RPGNow

Thursday, February 2, 2023

Humble Bundle - So You Wanna Try Out Pathfinder 2e

I've never been a Pathfinder player, regardless of edition, but my God, the Pathfinder Beginner Boxes - First AND Second Edition are simply amazing! They certainly do tempt me into the Pathfinder realms. As for the adventures, Pathfinder adventures have always been solid.

So, you say you want to check out Pathfinder 2e. Well, the Beginner Box, the Core Rules, the Bestiary, and more for 5 bucks. Talk about an inexpensive way to check out Pathfinder 2e :)


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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Kickstarter - Cities Without Number (Sine Nomine)

We have a new Kickstarter from Kevin Crawford, Cities Without Number.

A cyberpunk tabletop RPG from the creator of Stars Without Number.

After the sci-fi success of Stars Without Number and the fantastic response to Worlds Without Number, the new cyberpunk age of Cities Without Number is upon us. Within the pages of this tabletop role-playing game, you'll get a full-fledged system-neutral Sine Nomine toolkit for building a cyberpunk world of your own, plus an old-school game system for playing out the reckless adventures of the desperate men and women who live in it. Whether polished metal or flesh and blood, your operators will risk their lives and more to seize those precious things a merciless world would keep from them. In particular, this book contains...

  • An old-school inspired game system fully compatible with the sci-fi Stars Without Number game and its fantasy sister-game Worlds Without Number
  • Cyberware and sophisticated high-tech gear suitable for chroming the most discriminating cyborg and equipping the most refined of street operators
  • Playability-focused hacking rules designed to give hacking-focused PCs useful and important things to do without forcing an entire separate mini-game on the GM
  • Gear rules for drones and vehicles, to better equip PCs who want to bring a little extra iron on their next mission
  • System-neutral Sine Nomine worldbuilding tools for helping a GM create their own custom cyberpunk world or elaborate the details of existing worlds and settings
  • Gang, corp, and city district creation tools for fleshing out your world with people and places that fit
  • Fifty Mission Tags for adventure creation, plus guidelines and step-by-step procedures for handling facility infiltrations, managing local heat, fencing loot, and other activities beloved of corp-hating street scum everywhere

And that's just in the free version that will be released on DTRPG for anyone to download. As with SWN and WWN, Cities Without Number will be provided in both a free and a deluxe version, the better to let an interested group jump in and play without having to spend anything. As a backer, you'll be getting the deluxe version, of course, which will also include...

  • Variant gengineered human types for PCs who don't fit the baseline mold
  • Spellcasting and summoning rules for GMs who want to add a dash of magic into their cyberpunk world
  • Additional content creation tools to give an extra boost to a GM's creative efforts
  • Several open pages to be filled with the contents that backers seem most interested in having. I've got room to add a little more here, and I'll be listening to backer comments and requests when it comes to filling them.

Here's a link to the Cities Without Number Beta  (shared with permission)

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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Bundle of Holding - Hero 6e


My introduction to the Hero System was the Champions Boxed set in the mid-80s. I'm not sure we ever got beyond character generation at my friend Lenny's kitchen table and rolling mock battles with buckets of d6s. The Hero System has come far over the last 40 some odd years.

Hero! We've resurrected our February 2021 HERO System 6E Bundle featuring the 2009 Sixth Edition of the HERO System tabletop roleplaying game rules from Hero Games. The matchless flexibility of the HERO System lets you create any character, super power, spell, equipment, vehicle, or headquarters you can imagine, and the 6E version is the most detailed and comprehensive ever. See why, among high-crunch universal systems, HERO still holds pride of place after four decades.

In both page count and discount off retail price, this February 2021 offer once again brings you one of the best values we've ever presented. For just US$9.95 you get all three titles in this revived offer's Core Collection (retail value $55) as DRM-free ebooks, including the complete two-volume 6E rulebook (V1 Character Creation and V2 Combat and Adventuring), as well as the HERO System Basic Rulebook that, at 138 pages, provides a concise introduction.

And if you pay more than this revived offer's threshold price of $40.15, you'll level up and also get this revival's entire Bonus Collection with ten more expansions and campaign supplements worth an additional $203, including both the Advanced Player's Guide and Player's Guide II rules expansions; the 6E Equipment Guide and Skills; the Grimoire, Martial Arts, and the 6E Bestiary; the Sixth Edition versions of Star Hero and Fantasy Hero; and your guide to building any headquarters from a walk-in closet to a kingdom, The Ultimate Base.


 


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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Monday, January 30, 2023

Deal of the Day - The Toxic Wood (OSE Hexcrawl)


I'm very partial to a good hex crawl. As a mostly improv-style DM, or at least, that is where my comfort zone is, hex crawls appeal to my sense of wonder. 

Lazy Lich is well known for their hex crawls, and I'm looking forward to running headfirst into The Toxic Wood ;)

Normally 6 bucks in PDF, The Toxic Wood is on sale until tomorrow morning for a mere 3.40

The toxic wood is home to many strange entities; spiteful mutated horrors, ancient insectoid witch sisters, bloodthirsty redcaps, a mushroom witch and a corrosive dragon cult. Noxious gases produced by alien plants slowly coil through the air creating an endless red haze. Anything that is not part of the woods lethal eco-system is rapidly corroded, with all evidence of its existence erased within days.

Details:

  • 32 pages
  • Single column text
  • 8.5 x 5.5 aspect
  • Black & White
  • Bookmarks
  • Hyperlinks
  • Random tables 
  • Hooks and rumors for your players
  • Rules for surviving in the toxic wood using the orb and other means
  • 16 keyed hex locations
  • Backgrounds for characters to aid roleplay
  • New monsters 
  • Key NPCs 
  • A timeline of events for the DM to structure their sessions around
  • Floraof the wood
  • Random treasure tables
  • Prompts and resolutions for what happens if players take different actions


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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Sunday, January 29, 2023

So Ha$bro Called for an Armistice...

So Ha$bro Called for an Armistice...
While I'm glad to see that Ha$bro has called a CHECK FIRE on the OGL 2.0 mission, I'm not convinced (clearly) that this isn't the end of things. I don't think we won anything.....hell, I don't think there were any winner here, everybody lost. I'm a big fan of win-wins, but this was a loss all around.

WotC has traditionally devalued previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons, favoring the current/upcoming edition. It's arguably the reason we're on edition...5, 6....is 7 already in the works somewhere? It's the reason my beloved HackMaster exists (WotC traded off the rights to 1st & 2nd Edition because they were producing D&D 3.0). Things changed a little bit when Ha$bro figured out they could make a few bucks "reprinting" older AD&D material, really just printed PDFs. I'm of the belief that Ha$bro realized that they could squeeze a little more profit out of "the old stuff", but their focus was on the upcoming edition and this OGL re-write was really to maximize their margin here.

Ha$bro didn't expect the huge backlash largely because they didn't value those earlier editions. They still should have due to how messed up things would be for creators going forward, but that's what happens when marketers and analysts operate in a vacuum. I'm also of the belief that this withdrawal of the current OGL 2.0 is also monetary based in that Ha$bro doesn't want to spend what cash they have on lawsuits, especially when they already have enough bad press. Sales are down for the company and they're laying off 15% of its workforce.....not a good sign, even if WotC is doing (relatively) well.  

No, it's lose-lose for the most part. The player base knows that Ha$bro can't be trusted and they know that the player base can, and will, be vocal. Yes, they threw in an olive branch by making the 5.1 SRD a Creative Commons license, but they deliberately left the OGL 1.0a "untouched". I think that if WotC/Ha$bro wanted to really make a statement and address the real elephant in the room they would have come out with OGL 1.0b that simply made the OGL "irrevocable". The 5.1 SRD doesn't do a whole lot if you're making OSR material.....

What I think, and I'm clearly a pessimist, is that Ha$bro is biding it's time. There will be a OGL 2.0 and while it might not be as far-reaching as the last attempt, it will be the end of OGL 1.0a. Ha$bro will make sure they have their ducks in a line, plug any and all leaks that they can, and ram it down our collective throats when they think they can get aways with it. We taught them how not to disseminate bad news to the community, and they probably know who will be the most likely to bring expensive lawsuits. The 5.1 SRD changes might very well be to placate some of these other companies......like why would Paizo care about the OGL if they're covered by the 5.1 SRD? Now this is speculation on my part, I haven't done, and for my sanity probably will never, do a deep dive on Pathfinder &/or the 5.1 SRD.

Now is not the time to sit back and think that this is over and "we've won". Sure, the shelling has stopped....for now, but it can pick back up. At best Ha$bro called for an armistice, not a peace treaty.....

Please, continue to support the smaller publishers that would have been affected by the OGL 2.0 disaster, basically anybody wanting to use the Open RPG Creative License, but also those that are still sticking with the OGL 1.0a.

I hope it'll be years before we have to revisit this...maybe in time for D&D Ten....so maybe 2035?

Saturday, January 28, 2023

State of The Tavern - Coming Up For Air & Is This Reality?


It's been a long couple of weeks, and I'm not just talking WotC's ability to literally burn off two decades of goodwill it has built with the gaming community in just over two weeks.

Yes, WotC's stupidity has cost me weeks of proper sleep, as I've been covering the fiasco pretty much daily over on The Tavern's Youtube channel, as well as keeping counsel with, and on occasions, providing council for, my publishing friends in the OSR and beyond.

Yesterday's piece of good news almost seems too good - OGL 1.0(a) is not currently being de-authorized (let's see how long that holds for), but the 5.1 SRD has now been released into the Creative Commons licensing scheme, and that's something WotC CAN'T suddenly change its mind about.

I haven't even mentioned events on a more personal level, most recently including daily, afternoon-long visits with a close personal friend of Rach and me who is on home hospice, and will be until... well, you know, the inevitable comes.

So, I've neglected some things, especially emails. Specifically, OSR Christmas gifts and some GCs from last Wednesday's live stream.

Rach and I have a livestream tonight at 8 PM Eastern. After the livestream, I'm poring a glass of red wine and delving into the email abyss. Hopefully, I'll come up for air sometime tomorrow ;)

Thank you for your infinite patience.

Tenkar


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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar 



Friday, January 27, 2023

NEWS! OGL 1.0(a) is NOT being Revoked. 5.1 SRD is Released Under Creative Commons 4.0 International


I had plans for today, and they included catching up on emails, especially from OSR Christmas Day 12 and the Wednesday Night Giveaway. A small emergency last night, a scheduled doc appointment this morning, and obligations today that were related to last night's small emergency in addition to the totally unexpected OGL news today - including an extra video and tonight's scheduled but likely extremely lively livestream - means little will get done until tomorrow. I beg forgiveness. Now, onto the news! - Tenkar

When you give us playtest feedback, we take it seriously.

Already more than 15,000 of you have filled out the survey. Here's what you said:

  • 88% do not want to publish TTRPG content under OGL 1.2.
  • 90% would have to change some aspect of their business to accommodate OGL 1.2.
  • 89% are dissatisfied with deauthorizing OGL 1.0a.
  • 86% are dissatisfied with the draft VTT policy.
  • 62% are satisfied with including Systems Reference Document (SRD) content in Creative Commons, and the majority of those who were dissatisfied asked for more SRD content in Creative Commons.

These live survey results are clear. You want OGL 1.0a. You want irrevocability. You like Creative Commons.

The feedback is in such high volume and its direction is so plain that we're acting now.

We are leaving OGL 1.0a in place, as is. Untouched.

We are also making the entire SRD 5.1 available under a Creative Commons license.

You choose which you prefer to use.

This Creative Commons license makes the content freely available for any use. We don't control that license and cannot alter or revoke it. It's open and irrevocable in a way that doesn't require you to take our word for it. And its openness means there's no need for a VTT policy. Placing the SRD under a Creative Commons license is a one-way door. There's no going back.

Our goal here is to deliver on what you wanted.

So, what about the goals that drove us when we started this process?

We wanted to protect the D&D play experience into the future. We still want to do that with your help. We're grateful that this community is passionate and active because we'll need your help protecting the game's inclusive and welcoming nature.

We wanted to limit the OGL to TTRPGs. With this new approach, we are setting that aside and counting on your choices to define the future of play.

Here's a PDF of SRD 5.1 with the Creative Commons license. By simply publishing it, we place it under an irrevocable Creative Commons license. We'll get it hosted in a more convenient place next week. It was important that we take this step now, so there's no question.

SRD 5.1-CC

We'll be closing the OGL 1.2 survey now.

We'll keep talking with you about how we can better support our players and creators. Thanks as always for continuing to share your thoughts.

Kyle Brink

Executive Producer, Dungeons & Dragons


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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Deal of the Day - Cepheus Deluxe Enhanced Edition (OGL Traveller)

Are you fond of the Traveller RPG? Warm memories of dying during character generation 40+ years ago? Interested in seeing what the core rules can become when given to the gaming community under an SRD and an OGL? Cepheus Deluxe Enhanced Edition is what you are looking for.

Normally 9.99 in PDF, until tomorrow morning @ 11 AM Eastern, Cepheus Deluxe Enhanced Edition is on sale in PDF for 4 bucks.

Starships riding fire across the sky. Heroes and villains exchanging laser fire. Desperate spacers struggling against an alien monstrosity. Vast planetary vistas, flying cities, moonscapes, mad robots, and first encounters. In short: high-action science-fiction adventure that stimulates your sense of wonder. Cepheus Deluxe: Enhanced Edition puts you in the shoes of an adventurer visiting distant stars and encountering the unknown. Whether you are a seasoned player looking for a rules-light game, or a new gamer wanting to experience what science-fiction role-playing games are all about, Cepheus Deluxe: Enhanced Edition opens your way forward.

Cepheus Deluxe is a set of rules for playing classic science fiction games. It includes rules on creating characters, resolving actions, fighting other creatures, and engaging in space battles, generating worlds, handling the risks of interstellar speculative trading, exploring new worlds, and many other activities. While designed for fast, action-packed play rather than an accurate simulation of reality, Cepheus Deluxe: Enhanced Edition encompasses a wide variety of rules and materials for building a science-fiction universe and playing in it.

Cepheus Deluxe: Enhanced Edition draws its inspiration from old-school science-fiction roleplaying games. It shares many similarities with these games. Material from older rules sets and those created with Cepheus Deluxe: Enhanced Edition, the old Cepheus Light, the Cepheus Engine Core, and old-school sci-fi roleplaying games, are easily compatible with only a moderate amount of adjustment.

The future awaits!

What's new in the Enhanced Edition compared to the original Cepheus Deluxe?

  • New and better layout.
  • Full color book.
  • Rules clarifications.
  • Correction of all Cepheus Deluxe errata.
  • Many more, high-quality, full color illustrations.
  • Deck plans for all thirteen included star ships!
  • And more!

 
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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Kickstarter - D&Tea: A Great Infusion of RPGs and Tea


I didn't know what to expect when I saw this Kickstarter while conducting an "RPG" search, but I think Rach and I are going to back. We both love tea, and this could be the rare Kickstarter she doesn't give me a sideways glance for backing.

Alright, Rach is all it :)

Sample tea:

Genasian Seas is a blend of green and black teas: the paradox doesn't end there! This is a tea to warm and comfort your soul as you set out on voyages to unknown lands: be warned, however, though you thought you were sailing North the stars seem misplaced tonight. Are the stars that are wrong... or is it you? This sweet blend will draw you in with a siren's call. You may never see home again but you won't regret going on this journey.

Ingredients: Ceylon black tea, sencha green tea, papaya, strawberry, mango, marigold petals, hibiscus, lemongrass, rose hip, orange peel, cinnamon, rose petals

15 bucks for one 4 oz bag of D&Tea: A Great Infusion of RPGs and Tea, and it gets cheaper as you order larger quantities. I think we'll be in for a half dozen or so...


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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Bundle of Holding - Advanced Adventures MEGA (OSRIC/AD&D 1e)

When I returned to the DM's seat 11 years ago, I wanted to use a familiar system. So, I used AD&D 1e, but with the OSRIC rulebook, which is simply a much easier-to-reference version of 1e. I also purchased a number of Advanced Adventures from Expeditious Retreat Press, and I was very pleased with the content I received from Mr. Browning and Company. A few years later, I was able to snag the first score or so in hardcover collections. Seriously, good stuff.

One of the current bundles over at Bundle of Holding is the Advanced Adventures MEGA Bundle:

For just US$9.95 you get all twelve titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $70) as DRM-free ebooks, including the first ten AA modules – from #01: The Pod-Caverns of the Sinister Shroom through #10: The Lost Keys of Solitude – and we add the 2009 bestiary Malevolent and Benign I and the free OSRIC rulebook. For a list of all the modules with links to their sales pages on DriveThruRPG, see the first book entry below, "Advanced Adventures #01-10."

And if you pay more than the threshold price of $35.79, you'll level up and also get our entire Bonus Collection with thirty-four more titles worth an additional $210: all 33 remaining Advanced Adventures modules from #11: The Conqueror Worm through #43 The Warrens of Zagash, and hitting many highlights of the AA line including #15: Stonesky Delve, #23: Down the Shadowvein and #24: The Mouth of the Shadowvein, and both White Dragon Run scenarios. (For the list and the DTrpg links, see the fourth book entry below, "Advanced Adventures #11-43.") We also include the 2018 Malevolent and Benign II monster manual.


 

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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Monday, January 23, 2023

OSR Christmas - Day 12 Gifting



I apologize for the delay in getting to the Day 12 of OSR Christmas, but the gaming world was rocked by the OGL 1.1/2.0 leaks and the accompanying reactions, both public and private. I've been sitting at my desk for 8 to 12 hours a day since the end of two weeks ago nearly, fielding phone calls, video calls, PMs, and recording videos (sometimes multiple times per day), and I'm only now beginning to catch my breath. Yes, I still have emails to answer from last week.


The following are the gift receivers from Day 12 of OSR Christmas. If you see your name below, you are being gifted. Email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing with "OSR Christmas" in the subject. Digital gifts need an email, and physical gifts need a mailing address. Note, the two packages shipping from The Tavern likely won't go out until next week.


So, without further delay, the gifts (and those being gifted) in today's OSR Christmas Day 12 mix are:

$10 DTRPG Gift Certificate, donated by The Tavern - Worldwide - Mark

OSR Refrigerator Magnet, donated by Thadeus Moore - Worldwide - PSFam

Shadowdark PDFs, full set, donated by James Mishler Games - Worldwide - Johnathon

Arduin Map - Physical, donated by Emperors' Choice Games- Worldwide - Brian S

Arduin Grimoires 1 – 9 – Emperors Choice - US Only GMJasonGURPS

Endless Encounters PDF (choice of B/X or 5e), donated by Pacesetter Games - Worldwide - Rob

The Haunted Ruins - Physical, donated by Wizard Tower Games - US Only - Jeremy "frothsof" Smith

Hyperborea – Print Set from Kickstarter, Standard Cover with Damaged Players’ Book ($90 value before postal damage - thank you US Postal Service– The Tavern (US Only) - Christopher Stodgill

Random Box of Goodness from the Tenkar Game Collection - priceless ;) - (US Only) - RhinoDino1973



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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Wake me when it's my turn to roll....

Wake me when it's my turn to roll....
I will freely admit I have kind of lost interest in the whole Ha$bro OGL debacle because, well because I am a bit jaded and I think everything Ha$bro is doing going forward is self-serving and an attempt to placate the masses while still getting what they want. I don't believe for a minute that they actually give a shit what the player base thinks, especially the like of use over here in the OSR. Those surveys.....nobody is really reading them. A few might make their way out of marketing and onto the desk of someone with power, but those will be hand-selected to reinforce what that person wants to see.

"Chris, you're so wrong......Ha$bro doesn't want to lose money on D&D...

Yeah....I've worked for a few larger corporations in the past, pretty far down on the food-chain mind you, and from my experience, the good idea fairy rarely makes a visit, but dumb-assed ideas will have an inordinate amount of resources thrown at it until those that executed the idea are no longer around. A lot of companies will "step over a dollar to pick up a dime" and even a few screwed-up P&L statements won't get the point across.

Actually, and this is probably a bad analogy, but bear with me here.....this whole shebang really reminds me of a shitty GM. Now I'm speaking generically, but I'm recalling an actual bad GM I had.

So Ha$bro has this game they don't consider sacred, but they do figure they can do whatever the fuck they want because it's the only game in town (or so they think). Oh....they also have their own PC at the table and want the best of everything for themselves. If you come up with a good idea, they're going to steal it and use if for their PC. If you make too much noise about how they're running the game then you can just fuck right off. They'll tell you that there was a meeting and "everyone" decided they'd rather not game with you, but you'll both know that it's just the GM making that call. The GM, and by extension the GMPC, is infallible it doesn't take long to realize that sitting at this table may have its moments, but at what cost?

I do understand that this OGL, or more importantly the future of the Old OGL, is important, but it's way above my head to do anything about it, but I hope that those that can do something about it (i.e., have resources and clout to do so) kick Ha$bro's ass. I'll "speak" with my wallet, but I don't think for second Ha$bro will listen to my whispers.....

Is anybody else like, "Wake me when this bullshit is over and it's time for me to roll some dice."?

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Humble Bundle - RPG Worlds by Kobold Press & Friends (5e and OSR)

I'm quite sure you read of and/or heard of the recent uproar over WotC's plans to cancel the 1.0(a) OGL, upon which nearly every 3rd party D20 system/scenario/ campaign is built. If you only care about OSR material, you are well covered and have amazing value in the RPG Worlds by Kobold Press & Friends Humble Bundle. If you play 5e or are willing to convert from 5e to OSR, the value is off the charts.


A percentage of sales through The Tavern's affiliate link for Humble Bundle will go to support The Tavern and The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Note - OSR Christmas Day 12 Gifting will be done on Monday






Friday, January 20, 2023

The New "Playtest" OGL 1.2 Survey is Live - Please Give Your Feedback

Yep, the OGL 1.2 "Playtest" Survey is live. I guess they figured "Draft" was a poor label to use after the OGL 1.1 fiasco ;)

Here's the link: https://t.co/75JmccffF1

And here's my closing comment:


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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar  

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Guest Poster - James Raggi IV - On Potential Inclusivity/Morality Clauses in RPG Licenses (OGL, ORC, etc)

I woke this morning to a Facebook PM from James, and after I responded he asked if I had the time to read the following text, the script, if you will, of his video planned for today (linked here and below). I read it out loud, so I could get Rach's reaction, and we both agree it was damn near perfect. I told James such, but I insisted that he also share a text version of it, to get it to the widest audience possible. I am honored that James chose The Tavern for this purpose. Tenkar

Hello. My name is James Edward Raggi IV, I am the creator and publisher of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, a tabletop role-playing game.

I'm here to talk to you about declared or possible inclusivity clauses (also referred to as morality clauses, or political exclusion clauses) as part of upcoming game licenses. Specifically, I'm here to tell you why they are a bad idea for creators of the licenses, publishers who will use the licenses, and for the fans and customers of the games using the licenses, even if you agree with all of the positions the clauses would promote.

I know that proponents of inclusivity clauses mean well. They want to create an environment where good people, and good things, can thrive, without the pressures and stresses of having to deal with the bad things, and the bad people.

But things aren't so simple.

If you're not familiar, I recommend you research the Hays code governing motion pictures from 1934 to 1968, and the comics code which governed the comics industry from 1954 to 2011, and the TSR writing guidelines of the 1980s and 1990s in roleplaying. All of those codes were, like inclusivity clauses today, designed to promote what were at the time thought of as good values in creative work, and prevent bad things from being disseminated through the creative work governed by their codes. (for shits and giggles, let's also consider the Book of Erotic Fantasy controversy of 2003 I think it was)

How are any of those codes looked at in hindsight? Do you think they helped progress the art forms they administered? Or did they retard them? Do you think they helped marginalized people find and express their voices? Or did they help to silence them?

Do you really think such a code or clause made today will in the future be judged any differently? Do you? Sure, you might think you're smarter than the people of the past, but what about the people in the future? Is your inclusivity clause going to ultimately be seen as a good thing, when all of these previous efforts to accomplish the same great and good things have failed?

Because there is one complication that will make future perceptions very important. The current controversies and conversations about gaming licenses involve whether licenses are perpetual, whether they are revokable. How are you going to convince people to adopt a new license to invest all their creativity and their business investment and livelihood in, without addressing whether the license is revokable?

And if you do what is largely right now considered the good thing and make your new license irrevokable, then whatever you specify in any inclusivity or morality clause, that's forever. Are you really up to the task of defining that, not even for all time, but even for the next five, ten, twenty years, to be more realistic about it?

You don't know which way the winds are going to blow, not in the halls of power and influence in our culture, and not on the ground amongst the people. The New Deal era gave way to McCarthyism, which gave way to the free love 60s, which gave way to the recessionary and inflationary 70s, which gave way to the Reagan/Thatcher 80s, which gave way to the Clinton years, which gave way to the Bush years, which gave way to the Obama years, which gave way to Trump. Now we're two years into the Biden years. What's next? 

What do you do if Ron DeSantis, with his "stop woke" policies and his "ok groomer" supporters, wins the next US election? What happens to your license and its administration if not only political power, but the cultural zeitgeist becomes more conservative? How would you feel if your inclusivity clauses in your irrevocable licenses are used to protect the sensibilities of the most white, Christian, regressive class, and the majority of your customers support this? Do you really think such a thing is impossible over just a few years time, given the history of the last century? 

And while Wizards of the Coast will have to wholly own their Open Gaming License, this new ORC thing is being put together by a consortium of publishers, and last I heard the plan was that the license would be owned and administered by a third party. So whatever controversies and conflicts arise surrounding that license, it will still forever be associated with the companies and people that created it, but who will not control it. 

You might think that's fine, you're in good with the people who will administer the license... but things change. It doesn't even take a cultural shift. Just imagine some rich person who wants to rid their precious gaming hobby of "wokeness." You don't think there's an Elon Musk type out there willing to burn a fortune to "fix" gaming the way Musk wanted to with Twitter? What happens to your relationships, those connections, when someone is buying companies, buying influence, with millions or even billions of dollars? Do you really think such a thing is impossible, given the history of just this past year?

Do you think the presence of an inclusivity or morality clause in a license is more or less likely to trigger such a situation?

But even without cultural shifts, or billionaires enforcing their will, I believe these clauses will be publicity and administrative nightmares for anyone implementing them.

If you implement these inclusivity/morality clauses, you are setting yourself up to be the arbiter of what exactly is racist. What is sexist. What is transphobic. You get to tell activists "no we don't think that is really racist," or you get to tell publishers to destroy their work because they've done a bad thing. And you get to do that over, and over, and over, and over, forever.

Because these arguments are out there. If you're putting this license together, you've seen the arguments. And obviously if you're wanting to implement such a license, you want to prevent your work from being used to facilitate racism, sexism, transphobia, whatever -isms and -phobias are out there now or will become a thing in the future.

But you know, you absolutely know, that there are people out there who have definitions of these things that are far more expansive than that of the general public. Or more expansive than your personal definition. What are you going to do when these people come to you demanding the cancellation of someone's license? What exactly do you think is going to happen when you say no? You are going to have to say no to these complaints at some point or another, aren't you?

Is this a mess you really want to deal with?

Or what about the other side, the people who will get their licenses cancelled, or will have to go through the hardships of destroying work they believe in and have invested in? You don't think they're going to make noise? You don't think there will be a loud and active community to take their side? What do you do if the good and progressive thing to enforce is contrary to what the larger community thinks is OK?

Are classic conceptions of elves and dwarves and evil orcs and such evidence of white supremacy and bio-essentialism, or are they classic fantasy tropes that all should be able to employ?

You want to own the final say on that controversy?

I don't know what any potential morality clause in ORC would look like as far as administration and appeals processes, but the OGL 1.1 that leaked from Wizards of the Coast states that they have unilateral power to decide such things, but that they are open to being convinced they made a wrong choice based on "community pushback and bad PR." They're inviting twitter mobs to influence them.

Why would anyone think this is a good idea?

And it only gets more complicated the more you look at it.

A lack of diversity in a work is sometimes cited as racist, sexist, etc. all on its own. But writing outside your demographic can be considered insensitive or appropriation. You know this is a thing. And you know by implementing an inclusivity/morality clause, you are inviting people to use you to enforce their thinking on the matter. How much of this do you really think is your job to decide on, for everyone else?

How will your inclusivity clause work for statements or actions outside of the actual products? If someone says something against popular opinion on Twitter, if despicable statements five, ten, twenty years ago are unearthed, if someone takes a picture with a person deeply unpopular with much of the community... what are you going to do when people come to you with this proof of transgression against inclusivity and demand you do something with their license? How do you judge this? And again, is all the blowback from every individual judgment directed at you something that is productive for you to deal with?

What do you do if there's another competing license out there with an inclusivity clause, and they decide to enforce something that you've passed on. Do you want the publicity of not fighting racism etc. as well as your competitor? How do you navigate that without your hand being forced?

What about retroactivity? I'm going to give a ridiculous example but I'm sure you'll get my gist. Let's say some lauded RPG writer goes all Kanye West tomorrow. And they make part of their new Hitler-loving brand their little pet pug dog. Let's say that pugs become the new dogwhistle (if you will) for the bad people class because of it. Sure, you may want to police new instances of pug-related gaming material for your license... but what happens when people start complaining about prior pug material released under your license? Or released not under your license by someone now using your license? How are you going to enforce that, or not enforce that, with a minimum of uproar and headache?

We're starting to get ridiculous now, but the point is there are an infinite number of edge cases for people to get very invested in, and very invested in you, as license manager, being on their side. There is no way for you to maneuver through these controversies in a way that doesn't get their shit all over you. This is what inclusivity clauses will get you.

Again, even if you somehow perfectly craft and word it for today's cultural environment, the only constant about the cultural environment is that it changes.

Nevermind who exactly the person will be that is in charge of making these decisions. I would think nobody in their right mind would want that responsibility once all the edge cases show up in their inbox. And I wouldn't trust anyone who really wants the job.

Would you?

And then there's one final argument, the one that I think will be least sympathetic to the people putting these licenses together, but I think it is a useful practical argument.

Varg Vikernes is the perfect bogeyman for both gaming and heavy metal. He's not an edge case, there is no question that his views and his actions are reprehensible. Yet here he is, in the shadows of two scenes I care very much about. I'm afraid of taking up knitting for fear of finding out he's into it, ya know? But he's published a role-playing game. Can any of you say, off the top of your head, without looking it up, whether or not he used any sort of license in publishing his game? OGL, Creative Commons, Nazi Free-Use License, any damn thing. Do you know?

If you don't know if the actual worst verifiable example has used a license, what in the world is any of this about?

If he has used a license... how has that fact affected anyone? Anyone at all? Is anyone associating him right now with anyone that created or uses that license? Is anyone currently using the OGL somehow bound or associated with anyone else also using the OGL? I don't get the purpose of this at all.

If he hasn't used a license... well, how has that stopped him from doing exactly what he wants to do? Has any victory over racism or racists been won because he is using a different way of rolling the dice in his game than you use in yours? What exactly is trying to be accomplished through an inclusivity license?

So then, to wrap up, I will again state that I expect any inclusivity or moralities clauses will have no practical benefits for anyone implementing or using them, but they will create conflict and controversies.

Are these controversies being connected to your companies, having created these clauses, going to improve the performance of your businesses? Are they going to facilitate a welcoming atmosphere for potential new players or customers, or in convincing new publishers to use the license? Are they going to improve the quality of conversations online? 

Are these controversies going to do anything to protect the people these clauses are in place to protect in the first place?

I think the answer to all of these questions is no.

I think we should leave political and moral questions about creative content to the individual creators to navigate with the public, and not create choke points for some to enforce their views upon others.

Thank you for listening.

And now for a more personal note concerning all of this. This is pure speculation, more imagination, but imagination is what we are supposed to be doing around here, instead of... this license stuff. It isn't out of the realm of possibility that an OGL or potential ORC inclusivity or morals clause becomes widely adopted. What if it became the wide industry standard? Sort of the way ratings dominate the movie and video game industries.

In that way I'm sort of putting myself in the place of EC Comics right before the Comics Code took over. It's not good.

And... let me talk about this book (Blood in the Chocolate). It was released in December 2016, and in the summer of 2017 it won a gold Ennie award. A little ol' Lamentations of the Flame Princess publication won in a public vote over offerings from Chaosium, Pelgrane, and Green Ronin. Holy shit, right?

Three years later, another publisher refuses to enter the ennies because of this win, claiming it's all sorts of bad things. The author of the book even denounced his own award-winning creation. Just last week in January 2023 somebody described it as a Nazi entry point into the hobby. I still think of it the same way I did when it won the award.

You think you're doing the right thing. You think you're going to continue to do so, and you're going to have the good and popular responses to whatever comes.

Well good luck to you. Because I know how fast things can turn.

Be very careful what you set into legal stone.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Bundle of Holding - Alternatives to D&D


Yep. That OGL nonsense is bleeding into everywhere ;)

In this case, Bundle of Holding is putting together a nice assortment of D&D alternatives.

For just US$9.95 you get all three complete games in our Starter Collection (retail value $58) as DRM-free ebooks, including Sigil Stone Publishing's Five Torches Deep (nice rulebook); Gallant Knight's Tiny Dungeon 2E (would love to play with my niece); and the current (fifth) edition of the venerable Chivalry and Sorcery (haven't read yet but have heard good things of) from Brittannia Game Designs. As a convenience to customers, we also add two acclaimed free retroclones: the Basic Fantasy RPG Third Edition (one of the better retroclones) and Gurbintroll's Lightmaster Core Rulebook (looks to be a Rolemaster clone).

And if you pay more than the threshold price of $28.23, you'll level up and also get our entire Bonus Collection with five more complete titles worth an additional $107, including the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (speaks for itself) rulebook from Goodman Games; Schwalb Entertainment's Shadow of the Demon Lord (have and would love to play a session or ten); the HackMaster Player's Handbook from Kenzer & Company (plus the free HackMaster Basic(have)); and the original 2015 Fragged Empire First Edition Core Rules (backed the KS, nice setting and rules) from Design Ministries, along with its fantasy setting Fragged Kingdom.

 

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 cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar   

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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