Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Project Oasis now on sale!

Greyhawk Grognard - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 22:49
Hey all!

Just a reminder that my post-apocalyptic RPG setting, Project Oasis, is on sale as part of OBS's Setting Sale. One third off is a pretty sweet deal!

For those who haven't heard of it, Project Oasis is my gonzo post-apocalyptic setting, written for Mutant Future and Apes Victorious, but usable with any old-school science fiction/science fantasy rules. It's got ape cultures, mutants ruled by giant brains in jars, militant pig-men empires, amazon realms, time bubbles with 21st century people trapped in a time just after the war, high-tech enclaves either trying to rule or save the world, and tons more.

Plus it comes with a huge map of post-apocalypse North America (here's just a snippet):

But hey, don't listen to me. Take a gander at James Mishler's review:
The upshot of the review is that this is the best PA campaign setting on the market today, if you are into the middle-era PA genre. If you aren’t, well, get on the bandwagon! The PA middle-genre provides you with all the action, adventure, seriousness, and wild and wacky wahoo you could ever want out of a PA setting, and this book distills it all down for you. Project Oasis plus Mutant Future and Apes Victorious can provide literally years of PA adventures. With Project Oasis Joseph Bloch has presented the PA gamer community with a PA campaign “Greyhawk Gazetteer” upon which to build and develop their own campaigns.

Project Oasis is a book I wish that I had written. And really, I can’t give it better kudos than that.

Five out of Five StarsI am still blown away by that review (thanks, James!). Check out Project Oasis on sale here!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] Crypt of the Lilac High Priest (2017)

Beyond Fomalhaut - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 19:05
[REVIEW] Crypt of the Lilac High Priest (2017)by Geoffrey McKinneySelf-published
Crypt of the Lilac High PriestGeoffrey McKinney and his products are not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast. I know this because it says so right on the cover of this module, the latest in a series of several old school modules which do their darnedest to look like something TSR might have done in its heydays. This one is a mono-era knockoff with David Sutherland knockoff cover art, although it doesn’t quite go all the way with the trade dress fetishism – which becomes clear once you look inside and notice the homemade production values (unruly two-column text without even mono-era TSR’s concessions to modern deviltry like “layout”, “accessibility”, or “page numbers”). This is not always a good thing, but the module is as honest about its homespun simplicity as its sources of inspiration.
What you get inside is a two-level dungeon which keeps the cover’s promise by presenting a no-nonsense, meat-and-potatoes dungeon adventure inspired by the likes of the Giants/Drow series. It is actually even more specific in its influences: it combines the “cavern rooms” inhabited by creepies and crawlies you find in G1 and D1, and the various weird evil temples you find through the series, and builds a full 35-room dungeon out of them for beginning characters. If you liked those rooms, you will probably find this module agreeable. The premise revolves around obtaining one of the teeth of Dahlver-Nar, here the prophet of the worm cult, an unpleasant society of purple worm-worshippers. Dahlver-Nar had enough magical teeth to fill a 16-module series (of which this is the first part), or it can be used as a one-off – it should work as well alone as in a series.
The encounters put a high emphasis on monster lairs (a combination of cave dwellers and intruders who have come here following their agendas) with general oddities and magical enigmas, and the remains of a temple complex constructed within the cavern system, but apparently being reclaimed by it (there is a river running right through the cultists’ abandoned temple). The overall style has the sense of exotic oddness the author has been known for, without Carcosa’s gruesomeness or the generic blandness of Dungeon of the Unknown. This module has a fairly good balance of the different sensibilities it draws on – the familiarity of mediaeval knights and wizards in conical hats combined with odd-coloured otherworlds set in underground caverns. The worm cult’s traces in the dungeon complex are likewise a mixture of the mundane and the alien. There is even a beholder encounter (spoiler: it is right on the cover) which will surely encourage panicky guessing among seasoned players – is the GM using a gas spore or a real beholder, and can we afford to test it? – although I believe it does the wrong thing in the end.
Sometimes, things feel randomly generated without being sufficiently thought through afterwards (a hard to find piece of treasure is talked up as a beautiful historical rarity, and then valued at 95 gp), and sometimes, this randomness feels justified as a weird underearth thing (a place where the characters can experiment with a cavern of varicoloured magical nodules, each producing a different magical effect). The dungeon’s layout is tricky at first glance due to all the twisting and turning corridors, but it is more linear than you would expect, and there is altogether less content than you could fit in here if the text was a bit more leanly written, and the maps had more stuff going on – minor things, but you notice them.
Then there is that layout again, and I say this as someone who is usually satisfied with simple two-column text. Most encounters are presented as ungodly long blocks of text without breaks, bolded text or highlighting that would help sort out the information and draw the GM’s eyes to the important details. Important information is sometimes presented out of the logical order (e.g. room 10, where the probability of an important encounter occurring is given dead last), or thrown into the middle of a wall of text. Monster statistics are usually embedded into the flowing text… ironically, I swear there is an instance where they are omitted altogether, but I am not finding it. This is not good, and Tomb of the Sea Kings, another module wearing its love for mono-era TSR on its sleeve shows that it can be done while keeping that iconic look. However, the maps are fine, legible and mostly unambiguous: they do their job and don’t get in the way.
Crypt of the Lilac High Priest, as stated before, is a fundamentally honest take on mono era AD&D with a light weird touch. It is not a real standout, but “better than average” describes it suitably. When OSRIC opened the gates before small-press old school adventures, this is about what I was expecting (and sadly, wasn’t getting) as the standard. If the forthcoming parts of the series solve the layout and presentation issues, they will be a solid addition to a GM’s module library.No playtesters were listed for this adventure. Geoffrey McKinney and his products are not affiliated with Wizards of the Coast. Wizards of the Coast and their products are not affiliated with Geoffrey McKinney.

Rating: *** / *****
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

State of The Tavern - Milestones Met and a Special Guest

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 18:48

Its been a pretty big week here at The Tavern.

First, we hit 200+ members of the Tavern's Discord server last night Simply an amazing amount of interaction in so little time.

Today we surpassed 1800 members in The Tavern's Facebook Community, putting us within throwing distance of 2000 members by the end of November, its two year anniversary.

Going back to last night, its official - Bill Webb stated there will be a room for Rach and I at Gamehole, so we are going! You be able to find me (and Rach) most often at the Frog God booth I suspect.

Talking about Bill Webb, he dropped into last night's Tavern Chat - specifically the voice chat at 9 PM Pacific - which means midnight eastern, and stuck around for an hour doing what Bill does best - being Bill. If you've ever met Bill at a convention, last night felt like that. If you haven't, you need to drop into Tavern Chat one Wednesday night. Bill will be coming back but there is no set schedule. A wonderful time was has by all.

This morning I did the number and for the month of September I'll be able to pay myself minimum wage for two hours a day for the 30 days. And we are only at the 21st of the month. We are within easy striking distance of $300 in affiliate monies earned at RPGNow for me to commit to posting small adventure for free at The Tavern in the month October. If all funding hits $500 or better for the month of September (RPGNow, Patreon, Paypal subscriptions and Adsense) I promised to present a well detailed NPC for SWL / SWC, including adventure hooks. That is also within spitting distance. Thank you all for the support. You have no idea how much it means to me.

In the meantime - Game On!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reskinning magic items

Blog of Holding - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 18:06

An easy way to customize magic items is to take an item’s power and attach it to a different object: boots of flying becomes an umbrella of flying, for instance. Apart from armor and weapons, pretty much everything else is interchangeable. Here are some d20 lists for reskinning items.

Note: you can roll once per item type and use the result throughout a certain dungeon. For instance, all potions in the Berserkers Freehold are actually applications of woad.

1: an entire gallon of wine which must be completely consumed
2-11: just a boring ol’ potion
12: facepaint, rouge, or woad
13: drug-tipped needle that you need to jam into your arm
14: rare herb (give it a name: potion of storm giant strength = “galeroot”, etc)
15: smelling salts
16: scroll containing a 2-line rhyming incantation
17: pearl that must be eaten, or something else that people don’t usually eat like a scorpion or spiderweb
18: torch: potion affects whoever lights the torch
19: pinch of fairy dust
20: one-use ring: its magic is activated when it is removed or destroyed

1: metal hand, pegleg, glass eye. can only be worn if you are missing the appropriate body part
2-11: just a ring
12-13: +1 dagger: you can activate a spell or power only as part of an attack, or alternatively by giving yourself one of those ritual palm cuts you see in like every fantasy movie (doing yourself 1 point of damage)
14-15: other jewelry (necklace, tiara, earring, bracelet, crown of living flowers)
16: ever-full box of snuff, candies, or pills which must be attuned to you. Taking a dose activates the item’s powers for 12 hours
17: fantastic hat with 1d6 feathers and a brim of 2d20 inches
18: a blessing which someone bestows on you. You can transfer the benefits by saying the blessing to someone else
19: signet ring. Only functions if you are part of the family or organization specified by the ring. or it’s a wedding ring and it only functions if you’re married.
20: signet ring. Choose another random magic ring. When the signet ring is turned in, it acts as ring 1. When the signet is turned out, it acts as ring 2

1: puzzle cube that must be solved to use a power (1 action per attempt, Int or Wis check DC 10)
2-10: just a rod, staff, or wand
11: umbrella. Every use of a charge changes the umbrella’s state in some way (open/close, handle extended, inside out, etc)
12: trumpet or horn or gong or basically anything else where activating a power is extremely loud
13: monocle: putting it on allows you to activate a power, letting it fall comically out of your eye activates another
14: bag of something weird, like teeth: throw one to activate
15: gemmed crown: each gem activates a different power
16: spoon, fork, or knife: activate a power by eating
17: glove: powers can’t be activated while the glove is holding anything
18: glowing orb, or giant and obviously expensive jewel
19: whip: powers activated by cracking the whip
20: a familiar which bonds to the owner (as if the owner had cast Find Familiar). The familiar can activate the magic item’s abilities

1: heavy stone tablet
2-11: just a scroll
12: a specific braid in someone’s hair: may be copied like a scroll, but only into someone else’s hair. When the spell is expended, the hair unbraids itself
13: tiny spirit who can cast spells. Flits around you and casts spells at your command; leaves when all spells are expended
14: belt pouch containing one peculiar coin per spell. Spell is cast when you flip the coin. On a heads, the coin is not expended; on a tails, the coin disappears
15: deck of spell cards: contains 6 spells but you can’t decide which one to cast, you have to pull one randomly from the deck and toss it like that one X Man
16: graffiti nonsense words which sear themselves upon your retina until you read them aloud
17: spell is written on the last page of an otherwise mundane book
18: verse of a song which can be sung as an action. No one can sing the verse more than once. However, anyone else, regardless of class, who hears it may make a DC 15 Intelligence check to learn it. Bards have advantage
19-20: jewel: any user, regardless of class or level, can cast the spell by shattering the jewel

1: something large and/or breakable, like a piano, alchemical setup, rug, or statue
2-11: as written in the item description
12: mirror, map, painting, certificate, or something else in a frame
13: key, keyring, bottle opener, coin purse, handkerchief, string, or anything else which is often kept in ordinary pocketses
14: gamepiece from a set, such as a chessman or die or playing card. Find the rest of the gamepieces! Each has the powers of a different wondrous item!
15: sock, necktie, cummerbund, garter, shawl, or other rarely-magical article of clothing
16: book
17-19: roll up another random wondrous item. It looks like item 2 but has the powers of item 1
20: it’s sharp, or on a stick, or it fires lasers, or something, and can be wielded as a +1 weapon (+2 if very rare, +3 if legendary)

OK, now I’ll randomly roll up one of each of the item categories (selecting the first of each type from and then rolling on my charts) and see if I come up with good items.

Potion of Superior Healing; roll of 16, Rhyming Incantation: An astrological star chart which contains the couplet “Sun and Moon, heal my wound.” Read the words aloud and be healed 8d4+8 HP, and the star chart incinerates.

Ring of Warmth; roll of 6: just a Ring of Warmth. Boring! Roll again! 17. Hat. A dragoon hat with a phoenix feather plume and a 15-inch brim. Wearing it grants you resistance to cold damage and immunity to cold above -50 F, but makes it hard for you to walk through narrow doors.

Tentacle Rod; roll of 14, bag of something weird: A bag of beaks. As an action, you can throw up to 3 beaks (range 15): make a ranged attack with a +9 bonus. On a hit, each beak does 1d6 piercing damage. If you hit a target with all 3, you do all the fun Tentacle Rod stuff (DC 15 Con save or be agonized till it makes its save, etc).

Spell scroll (Ray of Frost); roll of 20, gem: A frost-covered sapphire. Throw it on the ground to shatter it and a Ray of Frost leaps out at a target of your choosing.

Saddle of the Cavalier; roll of 9, key: a horsehead-handled key. While you’re mounted on any beast with a saddle, you can magically insert the key into the saddle and lock or unlock it. While the saddle is locked, you can’t be dismounted and attack rolls against the mount have disadvantage.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[STUFF] Zuard Castle: Domains of the Faerie Princes (LVL 1)

Beyond Fomalhaut - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 15:06
Beware the bucket! This dungeon level was created in response to Jon Salway's challenge to reimagine the Dungeon of the Ground Goblins with a minimal OD&D key. There will no doubt be many entries, but this is mine, created in a quiet hour on a rainy afternoon. The main challenge was to make it all fit in a typewriter font, and with a little nudging, it worked out. There are traces of both the original and Paul Cook's revision in there, and references to dungeon levels and puzzles you will never see (probably). It is probably a bit heavier on flavoured encounters than a real OD&D megadungeon would be, and way more densely packed, but them's the breaks.Download (400k)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Seven of the Ten Bestselling Titles on RPGNow are OSR Titles

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:04

Wow. Look at the above screenshot.

#1 - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

#2 - The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia

#3 - White Star: Galaxy Edition

#5 - Villains & Vigilantes 3.0 Mighty Protectors

#8 - B/X Essentials: Core Rules

#9 - BLUEHOLME: Journeyman Rules

#10- Wormskin Issue #7

7 out of 10 of the current best sellers at RPGNow are OSR / Old School releases. Interesting.

One DriveThruRPG? 1 out of 10.

Yep, that's an affiliate link right above this. 5% of all sales go to support The Tavern. Thank you in advance.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Azurth Adventures Digest Review

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:00
Over at Enworld Chris Helton has a review of the Azurth Adventure Digest. Check it out if your still on the fence about purchasing it. You might want to hurry, though, I have less than 30 copies of the print copy left in this printing.

OSR Echoes Of 'The Old Earth' Setting Adventure Locations & Commentaries

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 02:56
Meanwhile last night I dug out my copy of C.L.Moore's Northwest Smith stories, Clark Ashton Smith, a bit Robert Howard, and some of the usual H.P.Lovecraft tales. This puts me right back square into the territory of Leigh Brackett. The post colonial world of Old Earth is three ticks from when the 'stars come right'. And this age is  a repeat of Clark Ashton Smith's Hyperborean cycle  The Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Its Here! White Star: Galaxy Edition in PDF has Released!

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 09/21/2017 - 02:25

The update many of us have been waiting for is here - White Star: Galaxy Edition has arrived. You've read White Star I hope (PWYW) . Well, this is all that and more. White Star is my go to OSR sci-fi ruleset and as it's built off of Swords & Wizardry White Box, you already know much of the rules ;) The White Star: Galaxy Edition is $9.99 in PDF - hardcover is coming soon.Ace Pilots, dead-eyed Gunslingers, and irrepressible Star Squirrels blast off across the stars to save the galaxy from the horrors of the Void! Hellfire Mecha march across the battlefield, leaving carnage in their wake! From the galactic center of Omega Consor to the Manrash System on the edge of the universe, the galaxy needs heroes! Endless galactic adventure awaits you in White Star: Galaxy Edition! Integrated and updated to include material from White Star and the White Star Companion, White Star: Galaxy Edition integrates new rules, new options, and expands the original game. Now more than just a tool box, White Star: Galaxy Edition offers you a universe full of thrilling adventure! White Star: Galaxy Edition includes: 
  • Twenty-five character classes!
  • Complete rules for Starship, Vehicle, and Mecha combat!
  • New Starship and Vehicle Modifications!
  • New Aliens and Creatures!
  • New Equipment, Advanced Technology, and Cybernetics!
  • New Meditations and Gifts!
  • Two new forms of Mysticism: The tribal Etchings of the Yabnab and strange Chitterings of the Star Squirrels!
  • New Optional Rules, like Deeds Dark & Daring, to add pulp sci-fi heroics to your game!
  • New Star Systems: The rugged Marnash Sector and strange Scuiridae System!
  • White Star: Galaxy Edition is compatible with all previous White Star products and can be seemlessly integrated into White Box and other OSR material!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Figure Forge 103: Sturnhammer for Warpath w/Magnets

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 23:01

In this Figure Forge Matt assembles the Sturnhammer Battle Tank and the Drakkar APC for the Forge Fathers.  He uses magnets to demonstrate how easy it is to convert your kit.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I had a lot of fun putting the Sturnhammer together for Skip

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Picks for the RPGNow September Setting Sale - 33% off select PDFs - Part IV (Classic TSR Settings - Oh my!)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 22:34
RPGNow is running a September Setting Sale with thousands of titles in the mix. That's a lot to sort through. I'm going to try to pick out some of my personal favorites that are OSR or system neutral over a small series of posts (although one or two may creep in from outside those parameters) Part 1 is here.  Part II is here. Part III is here.

The Great Pendragon Campaign - I've owned every edition since the original boxed set :) "For 1500 years King Arthur’s story has been told around campfires, in noble courts, in taverns, books, movies and now, with the prize-winning King Arthur Pendragon roleplaying game, at your game table. The Great Pendragon Campaign begins during the reign of Arthur’s father King Uther, when player knights can participate in the events of Arthur’s conception. The long and brutal Interregnum of Saxon wars is forever altered when Arthur draws the Sword from the Stone to start his great and glorious reign. The Boy King leads his knights through periods of consolidation and expansion until the entire Western world is brought under his sway. Then, to High Adventure! Knights gain Glory and lands in the periods of Romance and Tournaments, and at last engage in the greatest adventure of all, The Quest for the Holy Grail. Then, amidst tragedy and broken dreams, the Twilight Period draws the epic to a close. Eighty years of campaign detailed year-by-year provide the background, on-going events and adventures that define structure of King Arthur’s glorious reign.The Magic is in The Details, and The Details are in This Book."  24.99  16.74

Dark Sun Boxed Set (2e) - this is the classic dark setting from the 2e era of AD&D - aside from Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms it is the setting I ran the most - "Amid the barren wastelands of Athas lie the scattered city-states, each in the grip of its own, tyrannical sorcerer-king. Protecting their own positions with dark magic, they demand absolute obedience. The restless mobs are placated with bread and circuses --the arenas overflow with spectators seeking release from their harsh lives. The land outside the cities belong to no one. Savage elves race across the deserts while insectoid Thri-Kreen satisfy their taste for blood. Dwarves labor at projects beyond the scope of men, and feral halflings lie in ambush.  Athas is a land of deadly magic and powerful psionics that offers promise of glory or even of survival. Those who do not have the cunning to face life on Athas will surely perish - leaving nothing but bones bleached white under the blistering rays of the DARK SUN."  9.99  6.69

Planescape Campaign Setting (2e) - probably the setting I wish I had run more in the 2e days - so many awesome settings - "Discover the multiverse! Enter infinite universes of infinite variety, worlds beyond the prime-material settings of the AD&D game. Explore Sigil, the City of Doors, filled with portals to every layer of every plane. All you need is the right key, including. . . A Player's Guide to the Planes: A 32-page primer that introduces DMs and players alike to the grand design of the multiverse. A DM's Guide to the Planes: A 64-page book of valuable information solely for the Dungeon Master. Sigil and Beyond: A 96-page gazetteer that introduces Sigil and its surrounding plane as the starting point for planar adventures. From Sigil all the Outer Planes may be sampled by novice and veteran explorers alike. Monstrous Supplement: a 32-page, full-color Monstrous Compendium booklet. Four poster-size maps depicting the planes. A four-panel DM screen designed especially for planar campaigns. Until now, only the most powerful wizards could peek into the magnificent multiverse, but no longer! Gone are the unimaginable distances and the insurmountable obstacles that only the ultrapowerful could hope to overcome. Now even the greenest adventurer can enter the planes, though surviving long is another matter . . . Have at it, berk! Powers, proxies, planars, petitioners, and wondrous monsters await just beyond the portal. Step through and partake of the infinite excitement of Planescape."  9.99  6.69

World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1e) - the setting I quite simply ran all my campaigns in during the 1e era starting with the folio and then with this boxed set as well as much of the 2e era - I can't say enough about it - "Enter the WORLD OF GREYHAWK ...A world where bandit kings raid from their remote stronghold; ...A world where noble elves fight savage invaders and where bold knights wage war on the terror of Iuz; ...A world scarred by a vast Sea of Dust, across which drift lost memories from the awful forgotten past. Enter a World of Wonder & Intrigue... Fantasy Game Setting for a panoramic view of this fantastic place. More than a collection of maps and names, it is an active world filled with decaying empires and dark forests. Game elements include the gods of Greyhawk, the clash of political factions, and encounters in this wild land." 9.99  6.69

Note - Greyhawk Adventures (1e/2e) (this is the book, not the folio or the box) is also 6.69

Ravenloft Campaign Setting, Revised, Boxed Set (2e) - I never ran a Ravenloft campaign but I ran a bunch of ons-shots where my regular party would find themselves in a demi-plane - "This new edition of the RAVENLOFT game combines the original Realm of Terror boxed set with elements of Forbidden Lore and updated rules from other accessories. Domains destroyed in the infamous Grand Conjunction have been deleted, new domains added, and key personalities detailed.  This boxed set includes: Realm of Terror - a 160-page book of rules concerning the reshaping of character classes; fear, horror, madness, and powers checks; curses; spells and magical items,both new and old; psionics; techniques of terror; and more. Domains and Denizens - a 128-page book describing the dark lands of the Core, the islands of terror, and many nefarious personages. Two maps depicting the reshaped Core domains and the islands of terror. A poster featuring a painting by artist Robh Ruppel. A tarokka deck of beautifully illustrated cards for role-playing fortunetelling. A DM screen specifically designed to be used with a RAVENLOFT campaign." 9.99  6.69

Purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links help to support The Tavern. Additionally, if we generate $300 or more via OBS affiliate referral monies, I've promised to release a short adventure in the month of October for free on The Tavern. Just under 47 bucks to go. If we surpass $300, I'll look to invest the extra monies into original art or cartography for the adventure.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Tavern Chat - Tonight - 9PM Eastern for Text - 930 PM Eastern for Voice

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 18:57

The weekly Tavern Chat has been an overwhelming success since migrating to The Tavern's Discord Server. Both text and voice chat have been breakouts, with 22 folks signed into the voice server at one point last Wednesday night. Chat usually ends around 11 PM - we kept it going in the voice channel until 115 in the morning.

Quick things to point out. This is a community gathering. Please be considerate of others that might want to participate in the voice chat. I had some feedback that 2 or 3 voices controlled most of the voice chat, and in retrospect, that is correct. I know we all have something we want to add to the conversation, but please, be considerate of others. I don't want to be put in a position to mute certain people for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, but I will if needed. Don't make that a need.

For those that need a link to The Tavern's Discord Server, its below:

You'll initially find yourself in The Common Room, out general chat channel that is active 24/7.

For tonight's chat, you'll want to join Tavern-Chat-9PM-Eastern for the text channel and Open Bar for the voice channel.

See you all tonight :)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DC Bombshells Trading Cards - Sketch Card Previews, Part 14

Cryptozoic - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 18:15

Please enjoy the fourteenth installment of our DC Bombshells Trading Cards Sketch Card previews, hand-drawn by our talented artists. Links to contact the artists can be found below the images of their Sketch Cards.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Free RPG - vs. Stranger Stuff (80's inspired horror / etc)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 15:27

Halloween is 6 weeks away. It might be time for some Halloween game prep and at what better price than free ;) If it can be used to reimagine Stranger Things, it might be even better...vs. Stranger Stuff is a mini-rpg of 80’s inspired adventure/horror/ sci-fi, typically involving children and teens. Of course we were in influenced by the recent hit Netflix series Stranger Things, but also those great films that inspired that series. What does this mean? It means that a game of vs. Stranger Stuff will involve you playing an adolescent during the 1980’s going against strange and unusual adversaries (often supernatural) with the aid of your loyal group of childhood friends.  vs. Stranger Stuff is a complete roleplaying game using the VsM Engine in a slimmed down and quick to use format. Experienced gamers will have no problem creating interesting characters, learning the rules, and starting a game. All you need is paper, pencils, and a deck of playing cards.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic and Warner Bros. Consumer Products Announce Release of DC Bombshells Trading Cards

Cryptozoic - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 13:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, today announced the September 27 release of DC Bombshells Trading Cards. The 63-card Base Set and four Chase Sets feature art from the covers of the DC Bombshells comic book series—including drawings by Ant Lucia—and from DC Bombshells variant covers of other comic books, as well as the illustrations used to create Cryptozoic’s DC Bombshells and Lil Bombshells figures. Each hobby box contains one rare “Golden Goddess” variant of a DC Lil Bombshells 2.75-inch vinyl figure: Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, or Supergirl.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 11:20

By Ben Laurence
Necrotic Gnome Productions
Labyrinth Lord
Level … 4?

This is a 25 page adventure in the From the Vats zine. It describes a five level dungeon with 32 rooms of a sunken palace/home of a LONG dead sorcerer lord. It brings the OD&D and does a GREAT job of describing a slightly alien environment, underwater wizard, that is still approachable by the players. It brings the weird and it JUST on the normal side of gonzo, clearly D&D and yet a GREAT environment. The picture of OD&D. Vivid imagery, great encounters, weird treasure. It’s let down by the formatting, and deserves a second edition that formats it better. Oh, it’s been a great week! TWO great adventures this week, and, weirdly, both with an underwater component and/or ruins sticking out of the water. I’m bouncing in my chair; a clear indicator of being excited.

Crumbling steps spill from the shore directly in to the sea. A seaweed choked stone path can be glimpsed winding down in to the depths. A broken onion dome sticks out of the water, forlorn, the roost of seagulls. That’s good. It conjures up imagery and feelings. You build the rest of it in your head and any description that does that is the BEST kind of description. SHort. Puchy. Evocative. Easy to scan. It injects a seed deep in to your imagination and you get to build from it, the way a brain does.

Here’s another example: “A glass column dominates the center of the room, through which runs an eerie beam of green light. The column is cracked and filled with water; where the cracks show, motes of green light spill from the glass into the surrounding water. The light emanates from a hole in the ceiling at the top of the glass column. At its bottom, copper tubes run from its base into the wall. Clustered around the cracks in the column are many Luminous Jellies” That does a GREAT job of building a picture of the room. Great language, building, what do I see first and then what do I notice. I should also note that is just about my limit on schnitzengruben. Any longer and we get in to Pay Per Word dreck and problems with scanning. That description length is right at the limit of what I can stand to reference during play.

There’s reference material located after those descriptions. A description of the curse if you steal the giant pearl, or what happens when you touch the thing. The writing here is focused in a way that few adventures are. Evocative. Terse. To the point. Focused on PLAY.

The encounters proper are great. A floor, red from silt, that can get stirred up … FILLED WITH RED PARASITIC WORMS! Aiiii! Things floating on/above pedastals that you can fuck with, flicking quartz balls, a necrophidius that FEELS like it should be here! Traps of rapidly growing razor coral to trap you. The entire place FEELs dangerous, and wondrous, and alien,

I love almost everything about this adventure. There’s a nice little overview that describes the environment around the palace … as seen by the party when they approach. I wish more adventures did that to orient both the DM and players. The wanderers feel fresh, and those with a little description (more than just stats) have great little one and two sentence writeups. Those without don’t seem to need like, like schools of fish or luminous jellies floating by. They feel RIGHT and you want to use them and describe them. You’re excited as your mind races to find uses. The treasure is great, lots to loot in both “normal” treasure and in inlay pried from unremovable things and in the weird and wonderful magic items. There’s great guidelines for restocking and continuing time within the place as the party may return. Even the fucking underwater rules presented, one just one page, are not odious … which is indeed a feat! ANd the map, because it’s underwater, is essentially three dimensional with multiple entrances in to the location.

It does have a formatting problem. It’s BARELY acceptable. It generally keeps most of the description in the first-ish paragraph and DM’ish notes/reference material in the second paragraph … and that’s what I mean by barely acceptable. It’s uses single column, large text, and little formatting otherwise except giving some shading to monster stats to make them easier to pull out (great!) What this needs is some bullet points, indentation, more breaks, and occasionally a sentence moved around from the description to the notes and vicey versey. Techniques to improve the scannability and readability of the adventure. As is it veers quite close to the Wall of Text. That USUALLY means too many words but I think this is the rare example of focused writing that STILL faces Wall of Text issues. The rooms that use more breaks, and italics, and indentation (like room 15m the Hall of Bio Horrors) are the more readable ones.

Do Not be deterred! This thing is great! I’m fond of saying that most underwater adventures don’t FEEL like underwater adventures. This is by far the closest I’ve seen. It feels like a different environment, with the descriptions and encounters to match. Easily a keeper, even if it DOES deserve a second edition to take care of the formatting issues.

It’s included as a part of the From the Vats zine/thing. It’s $0 on DriveThru, which means you would be a FOOL to not pick it up, if for no other reason than to argue with me. The preview is of the zine, but the adventure is first in the thing so you get to see some of it. It’s just the wanderers table and the intro/overview, but I like both of those and while not the strongest parts of the adventure, they are QUITE above average.

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Changes to The Tavern's Patreon and other Funding Goals / Rewards

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 04:06

Well, its been a few weeks in the making but The Tavern has tweaked its funding goals over on The Tavern's Patreon. Currently the Patreon is at $115 a month.

  • At the $100 level, you get a monster for Swords & Wizardry Light once a week, posted at The Tavern - Midweek Monster Mayhem - We are there :)
  • At the $125 level, you get a magic item for Swords & Wizardry Light once a week posted at The Tavern. We are almost there and I've been posting them even though we have been short - Weekend Wonders.
Further goals include:
  • $150 - Compiling the weekly entries into monthly PDFs and emailing copies to all backers at $1.50 or higher
  • $175 - Increase the monsters to twice a week.
  • $200 - That good old OSROnline Con using Discord and Roll20 (and maybe Fantasy Grounds)
  • $225 - Increase the magic items to twice a week.

Additionally, there are other funding goals as The Tavern is also funded in other manners. Each month The Tavern raises $300 or more in RPGNow affiliate monies, I'll write a small adventure for SWL and post it at The Tavern. The Tavern is currently funded at $242 for the month of September.

If the total of all monies raised is $500 or more in a given month (Patreon, RPGNow affiliate, Amazon Affiliate and Adsense) I'll stat out a "drop and play" NPC for SWL, complete with background, motivations and adventure seeds)

I appreciate all of the support The Tavern receives from readers like you. Thank you all.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A WTF Kickstarter - Erotic Adventures - Third party sexy adventure rules (for 5e)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:55

Alright. See the pic above for the Erotic Adventures Kickstarter (for 5e). That literally tells you more than the boilerplate.

Yep, that's the whole "sell". I get it. Its over the top. There is a way to do this with some class (Venger comes to mind) and then there is this. And yes, its funded.

Oh, I don't think you can actually mention D&D in the backer levels - and my, what backer levels they are. Here's just a sampling.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

What's Shiny? September 2017 Edition

19th Level - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 02:21

Continuing the occasional series of shiny stuff that is capable of distracting me...

The fortunate thing is there's a new edition of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea that just came out. It's good when the shiny is actually what you are currently playing - and that it's backwards compatible.

We're going to be down to just three of us for a few games in late-September early-October so we might be doing a standalone adventure/two-parter. I've been giving some serious consideration to Cthulhu Dark as I'm curious how we'll find the extremely lean rules system.

I've been doing a lot of espionage viewing and reading over the past month or so. It's resulted in me flipping through Top Secret a lot - though I am finding the hand to hand combat rules a bit tough on the brain. I've also been thinking about Cthulhu and company in such a setting. There's a bunch of games and/or supplements designed just for that... I've been rereading Charles Stross's Laundry Files series, about a secret British spy agency dedicated to protecting the Earth from eldritch abominations - all while making certain they stay ISO 9001 certified. The novels have a dark humor to them, one Cubicle 7's RPG preserves. Getting a little (a lot) grittier, we have the Delta Green RPG. And finally I can think of the World War Cthulhu: Cold War RPG supplements from Cubicle 7.

Getting away from tentacles for a while, with a new Star Wars movie perpetually on the horizon, there is the eternal distraction of doing a Star Wars game... It's been a while since I thought about a Star Trek game, but with a new RPG just out and a new show about to begin...

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[BLOG] Don’t Nick the Bucket: Further Zine Insights into Early D&D

Beyond Fomalhaut - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 20:38
The buckets are not what they seem.” The well-known proverb has never been so right as in the following case of doppelgängers, endless corridors, and wooden buckets. Actually, I stole the topic of this post from a G+ discussion, where Jon Salway posted the front page of a flyer Games Workshop used to promote OD&D in 1976, and Zach H followed it up with the reverse, displaying an example mini-dungeon called The Dungeons of the Ground Goblins, penned by none other but Steve Jackson (the Fighting Fantasy author, not the GURPS designer). Apologies in advance to everyone involved, but theft is a small price to pay for reposting this tiny piece of D&D history – and this is a story about theft anyway.
Readers of this blog might remember a post from March discussing the early days of D&D fandom in Britain, as seen through the scanned issues of Chimaera, one of the country’s many Diplomacy zines. The pièce de résistance is found in issue #18, with an introductory article penned by one Paul Cook, a resident of the Isle of Wight, and containing a sample dungeon level offering a selection of the tricks and encounters you might find in your typical D&D game. I praised the level for its simple ingenuity, complexity and varied challenges, an obscure but cool example of early game design. Was it one of Paul Cook’s levels from Castle Hope, his personal megadungeon? Or was this a one-off to showcase the game for zine readers? Could there be more to it hidden away in an ancient campaign folder? Was Paul Cook still around somewhere to share it? Material like that invites a lot of speculation. Then I came across the post linked above, and it turned my theories right on my head.
Looking at the two sample levels reveals an uncanny resemblance. The first thing I noticed was the endless corridor – “Great! A common trope circulating in British D&D fandom,” I thought. This was followed by another discovery: there was that bucket again. Yes, like the one from Chimaera, this sample level also contains a bucket encounter, its “no special significance” once again sure to terrorise and frustrate the players. Then I started to pay proper attention and look closer, and noted all the other ways the two dungeons mirror each other.
  • The way the level is laid out and the rooms are clustered isn’t identical, but it is eerily similar, with a southern axis connecting two downwards stairs along a linear corridor, and two main branches/room groups to the north. That room complex to the southeast is fairly blatant – you just can’t miss how similar the two versions are. There is something similar going on with a looped corridor to the east, although it leads to different rooms, and has different surroundings.
  • There is something mysteriously described as a “space room” in Cook’s level, dropping the players down to Level 5. It is a fuzzy, irregular kind of place, although not a full-blown cavern – a small grotto off one of the corridors. The explanation is found in Jackson’s level: the transport mechanism is a “space warp”, and it leads to Level 4.
  • The level connections are similar: there is the entrance (from a “house in the village” in Cook’s version, and the “base of a hollow trunk” in Jackson’s), two stairs down to level 2 on opposite sides of Level 1 (this struck me as a really cool feature), a sloping passage to Level 3, the “space room” to Level 5/4, and a trap door/pit to Level 7/5. The only thing that doesn’t map across the levels is a sliding door to Level 3 found in Cook’s version, and there only.
  • The monster encounters are less straightforward to compare, but both levels have a room with a zillion goblins – in Cook’s version, there are 40 of them in room 17, guarding 100 gp and a ring of tree wishes (yikes!), and in Jackson’s, they have a force of 30 in the large room 14, only carrying a measly 150 gp among the lot, and having some information to share. Five orcs guarding 50 gp and a +1 sword become five berserkers carrying 25 gp each, and the leader wielding a +1 sword. A powerful Wizard disguised as a harmless old man in Cook’s version crops up as a “dungeon caretaker” who can answer questions in room 10. Cook’s version has a minotaur guarding 20 gp and a curse scroll, Jackson’s has a gorgon with a pretty damn good treasure horde.

It is almost certain Jackson’s dungeon level was first – the corruption of the “space room” seems to confirm it, and the dates match: it was first published in the May 1976 issue of the UK Games and Puzzles, in September 1976 in the US People’s Computers, and in February 1977 on the promo fliers seen in Jon’s G+ post. Interestingly, if Paul Cook copied his dungeon from Steve Jackson, he must have done it very quickly, as a first impression: Chimaera #18 is dated June 1976, a mere one month after the dungeon’s original appearance – but not on promo material; rather, in a general gaming magazine. Considering zine production times, it is not impossible (Chimaera had a brisk publication schedule with up to two issues a month), but it is still impressive in its own way.
All in all, it is almost surely Steve’s dungeon. And yet, in an odd way, Paul Cook’s much rougher revision comes out not as a degradation, but as an improvement. Beyond the elements already discussed, Jackson’s dungeon mostly consists of monster lairs with treasure. Cook’s dungeon, on the other hand, has a shrinking room that crushes careless players, an acid fountain, the wizard-as-old-man thing, and unbalanced monster/treasure combinations which are likely the results of random generation, but are bound to be interesting precisely because they raise interesting questions. This time, the goblin lair is not to the side, but it is chock in the middle of the southern section, potentially blocking descent to Level 2 in both directions. The goblins are just numerous enough to pose a genuine risk for low-level parties, but they have an attractive prize in the form of the ring of three wishes. That’s an interesting dilemma right there. The treasures are more random, but they are also more interesting – the minotaur’s curse scroll? The orcs’ fear wand? There is something there that’s not there in the less unbalanced, but more pedestrian Jackson version. I am more interested in learning what lies under Cook’s Level 1 than Jackson’s (granted, there was probably nothing).
It is also odd how this thing happened at all. What was Cook thinking when he appropriated and republished Jackson’s much better circulated dungeon level instead of building a similar one from sketch? Was it because it had the aura of semi-official status since it was published in a real magazine? And then what about the changes he had made to the original design? It is one of the uncanny little mysteries we will probably never learn the answer to, and yet it remains fascinating over 40 years later. It is one story among many, and it is – my sincere apologies – more than just a drop in the bucket.
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