Monday, September 30, 2019

GoFundMe for Corey Langeslay - Flooded after Tropical Storm Imelda

I simply can't imagine living in a flood-prone location. If I get an inch of water in my basement I'm out of sorts for days. Yet here I am looking at a water line 3 feet high in this room. Simply scares the shit outa me.
Our home was flooded during TS Imelda.  We will be forced to move after just finishing a rebuild from Hurricane Harvey.  FEMA has not declared this a disaster at this time and we are living at a friends home.  our car and RV were destroyed.  Since we lived in the RV last time now we don't have a place of our own to sleep.   You can clearly see the waterline above 3 feet in this room, other areas had 65 inches of water. 

Corey is a gamer and he and his family could use some help from the gaming community. If you can't help financially, please share this among the social communities you are a part of.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Hero Labs / Lone Wolf Downsizes - Ceases Development of Realm Works

This effects folks with who use various Lone Wolf products, but especially Realm Works.
Link to post on the Lone Wolf Site here.

Lone Wolf is undergoing several major changes and I wanted to personally take the time to update everyone on what those changes are and how they will impact our users.

While Lone Wolf is a business, the company itself is comprised of people. And when it’s a small company, it’s more akin to family. There’s also our user community (you), which in many ways is like our extended family. Over the more than 20 years we’ve been creating software tools for gamers, we’ve garnered a significant number of loyal fans – fans who have been crucial to our success and whose ongoing support is greatly appreciated.

This sense of family was core to how we operated in the past, but when I got deathly ill three years ago, I strayed away from that. Now that I’m mostly back to my old self and finally completing my rehabilitation, I’ve realized we need to get back to those roots. You should see that shift reflected here in the increased level of disclosure and in future communications from myself and staff.

For quite some time, we’ve spread ourselves too thin across different efforts, and that’s been especially true for me personally. We’ve been doing an insufficient job at multiple tasks instead of a great job on a much narrower set. This has clearly hurt us. By implementing the changes outlined below, I fully believe we can get back to producing our normal level of quality products in a timely manner.

To start with, effective immediately, we are officially suspending work on Realm Works while we focus on improving our other products. Realm Works is “my baby”, and there’s a great sadness in making this decision, but the reality is that, despite our efforts, Realm Works is failing as a commercial venture with what limited resources we can put into it. There are quite a few things we could do to improve it, but that would require a significant investment of time and resources, neither of which we currently have.

Various aspects of Realm Works may begin to emerge within the Hero Lab Online framework in the future, but the Realm Works desktop product will not see further development at this time. Realm Works will absolutely continue to be available, and the servers will continue running, so the product will remain incredibly useful in its current form. However, for the foreseeable future, no more coding changes will occur beyond the significant bug fixes that went out over the past couple weeks.

Another big change we’re making is with our staffing. For quite some time, we’ve been leveraging investment financing to allow us to carry extra staff and pursue some varied objectives while we transitioned from Pathfinder 1st edition to 2nd edition. – one of which is on the verge of readiness (more on that in a moment). Alas, we didn’t get those projects completed within the investment funding time window (due to spreading ourselves too thin), so corresponding adjustments are now a necessity. We’re therefore saying goodbye to some excellent people, and that just adds to today’s pain.

Everything thus far sounds somewhat dire. So the obvious question is whether there’s any good news to take the sting out of the bad. Thankfully, the answer to that is a resounding YES.

First off, Hero Lab Classic isn’t going anywhere and it just received a major upgrade in the form of native 64-bit support on both Windows and Mac. If you haven’t downloaded them yet, please do so, as you should see both performance and stability improvements. We also have several data packages ready and waiting for release. However, Apple has changed their rules and is now refusing to let us update our Hero Lab Classic iPad app, so the new packages have been held up while we determine how to appease Apple. We obviously want to release them on all platforms simultaneously, but we’ll need to come to an agreement with Apple before we can do so. We’ll provide an update as soon as we make some headway here.

For Hero Lab Online, Shadowrun 6th Edition hits store shelves in early October, and we’ve been working hard to launch support for it in the weeks ahead. We’re also preparing the big hardcover books for both Pathfinder 2nd Edition and Starfinder, not to mention some significant performance and reliability improvements. But the truly BIG thing we’ve been putting into place is something we’ve dubbed Campaign Theater™. We previewed it at GenCon in an early Alpha state and you may have seen the video promo on our social media. Since the preview, we’ve been fleshing things out and testing like crazy so we can debut it in time for the holidays.

So what exactly IS Campaign Theater? The goal is pretty simple. Bring all the power of Hero Lab, in a unified manner, to everyone in the campaign – GM and players alike. In HLClassic, we’ve long had the Encounter Builder to let GMs prepare scenes and the Tactical Console to let GMs run them. But everything within HLClassic is disconnected, and nobody can see what anyone else is doing during the game. While still quite helpful, there are major limitations with this approach. Now imagine a unified display of all participants in the current scene, with the GM seeing everything and players only seeing a suitable subset of information the GM allows. Any time a player makes a change to their PC, or the GM to a monster, everyone sees the update in real-time on their own device. And imagine having all your scenes prepped and ready to play out with a few clicks. That’s just the tip of Campaign Theater and what we’ll be starting with.

Some of you have mentioned this sounds a little bit like a virtual tabletop. Well, sort of, except that our focus is on all the detailed character/monster manipulation that VTTs don’t excel at and Hero Lab does. So there may be some similarities, but very little overlap. In fact, we’re developing these capabilities with the ultimate goal of integrating with VTTs, allowing those products to focus on all the tabletop visuals and Hero Lab to handle all the character mechanics in a coordinated manner. I like to think of it as the RPG equivalent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

We’ll have more to share regarding Campaign Theater in the near future, so stay tuned for that. As you can see, there’s still plenty to look forward to in the next few months, and even well beyond that.

In closing, allow me to say a big THANK YOU for your continued support over the years. It’s been extremely gratifying to create products that I love and to know that thousands of gamers are using them every week. Thank you for giving me – and the rest of the team here – that opportunity. It means more than we can express.


Rob Bowes, President

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Five Random Locations from The Tome of Adventure Design (with hooks)

I love the Tome of Adventure Design, written by Matt Finch and published by Frog God Games.  It never ceases to inspire me. Today I figured I'd play with one of the tables, generate five randomly named locations and add a hook for each. Let's see how well I do with Approach #1: Overview Approach ;)

Corroded Fortress of the Resurrected Wizard - The inland Sea of Salt is retreating and on its newly revealed shoreline lies a weathered fort of stone and iron. Long rumored to be the final sanctuary of a lich, lights have been noticed from its highest tower at night. Dare you enter the Corroded Fortress of the Resurrected Wizard?

Silent Demi-plane of the Diseased Tribe - In the Great Forest, beasts large and small have been infected by a wasting disease. The Druid Asalyn has put out a call for brave adventurers to enter a small rift in space that recently formed in the forest that has coincided with the disease ravaging her charges. Will you answer the call and enter the Silent Demi-plane of the Diseased Tribe and destroy the disease at its source?

Contaminated Abbey of the Jackal-Hunter - Prior Janeth was a pious warrior priest, who took upon himself the mission to remove gnolls and other goblinoid races from the region surrounding his abbey. Recently, a small number of humanoid shamans and witch doctors stormed the abbey and Prior Janeth has not been seen since. Church leaders are looking to hire a party of adventurers to retake the Contaminated Abbey of the Jackel-Hunter and rescue Prior Janeth should he still survive. Will your party accept the quest?

Earthen Keep of the Crocodile God - In the Black Swamp, the waters have retreated and the remains of an earthen keep have been revealed. Rumors of a dark god's temple within, containing riches and magic, have spread through the bars and taverns in town. Will your party explore the Earthen Keep of the Crocodile God?

Convoluted Brewery of the Skeletal Alchemist - An ancient dwarven brewery was discovered by an adventuring party in the Copper Hills, but only one survivor has returned to tell the tale of their defeat by the minions of an undead alchemist. Do you dare take-up the flag of the fallen? Will you travel to the Convoluted Brewery of the Skeletal Alchemist?

Use and abuse :)

Yep, that's an affiliate link above. Affiliate links keep the beer cold and the taps flowing here at The Tavern

Friday, September 27, 2019

James Lowder Talks About TSR in the Early 90s (From Facebook with Permission)

James Lowder was kind enough to allow me to repost his Facebook post and associated comments regarding TSR in the early 90s. Enjoy :)

James Lowder
September 25 at 12:50 AM ·
1994. Facing brutal competition in the tabletop game market from Wizards of the Coast, White Wolf, and others, and a potential design staff drain to the blossoming computer game industry, TSR management responds by cutting the rates the staff received for company freelance projects. Given that TSR would, within two years, start missing regular royalty payments to authors, I have to wonder if this ill-conceived cost control measure was an early warning sign.

Addendum: The other agenda being forwarded here is TSR management's desire to own everything created by staff, even for company projects that should have been creator-owned, like some Dragon articles. (I owned my "Into the Dark" video review column in Polyhedron, for example.) Hence the routing of payments for freelance through payroll.


The company was terrible at framing these kinds of things, which frequently made bad decisions come across as purposefully insulting.


And while the royalty rates the fiction paid were not competitive with New York houses on the surface, the relatively guaranteed sales for the major lines, at least through 1995 or so, made the books very lucrative. Of course, as sales in the book lines declined, they didn't bump up the royalties, so they became a lot less lucrative over time.


TSR was selling a lot of product at that time. In fiction, the average Realms and Dragonlance novels were still selling over 100,000 copies in their first year. Dale Donovan, circulation for Dragon in 1994 was still around 30,000, right?
TSR's sales slowing down after the 2nd edition boom, and the rise of CCGs, likely played a part in prompting the rate cut.


Management followed this genius move by limiting freelance work even part-time staff could do with other companies. I was already halfway out the door because of the miserable way the book department was being run, but these financial restrictions made it impossible for me to remain a satellite employee and keep paying my mortgage.


I resigned less than a month after the memo posted above was issued, though work conditions were a greater concern. The freelance policies were just a final kick out the door. I recall some other longtime game department staffers leaving for computer game industry jobs around the same time.


upper management at TSR did not understand how to work with creative staff. They were actively terrible at it.


There was supposed to be some flex in start time and end time. I rarely made it in by 8, driving down from Greenfield and then New Berlin. Thus the wider than 8-hour window. That said, some of us did take long lunches to fit in games, and stayed later to make up for it.


Many of my fondest memories of TSR are playing games or talking industry news or music or whatever in the Games Library over lunch.


Shortly after this memo, management demanded first look at pretty much anything I did for anyone else, with some exceptions, even though I was part time and had a standing deal that there were not supposed to be restrictions on my freelance elsewhere. Given my problems with Brian Thomsen at the time, that was a poison pill. There was no way I could route all my potential freelance work through him.


I first resigned at the start of 1992 and the deal the company offered me to keep me on as a satellite editor was limited office time, increased freelance opportunities in house, freedom to work elsewhere at will, but a cut in pay and no benefits. Overall, it was a fair offer. In 1994, my TSR fiction freelance went away and was unlikely to return so long as Thomsen ran the department, the rates were cut for TSR game freelance, and the company said it was going to put the brakes on a lot of my external freelance. There was no way I could afford to stay, even if I had wanted to.


The sales numbers TSR was making for many of their products at that time supported the pay. 1994 was also a period where sales had started to slump, though.


The expectations for TSR freelance game design were certainly rigorous. You always had editors, but you did have to turn over your text with an eye toward the overall layout, which makes sense to me.


A lot of writers were turning things over as files by 1994, but there were authors who did not. A good desktop was pricey. From everything I have heard, TSR was ahead of the New York houses, as far as publishers using computers.


I did some writing work for a law firm once and they paid me more to watch their orientation videos than I'd gotten for a lot of game design freelance. No one works in game publishing for the money. :)


Oh, TSR had some issues with internal freelance that were not financial, but one of them was not Bruce Heard handing out assignments in games as spoils. And in books we put processes in place in 1990 or so where auditions were considered blind, so staff without fiction credits had no advantage. Brian undid those eventually.


some of the projects I worked on--early Dark Sun, Ravenloft, Spelljammer, and Realms stuff like Avatar and Empires--were steps in the right direction. Some solid coordination went on with those. But I was the unofficial liaison with games, so after I left fulltime in 1992 and Brian Thomsen took over books, there was a sea change in the management's attitude about the relationship between books and games, and not for the better.


It was not a formal policy. The "no stars" idea was applied to various people at various times, usually whenever management wanted someone to do something and was refused. Around 1990, the book department had to fight to keep author names on the spines of books, because management went through a phase where they thought author names only caused distractions in bookstores. (Everything should be shelved and bought based on the product lines.) Around the time of this memo, Bob Salvatore ran afoul of the head of the book department, who targeted him as a unwelcome "star" and started separating him from Drizzt. Fortunately Wizards stopped the worst of that campaign after they bought the company.


The really dumb thing about the lack of advances was that it weakened the company's claim on the material covered by the contract, if things went off the rails. No consideration, no contract. I am glad for that, as it was one of the things that helped me claw back some material originally intended for Ravenloft when my relationship with TSR soured.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lost Odyssey - Live D&D Experience to Benefit the Autism Society

Lost Odyssey is a benefit for the Autism Society. Deborah Ann Woll, perhaps best known for her roll on Netflix's Daredevil. It appears she will be the DM. Satine Phoenix and other notables (I don't know them;) will also be part of the show.


When? NOVEMBER 15TH, 2019  MAIN DOORS: 6:00PM  MAIN SHOW: 7:30PM

Goodies for attending: ALL TICKET PURCHASES come with a FREE 1-year subscription to Roll20 Plus, $15 store credit at FrogGodGames.com, 20% off at Dog Might Games, an exclusive DLC pack for the Neverwinter PC game, and more! — In addition, all VIP ticket holders will receive event-exclusive artwork, and a limited edition Book of Knowledge miniature courtesy of Eldritch Foundry!

If you aren't local: Not able to attend the show? Tune in to a livestream of the Lost Odyssey world premiere via Twitch and Tiltify, as the live event will be launching a fundraiser campaign where audiences can donate for their chance to receive thousands of giveaways in the ASA fundraiser! 100% of donations from the fundraiser will be going to the ASA.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Kickstarter - Hunters of the Chalice Lands

"A Dark Fantasy RPG OSR/ 5th Edition Lite Ruleset"

Hunters of the Chalice Lands is an interesting Kickstarter, not because of the rules, but because of the setting. More accurately, from the way it reads, it might have been better off as a setting book for OSR / 5e rulesets instead of mashing up its own, but time will tell.

It has funded and has attained its first stretch goal. Here is where some confusion may come in, as it refers to "internal" and "external" stretch goals in the pledge levels, and prices those pledge levels differently depending on whether or not it includes "external" stretch goals.

What should have been spelled out is that internal stretch goals mean additions to the core rulebook and external stretch goals are literally additional books. The wording is unnecessarily confusing.

Ah well, back in the days before retirement, when I could work overtime to supplement my Kickstarter backing, this is probably a project I would have backed. Now that my discretionary income is more fixed, its a Kickstarter I'll need to pass on.
Seven civilisations have come before, seven times the convergence destroyed everything, now you have a chance to stop the convergence before it kills us all. 
You live upon the chalice lands a continent in the great salt sea. Your land is a place of vast plains, towering mountains, tundra’s and scorching deserts; each hides a secret. 
Yours is not the first civilisation to inhabit the land, many have come before, and those have all been destroyed by the convergence, but their destruction was not complete, and many hidden treasures can be found deep beneath the land. 
Discover ancient technologies and magics, unique weapons and armours from any of the past civilisations as you adventure across the Chalice Lands. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Pay to Play Gumball Style Machines Kick Out In-Game Magic!?!

Red is fireball spell, pink is a healing potion, white is a light spell...

From an article at ICv2:

"A number of stores have also adopted a pay-to-roleplay program with participants paying for a seat in a RPG game offering an upscale experience. One store runs two sessions on a Saturday with six spots in each game, charging players $15 each for a seat at the table. Other stores with successful pay-to-play programs further monetize the sessions by stocking gumball style machines with plastic capsules containing in-game bonuses such as a +1 to hit, a potion of healing, or a certificate giving the player a rare pet. Sometimes these machines clear $50 to $200 per day with huge profit margins."
(Emphasis mine)

WTF is the world of tabletop gaming coming to?

What DM/GM is going to allow in-game bonuses from an in-store gumball machine?

Where the fuck are the stores with these machines?

Monday, September 23, 2019

State of The Tavern - Alexa, The Lost Voice and the Demonic Dungeon of the Bone Dreamer

Alexa ranks internet traffic from 1 to 15 million or so. Lower is better. Since Jully 11th of this year, The Tavern has been on fire, moving from approximately 570k to approx 197k in that time. Lower is better. This is, by far, the best trafficked The Tavern has ever been, and I thank you, the reader, for this. I'm simply stunned. For some comparison numbers:

The new traffic ranking has opened up some opportunities, particularly with regular press publishers, and we couldn't have done it without you.

As an aside, my voice has been all manners of fucked up since the drive home from ShireCon Saturday night. Can't blame the con, obviously, something was brewing in my throat before it, but all the DMing and talking brought it forward. Recording the Tavern Chat Podcast has been a hoot ;)

The Demonic Dungeon of the Bone Dreamer played out better than I ever hoped. Now, as asked about at the table at the con, work will commence and making it something for distribution to the OSR community. Should be fun!

Alright, about to drown my throat in hard liquor to sooth it. Yeah, that's the ticket! ;P

Sunday, September 22, 2019

News - Steven Johansson (KenzerCo)

Steven Johansson was a VP at KenzerCo. This post will be updated with further information as it becomes available.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

ShireCon 2019 Recap - Voice Lost - Amazing Time

I'm in the process of losing my voice it seems. But that's okay because I had an amazing time at ShireCon.

Slept in till about 7 am. Left the house with Rach shortly after 8 am. We got to Falls Village / ShireCon around 1030.

Hung out and yapped with friends till about Noon, and then an excellent lunch. Ran Demonic Dungeon of the Bone Dreamer for Swords & Wizardry Light from 1 pm until approximately 430. It was a blast. I never sat down - but then I rarely do when GMing at conventions.

Of course, Joe Bloch picked my pocket - multiple times ;) Jeff Talanian would have, but I already owned everything.

I'd give shout outs to everyone I spoke with, hugged and hung out with, but I'm sure I'd miss a name or two. Suffice to say, it was great to meet friends, both old and new. As Rach and I discussed on the drive home, ShireCon, although small and only one day it already has the feel of NTRPG Con. That simply is amazing and no higher compliment can be made.

Thom, you did a great job, but we expected nothing less. Sign us up for next year!

(forgot to take photos this year, damn it!)

Friday, September 20, 2019

News - Cortex RPG System Acquired by Fandom

Full announcement below:

Bringing the award-winning RPG system back to the table, with digital support like never before.

We are excited to announce that Fandom has acquired the Cortex roleplaying game rules system from Margaret Weis Productions. The Cortex system was previously used in award-winning games in the universes of Marvel, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, and more. Additionally, Fandom has brought Cam Banks, lead designer and developer of recent versions of the system, on board to guide the future of Cortex.

An updated version of the system—called Cortex Prime—was successfully funded on Kickstarter in 2017. Fandom will fulfill all the commitments of the Kickstarter, plus integrate full digital support—like we have done for Dungeons & Dragons with D&D Beyond—to enhance the experience. Cortex Prime will become the first time digital tools are built-in from the ground up to augment gameplay.

“This new and exciting direction for Cortex really checks all the boxes for me,” said Cam Banks, Creative Director of Cortex Prime at Fandom. “First-class digital support, worldwide remote play opportunities, a way to connect thousands of fans of Cortex, and of course the tremendous team at Fandom all make this the best of all possible worlds for the system.”

Cortex Prime handles multiple genres from books, television, movies, and video games—almost any genre you can imagine can be represented with the system. It has been used in the past for science fiction, steampunk, fantasy, space opera, prime time drama, super heroes, crime capers, and supernatural action. It works best for genres that emphasize a cast of interesting and interconnected characters in settings that let them show off their talents, personalities, and relationships.

Cortex Prime is built to be modular, not a single fixed set of rules. It could be considered as a toolkit, or a big box of building bricks. From a central system of dice and descriptive traits, you can assemble your own game from modular parts to best suit the way you and your friends like to play. You include only those parts that suit your preferences and leave out those that you aren’t as excited by. This process will be easy to undertake through the digital game building tools that will be a core part of the Cortex Prime service.

With Cortex Prime, the tools and resources to create your own custom-built game from a myriad of switches and dials are now yours.

“Cortex Prime will give creators and fans a unique way to participate in shared storytelling,” said Adam Bradford, General Manager of Cortex Prime/DDB. “Tabletop roleplaying games typically integrate the benefits of technology to enhance gameplay after the game is created, resulting in the digital offerings feeling tacked onto it. We are leveraging those benefits from the ground up with Cortex Prime to make the most of a flexible ruleset that props up a wide variety of roleplaying experiences for fans of any genre. This is the kind of thing I have personally wanted to see for years.”

In addition to giving fans a toolkit to create their own types of games, Fandom plans to publish our own games in the future using the Cortex system, including bespoke roleplaying experiences for some of the most popular entertainment franchises in the world today. We will share more about these exciting opportunities soon!

Special Note:
As part of this transition, all sales of legacy Cortex products on DriveThruRPG.com will end on September 30th. Between now and then, you can pick up those products there if you would like to own them in PDF format. Any PDF you purchase in this way will be available for download in your library on DriveThruRPG going forward as usual.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Kickstarter - Star Hat Miniatures for DuckQuest Fantasy Role Playing Games

When is a miniatures Kickstarter not simply a miniatures Kickstarter? When its the Star Hat Miniatures for DuckQuest Fantasy Role Playing Games Kickstarter. Because all backers, thanks to stretch goals, can receive the DuckQuest Role Playing Game ruleset in PDF for backing at any level.

Oh, and the minis look damn good too.

Less than 24 hours to go.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Humble Bundle - Old School Fantasy Roleplaying Bundle (Everything PLUS the Kitchen Sink)

This is probably the best and greatest Old School bunde anywhere - forget Bundle of Holding - the Humble Bundle - Old School Fantasy Roleplaying Bundle is what you want to grab!

Why? Well, if a picture says a thousand words, I've got a couple of thousand words for you ;)

Let's look at the One Dollar level. You get all the following for a buck:

All the above plus the following for Eight Bucks:

All the above and the following for 18 bucks:

I dare you to find more old school gaming value for your gaming dollar.

Yes, that's an affiliate link above. When you shop using The Tavern's affiliate links, a small portion of sales made go to support The Tavern. Huzzah! for beer ;)

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Kickstarter - The North Road - A Fantasy RPG Campaign BOOK and PDF (System Neutral)

Sometimes I look at a Kickstarter project and all I can think of is what an Administrative Judge said to me at my first traffic court appearance as a rookie. I wrote a ticket for someone that rolled through a stop sign. At court, I testified and the judge said "Officer, you are 'this close' to the gold ring. Review your testimony and give me the missing piece." I had no clue and the summons was dismissed.

The North Road - A Fantasy RPG Campaign BOOK and PDF is probably NOT going to fund. Which is a shame, because it's an interesting looking project. There are a few issues that I have with it.

  • The intro video is too damn long. Apparently, the guys behind the project are Youtubes, and the video is certainly well-produced, but no one who stumbles upon your Kickstarter page wants to watch an 8 minute plus video. Put it further down on the page. Keep the introduction to 90 seconds or less.
  • Page count. We don't know what the page count is. Sure, it may change with layout, but give us a ballpark number. It's part of how we, potential backers, decide on the potential value of your offering.
  • Pricing. 30 bucks for a PDF of unknown pages is steep. Hell, 30 bucks for any PDF seems steep. Softcover is 46, but if you want PDFs with that, it's 57. Normally, I prefer to see PDFs included with the Printed offering for free.
From the Risks and Challenges:

To avoid complexity we have kept this Kickstarter as simple as we can. All content, artwork and photography have already been completed. What remains is finalising the layout for the book and PDF. Most of the layout exists already for the PDF versions of each module, however, we will be reworking these for print (and adding some extra details).
You would think they could give an estimate on the number of pages. Awesome that it's already written. Not so awesome that you can't put a number to it.

Ah well. Not quite halfway to goal with less than half the funding period left. Maybe a cheaper option to just get the first few adventures in PDF could help. Or not.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Saving Throw fundraiser fanzine for James D. Kramer (of Usherwood Publishing)

James Kramer is probably best known for Usherwood Publishing, the most recent publisher of OSRIC.

Saving Throw — a fundraiser fanzine to help James D. Kramer

You may know Jim Kramer from his Usherwood Publishing modules & supplements, or his work helping produce works like OSRIC and Knockspell. You probably didn’t know Jim had multiple brain surgeries to remove tumors, and the battle has gotten much harder. To help Jim and his family during this difficult time, a group of his friends, collaborators, and first edition enthusiasts banded together to make this fundraiser fanzine, where all royalties go directly to Jim and his family.

This 60+ page issue of Saving Throw contains:

  • Introduction by Ron Redmond
  • Island Tables - random generation and inspiration tool by Steve Smith aka “EOTB”
  • Sorcerer’s Stone - dungeon level by Keith Sloan
  • Trolls of the Simpolo Swamps - leech-mated trollish variations by Joseph Browning
  • Perladon Manor - adventure module by Gabor Lux
  • By The Runes - fiction by Dan Rasaiah
  • Magic Item Intrinsic Material Values - variant magic item value rules by Guy Fullerton
  • Goblin Garbug Cavalry - new monster by Andrew Hamilton
  • The Tiled Labyrinth - mini-dungeon by Guy Fullerton
  • Lotus Blossoms - magical and special properties of these exotic flora by Keith Sloan
  • Burly the Baker - ready-to-use NPC and cantrips by Gary Francisco
  • Darkworld Troll - new monster by Bryan Fazekas
  • Offig’s Tomb - treasure map by Steve Smith aka “EOTB”
  • Lizard Man Lair - outdoor module and new monsters by Steve Smith aka "EOTB"
  • Mephitic Geysers of the Intaglio Rift - treasure map by Allan T. Grohe, Jr. (“grodog")
  • The Mere Beneath - dungeon level by Guy Fullerton, Allan T. Grohe, Jr. (“grodog"), and Henry A. Grohe
  • Sarendra’s Crew & Kelurrin’s Crew - ready-to-use NPC parties by Allan T. Grohe, Jr. (“grodog")
  • Rescue from the Sanctuary of the Leopard Goddess - dungeon module by Matthew Riedel

Featuring illustrations by Jimm Johnson, James D. Kramer, Wind Lothamer, Gabor Lux, Denis McCarthy, Peter Szmer (soon), Del Teigeler, and Alex Zisch.

For the lucky price of $13, you get two treasure maps, three referee tools, five new spells, six modules, at least nine new monsters, twelve ready-to-use NPCs, and more. Plus the knowledge that your purchase helps a family during a difficult time.

Thank you!

Note: We plan to make a print version available soon. When it becomes available, will send drivethru coupon codes to everyone who purchased the pdf so they can get a print version at a discount.

Note #2: We are still in the process of gathering artwork for some of the articles, so don't be surprised by any of the blank spots. We will notify everybody when we update the pdf with new art, and you can download the latest version from your library.

Yes, there is an affiliate link above. Affiliate links keep The Tavern's lights on and will not affect the amount of monies that will go to the publisher and James.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Kickstarter - The Book of Unusual Potions, for use with Fantasy RPGs (Phil Reed)

Holy shit I nearly missed this. The Kickstarter for The Book of Unusual Potions, for use with Fantasy RPGs by Phil Reed has less than 24 hours in its funding period as I write this but damn it looks good!
Alongside scrolls, magic potions are one of those ubiquitous magic items that many of us don’t give a second thought. Potions can heal, boost character attributes, and generally serve as a quick fix and a tool to overcome in-game complications and obstacles. Some game systems apply limits to the power of potions, while others disregard “game balance” and approach potions as more of a video game-style instant enhancement. How you personally prefer to treat potions in your campaign is far more important than what the game’s rules may say. 
Over the years, I’ve tried to make potions more than just a simple “drink this and gain Y benefit” item. I don’t feel as if I’ve quite succeeded in the past, though, in adding mystery and wonder to the magic potions that I’ve detailed in my work. 
That’s where The Book of Unusual Potions comes into frame. This is a dedicated tome in which I try to give potions more twists, turns, and strangeness than in my earlier projects, an attempt at making these potions as entertaining in terms of flavor as they are in-game bonuses.
The sample pages look sweet too!

3 bucks in PDF, 10 bucks for the Print plus PDF. You know you want it. Nearly 1,400 backers can't be wrong :)

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Journey's End (for now), the Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches has been released! (Reposted from the Bat in the Attic Blog)

The following was first posted over on Rob Conley's Bat in the Attic Blog. All the following words are Rob's. Affiliate links are The Tavern's. Keep the beer cold and the lights on at The Tavern via our affiliate links :)

I (Rob) am pleased to announce the release of Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches. This is the fourth of four products covering the eighteen maps that encompass the Judges Guild Wilderlands setting. This product covers four of the maps as detailed below. The four sets combined will cover a region equal in size to Western Europe providing years and decades of adventuring for you and your group.

Unlike many setting products, the Wilderlands sketches out the overview and history in light detail. Then presents a comprehensive list of local detail in a compact format that is customizable. This eliminates much of the tedious work involved in creating a setting and allows the referee to focus on the campaign and the grand adventures the players face as their characters.

This is presented as two products both in PDF and Print on Demand.

The first product is a 44-page guidebook containing a brief overview of and commentary on Maps Fifteen to Map Eighteen of the Wilderlands along with lists covering details on Villages, Castles, Lairs, Ruins, and Islands.

Due to the extensive use of monsters from the supplements to the original edition, this release details 7 monsters and provides full statistics suitable for use with Swords and Wizardry and similar RPGs.

The Guidebook for the Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches also includes charts, tables, and rules concerning the Triumphant Grand Tactical mapping system used by the Wilderlands, how to build strongholds, and establishing baronies. In addition, information has been added on the demographics of the Wilderlands along with new rules governing pastoral and nomadic cultures. Because Tula, the City of Wizards, plays a prominent role in this region, rules for potion and magic item creations has been included. Finally, as the Isle of the Blest straddles the corners of four maps, a combined map and list has been added as a bonus chapter. This includes the background originally written by Scott Fulton in Pegasus #3.

Included with the Guidebook are a letter-sized blank map of the Wilderlands that can be used to take notes during a campaign. A PDF with the map legend. A letter-size black and white guide to the placement of each of the 18 maps within the Wilderlands.

Finally a giant-sized preliminary version of the master map that I used to crop the individual maps from. With the right printer, this can be printed as a full-scale map 5 feet wide and 8 feet long. With the PDF you can selectively copy out regions as complete maps that overlap the borders of the 18 maps. After the release of the final set of maps this file will be updated as a layered PDF allowing for custom maps of the Wilderlands to be copied or created.

The second product is a set of four maps:  Isles of the Dawn Map Fifteen, Southern Reaches Map Sixteen, Silver Skein Isles Map Seventeen, and Ghinor Highlands Map Eighteen. When ordered via print on the demand they are printed in two overlapping halves each on a 12" by 18" poster. In addition, each map is presented as a 22" by 17" PDF file.

The maps have been redrawn from the original in a color style. Instead of the distinct symbols of the original maps, the terrain has been drawn as a transparent fill and vegetation represented by colored areas. This allows both terrain and vegetation to overlap. Representing more accurately the complexity and diversity of the Wilderland's geography.

This release is the final book in a series of four covering the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

A preview PDF

The Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches Guidebook

The Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches Map


I now offer bundles of all four sets of guidebooks and maps at 25% off buying separately. There are four bundles two sets of print or PDF for the guidebooks, and two sets of print or PDF for the maps. DrivethruRPG doesn't allow maps and books to be mixed in the same bundle (or order).

Wilderlands Guidebook Bundle (PDF)
Wilderlands Guidebook Bundle (Print)
Wilderlands Map Bundle (PDF) 
Wilderlands Map Bundle (Print)

Friday, September 13, 2019

Indiegogo - Bill Webb's RPG Decks of Dirty Tricks

Why do I have an AC/DC song in my head when I think of Bill Webb's Deck of Dirty Tricks? heh.

I've been using Bill's Deck off and on for years at the various conventions I run games at. The results have always been fun and often game-changing. Certainly not for the DM that is weak of heart and unable to improvise ;)

With this project introducing TWO new decks of Bill Webb Dirty Tricks in addition to reprinting the original deck, I'm excited as all hell. One deck of your choice for 15 bucks, two for 29, all three for 42. Want to add a signed copy of Bill Webb's Book of Dirty Tricks (DM Aid)? You're at 50 bucks. Shipping not included.
The Classic Deck of Dirty Tricks
Made for use during game sessions to encourage unexpected events and player interactivity. The cards are all printed with suggestions for changes in the narration and their potential mechanical implications. It is system neutral but works best with any one of the many variations of the world's most popular roleplaying game. 
The New Expansion Decks of Dirty Tricks 
We are bringing 2 new decks for this Indiegogo project. We are also reprinting the classic (and sold out classic Deck of Dirty tricks . The expansion decks are planned for 48 cards with, often requested blank cards for creating your very own "dirty tricks" for your home or convention game.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A WTF Kickstarter - Age of Uranus

Sometimes, the name says it all. I'm sure it was a language issue that failed to see the issue with the title of this Kickstarter - Age of Uranus before launch.

I guess they released after launch, as it was canceled after not meeting projections.

So, what is the Age of Uranus? Yes, that was a bad joke, but it is funny ;)
Age of Uranus is a role-playing game in which art and mystery blend to create a unique and fascinating setting: a sublime and tormented world where signs invisible to ordinary mortals lead to weird and wonderful places and where codes hidden within works of art reveal paths to powers and long-forgotten truths. 
Players take on the role of hyper-humans, supernatural beings of great power, who covet supremacy over humans and their peers, but in hyper-human society nothing is as it seems. Characters will have to navigate this world of Mystery, Intrigue and Passion...
Ah well. It's never good to play with Uranus. Yes, I'm in high school again - signed, Dick Hertz ;P

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

God Bless Those Lost in the 9-11-01 Terror Attacks

September 11th is always a hard day for me. Now that I'm retired, I do my best to stay in bed late in the morning, so as to no longer be tempted to listen to the list of names of those lost in the attacks of 9-11. I cry enough on this day without such. I saw too much, smelled too much that day to ever forget.

Paul was lost on 9-11 working in the World Trade Center. He was also working at the WTC back in the '93 attack.

Paul was a member of our gaming group since high school and one of my closest friends, helping me navigate my way through the end of a long term relationship just a few years before. Always easy to talk to, always listening, always caring.

Paul could have survived that day. Others in his office did. He took a moment to call his wife and leave a message that a plane had hit the Towers and he was clearing out his staff from his office before locking up and heading down himself. Paul never got out.

To Paul, his family, friends, and coworkers, to all of those that were lost that horrible day and their family, friends, and coworkers, you are in my thoughts and prayers today and every day. But for the grace of God, my name would be on the memorial.

Never forget.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

New Release - Alarms & Journeys (OSR Zine)

There's a new Zine in the OSR community - Alarms & Journeys. Its just 2 bucks. Probably worth it for the adventure alone.
An OSR 'zine for use with OSRIC, AD&D 1e,2e, and others. 42 pages! (actually, more than 42 pages ;) 
In this issue! 
Editorial/ Barbarian Class page: 2 
Law and Disorder by Todd Cannon page: 6 
Interview with Joseph Bingaman
By Dave Johnson Page: 8
The Role of Books: 
Monsters and Creatures
Page: 12 
Trail of Cthulhu
page: 13 
Obligatory Dungeon
by Chris Larr Page: 16† 
The Role of Games
page: 46 
Ecology of the Gas Spore
page: 50 
New Monsters & Magic!
page: 55
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Monday, September 9, 2019

Indiegogo - The Folio: Black Label #2 (Oh my!) 1E and 5E

A swords & sorcery styled adventure in both traditional AD&D and modern 5th Edition D&D.

Sexy certainly sells. Suffice to say, I think The Folio: Black Label #2 will certainly sell, although not being available in physical copies at retail means I won't be able to see uncomfortable gamers at cons sneaking a glimpse at the cover. Heck, the cover art of The Folio: Black Label #2 makes me feel like I'm back in the 90s, and that's a good thing.

I've been consistently happy with the quality of the various The Folio releases via Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
The Folio: Black Label series are fantasy adventure modules that is compatible with BOTH classic Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and 5th Edition D&D formats.  It combines what I enjoyed most from the heady days of of the late 1970s and the 1980s swords & sorcery storytelling.  
The Folio: Black Label #2 continues in the same locations as Black Label #1, and is going to have even more adult edge than is found in the standard Folio, and yes, there might be some nudity, and maybe some horror, and maybe a twisted quality here or there, but at the base its really just about the unfettered fun of hacking and slashing your way through a pulp style adventure with blatant evil doers, magical treasures, and exposed flesh.   
So, I'm throwing out the playbook for 2019, and turning the flux capacitor back to the early days of gaming.  I hope some of you will join me. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A WTF Kickstarter - Critical (S)hit! Diarrhea Dice

d20 and polyhedral dice sets designed after and engraved with poop! For gaming, dungeons and dragons, collectors, rpgs, gifts, and more

Just when I thought I had seen it all, Critical (S)hit! Diarrhea Dice arrived on Kickstarter. I think we've hit the point where there are now new ideas for dice - but wait! ou get a nice poop pin to go along with your $13 dice set... of poop.

We have seen that many people love the poop emoji and its various forms, so we figured it would be pretty awesome to put a big old piece of poo right on the 20 side of a d20. So that is what we aim to just do! Try to get the funding to make some crappy dice! We also decided that these dice could be extra shitty by adding a whole bunch of poop inspired colors on sets of polyhedral dice based on all the sorts of poop out there. Perhaps you've encountered some of this shit yourself. We're really down to earth, so we had to be real about it but still had to pull off a way to make the dice look cute. You've got your everyday poop, diarrhea, corn infested, and others!  
Hopefully none of you are too disgusted by the idea of these dice  - We know there were times when we felt sick (and funny) when designing them because much research and many references were needed (gross). It really was not easy to do, but luckily we had some help from a fine designer based out of Diving Hippo Studio (another Canadian association) who helped us survive the process of getting these dice designed. We pulled through, and now they're here on Kickstarter for you all to pledge for! These dice, if funded, are not going to be only full of humor and silliness, but also look great! They'll be the real shit! One of a kind!   
Oh, did we mention that we also want to make some pretty crappy pins and a dice bag for you too? One of them is very nice - for your friends to get you rolling when you game. The other one is for you gamers out there that just want the world to lose. Suck it, losers! Finally, sometimes we've all got crap in life or in the middle of a DnD game where you just need to pull out a dice bag full of attitude. We'd love to make you some golden bags that you can flaunt off in your games!  
Finally, we have some related creations for you all to add on if you wish. We've designed a dice tray cut out in the shape of poop so you can roll your crappy dice on them if you so desire! We also had the lads down at Galaxy Gaming Gear design a wicked looking toilet dice tower if you wish to add it to your pledge. This way you can get your crappy dice totally flushed when you're gaming, since you probably always roll 1's and miss the enemy all the time, anyways! May as well send them down the drain! 
I get the joke, but ts a crappy one (no pun intended) and 20 bucks after shipping for a shitty joke just doesn't cut it for me.

Fuck. the puns are like diarrhea... they just don't stop!

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Humble Bundle - CRPGs - Pillars of Eternity & More - $4.40

Real quick post. The current Humble Bundle CRPG Bundle offers Pillars of Eternity and more for $4.40. Hard to pass up AND playable on OSX. Damn but I love it when good games show up for OSX.

Yes, that's an affiliate link above. A portion of sales made through The Tavern's affiliate links put coin in The Tavern's coffers. I thank you in advance.

Friday, September 6, 2019

A Look at Gamers+ - The RPGs Tabletop Network

The death of Google+ certainly left a gaping hole in the social circles of many an OSR gamer. While Facebook certainly has an OSR presence and MeWe was happy to make the Google+ refugees feel at home as best it could, there are many that just don't feel comfortable with Facebook and don't like the feel of MeWe.

Which brings us to Gamers+. I'm not so sure I want to call it a "social network" as there are no cat pictures in your feed and the talk is pretty much strictly gaming. The network's population is small, but it does have an active feed linking blog posts and vidcasts from various gaming sources. Heck, their official Discord Server is the Tenkar's Tavern Discord Server. It tickles me pink, it does ;)

Hmm, maybe they could add an "Audio Section" and we could get some OSR podcast feeds lined up. that would be an amazing resource. Hint, hint!

The thing is, to reach its full potential, it needs members. Growth is slow but steady, but I'm hoping this post will give Gamers+ a burst of growth. Can't hurt, right?

The Gamers+ OSR Community is currently at 25 members. We should be able to double that in a day or so, right? ;)

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Excellent Blog Post at Creative Mountain Games re:D&D Legacy

Mark over at Creative Mountain Games has an excellent blog post dealing with recent muckraking going on on a certain "gaming news site" that shall not be named for the same reason we do not say Candyman in the bathroom mirror three times - you just never know who you might summon.

The insight Mark has to the actual time in history is priceless, and I suggest you read his post. It's a different perspective then you are getting elsewhere.

Here's a small piece of Mark's article:
The author of the Gygax legacy "hatchet piece" and the more recent TSR "rift" piece came to Lake Geneva and tried to interview a number of people prior to the first article and most wouldn't speak with her.  It's my understanding Gary's widow was unaware this author seemingly had an agenda.  When that writer contacted me (she contacted lots of locals who were formerly in TSR or who are in the current gaming scene), I told her to feel free to come by the game store (figuring she would anyway and I'd rather be aware she was there) but told her I wasn't interested in being recorded or interviewed, though I was happy to talk to her, since she said she was a gamer.  It was very clear from the start she was asking leading questions and looking to find quotes and sound bites to further a predetermined narrative.  She hung out around twenty minutes or so and our conversation led me to believe her gaming background was with console and video games rather than tabletop games, though she had a smattering of TTRPG knowledge.  I was not looking forward to the article given my experience talking to the author.  The second "rift" article just confirmed what we already knew from the first piece.
Read the full piece. Comment over on the Creative Mountain Games blog. It's posts like Mark's that will help put some balance back in place.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Totally Unofficial D&D Sweatshirt (with ripped off MM 1e art)

Listen, I get it. Lots of us want some of the classic D&D and AD&D art on shirts and shit. For personal use, have at it. But when you sell stuff using a trademark you don't have rights to and art that you haven't licensed, that's where you cross the line.

Case in point:

Alien Body

52.50 for the sweatshirt above. Only available in Small - all other sizes are "Sold Out".

Besides the fact that the design is shitty, using a trademark and art you don't have rights to is even shittier.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Classic LotFP Referee Book (Old Grindhouse Edition) is Free to Download

Since it looks like James and Gareth will be dueling to see who can release their overdue, unwritten crowdfunding project first, I thought I'd remind folks that the classic LotFP Referee Book (Old Grindhouse Edition) is free to download.

Might as well remind myself as to why I backed the Indigogo project, as the LotFP Referee Book (Old Grindhouse Edition) is one of the best GM resources available for any edition of The Game. (added to the DTRPG catalog back on April 20th, 2015)
The new printing of the LotFP Referee book is taking way longer than expected (surprise), so with no in-print Referee book the geniuses over at LotFP thought that maybe some sort of Ref information should be available. So here, free of charge, is the Referee book that was included in the Grindhouse set. 
Keep in mind that LotFP is a living game and this PDF here is four eight years old. The next printing of the Ref book will be a complete rewrite and expansion (will be at least three times this size), new layout and graphic design, all new artwork, etc. 
This PDF does include the beginning adventure A Stranger Storm, which will not be reprinted.
Yep, that is an affiliate link above. Yes, this is a free product, but maybe you'll buy something else when you snag this. Bartender needs beer... BADLY! ;)

Monday, September 2, 2019

Kickstarter - Far Away Land RPG: Nuzoz

I love Far Away Land. Whether it be the original game or the OSR version, the art is inspirational and the gameplay is just this side of Adventure Land :)

Nuzoz is a setting/continent for the original FAL rules, although I suspect with a little work it would work fairly well with the OSR version of the rules. At 5 bucks for the PDF, or 9 bucks for the PDF and at cost POD, it would be damn near criminal to pass this up.

The world of Far Away Land expands with the discovery of the continent known as Nuzoz! This project introduces the newest Far Away Land book to the Far Away Land Universe. New lands. New monsters. New spells. New Awesome! (This book contains rules for the originall Far Away Land rule system - not the OSR version). 
 What is the Land of Nuzoz
Nuzoz is a rugged land full of jungles, monsters, beaches, seas, floating landmasses, great maelstroms, towering spires, mysterious structures, rainbow lakes, rings of fire, and strange cities. Nuzoz introduces new playable PC races like the anthropomorphic parrot folk called kreeah as well as terrible monsters like Bigzilla and cave anglers. It’s a tough land that will test the mettle of even the most intrepid adventurers.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Deal of the Day - KOBOLDS ATE MY BABY! In Colour!!!

Today's  Deal of the Day is KOBOLDS ATE MY BABY! In Colour!!! Yep, the classic everyone's spoken about is on sale. Looks like I have to pick this up myself.
The Classic Game of Beer and Pretzels RolePlaying! 
For kobolds In the service of King Torg (ALL HAIL KING TORG!) their life will undoubtedly be silly, brutal, and short.  They may be crushed by cows falling from the sky. They may be obliterated by meteorites, betrayed by friends, or brained by frying pans. They may cheerily march to their death upon the beaks of chickens or from the tentacles of eldritch magicks. If they are really lucky, they may survive long enough to bring back a tasty treat to the Kobold Caves and avoid becoming lunch themselves. 
Being cannon fodder has never been this much fun!

The classic game of Beer and Pretzels Roleplaying returns in this definitive, full colour edition. This book includes everything you need to play except some dice, some friends, and a wicked sense of humour. 
A Game by Chris O’Neill & Dan Landis
Illustrated by John Kovalic 
I almost missed this. About 12 hours left in the sale as I type this.

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lights on and the taps flowing. Your Humble Bartender, Tenkar

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