Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Thanksgiving Thank You!

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 11/22/2018 - 14:00
Religious Procession by Kurt Komoda

Happy Thursday!

It’s a holiday today here  in the US, so I’ll keep today’s post short.

I and the rest of Burning Wheel Headquarters wish you and yours a happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful to all of you who support us in continuing to make games. We are thankful to all of the friends we have made through the years while doing this, and for the friends we hope to make in the years to come. We are thankful for all people out there that have taken and continue to take a stand against racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all other forms of intolerance. We are thankful for all those who stand with our LGBTQ+ family.

I’m writing this from my brother’s home, surrounded by loving family and beautiful things. I’m thankful for how lucky we are, while recognizing that so many other people, here and around the world, are suffering. They lack adequate food to eat and water drink. They’ve lost homes and loved ones. They suffer the injustices of poverty, illness and war. I am thankful for each and every one of you that takes some small step to help mitigate this suffering.

The world of Torchbearer can be a dark and unforgiving one, but it is also one in which we can triumph by working together and supporting each other for a common cause. I remain hopeful the same is true of our own world.

As a special ‘thank you’, here are a handful of magic items for which Torchbearer characters would be very thankful.

Amulet of Stars

An exquisite blue and white gem that seems to glow with an internal light, set in a cunningly wrought cage of silver filigree.
Effect: When things seem darkest, the light of this elf jewel inspires hope in all who gaze upon it.  Once per session, the bearer may hold the jewel aloft and anyone who can see it may take +1D to one test to recover from angry, afraid, exhausted, injured or sick.
Inventory: Neck/worn 1 or pack 1
Type: Magical jewelry

Delver’s Amulet

A pewter amulet on a fine silver chain. The amulet bears a sunburst symbol on its face. To those capable of reading auras, the amulet radiates faint magic.
Effect: When worn, the amulet grants +1D to tests to detect traps and +1D to Health tests to avoid the effect of a trap.
Inventory: Neck/worn 1 or pack 1
Type: Magical jewelry

Dowsing Rod

A forked wooden stick scrawled with arcane sigils.
Effect: Unerringly leads the user to the nearest potable water.
Charges: 2d6
Inventory: Hands/carried 1 or pack 1
Type: Magical equipment

Horn of Drenge

A large drinking vessel made from the curving horn of an aurochs, banded with beaten gold.
Effect: Any liquid poured into the horn becomes delicious, refreshing mead (effect as wine). The mead must be drunk from the horn; if poured into another container, it turns foul and undrinkable.
Inventory: Hands/carried 2 or pack 2
Type: Magical container

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Figure Forge: Lawmen Armoured Justice Posse

Gamer Goggles - Thu, 11/22/2018 - 01:32

In this Figure Forge Matt assembles half of the Armoured Justice Posse – Morgan Earp 3 lawbots and a heavy lawbot.  He does this in under 20 minutes.


Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I haven’t painted any of my models yet, but I don’t think these are going to be so detailed the I cant handle them.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Black Friday 25% Off Sale starts now!

Two Hour Wargames - Thu, 11/22/2018 - 00:22
Coming soon. Six Gun Sound - Devil's Elbow
If you're like me you might have Black Friday "commitments" so I figured, why wait? Use the 
coupon code and get 25% off of your order.  Only good through Sunday!

THW Webstore
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - Adapting Judge's Guilld's The F'dech Fo's Tomb adventure by Scott Fulton For Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 19:56
"The Prophet said that the great Druid F'dech Fo would rise again to wreak vengeance and destruction on the people! You must find him; you must destroy him; you must end the curse! This product contains multiple adventures, new creatures, a castle, and a completely described barbarian village!" So over the last seventy two hours I've pulled out an old Judge's Guild adventure & Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic and Igrology Announce Release of Cult: Choose Your God Wisely

Cryptozoic - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 14:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Igrology today announced the November 28 release of Cult: Choose Your God Wisely. This 2-5 player board game is a worker/Priest placement game with a unique take on in-game currency: Followers. Players choose Gods and send their Priests to places in the Eternal City in an attempt to bring their deity victory over the minds and souls of humanity. Followers are gained and sacrificed and Altars are built to the different Gods as they clash in this new take on the genre.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

D.A.M.N. Magazine – Sprint/Summer 2018 – Demon Serpent of Balmosphos

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 12:24

The Demon Serpent of Balmorphos, daniel j bishop
Daniel J Bishop
Low Levels

Derp! I bought a 116 page DCC magazine. Un-derp! It’s pretty interesting. I also have a headache this morning.

DCC magazine with the usual set of DCC magazine things, like patrons and a bestiary. It’s also got three adventures in it. One is quite short, and I shall not mention it again. A second, “Cannibal Tiger Women of Tsaru” is about fifty pages and involves several groups and areas, making it almost a hex crawl without hexes. (Great art though!) Dense, I’m not going to cover it. The third (which is the first in the issue) is the first part of a megadungeon.

“Demon Serpent of Balmosphos”, by Daniel Bishop, is a forty five room dungeon with two levels and four theming areas ,in about thirty pages. It pushes my buttons in read-aloud, italics, and verbosity, but never goes off the deep end. Usually. What it does have is that DCC charm, which is kind of like a good OD&D thing turned up to 11.

Daniel does a good job with sprinkling the text with little tidbits that make the dungeon come alive. Early on you find a boot … that still has a rotting left foot in it. Little bits like that are scattered throughout the rooms. They don’t quite fall in to the trivia category because they do such a good job in setting mood and conveying it to the party.

The read aloud runs from about three to six sentences, in italics. I don’t like long sections of italics, I think it’s hard to read. I don’t like hard to read. My eyes glaze over. This read aloud almost always starts te same way: with a sentence on dimensions. “The door opens into a dusty space some 30 feet wide and 40 feet deep, vaulted to a height of 12 feet.” Yes, it completionist, since the read-aloud is meant to read to the party, but it has NEVER made sense to me to put that shit in the text. You’ve got a map, right? Anyway, the read-aloud, except for those points, is not too bad. Toom two tells us “Jumbles of bones and cast-off bits of detritus lie in the corners of this area. The uneven flagstones sag in the middle of the floor, as though from subsidence in the depths. You can hear the distant trickle of water from somewhere deep underground. The whole area smells of dry reptile musk, rotting meat, and sulfur.” That’s pretty good. Smells, sounds, good use of adjectives. It absolutely creates a good mental picture and that’s what I’m looking for in a room description.

The DM text then follows, and uses paragraph breaks and whitespace to good effect. Each thing mentioned in the read-aloud generally gets its own paragraph. That makes it easy to scan to find things to follow up on as the players explore. IE: it’s helping the DM run the adventure, which is what its supposed to do.

Treasure and monsters are exactly what you expect of DCC: good. There’s this magic ring that may cause a devil to show up to retrieve it t some point in the future. Further, if you kill the devil, you get a respite for awhile while the bureaucracy of hell catches up. Hey! You just got some roleplaying notes for said devil! Perfect. Monsters also get some good descriptions. “The Balmorphos Serpent is a 50-foot long viper with hard brass scales and a head shaped like a blunt arrowhead. Its eyes glow red in the darkness. It smells of reptile musk, but its hissing breath reeks of sulfur (not unlike the smell of a struck match or rotting eggs) … transparent green venom drips from its fangs.” Great imagery, lots of USEFUL detail, meaning its oriented towards what the party will interact with and see/smell, rather than trivia on its background, etc. Bonus points: when you kill it a demon crawls out its mouth, getting larger. Then it bitches about missing it’s little lemurs first day of school before it goes home. Nice.

Which is a good transition in to the encounters proper. Written in a neutral format, not gimping players, things to talk to that don’t always attack and some semblance, because of the four themed areas, of factions. Daniel puts in some good advice for the DM here and there, mentioning things like how to remove giant snake skin and some hints about boiling water damage in a stream before the entire 10d6 damage is received by people who ignore the initial signs.

DCC adventures can be a bit linear, but this one, with 3.5 roots, is not. What it does lack, though, is a little attention to the warriors. DCC rooms needs a little bit more in them so warriors can perform Might Deeds. No chandeliers and barren rooms can make things hard on the warriors. Not every room needs to be a parkour playground, but more attention to this area would have been good.

Even with my read-aloud bitching I’m happy to pay for just this adventure.

This is $10 at DriveThru. The preview just shows you editorial and interview shit, and not any of the adventure text. BAD DCC WRITERS! YOUR PATRON IS DISPLEASED.–Spring-Summer-2018–Fisher-Cover

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Cosmic Tales!

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 12:00

I'm proud to announce friend of FtSS Michael "Aos" Gibbons has released his long-anticipated space-faring superhero comic Cosmic Tales Quarterly, available in a limited print run.

It's 48 pages of story and 3 pin-ups in glorious black and white with a cover colored by yours truly. Head over to Michael's blog, The Metal Earth, to secure your copy while supplies last!

OSR Commentary - The Alko Option Arthur Machen Mythological Campaign Madness

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 22:17
“We lead two lives, and the half of our soul is madness, and half heaven is lit by a black sun. I say I am a man, is the other that hides in me?” ― Arthur Machen, The White People and Other StoriesPart of the problem with the OSR is staying fresh as every adventure idea, old school author, old module, etc. is snapped up & brought into another product, fanNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

PDF Piracy

Bat in the Attic - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 19:34
Busy News day. So I logged on my publisher's page on RPGNow and found a warning from OBS about a pirate website with hundreds of RPG PDFs.

A couple of things

  • Don't lose your cool
  • See above
  • Don't use the DMCA link on that site. In the words of Admiral Ackbar. "It's a trap!"
  • Do a search for your products on Google and Bing. If a link appears to the fore mention pirate. Send them a DMCA request. I done it and it works relatively quickly. 
This is the link for the Google DMCA linkThis is the link for Microsoft Bing DMCA
Understand software, video, and PDF piracy is semi-organized. The new pirate site is especially slick which is probably why OBS reacted the way it did. However it existed at least a year prior. In addition there are various underground directories floating around that are updated regularly. The links are coded so that they don't show up on the search engines text functions. So the key is to keep those links off of the first handful of pages of search results. And that is not so hard to do thanks to the above links.
It sucks but it not as bad as it could be. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic Will Showcase Latest Games at PAX Unplugged 2018

Cryptozoic - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 14:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment today announced that it will showcase recently released tabletop games at PAX Unplugged 2018, November 30-December 2 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia. Cryptozoic will be at Booth #2956 demoing and selling its latest releases: Cult: Choose Your God Wisely, Rick and Morty: The Rickshank Rickdemption Deck-Building Game, and DC Deck-Building Game: Rivals — Green Lantern vs. Sinestro. In addition, Cryptozoic will feature popular recent releases Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game and Pantone™: The Game.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

RPGNow folding into DriveThruRPG

Bat in the Attic - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 13:13
OBS just sent a newsletter to all publishers that due to little growth RPGNow is folding into DriveThruRPG in February 2019. That RPGNow links will redirect to their DriveThruRPG equivalent.

Also metal rankings will merge which frankly is a good thing overall as the separate counts were always a pain.

The full text

Dear publisher,

Starting in February 2019, all elements of the RPGNow tool pages and storefront will redirect to similar pages on DriveThruRPG.

You most likely know this, but since RPGNow and DriveThruRPG first merged as businesses back in 2006, they have shared all the same tools and digital inventory. On the front end, they looked and behaved like two separate sites, but essentially they have just been two faces of the same site for many years. The only real differences were the color schemes and logos.

You might have some questions about the coming change, so we’ve done our best to anticipate and answer them below.

How will this affect me?

In most ways, you’ll be unaffected. Your entire catalog of titles from RPGNow is already listed on DriveThruRPG (as it always has been), and you can log in to DriveThruRPG using the same account(s) you’ve always used on RPGNow, just as you could before.

Even your old bookmarks to pages on will still work: They’ll automatically be redirected to the same page on DriveThruRPG.

What about sales reporting? Will my past sales be combined?

Yes, as far as sales records and your titles’ metal rankings, we will be merging those together.

Starting in February, your sales records will show combined sales of each title across both the deprecated RPGNow site and DriveThruRPG, together. The number of unit sales will also be combined, so if you had metal rankings for titles on one or both sites, there’s a good chance you’ll find that your rankings on some titles will have increased on DriveThruRPG.

What about my Publisher Promotion Points and marketing impressions?

No worries. Your Publisher Promotion Points (PPP) are already shared across sister sites. They are compiled by publisher, not by site.

If you have used your PPP to purchase site impressions for banners or featured product messages on RPGNow, you will also be reimbursed, commensurately, for those expenditures on DriveThruRPG.

Why is this happening?

Here’s the big picture: In the 12 years since RPGNow and DriveThruRPG merged, the growth of RPGNow has tapered off constantly, while DriveThruRPG has continued to grow strongly, year over year, since it launched in 2004. We’ve reached the point where RPGNow rarely draws new customers or publishers and sells less than one-tenth the volume of titles purchased on DriveThruRPG.

To be honest, we have known this moment would come for years now. We’ve just finally decided it’s time to put the RPGNow brand out to pasture.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Why Gary Gygax Added Unrealistic Hit Points, Funny Dice, and Descending AC to D&D

DM David - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 12:15

In 1972, Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Dave Arneson introduced his Blackmoor campaign to co-creator Gary Gygax. The campaign stemmed from Gary’s Chainmail rules, but Dave’s game transformed the rules for miniature-figure battles into something new and irresistible—something that broadly resembled D&D.

My last post explained how Dave shaped a combat system that featured hit points, 2d6 to-hit rolls, damage rolls, and armor classes where higher numbers represented better protection.

Based on Dave’s demonstration, feedback, and notes, Gary added his own contributions to make the D&D game that reached print. In Pegasus issue 1, Dave recalled that Gary and his Lake Geneva group “had a lot more spare time than I did and they had a lot of ideas, so they came up with their own version of the rules.”

Gary changed Dave’s combat rules in 3 key ways:

  • Hit points became less realistic and more fun.
  • To-hit rolls switched to a twenty-sided dice, creating a new market for funny dice.
  • AC ratings flipped to make lower values better, forcing awkward, negative ACs on players.
Unrealistic hit points

Gary’s changes let characters gain hit points as they leveled. In Blackmoor, Dave wrote, “As the player progressed, he did not receive additional hit points, but rather he became harder to hit.” Dave based armor class on armor, but fighters gained better saving throws. By the Blackmoor rules, saves applied to weapon attacks, so fighters could avoid damaging blows. “Only Fighters gained advantages in these melee saving throws. Clerics and magicians progressed in their own areas, which might or might not modify their saving throws.”

In Chainmail, a hero fought as 4 ordinary soldiers and a superhero as 8. D&D translated this scheme by making heroes 4th-level fighting men and superheroes 8th level. When Gary reconciled Dave’s rules for hit dice with the notion of heroes that fought as several men, he probably decided to give characters more hit dice as they leveled. The mechanic seemed unrealistic. After all, nobody gets 10 or more times more durable through experience. But rising hit points helped power the game’s success. They boosted the positive reinforcement of leveling. Plus, heroes capable of unrealistically surviving many blows supported D&D’s combat-intensive, dungeon-bashing style. These advantages helped make the game so appealing.

Every “realistic” system to follow D&D echoed Dave Arneson’s original method of using hit points to measure a character’s body’s physical capacity to survive injury. In D&D, hit points rise as characters advance, and that turns hit points into an elegant damage-reduction mechanic. As characters level, they essentially reduce the damage they take from blows.

Using hit points for damage reduction boasts a number of virtues:

  • Combat plays fast because players do not have to calculate reduced damage for every single hit.
  • Although damage is effectively reduced, the reduction never makes a combatant impervious to damage.
  • Once characters gain enough points to survive a few blows, hit points provide a predictable way to see the course of battle. If a fight begins to go badly, the players can see their peril and bring more resources like spells and potions to the fight, or they can run. In a realistic fight, things can go bad in an instant, with a single misstep resulting in death.
  • Most attacks can hit and inflict damage, providing constant, positive feedback to players while everyone contributes to the fight. Realistic combatants do not wear down from dozens of damaging blows; instead each hit is likely to kill or maim. In more realistic systems like Runequest and GURPS, when two very skilled combatants face off, they block or dodge virtually all attacks. The duels turn static until someone muffs a defense roll and lets a killing blow slip through. This model may be realistic—it reminds me of those Olympic competitions where years of training turn on a single, split-second misstep—but the realistic model lacks fun. No popular sports begin as sudden-death competitions where the first to score wins.
  • Battles can gain a dramatic arc. Fights climax with bloodied and battle-worn combatants striving to put their remaining strength into a killing blow. No one likes to see the climactic battle fizzle with a handful of bad rolls, especially at their character’s expense.

Bottom line: Using hit points for damage reduction enables a combat system where you can hit a lot, and hitting is fun.

Funny dice

When Dave adapted the Chainmail rules for his Blackmoor campaign, he kept using ordinary 6-sided dice. He later explained, we had “no funny dice back then.”

The twenty-sided die may not have reached Dave’s corner of gaming yet, but Gary had funny dice and they enchanted him. At first, polyhedral dice only came from vendors in Japan and the United Kingdom, so getting a set required significant time and money. But by 1972, polyhedral dice started arriving from domestic sources. Gary recalled buying his first set from a teacher-supply catalog. In 1972, Creative Publications of California started selling 20-sided dice in a set of polyhedrals, and word spread among gamers. By 1973, Gary wrote an article touting funny dice. “The most useful are the 20-sided dice,” he explained. The original d20s came numbered from 0 to 9 twice, so most gamers rolled twice to generate a percentage from 1-100. Gary noted that gamers could do more. “Color in one set of numbers on the die, and you can throw for 5%—perfect for rules which call for random numbers from 1-20.” As an example, he mentions being “busy working up chance tables for a fantasy campaign game.” Gary found his new d20 so irresistible that he changed Dave’s 2d6 to-hit tables into D&D’s d20-based system.

Descending Armor Classes

As Gary reworked his attack table, he discovered that switching to descending AC numbers created a mathematical elegance. Game historian Jon Peterson describes how this system appears in a draft of the D&D rules. “If you were a first-level fighter rolling to hit, the number you needed was equivalent to 20 minus the armor class of your target. To hit AC 2, you needed an 18, to hit AC 3, a 17, and so on. Armor class descended to make it easy enough to calculate your needed roll that you wouldn’t even have to consult a table.”

If D&D had settled on this system, we might now be rolling a d20 to hit, adding the foe’s AC, and trying to reach a target number based on our character.

D&D reached players with a muddled system that kept descending armor classes, but hid any reason for the scheme. So players wondered why lower armor class represented better protection. Usually, bigger is better.

What happened?

When Gary expanded D&D to account for a greater range of levels than 9, he lost the mathematical simplicity. While the draft rules just present to-hit numbers for fighters up to level 9, the published D&D rules extend the table up to level 16 and beyond. To keep a steady advancement over a greater range of levels, Gary reworked the table and broke an elegant design. This left a system where players just used armor class to reference a row in a table and where intuitive, rising numbers could have worked just as well.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Fourthcore Crew Have a New Kickstarter Up: 5e Team Deatchmatch

Thought Eater - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 19:05
I was a big fan of 4thcore. Some of those folks have moved on and now do some cool stuff for 5e. It is weird, I just recently heard about some kind of upcoming 5e competition series that is going to be live-streamed, then a few days later I was made aware of this. My money is on this being waaaay cooler than whatever the other thing is.


It has already funded and the thing is apparently already written. These guys are endlessly creative and really know how to kill...errr challenge a PC. For more on what they do, check out their home base, DEFY DANGER.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Tomb of Harven Half-Skull

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 12:22

By Joseph Bloch
BRW Games
Levels 3-4

A hundred years ago, the pirate king Harven Half-Skull was buried with his ill-gotten booty in a secret tomb. Your band of adventurers have a map that claims to show the final resting place of the pirate king, and you’re off to claim his loot. But the dead do not rest easy…

This ten page tomb dungeon has twenty two rooms in three pages, and features undead and water themes, it being the tomb off a pirate king. Workmanlike in its design and presentation, it does a good job of emulating the style of the early AD&D adventures: short rooms with not much fucking around in the writing.

The pyramid tomb is a favorite of designers. Except this time it’s not a pyramid but a sea cave And it’s not egyptian but a pirate. But, still, tomb with undead, traps and some loot.

This adventure emulates the style of the older AD&D adventure, G1, S1, and so on. The descriptions are workmanlike and to the point. The rooms are not too complicated, te writing not that inspired, and everything with a briske style.Room six tells us “There is a colony of green slime on the ceiling at this point.” and that’s it. The underground river tells us that “This is a fresh-water river that flows into the sea a half-mile northeast of the tomb. Except in areas #7, #10, and #16-19, there is no air above the surface; the river completely fills the tunnels. It has a slow current moving from the southwest to the northeast.” I don’t know how to label this style. It’s not exactly fact-based, I tend to use that (negatively) for styles that emphasize things like “the statue sits on a dias 6.3cm high with a diameter of 2.6 meters.” It’s not expanded minimalism either; that’s reserved for people who offer too many mundane details in their room descriptions. This is, insead, a kind of, oh, I don’t know, baseline room description? It tends to the terse style, concentrates on what you need to run the room, mostly, and doesn’t tend to embellish much at all.

It is that lack of embellishment that I have problems with. Adventure writing is such a tightrope. There are so many ways to go wrong. The adventure does nothing wrong (mostly). It also does nothing to recommend itself. This style, and thus this adventure, does nothing to make me want to run it. It comes off ass … dry? Dry isn’t right, that’s a different design sin. I just don’t care about it. This is clearly not a disaster, I don’t feel cheated (as I usually do when I’m spouting profanity.) My expectations have not been crushed. I just don’t care about running this. I know there’s a segment out there that worships early T$R adventures and like this style. I don’t get it. It seems like nostalgia worship to me. I don’t need laser pistols, gonzo elements or grim dark to make me like something, but you gotta have SOMETHING … and that’s what this lacks. Something to make you want to run it.

I can quibble with some of the choices made. That green slime encounter is nothing special AT ALL. I’d like to see it kicked up a bit, a little more evocative, better word choices. Certain rooms (Fresco Room, I’m looking at you. You too Shrine Room) could use another pass at the editing to tighten up the descriptions. They either get too wordy or they don’t put the most important things near the top of the description. [Things the DM needs first go high in the description and expanded details go lower.] I don’t see an editor attached. If that’s the case then Joe did a decent job by himself, and clearly has some vision of what he wants, but lacks the outside eyeballs and detachment that a good editor can provide. Not that there are many good editors, so I’m speaking academically of course.

It’s pretty clear Joe understands how certain D&D elements work. There is a chamber you can only get to by following the (completely submerged) underground river … with a shelf high up with a body and a magic item. In another area there are keys hanging underneath a bridge the party crosses over. Rewarding exploration and people that go a little bit farther is good design. Likewise, he’s got a golden crown with jewels with magic powers … and has an EGO/is intelligent … and a bit evil. This is a great item. First, it;s the kind of thing that the part will keep and adds to the fun of future adventures as someone wears it around all the time, in town, in the tavern etc. Second, it’s intelligent, which again gives you more hooks in the future to play with. Third, its evil and so the party has some FUN moral issues to sort out. Arguing about orc babies is not fun. What to do with a SLIGHTLY evil magic item IS fun. Or maybe that’s just my obsession is the Eye and Hand.

I will say that there is something weird going on with the undead; I don’t think they are a challenge? This is for Adventures Dark and Deep, which I’m going to assume is an AD&D clone and follows AD&D turning. This is also for levels 3-4 … and has more than a few challenges with skeletons in it. Don’t they turn on like a … 4 or something, or auto-turn? That’s not really an encounter at all … but maybe its supposed to be that way? Turning undead in D&D doesn’t work, I think. Even at low levels skeletons are not a threat if you have a cleric. That’s too bad. They are a classic monster and deserve more love. Even Gygax knew they were broken, with his +1 amulets in the Borderlands.

Anyway, hey Joe, time to return from your vaudeville show. Now that you can emulate old D&D you might try kicking things up a bit. Kick up those rooms descriptions a notch or two. No need for more words, generally, just better word choice. That green slime encounter, for example. A little more evocative to make people excited to run it .. .by which I mean putting a strong image in to their heads.

This is $2.50 at DriveThru. The preview is one page and show you the first eight or so rooms. Which is exactly what a preview SHOULD do, giving you the ability to understand what you’re actually buying. You can check out the Fresco room, room three, to see what I mean about the need to tighten up the writing in places, and the rest of the rooms show the workmanlike writing style.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Champion [ICONS]

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 12:00
art by Chris MalgrainCHAMPION
Prowess: 6
Coordination: 5
Strength: 9
Intellect: 4
Awareness: 5
Willpower: 6

Determination: 1
Stamina: 16

Specialties: Journalism

Earth’s Mightiest Man
Powers Granted by Otherworld Magic
Big Boy Scout

Damage Resistance 3
Otherworld Shield Belt Buckle (Device):

  • Flight 7
  • Damage Resistance 6
  • Life Support 4 
  • Super-Senses 4 (Extended Hearing, Enhanced Taste, Enhanced Smell, Extended Vision)
  • Super-Speed 6
Notes: Deprived of his magic shield belt buckle, the powers it confers disappear in 2 pages (Damage Resistance drops to 3). His Strength drops a point a page until it reaches 6.

Alter Ego: Thomas Trent
Occupation: Reporter/Radio Personality
Marital Status: Single
Known Relatives: Ethan and Sarah Trent (aunt and uncle, deceased)
Group Affiliation: Super-Sentinels
Base of Operations: Empire City
First Appearance: CHAMPION COMICS #1
Height: 6'2"  Weight: 220 lbs.
Eyes: Blue  Hair: Blond

While hiking in the woods near his home with his dog Galahad, young Tom Trent fell into the opening to a cave. Unable to climb back up the way he came, Tom discovered light coming from a narrow passage. He passed through it and came into another cave where strange monsters seemed to menace a gnomic figure, apparently asleep on a stone slab. Believing the little man to be in danger, Tom bravely ran through the circle of creatures, evading their talons and jaws. When he reached the stone slab, the monsters dissolved away.

The little man awakened and explained that the monsters were the embodiments of fears, and through courage, Tom had conquered them. The little man was Zyrd, an ancient wizard (later revealed to be one of many from the extradimensional realm of Otherworld) tasked with identifying and empowering champions against the forces of evil. Zyrd declared Tom worthy of being such a champion. In ages past, Zyrd had bestowed swords upon his champions, but he declared the age of the sword passed, so instead he gave Tom a shield, which he magically shrank down to the size of a belt buckle. This shield would be a source of magical strength and power for the boy.

When Tom placed his hands on the shield and mentally called upon its power, he found himself dressed in a strange uniform. Zyrd bid him go forth and use the powers for good. Tom did so, earning the name the Boy Champion, then later simply the Champion, as he grew up.

Zyrd would continue to act as an advisor to Tom, but the irascible and absent-minded wizard perhaps caused trouble as much as he helped. Later, Galahad also gained powers, including heightened intelligence, through a magical shield on his collar, but eventually retired to mind Zyrd full-time.

Tom moved to Empire City and became an investigative reporter and radio host, seeking to root out public corruption and champion the common man. He often worked with investigative reporters Grace Gale and Billy Dolan—and the Champion often rescued them from danger.

FSG Kicking up 5E

Fail Squad Games - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 03:23

A few weeks ago Raven and I decided we wanted and needed to learn 5E better so that we could better understand the newest edition of the game for better or worse. We both love and play the 0E through 2E versions and enjoy them. It was just time to set things aside and dig in to try 5e in earnest without insisting it be an older edition. Here’s my take on how things are going…

The Journey

Up to now I’ve written and played modules in older editions and paid for help in the 5e conversions. No more. We found a local friend (Herman) and we talked about how to proceed. We would take it slow; stop, complain, look things up, and make a real effort to understand this edition. It turns out there was less complaining in play than anticipated but we do still need to look various things up. This slows play a bit, but we are progressing through the game better than expected.

Previously I had read the books and tried it a few times but always with a bit of expectation that the game was still what it once was. Of course, this is a foolish approach because those editions have already been printed. WOTC wouldn’t reprint the same game twice.

My Personal Issues in 5e

I have discovered by playing 5E weekly, rotating playing and GMing, that my issues were less with the game than with the way the information is presented in the books. The game plays differently than it reads when the dice start rolling. Running also seems to have smoothed out a bit with the progression of time as we become more familiar with the rules.

The Latest Adventures

Tonight players finished The Witch’s Trial in the Lands of Lunacy. During my time behind the character sheet, Herman is running us through the Phandelver adventure. The more hours we all spend on both sides of the screen, the more we are learning to like 5E. The power ratchet is real, however, doing 2 HP of damage to a monster with 6 HP is the same as doing 20 HP of damage to one with 60. We are also learning to better write to this edition from the ground up.

The Fun Side

As players, we are discarding the idea and verbiage of “Character Builds”. The Squad didn’t want to try to find the most powerful character stack. We are purposefully choosing the race class combinations we want to play and fitting the numbers and choices into that story. We had fears of overly complex play and abilities, overpowered classes (which is still on the horizon as we rise through levels), and spending hours looking up various abilities and skills.

I feel that we are all pleasantly surprised at how smoothly the game plays once the dice roll and the books are closed. Yes, we still need to look things up, but no more than we did in the 1E and 2E versions. The various character abilities are laid on slowly in lairs so GMs and player grow accustom to the options and abilities. It still feels like a night of D&D at the end of the evening and nothing more complicated than the “Complete Book of” era we went through.

The more we game, the more we all look forward to gaming again. The more we put the rules to practical application, the more we seem to accept the changes. It has taken us some time to adapt to 5E from our 0E to 2E roots, but we are indeed adapting.

We tested a live stream tonight and have discussed plans for future, better, and upgraded stream arrangements for FSG games to come online. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with our adventure into 5E and our games.

This acceptance of 5E came just as we were considering dropping production to the system and focusing on BECMI / LL. I’m glad we gave it one more try.

The post FSG Kicking up 5E appeared first on Fail Squad Games.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Review & Commentary On Jarkoon - Adventures on Planet X! By Simon Washbourne From Beyond Belief Games

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 02:48
"Astounding! Amazing! Incredible! Non-stop action using familiar rules! Who wants to read through reams of text just to get to the action? No-one right? These rules assume you know how to role play. They assume you know about “Golden Age” comic book space fantasy adventures. (Sword & Planet rules through a retro lens). They assume you know how OSR products work. There, it’s done. You Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

SJWs, Alt-Right, and Fascists, Oh My! Real World Horrors in RPGs

19th Level - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 00:43

There's a lot of controversy going on with the latest incarnation of Vampire: The Masquerade. Apparently, in the new Camarilla book Vampires are posited as being behind the Chehen anti-gay purges - somehow related to hiding the true threat of Sharia law or something. To be honest, I found the editing of the text a little hard to follow.

White Wolf's owners, Paradox Interactive, has announced they are recalling a pair of books with such offending text as well as exercising greater control over White Wolf and no longer developing products in-house.

The backlash has ranged from "about time" to "they're not really taking responsibility" to "they are caving into social justice warriors".

I'm thinking a bit about what I would consider to be, at best, a horribly clumsy attempt at including real-world horrors into an RPG. At worst, it was an act of ill intent, trivializing the real suffering of LGBT people to push an agenda I find abhorrent. Truthfully, I'm not familiar enough with the particulars to judge. It's something I've really only seen at the periphery. I do know that I'm not fond of a number of people involved in the 5th edition - but I'm not certain as to their current status.

I also know that when I was most familiar with Vampire:the Masquerade, in the early to mid-1990s, the audience was a very diverse group. I knew a number of women who were fans of the game. Ditto many people of LGBT identity. Lots of goths. When I attended a Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie concert in 1995 there were a lot of Vampire: the Masquerade t-shirts in the audience.

I'm a proud "social justice warrior". I've protested Trump's anti-immigration and refugee policies at Copley Square. I've attended Pride parades in Boston. I fall pretty much on the side of "WTF were they thinking?" I've friends of a variety of politics. I freely acknowledge that it is possible for people of good conscience to disagree with each other. I was once a Libertarian-leaning Republican who is now a liberal Democrat. But I draw the line at people who embrace hatred and cruelty. Much to my shock and horror, I've encountered a few actual, "Hitler was right" fascists. And there I don't have tolerance.

There's a lot real-life horrible stuff happening in Chechnya, particularly to people of LGBT identity. A horror game will likely find itself face to face with real-world horrors. But what does one do about it? I get the argument that a game - or fiction - is not obligated to ignore such horrors. And I'd understand people not wanting to read or watch them. But if such horrors are included, I believe they need to be done with care and sensitivity that was clearly not shown here. Again, assuming no ill intent.

Where I think White Wolf went wrong is turning acts of real-world horror into "a vampire did it". When I play historical games I avoid making supernatural beings the causes for real-world horrors. In my opinion, it cheapens them. It takes away from the fact that real people chose to perpetrate horrors such as the Killing Fields, the Holocaust, American slavery, Native American genocide, Armenian genocide, trench warfare, etc.

I find fiction works better when they keep that maxim in mind. For example, the recent Wonder Woman film rejected the notion that Ares, god of war, was behind World War I. He took advantage of the war, but humanity caused the war without any divine help. In Atomic Robo, Baron Heinrich von Helsingard allied himself with the Nazis to be able to use their resources, but he was not behind their atrocities. He was a monster of a human being who had no problem dealing out death and destruction. But he was not some man behind the shadows causing the Third Reich so as to have a smoke screen for his work.

I want to touch on the "snowflake" pejorative. Not wanting one's entertainment to be filled with real-world horrors does not make one a snowflake. You're not weak if you are triggered by something horrible. I've family who deal with PTSD - they're not weak for avoiding things that trigger them. It's reasonable for a parent of young children to not want to play a game that features the death/kidnapping of children. With an LGBT player in my group, I don't believe I'd use an adventure that involved the killings of such people. I'd exercise an abundance of caution about introducing things that might trigger friends and family. And if as GM you shove such things down your players throats, knowing such sensitivities, that makes you an asshole.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Blackmarsh Updated

Bat in the Attic - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 23:24
Several years ago, I added the option of using the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license to Blackmarsh to make it easier for people to use it for RPGs that don't have open content. This was done with version 3.0. Since then Creative Commons updated to version 4.0. One of the major difference is an explicit waiver of moral rights.

In copyright over the past couple of decades there is the idea that in addition to rights to profit and control how the work is copied that there is a set of moral rights that protects the following.

1) the right of credit or association
2) the right of integrity
3) the right of anonymity or context

The grant or transfer of economic rights (i.e. the right to copy and use) is separate than a waiver of moral rights. To make it clear that my intent is for anybody to be able to use Blackmarsh for whatever purpose they see fit I updated the Creative Common license to version 4.0 which waives my moral rights in the text and maps for Blackmarsh.

In addition several publishers have introduced third party publishing programs that don't use open content licenses. Since my intent to share Blackmarsh as widely as possible and to make it easy to use for one's own work. I removed the Non-Commercial and Share-alike requirements. Now only attribution is required.

To be clear dual license means you can choose to use either license. Either as open content under the Open Game License or the Creative Commons BY Version 4.0. Use whatever one works best for your project.

You can download version 11 either from my website. Or from RPGNow if you obtained Blackmarsh there. If you bought a print copy there is no need to get a new one as the text remains the same.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wings Between Worlds

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 11/18/2018 - 15:00

Because space-faring sailing ships are so 80s, let's have genuine aircraft flying between worlds, perhaps open cockpit, certainly of the bat-winged, Frazetta variety. Space will have to have air, of course. Let's say the system is enclosed in a big Dyson Sphere--a crystal sphere, if you like. With a sphere full of air, the temperature of the worlds at the various orbits will be of less concern, though where the warmth and the light comes from will have to wait.

The technology of the primary society might be what we would call Dieselpunk, except it isn't particularly punk or Diesel, but it's that between the Wars era sort of art deco stuff filtered through science fiction. Automobiles out of Flash Gordon and that sort of thing. And, of course magic.

Might as well port in a little bit of Planescape and have the worlds be more a more pulp planet version of the Gygaxian planes. The full compliment of D&D races would be necessary for a Star Wars Cantina vibe. Flash Gordon will help there, too.  The worlds might move in very eccentric orbits. Travel between them might mostly be by sight rather than map.


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