Thursday, February 29, 2024

Free OSR - Cha'alt (Gonzo Setting)

I've known Venger for several years. We've butted heads in the past, at times quite vocally, but one thing that is consistent with V is the quality of the work he does. Love him or hate him, if you like gonzo in your OSR, few compare to V and his releases.

Venger is running a sale today for his Cha'alt setting. Physical books are 20 bucks plus 5 bucks shipping:

For one unbelievable day... February 29th, Leap Day, I'm selling the gorgeous, professionally printed, signed and numbered Cha'alt hardcover book for only $20 + $5 shipping/handling.

What is Cha'alt (in case you were sent here by a friend of a friend)?  It's my eldritch, gonzo, science-fantasy, post-apocalypse, humor, sleaze, pop-culture, exploitation grindhouse campaign setting.  It's a system-neutral OSR and 5e compatible tome of lore, factions, new races, adventures, locations, monsters, magic items, high tech, and features The Black Pyramid, a darkly weird megadungeon funhouse that's like nothing you've ever seen.

Check out the reviews, testimonials, vlogs, word of mouth, and hushed whispers of lurid illumination, unutterable chanting, and that foul piping music interspersed with foreboding drums!  According to the RPG Pundit, Cha'alt is a masterpiece of stupid gonzo fantasy!

After the last sale and Kickstarter, I only have about 300 left to sell.  Want your book by this time next week?  Paypal me the $25 [USA only; foreign shipping is $60 for book + shipping] at...


But maybe you want to see what you are getting first. Or maybe you don't want to pay at all. In that case, V is offering Cha'alt for FREE today in PDF.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Deal of the Day - FlexTale Solo Image Oracle Omnibus (system-neutral)

Solo gaming intrigues me, more so as a way to learn a new system - or learn a known system better. It also gives me ideas I can use in a traditional campaign, and the ideas are - somewhat - playtested.

Today's Deal of the Day is FlexTale Solo Image Oracle Omnibus (system-neutral). Normally 19.99 in PDF, but until tomorrow FlexTale Solo Image Oracle Omnibus is on sale for 8 bucks.

The FlexTale Solo Image Oracle is an innovative creative tool for solo adventurers to generate dynamic, intriguing answers to questions about your campaign and the adventures that take place within it.

A simple roll of 3d6 is all you need to generate over 5,400 answers and pieces of creative content for any campaign setting, any situation, and any level of skill as a G/DM.


This book is the Omnibus edition of the Solo Image Oracle.  It assembles the contents of the previously-published six individual volumes.  Each of those Volumes contains 36 images; this Omnibus contains all 216 images.

Free Sample Edition

Unsure, but curious?  Grab the FREE Sample Edition.  It contains 16 images instead of 216, and lacks the section on rules system harmonization, but is otherwise exactly the same content and massive utility as this full version.

Digital Resource Companion

You also get a Microsoft Excel file containing all 5,400 creative elements for all 216 images.  This is the same content that's presented in the book, just in a format that some might enjoy using more than a PDF.  You are welcome to extend, amend, or otherwise use this tool for your own personal gaming experience.

Immediately Useful

Download this book, open it up to a random page, and pick any part of that page.  This book was designed so that whatever you end up pointing at, you should be able to use it in your campaign, whether you're a veteran DM of 30+ years running a published campaign for a dozen players or a brand-new player giving solo play a try.

What is This Thing?

An Oracle is a tool to provide an answer.  Usually, this is in the context of a solo adventure, where you as the adventurer need to rely upon some external source of truth to keep things unpredictable and interesting.  Solo Oracle tools abound, and are quite popular--it's probably safe to say that nearly every single solo adventurer uses at least one Oracle tool.

The Solo Image Oracle takes this a step further.  (It wouldn't be a FlexTale book if it didn't take things an order of magnitude further!)

Three dice is all it takes: Roll one six-sided die to pick which image palette you use.  Then, roll 2d6, and pick an image randomly from that grid of 36 abstract icons.  You can use that simple image as a point of inspiration on its own; this approach is very similar to Rory's Story Cubes, another popular resource for solo gamers.

A Step Further in Creative Inspiration

But the FlexTale difference amplifies the utility and power of this book as an Oracle: each of those images gets its own full page.

Each of those 216 images gets over 25 different elements: specific answers to questions, creative directions, entire quest snippets, magic items, random encounters, and much, much more.

All in all, two simple dice can drive over 5,400 dynamic and creative sources of inspiration for any campaign setting.

System-Neutral, Zero-Prep

This is a common objective in FlexTale books, and I'm thrilled to say that this book was designed from the start to satisfy these as requirements, even moreso than any other book before it in the FlexTale line.

The Solo Image Oracle provides visual and text inspiration.  As a result, it's system neutral, and can be easily used in any tabletop roleplaying game, though the particular answers in many cases are fantasy-oriented.  For those who use 5E, Pathfinder, Pathfinder Second Edition, OSR, or DCC systems, there is an extensive 9-page description of how to use specific rules language across those systems.

The whole point of this book is that it requires no preparation to use.  You can, quite literally, flip to a page completely at random, point to a place on that page, and derive inspiration for your solo adventure content.

Any Gaming Table

Although the Solo Image Oracle was designed from the ground up to be a tool to empower solo gamers, it's also an immensely powerful tool for a traditional gaming table.  A time-pressed or creatively stymied G/DM can use this book exactly like a solo gamer would, and find creative drivers just as naturally and quickly.

What's Included

The Solo Image Oracle features:

  • 216 abstract image silhouettes
  • 5,400 total creative elements
  • 216 unique items and Rewards for PCs who complete quests
  • 216 creative Penalties for PCs who fail quests :)
  • 216 random encounters and drivers
  • 216 interesting NPC behaviors, backgrounds, or characteristics
  • 216 Quest snippets, ready to use immediately, or flesh out and make your own
  • 216 twists and spins on enemy behavior to make every combat memorable and interesting

Full and easy integration with other FlexTale books, in particular the FlexAI Guidebook, the Solo Adventuring Toolkit, and the Hexcrawl Toolkit

And much, much more!

Creative Elements

Each of the 216 images gets a full page's worth of content, with 25 creative Elements to help drive game content and decisions.  These include the following, color-coded for ease and speed of reference:

  • General
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Adjective
  • Adverb
  • Question
  • Detailed Answer
  • Social
  • NPC Description
  • Role
  • Context
  • Choice
  • Result
  • Combat
  • Combat Description
  • Random Encounter
  • Action Outcome
  • Enemy Targeting
  • Combat Role
  • Combat Role Size
  • Combat Stance
  • Quest & Encounter
  • New Quest Snippet
  • Quest Development
  • Reward
  • Penalty
  • Quest Archetype
  • Quest Sub-Archetype
  • Origins & Development

The author is a veteran DM who cut his teeth on the BECMI boxes back in middle school.  The approach taken with this book was pretty simple, but drives from decades of experience and talent: 

  • Pick an image.
  • Consider that image in the context of each of the 25 creative elements defined.
  • Create adventure content inspired by that combination (of image + element) and write it down.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Bundle of Holding - Chivalry and Rising Sun (Chivalry & Sorcery)

I remember back in 2009 or 2010, I finally found a copy of Chivalry & Sorcery 1st Edition on eBay. I had heard so much about C&S in my early days of gaming that it was something I had had my eye on for a while. Sadly, the font size made it nigh unreadable to my aging eyes.

Chivalry & Sorcery is currently available at Bundle of Holding. It offers the latest version of Chivalry & Sorcery (2020) as well as Land of the Rising Sun (2021). 14.95 gets you the C&S Collection, and just short of 26 bucks adds in the Rising Sun Collection. 

Adventurer! This new Chivalry and Rising Sun Bundle presents the Chivalry and Sorcery tabletop roleplaying game of medieval fantasy adventure from Brittannia Game Designs, along with the new 2021 version of its Land of the Rising Sun campaign setting. Among the oldest FRPGs still published, Chivalry and Sorcery depicts an authentic feudal Europe with nobles, knights, Christian priests, and medieval doctrines. The game focuses not on dungeon crawls but on the feudal system, court intrigue, tournaments and jousts, and a comprehensive catalogue of ordinary life. Want to foil an assassination plot at a royal wedding – clear a pack of bandits from Creag Hill in Somerset – or find a missing priest and recover his tithes from a haunted keep? Chivalry and Sorcery helps you tell all these stories with authority and conviction. And Land of the Rising Sun, newly expanded by Lee Gold (designer of the 1980 First Edition), brings the same historical focus to Japan's Feudal period (850-1500 CE), updated to the C&S Fifth Edition rules.

[Note: This offer's version of Land of the Rising Sun is Lee Gold's 2021 campaign supplement for Chivalry and Sorcery, not her vintage 1980 standalone game (based on C&S 1E) from Fantasy Games Unlimited. And the "Fifth Edition" of Chivalry and Sorcery refers to the fifth version (2020) of the original 1977 game, not D&D Fifth Edition.]

For just US$14.95 you get all nine titles in our Chivalry Collection (retail value $78.50) as DRM-free ebooks, including the complete Chivalry and Sorcery Fifth Edition corebook (along with the C&S Basic Rules and the Character Generator Excel spreadsheet); Goblins, Orcs, & Trolls; theEuropean Folklore Bestiary; three recent C&S adventures – Curse of the Casket, Facets of Fire, and The Welsh Connection; the sourcebook Castles of Britain; and the GM Screen.

And if you pay more than the threshold price of $25.72, you'll level up and also get our entire Rising Sun Collection with four more C&S supplements worth an additional $55, including the 2021 Land of the Rising Sun campaign setting and its Rising Sun Folklore Bestiary, Map Pack, and Adventure Book.


The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

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, February 26, 2024

Deal of the Day - The Forest of Gornate (OSRIC Point Crawl)

Gabor Lux is a well-known name to long-time OSR folk, but the name pops up less these days than it should. Simply put, if Gabor Lux is on the tin, you can safely assume the product will be far above average to great.

The Forest of Gornate by Gabor Lux is today's Deal of the Day at DTRPG. Normally 6.50 in PDF, until tomorrow morning The Forest of Gornate is on sale for 3.25.

“South of the dark walls of Mur, an overgrown forest lies between two mountain ranges. Its namesake, the immortal beast Gornate, noted for his thirty-six eyes and a peculiar taste for collecting human spinal columns, has made no sign of his presence in many years. Even so, the woodlands hide numerous dangers. Robber bands, man-eating beasts, abandoned manor houses and mysterious ruins dot a land divided by rivers and mountain ridges. The people of the city rarely venture into the forest, but recently, three notabilities have expressed an interest in sponsoring a hazardous, but lucrative expedition. While serving three masters may be too much for a single adventure, a resourceful and lucky company could return rich from… The Forest of Gornate!”

A 32-page module for 3rd to 5th level characters, The Forest of Gornate offers a complex, open-ended wilderness pointcrawl set in the Forest of Gornate, a place of fallen civilisations, strange denizens, and natural wonders. Seek the treasures of a mysterious villa, the secrets of a reclusive bandit leader, win the patronage of the ancient and sinister Guild of Judges, or strike out on your own to seek fame and fortune in the forests, and the lands beyond. Inspired by the gamebook classic, Scorpion Swamp, this is a module offering 42+39 keyed areas, adventure hooks, rumours, and random encounters offering numerous possibilities for open-ended exploration and player-driven adventure. It is also a companion to In the Shadow of the City-God, but enjoyable on its own terms. The adventure features illustrations by Denis McCarthy (who also did the cover), Stefan Poag, Jerry Boucher, as well as the Dead Victorians.

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

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, February 25, 2024

Delicious in Dungeon (Netflix show) Inspires a New D30 Table


Delicious in Dungeon (Netflix show) Inspires a New D30 Table
Last week I mentioned I was totally into a new TV show on Netflix. That show is called Delicious in Dungeon and it's a Japanese Manga that has been animated. There's not a lot to spoil, but it's about a party feeding themselves by eating the various monsters they come across. 

Most games don't address the edibility of various monsters in their system, but HackMaster does so I'm used to seeing that information.

Clearly, I found this inspiring, so I decided to come up with a new d30 table for those times the party decides to try some new "food". It's a relatively simple edibility chart/table, but it had been "stuck" in the back of my head for a while now and I'm thankful I got it out.

d30 Monster Edibility Table
I also mentioned last week about some issues with my Adobe InDesign that I used to do the layout for projects like this. I did end up going with Affinity Publisher 2 because that was the only program that seemed to be able to open my InDesign files. It's relatively user-friendly and the only actual problem I've had so far is that I cannot print to PDF like I'm used to doing. I can export to PDF, which is just fine.

I'm mentioning Affinity Publisher 2 mostly because it's on sale right now where the bundle of Publisher 2, Photo 2 (Adobe Photoshop alternative), and Design 2 (Adobe Illustrator alternative) are on sale for 20% off, which comes to around $130. Compared to having a monthly subscription to any of these Adobe programs.....well, just Adobe InDesign is $240 a year pre-paid. 

If you use these type of programs for your own products......I can recommend Affinity (not a sponsor or anything) and IIRC the coupon code was "USE20", but there is also a free 1 month trial period for all three programs.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Deal of the Day - The Oneiric Hinterlands (OSR Setting/Campaign)

I truly enjoy picking up new settings and campaigns. Even if I never run them, they are flush with new ideas and fresh takes.

The Oneiric Hinterlands is both setting and campaign and should take the party from 1st level to about level 7, which is where many campaigns peter out in my experience. While not for all groups, I suspect there is much one can borrow or steal for their own campaign.

Normally 10 bucks in PDF, The Oneiric Hinterlands is the current Deal of the Day, and until tomorrow morning, it is on sale for 4 bucks.

The Oneiric Hinterlands is a sandbox campaign inspired by fairytales and folklore and set in an enchanted woodland.

Deep in a hollow hill in the ancient Woldwood lies the Dream Gate: a beachhead for a war against reality that never came to pass. Its custodian, Lord Nuada, has disappeared, and now the oneiric energies have begun to warp the very fabric of the world.

Nuada's subjects - the sapient animals called the Danu - are too distracted to care. Following his disappearance, a civil war ended in a magical catastrophe, and the ascension of cruel predator overlords.

Meanwhile, the 'Goblin King', deposed by Nuada, has returned from Underland. Sending his fungal minions into Nuada's abandoned hill palace, he seeks to retake his throne.

Nearby the dwindling human colonies are still dealing with the aftermath of their war with the giants two decades earlier. Rumors circulate that the leader of the giants may have returned from death, and now treasure hunters arrive to disturb things best left buried.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Requires Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy, or similar old school rules.  

The Oneiric Hinterlands features a 21 location wilderness (the mythic forest of Woldwood), a 34 room dungeon (the Temple of Typhon), and a 118 room dungeon (Nuada's abandoned palace below a hill).

The Oneiric Hinterlands provides a campaign to take 4-6 characters from 1st to 7th level.

VTT support: 74 battlemaps and 16 unlabelled maps included!

The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

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, February 23, 2024

Deal of the Day - The Book of Dungeon Encounters

I've known Phil Reed for several years, and have had him as a guest on various live streams on my YouTube Channel over the years. Phil has become the master of the Old School RPG Kickstarter :)

Today's Deal of the Day is The Book of Encounters by Phil Reed. While systemless, it certainly hues to the old-school sensibilities many of us are used to. Normally 9.99 in PDF, but until tomorrow morning, The Book of Encounters is on sale for 5.97.

Welcome to the dungeon, gamemaster. More so than any other location, the dungeon is the heart of adventure for many a fantasy roleplaying game.

On the pages of this book, you will find 100 different dungeon encounter ideas drawn from five different imaginations. This time I am joined by four other co-authors who have brought their own experiences and concepts to the book, making it far more entertaining than it would have been without them.

Over half of the book has been written by my co-authors, making my own contribution to this work little more than the act of dreaming up the project, coordinating the

efforts of the creators, and handling the task of managing the Kickstarter campaign as well as the final design and layout of the book. My co-authors deserve the real credit for how very fun this book has turned out.

The Book of Dungeon Encounters is for those gamemasters who are stuck for an idea. Simply turn to this book and roll (or select!) an encounter. I hope that you enjoy the work as much as I have.

– Philip Reed


The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

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, February 22, 2024

Deal of the Day - Carcass Crawler: Issue Three (OSE)

I've really enjoyed Carcass Crawler thus far, but then again I like zines in general. With short articles that pack a punch, value for money is usually pretty high for zines in general, and Carcass Crawler proves the point.

The current Deal of the Day at DTRPG is Carcass Crawler: Issue Three for Old School Essentials. Normally 7.50 for 32 pages in PDF, but until tomorrow morning it is on sale for 3 bucks.

The third issue of Carcass Crawler — the official Old-School Essentials zine! Each issue is packed with new material for your games, including new character classes and races, new spells and magic items, new monsters, optional and expanded rules, referee advice, previews of in-development products, short adventures, and more!

In This Issue:

  • New classes: Five new character classes. The beast master, the dragonborn, the mutoid, the mycelian, and the tiefling.
  • New races: Four new character races for Advanced Fantasy games. The dragonborn, the mutoid, the mycelian, and the tiefling.
  • Expanded equipment: More adventuring gear, weapons, and armour, to increase adventuring options and character customisation.
  • Woodland monsters: 8 brand new monsters that lurk in the deep, shadowed glades and sacred groves of ancient forests beyond the reach of civilisation.
  • Creating monsters: Referee guidelines for creating new monsters for Old-School Essentials games. Keep the game fresh (and players on their toes) by devising your own new horrors and foes.


 The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

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 21, 2024

Crowdfunding - Saethor's Bane: A Dungeon Fantasy RPG Solo Adventure

It looks like several creators have moved to using BackerKit over Kickstarter. Douglas Cole/Gaming Ballistic is just the latest, and it's a topic I'll be bringing up with Doug on tonight's Talking Crit Live!

As always, I'm letting you know that I consider Doug a friend. He was part of my infamous B-Team about a decade ago, making their way through Castle of the Mad Archmage. Doug has been a guest on prior Talking Crit Lives! as well as the Random Party Generator Livestream.

I've been a fan of the GURPS System since first finding Man to Man and OrcSlayer in the mid-80s. Dungeon Fantasy sits on my bookshelf as a game I really want to be a player in, and Saethor's Bane solo adventure may be just the way to finally accomplish that goal :)

Saethor's Bane is 10 bucks in PDF and 20 bucks in Print plus PDF. Those are good, honest prices for the material you get.

You won't need a GM - you follow the branching pathways as you make choices. If these choices lead to violence, resolve conflict using the Dungeon Fantasy RPG rules.

You can still use a GM! This "solo" adventure follows the path of four mercenary soldiers who have signed up to oppose Saethor, the titular Dark Lord, by force of arms. One person can play all the roles, or several can play through the scenario, dividing roles as needed.

Use Saethor's Bane to:

  • Keep gaming when you can't get together with your usual group
  • Learn the Dungeon Fantasy RPG game rules at your own pace
  • Run players through a scenario with near-zero prep - they can experience roleplaying within moments of sitting around a table. 
  • Great for bringing in new players, or even stress-free convention play.

DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  You can catch the daily Tavern Chat cast on YouTube - Tenkar 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Free OSR - Low Fantasy Gaming (Original)

There was a period in time when I gamed on Saturday Nights. The last campaign I played with the old Saturday Night group was Low Fantasy Gaming, and it was a blast. Played well and fast, with minimal referring to the rules after getting the hang of it.

Low Fantasy Gaming (Original) is available for Free in PDF.


Low Fantasy Gaming (“LFG”) is a tabletop role-playing game built for sword & sorcery adventures in low magic worlds.

Rules Light

LFG is rules light (184 pages), with a heavy emphasis on Games Master (“GM”) rulings. It’s a hybrid of old school and modern game design, based on the 1d20 Open Game Licence.

Fast & Engaging Combat

Combat is designed to be fast and engaging, with minimal waiting between turns. Creativity is encouraged via martial exploits and magic.

Dangerous & Gritty  

Battle is genuinely dangerous and every skirmish takes a toll. The threat of serious injury or death is never far away.

A “Realistic” World

LFG worlds tend to mimic our own classical or medieval periods. Humans are the default player race. Magic and fantastic monsters exist, but are very rare. The Midlands Low Magic Sandbox Setting supplement is an example (also on DTRPG).

Dark & Dangerous Magic

Magic is not only rare, it is dark and inherently dangerous. Sorcery is a power not meant for mortals, and adventurers engage with it at their peril.

Riches & Glory

LFG is about exploring the unknown; delving into the lost places of the world to unearth new mysteries. Player characters are not epic heroes charged with saving the world; they are bold adventurers seeking riches and glory.

Open World

LFG is made for short, episodic adventures in an open world. Mechanics and random tables support GM improvisation, empowering the referee to handle any situation or side trek.

DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  You can catch the daily Tavern Chat cast on YouTube - Tenkar 

Monday, February 19, 2024

Free OSR - White Box: Eastern Adventures

White Box: Eastern Adventures is a ruleset that had escaped my radar before today. It is essentially Oriental Adventures built on a Swords & Wizardry chassis. Freaking awesome and a great way to keep your Swords & Wizardry campaign fresh.

White Box: Eastern Adventures is free in PDF, and 4.99 in print.

Welcome to the days of old… to a time when adventurers were ordinary people, who took up this dangerous calling to accumulate hordes of treasure from monster filled dungeons.  But be warned, adventuring is truly a dangerous profession here; dungeons are filled with deadly traps and even deadlier monsters.  Most adventurers will perish on their first few adventures; those that survive have learnt the importance of knowing when to fight, when to run and when to rely on hirelings to get the job done.  Take a step forward, if you dare, and enter a world of exotic dragons, talking cats and hungry ghosts with unending appetites… take a step forward and enter the world of ‘White Box: Eastern Adventures.’

‘White Box: Eastern Adventures’ is based on the simple and creative game play mechanics of the first incarnation of the ‘World’s Most Famous Role-Playing Game’.  This game is set in a world inspired by Japanese mythology and folklore; a setting where social status and prestige are just as important as treasure and gold.  Thus, the goal of adventuring is more than accumulating wealth; it is also about gaining merit and honour in a status conscious society.


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Sunday, February 18, 2024

Do You Use Training Rules?

Do You Use Training Rules?
I really wanted to write about this new TV show I've started enjoying and introduce the d30 chart the show inspired, BUT &%$#!ing Adobe InDesign (the version I own) doesn't work with the newest version of Windows I have and I'm not subscribing, especially at the rate they want ($240 a year?!) I haven't fully evaluated it's replacement (I'm thinking Affinity Publisher 2), so that bit will have to wait a week.

Aside from this post, the only other thing I had to do is finish some homework for an online college course I'm taking. It's been a hot minute since I've been to college, but I do have a few degrees, but not anything worthy of bragging about. I've been considering a shift in my career and this course is a relatively cheap way to get some intel on that new career path, see if it feels right.

Like everything else I blather on about here, my Sunday deadline (as it was) tends to take what I'm doing and filter it through a RPG lens. The schoolwork, and my so-called-attempt to "better myself" made me think about PC's "leveling up". Most of my experience with a formal training process for PCs is with HackMaster (I'm sure someone here just groaned), and I never recall any training with my 1st or 2nd (hell, even 3.5) edition PCs. Since HackMaster is basically 50% 1st Edition, 25% 2nd Edition, and 25% the D-Team's home-rules*, I really thought that maybe formal training was part of that 25% home rules.


There isn't a lot there, but the 1st Edition DMG has less than a page (page 86 to be precise) on the level-up training process and it's little more than a quick formula for cost and if you played your PC "excellently", according to the GM you can pay twice as much and train yourself or go find a mentor and pay the set amount.

2nd Edition has even less about training, maybe half a page and is quite a bit vague. All of it is an optional rule, but there's so little to work with you might as well just do you're own thing.

Now, the HackMaster (4th Edition) GMG has the same base information, maybe explains it a bit better, but adds maybe four more pages about the types of school/mentors PCs can use. Personally, I think it's a great resource for role-playing and I'm... disappointed that it isn't available (at least legally) unless you get a second or third-hand copy. The splat-books are great too, but they tend to detail the training of PCs before they start adventuring.

Now I get it, training rules can be seen as "too crunchy" by some, I'm assuming most since they went from a robust single page, to a half page, to (checking 3.5....and I don't have a copy of that) nothing (I'm guessing)? I don't think training rules are too much myself, and they can add a lot of role-playing possibilities. Making contacts, using up PC/Party resources, and possibly even introducing more opportunities for adventure.

Hmm....I think I could probably do a d30 table on that, but right off the bat I don't think I'd improve what's already out there......

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Humble Bundle - Paranoia 25th Anniversary RPG MegaBundle

I have many fond memories of the Paranoia RPG, such as: not getting dice in my 1st Edition boxed set and writing West End Games a request for the missing dice. Instead, I got a letter written by Ken Rolsen with The Computer telling me to turn myself in for termination and a secret society transmission interrupting the letter. I remember playtesting Hill Sector Blues one summer evening in the WEG offices in Manhattan, wondering whose desk I was sitting at. I remember my group passing dozens of notes per game session. Those were the days :)

Over on Humble Bundle, they are offering Mongoose's Paranoia 25th Anniversary RPG MegaBundle. 32 Paranoia releases for 18 bucks, including many classics updated to the 25th Anniversary ruleset. Needless to say, I'm all in. Heh. 

DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  You can catch the daily Tavern Chat cast on YouTube - Tenkar 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Free RPG - Tomb of the Serpent Kings - (OSR Dungeon Adventure)

Need an adventure for new players to the OSR genre? Need something for a new DM to wet their teeth on? Tomb of the Serpent Kings is what you need, and it's free in PDF and at cost in print.

People keep asking for "beginner" dungeons. Everyone can name "classic" dungeons - Tomb of Horrors, Barrier Peaks, The Temple of Elemental Evil, etc. - but for those adventures to make sense, there needs to be some sort of introduction.

It's like all the adventures we have are Bach concertos. People keep writing amazing works of staggering genius, but someone needs to write a book on how to play the piano.

I had the same questions, and since I couldn't find anything satisfactory, I decided to write the kind of dungeon I would have loved to find. I wanted to write the best basic old-school dungeon for new players that I could, and I also wanted to show the design process. And since people keep referring to it, I figured I'd put up a fancy print version.

Tomb of the Serpent Kings is designed to be easy to adapt to your system of choice to create an old-school dungeon-crawling tomb-robbing experience.

The PDF is free and licensed under Creative Commons NC-BY-SA. Hack it, share it, and translate it (there are French, German, and Spanish translations available on my blog). 


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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Free RPG - Classic Traveller (Facsimile Edition)

Yep, it looks like I'm diving neck-deep into DTRPG's Free Games Section. Not sure when I'll get a chance to come up for breath ;)

Today's Free RPG is none other than Classic Traveller, Facsimile Edition. Yep, the very game you could die in character generation, yours for the amazingly cheap price of FREE! :)

This is the original text of the 1981 edition of Classic Traveller based on page image Scans.

It includes Books 1-2-3, with errata and corrections inserted (where possible; and additional material in an errata appendix). This text is essentially an errata corrected edition faithful to the original Classic Traveller of the early 1980's.

The PDF has been OCR'ed. Margins are upgraded to 6x9 (from 5-1/2 x 8-1/2) for better margins.

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Bundle of Holding - Knock! Zine

For the uninitiated, Knock! is technically an OSR zine, but it is damn near textbook-sized, even if it is also digest-sized. As an FYI, Knock! is 22.50 in PDF at DTRPG, so 17.95 for three issues of Knock! is damn amazing!

Knock knock, adventurer! This all-new KNOCK! Magazine Bundle presents three digital issues of KNOCK!, the Merry Mushmen's magazine for old-school tabletop fantasy roleplaying games. Dubbed "an Adventure Gaming Bric-à-Brac and a Compendium of Miscellanea for Old School RPGs," KNOCK! showcases kickass layouts, dazzling color, and a barrage of articles, essays, tables, rules, maps, monster stats, and adventures that range from weird to – well, no, they're all uniformly weird. Every overstuffed 200+-page issue features the most audacious designers in the Old School Revival. Keep these lavish ebooks close by for perusing, daydreaming, and prepping your next session.

For just US$17.95 you get all three magazine issues in our KNOCK! Collection (retail value $69) as DRM-free ebooks, including KNOCK! Magazine issue #1, KNOCK! issue #2, and KNOCK! issue #3.


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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

DragonSlayer - Bard Class - Work In Progress

Artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

I've been wanting a Bard Class for DragonSlayer since Greg first passed me a Beta Copy of DragonSlayer in late 2023.

Note, the Song/Spell list is NOT complete and needs third through fifth level Songs to be added.


Ability Requirement: Int 12, Dex 13, Cha 15 

Race & Level Limit: Human U, Elf 7, Halfling 6, Half-Elf 8

Prime Requisite: Dex and Cha

Hit Dice: d6

Starting Gold Pieces: 2-120 (2d6x10)

Bards, often also known as Skalds, are the storytellers and lyrists of the world. They are well-traveled, as you never want to perform at the same establishment two nights in a row. 

Role: Bards are secondary fighters and competent spell casters.

Expo Chart: As Per Assassin

Attack Bonus: As Per Thief

Languages: All Bards speak a language which is known as Bardic Cant, a form of poetry and rhyme their songs are cast/performed with. Bards gain a new language at every odd level, starting at 3rd level. The language chosen must be one that the Bard has encountered during their travels.

Weapons and Armor: A Bard may not use two-handed melee weapons. Bards may wear chain mail, leather, or studded leather armor. They may not use shields.

Thief Abilities: A Bard may Pick Pockets and Hear Noise as a Thief of the same level. A Bard may only Pick Pockets when wearing leather armor or no armor. Bards may also use the PickPockets skill for sleight of hand, such as magic tricks on stage.

Font of (Useless) Knowledge - Bards learn things during their travels. This knowledge may or may not be useful, and is often esoteric in nature. The chance for the bard to have relevant knowledge is equal to a Thief's Appraise Skill for that level. So, at 1st Level the chance is 2 in 6, at 3rd Level it is 3 in 6, at 6th level it's 4 in 6, and at 10th level, it's 5 in 6.

Read Languages - Bards have an innate skill with the written word, and pick up bits and pieces of various languages and common phrases during their travels. This skill is similar to the Font of (Useless) Knowledge ability and progresses in skill in the same manner. It can be used to comprehend street signs, store signage, dungeon graffiti, and most warning language, but would likely not reveal much more than the title of a book without hours if not days, of study (DM fiat for the win).

Charm: A Bard may attempt to charm a person, like the Magic-User spell, once per week at 1st level. At 6th level Bards gain a second attempt per week.

Inspiring Performance: Once per day, the Bard can perform a song, poem, or dance that grants a +1 bonus to attack rolls and saving throws to all allies within earshot for 10 minutes. While performing, the Bard can fight, but not cast any songs/spells without prematurely losing the bonus for their allies.

Bards Songs (Spells), Scrolls, and Memorization Limit: Bards can cast songs or chants from the Bard Song List starting at 3rd level, and follow the Spell Progression Chart of the Monk Class

Bards can cast Cleric or Magic-User Scrolls of spells on their song list, with a 20% chance (+5% per spell level) of a miscast or lost casting, due to incomplete knowledge of the source material.

Bards start with two known songs or chants of first level upon attaining their level as a Bard. Bards gain one additional song for their repertoire with each additional level, and may learn additional songs from other Bards (for a fee) or songbooks they may find during their career.

Bards do not memorize their songs or prepare them ahead of time. Instead, they perform songs from their known repertoire at will, up to their limit for that day, without repeating any song during that day.

Bards do not get Bonus Songs for high ability scores

Traveler: May only keep what they can carry.

Bard Song List:

Level 1

Audible Glammer

Charm Person

Comprehend Languages


Dancing Lights

Faerie Fire


Remove Fear 



Level 2

Darkness (15')


Detect Charm


Magic Mouth



Silence (15')

Level 3


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Monday, February 12, 2024

DragonSlayer - A Look at Languages (finding the unexpected)

Languages play a major if unsung part in the Dragonslayer RPG. I noticed this as I read. Unlike most traditional OSR RPGs, not every playable race speaks common by default. Additionally, an intelligence of 13 is required to learn an additional language.

Here are the languages in DragonSlayer spoken by playable race:

Humans – Common

Cyclopsmen – Suul

Dwarves – Dwarven

Elves – Elvish & Common

Gnomes– Gnomish

Halflings – Halfling & Common

Half-Elf – Elvish & Common

Half-Orc – Orcish & Common

So, Cyclopsmen and Dwarves are likely isolationist by nature. Gnomes, I'm not so sure. In any case, as written, PC's of these races will need an Intelligence of 13 or more to speak common.

Integrated parties have some potential issues...

For me, I'd assume that PCs of Cyclopsmen, Dwarven, and Gnomish background have spent time in a human-majority society and have learned common, likely with a noticeable foreign accent.

Sorry, I play most of my RPG sessions via VTT and I'm not a fan of pantomime ;)

Additional languages are spoken by certain classes:

Clerics, Druids, and Monks speak Ancient Common (akin to Latin). Although Paladins and Rangers get Clerical and Druidical spell access at higher level, they do not learn Ancient Common as a bonus language.

Magic-Users and Illusionists have Black Tongue as a Bonus Language.

Thieves gain Thieves Cant.

So, a Halfling multi-classed Cleric/Thief with an Intelligence of 10 (no bonus language slots) would have Common, Halfing, Ancient Common, and Thieve's Cant as their starting languages.

It's similar for a multi-classed Magic-User/Thief, starting with Common, Elvish, Dark Tongue, and Thieves Cant.

Yep, giving Dwarven, Gnomish, and Cyclopsman PCs access to the Common tongue won't unbalance the game, but making it so most characters of those races don't speak common, especially in their own closed societies, makes sense and likely fits most settings.

Time to dig some more...

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Sunday, February 11, 2024

Does the Stat Rolling Method Really Matter?

Does the Stat Rolling Method Really Matter?
This last few weeks I've been seeing a lot of reposts of this picture, almost a meme(?) and it really got me thinking about all of the ways I've rolled up PCs and how much it actually matters.

My conclusion is that it really depends on the game, but players generally want higher-statted PCs, which makes sense because who wants to play a nobody?

Now with the older (I'm thinking B/X) having less than optimal stats weren't a big deal and the difference between a low stat and a high stat wasn't worth getting too worked up over. Of course it felt like there was some stat-creep in later editions and even that made sense to me. With all of this different classes coming out that had specific high(er) stat requirements. It seemed to me that the straight 3d6 (in order) soon moved to a straight 4d6 (drop the lowest) to 4d6 (drop the lowest) arrange as you want. I'm not going to look it up, but I also recall AD&D having alternate rolling methodologies (in the DMG perhaps) to help possibly get players the types of PCs they wanted.

When I migrated to HackMaster (4th Edition) stats went back to straight 3d6, but there was an additional fractional added (so a 3d6 + 1d100%) and you could buy fractional rolls with building points. Of course there was a cost that you maybe didn't want to pay, but it could help you get into that PC class you wanted. Knowing that as you leveled you'd get some fractional increases helped as well and there were some odd circumstances that could build you up as well. For example I really lucked out with my Double Specialist Invoker in that my school results gave me a +3 Intelligence, so I was rocking a 21 Intelligence.

Actually having a PC much, much smarter than me wasn't all it was cracked up to be as I couldn't actually access that intelligence as much as you'd think. Have to answer a riddle? Eff me man, I can't figure it out, but my PC is likely the smartest dude on the continent, if not the planet....he should be able to figure it out.

With the newer version of HackMaster gives you options, but you pay for them: straight 3d6 +1d100% gets you a nice bump in Building Points, swap two stats of the "straight 3d6" for only a 25 Build Point bonus, or just arrange the "straight 3d6" as you like for no Build Points. It also has a rule about if two of your stats are 5 or less or none above 13 you can start over (Shopkeep Rule) otherwise any other valid set of rolls have to be played/used for one session before retiring the PC from play.

For one of my PCs I had just about a set of Gawd-rolls. That kind of sucked actually. I do not remember what the straight 3d6 rolls were, but with the options given I could have conceivably chosen any race/class I wanted. The rolls were good enough that if not for the fact that two other GMs actually witnessed the rolls, I don't think I'd have been allowed to play that PC at someone else's table for fear of being suspected of cheating. The part that sucked about the rolls is that I just had too many options. This was pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I had a bit of decision paralysis about it. Ultimately I didn't make that choice myself. Instead I queried the group as to what they think we needed most, which was a tank. I ended up making the tankiest tank I could: Dwarven Fighter.

I haven't gotten to play this PC in years (kind of sad about it because I had a helluva lot of fun playing this PC, and not because of his ability scores!) but his current stats (mind you he gets some % bumps when leveling) at 9th level are off to the side.

His CON has a +4 bump from race that is offset by -2 bumps to Looks and Charisma. 

Now I'm not bragging about this PC or anything, just I think that there's a lot of range on what can be rolled, methodology-wise and there really isn't a good reason to hate on any particular method. I think the options given are usually there to make playing a PC one wants to play, viable. The simple straight 3d6 worked great when it didn't really matter too much.

Hell, lately...especially at a convention, I've just been rolling some d30's to quick generate stats based on the d30 DM Companion. I think the method used doesn't matter unless it results in too-high of a power level than what the players & GM want to see.

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