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Appendix N: An Amazing and Rewarding Journey

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 04:56

Praise for Appendix N continues to roll in!

This article over at Shop on the Borderlands drops this particularly nice shout-out:

If you look around on the internet, you’ll find plenty of other articles about Appendix N, including plenty of reviews of the (sometimes obscure) works listed. I would particularly recommend Jeffro Johnson’s work, including his excellent book “Appendix N: The Literary History of Dungeons & Dragons”. Johnson has a true appreciation for the style of writing typified by Appendix N, and for old school roleplaying.

Meanwhile, I’ve pulled down yet another five star review over at Goodreads with this entry from “DNF with Jack Mack”:

While reading The greatest Modules of All time, I discovered a lefthand D&D path I hadn’t pursued, having been lured away by the Advanced label. This path was mostly Arneson and largely Science-Fantasy. Disappointed by Fourth Ed., I switched to DCC. Goodman’s Game had been inspired by Appendix N, so I followed suit. It’s an amazing and rewarding journey that I am still on.

I had a blast reading Johnson’s book, and I was shocked to discover how much our views are in accord– considering how fussy I usually am. I’d recommend this to anyone with an interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I’d wager there are less than two thousand living people who have completed this quest, so it’s remarkable that Jeffro would write such a thing. Salud.

Join us: the few, the well read, the Appendix N’s!

Meanwhile gaming legend Ken St. Andre recently dropped this on Twitter:

“I got a copy of Appendix N from @CastaliaHouse in the mail yesterday. Well written and researched–almost too much knowledge there.”

(Okay, that last one especially blows me away. Wow!)

If you haven’t already picked up a copy… now’s the time! It’s not only a survey of a great many lost treasures of fantasy and science fiction, but also details their relationship to some of the most iconic works in tabletop gaming.

Check it out!


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

First Impressions of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2nd Edition

19th Level - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 01:50


I just received my backer PDF for the 2nd edition of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Often when a backer PDF is released I'm playing something else so sometimes it may take days or even weeks until I get around to downloading it. Since I'm actually GM-ing an AS&SH campaign currently, I actually downloaded it right away.

I've given the original version of the game a review as well as a more recent actual play impressions. This isn't a full review of the new edition - I've only had time for a quick skim. But from that skim it's worth noting that the game hasn't changed - there's some rearrangement here and there, some tweaks, and a bunch of additions. So it's important to note that my earlier reviews are still very much applicable. Indeed, unlike many games, the fact that this is a new edition isn't even advertised on the cover. This reminds me of the way revisions to the D&D Basic and Expert sets were released in the 1980s - new cover art, new contents, but no big banner proclaiming a new edition.

So what's changed? There's new art - a new cover and some full-color art at the start of each of the six "volumes" within the PDF. There's additionally a lot of new art, art which co-exists with the original art which reappears in this new edition. All of the classes are from the original edition are still here. Additionally, there are four new classes - a new subclass for each of the four main classes. The new classes are:

  • Huntsman - a fighter subclass, a wilderness warrior and hunter
  • Cyromancer - a magician subclass, specializing in ice magic (Fafhrd, your mom is looking for you...)
  • Runegraver - a cleric subclass who specializes in rune magic. This magic requires the expenditure of caster hit points to cast which seems in keeping with some of the sacrifices found in Norse mythology.
  • Purloiner - a thief subclass with some priestly abilities. Often serves the god of thieves...
A quick scan of the spell lists shows it has been expanded somewhat with new spells. The adventuring section looks pretty much unchanged from a quick scan.
As before, the referee's section covers monsters, magic items, and details of the world. The monsters section has some additions from the 1st edition as does the section on magic items. It's still the same world, though one addition I really appreciated was a series of random tables for generating weather. In a world with winters lasting for years (and dominated by a year of eternal darkness), weather is more than a background detail in Hyperborea and these tables (complete with game effects of certain weather conditions) make for a great addition. There is also an appendix with a starting village and nearby dungeon location.
In addition to the rulebook there is a PDF of a new color map of the setting - it's the same geography as the original map but much prettier.
It's worth noting that as a while the game looks much nicer. I found the layout enhanced in such a way to make for overall easier reading. The new art nicely complements the art from the 1st edition - and both styles of art evokes the setting - from elder things to laser-wielding zombies to orcs Atlantean spacemen. 
If you've the 1st edition, do you need to upgrade? Probably not. For the most part, the upgrade reminds me of the changes you'd find when going form one edition of Call of Cthulhu to another (though the 7th did make for a fairly major change, though even there backward compatibility was maintained). If you enjoy the game I think you'd like the improvements and would be happy you upgraded. If you don't like the game, I can't imagine any of the minor tweaks would change your mind. If you're curious about the game then the 2nd edition is a great starting point - there's no metaplot which has been advanced some years - it's the same setting as before. And as before, it's really well equipped for the insertion of most old school adventures you could think of, albeit with a tweak here and there for more of a swords and sorcery feel. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Matt Finch's Old School Gamer Radio: A D&D Resource

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 00:28


There are Kickstarters that excite me because of the names involved. Then there are Kickstarters that excite me because of the content. Old School Gamer Radio excites me for both those reasons and more.

Simply put, the OSR is a disorganized and chaotic and extremely beautiful mess. The OSR is vast wilderness of amazing content, creators, communication and the like but it is unmapped and difficult to navigate at times. Make that difficult to navigate all the time.

Old School Gamer Radio plans to help with the mapping:
In our community, it's getting difficult to track the vast array of projects and sub-communities coming from our bloggers, cartographers, YouTubers, artists, authors, facebook groups, and content creators. So OSGR’s first objective is to create and provide a robust search function for links to great OSR content. Looking for the best Greyhawk-centric blogs? Trying to find maps and monsters written specifically for your favorite flavor of D&D or retro-clone? Wanting to try out some podcasts or video blogs that focus on your gaming area of interest? Just looking for free downloadable Old School content? Old School Gamer Gamer Radio will help you find all of that and more quickly and efficiently.  There will also be new content at Old School Gamer Radio, such as YouTube videos with guest commenters as well as regulars.

Alright, I'll admit I backed at 75 bucks. I want that damn hat. Besides, The Tavern will be a full behind the scenes style partner to help in any way be can. I personally believe deeply in this project. How often do you hear me say that? That isn't because I personally know Matt and Zach (it doesn't hurt) but because I think Old School Gamer Radio will be good for the OSR and the OSR is where I hang my hat.




Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

New Release - BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules (because this Holme's goes to 20 ;)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 22:08

BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules - I'll take your Basic and raise you to a complete game! heh

I backed the Kickstarter for the BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules and I'm excited to see the PDF go live. The PDF is currently on sale for $9.99
NOTE: This is an early release of the game. There are some pieces of interior art which are not yet ready. Keep an eye out for updates which will include this missing art. The BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules are a table top fantasy roleplaying game which emulates the game play of the original basic rule book, popularly known as the Holmes Edition or simply the Blue Book. Unlike those basic rules, however, this book allows for characters of 1st to 20th levels, and include everything the referee could possibly need to create and run a campaign in the Underworld, the Wilderness, or the Realm: monsters, magic, treasure, and … well, what more do you need? BLUEHOLME™ Journeymanne Rules are fully compatible with the BLUEHOLME™ Prentice Rules (priced at PWYW so no point not to look) and can be used with most old-school adventure modules.Purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links put 5% of the sale price to support The Tavern. Thank you :)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kevin Crawford responded to Frank Mentzer's Commentary on the Viability of the OSR Market

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 19:17

As the original post with Frank's commentary is 5 days old and hasn't had a comment in 48 hours before +Kevin Crawford 's this afternoon, I'm breaking Kevin's comment into a post of its own. It deserves to be read and commented upon.

I'll be reserving my thoughts to the comments section of this post...

Here's Kevin's comment in text format:
"Speaking purely for myself, the OSR has been a very good market segment to me. In the past two years, I've had gross sales of about a half million dollars worth of Sine Nomine books. That's not mansion money on the post-tax net, but it is an extremely comfortable location-independent living for a single creator. And that, I think, is the key. The OSR as a market segment can absolutely provide a comfortable living to more creators than it does now, but those creators have to be able to take a project from inception to print with minimal outside involvement. My per-book profits are huge compared to the royalties I'd get from a publisher. They have to be, because in the last year I've sold 12,000 copies of one title or another, and if I were with a conventional fiction publisher they'd burn my rolodex card if I moved less than 20,000 on one title in a year. I can make a very comfortable living on 12,000 copies sold, but that living gets a whole lot less comfortable if I have to pay authors and layout designers on every product I issue. And by the same token, those creators have to _produce_. One swallow does not make a summer and one hit product does not make a living. They have to be able to hit their project deadlines and constantly create new, compelling products that draw new buyers and keep existing fans coming back for more. They can move tremendous amounts of back catalog this way, but only if they _have_ a back catalog. You know what a hit OSR product means? It means the customers are willing to see what else you've got."
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review & OSR Commentary On Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Second Edition) From North Wind Adventures

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 19:00
So many months ago it seems that the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Second Edition's kickstarter seemed to take the OSR community by storm! Well the long await is over! Last night whist I was at my weekly AS&SH game the pdf broke! It was billed as the premiere Sword & Sorcery OSR rpg during the kickstarter. So let's see if that's true and I'll be the judge of that claim! Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weekend Wonders - The Orc Captain's Ring (Swords & Wizardry Light / Complete)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 15:54
The Orc Captain's Ring was created for the human captain of an orcish mercenary company. Although his name is lost to history, his ring remains. He (or she) who wears this ring gains the following boons, bonuses and curse:

  • + 1 Bonus to hit and damage rolls due to increased strength
  • See in the dark in shades of gray up to 60'
  • Able to march 18 hours a day before needing rest
  • Speak and understand Orcish
  • While wearing the ring, the wearer slowly starts morphing into the physical appearance of an orc. This starts after one week of continual wear and completes after four weeks of wear. A successful saving throw must be made to remove the ring before the four weeks are out. Failure means that the change to the physical appearance of an orc will be permanent. No save is required to remove the ring after the four weeks are up and the change is permanent. Note: Boons and bonuses only apply while the ring is worn.
OGL
I'm in the process of revamping The Tavern's Patreon, but that doesn't mean I can't start posting material applicable to the revamp. Weekend Wonders will be a more or less regular feature at The Tavern, dealing with magic items and magical spells for use in Swords & Wizardry Light and / or Swords & Wizardry Complete. Some posts will find their way into the Torchlight Magazine. Others may get collected and placed on sale at OBS. All Patreon Backers will get a quarterly PDF with the prior 3 months of material. Backers at $10 or more will get it in print.

Note - The pictured ring is from the Publisher's Choice Quality Stock Art Collection Copyright Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games.

Yep, that's an affiliate link above. Rick offers some high quality stock art. Purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links help support The Tavern
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Settings of (A)D&D

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 14:00
Jack Shear wrote a post last week where he espoused a number of "heresies" regarding D&D. One of these was that he didn't like the World of Greyhawk or Faerun. This got me to thinking about what I feel about D&D's various setting and their pros and cons as I see it. I don't claim to be an expert in any of these settings, so if you think I don't get them because of a lack of knowledge you are certainly free to go on thinking so. I'm just calling it like I see it.

Greyhawk
Pros: At its best, it really sort of feels like D&D and it seems organic. It's worldbuilding may not go into the annals of literary fantasy best practices, but it has a certain charm in accordance with the charm of old D&D itself.
Cons: Maybe the downside of that organicness is a lack of focus that makes it hard to get a handle on. The World of Greyhawk box set really doesn;'t give me any hint about how I should approach the material and the Gord novels (yeah, I read a couple) are all over the place. We get a gritty sort of Lankhmar thing in the beginning, then we wind up whooshing through the sky on Chariots of Sustarre.
Verdict: Not a huge fan overall, but I have more of a positive feeling than does Jack.

Forgotten Realms
Pros: They're big and a bit more coherent, literary worldbuildery. The Dragon articles about "The Realms" back in the day really captured my interest.
Cons: Their literary worldbuilding models seem to be the hordes of bland trilogies that choke the shelves to this day. It's not just vanilla, it's kind of corporate bland. "The Realms" seem to have been lost in the translation to official product.
Verdict: Less interesting that Greyhawk, though there are aspects to recommend, I guess.

Mystara/Know World
Pros: Well-presented, with distinct cultures that are easy to get a handle on. It's got the Hollow World, too. I find Immortals over gods (in BECMI) a sort of interesting thing, if not as well-explored as it could be. Also: a whole lot of Stephen Fabian.
Cons: The cultures' real-world antecedents are pretty blatant, but that doesn't bother me as much as it does other people. Gritty it is not, particularly, or dark.
Verdict: It's kind of vanilla, but it's vanilla done well. I'm more into it than the two previous worlds.

Caldwell!Dragonlance
Pros: There are some interesting twists to the vanillaness here; it is somewhat successful at evoking the epic fantasy subgenre.
Cons: A setting made for one story never seems as good for stuff outside of that story. It still presents pretty standard D&D like the settings above.
Verdict: A good setting for bad novels isn't a particularly good setting for my game. It is more maligned than it probably should be for the railroadness of its modules, but they are pretty railroady and are emblematic of the missteps of an era.

Ravenloft/Dark Sun/Planescape/Spelljammer
Pros: They all have interesting high concepts and are genuinely trying to do something different.
Cons: The high concepts are not always executed well or flavorfully. Corporate blandification seems to get in the way, as does bloat to ensure more supplements are made.
Verdict: I admire them all, but their specialized nature means they're sort of niche, and some of the niches I think I could do better doing my own thing. Planescape gets extra points for Tony DiTerlizzi.

Eberron
Pros: Pulp vs. fantasy is an idea I obviously like.
Cons: Despite all its talk of a different approach it seems to come out more like trad fantasy than any of the 2nd edition settings above.
Verdict: Maybe because it parallels my interest but does it in a utterly different way, I am predisposed not to like it, but it does generate more negative feeling from me than is probably warranted.

My favorite TSR published settings? Lankhmar, Empire of the Petal Throne, and (moving away from D&D) the Hyborian Age of Conan.

New Release - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Second Edition) - On Sale in PDF

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 04:15

Holy crap. Over 600 pages. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Second Edition) is a beast of a PDF and a beast of a book when it releases in print later. No, I haven't read it yet although I have scanned through the PDF and it, and the art, look amazing. The first edition of AS&SH was amazing and if this improves on it, and every indiction is it has, we have one hell of a winner.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea (Second Edition) will normally be $20 in PDF, but for a limited time only its on sale for $12.75 (even less than the Kickstarter PDF buy in) Strike while the iron is hot!
ASTONISHING SWORDSMEN & SORCERERS of HYPERBOREA™ is sword-and-sorcery role-playing at its pinnacle. Play an Amazon fighter, Atlantean magician, Esquimaux shaman, Hyperborean warlock, Ixian necromancer, Keltic barbarian, Kimmerian cataphract, Pictish thief, Viking berserker, or one of many other possibilities. The heroes of a HYPERBOREA campaign delve the mazes and labyrinths of vast dungeons filled with horrifying monsters, lethal traps, and bewildering puzzles. They explore savage frontiers, breach hostile borderlands, probe ancient ruins, and investigate cursed tombs. They plunder for treasure and magic in a decaying world inhabited by bloodthirsty beasts and weird, otherworldly beings. Now in its second edition, AS&SH™ has been expanded to include new classes, news spells, new monsters, new magic items, and more! It also includes a new, full colour map, an introductory town and adventure, as well as hundreds of new illustrations! This new edition is backwards-compatible with the original edition of the game.  Explore endless challenges and infinite realms of imagination with this complete sword-and-sorcery role-playing game!All purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links puts a small percentage into The Tavern's coffers. By Crom, support The Tavern! (note - Crom does not back The Tavern or any other drinking establishment - or maybe he supports ALL drinking establishments ;)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Free RPG Day PDF Release - The Spire of the Hunting Sound Quickstart Adventure (Monte Cook's Numenra)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 00:16


I've never played Numenera. I backed the Kickstarter way back when and I've heard good things about the setting and the system but I've never had the time to give it a proper read. Maybe with the The Spire of the Hunting Sound Quickstart Adventure for Numenera I might find a reason to pull the core book off the shelf. Heck, for the price of free I may be tempted to run this.
A roiling green desert haunted by invisible beasts. A game that consumes those that play. Faceless automatons from another world, and a tower of living sound. The characters have survived the hijacking of the airship Aelestrian, but can they survive the unknown reaches of the Ninth World in which they find themselves? The Spire of the Hunting Sound is a complete adventure—plus complete quickstart rules—for novice and veteran Numenera players. If you’ve never played Numenera, or don’t even own the game rules, you’ll find everything you need (except dice!) to learn, run, and play the adventure. And experienced players will love the adventure itself. It even comes with a set of five characters, fully pregenerated and formatted to make it easy to learn Numenera. The Spire of the Hunting Sound includes: A complete Numenera adventure, filled with the splendor and wonder of the Ninth World. Quick-start rules to get you going, even if you’ve never played Numenera or the Cypher System. A set of five pre-generated characters in a beautiful and handy format that’s great for novice players as well as Numenera veterans. A mini-bestiary with all the details on the creatures encountered in this adventure. The Spire of the Hunting Sound was the 2017 Free RPG Day adventure for Numenera. Note: The total page count of 47 pages includes the 19-page adventure and 13-page quickstart rules, plus five double-sided pre-generated characters and a five-page mini-bestiary.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dungeons Fantasy RPG for GURPS has arrived at the Attic!

Bat in the Attic - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 20:46
As long time readers of this blog know I been a fan of GURPS for thirty years. Believe it or not there was a time when GURPS was the fourth or fifth most popular RPG on the market back in 2004.

The Dungeon Fantasy RPG is designed to make it easy for people to get into playing and using GURPS for their campaigns. It does this by being presented as a traditional fantasy RPG. It tells you how to make characters, how to handle encounters and combat, gives you spells, monsters, and treasures to use. Plus there is an adventure included called I Smell a Rat!

It not a new edition of GURPS. Everything here works with the core books as is. But gone are things not relevant to the Dungeon Fantasy genre. Added are things that are useful for fantasy campaigns with GURPS.

So what do you get?


 I pledged at the $250 so got everything that the kickstarter had to offer.


Here is the box with my battered copy of the Basic Set - Characters book beside it.


Opening the box this is what I see.


So I have the DF RPG Boxed Set, GM Screen, How to Be a GURPS GM, Dungeon Fantasy Companion, a hardback of GURPS Zombies (which I already have). black cardboard hero bases, colored cardboard hero bases, and six dice with a pyramid symbol in place of the one. I agree with Peter that having dice with symbols does nothing for me.


OK opening up the box I see some full scale maps (1" = 1 yard = 1 hex), cardboard heroes, and the DF RPG books! Note that little under half of the Cardboard Heroes are PCs and the monsters are biased to the ones that appear in the included adventure.


So I pull out the five books, a set of three dice with pyramid logo, and twelve more bases.

All and all a pretty good haul for my money. I will be posting a review of the content.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Picks for the RPGNow September Setting Sale - 33% off select PDFs - Part I

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 14:33

RPGNow is running a September Setting Sale with thousands of titles in the mix. That's a lot to sort through. I'm going to try to pick out some of my personal favorites that are OSR or system neutral over a small series of posts (although one or two may creep in from outside those parameters ;)

Strange Stars OSR Rule Book - "STRANGE STARS is a setting where modern transhuman science fiction meets classic 70s space opera. Now you can explore the STRANGE STARS universe in Sine Nomine Publishing's acclaimed Stars Without Number or similar Old School Rennaissance-derived games! Join a salvage mission to steal ancient tech from the wreck of a deranged sophont warship. Scavange parts from giant ancient robots on Gogmagog. Cross swords with a Zao Pirate in hard vacuum. Experience a galaxy of adventure with STRANGE STARS OSR!" 5.55  3.72



The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence - "This is a weird, science fantasy, gonzo campaign setting and wilderness hex-crawl for old school fantasy roleplaying games.  The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence is a guide for helping you run crazy sandbox scenarios in a lost world of Snake-Men, dinosaurs, and mutant sorcerers... an exotic and deadly region possessed by a demonic, purple-hued god of ruin and consumption. If you're into the OSR or just want some strange 5e flavoring, give this a try. It's not your usual adventuring environment, but it will be memorable!"
10.00  6.70

Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall Special Edition - Note - I have a small adventure inside this book - "The Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall (Special Edition) is a Labyrinth Lord™ supplement that expands on the critically acclaimed Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay and details the people, layout, and government of the Duchy of Valnwall. The Duchy is presented in broad strokes and is open to customization. It was specifically designed to give Labyrinth Lords a convenient and familiar fantasy setting to place their adventures. The Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall (Special Edition) is largely open content. Small Niche Games would like to encourage professional and amateur publishers to use the Guidebook as a shared fantasy setting and set their commercial adventures within the Duchy of Valnwall. Labyrinth Lords (and publishers) should feel free to change, add, or remove any of the information in this book to better suit his or her own game." 6.99  4.68

Points of Light - "War horns wail and perilous realms cry out for heroes! Four settings, each detailed and mapped, ideal for novices launching their first campaign, or veteran GMs looking to challenge
their players with terrible foes and foreign lands...  Wildland:The fall of the Bright Empire left warring factions in its wake. As savage barbarians and wicked humanoids roam the land, the last bastions of civilization cower behind their crumbling city walls. A dark age has come, and none may live to tell the tale. Southland: On the frontiers of the Great Kingdom, the nations of men, elves and dwarves join together against the wicked elves of Nighportal Keep and the Orcs of the Bloody Fist. A realm is yours for the taking, if you can carve it from the wilderness.  Borderland: Two factions clash over war-torn fields, battling for dominance in a civil war that that has torn a once-mighty empire in two. When brother strives against brother, and blood runs in the streets, who will emerge to unify the broken land—and at what cost, peace?  The Swamps of Acheron: In the Outer Planes, amid fetid swamplands and ice-choked mountains, the fell god Sarrath holds court. In a realm where gods stalk the earth, will you dare to take a stand, or will you succumb to evil." 7.99  5.35

Red Tide: Campaign Sourcebook and Sandbox Toolkit - In this book a Labyrinth Lord will find all that is required to run a sandbox game of adventure in the Sunset Isles. In addition to the races, classes, and sorcery of this savage land, a referee will find special tools and resources for creating shadowed courts of quarreling nobility, cities rife with struggle, wild border settlements that cry out for the help of heroes, and dark places in the earth known only to the dead and the damned. These tools will aid not only campaigns in the Sunset Isles, but also those games set in other lands of savage mystery and bloodstained blades. Expanding on the tag system found in the free Stars Without Number sci-fi role-playing game, Red Tide includes more than fifty new tags for fantasy cities and borderland settlements, along with more than 25 pages of GM resources including culture-specific name and place lists, unkeyed blank maps for quick sandbox use, four pages of room dressing and treasure possibilities, and a new "diagram dungeon" method of quick dungeon generation with a worked example.  7.99  5.35

Remember, all purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links helps to support The Tavern. I appreciate every purchase our readers make. Thank you.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dungeon Magazine Summary: Issues 26-50

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 11:15

Dungeon 26
The Inheritance is one of the stronger Dungeon adventures, featuring an assault on a small keep/manor taken over by humanoids. It’s got a decent sandbox feel to it and, with work, could be a home base for the party, kicking off a campaign.

Both the Cure & the Quest and Nine-tenths of the Law have decent portions. 9/10’s has a good urban vibe going on with characters that make sense while Cure/Quest has a couple of good encounters with some serious issues around them. Both could be salvaged with a lot of work.

Dungeon 27
Bride for a Fox continues my obsession with OA. Almost every OA adventure that appeared in Dungeon, including this one, is pretty good. If you can deal with the setting. These would also be good rethemed for one of those modern indie storytelling fantasy/folklore rpg’s.

Courier Service has decent encounters but doesn’t really use them very well to make a cohesive adventure.

Dungeon 28
Visitors from Above had some shitty Spelljammer ship (grounded) explorations but a MUCH better second half with a wizard in a mine. A varied environment, three-dimensional map, lots of potential.

Night of Fear is Yet Another Shitty Shapechanger mission, but it did have a nice table of NPC responses as an organizational highlight.

I like Sleepless because of the social powder keg that could turn in to crazed combat. Lots of factions, lots of good imagery … surrounded by WAY too much description. It’s one of the better Dungeon adventures.

Dungeon 29
Mightier than the Sword is absurd, in that magical wonderful way that D&D adventures can go. It’s got a village at arms with each other over an absurd premise: the invention of a metal nib for quills. Taken to its logical conclusion, everyone has an opinion and are more than willing to put them forth … with vigor. This adventure does not qualify for my overused “Decent” label, but is actually good.

Dungeon 30
Wrastle with Bertrum has a nice tavern to steal, but I’m not sure I’d run it as an adventure.

Thiondar’s Legacy is an honest to goodness ADVENTURE. It’s got an epic vibe that many try for and few manage. Wordy, but sticky in your head.

Dungeon 31
Beyond the Glittering Veil has well developed NPC’s and location, in a city of undead, that also feels real. Not simulationist realism, but rather NOT fucking up the suspension of disbelief. The massively overwritten text is a real problem.

Local Legend had a good idea, with a nice 100 Bushels of Rye thing going on, but lapses in to being contrived.

Dungeon 32
Elf in the House is a Mansion Murder with potential, but it unrunnable due to the way the thing is formatted.

Dungeon 33
That Island Charm runs almost like a farce for the first half, and I LUV farce in D&D. A bunch of castaways INSIST that things are a certain way, when its clearly not that way. Wonderful!

The Siege of Kratys Frehold gives the party control of an army and a siege. “Here’s a bunch of resources, here’s the locale and here’s the goal. Make it happen.” Needs prep, but, fuck, it’s Dungeon, everything in it needs prep.

Dungeon 34
Isle of the Abbey is above average for Dungeon. Again, it’s a location with the party having a goal and the freedom, mostly, to pursue it and reclaim a lighthouse for the guild of mariners.

Dungeon 35
The Whale shows how good Wolfgang Baur used to be. Great social setup, good consequences, a background that DRIVES action instead of being trivia … it’s a great big mess, in a good way.

Ghost of Mistmoor is a decent haunted house adventure, better than U1. Good imagery and good DM advice.

Dungeon 37
The adventures in this issues are all at a consistently high level of quality, which was quite rare for Dungeon.

Mud Sorcerer’s Tomb is much loved and does Tomb of Horrors better than Tomb of Horrors did. Great imagery, good setups, less forced than ToH.

Dungeon 38
Horror’s Harvest was a Ravenloft mostly-social adventure with pod people in a village. If this were rewritten/reformatted you could have a good adventure; it’s VERY disorganized.

Dungeon 39
Below Vulture Point is a small mountain lair that has a nice three-dimensional environment but needs better descriptions that are more evocative.

Last of the Iron Horse could be mistaken for an adventure from Fight On! A lot of adventure packed in to a small ten room complex with evil little fairy tale-like dwarves.

Fountains of Health is aimed at people with second grade reading skills, but has a lot of classic encounters and a decent OD&D/basic thing going on.

Dungeon 40
Son of the Fens has a good premise and nice imagery but needs better rewards and is quite tough for first levels.

Dungeon 41
Lady of the Mists has a slow melancholy feel to it, in spite of its wordiness.

Dungeon 44
Hot Day in L/Trel takes place over a couple of weeks in a city on fire. The city seems alive and everything is a hook. Great.

Dungeon 45
Rudwilla’s Stew has a basic D&D vibe going on with that kind of folklore vibe that is one of the things that wins me over. Jersey accents for the bugbears is a turnoff.

Prism Keep is a nice adventure with good imagery and encounters and puzzles and so on. It’s going to take some serious work to get it in to good fighting trim, but it’s got good lines.

Dungeon 46
Dovedale has an forest folklore thing going for it, with talking animals and old style goblins that don’t exist just to be hacked to death. You suck if you don’t like this one.

Goblin Fever had a nice idea but ruined it.

Iron Orb of the Duergar is a tough nut to crack. Good ideas, allies, craziness, and sticky writing. High level and NOT a shit show is enough to make it notable, if not reccomended.

Dungeon 47
Both the Assassin WIthin and Fraggart’s Contraption have nice ideas and outlines but serious serious flaws that keep them from being good without a lot of work.

Dungeon 48
Them Apples, Melody, and Oracle at Sumbar all deserve better than they got from their writing. There are various ways to save all three … but why would you want to?

Dungeon 49
North of Narborel lacks color but has enough elements that are above average, for Dungeon, to make it worth looking in to for pirate towns, etc.

Dungeon 50
Vaka’s Curse and Back to the Beach are both small things pretty well done. Vaka could be included in any sea voyage adventure as an additional complication, while Back to the Beach has possibilities for longer term integration in to a campaign.

The Object of Desire has issues but a couple of hours should fix it up and make it fit for play. The final location FEELS wondrous, and getting rid of some of the deus ex shit should be pretty easy.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Using Modern OSR Adventure Resources For an Old School Lovecraftian Campaign Twist

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 06:04
Mark Taormino's latest adventure Kickstarter broke earlier this afternoon. He wants to add new artwork & pieces to his existing modules. No this isn't a few coats of paint, some new artwork here & there this is a solid revamp. So tonight I've been thinking does one use modern OSR game adventures with old school campaigns or campaign designed settings. All of this centers around Mark Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Want a Chance to Receive a PDF Copy of The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia Megadungeon?

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 02:40


Thanks to the generosity of +Greg Gillespie , he of Barrowmaze fame, The Tavern is offering you a an opportunity to receive a PDF copy of The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia, Greg's latest release. Its a megadungon composed of a sandbox setting and multiple dungeons and it is without a doubt, a campaign worth of gaming and then some.
So, how do you get entered for a chance to be gifted with such an amazing OSR release?

Its really simple - name and describe a bartender that may be found in a fantasy tavern. Use two to three sentences for your description. On Monday morning, 9/18 at 11 AM I will chose one random commenter to receive the The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia Megadungeon PDF. A second commenter will receive a $10 RPGNow Gift Certificate for "Best Bartender." Best Bartender is totally subjective to my whims ;)
A new megadungeon from Barrowmaze author Dr. Greg Gillespie! The lost city of Archaia - an ancient ruin sunken into the earth - lies deep in the badlands. In recent years, caravans from Eastdale have come under attack from orcs, goblins, and worse. Some say these blood-thirsty warbands have made lairs in the deep caves and ruins. Sill others say the ancient halls are filled with magnificent treasures left by the Archaians. Are you brave (or foolish) enough to delve The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia? THe Forbidden Caverns of Archaia (FCoA) is a 296-page classic old school megadungeon for use with Labyrinth LordTM and other fantasy role-playing games. THe pages of Forbidden Caverns are crammed full with new material, maps, amazing art (including special surprizes by former TSR artists), as well as an amazing colour cover art by Ex-TSR artist Erol Otus that matches Barrowmaze Complete as a sister-book.
The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia will keep your players on their toes and your campaign going strong for years. FCoA is brought to you by the Old School Renaissance (so don’t forget your 10’ pole).Remember, purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links enable us to offer gifts back to the community - and keep your bartender in fresh, cold beer ;)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Announcement - Uncle Matt's D&D Studio Launches Tonight 830 Eastern / 730 Central (Matt Finch Livestream)

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 23:18


Yep, tonight Uncle +Matt Finch is launching his new Youtube channel, Uncle Matt's D&D Studio. The opening piece is above.

Its been a heavy week in the OSR and Matt plans to lift some spirits. Additionally, there will be the announcement of a new project from Matt which I am excitedly looking forward to. The project that is, cause I know what it is and I'm trilled to be able to do what I can for it and the OSR at large. How's that for stirring some interest?

In any case, here the link to Matt's new channel - click it and subscribe!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwQ6cSVDLklOoQ8VSMsxp5Q

edit - Matt will be fielding questions over at The Tavern's Discord server on the uncle-matts-dnd-studio text channel

here's the link: https://discord.gg/Cm4mBS
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Artifices of Quartztoil Tower - a 5E Adventure

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 19:01

I've been pleased with Nord Games previous releases. Heck, the dungeon tiles were raided by Pinkie so she could build her dungeons "Anywhere Uncle! I can even take it to school!" I'm expect that inevitable phone call from my sister of "Do you know what you God-daughter did in school today?"

Anyhow, the latest Nord Games Kickstarter is Artifices of Quartztoil Tower. It a 5th Edition adventure scaling for variable levels. Yep, it tweak between low, medium and high. I'm interested in seeing how well that works. Oh, and yes its for 5e, but since I've converted PF and DCC to S&W on the fly, 5e should be an even smoother fit.

5 bucks for PDF, 10 bucks for print and 13 bucks for print plus PDF. Thats for 50 t0 60 full color pages and 3 to 5 sessions of gameplay. The value offered is sizable.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DC Bombshells Trading Cards - Sketch Card Previews, Part 12

Cryptozoic - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 18:18

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

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

State of The Tavern - What a Wednesday Night We Had - Discord is Good

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 14:22

Wednesday night was the weekly Tavern Chat. Its moved to The Tavern's Discord server with OVERWHELMING success. I can't say for certain how any were logged into the chat channel, but the voice channel his 22 people logged in at one time. Damn!

Voice kicked off sometime before 930 PM and lasted until 115 in the morning. I kid you not. Nearly for hours of lively discussion. Mostly about the OSR but also veering into topics like "moderating" and the size of the RPG market. Did I mention we have over 175 members signed up for the Tavern's Discord seerver?

Did I also mention I was also happy as a pig in shit, as Rach had her surgery consultation earlier in the afternoon and the mass that was to be removed? Gone. Yep, simply gone. Happy happy joy joy.

The past few days have been extremely active both on the blogside and the Facebook community. I have one of the lightest moderation hands I know of, and I'm happy I only needed to put my mod hat on a handful of times for slight corrections in direction.

I owe some midweek monster content (and a magic item this weekend) and have way too many posts waiting in the hopper - time for me to get working!


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Azurth Adventures Digest is Here!

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 09/15/2017 - 11:00

The first issue of the Azurth Adventures Digest is now on sale! Twenty-eight full color pages at 5.5 in. x 7.75 in. with art by Jeff Call and Jason Sholtis. There are random tables for the generation of quirky Motley pirates, a survey of interesting and enigmatic islands, and a mini-adventure on the Candy Isle. Plus, there are NPCs and a couple of monsters, all straight from my Land of Azurth 5e campaign.

Get the pdf here or go here for the print edition. (The link is also in the sidebar.)


For those of you interested in Mortzengersturm print editions: Once the first printing of the digest is sold and shipped, I'll again by selling Mortzengersturm. You can email me to get on the "waiting list."


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