Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Under Compulsion in Phaelorn Gap

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 12/04/2023 - 12:00
Our Gnydrion game using Grok?! continued last night. The party on hand:
  • Antor Hogus (Paul) - Vagabond with a stun gun and a dislike of authority, worse now than ever!
  • Nortin Tauss (Aaron) - An arcane dabbler just trying to get by.
  • Yzma Vekna (Andrea) - A grubby teamster watching things spiral out of control.
Having rashly summoned the law last adventure, the party must now deal the consequences. Var Nee the deputy is out of his depth and aware of it once he hears the story of the quaklu and the double Kreik Gelmots. He wisely goes to summon the Shreev while leaving the bleary-eyed innkeeper to watch them.
Shreev Molok is in no mood for the situation that confronts him. He rounds them all up and takes them back to the jail. The original (presumed) Gelmot, still stunned, is locked in a cell, while the others are invited to be guests until the matter can be sorted out. They protest this confinement and while they argued with the Shreev, two things happen. The first is that Gelmot wakes up and more or less confirms their story (while trying to present himself in the best light). The remaining mystery is what has become of the mirror. While they are contemplating this, the other happens, which is that the Fake Gelmot tries to leave.
Molok and Var Nee try to confine him, but his limbs do not appear to be made of mundane flesh. He twists free and scuttles out the door on four limbs. Molok pursues him, ballester in hand, while Var Nee continues to watch the others.
Var Nee shares some liquor with Hogus which serves to moderate the latter's ill-temper for a while. Molok returns and tells them that the other Gelmot dissolved after stumbling into a fumarole and being shot in the head by Molok's ballester.
He tells everyone that they will likely be released, however, they must tell their stories to his superior, Eminent Compulsor Briszm Wungar. Var Nee had already hinted that Wungar is a man much concerned with personal enrichment.
Not having any place else to go, the party takes Molok up on his offer to sleep in the jail, only to consider they might have made an error when the building is locked from the outside and they are trapped. The recriminations fly, then, both from and to Gelmot (who Hogus eventually stuns again) and between Tauss and Hogus. They consider breaking out in some way, but ultimately decide to play it cool and not become fugitives.
The next morning, Briszm Wungar arrives to speak with them, the small man riding some alien creature. He suggests the way to ensure their freedom from any legal suspicion is to locate the mirror and return it to him. Gelmot blames its absence on their also conspicuously absent friend, Jerfus Grek. The Compulsor releases them to find Grek and the mirror (though Gelmot must await their efforts in jail) but has their hands marked with a device that will allow telesthetic hounds to track them, should they choose to shirk this charge.

Bundle of Holdling - Cornucopia 2023

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 12/02/2023 - 03:10

Sometimes when you bring together random games as a bundle, you find some stuff that really interests you. Then, you see it has a Powered by the Apocalypse title and you cringe ;) That just happened to me with the Cornucopia 2023 Bundle over at Bundle of Holding.

I'm actually interested in most everything in this bundle aside from World Wide Wrestling. There, I said it. I hate wrestling and I detest the Apoc Engine with a passion. 

Adventurer! In time for the American Thanksgiving holiday, we present this all-new Cornucopia 2023 Bundle, our eleventh annual offer of top-quality tabletop roleplaying game ebooks. For just US$14.95 you get all four complete rulebooks in our Starter Collection (retail value $68) as DRM-free ebooks, including the swinging superspy dimension-hopping RPG Agents of Concordia; Apollo 47 Technical Handbook by Tim (Thousand Year Old Vampire) Hutchings; The Design Mechanism's Casting the Runes, a GUMSHOE game based on the ghost stories of M.R. James; and Scratchpad Publishing's create-your-own-world superhero RPG Spectaculars.

And if you pay more than the threshold price of $30.35, you'll level up and also get our entire Bonus Collection with four more hit games worth an additional $84, including the cinematic action-hero extravaganza Outgunned from Two Little Mice (Broken Compass); Chris McDowall's newly revised Into the Odd - Remastered from Free League Publishing; Unbound, the universal system from Rowan, Rook & Decard (Spire); and the 2022 Second Edition of World Wide Wrestling, the Apocalypse Engine game from Nathan Paoletta.


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  

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Knock! Issue 4 (OSR Zine)

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 12/01/2023 - 03:52

There are zines, and there are ZINES! KNOCK! is a ZINE!

KNOCK! issue 4 is ready to go to press, just waiting for you to pledge. You know the formula: no theme, all mean. Once again, we've cobbled together a bric-à-brac of game design insight, random tables, rules suggestions, monsters, classes, maps, adventures… the lot. We've also added a short series (12 pages) aimed at post-WotC meltdown 5E refugees (or just your friends who you’d like to bring over to the adventure gaming side of the divide). 

The book is 212 pages (A5 format:  5.9’ x 8.25’, slightly bigger than digest size) in beautiful full colour, printed on quality paper (coated 130 gr, with a cover on coated 300 gr) by Olivier's neighbours in the South Basque country.

The KNOCK! Issue 4 Kickstarter is about 17 bucks in PDF and 29 bucks in Print plus PDF.

I gotta admit, I love my KNOCK!s.

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  

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[BEYONDE] Thief: The Black Parade [NOW AVAILABLE]

Beyond Fomalhaut - Thu, 11/30/2023 - 19:38

  The Black Parade

“In THE BLACK PARADE you play the character of Hume, a hardened

criminal who was sent into exile as a punishment for his crimes.

The year is 833. You are now back in The City, a sprawling metro-

polis of soot-caked brick, greasy fumes and noisy machinery, with

many a sinister conspiracy whispered behind closed doors. Lost and

without a penny to your name, you are back to your life of thievery

and must find your old associate Dahlquist. Shadows and silence are

your allies. Light is your enemy. Stealth and cunning are your tools.

... And the riches of others are yours for the taking.”

 Regular readers of the blog may know I am a Thief: The Dark Project fan – indeed, it is my favourite computer game of all time, and one I have made a handful of fan missions for. Thief, today 25 years old, is a rich, complex and challenging stealth game that combines tight gameplay with excellent level design and top-notch mood. It is also a game which holds a lot of interest for old-school gaming: its roots lie in trying to simulate an AD&D-style thief on the computer, and there is much you can learn about dungeon design, open-ended scenarios, and even city adventures by playing it. A small but active level design community exists around the game (AD&D adventure designer Anthony Huso was one of the early greats in the scene), and there has been a steady flow of user-made fan missions over the years, from very simple thieving scenarios to full mission packs. However, not since T2X: Shadows of the Metal Age (2005) has a campaign approaching the scope and quality of the original Dark Project been attempted, let alone completed. (Your truly had tried and failed with The Crucible of Omens, a never-ever for The Dark Mod, a Doom3-based Thief spinoff.)

Until now.

Dark Mysteries

The Black Parade is a new, full, ten-mission campaign that has been released for the game’s 25th anniversary, built over seven years by some of the best level designers in the scene, and made freely available for download. Set slightly before the events of The Dark Project, TBP focuses on the adventures of Hume, a former convict, as he becomes entangled in a dark plot concocted by forces beyond his control, and must use stealth and guile to survive and come out alive from the ordeal. The dark depths of Thief’s nameless City, a corrupt industrial metropolis, serve as the story’s locations: dimly lit streets, crumbling mansions inhabited by the idle rich, haunted crypts and thieves’ dens populated by the dregs of society. I had the privilege of beta-testing the pack (there were several rounds of testing by both old hands and new players), and I can report it is very much worth the trip.

Skullduggery and DeceitThe Black Parade spares no expense in constructing this world: the ten missions you will play through are sprawling, complex, and rich with detail. These are all open-ended, exploration-heavy missions offering multiple ways of achieving your objectives, built by a team who get Thief’s gameplay loop, but also know how to make missions that, while difficult, are never unfair or needlessly obscure. (They are a step up from TDP, but that is to be expected.) They are rich in navigation-oriented challenges (verticality, waterways, obscure entrances and hidden byways), tense stealth situations (from dodging patrols and sometimes security systems to shadowing a lone figure through the City’s streets), and careful decision-making between stealth and exposure. The missions, although connected by a joint plot and a dedication to superb quality, are very varied in theme and approach: the hands of multiple authors with different design styles are visible, but so is the refinement that comes from teamwork. These are all interesting, high-quality missions, and there are two in the lineup I rank among the very best ever made.

Corrupted Splendour

But the excellence of The Black Parade goes beyond level design (although that is the most important element). The campaign comes with well-animated cutscenes between missions; numerous new voice lines, textures and objects; new AI types (including some once considered impossible) and game mechanics. Many previous fan missions have done one or a few of these; but very rarely all, and never at this level of quality. In all cases, the updates to The Dark Project extend the original game while remaining entirely faithful to its mood and style: at no point does something stick out like a sore thumb. Thief has always been heavy on the mood, and this campaign pack returns to that level of quality, while taking advantage of the technical advances which allow a 1999 game to transcend the limits of its antediluvian engine and quirky level editor (as the quote from one of the original devs, goes, “Once upon a time, not only would DromEd crash, but it would go out and kill your family afterwards”). In its consciously low-poly architecture and grainy textures – no ill-advised attempt has been to make this look like a mid-2000s experience – The Black Parade builds scenes of labyrinthine complexity and deep SOVL.

A Labyrinthine Plot

This is also one of those rare mods that takes writing seriously: the main story was meticulously plotted before the levels entered the building phase, and the levels were then filled with fragments of readable texts, environmental storytelling, AI conversations and the evolving objectives Hume will face during the course of the missions. Although the writing quality tends to be high in the Thief level design community, this is a standout even by those standards. While the cutscenes convey the main plot, much in gameplay is information you need to piece together on your own – from clues that will help you reach your objectives, avoid deadly hazards or find carefully hidden loot; to pieces which reveal more about the surrounding world in an unobtrusive way.

Strange Perspectives

There is much more that could be written about The Black Parade, and I suspect it will be widely discussed in the following weeks and months. For now, though, this introduction should suffice. You can download the campaign here. A trailer, and a handful of screenshots by yours truly, follow.

Lost in the Catacombs
Back in a Smoke-Shrouded City
Venturing to Locales Long Forgotten
Pursued by Merciless Enemies
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Oz and the Dying Earth

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 11/30/2023 - 12:00

Driving over the Thanksgiving holiday my family listened to the audiobook of The Patchwork Girl of Oz, and I was struck by how similar Baum's Oz stories are and some of Vance's work, particularly the Dying Earth related material. Some of it, of course, would be resemblances shared with other works of fantasy, but I think there is much more homology of Baum with Vance than say Howard, Smith, or Martin.

I've mentioned before the list of the elements of Vance's Dying Earth stories as outlined in Pelgrane Press' Dying Earth rpg:

  • Odd Customs
  • Crafty Swindles
  • Heated Protests and Presumptuous Claims
  • Casual Cruelty
  • Weird Magic
  • Strange Vistas
  • Ruined Wonders
  • Exotic Food
  • Foppish Apparel

Some of those I think are present in Baum's Oz books, but there are others that have analogs. These are the ones that I think are most prominent:

Odd Customs. In the Dying Earth this relegated to cultural practices. In Oz, the people themselves may be odd not unlike the mythological peoples seem in Medieval or ancient travel tales. Still, the central aspect of using a culture taken to the absurd as an object of satire is present.

Weird Magic. This is all over the place in Oz, with many of the protagonists being products of it. The powder of life made by the Crooked Magician or the "Square Meal Tablets" certainly count.

Strange Vistas. Exploration is as important part of Oz as the Dying Earth. The weird underground world of the vegetable Mangaboos lit by glowing glass orbs in the sky would count, as would the the Land of Naught where the wooden gargoyles dwell.

Ruined Wonders. Oz doesn't have many ruins, but they do have Hidden Wonders, like the city of the China Dolls or the radium decorated city of the subterranean Horners.

Foppish Apparel. It isn't emphasized as much in the text, but it goes through in the illustration...

The other elements are less present in Oz, but Heated Protests/Presumptuous Claims has its analog in humorous exchanges and bickering. Oz isn't as cruel a place as the Dying earth--it shows up in children's stories after all--but it isn't without cruelty. It's a cruelty of the fairytale sort really where axes enchanted by witches might chop off a woodsman's limbs and an evil queen might desire a little girl's head enough to have it cut off.

There are other similarities not really accounted for here. Outlandish, unnatural monsters haunt the wilderness in both (and in both they are often capable of speech). Habitations are separated by wilderness and isolated cultures seem to exist along well-travelled roads. For the most part the societies of both settings seem fairly static (Oz a bit less so than the Dying Earth), in contrast to epic fantasies where world-changing events are part of the narrative. Overall, I think these could be summed up is that both settings seem perhaps descended from fairy stories, Oz more directly, and the Dying Earth through the fantasies of Smith, Cabell, and (maybe) Dunsany.

PWYW - Dragon Warriors RPG

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 11/30/2023 - 00:31

I remember seeing Dragon Warriors advertised in Dragon Magazine in the mid 80's, and damn but if it didn't look good. I could never find it here in the States, and then I found Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, which consumed me for a while and satiated my desire for a British Fantasy RPG.

I never did forget Dragon Warriors, though, and purchased the PDF a number of years ago on DTRPG. I never gave it the proper read-through, but the core rules are now PWYW and there is a free solo adventure for it, Hunt on the Borderlands (which was released today) (edit - did I mention the solo is hyperlinked? Well it is). I snagged the hard-cover Print copy of Dragon Warriors for 20 bucks plus shipping. Not bad at all!

Enter a world of magic, folklore and danger. Here, superstition covers peoples' lives like autumn mists cover the moors, and terrifying monsters with bizarre powers lurk in the shadows. The king is a weakling, barons scheme against each other, and lordless knights, back from the Crusades without the honour or riches they were promised, roam the countryside in search of adventure - or prey.

Ruined castles and barrows are the lairs of the supernatural, or newer, more sinister masters. Labyrinthine underworlds lie forgotten below ancient temples and city cellars. The dark places of the world hold riches for those who would search for them, and the keys to great power, and death.

These are the Lands of Legend, and they need heroes. Brave knights, courageous barbarians, cunning sorcerers, mystics trained in the powers of mind and body, sword-wielding warlocks, elementalists who command the fabric of reality itself, and assassins trained to bring death to the deserving. All these will be your comrades on the path to glory - and perhaps your enemies too.

Will you accept the challenge of Dragon Warriors?

Dragon Warriors is a classic fantasy roleplaying game, originally released in 1985-6 by Corgi Books, relaunched in 2008 by Magnum Opus Press, and now published by Serpent King. This rulebook contains full details for creating characters and all that players need to adventure in the Lands of Legend. It also holds information on over 110 different monstrous species, 192 spells from four different schools of magic, and more than 80 unique magic items, artifacts and relics, as well as sections on jousts, crime and punishment, disease and madness. There's advice for novice Games Masters and players, suggestions for building your own game-world tailored to your tastes, an introductory scenario to begin your adventures in Dragon Warriors, and much more.


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  

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: DC, February 1982 (week 4)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/29/2023 - 12:00
I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! This week, we look at the comics hitting the newsstand on November 24, 1982.

Detective Comics #522: Conway and Colan/DeZuniga bring back the Earth-One Solomon Grundy (who I only learned about since I started this reading series). It seems a designer clothing shop is wrecked, and a number of furs are taken. The carnage makes it look personal, so Batman decides to investigate, it turns out its a gang that has teamed up with Grundy and have to deal with Grundy's childish whims and destructiveness. The leader of the gang is visited by a guy hidden by a trench coat, hat, and shadows named "Croc" who disapproves of the inclusion of Grundy and severs ties with the gang with a warning. But enough about him. I'm sure this Croc won't show up again.
Anyway, Robin visits his friend Waldo the Clown in a traveling circus passing through, while Batman tracks down the gang. Grundy gets the better of Batman in their first encounter with the Caped Crusader having to play dead to survive. Later, Batman tracks Grundy to the gang's warehouse hideout and he lures Grundy into a furnace where the monster is apparently burned up! Batman's "no killing" thing is apparently narrowly construed.
In the Green Arrow backup by Cavalieri and Novick, Star City is in the grips of a transit workers strike, which threatens to boil over into violence, but Arrow discovers that agent provocateurs are responsible, and the plot is being orchestrated by a group of wealthy elites that intends to throw Star City into chaos and then usurp power, and masterminded by their adviser, the Lord Machiavelli. GA confronts so Machiavelli calls upon his partner, the Executrix, to battle him with twin laser-torches! 

Weird War Tales #120: What I said last issue about Kanigher and Weird War Tales still holds, but this one has a bit of goofy sentimentality that gives it some charm. J.A.K.E.-II who is waiting for his pet robo-cat to be fixed, winds up on Dinosaur Island where a Queen Kong takes a fancy to him and J.A.K.E. seems to like her as well. It ends poorly of course but the gorilla gives her life so that J.A.K.E. and his friends can get away.
In the second story by Gwyon and Jodloman, a group of G.I.s finds a statute fashioned by the ancient druids. A dying soldier winds up with his spirit driving the statue to kill Germans. But on a bridge slaughtered German spirits take control. The statue keeps going back and forth between the sides until a bridge collapses and it's washed away by the river.

Action Comics #540: Wolfman and Kane seem to be getting close to their conclusion of the split Superman story. In the 14th Century, Syrene and Satanis (inhabiting the body of Superman) start continue their magical duel. Syrene gets the upper hand an imprisons Satanis in a ball of Earth. Frantic, Satanis begs Superman to ally with him so that both of them can survive.
In the 20th Century, Clark Kent seems to come back to life on the autopsy table. He sent home to rest. He realizes he needs to get to the past, but Satanis has every time-travelling method he knows of blocked. Clark Kent goes to the Daily Planet to ask for a vacation when he overhears Perry White and Lois arguing about her piece on Forgotten Heroes. Superman streaks towards Rip Hunter's Time Lab.
In the past, Syrene is poised to kill Satanis, but her foe bursts from the ball of earth--Superman has agreed to help him subdue Syrene. Satanis does plan to merely subdue her however, he plans to kill her, take her power, and then take over Superman's body completely. Suddenly, a Time Sphere appears and with it 20th Century Superman.
In the Aquaman backup by Rozakis and Saviuk we get to the end of the current story. Mera defeats Vlana in one-on-one combat, and Vlana, not wanting to admit defeat, commits suicide by electric eel. Having won back her throne, Mera again gives it up to go to Earth with her husband.

Arion Lord of Atlantis #4: Arion is in the hands of his enemy, Garn Danuuth, and the City of Atlantis has fallen to the invaders. Garn gets a chance to relate to the chained Arion their sort of joint origin. A hundred thousand years ago Arion and Garn were the apprentices of  Caculha and Majistra, respectively, two of the twelve great mages of the day, and mortal enemies. Caculha sensed a threat to the 12 crystals beneath the 12 cities whose magic kept the world in balance. He proposed increases the guard upon the crystals and onnly Majistra opposed him. Seeking power for herself, Majistra stole the crystals. Earthquakes shake the world. Ari'ahn sacrifices himself to wrest control of the crystals from Mjistra, and they are both killed. Caculha was exiled to the Darkworld, and Garn's skin was bleached white. To reward his fallen son, Caculha used magic to send Ahri'ahn's energy into the sun.
Cataclysm was averted for a while, but the battle caused a shift in the Earth's axis which would eventually cause an ice age. To save Atlantis again, Caculha used his new power to bring about a rebirth of his son, now called Arion. Although he had no memory of his past life, Arion became a great mage in Atlantis. Now with the fall of the city, it appears that Garn has finally won.

All-Star Squadron #18: Thomas and Gonzales/Hoberg introduce the Tarantula and spend most of the issue plugging continuity holes like why Tarantula and Sandman basically wear the same costume and what became of Dian Belmont. Then there's a fight with the Sadman foe Fairy Tale Fenton in the guise of Thor so it isn't all retcons. One thing I like about All-Star Squadron is how, thanks to it being a period piece, Thomas can be more concrete on dates. Here we learn, for instance, that Tarantula began his costumed career on June 22, 1941.

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #12: Shaw and Gordon introduce Little Cheese, a mouse with shrinking powers. Together they take on the criminal mastermind, Fatkat. The last panel also introduces the Just'A Lotta Animals.
The letter column of this issue publishes a piece of artwork from a fan named Arthur Adams, who seems like he might have some talent...

Jonah Hex #69: Fleisher and DeZuniga pick up where we left off last issue, with Jonah walking into an ambush. Kincaid's talking gives Hex a chance to notice White Claw, so when the shooting is over Kincaid is dead and White Claw is on the run. Hex tracks him and eventually winds up in the hands of ta Shoshone tribe who White Claw has convinced that Hex is tried to kill him for no reason. Hex tries to tell his side of the story, but given his experience with white men the chief, somewhat understandably, will not allow White Claw to be taken to the white men's courts. White Claw wants Hex killed, but the Chief gives Hex a chance to run the gauntlet. Hex survives, but barely, and makes it to the river where he is found then nursed back to health by Emmylou from several issues back. White Claw eventually shows up, but Jonah kills him, though not before he stabs Emmylou. Unusual for a supporting character and friend of Hex's, she doesn't die. At least not in this issue.

New Adventures of Superboy #38: This is a continuation of the switched Superboy and Superman story, or rather the Superboy era side of the tale. Superboy enters that rift in time when returning from the Soames Reform School and his annual Thanksgiving visit. The date is given as November 27th, which would suggest this is set in 1969. Anyway, Superman is now in his 16 year-old self's body and going to have dinner with his parents.
When he wakes up in the morning, it's again Thanksgiving Day. Forced to relive the events of the last day, he realizes he's trapped in some kind of time loop. He knows he can't escape by travelling into the future, so using some dodgy theory about time being a flat circle, he comes up with the idea of going back further into the past.
Luthor, who expects Superboy to be trapped in Thanksgiving prepares to commit a crime, but Superboy stops him. Lex doesn't understand how his latest device can have failed, and Superboy reveals how he did it, to gloat, I guess. Luthor isn't willing to give up just yet and pulls out a magnetic repellent device. Supes ain't in the mood. Knowing Lex will never change and just keep causing trouble over the next decade, Superboy/man starts beating Lex up, but he's stopped by Chief Parker who calms him down. Knowing it's futile to try to change the past, Superboy apologizes for losing his temper and flies away. He's still got to find a way back into his adult body.
In the Dial H backup by Bridwell/Rozakis and Bender/Adkins the Chris and Vicki dial up identities that interestingly come from the sketchbook of a guy they know to take on a new villain, Windrider.

World's Finest Comics #288: Superman is frantically trying to find Batman after he was snatched away by demons. In discussing an early issue in this storyline, I had praised Burkett's handling of the friendship of Superman and Batman, even if it was jarring to modern portrayals of the characters. Here thought Barr and Wolfman have Superman being a bit overwrought. More like what I would expect from him if Lois were in danger, if at all. He snaps at Flash and even tries to punch him in misplaced anger.
Meanwhile, Madame Zodiac and her master complete the ritual giving it control over Batman's body. The dark entity plans to take over the world using several and has clones of the Batman's body he plans to run through during his conquest.
Battling one of the dark entity's minions, Superman is transported to the place where the ritual occurred. Using (super-)hypnosis, Superman induces Batman into fight the evil inside him by making him recall the past tragedy that shaped him.
While Batman fights for control of his body, Superman gets help from Dr. Zodiac, who tells Superman about a barred door behind which there is someone can help them against the dark entity. Superman breaks down the door and they find the real Madame Zodiac inside. The dark entity used the Zodiac Idol to separate her into two parts. Her evil counterpart allied with the creature, and they imprisoned her other self. Once freed, the good Madame Zodiac confronts her evil self and a single person emerges. Unfortunately, it's evil Madame Zodiac who does battle with Dr. Zodiac. Both are swept aside by the dark being who has been defeated by Batman and cast back into the sphere that held it, where it commands all the Batman clones to fight Batman and Superman. The heroes destroy the clones and then they use the Zodiac Idol to destroy the dark entity's sphere and send it back to its own dimension.
A decent end to the storyline, I think, at least for the standards of the era where it was all about the journey not the destination.

Vampire Queen 5E and 10 Year Anniversary 1E Softcovers With The Classic Greyhawk Campaign Setting- Session Report 5

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 11/29/2023 - 06:30
 During tonight's game we ran straight into the arms of undead bandits. And it wasn't pretty but a fortunate fireball from one of our wizards saved our hides. We're geting close to the Vampire queen's castle and the undead are getting worse. Hanging Coffins of The Vampire Queen is available from Dark Wizard Games here.  And all of this kicked off from a week or so ago's Castles & Crusade's Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - ToD1 Lair of the Silver Rings - RPG OSR adventure module

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/29/2023 - 00:54

A starting adventure in the old-school style. Written for OSRIC or your favorite OSR game system - with a 5e compatible version too!

I'm always interested in peeking at new publishers of old-school material. You just never know if one is going to strike lightning in a bottle.

ToD1 Lair of the Silver Rings Kickstarter looks interesting. Priced at 5 bucks in PDF, and 15 bucks in Print plus PDF (with 5 bucks shipping in the US), I would say this adventure is competitively priced.

This adventure takes the characters through a series of encounters into a dungeon complex and on to a corrupt noble's manor. Both areas are fully detailed in old school style blue/monochrome maps with more detailed colored versions available in the 5e version.

The module is designed to be easily inserted into an existing setting. It takes place in a city which can be any city you decide. However, proper names are given for them under the full story Appendix where the details of the full campaign are provided. 

While the intended hook and direction of the module has the two locales set in a city, you could feasibly drop them anywhere. They could even be used separately as different one-shot adventures.

The module layout is designed to emulate the old school style and is setup for ease of use. The encounters and overall flow of the dungeons are in the same vein as the old school modules with the encounters having been tested but not always balanced. Although, the 5e conversion is tweaked with more balanced encounters.

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  

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Latest D&D Studio Update on the 2024 Core Rule Books Should Have Excited Me, but It Just Made Me Apprehensive

DM David - Tue, 11/28/2023 - 14:50

The latest D&D Studio update on the 2024 core rule books should have excited me, but it just made me apprehensive.

Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons started as a game with a strong foundation, strong enough that when I imagined the changes that would best improve the game, I just wished for replacements for the annoying spells, overpowered feats, and toothless monsters—the game’s features atop the foundation.

So far, the playtest and design team’s reports excited me, because the preview showed that the team understood the pain points in the 2014 game and sought ways to relieve them. But now I’m concerned.

Until now, only one change struck me as a bad idea: The design team chose to strengthen 1st-level characters in the worst way. Instead of making new characters more durable by giving them a few extra hit points, the designers opted to make new characters more complicated by adding an extra feat.

To welcome new players, 1st-level characters need to become a bit more durable—just another 5 hp or so. This boost would spare them from starting as fragile as soap bubbles. D&D should not prove deadliest at 1st level. Sure, some of us love the challenge of 1st level, but to a new player who invested time creating a character often with a personality and backstory, a quick death just feels like a major loss. Such failures push players away from the game. We all know the problem. To avoid such disappointments, the D&D team seems to love the now worn trope of starting characters safely at a fair or carnival. I typically contrive a way for characters to gain the benefit of an aid spell as reward for a good deed.

At conventions and game stores, I’ve introduced hundreds of players to D&D and a key lesson stands out: Simpler characters work better. The 2014 design team made a winning choice when they kept new characters streamlined, but the 2024 redesign adds complexity by giving new characters another feat to choose and to play. For new players, the addition risks making the game feel overwhelming. Maybe that’s fine. New players confronted with a pre-generated character always find it overwhelming, but at the end of the session, they typically feel comfortable with the basics.

Surely, lead designer Jeremy Crawford can point to Unearthed Arcana surveys that show the sort of super-invested D&D players who spent an hour completing the playtest surveys love the extra feat, but that just proves players who mastered the game enjoy characters sweetened with more power. Candy isn’t always good for us or the game.

D&D fans already knew about the extra feat and I accept that not every aspect of D&D will suit me. However, another reveal from the studio update leads me to worry. Jeremy Crawford says, “We’re making sure that every major piece of class design does appear in Unearthed Arcana at least once, but there are going to be some brand new spells that people won’t see until the book is out. There are a bunch of monsters people won’t see until the books are out. There are magic items people won’t see until the books are out.”

Apparently the team feels that class features deserve the scrutiny of the D&D public, but spells don’t. Apparently the team failed to learn from the public playtest leading to the 2014 core books.

In D&D, if you play a spellcaster, your spell list forms the bulk of your abilities. So every wizard tends to prepare the same powerful spells on the list. Spells deserve the same scrutiny as class features. In 2016, when I looked at the most annoying spells in the D&D game, I learned that none of the problem spells appeared in the public playtest documents. Back then, the design team figured their in-house playtesting would suffice for these spells. That proved wrong. Thanks to the power of certain annoying spells, the spells weighed on just about every session with a character able to cast one.

Now the team seems to be falling victim to the same overconfidence. Perhaps the team would say they’ve learned from 10 years of experience and can better evaluate new game elements. Surely that’s true, but still they recently released twilight domain clerics and silvery barbs, so I see a some hubris behind touting all the new surprises in the new books.

I don’t want all new surprises. I want a game polished to perfection because it benefits from 10 years of play.

Related: The One D&D Playtest: Big and Small Surprises and Why I Like the Controversial Critical Hit Rule


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Bundle of Holding - Sly Flourish

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 11/28/2023 - 02:03


I used to think Sly Flourish releases were overhyped. Then I picked up The Lazy Dungeon Master, and I was hooked. 5.95 for three of Sly Flourish's DM self-help books? You simply can't beat that price. You get 4 more books of content, and 4 books of art, for a bit more than 20 bucks. Damn good deal!

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  

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gun Running In The Black - The Clement Sector & The Quick Ship File: Catino Class Fast Armed Trader

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 11/27/2023 - 17:25
 Alright so we've got a Clement Sector game tonight and I wanted to introduce a new ship to the mix. The Catino Class Fast Armed Trader is a perfect blockade and pirate gun runner ship for our game from Moontoad Publishing. Now there are reasons why this is a perfect frontier vessel especially for the 'Space Western' themes of the Clement Sector;" The Catino Class Fast Armed Trader is a 400 ton Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Black Star and the Light of Xaryxis

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 11/27/2023 - 12:00

As a break from our Land of Azurth 5e game, I decided a wanted to run a loose, more space opera adaptation of the Spelljammer adventure Light of Xaryxis. After considering the Star Raiders action flick of Outgunned and some other fairly light space opera games, I settled on Black Star from LakeSide Games. Mainly, I felt like trying something new, but it's even lighter than Outgunned, I think, and made for Space Opera.

The system uses a simple 2d6 roll to resolve tasks, though characters can spend Resolve (which also serves as Stress/Hit Points) to either reroll or move a failure to a partial success or a success to a greater success. It also has only player rolls and minion rules, both things I've enjoyed in Broken Compass/Outgunned.

It's only about $5 on drivethru, so worth checking out if that sort of system sounds interesting to you.

Anyway, we only did characters this session, but I'm looking forward to bringing a touch of Star Wars ripoff space opera in the vein of Battle Beyond the Stars and Micronauts to Light of Xaryxis.

Been Thinking About a New D30 Table (Just since this morning.....)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 11/26/2023 - 22:18

One of the reasons I agreed to be a regular guest poster here at the Tavern is because I was advised to push myself a bit out of my comfort zone creatively and having to post on a schedule here is a big part of that....therapy(?). I have found, however, that the regular schedule....knowing that I have to post something on Sunday tends to kind of "hang out" in the back of my mind, causing me to see a lot of things through the lens of some OSR gaming. some HackMaster gaming too, but I'm not trying to go there today.

Because this last week was Thanksgiving, and Black Friday, I'd been thinking of community celebrations and even mercantilism.....BUT I'm not going to share any of those thoughts that had been on my mind for a couple of days.

As I'm sitting down to perform this weekly duty, my home smells absolutely-effing-delicious, savory even. A buddy had gifted me a venison leg roast and I needed to get that thing out of my freezer and into my crockpot. It's been cooking since this morning and won't be ready for several hours more. The smell has been making my stomach grumble and my mind has been churning as well.

This venison was shot locally and it's been a while since I've dined on wild game. It got me thinking about hunting on the trail, in game of course. The earliest mention of foraging or hunting for food I can find in D&D is from back in 1983, specifically in the Expert rules (page 21 if you want to see for yourself). Of course I think it's a little too simple (TL;DR move 2/3 rate for the day and only a 1/3 chance of finding food). The next mention is in the 1986 Wilderness Survival Guide (page 53) and I won't bother to summarize it here because it's way too cumbersome. Holy crap, the foraging and hunting rules went from two small paragraphs in Expert to over three pages of content in AD&D.

First off, I'm definitely going to have to create a d30 Hunting/Foraging table that falls somewhere between these two extremes. Not sure I knock it out in a week (I have stuff going on this week) but it's officially on my to-do list. I've got some ideas.....

First off, I think the rules for foraging are a little light...period. Mostly because the simple side of the equation includes not just foraging for vegetation, but also meat from small game. I like the time cost personally, but I think 1/3 success rate, generically, is too low. Don't even get me started on the WSG data. Holy crap, it's way too complicated and success rates are abysmal.

I really think that both sets of these rules are a bit skewed, presumably due to current ideas of foraging/hunting, especially in more densely populated areas that make up the majority of the US. When you're talking about a less populous fantasy world, I think small game has to be in abundance, probably to recockulous levels sometimes (read some frontier/early American accounts....bison herds to the horizon or flocks of birds that took days to pass overhead). Factor in the plethora of monstrous humanoid species and just, well actual monsters that populate the various encounter tables. Tons of monsters, if not apex predators, tend to be towards the top of the food chain and in order to be towards the top, well, there has to be a substantial base. 

While I get that there would be background vs. environmental factors (like an Elf underground), the average PC probably has a much more...rural(?) background than we as players do. Foraging for food wasn't so much a "thing", as just a minor aspect of life in general. It's much harder to forage as a thing these days (illegal in some places, overharvesting, etc.), but it still exists. In an environment rich with wildlife, there should be a corresponding increase in edible vegetation as well (you know, stuff my food eats).

Anyway, as I typed earlier, I've got me some ideas......hopefully they will coalesce well. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary on Exhumed Obscura By Paul F de Valera (Author), & Grant S Parrinello (Author) For The OSRIC Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 11/26/2023 - 07:07
 "Do you like minute-long combat rounds? Do you know what game-inches are? Do you think the biggest problem with 5th edition is 6th edition? If so, we have the old-school role-playing expansion for you!Introducing Exhumed Obscura, a new expansion for tabletop role-playing games with material developed over decades as in-house rules now brought to you in this finely crafted and concise format to Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Humble Bundle - Solo RPG Library by Parts Per Million

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 11/26/2023 - 04:44

This past summer, I went down the Solo RPG Rabbit Hole. Wasn't sure I found what I wanted, but certainly found many options to try out. The Solo RPG Library Humble Bundle might be just what i was looking for. 18 bucks for 42 titles, there likely is something for everyone.

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  

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Footloose and Fancy Free In Lesser Helium - Warriors of the Red Planet/ Hyperborea rpg Session Report One

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 11/25/2023 - 18:53
 The PC's made  the crossing across the Boreas Winds and ended up taking a caravan to Helium. And here's where things got interesting. The PC's were getting to trade in equipment, weapons, and treasure from Hyperborea into the Twin Cities. Helium is one of the capitals of Barsoom & it's twin cities are trade centers of Mars;"Helium is one of the major kingdoms of Barsoom. It is ruled by the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary & Ascendant Rpg Session Report One - Capital City Casefiles #2: Served Cold By Karl Gustav

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 11/25/2023 - 03:14
" The heroes are sent to investigate a mysterious and brutal murder in a trendy apartment building by a Cartel enforcer, which leaves them racing to unravel the series of events that led to it, and trying to stop the rampage before it leaves any more corpses..""Capital City Casefiles is a series of scenarios for Ascendant, the superpowered role-playing game of infinite possibilities. Each Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Doorbuster Sales at DTRPG - up to 80% Off!

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 11/25/2023 - 00:11

 Without further ado, here are today's Doorbuster Offerings at DTRPG:

Fantasy RPG Deals for Black Friday

Apocalyptic RPG Deals for Black Friday

Horror RPGs for Black Friday

There are other titles on sale, with discounts ranging from 20 to 40%.

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  

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Some Observations on Science Fiction Names

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 11/24/2023 - 12:00

I think there is a lineage of science fiction name coining that whose progenitor is Edgar Rice Burroughs' Mars stories but that passes through early to mid-20th Century pulpier sci-fi like the works of Edmond Hamilton and Jack Vance to the galaxy far, far away of the Star Wars Universe.

In his Mars stories Burroughs went for relatively short (mostly 1-2 syllable), two part, phonetically simple names. Though they don't mostly sound that way to modern ears, I suspect Burroughs was after what he thought of as an "Oriental" feel. They also wind up being very simple for English speaking readers to pronounce. Examples: Kantos Kan, Gan Had, Ras Thuvas, Sab Than, Sojat Yam.

Burroughs uses a not hugely different style in many of his Planetary Romances.

Edmond Hamilton was clearly influenced by Burroughs in a number of ways and the naming practices in several of his works are similar, though they are a bit more phoentically diverse and have more consonant blends. Here are some names from his Captain Future series:  Sus Urgal, Re Elam, Thuro Thuun, Rok Olor, Si Twih, Brai Balt

Typically, he doesn't always try to be so "exotic." Sometimes he seems to be trying to convey future developments of English names. This tact he shares with other writers of the 1940s-1960s, including the various creators of the members of the Legion of Super-Heroes in DC Comics: Irma Ardeen, Rok Krinn, Garth Ranzz, Tinya Wazzo.

Jack Vance tends to take this latter approach in some of his science fiction, too, though his names are more often multisyllabic and have a first-name last name pattern with each name sometimes made up of more than one element. Still, they have a similar vibe I think to the Hamilton and Legion names. These are from the first two Demon Princes novels:  Miro Hetzel, Conwit Clent, Lens Larque, Sion Trumble, Kokor Hekkus, Kirth Gersen.

Star Wars names aren't the product of one individual, though later writers have obviously tried to fit the standards of the original trilogy. There are more straight up English names in Star Wars and of course some pseudo-Japanese ones, but a number could easily have been characters in Captain Future stories, like these: Ric Ole, Sio Bibble, Pondo Baba, Plo Kloon, Nien Nunb, Mace Windu, Sy Snootles.


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