Saturday, September 19, 2015

Mounts - Where Do They Go When You Go in the Dungeon?

I had this thought last night after our party killed a half starved and recently unchained hippogryph (at least I THINK it was a hippogryph.) After toying with the idea of finding hippo eggs (nope) it occurred to me that mounts, especially the special ones, are mostly hand waved away when not in use (my personal experience going back to the early 80s)

Paladin's warhorse? Leave it at the dungeon entrance and he'll be there when you get back.

Flying mount? Let it graze or hunt until your return.

Regular horses? Occasionally missing upon the party's return, but for the most part their presence (or lack there of) is hand waved.

In many ways, mounts are like strict encumbrance rules - off screen and not thought of until they impact the adventure.

What's your experience with mounts? Integral elements or mostly off stage and an afterthought?

Talk Like a Pirate - Razor Coast Titles 50% Off Today Only

Damn. Never ending day of sales today. Good thing I already have everything thus far or I'd be going broke ;)

Frog God is offering all of their Razor Coast titles at 50% off, today only. Swords & Wizardry and Pathfinder flavors.

Use the coupon code: PIRATE-DAY

Alright, nap time before tonight's shift ;)

White Star 40% Off in PDF This Weekend Only!

Perhaps you live on the far side of the moon and missed the earlier release of White Star.

Or maybe you've been waiting for White Star to go on sale so you can see how well the OSR can cover Sci-fi gaming of differing tropes.

In any case, for one weekend only, White Star is 40% off in PDF. Yep, you can jump on the White Star bandwagon for a mere $5.99.

Do it. You players will thank you ;)

Venger (Kort'thalis Publishing) is Running a 50% Off Sale on PDFs This Weekend

If nothing else, +Venger Satanis puts out some beautiful products. The art may be a bit risque but it certainly is top notch.

This weekend Kort'thalis Publishing is running a 50% off sale on it's entire PDF catalogue (well, some releases are already free.)

Looking for some picks from the bunch? The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence (on sale for $6 in PDF) and Liberation of the Demon Slayer (on sale for $3.50.) Both are excellent (if disturbing) choices for some OSR gaming fun.

Note: POD versions are also reduced in price, just not 50%.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Wizards of the Coast Announces Closing of It Community Forums - Is There Anyone Left to Watch as the Light Gets Turned Off?

Wizards of the Coast recently announced the closing of their Community Forums. I haven't read their forums in years and rarely go to forums in general, but there are folks that just use forums for their gaming news and interactions with other gamers.

Even if, as WotC says, that the majority of the community conversation is taking place elsewhere, I suspect a sizable amount of it was happening on the company's forums. This is simply cost cutting, plain and simple, but I suspect part of the cost will be a loss of traffic to the WotC site.

Instead of trying to build a community, they'd rather cut it loose.

I know few if any of The Tavern's readers frequented the WotC forums, but it's still a shame to see them shut down.

When they should be looking to build up their loyal gaming community, they end it.

Technology in Gaming (Guest Poster Eric Hoffman)

Tonight we have a guest post from +Eric Hoffman - I remember getting my father to photocopy the old Goldenrod Character Sheets at his job.

Technology in Gaming

When I was a teenager, my gaming crowd always wanted to play games at a particular friends house more than any other.  Did he have a dedicated game room?  Lax parental oversight?  Unlocked liquor cabinet?  Attractive sisters?  No.  His dad had a photo copier in the basement.  It seems silly now in this day of fingertip technology but back then that was a BIG deal.  Even if you had a home computer (which not many people did at the time) only a few people had printers and there were no all-in-one machines.  To make copies you had to go to the library and pay for them.  With a home machine you could make copies of maps, character sheets, attack matrixes, anything you wanted right at the table.
Al Gore had barely invented the internet and the general public was largely unaware of it.  If you somehow had a modem, and knew how to use it, you had to actually pick up the telephone receiver and put it on the modem to dial up...something...

Today we have so much at our fingertips, including virtual gaming tables where you can connect with players anywhere in the world in a few keystrokes.  How do you use technology in your gaming today?

For me personally, 98% of my gaming is online.  I have been lucky enough to find a solid group of 30+ people that are awesome to game with.  Google Plus has been key to that, and if you aren't on it, you are missing out on an unbelievable OSR/DIY gaming scene.  The only limits to my gaming now are put in place by me (ok, my wife...).

State of The Tavern - Rotating Header Art, Designated Creation Time and More

Hit the refresh button on your browser. Hit it again. And Again. There are currently four pieces of artwork that are in the header rotation for the banner. Huge amount of gratitude and thanks goes to +Tony Bravo who spent hours last night making this a reality. Tony has an online adventure generator which deserves some attention - Basic & Expert RPG Generator. Give him some love.

Of course, a huge amount of thanks goes to the artists whose work is in the header rotation - +Scott Ackerman , +Far Away Land RPG (Dirk), +Jim Magnusson and of course +Eric Quigley . I'm always open to adding a new header into the rotation, so if you are interested, let me know.

The new work hours have been kicking my ass and have totally screwed my productivity on the creative front. Waiting the six months for life to return to normality simply isnt an option. Hell, I'm probably 3 to 4 weeks behind on reading emails, let alone answering them.

So, designating some creative time. Mondays and Tuesdays from 2 to 5 pm eastern and Fridays from 8 to 11 am (when I reset the clock for my weekend) that's in addition to the basic blogging time, so hopefully i can get back to making some White Star and Swords & Wizardry content (as well as getting that content into the hands of my Patreon backers.)

Remember, Tavern Chat is now THURSDAY NIGHTS from 9pm to 11pm Eastern

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tavern Chat Tonight at 9PM - I Nearly Slept Through It ;)

And here I thought I was handing the new work hours well. Slept from 730 am until 230 PM, went out for lunch and then napped from 530 PM until PM. Could have slept more too.

Tavern Chat tonight in 40 minutes!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

40% Off DungeonMorph Cards & System Neutral Ecology Creature Decks - Print & PDF

+Joe Wetzel is running a sale on some of his excellent offerings - both his DungeonMorph Cards and his System Neutral Ecology Creature Decks.

The links are below:

System Neutral Ecology Decks

DungeonMorph Cards (Dungeons & Caverns)

DungeonMorph Cards (Cities, Ruins & Villages)

Use the code “40cards” for 40% off

Looks like I'm getting Geomorph Cards ;)

Wayward Kickstarter - Far West - Someone Gets a Refund and History Gets Revised

The Red Hands of Justice

Far West released a "Backers Only" update yesterday. It is so full of excuses and misdirections I almost felt I was in an alternate reality.

Really. It was that bad.

After nearly four years of lies, misstatements and broken promises we now have revisionist history going on. Simply amazing. If it was set in a faux Western / Wuxia mash up we'd have the game written already.

Now, to point out the issues, I need to quote from the update.
As some of you are aware, I’ve issued a partial refund (from their original level, down to the digital-only level, to reflect that they’ve been receiving digital copies of the rewards (last we were told there's a few more chapters to be worked on))to a backer who filed a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General’s office. I wanted to talk about that in more detail. 
The sole reason I went ahead and did this, rather than defend myself under the original Kickstarter terms we had funded FAR WEST under (which clearly stated that demonstrating good-faith progress towards completion [wrong - here's the section in question - Project Creators agree to make a good faith attempt to fulfill each reward by its Estimated Delivery Date.] was an indication that I was fulfilling my obligations) (https://www.kickstarter.com/terms-of-use/oct2012) is simply because I did the math and realized that I could not afford to secure legal representation in Washington. It was cheaper to simply issue the refund. 
Since the backer in question went public with this news, though, I’ve had a handful of additional requests — and that’s what brings me to this update. I’m going to go ahead and talk about the stuff which I’ve previously refused to detail, preferring that it remain confidential. But maintain that confidentiality prevents you from understanding my situation, so I’m discarding it. Even so, I would please ask that the information in this backer-only update be kept between us. (sorry - no can do - misstatements of the truth must be addressed)
In 2013 (May 8th, 2013 was the announcement -  The FAR WEST Adventure Game core rulebook will be released this Summer, first to backers of the 2011 FAR WEST Kickstarter, and then to distribution world-wide. Additional releases in the FAR WEST game line will be announced soon), I signed a contract with the UK game company (Cubicle 7) I was working with, where they agreed to fund production beyond what I’d already paid for, and to distribute the game not only to you backers, but as a game line under their imprint. 
In 2014, as you all know, I fell very ill (but he told Cubicle 7 it would be ready for release in Summer of 2013 - mere months after signing the contract), and spent about half of the year in and out of the hospital. Confident in that contract, I paid my medical bills. However, during my recovery, the company cancelled our contract -- leaving me with almost no funds to continue, or to hire an attorney in the UK to take up the breach of contract issue. I was, as you can imagine, devastated by this news. (as I am sure Cubicle 7 was when each month they were told "it will be done at the end of next week")
wait - here's an update from 2 years ago:

Look at the amazing progress. We were what, 2 weeks from digital delivery in November 2013 and then this:

Two months later and only the first 5 chapters are ready. 20 months after the January 16, 2014 update and we still have a few chapters to go. Who breached what contract?
Now thankfully, in the year since, I have secured several private investors who have made the offer to fund the physical production -- although via this arrangement, I will make no money on the commercial sales of the core rulebook. (wait - didn't the Kickstarter for Far West raise nearly $50,000? Where did all that money go?) That's fine with me -- as long as you backers get what was promised, I have no problem with earning nothing for the core book. (again, you earned nearly $50,000 less payment and Kickstarter fees - you WERE paid and have returned with a project yet to be complete 4 years later) It is my hope that the supplemental releases will push the project into the black.
 Now, I’m going to get back to work. I’ve got to finish these last few chapters. 
Up is down and left is right. I backed this train wreck for 150 bucks. I'll never get value for my money so I may as well keep my readers informed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"d20 System" Sale at RPGNow - 15% Off Select Titles in PDF - OSR Included

I thought the "d20 License" was dead. Not the OGL, but the actual d20 License and graphic. I was under the impression it couldn't be used anymore. (did some further research - apparently it's alive but no sane publisher would use it these days.) Maybe OBS knows something I don't. Maybe WotC gave them the OK to use the graphic. The thing is, even if the titles are OGL, none of these are technically "d20 System."

Anyhow, +Joseph Bloch 's excellent Castle of The Mad Archmage is 15% off in PDF as are +Kevin Crawford 's various Sine Nomine releases such as Silent Legion, Red Tide and others. White Star is NOT included, even if it is part of the graphic. Strange. Maybe on a future weekend sale.

The main link for the sale is here.

The plan is that over the weekend (weekend being Thursday / Friday for me and my overnight hours) I'll try and pick some OSR diamonds out of the "d20 System" chaff ;)

Monday, September 14, 2015

ENWorld Article - Is the OSR Dead? (It Ain't Quite Dead Yet!)

An article went up on ENWorld earlier today titled "Is the OSR Dead?"

It's fairly long and the sources quoted aren't necessarily "authoritative" in my opinion (the Four Year Cycle attributed to Ken Hite for example is one I'd never heard of before and doesn't represent the experiences of myself or most of the gamers I know) but it does raise some interesting points. Read it in full at the link above.

The most interesting quote from the article in my opinion is below:
OSR-style games currently capture over 9 percent of the RPG market according to ENWorld's Hot Role-playing Games. If you consider the Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons to be part of that movement, it's nearly 70 percent of the entire RPG market.  
The OSR has gone mainstream. If the OSR stands for Old School Renaissance, it seems the Renaissance is over: D&D, in all of its previous editions, is now how most of us play our role-playing.
As was pointed out in the comments section of the article, the numbers quoted are based on discussions at ENWorld, not actual sales. ENWorld has a higher % of D&D players than the hobby over all, as it is by it's history and nature primarily a D&D site. I think Paizo may disagree a bit with the market share assumed above. I also take issue with lumping 5e in with the OSR but maybe thats just me.

Now, if we look at Roll20's 1st Quarter usage numbers, we get the following:

See how 5e has more games but less players than Pathfinder? I suspect that's due to "New Game Excitement" effect.

AD&D / OD&D / OSR adds up to 16.49 % of players (obviously folks can vote for more than one game / category) - AD&D on it's own is over 11.5%. As for the share of games run, the numbers only add up to 3.19%.

Only in the RPG hobby would one consider success as death. Or dismiss something because another game borrowed from it. The OSR is less about the rules and more about the products you use those rules with. Until 5e goes OGL or some such, the OSR is where the real innovations will lie.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

RPGNow Deal of the Day - Mischievous Monsters (ACKS / OSR Adventure)

Forgive me if this post seems rushed - I leave for work in 30 minutes and nearly missed this altogether.

Mischievous Monsters is today's Deal of the Day at RPGNow. The OSR selections are infrequent and I'd hate to miss any. Glad I didn't miss this one. With writing by +Simon Forster and art by +Jim Magnusson I'd be kicking myself if I had.

$1.96 until tomorrow morning in PDF, $7.70 in Print + PDF.
Several leagues off the main road
is a portal to the realm of fairy; a
ring of standing stones resting in
a clearing surrounded by ancient
trees. Once a year, from the full
moon to the next full moon, this
portal opens and allows the
fairies to cross over, to wreck
havoc and cause mischief in the
mortal realm. 
This adventure pits the characters
against a group ofmischievous
fairies, who raid the inn the
characters (henceforth, the Party)
are staying at and steal the goods
of a wealthy trader. The trader
hires the Party to track the
thieves down and recover his
goods, and awards them
handsomely to do so. 

Some Random Thoughts on the OSR Going Off the RPGNow Grid

There has been some recent talk about starting a new online RPG distributor of PDFs and Print on Demand for the OSR to avoid the perceived threat of censorship by RPGNow on products that "push the edge."

Personally, I think competition is good. If RPGNow / OneBookShelf had any sort of true competition, the site itself would run faster with less down time, better site security and I suspect more responsive customer service.

The thing is, OBS is THE distributor of RPGs in digital and on demand services. There is little competition.

YourGamesNow is long gone. The d20pfsrd Store is a horror to navigate and doesn't have POD as far as I know. Paizo sells third party PDFs as a supplement to it's core business (and is more likely to censor than OBS ever will), Indie Press Revolution doesn't have the size and Lulu is even worse than d20pfsrd to navigate.

Building a competitor from scratch is cost prohibitive, especially if you are hoping for POD. Although the OSR certainly packs a punch far outside it's weight class, it is still just a small piece of a relatively small hobby.

You'd also be fighting RPGNow's market share and ability to cut into their own profits to undersell your price points on any new distribution service. In many ways, RPGNow is free advertisement for it's releases.

The DriveThruRPG site (the half of OBS that the OSR tends to ignore) does significantly more traffic than ENWorld. RPGNow trails ENWorld but it's fairly close. How do you compete with inertia like that as a start up?

You can't. Not without investing and losing money for years up front.

What you could do for little cost (but I suspect lots of man hours) is put together a central site that links to all the above, allowing shoppers to find the product no matter where it's hosted (and compare prices at the different online stores.) Use what is already out there instead of creating new. Use the marketing strength of all the available services to ensure that if a product is not carried at one source buyers can easily find it at other sources.

Eh, maybe my idea isn't as simple as it appears to me, but it has to be cheaper and easier and more effective than trying to compete directly.

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