Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Candlekeep Mysteries Fallout, Freelancing Drama

So, I've covered the Candlekeep Mysteries Freelancing Drama on The Tavern's YouTube channel, but I was asked to provide a summary on the blog side of things. Long story short (you can read the long story at BoLS):

WotC decided to do an adventure collection to be written by authors from marginalized segments of society. This is the same collection that had the wheelchair-accessible dungeon.

Graeme Barber, perhaps better known as PoC Gamer, was signed to write one of the adventures in question. As Graeme stated on his blog:

Its form and content had made it through the pitch and drafting process, and I had no reason at the time of submission to suspect that it would be subject to the edits and modifications that went into it. Especially because we (the writers in general) had been hired specifically because we were “fresh voices” and “new perspectives”.

So, what did Graeme submit?

He submitted an adventure with potentially world-changing fluff:

I determined that I wanted to link back to the Days of Thunder and bring the Grippli back, all by building on what had come before and that was current.

This delved deep into Yuan-ti lore specific to the Forgotten Realms, building on the schism implied in the Tomb of Annihilation about Yuan-ti that weren’t evil (or at least weren’t hostile) and just wanted to exist. The idea was that good Yuan-ti were working to hasten the awakening of the World Serpent, the mother goddess of the serpentfolk, by recovering an ancient tome from the crypt in the old temple (from the story in the book). The evil Yuan-ti want to stop them. The Grippli are caught in the crossfire.

The adventure started with finding the book, and there was a list of things the players might be looking for in Candlekeep. They would find the book, and the first part of the mystery was figuring out how to read both stories that were on the three cylinders therein. The stories were legends from the Batrachi Empire, involving the various frogfolk of the Forgotten Realms. This would reveal the temple, and then lead to the characters learning about the Grippli village. Further investigation revealed lore about both the Grippli and the Yuan-ti. The mystery then shifted to investigating what was happening.

The emphasis here was on the ancient nature and unknown materials that things were made of from the Yuan-ti side of things. The sword was a literal fang from the World Serpent, the scale mail made from a giant snake unknown in the modern era. Metal fittings were made of a mysterious copper alloy. The Yuan-ti had more nuance, and the adventure added a mythology and history to them that could open more doors if desired by the DM and players.

The Grippli were presented as having had patron deity return and bring them back up to speed with the gift of literacy in their ancient language; they had art, nothing was primitive; I used the terms simple and utilitarian, and the domed mud brick village was filled with colours and decorations. Their village was a mix of new made buildings and impossibly ancient buildings and edifices that had withstood the test of time. 

What was published? The adventure without the fluff:

 All references to the Batrachi, World Serpent, Days of Thunder, the tome, or any other motivations were removed. The Yuan-ti were reduced down to just being evil for evil’s sake for the most part (without the cut lore, it makes less sense), the Grippli had their culture stripped out and so on. Colonialist language and imagery around the Grippli was inserted as well, moving them from being simple and utilitarian with obvious culture and technology to being “primitives” who “primitively decorate” their thatched huts with crab bits.

Essentially, where you could see the welds and joins before, you could now see the chop marks and bolts. The story was reduced to a simple rescue mission against unmotivated baddies with confusing parts where bits of the original plot flashed up as absent. This was especially notable in that there was no plotline or reason for anything the Yuan-ti were doing; the conflict between the good and evil Yuan-ti was left completely unexplained until a tidbit at the end of the adventure that, without the cut content, made little sense. 

So, Graeme went on Twitter to complain that WotC butchered his work and he wanted his name removed from further printings of Candlekeep Mysteries

Here's the thing. WotC wanted a short adventure, not world-changing setting material. What Graeme wanted to write is fine for one's home campaign, but a bit too specific for a generic published adventure. His hissy fit in Twitter and his blog simply burned bridges, not just with WotC but likely with other potential publishers.

As a freelancer, you need to stick to the script. If you want to change the world, you need to write your own IP.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Goodman Games Acquires Dark Tower from Judges Guild - Where Does This Leave the CSIO Kickstarter Backers?

Goodman Games
announced over the weekend that they had acquired Dark Tower from Judges Guild. Not the rights to the property, the actual property.

Here's the relevant announcement:

So step back in time with us to 1980 and have a crawl through the only non-TSR module to ever make Dungeon Magazine’s cut as one of ‘the greatest D&D modules of all time:’ Dark Tower. Goodman Games has acquired Dark Tower from the Judges’ Guild, and will republish it in fully converted 5E and DCC RPG editions later this year. Director of Product Development Chris Doyle will lead the conversion to 5E, and original Dark Tower creator Jennell Jaquays will be included in design work on the new edition.

Strange, considering last May's announcement:

Goodman Games has stopped selling our previous Judges Guild products through all distribution channels. 

Judges Guild will no longer receive income from Goodman Games products now that sales of their titles have ceased. 

We have one remaining product to release, which is a collector’s edition focused on the works of Jennell Jaquays. Jennell’s story is one quite different from the views espoused by Bob Bledsaw Jr. Judges Guild and Bob Bledsaw Jr. have agreed to receive no royalties of any kind from this title. To say it bluntly: Bob Bledsaw Jr. and Judges Guild will not profit from the Judges Guild Deluxe Collector’s Edition Vol. 2 focused on the works of Jennell Jaquays. Goodman Games will match 20% of the proceeds of this title with donations: 10% to the Anti Defamation League and 10% to GLAAD. The funds that would have been used for a Judges Guild licensing fee will be included in this donation, as requested by Bob Bledsaw Jr. 

After this final volume, we have no plans to release future Judges Guild titles

Then there was the Kickstarter announcement from the Judges Guild Deluxe Collector's Edition Vol. 2 in November of 2020.

In lieu of royalties, Judges Guild has agreed to donate a portion of proceeds from the Kickstarter to benefit two special charities, as outlined below.

In lieu of a royalty from the production of this volume of the Deluxe Collector’s Edition, Judges Guild has agreed to donate their royalty to philanthropic causes, and Goodman Games will match that donation. Therefore, a total of 20% of the proceeds from this Kickstarter will be donated to charity. 10% will go to the Anti-Defamation League and 10% to GLAAD.

Those royalties would have amounted to about $8,500 from the Kickstarter. How far would that have gone to making the backers of the City-State of the Invincible Overlord Kickstarter whole?  Probably not far enough, but certainly closer than we are now, and I'm sure the monies could have been accounted for in whatever contract Judges Guild would have had to sign.

So, it begs the question - how much were Bob Bledsaw and Judges Guild paid for the rights to Dark Tower? Is that money being earmarked for the floundering CSIO Kickstarter, or is it going to be spent on hookers and blow - or some other such nonsense?

What changed from "After this final volume, we have no plans to release future Judges Guild titles" to "Goodman Games has acquired Dark Tower from the Judges’ Guild, and will republish it in fully converted 5E and DCC RPG editions later this year" in the course of 10 months? I'm guessing an $85k Kickstarter despite the bad publicity caused a change of heart...

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Monday, March 29, 2021

Kickstarter -The Evolutionary Mishap - a Mutant, Martial Arts Adventure

An alternate reality adventure for use with your favorite mutated animal martial arts RPG system.

Thom Wilson is one of the hardest working folks in the Old School Gaming Community. He seems to always be working on multiple projects, and this one, The Evolutionary Mishap Kickstarter, is truly neat. It APPEARS to be riffing off of the classic TMNT / After the Bomb RPGs, and if that's the case, they can easily be used with most any D20 based RPG of your choice. Sure, the classic system in question was fairly broken, but it was broken in some of the most awesome ways ;)

The Evolutionary Mishap PDF is 5 bucks, Print is 15, and print PLUS PDF is 18. Note, this is already written. Editing has commenced and layout should start in early April, so I expect a quick turn around from Thom, which is usual for him ;)

An adventure for new characters for use with your favorite mutated animal martial arts RPG system. Designed for use with the Megaversal System but easily transformed to the system of your choice.

When an explosion in a nearby section of the laboratory sends you and several other test subjects through an inter-dimensional wormhole, you suddenly find yourself transformed into highly trained, humanoids capable of speech and complex thought. You and your fellow lab animals now find yourself in an alternate version of feudal Japan and in the middle of war. Even worse, your existence in this alternate dimension seems temporary and your very life depends on returning to the world from whence you came—but how?

Note that the adventure book does not contain new RPG rules or mechanics - this is purely an adventure for use with the Megaversal system or system of your choice.

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Sunday, March 28, 2021

On Fudging Dice Rolls


GaryCon 2008
This weekend is GaryCon, though this year it's virtual. Raise a glass and/or roll some dice in remembrance.....you do you.

Earlier in the week I was chatting with a GM friend of mine, mostly getting her advice on a writing project I was (probably still am) a little out of my depth on. Of course the discussion strayed from the initial topic and in the process I was told that she was going to "stop fudging dice rolls".

Now I'll admit that my initial reaction was more of a "wait, what?" and thinking that's just wrong, but it really got me thinking about the role of the GM, and more importantly, how other people interpret the role of the GM as well.

Now I already know that some of your reading this may have already condemned this GM for her particular style......which is human nature if you have a conflicting style. I've always been a "by the roll" type GM, and player and it's served me well in the past*. Some games you really shouldn't even consider fudging dice rolls, like in DCC where the game balance itself comes from the brutality that is the random dice roll.

Now in this GMs defense, said dice rolls were more like changing a monster's hit point total or under-representing a damage roll to keep from killing a PC. I think most GMs do this as more of a story-telling perspective and to keep the action flowing. Of course I doubt the same type of GM would add hit points to a monster or bump up the damage roll against a PC in order to kill the character because they think the story would be benefitted, which is kind of why I'm against the GM screwing with dice rolls.

Now I can see a different GM fudging dice rolls to the same effect for a vastly different purpose. If I wanted to (well be a dick, but not exactly where I am going....) increase my chances of a Total Party Kill (TPK) or just wanted to hamstring the party in general, I'd fudge the dice obstinately in the "party's favor" to not kill a PC, but bring them down to like 1 hit point. Almost killing a character could be "dramatic", but also is more of a party resource suck than killing said PC. Sure, go ahead and use up your potions and spells to restore that character.......then you won't have them later and I can maybe kill off a few more of the party!

Now I get that this is a game and we play to have fun. I assume that most GMs that fudge dice rolls do so because they want to keep the status quo. They're the storyteller type....well a storyteller type. I'd argue that I'm a storyteller type GM as well, but I let the dice fall where they may......

......but I'm a lazy GM.

Yes, I'm the Arbiter of the game and have to decide what goes, but I'm telling a story, not necessarily the PC's story. The PCs might be the protagonists, but the way I figure...some of the story has to happen outside of the PCs actions...they just get to see the stuff that comes across their path.

Also, I'm not sure I'm good enough of a GM to properly balance an adventure, much less a campaign well enough to keep the adventure fun for everyone involved. Sure, most games have some rough guidance, but it's well....rough. I'm OK with dead ends, red herrings, and unbalanced encounters and adventures. The rough guidance given can get me "close enough" and my actions in shifting in response to the party isn't so much fudging dice rolls, but changing how the world...how the story...is tweaked in the first place.

Instead of changing a die roll I might add or remove some monsters from an encounter before the party starts the adventure. If they lose a PC halfway through I'm not going to change what they might face should they press on, but if I know that one PC isn't playing I might make that change before play starts for the night.

Having been a HackMaster (4th & 5th Edition) GM I have been guilty of the "Player vs. the GM" dynamic at the table. Of course that was more a role I was playing as I generally root for the PCs, but if they think I'm out to get them....well that's a bit of game-table drama in and of itself. Just one more thing that the players can overcome.....they can get over and "win" against the adventure and again of the GM out to get them. I was a big fan of the GM shield and everything.....

.....until I wasn't.

I think out of necessity I had a con game that I didn't have my usual setup so I was forced to play without a GM screen and started rolling out in the open. 

Changed my life.

Is this a marker of success or failure?
Sure I was already a "as the dice falls" type of GM, but really the players would have to just take my word for it. Rolling in the open let me tweak the adversarial relationship just a smidge. Clearly I'm still a "killer GM", but I'm not faking any of it. Instead of thinking about how to balance the game in the moment I do some rough "math" before the game and let the dice help tell the story that the players nudge and I arbitrate. Much easier (i.e. Lazy) for me to manage. Sure this means that the players may push themselves too far and get themselves killed, which is clearly reflected in my kills stickers above.

My players have to trust that I'll put adventures in front of them they can probably manage. Is that really my job? not really.......but in real life we don't usually try to bite off more than we can choose, within reason. Now if the adventure or encounter goes South and the party doesn't react accordingly...their fault, not mine. Trying to manipulate things to make the adventure/encounter equitable is a lot or work...and I'd rather just take the lazy route and deal with the aftermath.

Hmm......I wonder....

Ok, took a quick break to see if Gary had anything to say about dice rolls in Master of the Game (an aside......holy fuck, this book is going for $70 now!?) Not seeing anything, but there is a bit about Killer GMs (I'm not actually one) and more about GM laziness, which I've more than implied in this post. Yeah...maybe I need to spend less time musing about fudging dice rolls and more reading Gary's thoughts on "Principles and techniques for becoming an expert Role-playing game master".

*I find it hard today to not leave this rambling without a PC story. For a con session I thought it'd be cool to try and roll up a Half-Ogre Fighter specialized in dual-wielding two-handed swords because who doesn't like two 1d12 attacks per round? The adventure was a gladiatorial arena and while I do not remember much from a Sunday morning con game a decade & a half ago, I do remember my PC being pushed off a 120' tower by a wall of force. Since my guy is looking at 12d6p of damage I asked if he could grab a sword in each hand and smile as he faced his impending death. This was HackMaster 4th edition so dice "penetrated", i.e. if you rolled a the top number on a die, you rolled again and added the result -1 to the total. The average damage roll should have been 48hp. Of course, since this is a story being recalled 15ish years later, the GM rolled poorly. Not a single die penetrated, lots of 1's and 2's. Oh and armor absorbed some damage....and Half-Ogres take 1/2 crushing damage, which falls...er, fall....under. Basically my PC managed to survive the fall and walk away from most certain death. Good times.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

News - Luke Crane Resigns from His VP Position at Kickstarter Due to "Perfect RPG" Fiasco

Go figure.

Apparently, Luke Crane was not able to weather the storm that resulted from the Perfect RPG Kickstarter fiasco. I'm not going to say Luke abused his position at Kickstarter to further his own projects, but it's apparent that he felt that the rules that applied to everyone else did not apply to him.

Luke snuck Adam Koebel into the Perfect RPG Kickstarter. Adam is "Best known as the co-designer of the popular Dungeon World game system, Koebel in 2020 broadcast a TTRPG scenario involving in-fiction sexual assault live on Twitch. His handling of that scene was widely criticized by viewers and fans, and ultimately resulted in the dissolution of the actual-play series in which it occurred."

Kickstarters official announcement:

After a discussion about what is best for Kickstarter and our team, we came to the mutual decision with Luke Crane for him to leave Kickstarter. We recognize the many years of work Luke has done to help bring creative projects to life at Kickstarter and we are committed to ensure continued support for our team and for our backer and creator community through this moment of change.

Luke Crane was the main man behind The Burning Wheel RPG.

Read the full article at Polygon 

Luke's statement was shared as an update on the Kickstarter project:


I apologize for such a long silence in the wake of the project launch last month. I’ve been in a lot of conservations, and doing a lot of listening. I waited to post anything because I wanted to be sure to be as thoughtful and considered as possible:

When we began the Perfect RPG project, my only goal was to launch a small collection of micro-games designed by my friends and others whose work I respect in the community. On the day it launched, while the project was falling apart, I did not fully understand what was at stake and what had happened—in the shock of the moment my communications were insensitive and desultory.

So here and now I wish to unequivocally apologize to you, and everyone affected, for the harm I’ve done to the community with this project. I am grateful for your input over the last month, and have done my best to listen with an open heart. I thank you for sharing your opinions and feelings, and know that I have violated the trust you placed in me. I am sincerely, deeply regretful.

In creating the project, I made a series of missteps and miscalculations that added up to a gross oversight on my part and, accordingly, I am fully responsible for the current situation and its effects. So I would like to add some clarification around some of the particular points raised, in the hope that it will help the community as a whole move forward in a productive way: There was no deceit, deception or bad faith in any of my actions around the project. I understand that I should have disclosed the participant list to all contributors beforehand, and I feel terrible that my poor planning placed some creators in a difficult position. Likewise with the unusual order in which contributors were listed—I was seeking to highlight the first creator on the list, who was my primary playtester for this project. In hindsight this was a poor idea that came off as duplicitous, for which I apologize.

The Indie RPG community is close-knit and passionate—it is one of the things I've loved the most about being a member. I have worked for 20 years to build and advocate for this community and expand it past its roots. It is very much my life’s work. To see it hurt through my actions has been devastating. Therefore I am now doing my best to repair the harm I have caused and make restitution to anyone negatively affected by my actions.

I recognize that this statement reflects an as-yet incomplete understanding of the impact of my actions, and only a start to making things right. I am actively looking for other ways to redress the wrong I’ve done. To begin this process, I have reached out to all the contributors of the project and I am in discussions with them, listening to their perspectives and asking them for input. I hope that with their help, and the help of this gaming community, I can demonstrate my continued commitment to building better games for all of us.



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Friday, March 26, 2021

Kickstarter - Spellbook Games Celtic Dice Boxes

Dice. I can never seem to have enough dice. Heck, I bought a box of 24 sets of RPG dice from Dollar Tree at the end of last year, and I'm apt to buy more at the drop of a dime. Because they are dice. 'Nuff said.

I store my dice in various glass jars for the most part, but a nice box or three would probably be the better solution. The Spellbook Games Celtic Dice Boxes Kickstarter seems to be a good option. I like the Celtic knot designs and the pricing is right. Heck, I suspect Rach will want to snag a box or to for herself.

Prices start at $19 for a basic box and increase from there. I'm in at 99 for three boxes with the bells and whistles, as I know my better half will be appropriating one of the boxes ;)

We are Spellbook Games, a Father/Son duo producing Tabletop RPG supplements, 3D printed gaming miniatures, and now expanding to the world of beautiful and customizable dice boxes.

With this Kickstarter we are going to launch our first line of Dice boxes with Celtic inspired tabletop gaming designs.  These boxes are made of durable yet light Paulownia hard wood and engraved in house by our artist. The Kickstarter will allow us to purchase new tools and equipment, including an advanced engraving machine, to enable production of these boxes on a large enough scale to support demand.

The Boxes are available in 4 selectable finishes depending on what pledge level you select. Amber, Ebony, Weathered, and Wildwood.

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

News - Trollhalla Press Becomes Trollgodfather Press - To Lose ALL Tunnels & Trolls Titles

Not the clearest news, but interesting nonetheless. Note, I received this update via email from DTRPG.

Greetings, my friends.

I have some news for you. Today Trollhalla Press changed its name to Trollgodfather PressTrollgodfather still has all its titles, but sometime in the near future, it will lose all of the Tunnels & Trolls titles as well as all of the Monsters! Monsters! titles.  If you've been putting off buying any of that, especially the pdf versions of Monsters! Monsters! don't let it slide too long.  When the new owner takes things over, prices are very likely to go up on everything.

In other news, my non-T&T games, Starfaring, Power Trip, and Rollerball have all done very well, also.  If you thought about my superhero variant of T & T, Power Trip, you might want to grab that before the end of the month too, as it probably won't be available next month.   Starfaring has already sold over 100 copies and Power Trip has over 50.  I am quite elated over the success of both of these products.

Times are changing, friends. Get the best of the old world while you can--the new world will be here before you know it.


Ken St. Andre

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Do You Prefer Rules or Guidelines in Your RPG?

It's a valid question, and the two may be similar, but their goals are not the same.

Rules are rigid. Professional sports have rules. Infield fly rule in MLB is just that, it's a rule that isn't open to interpretation. Nor is a foul ball. The strike zone, however, seems more like a guideline, as different umpires call different balls and strikes. Some seem more generous to the pitcher, others are more generous to the batter.

Instant replay is an attempt to remove interpretation away from making a rule decision in the heat of the moment - if it was called wrong, it can go to the replay booth, where it will be viewed from multiple angles before the call is either verified or overturned.

I prefer my RPGs to be rules-light, where rulings, not rules, set the precedent. Even the few rules present are more like guidelines, waiting for a better house rule or new interpretation to change the ruling and creating a new precident. 

For me, a game like Pathfinder, or even Dungeons &Dragons 5e, has simply too many rules getting in the way of the gameplay. In my experience, too many rules smother the roleplay and turn every action into yet another roll of the dice.

This is why I find it interesting that the Basic D&D rules from the BECMI Era, had a Dungeon Master's Rulebook, but Advanced Dungeons & Dragons had a Dungeon Master's Guide. Rules are, by definition, rigid. Guides are less so. Yet Advanced Dungeons &Dragons was supposedly the system that was going to be the ruleset of organized play at conventions so that everyone was to play with the same set of rules at each table.

My personal experience with AD&D is that the gameplay was not consistent between groups, let alone different DMs within the same group. Heck, my one and only Gen Con experience in '92, I played in an AD&D 2e Tournament, and in the two rounds I played in, initiative and surprise were ruled differently both the two DM's in question. So even at Gen Con, AD&D 2e didn't have the consistency of rules, let alone rulings.

This is why I thoroughly enjoy Swords & Wizardry in all of its incarnations. There is no attempt made to have a rule for everything, and I can expect and even embrace that the gameplay will vary from one gamemaster to the next, maybe even between campaigns from the same GM. 

Teach someone the rules, and you may create a GM. Guide someone and allow them to make the game their own, and you may create a GM that is invested in the game they run.


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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Worlds Without Number has Arrived!


I've got to say, this book is huge! 396 pages huge. Doesn't seem so high a page count as a PDF, but as a full-color POD, it has some heft.

I'm less interested in the game system, which I am already familiar with due to SWN, Other Dust, and more, and more interested in the tools to run a fantasy sandbox.

Now that I have my print copy, I'll be delving into Worlds Without Number over the next few days and I'll be back to touch on more after I do. 

Wow! Already a Platinum Best Seller on DTRPG!

You can grab the free version of Worlds Without Number here.

Fun stuff :)

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Monday, March 22, 2021

Bundle of Holding - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

There are certain RPG systems I want an opportunity to play as a player. Not GM, but simply experience the world and the ruleset from the unencumbered side of the PC. Beyond the Wall is one. The One Ring is another. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is probably at the top of that shortlist.

My first encounter with AS&SH was with the First Edition Boxed Set. It oozed atmosphere and familiarity at the same time. Then the AS&SH 2nd Edition HC Book was released, and I snagged that, and it was GOOD. This was followed by a series of adventures, of which I even own the shirt for one (Rats in the Wall and Other Perils)

If you have yet to experience the greatness that is Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, this is your chance. The rules are excellent, and the adventures fit the default setting to a T, yet are easy enough to move to your own world. The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperboria Bundle of Holding collection is a bargain and I strongly suggest it for those that haven't had that AS&SH fix yet ;)

For 9.95, you get the rulebook, pre-gen characters, and the GM screen. If you go in for the threshold price, you add in seven adventures. Really, you simply can't go wrong at either price.

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Sunday, March 21, 2021

More Playing with Myself: But with Computers (and Consoles!)

More Playing with Myself: But with Computers (and Consoles!)
Like probably everyone reading this blog I enjoy playing games, specifically RPGs. Now most of us here probably think of slinging dice first when talking about RPGs, but the average non-gamer tends to equate "RPGs" to computer games.

Now I like computer RPGs as well, but it's such a different animal and frankly the blend of D&D and computer RPGs has been rather hit-or-miss for me.

I've only played a few "Official" D&D computer games and really.....I only remember two: Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. Both games were pretty awesome, for different reasons.

Baldur's Gate Rules

Baldur's Gate was a fun game I've played about 1/2 way through several times. I still have the original CD-Roms, the expansions, and even the follow-on games. I recently tried to install the game and play again, but no matter what I did I just couldn't get the game to run. No clue why....it was beyond frustrating. No worries, I'll just try another methodology.......I'll grab the Xbox version.

Now that starts right up......but OMG does the gameplay suck. For such an expensive game the graphics suck and navigation is problematic. It just isn't fun to play.

I ended up grabbing it again on Steam. Now I can play on my laptop wherever I am.....much, much better.

Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance better than expected

The one Xbox D&D(ish) game that did work, and I did enjoy was Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance. It is so not like playing D&D, but the graphics were good and so was the gameplay. I especially enjoyed the fact that I it was a two-player hack & slash. Unfortunately it isn't available for backwards compatibility.....so no go, well at least not yet.

I'm working on a couple of emulation projects and maybe I'll get to try this game again that way. While I'm at it I might be able to check out one of the bazillion(ish) other actual D&D computer games.

I did not know there were so many other titles to check out.

Now to this point I've been restricting my computer gaming to D&D-only titles, but there are a metric-butt-ton of other Fantasy RPGish games out there, far more than I am aware of. One of my favs has been Torchlight, but you can only replay that so many times before it gets old. Now South Park: Stick of Truth was a fun homage of sorts and I do have a couple Witcher games to check out.

Clearly I have hours of future entertainment already lined up, but I'm thinking there could be some real gems out there I am just not aware of....and other readers might not know about either. If you have a favorite computer RPG game, especially one that does a good D&D-style fantasy RPG...please share with the group!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

The Tenkar's Tavern Audio Recap Podcast is Live

As I mentioned last week, I'll be converting each week of the Tenkar's Tavern blog into an audio podcast for those that have asked for such.

The first episode covers 3/14/21 thru 3/20/21. It's about 16 minutes long.

It may take a few days / weeks for it to populate across the various podcatcher platforms.

In the meantime, those interested can listen on Anchor:


Review-ish - Monsters! Monsters! (2nd Edition - Tunnels & Trolls)

I'm not one to do much in the way of reviews, even though many have and still do ask me to do so. The reasons are quite simple, as I feel many others do a far better job at reviewing products than I ever could and I don't take pleasure in reviewing (let alone reading) releases that I'm not enjoying. So, for the most part, I leave reviews in the hands of others, although I do post often about new releases that spark my interest.

The Second Edition of Monsters! Monsters! was released in June of 2020, and technically is not a "new release." Quite simply, I knew it had released, I had my copy in print and PDF and I never got around to reading through it until earlier today. So, technically, it's new to me ;)

First things first, the art is damn good. The cover is awesome and the interior art reminds me of Games Workshop / White Dwarf artwork from the 80s and it fits the atmosphere perfectly.

Ruleswise, you can see the influence of later editions of Tunnels &Trolls on this edition of Monsters! Monsters! We get spite damage from T&T 5.5, stunting, and a new optional rule - Chaos Factor. Chaos factor has a huge potential to skew the power level of the game in favor of the players, but that isn't necessarily bad, just something to be aware of. You get 5 Fast Start Kindreds (and 49 altogether), so your choices as a player cover a large potential of concepts.

Still, the rules are Tunnels &Trolls rules. If you play T&T, you'll find inspiration within. The enclosed GM Adventure (not quite as rare as a unicorn in T&T, but certainly uncommon) is part setting with a large helping of adventure and adventure leads. The Ruins of Hael'Ku can be used for Monsters! Monsters! or Tunnels & Trolls, and should work well with either system - or both.

Monsters! Monsters! is 9.95 in PDF, which I think is a very fair value for what you get, especially if you are a fan of the Tunnels & Trolls rules.

he Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

You can catch the daily Tavern Chat podcast on AnchorYouTube
or wherever you listen to your podcast collection.


Friday, March 19, 2021

Sneak Peek at Various Upcoming Projects at The Tavern

More details of the above when we are closer to launch. I know, it's a tease. Sorry, but so it must be...

James Shields did the logo and did an amazing job with the piss poor description I gave him ;) Back James' current Stock Art Kickstarter - he does damn good work.

This weekend should see the launch of a new weekly podcast, which will have its own feed on Anchor and will simply be an audio recap of the previous week's post here at The Tavern. Nothing new if you steadily read the blog, but convenient if you want a weekly recap to listen to on your commute. No link yet. Soonish.

I've moved the podcast recording to Streamyard from the Anchor app, and it has enhanced how I get to interact with voicemails and has allowed me to put up daily videos on Youtube.com/ErikTenkar that aren't simple conversions of the podcast audio - now the podcast audio is a conversion of the video. It's a much more workable system now and I've noticed an uptick in both Youtube views and Tavern Chat podcast downloads.

We've had Tavern Chat Hangouts on The Tavern's Discord Server for YEARS now on Thursday Nights (9 PM Eastern until 11ish). It's a simple and relaxed voice chat hangout where all are welcome, and you never know who is going to pop in. There appears to be an interest in having an alternate time for those that live across the pond (or across the world), shift workers, those that work from home, etc. I'll be asking on the Discord Server for a prefered day/time to do so. I expect we'll start it on a monthly schedule as we gauge the interest.

Is that enough for the plate? Heh ;)

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

You can catch the daily Tavern Chat podcast on AnchorYouTube
or wherever you listen to your podcast collection.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Deal of the Day - Weird Adventures (OSR Pulp Fantasy)

I haven't thought of Weird Adventures in a while. I own it in print & PDF, and it simply oozes the pulp genre that mixes well into an otherwise fantasy setting. It's a bit like Reeses Peanutbutter Cups - it shouldn't be as good as it is ;)

Today's Deal of the Day is Weird Adventures. Normally 10 bucks in PDF, until tomorrow morning it's on sale for $4.

Welcome to the City...

The streets are mean--and what lurks beneath them is even meaner. Only the most hard-boiled adventurers make it in this town.  You think you got what it takes? Grab your gun or grimoire and find out.

Weird Adventures is a setting where traditional rpg fantasy meets the Pulp era.  It's a world where hobogoblins hop trains, gargoyles nest on art deco skyscrapers, and celebrity sorcerers hawk cigarettes on the radio.

Weird Adventures includes:

  • A guide to the City, greatest metropolis in the world, including its five baronies, numerous neighborhoods, and points of interest to adventurers.
  • An overview of the Strange New World beyond the City, including the mysterious jungles of Asciana, the zombie-haunted streets of Cujiatepec, and the hidden moonshine stills of the hill-billy giants in the Smaragdines.
  • Thirty new monsters from the Black Blizzard to the Skunk-Ape.

 The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

You can catch the daily Tavern Chat podcast on AnchorYouTube
or wherever you listen to your podcast collection.

Kickstarter - Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation (System Neutral)

A guide to dynamic monster ecologies for novel fantasy campaigns.

Courtney Campbell is one of the most skilled writers of DM resource material that I've encountered in my 40 odd years of gaming. Whether we are talking game prep or winging it when your party goes left and you had expected them to go right, Courtney has your back.

Bad Mike & I were lucky enough to have Courtney as a guest on our Talking Crit Livestream last night. It was an excellent conversation and a true insight into the mind of a creative like Courtney.

Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation is Courtney's latest Kickstarter. When he informed us that the title was chosen to be abbreviated as BECMI, I was floored. Apparently, he's done the same with his previous releases in the series: Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas (AD&D) and On Downtime and Demesnes (OD&D). Interesting little Easter Egg.

What if monsters were unique and exciting? What if monsters no longer existed in solitary, but part of individual, specialized, ecosystems? What if you had the tools to make these ecosystems quickly and easily, over and over again?

What's in it?

Thousands of unique monster ideas and origins

Tools to integrate these into biomes and exploratory play

Dozens of ideas to make monsters mechanically unique

No longer will monsters feel like bags of hit points to you or your players.  Bestial Ecosystems Created by Monstrous Inhabitation includes clear guidelines for how players can come across these monsters and learn about them in a system-neutral way. This book has no statistic blocks, no repeating anything in the possibly dozens of monster books you already own. This gives every monster dozens and dozens of ideas to make it special, along with the tools and guidelines to use them in play.

I'm in for 28 bucks, print plus PDF. You can back for as little as a buck to get a peek at the PDF as a work in progress. Courtney writes some seriously useful reference books that should be in every GM's toolkit. 

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  

You can catch the daily Tavern Chat podcast on AnchorYouTube
or wherever you listen to your podcast collection.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

News - Gen Con rescheduled to September 16-19, 2021 - Hybrid In-person, Digital, In-Store Pop-Ups

From the Gen Con website (further details at the original post):

Today, we’re announcing that we are postponing Gen Con 2021 as originally planned for August 5-8 in Indianapolis and announcing plans for a hybrid slate of concurrent in-person and online experiences, including the rescheduled Indy convention, this September 16-19, 2021. We believe this is the best approach both to meet the many challenges of the moment and to explore possibilities for the future.

By offering a flexible range of opportunities to participate, we hope to safely include the largest number of people in the Gen Con experience this year and adapt to conditions as they are in September: in-person at Gen Con in Indianapolis with capped attendance and a modified format, from home through Gen Con Online events and livestreaming, and at local game stores through Pop-Up Gen Con retail activations.

With the rollout of effective vaccines, we look forward to an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and an eventual return to normal convention conditions, but the timeline is far from certain. In consultation with public health experts and local partners, with community feedback in mind, and with cautious optimism, we are moving forward with planning while maintaining the ability to shift course as needed to meet the requirements of changing conditions.

Convention planning happens on a long timeline, and we appreciate your continued patience as we tread these murky waters. By postponing our dates and expanding our approach, we hope to provide you with the best experience we can this year. With so many pieces in motion, we aren’t yet announcing dates for badge, hotel, and event registration, but we will announce those decisions soon as we advance to the next stages of planning.

Gen Con Indy

“The Best Four Days in Gaming™,” with capped attendance and enhanced health and safety measures.

  • Smaller attendance numbers to comply with public health mandates and enable safer-attendance procedures.
  • Potential combinations of social distancing, mask-wearing, and vaccination requirements as determined by public health guidelines.

Gen Con Online

Concurrent with the convention in Indianapolis, a virtual offering of livestreaming, remote/virtual gaming and events, and community on Discord.

Pop-Up Gen Con

During Gen Con weekend, Pop-Up Gen Con activates participating Friendly Local Game Stores (FLGS).

  • FLGS adapt their event to local health and safety conditions and requirements, determining how to structure participation in their community.
  • Publishers’ games available to stores for demos, events (where allowed), and purchase.

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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