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Beneath The Battered Dwarf Tavern - A Swords & Wizardry Light Starter Adventure - Part 5 - Laughter in the Darkness

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 23:14
Part 1 Part 2Part 3, Part 4 as well as the ideas behind it all.

Laughter in the darkness, just at the edge of your hearing. Was it real or just your imagination?

Room 7 is the location of a Krimple. You'll need to read up on this new monster, but here is the part you really need to wrap your head around:
Krimples can open and close locks, set traps, raise undead, sour milk, spoil wine, beer and the like, make food rot and other assorted nuisances at will. As a GM, be creative. They can also turn Invisible once per day, as per the spell. Duration is 1 Hr.Use this to your advantage in keeping the party on the edge. If they attack the giant rats in room 5 and are having little difficulty, they'll hear the loud click of a lock and the creak of a gate from the south as the Cave Badger charges in. Same will happen if they bypass room 6 to explore the hallway to the east (it should occur right as they are standing before room 7) . Should a party member fall, they will hear laughing.

The Krinkle will follow the party invisibly when he can. Remember, room #3 has bags of flour. An enterprising party will use it to their advantage once they realize they are being followed.

The door to room 7 is a secret door. If the party suspects something or someone is behind the wall, they can look for the mechanism. Should they prod the floor or wall with a wooden poll adjacent to the door to room 7, the pole will rot and break and giggling will be heard.

The Krinkle is not a fighter and would rather make deals than engage in combat and risk being exiled to his usual plane for 30 days or a year. He will offer to lead the party to treasure, and he will, but will make light of any potential damage should they inquire.

Room 8 - The Tomb and Treasures Await - The door to this room is also secret but the outline is faintly visible to any that take the time to look at the wall. Otherwise, the Krinkle (if alive) will lead the party here with promises of treasure.
"Treasure awaits, yes it does! Danger? What value is treasure without danger, and what value is danger without treasure?"The room is full of stone and wooden coffins. There are 3 skeletons, 2 zombies and a ghoul in the room. There are 7 open coffins and 3 closed coffins.

If the undead are successfully turned they will flee to the partially collapsed stairs leading up and cower.

There IS treasure within. A quick search will reveal 200 SP, 15 GP and a slivered dagger. A longer search (10 minutes or more) will find a gold brooch, valued at 175 GP.

The stairs can not be climbed.

Room 9 - Demon Cult Temple - The door to this room is covered with old and flaking paint. Little can be made out aside from a generous amount of red paint.

Upon opening the door and entering the room, it will be obvious that this was once a place of worship. Much of the paint has flaked here too, but the images that remain might be enough for a cleric to glean an idea of its history (I had the cleric roll his Wisdom or less on a d20 to see if he recognized anything during the playtest).

This was once the place of worship for a long forgotten cult that worshipped demons as gods.

If the Krimple is with the party and had previously suffered any wounds, he will start healing before the party's eyes.

And that's it. Well, not really, but that's where my party is and I don't want to spoil any surprises. I do know where this goes next...

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Star Marine 5150 AAR - Boarding a Hishen Slaver

Two Hour Wargames - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 22:16
5150: Star Marineis self-contained game that lets you take on the role of a Star Marine, and lead your Characters and soldiers into combat and actions in floating space hulks, airless moons, and planets with an atmosphere so nasty you’ll be dead if your suit is breached.
It’s an easy game to play. This makes it easy to learn and easy to teach. It’s easy, but it’s also fun.  It’s easy, but also a challenge. It’s perfect for when you want to spend less time setting up the game than actually playing it.
 5150 Star Marine is aimed at the casual or new gamer with little or no experience, but don’t underestimate it.  It’s perfect for playing solo or on the same side with your friends. It doesn’t take much time to learn yet is a fun little game. No two games will ever play out the same.
Let's see a day in the life of a Star Marine. Newly promoted Star Marine Sgt. Graham E. Adams (Rep 5) has been put in charge of a section of Star Marines and ordered to board a Hishen Slaver that has been disabled by a Star Navy cutter, while the rest of the squad is tasked with boarding a Freighter caught trying to flee. Busy day!

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State of the Tavern Keeper - Its Snot Right!

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 16:50

I am quite literally under the weather today, as it is raining here in NYC. Yesterday I awoke with congestion and before dinner, it was a fill blown cold.

I was miserable last night and feel pretty much the same at the moment. Ah well.

I'll try and get the next post up the Beneath the Battered Dwarf Tavern SWL Introductory Adventure. It should take another post or two to wrap it up and then I'll convert it to a quick and dirty PDF for my backers.

Alright, I think I'm going to try and sleep this cold away...
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Beneath the Battered Dwarf Tavern - Playtest Recap - Are You Laughing at Me?!? (Part 2)

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 02/07/2017 - 01:09

So, Saturday night we got the old group back together, more or less, and kicked off the new Swords & Wizardry Light campaign with a playtest of Beneath the Battered Dwarf Tavern, a SWL Introductory Adventure. I also allowed the use of any of the classes currently written for the SWL expansion, but everyone initially stuck to the four core races.

This is part Two of the playtest recap. Part One is here.

Where were we? Oh yes, we were here:

The sound of a creaking gate from behind them alerted them to the charge of a Cave Otter as the party's thief swore he heard laughing coming from nearby...

The party was just north of the secret door at Room 7. The Cave Otter was charging from Room 6. The party's cleric still had the key to the gate in his pocket. Someone, somewhere was laughing.

Blows were exchanged and finally the party fought off the Cave Otter and it retreated downstream of room 6. Deciding to grab the ale while they were where the ale was, the party again locked the gate upon leaving.

Returning to Room 3, they decide to confront whatever is left of the Giant Rats in Room 3. Five emaciated Giant Rats swarm the party. A good fight is fought but the magic-user falls under the onslaught. He doesn't have much worth looting, but the party does fine a silver chain in the rats nest.

They hear distant laughing.

The party thief decides to open a sack of flower and spread its contents along the souther end of Room number 3. If there is something watching them, perhaps invisibly, he wants proof. He also fills a small sack with flour to take with him.

The ale is brought up, along with the nibbled on body of their deceased brethren. They tell the barkeep that there is some kind of poltergeist in his basement. He demands they put an end to it. They demand a part ownership of the tavern. They haggle a bit, a deal is struck and the young dwarf receives the angry ire of his uncle.

A bard joins the party (maybe 5 minutes to create the character) and they rest overnight.

Returning to the basement the party finds tracks in the flour laid out on the floor. Vaguely humanoid tracks. They follow the tracks south of Room # 3, turn east, past Room # 6 before the tracks literally stop in the corridor - well, in the south wall - just north of Room # 7. Suspecting they have found a secret door, they search for the mechanism - they find it and open the door.

There is a small room, unoccupied, which can't be right. The thief throws in the flour, and sure enough, there is a short, humanoid creature hiding in the corner, After a short fight, it surrenders.

"I just having fun! No, your friend dying was not fun, but watching the fight was! Watching you scare of that creature was great fun! It was great fun watching your dinner the other night!"

Not sure what they have (and with the party's fighter eager to kill it) they tie it up tightly and try to elicit more information from it.

"Treasure I know! Yes, treasure. Take you I can, great fun!"

He leads the party to Room # 8. He reveals the secret door and tells them that great treasures await behind the door. When asked about any danger, the response is "What is treasure without danger? One brings value to the other. Great fun!"

Opening the door reveals a room full of wooden and stone coffins as well as a half dozen undead. The cleric turns them successfully, and they try to flee up the stairs, but that entrance had collapsed year ago. They do a quick search, find some valuables and close the door behind them.

"See! Treasure as I said!" the creature tells the party proudly. "Not great fun, but treasure, yes? I bring you more treasure?"

The passageway turned mostly south and the party follows it until they encounter a door on the west wall. The door had been painted at some time in the past, but now most of the paint had flaked off.

The party opens the door and enters Room # 9. It has many doors and appears to have been a place of worship in years in the past. The cleric racks his brain, trying to determine if he knows anything about this religion (I ask him to roll under or equal to his Wisdom - he does) He's not sure the name of the cult, but they worshipped demons as if they were gods. Its at this point that the party notices that their captive's wounds are healing before their eyes. The decide to quickly back out of the room and discuss their options.

Thus ended the playtest of Beneath The Battered Dwarf Tavern.
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Old Mars 'On A Budget' - Free Classic Edition OD&D Warriors Of Mars Download Mixed With The Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Rpg System For A Hybrid Setting

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 19:12
I got an email asking me about doing 'Old Mars' on a budget and was it possible? The answer is absolutely with some modifications & here's how. I've run numerous variation D&D  Mars/Barsoom games over the years going all the way back to when I first got into the original edition of Dungeons & Dragons."Warriors of Mars is a 1974 miniatures wargame rule book, written by Gary Gygax and Brian Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Stranger Things: Giant Spider

Ultanya - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 14:34
So, last night the Stranger Things season 2 trailer aired during the Super Bowl and left all sorts of questions. As a D&D player all I have been focusing on is the massive spider creature. I quickly took to Twitter and G+ to see what fan theories everyone had before developing my own this morning. I started to think about the Demogorgon and Thessalhydra from season one. Both creatures arguably have Greek origin and carefully avoided the intellectual property minefields of Dungeons & Dragons.

The creature depicted in the trailer sketch, and inside the Upside Down looks very arachnid to me. I can count eight legs, yet there appears to be a head looking down with a large tuft of hair. This immediately makes any D&D player think of Lolth, the evil spider goddess. Or could it be a variation of Arachne, the Greek goddess turned into a spider? If the Duffer Brothers wanted to use a Lolth like entity for the D&D games played by the kids, Arachne certainly does that nicely.

Obviously, the lore of the Greek Arachne does not totally fit the show, but I don’t think that necessarily matters. If you recall it almost seemed as if there was web like material within the Upside Down in season one. And what about the egg sac that Chief Jim Hopper stops to look at? In the very least it would seem that the appearance of this spider like creature is no coincidence.

What do you think the giant spider creature is? I always find it fun to take what clues we have and theorize together. I cannot believe we must wait until Halloween to find out!

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ConManKen - Felony Theft by Deception? Say it Isn't So!

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 12:53

So, I woke to an email pointing me to this Facebook page. It appears Kenny has a hard drive problem. This is the very same problem Kenny had with the KotDT: LAS.

Don't worry too much Kenny. I doubt Georgia would go through the effort to extradite you for this obvious misunderstanding. That's all it is, right? A simple misunderstanding.

This isn't imaginary though.

I just called my imaginary contact at the imaginary FBI and they told me you never filed imaginary charges with them for non existent offenses.

Ah well. If you do get served with charges at least you'll know what non-imaginary charges and a real criminal offense looks like.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Winds of the Ice Forest

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 12:14

By James V. West
Random Order Creations
Labyrinth Lord
Levels 1-3

You enter the dreaded Ice Forest where the ancient path leading through can change with the wind. What perils will you face before nding the way to the other side?

This 24 page “adventure” is a series of random encounters that a party has in a snowy forest … that acts as a labyrinth. Some ok magic items and eerie dead bodies can’t save a glorified wandering monster table.

The icy forest is cursed and people get lost in it. You need to make the correct path choice 13 times to get out .. which means making a 50/50 dice roll at each path split. There’s no map, this is all abstracted. Each time you go down a path there’s a chance to encounter one of the fourteen table entries. There’s also a chance that you’ll encounter an ice igloo that serves as a safe house to rest in … and keep evil creatures 20’ away. The combination of game-ist safe igloos and “just roll the dice until you succeed 13 times” is just too much for me. It all feels like a waste of time. Inexplicably, you can’t leave the paths. Recall, there’s no map, it’s all abstracted, but there is a mechanism for punishing players with being crushed by moving trees if they leave the path. This makes no sense. Who cares if they leave the path, it’s not like doing so will shorten their 13 choices?

The hooks involve going in to find a treasure, escorting a box through the forest, and taking a short-cut to deliver medicine. There are two common elements to each: why am I going in the cursed forest and then Here’s A Thing To Help Make The Right Path Choice. The “going in” reasons are generally pretty weak. Having to go in and find an object is an ok reason, and the need for a speedy short-cut to deliver medicine is a pretty good one. The others just offer no motivation at all for going through the wood instead of around it. That entire section could use a rethink. The Path Chooser objects, specific to each hook, are generally ok, ranging from a bag of path-picking frogs to a magic lantern. I would probably mix & match to find a hook that I think would appeal to MY party, with a bag of frogs for path-picking from a different hook.

The real problem is the encounters. They feel, for the most part, like generic wandering monster encounters. Monsters show up and attack. Joy. There’s not really even much of a “frozen forest” vibe going on, at least not one that comes through with the writing. The encounters that DO spark the imagination are the ones that play well on the ice forest theme. These ALL involve frozen dead bodies. Wherever ter is a frozen body the text handles it well. Without a frozen body in the encounter it just comes across as Yet Another Wandering Monster. That’s quite disappointing. Alas, the titular “Winds” are not to be found.

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Dave Cockrum Drew A Campagin For You

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 12:00
I picked up a black and white retrospective called The Dave Cockrum Treasury (1996), and one of the most interesting things among a lot of great Cockrum art was a series images (several sort of montages) which the introduction says were pre-production drawings by Cockrum, inked by Rudy Nebres for an unnamed film that was never made. I'm sure the budgets given fantasy films in the era in which I expect they were drawn would not have been out to the task, but they do suggest a Sword & Sorcery world that could easily be kernel of a setting. All standard stuff, really, but arranged in a unique Cockrum style. I've scanned a few of them:

Chubby demon idol with temple dancers in hand--or is that an actual demon godling? A dragonheaded warrior woman, on the side of the bad guys, I assume. And who's that masked cabal meeting with those warriors? Are they wizards or perhaps priests?

Here we see two evil wizards (likely the big heavies) who seem in cahoots but not entirely friendly. The lady wizard has a spider motif as we see in one of the other images. I bet that ramheaded giant is a guard at one or the other of these wizards' castle.
A flying ship and an undead army rising. A assume those angry eyes belong to the wizard woman, but maybe not.
And here, the heroine battles a gillman in some sort of underwater passage. Above, what looks like the two wizards and the reptile woman crush an opposing force.
Of course, those are only the most obvious interpretations and possibly incorrect. It doesn't matter, you can be as radical as you want. 

Fate Accelerated and Old School Rulings

19th Level - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 11:02

As I thought about what to write about today, I was mentally going through my old school RPG collection as well as some of my newer games like Fate as well as thinking about some some conversations in my gaming group of late.

One of the reasons that some of the older incarnations of D&D and their clones have a certain appeal to us is the flexibility they give you in what your characters can do. Newer versions of D&D introduce a lot of detail into your character with feats and skills. I've found they work well but have also seen cases where they can inhibit outside-the-box thinking. One of the challenges on the older school side is in making rulings - when a player has a rather off-the-wall solution, there's often nothing on the character sheet that would help you adjudicate resolution.

Interestingly, I'm finding in Fate Accelerated a nice compromise. In it, the players actions tend to fit in one of four categories (overcome, create an advantage, attack, defend) but it is up to the player each time to define how they do that action - using their approaches while taking into account the circumstances. For example, making a Forceful defense against a flamethrower is not something you'd often expect - however, with a veteran clone trooper taking a large table and interposing it between him and his attacker the action becomes much more reasonable.

I don't think I've found my "one true system" - I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist. When the DCC version of Lankhmar comes out I'm pretty certain I'm going to want to play that for example. And I still want to try running a Hero System game at least once.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Arrow Trading Cards Season 3 Release

Cryptozoic - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 09:00


Arrow Trading Cards Season 3 Released by Cryptozoic and Warner Bros. Consumer Products

New Card Set Based on the Warner Bros. Television/CW Hit Show Includes Authentic Autograph, Prop, Wardrobe, and Redemption Cards


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'Pay What You Want' OSR Resource - D100 Minor Magical Items From 3 Toadstools For Your Old School School Adventures

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 05:52
Sometimes you need a minor magic item but not something that isn't going to wreck your adventure or campaign. This relic can branch off on their adventure tie ins. These items are not going to change lives but they can twist adventurers around a bit. Three Toad Stools released D100 Magic Items a while back and these are perfect additions into a back part of a treasure horde or another item Needles
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Sword & Sorcery Solar System & Old Mars Campaign Resource Round Up - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers Of Hyperborea & Warriors of The Red Planet Hybrid Campaign Resources

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 23:32
So for the past two weeks or so I've been putting together some resources for an Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea solar system mixed with a bit of the Warriors of the Red Planet system. Today I got an email asking me to get together a round up of this material along with some of the OSR bits and pieces that I've done for the AS&SH system. The Season of Black - B2 The KeepNeedles
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Beneath the Battered Dwarf Tavern - Playtest Recap - Stop Ghouling Around! (Part 1)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 19:31

So, last night we got the old group back together, more or less, and kicked of the new Swords & Wizardry Light campaign with a playtest of Beneath the Battered Dwarf Tavern, a SWL Introductory Adventure. I also allowed the use of any of the classes currently written for the SWL expansion, but everyone initially stuck to the four core races.

Roll20 was our VTT of choice. Its a smooth as silk interface AS LONG AS YOU DON'T USE THE INTEGRATED VOICE AND VIDEO! Holy shit, what a fucking nightmare. Normally we would have used Google Hangouts and opened the Roll20 app from within, but no, Google had to fuck up a good thing and make that impossible to do these days with their new Hangout interface. After nearly half an hour of trying to get video and chat to sync for the five of use (best we got was 4 out of 5 working fine but there was ALWAYS someone who couldn't hear someone else) we threw in the towel and opened up Hangouts for voice and chat and Roll20 on its own. Not the perfect solution but it worked.

Character generation was a breeze. 3d6 arrange as you see fit. If you don't have at least one score at 15 or higher you could re-roll. Max HP at first level. Magic-user starts with 2 random spells. It went quickly. No shopping list, just choose your weapon combination and your starting gear pack. Not having to track XP was seen as a good thing.

We had a PC of each of the four core classes, including a halfling thief. A balanced party, go figure. Heh.

In the opening scene the ghoul burst forth from the storeroom during dinner and chaos ensues. The bartender gives his impassioned speech to save his ale - oh, and his wife's nephew. It was on and the players engaged their adversary. Magic Missile for 1 point of damage. Two Handed Sword for 7 points and the danger was dealt with, or at least the immediate danger.

The party investigated the ghoul's remains and noticed that the arm it had been chewing on was long dead, so it was not the dwarf lad's arm.

Encouraged to go below and save the boy - and retrieve the ale - the PCs entered the storeroom and lowered themselves via a series of metal rungs to the basement below. They immediately found and assumed possession of the Torch of Continual Light, which was wise.

The short corridor lest to a room with three doors - north, east and south. North door had recent claw marks, east door had a plank across it that read "Keep Out!" and the south door was ajar.

The party quickly decided the south door was the direction the ghoul had come from and quick spike the door shut. The clawed door to the north indicated there was possibly someone or something behind the door and was a likely place to find the young dwarf.

Sure enough, the door to the north wasn't locked, but did appear to have something blocking it from opening. Calling out, they asked if the dwarven lad was inside and lo and behold, he was. He moved the crates and barrels away from the door and asked the party to return him to The Tavern. The party asked him about the door to the east and he explained that a month ago, giant rats had found their way into the storeroom. Unable to safely engage the vermin, the bartender ordered the door remain closed and they would wait out the rats. Sooner or later, they would simply die of starvation.

The players retuned the young lad to his uncle, who promptly set him to work cleaning up the ghoulish remains in the tavern's dining section. The bartender then asked the PCs to retrieve his ale, because a tavern without ale is a tavern without customers.

Returning to the basement, the party headed through the south door. A corridor in front of them quickly turned east. Shortly after turning, there were a series of bars replacing the south wall for a 10' stretch along with an iron gate with a key sitting in its lock. Beyond, the party could see the barrels of ale sitting in the cold spring water. Not wanting to leave an unexplored corridor to their east, they locked the gate, took the key and investigated further east.

The sound of a creaking gate from behind them alerted them to the charge of a Cave Otter as the party's thief swore he heard laughing coming from nearby...

More to come

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Old Mars OSR Campaign Evolution - A Warriors of The Red Planet & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea Hybrid Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 17:58
So this morning at about two A.M., I was very restless because this idea of a thought exercise with Mars just won't seem to let go. Something about the bothers me in a visceral way. Years ago back about two thousand six or so I was running a D20 Martian campaign that just didn't do it for me. I felt trapped & constrained by the company's & the author's take on Mars. Last night I went Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Pleasure Palace of the Libertine Sea King

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 02/05/2017 - 15:00

An adventure idea:

The King of the Sea is renowned for his Hugh Hefnerish lifestyle, maintaining an infamous nautiloid-shaped folly and gardens for his revels. Sometimes, he surrounds it in a bubble of airy water so land-dwellers can join the fun.

Sometimes the Sea King gets busy with important matters (or in this particular case, drama with his sea witch of an ex-wife), his beautiful and mischievous concubines take matters into their own hands, and invite illicit lovers of their own...

So this would basically combine Jason Sholtis's Secret Partyhouse of the Hill Giant Playboy with Leiber's "When the Sea King's Away". Highlights include:

Groovy architecture:

Vindictive Sea Wtiches:
Art by Arthur Adams
Octopus Guardsmen:

And b-list undersea celebtriy revellers.


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