Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Review: Black Panther (Spoiler Free)

Greyhawk Grognard - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 22:57
I just flew back from Wakanda, and boy are my arms tired!

Seriously, I saw the newest Marvel Cinematic Universe film, Black Panther, today. The theater was a Dolby theater, with improved sound (think Sensurround, for those old enough to remember it) and a higher contrast film. No 3-D, but there are recliners and assigned seating, which alone makes it worth the few extra bucks to get it. The theater was filled (as indeed were the other eight or ten theaters showing it in various formats in my local AMC).

Short version: Black Panther is really good. It's not the best film in the MCU (that goes either to Avengers or Captain America the Winter Soldier), but it's definitely a solid entry overall.

The visuals are truly astounding in this film. Wakanda is fascinating, with a distinct architectural style that almost feels like it belongs in a Thor or Guardians of the Galaxy film. In particular, the use of color throughout (even when the film is in places like London and Korea) is very well-done. The MCU has clearly moved into a phase where bright colors are the palette of choice, rather than the rather muted colors of earlier films in the series, and it's a welcome change. I would daresay this shift in color presages the coming shift in Phase 4 to the cosmic and magical side of the MCU.

It's also worth saying that it makes the Marvel movies stand out visually from the muted-to-the-point-of-being-drab DC films.

The music was also a standout element, and captures the cultural differences of Wakanda, using a number of African themes woven into a traditional soaring orchestral form to come up with something new. Definitely an improvement over Doctor Strange's forgettable music.

The acting is great as well. The casting is excellent, and all the performances are well-done. I particularly loved Andy Serkis' return as villainous arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, as he really stepped up his crazy with the character, and it worked perfectly. Chadwick Boseman is just as good in the lead as he was as a supporting character in Captain America Civil War, and has the chops to carry the film. His sister Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, provides most of the humor, although Martin Freeman's Everett K. Ross has his share as well.

The stand-out, though, is Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger. The same praise I gave to Spider Man Homecoming's Vulture applies here as well. He's fully fleshed-out, with a clear mission and a clear motivation. He's full of menace, and it's very clear that he's a capable threat. I hope Marvel continues it's recent streak of good villains; a tendency towards underwhelming villains has been their only consistent weak-spot for years.

One thing I should also point out is that the film didn't get as preachy as I feared it would. Specifically, some of the early marketing for the film gushed about "black exceptionalism" and "Afrofuturism" and so forth. Having seen it, there wasn't any "white people are evil" stuff (aside from a few exceptions about which I won't go into details), and the ultimate message of the movie was actually quite uplifting. So, my worries about the films potential politicization were unfounded. Yay!

All in all, this is a terrific film and well worth the price of admission. While there are (inevitably) call-backs to Captain America Civil War, which directly sets up the events of this film and which was the introduction of Black Panther, it's much more of a stand-alone film than we've seen in years, although we know from the trailers that Wakanda will feature prominently in May's Avengers Infinity War. Four stars out of five.

And make sure you stay through the credits; there are two helpings of schawarma.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Holmes Basic at DunDraCon 2018

Zenopus Archives - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 20:43

This weekend is the 42nd DunDraCon, the long running convention in the San Francisco area. For the second year in a row, a DM is running Beyond the Door to Monster Mountain, a Holmes Basic mini-scenario available on the Zenopus Archives site. The scenario is being run twice, once at 10 AM and once at 2 PM, and is family/kid-friendly. See the convention listings here

The DM also started a thread about the game on ODD74, where he wrote:

"I will be running this great module with a few added encounters back to back Sunday Feb 18th at DunDraCon here on the left coast. The module by Zach is loads of fun for kids and adults alike and I run it in the room (along with my [wife's] help) with a horde of kids and young at heart in the children's room at the convention. Last year I had just as many adults as kids but it was a hoot. I hope to see some of you there as we celebrate 40 years of Holmes!

Based on attendance this time, if there are slots open, I will allow players to participate in both sessions. Maybe even leveling up!"

For those interested in the history of Dundracon, their website has a great pdf archive of past Dundracon programs going back to Dundracon III, President's Day weekend, 1978.
Here's the cover from the program for DunDraCon IV, 1979 (the cover has a typo which was hand-corrected):

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] The Vault of the Whisperer

Beyond Fomalhaut - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 18:12

The Vault of the Whisperer (2017)by James V. West, based on art, maps and names by Karl StjernbergPublished in Black Pudding #2 by Random Order CreationsMid-level
GlorpHere is a mini-module that works. The Vault of the Whisperer (published in issue #2 of the art-centric Black Pudding zine) is a small, flexible scenario describing a 13-area underground section in 8 pages. It is a real “module” module you can insert into a wider campaign where you need it. You could find the entrance in the corner of a larger dungeon, at the end of a half-forgotten alleyway in an ancient metropolis, in a haunted gorge in the wastelands, or behind an undisturbed door in the cellar of your favourite inn. It is all in medias res, no backstory or sociological essay, but that’s fine. It is self-explanatory why things are there and what you should do with them, with much of the ideas inspired by a great set of illustrations by Karl Stjernberg.
The dungeon is the small shrine of a weird cult worshipping a subterranean monster appearing as a really huge, chasm-like maw on the dungeon floor. It whispers strange and evil things that warp the mind, and will soon become an ongoing concern for the adventurers, adding an element of time pressure and unpredictability. Its followers, a gang of deformed weirdoes, are something out of a bad dream, and they are accompanied by creepies and crawlies including slimes and flesh-eating trilobites (love those guys). Unlike many modern modules, which give you five or six baddies to fight, here you’ve got dozens of relatively low-powered opponents in a relatively small space. It is all set up for a glorious massacre, backstabbing, madness and general mayhem, with considerable environmental hazards. The GM’s job is made easier by providing Hp dots for every monster – a rare but useful quality-of-life feature. The vault is also chock full of secrets and hidden stuff, often opening up new ways of dealing with the encounters, and giving the players one of multiple unique magic items, all of them dangerous, squiggly things with multiple hidden functions and grotesquely funny drawbacks.
The imagination on display is top-of-the line through the module, and for such a small place – a few crisscrossing tunnels and rooms leading to a cataclysmic confrontation – Vault of the Whisperer packs an impressive amount of content. It is well suited for weird fantasy and sword&sorcery campaigns.
A group of playtesters is listed at the beginning of the fanzine.
Rating: **** / *****
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rebel Minis Launches Terror from the Black Isles Kickstarter

Rebel Minis - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 15:00
Terror From the Black Isles
Every goblin knows to be careful sailing on Basin Bottom's Sea, especially around the Black Isles.  Of course, no one knows what's actually on the Black Isles as no matter how far you sail you can never seem to reach them - until now.  What strange creatures and unearthly terrors await you on the Black Isles?

Terror from the Black Isles is the third book in Rebel Minis Dark Hold Goblin Adventures series.  The book is fully compatible with the Savage Worlds game system.  The book contains a full adventure, locations, new equipment, creatures and a new racial template (not saying its Duckmen but...)
You can also enhance your game play with our full line of Duckmen minis which may or may not feature prominently in this book (they do...).

So, grab your gear and set sail for the Black Isles!
Check it out here:
Terror Kickstarter

Please share and spread the word!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Bandit’s Cave

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 12:15

By Richard Kunz
Legendary Games
Level 1

The people of Corbin Village are hardy folk, familiar with the dangers of the region. But when a band of orcs raids the village, Sheriff McBride realizes she has more troubles than she can handle and calls on a group of heroes to bring the orcs to justice. To complicate matters, the orcs have stolen an item of great historical value from the local sage, and he wants it back. Can the PCs survive the dangers of a nearby marsh and locate the bandits’ hidden lair? If they do, can they take down the orc raiders and recover the sage’s precious statue?

This fifty page completely linear adventure is aimed at n00bs and to be “quick and easy to prepare.” Linear, long read-aloud, too much DM information preventing scanning … all the usual bad choices are employed.

Before I start stabbing this NPC n the throat I’d like to mention a couple of nice things this adventure does. First, there’s a great picture of lizardmen in it. They look more like Gecko-folk, with red skinned heads and a kind of bipedal salamander body. I don’t often mention art, but I think this piece really adds to painting an evocative picture of the creatures. A little non-standard and a different take on them.

Secondly, there’s a bit in the swamp while you are tracking the orcs to their lair. The tracks reveal a mechant being forced along with them. This is a great way to foreshadow and ramp up the tension in an adventure. The party is now aware of a prisoner and will be on the lookout for them. Or, it would be if that were the case. I misread this section the first time around. Turns out there isn’t a captured merchant and they are not a part of the adventure. I can has Sadz.

I continue to be perplexed by these things. Fifty pages, the thing doesn’t really start till page sixteen or so, and the last dozen or so pages are just appendix padding. Is this the evil of Pay Per Word, or just bad lessons learned from WOTZ & Paizo? Whatever the reason, I find the bulk of adventures worthless. I want to say “modern adventures”, meaning Pathfinder & 5e, but in reality the problem plagues most systems … its just REALLY hard to find 5e/Pathfinder stuff that isn’t infected with it.

This could be a textbook example of bad read-aloud. It’s not full of insane 3-page long sections, but more representative of the usual read-aloud dreck. They tend to be long: five paragraphs, a page. That’s bad design choices. Players don’t care. Recall the WOTC article: you get AT MOST three sentences before people stop paying attention.

But wait … there’s more! The read-aloud is used to signal the start of an encounter. “You’re walking through a swamp. A frog jumps in to the water.” High alert! Everyone on their toes! By enforcing a system of encounters starting with read aloud you telegraph encounters starting.

Then there’s the ever present football player r… oops, no, I mean ‘italics.’ Italics is a popular choice for read-aloud, as well a fancy italics font. It is a BANE upon the products. The goal is to make life on the DM easier and a hard to read font, that you then italicize, is not easy to read. It’s hard to read. Put the shit in a shaded box or bold it or something, but the emphasis has to be on making it EASY, not more difficult.

Frequent readers will recall that I demand an adventure be easy to run with little prep. AT first glance, the designers “this is quick & easy to prepare” statement would seem to align. Except their definition is different than mine. I have no idea what their definition is, but it’s not quick & easy. The DM text is LONG. Very long. Encounters can be two to three pages long. This does not lend itself well to scanning at the table. It has a very loose, rather than focused, communication style with lots of padding and non-essential detail. A guy stuck in quicksand has been there awhile, we’re told, and his legs are numb and he can’t get out himself. Well no shit. It’s this sort of thing that adds to the text. It does not add gameable detail. It’s justifying the situation, which the adventure should NEVER do. Or, almost never. Whatever. It’s almost never called for.

But, specificity IS needed. At one point early in the adventure a sage relates that a statue was stolen by raiding orcs. It was created by “people of an ancient civilization.” That’s generic and boring. “It was created by the vile Arc-teryx people, long ago dommed by the sun god” is the sort of specificity that adds color to the adventure. Otherwise it’s clear it just a throw away line, the players will recognize that, and not be as invested.

I want to call out an additional thing that is sticking with me. In the initial encounter, when the orcs attack the village, the read aloud emphasizes a cart stuck in between the village gates, keeping them from closing. But, that’s not the first encounter. Instead the party is forced to some orcs battering away at the weaponsmiths door. Everything about the setup says “Close the gates! Free the wagon!” … but then the adventure forces you a different way. Bad design.

This is supposed to be an adventure for noob players and DM’s, especially younger players. It justifies choices, like its linearity and the linear orc cave at the end, by noting its simpler. Yes. It also forces a scene based system and removes player agency, which is one of the most important aspects of RPG’s. Ask yourself, do you want choices or is the DM telling a story? We’re not playing FIasco or Shab-al-Hiri. The switch to scene-based linear adventures, and DM storytelling, removes an important feature. And you know how I feel when I think I’m being tricked and my expectations are not met.

In the end, this is just another garbage scene-based adventure, impossible to run easily at the table because of the flood of text.

This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview is six pages, which shows you the credit and table of contents and publishers philosophy. IE: nothing of use to help to make a purchasing decision.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Real Life Travellers

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 04:16

I flew across the country today and experienced three random encounters:

  • Saw an older lady on the bus with this almost zen-like look of beaming contentment. I broke in remarking on how beautiful a day it was. (It was dark and rainy, natch.) This developed into a wide-ranging conversation covering what we especially liked about each of the Northwest, Alaska, and the South. We consoled each over on having to do without coleslaw and butterbeans. When she mentioned she was from Texas, I remarked that only people from the South really grasp how to have a talk. When we changed buses, I went out of my way to mention to her how much I’d enjoyed meeting her. (To not do so would have been tacky, of course.)
  • Guy next to me on the plane turns out to be a Microsoft developer. He tried to feel me out on how much I might despise the company when I said positive things about particular open source tools. I misread this, thinking he wouldn’t care for any flak on this point. But when I later mentioned which Microsoft products I currently get paid to use… he went cold on me. It’s like I suddenly became persona non grata to him. Later I noticed he was a musician and we had a fair discussion about jazz and so forth, but he never made eye contact or even any sort of facial expression. There is evidently a fair scene for that sort of thing in Seattle, but I could never get the emotional energy up to go check it out. The preponderance of people of his sort in the area would defeat the purpose of going out in the first place.
  • Getting closer to my old stomping grounds, I expected my luck to change. It didn’t. A thirty-something woman sits next to me and I give out the minimal amount of pleasantries, but she turns out to be a scientist. A physicist delving into materials science. She really wants to talk about that, so I ask her a few questions. At some point I remark that it really is unfortunate how physics turned out during the twentieth century. “The more strange and counter-intuitive results would seem to undercut the very philosophy and mindset that gave rise to science in the first place,” I said. “Honestly, the entire enterprise has been all downhill ever since Newton.” She looks back at me and says, “you mean you prefer science when it was white and male.” Needless to say, this was the worst repartee I’ve ever witnessed in my life. All you can really say in response to something like that is, “well I nevah!”

One thing I will say about such pronounced regional and cultural differences is that we really have not been well served by filtering the bulk of our culture through two or three urban centers. American science fiction and fantasy from before 1940 has a much greater range of tone, style, accent, and feel because of its greater amount of regional diversity. And the people that created it had much more in common with the sort of people I enjoy spending time with.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Holmes Basic Testimonials

Zenopus Archives - Sat, 02/17/2018 - 03:30

2018 update: This year we celebrate Holmes' birthday in the middle of the 40th anniversary year of Holmes Basic (July 2017-July 2018). As a tribute, I'll be running two session of Return to the Tower of Zenopus at Gary Con in a few weeks.

There will also be a "Ruined Tower of Zenopus - 40 years later" event, by a different author, at the North Texas RPGCon this year in June!

And Beyond the Door to Monster Mountain - a Holmes Basic mini-scenario available here - will be run for the second year in a row at Dundracon this coming Sunday.

If you missed it, last July Chris Holmes was on the 3rd season of the short podcast Tell Me About Your Character, talking about his third favorite D&D character (after Boinger and Zereth) in the games he played with his father in the '70s.

And since Holmes' birthday last year we've seen a lot of great releases:

Tales of Peril, a gorgeous hardcover compilation of Holmes' stories of the adventures of Boinger the Halfling and Zereth the Elf, debuted at North Texas last June and shortly thereafter was available for direct order from Black Blade Publishing. I've been slowly blogging my way through the book in a series called the Tales of Peril Book Club, although at the moment it is on hiatus while I prep my con scenario.

The Blueholme Journeymanne rulebook was released by Dreamscape Design, and expands the Blueholme Prentice rules up to 20 levels. It is chock-full of evocative art thanks to all of the Holmes fans out there who funded the Kickstarter for the art.

Jon of Appendix M released two issues of his zine Fantastic! Exciting! Imaginative!, which is inspired by the art found in the Holmes Basic rulebook. The content is by various members of the Holmes Basic groups on G+ and Facebook, including one article in each by myself. Join up if you want to contribute to the next one! These can be found at DTRPG: Vol 1 (free pdf) and Vol 2 ($4 pdf).

On Free RPG day I released Holmes Ref 2.0 an expanded compilation of my reference sheets for Holmes Basic referees. I hope to release a further expansion this year.

Each year I bring this post forward and invite you to add new testimonials. I've moved my posts from previous years to an archive page on the Holmes Basic site, but everyone else's comments from previous years remain below. Feel free to comment again if you've commented before.

See also:
Testimonal Thread at OD&D Discussion
Testimonial Thread at Knights & Knaves Alehouse  
Testimonial Thread at Dragonsfoot
Testimonial Thread at the Acaeum

(DTRPG links include this blog's affiliate # which gives us a 5% credit for each purchase)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Uncovering Krevborna

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 12:00

Krevborna: A Gothic Blood Opera is a system agnostic setting book released this week by Jack Shear of the Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque blog. The world detailed is the sort of place Jack deals with in much of his rpg writing: an early modern setting with more than a hint of the Gothic.

Full disclosure before I delve into the review proper: I am listed in the credits of the book as I have been a player in Jack's online game (Tobias Rune, Scientific Occultist!), and Jack has done some editing for me on my stuff in the past. We have been blogosphere friends since long before that. My view, then, is perhaps biased.

Krevborna is 109 pages plus an index. In that space it vibrantly evokes a certain type of setting, and gives you locales, NPCs, organizations, and conflicts with which to populate it. It is fashionable in many circles to say setting books should always be short or deliver things very lightly. This is an understandable reaction given the bloat that has afflicted many a "major" rpg company setting book. My opinion is this: A setting book should have exactly as much verbiage as it needs to achieve its goal (and that goal should in part include usability). This will inevitably mean that no setting book is for everybody. some people will want the exotic cultural detail of the Empire of the Petal throne or Glorantha, and some want a setting heavy on new mechanical tidbits, but otherwise interchangeable with any number of faux-Medieval worlds. Having written a couple of setting books myself, I can say that there are always people that think you gave just the right amount of detail and then those who want more. (There are probably also those who think I wrote too much, but they don't send me emails.)

I don't think I'm off base when I say that Jack isn't concerned with you being able to replicate his Krevborna in  minute detail; he wants you to be able to create your own Gothic-tinged, dark fantasy setting that may happen to also be named Krevborna. He is light on many details, focusing his time on directly addressing theme, tone, and atmosphere, and how you leverage these things in a fantasy game as a DM. Jack is very good at delivering these elements flavorfully but briefly.  Maybe it's his college educator background, but he's able to bullet-point and not be at all dry!

I don't mean to suggest there is no setting detail, because there are plenty of Krevborna-specific information and tools, and plenty of stuff to help players get into the mood, too: sample names by region, appropriate backgrounds, tables of dark secrets, and NPCs to be patrons, acquaintances, or antagonists. The great supernatural powers are briefly described, allowing DM's and players to flesh out the details as they will.

The last section of the book is a brief summary of Jack's approach or "house rules" for running Krevborna in 5e. This is light enough that no OGL is required, but meaty enough that those versed in the 5e rules will know what he is doing. The strength of the system agnostic approach is this can be easily ported to old school simulacra or DungeonWorld or whatever.

In summary, I think this is a great setting, but also a great demonstration of a way to present a setting, and is well worth the price of purchase.

So Say We All

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 04:29

First off, don’t teach your kids to play D&D.

But if you do… at least teach them to play correctly. And I mean every jot and tittle: d4 thieves, 3d6 in order, clerics with no spells at first level, player characters with a single hit point, magic-users with a single spell, elves that never make it to second level, morale checks, monster reactions, henchmen and hirelings. ALL OF IT! As Moldvay intended.

Demented genius E. Reagan Wright follows up his bombshell post with a tour de force of correct gamethink:

There are plenty of reasons to teach your kid D&D.  The table is a place where you can teach them about risk and reward.  You can let them roam freely in the game world in a way you can’t at a D&D convention (without fear of some creeper making passes at them).  You can even sprinkle a little cultural roots into their life by using folklore tales like Baba Yaga or Little People or Firbolgs or Odin into the game.  Logistical planning, knowing when to fight and when to run, learning how to save your GP for plate mail, all of these are skills that will serve them in good stead later in life.

But you can’t impart these valuable life lessons if you play D&D the way Kevin Makice suggests.  Play an OSR game, and play it straight, and you won’t have to fear your kids growing up to waste their life writing free D&D articles or joining some death cult like Antifa.  Metaphorically speaking, that vapid teen girl Mike Mearls will always be out there checking texts on quiet suburban roads, but at least your kids will have some thin veneer of protection between their mushy little heads and the hot, steamy blacktop.

That’s the way I roll, and my wives’ boyfriends’ kids are turning out pretty good.


I am reliably informed that 2018 is going to be just plain lit.

But this is only the beginning!


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A More Basic Adventure Campaign Arch With The Villainy of B1-9 In Search of Adventure: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos Anthology For Your OId School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 03:49
On the edge of civilization violence & horror has been visited upon the villages of Bohemia.Strange raiders from Hell itself or so it seems have been looting, burning, and rampaging across the countryside! Weird humanoids have been taking out many of the larger villages & bastions of civilization! B1-9 In Search of Adventure: The Grand Duchy of Karameikos Anthology is one of my Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Box Breaking 231: Maze of Death for Pathfinder Battles

Gamer Goggles - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 03:34

In this Box Breaking Matt opens up  8 boosters of Maze of Death for Pathfinder Battles from Paizo and Wizkids.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I am impressed with how little the figs repeat.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

My Dream FLGS

Greyhawk Grognard - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:43
Now that I've pre-ordered Gary Ray's fascinating-looking book Friendly Local Game Store: A Five-Year Path to Middle-Class Income, it's naturally got me thinking about what sort of a game store I'd make if I won the lottery. Naturally, this is just a thought experiment (but we can hope!).

One of the things that Gary's Quest for Fun blog stresses is that a FLGS* must be more than a place to buy games. That's a losing proposition, since it's incredibly easy to buy games online at deep discounts most of the time. Thus, the FLGS has to offer more - it has to provide added community value.

In the case of the FLGS, that usually means functioning as a "community center" for gamers of sorts, offering both a place to get together and play, as well as providing a place to bring gamers together with new groups and opponents. To that I might also add being a place where new and lesser-known games can have a little time in the sun, to let customers discover new games they might not otherwise have heard of.

I've seen a bunch of game stores in my day, but the one that still feels like my "main" game store is The Compleat Strategist in New York City (I used to work for the one in Boston, right out of college). This is what's known as a "shock and awe" store. It has everything, crammed in incredibly densely, and in the case of the Strategist, still marked with the original prices when the item was originally placed on the shelves (I found stuff from back in the 80's the last time I was there). That would be a component of my dream store. Shock and awe. Because remember, this is my post-Powerball fantasy we're talking about here.

As part of that, I would want to appeal to, and serve, the five big tabletop gamer subgroups; card games, board games, roleplaying games, miniatures, and wargames**. That would go both for the sales floor as well as the playing areas.

I envision a two-story building, with the first floor dedicated to sales, and the second dedicated to play, with a large open space in the middle to connect the two, so the players look down on the sales area.

For the sales area, I want things bright. High ceilings and lots of light. Aisles wide enough to let two people browse comfortably (not like the newly-shrunken aisles at Barnes & Noble, ugh!) but densely packed with product.

All this empty wall space to me screams
"we're operating on a shoestring"Which reminds me, I'd be on the lookout for game stores going out of business. I'd pick up miniatures, wargames, and (select) RPGs. Nobody needs twenty copies of Everquest the RPG. There wouldn't be a bargain bin, but anything that would qualify would be sold online.

I'd need staff and managers knowledgeable about specific areas, but willing to be cross-trained. For instance, I know nothing about CCGs, so I'd need a couple someones who did. But I'd insist that each was also able to be a back-up for one or more of the other areas. The same would apply everywhere.

And if I could swing it, healthcare for the employees. Hey, I've got Powerball money, I'm going to be the best boss I can.

In the gaming area, there would be several different things to think about. Different sorts of games need different sorts of tables. Miniatures usually need large spaces, while board games and CCGs need much smaller spaces. For RPGs, being able to hear what everyone says is a premium quality. In the interest of attracting and serving the several clubs that are active in my area, I'd definitely want to have rentable locker space to hold miniatures and wargames, to spare them having to cart the stuff around all the time. A few private gaming rooms, probably primarily for RPGs.

And I'd love a snack bar. I don't think a bar bar would be needed since I'm aiming at a game store and not a game cafe (although I wouldn't rule it out), but a place to get snacks and water and soda and such. Nothing too adventuresome; hot dogs, pizza, hot pretzels, ice cream, chips, etc.

So anyway, that's my dream wish-list for a store. What about you? What would you like to see in a FLGS?


* FLGS is a term that's been around since at least the 70's. It usually means Friendly Local Game Store, but the F can sometimes be interchanged with other, less salutary, words.

** By wargames, here I mean hex-and-counter (and similar) wargames, such as those still published by GMT Games, Decision Games, Amarillo Design Bureau, and many others.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

95th - Adventuring in the Napoleonic Wars

Two Hour Wargames - Fri, 02/16/2018 - 00:39

Coming soon - 95th - Adventuring in the Napoleonic Wars.

We've updated the old 95th Chain Reaction Supplement and made it into a stand alone game using the latest game mechanics found in our new rules. We'll be including some simple card stock counters for your use, to get you into the game ASAP. Here are some samples.
Watch for detailed AARs in the days to follow.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Martin Wallace’s The Arrival: Arriving Everywhere with New Art and Advanced Play!

Cryptozoic - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 23:32

We are so excited to release Martin Wallace's The Arrival! In this challenging game of resource allotment and territory expansion, players act as Tribe Leaders vying against the Fomori as well as other players for control of the mythical island of Erin, which would generations later become known as Ireland. Our edition includes new art and a new Advanced Game option.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ch. 5, Page 12

Castle Greyhawk - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 16:53
Lucien hated dealing with adventurers. Oh, the more easygoing ones were a steady source of income, always needing pack animals and riding steeds for trips out to the Castle Greyhawk ruins, but the worst of them barged in and ordered him about like they could just take what they wanted. The city had strict laws protecting the merchant class from all manner of threats, including spells, but that still hardly put stable masters like Lucien on equal footing with men who could shoot fireballs from their fingers, or wielded magic swords.

But the worst of them had to be the lunatic who was destroying his stables right now. He had chopped through the support pillar of his hayloft with a single swing of his sword! And now the man was babbling about needing to fight something that was not even there. "Adventurers," they called themselves. Surely this Castle Greyhawk just turned them into madmen!

On the Wizards Panoply: Cabal & Rainment

Hack & Slash - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 14:00
A few years ago +Benjamin Baugh created a post about the accoutrements of wizards on Google+. It's a great idea and I wanted to examine the suggestions in greater depth.

The objects presented are talismansfocifamiliarscabalsraiments, servantspacts, and sanctums, in order of difficulty of acquirement.

Humans themselves are relatively poor conduits of magical or elemental energy.

The basic conceit of this system is that humans are incapable of safely wielding any magic beyond the first level of power. 
  • Attempts to cast magic of a level higher than 1st require a roll on a retribution table. 
  • This limit can be increased by the acquisition of accoutrements. They may be acquired in any order.
  • Each accoutrement acquired increases the level of spells the caster can cast by one. 
  • No type of accoutrement can be applied more than once, even if you own more than one. Each one only counts towards spell levels you can cast once. 
  • These are generally acquired and lost during play. 
  • If lost or destroyed, that type of thing can't be used again until you have gained a level or a year and a day have passed. 
CabalJoin an occult society, mystery religion, circle of conspirators, or cult and sign magical bonding oaths and compacts.  The force of the cabal's collective power backs your actions, but you will sometimes be called upon to act in the interests of the cabal.  Investing in the Cabal improves your status and position in the fraternity, allowing you to call upon it for aid (the loan of magic items, borrowed retainers, support in battle).  Such requests are honored with a 1 in 6 chance, plus 1 for each spell level invested in the cabal.  

Though wizards bristle at the need for anyone else, the cabals serve multiple purposes. The ritual frequently attracts 'cultists', those who follow the wizard in the hopes of accessing true or real power. They are normal humans, and beyond what power the wizards allow them to access from the cabal, they have no magical ability or potential.

Minimal membership in a cabal is fairly painless, costing nothing more than yearly dues. Investing more in the cabal attracts followers and power.Though cabals are joined in general principle, there are many schisms and fractures within them. They may provide both allies and foes.


Order of the Falling Star: The order of the falling star serves the visitors, who visit the world from the astral plane, to collect followers to join them on their journey throughout the planar spectrum. The travelers hope to save as many people as possible before something they call the 'scourge'. Initiates live an ascetic life and are rather humorless.

Guild of Naturalists: This society of wizards is devoted to the discovery and cataloging of natural specimens. Members join for various reasons, crossbreeding research, prestige, a love of the outdoors, access to monster information or resources. Prestige within the society is gained and lost based on new research and facts, and there are longstanding rivalries between members. This guild is open to any classes.

Pax Draconis: This society attempts to reach a true source of magic, draconic power. They are usually in service to the nearest old (or older) usually chomatic dragon nearby, granting their devoted service in exchange for whatever power they can manage to siphon. The dragons often find these arrangements palatable until they are not. Once initiated the mage is brought before the dragon who both asks a service and grants a gift.

Students of the Pearl Tower: This is an academic group of researchers who seek out and collect magical power. In exchange for new magics, students may access the vast library available in the enchanted pearl tower.
RaimentYour garments and costume, the working clothing or finery which declares your profession and power not just to mortal observers, but to the Unseen Realms as well.  This is quite expensive, but protects from all natural extremes of heat and cold, and keeps you comfortable even in thunderstorms.  Each spell level invested in Raiment improves your AC by 1.   

This garment must cost at least 100 gold, though some of the most powerful and famous garment can be priceless.
ExamplesRobe of Eyes: This option costs little to create, but requires the collection of 100 eyes from beholders, basilisks, and gibbering mouthers. Mouthers are relatively easily controlled and harvested, but they won't grow new eyeballs without being fed people. Anyone who wears the robe of eyes can no longer be surprised, and can see in the dark, as well as into the ethereal and astral planes.

Robe of the Archmagi: This is a robe costing at least 100,000 gold pieces. Once the base material has been enchanted, the wizard may invest spell slots for various effects. Common ones include a +4 bonus to armor class from the investment of a single spell level. Granting the user 5% magic resistance per spell level investment. A bonus of +1 to saves per 2 spell levels sacrificed (capped at +4 for a 8th or 9th level spell, being the highest level investment), Or granting an opponent a -1 to saves per 2 spell levels sacrificed. They are specifically tailored to the creating wizard. Anyone trying on the robe who is not the wizard takes 11d4+7 damage and loses a similar amount of experience times 1,000.

Part I is here
Part II is here

If you like this, let me know. Or check out the other stuff I write.
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Azurth Digest is back--for A Limited Time

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 12:00

The first issue of the Azurth Adventures Digest  print edition is back 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.

 Go here for the print(+pdf) edition, while supplies last. If you only want the pdf, well, that's always available here.

The Truth about Nolan Bushnell and Atari

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Thu, 02/15/2018 - 04:26

This is a must watch video about the latest travesty perpetuated by (wait for it…) games journalists.

Remarkable how short a time it took to go from the repudiation of the Antebellum South to basically the unpersoning of practically everyone that was an adult during the seventies. It’s impressive, and a natural corollary to the “don’t read anything before 1980” mentality that dates back to… oh… at least to 1974.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[ZINE] Patient Zero

Beyond Fomalhaut - Wed, 02/14/2018 - 19:44
Welcome to Truglag's Tavern
Here is a proof of concept copy of Echoes From Fomalhaut I produced in my office today, featuring cover art by the inimitable Denis McCarthy. The final version will feature slightly different paper (the paper store was out of this specific hue, but they could sell me a lighter, kinda-champagne alternative), and I will need to mess around with the image until it is in the centre... but so far, so good!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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