Monday, July 13, 2020

News - Lamentations of the Flame Princess over 100k in Debt

James Raggi updated the LotFP blog for the first time in three years earlier today. Here is the relevant news:
This one is for all the marbles. As you're probably aware, LotFP has gone through a rough patch the past year and a half. 
The tldr is we're about 90,000€ in debt, 60,000€ of which is due in about a month or we're done. And we have so much more to do. 
So if you want LotFP to continue, you need to buy something, preferably a lot of somethings, and very soon, when the new books go on sale. If you don't want LotFP to continue, you don't have to do anything. You're good. 
A more thorough explanation for those who will surely ask:
After a record 2018, webstore sales hit a wall in January 2019 (I assume because of increased Finnish postal costs; November and December 2018 were strong and then *bam*), but we were supposed to have a new US-based webstore opening in the early summer. So I was confident that I was in for a fifth straight year of growth and prosperity, and made plans to take care of that. 
The exact same week the Zak allegations hit in February 2019, I received the last of series of business loans totaling just about 70,000€. These would cover a number of reprints (which sell slowly and thus take more time to recoup their costs, making them very difficult to finance from normal cashflow), and convention expenses for the year. I secured these loans based on the fact that I'd grossed over 250,000€ the previous year, had two new Zak books set to come out in 2019 (not to mention Red & Pleasant Land as one of the reprints), with a few other new books on the schedule as well. 
The fallout from the Zak situation was that his upcoming work, and the Red and Pleasant Land reprint, were canceled. Everything else went into disarray and only one full-fledged (not limited edition) release happened all year, and that was a low-price short adventure. The US fulfillment center fell through and didn't get going until over half a year later than scheduled. 
Even so, convention sales in 2019 were greater than 2018 (and we did one less convention in 2019!), retail distribution sales was about even year-to-year, PDF sales were down a bit... but direct webstore sales were down 80% for the year. And direct sales are where we traditionally make most of our money. Webstore sales plummeting has almost killed the business: Gross sales were in total 40% down, and the profits (AKA my personal income) went from (rough numbers) 45,000€ in 2018 to 3,500€ in 2019. That's not a typo. 
By last fall, I started falling behind in loan payments. By spring this year, just as the world at large was beginning to fall apart due to the pandemic, I started falling behind on royalty payments to the talent. There's only so long I can shuffle money and beg for patience...
And now with the pandemic, conventions for the entire year are gone (conventions accounted for 25% of last year's gross income). Distribution/retail sales (by far the biggest income source last year) were wiped out completely for a time due to shutdowns and at best will be weak for some time to come due to the pandemic. 
And so here we are. Pretty much all of these new items were financed on credit, sparing no expense to make these the best books we could, and it's time for what just might be the last stand. It is my hope that not only can we clear this debt, but we can get a bit of a cash stockpile so we can make sure the next batch of books (and the next, and the next...) are up to LotFP standards of quality and deliver significant royalty payments to their authors. 
It's up to you now. 
Posted by JimLotFP at 12:28 AM 
Then there was this regarding the LotFP Referee Book:
February 2020 Update! 
The big news: So we've got what I'd consider a complete draft in hand. 296,000 words.  
As far as I'm concerned, this is it. Not throwing out large chunks wholesale, deciding entire sections need rewriting from scratch, or any of the other nonsense that has turned this into a hellscape forever project. 
But it will need editing. I'd estimate it's going to lose 10-20% of the word count through this process, because right now it's not tight. There are a few other things that are going to press imminently so those have to be shepherded first, but as of April 1 doing this will be my sole priority. 
After that we'll know what sections need to be shored up, plus the promised supplemental stuff that needs a tight draft prepared first in order to do, and then we start putting together the final layouts.
And the part that will cause trouble saying it out loud rather to the group than replying individually... there have been refund requests. I can't do it. The money simply isn't laying around. Over 7000€ has been spent on the project just the past 14 months, the whole thing is already way over budget, and I'd estimate there's five figures additional expense on the way getting this thing finalized and ready for print... and then there's the print cost which is going to be another five figures.
This has turned into the Homer and I can't see how it'll retail for less than 75€. Maybe significantly more than that (Veins of the Earth is about 100,000 words and that's 368 pages) and now that I see that written down, maybe broken down into multiple books (which you'd all get as backers at no additional cost but shipping). 
So that's not bad for those getting in for 30€ or 38€ books, and we've now got a US fulfillment center so it won't be necessary for those of you around that area to pay shipping from Finland. 
And that's just the main Ref book. Doesn't count the screen, slipcase, or the monster book due. 
It should be quite the exciting end part of the year. 
(I just jinxed it, didn't I...?)
Tavern Chat Podcast episode covering the current situation

YouTube of the same podcast episode (all episodes are available via YouTube)

Sunday, July 12, 2020

What do you Think About "Crunch" in a Game?

What do you Think About "Crunch" in a Game?
I don't think this is going to be a character or player story, but it's not like I write up an outline for these things and shoot them by an editor or anything. The closest I do is go back and fix grammatical and spelling errors I notice after-the-fact.

This last week I was "home" on vacation and trying to explain RPGs to someone who had no clue what an RPG was, but loved reading fantasy novels, to include a bunch of TSR D&D novels. Of course I answered with a high-level pass and then dialed-in on specifics based on follow-up questions.

The conversation moved on to different RPGs and basically why, which is a whole lot to think about. In so many ways I'd say there are three big reasons why we have different game systems: money, ideas, and preferences.

Money is easy. People like money. It lets us buy stuff and do stuff. If you own the game and sell it to others you make money. If you don't own something but can make/sell something similar....

As far as ideas go, yeah...they're like assholes...everybody has one and everyone else's stinks. I'm sure plenty of games exist because somebody either didn't like the way one system did something and that somebody had what they thought was a better idea to solve the "problem", and the fix could make money. Money is good....

The third reason, kind of related to "ideas" is just the fact that folks like to play a certain type of game and if enough people like their game a certain way somebody is going to put forth their ideas for a game system that runs a game that certain way and that somebody can now possibly make money selling that game.

I personally like a bit of a crunchy game, which is why I loved HackMaster 4th Edition. I personally think that game only came about because the KenzerCo D-Team had some ideas they wanted to put into print, basically publishing their home-game rules. They liked a crunchy game like I did.

The thing is, and really where my rambling so far is leading up to is, "How much crunch is too much?" Clearly one person's crunch is another's fluff.

One thing I like about a crunchy game is that you can usually throttle-back things, removing some crunchy bits, and the game will still work. For example....you don't like weapon to-hit adjustments based on armor class/types (something I really don't care for)....just remove it. The adjustments work both ways and removing them doesn't do a whole lot for combat.

As a player I enjoy encumbrance and having to figure out what to keep and what to take. Trying to get those 1,000 silver pieces out of the dungeon when you're already at capacity is.....well, it's a challenge. Spending your hard-earned coin on upgrading your spell books so you aren't risking your main book in the dungeon....good times. Deciding which magic items I can take along on an adventure because there is an experience level-based magic item cap.....(that was a thing) loved it.

Now this was as a player.........I didn't care for it nearly as much as a GM. I trusted my players in my home game, but running a table at a convention.....especially a higher-level game? Fuuuuuuuuuuck that could suck. I saw plenty of what I'm 110% certain was straight-up cheating. I remember one player who always had 95%+ of all possible hit points at higher level. "Oh, your 5th level Mage has 48 1st level spells memorized? I call bullshit." Thankfully this kind of crap was really only seen, at least by me, at the highest level.....and in my experience the players that cheat the most in this regard are generally not the best players overall.

Still, a game's a game and even when I'm not playing in a crunchy game it doesn't mean I can't add a little on my own end. I can still try to spend money on extra spell books and keep track of my encumbrance even if the GM doesn't care too much.........

Again, I'll ask the question, "How much crunch is too much?"....but I'll add, "What do you do to add, or (someone else might want to know...) remove crunch from your game?"

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Kickstarter - Tome of Alchemy: Magic Item and Potion Creation for 5e (Necromancer Games)

5th Edition rules for alchemical creation of magical and mundane items in your 5th Edition game!

A Tome of Alchemy from Courtney Campbell and the fine folks from Frog God Games under the Necromancer Games banner? It's almost like chocolate and peanut butter, but adding bananas ;)

Courtney does amazing work. I also consider Courtney a friend. As most of you know, under normal non-Covid-19 circumstances I'd be attending conventions and manning the Frog God Table. I consider the Frogs "family". So wow, truth in advertising - this looks great and yes, I am connected to all involved :)
Hundreds of items, dozens of spells, rules for potion-brewing, an innovative research-system for alchemy, tables to resolve mistakes in the laboratory, alchemy-related adventure hooks, and much, much more! 
Bubbling alembics and fiery ovens release the fumes of sweet and noxious gases into the stone-walled laboratory, where mists gather and curl among the rafters. Shelves groan with the weight of clay jars, glass containers, parchment scrolls, boxes of rare minerals, and ancient books forbidden to own. This is the mysterious domain of the alchemist, and now the secrets of this venerable craft are opened before you for use in your 5th edition D&D game. A Pathfinder 1.0 version will be made as a print on demand softcover option (upgrades to hardcover at 250 sold). No leather editions will be made of the Pathfinder Tome of Alchemy. 
Players and game masters both can use the mysteries of alchemy to expand options for adventuring and adventure design. This masterful work by Courtney Campbell explores all aspects of the venerable craft of alchemy and weaves it into the structure of the world's most popular fantasy role-playing game!
Not only does this Kickstarter offer the Tome of Alchemy itself, but backers also have the option to purchase the Deck of Mysterious Creations, a card-based system for tracking and developing alchemical experiments. The cards are system-neutral.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Petition - WotC should remove the disclaimer statement on all of its Legacy products

The following petition went live earlier this weekend:

Wizards of the Coast should remove the disclaimer statement on all of its Legacy products

Wizards of the Coast recently added a disclaimer on all of its "Legacy Products", including all of the previous games published by TSR inc.  declaring that those products were supportive of racial, ethnic, and gender-based prejudice and stereotypes.  The exact statement is below: 
"We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end". 
This disclaimer makes a statement of fact argument, and therefore paints all of the writers, editors, artists, and consumers of those products as supporting those prejudices, stereotypes and bigotry.  This statement by Wizards of the Coast opens the possibility for the players of these "Legacy Products" to face ridicule, and face the labeling as "bigot", "racists", "misogynist", and worse. 
It is with that concern in mind that those that sign this petition request that the disclaimer statement be removed.  Secondly, that an apology be issued to the previous employees of the company, or companies that produced those products.  Finally, an apology be made to the to the "Legacy Consumers and Players" who have been supporting the Dungeons & Dragons franchise for over 40 years.   

Free Classic RPG - What Price Glory?! (1978)

Huge thanks to Thad for tracking this down and providing the scan and links.

What Price Glory?! (1978) Was an early, self-published rules variant of OD&D. It is a complete, stand-alone RPG designed, written and self-published by John Dankert and Jim Lauffenberg while they attended Perdue University in the late 70s. Thomas Sprimont illustrated the game. Less than 500 copies were printed.

The rules are made available at the link below in the files section with Jim’s permission. There is also an errata and an NPC sorcerer class by Tom.

I’d like to thank Jim and Tom for graciously answering my many questions and providing materials from their personal collection. I’d also like to thank The Strong Museum of Play for their research assistance. - Thaddeus G. Moore


Thursday, July 9, 2020

WotC Explains that the recent Legacy Disclaimer is only an Early Step

Rach and I discussed on the Tavern Chat Podcast earlier tonight
A disclaimer has been added to several legacy titles on our partner distribution sites. We'd like to talk about why we've added that disclaimer, what it means, and other steps that are being taken to address a legacy of ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice in some old products. 
This is an early step and not done in a vacuum. It's not enough to evaluate ourselves. As outlined in our original diversity statement (http://spr.ly/6184GTbpj), we're undergoing the process of reviewing our content and practices and hiring external consultants to review with us. 
These processes take time to implement, and we'll continue to provide future updates. Unfortunately, our disclaimer was added before we were ready to fully communicate the steps we are taking. We apologize for failing to handle this situation with the care and grace it deserves.
Lastly, we want to make it clear that we condemn the harassment or bullying of those raising their concerns about our content, past or present. D&D wants to be an open, welcoming, and inclusive space. Those who do not reflect those values are not welcome in our community. 
Simply put, we messed up and we're sorry. Wizards of the Coast is constantly working to be better, and we have a lot of work to do, especially so in repairing trust with our community. Thank you for continuing to use your voice so that we may continue to make meaningful change."

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

WotC Issues Disclaimer for Legacy Products on Sale via DM's Guild / DTRPG

I've already covered this in-depth on The Tavern Chat Podcast. I can't believe they STILL haven't corrected "Dungeon & Dragons".

The quoted text is from T1 The Village of Hommlet (1e)

Podcast discussion:


"We recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website, does not reflect the values of the Dungeon & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end."

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sale - The Secret Fire (OSR Ruleset)

Secret Fire Games is running a sale on its entire The Secret Fire line of releases. Has it really been 9 years since it was first released?.

Very much OSR. While some part may be disturbing, there are few games that one can fip through for 10 minutes and be filled with inspiration.
Winner of the 2012 Innovative Game Design Award from I-CON 31, THE SECRET FIRE™ uses a unique blend of game design and storytelling to create a fast and flexible original fantasy game system of roleplaying, exploration, and constant danger. Developed by Origins Award®-nominated game designer George Strayton (Dungeons & Dragons, Men in Black, Star War D6, Indiana Jones, The D6 System, The Lord of the Rings, etc.), TSF’s revolutionary “immersion” mechanics (screenwriting plus fantasy RPG game design) to breathe real life into the experience of descending into dungeons, exploring the uncharted wilderness, and saving the innocent from certain doom. 
“A flavor-filled approach to fantasy gaming that puts the mystery and magic back into the dark recesses of the dungeon.” —Monte Cook
Yep, that is an affiliate link above. Support The Tavern.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Kickstarter -Steve Jackson Games' GURPS 2020 PDF Challenge (11 PDFs 3 Bucks)

Can we unlock all twelve PDFs before the clock runs out?

I've been a fan of GURPS since the Man to Man and Orcslayer releases. I actually love the supplements, as they convert to other RPG systems nearly painlessly. This means 11 - potentially 12 PDFs for 3 bucks is something I can't pass up on, and neither should you.

Just 5k away from 12 PDFs :)
The GURPS team, under the direction of GURPS Line Editor Sean Punch, has prepared a dozen different PDFs . . . and this is your chance to possibly grab all twelve of the new PDFs for only $3! 
Starting with the latest expansion to the GURPS Action series (see Warehouse 23), your pledge of $3 secures you a PDF copy of GURPS Action 6 - Tricked Out Rides. This 10-page PDF, written by Sean Punch, is a quick-and-dirty toolkit for adventures where sports cars pack more gadgetry than fighter jets, and miniguns fit behind headlights! 
One new PDF is great, but the project gets more exciting for all of the backers as stretch goals are unlocked. With each unlocked stretch goal (see below), we'll add another one of the twelve new PDFs to your rewards . . . that $3 pledge becomes an even better deal as more backers join the campaign.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

I'm an Elitist When it Comes to Some of my Game Gear

I'm an Elitist When it Comes to Some of my Game Gear
I'll freely admit to being a great many things when it comes to gaming, and most of the adjectives (I'm sure) aren't pretty....like me....seriously, why do you think I use these cartoons instead of an *actual* picture of me?

OK, I kid......but what I'm leading up to is the simple fact that I'm a dice snob. I have a ton of dice and I have purchased a wide array of dice.....I do have some cool ones in my collection, but......BUT I generally only game with one brand of dice: Gamescience.

I do believe dice can be lucky or unlucky and in general I am superstitious when it comes to my dice. I have lucky charms and once I even had my dice cursed and had to do a lot to remove said curse. Now I *know* that most of these beliefs are probably BS and most of my experience in the matter is anecdotal. I also know that run-of-the-mill dice have their flaws. When I was taking Statistics in college I did a few stat experiments where I rolled all of my then-normal (ie. not Gamescience) a few hundred times and recorded the results. Sure enough, my "lucky" dice had an abnormally high distribution and the "unlucky" dice had an abnormally low distribution.

Now I used to run into "Col." Lou Zocchi pretty much every year I went to Origins. Great guy, will talk your ear off for 20' and you'll enjoy most every second of it. He'll gladly go over his spiel about how Gamescience dice roll true compared to "regular" dice, and I believe every bit of it. Everything jives with my personal experience and when I replicated my stats experience I got a pretty equal distribution of numbers, not unlike the experiment done over at the Awesome Dice blog.

Somewhere in my house I have a metric butt-ton of GS dice from when I played HackMaster 4th Edition. I needed a LOT of d4's and d6's for my DS Invoker, between penetration dice and the fact that I just did a lot of dice-worth of damage. My current dice set, pictured below, is what I've been using for the last couple years.....mostly because those other dice are MIA, most likely in a box somewhere.

My Current Gaming Dice

You'll note that I have basically two sets of green dice, four different d10's and a couple d30's. One set of green dice was a gift for my birthday (maybe my 40th?) from Barbara Blackburn. Anyone who knows Barb, except for Ken Whitman, knows she's a freakin sweetheart, so I'm using the hell out of those dice. I bought the second set because I rolled a lot of pairs of dice for the new HackMaster game....which is why I also have the four extra d10's, so I can roll a d 1,000 (red, orange, yellow, & blue).

Now those d30's...those are near and dear to me for sure. Some of you might know I do some d30 stuff. I have a few d30's, but not like these. I'm not quite sure how the whole Gamescience company sale from Lou to whoever owns it now went down...I heard he got it back at some points, but I really don't know squat about it. I just remember that Lou was selling older dice he had made and Gamescience had a separate dice selling booth at the con. Anyway, I went to Lou to buy more dice that I didn't need and I wanted some more d30's. Unfortunately he was all out, not just of his convention stock, but everything he had & would ever have. The live dungeon folks had come through and bought him out. I was pretty bummed, but not much I could do.....I BSed with the Colonel for a while and wished him well.

Two days later as I'm walking the hall seeing if I could find any last-day-of-the-con deals, Zocchi stops me at his booth. While he was packing up he happened to find two.....2! more d30's. These were no-kidding his last two d30's. The green-ish one was a normal dice, but the yellow....the yellow was very old, one of his earliest designs. Instead of being numbered 1-30 it is number 1-10 three times, with one set having a "-" and one a "+".

Most of my dice are inked with a permanent marker, but the d30's are "inked" "old-school" using a black china pen, which is essentially an adult art crayon.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Kickstarter - Path of the Vanished: A 5e & B/X RPG Campaign

Thousands have vanished... do your heroes have what it takes to defeat the mysterious Raiders?

A little background. I've known Bill & Ben Barsh since the first NTRPG Con I attended, Ben, the younger (and taller Barsh) will be contributing to The Tavern and the Tavern Chat podcast later this summer. He also has the best hair in the OSR.

I'm a big fan of settings and campaigns. Rarely do I use them as is, but as a source of inspiration they are priceless. Path of the Vanished is 20 bucks in PDF, 45 in HC Print plus PDF.
Path of the Vanished is a campaign-style adventure that finds the adventurers on the trail of the Raiders. Produced in four distinct sections, the first part of the campaign finds the player characters traversing the ruins of an ancient city, swallowed in darkness, which is sinking into a near impenetrable swamp. Beyond the city, the player characters discover a road leading to massive building looming over a white beach and swaying palms. The building, used by the Raiders, holds a clue that leads the adventurers to the mythical, yet entirely real, floating island city of Sanctuary. Used by pirates, black market merchants, and other undesirables, the island is made of metal and segregated into seven sections. In one of those sections the Raiders have set up base from which their ships terrorize the coasts. However, thousands of people are still missing and the path forward leads to a distant island that is home to crumbling buildings of some ancient race of star-worshipers. Little else is known of the race but their ancestors, or seemingly so, prowl the island in a primal state. For what reason would the Raiders take innocent people to such a place? 
Path of the Vanished is designed for starting characters of approximately third level. It has two rule system options; the Fifth Edition (5E) version of the world's first fantasy role-playing game, and the BX Role Playing Game. The 5E version will take characters from third level to tenth level as the campaign progresses. BX characters will start at approximately third level and will most likely complete the adventure series at sixth or seventh level.
  • 120+ pages of adventure
  • Rules for the 5e or BX RPG rules system
  • Full color interior (art and maps)
  • New magic items
  • New monsters
  • And more pending stretch goals!!

Friday, July 3, 2020

State of The Tavern - The Watchmen, Tavern Chat, YouTube and More

It’s been a busy start to the summer.

Last week I put out an open call for volunteers to work on a town watch / city guard supplement for fantasy themed RPGs. The response has been overwhelming. I’m attempting to pt together a game plan, so if you are waiting for further directions, I am working on it. Slowly, but being worked on.

The Tavern Chat Podcast is on fire. For the month of June, it averaged over 430 downloads per day. A serious thank you to all for spreading the word. It is appreciated. I’ll be opening the door to paid sponsorships on a case by case basis for now. If it is well received I’ll put a more formal policy in effect. Yes, this means you can sponsor an episode or a number of episodes, to advertise your new release, kickstarter project, blog, podcast, YouTube Channel or what not. Think of it as sponsoring public radio but with f-bombs. ;)

Email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing with “Tavern Chat” in the subject for further details.

The Tavern Chat Podcast is also available on YouTube, which should allow for close captioning for those with hearing deficiencies or who simply prefer using YouTube. The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/c/ErikTenkar/

On the blog side, Chris Stogdill has been added as a regular contributor on Sundays. Later this summer, Ian and Rocky from Silver Bulette Publishing will be offering weekly content through The Tavern. We may have further surprises as the summer progresses :)

As always, you support is greatly appreciated - Tenkar

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Kickstarter - Metallic Tome: A Sourcebook for OSR Games

Metallic Tome is a sourcebook for old-school role-playing games; it's inspired by heavy metal music.

Rafael Chandler embodies the spirit of the OSR like few others. I'm thrilled the headbanger has returned to his gaming and musical roots with the Metallic Tome Kickstarter. And to think there are only 3 days left to back it! As little as 10 bucks for the PDF.
Everything that metal bands warned us about in the Eighties has come to pass: 
Pollution chokes our seas, nuclear war has destroyed our cities, and worst of all, guitars are illegal. The fanatical evangelists who run our planet created an army of robotic drones who police us with cyber-technology. Conformity is the law! Surveillance satellites monitor our every move. With no one to stop them, corporations have run wild, developing grotesque mutations that walk the streets, preying upon unsuspecting humans. 
There is only one thing that can save us: METAL. 
As radioactive pegasi soar through blood-red skies, adventurers seek glory in the Suburban Wastes and the Grim Northern Forests. Cyborg dragons bellow on top of shopping malls, and the sky is full of laser pentagrams.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Addressing Accusations Made by Gail Gygax about your Humble Bartender during her Latest Rants

Sadly, today Gail Gygax went of the rails in regards to the Will Luke Gygax recent filed in a Wisconsin Court. Apparently, Gail never filed a will when Gary passed (this was surprising) and Gail is lashing out to defend her source of income - selling Gary’s gaming collection.

In the midst of her often disjointed comments and accusations made about Luke Gygax and his siblings on Facebook yesterday, she laid the following at my feet:

and then this as a follow up:

As I’ve stated in the past, I joked that Gail would trademark the “C” word if she could. This was in reference to Gail trademarking “Gygax” and filing a legal action against the “new” TSR for publishing their gaming magazine under the Gygax name.

I never threatened to throw bricks at Gail during Garycon or at any other time. I am quite sure I made jokes about Gail and her infamous bricks (a bad joke about burning rubber bricks was one of them) that she has been threatening to sell for years - Paul Stromberg will apparently be selling bricks for the Gygax Memorial. I won’t be holding my breath.

I've never been invited to, attended, or paid to attend a VIP dinner or anything similar, at Gary Con or any other convention for that matter. I never gave or paid Gary Con, Luke, or any other Gygax family member or convention staff member $1,000. Hell, Luke and I have never conversed in person.

Oh, and the first sentence is total bullshit too. If a "counselor" thought someone was in danger to be killed and did not refer it to the police, they'd be risking their license. If it was referred to the police and they took no action, it was groundless.

Can I be an asshole? Most assuredly. Have I been a burr in Gail's ass regarding the Gygax Memorial Fund? Guilty. Have I done any of what she accuses me of above? None whatsoever.

Edit: I didn’t want to address this, as I believe Gail is unwell, but there are a number of people on Facebook and elsewhere that believe her accusations without question.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Questions Regarding Gail Gygax and the Gary Gygax Will

One of The Tavern regulars submitted the following questions regarding the Gary Gygax will Gail Gygax is disputing:

1) What does Paul Stormberg have to gain by alienating the Gygax family (minus Gail) by pushing through with these auctions?

2) It is known that Gary owned the original PHB painting and Paul Stormberg the original DMG painting. Where are these paintings now? If they were sold, who was the selling agent? (Rumor is that Australian Banker and TSR collector living in Hong Kong, Matthew Kodor owns both of these items. It is further rumored that he paid in access of $100k apiece for these paintings).

3) When Gary died Wisconsin required probate for all estates of $50k or more. There have been a number of Gygax auctions run by Paul Stormberg on Gail's behalf, was an access of $50k raised?

With the reported numbers on the animation auction running at over $40k it certainly looks like the physical assets of the estate alone (without valuing the IP) was well in excess of $50k.

4) Why does Paul Stormberg feel that these auctions need to be pushed through without pause? Is there a contract, memorandum, or letter of agreement binding him to complete these auctions?

5) If Gail has sold the original PHB painting and other, unique assets can it not be argued that her actions greatly diminish the overall value of the estate? Selling these items prevents the family from ever monetizing these items as well as diminishing Gary's legacy.

Case in point, the animation cells up for auction were hand-selected by Gary, in his very unique role with the D&D cartoon, as items to have and pass down via his estate. There is no finer single collection of animation cells from the cartoon. Is Gail acting in the best interest of the trust, Gary's legacy, or even herself?

6) Paul Stormberg has moved his auctions to his own bidding site, where there is no transparency. What other items might be up for sale that have not yet been discovered? Might this represent a final looting of Gary's estate?

The IP legacy of Gary Gygax has been squandered since his death. The longer the wait for the release of materials based on his IP, the more the value is diminished. Gary's fans are aging, and a majority of them now are in their late 40s and by the 20th anniversary of Gary's death, a large number of them will be in their 60s.

With the changing currents in the gaming industry, what will be left? What reason is there for not having released Gary's materials commercially, while squatting on trademarks and never using them?

Questions to ponder... Tenkar

Monday, June 29, 2020

Tabletop.Events acquired by BoardGameGeek

Full announcement below:

Link to the original post

So many of you helped to bring us back from the brink via the Con of Champions. Thank you! Without your support Tabletop.Events would have gone dark at the end of April.

Con of Champions allowed us to keep Tabletop.Events online, albeit at a severely reduced budget, until the end of 2020. Beyond 2020 though was always still up in the air. So much depends upon what happens with COVID-19 and the rise of virtual conventions.

All along we said we would continue to look for alternative sources of revenue, and we have. We’ve considered over a dozen different options, but found that one option made the most sense. We should hand the reigns of Tabletop.Events over to a larger entity in the tabletop world; someone who has the resources to ensure a very bright future, and BoardGameGeek (BGG) has exactly those means.

Effective immediately, BGG will assume control of Tabletop.Events. However, the Tabletop.Events staff will remain on board helping TTE to grow under new leadership. We will spend the remainder of the year transitioning technology, adding features, fixing bugs, answering questions, and hosting conventions, just like we always planned to do. But with BGG’s support, we can now confidently say that we can continue to do those things into 2021 and beyond as well!

If you run conventions using Tabletop.Events, you can now proceed with your planning knowing that TTE will be here to serve you no matter what.

If you attend conventions using Tabletop.Events, you can sign up knowing that the conventions you attend have a strong and stable platform from which to grow.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you. Thank you for loving what we created. We look forward to serving you far into a very bright future.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Not Erik Story: My 1st Kill (HackMaster 4th Edition PC Kill....I'm not a monster)

Not Erik Story: My 1st Kill (HackMaster 4th Edition PC Kill....I'm not a monster)
I'm still in my computer files trying to locate some older gaming "stuff" of mine and I came across my kill sticker sheet, or at least my old HackMaster 4th Edition kill collection.

HackMaster 4th Edition was kind of adversarial between the GM and the party, but not really. It was more of a "for show" kind of thing that was played up in not only some of the source material, but in the Knights of the Dinner Table comics.

Sure, there were definitely some "Killer GMs"  in the wild, but that really doesn't have squat to do with the game system. The game is crunchy, requires a lot of dice, and can be just as lethal or non-lethal as the next game. I think there was this implanted idea of the adversarial GM more as a tool to keep the players in line. Encumbrance was pretty important, as was not having a PC loaded down with too much magic. Knowing that their PCs could be facing an encumbrance or magic item audit, and the disastrous consequences of failing one......well that helped keep PCs in check and helped with some game balance.....

.....don't even get me started with the player coupons! Part of the joke/not a joke aspect of the game....

I think Jolly Blackburn started the tradition of keeping track of PC deaths with kill stickers on his GM shield. It was his way of rubbing failure in the faces of the rather successful (in general) development team (D-Team) at their weekly game sessions. Eventually he published his system of keeping track. Skull colors denoted perma-death or if the PC was resurrected, while the background told the methodology of demise. Strings of chained skulls meant that multiple PCs died in the same adventure/session, and eventually a couple of symbols were added to show if the death was part of a total party kill (TPK) or death at a tournament. Players would be much more likely to over-extend their PCs at a tournament, which could lead to a TPK. I think eventually most groups would do their best to designate a "sole survivor" just to deny the GM a TPK.

My old kill sticker sheet

I personally added the chicken sticker, based of of Sir Robin's shield in M.......you know, you should get it already......this was to show that somebody "bravely ran away" and quit the adventure just so I couldn't get a TPK. Deny me a kill!!!! I know I later added another symbol to denote a PC purged their honor to avoid a death (like the spineless coward they were!)

This is an older kill shield set because I redid the graphics with a more comical skull, but I doubt I have many more deaths on my most recent set....should I find it.

Color/Text Codes:
White Skull = perma-death
Blue Skull = the PC was resurrected
Red Background = PC was killed by his party (fratricide)
Black Background = Death by monster
White Background = "Miscellaneous" Death
Green Background = Death by Trap
T = Tournament Death
X = Total Party Kill

I wish I could recall the story of each death, but really it's just the 1st one I remember. My brother-in-law was playing with us and he really wasn't into playing RPGs. It was clear it was going to be his first, and last, session. He was playing a bard and it is important to note that one of my other players had a Druid with the cling quirk. It just made sense the Druid would be clingy to the most handsome (HackMaster has a Comeliness stat) and Charismatic PC in the group.

The party had done well figuring out what was stirring up the local goblins and found the evil low-level mage that was using a found wand to lord control over them. Just prior to the BBG (big bad guy, ie. Boss)  battle, when the BBG has a moment to soliloquy, the Bard just walks over and says something to the effect of, "Sounds great, I do hereby pledge my fealty to you..." I sure as hell did not see that one coming. Of course the battle kicks off immediately because the Druid attacks the Bard because, "If I can't have him, then nobody can...."

Ah.....good times. The main party did prevail, killing the Bard, the Mage, and any Goblin foolish enough to stick around....and I got my 1st kill.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Luke Gygax Statement re: Sale of Gary Gygax Estate Items at The Collector's Trove

The following is from Facebook and is shared without comment:

Luke Gygax:
Heads Up Collectors: Gail Gygax is auctioning items that may be part of my father’s estate through Paul Stormberg and the collectors trove- his business. There is a legal action filed to open probate and recognize the Last Will and Testament of my Dad that I was only made aware of late last year. Gail is contesting the Will because it leaves some items to my siblings, Ernest Gary Gygax Jr. Elise' Gygax-Cousino Heidi Gygax Cindy Gygax, including the rights to his legacy after Gail passes away. Currently there is nothing illegal about Gail selling the estate items in auctions but in my opinion, it is immoral. If you agree please don’t bid on them. And I let Paul know about this months ago as well.  So he is choosing to do this with full knowledge.


Luke Gygax:
For full disclosure there are questions as to the ownership of the property being auctioned on behalf of Gail Gygax. Paul is aware of the questions and although not illegal it is morally questionable. There is an action in Walworth county to open probate and execute the Last Will and Testament of Ernest Gary Gygax initiates by my siblings minus Alex. It is being contested by Gail because it leaves items to us and she doesn’t want to part with anything despite what the will says.


https://anchor.fm/tavernchat/episodes/E754---I-Find-Some-Overlooked-Details-in-the-Current-War-of-Wills-of-the-Gygax-Estate-eg0sdl (Observations)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Frog God Games Sale - 35% Off at the Webstore

Yoked from the Frog God Discord Server

***__35% Off__*** everything on the webstore! Use code **June-Bug-2020** at checkout. https://www.froggodgames.com/ **Offer Ends July 1st**. *Excludes subscriptions and The World of the Lost Lands*. @everyone

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Looking for Current / Retired Former LEOs to Crowdsource RPG Material

Publisher’s Choice Quality Stock Art © Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games 

I've been asked over the years to produce a supplement for Swords & Wizardry / OSR rulesets dealing with Town Watches, City Guards, and the like. I think to produce such with other LEOs that are gamers would not just be fun to do, but could fill a hole in many fantasy campaigns.

Want to participate with ideas, art, layout, or the like? Email me at TenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing with "Town Watch" in the subject and we'll see where this goes :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Free - After the Bomb® Map Pack

For the price of free, the After the Bomb Map Pack is a pretty cool assortment of maps for Palladium's After the Bomb RPG and other post apoc RPGs. Seriously, how often does Kevin give away anything for free? ;)
It was recently pointed out that the map on page 1 of the original After the Bomb® sourcebook was left out of the After the Bomb® Second Edition RPG, so we thought we would grab all of the maps from the sourcebooks and make them available for everyone. Enjoy!
There's an affiliate link above. Although this is free, anything you might buy with it ould put some coin in The Tavern's coffers. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Kickstarter -The Book of Dungeon Encounters, for use with Fantasy RPGs

A collection of 100 different dungeon encounters that gamemasters can use with almost any fantasy roleplaying game.

I've been a huge fan of Phil Reed since damn near the turn of the century. I remember subscribing to his email list of GM tips WAY back. His recent Kickstarter releases have been well done and affordable. Heck, you can even back The Book of Dungeon Encounters for as little as a buck and still get a ton of content.
The Book of Dungeon Encounters is a 48-page 8.5" x 11" saddle-stitched book that is packed with 100 different dungeon encounter ideas. These are for use with almost any fantasy RPG, especially old-school RPGs that use square grids for combat, though imaginative gamemasters will no doubt find ways to adapt everything detailed within these pages to any system, including those that use hexes for combat maps.

The book is presented as a giant d100 table, giving the gamemaster 100 different encounter ideas that can either be randomly rolled or selected to construct a dungeon. 90 of the encounters are presented as descriptions only -- no maps -- and range from low-level fights against dungeon beasties all of the way to strange gateways that lead to other worlds. 
Ten of the encounters include square grid maps that were created using the SkeletonKey Games 2e Adventure Tiles. (Please see below for more information.)  
Regardless of how you use the encounters in the book, all of them exist for two reasons:
  • To give the gamemaster the tools necessary to run a dungeon adventure with little to no prep time; just grab some stats from your favorite book of monsters and mix in the ideas in this book and you're ready for freeform dungeon crawls!
  •  Inspiration! Maybe an entry doesn't meet your exact needs, but each one will help drive your creativity and give you ideas. As always, change everything within the book to fit your tastes and needs!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Bundle of Holding - Tunnels & Trolls

Sometimes Bundle of Holding really knocks it out of the park. The Tunnels & Trolls Bundle of Holding is definitely one of those times. I happen to be a HUGE T&T fan, so I MAY be biased in its favor ;)

For just US$9.95 you get all thirteen solo adventures in this revived offer's Solitaire Collection (retail value $53) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
  • A fun 64-page manga-style set of Tunnels & Trolls quickstart rules, produced by T&T Adventures Japan (where T&T is big) and presented here in English translation. A perfect intro to the game, this booklet gives all the rules you need to play the solos in this collection, plus a solitaire and two gamemastered scenarios.
  • Four starting T&T solos: Battle School, Sea of Mystery, Sorcerer Solitaire, and the first solo RPG adventure ever published for any game, Buffalo Castle.
  • Three mid-level T&T solos: Agent of Death, Naked Doom, and Sewers of Oblivion.
  • Three killer T&T solos: Arena of Khazan, Deathtrap Equalizer Dungeon, and perhaps the most fondly remembered of all the solos, Michael A. Stackpole's City of Terrors.
  • Goblin Lake Deluxe (previously presented in our November 2016 Old School Revival 4).
  • New in this revival! Elven Lords Deluxe, Mike Stackpole's 1990 follow-up to City of Terrors, in an expanded edition with new art by Liz Danforth. (If you bought this offer during its original run, you automatically receive Elven Lords too.)
And if you pay more than the threshold price of $20.22, you'll level up and also get this revival's entire Gamemaster Collection with ten more titles worth an additional $53:
  • The latest and greatest version of the rules, the complete 386-page Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls core rulebook (2015), plus the Deluxe GM Screen (both previously in the OSR 4 offer).
  • Monsters! Monsters!: The 1976 First Edition of Ken St. Andre's standalone spinoff game, based on T&T, that lets you play the monsters, guarding your dungeon home from so-called heroic intruders.
  • Adventurers Compendium: An 88-page collection of nine solo adventures and three gamemastered scenarios unearthed from Sorcerer's Apprentice magazine.
  • Four classic T&T gamemastered scenarios: The Complete Dungeon of the Bear, Dwarf World, Seven Challenges of Kartejan, and Uncle Ugly's Underground Doom.
  • New in this revival! Vault of K'Horror, a looting expedition into a tomb of ancient vampire lords. (And the original September 2018 customers get this one too.)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Speaking Dwarven at the Table......WITHOUT a Scottish Accent

Speaking Dwarven at the Table......WITHOUT a Scottish Accent
One of the things I do regularly, but probably not often enough, is to go through my digital files and try to clean things up. These days with storage becoming cheaper it's too easy to simply ignore the inevitable bloat of directories and files.

So I'm looking at my directory of PC files....if I'm not using a digital PC sheet I'll often scan my physical sheets every level. Then I can use "old" PCs for NPCs or if a pick-up game comes along and the GM goes "the group needs a 3rd level Magic User...." I'm good.

Anyway I'm in this directory and I found a word document entitled "Dwarven Slang", which kind of cracked me up. As a player in a 5th Edition HackMaster game I had a Dwarven Fighter named Balen.....

......don't sweat it, this isn't really a PC story. Two of those in a row is a bit much.....

5th Edition is crunchy AF, especially compared to the average OSR game, and Balen had a terrible grasp of the Common/Human languages. I can kind of relate because while I know tidbits of multiple Human languages, they get all jumbled up in my head and at best I can speak a phrase or two.

In-game I got this. One thing I did was assign a language to Balen.....I mean a real-world language. I thought that Icelandic was a good choice and since he had such a low ability in "Common" he wouldn't be able to speak the same language as the other PCs, but he'd understand a bit more....kind of like me with German or Spanish.

To this end I made a small custom Icelandic/English dictionary so at the table I could use Dwarven, er Icelandic to a little "point & talk" when dealing with the rest of my home group. Simple stuff, numbers, nouns mostly, but the crown jewel of my RPG linguistics were phrases (idioms) and swears.

A Character Portrait of Balen the Dwarf
Balen the Dwarf (commissioned from Tina Bongomo)

I don't know how many of you have spent much time in another country dealing with another language, but I was fortunate enough to have served overseas in Germany and a few other countries. One thing that always fascinated me when it came to the language barriers were idioms and swears. A lot of things technically translate, but don't actually translate in practice. For example I briefly had a Dutch girlfriend and I said something about someone "taking the short bus to school". Most all Americans got right off the bat that I insinuated that someone was slow/stupid/not to bright. My gf, knew what a school-bus was, but a short school-bus? No clue. Later on that trip I heard her swear and I was straight-up shocked because the literal translation was what I'd argue is the strongest swear possible here in the US (and no, I'm not going to repeat it), but in Dutch was basically the equivalent of saying "shit".

I loved learning Dwarven/Icelandic swears.....my favorite was basically telling someone to "Fuck off" but I think the literal translation was "Go to the asshole!" I wish I remembered the actual phrase, but alas I could only find my Dwarven Slang list and not my dictionary or Dwarven Swear list.

Dwarven Slang (really idiom) List:
Aagh pissa e sko sin (to pee in his shoes: only works for a while)
Al-jeort rasgat (absolute butthole: adorably cute)
Ekki-oop e nos al-ketti (not enough to fill a cat’s nostril: small amount)
Av tefla viv pal-vaan (playing chess with the pope: taking a shit)
Rasgat e bala (butt in a tub: nothing or next to nothing)
Tea-oo dropar (ten drops: a cup of normal sized coffee)
Oondin tuska (wound-out rag: exhausted)
Av-hafa ekki ge-erst svo fraig (Having not been so famous)
Ens auk itla ge-erdur helot-ur (like a poorly made object)
Av stok-va oop a neff si-er (to jump up one’s nostril)
E-ek to khan e bakri-el (took him to the bakery: kicked his ass)
E-ek ska see-na pie-er-I e tavo heymana (I’ll show you the two worlds: kick your ass)

The cool thing is when doing something like this......it doesn't matter so much if you get your pronunciation correct as long as you are consistent.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Advance (repost from Bat in the Attic)

Rob Conley asked me to share the following, as it is very useful for the self publishers among us. You can read Rob’s original post here: http://batintheattic.blogspot.com/2020/06/covid-19-economic-injury-disaster-loans.html

The Covid pandemic has caused severe economic disruption which impacted businesses across the United States including those involved in publishing the tabletop roleplaying industry. Particularly hard hit are those of us who make a lot of our sales from conventions. I am personally am out a significant amount of money as result of Garycon being cancelled and North Texas Con being held on a restrictive basis. But my plight isn't hard as others impacted by Covid-19.

During the early days of the pandemic, Congress passed a bill that made the entire United State eligible for disaster relief. This includes small businesses. You can read for yourself the various options the small business administration has for disaster relief here.

One of the things offered is the ability to apply for a emergency grant and a loan. When I saw this being made available in March I immediately applied. Then I didn't hear anything for a long time until the middle of April. The Small Business Administration approved my grant and sent me a $1,000. Which was slightly more than I was asking for. As near as I could tell the SBA simply looked at how many people were involved and multiplied it by $1,000. In my case that was one. The SBA will approve grants of up to $10,000.

Keep in mind these are grants not loans that have to be paid back. It not free money either. You have to have filed taxes either as a corporation or using a Schedule C profit or loss from business attached to your personal income tax form.

Now I didn't write about this because shortly after I received the money the SBA closed the application process for all business other than agricultural. Apparently the flood of applications was so great they they fear the program would run out of money without fulfilling the ones they had.

The good news they reopened the program for all small businesses.
If your publishing or game business was impacted you can apply here.

The process doesn't end with the grant. Eventually they will send you a loan offer. Again appears to be based on the number of people involved. However this is a loan that has to be paid back over 30 years at 3% interest. So keep that in mind if you get into this part of the process.

Hope this help and stay safe. I wasn't expecting much and was pleasantly surprised to have received the grant. I feel this will help many of us who have lost sales as a result of the pandemic.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Kickstarter - Cat's Cradle: A Fantasy Town for 5e and Other RPG Systems (Frog God Games)

This is one of the reasons I am very happy to be associated with Frog God Games: 
PPA Loan and COVID-19  We’re using the proceeds of a PPA loan to employ our writers and artists on an immediate basis, which lets us keep paying them at normal levels despite a bad market. For this reason, we’re following the unusual procedure of offering a Kickstarter before the work itself is completed. The books will be printed at the Arizona printshop we use for Indiegogo projects rather than in China, which allows us a much faster turnaround to backers. Most of the initial legwork has already been done, and the project should be almost completed by the time the Kickstarter ends, with the exception of layout and some of the art orders. To the extent the Kickstarter generates any profit — which isn’t guaranteed in this market — we will continue turning the profit around to new projects, to generate as steady a stream of work-flow as we can.
 That is good looking out.

So, what is the Cat's Cradle Kickstarter?
Cat’s Cradle stands at the intersection of a caravan and river route, which brings in mysterious travelers, unscrupulous grifters, and -- quite often -- dangerous villains. The Kickstarter includes a town sourcebook for Cat's Cradle, the adventure Eye of Itral, and Fortune Hunters, a book of town-oriented NPCs.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Humble Bundle - Maps Extravaganza (ProFantasy Software)

I own the Campaign Cartographer software from my Windows days. Sadly, I never had the patience to learn the software. With the pricing of the Maps Extravaganza Humble Bundle I might have had more patience ;)

Yes, that is an affiliate link above. Keep the taps flowing and the lights on at The Tavern by using our affiliate links.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Indiegogo - By Dawn’s Early Light (5E, PF & S&W)

I’ve been enjoying the Frog God holiday themed releases. They are very readable and playable, which seems to be a rare combination. By Dawn’s Early Night is their latest, obviously themed for July 4th.

It is midsummer, and the remote mountain village of Ilgaardd is preparing to throw an epic celebration to honor the anniversary of its independence from the tyrannical rule of Killoran the Red. While most of the villagers are happy with the new leadership and are excited about the prospect of hosting a major event, droves of raucous outsiders, bitter loyalists, and an unprecedented heat wave are causing tensions to mount.  You have been hired by the local sheriff to keep the peace. To do your job, you will have to contend with rowdy villagers at each other’s throats and a towering force on the cusp of raising its haunted form high above the Village Green! 

Inspired by (dangerous!) early American traditions of lighting bonfires to celebrate Independence Day, the characters are the only hope that Illgaardd will remain standing by dawn’s early light.

The characters are hired by Jax Blueskin, chief constable of the remote village of Ilgaardd, to keep the peace during the village’s Independence Day celebration. The characters must contend with increasingly rowdy villagers only to discover a nefarious plot devised by Killoran the Red, the village’s presumed-to-be-dead former ruler. If not stopped, this plot will unleash a force so terrible that the village — and possibly the region — may be utterly destroyed. By Dawn’s Early Light is a short adventure for 4–6 low-level characters.
We are on schedule to deliver the PDF by July 4th to light up your Independence Day!

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

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