Tabletop Gaming Feeds

'Mythic Evil In Old School Campaigns' - Another OSR Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - 13 hours 11 min ago
Happy Thanksgiving everyone from Casa De Fabiaschi, I wrote about 'The Cosmic Struggle In Old School Campaigns'.  So why would any of the planar elements & powers care about some lowly PC on some backwater world? Because the lowly adventurer does not stay in the lower ranking tier of the adventurer if they survive long. From the very beginning in Original Dungeons & Dragons the fate of the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Indigogo - LotFP Hardcover Referee Book - Last Update was 13 Months Ago, and it Wasn't a Feel Good One

Tenkar's Tavern - 15 hours 31 min ago
I knew that the LotFP Hardcover Referee Book Indigogo project was going to be long in the tooth, but no update in 13 months (and the last update basically saying "I never should have crowdfunded this") is not a positive sign.

In any case, for those that missed +James Raggi 's last update on this project, here it is:

Yeah, 4 years now.

Edit: Hate to say it, but I really no longer have a use for this, having moved on.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Amazon - $5 off $20 in Books - Stock up on Swords & Wizardry Continual Light ;)

Tenkar's Tavern - 18 hours 14 min ago

I love The Taverners, as they share some amazing stuff that might otherwise escape me. Shared in The Tavern's Facebook Community earlier today is a coupon for 5 bucks off a purchase of 20 bucks or more in dead three - printed - books.

Grab 3 copies of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light for 21 - 5 - 16 bucks and free Prime shipping.

Or grab some Basic Fantasy Roleplaying. Or 5e. Or some fantasy fiction. Whatever. Save 5 bucks.

The code is: GIFTBOOK17

Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

Any purchases you make through the above link helps The Tavern. If I find other deals I'll be certain to share them.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

November Campaign Design XII - Artanian Blood Magic

Greyhawk Grognard - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 22:00
As noted previously, one thing I want to use to differentiate Artanian magic from the more standard type used by the colonists from Hanar-across-the-sea is its basis in blood sacrifice. This is thematically similar to Defiler magic in the Dark Sun setting, which consumes plant life in order to function. Artanian blood magic is similar, but uses the life force of animals and intelligent creatures to function.

Each magic-user spell has an Artanian equivalent, plus there will be some Artanian-only spells. There is a new spell, Read Artanian Magic, which is required for magic-users to be able to utilize such spells. Spell progression lists are the unchanged.

Artanian blood magic spells do not need to be memorized. They are read directly from the magic-user's spell book. There is no limit to the number of spells that can be cast each day, as long as the requisite hit dice of creatures are sacrificed to "fuel" the spell. All Artanian spells have a somatic component in addition to the normal components; this consists of the killing of a living animal or intelligent creature(s) at the climax of the spell.

The total number of hit dice of sacrificial offerings needed to cast a spell is given below. If the subject is docile, immobilized, or willing, then no roll to hit is required, neither is a roll for damage. If the subject is resisting, then a normal roll to hit is required and damage should be rolled as normal. If the subject is not slain by the hit, then the spell is on hold until the magic-user abandons it or kills the required number of creatures, to a maximum of 1 turn. Only 1 spell can be on hold in this fashion at a time. Creatures with an intelligence of 6 or greater count as their full hit point totals. Creatures with an intelligence of 5 or less count as half of their normal hit dice. Creatures must be slain with a sharp weapon; it is the spilling of the blood that is required, not simply death itself.

It is not necessary that the magic-user himself kill the sacrifice(s). If another does the killing, the victim must be within 10' of the caster at the time of death. For each creature being sacrificed (not each hit die), 1 segment is added to the casting time of the spell.

Spell LevelLevel to CastHit Dice UsedDamage111-11 hp, 10'2312 hp, 10'351+2 hp, 15'4723 hp, 15'5933 hp, 20'61144 hp, 20'71354 hp, 25'81564 hp, 25'91775 hp, 30'
Spell Level: The level of the spell being cast.

Level to Cast: The minimum experience level needed to cast the spell.
Hit Dice Used: The minimum hit dice needed to sacrifice to cast the spell. Assumes an INT of 6 or higher. Creatures with an INT of 5 or lower count as half. 
Damage: The amount of damage inflicted when the spell is cast, followed by the range. This damage will affect all creatures in the range given, friend or foe. A successful saving throw vs. magic indicates half damage (round up). The caster is similarly impacted, but gets no save.


Artanian blood magic scrolls function the same as their regular counterparts. However, creating such scrolls requires the same sacrifices as noted above for casting, in addition to any other special ingredients the ink requires.

Mixing and Matching

It is possible for a magic-user to use both Artanian spells and regular spells. Neither has an impact on the other, but if an Artanian spell is "on hold" pending the required hit dice worth of sacrifices, a regular spell will disrupt it. Similarly, a regular spell can only be used to slay an offering if the target is within 10' of the magic-user at the time the spell is cast, and only if blood is spilled (a fireball would not work, for instance, but a wizard blade would).


As can be seen, Artanian magic can lead to very powerful spells earlier than normal (usually an experience level sooner), and the ability to cast an unlimited number of spells per day drastically increases their utility. However, the logistics of having the required number of sacrificial offerings to hand makes this less useful in, for instance, an adventuring party, where supplies are usually scarce and the need for mobility limits the number of creatures that can be brought. It would work much better in a setting where the magic-user stays put and can have offerings brought to him; a wizard in his tower, for instance, or a court magician with the resources of a city or a whole realm at his disposal.

The need for the sacrifices to be intelligent creatures, or only be half useful, is another break on the system from a PC perspective. A clever player might bring a cartful of songbirds along (for instance), but doing so presents its own logistical challenges. It should also be remembered that the damage inflicted by the spell will potentially impact other creatures that have been brought along for the magic-user's use, not to mention the slow and steady wearing down of his own hit points as the spells are cast.

Once the true implications of this form of magic are discovered and become known, it might well start a "land rush" among the major colonial powers, as they seek to root out and explore additional Artanian ruins and tombs where spell books and other magical paraphernalia might be found. I envision a situation where the colonies know that there was something different about Artanian magic, but they don't have the key just yet. Maybe it's as easy as someone finding a Read Artanian Magic spell to open the floodgates. The infrastructure relating to mass sacrifices would be put down to some horrific cult or other, and the moralistic Holy Family church would certainly see that as a cause for the Artanian Empire's fall. Not that the truth is any better from a moral standpoint, but I love to throw the PCs off the scent with in-game information that turns out to be wrong. Nothing says everything their characters know to be true has to be so...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reddit Has a Tread on Vaporware RPGs - and The Tavern has Covered Many That Got Mentioned

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 15:57

Ah, sweet Reddit. Where the rabbit holes go deep and wide.

The Vaporware RPG thread is an interesting read. The Tavern even gets linked for a Far West post from this summer.

It is a long and winding thread with projects familiar and others not. Still, an enjoyable read and an eye opener.

Enjoy your Turkey Day (and read about some turkeys on Reddit ;)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

RPGNow Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale is Live - Save 17% on over 32k Titles

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 06:13

The RPGNow Black Friday / Cyber Monday Sale is live right now. I'll try and find time to go through some picks but its damn near everything (including a benefit bundle, if you can believe it)

Yes, even Swords & Wizardry Continual  Light is on sale. The price for the PDF drops from 2.50 to 2.08.

You probably already have a copy ;)

Yep, affiliate links keep the lights on here at The Tavern...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

'The Cosmic Struggle In Old School Campaigns' An OSR Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 11/23/2017 - 00:19
So its been a Thanksgiving run around kinda day hence the lateness of this blog post but there's been something bothering me about B/X Dungeons & Dragons & its various retroclone bastard children for sometime. Campaign settings are planar backwater worlds, the struggles of adventurers,the epic fights, etc. all are very minor on the greater stage of occult circles & even the retroclone Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Miracle of the Bones

Greyhawk Grognard - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 23:38
I've been doing a lot of reading on Medieval witchcraft trials for a non-gaming project I'm working on, and over and over I see references to "the miracle of the bones" wherein an animal is killed and eaten, and then resurrected when its bones are placed in its skin, and the whole blessed. The details vary according to time and place, but that's the gist. There are obvious parallels to the Norse story of the resurrection of Thor's goats, of course.

In the course of my work on the Greyhawk deities, I decided to incorporate this myth into one of their stories. Merikka, Oeridian demigoddess of agriculture, first described in the excellent module N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God and then largely forgotten except for a perfunctory entry in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (which annoyingly and in my opinion unjustifiably reversed several details that were explicitly mentioned in the module), seemed a perfect fit. There was very little written about her, and this would add a lot of color. Here's what I came up with for her:
In ancient times, there was a young woman named Merikka, an ordinary peasant girl on a farm. One day it came to pass that her village was raided by orcs, burned, and all its inhabitants put to death and eaten. All but one, that is, for her father returned from hunting in the nearby woods to find his life and family destroyed. Weeping inconsolably, he gathered up the charred and gnawed bones of his only daughter and placed them in the skin of the family work-horse, thinking to carry them off for a more decent burial than the death she received. As he reached the spot where she was to be buried, he set down the horse-skin and spoke wailing prayers of grief to Velnius, the god of the sky, wishing that simple farmers could just live their lives in peace and not bother anyone else, and digging the grave for his daughter as he did so. Suddenly he heard a horse’s whinny from behind him, and whirled around. There, before his startled eyes, was his own daughter, bright and beautiful and very much alive, along with the family horse. Both were apparently completely unharmed. Merikka smiled warmly at her father and spoke. “Your words of grief and simple desire for the safety of the farm have been heard, father. Thanks to you, I have been reborn, now a goddess, and I will try to keep the simple peace that is your due and the due of all farm-folk.” And with that she and the horse vanished, and her father became the first disciple of the goddess of agriculture. He lived a long and peaceful life thereafter, spreading the tale of his daughter’s rebirth.- The Miracle of the BonesIf you're interested in the original sources, here are some links: Ecstasies by Carlo Ginzburg, Night Battles by Carlo Ginzburg, and The Shaman of Oberstdorf by Wolfgang Behringer.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ch. 5, Page 6

Castle Greyhawk - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 21:27
The staff had grated on Tenser the hardest, as he retraced Mordenkainen's steps afterwards and could not believe Mord had thought to look for a secret door in that corner.  But as much as Tenser had wanted a Staff of Power -- and to have one first -- what had really changed the game was the influx of wealth coming back from the dungeons. Uncountable riches were coming back to the City of Greyhawk; no one had been aware that so much wealth had ever gone missing. The wealth was making people flock to the small city from all over the Flanaess.

More importantly, a lot of that wealth had fallen into the hands of Mordenkainen, Robilar, and Tenser, in about that order. Mordenkainen was the first to use those funds to start constructing a fortified castle, to the west, and then Robilar followed suite, constructing his castle to the south. Tenser felt obligated to do the same, having one built to the east -- though he was not quite sure what to use it for, other than to guard the money he had not already spent on the castle...

Tavern Chat Reminder - Tonight - 9 PM Eastern - We MAY Have a CSIO Update

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 20:49

Now, as always, possible news and updates are subject to change but we MAY have a CSIO related update tonight in Tavern Chat. If you backed the Kickstarter you'll probably want to hear this.

Other than that? The usual BSing and related tangents ;)

9 PM Eastern in The Tavern's Discord channel:

See you tonight :)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Dungeon Alphabet 4th Printing (Goodman Games)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 16:09

I love the Dungeon Alphabet. Each printing adds more stuff and seems to come closer to perfection than the one before. There hasn't been a new printing in over 4 years.
Now its back with the Dungeon Alphabet 4th Printing Kickstsarter.

What's new? Well, the pricing is insane in a good way. Print plus PDF is only 12 bucks plus shipping. Seriously. Black Friday special and all that.

The book now stands at 80 pages. Third print was 64 pages. First was 48 pages.

It funded in less than 12 hours.

I'm quoted in the Kickstarter ;)

I stand by those words...
What Is The Dungeon Alphabet? The Dungeon Alphabet is a book of fantasy inspiration. It is filled with random tables that are themed to letters of the alphabet. For example, A is for Altar, B is for Books, and C is for Crypts. The target audience is dungeon masters and anyone who wants ideas for dungeon design. We have heard over the years that many players also enjoy looking through the book as well. Each page of The Dungeon Alphabet uses a letter of the alphabet to provide inspiration. In the first printing, so many years ago, there were 26 entries for the 26 letters. With each new printing, we have doubled-up on select letters to add even more material. This 4th printing is now up to 41 entries, including 2 completely new ones and others collected from our annual Gen Con Program Guides, to add a total of 7 letters that are new since the 3rd printing: C is also for Crypt
G is also for Guardians
H is also for Hazards
L is also for Levels
O is also for Omen
Q is also for Quests
U is also for Underwater
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Kamandi

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 12:00
According to the DC Comics 1976 Calendar, November 21st was the birthday of Kamandi. In the unlikely event anyone reading this blog doesn't know who Kamandi is the last human born in a underground bunker called Command D (from whence he takes his name) after a nebulous cataclysm known as the Great Disaster has cast human civilization in ruin and anthropomorphic animals have risen in their place. Kamandi was created by Jack Kirby in 1972 and his original series went on for 59 post-apocalyptic issues.

In honor of Kamandi's birthday, here are the places to catch up on the highlights of his story if you are unfamiliar:

Kamandi by Jack Kirby Omnibus: Kirby's original run on the title has been collected in DC Archives (out of print) and previous two volume omnibuses (also out of print). The new omnibus is schedules to be released in March of 2018. He carries a hefty price tage, but also a hefty 896 page page-count. This is the most essential reading on the list.

Wednesday Comics: was a 2009 anthology published in a broadsheet format resembling a Sunday newspaper comics section. There was a serialized Kamandi story written by Dave Gibbons with art by Ryan Sook with a real comic strip feel, sort of like Prince Valiant. Sook's artwork is gorgeous. There are several other good stories in this hardcover, so you don't have to get it for Kamandi alone. A warning though: It is awkardly sized at nearly 18 inches tall, so it's tough to find a shelf for it.

Kamandi Challenge: Back in the '80s DC did a sort of round robin limited series called DC Challenge. A number of DC characters appeared, but notable Kamandi did not. This year, they're doing similar sort of series, but focused on Kamandi, aptly named Kamandi Challenge. Like the original DC Challenge, Kamandi Challenge is uneven and a bit loose in its narrative as every creator tries to do something with the threads they are given. Still, it's all Kamandi and very inventive. The individual issues can be purchased digitally at Comixology or physical at your local comic book store. The collected hardcover will be out in April of 2018.

Goodman Games - Black Friday Sale - 40% off Print & PDF at the Goodman Online Store - Starts Now

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 04:50

Literally just got the email and its too good not to share right away!

Black Friday Tuesday!

Black Friday starts early! This year we’re really getting into the holiday spirit with an amazing offer!

We are giving you 40% off…on everything. Yes, EVERYTHING! Every item in our online store is 40% off if you use the coupon code blackfriday2017. This applies to both print and PDF items. The sale only lasts until Cyber Monday (that would be Monday, November 27th) so act fast!

The sale includes EVERYTHING in the online store – including great gift items like the ones shown below. Buy these for your favorite dungeon master, dungeon mistress, buddy, stranger, or even yourself! With this kind of bargain, it’s okay to be generous!

If you are looking for a few stocking stuffers, may we recommend things like:

  • The DCC Dice Sets!
  • The DCC Quick Start Rules!
  • The latest DCC Adventure Modules!
  • A Fifth Edition Fantasy Adventure!
  • Or some fabulous Goodman Games Apparel!

You get 40% off EVERYTHING IN OUR ONLINE STORE with the coupon code blackfriday2017!

Goodman Games Online Store link
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

November Campaign Design XI - Merchants and Mercenaries

Greyhawk Grognard - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 22:00
Now that the local area where the PCs are starting has been filled in a little more, I'd like to pull back out and take a look at some of the more macro bits of detail. Specifically, I'd like to look at the merchant houses and mercenary companies that were either brought here or established themselves here during the time of the settlement.


Several large mercantile concerns dominate Artania, importing finished goods from Hanar-across-the-sea, transporting raw materials from the interior to the ports, or moving goods within or between the colonies themselves. These are starting to enjoy great political power thanks to their economic position, and some are even rivaling the feudal lords in authority and prestige.

House Bourdaine. Based in Hanar, with a local headquarters in New Montrose, House Bourdaine is run by the Bourdaine family, which controls almost all of the sea traffic between New Valais and Hanar. Operating with a royal charter, and kicking back enormous sums to the crown to maintain its privileged status, House Bourdaine controls half of New Montrose, but its influence outside the city is small. Its symbol is a ship with a crown on the mainmast.

The Onjoi Company. Chartered by the Duke of New Valois, this company is an amalgam of several different families, and is chaired by the Comte d'Firstwater, who owns the rights to most of the river traffic on the Firstwater. They have expanded their operations to include trade across Lake Onjoi and up the Shining River, making them very powerful in New Valais. They are constantly pushing the weak Marquis d'Onjoi to expand into the interior. It operates by a ducal charter, and its symbol is a red hand and a silver scale.

House Greystark. Chartered by both the Duke of New Valois and the Earl of South Aedgaria, this house has found its niche in the expanding trade between Aedgaria and New Valois. It is headquartered in Dubton, and has an arrangement with House Bourdaine to only pass its trade through the port of New Montrose. This vexes the Earl, who wants very badly to see Port Westview expand its trade, but he is willing to accept lesser revenues for now. Their symbol is a fleece (a sheep being weighed).

House Ellenhame. Chartered by the Duke of Aedgaria, Ellenhame is contracted to expand trade into and out of Aedgaria's ports. It has been somewhat less than successful, due to a number of factors (some of which are not their fault, some of which are due to their own mis-management). They do very well collecting agricultural goods along the Long Road to ship through Port Westview, but find themselves at odds with House Greystark. Their symbol is a beehive.

House Grendine. Chartered by the Earl of North Aedgaria, this house is closely allied with the rulers of Norton, who form their chief supplier of precious metals and other products. Their leader holds the feudal rank of Viscount. It is unclear which party has the upper hand in the relationship, but the baroness Ursula is rarely taken advantage of by anyone. Their symbol is a scale atop a cloud.

The Lippegen Company. Chartered by the kings of Grott-Heimburg, this company has a stranglehold on most trade throughout Lippegen, and its managing director is said to be more powerful than the Herzog himself, and holds the royally bestowed title of Graf. The company is not ruled by any single family, but by a board of directors (located in Grot-Heimburg) which is made up of prominent families, including those of the kings, who have a 49% stake in the company by law. Their symbol is a heron wearing two crowns.

House Glott. Chartered by the Markgraf von Osttur, is incredibly poised to take a huge chunk of business away from the Lippegen Company, since they are based in Osttur and often manage to sneak prime opportunities out from under the nose of the local agents of the Company. Thusfar their activities have been little more than a nuisance, but a few more nuisances and the Company might decide to scratch the itch. Their symbol is a black tower.

In addition, there are other, smaller companies, with two or three based in each town. These I'm leaving for further expansion as needed to facilitate plots and adventures.


Few of the feudal lords in any of the three colonies have anything close to an army suitable for their full defense and the security of their people and borders. Because of this, they have brought mercenary companies from Hanar-across-the-sea to do the bulk of their fighting. The chief enemies of the colonies at the moment are native orc tribes, various monsters, and renegade deserter goblin/ hobgoblin/ bugbear troops. Only occasionally have the colonies gone to war against one another, and even then such encounters were swift and mercifully over quickly. The feudal lords are much more likely to engage in petty cross-border skirmishes and banditry, but this is normal and to be expected, even within the boundaries of a particular colony.

Most of the mercenaries brought over to New Valais and Lippegen are goblinoid troops, consisting of goblin foot-soldiers, hobgoblin and norker sergeants and officers, bugbear officers, and human captains. These were used extensively in the full-scale wars in Hanar-across-the-sea, but are somewhat overkill in Artanis, where there is no large-scale war and no set-piece battles to fight. Hence, there is a much higher level of desertion, with entire companies simply dissolving into the wilderness. Troop strengths given below do not include sergeants and officers.

It should be remembered that the goblin troops worship various demons and devils, despite the official distaste for such. It is tolerated because the troops fulfill their function; fodder in war. They do so privately, and never ostentatiously. It is something more of a concern in Lippegen than it is in New Valais, due to the difference in official faiths. 

The Bitter Embers are a force that has been in the employ of Valais for generations. Consisting of 600 heavy footmen armed with glaive and axe, they are a powerful battering ram. They are currently led by General Renauld Jil (F 11), grandson of the original commander of the force. They are currently stationed in Duchais, Chamlin, and Anleans, broken into several companies that patrol endlessly. Their unit insignia is a red torch, and morale is low.

The Risen Fist is a relatively new unit that was raised specifically to be used in New Valais. It consists of 300 archers and 200 skirmishers armed with sling and short sword. They are led by General Prince August Wegman (R 10), a disgraced former scion of a cadet member of the royal Heimburg family. They are well-suited to the guerrilla warfare practiced by the orcs in the wilderness, and are currently on loan to the Marquis d'Onjoi, who has them ranging up and down the Shining River region rooting out the several orc tribes ensconced there. Their unit insignia is a mailed fist, and morale is high.

The Steel Owls are a long-standing unit imported from Valais. They number some 400 wolf-riding cavalry, and are spread throughout the colony as scouts and reinforcements for the other troops there. They are led by General Prospero Vouchand (MU 10), who has protested about the scattering of his forces, but pay-and-a-half has kept his protests muted. Their unit insignia is a grey owl, and morale is high in areas where they are engaged against orc raiders, and medium where they are guarding sheep but paid well for doing little.

The Black Skulls are an ancient unit, one of the most decorated in the history of Grott-Heimburg. A well-balanced force consisting of 800 medium spear, 300 archers, and 200 wolf-riding cavalry, they are very well disciplined and have a much higher ratio of hobgoblin non-commissioned officers than most. They are led by General Gräfin Maria Bettendorf (A 12), and form the core of the mercenary strength of Lippegen. They are based in Zweistadt, and are constantly engaged in action in the Rojanois Mountains and the thick forests to the north. The Gräfin is fully enmeshed in the politics of Lippegen, and has her sights set on a permanent role in the feudal structure, although her own lands are back in Hanar. Their unit insignia is a black skull, and morale is high.

The Holy Orphans are a new unit, raised specifically for service in Lippegen. They consist of 400 spearmen, all of fairly low quality. They are led by Oberst Herr Hans Reichman (P 8), who is attempting to sway his goblin troops to the Church, with next to no success. He is certain that if he can demonstrate the righteousness of his religion through personal victory in combat in front of his men, that will be the breakthrough he needs, and in that quest he constantly throws himself into the thick of battle, taking risks that in all honesty are reckless. His troops are based in Osttur, and morale is medium.

The Laughing Hounds are so named because of their barking-laugh battle cry. They consist of 200 wolf-riding cavalry. Their leader is Oberst Josef Winter (F 14). He is a dedicated warrior and hardened fighter, unhappy that he and his troops are in the rear, assigned to policing duties in the western portion of the colony. Unit insignia is a red dog, and morale is low.

As noted earlier, there are no goblinoid mercenary troops in Aedgaria. All their military force consists of local militia and troops maintained by the feudal lords. To date, this has been sufficient, but if either Lippegen or New Valais decided to mount a full-scale invasion, Aedgaria's future would be quite uncertain. What is certain, is that reinforcements from Hanar could never arrive in time to prevent a rout.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

B/X Dungeons & Dragaons & OSR D&D Rules Encypclopedia Campaign Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 20:54
So I'm looking through my Dungeons & Dragons rules cyclopedia again doing a cross comparison between monsters, PC classes, etc. for research purposes for my  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition/Adventurer,Conqueror, King hybrid campaign. There's an old thread on Dragon's foot about B/X Vs Rules Cyclopedia D&D  but the truth is that the Rules Cyclopedia isn't Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

“I Assist” Isn’t an Improved Guidance Cantrip that Anyone Can Cast

DM David - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:16

In episode 124 of the Down with D&D podcast, hosts Shawn Merwin and Chris Sniezak discussed a scene that reoccurs at my tables too. “In a lot of games that I’ve run, everyone is always assisting every check they possibly can,” Shawn explains. “Someone tries to do something, and someone will just pipe up, ‘I assist.’”

This pattern brings advantage to every check, trivializing the game’s challenges. Because no one needs to engage with the game world to gain an edge, routine assistance discourages ingenuity.

Chris Sniezak offers a potential remedy: “When someone says that they want to help, the first question that the dungeon master should ask is, ‘How do you help?’”

Ask players to describe how they assist, and then grant—or deny—advantage based on whether the assistance could help. The Dungeon Master’s Guide explains, “You decide whether a circumstance influences a roll in one direction or another, and you grant advantage or impose disadvantage as a result.” Rather than making “I assist” a real-world incantation that grants advantage, judge assistance as a circumstance that might merit advantage.

Photo by Mykola Swarnyk

If a character tries to climb from a frozen river onto the ice, a hand up will probably help. Encouragement shouted from the shore probably won’t.

Describing the assistance immerses players in the game world and helps the story come alive.

Specific actions to assist might expose a helper to danger. Offering a hand out of that river would mean crawling onto the cracking ice. Often, assistance means coming in range of a potential trap.

Unlike past Dungeons & Dragons rules, fifth edition lets characters assist without a required check. Nonetheless, the actions made to assist might require a check. Suppose a helper chooses not to risk the thin ice and opts to throw a rope instead. Casting a rope to a sinking character’s flailing hands might require a dexterity check.

In an ideal game, players describe their actions and DMs respond by calling for ability checks. This protocol extends to assisting. The player describes how they help, and then the DM grants advantage. Typically, I don’t insist on this order, so I happily ask players how they help. But during role-playing interaction, I stick to the protocol.

After a player acts in character to persuade a non-player character, I don’t let bystanders volunteer to assist the check. Only characters with speaking parts—the characters who contributed to a scene—get to assist. When two or more characters contribute to an interaction, I typically grant advantage without a player request. Sometimes I accept a reminder.

The D&D rules offer two alternatives to assistance.

Group checks come when everyone might need to make at a check. The rule assumes skilled characters assist the rest, so only half the group needs to succeed.

The second alternative is letting everyone make an attempt. After all, helping someone search a room amounts to two separate searches. Rolling two separate lockpicking attempts makes more sense than letting one character assist by encircling the rogue from behind to guide her hand like a creepy golf instructor.

Unless time, skill, or other circumstances limit an attempt to a couple of party members, separate roles usually offer better odds. But consider this: If everyone in the party enjoys time to make a check in safety, why even bother making the check? Do you just want to give everyone a chance to roll?

Sometimes I do that. Everyone likes to roll. I wonder how many players liked the old assistance rules better just because the helper gets to roll?

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Tome of Horrors: Reborn for Fifth Edition (Frog God Games)

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 05:05

If you are a 5e gamer - DM or player - this is probably a book you don't want to miss. Tome of Horrors: Reborn for Fifth Edition. I have the Swords & Wizardry edition and it is awesome. Heck, I'm tempted to grab the 5e version with all the new color art simply for the art.

Or I can get a set of Tokens of Horrors. What's that? That is this (punch out printed tokens and VTT versions):

At least 200 tokens. 20 bucks for the VTT and 40 for the punch out type AND VTT version. I think I'm in for tokens. Shit. They simply are system neutral.

What? You want pricing on the actual book? Hardcopy starts at $50 (and includes the PDF) That's a damn fair price for a Frog God book.

Damn it. Why the hell am I jonesing for tokens. I'll actually need to start using them ;)
Frog God Games' wants to unleash the next iteration of its iconic Tome of Horrors series for 5th Edition . Hordes of sinister adversaries, restless dead, and other horrific monstrosities to gleefully challenge your players' expectations. Bursting with hundreds of creatures, new additions as well as converted classics, in a library-bound and stitched full color volume, the next Tome of Horrors will be a must have for your 5th edition campaign.    Everybody needs more monsters.  
These days I swim in the Frog God pond. They publish and distribute for free Swords & Wizardry Light and allow me to work the booth at cons. I work for a warm bed and three hots at cons- and beer. And yes, I'm definitely backing for the tokens ;)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

More Lovecraftian Old School Monster Ecology & OSR Campaign Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 18:14
I've been doing a lot of research over the weekend between work, calls, etc. on B/X Dungeons & Dragons monster & lair placement. The fact is that many of the traditional monsters certainly fit into the junket of being opportunists of the highest orders. That is that if a ruin or other adventure location is available they'll take it. This is something that Holmes B/X D&D monsters  take Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

About The Tavern's Wayward Kickstarter Posts - Why "Something Fishy" Doesn't Cut it and Other Stuff

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 17:08

I get numerous requests to cover various Kickstarters that are late. A Kickstarter being late doesn't necessarily bring it to the level of a "Wayward Kickstarter" as The Tavern looks at it. If it did, I'd be posting such daily as the vast majority of gaming Kickstarters fulfill late. No, I dont have a percentage.

Now, while some of the requests include details such as "X is selling their release at GenCon and backers haven't received theirs yet" and "Y just got sick for the sixth time and the dog ate the only copy of the manuscript" some just want me to look at something because its late. Occasionally, I get the "there's something fishy" or "I dont trust Z" without telling my what is fishy or why they don't trust the project creator. That doesn't give me anything to go on,

I very much do need something to go on.

If you follow my Wayward Kickstarter posts, you'll notice I use a fair number of screen shots. I like to back up my findings with evidence and while opinion and likely but unproven conclusions often appear, they too are backed by a trail of evidence, even if it is only circumstantial.

Why is that? Its how I was trained. Shortly before I became a Sgt in the NYPD I was trained as a Compstat officer - statistics, crime patterns, mapping of crimes - all became my new routine. After promotion to Sgt and doing my time on patrol I was made the Precinct Compstat Sgt - preparing weekly Crime Stat books for the precinct. A year and a half later, Internal Affairs was expanding a Corruption Stat unit that looked for patterns of corruption and I was added to the team.

There is a misconception that Internal Affairs looks for dirty cops. They do, but that is not their mission. The mission is to keep good, honest cops from going dirty. To do that, you need to be proactive in addressing corruption within the department. Dirty cops need to be made an example of, not hidden away.

Do I bring some of that to The Tavern and the spotlight it shines on Wayward Kickstarters? Certainly. RPG Gaming is my community. Its where I hang my hat. I want to see the best of the best thrive. I want show the worst of the worst, oftentimes in ways that embarrass them, in the hopes that others will avoid following them. With few exceptions - #ConManKen - I don't think project creators plan to succeed in funding but fail to produce. I don't think they plan to misuse the funds and have nothing left to fulfill. Sometimes the path is a slippery one. But by keeping, as best I can, the largest failures in the spotlight I hope to prevent other larger failures.

The end result is a combination of investigative reporting backed by police investigative skills and experience and it is done because the service is needed.

I remember a few years back, some angry commenter on G plus asked me "Who made you the RPG Police?" I don't think I had an answer for that, or at least I lacked a good enough answer that I can remember it now, but I do know the answer for today - YOU made me the RPG Police. The Kickstarter Police. The GMF Police. You, The Tavern reader, that expects more from their hobby.

I have no authority aside from that given by The Tavern's readership but I have a responsibility to the community. The readership has a responsibility too, to keep me honest. It is very much a two way street. Without your feedback I'll never know how to improve and what I'm doing right - and wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this.

My chills have broken so maybe I wont be as cranky this week ;)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic and Warner Bros. Consumer Products Announce Release of Teen Titans Go! Deck-Building Game

Cryptozoic - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 14:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, today announced the November 29 release of Teen Titans Go! Deck-Building Game. In this two-player game based on the popular TV show Teen Titans Go!, each player becomes a member of the team—Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, or Raven—and engages in a friendly competition to take down DC Super-Villains such as Blackfire and the H.I.V.E. Five. Each player starts with one DC Super Hero, but is able to recruit “Sidekicks,” other Titans who can help the player.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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