Tabletop Gaming Feeds

More Commentary On D2 Temple of The Frog By Dave L. Arneson & David J. Ritchie

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 00:16
Why is DA2 Temple of The Frog so critical to the history of  Dungeons & Dragons? Well for many folks it was the first time they had heard of Dave L. Arneson. And the extensive history surrounding his contribution to the creation of Dungeons & Dragons in Nineteen Eighty Six.  David J. Ritchie had done a bit of a service to the Dungeons & Dragons community by pulling together all of the DaveNeedles
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The King is Dead; LONG LIVE THE KING!

Hack & Slash - Tue, 10/09/2018 - 00:16
Friends! Companions! Compatriarts, adversaries, and villains!

Google Plus is Dead!

In ten months, the field we have sown blood and tears on; the field upon which an empire of creativity was wrought; a field many left in disgust, will be closed and destroyed after the passing of next summer!

This is no hoax.

Listen friends; gather round and be joyful, for this passing of ages.

When we began this great work, no one played Dungeons & Dragons seriously online. Now every thursday hundreds of thousands of people tune into watch people play D&D.  When this began, the only official play was 4e, with builds and squares, dissociated mechanics, a dying playerbase.

Now is a golden age that I am lucky to see, and perhaps may not come again in my time. But whatever we all set out to do, even those who were stranger, opponent, friend, or foe; We did it.

OSR is at the forefront of industry awards, and Dungeons and Dragons, the new edition that explicitly empowers Dungeon Masters in the classic style, is more popular now then it was during its height of popularity in the early 80's.

The future will bring new life to gaming, and it is not all bad. Dark forces, corrupt and nefarious emotions, and bigoted, racist, and sexist individuals drove people from that land, over and over again. Google Plus dying means we have a chance to start over, to start again and perhaps build something even greater. Something better, safer, more egalitarian.

Let me say to everyone, It will be ok! Discord, twitch, reddit, forums—One thousand flowers will bloom in the soil the OSR carried and laid.

We will be here, no matter what dreams may come. Life is change. I am excited to see what happens next!

Fair journey friends, I wish you well!
Hang out with me and watch me make crazy beautiful art: me money so I can live indoors: up for my Newsletter: with me on Steam: me up on Discord:Agonarch#0828Tweet at me: right into my face:
Here I am on MeWe: some grams, I've inst-ed: me: campbell at oook dot cz
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Some bad news about Google Plus

Bat in the Attic - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 18:09
Google Plus was Google's answer to facebook. It never got widespread adoption but among specific niches of internet it was heavily used compared to facebook. One of those niches is the OSR.

And now it appears the Google is shutting it down or at the least radically changing it.

Damn it. I really despise the Facebook interface and because of that I have not kept my Facebook account as clean as my Google Plus setup. I guess my wife, Kelly Anne will be happy as facebook is her primary home on social media.

Well it was good while it lasted.

The link to the annoucement

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter Project Canceled

Two Hour Wargames - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 15:05
Due to unforeseen circumstances I've decided to cancel the current Kickstarter project. Thanks for all who pledged. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Lurking Shadows in Under Sea

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 10/08/2018 - 11:00
Our 5e Land of Azurth game continued last night. After hearing the party's story, the lovely Randa decides to take them to her father, the wizard Phosphoro, who she is sure will help them, though he tends to disintegrate most visitors. They travel the the innermost sphere of the sanctum to meet him.

To their surprise, the stern and imperious wizard does offer to remove the curse of wandering laid on them by the Sea King, point them in direction of Under Sea, and allow them to keep the magic items they have stolen, but they must do something for him in return. He wants a particular page from the Book of Doors (which they took from Mortzengersturm). After some debate, the party agrees to give him the page he wants, but Phosphoro explains he cannot take the page now, because he can't identify it. He needs them to bring him the page from the future. He also suggests that there Kully can get his wish to find out more about Princess Viola.

Not really understanding how this will work, the party nevertheless agrees since Phosphoro is allowing them to complete their quest to Under Sea first. With his magic staff, Phosphoro transports them back to the submarine and sets them on the path.

Within hours they descend into the depths, then come up in Under Sea, which is a land of a lazy river and Spanish moss in live oaks, that happens to have the shimmering sea forming a dome above it. The one frogling town in Under Sea is now under the thumb of the Toads and their Toad temple, which just appeared one day in a blinding flash. Frogling are taken to the temple for sacrifice.

Old Freedy, the ambassador, goes off to find out when the next sacrifice is likely to be, while the party hides out to formulate a plan. Shade and Waylon do some invisible scouting and see a toad priest and some acolytes going to a tavern. They seem less like toad people and more like people in toad masks. Before they can investigate further, Old Freedy comear tearing down street chased by an actual toad monster than seems to move in shadows.

They manage to pull Freedy into an alley and try to trick the creature with an illusion, but it doesn't work. Somehow, the thing moves through the shadows to end up behind them and uses its toxic tongue to yank Waylon into its mouth. Shade puts several arrows in the monster, but it only lets a near death Waylon go when Freedy escapes.

They return to the stable where the the party is hiding out. The monster attacks there too, somehow mystically tracking Freedy. Pummelled by spell and arrow, the thing eventually disolves into goo and a wispy shadow, but only after Kairon shrank it too small to swallow anyone.

1d12 Random Sword & Sorcery Encounters With Alien Mummies & Their Kind Table

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 10/07/2018 - 19:18
The red star burnt the night sky like a lidless eye stretching its gaze across the world. Sheri The Lawless One moved her company across the monastery threshold. She had lost contact with Vartain her former lover & 'business partner'. She had warned him & brought him here after she had sent 'Thama The Twisting Acrobat' & her party of outlaws here. Now Vartain & the girl who was like a Needles
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Black Void [ICONS]

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 10/07/2018 - 14:00

Art by Chris MalgrainBLACK VOID

Prowess: 6
Coordination: 4
Strength: 7
Intellect: 5
Awareness: 5
Willpower: 8

Determination: 1
Stamina: 13

Specialties: Science

"All was born from us and to us it will return"
"I am what remains of Kolb...and more"
Corpse Animated by Protoplasm

Energy Drain (Life Drain, Storage): 7
Life Support: 10
Armor (Containment Suit): 5
Telepathic Link (Black Mass only): 8

Ed Kolb was a petroleum engineer for Hexxon Oil tasked with exploring a pocket deep underground where a substance, dubbed the "Black Mass," with unusual properties had been discovered. Upon breaching the chamber, Kolb and his team found that the Black Mass was a vast pool of protoplasm with an alien intelligence. Telepathically communicating with them, the entity asserted that it was the oldest living thing on earth, and all other lifeforms were ultimately derived from its substance. With its pseudopods, the Black Mass absorbed the others, but left Kolb with part of his intellect intact and animated his partially consumed corpse within his environmental suit, so it could use him to explore the outside world.

  The Kolb-Black Mass hybrid soon came in contact with Subterraneans, whose civilization had long been aware of the entity they called the Black Void and had sought to contain it. The prince of the underground civilization, the Sub-Terran (see Sub-Terran), battled this new manifestation of the Black Void and forced him back into the chamber where the Black Mass resided then resealed it.

   Later, agents of Hexxon released the Black Void and brought him to Hexxon’s board of directors, who were all be members of a secret cult that worshiped the Black Mass and sought to use it to gain power. Black Void killed most of the board members and for a time took secret control of Hexxon.

See Black Void's FASERIP stats here.

OSR Commentary On DA1 Adventures In Blackmoor By Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 10/07/2018 - 06:31
"Blackmoor is beset!"On every side the storm clouds gather. To south and east, the Great Empire of Thonia plots to end Blackmoor's independence and reclaim its lost province. To the west, the implacable Afridhi are on the move. To the north, the evil Egg of Coot prepares to cross the thundering sea and once again bring fire and sword into the heart of the small kingdom. Beyond the realmNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1d12 Random Sword & Sorcery Encounters With Alien Wraiths & Their Kind

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 10/06/2018 - 03:12
"Under the dread & alien sky the moons carved their way through the skies like some cancer rotting its way through the cells of reality. The party of adventurers more like a band of cut purses & bandits really had been assembled from the local meeting points of the guild. They were temporary players in a game of robbery & misadventure whose survivors might be come a part of Vartain's BrigandNeedles
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Deep Pulp

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 10/05/2018 - 11:00
Currently, I'm alternating my reading time between two pulp science fiction novels from the 1960s: Lin Carter's Tower of the Medusa and Gardner Fox's Warrior of Llarn. Neither writer is hailed for their great literary accomplishments, though Gardner Fox made substantial contributions to Silver Age comic book history. Both write in a style that harkens back to the days of the actual pulp magazines (which, in Fox's case is where he got his start) and whatever their deficiencies can occasionally turn out a serviceable yarn.
originally published in an Ace DoubleCarter has a flare for world-building, if occasionally done in too formulaic and always pretty derivative sort of way. He has a "genius" of combining subgenres that no one had put together before: His Lemuria stories, for instance are basically Conan in a Edgar Rice Burroughs yarn. His Gondwane tales are a faux Vancian mix Oz, Flash Gordon, and the Dying Earth. Tower of Medusa here feels a bit like a C.L. Moore riff in conception: In a future interstellar civilization where less of old knowledge makes ancient tech seem as magic (or maybe it was a fusion of the two?) a tough guy thief and his side kick are coerced into a difficult job: the theft of a jewel called Heart of Kom Yazoth. The story reads more like Moore's husband Henry Kuttner in his early pulp stuff. It has none of Moore's atmosphere. Still, it's an above average Carter effort, I feel like.

Warrior of Llarn is a Sword & Planet yarn. Earthman Alan Morgan gets transport to a distant world by means as yet mysterious. He saves a princess and gets involved with a war between two civilizations. The level of technology of the world is a bit higher than Barsoom, and Fox provides a Dune-esque (a year before Dune) explanation for why people with energy weapons might still use swords. Like Fox's earlier Adam Strange stories for DC, the planet has suffered a nuclear war in the past, which is the cause of it's strange creatures and current lower level of civilization. Fox's story is old fashion, even quaint in many ways, but he's accomplished at delivering the goods. It is not boring.

OSR Commentary In Praise Of DA2 Temple of The Frog By Dave Arneson, & David J. Ritchie For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 17:45
"Green Death... That's what old hands call the Great Dismal Swamp. For centuries, this tangled maze of sluggish watercourses, stagnant ponds, and festering marshes has defended Blackmoor's southwestern frontier. Large armies and smaller parties have disappeared altogether inside its vast, dripping, claustrophobic corridors. Among those who have dropped from sigh in this arboral hellNeedles
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Okay, Cut to the Chase! Kickstarter - How Much?

Two Hour Wargames - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 15:07

The Kickstarter launches tomorrow. So what is it going to cost? Good question.
Each pledge level has two prices -  PDF (cheaper, but you print the game) and Printed and bagged, with the option to buy a printed for the game cardboard box.

Lowest pledge is for 1 PDF game - $30 and the highest is $350 and you get 18 printed games!  The "sweet spot" is 10 games as that gets you all of the Stretch Goals.

The Stretch Goals will get you FREE games and drive down the price of the 11th or higher game you want to buy.  You can buy one of each or 18 of one or any combination in between.This is a great Kickstarter to go in with your friends. Plus as we collect shipping after the project funds, each friend can pay for their own shipping, so even your faraway friends can join the fun.

The Kickstarter launches tomorrow - Friday the 5th at 10 AM US Eastern Time.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Constructing A Dark Sun and A Dying Earth

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 10/04/2018 - 11:00
Art by Don DixonStill ruminating on my Dark Sun riff, I figure first things first: that dark sun. Smith and Vance provide the prototype. As the Smith writes in the "Dark Eidolon": "...the sun no longer shone with the whiteness of its prime, but was dim and tarnished as if with a vapor of blood."

Not that it needs to be even vaguely scientific, but the usual way people give this a scientific veneer is to have the Sun (or whatever star) have turned red giant in old age. In our solar system, current theory suggests the Earth will have been scorched by the Sun's increasing luminosity billions of years before it goes red giant and consumes the planet entirely, but again fantasy. Also, even a red giant star burns white hot, so would hardly be "tarnished as if with a vapor of blood," but that's seldom concerned sci-fi writers, and shouldn't unduly concern us.

Another option, rather than the very luminous red giant, is the small, dark, and cooler red dwarf star. It is true that our Sun (or any star) won't become a red dwarf as it's dying--in fact red dwarfs are very long lived--but hey magic or sufficiently advanced science, right?

A red dwarf wouldn't typically look red in the sky either, but it's light diffused through dust or clouds would definitely be more orangish, at least, and it would be dim enough that you could look at it and see flares and things on it's surface. Dim enough, and close enough, because the habitable zone of a red dwarf would be very close to the star, so an Earth like world would be huddled in like a person around a campfire on a cold night.

The thing about being so close to the star as that it would likely mean the world was tidally locked; It might well present the same face to the star at all times and have a dayside and a nightside. This could then be a world with a scorching day time desert and a freezing night time desert, but it also offers other possibilities. Of course, the planet could have a 3:2 resonance like Mercury, rather than a 1:1 tidal lock like the Moon, too.

So doing a little bit of calculation, and a little bit of making stuff up, here's what I came up with: An world tidally locked to a dwarf star. It's day side is a scorching desert, dotted with dead cities and desiccated sea basins from before whatever happened happened. On the day side over the equator, the sun would be white and a little over 3 times as large as the Sun is in our sky.  Further from the equator and the prime meridian (not as arbitrarily placed on a world where the sun doesn't move) the sun is lower in the sky and redder in color.

Moving toward the night side, the land would become a little less dry by stages until you reached the terminator (no, not that one) where there would be forest and jungle cloaked in eternal twilight and wracked by fierce storms caused by the meeting of the hot air from dayside and the cold air of the nightside. Here be monsters.

Most of the night side, lit only by the stars, is a cold ocean. As we all know places of eternal night are havens of undead, and so must it be here. And of course, sea monsters.

18 Game Kickstarter Launches Friday!

Two Hour Wargames - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 19:08
Launches Friday! Click for more info.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Witch & Switch?! Tegel Manor Session Report - Witches, Goblins, Slavery,& Machinations

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 18:24
So last night the home campaign was going full tilt, I had all my players there & the events were going well. The PC's faced down a group of goblins & an orc shaman who was working for the Rump's bodyguard/witch NPC. She's a member of the Le Fey family/coven of witches that are ubiquitous throughout my campaigns. She bares are striking resemblance to Spencer's version of Morgan Le Fey. Needles
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The Big I - #3 Escort

Two Hour Wargames - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 16:41

Catch up on what happened earlier. Encounter #1 Find - The Big I  Encounter #2 Chillin' - The Big I
The old guy spent a couple of drinks worth talking to Spence and he convinced him to go with him the following morning. He had an errand to run in south Albuquerque and promised Spence payment if he went with him. What he didn’t tell Spence was that his two grand kids would be with him. 

This is a major change in the Story. With Bee being infected finding the "Cure" is now Spence's primary importance. Grandpa and the kids can come with the group or leave. Grandpa decides it's good to stay with the group for now. Spence figures the kids can help find Loot. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Mike Grell

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 10/03/2018 - 11:00

TwoMorrows just released a new retrospective on the creator of Warlord, Sable, and so many others, titled Mike Grell: Life Is Drawing Without An Eraser. The hardcover clocks in at 178 pages (full color) and is of course full of Grell art from his start on Brenda Starr, through his work for the Big Two and creator owned work.

There are chapters on all of his major works (the Legion, Warlord, Sable, Green Arrow, Shaman's Tears, and Starslayer) and own his work on the Tarzan newspaper strip and James Bond graphic novels. Interspersed are mostly reprint but still interesting interviews with Grell or collaborators. There's also a checklist of Grell's work in comics.

The hardcover has an additional gallery section in the back that the paperback lacks. This has several more Warlord images.

The Big I - #2 Chillin' Part Three - Hard Feelings

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 19:34

Part One
Part Two

In All Things Zombie - Evolution you can gamble with NPCs during a Chillin' Encounter.  The good news is it's a way to earn Increasing Rep d6 if you win. The bad news is it could cause Hard Feelings with the NPCs that lose. How do you know? Here's how we do it:

  • Roll 1d6 for each NPC Class you are playing against. So in this case, Survivors, Sheeple and Militia.
  • If the score is equal or less than the number of NPCs for the Class, they have Hard Feelings and will Confront you outside when you leave.  You could have a Confrontation with more than one Class, counting all of them as the common enemy. This is still part of the Chillin' Encounter and not an additional one.
There was 1 Survivor, 1 Sheeple and 2 Militia. I rolled 3d6 and, in order, scored a 4, 5 and 1. The Militia had Hard Feelings.

Game played quickly and added to the Story. Also another way to gain Increasing or Decreasing Rep d6. The nice thing about ATZ is the unexpected can happen as in the Militia acting first, even though they didn't have the Advantage, Luckily this was a non-lethal Confrontation. Could have been very ugly if they were using weapons.
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Gary Gygax’s Thwarted Plans for Second-Edition Dungeons & Dragons

DM David - Tue, 10/02/2018 - 10:20

In 1985, D&D co-creator Gary Gygax wrote a column for Dragon magazine describing his plans for a second edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. “This task does not preclude later supplements, changes and yet new editions (a Third, perhaps a Fourth someday).” Imagine that.

By the time his plans reached readers in November, Gary had been forced out of TSR. Gary’s part in shaping D&D ended. TSR ignored his outline and would not start work on a second edition until 1987.

This left D&D fans to speculate how Gary’s second edition would have differed from version that actually reached stores in 1989.

Gary never sets goals for the new edition. He later explained, “The soul and spirit of the revised game would have remained the same. The change might have been likened to that from D&D to AD&D.” AD&D started as a collection of all the material published for the original game. Similarly, Gary’s outline for second edition dwells on compiling first-edition monster books and arcana into four core books. “Each is far larger than now, but the needed information is all under the cover of the appropriate tome.” (Gary added Legends & Lore to D&D’s usual three, core books.)

Most of Gary’s plans centered on selecting what parts of D&D merited a place in the new edition. By his reckoning, monks belonged in an oriental-themed campaign book and assassins should become optional. As for psionics, he wrote, “I’d like to remove the concept from a medieval fantasy roleplaying game system and put it into a game where it belongs—something modern or futuristic.”

He planned to remove rules for weapon-speed factors and weapons versus armor. Like virtually every AD&D player, Gary ignored those rules.

His offers few thoughts for new material, and none that threatened to change the game. He planned to tinker with monster hit dice, giving robust creatures more hit points and damage. Powerful individuals gained extra hit dice. “I suppose some will call that monster munchkinism.”

His best plans featured changes that reached D&D without Gary’s help. The original bard class forced players to gain levels in Fighter, Thief, and Druid before becoming a bard. Gary’s updated bard could start as a bard.

He planned a skill system that would have resembled a system he designed in 2006 for for the booklet, Castle Zagyg Class Options & Skills for Yggsburgh. This book supported a game called Castles & Crusades, a rules-light game that mixed some third-edition innovation with the spirit of original D&D. Gary’s skill system let characters trade experience points for skills that granted bonuses to checks. This approach offered advantages over the weak skill system in second edition. Best of all, with Gary’s skills, no one had to say “non-weapon proficiency.”

His plans included wizard specializations beyond illusionist and a sorcerer class that resembled today’s conjurer specialization.

Mainly, he planned to design some class ideas that he had floated three years earlier in Dragon issue 65. Then he had asked readers to rate his concepts. “Let me know which you like best, which least.” Two issues later, he reported a flood of responses.

The most popular notions, the cavalier and the thief-acrobat, reached print in Unearthed Arcana, but neither idea captured players’ imagination. Even these best concepts suggested that Gary had run short of compelling class ideas. Nevertheless, Gary still dreamed of bringing second edition the remaining classes:

  • Mystic: A cleric subclass focused on divination.
  • Savant: A magic user subclass specializing in knowledge and study. The class crossed the old sage class with divination and detection spells.
  • Mountebank: A thief subclass focused on deception, slight-of-hand, and persuasion. Gary’s short story, “The House in the Tree” included a character named Hop who describes himself as a mountebank. Hop comes across a fast-talking snake-oil salesmen, except some of Hop’s concoctions might actually work. The story appears in a collection of short tales about Gord the Rogue titled Knight Errant.
  • Jester: A bard subclass with jokes, tricks, and insults. “The class will be less than popular with fellow adventurers, I suspect, so that jesters will frequently have enemies and travel alone.” Jesters come from the same inclination that produced the sage—from an urge to design classes around every medieval profession without any mind to what might attract players to the class.

Even though none of these ideas seem compelling enough to merit a class name, I’ve seen some characters that fit all these concepts except for the Jester. Between class archetypes, skills, and spell selection, D&D now boasts enough flexibility to realize any of these class concepts. As for the jester, a bard could adopt the wardrobe, but why? Old-school blogger James Maliszewski asked, “What’s the appeal there? Perhaps I’m simply humorless and unimaginative but I have a hard time imagining either an adventuring jester or a need for a NPC class based around juggling, tumbling, and minor spellcasting.”

Next: How much would Gary’s second edition have differed from the version that reached gamers? Plus, would Gary have liked fifth edition?

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