Saturday, June 27, 2015

Some Thoughts on Women In Gaming (and some NTRPG Con Observations)

First things first - this is not a rant. I have many rants, and this is not one of them ;)

Some background.

When I was dating my wife, she was very supportive of my efforts to get back into roleplaying. She didn't understand it, but giving me every other Saturday night to do something that was important to me was important to her.

Flash forward a little bit, and she was brave enough to let me run her through a Tunnels & Trolls adventure. I figured the d6s would make the 1st session just a bit less confusing, and I was right. Still, that was her first and last RPG session until NTRPG Con 2014. Yep, she decided to join me at the Con and wanted to play in some of the games. After all, she listens in to one side of my Roll 20 sessions most every Saturday night ;)

My thought last year was that her first RPG session should be a game very few would have a handle on, so I chose Time Master run by none other than +Tim Snider . Tim did what you should do with most game sessions, but especially those with new players and / or those unfamiliar with the system - put the game mechanics in the background and have the players describe what their characters are actually doing.

It went so well Rach wanted me to dig the original rules out of storage and by the next night she was telling me we were returning in 2015 (we did.)

This year, in addition to playing DCC, SWN and Victorious for the first time (as well as some LL) Rach got to play in Merle Rausmussen's All Girls Top Secret session. Now, this is pretty much the opposite of what I generally hear about when it comes to "empowering women in gaming", as the assumption is usually that the woman needs to run the game in order to be empowered. Not according to my wife. She had more fun in Merle's game than any of the others (and she loved them all), possibly because it was her first session without me as a crutch. It was also the rare event with three women at the table (although we did have two women at our table - including Rach - three times this year.)

Let's be honest. More women are brought into gaming by the men in their life than the other way around. The secret to empowering women in gaming isn't to exclude men from sitting behind the GM's screen but giving women an opportunity to play without their crutch - the man that brought them into gaming. It's scary to remove the training wheels but so rewarding when you realize you are riding on your own.

Of course, the next step for Rach WILL be to find a session run by a woman, because she wants to see if there is any difference in the experience. I don't think Rach will be running a session anytime soon, as she doesn't have the desire to do so, but that's true for many players.

(for those wondering, Rachel was actively involved in the writing of this post. I'm hoping to get a post or two out of her where she writes about her gaming experiences directly - I'll twist her arm a bit this summer ;) 

Catch Up Starts NOW!

I'm on vacation.

No more overtime.

No more barely able to scratch out a post or two a day.




Oh, and spring cleaning at home. I have my assignments. Sure, it's summer, but who's counting?

K, back to the fun work :)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Bundle of Holding - Traveller (Classic LBBs)

Traveller was my third RPG, after AD&D and Gamma World. I didn't have the three Little Black Books (LBBs) Edition - I had the Starter Edition, which reedited the 3 LBBs into one Black Book.

I so remember my characters occasionally dying during character generation :)

So, all I can say about the Traveller Bundle of Holding is this:

If you don't have Classic Traveller - GET THIS NOW!

If you have Classic Traveller, but don't have all the books in the bundle (Starter Collection at $6.95 or Bonus Collection which is currently under 15 bucks) GET THIS NOW!

If you have all the Classic Traveller any breathing roleplayer would ever want but don't have it in PDF, GET THIS NOW! Well, alright, you do have 12 days to make the purchase, but I'd hate to see you forget.

Shit, enough of this. Jumping in for the Bonus Collection. There is stuff here I don't have. Now I want to play Classic Traveller again (but I'd make the ship computers MUCH SMALLER, just so you know ;)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Big Bang - Small Packages - Miniaturized Items in RPGs

So, my mother was going through some of my grandmother's stuff and she found this one shot firearm that was worn like a charm. My grandmother got it in Tahiti back around 1914 or so on her honeymoon. There was also an article about a cop removing this from a drunk driver who had worn it around his neck, cocked. Cop shot himself in his finger. Ouch!

It got me thinking - what could still work miniaturized in D&D? Wands are the most obvious choice. Wear one around your neck and no one would be the wiser until you broke it out and mini-fireballed someone's ass. Or mini magic missiled. Actually, the effect does not have to be miniaturized in D&D, just the item itself, although a DM could easily rule either way.

Miniaturized potions could be held between cheek and gum, ready to be bit down on much like a spy's poison pill, but this could hold a healing potion or invisibility.

Maybe a magical 1" long crossbow still fires a bolt that does full damage.

Or maybe it's just 4 pints speaking to me. Or is it thru me ;)

Racial Level Caps - Hard, Soft or Not At All?

We're had some pretty good discussions about experience points in D&D and it's offspring the last few days, so I figured why not keep a good them going ;)

Level caps for demi-humans is pretty common in the earlier editions of D&D. Halflings capping at 4th level is always the thing that comes to mind for me as well as the work around of giving thieves unlimited  advancement in AD&D.

In truth, level caps haven't been an issue in my gaming, mostly because few of my campaigns, as a player of a DM have ever reached the level where they would come into play.

From my perspective, I'd rather give a racial XP penalty (depending on the strength of the races default abilities) than hit them with a hard cap. It comes closer to accomplishing the balance that level caps supposedly are there for than the caps themselves.

So, where do  you stand? Hard caps, soft caps or no caps at all?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tavern Chat - 830 PM Eastern - Tonight (30 minutes from now)

Sorry for the late Tavern Chat reminder. Didn't get home until after 7 tonight.

Anyhow, see you all in 30 minutes :)

What Alternative Methods of Awarding Experience Points Do You Use?

Building upon yesterday's conversation about experience point bonuses, I thought I'd mention some alternative methods I've experimented with to award expo.

For my "B Team" that is going through Castle of the Mad Archmage, I want to encourage exploration of the dungeon and discourage the "rest and repeat" that was so common in the dungeon crawling of my earlier days of gaming. Each room or encounter area explored without resting has an increasing bonus. I've constantly experimented with the numbers.

Room explored squared x 10  -  ex: 5th room without resting would be worth 5x5x10 = 250 expo to be split by the party.

Room explored added to previous  -  ex: 5th room without resting would be worth (1+2+3+4+5) x 10 = 150 expo to be split by the party. This is usually multiplied by the dungeon level.

Yes, I'm still tweaking.

I tend to award less GP than is expected by classic versions of the rules.

I also award a 10% bonus to expo for write ups on blogs or campaign forum or the like. Helps me better remember the previous sessions highlights ;)

So, what alternative methods of awarding experience points do you use?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Purple Duck PDFs Are 50% Off Through Canada Day (Some Excellent DCC RPG Picks)

I had to ask myself: "When the fuck is Canada Day?" Thankfully I didn't ask "what" instead, as that would have disrespected our Northern Neighbors ;)

The answer is - July 1st.

Purple Duck is putting their entire catalogue of electronic releases on sale at 50% off right through July 1st. There's Pathfinder stuff, 4e stuff, Icons and more.

Most importantly for folks like me there is some excellent DCC RPG stuff and some very affordable stock art. Heck, the stock art was reasonably priced before - this is simply a steal.

So, go to Purple Duck's page at RPGNow and browse. Oh, and tell The Duck "Tenkar sent ya." ;)

Experience Bonus for High Ability Scores - Shouldn't it Be the Other Way Around?

I was stuck on overtime yesterday afternoon, and probably will be the rest of the week. It's what happens when work needs to get done and the overtime budget was underspent the past 11 1/2 months.

In any case, as it tends to do, my mind started to wander. That often happens after the 11th hour when sitting at a desk signing off on electronic worksheets. The wandering went something like this:

High ability scores already give player characters a bonus, especially in AD&D and later versions / clones of D&D. This bonus is to the chance to hit, to damage, lowering the chance to be hit, more hit points, more languages, better chance to know spells and the ability to know more spells, cast more spells, improve NPC morale, more potential henchmen, open up those stuck doors, bend those bars... I'm sure I missed a few.

With all those potential bonuses, do we really need to add expo to the mix? They do things better naturally but it doesn't mean they learn faster. Maybe, just maybe, the weaker fighter has to learn faster just to make up for his physical deficits.

Maybe those high scores should be an expo penalty and the low ones should be bonuses.

Just a thought...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kickstarter - Baby Bestiary 2016 Calendar

These is just something about the art. The use of colors. The lack of stark line art. The expressions...

Shit, where was I?

Oh, yeah. The Baby Bestiary 2016 Calendar.

Did I mention I love the art and your girlfriend / wife and / or both will probably love it too? Always a good selling point for fantasy art. They tend to not appreciate chainmail bikinis and blood and entrails adorning one's refrigerator door.

Backers can even vote on the monster babies included on the calendar.

So, there's lots to like. Heck, there's a lot I DO like.

There is a potential pitfall (file this under vetting), at least if you are focusing on the calendar and not so much the Baby Bestiary Handbook -
If you missed the Baby Bestiary Kickstarter, it is an adorable book about the your favorite fantasy beasts, how they reproduce and how to rear them if you so want to find one and train it :) The book features 32 baby beasts within each with amazing artwork done by Conceptopolis, including the eyebeasts, owlbears and phase cats. 
When this kickstarter ends I can send off your PDF immediately, and the books are printing as you read this. 
The official release of the Baby Bestiary Handbook is during GenCon (July 29th) but you will be getting your copy before then :D 

Sorry, got distracted again. Oh, yes. Calendars are time sensitive. The estimated delivery date is September 2015, but if it slips (as it did with the original Baby Bestiary Calendar) you miss out on some of the very use you are backing for. It does seem Andreas has recognized this:
Looking at last year, I was personally disappointed in myself with the calendars, they were late to market, the images didn't perfectly fit and there some obvious editorial errors that were in it that were a result of being rushed getting the thing to print. And I don't want to repeat those mistakes. 
This year the calendar will be Illustrated by Domenico Nezart, and artist of whom you may recognize his work in the introduction of the Baby Bestiary.
One project wrapping up, one looking to be on target for November or earlier and one about to run late (nothing new for a Kickstarter.) Andreas has multiple balls in the air, with most of it depending on art that appears to be progressing well across the Kickstarters (updates are full of art pieces.)

I think Rachel wants the calendar ;)

Playing Swag Catch Up - NTRPG Con Swag Goes to...

I've been busy since getting back from NTRPG Con - much busier than I expected. I'm playing catch up in many ways. Thankfully, I'm on vacation next week. Damn, but that came fast.

Tonight we're awarding a NTRPG Con swag bag. There may be more to this swag than pictured - I need to inventory all the goodies I returned with.

So, who gets this swag?

None other than...

+James Stanton

James, email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing with your snail mail and we'll get this out to you. Well, I'll get this out to you :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Free OSR "Kitchen Sink" - From The Vats (Free RPG Day Alternative Picks - Post VI)

As is my usual, I try to find some free RPGs in PDF to highlight for folks that don't have a FLGS participating in Free RPG Day. Or maybe you're like me and just not all that impressed with this years offerings.

I literally just refreshed my RPGNow homepage, saw for the first time and have just downloaded From the Vats.

Holy crap, but there is a lot of old school goodness crammed in here:
54 pages of community-created, bio-sorcery weirdness. 
One full adventure: The Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper, by Ben Laurence.
Two one-page adventures by Alex Schröder and Anders Hedenbjörk Lager.
25 new monsters.
7 new magic items.
6 new spells.
Even some art by my friend +Jim Magnusson

The price is right. This sucker is free. You know you want it.

Free OSR Adventure - RL1 - The Craft Dungeon of Reynaldo Lazendry (Free RPG Day Alternative Picks - Post V)

As is my usual, I try to find some free RPGs in PDF to highlight for folks that don't have a FLGS participating in Free RPG Day. Or maybe you're like me and just not all that impressed with this years offerings.

RL1 - The Craft Dungeon of Reynaldo Lazendry is an adventure module for older versions of the world's first (and still most popular) fantasy role-playing game. It is meant to be a begining adventure and is purely a dungeon crawl, with no plot or story, where the PCs explore the ruins of a dungeon (nearly 80 rooms) where a retired wizard pursued his hobbies.

Also comes with a small village meant to serve as a home base, though this can easily be discarded.
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