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Play Test Report

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 12:27
I play tested the rules about multiple actions. I am trying out something that’s quite the departure for me; as a bug, you get a number of attacks each round equal to your level. Predators don’t get this benefit.
I created a level 5 red ant ranger and had him go off in search of an assassin bug who was holed up in a hut. There were four guards out front of the hut, four gnats who were keeping watch. My ranger, Nix, made is sneak check easily, and got within range. With his scope, he has a range of 8, so he was able to target them from 8 cm. He got five attacks, and hit with four of five shots, taking out all five gnats with surprise.
This got the attention of the assassin bug, who returned fire. They both had light cover, so the two exchanged several gunshots for a few rounds, but Nix was clearly superior. He took 14 points of damage out of his 50 hit points during the fight.
However, the gunfire attracted a tree frog, that attacked with surprise at the end of the round. This combat was a lot of fun; Nix got a few shots off before the frog hit him with a tongue strike and started dealing automatic bite damage. His weapon jammed and then he dropped it (with a series of 1s) and he had to pull out his survival knife. He started hacking at the frog, and ended up finishing it with 11 hit points left.
I really liked the multiple attacks per round, even for enemies. I like that a single powerful foe can fight an entire team at once; a level 3 bug can fire three times per round, giving him a lot of versatility in selecting targets.
I also like that there is a different ‘feel’ to the game between battling other bugs and predators. Other bugs pepper you with many small attacks, whereas predators are slower, but when they hit it packs a wallop.
I feel like damage doesn’t ramp up as much in this game as in the fantasy and supers games, so having the number of attacks increase offsets this. I like the subtle way that combat ‘feels’ different for this game rather than the fantasy game. It plays very fast. 

Weird(world) Revisited: Middle Earth the Mighty Marvel Way

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 12:00
My recent post on "vanilla" fantasy made me think of Weirdworld and this post from 2010...

"For those who thrilled to J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"--An All New Adventure into Epic Fantasy!"

So cried the cover blurb on Marvel Premiere #38, the second appearance--first in color--of Marvel's decidedly un-Sword & Sorcery fantasy series. As such, it stands as an interesting artifact in comics history, fitting neither with the pulp inspired fantasies of earlier comics, or the D&D-influenced ones that were to follow.

The titular "Weirdworld" is a fantasy land inhabited by dwarves, elves, and goblins, and perpetually under threat from wicked sorcerers and other magical menaces. Its protagonists are two elves--Tyndall and Velanna--who are outcasts with mysterious (even to themselves) pasts. Their obligatory companion and comedy relief is Mud-Butt, an irascible dwarf.

Tyndall starts out solo and in black and white in Marvel Super Action #1, where he good-naturedly undertakes a quest on behalf of bigoted dwarvish villagers in "An Ugly Mirror on Weirdworld" (1976). Velanna joins him by that story's end, and they run afoul of a rejuvenation-seeking sorcerer in Marvel Premiere #38 (1977). Their next appearance, publication wise, would see them travelling with Mud-Butt to the City of Seven Dark Delights and crossing paths with the sorcerous Dark Riders, who were seeking to resurrect their fallen god, Darklens. The defeat of Darklens and the discovery of other elves, were related in the three part epic, "Warriors of the Shadow Realm" in Marvel Super Special #11-13 (1979). Epic Illustrated #9, and #11-13, in 1981 and '82, featured the "Dragonmaster of Klarn" storyline, that revealed more about the mysterious elves and their relationship with dragons. Finally, in 1986, Marvel Fanfare vol. 1 #24-26 saw a lost tale of Weirdworld--the first meeting of Mudd-Butt and the two elves, and vanquishing of yet another evil sorcerer. Work on this story had actually began back in the seventies, but it had been left unfinished.

Weirdworld was the creation of Doug Moench, and artistically designed, at least initially, by Mike Ploog. "Warriors of the Shadow Realm" had art by John Buscema, and featured a redesigned Mud-Butt--though no one knew it, since Ploog's original design didn't see print until nearly a decade later. Pat Roderick provided the pencils for the last two Marvel Fanfare issues.


I would have thought Weirdworld bore the influences of Bakshi's animated fantasy features Wizards and The Lord of the Rings--but it actually predates both of them. Any artistic resemblance may be due to Ploog's reported involvement in those two projects, or it may be coincidental. Tolkien would seem to be a likely source, but Moench maintained in that he had never read The Lord of the Rings in his essay on Weirdworld's origins in Marvel Super Special #11. He did admit to having read The Hobbit in high school, but denied remembering much about it.

Despite the superficial "Tolkienian" elements, I think we see in Weirdworld an artifact of a time when The Lord of the Rings-style portrayals of elves and dwarves (by way of D&D) were not taken as standard. The dwarves of Weirdworld bear more resemblance to the Munchikins of Oz than the ones from the Mines of Moria. Buscema's artwork in particular gives most of Weirdworld a kind of fairy-tale-ish look (inspired by Arthur Rackham, among others) that reminds me a little of later works by Brian Froud. The elves are likewise not wise and puissant beings superior to men in every way. Instead, their short and maybe more like non-Tolkien, pop-culture elves--like the sort that sell cookies or work for Santa. They're probably part of the pre-Tolkien lineage that influenced early D&D art (as James Maliszewski outlined here) and certainly seem to be kin of hapless Indel in the 80s D&D comic book ads.

Weirdworld offers a portrayal of stock rpg elements refreshingly free from the influence of the rising cultural familiarity with The Lord of the Rings, and the ouroboros-like D&D-ization of fantasy. Nothing in it is new, but their might be something there worth revisiting.

Review & Commentary Lich Lords Adventure Module By Lynn Sellers of Mayfair Games's Role Aids for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons First Edition & Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 02/27/2020 - 05:55
"After countless millenia, A DARK POWER AWAKENS.You have been summoned to appear before your king, who was once a great man, but is now held fast in the icy grip of fear. Trembling, he tells of mighty earthquakes to the north that destroyed villages and unearthed the... FORGOTTEN CITY OF THE LICH LORDSEnter the catacombs of this buried city and find the way to destroy the evil before it brings Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Books matter - OSR Campaign Setting Flip - World War I Godzilla - Prelude To War of the Worlds

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 02/26/2020 - 20:11
"And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its cooling, and this world is still crowded with life, but crowdedNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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Fans First: My Love of Rick and Morty

Cryptozoic - Wed, 02/26/2020 - 19:50

In the second installment of our "Fans First" blog, I'm going to tell you about my love of Rick and Morty and how Cryptozoic ended up doing nine amazing tabletop games and three trading card sets based on the series.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Scrum Con 2020 is this Saturday!

Zenopus Archives - Wed, 02/26/2020 - 13:57


The second annual Scrum Con is this Saturday, and you may want to attend if you are in DC Metro area. This year it has moved over to the Silver Spring Civic Building in Silver Spring, MD, just north of DC. The general info page for the con is here: Scrum Con 2020.

Tickets are $15 each, and there are are two sessions of games, from 10-2 and 3:30-7:30. Doors open at 9 AM.
The game sessions are evenly split between RPGs and Miniature Wargames. This close to the event most seats are taken, but there are a few open due to cancellations in the last week. For the latest availability, check the Events Schedule on Tabletop Events. As I write this, there are:
1 seat in Dragon Hunt (Miniatures) from 10-21 seat in WaT a Nice Village (Miniatures) from 10-22 seats in Incident at Space Station Accipiter (Miniatures) from 11-1 (2 hour game)1 seat in B8 Journey the Rock (B/X RPG) from 3:30-7:30
I will be running a session of In Search of the Brazen Head of Zenopus in the afternoon, but the seats are all filled currently.
In the morning I will be helping to give out badges to attendees. If you attend, make sure to say hello! 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Black Pudding #6 / Underground Down below

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 02/26/2020 - 12:14
J.V. West Random Order Creations OSR Levels 3-6

Black Pudding #6 is a zine and I’m reviewing the eight pagepointcrawl adventure “Underground Down Below”, with map by Evlyn Moreau. It’s got 36 encounters described over eight pages, if you count the one page map. Imagine a REALLY large cavern with mesa’s and stuff in it. That’s this. IE: an underground valley hemmed in on all sides with some plateaus in it. It;s very imaginative. And it lacks inciting incidents.

Have you ever been to an art forward gaming con? I have. They’re great! I’m thinking specifically of Con on the Cob. Art people are relaxed, not up their own asses, and know how to have fun and know how to run a game. The afterhours DCC games at GenCon are another great example of this as the ZZ Top gang run for fun. This has that kind of vibe. Mostly. But it’s lacking that certain motivating aspect that drives the adventure forward. It feels more like an Ed Greenwood adventure where there’s lots of interesting shit going on, that you CAN interact with, but why would you? 

The map depicts a kind of isometric view of a large underground cave. Very big. Lots of shit going on on what is, essentially an “art map” rather than your usual gaming map. Nothing wrong with that, I love me some on map detail. There’s no scale but it is, essentially, a pointcrawl. I don’t know, maybe the cavern is lit by purple or green light or something, so the party can see points in the distance to travel to. That’s not mentioned but would work. I’m a big fan of “the party sees something interesting” so that they can then decide to travel to it. The isometric view (is that the right word? I think I’ve used it in this context since that DL1 map) does a good job of showing elevation and the map is chock full of little drawings (it’s an art map, remember) that allows the Dm to describe vague half-seen shapes in the (I’ve now added) pale green light. I see the back half of a shadowy colossal stone head up ahead in the pale green light? Let’s go there! This kind of “expansive view in the distance” is invaluable, for those situations in which it’s warranted. For these “I can see a lot so what do I see?” sorts of situations i love a map like this or a brief overview text in the adventure to help orient the players. This does that well.

The little vignettes are pretty imaginative, some interconnected and some not. The first location is a dozen little people washing and feeding and worshipping a giant fire beetle and her three dog sized babies. Her poo glows. Or giant centipede people. Or a cave mouth with teeth that can bite you. Giant demon statues that spit out gems. Giant people buried in rock. Hmmm, come to think of it, there ARE a lot of giant rock people/buried/made of stone elements in the adventure. Whatever, who doesn’t like a giant cracked egg with something squirming inside of it? Or a village that sacrifices every ninth baby to the giant squid monster in the lake and drain their old people of blood to make protein cakes? 

But, they lack a certain something and I’m not sure I can fully describe what. It feels a little like one of those Ed Greenwood adventures where you can look but if you touch you die. There doesn’t seem to be much reason to interact with the various locales other than, maybe, the innate desire of the party to fuck with shit.  Village of stoic philosophy dwarves. Uh. Ok. And? The priestess lives inside that teeth cave? Ok. So? 

There’s a hint, here or there, of something for the party to be driving towards. A 20,000p diamond and an unguarded, but cursed, ancient red dragon hoard. Ok, so, maybe that’s what the party is here looking for? But, still, why am I interacting with the dwarves again? Just like a Greenwood adventure, there’s as much trouble for the party as they make for themselves. (I played with Jim Ward once and his adventure felt the same way. Just don’t fuck with shit. Maybe fun for a one shot you are ok with dying in 90 minutes in to a four hour game, but hard to sustain.)

There are little “hit point tracker” bubbles after each creature and I can’t help but wonder what if those were not there and instead there was just one more sentence? Something to drive the action forward? 

What this needs is just a little more for each encounter. Maybe. Or maybe some kind of global overview and/or “what everyone knows and who likes/hates who and what they want” or something like that. There’s no background or intro at all to this, just a few tables scattered in the adventure. “How did we get here?” “a wizard did it”.or  “You fell through a hole” and so on. 

You could steal a lot from this adventure. Do you want to steal? By which I mean, are you looking for inspiration? That sounds an awful lot like “Adventures for Reading” to me. But, there’s also room in life for Art, right? Is this just art? Art that you’re inspired by? To run a great game? Isn’t that what I implore designers to do? But … is that art? Can it be art AND a good adventure? Sure. But is this everything it could be for the DM? Not without a shock rope attached.

This is Pay What You Want at DriveThru with a suggested price of $2. There’s no preview, but, hey, you can download it for free, so the entire zine if the preview.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/303613/Black-Pudding-6?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 - Years Zero 1912 -1913 A Troll Lord Games OSR/ Victorious rpg Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 02/26/2020 - 04:40
"At any rate, in all the bodies of the Martians that were examined after the war, no bacteria except those already known as terrestrial species were found. That they did not bury any of their dead, and the reckless slaughter they perpetrated, point also to an entire ignorance of the putrefactive process. But probable as this seems, it is by no means a proven conclusion. Neither is the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

War of the Worlds Godzilla 1914 - The Opening Salvo A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 02/25/2020 - 23:39
"At any rate, whether we expect another invasion or not, our views of the human future must be greatly modified by these events. We have learned now that we cannot regard this planet as being fenced in and a secure abiding place for Man; we can never anticipate the unseen good or evil that may come upon us suddenly out of space. It may be that in the larger design of the universe this Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Let's Talk Scale

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 02/25/2020 - 22:52
One of the challenges I have always run into when designing RPGs around the ants is the idea of scale. One of the strengths of the setting is the scale - the idea that everything is happening in measurements of millimeters. This works in the smallest increments; it makes sense to have the ant heights in mm instead of feet - so a cm becomes the rough equivalent of ten feet which is great for ranges and distances in combat. It’s actually a pretty clean conversion from human to ant scale in this way.
However, it breaks down when we start talking about travel, flight, and vehicle speeds. Because the scale is millimeters, this also means that a meter is the rough stand-in for a mile (very rough, because it is actually about one sixth of a mile - making it quite a bit off). Since a wasp can fly about 40 kilometers per hour, we end up in trouble - that wasp can travel 40,000 meters per hour, making it as fast as superman within the game scale. In effect, the game world (which is maybe a few hundred meters across) is easily traversed in a short time by many insects. I always feel like I need to make the game world bigger.
However, I had not also considered the similar scale compression of time. An insect doesn’t live long. A red ant can live for 2-5 years, so a year is roughly two decades to the ants - and some other insects have much shorter life spans. In this compression, a month is two years, meaning a week is six months, a day is a month, and an hour is a day. A human lives an average of 70 years, so 70 x 365 = 27,375 days. An ant lives an average of 3 years x 365 days x 24 hours = 26,280 hours. So, in ant scale, an hour is equal to a day. Giving a speed in meters per hour may as well be giving that speed in meters per day. It would be ridiculous for us to give speed in miles per day; I am going 1500 miles per day! That sounds fast - it’s just normal highway speed. The default distance has been changed to the millimeter; the default time has to be changed to the minute. The one-minute turn is not only the default measure of game time; it is the default measure of insect world time as well. 
Back to our wasp. He can fly 40,000 meters per hour, so he flies 650 meters per turn. It’s still fast, but at this scale it sounds like helicopter fast, not superman fast. According to Google, an ant can walk 3 inches per second, so that’s about 7 cm per second, or 420 cm per minute. An ant can walk 4 meters in one minute. So, with a move of 4, you can travel 4 meters in one turn. However, 4 cm in a round (one second) is actually a little on the slow side; an ant should be able to move twice that in one round pretty easily.
What if the default setting of a round is that an ant gets two actions? More? What if a creature gets a number of actions equal to its level? Dang… a level 6 bug gets 6 actions per round? That seems crazy… but it’s also aligned with the source material. In action movies, the hero is taking five or six attacks to the mook’s one. This means that winning initiative, especially at higher levels, becomes vital. 
However, it also means that at higher levels you should have abilities to neutralize enemy attacks, automatically block, or to do some damage reduction. At higher level, you are going to have to get your opponent to exhaust a variety of resources in order to start landing your good shots. Against minions, you can mow down squadrons in short order; against an enemy commando, you are going to have to get past his luck, his tenacity, and his cool under fire in order to start hitting him.
Time for some play testing!

Return to Dwimmermount - Tides of Blood & War - Cha'alt & ACK's Dwimmermount

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 02/25/2020 - 17:52
Its been a very busy morning but last night I wanted to get back to ACKs Dwimmermount within my Godbound/Cha'alt campaign. Way back in 2017 I stumbled upon this thread about Dwimmermount on the General ACKs forums.  There are a few changes that would be made right off the get go. The fact that Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea's rpg system Hyperboreans & the Thulian Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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5 Ways Magic the Gathering Changed the Rules of D&D

DM David - Tue, 02/25/2020 - 12:00

Magic the Gathering designer Richard Garfield rates Dungeons & Dragons as the most innovative game of all time. Nonetheless, in any ranking of influential games, Magic’s revolutionary design surely vies for a top spot. You might suppose that a card game like Magic would differ too much from a roleplaying game to have any influence on D&D’s rules, but Magic’s design shaped the D&D editions to follow. Today, innovations from Magic extend to the roots of fifth-edition D&D.

5. Templated text changed how rules get written—and the 3rd-edition design team.

When Magic’s designers faced the problem of bringing order to countless cards, they used templated text: they described similar game rules with consistent wording imposed by fill-in-the-blank templates. Today, the patterns of templated text appear throughout modern D&D’s rules.
But the move to templated text also lifted a D&D-outsider to lead the game’s third-edition team. Ben Riggs tells this story in a convention seminar.

Early in the development of third-edition D&D, Wizards of the Coast purchased TSR. Skaff Elias had served as a designer on several early Magic sets and ranked as Senior Vice President of Research and Development. Skaff felt that the upcoming D&D edition could fix “sloppiness in the rules” by using templated text. Skaff and Wizard’s CEO Peter Adkison told the D&D design team to switch the spell descriptions to templated text, but the team kept resisting his directives.

Eventually, the D&D team readied the release of a playtest document that still lacked templated text. They claimed rewriting all the spell descriptions according to formula would prove impossible because hundreds of spells would need templating in 48 hours to meet their delivery deadline. Nonetheless, Adkison and Skaff took the challenge themselves, working through the night to rewrite the spells and meet the deadline. Even after that heroic effort, the rules document that reached playtesters lacked the templated descriptions from the CEO and the Design VP. The design team had simply ignored their bosses’ hard work.

The failure infuriated Adkison. He lifted Jonathan Tweet to the head of the third-edition team. Designer Monte Cook remembers Adkison’s new directive: “If Jonathan says something it’s as though I said it.” Unlike the TSR veterans on the rest of the team, Tweet had started his career by designing the indie roleplaying game Ars Magica and the experimental Over the Edge. As a member of the D&D team, he convinced the team to adopt some of the more daring changes in the new edition.

4. Keywords now get careful use throughout the rules.

Much like Magic, D&D uses keywords to describe many elements in the game. Often the keywords bring few rules of their own, but other things in the game interact with the keywords. So Magic has no rules specifically for “white” or “green,” but cards with “protection from white” work in a special way.

In D&D, conditions like “charmed,” creature types like “beast,” and descriptors like “melee” work as keywords. Such keywords power templated descriptions like, “While charmed by this spell, the creature is…” and, “The next time you hit a creature with a melee weapon attack…” In early editions of D&D some words got treatment that resembled keywords. But before Magic proved the technique’s power, keywords in D&D hardly saw the pervasive, rigorous treatment they do now.

3. Specific beats general came from Magic, but started in a hugely-influential board game nearly as old as D&D.

In Magic, the text on any card can change the rules of the game, so a card like Platinum Angel can say, “You can’t lose the game and your opponents can’t win the game.” Among traditional games where all the rules fit on the underside of a box lid or in a slim pamphlet, this made Magic revolutionary. The original Magic rules explain, “If a card contradicts the rules, the card takes precedence.” In other words, specific beats general. Similarly, page 3 of the Player’s Handbook explains how when a game element breaks the general rules in some way, it creates an exception to how the rest of the game works.

Earlier editions of D&D included game elements that broke general rules, but the unwritten principle left new players to struggle with the apparent inconsistencies. Judging by how frequently D&D lead Jeremy Crawford restates the principle, players still struggle with it.

The principle of specific beats general dates to the revolutionary 1977 game that inspired Magic the Gathering and countless others. Bored with the familiar patterns of their Risk games, the designers of Cosmic Encounter wanted a game where every play felt different from the last. In Cosmic Encounter, each player controls a different alien species able to break the general rules of the game in some specific way. With more than 150 rule-breaking alien species in the game and its expansions, Cosmic Encounter offers endless, disruptive combinations.

2. With more reliance on rulings, D&D does less to separate flavor from rules.

Magic the Gathering cards typically fill any space left after their rules text with italicized flavor text. So, Platinum Angel might say, “She is the apex of the artificer’s craft, the spirit of the divine called out of base metal.” Other Platinum Angels share the same rules, but different flavor text.

Traditionally, D&D mingled rules and flavor text, but fourth edition fully adopted such separation. The power descriptions even duplicate the practice of putting flavor in italics. This practice fit fourth edition, which defined combat powers as tightly as cards. The designers aspired to create a game where flavor never bent the rules, so a DM never needed to decide if, for example, you can take ongoing damage from cold and fire at the same time.

In fifth edition, the separation mainly appears in the monster books, where rules appear in formal boxes while flavor comes between the rectangles.

1. Reactions came from Magic’s instants and interrupts by way of D&D miniatures.

In Magic the Gathering, players can act at any time, stopping another player with cards originally called interrupts. The constant activity helps make the game so compelling, but it forced the designers to develop rules to make sense of the actions and reactions.

In early editions of D&D, players might interrupt another turn for an improvised action, but such acts needed a DM’s ruling. By third edition these actions counted as free and still mainly relied on a DM. Counterspells used the system’s only means of interrupting—the readied action.

When Wizards planned a line of D&D miniatures in 2003, the company aimed to expand sales beyond roleplayers to gamers who favored competitive wargaming. The Miniatures Handbook turned third edition’s combat rules into “a head-to-head skirmish system for fighting fast, tactical battles.” The book’s authors included D&D designers Jonathan Tweet and Rob Heinsoo along with Magic designers Skaff Elias and Mike Donais. The new miniatures would come boxed in randomized assortments complete with cards describing rules for each figure, so in ways, the package resembled Magic. The competitive skirmish game could no longer rely on a DM’s rulings to resolve interruptions, but the team wanted some of the richer play suggested by a game like Magic.

The design collaboration worked. Elias and Donais brought experience from a competitive game with strict rules for timing interrupts and reactions. “While designing Miniatures Handbook, we realized that free actions hid a potential smorgasbord of cool new mechanics,” wrote designer Bruce R. Cordell. “We subdivided the free actions into immediate actions (a free action you can take when it isn’t your turn), and swift actions (a free action you can take when it’s your turn).”

Swift and immediate actions entered the D&D roleplaying game through Cordell’s Expanded Psionics Handbook (2004). “The concept that swift and immediate actions could serve as one more resource available to a player opened up new vistas of possibility, expanding options in the game.”

In fifth edition, swift and immediate actions evolve into bonus actions and reactions.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Setting The Stage of Mythology With Monsters of Myth & Legend by Greg Gorden and Neil Randall, Published By Mayfair Games

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 02/25/2020 - 07:25
"Monsters of Myth & Legend is a supplement describing over 100 monsters drawn from the American Indian, Australian Aborigine, Chinese, Greek, Irish Celtic, and Norse mythology. Each includes game statistics and legendry; most are illustrated. Monsters of Myth & Legend is a sourcebook play aid containing encyclopedic listings of dozens of creatures and deities to add to an existing fantasy Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Concerning Bat in the Attic Games

Bat in the Attic - Tue, 02/25/2020 - 04:33
I want to thank everybody for their support and appreciate the solidarity that was shown. It wasn't 100% but it was very high. Keep that in mind as we move on and the debates begin.

Moving on is what this post is about. What I will be doing with Bat in the Attic Games.

The Royalty Waiver
Mr. Bledsaw granted me a royalty waiver in March of 2018 and it applies to royalties beginning on July 1st 2017. I ran the numbers and it looks like I am 66% towards reaching the cap. I don't feel comfortable with providing the numbers due to wording of my license agreement. However what owed to me was computed on the basis of what I was paid for the first nine maps plus a fee for the CSIO map. I owe Judges Guild a royalty report in April.

I already modified batintheattic.com and took down the items on my Lulu store. It been nine months since I sold a copy of anything on Lulu. However all Bat in the Attic products are still available on DriveThruRPG.

The Product Line
I sell twelve products and eleven of them have Judges Guild IP. The two Majestic Wilderlands related products can be replaced with works without Judges Guild IP. However the other nine are Wilderlands of High Fantasy related, they will eventually be delisted and the files turned over to Judges Guild per my license agreement. This leaves just Blackmarsh after everything is delisted.

The Immediate Future

The Wild North
First I will finish the Wild North. I am aiming for a spring release. Luckily this was my next project. This setting is to the north of Blackmarsh and it is loosely based on Russian and Slavic folklore. Much like how the core rules of classic D&D are based on a fantasy medieval Europe.

This was originally released as Map 19 in Fight On #3, however two years ago I decided to revamp it to fit the loose setting behind Blackmarsh and the two Points of Light books. This involved redrawing the southern edge of the map to fit Blackmarsh and write new material to bring it up to the standards of Blackmarsh. The map will be four times the size of Blackmarsh.

The first draft is finished. I am in the midst of drawing the color version of the map along with various smaller maps that are needed.

Scourge of the Demon Wolf
The Scourge of the Demon Wolf will be revamped to fit the loose setting behind Blackmarsh and the two Points of Light books. This means changing a couple of references and replacing the Barony of Westtower mini-setting in the supplement half.

Deceits of the Russet Lord.
The draft adventure that is furthest along is Deceits of the Russet Lord. It involves star crossed lovers, corrupt monks, rebellious peasants, tyrannical lords, orcs, and the Russet Lord, the faerie lord that behind it all.

The Long Term

The Majestic Fantasy Realms
This will replace the Wilderlands of High Fantasy books in my product lines. It will likely be based on the loose setting behind Blackmarsh. It will definitely take advantage of DriveThruRPG ability to print 18" by 12" posters for the maps. Other than that I am still feeling my way through how to best approach this.

The Majestic Fantasy RPG
The Majestic Wilderlands supplement in 2009 was just the beginning of my work with Swords and Wizardry. In the ten+ years since I have run several campaigns and expanded the rules beyond what in the supplement.

My challenge is twofold. First I strongly believe that Swords and Wizardry by Frog God Games is an excellent system for many. I want to supplement Swords and Wizardry not replace it. Second there are many other fine OSR rule systems out there as well. As result most OSR referees I know often kit bash the rules they use for their campaign. Taking most from a single system but the rest from different sources.

As a result my goal for the Majestic Fantasy RPG is to make it easy for people to use sections of the Majestic Fantasy RPG in their campaigns, whether it is Swords and Wizardry or another system. But also still function as a system in its own right. I am still working on what form this will take.

I do know at some point I will need an overview to summarize how it all hangs together. Hence my release, for free, of the Basic Rules for the Majestic Fantasy RPG.

The Majestic Stars
I am  bound and determined to improve at writing science fiction adventures. Once I figure it out I plan to release the results as the Majestic Stars.

5th edition 
When reviewing my work folder I found I had quite a bit of 5th edition material. It not organized into a coherent whole like the Majestic Wilderlands supplement was. But it looks there is enough for a small number of zine type supplements. Basically bits and pieces I created for the two 5e campaigns I ran along with playing around with the system.

Wrapping it up
Again I appreciate the support that was shown. I will be keeping everybody updated on my progress. I also would like to thank Goodman Games and Frog God Games for their support.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Playing at the World on Identifying Dice of the 1970s

Zenopus Archives - Mon, 02/24/2020 - 17:44

C. P. dice (front) versus Holmes Basic dice (back). Source: Playing at the World
Jon Peterson has a new video on YT up looking at the dice that were available for sale in the 1970s, and how to identify them:


Playing at the World Episode #2: Identifying 1970s Dice
It's a great video, rich with information, examples and period photos. There's an accompanying blog post with more photos and dice maps. See embedded link below.

In the video the Holmes Basic dice feature prominently as a starting point for Jon to look at the other less common dice of the '70s. I did not know that the Creative Publications dice set sold by TSR, seen here in their original packaging, can be distinguished from the later set shipped with Holmes Basic. The most prominent distinguishing feature is the color of the d6, pink in the CP set and orange-red in the Holmes set. I had previously attributed the color variations to lighting in photos.

Identifying the Dice of the 1970sHow can you recognize a polyhedral gaming die made in the 1970s? The video above gives my tips for collectors and researchers who want to roll old school. After the cut, I give a quick reference guide to identifying these dice.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

From Epic To Urban - The Uses of Lankhmar City of Adventure (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, 2nd Edition : Official Game Accessory) by Anthony Pryor For Your Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 02/24/2020 - 17:31
"LANKHMAR...city of thieves, city of the night, city of adventure. Home of Fritz Leiber's famous heroes, FAFHRD™ and the GRAY MOUSER™; greatest adventurers in the world of Nehwon. The city of Lankhmar springs to life as an exciting Setting for the AD&D® game.Visit the fabled Rainbow Palace, stroll the surly streets of the old town, haggle at the market place or risk the winding maze Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How to Start a Sand War

Dungeoncomics - Mon, 02/24/2020 - 14:00
What are microprocessors made from? Transistors. What are transistors made from? Sand.

The Chalice of Blood

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:11
By Megan Irving Aegis Studios BGRPG Levels 5-6

A group of Ragnar cultists have found a magical relic, a chalice that can never be filled, and are using it to lure treasure hunters and adventurers to their lair. Foolish adventurers who take the bait and come to the lair are hunted by the monsters guarding the chalice, and are then sacrificed to Ragnar. Leftover bodies are then given to the wyvern lurking in the cavern’s depths. […] The chalice is a magical artifact – when liquid is poured into it, it vanishes. If the command word is spoken while tipping the chalice, any stored liquid pours freely out of it. Unfortunately, it’s currently full of blood, and nobody knows the command word.

This twelve page adventure contains a small twelve page dungeon described in about four or five pages. It’s doing several nice little things throughout to create an interesting environment, from the map to the encounters. Decent enough for a little dungeon.

“Cultists. Ug!” I thought to myself. But, wait, Bryce, don’t you like human enemies? Yeah, but why the fuck are they are always cultists? But, what if they had a slightly different twist? And thus Megan wrote this adventure.

The cultists here are craven little shits. To quote “Overall, the cultists prefer not to fight. Instead, they beg for mercy and give the adventurers as much information as they want.” Also, it gets the adventurers to go deeper in where they’ll get killed, solving their problem. But, still, there are cultists begging for mercy all over the place, hiding under their desks, pleading, acting badass and then collapsing at the first sign of blood. It’s cute. I like it. It adds a good roleplay element to the adventure and dungeon could just about always always use some of that. After all, you can always stab them later.

Speaking of, there are several decent little roleplay things going on. The guards outside, if approached, ask the party to leave. And then they stab the shit out of the party if they do so, but, hey, are you seriously trusting two bugbear guards? Inside there are some crmag slaves too talk to. One little room has a guard room of slaves sitting around a campfire. I imagine they do everything possible to NOT see the party. That could be quite fun. It’s nice to see this in the adventure. Not comic elements but elements that get the party ENGAGED in the adventure rather than just another room of things to kill and loot. 

The map makes an extra effort. Differing levels, flowstone stairs, tunnels, different elevations, even a simple loop or two. And … it’s got monsters marked on it! Just a simple icon to show which rooms have monsters, so you can react them as appropriate to combat next door. And, speaking of, there are roaming patrols and a simple order of battle for the place. Nothing too complex, easily implemented, and just enough to add some realism without it being simulationist. 

This sort of extra little design is present in a couple of areas also. The wilderness encounters, on the way to the dungeon, stand out. This part is handled in some very short text. It tells that that the party passes through three general types of terrain and they will have a wandering encounter in each … and then a four entry table is provided … not all of which has to be combat depending on how the party handles this. The terrain and journey proper is handled through some overview text, such as “The Plains: Where many of their previous adventures have likely taken place – a vast plain of small hills and brush. At first glance, it seems empty, but behind every bush or hill is something strange – two goblin scouts working on a trap, a ruined village full of undead villagers, bandits arguing with younger adventurers.” That’s it. I must say that if you are not going to have a full on wilderness part to your adventure then the format here is quite nice. Some little comments for the DM to add a little extra flavour to the parties adventure if they want to and a wandering table that recognizes the linearity/quantum aspects of the adventure type. There’s no disconnect here of having a twenty entry table over two pages of which nineteen will never get used. Given the design choices made the degree of text makes sense. And I don’t even mean that in a backhanded compliment way. I think it’s a fine way to handle an overland if you don’t want to include a full on one. It’s good.

Magic items are nice also. The one that stands out is a little bone circlet fetish, near ogres. It lets you cast darkness once a day and recharges at midnight. Nice theming there, both with the crude construction bone fetish thing tie in to the ogres and to the darkness recharging at midnight. Another example is some cromags having a rough stone circlet amulet things with a hole in the center for a thong. The magic items kind of theme in well with where you find them and what they do. And they do it without droning on for a paragraph. And since I’m on rewards I’ll mention a “conclusion” award. If the party frees the cromag slaves then they will spread the word and in some hour of need a mighty cromag warrior will show up to help the party. That’s the kind of end of adventure boon I can get behind. It fits in well, is non-mechanical (ug: gold rewards at the end) and it doesn’t enforce morality so much as kind of deal in consequences for actions. There’s no promise, but good returns on itself. A good boon reward. 

The descriptions of the encounters are generally ok, or at least start ok. Nice and brief, flavourful. The DM text (ok, it’s all DM text, but, rather, the “further details” text) does get a little wonky. It looks like Aegis has some kind of house publishing style that is bolding certain things, like “2 potions of healing”, IE: the common magic item bolding format. Better, I think to bold keywords in a section/paragraph to let the DM know what that little blob of text is about then to bold something meaningless like treasure. This might be the major fault of the adventure, as well, perhaps, as being a bit of a reach of having cultists, bugbears, ogres, cromags, and a wyvern all running around in a 12 room dungeon. IE: the pretext could be just a bit better. But … we’re now pretty much in the realm of that elusive fourth pillar of adventures: holistic design.

Decent little adventure. I would not think shitty thoughts if I were asked at the last minute to run it at a con. The … pretext? Around the mixed monsters is a little light and the DM text a bit wonky in places, and that’s making me ask the question about regerts. This adventure isn’t life changing but it is a solid one. Again, I wouldn’t bitch if I had to run it. That means The best, I think.

This is $2 at DriveThru. There’ no preview. PUT IN A PREVIEW!!!

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/302576/The-Chalice-of-Blood?1892600

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Talislanta: The Sarista of Silvanus

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 02/24/2020 - 12:00
French Talislanta artThe Silvanus woodland of Talislanta is primarily home to the Sarista. They are clearly inspired at least to a degree by stereotypes of the Romani people, in fact, they are often called gypsies in the various texts, so it's not subtle.

Tamerlin's account tells us they are "a nomadic race of indistinct origin," and they are of "slender proportions" and have "skin the color of rich topaz, dark eyes and jet black hair." (Again with the topaz skin! I suspect their origins to be Phaedran, then whatever the mystery.) They tend to dress in a gaudy, ostentatious, or seductive way (their clothing sounds theatrical, to me), and they are known as "folk healers, fortune tellers and performers--or as mountebanks, charlatans, and tricksters."

These things are stable across all editions of Talislanta, with only minor differences in the text. Sarista have the distinction of having had a supplement devoted to them in the third edition, and are also otherwise fleshed out in the deuterocanonical Cyclopedia Volume IV. That work reveals the Sarista to be the descendants of criminals, witches, and various nonconformists that fled Phaedra when the Orthodixists took over. It also suggests that Saristan fools are called Rodinns after the ancient wizard.

"Let them scoff as they see fit! I will never compromise what I consider my art, especially for the sake of gain!" 
"For the sake of gain I’d compromise the art of my grandmother,” muttered Zamp under his breath. 
 - Jack Vance, Showboat World

I think I would de-emphasize the "gypsy" aspect of the Sarista, and certainly dispense with distasteful stereotypes like child-stealing, to portray them as perhaps less an ethnicity and more a vocation or society. The texts mention that the Silvanus Wood isn't conquered by the Aamanians because its the kind of playground/preserve of the nobility of Zandu. Sarista are part theater troupe, part carny. They make their living traveling the forest circuit performing for their mostly Zandu visitors, and fleecing the rubes as they can. Sure, some may be outright thieves, but not near so many as the texts suggest--that's just prejudicial slander.

The War of the Worlds Godzilla 1898! - A Troll Lord Games Victorious rpg Campaign Set Up

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 02/23/2020 - 18:43
"No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their affairs they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
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