Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Your help is needed for Jim Kramer of Usherwood Publishing

Bat in the Attic - Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:52
OSRIC along with the Basic Fantasy RPG ignited the OSR as we know it today. Jim Kramer is part of the OSRIC community and through his company, Usherwood Publishing, offered a print version of the OSRIC rules as well as his own works.

Jim and his family need your help. The OSRIC community explains,
You may know Jim Kramer from his Usherwood Publishing modules & supplements, or his work helping produce works like OSRIC and Knockspell. You probably didn’t know Jim had multiple brain surgeries to remove tumors, and the battle has gotten much harder. To help Jim and his family during this difficult time, a group of his friends, collaborators, and first edition enthusiasts banded together to make this fundraiser fanzine, where all royalties go directly to Jim and his family.To this end the Saving Throw fanzine was created.  You can look over the table of contents and buy the Saving Throw fanzine from this link. Or look over his store and if something interests you buy something from there.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Further OSR Commentary On The Free 'Old Mars' Downloads For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 16:31
So I'm making some notes and doing some adjustments to my Old Mars material, this means cracking open one of my favorites by Leigh Brackett, Clark Ashton Smith, and C.L. Moore. Here's some thoughts and ideas for background on my next cycle of 'Old Mars' adventure setting material. For me cracking open a copy of Sea Kings of Mars from Thrilling Wonder Stories v34n02 (1949 06) is pretty much Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary On The Basic Dungeons & Dragons Adventure 'M4 Five Coins For A Kingdom' By Allen Varney For Your Old School High Level Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 15:16
"In an instant, the city of Lighthall vanishes from you very midst! In its place come five coins of amazing powers - power to transport you to a realm of fantastic worlds and incredible magic. In this realm, islands float in air and vast armies battle at the brink of oblivion. The return of Lighthall depends on the defeat of one man: the evil enchanter, Durhan the Conqueror.Surrounding himself Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Journey's End (for now), the Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches has been released!

Bat in the Attic - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 15:01
I am pleased to announce the release of Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches. This is the fourth of four products covering the eighteen maps that encompasses the Judges Guild Wilderlands setting. This product covers four of the maps as detailed below. The four sets combined will cover a region equal in size to Western Europe providing years and decades of adventuring for you and your group.

Unlike many setting products, the Wilderlands sketches out the overview and history in light detail. Then presents a comprehensive list of local detail in a compact format that is customizable. This eliminates much of the tedious work involved in creating a setting and allows the referee to focus on the campaign and the grand adventures the players face as their characters.

This is presented as two products both in PDF and Print on Demand.

The first product is a 44 page guidebook containing a brief overview of and commentary on Maps Fifteen to Map Eighteen of the Wilderlands along with lists covering details on Villages, Castles, Lairs, Ruins, and Islands.

Due to the extensive use of monsters from the supplements to the original edition, this release details 7 monsters and provides full statistics suitable for use with Swords and Wizardry and similar RPGs.

The Guidebook for the Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches also includes charts, tables, and rules concerning the Triumphant Grand Tactical mapping system used by the Wilderlands, how to build strongholds, and establishing baronies. In addition information has been added on the demographics of the Wilderlands along with new rules governing pastoral and nomadic cultures. Because Tula, the City of Wizards, plays a prominent role in this region, rules for potion and magic item creations has been included. Finally as the Isle of the Blest straddles the corners of four maps, a combined map and list has been added as a bonus chapter. This includes the background originally written by Scott Fulton in Pegasus #3.

Included with the Guidebook are letter sized blank map of the Wilderlands that can be used to take notes during a campaign. A PDF with the map legend. A letter size black and white guide to the placement of each of the 18 maps within the Wilderlands.

Finally a giant sized preliminary version of the master map that I used to crop the individual maps from. With the right printer this can be printed as a full scale map 5 feet wide and 8 feet long. With the PDF you can selectively copy out regions as complete maps that overlap the borders of the 18 maps. After the release of the final set of maps this file will be updated as a layered PDF allowing for custom maps of the Wilderlands to be copied or created.



The second product is a set of four maps:  Isles of the Dawn Map Fifteen, Southern Reaches Map Sixteen, Silver Skein Isles Map Seventeen, and Ghinor Highlands Map Eighteen. When ordered via print on the demand they are printed in two overlapping halves each on a 12" by 18" poster. In addition each map is presented as a 22" by 17" PDF file.

The maps have been redrawn from the original in a color style. Instead of the distinct symbols of the original maps, terrain has been drawn as a transparent fill and vegetation represented by colored areas. This allows both terrain and vegetation to overlap. Representing more accurately the complexity and diversity of the Wilderland's geography.

This release is the final book in a series of four covering the Wilderlands of High Fantasy.

A preview PDF

The Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches Guidebook

The Wilderlands of the Fantastic Reaches Map


Bundles

I now offer bundles of all four sets of guidebooks and maps at 25% off buying separately. There are four bundles two sets of print or PDF for the guidebooks, and two sets of print or PDF for the maps. DrivethruRPG doesn't allow maps and books to be mixed in the same bundle (or order).

Wilderlands Guidebook Bundle (PDF)
Wilderlands Guidebook Bundle (Print)
Wilderlands Map Bundle (PDF) 
Wilderlands Map Bundle (Print)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - High Level Play, AD&D Deities & Demi Gods, & Operatic Old School Campaigns With 'Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung)'

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 14:54
So another GenCon is on us & social media is a buzz with the latest Con news, numerous pictures, etc. All my best to my young friends & family that are there.The amount of buzz coming out this year's GenCon reminds me of  Eighty Four & the year I learned about some important lessons on campaign management.If you're following me on G+  then you probably know that I've twisted my ankle pretty Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

New OSR Lovecraftian Adventure Campaign Location - Olathoë The Eternal

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 04:36
When the stars started coming right & old Earth  began to grow weird & hoary in its ways. The skies were filled with the terrible light from the star Polaris & Aldebaran shone in the East was there a strange rending as the whole cloth of reality split open once again. The seas boiled & the land buckled as Olathoe in the land of Lomar came back into the world of man with a vengeance! The long Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Sword & Sorcery Hex Crawling, Campaign Comprise, & Vault of the Dwarven King From Maximum Mayhem Dungeons Actual Play

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 03:11
Sometimes you've got to go back to basics & in this case its working out the internal adventure elements of our 'Old Solar System' campaign. So last night I popped a couple of beers with a friend & watched Ralph Bakshi's Fire & Ice. When your getting into Fire & Ice your getting into some of the top talent in the fields of animation, fantasy artwork, film production, artwork, etc. including Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

More Operatic Campaign Design Memories & Commentary With X13 Crown Of Ancient Glory by Stephen Bourne

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 02:54
So last night I was watching some 'Jonny Quest' episodes with my father on a Wednesday night, hey that's just how we roll in my family folks. But it got me thinking about X13 Crown of Ancient Glory which came out in '87. Crown of Ancient Glory is a weird little module, it gives a taste of ruler ship to PC's as a future taster for ruling your own kingdom in other words domain level play. Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - HP Lovecraft's Polaris & the Peoples of Lomar For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 09/11/2019 - 20:09
So I'm pulling out all of the stops now in my plane traveling  Tegel Manor game. I was informed last night that more players might be joining our game. DM Steve suggested that I follow the 'Disney Avengers formula' in other words the small fish monsters get replaced by bigger fish monsters. I've got just the Lovecraftian  replacements for them thanks to Jim Garrison's Heretic Works blog. Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Obscure Indies

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 09/11/2019 - 11:00
Inspired by Cartoonist Kayfabe, I impulse-bought some black and white indie stuff off a ebay recently. I got some good deals, though I didn't quite achieve quarter bin level value. Here are some highlights:

Warlock 5
I managed to get the whole run of this, though I haven't read anything but the first issue yet. It's a story of an eclectic group from across parallel dimensions (a cyborg, a dragon, a armored knight, a street punk, the usual) who are engaged in a conflict for control of a mystical grid located in an unnamed city which is a nexus for interdimensional travel. It's written by Gordon Derry and has generally pretty great art by Denis Beauvais. It was published by Aircel, a Canadian publisher eventually gobbled up by Malibu (who was in turn gobbled up by Marvel, ultimately). The reviewer in Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer #83 summed it up: ""The lure of this book is that the reader is unsure of exactly what is going on. Lots of magic, guns, swords, robots, babes, motorcycles, and very nice art."


DragonBlade and She-Drak
These two super-obscure indies (there's virtually nothing on them on Grand Comics Database) are from 1991 (so far as I can tell) but resemble 80s black and white boom indies in a lot of ways, not the least of which is being in black and white. They are published by Comax, which seems to be an imprint used by cartoonist F. Newton "Butch" Burcham for some of his work. Mostly, Burcham does stuff in the Frazetta sort of vein: a few muscular, barbarian warriors, but an awful lot of scantily-clad, curvy cavewomen and the like. However, these two titles are actually superhero fare (though you would be forgiven from perhaps thinking otherwise from the cover). They tell the parallel stories of two astronauts who were part of an mission that fell into a blackhole to emerge in the Megaverse. There they are guided in gaining powers by a mysterious and powerful alien in a Marvel Comics sort of vein named Phiddeus Phoom. DragonBlade, She-Drak, and presumably Robo-Beast and Night-Flight were to appear together in the a comic called Mega-Force, but I can't find any evidence that actually came out.


Review & Commentary For The Cult of the Blue Crab From Studio St. Germain For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 09/11/2019 - 05:11
"The small city of Shallow Bay is plagued by a gang of smugglers who sell contraband alcohol and luxury foods to the people. The mayor’s expensive lifestyle has depleted the city coffers and the head of the city guard orders his men (or some mercenaries, whichever role the players want to take) to investigate the smugglers and put an end to their activities. Unbeknownst to most, the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Free OSR Mega Resource From Dragon's Foot ~ L5A: The Kroten Campaign Guide and Package For AD&D First Edition And Your Old School Retroclone

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/10/2019 - 20:20
Get It Right HERE This is a one hundred and fifty seven mega resource for free! This AD&D resource details  The Town of Kroten and the near by environs in glorious detail. I'm taking a short break from AS&SH to do a review. According to the introduction : This manual describes the Town of Kroten and the nearby area, which is located on Lendore Isle in the World of Greyhawk. Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - Deeper Truths of the Hyperboreans In The Old Solar System

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/10/2019 - 18:51
So let's speak about the once & future Hyperboreans beyond the North Wind shall we. The Hyperboreans tales pick up after the departure of Iceland in AS&SH. Into their declining decades long  kingdoms in Zothique just before the appearance of the Silver Death in Clark Ashton Smith's Isle of the Torturers. "Between the sun's departure and return, the Silver Death had fallen upon Yoros. Its Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rob Kuntz & Arneson's True Genius

The Viridian Scroll - Tue, 09/10/2019 - 16:24
TLDR: this book is a hot mess, but buried in it is an interesting, if IMO flawed, perspective. 




CaveatThis is my reading of Rob Kuntz' book: Dave Arneson's True Genius. It was not an easy work to unlock. Any errors in representing it are mine. I am very critical of Rob Kuntz in this summation and review, even though I found some of his thoughts "interesting." I don't want anyone to interpret my dislike of this work, or its execution, as in any way devaluing Arneson's contribution to D&D. It has been established in very authoritative forums (like Peterson's Playing at the World) that Arneson contributed a number of critical, innovative, and formative ideas to role-playing in general and D&D in particular.
Who is Rob Kuntz?Rob Kuntz, as a teenager, lived with Gary Gygax's family. He was there when Dave Arneson demoed Blackmoor to Gary in 1972 and was an early playtester, taking part in Gygax's Greyhawk campaign of the same year. He literally saw the birth, a good portion of the evolution of D&D. Rob also worked for TSR from its founding through 1977.
Part 1: Assertions About GygaxIn Arneson's True Genius, Rob Kuntz makes the following claims:

When Gygax used Arneson's ideas to design D&D, he did irreparable harm to Arneson's legacy and the entire potential future arc of the hobby by:
  • "Redacting" Arneson's ideas. Gygax built a marketable system of role-playing by taking what was already established – wargame rules – and adding to them some of Arneson's ideas that were groundbreaking but neutralized through systematization. Kuntz refers to this as "enchaining" D&D and reducing it to a "market +1" state. Meaning Gary used Arneson's ideas to make the next predictable market thing.
  • Setting the precedent for the industry. The fact of D&D's success created inertia that moved the entire hobby community in one direction and defined the role-playing industry. This financially-proven groove meant that other possible futures were left unexplored, e.g. one that extended from Arneson's way of playing the game. 
  • Discouraging others from creating. When Gygax created AD&D, he moved D&D from an open system – which encouraged players to invent – to a closed system – an "official" rules set that discouraged innovation and established TSR's intellectual property. This was directly contradictory to an Arneson's open and flexible system ideas.
  • Doing all of this in bad faith. Gygax (like Arneson) never played D&D by the rules he set forth. In selling the D&D rules to the world, Gygax actively suppressed the true style of play in which he and Arneson indulged themselves and their players.

My Impressions of the Book and the Above ClaimsDave Arneson's True Genius is frustrating to read because of its poor organization, vague ideas, and ridiculously stilted and ornate language. Some paragraphs are so convoluted that I had to guess at their meaning after several failed attempts to decode them into English. The entire book has only about 55 pages of actual (widely-spaced, large font) text, and they contain the same half dozen ideas repeated throughout. 
The argument that Gygax damaged Arneson's ideas, and his future potential, and hoodwinked us all by selling us a set of rules that falls short of the Platonic ideal of a role-playing game is academic, rhetorical, and immature. It boils down to crying over what might have been. This is especially silly when one realizes that Arneson had decades in which to present an alternative by a) fully describing his original play style and b) building on it. Arneson failed to do either of those things in any way that engaged or inspired a significant portion of the community.
In assuming that the move to a closed set of rules (with AD&D) was solely about denying the creativity of DMs, Kuntz misses that it enabled a more communal, common play experience and the production of adventure modules (some of which Kuntz helped write). Otherwise he makes a fair point about the shift in corporate attitude regarding extensive "home rules."

As for the accusation that Gary never played his own rules as written, I say "a designer designs." It's no wonder that both Gygax and Arneson sessions were more "R&D" than "QA."

Part 2: The Garden of Eden When he is not blaming Gygax for putting D&D on the wrong path from the outset, Kuntz is lauding Arneson's genius, ascribing to him amazing feats of intellect without actually describing most (any?) of them. In trying to imagine what we missed due to Gygax's nefarious activities, Kuntz suggests that any forward trajectory from Arneson's conceptual model would essentially end in a recreation of "the human brain." Any "throttling" of the system would damage its potential.

If we were to indeterminately throttle his [Arneson's] conceptual model into the future what we would note as an end result would be akin to a massive array of information having multi-functional processes interconnecting at all points. Eventually we would have the workings of the human brain (Kuntz, 41).
It sounds like Kuntz is talking about artificial intelligence or perhaps a Futurama-like visualization of Arneson's brain in a jar. It's a game of passive-aggressive keep-away in which Kuntz tells us we have done/are doing RPGs all wrong while simultaneously telling us it's virtually impossible to describe the right way – the Arnesonian way. "... what system(s) organization transpires in their [TSR/WotC D&D] place would be anyone's guess (Kuntz, 40). [Emphasis mine.]

To read him in a more charitable light, the best possible role-playing system would be one that exists only in the heads of every DM running a game and would be entirely unfixed – free to evolve and iterate as needed. Kuntz calls this the "Garden of Eden" state. Mechanics are fluid and the hivemind of players both allows for expansive movement by invention and contraction by a general consensus of best methods.

To me, this is the real meat of the book. The thing I was waiting for. Perhaps the best way to read Arneson's True Genius is to just start on page 40 and end on page 48.

My Thoughts on the GardenThis Garden of Eden argument reminds me a bit of Dawkin's Selfish Gene (1976) in which he invents the term meme (with a meaning quite different than it has in today's social media) and discusses the way songbirds communicate ideas through imitation and innovation without losing an innate quality of sameness. I kind of wish Kuntz could have made his argument (only) along those lines. Had he simply defended role-playing as an activity owned by everyone – and left off blaming Gygax for bottling spring water – he might really have been saying something important.

As it is, Kuntz' writing reads like an academic fever dream that would be "like, really deep, man" after the joint has been passed a few times around the circle. He is reluctant (unable?) to quantify anything about Arneson's genius and leaves it almost entirely to broad, unsupported, and ultimately meaningless declarations.

Sadly, I would have to say this book is an embarrassment and possibly does more harm to Arneson's legacy than good. And yet, if you can get past all of its flaws, there is at least one clever thought in Kuntz' rambling manifesto.

AftermathThe final few pages of the book are an attempt to debunk Arnesonian D&D as a derivation of Chainmail and/or Brauenstein. The conclusion is that they were influences, but not ingredients, and I'm fine with that. The argument isn't worth reading.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Adventures On Old Mars Inspiration & Thoughts - A Castles & Crusades & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Hybrid Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 19:45
To say that Jason Vey isn't a prolific son of a gun is doing a disservice to him, & someone over the weekend pointed out that Jason had done his free Warriors of Mars booklet for OD&D.  And that's fine but I'm looking a mix of Castles & Crusades & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Why?! Because of the fact to quote an internet source, "The shared lineage and resulting Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Highway Across the Outlands

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 11:00

Climb up the walls of the city, passed the rookeries of the poor and dispossessed and the ramparts where the city guard stand bored but vigilant, and look over the side and you will see more gray nothingness, occasionally pixelating and deresolving to show the more abstract astral manifold beneath, same as if you looked up at flickering spark that passes for a sun. But if you take a corkscrew ramps below ground to one of the city's gates and pass through the checkpoint, quickly the gray mist would recede behind you, and you would find yourself on a highway in an immense desert. This is the Outlands.
The Outlands is the phase boundary between the city and the Outer Planes. Its existences preserves the city's ambivalence, keeps it from being conquered by some conceptual force or another. Its desert is vast, but it is more its indifference that keeps strongly held ideas at bay. The Outlands and its few inhabitants are stubborn.
The highways that stretch from the city gates run through alkali saltpan, scrub plans, and stretches of sandstone buttes. There are a few settlements along the way: outposts and waystations run by those too noncomformist for city life or exiled for some other reason. There are also bands of evangelists and missionaries from other Planes working to convert travelers, though these will die out eventually, either in conflict or by loss of faith. Some of them get violent in their death throes, though. Most Everyone else is a traveler or trader, headed one direction or the other--or a bandit. Though the highways are most often lonely (that is their nature, not a description) many convoys and caravans pass along them, and they all ripe for the taking.
At the edge of the Outlands are the Border Towns. Their appearance vary from town to town, but they control the flow of traffic from whatever plane is on the other side. All are fortified borders, no matter how benign the appearance of the Plane on the other side, indeed the most benign are often the most dangerous.

1d10 Random Weird & Ancient Tombs and Contents Table For The Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:10
1d10 Random Weird & Ancient Tombs and Contents Table  This ancient and weathered necropolis stands definitely against the elements for hundreds and hundreds of years now. Upon certain nights of the year the great wrought brass door stands slightly a jar and from within a howling and growling of great beasts can be heard. The tombs occupants have long ago have been sucked into the nameless Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Appendix N Sword and Sorcery Fantasy Classic Download -The Tale of Satampra Zeiros Clark Ashton Smith

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 10:06
 Grab It Right Here From the 1932 issue of Weird Tales, this one is a must read for both the regular dungeon master and those running Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea. This story has so many of the classic elements of the Hyperborean cycle by Smith. The story is very Dunsanian in its prose, exacution and substance. The story gets right into its world and drags you in asNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Adventures On Old Mars - A Castles & Crusades & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Hybrid Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/09/2019 - 05:45
One of the thought exercises that I've been tossing around is the option of using Castles & Crusades plus Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea to run an Old Mars game adventure or two. This has been on radar even since DM Steve spoke at length about the Serpent Men becoming a problem on Old Mars. I'm thinking about using the Castles & Crusades Siege engine systems to power the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Brain Storming - Using Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure Book To Create An Instant OSR Adventure Location

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/08/2019 - 16:23
For me everything begins with a good monster book & I tend to build the dungeon around it. Today I want to create a Cthulhu Mythos style dungeon location with a twist or two. Fortunately I happen to have my copy of the Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure book.  Lately readers of this blog know I've been on a Castles & Crusades rpg kick, I dusted off my Monsters & Treasure book on a Sunday.Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Pages

Subscribe to Furiously Eclectic People aggregator - Tabletop Gaming Blogs