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Here's a Kickstarter I could get behind!

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 20:10


Three things!
1 - Made for solo play with options for two player and cooperative play.
2 - Great components.
3 - I know the guy and he's fulfilled multiple Kickstarters on time. Not a small thing!

Take a look


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A5 Gamers' Notebook MKII

Oubliette - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 19:20
The first print run of my A5 Gamers' Notebooks sold out at the end of lest year. I'm ready to order a reprint, but want to tweak the design. The original version looked like this although I think this image is based on the smaller (same format) A6 version:

Here's what I have in mind for the new version:



















It has the same 6mm square as the original design, but I've now added a page of 7mm hexes on the facing pages, which are scaled to match my existing A5 hex pads. To keep the Notebook utility I've included some lines under the mapping area.

I plan to print them on higher quality 120gsm paper instead of the 100gsm used previously. They will have 50 pages and I expect to sell them for £4.50 each. I don't need a Kickstarter for these, but they'll still be some sort of preorder offer with special pricing.

I'm interested to get some feedback on them, particularly from previous/existing Gamers' Notebook users.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Coming to a Kick Starter Near You

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 16:22
New card and dice games.

Get one, some or all sixteen games. Watch for more info in the next few weeks.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] Orcs in Tarodun’s Tomb (2018) vs. Borshak’s Lair (1976)

Beyond Fomalhaut - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 13:38

Orcs in Tarodun’s Tomb (2018) vs. Borshak’s Lair (1976)by Kiel Chenier (and Paul Jaquays)Published by ZeroBarrier Productions (and Paul Jaquays, reprinted by Judges Guild)1st to 2nd level (5thedition D&D) vs. low-level (OD&D)
Orcs in Tarodun's Tomb“A sepulchral tomb. Magical tricks and traps. Brutish orcs guarding a vast underground treasure.” This is how Orcs in Tarodun’s Tomb describes the “quintessential first-time D&D experience” it seeks to recapture in this beginner-oriented scenario. It rings a Pavlovian bell. Many of us have played this adventure in one way or another. In your case, it might have been Keep on the Borderlands. In my case, it was a mine, and my character died was killed by the orcs in one of the early rooms, but close enough. I don’t think Orcs in Tarodun’s Tomb is a good low-level orcs-in-a-hole module, and I will outline why below.
It may not sound fair, but I will compare it to the gold standard of low-level orcs-in-a-hole modules, Paul Jaquays’ Borshak’s Lair(it is found in The Dungeoneer’s Compendium, one of the more accessible and affordable of the forgotten classics). The two are fairly comparable:
  • they are both low-level affairs (although Borshak’s assumes the YUGE OD&D-style party of several PCs and flunkies);
  • they are both short: Borshak’s is 7 dense, typewritten pages, with an updated, cleaned-up version in 13; Tarodun’s is 16 with breezier layout and frequent illustrations); 
  • they share the same premise and aesthetics (vanilla fantasy, both rooted in their respective era).

And yet, Borshak’s makes for a hell of a beginner mini-dungeon, and Tarodun’s doesn’t. What makes for the difference?
I have said it before, but here it is again: like most of the modern mini-adventures, this one lacks scope. In its day, Borshak’s Lair would have been considered a mini-dungeon: nevertheless, it has 29 encounter areas, and it is brimming with creative encounters. Based on a circular layout, it is a small, complex environment divided between a humanoid-inhabited western, and a haunted eastern half; it is full of magical enigmas, tricks, and secrets, and there are oodles of vicious combat with hordes of enemies. In comparison, Tarodun’s Tomb is an eight-room lair: mostly a linear sequence of encounters with a mini-boss, a puzzle, and a final boss. Even considering changes in the style of play since the 1970s, and the more involved tactical combat of recent editions, this is a huge difference, and a shame. The width and complexity of Borshak’s opens up the playing field to enable strategic decision-making within a fairly compact space: there are many ways the scenario may play out, the players (or the orcs) may use the terrain to their advantage, and there are numerous exploration opportunities. You will never find everything in Borshak’s, but you will find a lot of stuff even if you don’t pay too much attention. Tarodun’s Tomb does not offer these possibilities: you can’t do much more than move through the dungeon and deal with the encounters as the GM dictates the pace. Even if you find everything, you will not come away with much. It is bite-sized, and linear.
The Map ProblemThere are differences in the approaches you can take. Physical space does have an effect: where there are multiple routes through, you can find more or less direct approaches, try stealth or an ambush (essential against numerical superiority), and perhaps even avoid the denizens directly in your way. There are even voluminous drapes to hide behind and exploit. In a linear lair dungeon, these possibilities are not present. The same goes for a more social approach. In Borshak, only two of the orcs (their Hero leader, and a magic-user underling) have personalities, but the presence of different dungeon groups may be exploited as different factions (although it is not known if this was a common thing in the 70s, it features heavily in Jaquays’ later work). In Tarodun’s, although the orcs are suggested to be women, and they can be customised through an optional random table, the possibilities of out-of-the-box play are more restricted. Admittedly, there is a shortcut allowing the company to “hack” the adventure by either making off with the treasure with minimal confrontation, or letting two opposing forces in the mini-dungeon fight it out. This is very nice, and the best thing about the module, but there is too little of it.
The encounters have different depth in the two modules. Tarodun’s doesn’t offer much beyond a little descriptive detail and some extra looting. The encounters are functional, but one-note. There is an inexplicable double-cross where an NPC saved from certain and painful death will decide to fight her saviours (who are bound to outnumber and outclass her) to the death. This is, no offence, dumb and a terrible lesson for beginners; the absolute nadir of the adventure. There is a central “keyhole puzzle” gating off an area which has one way through (two if we include the secret shortcut). This is not a good thing. You can’t do much with it. Borshak’s Lair is brimming with ideas. There is an intelligent magic amulet who can be an asset or a huge liability. The central area has a “bottomless pit” teleporting you into an insidious trap, an evil orc prank, and five ways forward through secret passages (some of which can also be used to hide baddies who can assault the PCs from all sides). In the next room, there is an animated statue who is really a cursed Hero compelled to fight the party. In the middle of the barracks area, there are four statues with special powers/functions. It is funhouse design, but you can fiddle with things, find secrets, and secrets-within-secrets-within secrets (there is a trap containing treasure, concealing another treasure hoard guarded by a dangerous monster).
Finally, let’s consider the module’s suitability for the “quintessential first-time D&D experience”. There is a philosophy which says first adventures should have training wheels, and should not be too overwhelming. I don’t think this is a good approach, particularly in the age of ubiquitous, affordable digital entertainment. Providing a focus for play is fine (“here be orcs and treasure, have at them!”), but I fully believe RPGs should be sold by highlighting their full creative potential. In a truncated scenario, you will see the game’s limitations (slower pace, lack of visual stimulus), but not its versatility and freedom. Tarodun’s Tombhas the same limits as every eight-rooms-in-16-pages module on RPGNow. You don’t get Borshak’s, and you don’t even get the Caves of Chaos from The Keep on the Borderlands (let alone the full, rich B2 experience with the Keep’s intrigue, the killer wilderness, and the digressions hinting at a wider world). You get one cave, and for all the ‘Bree Yark’ it can provide, the magic of interlocking mini-dungeons, the mystery of several cave mouths opening before you in the sides of a ravine, the hazards of picking the more dangerous areas are not present. Tarodun’s Tomb does not serve as a good gateway to gaming: it is a cat’s flap into a 10’ by 10’ supply closet, with orcs.
This adventure module is not badly written (in fact, the text is fairly compact and well-presented via bullet-point lists), and the information is structured efficiently. The map is pleasing to look at, with good cross-hatching. The stock illustrations are nice. I like the cover. But it is not a good scenario, for beginners or otherwise. Where recent old-school offerings are considered, get Tomb of the Serpent Kings, a far superior beginner scenario with all its structural issues (just in quantitative terms, 52 keyed areas in 22 pages) and forget this one. Or roll up a YUGE party of retainers and hangers-on, and go for broke in the Caves of Chaos or Borshak’s Lair.
No playtesters are listed in this publication.
Rating: * / ***** vs. ***** / *****
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Medieval Law

Hack & Slash - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 12:00
I'm no medieval historian.

The idea of a town guard is a rather terrible case of presentism. The idea of a full time guard in towns, villages, and hamlets, much less jails is an anachronism. Yet medieval law can clearly be traced back to the Norman Conquest of 1066 CE. It would be the 1800's before the idea of a paid full-time security professional would have existed in the public's mind.

How did they keep order?

In the spring, with the chill of winter still in the area, the shire reeve had a duty to gather a group of men coming of age and bind them to a Tithing. All those such were bound to their brothers. If one committed a crime, the others would pay for it. This is not the entirety of it. Each is bound to give a hue and cry. If a crime is committed and the criminal escapes, where members of the tithing could have stopped them or given chase, they can be punished as if they had committed the crime themselves.

So what were punishments? How were the guilty tried?

Humanity during this time frequently engaged in debates as to the value or worth of a person and how laws should be enforced. This discussion is the body of work that produced the common law principals. Even though there were no guards or jails, it is this system of judges that is involved in a crime.

"Modern" investigative techniques such as bullet forensics and lie detectors are nearly pseudo-science, so you can imagine what detective techniques were like for the investigators in 400 CE. Many cases ended up with a local "judge" deciding on the trustworthiness of two individuals. This position is likely both more and less formal then you imagine, considering the records. These were often just men of good character acting in interest of their own peace. This is a good motivation for suspicion of strangers, as they have no bonds to keep them from committing a crime.

Most crimes were fights and thefts, not complex heists. Often there were assaults and murders. In the community, these "crimes" were conflicts that the judges attempted to balance. These crimes can include gossiping or malingering, but Their goal was to "make the crime right" by having the criminal balance the loss from the crime or damage. This was the method via which disagreements were settled. Gossiping wasn't a crime to do, but that d**k Rafold has been telling lies about you. Take him to court! It was a tool used to balance disagreements.

But real crimes? Anti-community crimes? Bandrity, treason, sedition, mass murder, repeated theft, the records include a variety of punishments, trials by fire, bread, combat and water. But these were extremely rare. After being found guilty by a judge, the guilty for these crimes were often burned, hanged, or tortured, depending on the crime. These categories are quite broad and often include punishments custom made to fit the crime.

Here are more of my population procedures.

Town Guards

Most town guards consist of locals who have a vested interest in keeping the peace. If they see a crime being committed, They will raise a hue and cry. This will cause all the innocent lawful locals to give chase and attempt to restrain the players. These are 0-level unarmored and unencumbered men and women. They are either unarmed, or carrying a small hand weapon (1d4). The hue and cry will draw 2d6 local militia within a turn. Local militia are 1st-level fighters equipped with chain saps, swords, and crossbows.

In a city or metropolis, there will be a watch. These volunteers are often subsidised by the local lord. They frequently consist of both local military and veteran soldiers. The hue and cry will draw 1d4 1st-level fighters within a single round, in addition to the 0-level people responding to the crime. At the end of a turn 2d6 local militia show up as above, except they are accompanied by a 3rd level sergeant.

Mages and clerics are much too important to be a part of the watch or guard.

Crime

If someone is caught for a crime, consider the judgment! The judge could be swayed to reduce your punishment by spending money on an attorney or a bribe. These usually run 100-400 gold pieces each. Your charisma also influences the crime roll. However, strong evidence, previous criminal behavior and character witnesses will provide penalties for the opposing sides. The DM will set the total bonus considering all applicable factors.

There are three categories of crime:
Minor. Disturbing the peace, public drunkenness, or trespassing
Major. Assault, battery, kidnapping, theft, and vandalism.
Severe. Arson, heresy, murder, rape, robbery, sedition, treason.

Roll for the result
2 Severe Punishment (includes mild and normal punishment)
3-5 Punishment (includes mild punishments)
6-8 Mild Punishment
9-12 Freed.

Each type of crime has different punishment types.
Minor crimes have a mild punishment of a fine, a punishment of being placed in the stocks and a fine, and a severe punishment of being placed in the stocks and whipped. Major crimes have a mild punishment of being branded, a punishment of being tortured, and a severe punishment of being maimed, losing a hand, ear or tongue. Severe crimes have a mild punishment of torture and exile, a punishment of murder, and a severe punishment of a excruciating extended drawn-out execution.

YMMV.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How to Get D&D Players to Make Unforgettable Character Introductions That Take a Minute or Less

DM David - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 11:45

Whenever I serve as a dungeon master for strangers at conventions, I learn things that improve my game. But the games where I play Dungeons & Dragons teach me too.

I try to start convention games by giving players a chance to introduce their characters, but sometimes I forget. Not long ago, my lapse hardly seemed to matter. Most character introductions seem forgettable anyway. If you’ve seen one 6th-level barbarian, you’ve seen them all, right? Would anyone notice if I skipped the routine and let the characters reveal themselves in play?

Yes. Playing taught me that I notice.

This year at the Origins Game Fair, I played in several D&D games where the DM skipped character introductions.

In these sessions, learning about the party members could take hours. In my mind’s eye, I would fight alongside faceless placeholders, learning nothing more than that they rolled a hit and scored damage. Three hours in, someone would volunteer to heal and their placeholder would reveal a class. Only by the end of the slot would my comrades in arms come into focus.

I missed the character introductions.

Still, introductions where everyone just recites name, race, and class hardly seem worth the time. I won’t remember those labels, and I suspect names disappear from other players’ memory as quickly as they slip mine.

Instead of stating names, give each player a note card to fold into a tent. Have the players write their character’s name, race, and class on each side. Now everyone can see each character’s essentials.

These race-class descriptions give nothing to inspire interaction between characters, so consider asking players to write one more detail—something visual that invites interaction. I suggest asking players to write one aspect of your character that people can see and that someone might find curious. “During the idle moments at the table, your character may want to ask their companions about these unusual features.”

Before your game, make a sample tent that shows the format you want.

A good spoken introduction presents a character so vividly that it proves unforgettable. It reveals a hook that invites interaction with the character. And it shows a character quickly enough to leave time for 5 or 6 other introductions, plus time to actually play the game.

I’ve wondered how ask players to make such a strong, brief introduction in the moments available. By Origins, I knew the answer. When I played at Teos Abadia’s table at Winter Fantasy, he demonstrated an elegant technique. He asks players to think of the opening credits of 80s TV shows like the A-Team or T.J. Hooker. These sequences show each character in action, and then end with a name flashed across the screen. Teos asks each player to describe their D&D character in such a montage. “Players get concept because they’ve seen those kind of TV shows, and usually they’ll do something that’s really cool.” The format encourages players to describe brief, vivid scenes that demonstrate what makes their character special. To prompt ideas, ask a question like, “Describe a moment from another adventure when your character used their talents to save the day.” The scene doesn’t have to come from game play. Montages can pull clips from later in the season or unaired pilots.

As players first reach your table, and before they even unpack dice, start them thinking about their character’s introduction. Most players appreciate a few minutes to dream up their scene.

Begin the instructions with a player who shows signs a being an enthusiastic role player. Choose the person who brought their own table tent complete with a character portrait, or who already told a story about their character, or just seems outgoing.

If you can spare extra time for introductions and want to encourage interaction, make a second turn around the table where players tell how their character knows another party member. In a post on encouraging role playing, I recommended having players invent a reason their character feels loyalty, friendship, or trust toward another character at the table. Among strangers gathering for a 4-hour game, this seems like a daunting exercise. Instead, ask each player to explain why they trust that another character can help the party. Reluctant players can just restate something revealed during the cinematic montage, but the word “trust” leaves room for enthusiastic role players to invent deeper bonds.

For more from Teos on character introductions, see his post Using Cinematic Montages in RPGs, and this appearance on NewbieDM’s Minicast.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1d6 Random Low Level Occult Adventure Locations Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 06:16
"There are places where adventure has settled in like the cloak of a crow's wings on a Winter's day. Corruption & degeneration have come home to roust with the greed & misfortune of any who cross these places path in the offering.  These places  have become lairs of evil where misdeeds have lain treasure on the very doorstep of places where once the sun shined. Can your adventurers help to Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Box Breaking 251: Folklore the Affliction Dark Tales Expansion

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 07/24/2018 - 03:06

In this Box Breaking Matt takes a look at the Dark Tales expansion for Folklore the Affliction.Where players try to stop evil from advancing into the heart of the land.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I think I will get to play this October.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gen Con 2018: Ares Games to preview Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles

Gamer Goggles - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 22:24

Gen Con 2018: Ares Games to preview Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles

 

First copies of the retail edition of Master of the Galaxy will also be available at the show, together with new expansions for Sword & Sorcery

 

Ares Games will present for the first time at Gen Con 2018 (Booth #335, August 2-5, Indianapolis) a preview of the upcoming Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles, miniature game. Based on the Battlestar Galactica™ TV series, the game is scheduled to be available at the end of 2018. At the show, visitors will also be able to play with the upcoming Wings of Glory – Tripods & Triplanes.

In addition to these previews, new games also release at the show: the board game of galactic conquest Master of the Galaxy and new expansions for the Sword & Sorcery line – the Hero Packs Krogham and Samyria and the third campaign set, Darkness Falls.

Players will also have a chance to take a look at the new expansion for This War of Mine: the Board GameTales from the Ruined City (scheduled to release in November 2018), and to play recent releases with the assistance of the Ares demo team: the epic strategy game Hannibal & Hamilcar: Rome vs Carthage; the thrilling card game Monsters vs. Heroes – Victorian Nightmares; two new games published by Pendragon and exclusively distributed in North America by Ares – Hexemonia and Waterloo: Enemy Mistakes.

At Ares’ booth, visitors will find several exclusive promo items offered together with purchases at the booth, including the alternate “Frodo” promo card for Hunt for the Ring, the mini-expansion “TV Set” for This War of Mine: the Board Game, the promo pack “Chaos in Hadria” for Age of Thieves, the promo cards “Necronomicon” and “H.P. Lovecraft” for Stay Away, and “Bubi” for Last Friday.

In addition to the activity at the booth, Ares will also be present in the Events Hall A, from Thursday to Saturday, with lots of Wings of Glory WW1 and WW2, Sails of Glory, Sword & Sorcery events, and open gaming with all the great titles by Ares and our partners Galakta and PHALANX.

 

FIRST LOOK AT BATTLESTAR GALACTICA – STARSHIP BATTLES

 

Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles is a combat miniature game based on the Battlestar   Galactica™ TV series, including both the “Classical” and “Reimagined” settings. Players will take control of Colonial and Cylon spaceships and face each other in furious dogfights and daring missions, piloting beautiful pre-assembled and pre-painted miniatures, faithfully representing the spaceships from both the Re-imagined and Classic versions of the shows.

Designed by Andrea Angiolino (Wings of Glory, Sails of Glory) and Andrea Mainini (Sails of Glory), the game uses a unique game system, inspired by its “glorious” predecessors, but at the same time featuring many new features, to represent the cinematic, yet realistic space battles of the show.

Battlestar Galactica – Starship Battles will be first presented to the public at Gen Con 2018, in a demo table with pre-production samples. The game will release at the end of the year, with a Starter Set and the first two Spaceship Packs – Viper Mk. II and Cylon Raider. More info about the game is available at Ares Games website.

 

NEW GAMES AT GEN CON

Master of the Galaxy – A fast playing 4? board game for 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, Master of the Galaxy presents a unique and innovative blend of bag-building, card-drafting, and tech-tree development mechanics, inspired by classic science-fiction, movies and computer games. Nine Elder Races are expanding through space, ready to assimilate or exterminate anybody who stands in their way. Players are challenged to conquer the Galaxy, starting with one-star system, one Species card, and a modest supply of resources. Players can choose different ways to dominate the Galaxy – trying to quickly spread their people across the stars, developing science to a level unreachable by the opponents, or embarking on a methodical extermination of the rivals. A complete game requires 1 to 2 hours, depending on the number of players.

The game was funded with a Kickstarter campaign and will be in distribution just after the KS fulfillment is completed. At Gen Con, Ares will have the first copies of the retails edition for sale.

Sword & Sorcery Darkness Falls – In this second campaign expansion for Sword & Sorcery Immortal Souls, the heroes’ path brings them toward their final destiny. Players are challenged to complete the heroes’ epic campaign across the quests of this expansion, recreating the final act of their legendary saga. High soulrank powers, treasures, and challenging enemies await you! Be prepared for the most intense and glorious experience in the Sword & Sorcery lands!

Darkness Falls includes 20 new lethal enemies: Succubi, Skeletons, Death Knights, and Werewolves, two new, powerful master enemies, 14 new modular boards, new Act II cards for items, traps, treasures, events and enemies. The campaign is played through seven new high-level quests, using the innovative combination of Storybook, Book of Secrets and cards to create a challenging, story-driven climax to the Immortal Souls campaign.

This expansion will pre-release at Gen Con with a limited number of copies arriving at the show. It will be in distribution by September 2018.

Sword & Sorcery Kroghan and Samyria Hero Packs The world of Sword & Sorcery always needs new heroes, and the Hero Packs introduce new, powerful characters into the game. Following the four Hero Packs already released – Onamor, Victoria, Morrigan and Ryld, two new characters debut at Gen Con – Kroghan and Samyria.

Kroghan is the fiercest warrior of his Clan of the Northern Lands and can be played as either a Barbarian or a Dreadlord. As a Barbarian, Kroghan is an example of extreme courage, a champion who gathers heroes under his guidance and leads them into battle. As a Dreadlord, he is a cold-blooded and remorseless warrior, a dreadful champion.

Samyria is daughter of the Earth, bear–friend and skin–changer. She can be played as either a Druid or Shaman. As a Druid, Samyria is able to control the forces of nature, summoning grasping roots from the ground and ultimately changing her body into a gigantic Grizzly. As a Shaman, she calls and interacts with all the spirits of Otherworld. She can control the battlefield by creating soul totems and commanding Bjorn, her valuable Grizzly companion.

 

PREVIEW AT GEN CON 2018

Wings of Glory – Tripods & Triplanes – A new setting for Wings of Glory, the best-selling airplane miniature. Tripods & Triplanes introduces a new twist to the game, as the WW1 historical setting is turned upside down by the crossover with H.G. Wells’ imaginative novel “The War of the Worlds.” In Tripods & Triplanes, what should be the year the war ends, 1918, becomes the “Year of the Invasion.” Two different generations of Martian Tripods, one more advanced than the other, land on Earth, in two invasion waves. The knights of the air battle against these colossal fighting machines. Players will take control of an awesome Martian Tripod, set upon bringing death and destruction on our planet, or fly the most advanced flying machines created by Mankind during World War One, and try to use them to win the War of the Worlds.

Tripods & Triplanes is a stand-alone game, fully compatible with the WW1 Wings of Glory game line. It’s due to release in September, and an advanced prototype will be presented at Gen Con.

For more information about these games, visit Ares Games website – www.aresgames.eu. At Gen Con 2018, visit Ares Games at booth #335 and in Events Hall A.

 

 

About Ares Games

Ares Games is an Italian board game publisher established in 2011 to create quality hobby products for the international audience. Ares Games is the publisher of the award-winning “War of the Ring” board game, of “Wings of Glory” range of airplane combat games and miniatures, recreating aerial warfare in WW1 and WW2, and more recently, of the award-winning tactical ship-to-ship miniature game “Sails of Glory,” and the cooperative tactical miniatures game “Galaxy Defenders” and “Sword and Sorcery.” Ares Games’ catalog also includes Family Games and Euro Games. For further information, visit the website www.aresgames.eu and the Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/AresGames.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Fantasy Trip Kickstarter is live

Bat in the Attic - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 17:28
The Fantasy Trip, Melee, and Wizard are among the first games designed by Steve Jackson of Steve Jackson Games. They fairly rule lite using 3d6 (roll low) to resolve combat and magic. It is also one of the first line of games to straddle the line between RPGs and Wargames. Melee and Wizard are two standalone wargames. Melee focuses on a quick system to resolving melee fights between combatants. While Wizards focuses on magical duels with spells.

Into the Labyrinth combines and extends these wargames into a complete RPG known as the Fantasy Trip using Advanced Melee and Advanced Wizard to handle combat and magic along with additional rules like talents.

It was originally published by Metagaming but went out of print when the company went under in the early 1980s. US copyright laws allows authors after several decades (30+ years in this case) to recover copyright to their work. Steve Jackson took advantage of this provision to acquire the rights to the original rules of the Fantasy Trip along with the right to other parts of the line he wrote like Tollenkar's Lair, and the two Death Test solo adventures.

Now Steve Jackson Games has launched a kickstarter to get all three games including Tollenkar's Lair back in print.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Jack Vance is the Soul of AD&D

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 16:06

From Gary Gygax’s introduction to The Dying Earth rpg:

Aside from ideas and specific things, the very manner in which Jack Vance portrays a fantasy environment, the interaction of characters with that environment, and with each other, is so captivating that wherever I could manage it, I attempted to include the “feel” he brings to his fantasy tales in the AD&D game. My feeble ability likely managed to convey but little of this, but in all I do believe that a not a little of what fans consider to be the “soul” of the game stems from that attempt. Of course there were, as noted, a number of other authors who had considerable influence on what I wrote, so let it suffice to conclude that in all a considerable debt of gratitude is owned to Mr. Vance, one that I am always delighted to repay whenever the opportunity arises. It should go without saying that whenever I see a new title of his, I buy it and read it with avid pleasure.

And ah, note there the reference to other Appendix N authors as having “considerable influence” on the game as well. Also, Gygax appeared as a character in one of Vance’s books. Interesting!

And check this out:

Of the other portions of the A/D&D game stemming from the writing of Jack Vance, the next most important one is the thief-class character. Using a blend of “Cugel the Clever” and Roger Zelazny’s “Shadowjack” for a benchmark, this archetype character class became what it was in original AD&D.

If you have been frustrated by the thief class and how it plays in early editions of D&D, you may want to take a look at these two characters yourself!

Finally… Neal Durando notes here that Vance’s Dying Earth setting is antithetical to the sort of setting splat books that became synonymous with rpgs in the eighties:

There is a truly great advantage offered to the Game Master when devising a campaign set on the Dying Earth. It is not highly detailed. There is no strict timeline laid down. All that has happened before is not “recorded”, nor is there an accurate gazetteer of for the world. What magic operates? Nobody can say or guess, because in the long eons of the Dying Earth’s history, likely every form possible was discovered, used, and then forgotten…almost. That means that all that’s necessary is to have the game in hand, the books that Jack Vance wrote about the world, to create a really compelling campaign environment. Using the creative base of the author, the GM’s own imagination cannot fail but to rise to the occasion.

You know, that’s strange.

It’s almost as if a familiarity with the books of Appendix N can have a drastic impact on how you even conceive of the game– and how you go about setting up your campaign or how you design supplements for it as well.

Somebody ought to look into this!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gamma Greyhawk - GW1 The Legion of Gold Adventure Plus The World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 14:54
"There is much to worry about in the mutated world of the future, but Baron Jemmas, Warder of Horn, has more on his mind than most. In recent weeks several of the outlying towns of his Barony have been wiped out by a band of mysterious golden marauders.These creatures struck from nowhere and vanished without a trace when their deeds were done. The Warder has decided that Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On the Hexplore

Hack & Slash - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 12:00
Discover the hidden wilderness game in Dungeons and Dragons!

It will bring the actual experience of discovery to your players faces. They will be excited to explore a strange fantasy world!

I'm announcing an 18 page tool to assist you with wilderness exploration, making it a breeze. It provides plenty of space for personalization, no matter what campaign you are running, from original dungeons and dragons all the way to fifth edition.

This contains a drawn 6-mile hex with a nefarious river fort, an inactive volcano with a secret jungle, a bards tower, a demon-haunted ruin, and a cavernous bandit hideout. It also contains three lairs and four landmarks, all illustrated. The document contains maps and encounters with space for your settings name and statistics. This helps you make your game exciting in a new way!

What are you waiting for! It's only 3.99$ in .pdf at rpg.now! Hurry and get it before I do something silly like raise the price! Buy here!
Does this sound exciting? Check out the rest of my also very exciting things! Or, you can aid the task of keeping me and my daughter meet our vices of 'sleeping indoors' and 'eating food' by supporting me on Patreon and get everything I do for free anyway.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Quake Alley Mayhem!

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 11:00

David Lewis Johnson has released the first adventure for his Gathox The Vertical Slum setting (read about it here): Quake Alley Mayhem. It's design for use with Swords & Wizardry, which means it will fit most retroclones well enough, and interestingly its a tournament module, so it's good for running at your local con, so people can see the sort of wild creative the OSR is about.

The setup is simple: The leader of the Purple Rockets has had a magical artifact (the Holy Driver--a big drill-thing like something a Dreadnok might use) by these cyclopean alien ne'er-do wells and he wants it back. They've hidden it in their trap-laden and dangerous "inverted tower" safehouse. Get it back, and you'll reap a reward, but you have to make it out alive.

Dave tells us the fatality rate in the playtests was well over 80%, so "mayhem" is well put. Further reason it would be perfect for a con or oneshot, though it obviously can be dropped into an ongoing campaign. The gonzo setting and weird gangs gives the whole enterprise a Heavy Metal magazine feel, or at least a Heavy Metal gloss on a grindhouse film. It's a very fitting approach and a strong answer to the question "what do you do with Gathox?"

Dave's artwork is rough, but never sloppy. It at once invokes an old school feel, but also a bit of a punk aesthetic that complete fits the material. The aesthetic continues to the pregen record sheets, but not to the map which is sensibly business-like and readily. The single column layout reads well in pdf.

If any of this sounds interesting to you, you should check out Quake Alley Mayhem. It's available at fine digital rpg sites everywhere (well, two of them).

Jessica Price and James Gunn on Free Speech

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 04:58

Below are Jessica Price’s comment on the firing of James Damore from Google and James Gunn’s remarks on Brendan Eich’s firing from Mozilla.

 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The D&D fight of the century?

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Mon, 07/23/2018 - 01:34

Daddy Warpig has just announced it on the most recent episode of Geek Gab: “We are trying to get together a show with RpgPundit and Jeffro to come on the show and debate issues of D&D and from what I understand looking at Google+, the RpgPundit just launched another broadside against Appendix N, so I am absolutely sure that if we bring this off, that will come off in the discussion…. Jeffro vs. RpgPundit in the D&D fight of the century!”

Unfortunately, not everyone out there wants to see a couple of role-playing game junkies come to blows over this. As Adam Simpson comments on the video, “RPG Pundit and Jeffro? I will listen to that! I’m not looking forward to fighting but I would like to see both of them make clear their positions on Appendix N. I get the feeling sometimes those are 2 guys who have more in common than in conflict. I like RPG Pundit but I think Jeffro’s insights on Appendix N are worthy of everyone’s attention.”

What does the RPG Pundit have to say on this? Maybe he’s mellowed on the subject of Appendix N over the past year or so…? Let’s check in with him.

Show me how many major references there were to Appendix N in print BEFORE the OSR. If it was so pivotal, that should be easy.

But you can’t. You’ll probably find some dusty Dragon article that mentioned it, once, or some single conversation on some newsgroup from the 1990s.

That’s some pretty tough talk there. You might be thinking he’s ready to throw down in a no holds barred fight to the finish on the subject. And if you are… you’re wrong:

I have no problem debating you about Appendix N, with regards to how important it is, because it just isn’t, and the historical evidence is on my side.

And if that’s a segment of the show, I have no problem with that. But I’d rather be more topical and spend time discussing a much more important subject, which is the SJWs’ attempts to take over the entire hobby.

While reposting the classic rant on my blog, which I only did because it was just it’s turn to be reposted on my list, I literally looked at it and thought to myself “well, we won’t be likely to have time to argue about minor crap like this anymore, not with what’s going down hobby-wide now”.

There you have it.

He’s coming out swinging in the comment boxes here, but as far as any kind of in depth debate on the subject of Appendix N is concerned… he’d really prefer to discuss almost anything else!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Lost In The Eighties! OSR Carcosa & OSR Actual Play Workshop Session II Giant Monster Boogaloo

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 18:35
So with the latest Godzilla: King of The Monsters trailer drop the other day from Comic Con I've had to content with players talking non stop about Kaiju or 'titans' last night. Sure what a problem?! But is it really one?Well no not really at all. I've already got my  Lost In The Eighties! OSR  Carcosa game already in play. The fact is that I can use a combination of Mutant Future /Gamma Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Thrilling Locations

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 14:00

My ebay buying out of print game spree continued last week with me picking up most of the modules for the Indiana Jones rpg and getting a lot of James Bond stuff. The James Bond rpg has been justifiably praised, but one thing I don't seem people mention too much (at least not as much as the Q Manual) is the book Thrilling Locations.

Thrilling Locations is the equivalent of a very detailed "setting book" for the world of James Bond, or perhaps it's more the equivalent of the Flying Buffalo City Guides. It is very detailed, but it is also completely full of practical information of interest to players and GMs alike. Need to know the minimum bet on the roulette wheels in the American Room at the Casino de Monte Carlo? It's got you covered. How about the nightly rate for a suite at the Hotel de Paris when the Grand Prix is going on? It's got that too.

There are descriptions of how various gambling diversion work in the real world, a floorplan of the MGM Grand Hotel, a section on the features of luxury yachts, and the whole skinny on the Orient Express. While I can't vouch for the accuracy of all of this information, copyright notices in various places make me modern if this is a fairly accurate representation of the places and things covered circa 1985. If so, it makes it an interesting time capsule.

Thrilling Locations is an interesting read, and would be an indispensable research for a game set in the era dealing with the lifestyles of the wealthy and jett-setting.

Reflections on the Past Several Months and Looking Forward

19th Level - Sun, 07/22/2018 - 03:21


While my blog has avoided going into hiatus, it has gone from double-digit posts per month to just a few. Suffice to say, the past few months have not been boring.

Last September and October weren't too bad for the blog - a little bit of a slowdown but not too bad. Then on October 31st my younger daughter was hospitalized. As any parent no doubt knows, there's nothing so horrible as a threat to one of your kids. 
I've also been busy with grad school. I've been pursuing my master's degree in strategic analytics since September 2005. It's been a long slog - while the material hasn't gotten more difficult, I've found keeping at it more and more difficult as time goes on. I've managed to do so though and have just begun my 10th and final class. If all goes well, I will finish the program in the end of September. 
My professional life was upended this summer, as I was laid off from my job in mid-June. I'd first joined EMC all the way back in 2002 after the startup I'd been worked out went under a little over a month after the birth of my first child. I'd not planned on staying so long but I had the opportunity to wear a few gazillion hats and further my career and skills in many ways. The silver lining is my job search went extremely well and I'll be starting a new job next week - one I'm really looking forward to. 
I had to miss some convention opportunities as a result of all this - I was unsure I'd be able to make it even when I was employed due to school - once I knew I was losing my job, I couldn't justify such expenses.
With all of this, time for hobbies has been greatly reduced. I managed to keep gaming fairly regularly, though I do appreciate the opportunity to have played instead of GM-ed when I felt my creative energies at a nadir. 
I imagine the next two months will be a bit tight as well as I begin my new job and work my way through this final class. Hopefully not quite as tight as the past two have been. I'd really like to bring the frequency of updates to this blog back up. 
There have been some good things going on in life. We've been teaching our eldest daughter how to drive and she's started her first part-time job. Our youngest has joined in gaming - she loves Call of Cthulhu. She'll be traveling to Japan for two weeks in October as part of a cultural exchange program (and her parents will do their best to avoid being constantly worried during those two weeks).
There's been a number of games coming out of late that I'd love to get the change to play - so many games, so little time. I've not had time to digest it fully yet, but the new RuneQuest looks wonderful. I've received the backer previews of Goodman Games' Lankhmar and I don't think I've ever seen the setting handled better. While it's not new, I recently received the Fantasy Flight Games' reprint of the West End Games 1st edition Star Wars RPG.

I am hoping that life get a little more boring going forward.  Or that it be exciting in good ways. 
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Tegel Manor Bound - Meeting & Actual Play Event Plus More Tegel Free Resources

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 18:01
"The PC's are on their way as the dead stars of a million planes wheel overhead. The land around them is unreal & seems to change with each foot fall as they approach the village. The pit of their stomachs aches with stepping foot back into that Fey village again. Will the inhabitants remember them?! Is there now a murderer among them & are there other factions among the populace of Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

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