setting. Backers of The Tavern's Patreon will get a quick and dirty PDF of the material, but it will all be available freely on the blog. Every four months or so, it will be put together as an inexpensive PDF on the blog and possibly in print for some of the higher Patreon backers. Depends of feasibility.

This week I'm going to brainstorm some setting ideas. That will be a poll for a week from now more or less.

So, here's are the poll questions more or less:

Do you want an 8 page monthly pocket setting (sector / system / planet / space station every month) that isn't related to the previous month's material?

Do you want a series of monthly material on the same setting for 4 months (32 pages) but at different levels of detail (each month would be either sector / system / planet / space station / intro adventure?)

Easy peasy.

Edit - Poll gets chopped off in Chrome on my mac but looks fine using Chrome on my phone. Anyone else having issues?

White Star / X-Plorers - What's the Difference Between the Two? (Part II)

Continuing with Part II of the comparison between White Star and X-Plorers. Part I is here.

When it comes to creatures, X-Plorers is very much a "do it yourself" type of system. There are examples (3 alien races, 3 earth creatures, 3 mars creatures, etc) but they seem to lack - something. This is purely opinion time here, so take it for what it's worth. The sample creatures in White Star seem more imaginative to my eyes but the system included to create your own in X-Plorers seems fairly complete. Something useful I may borrow, although I don't have a problem "winging" my creations.

Healing in X-Plorers is quicker than White Star, which is surprising, considering that White Star draws upon Star Wars and other recent scifi for some of its tropes. I may borrow the healing rules from X-Plorers for my White Star campaign.

Space combat is very different between the two systems.
Ÿ- Determine initiative
-Ÿ Party with initiative acts first in the following
phase order and results take effect:
   1. Navigation Phase
   2. Engineering Phase
   3. Pilot Phase
   4. Gunner Phase
-Ÿ Party that lost initiative acts in the same
phase order and their results take effect
-Ÿ Once the round is complete, roll a new
initiative and start a new round if the battle
has not been resolved (either by a ship being
destroyed, incapacitated, or having
White Star 
1. Determine Initiative.
2. Starship with Initiative acts first (attacking, using items, etc.) and results
take effect.
3. Starship that lost Initiative acts, and their results take effect.
4. The round is complete; keep turn order for the next round if the battle
has not been resolved.
Actually, X-Plorers space combat reminds me a bit of what I remember from Classic Traveller. has much more complete starship descriptions and options. I THINK White Star space combat will play out closer to regular combat than X-Plorers space combat, but I'll have to playtest that or rely on the experience and feedback of others.
White Star

X-Plorers includes an optional psionics system. Again, it uses a skill system, which is either something you love in your old school games or you don't.

White Star includes some basic setting material (including a star map), some campaign themes as well as an adventure to kick things off with.

So, where does one stand at the end of this admittedly basic comparison?

X-Plorers has a no frill, art free PDF that can be had for free. If price is your only concern, the answer was made for you before I wrote a single word. That being said, at the price of free, X-Plorers is an excellent source of ideas for your White Star campaign.

If you compare the regular X-Plorers PDF at $5.95 to White Star at $9.95 (or $7.95 with my discount link) White Star is by far the more complete and ready to play out of the box product. White Star is also a tool box, so it expects you to add, change, warp and delete from the rules included. It's pretty durable and hard to break.

White Star / X-Plorers - What's the Difference Between the Two? (Part I)

I've gotten numerous requests to compare White Star and X-Plorers. Multiple times a day for the past week. So, here goes nothing ;)

Presentation-wise, White Star wins hands down, and I'm not just saying that because +Jason Paul McCartan is a good friend of mine. X-Plorers has a serviceable layout.

White Star evokes the feel of Star Wars, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy and even Battlestar Galactica. X-Plorers feel evokes the movies and TV series of the late 50's and early 60's. A big portion of that may be the cover and the Earth-centric setting (if four paragraphs a setting makes - and to think I thought four pages was limited to work with ;)

White Star uses the six attributes you already know from the OSR game of your choice. X-Plorers reduces that number to four. Wisdom is rolled into Intelligence and Strength and Constitution are rolled into Physique. Charisma is renamed Presence and Dexterity is renamed Agility. Why? No idea. White Star defaults to a -1 / +1 spread, while X-Plorers defaults to a -2 / +2 spread on attribute bonuses.

X-Plorers uses a universal experience table whereas White Star has an experience table for each class.

Both games have 4 base classes each. In White Star, they are: Aristocrat, Mercenary, Pilot and Star Knight (as well as 3 other classes - Alien Mystic, Alien Brute and Robot). In X-Plorers it's Scientist, Soldier, Scout and Technician. Pilot and Scout fill the same niche and Mercenary and Soldier. Classes in White Star have "class abilities" (think AD&D Paladin kinda sorta in the way it's handled) which are like minor powers or boosts and X-Plorer classes have skills that are rolled on a D20. This is a very major difference between the two games.

X-Plorers includes rules for multi-classing, which is pretty nifty, but it isn't really true multi-classing - it's learning skills from another class. White Star doesn't have any such rules. It might make for a decent houserule.

I'm surprised that X-Plorers doesn't use the dual stated AC from Swords & Wizardry, as it builds S&W. Not a big deal, or even a little deal, just interesting to note. White Star uses the dual stated format.

Equipment in the two games overlaps at points, but either list would make a good supplement for the other's game. Armor is much more expensive in X-Plorers, by a factor of 10 or more in some cases. It is also more generic in White Star, as it is described by light, medium or heavy instead of Mesh Suit, Reflec or Combat Armor in X-Plorers.

Part II later today.

Game Called on Account of Puking - and it Wasn't Joe ;)

So, we were in the middle of a severely tough fight in +Joe D 's Blood Island campaign just a few minutes ago and had to call the session mid battle - we lost our only standing fighter to what will be an inevitable hangover ;)

We heard the wine come up earlier in the session. I must say, its a damn good mic that can pick that up from rooms away. Then it was back to the battle - for another round or so before the inevitable "I gonna go to bed" was stated.

We couldn't continue, as all that was left standing was the magic-user with his four mirror images (me) and our shaman.

It's a first for me in my years of gaming, although I have seen (and listened to) another player fall asleep and snore while sitting in front of his computer.

Ah well, next week we will see of we live or die, or puke trying :)
Tenkar's Tavern is supported by various affiliate programs, including Amazon, RPGNow,
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

Blogs of Inspiration & Erudition