Saturday, October 6, 2018

New Release from Barrel Rider Games - White Box: Vigilant of the Midnight Gourd [Swords & Wizardry]

James Spahn gives us a new class for Swords & Wizardry just in time for Halloween - White Box: Vigilant of the Midnight Gourd.
Those Who Faithfully Await His Return Are Rewarded... 
White Box: Vigilant of the Midnight Gourd puts a dark twist on a modern Halloween classic, reshaping it into a terrifying and twisted class for use with Swords & Wizardry White Box and other OSR roleplaying games. 
Children who wait in the pumpkin patch sometimes receive strange gifts and become known as the Vigilant of the Midnight Gourd. Entice new followers to your dark master with sweet treats, stand sleepless and untiring in the pumpkin patch, and cut down those who would dare doubt the existence of the dark gourd that is your master with this 10-level class!
Damn it, James! Now I want to write an adventure centered around this. How much time do we have before Halloween?

White Box: Vigilant of the Midnight Gourd is available in PDF for a buck at RPGNow.

Yep, that's an affiliate link above. Go ahead, buy your bartender a beer ;)

Old School Blues Live! Podcast / Youtube - Episode 13

Join Vince, Glen and me as we ramble and meander our way through the latest episode of the Old School Blues and occasionally talk about where we find our inspiration in gaming.

It was a fun time :)

Link to the Old School Blues Anchor Podcast: https://anchor.fm/oldschoolblues

The Tavern Chat Podcast - E143 - Did Evil Hat Get Too Big? Layoffs and Product Cancellations Announced

Evil Hat, purveyor of FATE, is not having a good 2018. Reminds me of the yearly purges WotC would have at the holidays...
I received review copies of Dungeons & Dragons - Art and Arcana: A Visual History yesterday and they look amazing. Doesn't translate well to a podcast though ;) Black Hat is laying off stay and canceling some planned releases. They are hoping to be back in "the black" in 2019, which means they are "in the red" for 2018...
Link to Episode 143 - https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E143---Did-Evil-Hat-Get-Too-Big--Layoffs-and-Product-Cancellations-Announced-e2bl2c


Friday, October 5, 2018

First Look - Dungeons & Dragons - Art and Arcana: A Visual History

Just as I was walking out of the house this morning, the postman delivered a not too large but fairly heavy box into my hands. I saw Random House of the box and knew it had to be a review copy of the soon to be released Dungeons & Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I found not just the standard released but also a copy of the Special Edition, Boxed Book & Ephemera Set. Grognard heaven :)

These are huge books and they may not weigh a metric ton, but they come close ;)

The paper quality is really good (much better than the B1-B2 omnibus) at the same base retail price (50 bucks). The binding looks like it will stand up to a lot of reading, and reading I need to do. It's not just the art but the history happening around the art.  Maybe I'll read this instead of watching football on Sunday, as both the Jets and the Giants are having a horrible start to the season.

I'll be sharing a bunch of pics on this post. It's not a review post. Its simply first impressions, an I'm simply blown away.

Dungeons & Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History has a suggested retail of $50 - on Amazon, it is available for pre-order at $31.45

Dungeons & Dragons Art and Arcana: A Visual History - Special Edition, Boxed Book & Ephemera Set has a suggested retail of $125 - on Amazon, it is available for pre-order at $76.27

Note - these are Amazon affiliate links. A small portion of your purchase price made via these links will go to support The Tavern. I Thank you.

The following pics are from the Special Edition:

The Tavern Chat Podcast - E142 - Protecting Your Reputation from Groundless Accusations

Groundless accusations. They are a dime a dozen these days. Often, just the accusation can hit your reputation. Take steps to protect yourself.
We have some voicemails related to Episode 141 and the Tome of Adventure Design. Afterward, I talk about steps you can take to protect yourself and your reputation from groundless accusations on social media. Quite simply, screenshot anything and everything in a conversation online that may go south.
Link to Episode 142https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E142---Protecting-Your-Reputation-from-Groundless-Accusations-e2bg5v

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Evil DM's Video Walkthrough of Illwinter's Floorplan Generator

Vince Florio - AKA The Evil DM - does a video walkthrough of Illwinter's Floorplan Generator and it's awesome. Even taught me a new trick or two ;)

I plan on putting together a "cheat sheet" of sorts for Illwinter in the next few days and will probably follow that up with a step by step tutorial on the blogside.

I simply don't have the video chops that Vince has :)

The Tavern Chat Podcast - E141 - Finding Inspiration in the Tome of Adventure Design

I love referring to the Tome of Adventure Design when I need inspiration when creating an adventure. It really is the go-to book on my gaming shelf, although I tend to roll less and scan and pick more.
Last night, while recording the latest episode of The Old School Blues podcast (here on Anchor) we touched on the topic of "adventure inspiration" and I totally forgot to mention the Tome of Adventure Design.
Link to Episode #141 - https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E141---Finding-Inspiration-in-the-Tome-of-Adventure-Design-e2b93l

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight - 9 PM Eastern - Let There be Maps!

I've got maps on my mind and my mind on maps, so I'm sure maps will be part of tonight's conversation ;)

What is Tavern Chat? Its mostly a voice enable hangout of members of the community using The Tavern's Discord Server.

Here's a link:  https://discord.gg/VEEYmx

See y'all tonight :)

The map on this page is released under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

The Tavern Chat Podcast - E140 - Review - Illwinter's Floorplan Generator (Maps)

As I posted earlier this week, I simply love Illwinter's Floorplan Generator. It simply hits all of my sweet spots.
I had put a call out for mapping programs that were easy to use and the results were usable commercially. Illwinter's Floorplan Generator fits the bill perfectly. Its affordable (7 bucks) and cross-platform )PC/Mac/Linux.
Link to Episode 140 - https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E140---Review---Illwinters-Floorplan-Generator-Maps-e2b40m

Link to Illwinter's Floorplan Generator - http://www.illwinter.com/floorplan/

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Review - The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide

Long story short, I was offered a reviewer's copy of The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide by the publisher. How could I say no?  ;)

I gave my initial impressions (they were good) last week on The Tavern Chat Podcast, but how does "The Ultimate" stand up to a more thorough perusal? Very well.

Let me start by repeating something the author himself mentions - hop around the book. Use what inspires you. There is no need to use it all - hell, I don't think that is possible or even advisable. Simply use what works.

Now, I am primarily a DM / GM these days, and I'm going to ask you to note that the title doesn't say "Player Character... Guide" but "Character Guide". Think of this book not just as a useful tool for the players at your table, but an amazing toolkit to give your NPC some depth.

The first entry is a series of tables to invent your own idioms. Want an easy way to make each town identifiable for your players? Give your shopkeeper a unique idiom or two.

"Can't make a dwarf till a field."

"A foolish thief finding a dragon's horde may as well dig his own grave."

"Happiness gets you killed in front of hell's black gates."

Damn. I could really enjoy this :)

Some of the sections are of the "world building" type. Unique holy/holidays, a character's approach towards religion, details of your homeland/town/etc. These sections work best hand in hand with your DM, but also serve the DM well as he/she seeks to add depth to the campaign world - either one of their own creation or taken off the shelf. Its details like this that make an RPG campaign more than a simple series of connected adventures but a living, breathing world.

One of my favorite entries deals with what a character brings with them on adventures to keep that connection to home. Again, its presented as a tool for your players, but imagine the response when your players find the bandit leader's lair, and there is a small jewelry box filled with earth next to his bed. Is it magical? What's the purpose? (I still remember my Commanding Officer in the late 90's, when I was a cop in the South Bronx, having a small piece of Irish Turf on a shelf in his office, to remind him of his childhood in Ireland)

The most surprising thing about The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide is that it hasn't been done before. I find myself reading sections like Five Things You Can't Throw Away (applies as much in real life as it does in game) and Wanted (the joys of "Wanted Posters") and think "This is brilliant!" followed by "How come I never thought of this?" It's obvious once it's brought to one's attention, but the fact is that the obvious often remains hidden in plain sight. It takes the right person, or writer, to bring it into the light.

I can give The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide the following praise - it's inspired me to want to kick off a new RPG Campaign for the first time in a year and a half. I want to DM a campaign and I want to play in a campaign. I want to pick through the guide for nuggets of inspiration, for added depth to my next gameworld. I can think of no better endorsement other than "this book will be used". Sadly, I can't say that for the vast majority of my gaming collection.

The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Guide has a retail price of 14.99. On Amazon, its 10.39 in softcover, 10.99 in Kindle format.  https://amzn.to/2IE1gFb

Yep, that's an affiliate link above. Keep the taps flowing and the beer cold at The Tavern by using our affiliate links.
Ramp up your role-playing game and make your character your own with this fun, interactive workbook—an essential addition to any RPG player’s gaming kit. 
You’ve chosen your class, bought your weapons, and rolled for your stats, and you’re now the proud owner of your own RPG (role-playing game) avatar. But before you begin your adventure, there’s so much more you can do with your character to make him or her your own! Just how evil is she? What does his dating profile look like? Where did she get that scar? What does he want for his birthday? With fill-in-the blank narratives, prompts, and fun activities to help you customize your character at the start of the game, or build out your backstory as you play, The Ultimate RPG Character Backstory Book will help you fully imagine your character and bring them to life for the ultimate gaming experience!

The Tavern Chat Podcast - E139 - Gygax Memorial Fund - 2017 Tax Return is In - Not What I Expected

You know when you expect one thing and get another, and the other you get does answer a question, but not the one you really wanted an answer for. That is this. We sill don't know where the monies that WotC states they are sending the Gygax Memorial Fund from the sales of the POD and PDFs of the core AD&D 1e books, but Alex Gygax is now listed as a "Director" on the Fund's tax return. He still hasn't made the Fund's webpage yet. And what's up with the left justification?
Back in early June of this year, Alex Gygax messaged me to let me know that the latest filed tax return was being updated and refiled. I thought that meant an accounting of the monies WotC indicated it had been forwarding to the Fund since 2015 for the 1e reprints. I thought wrong...
Link to Episode 139https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E139---GMF---2017-Tax-Return-is-In---Not-What-I-Expected-e2auqn

Link to the Gygax Memorial Fund - http://www.gygaxmemorialfund.org

Link to the Gygax Memorial Fund's Tax Returns - http://www.gygaxmemorialfund.org/fund-info/financial-info

Monday, October 1, 2018

Podcast - Old School Blues - Episode 13 - Vince Florio & Yours Truly

Last week Vince and I recorded Episode 13 of the Old School Blues Podcast.

Its available via Ancor and Youtube - yes, there is a video :)

As if you didn't have enough of me unscripted - heh.

More to come. Maybe even with Old Man Grognard.

Anchor Link: https://anchor.fm/oldschoolblues/episodes/Old-School-Blues-The-Revival-Live----Episode-12-e2a7ms

Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/6NNTw5mJiqA

The Tavern Introduces "Free Map Mondays!" (Beers are 5 Bucks ;)

As I posted about last night, I seem to have found my dungeon mapping program for the immediate future - Illwinter's Floorplan Generator. I'm still learning the interface, but my second map look less than an hour and looks pretty darn good (if I must say so myself)

If you are a frustrated mapper much like myself, I recommend Illwinter without reservation. For 7 bucks, there's little risk and the results are amazing. Its cross-platform and projects using the core resources can be published commercially.

Which is where Free Map Mondays comes into play. I plan on releasing a map on Mondays, every Monday. The maps will be free to use personally and commercially. All I ask is you include the following if you use any of the free maps commercially: "Map by Erik Tenkar using Illwinter's Floorplan Generator."

Or just buy the program yourself.

I have more map ideas in mind. Need to tweak before announcing, but it should be fun for all :)

Oh yeah, the map above is released for free commercial use subject to the above simple terms.

Edit - I'm guessing there is a CC license that covers this...

Editing the Edit - Maps will be released under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ / Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

The Tavern Chat Podcast - E138 - Four Wayward Kickstarters, See How They Run - Or Not

Ah, Wayward Kickstarters. If I didn't mock them, I might cry. And yes, I backed all four of these.
I've been meaning to so this episode for a couple of days now. I guess I was kinda busy ;) I talk about the following Kickstarters: Yarr! The Pirate ArrPG Hardcover : Make 100 Edition, Far West: Western/Wuxia Mashup adventure game, Artisan Dice Does Handcrafted Polyhedrals, and Appendix N Adventure Toolkits (DCC RPG Modules).
Link to Episode 138 - https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E138---Four-Wayward-Kickstarters--See-How-They-Run---Or-Not-e2ao6l

Link to Kickstarters:







Sunday, September 30, 2018

I Found My Mapping Program - Illwinter's Floorplan Generator (Win / OSX / Linux)

About 30 minutes of initial playtime with Illwinter's Floorplan Generator

Thanks for all of the feedback. I was presented with lots of mapping tools to explore and I will do so, but for now, I have found my dungeon mapping program - Illwinter's Floorplan Generator.

It hits a few sweet points for me.
  1. It works on OSX (and Windows and Linus too).
  2. Maps made with the core assets can be used commercially. Using "mod" assets, you'd need to confer with the creator(s). I haven't progressed that far. (https://steamcommunity.com/app/630900/discussions/0/1694920442953847793/)
  3. It's inexpensive. 7 bucks on Steam.
  4. It's easy to use and user-friendly (the map you see above I did in about 30 minutes, playing with various features)
Here's a list of features from the Illwinter's Floorplan Generator Steam Page:

Illwinter's Floorplan Generator is a grid-based dungeon and wilderness floorplan creator. The floorplan generator can be used to quickly draw and print an encounter floorplan for your favorite pen and paper roleplaying game. It is very quick and easy to create a simple floorplan, you just select what terrain type each square should be and the program fixes the rest. E.g. a cave wall next to a rocky ground will automatically create a jagged wall, but the same cave wall next to a marble floor would create a much smoother wall because this is likely to be an indoor room with polished walls.

  • About 50 different terrain types to choose from
  • Icons included for the most common objects, e.g. doors, stairs, tables, beds, trees, bushes, pentagrams
  • Color maps or old school black and white style
  • Adjacent terrains interact automatically to create jagged edges, smooth transitions and shadows when necessary
  • Random fractals used to create shapes for cave walls, rivers and other non regular terrains
  • Create a multi-page pdf with the dungeon divided into pages suitable for printing
  • Export dungeon as a single png suitable for roll20 and similar applications
  • Configurable square and paper sizes, (default is 1 inch squares on A4 pages)
  • Outdoor and dungeon shadows with configurable strength
  • Export to your favorite paint program for finishing touches
  • Import your own icons
  • Create new terrain types from imported images
  • Configurable grid, default is to not draw it on top of walls and with thicker lines between pages
  • Grid based, terrain is placed in squares or on square edges (icons can be placed and rotated freely)
  • Shortcuts to quickly put a random door, tree or bush in a square
  • Dungeon layout can be imported from a simple ASCII text file, like this http://www.illwinter.com/floorplan/ss/ascii.jpg
  • Create random dungeons automatically
  • Editor to create rules for your own random dungeon
  • Color dungeons can be converted to Black & White style dungeons automatically
  • Steam workshop support

Better mapping example. Not my work ;)

I have some ideas on the usage of the maps I'll be working on. More on that later.

Edit: I tweaked a bit and learned new features, like hiding secret doors for VTTS

The Tavern Chat Podcast - E 137 - Meltdown in the Roll20 SubReddit Makes Newsweek

How often does our corner of the universe make it to a news outlet like Newsweek? I'm not talking major announcements, I'm talking dumpster fires.
First, thank you for all of the support. It means more than you know. We have voicemails from Jason Hobbs and Old Man Grognard. The news section is about Roll20 moderator, cofounder and manager Nolan T banning a Reddit user, the backlash and dumpster fire that resulted and the actions taken to resolve the public relations nightmare.
Link to Episode 137https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E-137---Meltdown-in-the-Roll20-SubReddit-Makes-Newsweek-e2ajet

Link to Reddit Thread 


Link to Newsweek Articlehttps://www.newsweek.com/roll20-reddit-nolant-jones-apostleo-apostleoftruth-dungeons-and-dragons-ban-1142706
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