Saturday, August 14, 2021

Death Notice -​ Vale and farewell, Steve Perrin (1946 - 2021)

Originally published at the Chaosium Blog: 


By Rick Meints, Chaosium President

When the world of roleplaying games was still waiting to be born, you and your closest friends conjured up the Society for Creation Anachronism (SCA) from the realms of your collective imagination. Bump, bump, bump down the stairs, indeed. Shortly thereafter Steve and his wife Luise joined the fledging Chaosium as it spread its draconic wings in the mid-1970s with White Bear & Red Moon, and a little-known RPG called RuneQuest, born on the 4th of July in 1976. 

Steve’s canny understanding of gaming mechanics and Luise’s artistic vision helped forge an iconic game still played around the world today.

But a few hours ago we learned that Steve was taken from us, even as he worried that his beloved Luise’s health situation was more dire than his. He was a loving and devoted partner to the end. 

To sum up all that Steve was to the Chaosium family cannot be typed up in a few sentences. 

He is one of our Great Old Ones. An innovative genius who helped pave the way for us to exist today, delighting gamers while they sit around a table, in person or online, exploring stories and adventures together, weaving new tales of derring-do. RuneQuest and Superworld were his children, and his imprint on so many of our other games is indelibly present.

Many of us grew up playing his games. He was the uncle we admired, envied, and listened to for his wise counsel. In the last few years, as a new edition of RuneQuest was born he was there, his wisdom and experience reminding us of the simple, pure, and wondrous origins of the magic of roleplaying. How can you say thank you for that?

We grieve with all of those who knew him, especially his family. We thought we might have been able to entice him to be with us at one more gaming convention in the near future, but now we know that gathering will have to wait. 

Saying farewell is never easy. Dear friends depart, and we remember them for all the richness they brought to our lives. We at the Chaosium cherish all the decades you sat with us at the gaming table and the stories you created with us.

Vale, and farewell, Steve.

Friday, August 13, 2021

DTRPG Sale on PDF Releases 5 Bucks and Under - Some OSR Picks

No, it doesn't include everything under 5 bucks. Heck, it doesn't even include everything from the same publisher that is under 5 bucks, which leads me to believe there is an issue with the algorithm. There are over 2,300 OSR releases that are under 5 bucks. Below, I'm highlighting a few with minimal if any commentary.

Dark Horrors & Hidden Places - 3.95  2.65 -It is the year 1884. Many places sank beneath the earth after a worldwide tremor. Strange creatures spill forth onto the streets of towns and cities, as governments struggle to keep these monstrosities a secret. The lawful and wealthy hire the bold and adventurous to fix their issues and recover their possessions from places of wonder and danger, unseen but for myths and legends. Worlds have collided and adventure awaits the brave. Imagine mixing the worlds of Jack the Ripper, H.P. Lovecraft, Hammer Horror, and old science-fiction fantasy movies like Journey to the Center of the Earth in this OSR roleplaying game of dark gothic horror.

Starfaring Exploration for Delving Deeper and OSR - 1.50  1.01 - A quick set of starfaring rules for the OSR for a buck? I'm in - Tenkar - Updated to not require Delving Deeper. More useful with other games. Since Delving Deeper has such good, simple rules for handling wilderness, seafaring, and aerial exploration, I had to make one for starfaring exploration. DD/OD&D gets starships.

Wyrms & Warlocks: Medusa's Hunger 2.75  1.84 - Sit down, strap in, grab your ankles, and prepare to kiss your butt goodbye, because Goblinoid Games is taking you on a roller coaster ride through a tunnel leading straight to that old-school feel of 80s fantasy gaming. This product is the first module in the old-school fantasy RPG supplement series, Wyrms & Warlocks, by Goblinoid Games. If you like this product, keep an eye out for further products like it in the future. “Medusa’s Hunger” is an OSRIC™ compatible adventure for characters of levels 5-7. They take a straightforward quest but find themselves in the clutches of a medusa and her conniving mate. The adventurers have been invited to dinner, but what’s on the menu?

VS1 - The Caves of Ortok - Labyrinth Lord Edition - 2.99  2.00 - Centuries ago, the great wizard Ortok broke apart his treasure vault and secreted his collection in multiple hidden caches throughout the world. Some of these caches have already been found, but many more remain undiscovered. Rumors suggest that one such cache may be found in some caves nearby. However, that is not all that the caves hold! The Caves of Ortok is one of a range of prepackaged modules that are designed to be dropped into play during existing campaigns or adventures, or even to just be used on their own, by discerning Gamesmasters everywhere.

Castle of the Mad Archmage Expansion - Level Three East - 4.95  3.32 - Confound your players with a whole new level to add to your Castle of the Mad Archmage™ adventure. Level Three East describes the wonders of the Mad Archmage’s own museum, which contains curiosities and treasures from all over the multiverse, and the challenges of the Watery Caves, which are a series of living caves connected by an underground river. This module features 74 new encounter areas and 6 new monsters, a full two-page map, plus new magic items, new rumors, an explanation of how this module fits into the whole Castle structure, and the impact it will have on the inhabitants of the central third level of the dungeon. There are also tips for game masters who would like to run this level as a stand-alone adventure. Levels in the dungeon roughly comport to suitable character levels, to this module is best suited for PCs of approximately 3rd level. However, there are (intentionally) some encounters that only more powerful characters can expect to handle.

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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Caravan! - A Critical Look - Part 1 - Nepotism in the Hex Crawl

Alright, the feedback was overwhelmingly in favor of me plopping down the 15 bucks required to acquire a PDF copy of Caravan!, an "RPG hex crawl/ board game hybrid" that "is compatible with the 5E fantasy rule set".

Now, the initial comments and reviews for Caravan! were surprising, not just in their timing (same day of release and two days after release) but for the price point. 15 bucks for a 24 page PDF release is certainly on the steep side, and to see four different people respond so favorably to such an expensive release in so short a time certainly raised my suspicions. 

Here are the first two comments on the Caravan! sales page:

Literally gushing! Time to do some detective work...

Andre L is likely Andre Lahr and Pamela C is likely Pamela Cartaya. Both are playtesters, and Pamela C indicates she already played though the adventure on the day of release. But, it isn't really an adventure, its a board-game using the 5e engine. We'll address that with a later post.

Note that DTRPG indicates both were "purchasers", but my understanding is that "purchaser" includes comped copies. Please correct me if I am wrong.

So, what about the two 5 Star reviews?

These reviews are awesome. John D hits the mark where he says that Caravan! is basically a board game. Lauren R calls it a "masterful homage to classic 80s modules". I don't think she has played any, let alone read any, 80s modules, but I digress.

Now, who could John D and Lauren R possibly be? Let us dig a bit deeper...

John D is likely John Derevjanik, who is has both Game Development and Typesetting/ Proofreading Credits as well as being a playtester.

Lauren R is likely Lauren Ramos, credited with Typesetting/ Proofreading and also as a playtester. Lauren is also mentioned in the dedication, and shares a last name with the author.

Now, Caravan! has listed a Legal Consul, something I don't recall reading on any other gaming release, but I could be wrong. 

I can not say with any certainty (at least in the legal sense) that what appears to be nepotism in the review process of Caravan! is definitely nepotism. It's possible, although unlikely, that the similar names are just that. But the appearance of nepotism is certainly distasteful. If the reviewers WERE play-testers (and in some case, credited for working on the project), such should have been disclosed and it feels deceptive if it were omitted.

In the next day or so, I'll return with an actual review of Caravan! It is certainly NOT a hex-crawl as we know it in the OSR.

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Deal of the Day - Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures (5e)

Apologies for the late-in-the-day Deal of the Day post, but uncle duties and a Talking Crit Livestream pushed this back. That being said, Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures (for 5e) is today's Deal of the Day. Normally 14.99 in PDF, for the next 12 hours (as I post this) it is on sale for 6 bucks.

Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures is a book of ten short adventures for the fifth edition of the world's most popular roleplaying game.

Each adventure is written for 2nd to 5th level and is designed so GMs can drop them into any fantasy campaign world. Whether you run a homebrew setting or a published game world, these adventures will fit in as either main adventure hooks or side quests to be undertaken by the characters in your game.

For 60 cents an adventure, I can convert these on the fly for Swords & Wizardry

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

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Ever Look at a Release on DTRPG and Get Suspicious of the Reviews and Comments?

I suspect we've all done it. We look at the description for a release over at DTRPG and wonder, based on price, page count, and other factors, just how something got such rave reviews. Most of the time I ignore it. This time, I think I'll be putting the community's money where my suspicions lie.

Caravan! is the first release from Mountainside Gaming Group. It is a $15 release in PDF for 24 pages. Already, that's a huge flag for me. Additionally, there is no preview available. If you are looking for 15 bucks for 24 pages, approximately 60 cents a page in PDF, I'd expect you'd want to show off the product.

Here's the product description:

When you signed on to guard a cargo caravan, you knew there would be dangers, but not to this extent! Rival mercenaries, bandits, climatic hazards, and supernatural horrors are the perils you face on the trail. Drop off your cargo, survive the myriad dangers, and make your way back to the town of Gull’s Nest for payment—if you can!

This RPG hex crawl/ board game hybrid is compatible with the 5E fantasy rule set—and can be adapted to other game systems with a little conversion. Included in this package you’ll find the Caravan! instruction booklet (including new monsters and magic), a beautifully-illustrated game board/ map, and game pieces (digital options are included in the download, as well as printable copies). Our adventure format is designed for minimal preparation time and countless hours of adventure!

Be on the lookout for more releases from Mountainside Gaming Group in the near future.

Now, it says it's for 5e, but also bills itself as compatible with: Dungeons & Dragons, D&D-OGL, Classic D&D/AD&D, Basic/BECMI or OD&D, 5e-compatible.

That is a lot of assumed compatibility, and I suspect that the conversion is all in the hands of the buyer.

No levels indicated that I can see. That's a huge problem. Wait, if you look at the cover, it says levels 3-6. Its missing from the description though.

I'd like more of an explanation of the "hex crawl/ board game hybrid" that is mentioned.

But then we have the reviews. Two 5 star reviews. Both from August 2, 2021:

No reviews since.

How about comments? Two comments, both from August 2nd, the day of release. Who is spending 15 bucks on a 24 page PDF that doesn't have word of mouth?

Usually, you get questions like: 
Why is this 15 bucks for 24 pages?

Where is the preview?

How much for the printed version?
and similar questions. You don't get reviews in the Discussion/ Comments section of the DTRPG splash page for a product.

So, tell me now. Do I drop 15 bucks of The Tavern's Affiliate Monies to buy a copy of Caravan! to do a critical review? Hell, I might even be surprised by the content, but somehow, I strongly suspect I won't be...

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. - Tenkar  

Monday, August 9, 2021

Humble Bundle - 13th Age

I remember picking up the hardback of 13th Age when it was first released. I was impressed, but like many of us, I have way too many RPG systems to run, let alone collect, all of the games I find interesting.

For 35 bucks for the 13th Age Humble Bundle, I can snag a pretty complete collection of the 13th Age in PDF, and that is damn tempting, as I'm am sure there is much within to borrow and steal for other D20 systems. The One Buck level isn't bad if you just want to check the system out (20 and 23ish don't seem worth it compared to the high and low extremes). Heck, there is even an SRD: https://www.13thagesrd.com/

 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. - Tenkar  

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Spotting Some D&D "Out in the Wild", and I Don't Think it's a Good Thing


Spotting Some D&D "Out in the Wild", and I Don't Think it's a Good Thing
Now I know that Tenkar's Tavern is very much an OSR-centric blog, even if there is a good peppering of other games, systems, and general RPG news. Going off on a bit of modern/current edition D&D is largely going to be either "Who gives a rat's ass" or "Eff those guys." with our patrons here.

Still, something I saw today "out in the wild" really, really rubbed me the wrong way. Since I'm officially an old fart (turned 50 in June), AND I happened to have a soap-box, Imma going to bitch about it here....

.......and Erik will wonder why his stats show readers fleeing the page in the first 30 seconds.....

Target D&D Book
Anyway, I came across a couple of current edition D&D hardcovers at Target today. Now the last time I remember seeing D&D on the shelf at a big box retailer is...well never. Bookstores, sure, but a "regular" retailer, maybe I passed by some Magenta boxes on the shelves back in the day, but hell if I remember it. Waldenbooks was my go-to back then, and then it was usually just to rat-f**k the boxes for dice.

So while I think it is really great that there was not just one, but two D&D hardcover books for sale at Target (I didn't get a picture of the other one), the whole thing kind of pissed me off a bit. First off, where's the core books...where's the dice?

Don't get me wrong, I'd really rather see folks going to your FLGS to purchase gaming supplies, but if a retailer is going to sell a couple gaming books, then they should at least sell the bare, basic minimum of gaming supplies that you need to actually utilize these books. GMG, PHB, and basic dice....nothing fancy.

Again, while it seems like a good thing on the surface that these books are available at Target, what I'm thinking is going to happen is that these books aren't going to sell...especially at $35?! Really? Now I used to work retail management and while I'm not full-up on all the intricacies of purchasing at the corporate level, I do know that Target had to pick up a metric butt-load of these titles to get them on the shelves. I just checked and there are 1,909 Targets in the US, not to mention the distribution centers so even at a minimum...a bare minimum stocking level of 2 (one to show and one to go), then Target would need to purchase at least 3,818 copies, but more likely they got an average of six per store (some more, some less, and some still in stock at the distribution centers), so we'll round up to 11,500 copies.

Now I don't know about you, but I just don't see a great sell-through rate on those books, especially considering that you can't actually get anything else to run your game with at Target. For the sake of argument we'll pretend that they have a great sell-through of 50%, which means there are 5,250 books NOT being sold at your FLGS. 5,250 books not generating add-on sales of dice and other books.....

.....and what about the other 5,250 books? Those will probably get dumped onto the secondary market and also pull sales away from the FLGS.

Yeah, so all these reasons to bitch and moan a bit about Target selling D&D books.......that really isn't the reason I bothered to take the picture in the first place. Pretty much everything I've posted up until this point was literally off-the-top-of-my-head thinking as I started typing this out. Didn't even think about in general until I opened up Blogger.

Target Shelf Tag

No, what rubbed me the wrong way was the shelf tag. I know, who gives a fuck about the shelf tag? Well, I do a bit....remember I did work retail management for a few years and was a general retail peon for more than that. I actually look at those shelf tags, and this one bothered me. I'll give you a second to check it out.

Yep, the thing that gets me is that this $35 book is not a one-off, but the "May Title", which tells me that there is a distinct possibility that there were a couple more books I didn't see and this is the beginning of essentially another D&D "Book of the month" type-thing.

I did play a bit of D&D 3.5 back in the day and I strongly disliked the frequency of the hardbacks that WotC/Hasbro released and it felt like a book-of-the-month club. It really just got to be too much and honestly I thought that was part of the reason that 3.5 "died". The constant release of titles not only felt like a crash grab, but made it seem obvious that there was a preference for quantity over quality.

Now I could be wrong on the finer details so I'll be a bit vague here, but I recall a specific KenzerCo book that had a lot of potential, but fell short due to Hasbro's money grab.....I'm calling it as I see it. KenzerCo was planning on two versions of their book, one for D&D and one for HackMaster. The D&D version kept getting denied and kicked back by Ha$bro for "reasons" and then months later pretty much cancelled because Ha$bro put out their own version as the book-of-the-month. Now the KenzerCo version, now having had way too many revisions, was hastily finalized/mashed together because it had cost so much to produce (I'm assuming man-hours/resources) and it did end up having some issues. In any case, I've seen the D&D and the KenzerCo book, and even with my own inherent biases, I can comfortably say that the D&D book was quite inferior.

What I feel this hobby definitely doesn't need is a glut of product taking sales away from FLGS and a return to expensive products that emphasize quantity over quality. New people coming into the hobby most likely get the newer/newest version of the game and possibly...hopefully spread out into the hobby. Flooding the market with cheap (but NOT inexpensive) product will harm not just these newer players, but the hobby overall.

Of course maybe I'm wrong and I'm just an old man screaming into the wind......kind of hope I am wrong. 

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