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GameHole Con 2017 Photo Dump

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 02:42
Yes, I spent most of my time in the vendor's hall. Hey, its where all the cool kids were ;)

Sharing with minimal comments...

Convinced Rach I need a 3d printer for Christmas...
Still trying to convince Rach we NEED The Well for our new shower curtain, lace be damned!

Laughter is awesome!

Venger & I

Jolly & I

Rach bought a dice cup and some coasters
AS&SH arrived today. My weekend is shot

Swords & Wizardry sold well

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

November Campaign Design V - Lippegen

Greyhawk Grognard - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 22:00
So last time I covered some details about New Valais, and now I'd like to put a little meat on the Lippegen bone. The map hasn't changed:

Lippegen is my pseudo-Germany colony, linked back to the Dual Kingdom of Grott-Heimburg, with its Summer King and Winter King who swap roles at the equinoxes.

I see Lippegen as the second colony founded, after New Valais, and its territory spans from the Uffberry River in the north down to the mountains south of the Southrun. This gives them an enormous frontier they can exploit, through the forest to the north as well as the valley to the southeast (in which they will inevitably run into conflict with New Valais as their efforts meet in the poorly-defined border area). The key to their expansion eastward is the town of Osttur, which commands a strategic gap in the mountains and serves as the gateway into the Shining River valley as well as its northern section.

The whole is ruled by the Herzog of Lippegen, Oscar I. Founded some 80 years ago by the grandfather of the current ruler, and stocked with continuous shipments of new serfs, prisoners, and goblinoid mercenaries, the colony has been steadily built up. Oscar's father, Frederic, was especially aware of the importance of roads to the nascent colonial venture, and embarked on a great road-building program, linking all of the towns in the country. The road between Durst and Uffberryton in particular was a stroke of genius, as it provided an incentive for the North Aegarians to use Durst's port rather than develop their own, both stalling development and providing taxes and fees to Lippegen. He also established the frontier-town of Osttur, intended to open up the great valleys to the east to exploration and eventual settlement. Beneath the herzog are a number of grafs of various sorts.

Durst is the largest settlement in Lippegen, ruled by Josef II, Graf von Durst. It is a thriving port-town, one of the main destinations for traffic from the west, as well as possessing a large fishing fleet. It has a population of more than 10,000, and the surrounding countryside is thickly settled with farmers, and the whole peaceful. The burggraf of the city, Ernst von Durst, plays a subtle game of politics, playing the herzog off against the graf, and ends up being the real power within the city itself, and in many cases far beyond the city. Finely drilled units of goblin soldiery with hobgoblin and bugbear officers protects the lands of the town from marauders and generally keep the peace. A small force of human Grott-Heimburgers is on hand to keep the mercenaries in their place.

Stuttbad is on the official border with South Aedgaria, but there is little trade between the two, as there are no roads connecting them on the Aedgarian side. The primary industries here are fishing and trade with the sea elf and triton communities in the southern portion of Chivar Bay. The current Graf von Stuttbad, Erik II, is much more interested in his antiquarian and artistic endeavors - he has actually built a dedicated opera house in a struggling colonial town of 8,000 - than he is in effective governance, which he mostly leaves to the burggraf of the city, Prophero Musk, a hobgoblin of exceptional intelligence and ability. Stuttbad has more integration between the goblinoid soldiery and the civilian population than usual, and the people are gradually getting used to the idea of a hobgoblin among the petite aristocracy, as long as it doesn't start a trend.

Zweistadt is a frontier town, ruled by the Markgräfin von Zweistadt, Corinna I. She is a young woman of exceptional ability and wealth, a first-generation immigrant from Grott-Heimburg and widow of the previous Markgraf. She is considered the most eligible widow in Lippegen (some say all of Artanis), as her territory is not only at the northeastern edge of Lippegen and thus poised to bring in wealth from the thickly forested lands beyond, but the hills and mountains surrounding the town are also home to very profitable mines, worked by a large contingent of imported dwarf and gnome labor. The markgräfin manages to navigate through the treacherous shoals of politics, all the while entertaining a host of would-be suitors and attending a never-ending cycle of balls, masquerades, and other social functions. And as she does so, her wealth increases daily, as does her power. It is rumored she has her eyes set on the handsome young son of the Graf himself, but that one is already pledged to another.

Osttur is the bright hope for Lippegen, founded explicitly as a gateway to the rich valleys to the east and southeast, and aimed like a crossbow bolt at halting New Valaisian expansion in that quarter. The Markgraf von Osttur, Karl II, is energetic but unimaginative, and has a strategy that consists of little more than buying serfs in Grott-Heimburg and transferring them to small landowners to whom he grants land titles. Much of the time, however, those land titles are in name only, and the holders have never even set foot upon "their" land. The only thing that prevents his incompetence from coming out is the even greater incompetence of his New Valaisian counterpart, the Marquis d'Onjoi.

Chivar Bay is home to three fairly large islands; the Anville, Welcome Island, and Gareth Isle. The Anville is so named because it regularly gets hammered by the hurricane-force storms coming off the Stormsea. The early Valaisian explorer Jon Borjeaux had a sense of humor. Both Welcome Island and Gareth Island are inhabited, and there are thriving co-existent communities ashore and underwater, with sea elves, tritons, and mermen aplenty.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Swords & Wizardry Light Adventures from Pacesetter Games & Simulations - Print & PDF

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 16:48

Just a quick heads up. Pacesetter Games & Simulations has a series of four Swords & Wizardry Light adventures in their catalogue. I was given print copies of all four at GameHole but have yet to get the chance to read them - con catch up is still in full force - heh.

I was told that the SWL titles were selling very well for them. Exciting times.

The adventures are:

Q1 The Screaming Temple (S&W Light)

Q2 Eruptor's Vengeance (S&W Light)

Q3 Death on Signal Island (S&W Light)

Q4 The Final Chapter (S&W Light)

Three bucks each for the PDFs, eight bucks each for Print plus PDF

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

2000+ Posts

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 12:00
Today is actually blog post number 2003. It may not be what it was back in 2010, but I still think it's got life in it yet.

Here's a selection of posts to walk you down memory lane, one from every year:
Hateful Glare: The Beholder Examined (2010)
The Night Mail (2011)
In the Belly of the Beast (2012)
Cyclopes (2013)
Ruritanian Rogues (2014)
The Fae Moon (2015)
Mall Security 2020 (2016)
Again the Giants!: Sanctum of the Stone Giant Space God (2017)

This is not a best of but rather a "posts I thought were interesting that were not the most popular in their year."

Thanks for reading!

Swords & Wizardry Continual Light PDF has Been Updated at OneBookShelf

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 04:43

The Swords & Wizardry Continual Light PDF has been updated to correct typos, update some art, add missing text and other small changes. If you've already downloaded a copy, the new file should be up on RPGNow / DriveThruRPG right now.

Yes, this does mean we are a step closer to going Print on Demand at RPGNow / DriveThruRPG.

Additionally, we will be pricing the SWCL PDF at its suggested price of $2.50 starting next week, so the PWYW pricing will be going away shortly. If you've been on the fence about snagging a copy of the PDF or its been sitting in your wishlist, now is the time to snag a copy.

Nearly three and a half weeks later, Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is sitting in the 2nd spot of the Hottest Small Press at RPGNow and that's because of readers like you. I can't thank you enough.

We have lots in store for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light and we are thrilled to have you along for the ride.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

New PWYW Release - Under Tenkar's Tavern, Levels 1-3 (written by someone more talented than me ;)

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 01:44

Under Tenkar's Tavern is a new PWYW release from Thom Wilson / Throwi Games. Yes, it has my blessing ;)

Seriously, Thom reached out to me to ask if I was okay with him releasing Under Tenkar's Tavern to the masses (as opposed to just Patreon backers) or if he needed to change the title. I happen to like the adventures included in this package, so saying yes was extremely easy. Besides, Thom simply does good work.

Written for Swords & Wizardry it will easily work with SWL / SWCL.

Did I mention its Pay What You Want?

Under Tenkar's Tavern

Yep, we use affiliate links here at The Tavern. Helps keep the lights on and the taps flowing.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Universal's Dark Universe

Greyhawk Grognard - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 23:03
Well, that didn't take long. News has come out that Universal's Dark Universe, which was supposed to be a shared universe with their various monster properties like Dracula and Frankenstein, has folded after just one (well, two, if you count Dracula Untold, which was in, and then out, of the Dark Universe) film, this year's awful Tom Cruise Mummy flick.

I mused on the Universal monsterverse a few years ago, but I'd like to do so again.

To my mind, the chief problem was the idea of taking a classic horror movie icon like the Mummy and putting it in a non-horror movie.

2017's The Mummy was a high-budget action movie, with planes, and explosions, and Tom Cruise, and action, and chases, and spectacular special effects, and all the things that were suspiciously missing from almost all of the other Mummy movies that came before it. Even the excellent 1999 Mummy with Brendan Fraser, which was sort of a mix of action and horror, played up the horror more than the action most of the time. But the sequel inverted that formula, and suffered greatly as a result.

My proposal is to make a shared Universal horror universe (I'll call it DU2) that is focused not on big-budget action flicks, but which is focused on medium-budget horror movies. Stop swinging for the fences, and concentrate on hitting singles and doubles, and you'll have a franchise that will be going for decades. Here are the guidelines I'd use.

1. Make the films period pieces. Start them in the late 1870's, near the height of the Victorian age. Explorers are penetrating deepest, darkest Africa, science is advancing steadily but superstition is still rife, Bedlam is still in operation, surgery is still a gruesome thing, and Spiritualism and ceremonial magic are surging. H.G. Wells and Jules Verne are writing, and some of their stories could also be used as material. Jack the Ripper is only a decade away, but there's also Spring-Heeled Jack and other Victorian curiosities to work into the background. Doing so can accommodate all of the major monsters, while nicely avoiding high-tech cop-outs that modern films have to explain away.

2. Start small, and build to crossovers. Have a Dracula movie set in Transylvania in 1878. Then Frankenstein in Bavaria in 1879. An expedition to Egypt uncovers the Mummy in 1880. Dracula arrives in London in 1881. Frankenstein and his former mentor Doctor Praetorius create a female monster in 1882. Stretch them out, again emphasizing horror and suspense over action and flashy special effects.

3. Don't have a generic, all-encompassing "anti-monster society." Each film has their own protagonists and heroes, but there are crossovers with minor characters. Keep the early crossovers to minor characters; the same British police captain that we see in a Dracula movie set in London is also in the Invisible Man movie, or Doctor van Helsing is a correspondent of Doctor Jekyll, both being interested in the nature of the subconscious, but they don't get together until a few movies later. That sort of thing.

4. Tie things together, especially in the early years, with a television show. Universal's House of Horrors would be episodic, centered on a trio of characters (a Spiritualist medium, a ceremonial magician (proto-Golden Dawn), and a former soldier from service in India) who encounter supernatural oddities across England and Europe, and help various people overcome them. Have the same minor characters we see in the films, show up here. But keep it centered on horror. This should be a creepy, tense, scary show, not "Supernatural by Gaslight." Ghosts, Satanic cults, monsters out of folklore; these should be the focus. They can hear about the big bads, but they don't encounter them, except second-hand.

5. The payoff isn't a big, Avengers-like mash-up of all the players. It's the set-up of pairings between the monsters, and the subsequent mixing and matching of their adversaries. Dracula and the Mummy are excellent "organizer" type monsters, who might enlist others as minions, pawns, or partners in specific schemes, such as the Monster or the Wolfman. Others might get together due to mutual affinity; Dr. Jekyll and van Helsing are both scientists, as are Frankenstein and Griffin (the Invisible Man). There are also possibilities for neat inversions; the audience may know that Mr. Hyde is the same person as Dr. Jekyll, but van Helsing might not realize it, and it might become a plot complication as Hyde is in league with Dracula, while Jekyll is helping van Helsing.

I really think that would work, and would keep the studio churning out films for a goodly while, as long as they were good in and of their own right, with strong characterization and a heavy emphasis on horror and suspense.  But what do I know? They'll crank out some standalone Frankenstein movie set in modern-day New York and have cloning or some crap, and lots of car chases. sigh
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - B/X Dungeons & Dragons Campaign Watz & Science Fantasy Campaign Construction

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 21:06
Many folks look at B/X Dungeons & Dragons as a basic or beginning set for the grand game of table top role playing but I have found a bit more respect rummaging through the annals of this game. Lately I find myself referring constantly back to it mixing and matching B/X with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition & Adventurer, Conqueror, King with bits of Labyrinth Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight - 9 PM Eastern = Post GameHole Con Wrap-up, SWCL and More

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 20:53
Yep, its another Wednesday night. I missed last week's Tavern Chat with GameHole Con but I'll be there tonight.

In truth, I'll need a nap just to stay up as I'm still catching up from GameHole (what a fucking blast) but I'll be ready by 9 PM.

Use the following link if you haven't stopped in and joined The Tavern's Discord Server prior:

See y'all tonight...

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wear Some Swords & Wizardry Continual Light - You Know you Want to

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 16:39

To quote my 6 year old niece "This art sells!"

+James Shields has put the cover art from Swords & Wizardry Continual Light up on RedBubble, so you can now get it on shirts, hoodies, wall clocks and yes, even gamer bags:

Damn but I NEED that bag for cons and such. Oh, and Pinky needs a shirt. heh!

Support your local OSR artist and snag some :)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On a Grim Dawn After a Titan’s Death, Part I

Hack & Slash - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 13:00
Death is only the beginning” - Reanimator
One million copies sold as a studio dies. It gives rise to a slow burn, do-it-yourself, action role-playing game that stands poised to be one of the best ever created. Was there ever any failure? How did the Crate team get to use the Engine from Titan Quest in Grim Dawn? What is the key to Grim Dawn’s ultimate success?
Iron Lore and Titan Quest
Iron lore died quickly, even among gaming studios. It closed its doors after 8 years in February of 2008, citing “unrelated issues” that resulted in a failure to secure funding. Its sole work at the time was Titan Quest, and Soulstorm an expansion for the Games Workshop branded real-time strategy game Dawn of War III.
8 years isn’t long. The first two years were spent on the pitch for Titan Quest, which was their only project till its release in 2006. The Titan Quest expansion “Immortal Throne” came soon after in 2007, though it was less an expansion, closer to the final act of the game. Substantial work on the expansion had already been completed by the time of the games release. The Dawn of War expansion was finished from 2006-2007, and then the company ended early the following year.
So why?
Well, Michael Fitch of THQ has some ideas.
if. . . people who pirated the game had actually spent some god-damn money for their 40+ hours of entertainment, things could have been very different today.” -Michael Fitch
Now Titan Quest sold a million plus copies. Is that the end of the story?
What Michael goes on to explain is that the copy protection scheme they paid for to prevent piracy caused the game to randomly crash if it was cracked. This led to a lot of chatter online about how the game was unstable. The onerous copy protection scheme drove many legitimate owners to use the crack so they could play the game.  
This is on a game that made money and sold a million copies. He goes on to say:“Some really good people made a seriously good game, and they might still be in business if piracy weren't so rampant on the PC. That's a fact.” -Michael Fitch
Your eyes might dart over to Crate Entertainment and their Digital Rights Managment-free highly successful game Grim Dawn at this point. He further complains about the modular personal computer hardware market and goes on to say:
Which brings me to the audience. There's a lot of stupid people out there. . .PC folks want to have the freedom to do whatever the hell they want with their machines, and god help them they will do it; more power to them, really. But god forbid something that they've done—or failed to do—creates a problem with your game. There are few better examples of the "it can't possibly be my fault" culture in the west than gaming forums.” -Michael Fitch
What’s going on here? Where’s his disconnect? Even at 40$, one million times should be enough to keep any studio in business.  This was over a decade ago, before the dominance of Steam. Another popular game of the time, Sins of a Solar Empire also had no copy protection and made a bundle of money for it’s publisher. What actually happened with Titan Quest and Iron Lore?
It has a great deal to do with how publishers (like THQ) and development studios (like Iron Lore) function. First, the studio makes a pitch to the publishers. If accepted, the studio gets an “advance”. Then once the game is complete, the sales should pay off the advance, until a profit stage is reached. However, much like movie studio accounting, very few games ever are shown to make a profit, and unless you have a breakout hit, developments studios will never see a dime past the advance. 
Arthur Bruno, head of Crate Entertainment, lays out exactly how they didn’t get any money from the sales. “What a lot of people don’t realize is that many, if not most independent studios, make little or no money off the actual sales of games they develop. If you take the case of Titan Quest and Immortal Throne, information I’ve been given put the combined sales over a million copies in late 2008. At that time I heard that it had reached profitability for THQ. Since then it has continued to do surprisingly well in digital sales given its age. Yet, the owners of Iron Lore never and probably will never receive a royalty payment due to the structure of the funding deal.
What this means is, they need to have another project ready to go after a project is completed in order to secure another advance. This did not happen for Iron Lore. Arthur explains, “Ultimately though, all the decisions the company made and all the events that transpired, lead to a situation where Iron Lore couldn’t survive a gap between projects.
So not only did it sell a million copies, the publisher didn’t have to share that profit with Iron Lore. How did the game get viewed as a failure? 
Early bad press and obnoxious copy protectionDuring the release, leaked and hacked pirated copies surfaced, and due to the copy protection crashed to the desktop. This combined with the obnoxious procedure of inserting a random disk on launch in order to play the game, means that many legitimate users used a crack in order to play more conveniently. 
This led to a great deal of early press talking about the games instability, even though for a new release it was reasonably bug free. This word of mouth caused release sales to be very slow.
Unrealistic ExpectationsBoth Brian Sullivan the director of Iron Lore and THQ believed that this action role-playing game would sell more copies than the sims. John Walker recalls "[Brian Sullivan] said, as I interviewed him for PC Gamer, how he expected Titan Quest to be a break-out success, to be a game that reached a non-gaming mainstream audience—that it would do for the RPG what The Sims had done for management games. And I didn’t really know what to say, because, well, no it wouldn’t. It was a game about hitting mythical creatures with an axe. It was slightly awkward.
Studio InterferenceIn pursuit of that ideal, THQ played a heavy hand. Arthur (née Merrida) talks about it on the Grim Dawn forums, “There seemed to be a constant fear during the development of Titan Quest about upsetting this or that segment of the audience or someone's grandmother. I was literally told by one of the higher-ups that the game should be designed so that his grandmother would want to play it (even though his grandmother had never played a game before in her life).
Some examples of the changes they were forced to make:
  • They were required to remove snow, because people might not realize it snowed in Greece. 
  • Enemies were not allowed to be shown using language or building any structures. 
  • Humans were never allowed to die. 
  • Human corpses were not allowed to be shown.
  • No Greek ruins were allowed to be shown. 
  • Greek mythology had to be relegated to dialog boxes because addressing the gods, either though gameplay or in the story was too religious.

Quests were removed, ideas were formed, and the team moved on from Titan Quest. But that still doesn’t tell us how Grim Dawn managed to get made. We'll be taking a closer look at that on Friday.
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Slayer of Eriban (part 4)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 12:00
My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Slayer of Eriban (1985) 
(Dutch: De Doder van Eriban) (part 4)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

In the unwilling service of  the assassin Renter Ka Rauw, Storm and friends set sail for the capital of the strangely shaped planetoid of Marrow. Not long after they are underway, Storm discovers a stowaway, a young boy who really wants to learn to play chess.

Renter immediately wants him thrown overboard. Storm tries to argue, but Renter reminds him who's boss:

Renter suggests a fishing vessel will like pick him up, but then two eel-like sheels come swimming toward him! Storm swims out to try and save him, and surprisingly Renter tries to help out as well. 

Ultimately, It falls to Ember to rescue Renter with a well-placed arrow, though he insists he never needed her help at all. Still, her efforts convince him to let the boy stay aboard until the next port.

Along the way, Storm teaches the boy chess, Renter even gets in on the game after picking up the rules by watching, but he throws a bit of a tantrum when Storm wins.

Soon, they arrive in the capital city of Rommily:

After docking, they say goodbye to the boy, Tillio, who plans to make a living teaching people chess. Renter plans to go into the city and find where the Barsaman games are going to be held. He takes Ember with him and commands Storm and Nomad to stay with the ship.

As soon as Renter is out of sight, Storm goes ashore too. He plans to find the authorities and warn them of Renter's planned assassination of their ruler. It reassures Nomad he'll be back before Renter and Ember return.

Storm locates some guards, but when he warns them of the assassination, he does get the response he hoped for.


Ch. 5, Page 5

Castle Greyhawk - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 05:11
Tenser and Ehlissa shared a laugh over the pun.

"Ah, it's always fun talking to you," Tenser said. "You should rejoin our group. I'm sure if you tried adventuring again, you would like it."

"I've heard this before..." Ehlissa said, still sounding pleasant. "Now listen to this."

She spoke a magic word and a magical cantrip caused the bird she had been holding to break into a beautiful song, more complex than a songbird could normally do.

"Very nice," Tenser said. "But..."

"I'm very happy now with my birds." Ehlissa stood up and started walking the bird back to its cage. "There is no shortage of adventurers out there these days, looking to plunder the old castle. I'm sure one of them will amuse you."

There was an awkward pause, too long for Ehlissa's liking. When she glanced back, she saw Tenser had dropped his jovial facade and now looked tired, and older. She knew she had best change the subject back to something Tenser would enjoy talking about.

Press Release - BARREL RIDER'S BIRTHDAY SALE (50% off all digital releases)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 02:57

To celebrate Barrel Rider Games founder James M. Spahn's birthday, all digital products are 50% until November 17th! That's 50% off White Star, The Hero's Journey, White Box, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, and DCC supplements for over one week! It's James's Birthday, but you get the presents!

Barrel Rider Games Store

Those are affiliate links above. Affiliate links keep the lights on here at The Tavern. Oh, and the taps flowing ;)

Yes, James is a very good friend of mine. He also does AMAZING work. Don't wait too long to snag stuff...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter Reminder - The Folio #16 & #17 Double 1E & 5E Adventure Set - 28 Hours Left

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 11/08/2017 - 00:30

Just a quick reminder: The Folio #16 & #17 Double 1E & 5E Adventure Set has just over a day left to fund. Well, actually, its funded but there's still a day left to back.

Time to put some Asian spice into the OSR system of your choice ;)
I just wanted to give everyone a bit of background on this project and what it entails.  Folio #16 & #17 work as a stand alone double adventure that add Asian inspired flare to a standard fantasy setting.  Back in 'the day', I loved using the old TSR Oriental Adventures to add samurai, ninja, oni, martial artists and more to my D&D campaign.  It helped me flesh out the standard Monk class, and it also brought in other cool aspects that added flavor to my adventures.  With Folio #16 & #17, I'm going to try to provide DMs with what I learned and incorporated, while also continuing on with the overall story arc of the White Ship Campaign.  Yes, these modules do perfectly stand alone, but they are also part of a large puzzle that my Folio series tends to build on.  So, if you love the orient and want to let your players explore and fight within some of its incredible fantasy depth, then these are the adventures for you! And as always, thanks again for having a look at our offerings here at Art of the Genre!
Scott Taylor
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

November Campaign Design IV - New Valais

Greyhawk Grognard - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 22:00
As mentioned in the previous installment, I've filled in a lot more detail in the eastern portion of the map, and added one large and one small lake, to give the terrain some interesting features. Here's what it looks like now (click to embiggen):

The scale is 10 miles per hex, and bear in mind that this is not the final look and feel; the final will be using the Darlene-esque look I used in my Beyond the Flanaess maps a few years ago. The map is done using Hexographer Pro, by the way.

I wanted to spend a little time considering the southernmost colony in the setting; New Valais. Named for the Kingdom of Valais far to the west across the Stormsea, I'm going for a medieval French vibe (hence the pseudo-French names).

The Duchy of New Valais stretches from the Grey River in the west to Lake Onjoi in the east. The Grey River also forms a political boundary between South Aedgaria and Lippegen, but the boundary on the other side of the mountains, in the valley where the Shining River flows, has never been firmly defined. As Lippegen continues to expand southeast in the valley, they are bound to run into conflict with the Valaisians, who are also expanding in that area. The Three Moons Desert forms the southern boundary, so named because of the time it takes to travel from one end to the other, so legend has it.

New Valais was the first colony founded, and thus the oldest. Valasian explorers were the first to arrive in Artanis once the Stormsea calmed (an event whose cause is unknown, and serves as a central mystery), allowing regular traffic across its surface. New Montrose serves as the capital and seat of the Dukedom. It is the largest settlement in Artanis, with a population of approximately 30,000.

Underneath Duke Absolon III, there are four Marquis, each based in one of the large towns; Chamlin, Anleans, Duchance, and Onjoiville. The towns have populations of between 10,000 and 15,000 each, and an equal number of peasants live in the surrounding countryside, based in small villages. The whole duchy is based on feudal land-rights, with tenant serf-farmers making up the majority of the population outside the towns.

The island chain known as the Breakers protects Chamlin and Anleans from the worst of the storms that still roll in from the Stormsea, and the coast is also connected by a fine road. No road connects Onjoiville to the rest of the Duchy, however; all traffic passes on the Firstwaterl; the river connecting Lake Onjoi and the Gulf of Morois. The Duke has granted exclusive rights to such traffic to a number of companies and families, and they guard their position (and incomes) jealously.

Chamlin is the westernmost marche in the duchy, ruled by Lewis I, Marquis d'Chamlin. They uniquely enjoy a small amount of trade with South Aedgaria, via the road that connects Chamlin and Dubton. Although this gives the Chamliners a somewhat better impression of the Aedgarians, twenty years ago they did fight a short but violent war over possession of Green Island, which is particularly fertile, not to mention strategically placed. Chamlin won the conflict, a fact which some in Dubton have not forgotten. Chamlin's primary agricultural product is cattle and cheese. In fact, Chamlin cheese is particularly famed back home, and constitutes one of its chief high-value exports.

Anleans is another coastal marche, with a thriving fishing industry as well as large amounts of cotton, ruled by Lothar, Marquis d'Anleans. Being the interior-most marche in the duchy, Anleans is also the most secure, with few raids from orc tribes to worry about. The marquis of Chamlin and Duchance grumble about being expected to carry all the burden for the defence of Anleans, but so far the fact that the marquis is married to the duke's second daughter has prevented any action. There are rumors that the duke is paid a special honorarium to maintain this arrangement.

Duchance is situated in a hilly valley, and the marche extends up into the hills and mountains beyond. It is ruled by Roger, marquis d'Duchance. The land is excellent for grapes and wine, which is its chief export, but suffers badly from constant raids by orcish tribes (and their goblinoid allies, originally brought over as mercenaries by Valais, but many thousands have deserted).

Onjoi is the easternmost marche, with the marquis' residence in Onjoiville, overseen by Welois, Marquis d'Onjoi. In theory, the marquis rules over all the lands within thirty miles of Lake Onjoi, as well as the entire Shining River valley. In reality, the only really secure settlements are on the southern end of the lake, and Lippegen is beginning to settle the valley en masse. Orcs and other threats have kept Onjoi from gaining true control over the lands he has been granted, and rumors in the court of both the duke nearby and the king across the Stormsea say that patience is growing thin among his superiors. Action to secure and pacify his lands is not only expected, but required, if he is to retain his position. This has made him understandably frantic to do just that.

As mentioned before, religiously Valais and its colony follow the druidic faith. Since rangers use druid spells, they are implicitly associated with that faith. So, class-wise, there aren't going to be any Valasian paladins or clerics, but druids and rangers will come from here.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary B/X Dungeons & Dragons Blues plus Lovecraftian Underworlds

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 19:30
Lizardman on giant lizard (David Sutherland from the Holmes/blue book Basic D&D rulebook, TSR, 1977) So lately I've been falling back in with B/X Dungeons & Dragons as well as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition spliced with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition & Adventurer, Conqueror, King. So like every other OSR Dungeon Master out there I mix & match systems.Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

State of The Tavern - Post GameHole Catching Up and Stuffs

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 16:51

My God what an excellent convention. GameHole really is an integral part of the OSR Gaming Convention trifecta. Rach & I were never at a loss for things to do even if we didn't get an actual chance to game until Sunday night - heh.

Anyhow, I have a couple of GameHole pictures to share - mostly of the vender hall. Of course, that's where I spend the bulk of my time.

There are also some Swords & Wizardry Light releases I need to cover, including one from Thom Wilson that released while I was at the con - Under Tenkar's Tavern, Levels 1-3 

Oh, and can't forget Kickstarters. Need to update those too.

Later today for all that. And tomorrow. Right now, I need lunch ;)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Box Breaking 226: Port Royal From Steve Jackson Games

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 16:08

In this Box Breaking Matt Takes a look at Port Royal the press your luck racking game where you hire a crew to trade with or to fend off ships in the Busy Port Royal.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Port Royal was chosen by the Wiener  Spiele Akedemie as the the 2013 Game Designer Award, under the name Handler der Karibik.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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