Saturday, May 30, 2015

Little Notebooks - Big Thoughts

As Rach and I were going out to lunch earlier, our mailman arrived with the above. Not the cat, but the little notebooks. The blue covered one is hex lined, the black covered one is unlined.

These were sent to me curtesy of Wombat's Workshop.

They really are the perfect size to slip in a pocket for the times inspiration strikes.

I plan to bring them with me to NTRPG Con next week. Feel free to hit me up for a peek at them.

Pocket Creatures - The Four Armed Squatch - For Swords & Wizardry and White Star

I love the point blank shot to the head myself ;)

There is little more amoral or disgusting in the known world (or known universe for that matter) than the Four Armed Squatch (what they call themselves is unknown). These green, 6' tall and obviously four armed creatures communicate exclusively via a form of telepathy. They are known as slavers, and make the average slaver compare favorably to a Star Knight or Paladin of old.

They rarely use weapons, preferring to use a form of psychic blast to stun their opponent, as dead new slaves are fairly worthless (except to feed other slaves - waste not, want not.) The lifespan of the average slave of a Four Armed Squatch is counted in weeks and therefore recruitment of new slaves is an ongoing concern.

Physically weak, nearly everything in Squatch society has been built by, prepared by, cooked by, moved by, carried by, etc - slave labor. There have been few slave rebellions and none successful. The last rebellion resulted in the recycling of over 90% of the slave population, the remainder being used to clean up and process the bodies of the former.

Four Armed Squatch

ARMOR CLASS   5 [14]
HIT DICE   2+2
ATTACKS   2 x Fists (1d6-2) or Psychic Blast
SPECIAL - Psychic Blast - Range 6" - Save or sleep 1d6 rounds
HDE/XP 4/340

For use with White Star (discount link - link expires in 3 days - use it if you want it) and Swords and Wizardry White Box (free download link)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Dungeon Crawl or Sandbox Styled Adventure for a Con - What Say You?

I plan to run a session or two of Far Away Land at NTRPG Con next week. I'm currently running the Temple of Zoko for my Saturday Night group. We do a lot of BSing during our game sessions, so it should take about 2 sessions to play and it's fairly sandboxie. I estimate at a con that would convert to 3 hrs or a tad more of game play. Well, depending on number of beers, that may significantly increase the time to complete.

Or I could run Isle of the Rat Wizard. Sure, it's in the quickstart, but I can always leave it out of the copies I print for the con. It's a bit of a sandbox and a bit of a dungeon crawl.


Either will okay quick enough to generate characters and run the adventure.

In general, I suspect a dungeon crawl workds better than a sandbox in a convention environment. It's also probably the only time most players won't violently rebel a railroad.

What are your thoughts?

Prepping for NTRPG Con and "Yes, there will be a Tavern Chat next Wednesday from the Con"

When I leave work this afternoon I'll be kicking off a week long vacation. I thought I'd have plenty of time for con prep, but Sunday thru Tuesday I'll be in the Poconos. Yes, very full vacation.

I'll be printing out about a dozen copies of the Far Away Land Quickstart tomorrow and maybe 2 or 3 copies of Pocket Monsters, Creatures & NPCs for the con.

Need to grab the right dice - need to like enough to want to use but be okay if I lose one or two ;)

Rach wants to be prepared for all of her games this year - she is taking her second con very seriously. I told her to relax and have fun, but she's been bit by the RPG bug it  seems.

Next Wednesday night I'll be hosting Tavern Chat from the hotel bar. If you have questions for any attendees, it will be a perfect time to ask. If they aren't around at question time, I'll track them down later at the con and post the info here at The Tavern. If you arrive early for the con, search Rachel and me out :)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pocket Creatures - Muelitoad - Swords & Wizardry and White Star

Really, what can be said about the Muelitoad race that hasn't been said prior? The fact that they all seem to be female, with wart covered breasts and the frame of an ogre? Perhaps the small stalks that protrude from the eyes and ears that appear to have no useful purpose? Or maybe that they are drawn to the females of intelligent races - for what nefarious purpose we know not yet.

I suspect you didn't realize that they spit poison at their adversaries, for if you did the wad of spittle oozing down your face would cause you no small amount of alarm.

Ah, never mind. You are experiencing such knowledge first hand right now. What a lovely shade of blue. I shall take your leave now if you don't mind. I wonder what will happen to your woman?


ARMOR CLASS   4 [15]
HIT DICE   4+1
ATTACKS   Fists (1d6) or Spit (1d6-3) and Save or Die
SAVING THROW 10 (save bonus due to thick skin)
SPECIAL - Poisonous spit - Range 3"
HDE/XP 5/600

Kickstarter - Murderous Monsters Bestiary for Old School Tabletop RPGs

Murderous Monsters Bestiary for Old School Tabletop RPGs is a Kickstarter to fund a bestiary for multiple "old school" fantasy RPGs. On just that hook, it's an interesting project by +Brent Newhall .

Know what makes it damn near irresistible for me? The +Eric Quigley art.

Know what  puts it over the top? Eric's art is going released under a Creative Commons license, allowing it to be freely used in other commercial projects.

I backed last night.

Did I mention that the "giant rat" gets added at the $4k stretch goal? Every tavern needs some rats and maybe a hoard of coppers ;)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Further Thoughts on "Four Page Pocket Projects"

So, the first "Four Page Pocket Project" to release on Patreon will be Pocket Monsters, Creatures and NPCs - Ashcan #1. I call it an "Ashcan" because the plan to to rerelease it later in a more professional format consolidating at least three to four releases. I'll cross that bridge when it gets there ;)

The goal is to release 1 to 2 four page pocket projects a month, get feedback and tweak as needed.

Now, I'm also thinking of adding a Four Page Pocket Treasures into the mix, which would include magic items, tech items and all the stuff inbetween. As always, they will be posted at The Tavern first.

The fun part is I get to splurge on some stock art. I'll be like a kid in a candy store :)

Oh, got my mailing envelopes for the printed Four Pagers.

And no. No zine on the horizon. Need to crawl before I can even walk ;)

Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight 830 PM Eastern

Yep, it's another Wednesday, and that means another Tavern Chat.

I'll gladly answer questions about the forthcoming Pocket Monsters, Creatures and NPCs as well as the Pocket Settings. However, if all goes as usual, I suspect the conversation will take care of itself ;)

Weather as the Adversary - Can it be a Heroic Opponent?

Whenever weather goes extreme and is in the news every day (2 feet of snow in /nyc, flooding in Texas, tsunamis and the like) it always makes me think about integrating such into an RPG adventure. Instead of heroic acts killing the bad guys, it's heroic acts saving the common folk.

Now, part of the problem with implementing that is that earlier editions of D&D and it's clones really stressed combat. Sure, and argument can and will be made that ealry editions were all about the money and the expo and avoiding combat was usually more effective than engaging in it. While that might be true, I've never played in or run a session for a group that wasn't eager to engage in combat. Stealth be damned, half the group is usually wearing chain mail or better anyhow.

Of course, since D&D has it's roots in wargaming, none of this is a surprise.

With all that out of the way, how would you integrate weather as an adversary in your campaign? How do you make them heroic without the incentive of gold and combat? Fight the ogre tribe or rescue peasants from flood waters?

I know you can use extreme weather as obstacle, but my desire is use it as something that will bring out noble, or at least, decent deeds from the PCs.

Throw some thoughts my way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Playing Around with the 4 Page Pocket Format - Monsters, Creatures and NPCs

I'm pretty happy with the 4 Page Pocket Format that I've been playing around with. Each piece fits pretty nicely on the page with the 4 page Pocket Monsters, Creatures and NPCs. I need to add the White Star and Swords & Wizardry logos, but that's not a big deal. OGL would have to be on a half sheet insert for the printed version - for the PDF I'll just add a page.

Sure, it's basic, but this is as much a way to reward my backers as it is for me to learn new skills. Layout, formatting and the like aren't learned overnite. One only learns from doing.

I want to thank all my Patreon backers - today you pushed the total monthly backing of The Tavern to over $200 a month. If that isn't humbling, I don't know what is.

25 Posts From 5k - 5 Days to 6 Years of Posting

Strange when the stars line up unexpectedly.

We are 25 posts from 5k. I expect to hit that next week while at NTRPG Con.

We are 5 days from 6 years of posting here at The Tavern.

Trying to think of a unique way to celebrate all that. Failing that, I'll settle for a fun way.

Thank you all.

Your Tavern Keeper :)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Kicking it Forward on Patreon - at 28%

As I updated my Patreon page I decided to see where my pledges to other content creators currently stood.

$43.34 and the month isn't over yet.

I have some amazing folks that currently back me for $153 a month, so if nothing changes I'm kicking forward at 28%. Actually, after fees, it's probably about 33% of what I net for the month and I'm damn happy with that.

We (not just me) are literally backing an exciting list of OSR and other RPG creators (as well as a few musicians.)


+Dyson Logos , +Tim Shorts , +Jim Magnusson , +matt jackson , +James Spahn and a bunch of others. You can see the list here.

Thank you for being generous not just to me, but all those that are in turn backed by your favorite grumpy bartender.


Just Because I Now Have a "Long-Arm Stapler" It Does NOT Mean I'll be Producing Zines - Really

I must say, now that I have a new laser printer (PHEW! PHEW!) printing stuff out at home is a pleasure. I just added a long-arm stapler (Sparco Long Reach Stapler, 20 Sheet Capacity - $5.99 at Amazon) at a price I couldn't resist. It will make it easy-peasy to put together 10 or 12 Far Away Land Quickstarts for NTRPG Con.

As tempting as it may be, I don't plan to do any sort of regular zine at this point. A monthly 4 pages Pocket Setting or Pocket Creature Collection is probably my limit right now. I'm not saying a highly irregular zine might not pop up in the future, but that future is not immediate.

Now I need to wait on the heaver printer paper to print the the covers for the Quickstart. It's looking like I may run 2 1/2 to 3 hr sessions. I suspect one will be Sunday Morning while Rachel is in the "all girls" Top Secret game, and since Rach insists she is playing in a session, I'm probably running another earlier in the con.

Morath Ogre for White Star by Jim Magnusson

For the write up and stats for the Morath Ogre, see this previous post.

Art by +Jim Magnusson

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Playing Around with "Ascan" Pocket Monsters, Creatures and NPCs

So, in addition to the Pocket Settings I've been working on, I've also been writing up monsters, creatures and NPCs for the use with White Star and Swords & Wizardry. I've been trying to think of a reward for my backers on the Patreon side of things, and I think I've found a fun way to do it.

Backers at $1.50 or higher will get at least one four page PDF each month - it will be either Pocket Monsters, Creatures and NPCs or a Pocket Setting of four or eight pages. Backers at $4.50 or higher will get a printed copy mailed to them each month (it will be a booklet sized one-sheet - 4 pages on one folded sheet - I need to check on international shipping and may need to add 50 cents or a dollar to the print level for those outside the states.)

Sure, the above layout sucks - but it will only get better as I practice ;)

Everything in the "Pocket" series of ashcans will have been posted previously at The Tavern. I'm just making it easier to refer to for those that toss a few coppers in the tip jar.

I'm considering releasing a a low cost PDF collecting the "Pocket" whatevers one or twice a year, but I'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Consider the above screenshot to be a placer for now. I need to ask +Jim Magnusson if I can use it in this way ;)

We Are Exactly a Week Away From The Tavern's Six Year Anniversary - Time to Plan

I can't believe I've been doing this "blog thing" for nearly 6 years.

Now, I need to figure out how to celebrate this with my friends and virtual family here at "The Tavern." I've got some ideas and more than happy to take the ideas of others into account. What started as a mere blog has turned into a strong community, so it's something we all should be celebrating - I couldn't have done any of this without all of you.

The Patreon rewards will be changing a bit come June. Good stuff only. $4.50 and above will be getting some limited "ashcan" printed material - monsters and / or pocket settings mailed to them once a month. I'm still finalizing the logistics but it is exciting. I suspect it will look fairly poor early on, but I promise to get better with practice ;)

Alright, enough blather. Dinner needs to be made.

First Session of Far Away Land Completed - And it was DAMN Good!

You know how sometimes an RPG reads really well and then falls down in actual play? Far Away Land reads really well, almost intuitively, but I hadn't had a chance to run it until tonight (we've been having a blast playing in +Joe D 's Blood Island game.)

With the recent release of the Far Away Land Quick Start rules, I figured now was a good time to get back behind the virtual GM screen and get a session or two of Far Away Land in before I run it at NTRPG Con in two weeks.

It went smoother than I could have ever hoped for.

Most of my group hadn't even read the Quick Start before we started the session, which was disappointing on one level but excellent on another - I got to experience how long it will take to go from "here's the rules" to "create a character" to "lets roll." The answer to that is about 20 minutes. Hot damn. So, as I had originally planed, my players at NTRPG Con will be creating characters at the beginning of the session using copies of the FAL Quick Start rules.

Combat went very smoothly. A bit swingy at times, but it wasn't so swingy that they were turned off by it. If anything, it kept the combat exciting. While none of the PCs were knocked out or killed, there were moments of "oh shit, one more hit and you could be dead." Leveling won't change that much, as +1 HP per level is going to keep the damage receiving potential of the PCs in check.

Magic use was pretty intuitive and the players grocked it right away, which was nice to see. I didn't see a rule in the quick start for shooting into melee, so I'll need to search the Tome of Awesomeness. If not, as a group we've pretty much come up with a decent houserule.

I ran Temple of Zoko and the players managed to reach the island with the temple about 3 hrs after we started our session. They created characters, spoke to a witch and answered some riddles (and got some answers to their questions), surprised their own ambushers in the forest, beat up some goats, killed a cyclops and recovered a neat sword, killed some elven pirates and avoided getting possessed by Lake Phantoms while still making it to the island.

My group was enthusiastic about the FAL system. Some random (paraphrased) quotes:

"D&D for drunks that can't do math!"

"Plays fast and lose and the rules get out of the way."

"Take it to the pub with your non-gaming friends. They can raid their kids' board games for the D6s."

"This is a good place to stop. Pick up from here next week?"

"You ran this before, right? No? Could'a fooled me."

"This system plays really well."

So, it looks like my "Tales of the Ratcatcher" campaign for White Star will be pushed back just a wee bit ;)

P.S. As an aside, I ran this will just the Far Away Land Quick Start Rules and the Temple of Zoko, both offered as PWYW. I referred to the Tome of Awesome once, for a rule that WAS in the quickstart but somehow I had missed. There is a lot of gameplay available with little or no "out of pocket" risk.

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