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Improvement Through Study in RPGs and the Real World

19th Level - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 03:57

Some RPGs, such as Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying, have a mechanism by which you can improve skills by a program of study, costing both time and money. Similarly, in some versions of D&D some training is required to move up a level.

As a kid I must admit I thought that was a pretty easy way to get improvements. The main caveat is such characters cannot be involved in other activities during that period. As I near the end of the fifth class in my Master of Science in Strategic Analytics, something I am doing while maintaining a full-time job, being a husband and dad, gaming, and blogging, I've got a real appreciation for just how difficult accomplishing that is. I've a side blog dedicated to politics that I've needed to put in stasis as I work on keeping up with all of this - not for lack of ideas, but for lack of time.

Now that I think of it, there are a few games or supplements that actually take place at a school. I remember Last Unicorn Games has a Starfleet Academy campaign setting for their Star Trek: The Next Generation game. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was often assumed to take place at a high school or college. There's often the idea of a "Hero High" in superhero RPGs. And though there's no RPG for it, Hogwarts of Harry Potter fame would make for a great campaign setting. And it has the funky time travel device that Hermione used to double up her classes. I could use that around now...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Get Your Genuine Faux Unofficial but we will Milk it for all it is Worth, "Negan" Bat from the Walking Dead

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 03/04/2017 - 00:57

So, you thought Marcus had milked the Walking Dead connection to death when he was billing #ConManKen as a Walking Dead star for his walk on part. You had the privilege of paying for a "Photo with Ken" as well as the signature of a virtual illiterate - allegedly.

Well, now you can own your very own Faux "Negan" Bat - absolutely not licensed by anyone with any authority involved with the Walking Dead itself. Because when you align yourself with Ken, why follow the rules? Why get a license? Why not just scam? Oh wait, they are.

Wait - let's infringe on yet another intellectual property.

Its all okay though. I'm sure Ken is telling Marcus exactly how to do things right...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Free OSR Appendix 'S' Science Fantasy Download - Startling Stories v21n03 (1950 07) For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 18:34
Appendix 'S' is what I refer to as my go to science fantasy index and at the top of it is 'Startling Stories'. Starling Stories was a mixed bag of a top drawer pulp. A bit of good girl sci fi artwork, weird top drawer stories, & pre War II science fiction all mixed into a heady mix of a pulp magazine. So once again I've had to turn down the social media chatter to get something written. I've Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - The Tavern Companion (system neutral)

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 15:57

A sourcebook for taverns. What could be more appropriate for The Tavern to peek at than a book about taverns in RPGs? That's right - The Tavern Companion.
A few things stand out right away:

- The funding only runs for a week. There are five days left as I type this

- The reward is in PDF only and there is only one pledge level (although you can back for more for some extras)

- The pledge level is a single British Pound - about $1.24 USC. Want to name a bar patron? Toss in another pound.

- Looking to raise a modest goal of 500 pounds, they've raise 307 pounds. Not bad at all.

- Its a book about taverns. I mean, common! heh
The Tavern Companion includes: A list of 25 Tavern names with heaps of flavour text; designed to be dropped into any game, anywhere. Ensuring that no Dm/Gm can get caught off guard by players deciding to swing by a tavern in an uncharted part of the world.  A series of 100 quest hooks and rumours that can be heard within any Tavern. Perfect for sidequesting or distracting unsuspecting PC's away from their main objectives. This can be used as a D100 table of Tavern noise and hubbub or use it to drum up some minor story arcs and side quests.  Ten fully fleshed out rough and ready NPC's complete with flaws and quirky personalities itching to meet your players! This comprises a list of bar staff, bards and patrons to fill your taverns with character! What's a Tavern without a fully stocked bar? We've thrown in a list of fine beverages from hearty dwarves ale to delicate elven wines complete with price lists. The highly trained, self taught innkeepers and bar staff will recommend your players the finest tipple to accompany their next quest. Its a buck twenty four. Really - and damn bargain.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic Announces Epic Spell Wars Will Be Part of Unrivaled Tournament Series

Cryptozoic - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 14:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment, leading creator of board games, trading cards, and collectibles, today announced that its hit game Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Rumble at Castle Tentakill will be part of the upcoming Unrivaled Tournament Series, powered by Oomba, Inc. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: Mantis + Prey

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 12:00
The this post appeared on the 1st of March 6 years ago. It was one of a series of posts I did doing variations on the Outer Planes.

The Mantid Sisterhood are ascetic warrior-nuns and servants of Law from the outer planar realm sometimes called the Octachoron of the Archons. They appear as full-scale, porcelain, marrionettes (without visible strings), in the form of insectoid centaurs, with feminine upper bodies, like slim ballerinas. They wear sphinx-like expressions on their perfect, identical faces.

They are sent out to the Prime Material to hunt down those guilty of transgressions against the Grand Algorithm of the Archons of Law. Transgressors need not know they have committed error--the judgement of the Archons is final; the punishments of the Sisterhood is precise and always delivered with the utmost serenity.

#Enc.: 1d6
Move: 40’(120’)
AC: 3
HD: 7
Attacks: 2 (strikes)
Damage: 2d8
Save: C7
Mantid sisters have the abilities of the Monk class at 7th level (except for feign death, and resistance to ESP, which are superseded by other abilities). As constructs of a sort, they possess darkvision, immunity ot mind-affecting effects, and immunity to poison, sleep, paralysis, charm, and disease--anything that requires a target be a biologic living being.  They are able to travel via dimensional doorways from plane to plane at will.

New Horror Packs!

Rebel Minis - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 11:24
Rebel Minis is proud to announce the release of two new Sci-Fi/Modern Packs, the Bellsaw Thug and Pigskin! Perfect for your Modern Sci-Fi or Horror games, these models are sure to grab attention!

The 28mm Bellsaw Thug is all metal and comes with a base. Supplied unpainted and retails for $7.99

28mm Pigskin is all metal and comes with a base. Supplied unpainted and retails for $6.99
You can see them and more here:

As Always, Thank You for Your Support!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Free Appendix N Sword and Sorcery Download - Avon Fantasy Reader 7 (1948) For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 04:27
I've noticed the ever increasing circle of sword & sorcery & weird fiction  fans has recently been on the increase. This is always a good thing in my estimation. Because it means that a lot of the solid material being brought to the surface of OSR collective. Now take the Avon Fantasy Reader issue #7 from Nineteen Forty Eight. Why was this issue important? Well first of all it has a little bitNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

BombShell Miniatures Reveals VIG bag for Adepticon

Gamer Goggles - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 04:01

Bombshell Miniatures is dropping the bomb in the VIG bags for AdeptiCon 2017. VIG recipients will receive one of the limited or regular production run miniatures, shown here. Each miniature is cast in high quality lead-free pewter and is a great example cross section of our entire range. If you are looking for more of these fantastic models, be sure to drop by the Bombshell Miniatures booth near the center of the vendor hall where you can see our entire line of miniatures. Meet the “Sculptdude” Patrick Keith himself, and possibly even test drive the new edition of our dieselpunk, sci-fi game, Counterblast.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Film Review: Rogue One

19th Level - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 03:26
This post is loaded with spoilers for Rogue One: A Star Wars story. 

Having had some time to digest Rogue One I've discovered it ranks up there among the top tier of Star Wars films. I'd rank it up there with Empire Strikes Back and would say it simply a great movie. I have to confess my expectations weren't terribly high when I saw it - I thought it would be an enjoyable movie and I did take the whole family opening night (actually a 7 PM "midnight showing" the night before it opened).

What is it that worked so well?

First and foremost, it was a movie that told a story. It wasn't trying to build a cinematic universe or making certain it had hooks for sequels. I think, for example, that Amazing Spider-Man 2 was so focused on building a franchise it neglected its first priority in making a great movie. As a result, Rogue One was able to focus on delivering a great movie. It was able to be brave and let the characters sacrifice their lives for the Rebellion.

It also beautifully balanced avoiding continuity lockout while satisfying dedicated fans. You didn't need to have seen the prequels to appreciate the film. I suspect you could probably enjoy it without A New Hope but I think the main assumption of the audience is that they know A New Hope begins with Princess Leia, having the plans to the Death Star, is aboard a ship being pursued by Darth Vader's Star Destroyer.

But if you know more about the universe there is more for you to see. We get to see Darth Vader's castle on Mustafar from Revenge of the Sith. There are elements from The Clone Wars and Rebels. We get a satisfactory answer as to how such a big design flaw made it into the Death Star.

With an almost entirely new cast, I found myself rapidly coming to admire them. They weren't perfect - Jyn had lost faith in having a cause while Cassian was a dedicated Rebel - but one who had performed so many morally compromising acts in the name of a greater good. We saw true faith in the Force in Chirrut despite not having the Jedi's ability to use it. It's a lot easier to believe in something supernatural when you can move objects with your mind. It is another thing to put your faith in the Force while under blaster fire, hoping to stay alive long enough to enable the Rebels to beam the plans to a Rebel ship. We see Baze having lost faith in the Force but nevertheless staying with his friend and fellow Guardian of the Whills, Chirrut, and in the end he finds his faith again. We see Bodhi, a pilot who was "just doing his job", facing the moral consequences of the weapon he had a part in building. He's no warrior but he too gives everything he has in gaining redemption. Even our droid is filled with personality - for all his snark and sarcasm, K-2SO is so clearly dedicated to Cassian.

And every single one of them dies. Why? Because the film wants us to know the Empire is dangerous and evil. There's no Ewoks coming out of the trees to save them. These stormtroopers have deadly aim. All but Cassian and Jyn die at the hands of stormtroopers. And the men in charge of the Empire are evil, casually wiping out cities and even their own troops with the Death Star. When now we hear Princess Leia says "this is our most desperate hour" in A New Hope, we absolutely believe it. The Empire has built a weapon that at low power can destroy cities and at full power, entire planets.

Let's not forget Darth Vader. He is an unstoppable force against the Rebel soldiers in the close of Rogue One - the only victory they can get is getting a copy of the plans aboard the Tantive IV before he kills them all. Yet we also get a sense of the man he is - having his fortress at the place of his greatest defeat, engaging in a dark humor as he chokes Krennic and warns him not to "choke on your aspirations".

I've found even two and a half months after seeing Rogue One I'm still thinking about it. While I greatly enjoyed The Force Awakens I've come to the conclusion, much to my surprise, that Rogue One is a superior film. That's not to take away from the joy of seeing old friends again and making new ones in The Force Awakens but Rogue One had an intensity and desperation that made it stick in my mind.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

S&W Light Micro-Adventure - Born as Two, Die as One - Tim Shorts - Patreon

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 19:49

I've been supporting +Tim Shorts Patreon since... forever. Tim does excellent adventures with full color maps (often laminated) that are prefect for dropping into your campaign.

Since December of last year, Tim has been writing his adventures using Swords & Wizardry Light as the ruleset of choice (Tim - I have an update to SWCL - drop me a message and I'll send to you)

Its really exciting watching the ruleset you authored get used in someone else's projects.

Above is a pic of Tim's latest. Just got it in the mail a few minutes ago. It feels like Christmas :)

Check out Tim's Patreon - you won't be disappointed.

edit - damn keyboard always wants to spell out "Time Shorts"
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

Gamer Goggles - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 19:44

Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
Campaign Sourcebook
Retail 39.95
160 pp.
Published by Wizards of the Coast
Get it here throgamegogg-20

Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide is 160 pages of material that can be broken down into three sections: the history and geography of Forgotten Realms, a tour of Sword Coast, and descriptions of what characters are like in the Realms with some game mechanics. As a whole the book is not up to par with its price tag, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless – I have found more than a few morsels in this book, but the “morsels” are the exception in this book. I feel it struggles with being an adventurer’s guide while trying to become a campaign book.

The first twenty pages or so are like a town crier giving you a quick history of Forgotten Realms, which is necessary especially for the new players that 5th ed. has invited into the role-playing industry. Without giving you too much meat the book covers all of the Realms. Seemingly, the focus is on Waterdeep; the closer you are to the fabled city, the more content there is. In some ways that is rightfully so, as wizards should capitalize on the iconic city and and its surroundings. It is a fairly well written overview of the Realms, which have a complicated history. There is enough description that experienced or new GMs can easily ad lib stories off of the material. At the very least it gives anyone a solid foundation for more research into Forgotten Realms.

The next eighty pages move into Sword Coast, giving you a tour of select cities and kingdoms. Many of the descriptions yield a high level of detail describing societies, classes, and some of the descriptions are in the first person to pull you into the Realms. Aside from some of the enjoyable recounts of adventures, some of my favorite highlights are the two new Barbarian paths in chapter 4, Bardic Colleges, and the new cleric domain (it’s literally Divine).

The new Barbarian paths are Primal. The first is the Battlerager and the second is the Totem Warrior. Battleragers or “axe idiots” are a Dwarves-only club, and they rush recklessly into combat. Every time I think of these idiots I picture a dozen Dwarven Berserkers from Games Workshop rushing down a snow-covered hill into a battalion of Orcs. The Totem Warriors aren’t new but the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide opens some new options for you at third level. Tiger lets you add a ten foot jump distance while raging!

Bardic Colleges give your Bard a sense of belonging, or a home to perfect their craft. Really it’s just another way to help your players and NPC’s better define who they are. What it doesn’t do is offer great over-the-top game mechanics for Bards. But the idea is all you need for good role-playing.

The Divine Domain is introduced and allows clerics to become familiar with the secrets of magic. A divine cleric gains the Arcana skill at first level and two cantrips from the wizard spell list. At first I thought why not just play a wizard? But I quickly realized there are several reasons you may want to go this route, many of which come down to the personality of the character. The Divine spells are truly an awesome selection though.

The rest of the player sections, in my opinion, are abbreviated and should have been expanded. For example, most of the class and race descriptions are not much more than names and places that help further the supplemental fluff found throughout the book.

Arguably the best part of the book is the backgrounds. These options give new possibilities to players when generating characters, but I feel they don’t belong in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. I would say that they are not exclusive to Sword Coast and therefore are filler, even though they are truly the best game mechanics between the covers.

I think that while the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide offers a lot of new content, it falls short of its price tag. It could really use another sixty to eighty pages that expand on some of the material it has introduced, but more importantly some of that space could have used some new game mechanics that are unique to Sword Coast. For me, this book felt too much like a bunch of reassembled lore that has been present in role-playing games for years. To be fair, yes 5th ed. is a rebirth of D&D and some of it is needed, but this just didn’t have enough new content introduced into the Realms.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Firefight on the Planet of the Apes

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 12:00


Player Characters:
Jeff Call as Brock Irving
Lester B. Portly as Eddy Woodward
Jason Sholtis as Francis La Cava

Nonplayer Characters:
Strother Martin as the Mutant Priest

Synopsis: Irving, Woodward, and La Cava go all Wild Bunch on a group of mutants.

Commentary: After little action last adventure this one was a shootout. For the first time since we started this campaign, though, things got tense as the high Mutant Future hit points got whittled down. The fact that I house-ruled doubling the damage for firearms a few sessions ago also helped.

Though this came up last session and not this one, the mutants venerate "Mendes" as their divinely inspired leader and spokes man for the bomb. The priests seen in this session and the last are slightly more human looking than the Kreeg, but also more unhealthy appearing.

The PCs managed to acquire a couple of submachineguns (an M3 being the most coveted) and a dune buggy.

Wednesday Comics: Storm: Pirates of Pandarve

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 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 Pirates of Pandarve (1983) 
(Dutch: De Piraten van Pandarve) (part 5)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Marduk explains to a shocked Ember that he really isn't interested in her; she's just bait for the Anomaly. Why is the Anomaly (Storm) so important? His travel through time has embued him with energies that Marduck thinks he can use to control "the powerlines of space and time."

When Storm comes for Ember, Marduk figures that power will be his. Ember tells him others have gone up against Storm before--and failed.

Meanwhile on the Pirate Planet:

All that ice is turned to Vertiga Bas's drinking water via monstrous worm things called griffs:

Storm is partnered with the red (literally) man Nomad and told they will work together until one of them dies.

Nomad shows Storm the ropes in the mines and the use of the equipment. Storm tells Nomad about Rann and his promise to return with money (though now Storm doesn't plan to wait that long). Nomad surmises that if a tariev hunter like Rann knows where to get that much money, it can only mean one thing:

Rann must know the location of the tariev graveyard. Another slave, eavesdropping seems interested in this information.

Storm and Nomad begin an escape attempt. Storm powers up their work lasers so they can actually hurt a guard and capture him. They force him to lead them to the central lift shafts. On the way, some other guards try to stop them, but Storm blasts a griff in the eye, and the creature's death throes kill them. Unfortinately, it also causes a rockfall!

After digging themselves out, Storm and Nomad ambush a maintenance crew heading in their direction. They overpower the guards, and recruit the slaves:



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