Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Weird Revisited: Celluloid Rocketship

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 11:00
This post was originally from 2013. It doesn't related to any of my recent Solar System speculations, pulpy or otherwise, though of course it could. He bared repeating for Lester B. Portly's animated title...

By the mid-thirties, the major film studios were all exploiting the public’s interest in the exotic worlds of the solar system. Of all the one-reel travelogue series produced, perhaps none was more popular than The Rocketship of Movietone, debuted in 1931.

Several of the earliest films dealt with Venus. “Giants of the Jungle” focused on the exotic and dangerous Venusian saurians. In early 1932, “Lost Cities of Venus” used footage from the Markheim survey expedition's dangerous foray into one of the ruins of the ancients.

Of course, Mars figures prominently in the early subjects. The low canal markets and bazaars were featured. Another dealt with the desert tribes--though the tragic fate of the expedition that provided the footage was wisely kept from the movie-going public.

While the initial run of films dealt predominantly with the inner worlds and their satellites, one was made from footage shot by one of the earliest commercial missions to Ganymede. While the footage is limited (still photos had to be used at times) and of lower quality than what was coming from film crews on Mars or Venus, it did give the public their first view of the eerie necropolises of that cold and distant moon.

More than one spaceman of the fifties and sixties sited these early Rocketship of Movietone films as an important influence on their lives.

OSR Campaign Commentary - B6 'The Veiled Society' By David Cook & Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 05:55
"The widow insists there are demons in her house. She hears them at night in her root cellar, and now they call out to her. But she is old and nervous and her mind often plays tricks on her. Two men, their heads fully sheathed in large, black hoods, dig quickly in the darkness of the cellar. The hole grows deeper as their shovels bite into the earth. "This will teach those meddlers their place,"Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Flip Through Review 82 : Faiths of Golarion for Pathfinder

Gamer Goggles - Thu, 03/21/2019 - 01:05


In this Flip Through Matt takes a look at the Faiths of Golarion campaign setting for Pathfinder.  This book includes ten lesser gods of Golaria. It offers up a a complete write up that includes their domain, sub domains, favored weapons, and an obedience. While these deities are not the major players in the pantheon of Golaria don’t think that they aren’t influential to their believers!


Characters of any class can perform the obedience of their deity to be granted an ability that lasts for the day – if they have the Divine obedience feat. Further characters with the feat will be granted more power if they have at least 12 hd – sooner if they are of the right prestige class.  Faiths of Golarion brings us 5 new domains and 4 sub domains plus new feats and spells.


What I love about the Pathfinder faith books is that they take the idea of faith and break it down so any player character can believe as much or as little as the character would like.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

This is a nice supplement for the Pathfinder system, helping players and G.M.s round out their stories.

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Steve Jackson Games and Games Workshop announce Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 20:49

Steve Jackson Games and Games Workshop announce Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar

Mighty Battles for the Mortal Realms . . . The Perfect Chance to Kill the Monster, Steal the Treasure, and Stab Your Buddy!

Austin, Texas [March 12, 2019]: Steve Jackson Games and Games Workshop brought Munchkin and Warhammer 40,000 together to create a perfect fusion of the two games with Munchkin Warhammer 40,000 . . . but there’s a lot more to Warhammer than just one universe! The story continues with Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar. The Eight Realms of Age of Sigmar form a new battleground for Munchkin players to explore – by which we mean kill monsters and take their stuff, obviously.

First launched in 2015, Warhammer Age of Sigmar has found a home on game tables worldwide. Its rich story and variety of foes are a perfect match for your Munchkin game. Illustrated by principal Munchkin artist John Kovalic and designed by Munchkin Line Editor Andrew Hackard in close consultation with Games Workshop, Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar is completely compatible with Munchkin Warhammer 40,000 and its expansions . . . create a truly epic battle by mixing the sets!

Munchkin Warhammer Age of Sigmar will launch late 2019 in our premiere Deluxe format ($29.95), followed by two 112-card expansions ($19.95) in 2020. That’s nearly 400 cards of additional Munchkin Warhammer fun!

About Steve Jackson Games

Steve Jackson Games, based in Austin, Texas, has been publishing games, game books, and magazines since 1980. SJ Games recently released the Munchkin Collectible Card Game, based on its best-selling game Munchkin. Other top sellers are Simon’s Cat Card Game, Zombie Dice, and Illuminati. Past hits have included Car Wars and the GURPS roleplaying game system. Steve’s very first game, Ogre, originally published in 1977, has been recently released as a video game on the Steam platform, bringing a tabletop classic to a new generation of fans.

About Games Workshop

Games Workshop® Group PLC (LSE:GAW.L), based in Nottingham, UK, produces the best fantasy miniatures in the world. Games Workshop designs, manufactures, retails, and distributes its range of Warhammer®: Age of Sigmar® and Warhammer® 40,000® games, miniature soldiers, novels and model kits through more than 507 of its own stores (branded Games Workshop® or Warhammer®), the web store and independent retail channels in more than 50 countries worldwide. More information about Games Workshop and its other, related, brands and product ranges (including its publishing division ‘Black Library’ and its special resin miniatures studio ‘Forge World’) can be found at

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Gamer Goggles - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 19:56



An alien starship, a psychic disturbance, and a bubble-city in the sun’s atmosphere await heroic players in the first volume, Fire Starters.



REDMOND, WASHINGTON (March 15, 2019): Paizo Inc. has released Fire Starters, the first volume in the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path for the smash hit Starfinder Roleplaying Game. The 64-page volume, written by James L. Sutter, is the first of six adventures in a science fantasy campaign set in the Pact World’s sun. It is available for purchase at and retailers worldwide at an MSRP of $22.99 for softcover.


“Dawn of Flame sees the heroes peeling back the layers of a story about a mysterious force operating within the Pact Worlds’ sun while diving through the layers of the star itself. The narrative starts outside the sun, moves into events in a city in the star’s upper atmosphere, and leads to the heroes traveling into the sun’s depths. If flying a starship deep into stellar plasma to explore places few mortals have seen isn’t science fantasy, I don’t know what is,” said Chris Sims, lead developer for the Dawn of Flame Adventure Path.

Sutter shared his thoughts on the adventure: “I also think the adventure has some really fun roleplaying opportunities! My philosophy about writing adventures is that even in the tensest, most serious game, you still need moments of humor to throw the grimmer elements into contrast and get that emotional punch. So, things like dealing with an eccentric chaos-snake, a self-appointed skittermander cop, and an insectile con artist—or even just making the two key NPCs each other’s ex-wives—those character moments are every bit as important as the monsters and combat!”


Fire Starters contains a Starfinder adventure for 1st-level characters. Additional material includes an alien enclave within the star, a look at the sun goddess and her worshippers, an archive of extraplanar threats, deck plans and statistics for a vessel that patrols near the sun, and a look at a beautiful resort planet with ties to the Plane of Water.


The adventures continue with a new volume every month for six months. Soldiers of Brass (Dawn of Flame 2 of 6) will be released in late March. Explore the Starfinder Roleplaying Game at

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Campaign -X6: "Quagmire!" (1984) By Merle M. Rasmussen & Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 19:41
"Swamp creatures! They surround you now as you move slowly through the gurgling muck. How will you reach Quagmire now? Each day, the hungry sea swallows more of the ancient port city. A fierce fever ravages its people, and now - these foul monsters! Their beady eyes glimmer from deep within the tangled vines. Are these the creatures that have blockaded the city, turning away the ships that are Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Solo Play

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 15:07
So this morning, I decided to start a solo game and take my character through the introductory adventure in the core rules. Here are a few basic takeaways before I get into the specifics of characters:

It's a fun little adventure. I like the little seeds of things that can get you going further without much effort.
The rules are nice and fast and loose. I really like this iteration. It's fluid. I was able to run the entire adventure in about 2 hours, and that is with rolling up two characters as well!
I created a few house rules on the fly... which prompted this morning's earlier posting about house rules.


I ended up making two characters for this adventure; a stoutling defender and a red gnome trickster. Basically, I wanted to play the stoutling, but I realized about halfway through that he was going to be tough to play solo for a long time; he has no ability to take on multiple foes at once, so any time there were more than 2 or 3 foes, he got wrecked pretty quickly. In addition, as he scales up, his abilities are going to be largely supportive and defensive. He's a GREAT guy to have on your team; he's not such a great guy to have AS your team.

The red gnome trickster is a much more capable solo character. He has multiple ways to get past obstacles (he can try a STR check if the burglary doesn't work to open a door); he has ways to do some crowd control (sleep), and he has some ways to quickly deal some automatic damage. He'll scale better for solo play; he can sneak by really tough foes and scout things out, get extra damage with his sneak attack... he has more options for how to manage a variety of situations. I found that I really needed that if I was going to pursue solo play.

FYI, here are the two character sheets: Sty has he was in progress, and Myth as he had finished the adventure (I spotted him about 30 xp to get to level 2; yeah, I know...)

Some days this hobby of ours makes one go WOW!

Bat in the Attic - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 14:11
So Douglas Waltman has been busy lately.

I am just simply amazed. Douglas talks about wanting to bring it to GaryCon in this facebook post.B1 Search for the Unknown has been one of my favorite modules for years. I first encountered it when I got the Holmes DnD boxed set in late 1977. 
The best part of was the dungeon layout with a constructed complex above and caverns below. It has a lot little touches I liked; the fact the upper level felt like something two high level adventurers (Roghan and Zelligar) would make. That the bottom cave level had a back exit that opened to a cliff ledge. The long opening corridor with the magic mouths. And of course the cat in the jar, the room of Pools and the mushroom room.
For more B1 (and B2) goodness there is Goodman Games' Into the Borderlands
Way go to Douglas! Your work is simply amazing.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

TSR House Rules

The Splintered Realm - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:42
This post will be updated with house rules I am using for Tales of the Splintered Realm. Use or don't use as you see fit:

Gameplay Rules
  • Automatic damage effects (like the heat from a fire ant) are capped at 2 points per round; if four fire ants surround a character, that character does not suffer 4 hp damage per round.
  • In melee combat, no more than 3 creatures of the same size can engage you at once. No more than 2 creatures of any size larger, and no more than 4 creatures of any size smaller. A normal human could be attacked in melee by up to 4 rats, 3 gargoyles, or 2 ogres at once. This would limit sundering to only affecting those total targets as well. I found this was necessary to keep my solo stoutling defender alive; when he took on 7 rats, he was going to be killed quickly if not for the quick application of this rule :) This will also keep him alive later on, when he's taking on many undead at once.
  • For solo play, I am ruling that drinking a potion counts as a minor action, allowing one attack at -2 (because my character is going through healing potions like CRAZY to stay alive).
Purchasing Scrolls
The rules state that scrolls must be found on adventures. I rule that scrolls may be purchased in some places. A small country shrine may carry tier 1 scrolls, while the temple in a major city may stock scrolls of up to tier 3; you would have to journey to the Library at Asgoth's Summit to find a scroll of Tier 5.
Tier 1: 100 spTier 2: 250 spTier 3: 500 spTier 4: 1,000 spTier 5: 2,500 spTier 6: 5,000 sp
Purchasing Weapons or Armor
The rules have no mechanism for purchasing magical weapons and armor. Larger merchants may have gained some through barter. The standard prices are:
+1 weapons or armor are the base cost in gold +100 gp.  (A +1 medium weapon would cost around 115 gp, or 1150 sp; a suit of +1 plate mail armor would likely go for around 400 gp, or 4,000 sp). The more powerful an item, the less likely it is that a merchant will carry it.
+2 weapons or armor are the base cost in gold x10, +250 gp. (A +2 short bow would cost around 500 gp, or 5,000 sp; a suit of +2 chainmail armor would cost around 1,000 gp, or 10,000 sp). Very few merchants would stock such items.
Purchasing Potions
Larger alchemical shops are going to stock some basic potions. Most potions sell for around 100 sp, but more potent elixirs may sell for upwards of 500 sp.

Selling Items

Use the prices above to sell items to vendors; you get 50% of the value in any item you sell back (including mundane items you purchase; when you upgrade your studded leather armor to chainmail, you get 10 sp credit from the studded leather towards the new price)

Cryptozoic Will Offer Exclusive Collectibles, Trading Cards, and Games at WonderCon Anaheim 2019

Cryptozoic - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 13:39

Cryptozoic Entertainment today announced that it will sell products in all categories and offer numerous exclusives at WonderCon Anaheim, March 29-31 at the Anaheim Convention Center. At Booth #1337, Cryptozoic will sell four exclusive vinyl figures: Golden Goddess Classic Harley Quinn, Blackfire, Pestilence, and Flashpoint Batman. The company will also unveil its CZXTM super premium products for the first time anywhere with Promo Cards for two upcoming trading card sets—CZX Outlander and CZX Super Heroes & Super-Villains—and the soon-to-be-released CZX Wonder Woman: Princess of Wonder Woman Statue

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Classic Star Wars: Devilworlds #1-2

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 12:30
If you ever wondered what an Alan Moore Star Wars story would be like, this two issue limited series from Dark Horse (and released in digital format by the current licenseholders, Marvel) will be enlightening. Devilworlds reprints stories from various Marvel UK titles from 1982.  Besides Alan Moore, it features work by the likes of Steve Moore, Steve Parkhouse and Alan Davis.

The stories don't quite feel like Star Wars--or at least, don't feel like Star Wars of 2018 or even 1999. How they would have read in 1982, when there were only two films and a Christmas Special, who can say? Today, they feel much more like stories from 2000AD archives or Doctor Who Magazine, which isn't surprising given the writers did work for those titles.

Allow me a couple of spoilers to illustrate. In "Rust Never Sleeps" Artoo and Threepio end up on the Imperial junk planet of Ronyards, and encounter a droid cult that worships a scrap god. In "Tilotny Throws a Shape" (with art by John Stokes) Princess Leia and a group of pursuing Stormtroopers have a strange encounter with group of extradimensional or spirit beings (they would be a good portrayal of the Fair Folk in Exalted) who have vague grasp of the concepts of matter and time.

If this sounds like the sort of off-kilter Star Wars you can tolerate, then you'll be glad to know the issues are a mere 1.99 each on Comixology.

The Pilgrimage of Hunger

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 11:09
By Gregorius21778
OSR/Generic/Veins of the Earth
Lower Levels?

The Pilgrimage of Hunger is a small cave system written for Veins of the Earth. The idea behind it is that it came into being in response to the hunger of the living, sentient minds and souls of the Veins. If it is the creation of cruel and dark gods, of a devil or demon, something from the Outer Dark or of some strange underworld godling of hunger that has devoured its own name is up to you as the GM. It is assumed that the existence and rites of the chapel are known to at least a few dwellers of the Veins in the wider area, and that those in the know make regular “pilgrimages” to the chapel (for the sake of survival).

This seventeen page adventure describes an eight room cave complex. Veins of the Earth style with living darkness and the more realistic cave system descriptions, etc are all present. While it is deep and rich, I would make the case that it’s not very interactive and suffers quite a bit from a writing style that’s not conducive to actually running it.

The caves here modeled after the Veins style. The darkness is alive and it takes time to go from point A to B, up and down, with it abstracted in to a pointcrawl. That’s all fine and it’s good to see something coming out in this style. The darkness description is contained in one small paragraph near the beginning, in italics. I think at this point it’s clear I don’t like long italics blocks. A few words, ok, but more than a sentence is hard to read. Further, the darkness, tactile, smell-o-vision atmosphere is supposed to be ever present. I would have like to have seen it front & center in everything. There’s a little border design on every page … I can’t help but think that putting the general atmosphere in that border, or a border of keywords, would have been much more effective in helping the DM integrate it in to all aspects of the adventure. Or, maybe just on the page that has the abstracted map? When running a game you need certain things at your fingertips almost all of the time, the map being one of those. Putting other “general need” reference information on it makes sense. As does something like a border, etc. Both make the information readily at hand for the DM to use, prompting their memory and cueing them to make use of the extra.

The various encounters are interesting, in a way, and interactive in the sense that if you fuck with things then things will happen. The text is deep and rich, conveying a layered approach. It’s rich and deep enough that it’s hard to convey. I get the same vibe as I do when reading William Hope Hodgson or the knocks off stories. Airy, deep, mysterious. The keywords there would be “when I read it.” In the realm of “RPG Adventure as a Lit thing tending to being read more  than played as a substitute for people tired of Drizzel Durden Genre Fiction” then this thing out-Paizo’s a Paizo “adventure.”

That, of course, is not a compliment. I’ll take a Hodgson vibe all day long, but I won’t read it at the table. The thing is DENSE, with about a page per room description in places. Multiple paragraphs, not much in the way of whitespace organization beyond a simple paragraph break and just a little italics. Headings, indents, other techniques used to draw attention, group information, and the like are few and far between or not present at all. This leads you to long silences to read the room and try to hold it in your head. Craig the dwarf dropped to his death as he tried to climb the shaft. His corpse lies at the bottom of it. The preamble adds nothing to actual play but a lot to the Paizo-nature.

Kent would argue that one buys an adventure, studies it, takes notes, and spends many hours in preparation. And, yes, you could do that. But that’s not where I’m coming from. I think, that in 2019, we can expect more from the shit we spend out money on (or time, an even more valuable resource.) I expect us to have learned something about design in the last fifty years of D&D publishing. I expect the designer to add value that way. There’s always a role for something fabulously imaginative that eschews organization. A product that you must study to use serves as fluff, inspiration, or possibly as a cornerstone to many many sessions. But why not both? Is that concept really so foreign?

I would argue, as well, that while the encounters in this are interactive they are not the right kind of interactive. In a lot of (older?) Greenwood adventures it can feel like you are touring a museum. Raggi-land punishes mercilessly if you interact. Kuntz can hide things so deep you can’t find them. In all cases you can interact. Good interaction drives the adventure. It gives you reason to interact. There’s a flower. Eat it and some weird thing that you could never anticipate will happen. Well … why would I eat it in the first place? Because I have death wish? At higher levels maybe a little more of this can excused; the party has enough divination magic that they should know better/in advance. But what of the rest of us? Why the fuck would I ever eat from the flower? I didn’t make level 4 by eating strange shit FOR NO REASON. Likewise, a weird old man with little memory, in a cave. Uh, ok. And? It comes off as weird for the sake of weird, with no force or lure to interact.

I want to be delicate in these next comments. I’m pretty sure this is an English as a Second Language adventure. And that’s great. I love adventures from outside the english-speaking world. The various takes on things, influenced by their own cultures, Scandinavian, French, Asian, are all great and I would hate for this comment to be viewed as a pushback. And lord knows their english is better than any language I know. I tend to overlook a lot of minor things, but when it starts to interfere with comprehension then it’s a problem. A quick read-through by a native english speaker, with a highlighter, could have perhaps focused the designers attention on certain areas that could use a second look. It’s a relatively minor thing in this, but it does stick out a little more than some of the French or Scandinavian stuff I’ve seen. Not a full on editor, just a pass off to friend with a request to highlight the more awkward sentences/phrases.

And there’s no level present? On the cover or the DriveThru description or in the description?

Imaginative, the bones of something good, but the “good” interactivity is lacking, with little drive to explore (almost no treasure at all) and risk, combined with a somewhat “normal” writing style in paragraph form that hides information from scanning and location during play.

This is Pay What You Want at Drivethru with a suggested price of $2.50. It’s PWYW, so you, in a sense, get the preview for free. But, it also provides the ENTIRE thing as a preview, for free. I’ve seen a couple of products lately do this and I’ll on board for it to be a trend in 2019 and beyond. There’s so much shit on DriveThru that a requirement to post the entire thing in the preview would also be a blessing.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Review of 'The Pay What You Want' Black Pudding #5 By James V. West

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 06:45
"Dripping and dolloping into view comes the latest issue of this old school RPG zine chock full of nasty goodies for your classic fantasy games! In this issue you'll see ipzees and orbii, you'll learn aromatic charms, you'll find weapons of magic, many strange people will offer their services for your adventuring party, and you will absolutely encounter some cackling ice witches." So I'm Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Coming Soon - 5150 : Fleet Commander

Two Hour Wargames - Wed, 03/20/2019 - 01:07

“Captains; I expect you to do your jobs. Engage!”Your Captains move their ships, fire missiles, launch fighters or torpedoes and preform damage control. That is not your job!Your job is to decide where and when to engage the enemy, and more importantly, when to cut your losses and leave, while keeping the fleet in being.
In 5150: Fleet Commander, the rules are made to reflect your job. Command a Task Force or Fleet; not a few ships.Be a Fleet Commander, not a Captain!
Your job is to decide where and when to engage the enemy, and more importantly, when to cut your losses and leave, while keeping the fleet in beingDo Your Job!
Play it with any existing minis you already have or use the over 120 color counters included with the game.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Pirate & Play The Secret Origin Of The Skull Faced Formorians - Amazing Adventures Game Session Report

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 18:23
"A band of blood thirsty villains has been raiding a variety of worlds & our heroes have stumbled across one of their auctions. The heroes have managed to sneak aboard one of the blood thirsty pirates ships. Will they free the slaves?! Or die in the attempt!?" My player's PC's have run run afoul of 'Skulled Faced Formorian' pirates (in terms of Castles & Crusades these are Hill Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

PRESALE: Golden Goddess Classic Harley Quinn Vinyl Figure (WonderCon Exclusive)

Cryptozoic - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 16:59

Harley loves to be treated like a goddess! This is your opportunity to own the Golden Goddess Classic Harley Quinn vinyl figure created exclusively for WonderCon 2019! You can make sure you get this limited collectible by purchasing it now and then picking it up at Cryptozoic’s Booth #1337 during the event.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On the best places to gather rare plants

Hack & Slash - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 12:00
Rare plants are useful for whatever you want. Resurrection? A magical enchantment? Some bullshit mcguffin?

Rare plants—if they want the thing, they go to the place where it is. Now your job is easy because you know where they are going. Where are the best places to get these rare plants?

Spider Moss: This is found in rotting abatis, deep within shadowy forests. It often grows thick and infests spiders, fermenting their brain to fulfill its arachnivorous needs, making them aggressive and territorial.

Lady Tongue: This fleshy bud is on a tight bright green lappaceous and acanthous-shaped branch. It exudes a strong smell, and is found in very warm places, near geothermal vents. Though pungent and bitter, the folem in the stem is a favored food for magically twisted creatophagous horrors.

Green Gel: A moss that exudes a gelatinous, slightly lumesent gelital spoor. It's found deep within caves below the water level. The frequency of elemental discharges such as the spawning of weirds and mephits is a beef-witted brabble that coxcombs use to befuddle cottiers for entertainment. However, we plight no guarantee of safety.

Bride's Comb: This cteniform fungus is found high in trees in arid lands. The roots of the fungus rot the pitha of the tree, causing frequent breaks. It is only commonly found 200'+ above the base of the plant.

Dungeon Algae: This bright green algae is found only deep in subterranean environments, near madid fonts of underdark radiation.

Mortal Spore: This plant can only be collected from a marcescent limb of a living creature. This is usually accomplished by constricting the blood until the limb begins to rot. Exposing the withered limb to the air from fresh corpses will seed the mold.

Berry Dripping: Found on the underside of mazzard bushes. It's a residue deposited by the rectrix of cockatrice.

Frozen Dungmuk: Many adventurers and ner-do-wells are familiar with the brunneous mold and its pyrophilic tendency, but when the mold grows in dark frozen clefts, Dungmuk is the result: looking like a glossy clump of fecal colored spheres, covered in poudrin ice flowers.

Glow Threads: This airy plant floats in the water like a bundle of loose threadless string. It only lies in shallow pools in shaded sunlight inhabited by radds, a species of electric catfish.

Vorpal Mold: Hangs from the ceiling in humanoid caves. Grows from the spend and humors of beastmen, creating bundled coils of Vorpal Mold. When disturbed, it violently spasms ejuaculating lacerating wire-like vines.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How D&D Shed the Troubling Implications of Half -Orcs

DM David - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 11:48

In real life, we all sometimes feel bound by caution and frustrated by rules of decorum, so we enjoy characters who act recklessly, play by their own rules, and boast the power to ignore the consequences. This accounts for some of the appeal of gangster films and of evil D&D characters.

The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook (1978) introduced half-orc characters. They stemmed from evil and seemed suited to it.

Those first edition rules limited a half-orc’s top level in every class but assassin, so only half-orc assassins saw much play. Author Gary Gygax surely figured that evil half-orcs would have a knack for assassination, but the combination lacked much appeal. Orcs bring strength and battle lust, not cunning and methodical planning. Assassins fueled conflict between players, and the role concerned some parents, so second edition dropped the class. (See Why Second-Edition Dungeons & Dragons Dropped Thieves and Assassins.)

At first, D&D pictured orcs with pig faces and described them as evil bullies willing to “breed with anything” and eager to capture human slaves. This led many  people to conclude that half-orcs came from rape.

The half-orc’s history in the game suggests that the D&D team shied from featuring a playable race that implies a dark background of sexual violence. As designers wrestled with the half-orc’s backstory, the race came with the first and third editions of the Player’s Handbook, and left with the second and fourth editions of the book.

Many players enjoy mighty, reckless characters who thrive on melee. They relish the chance to ignore caution, rush into action, and destroy foes. No race supports the style half as well as the half-orc, so the option kept reentering the game. Especially when third edition’s Player’s Handbook combined the berserker archetype into the barbarian class, half-orcs gained popularity.

Most of D&D’s editions offer goliaths to players interested in big, mauling fighters, but almost everyone favors half-orcs. Goliaths, a sort of diluted half giant, come so low on flavor that few players can pick one from a lineup.

Through D&D’s editions, the designers worked to free half-orcs from their worst implications.

In second edition’s Planescape setting, the half-orc leader of the Bleaker faction comes from a loving marriage between a human and an orc. The pair came to Sigil seeking tolerance. The setting’s authors felt that a human-monster romance needed some explanation, so in the tradition of Alicia Masters, they made the human parent blind.

Half-orcs can be explained without the implication of rape. The race came from Tolkien and his half-orcs stemmed from interbreeding between orcs and unsavory humans allied with Sauron or Saruman. Third edition steered in a similar direction. “In the wild frontiers, tribes of human and orc barbarians live in uneasy balance, fighting in times of war, and trading in times of peace.” Trading, indeed. Face it, orcs don’t really need to be less evil or monstrous for some humans to willingly interbreed with them. Evidence supports the notion that humans can be outrageously indiscriminate about who or what they couple with.

Still, rather than explaining half-orcs as the product of human-orc interbreeding, fourth edition made them a completely separate race. As backstory, the Player’s Handbook 2 offers a menu of mythic explanations to choose from. For example, perhaps a part of the god Gruumsh’s savage essence fell to earth and transformed a tribe of humans into a new species. Like many ideas floated in fourth edition, half-orcs didn’t remain a species.

Fifth edition frees half-orcs from their darkest implications by developing the nature of orcs. Their evil and savagery stems from their devotion to Gruumsh and the rest of their gods. Orcs follow a faith that preaches blood and conquest, backed by actual gods able to give followers divine powers. No wonder orcs behave so badly.

Outside of Gruumsh’s influence, orcs can escape savagery. “Most orcs have been indoctrinated into a life of destruction and slaughter. But unlike creatures who by their very nature are evil, such as gnolls, it’s possible that an orc, if raised outside its culture, could develop a limited capacity for empathy, love, and compassion.” Perhaps the son of a human and a loving orc could even grow into a factol in Sigil.

Although fifth edition makes half-orcs the product of interbreeding, the game makes the mix common enough for form self-sustaining communities. “In lands far from the Sword Coast, such as Thesk and Chessenta, there are large communities of half-orcs, where generations of them have lived as a people in their own right.”

The story behind D&D improves by making orcish savagery a product of violent gods. In the early days of D&D, orcs only differed from other humanoids by resembling pigs rather than hyenas or big goblins. Now, orcs stand out for their spiritual devotion, and this backstory makes orcs more layered and interesting. Allowing orcs a capacity for love and compassion helps solve the question of what could lead a human to pair with an orc. Plus, the story answers whether good adventurers can murder baby orcs with a clear conscious. I always hated the baby orc dilemma.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Stargazer's World - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 09:00

A couple of days ago, David Sumner, co-founder of RPGSmith got in touch with me and told me about his free web application. RPGSmith is – in a nutshell – an interactive character sheet with additional features like item, spell and ability management. The current application is meant for players, but they’ll be launching a Kickstarter later this week to fund an extended version of RPGSmith which will feature a GM campaign management interface.

At the moment, the application supports the following rulesets: D&D 5th Edition, Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorers Edition, Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, Fate Core, Fate Accelerated, and Pathfinder. It is possible to add your own rulesets though.

From what I’ve seen so far RPGSmith could be a pretty nifty tool for players regardless whether they are playing online or offline. There is a bit of a learning curve though, but luckily the site provides users with quite a few tutorial videos.

Having an interactive character sheet definitely comes in handy from time to time, and RPGSmith has support for desktop PCs and mobile devices, which is a plus in my book. You can even customize your character sheets to your hearts content. Will it change the way we play RPGs? I have my doubts, but it’s worth a look nevertheless.

What are your thoughts on RPGSmith? Have you had the chance to try it out? Please share your comment below!

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Review Of 'The Pay What You Want' OSR Adventure 'The Tall Witch' By Davide Pignedoli From Daimon Games

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 06:19
A friend of mine tonight at a local gaming hole told me about an OSR sort of retroclone inspired by Lamentations of the Flame Princess & Swords & Wizardry called Crying Blades. Specifically he told me about an interesting 'pay what you want' adventure that I might want to checkout called The Tall Witch.  The plot sounds simple enough;'A mysterious witch is about to be born and threatens the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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