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Dungeon Magazine #131

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 11:18

The Beasts of Aulbesmil
By Skip WIlliams
Level 3

Nice to see Dungeon back in the business of publishing crap. You’re in a village for some lame pretext (an old friend is gone. The church has asked you to investigate … or the baron hires you to find his kidnapped son because his men might be recognized, which is a decent hook.) People have disappeared. Everyone thinks the miller is evil and is behind things. If you go to the mill you are attacked by the evil wererat miller and his thugs. Orcs in the barons hunting cabin are in league with the miller and hold the son. So you show up, get a miller clue, and confront the bad guy in the first ten minutes? “You go to the grocery. Everyone gains two levels.” You do, however, get to learn ALL about how the wererat committed his thefts and murders. Useless information. History and backstory are so seldom of use. The fetish around novelization is depressing.

The Hateful Legacy
By Greg A. Vaughan
Level 12

This ‘Lost Valley’ adventure starts with an attack by an awakened dire ape ranger. And that, alone, was enough to let me know how this thing was going to go. A society of warrior ogres guards the entrance in some kind of watchtower at a chokepoint. (Which might actually have been interesting, but I can’t for the fucking life of me decipher the map. I THINK the entrance MIGHT be area 7, but that doesn’t make sense either … Anyway, it has two more set pieces after the first two and then you get to pick up a bunch of coins in treasure. Joy. The whole transition from adventure and wonder to set-pieces with columns of pages of tactics has been more than a little disappointing for me. The mania to constrain the DM with rules was not a good path.

The Prince of Redhand
By Jesse Decker
Level 15

And then there’s the eighth installment of Age of Worms. Only four more after this. This is meant to be a social adventure. You need to talk to an elf, and she lives in a bandit town. Once there your only opportunity to talk to her is at a dinner banquet. There is a small dragon lair some Ebon Triad nonsense to go kill, if the players insist on stabbing someone who’s not a commoner. Rather than integrating the social aspects in the adventure, or integrating them in to other episodes, they instead have “the musical episode”; disappointing. Getting through the front gate takes a page of text to say nothing important. One event is “you roll some dice and regardless of the results you get an invitation to the banquet.” Another one is “you go to the elf house and get turned away at the door.” Maybe six “events” before the banquet and maybe as many at the banquet proper. The banquet has a host of NPC’s, with appearances, personalities, goals and so on, but it’s all presented in giant text form … meaning you’ll need to take copious notes to run it. Tables. USE. A. FUCKING. TABLE. TO. SUMMARIZE. Ug. Anyway, the events are longer than they need to be, of course, and this being 3e they amount to little more than some skill rolls. That’s too bad. The end result is that the elf chick agrees to talk to yu in a couple of days … the next episode. The events here are little more than a railroad, both before and during the party. That’s too bad. There’s a nugget of interesting adventure here, with a social dinner party and wacky nobles from the capitol … fodder for a 1000 LARPs, but it’s awkward to run.

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Commentary On I2 Tomb of the Lizard King By Mark Acres For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 05:10
"The southlands of Eor are being despoiled. Merchants will no longer run their caravans on the main highway past the quiet village of Waycombe. The peasants are fleeing their lands, and all are demanding protection from the powerful Count of Eor. The goodly count has sent a troop of his trusted fighters to exterminate the brigands believed responsible for these outrages, but weeks have Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Elementalist Class for Swords & Wizardry Light

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 04:05
Art by Brett Neufeld"Some secrets aren't learned in books but are passed down by oral tradition. Such is the path you have chosen. The mysteries of the elements will be yours to control if you complete your trials. If you fail, mother earth will take you into her embrace. And so it begins..."

Elementalist Class for Swords & Wizardry Light

Elementalists get both spell like abilities and an elemental that can do their bidding.

Level   HD   Save   BhB  Adventures needed for Next Level
1           1        15       0       3
2           2        14       0       +4
3           2+1    13       0       +5
4           3        12      +1     +6
5           3+1    11      +1      +7
6           4        10      +2     +8
7           5          9      +2     xx

Elementalists have + 2 to Saves against fire and air bourn poisons. They can use daggers and staves, much like a magic-user.

They get the following abilities at each level:

Level 1: Summon Elemental (described below) Once per Day
Level 2: Gust of Wind - Can summon wind that can disperse papers, fan flames and knock over small (1/2 pound or less) objects Once per Day
Level 3: Breath Water as Air - Once per Day for 1 hr per level
Level 4: Dagger of Fire: Once per Day can summon a Magical Faming Dagger. Only the Elementalist can wield it. It lasts for 1 round per level (throwing the dagger dispels it early). The Dagger is +1 to hit per level of the Elementalist and does 1d6+3 damage.
Level 5: Ball of Mud - Once per Day and the 2nd level Magic-User Web Spell, but this is made of mud.
Level 6: Fly - Once per Day as Magic-User Spell
Level 7: Fireball - Once per Day as Magic-User Spell

Summon Elemental

The greatest gift (and most dangerous, to the Elementalist as well as his adversaries) is the elemental they can summon.

The AC for a 1 HD elemental is 9[10] and improves by 1 point per HD to 3[16] at 7 HD.

Damage is 1d6, improving to 1d6+2 at level 4 and 2d6 at level 7.

The HD of the summoned elemental can be as many as the Elementalist has levels, but less HD then the max may be chose. Only one elemental can be summoned each day and the death of an elemental causes damage to the Elementalist equal in HP to the HD of the elemental. Example: The destruction of a 4 HD Elemental causes 4 HP of damage to the Elementalist. Elementalists often dismiss injured elementals early to avoid this danger.

Elemental

AC 9 to 3

HD 1 to 7

Damage 1d6 to 2d6



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Edd's Pub - Fantasy Adventures now on Sale!

Two Hour Wargames - Sat, 04/22/2017 - 00:39

Whether you play Warrior Heroes - Legends, 2 Hour Dungeon Crawl or any of our other Fantasy titles, you can play it with Edd's Pub. Heck, you can even use it with Large Than Life - Director's Cut our Pulp set of rules.
You can play Edd's Pub with our other games, but it's also a stand-alone game that's great for players of all experience. 
Edd's Pub is the jumping off point to the "Other Side" a world within our fantasy world of Talomir. Check it out here.



Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On City Procedures VIII

Hack & Slash - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 17:34
At what price influence? At what cost power?

At some point, characters may aspire to more than just the list of activities given. They may wish to purchase a house or land, raise troops, start a religion or a construction project. Such activities may not be done on their own without attracting the attention of rulers who will go to  great lengths to stop such activities. So how to accomplish them?

Get permission, of course!

Easier said then done. In order to acquire leverage, you may go the route of "find someone who wants a quest done, and use the completion of that quest to get your favor" and that's fine and traditional. But what if you have a campaign in media res with more side quests then you can already track? What if players want to change an existing structure instead of building a new one?

Enter the concept of influence.

InfluenceThere are only a few areas of influence. Commerce/Economic, Military Power, Nobility, and Arcana/Religious. For every 1,000 people in a city, there is one 3x3 board of minor influence. For every 10,000 people in the city, there is one 3x3 board of major influence. For every 100,000 people in the city, there is one 3x3 board of grand influence. Waterdeep for example, has a population of 130,000, providing one grand board, 13 major boards, and 130 minor boards. Most cities will be much smaller than Waterdeep.

Note that there are only 9 squares on a board, and always at least 10 factions who want placement on it.

Players cannot see the influence boards, and have no idea before they act what the boards look like. A player may spend one month, with a successful relevant skill roll (spying, survival (urban), etc.) to determine the status of one minor board, which they can then see. One person devoted to the task each month enables them to continue to keep abreast of what is happening on the board.

Gaining Influence
A character may spend 1,000 gold and 1 week gaining one square of minor influence. This represents politicking, meeting people, public works, intimidation, advertising, etc.–whatever  generates influence.  If more than 5 squares on a board are acquired two things happen. They gain a point of leverage for that level (minor, major, grand) and they are granted one square of influence on the next highest board. If a character possesses at least one point of minor leverage, they may spend 10,000 gold and 1 week to gain a square of major influence.

The relevant skill is rolled (bureaucracy, survival (urban), arcana, religion, persuasion, history, etc.) depending on the type of influence one wishes to acquire. This determines the order everyone selects influence. Then Dungeon Master adds their influence to a board at the end of a week in the order that they were rolled.

Players may also attempt to acquire influence from other actors also already on the board. They do this by individual negotiations with the person possessing the influence. Consider that the possessor of that influence will expect or fear loss of somewhere between 1,000-5,000 gold pieces of value per point of influence acquired. (This doesn't necessarily have to be in money. Blackmail, threats, completing tasks, etc. can all be used).

At the end of the month, all factions on all boards of all levels, remove one square of their influence. There is a 1 in 10 chance per board that it is completely cleared (due to a death, random event, or change in power structure).

Boards are, in general, filled before the player characters arrive. You do not have to play out every actor in the city, though if the characters have an ally or a foil or nemesis, they may work to block the character's progress. Certain positions (harbormaster, noble, merchant, priest, captain, general, etc.) automatically grant one point of minor leverage every month, without board positions. They may translate this minor leverage into selecting influence squares.

Or, the leverage may be spent. Note that for many of these, it is required that you spend the leverage each month to maintain the benefit.

Commerce/Economic
Minor Leverage: Own or run a business employing up to 10 people. Purchase or sell trade goods in bulk.
Major Leverage: Make large purchases (>100,000 gp). Own a trading vessel. Own or run a business employing up to 100 people.
Grand Leverage: Own or run a business employing unlimited people.

Military Power
Minor Leverage: Employ more than 10 hirelings. Have someone arrested. Have someone freed.
Major Leverage: Employ mercenaries.
Grand Influence: Request military aid.

Nobility
Minor Influence: Purchase existing property.
Major Influence: Purchase land or build new property. Acquire a standard for an informal group or company. Gain a minor title.
Grand Influence:  Form an official guild. Become a member of the nobility.

Arcana/religious 
Minor Influence: Practice magic in the city.
Major Influence: Gain a license to employ magic commercially. Gain a license to have a group of religious followers.
Grand Influence: Be allowed to construct a school or church (must also have nobility influence to be allowed to do so)

Factions

Obviously such a system is both abstract and scaleable. But in the use case of cities, this influence is almost always associated with a faction. "The player character party", "the thieve's guild/mob" "noble faction A", "the traders' guild", etc.

It is expected that players may be able to influence one or two minor boards themselves, but it will be necessary to ally with other major influencers in order to acquire major leverage.

Because power corrupts, society's demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases. -John Adams

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Through The Green Door - The Islands of Purple Putresence - An Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Actual Play Event

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 16:08
Roman senate door by antmoose So last night I got together with Steve & his players for a bit of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyeprborea. This isn't my regular group of players so I was kinda with my back to the wall. Yeah well I did have couple of aces up my sleeve in the fact that I've been running a  weekly The Islands of Purple Putrescence game powered by the Astonishing Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Podcast - Save of Die! #134 - All About Elves

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 15:47

You know how I've mentioned that my podcast listening has suffered in retirement. Well, here's the kicker - Episode #134 of Save or Die! released two weeks ago and I haven't mentioned it until now - and I'm a damn host!

Seriously, I need to work on my time management skills. Heh.
DM James, DM Glen, and TM Erik talk about those pointy-eared tree huggers: Elves! The three old grogs talk about how to add a little spice to your immortal spell-slingers and go beyond the traditional Fighter/Magic-User mix-up that are basic race-as-class elves. From the alien mindset of elves to their unique take on magic and magic items, James, Glen, and Erik throw ideas at you about how to make your elder woodland folk something original at the gaming table.Go! Give it a listen. You know you need more of that unmistakeable New York accent. Listen long enough and you'll be able to read The Tavern with my voice in your head. Now THAT'S a scary thought ;)
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Gygax's Killer Die

Zenopus Archives - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 12:20
Gary's EN World avatar featuring his Futurama character
As a follow-up to yesterday's post on the Marked 20-sided Die, here are some quotes from Gygax on his own Marked d20. Thanks to T. Foster at the Mystical Trash Heap blog for bringing this to my attention.

3/13/03
"Those low-impact d20s did get pretty round in short order--well short order in terms of gaming time. Rob Kuntz had one that would stand on a point now and again. I still have a couple that I use when playing OD&D as the DM. One with gray faces on 10 sides is a "killer" die that comes up on those faces a lot--the 11-20 range, of course! Can't find it now, but it's likely in a box of old dice somewhere in the basement here. I have a second one with red faces that's as good for the monsters' rolls, of course" (EnWorld Q&A post)

1/29/04
"As it happens I have quite a number of the old low-impact dice around here somewhere. The points on the d4 were very sharp but wore down quickly. Rob had a d20 that would stand on a worn point about one roll in 50 : )"

"Somewhere I lost my d20 with half the faces colored gray. It was my "killer die" that rolled an inordinate number of 20s, and the players really hated it : )" (EnWorld Q&A post)

Following this, T. Foster wrote
"I played with you in "Necropolis" at Glathricon (in Evansville, IN) in 1988 and am pretty sure I encountered your infamous 'killer' d20 -- it was white, numbered 0-9 twice, and rolled awfully well (for you, badly for us :) )."

2/6/04 - in response to T. Foster
"It was either my gray or red "killer die," undoubtedly. It has since sent a large number of adventurers to their doom when rolled on behalf of my OD&D game "Old Guard Kobolds." The ninth party of six or more 2nd level characters fell to them at JanCon last month" (EnWorld Q&A post)

(A few minor edits to Gary's comments to correct obvious typos)
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Flip Through Curse of the Crimson Throne for Pathfinder

Gamer Goggles - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 03:26

Matt doesn’t spoil this look at the revised edition of Curse of the Crimson Throne.  He discusses some of the changes or additions that were added to the story.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Next Week I will take a look at at Bestiary 6!  And then some Rifts the following week.

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Kickstarter - Dark Naga - The City of Talos for 5th Edition

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 04/21/2017 - 02:15

Dark Naga Adventures has had some pretty decent Kickstarter releases in the past and The City of Talos looks like it will maintain the same high quality. My main issue is that its for 9th level characters. Regardless of edition, my campaigns never rise to that level ;)

What do you get for your pledge?
  • Saddle-Stitched 32+ page adventure book 
  • Saddle-Stitched 32+ page gazetteer 
  • Detached Color cover with color maps on the interior. These maps are far too elaborate and gorgeous to produce in monochrome. 
  • 12 full-color maps 
  • 8 pages of black and white art, more when we unlock stretch goals. 
"Detachable color cover with color maps on the interior?" Le sigh ;)


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Some Ideas for The Tavern's Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day Post - Elementals and Elementalists

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 22:14
Art by Brett Neufeld
I'm sitting here thinking about what I'm going to add to the Swords & Wizardry Community this weekend, and while I'd like to say "Swords & Wizardry Continual Light" will be ready for download this Saturday, its not back yet from being proofread. Best laid plans and all that shit.

So, what is your bartender ever going to do?

Well, Dennis Sustare suggested ecological themed adventure for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day intersecting with Earth Day, but I'm going to take that a bit further or at least in another direction.

I'll be introducing minor and lesser elementals to the SWL bestiary as well as a new class, plotted through level 7 - an Elementalist. We'll even include the optional advancement for when a SWCL class hits their cap of level 7. I suspect it will appear later in Torchlight and at that point I'll do a Swords & Wizardry Complete conversion through level 10.

Fear not! Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is nearly here ;)
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Commentary On N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 16:57
I was talking with my systems guy about Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea & C1's blog entry yesterday. He was a bit put out because we're playing a lower level tier campaign at the moment involving Venger Satanis's Islands of Purple Haunted Putrescence. He was saying its not like there is a low level adventure that can really exploit the Hyperborean countryside? Well, Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day is also Earth Day - Ecological Themed Adventures Anyone?

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 14:02
Dennis Sustare, he of Bunnies & Burrows fame (and known as Bunny Burroughs on FB) suggested the following yesterday:Now, if you know anything about Dennis, he doesn't just talk - he does. Last night, as I was sleeping, Dennis sent me the two page Swords & Wizardry Light adventure: Preserve the Feedbank. Actually, he labeled it a "Mini-Ecoquest", which it certainly is. Its aimed at 4 to 6 2nd level adventures.

I'll be adding it to the Swords & Wizardry Light shared Dropbox Folder for release on April 22 - this Saturday - Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day as well as Earth Day.

Have an "ecological themed" adventure squirreled away for S&W? Email me at tenkarsDOTtavern at that gmail thing and I'll add it to the folder.
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Marked 20-sided Die

Zenopus Archives - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 13:40
TSR's original dice set was included in Holmes Basic, Gamma World and sold separately
In the 1970s, rolling 1-20 wasn't as straightforward as today. The original dice set available from TSR included a white 20-sided dice, but it was numbered (and pre-inked) with 0-9 twice rather than 1-20. So these dice were actually d10s, and were most easily used to generate percentiles by rolling the same die twice in row or by rolling two different colored dice together. TSR even sold a separate white and pink set of Percentile Generators.

But since the beginning D&D has always needed d20s, for attacks and saving throws. The earliest D&D rulebooks don't explain how to use the 10-sided die to generate 1-20, but by the time of Holmes Basic, there was a recognized need to explain this, as the rulebook teaches two different ways to roll 1-20 with these dice. One is near the end of the book in the section "Using the Dice", which isn't in the Holmes manuscript, and so was added by TSR. This method uses a secondary "control" die to determine if the number is 1-10 or 11-20:

"For example: to generate 1-20, roll the 20-sided die and 6-sided die, and if the 6-sided die comes up 1-3 , the number shown on the 20-sider is 1-10 (1-0), and if the 6-sider comes up 4-6, add 10 to the 20-sided die and its numbers become 11-20 (1-0)".

The other method is described in the main part of the text in the section on Saving Throws (page 14). This was written by Holmes as it is found word-for-word in the manuscript:

"Numbers can be generated as follows: Mark one set of faces on a 20-sided die by coloring with a red permanent marker on one of each faces — 0, 1, 2, 3, etc. The marked faces will be considered to have a ten added to them — 1 = 11, 2 = 12, 3 = 13, etc. Unmarked
0 = 10, marked 0 = 20. This die will also be used to determine the results of combat from the combat table."

The picture at the top of this post (from an Ebay auction that indicated the dice were from a Basic set) shows an example of this: the owner has colored half of the faces of the 20-sider in a red color. The white faces represent 1-10, and the red faces represent 11-20. As I mentioned above these dice were pre-inked, so one couldn't just color the two sets of 0-9 with different colored crayons, the faces had to be marked to differentiate them.

This method is referenced again in the section "Combat Melee":

"The probability of a hit is converted into a random number of 1 to 20 (the specially marked die is recommended)" (page 18) and "A 20-sided die must be marked or colored so that
one set of sides 0-9 is different from the other set. Count 0 as a 10. The marked set is then read as if 10 had been added to the roll (11-20), treating 0 as 10 or 20. This die is used for all combat resolution" (page 19)

Holmes probably learned this marked die method from other gamers, as there are earlier examples of it. For example, below is an auction photo from last year, for an auction you may have heard about, an original woodgrain D&D set that sold for over $20,000. Included with the set in the auction was a 20-sided die and a note (with the date of ~1974 given by the auctioneer). In the note we see similar instructions, with the white half of the die being 1-10 and the orange half being 11-20.



In 1979, the 1st edition DMG still assumes use of these 20-sided d10s in the section "Dice", on page 10:

"If a d20 is used either 1-20 (assuming the use of a standard d20 which is numbered 0-9 twice without coloring one set of faces to indicate that those faces have 10 added to the number appearing) or 1-40 (assuming that one set of faces is colored) can be gotten by adding 0 if 1 or 2 is rolled on the d4 and 10 or 20 (depending on the die type) if a 3 or 4 is rolled"

The structure of this sentence is complicated, but Gygax is saying to use d4 control dice to turn 1-10 into 1-20 (for an unmarked die) or 1-20 into 1-40 (for a marked die).

This was a short-lived era as other manufacturers began cranking out dice. 

At some point (I don't have a date but will update this post if I find it), 20-sided dice that were not pre-inked appeared, which allowed for coloring the two sets of numbers with different colored crayons. You still had to remember which color was low (1-10) and which was high (11-20). I have a dice like this that I received in an auction a while back (I can't even remember what it came with):




I also don't know when the first 20-sided dice that was numbered 1-20 first appeared, but the standard d10 appeared around 1980, possibly debuting at Gen Con that year

In the last printing of the Holmes Basic rulebook, dated Dec 1979 but certainly from 1980 as it is the third version with that date, the section on "Using the Dice" was revised to refer to "the assortment of 4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, 12- and 20-sided dice" (page 46), and the portion about the control die no longer refers to 1-20. Holmes' instructions for making a marked d20 is still found in the section on Saving Throws, however.

The Acaeum reports that some sets of Holmes Basic include a set of six dice. I've never actually seen one of these sets. It does seem strange TSR would revise the rulebook to refer to the 10-sided die without actually including it. But I'd like to see it confirmed that a set shipped this way versus having dice added later. A complicating factor is that Holmes Basic set was sold up until at least 1986 (I have a catalog from then listing it), so some may have had 6-dice sets added to them at later date.

Certainly by the time of the Moldvay Basic set and Dragon Dice, both from 1981, we have the standard 1980s set of six dice, including both the 10-sided die and the 20-sided die numbered 1-20.

See also:
Veteran of the Dice Wars
TSR Ads in Boys Life 1977-1982

And Jon Peterson's articles on the history of dice in D&D: 
How Gaming Got Its Dice
The Origins of Dice Notation
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mortzengersturm Reviews

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 04/20/2017 - 11:00
A couple of reviews for Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak have come out, and they have not escaped the notice of the manticore wizard himself:


Jack Shear over at Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque
Gus L at Dungeon of Signs

A Wayward Kickstarter - Call of Cthulhu: The Withering Dark - Playing Cards and Tarot

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 16:54

Lets take a look at Call of Cthulhu: The Withering Dark - Playing Cards and Tarot Kickstarter.

Estimated delivery: April, 2014.

Last update: August, 2016.

Number of Backers: 1626

Monies raised: Over $116k

Pledged by your Tavern Keeper: $72

Received by your Tavern Keeper: Jack Shit

Quality of sample art: Awesome


So, what went wrong?

Shit happened. The updates aren't backer only, so any can read, but they detail enough in the way of personal events that, should you desire to read them, you have the link but I am not going to copy and paste. My summary is this - if you don't know how to manage money, run a business and are at risk for bouts of depression, Kickstarter IS NOT for you. Great ideas with piss poor planning and implementation as well as inability to cope with the associated stress leads to shit shows like this. While I feel for the creator, eight months of radio silence since dropping the "personal baggage bomb" eats away at whatever sympathy I have.

My expectations?

Gareth is more likely to deliver. Hmm, need to check up on him now...








Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Commentary On C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan Adventure & Its Free Old School Resources

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 15:56
C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan has an aura of pulpy danger that seems to call to players like moths to an old school flame. Hidden treasure, danger, & some very weird old school flavor seem to add to trap laden old school play. But what if you want to place it within your favorite old school home game campaign setting? What about a more pulpy sword & sorcery angle? Alright so let's Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight (and Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day this Saturday)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 14:44

Yep, today is a Wednesday, so that means tonight is Tavern Chat Night! This Saturday is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, so I expect much of the conversation will be about S&W, but that can chance depending on who drops in.

You are dropping in, right?

Where: Here - using the Chatwing box on the right side of this page

When: 9 PM Eastern Time

Why: Because its a blast every week and we've been hosting this for years


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Secret Machines of the Star Spawn

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:09


By Mark Taormino
Maximum Mayhem Dungeons
OSRIC
Level 6-10

Locals have been hearing whispers of strange happenings around the Ancient Volcano. Rumors over the last several years of an unspeakable evil that has risen up inside. An evil that “fell from the stars”. There is something wicked and devilish going on inside. Highwaymen report of strange creatures, mechanical monsters, horrible beasts and “little green men” that are roaming the land. You and your stalwart adventurers have decided to take on the challenge of plundering the mountain for the treasure within! Oh and get to the bottom of these dastardly stories as well!

My life is a living hell. This 44 page “adventure” is a linear railroad with aliens and technology. It’s written like your 7th grade dungeon master created it: adversarial with lots of tits. I actually went and looked up the designer to make sure it wasn’t the FATAL guy. It’s not. But he did make $3k from the kickstarter for this, and $11k from his latest kickstarter. This piece of shit is the closest I’ve seen someone get to WG7. I often cite expectations, and have a strict taxonomy. Put another way, I don’t give a flying fuck what you publish but you damn well better do a good job disclosing what it is so we don’t have to buy your crap.

I am supposed to start off saying something nice. The highlights. I’m struggling. It’s got a decent number of new monsters, themed to the adventure, nicely illustrated, and most with some interesting themed effects. One of the aliens has a “brain freeze” power, for example. One or two of the room descriptions, in read-aloud, are not terrible. A few of the encounters have an interesting set up. There’s a robot head you can pick up who talks to you and can operate technology/explain things. You can find his body parts and rebuild him. A somewhat interesting little NPC, a fun little side-task to accomplish. That’s good. One or two of the rooms have a decent description, like the room walls made up of thousands of gears of different sizes and directions and speeds, with a large black lever in the middle of the room. Jokes on you though, that lever, and entire room, does nothing. It’s just there to fuck with the players. Most of the descriptions … functional? But they tend to digress to being overly descriptive and long. In other words, the first couple of sentences gives a plain fact-based description of the room “This is a huge two hundred foot wide cavernous volcano chamber. It is divided by a jagged chasm where lava now ows. It is about forty feet wide and the lava ows into the deep underground realms beyond the volcano depths.” Functional, but not necessarily exciting. But then it goes on to describe more and more and more instead of just stopping. And that room is one of the shortest descriptions. The read-aloud can go on for paragraphs. Or columns. Or, in the case of the introduction/background: pages. This overly prescriptive description issue is key indicator that things are not in Adventureville.

And well they are not. The start map is a single linear hallway with rooms either hanging off of it or the hallway running to the rooms. No choice or decisions. The rooms are even better. Every one of the starting rooms. Six of the first seven rooms have monsters that either attack immediately or attack within one round. This is not an unusual occurrence. You walk in to a room you can’ avoid and the monsters attack immediately. That’s not a D&D adventure, that’s a caricature of a D&D adventure. The room encounters support this. “As the players enter the room the door they came through disappears!” We all know why, right? Because the designer has some “clever” or “fun” encounter that he wants to force the players into.

There’a creature you fight, the Dungeon Breaker, that, as far as I can tell, is never described anywhere.

One room has a teleporter. Each character is required to use it to continue the adventure. There is either a 50% or a 75% chance it will malfunction, the adventure mentions both numbers. If it malfunctions there is a 3-in-8 chance of instant death and a 3-in-8 chance of facing a BIG monster by yourself, and a 1-in-8 chance of being replaced with an evil clone. Do I need to explain this?

Up until now it’s just a bad adventure. Too much read-aloud. Linear. Almost nothing besides straight up combat. You could mistake it for a bad 4e adventure (or pre-DCC RPG Goodman adventures …) or something created by a 12 year old jr high kid. But then that 12 year turned 13 and hit puberty. And inflicted himself on others. The issue is not the prurient humor, or the tit-heavy sexualized art. I like to think of them as an exponent. If a good adventure is a “1” and you get a point added every time you do something crappy, then loud belches and cheescake are en exponent. 1, squared is 1, still a good adventure. 5, squared, is 25. It’s the icing on the cake that sends you in to suger coma. “Chocolate Thunder” is a black woman with a large afro in a tiny bikini who yells “Watch it sucka!” Ain’t nothing wrong with any of that. Everyone should have the balls to pull off that kind of style. But when in this shitty adventure its clear what the intent it, and it’s not positive. Likewise the tit-heavy gypsies. Or the mind flayer grabbing a womans tits with its tentacles. Or “the fat princess”

The preview on DriveThru will show you the art sample, as well as give you a hint of the humor style in the start of the barons page and half read-aloud on the last page of the preview. I’d read that last page, just to lighten up your day.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/164416/The-Secret-Machines-of-the-Star-Spawn

$3k on Kickstarter. Existence precedes essence, Bryce. Existence precedes essence, Bryce.
Existence precedes essence, Bryce. Existence precedes essence, Bryce. Existence precedes essence, Bryce. Existence precedes essence, Bryce. Existence precedes essence, Bryce.
Existence precedes essence, Bryce. Existence precedes essence, Bryce.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Storm: Labyrinth of Death

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 04/19/2017 - 11:00
My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Labyrinth of Death (1983) 
(Dutch: Het Doolhof van de Dood) (part 3)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

The striped-haired spy has no time for Ember's questions. She leaves quickly so she won't be found out--and runs smack into a suspicious guard. Ember rushes out to help her. In the scuffle, the guard is killed. The spy isn't happy for the help as now they've got a body to dispose of. But it means they have to act now.


They raid the jails, overpowering the guards, and find Nomad. Storm has been taken away to the Theocrat's laboratory. The rebels are mistrustful of Nomad. When he threatens violence if they try to stop him from coming along, they reiterate they're willing to die for the cause. Ember points out that they should probably be more willing to live for it, as well.

Meanwhile, the Theocrat is explaining the cosmology of Pandarve. It seems the system has a white hole at its center instead of a sun. The matter emitted by it is what creates the atmosphere throughout the system. Marduk also reveals that the planet Pandarve itself is alive. He boasts of being her spokesmen to the people of the world--but he wants to be more than a servant.

Storm is the key. He is imbued with energy due to his travel through time. If properly harnessed, the Theocrat believes he can use it to control the universe. He's got his biological computers working on this:


He demands Storm stand in the center of a crystal antennae to catch the radiation coming off and analyzing it:


TO BE CONTINUED

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