Saturday, August 8, 2020

New OSR Release - Heart of Varrul (White Star Campaign Setting)

I love me some White Star. As I dig through the gaming content I've created here at The Tavern, I've found that I've created a sizeable amount of material for White Star. There are probably the seeds of a campaign floating around here if you dig deep enough. But why should you do that when you can get a White Star campaign from none other than White Star's own James Spahn and his not quite a brother nor related Pete Spahn. If the Spahns aren't a winning combination then there simply isn't one.

Heart of Varrul is the new White Star setting available from Spahn & Spahn. Pete has given me peeks over the years and I must say, it is an impressive offering.

Heart of Varrul is 15 bucks in PDF, 25 in softcover, and 30 in hardcover.

But wait! There is a Heart of Varrul bundle for 20 bucks in PDF. It includes White Star Galaxy Edition, Rul System Adventure Pack, Walking the Way, and of course Heart of Varrul. A $43 value. If you are new to White Star this is an amazing value.

Of course, you can snag the Original White Star rules at PWYW pricing, so there is no reason not to give them a peek and see what everyone is talking about.

Note: James is like a brother to me, and I've been friends with Pete for years. They do write some good shit. Support them :)

Heart of Varrul is a White Star: Galaxy Edition™ campaign setting book that details the aliens, factions, and conflicts of the Rul System, Tathkee Station, and the Planet Varrul. The Rul System is on the brink of an interstellar gold rush and the PCs are poised to get involved on the ground floor. How they get involved is up to them!  

Written by Peter C. Spahn and James M. Spahn, Heart of Varrul expands on the foundation laid by the critically acclaimed White Star: Galaxy Edition™. With illustrations by artists Nicolas Giacondino and James Shields and maps by Just Insert Imagination's Morne Schaap, Heart of Varrul is specifically designed to give Referees a readymade location to run hours of adventures.


"They call it varrulium. A lightweight ore that, when refined, shows a remarkable ability to deflect energy. It can be used to protect everything from circuit boards to dreadnaught hulls. Some say that certain alloys can even resist the cutting properties of the mystical Star Swords.  

The ore is found only on the remote gas giant Varrul, which lies deep in the Galactic Beyond, but that’s not stopping anyone. There are too many free credits to be made. Millions. Maybe billions, all just there for the taking.  

The big corporations are sending contractors to locate and strip mine the islands floating through the gas giant’s skies. They are hiring mercenaries to protect their workers from the local fauna. A lot of independent miners have also traveled to Varrul hoping to strike it rich.  

There’s a catch of course. Varrul’s turbulent red skies are filled with clouds of toxic gases, ion pockets, and storms of superheated plasma that can burn through even the thickest bulkheads, so every trip into the planet’s atmosphere could be your last.  

Then there’s the wildlife. Flocks of power suckers descend on anything with an energy signature. Giant flying worms prowl the airways, attacking and consuming survey and mining vessels. And deadly swarms of insectile beasts have already slaughtered more miners than the Rampallan Plague.  

I can see you're not deterred. Safe travels on your trip. When you get there, Tathkee Station is the place to start. It’s an old SkyMall 5000 series that has been converted to a rough and tumble suborbital spaceport. It’s owner, Ingan Tathkee, is an old friend of mine. Mention my name and he’ll set you on the right path to making your own fortune, but watch your back. There are plenty of lawless types at the station ready to prey on newcomers.  

You’d best hurry, though. It’s only a matter of time before the Interstellar Upheaval reaches Varrul---if it hasn’t already. Varrulium ore would be worth a fortune to the war chests of the Galactic Consortium or the Restoration. And some say there’s even more to the planet than meets the eye. Talk among mystics and scholars suggests that Varrul’s swirling gases hide a cosmic secret deep in the planet’s core, in the very heart of Varrul.  

Of course, these could all just be rumors. There's only one way to find out for sure. . . "


Heart of Varrul is packed full of usable content. The newly discovered Rul System lies far out in the Galactic Beyond which makes it easy to drop into any existing White Star™ campaign. Descriptions of NPCs, factions, and locations are similarly painted in broad strokes to make them easily adaptable. All NPC entries are fully statted for the White Star™ system. 

The book contains a detailed overview of the Rul System, Tathkee Station, and Planet Varrul including:

  • Layout of the planets and features of the remotely located Rul System.
  • History of Varrul. This includes the history known to the miners and other visitors as well as the planet’s darker, more mysterious history.
  • History of Tathkee Station. A seedy suborbital space station that acts as the hub of commerce and intrigue on the gas giant Varrul and the Rul System.
  • Security, laws, and punishment aboard the station.
  • Interesting shops aboard the station and locales throughout the system and planet.
  • Games and leisure activities (many of them dangerous) to be found aboard the station.
  • Over one hundred (100) original NPCs of Note.
  • Twenty-five (25) Factions of Note.
  • Thirteen (13) New Aliens and Creatures found on the station and in the Rul System, including the insectile Tikatikatik, a sapient species native to Varrul.
  • Seven (7) New Vessels found on Tathkee Station and Varrul.
  • Three (3) New Classes.
  • Various intrigues aboard Tathkee Station.
  • Random Encounters on Tathkee Station (detailed and fully statted).
  • Random Encounters in the skies of Planet Varrul (detailed and fully statted).
  • Guidelines for opening a business on Tathkee Station, starting an independent varrulium mining company, or working as a corporate mercenary.
  • Guidelines for meeting (and perhaps joining) the native Varrulians whose lives are being ruined by the constant strip-mining operations.
  • Numerous Plot Hooks, Conflicts, and Adventure Ideas to be found in the Rul System, aboard Tathkee Station, and on Planet Varrul

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Torchlight - 11 Days Later, Hanging on at Number 5 in Hottest Small Press on DTRPG

I need to seriously thank this community. Because of y'all, Torchlight's Premiere Issue (snag a copy for a buck at this link) is a Silver Best Seller, and 11 days after launch is still hanging on at #5 in the Hottest Small Press Category over at DTRPG.com 

Work has commenced on the next issue of Torchlight, currently aiming for an early September release. If you have a Swords & Wizardry article or content you'd like to submit, we would need to be received by August 15th. The plan is to offer Torchlight on a quarterly basis, so we'll be happy to look at articles after the August 15th deadline for later issues. We offer a percentage of royalties based on sales, and if you are lucky you may earn enough to buy yourself a beer with those monies - domestic only ;)

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Friday, August 7, 2020

New OSR Release - Crown (ruleset)

Before anyone asks the question "why do we need another OSR ruleset" I'll answer the question - the OSR must continue to grow if it is to survive and thrive, and no one says you must enjoy every OSR ruleset - let alone own it. That being said, I enjoy reading new OSR rulesets as I almost always find a rule or three that I'm tempted to include in my own old school gaming. Crown certainly has its share of inspiration to give.

Crown itself is a hack of Whitehack, but skews more towards its old school roots than Whitehack does, in my humble opinion.

In a mere 60+ pages, Crown includes rules for sea travel, ship to ship combat, dehydration, foraging, and more. As I said, inspirational material I can use with other rulesets.

Crown is 6 bucks in PDF. There is not currently a print option.

Crown is an easy-to-learn, rules-lite old school fantasy roleplaying game. In a compact sixty pages it contains all the rules you need to set out on perilous adventures, dangerous journeys, and harrowing quests. This is a complete game based off of Whitehack and strongly influenced by games like Maze Rats and Whitebox: Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game. These rules are compatible with other OSR products with only a little conversion. The book is split into two parts, the first half is intended for both the players and the Game Master (you can find these rules for free in Crown - Player Rules https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/319366/Crown--Player-Rules?manufacturers_id=5958) and the second half is full of tools and advice for the Game Master. 

Player Rules: 

Roll-under d20 rules focused around a character's attribute scores. Three character classes (Fighters, Mages, and Rogues) and one optional class (Clerics). Slot based encumbrance with possible item destruction. Simple but extensive adventuring and combat rules centered around class statistics and character attribute scores. Rules for hiring retainers. Permanent injuries. Morale for monsters and retainers. Magic rules based on unique spells made by the Game Master. Optional rules for backgrounds and nonhuman (demihuman) characters. 

Game Master's Section:

Advice for running old school games. Rules for dungeon crawls. Rules for hex crawls. Stronghold and domain guidelines. Simple warfare rules based on traditional "handful-of-d6" wargames. Tools for making spells and dealing with the various arcane powers that can occur in old school games. Tools for making retainers and other nonplayer characters. Quick and concise tips for granting treasure. Basic rules for monsters and converting from other OSR products into Crown. A short bestiary containing 45 common fantasy monsters with easy-to-use explanations. 

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Thursday, August 6, 2020

New OSR Release - City of Solstice: Evil Streets

It's a rare release that covers law and order in an urban environment, let alone one that focuses on PCs as the police (well, simultaneously lawbreakers too). Still, it works as an urban setting without using the built-in default campaign. Actually, it works as a truly vibrant urban setting with enough factions to keep the PCs busy for ages.

That all being said, urban adventures play differently than dungeon crawls, and killing your foe can have repercussions that go further than angering later foes. You need the right group mindset for extensive urban adventures and the City of Solstice is set to offer near-limitless adventure opportunities for your PCs.

The City of Solstice is 15 bucks in PDF, 30 in Print plus PDF.

You are not adventurers. 

They’re dead. 

Just like His Royal Majesty, Prince Roth, Earl of the City of Solstice and his wife, the Princess Sirena. 

Their killers were the Star Society, five rival criminal organizations who joined together as one. They are: the Church of Mother Moon, led by the Shadow Shroud, a mysterious prophetess, the Nizari, most ruthless mercenary company in the known world, the shadow archers of the Sagittarius Sect, the mysterious elven executioners of the Order of Antares, and the martial arts masters known as the Five Forms. 

The city is now theirs in all but name. The Royal Chancellor, Lord Toren, Her Majesty’s Lord Protector, is officially in charge of the city. But everyone knows he’s a tired old man who looks the other way while terror rules the streets. 

You are members of the Vigilant, a thoroughly corrupted effigy of a once proud guild, charged with keeping order in a chaotic city of 100,000 souls. You are not adventurers. But you have a duty.


The City of Solstice provides a complete urban setting for your Old School Fantasy Adventures. If you're playing a game based on the 1st Advanced Edition of the Greatest RPG of All Time (TM) this city will give you everything you need from a setting for hundreds of adventures, with minimal mechanical adaptation required. 

In addition to the setting, this tome contains new classes, new spells, new magic items, and a completely revamped magic system. Better yet, you can use all of this, some of it, or none of it, nothing in the rules depend on anything optional. It's up to the Game Master and their players.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

GoFundMe to defray Jayson "Rocky" Gardner's post surgery expenses

I've known Rocky for years. He's one of those "good folks" in our corner of gaming. Well, Rocky was recently diagnoses with lung cancer and is recovering from some fairly aggressive surgery. This means that not only is Rocky not working but his wife Kendra is stretched a bit thin, with caring for Rocky, the kids, and her employment.

As a community, we've also stepped forward when members of our own have been in need, and this certainly is one of those times.

The Tavern will match, at a minimum, the first $250 raised by the readers of The Tavern for Rocky's GoFundMe. Simply note your donation below as a comment. If you wish to remain anonymous, you can email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing.

If you can't afford to give, and in the current economy that is sadly more likely than it was in the past, positive thoughts and prayers for Rocky and his famiy are always welcome.
Rocky has finally quit smoking but one of his lungs took off in protest. Funds from this will be used to help cover household and medical expenses while the family is not able to work full time while they work through these medical challenges. This will help to make sure the boys stay fed, clothed, and the family is not worried about paying to keep the electricity on during this challenging time

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Deal of the Day - Tiny Tavern (d6)

It's focused on Taverns! Its gotta be good :)

I backed Tiny Taverns on Kickstarter because of two things - it was obviously themed about taverns and it was from Gallant Knight Games. Pretty much a win-win.

While it's more storytelling than RPG, its a beautiful game, and one I'm sure my niece will love to play with Auntie and Uncle.

Normally 14.99 in PDF, until tomorrow morning Tiny Taverns is on sale for 6 bucks.
The story you tell with Tiny Taverns is one of friendship, a group of former adventurers running a tavern together. This tavern happens to exist in a fantasy world, replete with monsters, magic and cheerfully-crafted menus (and hijinks!)

Using the rules in this book, you'll be able to play to tell new heartwarming stories in this slice-of-life inspired TinyD6 narrative RPG! It's a new storytelling game powered by an revised iteration of TinyD6, more akin to Fate or Powered by the Apocalypse, but still the same minimalist nature you love!

Character creation is simple, fast, and exciting. You pick your character archetype based on the exciting stories your Game Master is going to tell, you pick a few Traits that each grant a single benefit, and you're done!

As a group, you'll work to create the world you exist in, as well as identify the sort of tavern, home, inn, or other enterprise you've decided to support with your friends! This setting will be your groups, from the ground up!
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Monday, August 3, 2020

A Quick Look at Megadungeon #1 (Courtney Campbell / Hack & Slash)

About a week and a half ago I ordered Courtney's Megadungeon Zine, Issues 1-3 in print and PDF. I've enjoyed Courtney's work for years, and his take on the Megadungeon is a good one. I might not agree with all of his thoughts, but I enjoy them none the less.

Megadungeons are about resource management. Oh, and loot. Killing monsters is almost irrelevant.

What I find most interesting within is his introduction of skills to the B/X game, or really any OSR ruleset. I may seriously yoke this.

Courtney also introduces a new class.race. Think Warforged in the Eberron setting. I like it. A lot.

What is Megadungeon #1 missing? It has advice, setting material, random tables, a new class, 5e conversion rules. Heck, there's even an Ettercop lair and an entrance hall to whet your dugeoneering appetite.

5.99 in PDF, 9.99 in Print plus PDF
The first issue of Megadungeon is upon us!
Dungeon adventures, NPC's, and resources suitable for any campaign! Dual-statted for B/X and 5e. Come explore Numenhalla, the god halls. Learn about the altars and the logos, see the ettercop lair. 
Articles on the pillars of megadungeon play, and using 5e and the megadungeon!  
Heavily illustrated by the talented OSR artists, Sam Mameli, Todd McGowan, and Kent Miller!
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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Is it Cheating on Your FLGS if You're in Another Time Zone?

Is it Cheating on you FLGS if You're in Another Time Zone?
Truth be told I don't have a FLGS (Favorite Local Game Store) there is one local comic store where I live that has some game stuff and I do visit them almost weekly to pick things up, but it it isn't *my* store, my *favorite* store......it's just the only local game store.

Not knocking the store, I still support them, but I do miss having an actual FLGS.

Sometimes I travel for work and when I'm on the road I do like to stop in and check out local game stores. I've seen (mostly) some real hole-in-the-wall places that seemed to basically live off of CCGs, some smaller shops that just happen to have RPG stuff on the side, and even a few *holy crap, this is awesome* game stores.....and at least one the game stuff was less than 1/4 of the store!

I have more of a retail background than I really wish was on my resume, so I understand (better than most) what it takes to run a retail store and know just how much *fun* (seriously, can you feel my eye rolls) running a game store would probably be. If I had to have an endeavor to lose money and could do a specific type of diversification.....I'd consider it, but then I'd probably save some cash by paying a buddy to simply kick my ass for suggesting it.

I'm not saying you can't run a game store and you cannot make money doing so....just retail kind of sucks and the nerd/geek/gamer "dream" of owning and running a game store would most likely be a nightmare (technically still a dream.....)

......anyway I'm on this trip and I stopped by two hobby/game stores. One was closed, as in out of business, and the other was a tiny, deep shop loaded to the gills with product. Fully half the store was devoted to models, but there was a HUGE selection of RPGs, more old than new, a ton of dice, minis......most everything you'd expect in a game store. While there wasn't a ton of any particular product, what was there was quite varied. I found a ton of minis I haven't seen out in the wild, which I scooped up, along with a tool that you'd expect to find in a model shop, but I haven't seen yet.....a set of tiny drill bits.

You might wonder why I'm not naming this shop........it's a social media thing for work to post where I'm at for work. I'll update this after the fact next week when I make a post. (Edit: It was the Hobbit Hobby Shop in Fayetteville NC)

There were a few things I really wanted to pick up, but I only have so much room in my luggage, so I kept it to what I got:
My game store mini haul
My Game Store Mini Haul....almost $75!

Now clearly I visit game stores while travelling, but for those of you who travel.....do you make side trips/visits to local game stores? If so, would you like to know which ones are worth visiting? Maybe we'll get together a list.....or not.

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