Tabletop Gaming Feeds

It's Splintered April

The Splintered Realm - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 12:45

This April, I’ll be releasing not one, not two, not three, but FOUR updates for Tales of the Splintered Realm. Each of these 8-page supplements will be a pay-what-you-want expansion for the niftiest RPG ever inspired by the niftiest RPG ever. Each of these will be released on consecutive Saturdays, starting with April 6:
Module B1: 66 Dungeon Dwellers. This ain’t your momma’s monster manual. (unless your mom is THAT cool). Drops on Saturday, 4/6.
Module C1: Trove of Treasures. A list of treasures. A percentile die. Fo sho. Drops on Saturday, 4/13.
Module D1: Into the Lost Halls. It’s a big dungeon. We’re just living in it. Drops on Saturday, 4/20.
Module E1: Against the Goblins. These goblins are bat poop crazy. That’s probably from the bat poop. Drops on Saturday, 4/27.

Using The Castles & Crusades Monsters and Treasure book & The Siege Engine For An A.Merritt Lost World Campaign Gap

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 03/30/2019 - 00:25
So today's been one of those days where I've taken a step back & been looking into the frame work of my campaign. Last night I popped a beer & had a phone call with an old friend about my Victorious rpg /Amazing Adventures! Rpg campaign. His recommendations were very interesting to say the least.So out comes Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure  & we start going over the ins & outs of someNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Palladium offers the Megaverse!

Gamer Goggles - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 16:30

The Megaverse® Insider is back!
– A gonzo, Limited Time Pre-Sale Offer – Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One

People enjoyed our past Megaverse® Insider Offers, so we decided to do one for Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One and other select, upcoming titles that deserve star treatment, like Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. Two in a few months, and possibly others.

What is a Megaverse® Insider Offer?

Besides fun and unique opportunities for you, the Rifts® Bestiary Megaverse® Insider gives you the chance to get one or more of the following depending on which bundle(s) you purchase. But do it fast because you only have about 2 weeks before this deal ends. Available only at PalladiumBooks.com in the online store!

  Your name listed as a supporter in the finished published book.

The chance to acquire an advance PDF before it is offered to the public.

The chance to purchase one or two limited edition collector hardcovers available ONLY via this Megaverse® Insider offer, and limited in number to those purchased by Insiders plus some extra; see full details below.

Bundle deals with all kinds of extras, see full details below.

Unique opportunities the likes of which you rarely see anywhere. Many are very limited in number due their uniqueness and limited availability.
– Your name listed as an unstatted character in the book.
– The acquisition of original artwork/concept sketches.
– Name a monster and more.

ALL of these items are only available during the short TWO WEEKS that we are offering them. Most will NEVER BE OFFERED AGAIN for that product. THIS IS YOUR ONLY CHANCE TO GET MANY Of THEM. Offer ends April 8, 2018. And some bundles are very limited.

Many items, like the two hardcover editions, should become instant collectibles worth more than what you paid for them. Why? Because if our Megaverse Insiders only purchase 220 copies, or 50 copies, then that (plus a few dozen for staff, friends and special promotions) is ALL we are printing. There are no more to be printed. Not ever. This is it. ONLY those of you Insiders who buy one or two (plus the few dozen extra for Palladium’s own use) have a copy of that super-rare, super-limited, exclusive hardcover!

That makes you a true “insider” and the item special and rare. Since this is the only print run and there are so few printed, the resale market value should be instantly more than what you paid for it. The Palladium RPG® Crimson Hardcover and the original Rifts® Gold Hardcover sell for $300-$600 on the collectors’ market, and they had press runs of 500 and 600 copies, respectively. (FYI: The Rifts® Ultimate Gold Edition had a press run of 1,500 copies and it still regularly commands three and four times the original selling price.) Note: We may also do a limited Gold Edition available to the public, separate from the two super-limited hardcovers in this Insider offer, or not. Haven’t decided yet.

The Megaverse® Insider is hosted right here on the Palladium Website. You make advance purchases of select items, bundles, and special opportunities the same as any Palladium product in our online store.

One last thing, please spread the word to your gaming friends and post about it online wherever you can think of. We are only advertising this to YOU – our Palladium fans and insiders – and the offer is for a very short time: Now thru April 8, 2019. Become a Megaverse® Insider.

– Kevin Siembieda, Publisher and Your Inside Man

The Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One

This is the first big “Monster Book” reference ever done for Rifts®. Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One collects nearly 100 animals, and offers more than a dozen new beasts found across North America. Presented in alphabetical order with the first third or half appearing in the 224-256 page Volume One, and the rest appearing in Volume Two. Actually, we may need a Volume Three because there are so many monsters and exotic animals in Rifts North America alone! Each highly detailed and expanded, offering adventure ideas, and accompanied with a map that shows were they can be encountered, at a glance.

Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One is nearing completion. There are only the last couple dozen creatures requiring updating and final writing, the finishing of the maps for each, then layout and printing. As soon as it arrives back from the printer, we ship it to you!

All upcoming Rifts® Bestiary™ books will be great resources for players and G.M.s alike, with creatures that can be used as familiars, pets, riding animals, guard animals, and in some cases, even unlikely allies. Others are slobbering monsters or ravenous predators who include humans and D-Bees among their prey. All will give you plenty of spice to add to your characters and adventures. And each has a map that shows at a glance exactly where to find these beasts.
Monsters and animals of Rifts North America organized into two (maybe three) big, easy to use sourcebooks.
  Updated descriptions and information for existing monsters.
  Updated and uniform stat blocks.
  New predators, exotic riding animals, beasts of burden, alien horrors, giant insects and more.
  A map for every creature showing where it is found.
  Easily adapted to any Palladium setting; basic S.D.C. stats included for each creature description.
  Fully illustrated, with art by Charles Walton II, Ramon Perez, Siembieda and many others. Written by Kevin Siembieda.
  224-256 pages each volume – No. 896 (Volume One) – in final production. April release.

ORDERING Megaverse Insider

You order Insider items and bundles exactly the same way you would place an online order for a game or sourcebook from our store. Each item has its own catalog number, price and page in the Palladium Books store. Note: Some higher tier items are limited in number, we hope you understand. For telephone orders, call 734-721-2903 (order line only).

You can order as many different items as you’d like, and you can place multiple orders for the same item. Only a few of the high-end bundles that offer one-of-a-kind art or limited items or opportunities are limited to one or a dozen.

PLEASE NOTE these Important Ordering Details:

1. The regular softcover edition of Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One is NOT one of the items available in the Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One Megaverse Insider Offer, because it has been and will continue to be offered all the time at cover price. Only Megaverse® Insider items are available through this limited time offer. If you want the softcover, please place your order as usual.

2. Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One “Softcover” Pre-Orders: Many of you have already pre-ordered a copy of the mass market, softcover edition of Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One. That is awesome and we are counting on those sales. If your purchase of an Insider Item means you intend to CANCEL your pre-order (and we hope you don’t), PLEASE contact us by email or telephone to let us know before April 21, 2019. Otherwise, ALL pre-orders will be processed and charged as usual when the book is ready to ship in a few weeks. Thank you.

3. Credit Card Processing. All Insider purchases will be charged to your card as soon as the order is placed. HOWEVER, it may be several weeks before your entire purchase arrives.

4. Product Shipping. Many items, such as the limited edition hardcover editions, may not ship until a few weeks (2-4) after the regular, mass market, softcover edition ships, because it takes longer to print and bind hardcover books.

Insider items purchased as a “bundle” – which means they include several items for the price – will not ship until ALL items are available. We will ship everything as quickly as possible. Note: The regular softcover edition is not part of the Megaverse Insider offer, and it will ship as soon as it arrives in the Palladium warehouse.

5. Shipping Costs: As usual, the purchaser pays shipping. Cost varies by the weight of the items purchased and the shipping method you choose. We suggest UPS Ground, especially if you are getting hardcovers and artwork.

6. Items Lost in the Mail is YOUR risk. Since many of the items are being “made to order,” there are few additional copies to replace any that might be lost in the mail or damaged. Use a reliable shipping method. Likewise, original art and other one-of-a-kind items, or few-of-a-kind-items, may be impossible to replace. Note: Palladium Books will NOT refund any order, nor replace any product lost or damaged, when shipped via “Media Mail” – the purchaser assumes ALL risk. Media Mail is the least expensive method of shipping, but is also the least reliable, and it takes the longest time to arrive (3-12 days in the USA).

Palladium has found UPS Ground to be the most reliable method of shipping. It is automatically insured for $100, takes 2-5 days to arrive (does not include weekends), and can be traced every step of the way. For customers in the United States, it is worth the extra few dollars, especially for hardcovers and concept art. First Class Mail and Priority Mail are also very reliable.

7. We will post in Weekly Updates, on the Palladium website and email updates on the availability of items in this Megaverse® Insider Offer.

Available Megaverse® Insider Products and Bundles for Rifts® Bestiary Volume One – Offer ends April 8, 2019

Insider Opportunities for Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One

Inside Help: $5 – Cat. No. 12031

Inside Help gets your name listed under “Inside Help” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book. The Purchaser can list his or her own name or submit the name of a fellow player, Game Master, friend, child, sibling, spouse, parent, or loved one he or she would like to acknowledge. EACH name is a separate purchase and costs $5. Real names only, and it must be the first and last name, e.g. John Smith. Note: You do not get a copy of the book with this purchase. The book is a separate purchase. All listings of Insider names shall remain in print for the life of the book, including reprints, for at least as long as Kevin Siembieda is the owner and publisher of Palladium Books. (Which we anticipate to be decades.) There is no shipping cost for this item.

In Memoriam: $5 – Cat. No. 12032

You can list the name of a loved one who has passed away recently or long ago, but whom you’d like to acknowledge. This can be a fallen friend, Game Master, player, parent, sibling or other loved one. Their name gets listed under “In Memoriam” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book.

As an Insider, we trust that you will respect the sanctity of this category and not list the living nor submit the name of fictitious characters as a practical joke. It is impossible for Palladium to verify the truth of this submission, so we are trusting the sincerity and truthfulness of the purchaser. Do not list the name of characters you wish were dead. Offenders will be banned from future purchases of ANY Insider Offers. Note: You do not get a copy of the book with this purchase. The book is a separate purchase. There is no shipping cost for this item.

A “Real” Character Tribute: $10 – Cat. No. 12033

The name says it all. You can list the name of one of YOUR favorite fictional RPG characters (not a literary character from a book, comic or film – but a fictional game character) you have played or one of your fellow gamers has played that you’d like acknowledged. Your character’s name will get listed under “A Real Character Tribute” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book. Note: You do not get a copy of the book with this purchase. The book is a separate purchase. There is no shipping cost for this item.

Cyber-Insider (PDF of book only): $16 – Cat. No. 12034

You get your name listed under “Cyber-Insider” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the printed book, and a PDF copy (not the print copy) around the time that the physical book will ship from the Palladium warehouse. There is no shipping cost for this item.

ONLY INSIDERS have the opportunity to get this bookmarked PDF of this book around the same time the printed book ships! This is the only way to get a PDF of this new release from Palladium for six months or longer, and the offer is only available for a limited period of time as part of the Megaverse Insider offer. It will NOT be made available as a PDF by any other means, nor elsewhere, for at least six months and probably longer. And it will cost a few bucks more when it does become available. Note: This is one of the things that makes you an “Insider” – you have the opportunity to get stuff not available to the average gamer, during a limited window of time while we are raising funds.

Please, we ask that you do NOT share, distribute or post the Insider PDF anywhere, as it defeats the whole purpose of being a Megaverse® Insider and it can hurt, rather than help, Palladium. Thank you so much for your support!

Palladium Insider: $50 (Limited Hardcover Edition – Color Cover) – Cat. No. 12035

1. You get your name listed under “Palladium Insider” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the published book.
2. The $50 Collector’s, Super-Limited, Hardcover (color cover): This handsome hardcover edition has the same interior pages and same color cover art as the softcover, but a red color logo to set it apart. It is likely to ship 2-4 weeks after the softcover as it takes longer to get hardcover editions printed and bound.

What makes this hardcover edition truly special is that we print only what you order (plus a few dozen extra for staff and promotion). That means if we get 218 orders, we only print 218 copies of this book (plus 48 additional for Palladium staff, friends and special promotions). If the number is 135, we print 135 (plus 48 additional). It is hard to get much more LIMITED and special than this. And you own one of the very few in existence, because you’re a Megaverse® Insider. This book is only available via this Megaverse Insider offer. When the offer ends after April 8, 2019, no new ones will be printed. Note: This book is not numbered or signed.

Crimson Beast Insider: $75 (Signed and numbered – Crimson Collector’s Hardcover Edition) – Cat. No. 12036

You get the following:

1. Your name listed under “Crimson Beast Insider” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the published book.
2. The Crimson Beast Super-Limited Collector’s Hardcover: A black leatherette with “red” foil printing on the front cover and spine (think gold edition printed in red foil instead of gold), and it is signed and numbered by the available Palladium staff. Otherwise, the book has the exact same interior as the softcover. It is likely to ship 2-4 weeks AFTER the softcover as it takes longer to get hardcover editions printed and bound.

Only Insiders who pay $75 or more get this book, which should keep the number printed low (in the past, under 400 copies). Also, we print only what you order (plus a few dozen additional for staff, friends and special promotions). That means if we get 270 orders, we only print 270 copies of this book (+48 for Palladium staff, friends and special promotions). If the number is 65, we print 65 (+48 extra). It doesn’t get more LIMITED than this. And you own one of the very, very few signed and numbered Crimson Beast Editions in existence because you are a Megaverse Insider. This book is available only via this Megaverse® Insider offer. The Crimson Edition will NEVER be reprinted. This is it. Note: This book is numbered and signed by available Palladium staff.

Enhanced Crimson Beast Insider: $90 (Crimson Beast Edition + PDF) – Cat. No. 12037

You get the following:

1. Your name listed under “Enhanced Crimson Beast Insider” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book.
2. The PDF of Rifts® Bestiary Vol. One.
3. The Rare and Super-Limited “Crimson” Hardcover, SAME AS ABOVE. A black leatherette with “red” foil printing on the front cover and spine (think gold edition printed in red foil instead of gold), and it is numbered and signed by available Palladium staff. Otherwise, the book has the exact same interior as the softcover and hardcover with the color cover. It is likely to ship 2-4 weeks AFTER the softcover as it takes longer to get hardcover editions printed and bound. This book is available only via this Megaverse® Insider offer. The Crimson Edition will NEVER be reprinted. This is it. Note: This book is numbered and signed by available Palladium staff.

Top Insider: $145 (Both hardcover books, signed, PDF, dragon head sketch, print) – Cat. No. 12038

You get the following:

1. Your name listed under “Top Insider” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book.
2. The PDF of Rifts® Bestiary Vol. One.
3. The $50 Super-Limited hardcover edition with the color cover, as described under Palladium Insider, above, except it will be signed by available Palladium staff.
4. The $75 Signed and Numbered Super-Limited Edition “Crimson Beast” Collector’s Hardcover, as described under Crimson Beast Insider, above.
5. BOTH hardcover books are autographed by Kevin Siembieda and available Palladium staff (and possibly a few freelancers).
6. Kevin Siembieda will draw a small, dragon head sketch on the credits page of your Crimson Beast Edition.
7. A signed, limited edition print of the cover by artist Chuck Walton, signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda; 8½ x 11 inch size.

Ultimate Insider: $200 – Cat. No. 12039 – (Both hardcover books signed, PDF, Siembieda dragon head sketch, Walton monster sketch in book, 5 prints, 2 Raw Editions)

You get the following:

1. Your name listed under “Ultimate Insider” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book.
2. The PDF of Rifts® Bestiary™ Vol. One.
3. The Super-Limited Edition Hardcover with the color cover. Signed.
4. The Super-Limited Edition “Crimson Beast” Collector’s Hardcover. Numbered and signed.
5. Both hardcover books are signed by Kevin Siembieda and available Palladium staff (and possibly a few freelancers).
6. Kevin Siembieda will draw a large dragon head sketch (black and white) inside your Crimson Edition Hardcover.
7. Chuck Walton will draw a small creature sketch on the credits page of your Crimson Edition.
8. A signed, limited edition print of the cover by artist Chuck Walton, signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda; 8½ x 11 inch size.
9. Four prints of as yet “unseen” artwork from one or more upcoming Palladium releases signed by Publisher Kevin Siembieda. May be reproductions of finished illustrations or concept art.
10. Signed Raw Preview of Titan Robotics AND Garden of the Gods. Both signed by Kevin and available staff.

Benefactor: $500 (Limited to a total of 12 Benefactors) – Cat. No. 12040 – (Both hardcover books signed, PDF, Siembieda dragon head sketch, Walton monster sketch in book, something Top Secret, 10 prints, your name as an unstatted character in the book, AND an original concept art sketch)

You get the following:

1. Your name listed under “Benefactor” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book.
2. The PDF of Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One.
3. The Super-limited edition hardcover with the color cover, signed.
4. The Super-Limited Edition “Crimson Beast” Hardcover of the book, signed.
5. BOTH hardcover books are signed by Kevin Siembieda and available Palladium staff (and possibly a few freelancers).
6. Kevin Siembieda will draw a large dragon head sketch in both hardcover editions.
7. Chuck Walton will draw a creature sketch on the credits page of your Crimson Beast Hardcover.
8. Two signed, limited edition prints of the cover, one color and one black and white of the pencil drawing, both by artist Charles “Chuck” Walton, both signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda; 8½ x 11 inch size. Two signed and numbered, limited edition prints by artist Chuck Walton, signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda; 8½ x 11 inch size.
9. Eight prints of as yet “unseen” artwork from one or more upcoming Palladium releases, each signed by Publisher Kevin Siembieda (may be reproductions of concept art or actual art slated for publication).
10. Top Secret – For Your Eyes Only: An unfinished, unedited, advance excerpt from an upcoming release – may be some of Carmen Bellaire’s additions to Rifts® Antarctica.
11. YOUR NAME as an unstatted character in the book. This would be something like “Coalition Scientist Kerry Wilkinson theorizes that monster X is …” or “First reported by Wilderness Scout Eric Smith …”
12. Benefactor Bonus: One original, preliminary sketch or concept drawing (original art) of a creature that appears in Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One or Volume Two. The original art is by Charles “Chuck” Walton. The “sketch” is a cool, one-of-a-kind piece of original art, but is NOT the finished drawing as it appears in the book. Signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda.

Ultimate Benefactor: $1,400 (Limited to ONE!) – Cat. No. RB-UB1 – (Both hardcover books signed, PDF, Siembieda dragon head sketch, Walton monster sketch in book, something Top Secret, 10 prints, your name as an unstatted character in the book, 2 original concept art sketches – the original pencil art of the cover – AND you get to create a creature to appear in Rifts® Bestiary Two!)

There can be only one! Which means you get all of the items in the Benefactor’s package, PLUS one piece of original concept art AND the finished original pencil artwork for the cover to Rifts® Bestiary Volume One. AND MORE! Read Number 8, 11, 12, 13 and 14 for the details.

1. Your name listed under “Ultimate Benefactor” in the Insider Acknowledgment section of the book.
2. The PDF of Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One.
3. The Super-Limited edition hardcover with the color cover, signed.
4. The Super- Limited Edition “Crimson Beast” Hardcover of the book, signed.
5. BOTH hardcover books are signed by Kevin Siembieda and available Palladium staff (and possibly a few freelancers).
6. Kevin Siembieda will draw a large dragon head sketch in both hardcover editions.
7. Chuck Walton will draw a creature sketch on the credits page of your Crimson Beast Hardcover.
8. Two signed, limited edition prints of the cover, one color and one black and white of the pencil drawing, both by artist Charles “Chuck” Walton, both signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda; 8½ x 11 inch size. Two signed and numbered, limited edition prints by artist Chuck Walton, signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda; 8½ x 11 inch size.
9. Eight prints of as yet “unseen” artwork from one or more upcoming Palladium releases, each signed by Publisher Kevin Siembieda (may be reproductions of concept art or actual art slated for publication).
10. Top Secret – For Your Eyes Only: An unfinished, unedited, advance excerpt from an upcoming release – may be some of Carmen Bellaire’s additions to Rifts® Antarctica.
11. YOUR NAME as an unstatted character in the book. This would be something like “Coalition Scientist Kerry Wilkinson theorizes that monster X is …” or “First reported by Wilderness Scout Eric Smith …”
12. One original, preliminary sketch or concept drawing (original art) of a creature that appears in Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One or Volume Two. The original art is by Charles “Chuck” Walton. The “sketch” is a cool, one-of-a-kind piece of original art, but is NOT the finished drawing as it appears in the book. Signed by Chuck Walton and Kevin Siembieda.
13. Ultimate Benefactor Bestiary Cover Art: You get the fabulous, finished, pencil drawing of the Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume One cover. Original 14 x 17 inch art, on bristol board, signed by Charles “Chuck” Walton and Kevin Siembieda. WOW!
14. ULTIMATE BONUS! Name and create a BEAST for Rifts® Bestiary™ Volume Two! You – yes, you – get to name and create one of the monsters to appear in Rifts Bestiary™ Volume Two! Requirements and Conditions:
a) The name must be original and cannot infringe on existing copyrights and trademarks. A name that is similar to someone else’s I.P. may be altered by Palladium Books, or we may require you to come up with a new name.
b) You present to Palladium Books by May 10, 2019, either a fully written and statted out creature – OR – a general description/creature concept/outline to be statted, fleshed out and written by Kevin Siembieda and illustrated by Charles Walton or other Palladium artist. Note: UNDER ALL CIRCUMSTANCES, Palladium Books, in its sole discretion, has the right to change and rewrite your “beast” as it deems necessary or desirable, possibly changing stats, details and writing from small portions or all of it. AND the name must fit within the alphabetical order of creatures in Bestiary Two.
c) Your real name will be credited as the co-creator of this creature on the page the monster’s description appears, and on the Credits page under Additional Writing and Ideas.
d) Yes, you and your creature concept will become an “official” part of the Rifts® legacy.
e) LEGAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS: You willingly agree to relinquish and assign ALL rights to said creature, its name, description and concepts, to Palladium Books, in perpetuity, and agree to sign any document we may require. Thank you.

Copyright 2019 Palladium Books Inc. All rights reserved.
Rifts®, The Rifter®, RECON®, Splicers®, Powers Unlimited®, Palladium Books®, The Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game®, Phase World®, Nightbane®, Megaverse®, The Mechanoids®, The Mechanoid Invasion®, Coalition Wars®, Chaos Earth®, Dead Reign®, and After the Bomb® are Registered Trademarks of Palladium Books Inc.; Rifts® Bestiary, Beyond the Supernatural, Coalition States, Heroes Unlimited, Ninjas & Superspies, Minion War, Mysteries of Magic, SAMAS, Thundercloud Galaxy, Three Galaxies, Vampire Kingdoms, and other published book titles, names, slogans and likenesses are trademarks of Palladium Books Inc., and Kevin Siembieda.

This press release may be reprinted, reposted, linked and shared for the sole purpose of advertising, promotion and sales solicitation.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Henchman 1 & 2

Hack & Slash - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 12:00
These are 4x6 cards that contain possible henchmen for player characters.


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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dungeons of High Camp Revisited

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 11:00
Art by Jim Holloway
This is an update to a post from 2017, originally conceived as I was reading Hero A Go-Go by Michael Eury. That book chronicles superhero comics' response (and influence on) 1960s camp pop culture. It's a combination that didn't always work well; many of the works now seem more goofy kitsch perhaps, and some are really just unfunny parody of superheroes. Still, when it works there is a certain charm to a lot of folks, as the revival comics Batman '66 and Wonder Woman '77 indicate.

I wonder why there hasn't been as much of a concerted attempt at published camp works for Dungeons & Dragons? Certainly, farcical humor abounds at the gaming table, and a number of comedic adventures have been written (a lot illustrated by Jim Holloway), in fact a couple of my Hydra colleagues have been taken to task for humorous elements in their work. There are, of course, humorous illustrations in the older AD&D books. But as far as I know, there has never been a camp setting or camp-informed setting--unless maybe HackMaster counts? Maybe it's just too difficult an approach to sustain well throughout a written project?

I should back up a bit here and define what I mean by "camp," since it's not a term with a universal, clear definition. What I mean in this case, is not the farce or cheese, but a sort of knowing amusement. An "engaged irony." As Isherwood would have it: "you’re not making fun of it; you’re making fun out of it." The "it" in our case being elfgames.

The settings of some OSR-related folks seem to me to have elements of camp without going all-in: Jason Sholtis' Operation Unfathomable, Chris Kutalik's Hill Cantons, some of Jeff Reints stuff, and my own Mortzengersturm. Dungeon Crawl Classics with its "airbrushed wizard van" elements could be taken as camp, but I'm unsure whether that is the intention.

Art by Jim Holloway

A Guide to the Ultimate Grim Dawn Expansion

Hack & Slash - Fri, 03/29/2019 - 04:29
We live in a golden age of games.

There's so many and so much, that it's overwhelming. There's more content than there are hours in a human lifetime to consume it. It is a massive ecosystem dominated by toxic and exploitive baron-companies.

A lot of very smart people I know decided that playing video games takes too much. Games can unbalance a life pretty quickly. World of Warcraft is related to the concept of a poop sock.

Maybe twice a year I mess around with a new game for a few dozen hours? That type of entertainment is like a movie. I talk about it with my friends, it's an interesting and fun diversion.

But I use video games for other things. I'm very productive. I'm appropriately medicated. Puzzles and mindless tasks help me both think and cope.

Let me repeat that. A portion of my ability to cope with life is in doing tasks that are focused around self care. Given free reign to do whatever I want, I spend between 30-90 minutes daily engaged in activities to help myself stay centered.

Sometimes this is meditation, sometimes it's a walk. It's always grinding the coffee beans by hand. But frequently it's software that has the same effect. So even though I only 'play' a couple of games a year, I have others as activities I've integrated into my life. Some people have some aspect of their social lives tied up in video games, not just over the Internet. I know a group of employees in town that plays Clash of Clans as a group on their phones.

The current name for that phenomenon is "live services" or "lifestyle games". It's a terrible name, and coming to terms with that in gaming was one of the things that helped me find balance. Games and what they do to the mind are powerful mojo, and like all things that put us in touch with the source, have to be treated with respect.

Grim Dawn Ultimate Mode
Grim Dawn is one of my current games.That playtime you are looking at is from when they first released the first act, till now, the release of their final expansion. It's relaxing.

Grim Dawn is a game I know well. Believe me, I know what to do, I know all the numbers straight thru, and how to make myself more survivable too. I'm not the best player, that has nothing to do with luck, and mindlessly slaying mobs for 20 minutes cycles up my mind, enough end the game and solve whatever problem I might have.

Crate added a feature to start the game from Ultimate mode, not requiring you to play through the first two cycles. This feature is astoundingly misunderstood.

See, it's not uncommon for action role playing looting video games to require you to play through multiple times, increasing the difficulty each time. Normally, you just play the game. You start on normal or veteran, then after you complete the game, you replay the whole game on elite. If you can beat elite, you can play the game one more time on ultimate difficulty, with the best drops and the most danger! But after hour 400+, the way I played the game changed.

I've seen so many people who ask, How do I start the game on Ultimate?

You just don't. It's not a balanced play experience. It's not designed to take a first level character though the game. If you want to play the game, start on normal. This new feature was designed specifically with players like me in mind.
GUIDE TO PLAYING GRIM DAWN ON ULTIMATE MODEDon't.

Before the expansion released, here was my procedure: I'd start the game, and run to the early loot corpses. There's several corpses in the first area that grant you a green weapon of exceptional utility. You can grab an axe, a gun, or a two handed blade. I grab which-ever-one goes with the build I'm going to try out.

Then I enter the Crucible. The Crucible is an paid expansion that allows you to fight hordes of monsters in waves in exchange for treasure given equal to a high score. It also gives tributes when you can use to toggle bonus zones for advantages in Crucible or turn in tributes to get devotion points. I'm running the Crucible specifically to gather tributes to exchange for devotion points.

I run one set of ten waves. This gets me to level 7-9. I then grab the treasure, and take my mostly green equipment back for another 30 waves of the crucible. I do this three times to accumulate the 15 tributes to Unlock the first 5 devotion points in the crucible.

Why? Devotion points (normally gathered by activating shrines in play) allow you to modify your build using both unique abilities and to shore up weaknesses and focus strengths. Look at this star chart! The cost of these increases in the crucible the more you have.

This entire process takes around 10 minutes, tops. Once that happens, I then load up the main game, and speed-run the game to ultimate. I have to complete the hidden path witch quest (for the extra skill point) and the two quests that give bonus attribute points. I also grab all the shines that are directly in the way, brining my devotion point total up to around 35-40.

Running through veteran and elite takes between five and six hours. I use a movement ability and movement speed gear to make a beeline through the game. You can even skip the whole first act by repairing the bridge (although I usually kill the warden and complete act I in the base difficulty to pick up all the devotion points from shines).

In order for this to work, I usually have complete gear sets for level 20 (Explorer's, providing a nice boost to movement speed), level 40 (the Perdition set, bloodcallers set, or other early-mid game sets) ready for them to go. I use experience potions, from maximum reputation vendors. That allows me to kill the boss on elite in about 5 hours, puts me somewhere between level 45-55, and ready for ultimate.

Then I can finally play the game. Ultimate has the best drop rates, and more content than I need to hit level 100 before I can even finish all the content. It is where the actual game begins.

The whole point of the expansion allowing players to enter Ultimate was to eliminate the time spent needing to speed-run the first two difficulties. 

If you try to start Ultimate as a straight level 1 character, you will be using a butter knife against enemies that will cause you to explode like a microwave shoved into a grape. Preparing a character for ultimate requires the following:

  • You have to access the Forgotten Gods content on the difficulty level you want to skip. This can be done by speaking to the new character that appears in Devil's Crossing at the end of act I. My death knight was at the end of Ultimate, deep into the Ashes of Malmouth content, and I found him inside Malmouth, so it's likely you'll be able to access Forgotten Gods from any of the major towns.
  • When you access the content, there's a guy with a bag that looks like a normal vendor. On his consumables page, he sells the tokens. They run in the range of 200k.
  • On a new character, use the token. The elite token unlocks elite and gives a skill point. The ultimate token unlocks elite and ultimate and gives two skill points. You also gain the appropriate amount of attribute points.
If you do that, and then follow the procedure above to boost a character to where they need to survive ultimate, it'll be fine. 
It was a change that helps me with the way I play the game. It's why I still play this, and quit Hearthstone. It's because they play it too. They aren't looking to maximize profits. They are just looking to flourish while providing something worthwhile. 

Have a good weekend. Take time for yourself.

I don't have anything to do with Crate, the company that makes Grim Dawn, other than I think they made a very fun game. Ymmv. Support me on Patreon.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

More Mapping... This Time With GOBLINS

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 20:26
I wanted to make an introductory adventure with goblins that was fun and kind of offbeat. I think I have succeeded. Here's the elevator pitch: when a goblin chief goes bat poop crazy - from consuming too much bat poop - he makes a plan to protect the bat poop he loves, and his own immortality.

I plan to release this in the next week or two, but for now here's the map:






Review & Commentary On Secrets of the Immortals By Steve Miller From NUELOW Games

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 17:46
"There are those among us who are virtual Immortals. They age slowly, and when they die–no matter what the circumstances–they are nearly instantly recreated in a new body.   Some of them choose to watch the world go by from the sidelines, recording events and sometimes offering guidance to mere mortals through wisdom that is born from the perspective of someone who has been part of history Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Back in the Day

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 15:08
I've been D&Ding since around 1980.

I started with the Moldvay Basic Set. It was all new to me. The entire thing was a big invitation to create a world of my own and find others to explore it. Ditto, the Expert Set.

I've never run anything but my own setting.


Through the intervening years, there have been a great many settings, editions, supplements, and support material for the game. For the most part, I've kept pace - if not in actual gameplay. And, while I don't deride others for their preferences in D&Ding, I find that some are perfectly willing to belittle mine.

Since when is B/X D&D "a kid's game?" Or, "an introductory set of rules to learn the real game?" If I were going to get nasty about it, I would point out how much the current editions of the game (including Pathfinder) hold the player's hand and ease you out of the gate as a full-fledged hero ready to take on carefully balanced encounters set neatly in your path in proper order and time.

Sorry for the pause, I had a great big yawn sneak up on me.

I've played 3E. And 3.5. I've read 4E. I've played 5E. I've played Pathfinder - hell, I've written Pathfinder material for publication. I simply prefer AD&D, and those which came before. I'll play just about anything. I don't force my preferences on anyone - even though I am now considered an OSR publisher. Outdated Simplified Rules - amirite?! Yep. So Outdated. So Simplified. Not nearly enough Rules.

Yeah, I happen to enjoy the process of forging a hero through fire and unknown dangers. Not everyone does. Not everyone can handle being a Feat-less nobody with a hand-me-down sword and boundless curiosity. Not everyone can face challenges without having the solutions written on a character sheet in front of them. Not everyone wants to. Not everyone needs to.

With each edition came new approaches to gaming. Innovations. Shifts in "power" or "control." Keeping PCs alive. Allowing players to craft their PC the way they want. Never saying no. Never slowing or stopping the action. Not wasting time with "background stuff." Never failing.

During the rare instances where I game as a player, I tend to be tactical AF. I prefer to run what I call "problem-solvers" or "troubleshooters." This usually entails a thief-type or arcane spellcaster - preferably a mix of the two. That's just how I think. And I will scrape every bit of potential from those characters. Feats might not exist in "old-school" D&D, but they really do. If I want to take a point-blank shot in combat, I'll get into position and take the shot. The DM decides what happens.

And that's really the thing. Trust in the DM. With trust in the DM, you don't NEED all those pages of character sheet, cluttered with modifiers, feats, and special superpowers. As a DM, I am willing to do just about all of the work. As a player, you just need to be able to run your character. In an ideal world, the player should barely need to look at their character sheet. There should be few moments where the players need to pull themselves out of the game to look up a rule or modifier. At least, in MY ideal world.

My ideal world turned out to be Avremier - my lifelong campaign setting. At its heart, Avremier is an exercise in making the rules and structure of the game work in such a way that I can be happy. Why are humans the only ones allowed to advance in certain classes - or to such high levels? Why can't demihumans do the same? Why can't magic-users use swords? Gandalf did! What's the point of gnomes? They're just halfling-dwarves! And so on. Yes - those questions are addressed in Avremier. And, many of the rest.



Lots of people love D20 and Pathfinder and 5E. I get it. I did too. Today, I prefer the older stuff. I don't have to spend money and shelf-space to maintain the game. I can convert "new stuff" to "old stuff" in minutes. There's less math - I don't like math. I can focus more on the adventure. On the game. No, the later editions are not WRONG. They're just not right for me.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Armchair Planet Who's Who

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 11:00

I haven't posted an update on this in a while. The project is still on-going, it's just been moving slower of late due to real life stuff for both myself and my collaborator. Here's another piece of art for it, though: another look at Futura by Julian Shaw.

Using The The Castle Keepers Guide & The Siege Engine For Clark Ashton Smith's 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 03/28/2019 - 01:35
I've written extensively about my obsession with the  Castles & Crusades rpg over the years. I've been quietly on the side been using both the Victorious Rpg & Amazing Adventures ! rpg product lines over the last couple of days. I'm thinking of doing a joint game set in an alternative Earth prime material time line.But if only there was a supplement book that had guidelines for combining & Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Sision Tower Now Available!

Graphite Prime - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 21:37



Some time ago, the wind began to sing of death in the Sision River Valley, and if purgatory was a song, Glovakians are now listening to it.  The source of  this soul-crushing music was tracked to 90 miles northwest of Ambir.  What was found?   A massive, oddly built stone tower that wasn't there before. 

Word quickly spread and the curious set out in droves.  Many turned back however, as every passing day the music got worse, but a brave, or foolish few, managed to make camp and eventually go inside.  If anyone’s made it out, no one really knows, but there’s no shortage of rumors as to what's really going on in the place that has come to be known as, Sision Tower.
Sision Tower is an OSR styled, vertical dungeon-crawl where the PCs explore an odd domain of Holy origins.  Here, they will test their survival skills as well as their Faith.  Here, they will meet Saints and Seraphs.  Here, in the struggle between Law and Chaos they have to decide.......Plunder?? ...Sacrifice??...or Both!!!

Sision Tower includes:

  • All original black and white art.
  • Over a dozen, fully illustrated, new magic items.
  • Unique monsters and a sample setting.
  • A vertical dungeon crawl of 35 rooms.
  • A spiritual setting in the same vein as Praise the Fallen.

Sision Tower is designed to challenge character levels 3-5 and is easily used with most traditional fantasy role-playing systems.  39 printer-friendly pages, now available at DriveThruRPG!   



Sision Tower



For all who purchase...Thank You!




Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Return to Gary Con: Day Two, Part One

Zenopus Archives - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 13:41

Zenopus game. Source: Larry Hamilton of Follow Me and Die!
This is a continuation of my Gary Con XI report. The previous installment is here.

Friday was my first full day at the con, and I started it off by running the first scheduled session of my game, In Search of the Brazen Head of Zenopus. This was the third time I I've run it, the priors being a playtest with my local group, and then a session at North Texas RPG Con in June 2018. That game had nine players (including Chris Holmes!), but this one had ten, making it the first with every single pre-gen in play. Also new was that I made "minis" to represent the pre-gens:


Reference photo of my tokens for the game. Source: me
The discs are real wood, ordered from a woodcraft company in Arkansas, 1" in diameter (& 1/16" thick), so they fit the squares on standard battle mats or dungeon tiles. I used them during the game for marching order and larger battles. While the pictures may look woodburnt, they were actually drawn with a Micron .05 black ink pen. I considered a paint pen, but I tried this first and it worked well enough. I started out puting a letter on each to help with recognition, but dropped that part way through as unnecessary. The back of each was labeled with the PC name + "Gary Con XI". After the game I gave them out to the respective players to keep as a memento. I also painted other tokens with different colors for opposing forces.

In the center are:
Boinger, Hobbit, 4th Level Fighter
Zereth, Elf, 4th level Fighter/3rd level Magic-User

Around them, clockwise from left are:
Lady Hortensa, Human (Amazon background), 6th level Fighter
Sir Geoffrey, Human, 4th level Paladin [with a Prince Valiant haircut]
Brother Ambrose, Human, 5th level Cleric
Murray the Mage, 5th level Magic-User
Olaf & Haldor, 2nd level Fighters (both controlled by a single player)
Maximillian, Centaur, 3rd level Fighter (I gave him a weird human-horse hybrid face)
Bardan, Dwarf, 4th Level Fighter
Sunna, Human, 4th Level Thief

I always like fold-up "id cards" (aka "table tents") during con games so I can tell who the other players are quickly. At North Texas I wrote some out beforehand, but since I'm running this repeatedly I decided to type up a sheet I could repeatedly print out and cut up. 





The font is a faux medieval font I found call Blackwood Castle, more readable than actual Olde English fonts. Futura is of course even more readable but has less flavor. 

I was so wrapped up in running the game that I forgot to take any pictures, but luckily one of the players, Larry of Follow Me an Die!, took several shots including the one at the top of this post. I had just given out the character sheets so everyone is studying them intently. Here's a shot showing Larry's set up, including his id card, character sheet, and the players map:


Larry of Follow Me an Die!
I started the session with some background on Basic D&D, how J. Eric Holmes came to edit it, introducing each pre-gen, and the background for the Zenopus dungeon. Due to the time limits, I started the PCs right at the dungeon entrance. As the con description indicated, "Murray the Magic-user has located a previously unknown means of entry to the old dungeons and has gathered you all in hopes of finding the legendary brazen head of Zenopus, a mask reputed to have the power of speech."

I'm not going to write up the entire game to avoid spoilers, as I plan to run this again, and also make it available for others to run (hopefully with art by Chris!). But the session was great fun, with enthusiastic players and some memorable incidents. It plays out differently each time I run it, which is what I was hoping for. There is actually enough material for several sessions if time allowed.

Here is another picture Larry took of the minis in action, which I cropped this to hide their opponents.


Larry of Follow Me an Die!
Some of the specific rules I used for this game:

-Dexterity for initiative. I made a list of the pre-gens, ordered by initiative, and simply went through the list each round of combat. I gave all of the Monsters dexterity scores prior to the game, so they simply went at the appropriate spot in the list.

-All weapons did d6 damage, except two-handed weapons were +1 to hit and damage. Some large HD monsters did 2d6 or 3d6 damage per blow.

-Fighter classes could make one attack per level against "ordinaries" - normal humans or humanoids. This is mentioned in OD&D volume 2 for monsters, and then more clearly described for players by Gygax in the OD&D FAQ in Strategic Review #2.

Finally, a big thank you to everyone who played in the game. It was great to meet & game with you! Cory (Boinger), Clint (Sunna), Demos (Zereth), Eugene (Geoffrey), Ioan (Max), Jeffrey (Murray), Jesse (Ambrose), Larry (Olaf & Haldor), Steve (Hortensa), and Wade (Bardan)

Next up, Day Two continued: En Garde and Discovery of the Unknown.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Aldair’s Arboretum

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 11:17
(No designer listed)
Mesozoic Press
B/X
Levels 1-3

Explore an abandoned elf treehouse!

This eleven page adventure details a nine room elf treehouse that has some living plants. A conversion, it’s has good magic items, lack monetary treasure, and a has cumbersome writing style. Just more grist for the gristmill.

While walking through the forest (this is a drop in adventure) the party sees an area with larger undergrowth, wild, with trees 50% larger than normal. Investigating, they see “an usually shaped construction” up in the treetops, supported by three trees. Turns out it’s a big old elf treehouse.

The intro DM text does two things well: it brings a slight sense of wonder, with large berries, larger trees, etc, notifying the players that THIS IS AN ADVENTURE SITE. Same as the entrance to the mythic underworld, it denotes that things are going to get D&D around here. Second, it provides a hint of what’s to come. No one can encounter overgrown plants without getting their Round Up spells ready. Plant monsters ahead!

The magic treasure is also above average. A belt buckle, in the shape of leaves, that is a ring of protection. Herbicide. A couple of berry types. A broach in the shape of the leaf slows falls “to that of a falling leaf.” Good theming.

And … that’s it. It’s only been a couple of months but everything is rusted and ropes decayed. The “unusually shaped construction” in the trees is an abstraction, a conclusion. “Well, what’s it shaped like” says the players …”unusual” says the DM. Not cool.

Treasure is LIGHT. This is quite clearly a 5e conversion. Cash is meaningless is 5e. Cash is everything in B/X, it’s your XP. Sure enough, there’s a 5e version listed on DriveThru. These conversions Drive. Me. Nuts. It’s like you marketed a “Spooky CoC adventure!” and then filled it converted a normal d20 Espionage adventure. It’s fucking shitty. These games require cash to level and yet there is no cash. Meaning the designer has little understanding of how B/X actually works.

Tis the writing, though, that sucks most, as per usual. The rooms have exhaustive lists of contents. A walking stick, boots and cloak in the cloakroom adds nothing to the adventure. What it DOES do is subtract from the ability to run it. The text is written, one paragraph after another, each describing one thing in the room, with n intro/summary paragraph. His means that to run the room you have to read the ENTIRE entry. The characters walk in. “What do we see?” Well, hang on, let me read these five paragraphs so I can tell you. The only way this works is when you have a bit of summary as the first paragraph to orient you to what’s to come. Then, while the players are fucking about, you can scan the appropriate paragraph. This shit is KEY. And this thing don’t do that.

Paragraph one of room one tells us “Entryway: The slope leads up to a wooden platform that juts out from the main building. A large wooden trough stands in the north east corner used to collect rain water but it has become dark and stagnant with a film of slime across the top.”

  1. Good job using a room name, and bolding it. We now know all mundane features.
  2. We don’t need to know about the slope. It’s shown on the map and is mentioned in the intro text before the keyed entries begin. It’s just detracting from the important text.
  3. The trough text is overwrought. It’s “A trough with dark & stagnant rainwater, a film of slime across the top.” Done.
  4. There are four more paragraphs of this shit.

It’s a lot of filler text with very little content that either evocative or actually gameable. Two rooms with a couple of plant monsters in them does not an adventure make.

This is $1.50 at Drivethru. The preview is three pages long and shows you almost nothing. Just some shitty backstory and the parts of room one that I quoted above.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/267962/Ruins–Adventures-2-Aldairs-Arboretum-B-X-Essentials?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Some Things I Read

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 11:00
Moving as left me no time for reading Storm, so his adventures will have to wait a little longer. Instead, here's the rundown on some stuff I read recently:
Spider-Man: Life Story 1: The 60s
Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley begin the story of Peter Parker's life as Spider-Man, if it hadn't been untethered from the era in which it was written and proceeded in real time. As readers of my Omiverse essays have likely guessed, this is the sort of thing I like. The first issue didn't wow me, but it was competent, and I'm on board. There are hints that it may develop into a fairly different Marvel Universe along the lines of the differences to the DC universe seen in the similar DC New Frontiers or maybe even as variant as Batman & Superman: Generations. We'll see.

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #2
I mentioned issue #1 of this here. I admit after the clever first issue, I expected issue #2 would start getting down to brass-tacks superheroics of dealing with the "evil" (we assume) Not-Ozymandias-But-Peter-Cannon of the alternate Earth, but nope, Gillen chooses to go full Morrison, with characters entering (and breaking) the nine panel grid like it was  a magic circle. I want to say it was a bit too clever for its own good, but maybe its because I was expecting it to do what it did. Regardless, they have on board for next issue.

Tracking the Ships in 5150 Fleet Commander. Got a Pencil and Paper?

Two Hour Wargames - Wed, 03/27/2019 - 02:23

 Throw it away! Everything you need to track the ships is included. In the above picture on the left are counters to track damage, then a Faction Sheet telling you what each ship has for stats and to the right is the Fleet Tracker. As you lose ships move a counter on the row and when you hit the red squares, you're in trouble - 50% casualties and your Will to Fight is dropping fast.


 Ship takes hull damage? Track it with the counters. Stuck in Damage Control and forfeiting your next turn of action? Place a yellow Blast Marker next to the ship, remove it when next active. Easy to track, no paper and pencil required! No roster to check during the fight.  


Here's a pic of a dozen ships fighting using the Star Wars Fighters. You can use any ships to play, I just counted them as Class 4 Cruisers. Play it with counters or any models you already have, you choose. Heck you can even use these!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Surpising Ecology Of The Morlocks in My Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 17:45
I've written extensively about my obsession with HG Well's The Time Machine's Eloi & The Morlocks over the years on this blog. But last night I shut down on social media & began to dig back into my extensive notes about Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. What do the Time Machine & AS&SH  have to do with one another? Quite a bit actually, in my mind Hyperborea was a place that Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Hexploration, a closer look

Hack & Slash - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 12:00
It's been out for a while, I figured I'd talk about what's inside.

This is an screen resolution example of a hex from the Hexplore series.

My games are about the players exploring. What are they exploring? Well, you're looking at it. This is the environment that contains the adventure sites.

This whole idea was about this small bit of text from the Dungeon Master's Guide.
You give him a map of the hex where the location is and of the six surrounding hexes. The player character and his henchmen and various retainers must now go to the construction site, explore and map it, and have construction commence.”- 1st Edition Dungeon Masters Guide, Gygax © 1979The abandoned fortThat's how it went. The players left the dungeon, and Gygax abstracted out the hex exploration. But the thought of an overworld, that you explore for juicy pockets of treasure? Man, it's that feeling I love. So, I've been trying to do it with hexes like these. Part of reaching some new place is the novelty right? People love novelty.

So when they reach the fort, you can show them something like the illustration to the left.

This method of doing and using these hexes is exciting.

My eventual plan is to do a cluster of 7 hexes, of each terrain type. I think it's novel, and works really well with the method of play that's becoming increasingly common, online. Patrons get access to high definition copies of the images to be used in online play (as well as free copies of the work itself). But if you're not a Patron, you could still pick up a copy and take your group through a series of dungeons like these:

Join our great group on Patreon, get some of my stuff and discord benefits. There's actually a lot of benefits to joining the community. Patrons get first shot at online games I run, lots of people in the community are these fantastic artists, it's really a little bit like an art and gaming collective out there, so come join us on patreon and hop on the discord with your new roles. Or you can pick up the borderlands .pdfs for just a few dollars!

Every one of the pages in the .pdf is filled with art rich content like shown. Characters are detailed, situations and treasure are listed, mechanical specifics are left to the Dungeon Master to fill in, based on his or her chosen game.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How to Make Non-Player Characters That Your players Will Like

DM David - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 11:15

The murderhobo stereotype sums the worst behaviors of Dungeons & Dragons player characters. Such characters roam the land, killing everything that stands in the way of treasure. They rob merchants, murder town guards trying to make an arrest, and attack women encountered in a group of three. Players of murderhobos would rather kill some imaginary characters than risk getting surprised by hags. The stereotype comes from countless campaigns where the players cared nothing about the non-player characters in a world, only about the imaginary loot their characters could gain.

When the players become fond of the game world and especially its non-player characters, D&D becomes more fun. Players who feel an attachment to characters will strive to help and protect them. That draws players into the game world, raises an adventure’s emotional stakes, and encourages players to act like responsible members of the community. Instead of robbing and killing the citizens of Orlane, the players will protect them from the looming threat of the reptile cult.

How can a dungeon master make players care about other, imaginary people? To help answer that question, I’ve gathered advice from more than 100 DMs.

First a caution: When players grow fond of characters, don’t fridge them. Fridging refers to a trope in stories where the author kills a buddy, love interest, or sidekick to provoke the main character to act. Making callous D&D players care for imaginary characters is hard. A well-liked supporting cast enriches a campaign. Don’t trade your success for sorrow, anger, and a quick hook. Such lazy manipulation just teaches players not to become attached to NPCs.

The most common advice for making players care is to trot out lots of NPCs and see who players fancy. This contains one key lesson: Watch how players react to the characters they meet. If one sparks interest, then look for ways to expand the character’s role. Fonzie and Urkel started as minor characters, but the love of TV viewers made each the star of his show. So if the players love the salty attitude of the barmaid in her walk-on role, make her the campaign’s Harper agent.

But parading characters past the players reduces the chance any will attract interest or affection. Instead, they blur together. Players need time with characters for any to gain an impression. When NPCs join a party as guide or travelling companion, they gain the best chance to build a relationship with players. See The Surprising Benefits of Giving an Adventuring Party a Guide. Most key NPCs fit better in a recurring role.

Aim for a small cast of distinctive characters who appear enough to build relationships with the players. Rather than creating a new character to deliver each session’s hook, or to reveal a new secret, look to revisit familiar characters. As for the rest of the world’s characters, not everyone needs a distinct voice, a story, or even a name. If you save such details for the interesting and important folks, you focus the players’ attention on the characters who deserve attention.

Portray NPCs a little like you would play your own character. Start with a trait that interests you or that sparks your imagination. Decide what the NPC wants, even if it’s just lunch. All NPCs rate themselves as the star of their story. While this tactic helps DMs bring NPCs to life, don’t let the mindset tempt you to treat an NPC as your proxy in the game. Players deserve the spotlight. If a DM seems like a bigger fan of an NPC than the PCs, the players will grow to dislike the NPC, and possibly the DM.

Players never like a campaign’s supporting cast to outshine their characters. If you want an NPC to become a friend rather than a rival or foe, never make them excel at something the players aspire to do well.

Look for ways to link NPCs to the player characters’ backgrounds. If a character was a sailor, perhaps their informant in the Dock Ward once crewed the same ship. Such bonds make player characters feel tied to the game world. Plus the connection might gain the NPC some extra affection from the one player tied to the NPC.

If your players enjoy creating things in the game world, you can let them invent some of the campaign’s NPCs. This technique brings advantages:

  • The players’ own interests can guide these creations.

  • Players can more easily connect NPCs to their PCs’ backgrounds.

  • The players’ creations automatically gain some parental affection.

Still, not every player enjoys sharing this world-building role. See Should a Dungeon Master Invite Player to Help Create the D&D World Beyond their Characters?

To encourage players to create NPCs, DM David Nett has a house rule: In a situation where a PC might know someone able to help the party, their player can declare, “I know a guy.” The player invents the NPC, sketching the guy’s background and relationship to the PC. (This rule assumes the gender-neutral usage of “guy.”) Now the party can reach out to the new character. To determine the NPC’s reaction, the player who created the guy makes a Charisma check. David writes, “I’ve found this simple and very loose mechanic invites players to create critical NPCs and continue developing (revealing) backstory as they play.”

Next: Part 2

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OSR Review The Zor Draxtau newsletter issue 2 & 3 For Your Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 03/26/2019 - 07:17
"Zor Draxtau is the periodic newsletter of the Usherwood Adventures campaign setting that highlights changes and updates to the campaign setting, OGC content otherwise only available in one of the adventures, etc. "Zor Draxtau is the OSR newsletter & has some really nice monsters in this issue & its perfect for adding in OSR adventure material.  The Zor Draxtau  newsletter issue #2 only clocksNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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