Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Review & Commentary On Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu By Alexander Macris & Omer Joel

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 22:46
Over the course of a couple of days I've been doing a lot of hard thinking about old school systems & Pulp Era campaigns. I've also been doing revamps & rewrites on much of the current Pulp Era campaign. To that end I began to look into Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu . This book is right in my wheel house leaning close to the edge of both Sword & Planet with a huge foot hold in the Sword & Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Clades From Atlas Games Ships in April

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 20:49
Clades Ships in April

A “clade” is a complete branch of the evolutionary family tree, like mammals, arthropods (“bugs”), and sauropsids (reptiles and birds together).

Clades and Clades Prehistoric are versions of a card game where players must quickly scan an array of cards on the table — as well as their own private card — to make triples as quickly as possible. The player who spots the most is the winner.

Clades and Clades Prehistoric were created by Jonathan Tweet and Karen Lewis, the author and illustrator of the Grandmother Fish, a children’s book about evolution.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dragonfire Full Playthrough

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 19:10

My Dragonfire play through and review. This is my first attempt at a real play through. Dragonfire is a fully cooperative deck builder where I would say you must cooperate or die. Dragonfire is set in the realm of Dungeons and Dragons and is made by Catalyst Game Labs.

I hope you like it. I do believe  I made an error or 2. I think i’m going to post a follow up video that is a play through of the first round. I learned a lot and had all kinds of problems with software.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I have played Dragonfire several times since I filmed this video and I I think I’ll be replacing this in the near future.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Junk Orbit Early Release for Friendly Local Games Stores on June 20th!

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 18:51

Local retailers will get a 2-week early release window for Junk Orbit!

Receive one promo pack free when purchasing from participating stores!

Space. The final junkyard. Good thing one planet’s trash is another planet’s treasure! You’re a captain of your own scavenging spaceship, picking up space junk and transporting it to any city that will take it. Launch your junk… uh… *cargo* out of your airlock to propel your ship!  Race to deliver your cargo as you navigate the orbits of nearby planets and moons!  It’s astrodynamics for fun and profit!


  •  Captain your own salvage spaceship to collect Junk!
  •  Carefully navigate your ship using the gravitational pull of the planets!
  •  Deliver your cargo to collect profit!


Number of Players: 2-5
For Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 30-40 Minutes
MSRP: $35.00

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

James Ernest promotes himself to “Super President for Life”

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 16:35
James Ernest promotes himself to “Super President for Life”
General concern for Ernest outweighed by potential profit Seattle, WA—April 1, 2018. Concerned that the title “President” is being shared much too liberally, James Ernest of Cheapass Games has decided to give himself a promotion to Super President for Life. His new job responsibilities include seeing the future, winnowing the wheat from the chaff, and boiling away the sea with his heat vision.

Ernest considered several other titles for this new position, including “Lord-Emperor,” “President Plus,” and “Chief Naming Officer” before finally settling on a title which he hopes will not be tarnished through massive overuse.

The staff of Cheapass Games are pleased and proud of their new Super President. “I think it’s great,” says marketing director Cassidy Werner. “He seems happier now, and that means less hassle for the rest of us.”

Vice President Carol Monahan added “I don’t particularly care what he calls himself, as long as he thinks up a decent game every few years.”

To celebrate his promotion, Ernest ate the last half-donut in the box and enjoyed five minutes of Candy Crush Saga. Then it was back to the darkness of the basement to write press releases and dream of a better world.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Are print products like the phone book now?

Fail Squad Games - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 14:19
Digital Gadgets

I love electronic gadgets, tablets, and laptops, and they are handy for gaming. Searchable PDFs of modules, supplements, rule books, the E-version of RPG books are everywhere and usually quite a bit cheaper than the print version. It seems like a no-brainer to bring them to the table. Does this mean print books are becoming obsolete?

I sometimes feel like I should lead the charge in the switch to digital media for gaming. I have a degree in communications / new media, I write in Word, Layout, illustrate, and design in the adobe suite. All of our products from Fail Squad Games are in digital format. However, when I sit down at the table to game and see devices come out I start to lose the magic. Even tablets that I KNOW are there with character sheets and game rule books on them show up and I feel… kind of funny. In fact, I like having my laptop handy for maps. I can’t deny the usefulness of these tools. After about 10 minutes, I start to realize that this makes me feel awkward too.

There is some essence about the game of Dungeons & Dragons (and the variants of it) that resides in books, paper, and pencils.

What is it?

I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly. Newer players to the hobby don’t seem as inclined to feel it, but it’s different. I feel that when a player is looking up a rule or spell in a book, they still hear what’s going on and what’s being said. When it’s being looked up on a device, I personally feel like the table is being shut out. Even if someone tells me it’s not true, I feel like it is.

Is it just nostalgia that keeps me stuck to the idea of the feel of books? The sound of turning pages and dragging a finger across the words to find that spell – A piece of the game lives in that for me. Am I just a stodgy old fart resisting change?

My trouble with PDF

I personally struggle to read PDFs. I don’t like that sitting at my computer staring at a screen. They fit uncomfortably on a tablet, requiring me to scroll side to side. Even when reading on a tablet with a PDF that fits, I tend to put my feet up, squirm around, accidentally touch the screen or the power button, or get distracted by a comment on Facebook or Twitter. A piece of the game, even when I’m on my own time, is captured between the printed pages. Adventure and inspiration builds up in the air between pages. When I flip them open, I can SMELL it!! Sometimes it’s elven forests, sometimes it’s an otyugh – depends where I’m reading.

Even when I am writing adventures, I sit at my desk with MSWord open. My outline, rough maps, and mechanics books (Rules cyclopedia, AD&D, Labyrinth Lord) are in print. I know I can download and search them in pdf, and I lose the excitement of designing an adventure if I do.

While slowly learning Roll20 and preparing to run adventures there, I think I will continue to keep my books in my hand. Will it satisfy the itch that can only be scratched at a table?

The smell of chips, the fizz of soda, the side jokes, breaks where you talk about what’s happened. A piece of this hobby is certainly physical and I think that printed books will not go out as fast as phone books and Ma-Bell booths.

The post Are print products like the phone book now? appeared first on Fail Squad Games.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

He may have arrived on April Fools Day, but this mini boss is no joke!

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 14:15

He may have arrived on April Fools Day, but this mini boss is no joke!

Third in our masterclass resin miniature series for Super Dungeon Explore is Randy, Lrod of Spiders! This made-to-order offering is available for pre-order throughout the month of April only! Get yours now!

“The last galaxy is a place where mighty knights clash with the forces of the void, and a battle for survival rages. But that doesn’t mean that the arcades will manage themselves. Randy has been charged with the sacred duty of managing one such arcade. Annoyed at customers who continually vaporize his place of work with high tech weaponry, Randy decided to program himself into his favorite game. But a typo prevented him from being a proper lord, even in a game…”

What’s more terrifying than a mini boss roaring down at you with clear intent for destruction? One that is laid back in a hammock eyeing you with mild annoyance for having disturbed him.
We all know it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.


  • 1x Randy, Lrod of Spiders Resin Model (Assembly Required)
  • 1x Mini Boss Card (Classic)
  • 1x Mini Boss Card (Arcade)
  • 1x Cheese Head Treasure Card

Randy, Lrod of Spiders is only available during the month of April.
Don’t miss out, order yours today!

Randy, Lrod of Spiders will be made-to-order after preorders close May 1. Anticipated delivery is June 2018.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Alien King Coming Soon for AVP

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 12:34
alien king

Box includes:
1x Alien King multipart model
1x “Bug Hunt” scenario booklet

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Exfiltrators

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:14

God is dead and everything is sex.

By Lance Hawvermale
Hawvermale Paper & Pen
Levels 5-7

One of the doomed souls within Velgate Prison is innocent, but the only way to free him is to infiltrate the prison. And if that task isn’t difficult enough, what’s far more challenging is getting out.

This 42 page adventure is a prison break in an inescapable panopticon prison. The designer has no idea how to format an adventure. It has wall of text, mixes important data at random in to random bots of text, stacks the cards against the party, and, to top it off, the product description is inaccurate.

I once had a boss who was the most incompetent person I’d ever seen. I mean truly a fuckwit. He stayed on the job two years. The lesson learned is that you don’t have to be good at your job. You have to be good at GETTING a job. This adventure raised $2000 on kickstarter, with 100 backers. Any of you creators struggling with the quality of your product, the crippling self-doubt that comes from creating, need to learn a lesson from this product. Marketing baby, who gives a fuck about quality.

The ‘quality’ in question? It’s a mess. I don’t even know where to start. Room four of the prison describes the control room. That’s where we learn that the prison has only twelve guards. Because, obviously, if you needed that information you would not look in the “prison overview” section but rather in the control room entry. Clearly.

This club has everything. The hooks are mixed in to the long background text. Page long NPC’s.

This kind of shit happens over and over again. Worse, the descriptions for EVERYTHING are long and full of fiction writing. “This room is the prisons dark heart.” *yawn* How about justifying itself? “The door has been reinforced by strips of laminated horn so that any check to open it is at -4.” *yawn* People don’t hear the door chime/doorbell, but they always hear the door being broken down.

Speaking of … The prison is a panopticon. The party is searched and everyone disabled and scanned by magic. The ambush has illusions, a spellcaster wearing a ring of inviso, massmorph attackers, and other gimps. The walls take a 50% penalty to climb. It just goes on and on and on. You WILL play the adventure the way the designer intended! He’s going to be sure of that …

The opening ambush is three pages long. A column of tactics. Long NPC stat blocks. The entire thing feels more like a late 3.5 adventure than an OSR one. “You see what appears to be a weary traveller.” That is both a common way to write and a shitty one. Wasn’t there a good blog post about “appears” somewhere?

Finally, and just to show how petty I am, you don’t break in to free an innocent. You get captured. The entire blurb is wrong.

Abort! Danger! Abort!
This is just badly written and designed dreck. I will again use the most stinging rebuke I know of: Why would you attach your name to this?

This is $7 on DriveThru. The end of the review shows you the three page ambush and half of a LONG NPC description.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Stuff I Read in the Last Week

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 11:00

Injection Vol. 1
A thinktank of eccentric geniuses do a bad thing combining the occult with AI and the world may pay for it if they can't set it right. Typical Warren Ellis characters (very competent but flawed, unique protagonists) in a story that is a bit X-Files-ian (or really more reminiscent of the X-file progenitor Nigel Kneale) but with a more action-y flair.

The Terrifics #1
Four super-powered individuals (Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man, and a Phantom Girl) led by a genius get together to have fantastic adventures. Not a lot happens in the first issue but it ends with an appearance by [SPOILERS] Tom Strong, so they have my interest at least for a couple more issues.

More Black Moon Chronicles Maps

Greyhawk Grognard - Wed, 04/11/2018 - 02:09
Those of you who've been following my blog for a few years might remember the Black Moon Chronicles, a series of graphic novels by French author François Marcela-Froideval. That name might also sound familiar because he was one of Gary Gygax's cohorts, who did a first draft of Oriental Adventures (which was never used), was the co-creator of the Greyhawk quasi-hero Kelanen, Prince of Swords, and it is said that he was to be "given" a section of the far western portion of Oerik to develop.

The legend/theory then goes that his later Black Moon Chronicles graphic novels were an expression of that intent, and thus they assumed the status of sorta-kinda-maybe-canon. The fact that the much-maligned Dragon Annual #1 map of Oerik has some names in that very region that are very similar to his own creations (specifically the Empire of Lynn, as opposed to his own Empire of Lhynn), adds credibility to the case.

So, just today, over in the G+ Greyhawk community, W.K. "Icarus" Nolen discovered some new maps in the art of one of the newer volumes of the Black Moon Chronicles. Here's the whole panel in question:

As he puts it:
The main one the half-orc in red armor is holding looks to me like it could be Oerik, essentially from a latitude of the Sea Barons on an angle across to Thalos in the Sundered Empire on the western shore.   the big area of water in the middle would be the Sea of Hyperboria. 
I think the map the orc with the map in his mouth is holding looks like the coastline of Western Oerik, if West were towards his face.
So, the two would line up with the eating orc's right hand being at the same place as the red-armored orc's left thumb.  Hmmm. Let's see where this goes.

First of all, for reference, here's the DA1 map:

And here's the first map Icarus mentions, rotated and cropped as he suggests:

Even if we are charitable and say the orc's hand is covering up the entire Celestial Sea, I just don't see it. There are peninsulas where none should be, and what Icarus calls the Sea of Hyperborea comes way, way too far south, and is too wide. Plus the whole of eastern Oerik is completely wrong. Even accounting for the vagaries of Medieval-style maps, I think it's a stretch.
But what if we flip the map upside-down? We get this:

To my eye, this makes a LOT more sense. Bearing in mind that even if this is supposed to be an accurate representation, it's going to be an accurate representation of François Marcela-Froideval's western-Oerik-that-never-happened. So a close match to the DA1 map is not going to happen.
But here, we clearly see that big island at the southwestern tip of Oerik, next to the Barbarian Seameast. We see the islands of the Tharquish Empire, and we see the Celestial Sea (including the islands east of Erypt and the Gulf of Ra). 
It's not perfect by any stretch. The island of Thalos (which we know from the Sundered Empire setting) is turned into a peninsula. Nippon is smaller and moved very close to the mainland and south at the same time. The Flanaess is atrophied to the point of near-non-existence. But if one were inclined to make a Medieval-style map increasingly inaccurate as one got further from its point of origin, that might make sense.
Let's take a look at that second map, being chewed on by orc #2:

It's hard to tell when you zoom in like this, but the center of the map is actually overlaid by yet another map, so it's only the coastlines we're looking at here. Here's the relevant portion of the DA1 map zoomed in:

The Elven Lands (aka Empire of Ravilla in the Sundered Empire setting) get turned into islands, and Thalos is more peninsula than island, but we see the big triangular jutting-out of the Tarquis Dominions, and the coast seems to turn eastwards at the right point, even if the details are off. It's possible.
So I come to a firm conclusion of "50-50, but even if it's so, it's not Greyhawk, it's François Marcela-Froideval's setting that never made it into Greyhawk." Still, it's a neat addition to the lore and something else to chew on. Now I have to buy more graphic novels!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Shot Down & A Review Of Adventurer, Conqueror, King's The Heroic Fantasy Handbook By Alexander Macris From Autarch Part I

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 21:21
One of the most important things I've told dungeon masters in forty years of doing this hobby  is to have a back up plan. I wanted to run an Amazing Adventures campaign with some friends from Litchfield Connecticut. I got the go ahead from these friends. Well I worked on a beginning adventure, new pulp villain, etc. And then I wanted a schedule commitment for a Saturday evening & no one could Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Box Breaking 243: Star Wars Legion AT-RT from FFG

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 21:17

In this Box Braking Matt takes a look at the Star Wars Legion AT-RT from Fantasy Flight Games.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I can’t wait to blow this guy up.  It’s kind of funny in X-wing I prefer to rebel or be scum but in Legion I think I’m a clone all the way.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Rick and Morty Trading Cards Season 1 - Sketch Card Previews, Part 1

Cryptozoic - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 19:53

Cryptozoic’s highly anticipated Rick and Morty Trading Cards Season 1 are coming soon! In preparation of the release, we are excited to preview some of the fantastic Sketch Cards that will be inserted into the upcoming set. What are Sketch Cards, you ask? For those of you that are new to the trading card hobby, Sketch Cards are pieces of original artwork that are hand-drawn by artists onto a standard-size trading card (2.5” x 3.5”). They are then randomly inserted into various trading card sets.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Women Who Game

Fail Squad Games - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 16:22
I am reading through the Rules Cyclopedia in short bursts. To the women who were gamers in the 80s through 90s and stuck with it and kept gaming: I truly salute you. It takes a real love of the game that not many have, to do what you have done. That is, to keep gaming with the wind pushing against you. The language in the Holmes, BECMI and AD&D rule sets is needlessly masculine, and I don’t mean just a little bit and I am not exaggerating “Needlessly“.


I am trying to imagine how it would feel if I sat down to a game with a table full of women. Then I read the rules and the entire text was “she” based, my character would be limited based on gender, and I STILL would return for weeks, months or years to play the game. Sometimes even with the men or boys ridiculing me for not “getting it”. I’m slow, but I really am starting to “get ” it. Maybe this article is long overdue from Fail Squad Games.
Women who game TRULY did and do love the game, because you are still here and playing after all this time. The Authors Before I continue, I would like to make it clear that this is NOT a personal dig at the original authors of any edition of D&D, BECMI, AD&D. I know many of them and have a deep respect for them as creators of my favorite game, and ultimately my career. I hope they consider this article as a constructive critique if they haven’t changed with the times, and as a sign post to personal growth if they have. The Excusing Text In all the old school books like Rules Cyclopedia, BECMI, and AD&D there is a paragraph that reads something like the following (from Rules Cyclopedia): Pronoun Note
The male pronouns (he, him, his) are used throughout this book. We hope this won’t be interpreted by anyone as an attempt to exclude females from the game or to imply their exclusion. Centuries of use have made these pronouns neutral, and we feel their use provides for clear and concise written text.

As a young teen / preteen reader this made perfect sense to me. I accepted this and never understood why girls or women would feel any twinge of issue with anything about the game. Ok, I could kind of get the chain mail bikini thing, even back then. but hey, images of Elise Gygax sold me the book IN a chain mail bikini!

Was it really THAT bad?

Yeah, it was that bad. As an adult, and an RPG producer in 2018 re reading the text, even I find it distracting as an aging white male. It really is that bad. Come at the text as if you were your daughter reading the book and it sheds a little light on it. Let’s look at a paragraph, there are so many, but I’ll just pick ONE. Rules Cyclopedia page 7

A Magic user is a character who wields magic. He has little or nothing in the way of fighting ability,  and in the early part of his career he has little in the way of magical ability either. But as he gains  in experience, he becomes a powerful character and can wield powerful spells. The magic user’s prime requisite is his intelligence.

For that one paragraph a masculine tense is used SIX times. there are only 61 words in that paragraph! Only the very first sentence doesn’t reference the magic user being male. This paragraph isn’t a cherry picked exception in the book. It’s a standard example of the text.

I know what you are thinking, “Oh dammit! another article by a ‘Social Justice Warrior'” or some such crap. Please, stop right there. This is an article by a long time gamer and a publisher of games and most importantly a DAD to a young woman who likes to game. I am writing this article mostly as a father, secondly as an author, and thirdly as someone who wants everyone to game at my table.

So how do you fix that?

I wanted to write, but the texts I read with the gender pronouns seemed the only logical way to build a sentence. When I first started writing in the genre, I recalled those excusing paragraphs, but something didn’t sit quite right. There were growing pains in the gaming world and a number of solutions came up.

  • Use she instead of he everywhere. [The same issue but in reverse. this just feels like vengeance]
  • Use he / she [ ok but clumsy to type and read. What about those who are neither?]
  • Use he in one instance, then she in the next. [Yeah, this happened around the 3.0 – 3.5 days and it is AWFUL to read and confusing as hell!]
  • Use they or proper nouns or reword the sentence to not need a gender. [This is the Fail Squad Games fix and many other OSR publishers are getting on board]

So how would the sentence above read if published in a Fail Squad Games module today?

A Magic User is a character who wields magic. They have little or nothing in the way of fighting ability and in the early part of their career have little in the way of magical ability either. But as the magic user gains  in experience, they become a powerful character and wield powerful spells. The magic user’s prime requisite is intelligence.

It takes about 15 minutes of thinking when you first start writing this way. It makes more sense, the text actually reads smoother when written this way. It is more “clear and concise written text.” The Game master is either “GM, they, their”. Why assume he/his/him at all? After about 1,000 words in, this is the natural way to write and when you read gendered text it’s almost painful. I cringe when I see new authors in the RPG genre writing this way.

Characters with a gender are of course referred to as their gender in the game, it’s a simple, easy thing to do that makes your product better.

Helmets off to the Women

All through this, there are women who loved the game so much, they let this slide. Even when the rules set their maximum strength less than their male counterparts. I always found this troubling and in poor design even as a teen player.

Here’s to you for sticking with the hobby. Here’s to you for gaming through in an instance where, if the tables were reversed, I doubt many – if any-  men would be left standing. I salute your strength of character. I salute you for your love of the game and some who changed perceptions from the inside out. I also humbly apologize for anything you have endured to get here. I love BECMI, truly love the game. I love AD&D, all its authors, artists and contributors. I don’t like this one aspect of it and what it has done.  It was absolutely not necessary to write this way. It is my job as an inheritor of the hobby to fix it.

I will still play the games. I will ALSO continue to produce gaming supplements for the old systems and their clones. I WON’T be using that language in any Fail Squad Games product. I hope I can invite those who aren’t on board, to get on board. You’re on a sinking ship if you think you MUST write he, him, his a half-dozen times in a brief paragraph of 60 words.

What this Isn’t

This isn’t the chain mail bikini debate. I know Tarzan, Conan, Red Sonja, and Caldwell’s babes. This is a pronoun debate. A simple change in literary thinking that improves our hobby as a whole. As a young reader, I didn’t realize what this does to a line of thinking. As an adult dad, I do. As they say in Goonies, “This is OUR TIME! Down here!”

This is OUR time. We are inheriting this hobby from the previous generation. it’s time to fix this. With a couple of minutes of thought, any text can be written without the he, his, him bit. I don’t care that it was used my Shakespeare, Defoe, or any others for centuries. It’s not an excuse to use it now. It’ REALLY is not an excuse to purposefully use it in a hobby that wants to be inclusive. If anything, gaming incorporates the disenfranchised and this language should be something that our hobby leads the way in changing.

I welcome your comments below. If you think you must write with gender *fight me* I’ll rewrite your example text.

The post Women Who Game appeared first on Fail Squad Games.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On the Righteous

Hack & Slash - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 12:00
We are beset by a plague of the righteous.

That feeling is a glorious one, too often set aside by the unrelenting hostility and blunt reality of the real world. When are you within your body, when you are hungry, tired from hard labor, in struggle and pain, we no longer have the clarity of being righteous.

But when those things are set aside, deferred in the same way evolution is deferred by actions we take to dictate our convenience, oh how righteous we can become. There's even science in it. Even the worst of us believes he's above average. Nearly everyone who thinks that is wrong.

The reason this is important is because we are at or near an apogee. Things are, by every quantifiable metric, the best the have ever been. To note: Parents are half as likely to lose a child as they were in 1990. In thirty years, global poverty has dropped from 40 to 10%. [source] The world is so at peace, open warfare has almost been eliminated [source], Historically, violence has been all but eliminated [source][source], Nearly every human worldwide (6.5 billion) has access to drinkable water [source], in 1820, only 12% of all humans could read. Now over 83% can [source] World production has increased over 100 times in the last 200 years. [source] Access to electricity, food, I mean, it's nearly impossible for you to understand just how blinking wonderful ever little last damn thing is.

Your WarlordsBut there's a war on, and don't doubt that it's a war. Those waging it simply desire power and control. It isn't even about money—they have more than they need. This isn't imaginary. We are involved in a culture war. It's a war because harm is being done. There is a public space (the internet) and people are being driven away from it and livelihoods are being destroyed. We're beyond physical warfare, for now, we're engaged in a war of culture between various factions, who wish to co-op you for your own ends.

You see, the insanity that the culture war is thriving on, doesn't exist. Not to dismiss their concerns. But the realities of these situations is well educated, well meaning people, are gaining more and more power and resources to make things better and better for all people everywhere all the time. In all cases. Do you not believe me?

Behold, the infamous C-16! The Canadian "transgender law" of great dispute. No matter what you think, no one can read the discourse over the bill and claim for one second that the people discussing it aren't well-educated, well-meaning, and passionately interested in creating the best society possible.

So if you're caught up in this culture war, because you've voluntarily entered yourself into someone's system of control or perhaps have become a victim to it, driven out of spaces, harrassed, and just not involved because it's too difficult to bear the constant conflict, then, well, you are a sign that the culture war is winning and we are losing.

I was guilty of being a righteous man. It is a trait of youth, and now that I am older, I fear myself then. I think a smarter man than I am would also fear the righteous. They are so pure and certain in a world with no certainty. By it's nature, someone has to suffer from that.

One of the prime conflict of adulthood is assimilating into society. It's always been difficult to do so, perhaps more today without rites of passage and the changing world. Much easier to claim corruption of what came before and in your own certainty to attack the old world with fire. Those who would create this new better pure world (over our insanely good one) never imagine that the gun they wish to aim at others would ever be aimed at themselves.

I'm just a man, who like you, longs to not suffer indignity and maintain my pride. But that is not the way the world works. You cannot exist, they must have you within their control. Shared articles, advertisements, data mining, facebook and cambridge analytical. All lies to get you within a system of control.

And now that we're almost to the point of sounding like a paranoid rant. . . this is relevant to Dungeons and Dragons because-
Fire down belowThis is the nature of man. In a world of Dungeons & Dragons, you have, by definition, tremendous inequality. There are archmages with incalculable power, god-cults, hoards driven forth by demi-gods. One group of people is focused on their basic needs. Another, with power, immortality, and wealth—they can become the most righteous of all.

Secondly, it reminds us that the environments that we explore, ultimately are the workings of the nature of men. In a literal sense, it is a man who creates the adventure, so it is his depths you are exploring. In a more figurative sense, the real encounters in Dungeons and Dragons are those of thinking peoples. Peoples who not only have been co-opted into someones system of control, but also individuals who are human.
You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way?
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does

Many people have difficulty imagining that other people are truly different than them.A large portion of the world finds the idea of wiping with paper and sitting on toilets to be a disgusting practice. Ancient romans had no concept of hetero- or homo-sexuality, rather they viewed sexual preference (and sexual power dynamics) related to who was the penetrator or penetratee.

Yes, functionally we are all human. But the ways in which we approach and think about life are radically different. Those ancient peoples would seem alien. But to their thinking, their beliefs and logic are irrefutable.

When the players interact with someone, they are not a caricature. As different as they were, there were a million romans smarter then you. You know your well held beliefs? There are people with 50 more IQ points than you that hold the opposite beliefs for extremely logical reasons you may struggle to understand. Why is this not so for all people?

It is.

Your environments should be shaped by minds like these.
Your characters should have minds that make them people, not caricatures.
Your monsters should have interactions with characters that make them monstrous.
The worst monsters should be people. It isn't Tiamat that's the danger in Dragon Queen, it's her cult.

The game is a form of catharsis, one made all the more meaningful by real choices, choices that feel real when people are represented as people. The mechanical nature of this is simple. They should have concerns outside of whatever purpose they serve in the game, monsters and humans alike.

Oh, but why this topic? I've long passed a time of righteousness. I'm going to enter the culture war just as far as designing adventures that are easy to use and creativing evocative dungeons enters it. I'm not going to worry about how others or society might describe me. I know my truth, and how I'm viewed by other people—my own conscious will guide me, as difficult and treacherous a road that is. . .

Any day you're drawing dungeons is a good day. Relax, live your best life and enjoy. And I hope to see you free.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Some Thoughts On Amazing Adventures Manual of Monsters By Jason Vey From Troll Lord Games

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 04/10/2018 - 06:20
So today I got off the phone with one of my players & we've been discussing the pros & cons of  Amazing Adventures Manual of  Monsters by Jason Vey. Now I'm no stranger to Pulp & Golden Age superhero games I've run everything from Mercenaries, Spies, & Private Eyes to Call of Cthulhu along with Justice Inc. I've even done the run of White Wolf's Aberrant line straight down through TSR Marvel Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gardens of Ynn

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 11:13

By Emmy Allen
Dying Stylishly Games
Level 3-5

The Gardens of Ynn is a point-crawl adventure set in an ever-shifting extradimensional garden. Each expedition generates its route as it explores, resulting in new vistas being unlocked with every visit.

This 79 page product is a method for generating freaky garden locations/pointcrawls in a an alternate “garden dimension.” Evocative writing helps lend a hand to the sunny just-a-little-bit-off character that lends an almost dreamy air to the locations. The gothic horror of a brightly lit victorian garden is fully on display. It also could do with some bolding, tighter writing for the DM mechanics, some cross-referencing, and, ultimately, is not an adventure but rather a location generator.

I’m having a hard time describing the environments this creates. I keep falling back to the “brightly lit gothic horror of VIctorian gardens” that I used in my summary. This thing does a great job of communicating that vibe. Not the full on gonzo of the more recent Alice movies, but rather the cartoon and/or the original Alice stories. Just a little off. And just a little creepy because of that. It’s a nice vibe, different, and certainly one of the most well-done in this genre.

This is a combination of the encounters and the writing. The locations are random, a combination of a location and a detail about it. The Wood – of Dead Birds. The glass-roofed cemetery. A smouldering hothouse. The combinations that are generated seem to work well together and being to spark your thinking when you roll them. Each has a small evocative description. “Fruit trees spaced out every few yards, coppiced so their branches start five feet above the ground. Trunks now gnarled and grizzled with age, branches extending into a tangled canopy that ends fifty feet up.” or “Steel frameworks hold up a tangle of overgrown vines, producing dappled shade beneath them.” or “The ground is littered with dead birds, as if they dropped out of the sky suddenly. Brightly coloured, their feather’ all broken and bedraggled.” To this might be added an event, or creature, or treasure, again, almost all of them with a terse and evocative description. From there is up’s to the DM to figure out why the formal orchard, littered with dead birds, has a treasure of gold coins in a wooden box, with the praying mantis creature wandering about. It all kind of works, for the almost dream-like, or slightly fever-induced, environment.

In all, about fifteen pages are devoted to each section; bestiary, locations, details, rando tables to spice things up, etc. One nice feature is that the main tables needed to generate a location are all grouped next to each other on adjacent pages. They could have used a cross-reference to the specific page number the text description appears on, in order to make the DM’s life a little easier.

There’s DM text for each entry also, and this is where things start to break down. It can get long, especially as the rooms get freakier the deeper you go in to the endless garden. Bolding, better use of whitespace, a tighter edit, would have all made a difference here.

The issue is, of course, running it at the table. You have a roll on the location table, and the details table. And maybe an event or creature. And then maybe looking up each of those entries (remember, no cross-references to page numbers on the tables), and then grokking the descriptions of each. And then tearing through the DM text, which can be a full page long for the more complex locations. It produces interesting results, but I have my doubts about running it at the table without longish pauses. I’d be interested in knowing about that aspect if anyone runs this.

It does so much right to creature the atmosphere. From the entryway being a chalk drawn door on a garden wall to various rumor-hooks about old books, half-remembered tales and the like. Higher numbers on the tables allow for d12 dice rolls when things are calm and d20’s when things get freaky, and so on, which is a nice duel-use feature.

But, it also is JUST a collection of tables. There’s nothing to put things together for a narrative. Something feels off about it. I was thinking about that, comparing it to my favorite adventure, from Fight On, the Upper Caves. That adventure is just some simple rooms. It has a couple of tough monsters, but no ‘Boss of the Level” or other overarching goal. It’s just an explore/loot adventure. That should be what this one is also, but they feel different from each other. Maybe it is the theming of certain sections in the Upper Caves that makes it feel different? I don’t know. The random treasure seems light for a gold-xp game, so maybe not “loot it.” At best, it seems like you could use this by placing another location or person/knowledge somewhere deep in it and make it a stepping stone for the party to get at their prize.

This is $3 on DriveThru. The preview shows you some of the intro text about the gardens and then the core tables for generating locations.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Visit Skaro

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 11:00
For those of you not familiar with Doctor Who lore (which I would imagine are vanshing few members of my audience, but still), Skaro is the homeworld of those plunger-armed, shrill-voiced robotic monsters, the Daleks.

According to the map, first appearing in The Dalek Book (1964), Skaro is almost D&D Outer Plane weird. Check out the named locales here:

Seas of Rust, Ooze, and Acid. The Lake of Mutations. The Radiation Range. All pretty dire stuff. Also, don't miss the note on the giant "serpents" of Darren that are really mutated earthworms!
If that's not enough, subterranean Skaro, is just as weird:

An Amazing Adventures Campaign Pitch & OSR Commentary

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 04/09/2018 - 03:31
Earlier today  wasn't around on the inter webs instead I got a chance to steal away to a nearby town & speak with some friends about classic pulp magazines & comic books. We spoke at length over beers & game of Old Hammer Romans vs Saxons on the coast of Britain. My buddy Steve & I commanded the Roman scum against the Saxon dogs who were being run by Paul & his buddy Trevor. We were using a sixNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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