Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Retro Review For Module Xs2 Thunderdelve Mountain By William Carlson For Dungeons & Dragons Expert Sets & Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 20:07
Thunderdelve  Mountain about as metal a Dwarven adventure as you can get, the blurb is like something Wagner meets Tolkien on a mountain someplace and this is their baby. This is supposed to be a solo module but at levels seven to nine its more of a fully realized Dwarven party romp through the lair of a red dragon.  Thunderdelve Mountain is an adventure tailored for solo play and doesn't get Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

From Hyperborea I Can See Oerth - Sword & Sorcery Greyhawk Being Run With The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers Of Hyperborea Rpg System Part II - B2 In Search of the Unknown By Mike Carr

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 16:48
"Many years ago two wealthy adventurers, Roghan the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown, built a hidden complex known as the Caverns of Quasqueton. From this base, they conducted their affairs away from the prying eyes of civilization. While of questionable ethical standing, the two drove back a barbarian invasion and gained the support of locals. Eventually, they gathered their own army and wentNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

From Hyperborea I Can See Oerth - Sword & Sorcery Greyhawk Being Run With The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers Of Hyperborea Rpg System

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 15:05
I'm never content to rest on my laurels, & last night I was zipping around the internet gathering up information about Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Once again I came across the review that Venger Satanis did for AS&SH on Rpg.net (I'm not a fan of rpg.net at all. That's a personal preference.),but I came across this bit,"Likewise, there are some really cool magic items andNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: The Gods Themselves

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 11:00
This post originally appeared in June 2014.

I've being thinking on the idea that all deities in fiction can be defined by two axes: Mythological-Literal and Transcendent-Physical. Mythological gods have origins and interactions that don't make sense in a literal sense; Think gods born from salt licks or jumping from their fathers' skulls. On the other end of the scale are literal beings whose origins are at least logical and generally pretty much biologically or technologically similar to other classes of lifeforms. Transcendent beings are bound by the usual limitations of single body, mind, and/or perspective, while physical beings certainly are.

The gods from the Greek or Norse mythology are typically mythological, but either physical or transcendent. (They tend to be physical seeming in the texts of the myths, but seem somewhat transcendent in terms their actual historical worship.) 
The Asgardians of Marvel Comics or Apollo of the Star Trek episode "Who Mourns for Adonis?" are mostly literal and mostly physical in portrayal. The Asgardians of the movie Thor and its sequel are entirely literal and physical.
AI masquerading as gods? Literal, transcendent or physical. The Endless from Sandman? Straddling the literal-mythologic border, transcendent. Kirby's New Gods? Slightly mythological, physical.
So there it is. There may be other factors I haven't thought of.

1d20 Random Encounters With Minor Lovecraftian Monsters Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 08/09/2019 - 04:44
There are encounters that both dangerous and highly unexpected in the wilds and wilderness, things that are best left forgotten at the edge of civilization. These survivors of other ages and eons can be extremely dangerous. Often times psychic madness and insanity clings to these types of monsters, horrors, and mutated madmen. There is a 30 % chance of some lingering insanity and Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Do You Play It RAW?

The Viridian Scroll - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 19:24
TLDR: rules-as-written (RAW) means different things to different people. Here are some distinctions that I personally think make sense.

Rules-as-written, or RAW, as most people like to write it. What does it mean?

RAW
Used literally, it means whenever you have a question about how to play you follow what the rulebook says to the best of your ability. If you make a ruling at the table and a player looks it up then, or after the game, and finds a contradiction between your ruling and the text, you go with the text. It also means, in a literal sense, that you aren't subtracting, adding, or modifying the rules in any way.

RAI
It's pretty hard to play any game like that. There are bound to be some awkward and unclear phrasings, typos, or missing rules that make playing RAW difficult. The next step away is, I believe, rules-as-intended, RAI.

Rules-as-intended means that you stick close to the rules and play them as you believe they are supposed to be played. You are not adding, subtracting, or changing the rules unless there's clearly an error in the text, a rule is unplayable (wasn't play-tested), or you have to fill in a gap where the rules are silent. When you do fill in a gap, you do it by following the logic and spirit of the rules. You aren't inventing so much as extrapolating. Personally, I still consider this RAW, especially if the rules encourage you to invent/fill in the gaps.

Rules+
Taking another step away from RAW is adding things that don't obviously change or interfere with existing rules, but clearly weren't intended by the original rules either. Let's call this Rules+. For instance, you bolt some kind of sanity mechanic onto Oe D&D. Or allow two-handed weapons to do more damage than other weapons to make up for the fact that their wielders are forgoing the use of a shield and may be attacking late in a round. The thing about adding rules is that no matter how careful you are, you are affecting existing mechanisms. Perhaps adding a Sanity mechanic makes the Intelligence ability score in D&D less important? Or adding a differentiation for two-handed weapons begs you to add rules for parallel instances, e.g. dual-wielded weapons, reach weapons, rate of fire, etc. Adding rules is a slippery slope, especially if what you liked about the original rules set was their "simplicity." Adding rules begets greater complexity.

Rules –
Clearly, if there is a Rules+ there is a Rules–, meaning you drop some rules because they feel clunky, slow down play, aren't meaningful, etc. Subtracting may reduce complexity, but you may also be throwing out the baby with the bathwater. As with adding rules, you can quickly find yourself playing a different game. For example, the Save progressions are part of class strength and weaknesses, as well as a way to differentiate between the peril of various threat types, in Oe D&D. If you dump those in favor of straight roll-under tests by ability, you may be losing one of the classes' primary advantages (good Saves) or negating one of its drawbacks (bad Saves). Also, dropping Saves means dragon breath, poison, and rays are all roughly the same type of threat, aside from prescribed damage (and in Oe it's all d6 based).

Hacking
Finally, there's hacking. It's hard to see where house-ruling ends and hacking begins sometimes. Changing the setting is a clue for a lot of observers, but you could very often change the setting of a game without touching its mechanisms, other than perhaps relabeling a few weapons. It's a distinction of quantity and quality. One big change or lots of little ones can result in the feeling that you are playing a different game. And the minute you feel like that, you have hacked the original. You have voided the warranty on play experience; if it goes south it's on you!

So, Are You Playing RAW?
It's my opinion that if you are doing literal RAW, RUI, or perhaps even light Rules+, you are. It's a matter of not believing you know more than the designer of the game and taking care to try the rules as written first before you make any adjustments or outright changes. Any such adjustments or changes should be governed by making the game play to its strengths, rather than making it feel different or fit a different style/genre of play. If that isn't your mindset, then you probably aren't playing RAW.

Fair enough?
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Making Friends and Influencing People

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 13:00
Walhall, die Götterwelt der Germanen (ca. 1905) by Emil Doepler

Hello friends!

You’ve decided you want your next Torchbearer character to be all mysterious and edgy, so you’ve  chosen to be a loner, tough and cool. No friends, no parents, no mentor. But you do have an enemy that has it in for you. Oops.

As I mentioned last week, the world of Torchbearer is a cold and lonely place. Trying to navigate it without friends and family who have your back is so much harder. Being a loner might seem romantic, but you may feel differently when you’re dead broke, hurt, sick, and in desperate need of a hot meal and a safe place to sleep. 

If you’re a magician, the lack of a mentor can feel especially punishing. Every character can benefit from access to a teacher to guide them in the right direction from time to time, but magicians, especially, benefit from a mentor who can teach them new spells for their first few levels.

But now you’re stuck. What’s a taciturn, saturnine adventurer to do?

Make Friends

I recommend allowing yourself to be a bit more vulnerable. Make a point of turning that grim existence around and strive to make new friends in every town and settlement. Whether you get one friend or none in character creation, you can get more in play!

Chat up the townsfolk on guard duty when you’re passing through the gates. Go to the tavern and tell tales (if you have The Secret Vault of the Queen of Thieves, we provide more in-depth rules for telling tales in the appendix; there are some nice benefits to be had!). Look for work. 

I’m not saying that you should turn the town phase into a long, tedious affair, but some short, snappy interactions can really enliven the experience. When you meet NPCs, take note of their names. If they share their problems with you, consider what you might be able to do to share or eliminate their burdens. 

You can meet people in the adventure phase too. Helping out folks in a certain wayhouse that’s been overrun by kobolds could win you friends for life. Some of those friends might even be in a position to offer you meals and a nice room for free whenever you pass through.

I like to think of adventurers as similar to the “A-team.” Society at large might have no use for them, or even actively despise them, but the people who they help along the way become part of a network of supporters that could provide aid in the future.

The Digging for Leads rules (page 92) can be a great way to find NPCs that you could later convert into friends.

Find Teachers

Seeking a master was a staple on the Shaw Brothers films that I ate up as part of Kung Fu Theatre on Saturday mornings as a kid. You can go that route! 

Use the Asking Around rules or Doing Research rules (both on page 92) to locate someone who can teach what you want, then travel to their location (perhaps a Wizard’s Tower or Religious Bastion) to seek an audience (Personal Business, page 91). 

They might require payment, a service or a quest before agreeing to take you on. Or, if you want to be more direct, you can try to find a teacher wherever you happen to be: Use the Searching for Someone rules on page 91 (factors are on page 135 — finding a mentor starts around Ob 4).

Make Enemies

Most adventurers are naturals at this already. I suspect you can rely on your native talents here.

For GMs

If players do their part as described above, it’s your obligation, as a GM, to meet them halfway. Put potential friends, mentors and enemies in their path. You don’t have to force anything, but be receptive to the characters establishing relationships in the course of play. Don’t be afraid to tell your players that they can write an NPC into the Allies and Additional Enemies section of their character sheet.

Remember that if a player seeks out a mentor, blocking them is the least interesting choice you can generally make as the result of a failed test. If you’re going to use a twist, make it something truly memorable. For instance, when the magician flubbs a Circles test to find a mentor, go with a twist and give them an enemy! It’s a powerful magician who agrees to teach them (and does!) but they’re slowly preparing the PC to participate in some nefarious ritual. You could get several adventures out of it as the villainous wizard sends the PC and companions out on quests to recover materials or bathe in eldritch energies. Or maybe the potential mentor has been trapped in some spell gone wrong, or is being blackmailed. They need the PC’s help before they can teach the PC.

This applies to all twists, really, not just ones involving NPCs — strive to lean into what the players are going for, then use twists to create a kink in the situation that drives the action forward. A twist that leads to a dead end isn’t a good twist.

Making NPCs Memorable

Whenever I introduce an NPC into any game, one of the most important things I consider is what they want from the PCs. They want you to take their side. They want you to perform a service. They want you to stand up for something. They want you to smash the status quo in some way. For antagonists, this is especially important. If the only desire I can think of is “the PCs’ deaths” I go back to the drawing board. 

All of the truly great villains of literature and cinema want something of the protagonists. It is the moment when Darth Vader leans in to Luke Skywalker, extends his hand, and says, “Join me and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son!” that catapults Vader into the ranks of the all-time great movie villains. He is revealing his desire to Luke and presenting Luke with a choice. It’s the same with Magneto. He doesn’t want to destroy the X-Men; he wants the X-Men to agree with him, to take up his cause as their own. If he has to kill them, he will. But that’s not his first option.

The best choices have some sort of moral weight and up-end the status quo in some way. Whatever choice Luke makes, the conflict between him and his father, between his father and the emperor, cannot remain the same afterwards. Things have changed.

This is a trick you can use with all your NPCs — friendly, antagonistic or indifferent — to make them pop and encourage the players to take an interest in them. The more difficult the choices and the more far-reaching the consequences of making those choices, the more the players will generally love or hate the NPCs that present them.

And look, that’s not to say that you need to come up with deep backgrounds and motivations for every character you introduce into the game. You can keep things simple at first: “I want the PCs to make Rollo pay me. I want the PCs to rescue my boyfriend from the ogre. I want the PCs to stay in my house so I can rob them while they’re sleeping.” Think of it a bit like a PC’s goal. Between sessions, if you’ve taken an interest in the character or the players have taken an interest in the character, develop them further. Give them a deeper goal. Give them a belief. Think about how they can use a PC to disrupt the status quo and get what they want. 

I don’t want to spoil In the Shadow of the Horns, the adventure in Middarmark, but I think it’s an excellent example of these principles in action. If you own it, take a look at the Where to Go From Here section on page 99. It lays out the desires of several NPCs and presents some ideas for how they might want to use the PCs for their own ends.

How do you use NPCs in your games? Do you have any tricks for making them engaging to the players? I want to hear them.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Classic Monsters Classed

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 08/08/2019 - 11:00
After yesterday's podcast, I had the Universal Monsters on the brain. Probably got another, less frivolous, post on a monster topic.

[BLOG] Third Year’s the Charm: The End of the OSR

Beyond Fomalhaut - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 16:09

The first post on this blog went up 5 August 2016, so this is the time of the year I do my usual stock-taking and retrospecting (as all Internet blowhards are wont to do). What has happened last year, and what is yet to come? Well:
The State of the Blog
You know the way blogs work. They start high and they kinda taper off into gruff “I am still here… anyone? anyone???” kind of updates. Beyond Fomalhaut’s first year had 55 posts, the second had 42 posts, and this last one had 37 posts. That puts me in the “still mostly alive” zone. (How does David McGrogan do it? It honestly beats me.) This year, I had a lot of unwritten posts – the kind of elegant, well thought out arguments you put together in your head, hone carefully while taking a walk or doing your shopping, and never actually end up writing. There were a lot of these, and they were great. Next year, there will be more of them.
I continued reviewing old-school products – there were 16 in the first year, 23 in the second year, and 18 this year (about half my posts). The average rating has climbed slightly, from 3.1 and 3.0 to 3.3. For some reason, I came across more good materials than last year, while deftly avoiding the bad ones. Most bad adventures share fairly similar problems – bad scope, overdeveloped front with little actual meat, excessive linearity and low interaction potential – and after a while, you mostly filter them out. The gems, on the other hand, are mostly unexpected and highly individual. Not necessarily “special”: high-concept can easily obscure shoddy execution. Great adventures simply go beyond expectations.
This year’s ratings break down this way:
  • 5 with the Prestigious Monocled Bird of Excellence.This rating was not awarded this year. (Note: this is a lack of effort on my part. I do know something that deserves this rating, but I never sat down to write a proper review that could do it justice.)
  • 5 went to one new product, Sision Tower. This is an obscure gem of an adventure with a haunted atmosphere and great exploration-oriented gameplay in a unique environment. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
  • 4 went to six products. Some of them are highly polished (Anthony Huso’s Mortuary Temple of Esma and Keith Sloan’s Forgotten Grottoes of the Sea Lords are both honest-to-goodness high-level AD&D), and some are oddball things that deserve your attention (The Sea of Vipers is a terse, modern Wilderlands-like setting which would make for a great hex-crawling campaign).
  • 3 went to eight adventures. “3” ratings are for the decent stuff, or for things which are highly creative but flawed in execution. My picks from this category are Into the Jungle, a Nam-meets-D&D thought experiment, and The Black Maw by “Craig Pike”, back when he had not yet been revealed as “Bryce Lynch” trying his hand at adventure design.
  • 2 went to three adventures. A lot more bullets have been dodged based on vague hunches and sheer laziness.
  • 1 was not awarded this year. If I came across one, it would have happened – these things tend to be annoying enough to merit writing about them – but this year has been fairly quiet, for reasons I will soon go into.

A Year LaterThe State of the Fanzine
This has been a good year! In the latest annual round-up, I could mention two issues of Echoes From Fomalhaut and one module, The Barbarian King. This year, I had a bit of trouble including all the printed stuff in a single picture. EMDT’s print catalogue has grown to thirteen titles, even if this involves some sleight of hand (since some releases have technically seen publication twice). I could not have done this without help. Help from my co-authors who have written three of the adventures, published stand-alone or as zine articles; my illustrators (particularly the heroic Denis McCarthy and Stefan Poag, as well as Peter Mullen, Matthew Ray and Andrew Walter – a lot of dead Victorians have also contributed), my printer (who also plays Orestes, a retired legionary in our Kassadia campaign), regular or occasional playtesters, and all the people who have bought an issue in print or PDF. Thanks!
Echoes is now in its fifth issue, and the sixth is slowly taking shape. As the zine has settled into its place, I have found that it is best served by medium-length articles. This is a natural outcome of the campaigns we play: individual adventures take between one to three sessions to play, and re-usable background materials are usually of a similar scope. There are exceptions – typically campaign-defining “tentpole” locations, or utility products like The Nocturnal Table – and these will be better off as separate releases.
The fanzine’s focus through its first five issues has mostly been on our Isle of Erillion campaign. Together, these materials represent an almost complete mini-sandbox, consisting of modular pieces you can use as a linked whole, or take apart and use in different contexts. This year will hopefully see the completion of Baklin, the isle’s capital city – a neutral port town of merchants, sailors and the occasional thief. Since Baklin is too large for a single zine issue, it will be published separately. There are more materials I would like to publish from this campaign, but they will be even more general, with only hints of setting-specific information.The City of VulturesThe next year will have a slightly different focus. One of my big plans for the zine (and one of the main reasons for launching it in the first place) has been the release of materials set in The City of Vultures, a sinful fantasy metropolis known for shady conspiracies, glittering palaces gone to rot, and great multi-level dungeon complexes hidden beneath the street surface. The city, which has served as the backdrop for three of our campaigns (one now ongoing), would have been impossible to tackle as a single supplement – it was always too sprawling, too forbidding to even begin. An introduction was published in Knockspell, issue #3, but of the adventures, only Terror on Tridentfish Island has seen release. To be exact, it needed a fanzine. Starting with Echoes #06, I am planning to publish my materials for this grand metropolis – focusing, most of all, on its dungeons and secret societies. See you in… The Gallery of Rising Tombs!
We have also started a new campaign with a new group, set in the lands of Kassadia. Kassadia, located south of the Isle of Erillion, is based on the premise that the local equivalent of the Roman Empire never fell, only decayed to the point of disintegration. It is now a land of early Renaissance city states, fallen grand projects, surviving imperial traditions, pastoral hinterlands and strange old villas in cedar groves. The campaign moves relatively slowly (scheduling, jobs and travel are constant issues), but we have been having a lot of fun with this one. Two modules are already written (the first one by my good friend Istvan Boldog-Bernad), playtested and basically complete in the Hungarian – they will be translated for release late this year, or more likely early 2020. Some of these materials will also appear in Echoes.
When I started Echoes, I had a fairly limited understanding of the business end of publishing, and it would be arrogant to claim I understand it now beyond a basic hobbyist level. But on that level, things have worked out fine. No niche fanzine is ever going to be a moneymaker, but mine sells well enough to pay for the art and printing, and generate some extra I can invest into larger and more expensive projects (Castle Xyntillan has been this year’s main money and time sink). My big excel file tells me I have shipped 759 packages (including larger wholesale orders, but not convention and personal sales), which never fails to impress me.Kassadia RisesBusinesswise, most EMDT releases are done in print runs of 240 copies (Hungarian ones are in 80, but even that’s only because I am building a catalogue for the re-release ofSword&Magic). It is 240 copies because the coloured paper for the cover comes in packs of 250, and we have to submit 6 printed copies to the archives of the National Library. It turns out that’s a good, sensible number for an old-school fanzine, too. Echoes #01 to #03 have sold out their first print run (Echoes #01 has also sold through a 120-copy reissue, and is in a 60-copy third printing). The Barbarian King is nearing the end of the first batch, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I would like to keep the zines in print and available, even if subsequent print runs will invariably be smaller (I don’t want to convert my home into a warehouse, so the number of cardboard boxes I am willing to put up with is naturally limited.)
Would I recommend zine publishing to others? If you believe you have something to say, hell yes! Publishing a zine has been one of the most rewarding forms of hobby participation I have been involved in (nothing, of course, beats sitting down to game with friends). It is a creative outlet which produces tangible results, and while time-consuming, it handily beats computer games and television (both activities I have mostly dropped or reduced to a light level). Do you have time for a fanzine? You probably do if you convert your junk time into quality time.
Castle Grounds (art by Denis McCarthy)The State of My Other Projects
Recall all those empty promises I have made on the blog about Castle Xyntillan? Yeah right! In fact, it is actually happening, and hopefully happening before Christmas! This will be a large funhouse dungeon for Swords&Wizardry (but compatible with most other old-school systems). Xyntillan is intended as a beer-and-pretzels experience with a versatile application: you can run it as a one-off, a convention game, or as a complex dungeon-crawling campaign that takes characters from first to about 6th or 7th level. It can be played as a mostly hack-and-slash affair, but there is enough background complexity to add plenty of interaction and intrigue to the mix, and let the players devise complex schemes in the context of a fantastic, not entirely serious dungeon.
Most of the layout for Xyntillan is done. Illustrations are coming in (the one above is by Denis McCarthy), and Rob Conley has completed a set of poster maps which are really the bee’s knees (or the cat’s meow). The book will have four map sheets on the usual heavy-duty paper, two for the GM and two for the players (one each will be double-sided). The physical book will be an A4 (letter-) sized hardcover, about the size of the idol cover PHB. We are shooting for a durable, accessible, good-looking book that can withstand a lot of play.
After Xyntillan is out, I would like to dedicate my attention to the unjustly neglected Helvéczia RPG. Yes, the translated rulebook has been languishing mostly untouched since 2016, along with the first supplement. This is the curse of large projects: I have learned by personal experience (and not a few Kickstarters I have lost money on) that a big release is not equivalent to five or six small ones of equivalent length. No – the complexity of tasks increases along what seems like an exponential curve, while the chances for failure and delay multiply. Fortunately for all of us, I did not take any Kickstarter money for Helvéczia. I think it can come out in 2020, probably as a hardcover / hardcover-in-a-boxed set dual edition. Quasi-historical RPGs have been kind of a minority taste, but I believe I have something worth saying with this one – it is, probably, the closest to where my heart actually lies.
The State of the Old School
No USo it actually happened. The old-school community split this year, and its surviving pieces have gone their separate ways. It is gone. There has been surprisingly little talk about it, and most still speak in terms of a general scene, but in my eyes, the divorce has clearly taken place. The fault lines had been present for a few years, and the conflicts were visible for all to see. Google+’s shuttering by its corporate overlords provided a good opportunity for things to come apart, but it has also obscured the OSR’s disintegration. I never liked the term, not when it was coined, and mostly avoided using it except as a shorthand or in mockery. It sounded pretentious, and too much like an astro-turfing attempt to create a brand. It was hubris. But I was proven wrong after all. There was undoubtedly something there for a few years, and now there isn’t.
Is it a tragedy? No, although it is a loss of creative potential – for now. It was for the better. Late 2018 was the absolute nadir of the community as it became clear that people could not coexist in a single space. Every creative community has its in-fighting, contentious issues and scenester posturing (this is probably crucial to their creative well-being, even if it stinks). Splinter groups drift off and new people come in with their new ideas.
Trying to go after people for ideological missteps of failing to demonstrate appropriate piety is something else. That’s really at the core of it. If people can’t put their differences aside and get along without being at each others’ throats, no creative dividends are worth it. Ironically, the last and most prominent target of these sorry fights was no one else but Zaximillian Wokespierre, one of the principal drivers of the OSR’s ideological witch-hunts. Here is a man who has had his reputation destroyed more thoroughly and permanently than the people he had set his sights on. I think there is a lesson there; maybe more than one.
But enough of the dead. What exist now are separated communities which have increasingly little in common, and do less and less communication as time progresses. There will always be individual connections, and some people will doubtless remain involved in both spheres. Things are never tidy and clear-cut. But there is no big tent “old school community” in the way there was one on Dragonsfoot ca. 2004-2008, the blogs ca. 2007-2012, or G+ for a few years afterwards. These will be smaller groups with more focused interests.
On one side, there seems to be yet another round of re-examining what made D&D in the first place. These discussions always involve a slightly different bunch of people, and always come to slightly different conclusions. Increasingly, the people who ask the questions and provide answers have no direct connection to (A)D&D as it had actually existed from the 1970s to the 1990s, but nevertheless see something in it that modern editions do not offer. That’s a clear testament to the game’s staying power. However, the split has definitely brought a lull to both discourse and published material. There are notably fewer people around, and I suppose every missing contributor represents eight or ten missing lurkers.
On the other side (which I am not really familiar with), there seems to be a drift away from D&D’s baked-in assumptions towards a general use of its lightweight systems, and a convergence of old-school and indie sensibilities. To be honest, its first big effort, “Sword*Dream” sounds like a deliberate straw man caricature of online progressivism, and the first DreamJam’s output kinda lives up to the stereotype (GOONS is probably more my style). If your answer to “So what do you do, I mean apart from the Class Struggle” is “Urm, but everything is Class Struggle”, that might be a problem there. But what do I know, I did not shell out $7 for the dragon fucking game, so I might have missed something. I actually like some of the stuff that has been retroactively “sworddreamed”, so perhaps there will be more of those down the line.
In the end, I will be controversial and say it was worth it. For one thing, the OSR as it had existed had clearly outlived its usefulness, and the community around it started to get acrimonious. Second, the separation has removed a lot of conflict from the community. MeWe has been pleasantly light on drama, and the blogs and forums I am part of have just kept on discussing old games and their modern applications. I assume the other community feels that way, too. Who says divorces have to be acrimonious?

In the Grim Darkness of the Post-OSR, There is Only * * * SWORDDREAM * * *
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Bronze Age Book Club: Man-Wolf!

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 13:46
We're normally going to do biweekly episodes, but we were on a roll, so here's the second episode of the Bronze Age Book Club podcast: Marvel Premiere #45!


Listen to "Episode 2: MARVEL PREMIERE #45" on Spreaker.

In addition to Spreaker, you can find the podcast on Spotify, Castbox, and Deezer. Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts are coming soon.

Shrine of the Wolf Maidens

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 08/07/2019 - 11:24
By Catherine Evans Aegis Studios B/X Levels 2-3

An adventurer named Jorasco Vinn was commissioned by Madeina Ilrekar, a prosperous merchant from the town of Dela’s Tor, to explore a certain area of the Untamed Gauntlet for signs of precious metals worth mining. All he found was an old shrine to a minor local deity whose name is long forgotten. Now Madeina’s daughter Silvega has gone missing and there is no sign of Jorasco. Madeina has put two and two together and made five: she believes he has kidnapped Silvega and stolen her away to this ancient shrine… where human sacrifice was routinely practiced.

This ten page adventure, with about four actual content pages, details about six linear encounter areas in a small shrine. It’s ok, nothing special. 

There’s just not much here to review. Six-ish encounters is not much at all. Meet some centaurs in the woods and talk to them. Then go through a linear five room shrine dungeon and fight some wolves and then a proto-werewolf. 

Read aloud is about four sentences per encounter. Your quest-giver has her information laid out in bullet points. The dungeon is linear and the two combats are, obviously, forced. Usually not a good thing in an OSR adventure. 

I like the O&L setting of writs of exploration and reconquering the frontier … but that’s a setting thing. 

There’s a random trap in a hallway and I’m almost never fond of that. “If the thief detects traps …” I think this slows down play. Either the thief is continually checking/rolling/asking or they will be after a rando hallway trap. The thief mechanics for hallway traps just don’t work.

I will say, though, that’s a cypher puzzle that done well. It’s just a simple letter substitution, but it’s left to the players, with a good hint, to solve as opposed to their characters. Stuck? Some int/skill checks will have the DM giving you some hints at certain levels. Don’t want to bother? Bashing the door down is covered as an option. Can’t succeed on your bash? Then the DM is instructed to just provide some damage as the door falls down to the parties attempts. THis isn’t the same old roll to continue the adventure nonsense. It’s a player puzzle, which is great, with options to bypass it, which is also great. It goes on a little long, but clearly shows a greater knowledge of design.

Can you have a B/X dungeon with five rooms? I guess so. But then it feels more like a “plot” adventure from 3e/5e. Linear. Forced fights. But then the chosen format would get long, at almost a page per room any real length would be hard to manage. 

I guess a “its ok” means I don’t hate it, but there’s just not much to it. 

This is $2 on DriveThru. The preview is three pages. The last page shows you the (probable) non-combat centaur encounter. Longish, but ok I guess?

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/279695/Shrine-of-the-Wolf-Maidens?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1d10 Random Weird Lovecraftian Post Apocalpytic Wasteland Ruin Adventure Location Table For Your Old School Wasteland Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 21:20
There are locations that defy explanation out in the waste lands, places that will cause insanity to some degree in those that see them. These place challenge the perceptions and ideas of adventurers, most often they are blights and abominations on the face of reality. Here then are a series of random high level places of horror and Lovecraftian depravity to cause PC's incredible Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Holmes' 1946 Letter to a Pulp

Zenopus Archives - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:34


Above is "Advice", a letter from a sixteen-year-old John Eric Holmes to Famous Fantastic Mysteries, a fantasy and sci-fi pulp magazine, with many enthusiastic suggestions for older stories they might republish. The letter appeared on page 127 of the April 1946 issue. Many thanks to Michael Calleia for locating this artifact in the Internet Archive!

At the time of writing this letter, Holmes attended the Punahou School in Honolulu where he lived with his parents; his father Wilfred "Jasper" Holmes taught engineering at the University of Hawaii, both before and after WWII. Wilfred had remained on the island during the war, serving as an intelligence officer in the Navy, about which he later wrote a book, Double-Edged Secrets (1979). Wilfred was himself an author of fiction, having written naval adventure stories under the pseudonym Alec Hudson since the '30s, the majority published in the Saturday Evening Post.

According to an interview with John Martin, at the age of eight Eric discovered the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and was even able to meet the author at his house in Hawaii and have a Tarzan book signed. And then around the time he turned ten, Eric found "the pulps". The author bio for his short story "Martian Twilight" (1991), states that "he read S. J. Perelman's review of the first issue of CAPTAIN FUTURE in the THE NEW YORKER's "Talk of the Town," [January 1940] and discovered the pulps. He has been a dyed in the wool fan ever since". While most of his recommendations in "Advice" are for "Weird Fiction" authors, he was also a fan of the adventure side of the pulps. His son Chris Holmes relays in "John Eric Holmes - The Books" that "[h]is favorite pulp hero, next to Captain Future, was Doc Savage. He also enjoyed the Shadow, the Spider, the Avenger and Fu Manchu."

Famous Fantastic Mysteries (FFM) was published from 1939-1953, and Fantastic Novels (FN) was a companion magazine published in 1940-1941. The stories that Holmes did not favor are "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster Wayland Smith, and "Before I Wake" by Henry Kuttner, both of which appeared in the March 1945 issue of FFM. When he refers to them as being like the fiction in Cosmopolitan, he is not referring to a fashion magazine, but an earlier incarnation that was a popular fiction magazine published by Hearst. A story he did favor, Machen's "The Novel of the White Powder", had appeared in the November 1944 issue of FFM. Presumably, Holmes was pleased that his letter appeared together in an issue that also included a reprint of Blackwood's classic "The Willows" (1907), as teased on the cover, and perhaps suggesting that the editors had listened to his advice:





Eric would graduate from Punahou the following year (1947), when his yearbook bio noted that he "keeps busy trying to crash the pulp market". Eventually he had a single story, the military sci-fi "Beachhead on the Moon", appear in the pulp Blue Book in 1951, when he was a psychology student at Stanford.

Eric Holmes remained a lifetime fan of these authors. Thirty years after this letter, he would write an authorized sequel to Burroughs' Pellucidar series, Mahars of Pellucidar (1976), as well a further unpublished continuation, Red Axe of Pellucidar. And I've described his role in bringing the Lovecraftian Mythos into D&D in the later '70s. Chris Holmes indicates that [h]e read everyone in the "Lovecraft Circle" and his favorite of Lovecraft's influences were William Hope Hodgson and Arthur Machen". In 1988, while living in the UK, Eric sent a short report describing a meeting of the Machen Society (an appreciation club) to the fanzine Crypt of Cthulhu, published in issue 57.

From this list, we can also see how from an early age Eric Holmes was "primed" to embrace D&D when it appeared in the mid-70's. While only three of the authors he suggests are are also found in Appendix N (Burroughs, Dunsany and Lovecraft, with an earlier version in Dragon also including Blackwood), the majority were strong influences on Lovecraft; all except Burroughs, Collier, Roberts and Taine are mentioned in H.P. Lovecraft's essay Supernatural Horror in Literature.

Authors Recommended for the Pulps by Holmes in 1946, in "Appendix N" format

Blackwood, Algernon

Burroughs, Edgar Rice

Chambers, Robert W. — THE KING IN YELLOW (1895)

Collier, John

Dunsany, Lord (Edward Plunkett) — TIME AND THE GODS, THE BOOK OF WONDER (1912), THE BLESSING OF PAN (1927)

Hodgson, William Hope

Lovecraft, H.P. — THE DREAM QUEST OF THE UNKNOWN KADATH (composed 1927, first published by Arkham in 1943)

Machen, Arthur — THE GREAT GOD PAN (1894), THE THREE IMPOSTERS (1895, includes "The Novel of the Black Seal" and "Novel of the White Powder"), THE RED HAND (1895), THE HOUSE OF SOULS (1906 compilation, includes "The Shining Pyramid" (1895) and "The White People" (1904))

Roberts, Charles  — IN THE MORNING OF TIME (1919)

Smith, Clark Ashton 

Taine, John — THE IRON STAR (1930)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

CZX Outlander Contest

Cryptozoic - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 16:00

We are conducting a very special CZX Outlander Contest from August 14 to September 16. Five lucky winners will get incredible rare cards. To enter, take a photo of your favorite CZX Outlander card and post that photo on Instagram with the hashtags #CZXOutlanderContest AND #Outlander. Winners will be announced September 20!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Butcher, a Baker, and Naughty Nannies in D&D’s First Setting Book: City State of the Invincible Overlord

DM David - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 12:05

In December of 1975, TSR had yet to publish any Dungeons & Dragons setting information other than the hints published in the Grayhawk and Blackmoor supplements. Blackmoor’s Temple of the Frog qualified as the only published adventure, although the armies housed by the temple made the place unsuitable for a dungeon crawl.

So when Decatur, Illinois gamers Bob Bledsaw and Bill Owen visited TSR that December, they brought a new idea. Bob asked TSR for authorization to make a line of play aids for D&D players and judges.

Shannon Appelcline, author of Designers & Dragons, recounts what happened next. “Bledsaw told them about his ideas for gamemaster supplements…and the result was laughter. The TSR staff explained to Bledsaw and Owen that gamers wanted games, not supplements, and told them they were more than welcome to publish D&D supplements (and lose money) if they wanted to.”

A quarter of the city map

Bledsaw turned his drafting skills to map a huge city that would become the City State of the Invincible Overlord. He brought the poster maps to Gen Con in 1976. There he canvassed the convention goers, sold out of maps, and offered memberships to the Judges Guild, a subscription to future play aids. Shortly after Gen Con, charter subscribers received a package including the Initial Guidelines Booklet I (I as the Roman 1). The next package included Guidelines Booklet J (J as the letter after I). The guidelines supported the City State with encounter charts, information on social tiers, supplemental rules, and descriptions of a few streets.

In 1977, a retail version of the City State reached stores. The $9 package includes a huge 34″ x 44″ map in four sections, and 11″ x 17″ map of the castle of the dwarven king backed with a sprawling dungeon map, three booklets detailing over 300 individual locations and the non-player characters who populate them, maps for ten more dungeon levels, plus players’ maps.

A baker

The package shows remarkable creative output. No locations in the sprawling city rate as too mundane for descriptions. Even with five bakers, the guide finds something interesting to say about each. The locations offer a treasury of fantasy names. Just the roster of the Mercenaries Guild provides 20 names, and the city has 300 more locations.

The City State resembled the dungeon adventures of the time, densely packed locations with little natural order. The place has 5 bakers, but lacks a miller, brewer, fuller, glazier, wheeler, cooper, fletcher, mason, as well as many other popular boys’ names. Humans dominate the population, but trolls, ogres, and other monsters hold jobs. A shop’s proprietor could be a shapeshifted ogre mage or dragon. The undertaker employs undead. A god lives at his local temple.

Have you found god?

Even though a modern product with similar scope might sprawl over 500 or more pages, the City State’s descriptions take fewer than 80 pages. The terse descriptions provide seeds for improvisation rather than details.

Despite the product’s tremendous scope—or perhaps due to it—I struggled to figure out how center a game around the City State. I looked for guidelines booklets A through H, but never found them. Did I need them?

Bledsaw’s grandson, Bob Bledsaw III, explains the missing letters. “Initial Guidelines Booklet I was supposed to be I as in a roman numeral one. However, when it came time for the second Guidelines Booklet to come out, my grandfather told the typist to continue the series from before.” The typist followed I with J rather than II. “For the sake of consistency, they continued to use letters, much to my grandfather’s chagrin. So that’s why there are books I, J, K, L, M, etc.”

Nowadays, urban adventures tend to be narrative based, with clues leading characters from one location to the next. This allows a focus on key locations. In 1977, no one played D&D that way. Instead, players entered the dungeon or wilderness to explore room by room, hex by hex. The original D&D rule books explained how to conduct dungeon and wilderness adventures, water and aerial adventures, but nothing about cities. Cities served as a base to heal and gather supplies before you left for the next adventure. Cities were for bookkeeping.

So how did a DM run a game in the City State? The guidelines seem to imply that characters will wander the city, either shopping for adventuring gear or pursing rumors that will lead to their next adventure. In the course of wandering, they can trigger random encounters, often keyed to the neighborhood.

Basing a night of gaming on shopping or rumor gathering presents a lot of difficulties, mostly for reasons I described in Avoiding the Awkward D&D Moment When a Priest, a Wizard, and a Dwarf Enter a Bar and Nothing Happens. Typically these activities offer the players few challenges—except for the rare cases where a level-6, chaotic-evil butcher attacks the party’s dwarf.

A butcher

The optimal session in the City State finds the players quickly uncovering a rumor and chasing it to a dungeon, or to a plot hook involving a giant, hairy stalker.

The best—and most intimidating—part of the City State came from the rumors. Many provided exciting invitations to adventure. Every storefront seemed like a launching point for an adventure.

As a dungeon master, the rumors made the city even more challenging to run. All the rumors inspired, but they led to adventures that demanded either preparation or more improvisation than I care to attempt. Every rumor promised an adventure that the DM needed to make good. In the Pig & Whistle tavern players learn that a mountain disappeared 120 miles south of the city. I want to play that adventure, but if I’m DM, I don’t want to ad lib it.

For all the product’s creative energy, its seamy side disagreed with my tastes. Even the map shows a goblin reservation. I prefer my monsters dangerous, rather than downtrodden. I do not want to invite analogies between monsters and real human beings who suffered a history of mistreatment.

In addition to a slave trade and many bordellos, the city has a Park of Obscene Statues (no kidding) and Naughty Nannies (still not kidding).

I’m not kidding

Even the book had a seamy side: It includes tables to determine womens’ measurements. The text makes distinctions between amazons, vixens, houris, and courtesans. I don’t understand the categories—I guess I’ll never understand women.

Still not kidding

My 1977 copy of the City Sstate still contains the pencil marks noting elements I liked. I cherry picked the bits that captured my imagination while I toned down the patchwork insanity and the sordid bits.

Despite the product’s challenges, it scored as an outstanding map and a trove of ideas. As the first role-playing setting, the City State of the Invincible Overlord became a hit. That proved a mixed blessing: In a year, TSR would reverse its stance and demand licensing dollars from Judges Guild.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On the Realities of High Level Play

Hack & Slash - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 12:00
This is a follow-up to my article on high level adventure design, On Failing High Level Play.

I've run. . . a lot of high-level games. The first high-level campaign I ran started in 1984, and involved going through the entire Temple of Elemental Evil and environs in a second edition campaign. I've run several high level 5th edition campaigns, including 17 levels of Horde of the Dragon Queen, 1st edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons to level 11/12, Pathfinder and 3rd edition, ranging up to levels around 14. My average campaign length is about 50 games, which is approximately 18 months of play. I believe the last time a survey was run, the average campaign was found to run about 14-16 games, covering 4-6 months. (Average sessions before restart is 15.4).

I'm focusing on Dungeons and Dragons here, but I've also run 2+ year campaigns of Vampire and Shadowrun, and probably other things I'm forgetting. I can barely remember the names of everyone I've slept with, no way I'm going to remember every role-playing game that got past character creation.

First, if you're reading this, you don't play enough Dungeons & Dragons. Play more, eh? Don't be such a poser.

Second, High level play is not low level play. Most high level adventures are low-level adventures with the high-level abilities restricted. Partially because most module writers are astoundingly terrible, but primarily because high-level play by necessity must be organic.

Each type of game has a different balance and feel to high level adventures:

Basic: High level basic Dungeons & Dragons games are unique. The world of Mystara is a very high magic world. It was not realistic to run a campaign through 30-60 levels to become a high-powered immortal. The loose rules structure led to high level campaigns that became somewhat narrative in scope. A group might fight four dragons, and kill them all in one round, or hop to an alternate plane and fight Nazi's in tanks and soldiers with automatic weapons. A large number of basic D&D games took place almost exclusively in large dungeons. Take this example of play, from Rythlandor.

". . .Oni had begged Elessar to help him rescue his brother who was imprisoned in an evil temple complex. Oni had now recovered from the ill effects of his own imprisonment and was ready for Elessar to attempt the rescue. With Elessar and Oni went superhero Ragnar, ranger-guardian Athelfrar, sorceress Charmen, patriarch Benelux, and lama Ydol, and dwarf-myrmidon Ibb. They landed on a remote norther bay of the island, where they almost immediately were beset by a pair of white dragons. One dragon was quickly slain and the other flew off to the north. The small group headed south to the mountain where the evil tower built of metal was located. Oni led them well, and the party approached the tower from the opposite side of the mountain. Using the flying carpet and an invisibility spell, Ragnar, Elessar and Charmen flew unseen to a high rampart, followed by the rest with shuttles of the carpet. As the last arrived, a door opened and the fight was on. It was a one-sided affair since the low-level guards could hardly hope to overcome the powerful fighters and mages invading, but one of the guards did get away. The group pursued the fleeing guard after hacking their way through the other guards, but soon they heard the alarm gong sounding. The pursuit, however, led them to another guard room containing the alarm gong. Ragnar's sword Quicksliver struck and Charmed[sic] one of the guards, and ordered him to sound the all clear signal, which the guard did.  The group continued through a bridged walkway into the mountain itself, killing or charming the hapless low-level guards who got in their way, rampaging through the rooms and looting anything that could be moved. A favorite tactic was to have Elessar leap through a door and use his cold wand on the occupants, reminding some of Clint Elesswood starring in "A Fistful of Snow". Gradually they worked their way down through the living quarters to the temple area below, leaving no survivors to raise new alarms of their presence. At last one fighter escaped, this time with Elessar in hot pursuit while the others stayed to dispatch the guards. Elessar chased the evil guard silently and invisibly right into the middle of the main sanctuary of the temple where a human sacrifice had just been completed. As the doors of the temple closed behind Elessar, he heard a voice behind him say "I detect the presence of Good! [sic]" He turned and made ready to fight to the death, but the guards walked by him and arrested the man he had been chasing! Naturally the guards couldn't see or hear Elessar, and though the poor guard was radiating those Good[sic] vibrations. . . Elessar decided to leave the cavernous sanctuary and it's host of evil worshippers and rejoined the group as they finished off the last of the guards on the staircase.  With the aid of a Charmed[sic] evil cleric, the group went down to an underground passage in the metal tower. They located Oni's brother and several other prisoners and freed them. They also killed some of the monsters lurking in other rooms, including 8 mummies, 3 wraiths, 2 chimerae, a 9-headed hydra, and 21 ogres." -Ryth Chronicle February 1977
This is an example of a single play session of play from Dungeons and Dragons, several years into a campaign.

1st edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: This edition is more grounded than basic. It's designed with exponential experience. As the party continues to adventure, the adventure increases in scope, continually increasing in power even with party losses and death. A first level character joining a party of fifth level characters will be fifth level by the time the party reaches sixth level. 

The other factor is that there's a limited amount of experience to be gained. High level characters on a single adventure, lasting three or four sessions might expect to garner 40-60,000 experience over that period (between 10 and 20 thousand a session). It varies per class, but there comes a point around level 7-9 which requires 100,000 experience to reach. . . and 100,000 to reach the next level.

At lower levels experience gain is slower, it can take upwards of 18 months to reach that first 100k experience threshold, and then another 5-10 sessions for that next level. The level after that needs twice as much, 20 sessions, 6-8 months. Characters hit a wall and advancement via personal strength slows about the time they begin to influence the world through political means by attracting followers and clearing land.

High level games frequently include a player managing a character, up to dozen henchmen, hundreds of mercenaries and hirelings, and everyone that lives on the land they possess. Another factor with Advanced Dungeons and Dragons is that the characters are still very human. Hit point advancement stops and doesn't increase much. Saving throws and armor classes will allow many characters to avoid damage 90+% of the time, but that 10 percent is often very deadly: Death rays, dragons breath, spells of death, cloudkill, and paralyzation.

Pathfinder/late 3rd Edition: Early 3.0 plays much closer to basic, but due to the culture around "Ivory tower design" and the character optimization boards along with a design that only gave experience only for combat victories, the game quickly shifted to a focus to tactical challenges and encounters. The game became more and more mechanical, relying on the rules to structure play so that it's 'fair'. The games were a "Players Bill of Rights" that they could be guaranteed their agency. Sadly, this agency was limited to your options on the tactical maps.

Certain options begin to be eclipsed by others as soon as level six. There is no class as powerful as wizards and clerics. With endless buffs they are strictly better than combat classes, warping the game and making anyone who dreams of playing a lower tier class completely eclipsed by the more powerful options.

If you are playing similarly tiered classes, high level games involve too much time at the beginning of the session with gibber-jabber, and large combats that take 6+ hours to complete, due to the complexity of the rules. It's a fun tactical game, more open than a tactical game like Gloomhaven. It's fun, but it's not very close to my experiences of role-playing.

Can you run it in a more narrative faction and make it more of a role-playing game? Sure. Is that the type of thing someone who plans out a build for 12 or 15 levels wants to do? Usually not.

5th Edition: I've run several fifth edition games to levels 15+. 5th edition characters require about the same amount of experience for each level, making leveling very consistent. Characters will reach 2nd level after one session, and third level by their third session. After that they will level about every 3 sessions. Many, many fifth edition players remove player motivation and use milestone experience to control the rate of advancement.

5th edition characters do not stop increasing in personal power. The curve is more suited to a B/X style game, but the endless gain of personal power provides a very different endgame.

For an example, my ex-wife played a barbarian during Horde of the Dragon Queen. Her standard procedure after level 10 was to jump to reach whatever dragon was flying nearby and grapple it while hitting it with her axe several times each round until it died. Once a dragon lived through two rounds of this. At the end of the campaign, she had upwards of over 300 hit points, and during her endless rage only took half damage from anything but psychic attacks. Not counting healing or other defenses, this generally required doing 700+ points of damage before she even felt threatened in combat. Considering the bard could heal everyone for hundreds of hit points every round, it often required many hundreds more points of damage.

Our battlemaster fighter wore heavy armor that provided damage reduction. I could only manage to hit him, with anything but the most powerful monsters, 5% of the time. Since he also had the lucky feat, he could nullify 3 of those hits every game session. He also had over 100 hit points.

Do you know how many times you have to attack a person before you hit with a 20? A lot.  The fact that the first 3 important hits could be waved away with lucky made him almost invulnerable.

High level 5th edition play, with its focus on constantly and steadily increasing personal power feels very anime, very Final Fantasy. Everything is very elastic, you're up, you're down, the power levels are very high, and the threat to the characters is very low. Combat runs amazingly quickly, considering the complexity of the game. It's extremely well designed. Often the most time consuming part of combat is doing three column subtraction of hit points.

If you like posts like this, I depend on your support to survive. Join my Patreon, or pick up a copy of one of my books from my storefront. My average review score is 4.5, my latest module, Eyrie of the Dread Eye has only 5 star reviews, NINE of them. It's a high level adventure; if you want to see high level design done right, check it out. 
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Blood & Treachery - The Hidden Connections in Judge's Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord 1977 & Gary Gygax's Greyhawk

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 08/06/2019 - 06:54
"A legend in gaming history, the revised booklet covers the many various shops, taverns, inns, temples, and barracks of the classic city state. Long a favorite of Judges all over the world, and our best selling item since it was printed in 1977, it includes maps for boths players and judges of the areas and five levels of dungeon under the City State to explore. Also shown in all it's Dwarven Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gen Con Video blitz 2 Jason Hardy on Sprawl Ops and the 6th World Core Book

Gamer Goggles - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 23:54

I ran into Jaason Hardy and we got to talk about Shadow Run Spawl op and the Sixth World

The Sixth World sold out on Friday @Gen_con and Jason Hardy said it was because of my videos . I know that’s not true, but it’s really nice that he thinks so.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Free Games?! I Can Get Free Games?

Two Hour Wargames - Mon, 08/05/2019 - 22:58


Yes; there is such a thing. Make a Let's Play video of a THW Games, send it to me, I approve it and the person making it gets a free game. Any interested parties? Email me at:

twohourwargames@gmail.com


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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