Saturday, June 6, 2020

Deal of The Day - Gary Gygax's Necropolis

Today's Deal of the Day is Gary Gygax's Necropolis from Necromancer Games. Written for 3e, its normally 12 bucks in PDF. Until tomorrow morning it is on sale for 6 bucks.
I am the Set Rahotep 
No man was more potent when I was amongst those dwelling in the land of Khemit. In death I am greater still! 
Do you not fear serpents? I am the Aepep Rahotep! 
Who does not tremble before the monsters of the Duat? I am one!
Does your flesh not crawl at the sight of a terrible wyrm? I am the Deathwyrm Rahotep! 
Does your blood run cold before the face of a fiend? Know then that I am Rahotep the Fiend! 
Who shuns not demons? Shun me, for I am the demon Rahotep, the Red Devil. 
And which fool listens? That one is wise! Praise Set and the Set Rahotep, that one, and pity the rest! 
An Epic Adventure and Sourcebook 
Gary Gygax's Necropolis is a vast campaign scenario that sweeps the characters into an epic adventure across the magical desert kingdom of Khemit. From a hidden evil in a desert village, to the secrets of ancient tombs, Necropolis takes the characters on a dangerous mission to thwart the plans of an undying archpriest-wizard who would be a god!
Necropolis is also a campaign sourcebook, detailing the lands of Khemit, new classes and prestige classes, new spells and more than 60 monsters unique to the desert lands. This book also details over 50 new gods and new cleric domains, allowing DMs to run extended campaigns in the desert kingdom. 
Players beware! Your characters will face certain death herein! 
This product requires use of the Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook. 
Gary Gygax's Necropolis is a full length 288 page epic adventure and campaign sourcebook designed for 4 to 8 characters of 10th to 18th level. The source material and initial adventures can be used with lower level PCs as well, but no one under 10th level should attempt to enter Rahotep's tomb.
There is an affiliate link above. Keep the lights on and the beer cold at The Tavern by using our affiliate links. 

Friday, June 5, 2020

Kickstarter -Folk Magic of the Haven Isles (Midderlands)

I love everything that Glynn has put out for his Midderlands setting. It is, to put it quite simply, extremely useful and an easy read. Needless to say, his latest Kickstarter -Folk Magic of the Haven Isles I backed the moment I learned about it.
Folk Magic of the Haven Isles is a role-playing supplement for old school role-playing games. Its focus is on magicians, wizards and magic-users. The book is written for Swords & Wizardry and therefore can be used in all retro-clones and old school role-playing games with little or no work. 
But I don't have or play any old school role-playing games. Is it still useful? 
Absolutely. It is intended for any fantasy role-playing games to inspire and provide ideas for players and Game Masters alike. If you know what HD and Saving Throws are, you will be easily able to understand and adapt most of the rules-related content in this book.

If you know anything about The Midderlands fantasy setting, you will see information within the book that makes it directly usable with The Midderlands setting. It is 100% compatible. 
If not, don't worry! You don't need to know anything. There is a glossary that explains what any unfamiliar (mainly geographical) words/terms are. In your own setting, you can just swap out place names. 
  • An A5-sized (148mm wide x 210mm high OR Approx. 5.8" wide x 8.3" high) containing 60 interior pages comprising 19 pages of evocative, full colour illustrations.
  •  14 Magic-User sub-classes, such as the Peller, Hermetic Magician, Demon Slave, Toadman, Spae Wife, Stitch Witch, Green Child, and Apple Queen/King. These sub-classes are 'overlays' that are intended to be used in conjunction with the magic-user class, giving them benefits, drawbacks and flavour.
  •  16 Magic-User backgrounds such as the Arcane Gloombugger, Cultist, Goblin Stinkbinder, and Stone Tender. Unique and flavourful micro-stories that make your magician unique and explain how they came to practice magic.
  •  7 Tomes (spellbook ideas) such as the Little Key of the Whole Art of Hydromancy. Ideas for spellbooks that can be the goals of magician's quests.
  •  16 Magical Spells such as Gloomray, Transmute Lead into Gold, Enforce Queueing, and more. Usable in any old school game.
  •  4 Oddities of the Haven Isles. Unusual objects, flora, and fauna such as the Mandrake and Wizard Hole.
  • A Glossary
  • Open Gaming License (OGL)

Thursday, June 4, 2020

State of the Tavern Keeper - New Lease on Life

This past Monday I went to St Francis Hospital to have a stent inserted in the left anterior descending part of my heart to clear a blockage. This followed three prior stents for three other blockages two weeks prior. No more procedures in my immediate future - just healthy eating, exercise and a lifetime  of meds.

I’m sad to not be at NTRPG Con this year, but I’m happy. I’ll be around for many more :)

Again,I’d like to thank Chris for stepping up the past few days. He’ll be a regular feature on Sunday’s going forward.

We’ve got plans for The Tavern, some I’ve touched on prior, some we’ve yet to announce.

June should be a good month :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

So You Want to Attend Your First Convention?

So You Want to Attend Your First Convention?
So you've decided to attend your first game convention?

First off, congrats, you should have fun....

Second, I really hope you didn't pick GenCon or Origins for your 1st ever game convention, but if you did I hope it's Origins. Actually both cons are great, don't get me wrong, but they are the big boys and can be overwhelming for a convention newb, with GenCon clearly coming in top for being "too much" as far as cons go.

I'd recommend a smaller, hopefully local game convention. You can support local dealers, maybe find players for future gaming, and definitely find out about other smaller local conventions. A local gaming convention is more likely to be in driving distance and just generally cheaper to attend. You'll have more room to pack stuff and more money to spend should you want to......

....but I'm going to go out on a limb and assume you have to fly to the convention. Why? Well mostly because that's my main experience, but also because flying to a convention is more restrictive and if you go to the bigger conventions odds are you'll be flying unless you like doing a looooong roadtrip.

Right off the bat, once you decide to attend a convention, break out your calendar. Get your registration as soon as you can and note when you can sign up for games and rooms. Neither is as important for smaller cons, but it will be for the larger ones and you might as well get in the habit as rooms for GenCon & Origins and games can fill up in the 1st hour of registration. No, really.......get your calendar, figure out the necessary dates and register for what your want, when you want it. If the convention has an advance schedule, figure out your priority for gaming. Your 1st choices for a game might be full, so having backup plans are good.

When should you arrive to a convention? I recommend you show up the day before and leave the day after if you're flying. If the con is a Thursday to Sunday affair, odds are it'll start up Thursday afternoon and wrap up Sunday by noon. If you can get good flight in Thursday morning and out Sunday afternoon, good on you, BUT....don't forget others will be trying to work that same schedule, you'll have no flexibility if flights have issues (seriously I recommend morning flights before & after con days so you have all day to get there and/or back if there if flights get delayed), and do you really want to try to get in a game right after a spot of travelling and the fun involved with that? Some cons will have an early check-in available and maybe even some early pick-up games.

Once you have your dates figured out, your travel plans in place, and know where you're staying.....oh you don't know that yet? Well I generally recommend staying at the convention hotel for a smaller con and anywhere but as the con gets bigger. The big conventions usually have multiple hotels, but there may be one or more directly connected to the convention space and others a short walk away. It might seem convenient to stay at a convention hotel, but as the convention grows that convenience dwindles. Anyone who has had to wait 20-plus minutes for an elevator at the con hotel realizes that a 5' or 10' walk to their hotel might be preferable....because you might have to wait that long to get back down to the convention as well. Other hotels within walking distance might be cheaper or have better amenities as well.....

OK, so NOW you should have the big-picture travel stuff figured out and you might want to drill-down for the finer details. Does the convention center and/or your hotel have a restaurant......will it be convenient for you to eat there (convenient and affordable) FYI they generally aren't as they are catering to business travelers with company accounts and/or per diem. One con I went to their restaurant was a higher-end Steakhouse. You'll want to figure out your eating options before you arrive on-scene. I generally plan on one a nicer meal out every other day and something else for the rest and avoid room service  at all costs (pun intended......room service is usually expensive and decent quality, but meager. $15 for a muffin and orange juice...no thank you). Thankfully these days delivery, including food service delivery, is an easy option. These services will widen your choices considerably.

You might also want to look up your options for grocers/general merchandise near the hotel. It might be well worth your while to walk or take a taxi/uber to the grocery store and stock up on sodas/snacks. Even when flying I tend to pack some easy snacks, maybe a breakfast or two (tops) worth of instant oatmeal, some dried fruit, and a bag of beef jerky. It's good to keep with you in case your travelling goes longer than expected anyway and it can buy you some time when you first get to the con and are trying to get your feet under you. Knowing where you can go to get some OTC medicine or another notebook or some such is comforting at the least.....

You really don't need too much when flying to a con when it comes to clothes and gear. Whatever you'd normally take to a regular game (dice, pencils, notebook, PC sheets, minis, and rules) is just fine. Since I never go anywhere without a computer I keep extra copies of everything where I can access it.....and these days a tablet can go all day, so PDF stuff is a viable option. You shouldn't be working up a huge sweat at a con and since you'll be showering every day at a minimum (you ARE showering every day, right?.......seriously, don't be THAT GUY!) you can probably get more use out of your clothes than you'd think. Fresh underwear for everyday and if you need another shirt, just buy a convention shirt when you get there.....you'll want a souvenir anyway.

Speaking of which, at your 1st con you are going to want to buy stuff. Most vendors, the convention, whatever can take credit cards, so you'll only need cash for little stuff, like food vendors, tipping, vending machines, etc. Odds are you'll be buying stuff at the convention and lugging it home. Two useful things to know, well maybe three. I recommend packing an extra bag in your luggage.....something that can be checked if needed. As long as your extra swag is under 50 pounds and you're willing to pay the extra $25-$50 for an additional checked bag.....just drag that stuff home with you. Stopping by a post office or UPS/FEDEX on the way to the airport is an option, but the hotel probably has a business center where you can go online and arrange for a pickup. Hotels have stuff picked up and dropped off all the time and some of the larger ones are regular FEDEX stops.

One thing I do like to bring with me to a con if I'm flying is a simple art tube. I have one I made from a PVC tube that barely fit into my one bag (which I don't use anymore.....might need to make a new one). I use this specifically to transport any art/posters I pick up from any artists at the con. It really sucks trying to find a tube to protect my expensive art purchase at the con. The hotel won't have any lying around and good luck with that on a Sunday as you're packing up.......you might get one as a shipping tube from that local FEDEX/UPS assuming you planned ahead......

Really the only other things I'd toss out there that if you have a favorite something you need to have, like a certain pencil or notebook....pack an extra one. Go ahead and bring a reusable insulated mug while you're at it. Every con I've been to has ice water easily available and if you need something flavored, those little squeeze bottles of flavoring are just a couple ounces (you can fly with them!). Stay hydrated!

When you get back from your con, do yourself a favor and note what you didn't use/need, what you wish you had brought, and make your own travel list for the next convention.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

So You Want to Run a Game at a Convention?

So You Want to Run a Game at a Convention?
So you're thinking about running a game at your local convention?

1st off, I know you probably aren't, but you're reading this anyway because it's here at the Tavern.

2nd, even if you aren't interested maybe this post will make you think about it......either way do or don't, just play along and pretend you're wanting to run a game at a local con anyway. Besides if you play along you might come to the realization it is a worthwhile endeavor.....

Congratulations are in order! You've decided to step up your game (pun intended) and stop huddling around that dining room table of yours and sling dice with new players. Seriously though, convention games can be fun, and if it's a local con you might meet some great new people to share this hobby with. Conventions can't really function without content and you running a game adds content, and value, to your local convention.

The 1st thing you really need to think about is the convention itself. Most cons are pretty lenient when it comes to games, but if you want to have a successful go at it you might want to make sure your desired game system meshes with the con. Trying to run an obscure fantasy game system from the early 80's at a Sci-Fi Convention might not be worth your effort.

For years I played in and ran a bunch of games at this one convention that was more a literary convention that happened to have a few RPGs and board games. Eventually we basically had our own room and we realized that everybody was paying the convention $50+ so we could sit in a room all by ourselves and otherwise visit the free areas of the convention. A quick check-in with the staff at the hotel I preferred staying at as we could game all weekend in their breakfast room that went unused for 90% of the day.... 

So you have a game system that'll work with the convention....but will it? In addition to any theme issues you have to seriously consider how popular your system is and if there is enough draw for it. If you're just going to be running for your home group, but at a convention, is that a worthwhile expenditure of your resources? Even if your preferred system isn't popular, it really might be worthwhile to run at a con anyway because this could be a way to increase support for your system or to find new players. You'll just have to factor this in when you work on what you're going to run for that setting, which I'll cover in a moment.

You'll need to figure out how the convention timeline works, as well as how to submit/run events. These day's it usually a website data-entry thing, but you really need to know your timelines for submission because later submissions, while might be allowed, can often make it so interested players cannot find you in the registration book. Now it might be a bit of putting the cart before the horse, but when you go to register your game you'll pretty much need to know what your're running: game system and adventure, as well as the number of players you can seat, the experience level requirement of the players. Are pre-generated PCs going to be available? What level do the PCs need to be? Is there time to teach new players if they are complete newbs? Do you have a good description of the game and the adventure? No, really....a description that would want someone to sign up to play? Your convention might not ask for everything mentioned in this paragraph, but it's a good idea to assemble it anyway. Sometimes they'll ask for a little bit for pre-approval, and then want more, and sometimes timelines/deadlines creep up on you......

OK, so now you have the big picture stuff figured out, or should providing you already selected the adventure. Are you running a published adventure or something home-brew? There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you are running a published adventure for the system make sure that was noted in the registration 'cause it sucks for a player to show up and find out they've already run this adventure before. If you aren't keen on a homebrew adventure you can split the difference by adapting an adventure written for a different game system. Convert it a bit and tweak it. Even if your players have played the other system and that adventure, they'll not know about your tweaks....and you can always change/twist a crucial point that would be detrimental if a player used insider knowledge!

While on the subject of tweaks......published adventures generally aren't made to fit into the time constraints of a convention game time block, which can be two to four hours in length. You'll want to tweak the adventure to account for the length of time you need to fill. I suggest cutting out sections that could be bypassed and hold back some encounters that could be added to pad your time if the players are moving faster than anticipated. Remember that only the GM has access to the adventure and maps, so use that to your advantage.

It sounds like at this point everything should be good, but once you have the adventure planned out, start to think about anything else you'll need for your game. Pre-gens, player aids, etc. Maps? Do you want to use a mat or print out maps before hand? I've done both and some of the best luck I've had was the laborious printing of the maps, mounting them to cheap dollar-store foam core, and then cutting them out. No real drawing or artistry needed on my part and I don't spend so much time describing each room. Really a to-each-their-own kind of thing.

You might want to prep the game by running it for your home group with the same constraints as you'll have at the con, but be aware you're players will most likely run through faster than a group of strangers would.

If you've managed all these things you should be able to pull off a successful convention game. Should, being the operative word here. Even with all the prep in the world, you cannot always account for one of the biggest  potential pitfalls of all: the GM is at a convention!

Seriously though, dude you're at a convention! You don't need to run a game in every fricken time slot, or even in every other slot. Sure you might get some serious perks for running a lot of games, but even one game a day can be taxing if you're playing in other games or wanting to go to room parties, the dealer's hall, etc. The idea of paying to attend a con (driving/flying/rooms/meals.....even if the entry is free for GMing) and then doing nothing but run games is ludicrous. Don't be that guy. You won't have fun, and your games will inevitably suffer.

Monday, June 1, 2020

Not Erik Story Time: Players Interjecting Humor Wherever they Damned Well Feel Like It

Not Erik Story Time: Players Interjecting Humor Wherever they Damned Well Feel Like It
Erik's back in for another stint with the surgeon so I'm filling back in with a little story-telling session.

Now I don't expect folks to remember the last time I filled in, but in one post I talked a bit about HackMaster 4th Edition and how many thought it was a joke game (it wasn't) because of some of the comedic elements (easily removed/ignored), but I mentioned, and still ascertain, that players are players and you can have the most serious game in the world and they'll still interject humor where it doesn't exist, and in some cases needs to be.

I was running a game of HackMaster 5th Edition, using the Garweeze Wurld setting, which was made for 4th Edition and is the backdrop for the Knights of the Dinner Table Magazine.The new edition of the game is rather magic light and the old was really magic heavy. In the very last Wurld Tournament for HackMaster 4th Edition the Gawds were destroyed as well as all magic and allegedly the whole planet. I just advanced the timeline something like 10,000 years and the planet wasn't destroyed, but the loss of magic changed most everything. In the new campaign magic was slowly coming back into the world as new Gods were reaching out. The thing is, for most people magic wasn't even a fairy tale.

My too-short-lived Return to Garweeze Wurld Campaign

Anyway, enough supposition. This was a serious game and since I was playing with adults there were some adult themes and stuff I'm probably never going to type about and normally would NEVER condone in a RPG game, well at least a public one.

The players weren't quite the normal murderhobos, having established themselves as competent "troubleshooters" for their village. They've proven themselves capable a few times already and when a badly injured rider came into town with reports he was tracking an band of orcs.....well the party was going to go investigate. Orc raids were a seasonal problem and it was a little too early in the year, but the village elders activated the militia (conscription was a thing) and asked the party to investigate...tomorrow. The party was already wiped from the day's activities and needed to rest and get some suicide daggers from the blacksmith before heading out.

Remember those adult themes? Well Orcs in HackMaster were really a bastardized race that procreates pretty much through rape. It's pretty messed up, but it was a known thing (not something I made up!!!) and the party were all females, and were warned in-character.

Anyway, the party got up 1st thing in morning to head off where the orcs were last seen and then found out that one of the PC's parents, a retired Knight, had headed out the day before with some militia, specifically because he didn't want his daughter facing orcs, even though it was against the Elder's wishes (rank has its privileges...)

The party rushes to catch up and while the earlier group has a good 14 hour lead, they are able to make good time since they were able to easily follow the slower group's track once they went off-road. The party catches up just as the battle is underway and the battle is not going that well. The party manages to turn the tide and it is clear that the orcs are going to lose, but not before the Half-Orc leader, unbeknownst to anybody is a Cleric. The Cleric's final parting gift was a Cause Wounds spell, which was enough to bring the Knight down to zero hit points.

This Cleric got away and there is some more big back story, but basically this was the introduction of what was to be a recurring villain in this campaign. The secret that magic was back in the world and true clerics existed was a HUGE deal. The players already knew there was magic, hell, they technically had a magic user in the group, but seeing clerical magic....evidence of the new Gods, was big. I'm doing my best here to solemnize the significance and let the implication wash over the players, like I'm some bad-ass world-building story teller or shit......

Pedo-Orc and his "Bad Touch"
......and then one of my players snickers and says that the orc did a "bad touch" on the other PC's father. A little laughter and before I know it this new BBG (Big Bad Guy) has been labeled "Pedo-Orc" Great.....he has a name now....

I ended up making a graphic for the bastard, for shits & giggles, since I was documenting the campaign in a blog.

This....this is the kind of thing I mean about players interjecting humor into your serious campaign. You can't fight it, you just have to deal with it. In the end, we're all just doing this to have fun, right?

Sunday, May 31, 2020

State of the Tavern Keeper - One More Time

In the morning, at 11 AM, I report to St Francis Heart Hospital for, what should be, the last procedure I need. If it all goes well, I'll be home in the evening.

Chris will be handling the posting for the next day or two, before coming on board to regularly post on Sundays. Woot! Oh, and there should be another announcement later in the week :)

Thanks to all for the kind thoughts, wishes, and prayers. It truly is appreciated.
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