Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Dan's Top 19 RPGs - #9 - Dungeons & Dragons (B/X, BXCMI)

19th Level - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 01:56

I got my start in the B/X version of D&D and it’s still a game I really like, though it’s been years since I’ve played it. I’m lumping the Basic/Expert game with the later Basic/Expert/Companion/Master/Immportal sets, later consolidated into the Rules Cyclopedia, one of the greatest single volume games I’ve ever seen. I am keeping it separate from AD&D which will appear in one of the remaining 8 slots - I was a bit torn as to which to rank higher. Part of me wanted to link them all as one game but my own gameplay experiences had them feeling rather different from each other. I certainly borrowed material from one game and used them in the other.

With that out of the way, what was the appeal for me of D&D? As with manu others of my generation, this was my first exposure to role playing. In some ways the game is a bit kludgey, with a variety of mechanics - lots of x in 6 chances, percentile chances, d20 attack rolls, low armor classes are good, etc. Nowadays that’s part of the charm and nostalgia of the game, but in all honesty it got rather confusing when learning. But once I grasped the basics of the game it was a joy to play - four main classes, three demi-human classes and that’s it for your character options. Spell lists of moderate size, not a gazillion special abilities to keep track of.

As I’ll mention with AD&D, part of the appeal of this game was the setting and adventure modules. The Keep on the Borderlands and Isle of Dread are two of my favorite gaming locations. A small fortress on the wilderness with monsters nearby and a “lost world” island to adventure on. The Companion series opened up a frontier region of Norwold, inviting players to settle down and rule their own realms, getting involved in fantasy medieval politics. One area of D&D that I preferred to AD&D was how it handled high-level play, with rules for domain management and its War Machine rules for simple mass combat resolution.

D&D also had a default world that developed slowly over time - from a simple presentation in the Expert set of the “Known World” to more developed Gazeteer modules to the Voyage of the Princess Ark exploring the whole planet. The immediate are, as covered by the Gazeteers, was my favorite. It was a shameless amalgamation of cultural riffs on human cultures - Vikings, Bedouin, Mongols, a Byzantine Empire, etc., all shamelessly close together. You had your Principalities of Glantri, a realm ruled by competing wizard families with a canal city for a capital.

I know there was a certain amount of politics at TSR that kept D&D and AD&D separate games. They definitely had different tones but keeping them as separate games was an incredibly odd business decision it is very understandable that Wizards of the Coast brought the two lines back together for D&D 3.0.

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Gamer Goggles - Wed, 04/04/2018 - 01:46


Featuring Starfinder Pact Worlds and Pathfinder Adventure Path: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur (War for the Crown 2 of 6)

REDMOND, WASHINGTON (March 29, 2018): Paizo Inc. published six new products in March in its Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Roleplaying Game and Pathfinder Adventure Card Game lines. They are available for purchase at game retailers and now.

Starfinder Pact Worlds

The Pact Worlds are the beating heart of the Starfinder campaign setting, a solar system full of citizens both familiar and bizarre. From the cosmopolitan corridors of Absalom Station to the carnivorous jungles of Castrovel or the floating cloud-cities of the gas giant Bretheda, this 216-page hardcover rulebook is your guide to Starfinder’s core worlds and civilizations, and the perfect place to launch any adventure.

Starfinder Flip-Mat: Space Station

Whether the heroes are defending a bustling space station from invading aliens or just looking for shore leave after a long voyage through deep space, no Game Master wants to spend precious game time drawing every airlock, bulkhead, and corridor. Fortunately, with Paizo’s latest Starfinder Flip-Mat, you don’t have to! This line of gaming maps provides ready-to-use science-fantasy set pieces for the busy Game Master. This double-sided map features the parklike commercial center of a futuristic station on one side and the cramped corridors of an industrial platform on the other, providing the perfect setting for any space-based adventure.

Don’t waste time sketching when you could be playing. With Starfinder Flip-Mat: Space Station, you’ll always be ready next time your players dock at a new station!

Pathfinder Adventure Path: Songbird, Scion, Saboteur (War for the Crown 2 of 6)

The county of Meratt is Taldor in a microcosm: a once-glorious land left to decay by negligent nobles. But to help secure Princess Eutropia’s bid for the throne, bold adventurers must now infiltrate her ancestral homeland and overthrow the corrupt Count Lotheed from within, gaining allies and solving problems left to fester far too long. Can they play idle noble by day and hero by night well enough to reverse the county’s fortunes, or will the weight of history’s sins be too crushing a burden?

This volume of Pathfinder Adventure Path continues the War for the Crown Adventure Path. War for the Crown is a major part of Paizo’s 2018 publishing program, with monthly Adventure Path volumes and support products released throughout the year.

As the political scene in the ancient kingdom of Taldor explodes into chaos, players take the roles of agents, advocates and saboteurs working for Princess Eutropia to help secure her claim to the throne and prevent the nation from collapsing into civil war. Along the way, the heroes must recover secrets of Taldor’s past — many deliberately hidden — and grow from relative nobodies to powerful politicians and spymasters in the deadliest political arena in the Inner Sea!

  • Complete monthly campaign running February 2018-July 2018
  • Golarion’s timeline thunders forward with a new destiny for Taldor in a thrilling campaign of espionage and intrigue that mixes James Bond with Game of Thrones! Your heroes decide the fate of the nation, and perhaps that of the whole Inner Sea Region!
  • Pathfinder Pawns, Poster Map Folios, and Pathfinder Battles miniatures tie-ins enrich the fantasy!

Pathfinder Player Companion: Merchant’s Manifest

Some say that money makes the world go round, and Golarion’s merchants make this a reality. Pathfinder Player Companion: Merchant’s Manifest examines commerce through the lens of important trade hubs such as Absalom, Goka, and Katapesh, where smart shoppers can secure myriad fine wares. Whether you’re aiming to purchase a rare item, hire on with a trade organization, or make your fortune on your own, this player-focused volume is your key to success.

This Pathfinder Player Companion is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but it can be easily incorporated into any fantasy world.

Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Forest Fire

Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Forest Fire features two different scenes of fiery destruction to challenge even the most stout-hearted or foolhardy adventurer! One side shows flames roiling across a remote forested highland, while the other depicts a small lakeside settlement threatened on all sides by an approaching conflagration. This portable, affordable map measures 24″ × 30″ unfolded and 8″ × 10″ folded. Designed for experienced GMs and novices alike, and usable with both dry erase and wet erase markers, Pathfinder Flip-Mats fit perfectly into any Game Master’s arsenal!

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Ultimate Combat Add-On Deck

Improve your fighting prowess with new cards for enhancing your combat lifestyle. Chock full of enough armors and weapons for any war you might wage, the Ultimate Combat Add-On Deck can be used with any Pathfinder Adventure Card Game character or Adventure Path. Or you can play with the brand-new character included in this 109-card box: Hayato, the iconic samurai. Get ready for action with the Ultimate Combat Add-On Deck!

More details are available at

About Paizo
Paizo Inc. is one of the world’s leading hobby game publishers. Since 2002, millions of players have joined the goblin army by playing the Pathfinder® and Starfinder® roleplaying games across tabletops, at conventions, at their favorite local game store, and digitally on virtual tabletops. is an online retail hobby destination for millions of gamers that carries the latest products from top hobby game publishers. Players also find accessories, like dice and maps, miniatures, T-shirts, goblin plush toys, and the newest releases to quickly replenish those adventuring supplies for the next dungeon run.


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[REVIEW] City Backdrop: Languard

Beyond Fomalhaut - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 17:51

City Backdrop: Languard (2018)by Creighton BroadhurstPublished by Raging Swan PressCity supplement
Yes, that's the coverLanguard is one in a long series of system-neutral supplements released by Raging Swan Press. The 24-page booklet contains no game statistics except NPC alignment and class and level designations, but the content is obviously meant for use with D&D and its various offshoots – the main audience seems to be 5th edition players.
Here is a coastal city with its aristocracy, merchants, gates and wharves; realistic in tone with many shades of grey. It is right there in the middle between idealised fantasy feudalism and the grim urban hellholes where you will get mugged going out for a beer, twice. The streets are muddy and the city’s enemies are displayed on the parapets of Traitor’s Gate, but it is not a bad place to visit. The feeling is distinctly North European (most everyone has a Finnish name), with maybe a little bit of London thrown in. It is fairly lawful and organised, except for the Shambles, the run-down part where the poor live; the Fishshambles, which is the same but on the waterfront, and the Wrecks, a maze of rotting boats moored along the river, which has its own pariah group, the slightly fishy Takolen.
The guidebook first describes the city in the general, then location by location. It is potentially useful information – you learn how to get into and out of the city, who are the main power groups and religions, and there are a lot of adventure hooks, rumours and minor event tables along the way. The important locations are summed up across the map on a one-page spread, and there are text boxes throughout the supplement to help you with useful references. There are two maps, one keyed for the GM and one unlabelled for the players.
Languard does not go too deep into the fantastic, although it has its thieves, assassins and evil cults. Depending on what you value in your games, this can make it appealing or uninteresting. It gives you an internally consistent place with its own power dynamics, and the feel of an up-and-coming mercantile city. But it is mostly about the regular things, the society with its power dynamics and stock characters, not the strange edge cases. That is, you can meet your favourite “nondescript men in cloaks” on the waterfront, get in trouble with the Duke’s men, and hear rumours about a haunted building, but it is the kind of fantasy you expect to be there, not the kind that makes you jump. It would be more surprising if there was no murderous cult and Low Market wasn’t a den of thievery. The Duke, he is not the Duke of New York. Likewise, sometimes it feels too much like window dressing and not like material for adventures. Some of the random events are things like the sounds of an argument, or a weary peasant in a crowd carrying a sack over his shoulder. Part of the city experience? Absolutely. Useful for creating adventures? Only if you imbue them with your own meaning.
There are no surprises here, although all the middle-of-the-road stuff is well executed. It is not overwritten, and it serves its purpose. It is perhaps too low-key for its own good. Could Languard be the most True Neutral RPG supplement?
No playtesters have been listed for this publication.
Rating: *** / *****
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No Escape From The Dungeon - John Carpenter & Old School Urban Advenure Location

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 17:07
Movies, mayhem, & a bit of that old Seventies & Eighties cosmicism to the tune of original Dungeons & Dragons. Yesterday I covered part I & today we're climbing into the urban jungle.  So last night once again I cracked my copies of original Dungeons & Dragons & began thumbing through volume one of Men & Magic. Playing in the background was I like to refer to John Carpenter's 'Death of Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

horrifying goblin spells

Blog of Holding - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 14:29

I’ve talked before about never repeating the same combat encounter. Here’s one way to vary those boring ol’ goblin encounters: GOBLIN MAGIC, a twisted gift from Maglubiyet to his goblin worshipers that they might terrify civilized folk and provide creepy novelty to jaded D&D players.

About half of all goblin tribes have a goblin magician who knows 2 to 4 random spells (out of the 12 spells that I’ve written). The identity of the whole tribe is influenced by the particular spells known: for instance, if the magician can cast Silver Fire, the tribe will have a tendency to mad rampage and arson; if the magician can cast Clinging Illusion, the local people will live in fear of horrifying tricks; if the magician can cast Create Bugbear, the tribe’s bugbear assassins will haunt the night.

goblin magicians

Every goblin magician is a level 1 spellcaster with 1-2 random cantrips, 1-2 random 1st level spells, and 2 level-1 spell slots.

Goblin magicians have stats as goblins except they have 21 hp; their spellcasting stat is intelligence; and their spell DC is 10.

becoming a goblin magician

A goblin may become a magician in one of 2 ways:
1: Occasionally, a young adult goblin spontaneously develops magical powers. The other goblins revere and respect such goblin magicians, and occasionally eat them, because:
2: A goblin can gain a magician’s spellcasting ability and spells by eating its heart. (Not sure what will happen if a non-goblin eats the heart. I bet the eater learns a goblin spell and also picks up some permanent curse or insanity.)

magicians and silver

You’ll notice in the spell descriptions below that a lot of goblin magic is powered by silver. Goblin spell casters value silver coins, maybe even more than gold.

goblin spells

CANTRIPS: roll 1d6 twice. On a duplicate roll, the magician only knows one cantrip.

1: clinging illusion. As silent image but permanent until touched. Uses: setting traps (example: bear trap hidden by illusory pile of leaves) and nasty surprises (example: the blacksmith’s head disguised as a pile of gold)
2: madden object. Component: somatic. Choose one nonmagical object within 60 feet. It becomes animate for one minute: it can’t move but it rolls initiative and can make melee attacks (5 feet, +2 to hit, 1d8 damage). It has AC 12 and 1 hp and becomes inanimate when killed or when the shaman Maddens another object. Uses: turn enemies’ weapons against them; bottleneck them by animating doors; plague, bamboozle, and bebother them from hiding.
3: drink fear. When you hit someone with a melee or ranged attack, you may cast this spell as a bonus action. The target must make a Wisdom save or be afraid of you for one turn. While afraid in this way, they can only use the disengage or dash action and must move away from you. When someone fails this save against you, you gain 10 temporary hit points. Uses: get rid of warriors who threaten you; grow stronger from the terror of the weak.
4: fool’s bargain. Touch up to 10 silver coins and they turn to gold coins. They have a very faint magic aura of alteration. They turn back to silver if touched by sunlight. Uses: setting traps for greedy humans; cheating humans.
5: ugly mask. Component: 10 silver pieces, which are expended. Shape change into a halfling or gnome or other small race. You retain your stats, and your appearance is random and unique each time you cast the spell. When you are killed you revert to your true form. Uses: luring people into ambushes; going into civilized settlements to trade.
6: wither. Action, or Reaction when an adjacent creature is about to attack or run away. Range 30. Constitution save. EITHER: One of the target’s arms withers and becomes unusable. It drops what it is holding in that hand and can’t use that arm. OR: the target’s feet wither. It falls down and can’t stand up. Target repeats the save at the end of every turn.

LEVEL 1 spells: roll 1d6 twice. On a duplicate roll, the magician only knows one first level spell.

1: silver fire. Duration 1 minute. Each turn, you can fire up to 3 balls of silver fire at different creatures or flammable objects within 30 feet. They automatically hit and set the target on silver fire. This does 1 point of damage per turn for the duration of the spell or until someone spends an action to extinguish the flame. Goblins who are set on fire are filled with ecstatic glee: they lose their instinct of self preservation and live their few remaining turns only for arson, death and destruction. On a hit to a creature or object, blazing goblins set their target on silver fire. When the duration of the spell ends, all fires are extinguished. Component: 1 silver piece expended per ball of fire thrown. Uses: cause absolute blazing chaos at a town fair; create goblin kamikaze warriors; make enemy warriors waste time extinguishing themselves while the magician escapes.
2: create hobgoblin. You point to a goblin of your tribe. It dies and collapses into a boneless heap. Then the corpse swells as a naked hobgoblin begins tearing its way out of the dead goblin’s mouth. The hobgoblin is restrained until it spends an action tearing itself free. Use: when your tribe is threatened and you need a backbone of mighty warriors. Downside: the hobgoblin will demand that the tribe create an upper class of hobgoblin warriors, who will enslave the rest of the goblins and turn the tribe into a war machine. Component expended: 100 sp.
3: create bugbear. As create hobgoblin but with a bugbear. Uses: when you want a strong ally to defeat enemies. Downside: after the battle, the bugbear will hang around bullying the tribe for a few months till it wanders away. Component expended: 100 sp.
4: create gnasher. As create hobgoblin but with a giant misshapen mad goblin killing machine called a gnasher: stats of a flesh golem except it’s always berserk and cannot be calmed. Use: as a vindictive final act of destruction right before the heroes (or rival goblins) kill you. Downside: not only will the gnasher kill your enemies, it will almost certainly kill you as well. Cost: 100 sp.
5: accept sacrifice. As a reaction when you would be killed, you and another goblin switch places. The teleported goblin suffers all of the effects of the triggering attack or effect and you suffer none of them (unless you’re still in its area of effect). Uses: stay alive when you would be killed.
6: sleepwalker. Duration 10 minutes, concentration. Up to 3 sleeping or unconscious subjects make a wisdom save with disadvantage. On a failed save, each rises as a sleepwalker (all stats as zombies but the hp of the original creature, or 1 hp if currently at 0 hp). The sleepwalkers follow the telepathic orders of the caster. If concentration ends, the sleepwalkers fall prone in normal sleep. Every time a sleepwalker is damaged, it may make a new save, this time without disadvantage. Note: if sleepwalkers are dropped to 0 hp with non-lethal damage, they fall unconscious but then arise in 1 turn with 1 hp. Uses: ambush sleeping villages and hero camps, make allies kill each other. Capture victims and organize gladiatorial sleepwalker fights.

Note: goblin spells, especially silver fire and clinging illusion, are heavily influenced by James Blaylock’s Elfin Ship novels. Goblin magic may also look familiar to people who played the Mearls D&D game. Other goblin magic was adapted from my previous post on how goblins, hobgoblins, and bugbears are related.

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Greyhawk's World: Events of the West-Central Flanaess

Greyhawk Grognard - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 22:59
Since my first effort at continuing the Greyhawk's World articles was so well-received (and I had so much fun doing it), I thought it only proper to keep going. For those who don't know, Greyhawk's World was a series of articles in Dragon Magazine from the early 80's describing the ongoing events of the Greyhawk campaign in the years CY 577 and 578, right after the Gazetteer itself was published.

This one was a bit trickier than the first, since some of the events described herein were already covered in previous articles, albeit from the point of view of Iuz and the Horned Society.

Hopefully I did a good enough job of making everything fit together, as well as setting the stage for what will ultimately be called the Greyhawk Wars (ugh... I don't mind the concept per se, but that name is terrible). So I tried to make sure nothing herein would contradict that timeline.

What should leap out is just how much the Gygax and Kuntz articles were setting the same trajectory as was eventually taken by Zeb Cook and Carl Sergeant in Greyhawk Wars and From the Ashes. The wars between Iuz and Furyondy and the Vesve, the wars between the Great Kingdom and the Iron League and Nyrond/Almor, and lots more. I'm not sure if Gygax would have broken up the whole Great Kingdom, but its fascinating to re-read those old articles and see just how much they presaged the events that happened after Gygax left.

You can see a thumbnail of the article in the upper-right. You can download the whole thing here.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Two Cover Mock Ups

The Splintered Realm - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 21:32
Just for fun, here are two cover mock ups...

Powers Family

The Splintered Realm - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 21:14
I'm working on edits to the character write-ups, and got to the Powers Family. I like them quite a bit, and after tinkering with them for a while, I decided to try and draw up an 'action shot' in the style I've been using for the rest of the book. This came out really, really nifty. I am not trying to channel Mike Mignola, but it's happening anyway... With a little bit of spot color, I could almost see this ending up as the cover design... I'll work up a mock-up of it, and see how it looks.

Cosmicism, Appendix N, And The Rot From Within The Dungeon In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 18:28
So over the long Easter weekend I got a chance to get my cosmicism on with original Dungeons & Dragons & the apocalypse trilogy of John Carpenter. John Carpenter gave birth to three films that link into what he has calls  his "Apocalypse Trilogy:" The Thing (1982), Prince of Darkness (1987), and In the Mouth of Madness (1995). All of these films draw from the older tradition of Needles
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Weird Revisited: Highlights from the Dungeoneering Medicine Conference

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 11:00
This post first appeared in 2012. It was one of the minor posts in the Weird Adventures setting that didn't make it into the book.

In 5887, the City Medical Society hosted a symposium on unusual maladies seen among delvers and possible treatments. Here are a few of the highlights:

Spectral Encounter-Induced Cataracts: J.H. Shaxwell discussed a series of cases of cataracts resulting from close encounter with incorporeal undead. Shaxwell theorizes this is the result of negative energy exposure.

Care of the Soul-Dislocated Patient: Trelane Cantor described the care provided unfortunates who have had their astral bodies separated via thaumaturgy. Emphasis was placed on environmental safety.

A Case of Amathocosis: A unique pneumoconiosis resulting from inhalation of the particulate matter left after a demilich encounter was described by Nyland Tonsure.

Antibiotic Resistance of Infernal Acquired Venereal Disease: Villard M. Sturm warns that succubi derived sexually transmitted diseases often required potent alchemical intervention.

Dan's Top 19 RPGs - #10 - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

19th Level - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 00:15

I’d originally planned on making this list a “top 10 list”, but given the name of my blog, I couldn’t resist the urge to make it a “top 19”. It’s taking me a bit longer than I would have liked. Unfortunately, over the past few months I’ve had to dial back on my posting frequency. It’s been a combination of finishing up my master’s degree (eight classes down, two to go) as well as actually working on my first gaming product intended for publication (more on that in a few months if it becomes something real).
That said, we’ve made it to the top ten. Another of the reasons I expanded it from ten to nineteen is I wanted to get some retroclones that I’ve played in. Today’s entry is one that I’ve really enjoyed - Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorceres of Hyperborea. Take Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and super-emphasize elements that would fit into Clark Ashton Smith’s Hyperborean stories - a swords & sorcery corner of the Cthulhu Mythos.
The rules themselves are a close variant of AD&D, with a number of changes that I really liked. No more multi-class characters - but each of the main four classes have a number of subclasses which often borrow from other core classes. For example, one can be a warrior who dabbles in magic. There are no non-human characters, something which feels appropriate for the genre. While characters can create minor magic items, the more techniques of more major magics such as enchanted weapons have been lost.
The setting is a mini-universe - a hexagon shaped sea whose waters drop off to infinity, surrounding a small continent and many islands. There are untold ruins, remnants of many cataclysms, and those cities that remain are often a fraction of their former populations. Above a pitiful dying sun provides feeble warmth.
AS&SH isn’t as open-ended as some other D&D-style games in tone - I think, for example, it would be an awkward fit for heroic fantasy - but it’s not trying to be an anything game. It sets its sights on a specific genre and masterfully executes.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Magick & Madness In The Blood - The Dwarven Races In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 04/01/2018 - 17:11
Delving into the original Dungeons & Dragons set I began to think about the Dwarven race in Dungeons & Dragons. In the twisted world of  German mythology the Dwarves of old were twisted things created at the beginning of Earth. But I've been doing a bit of research on the background of these beings. "Beyond the Proto-Germanic reconstruction, the etymology of the word dwarf is highly Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Work in Progress

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 04/01/2018 - 14:00
Coloring the sketch of our Land of Azurth adventuring party by Steve LeCouilliard.

[MODULE] New Module Announcement and Preview

Beyond Fomalhaut - Sun, 04/01/2018 - 09:54

Original Module Cover

At long last, under special arrangements from TSR, Inc. and rights owner Lorraine Williams, E.M.D.T., Inc. is proud to present the newest addition to our growing product family: the republication of a “lost” TSR, Inc. module! The legendary, rarely discussed and even more rarely seen Velour Palace of the Disco Emperor™ was produced under license for MoodCon 1980, but after the scandalous events at the venue, and increasingly hostile press coverage about what was going on in Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons™ tournament games, the module never saw general release. In fact, remaining copies were shortly withdrawn from the TSR, Inc. design room, and they were pulped shortly thereafter. Even collectors thought all copies had been lost forever. They thought wrong.
Lovingly scanned and remastered based on a weather-beaten and rather suspiciously stained copy which had seen much use, and been found in a garage among stacks of vintage “magazines”, Velour Palace of the Disco Emperor™ can be yours at a special introductory price on this very special day.
Velour Palace of the Disco Emperor™ is currently available in two editions:
  • A regular editionfeaturing a full reprint of the real deal, including the remaining parts of the illustration booklet (see Fig 2). $19.95 + S&H
  • A very special collector’s edition featuring the real deal, a reconstruction of the original centrefold featuring Pam Grier in all her glory, as well as a real ziplock baggie of the special stuff that had delighted gamers, and even “Big Ernesto G” in those halcyon days of yore, all lovingly wrapped in Original Shrinkwrap™ (Original Shrinkwrap™ also available separately at $49.95 a huff). $79.95 + S&H
Fig 2: The Disco Emperor (presumably)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Breaking The Bondage of Labels & Imagination in Old School Gaming

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 03/31/2018 - 18:17
He who has trod the shadows of Zothique And looked upon the coal-red sun oblique, Henceforth returns to no anterior land, But haunts a later coast Where cities crumble in the black sea-sand And dead gods drink the brine. He who has known the gardens of Zothique Were bleed the fruits torn by the simorgh's beak, Savors no fruit of greener hemispheres: In arbors uttermost, In sunset cycles of theNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

You have a very high badness level - I can tell...

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Sat, 03/31/2018 - 15:39
Creating monsters for the Avremier setting is a lot of fun.
Creating villains for the Avremier setting is even more fun.
A lot of monsters/villains of Avremier are variants or amalgams of existing creatures - designed to suit a specific concept or circumstance. Less work is good - and not having to build a monster from the ground-up is a good example of less work.
Sometimes, you just have a niche that needs to be filled with something special.
Sometimes, an existing monster just isn't awful enough for your purpose.
Sometimes, a play on words just demands to be carried through to the bitter end.
And then, there are those glorious moments that encompass all three.

This is one of those moments.

·        Will-o-Lich: Glowing, flying demilich skull that creates will-o-wisp slaves from drained souls. When the ‘wisps feed upon the life force of their dying victims, a portion of that energy is channeled to their maker. The ‘lich has all the properties of a will-o-wisp, able to become nothing more than an immaterial globe of light and unable to utilize its “death howl” ability during that time. If choosing not to glow, the immaterial ‘lich is effectively invisible. 
      It is thought (hoped) that only one of these monsters exists, and the identity of the will-o-lich in life is unknown.
AC -7, Move 15”, HD 75 hp. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Oracle of Basylthor

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 03/31/2018 - 11:17

By Walter J. Jones Jr.
New Realms Publishing

Your boots scrape off the bloodstained flagstones as you step into hall. Fluted columns rise to support a arched ceiling lost in the shadows. A scrape of leather on stone and a jangle of mail echoes off the walls as a mail-clad skeleton steps out from behind a column.

Well, fuck me. NOT an adventure. Not in my taxonomy.

This fifteen page “Adventure” is organized around a deck of cards. You print out a deck of locations, a deck of encounters, and a deck of treasures. You draw a room, roll for an encounter, and maybe a treasure. After experiencing about eight rooms you get to the boss, a harpy, and finish up the adventure. It’s straightforward, generic, and solo capable.

None locations. “Empty shelves line the walls and broken crates and tattered sacks litter the floor of this room.” or “Broken shelves and crates and toppled weapons racks litter the floor of this dusty room.” None monsters. Nine treasures.

Now that I have seen the adventure then the description makes sense. It says there are none cards of each. What I failed to comprehend, from the description, is that this is the ENTIRE adventure. A card driven “walk in to room, killa thing, move to next room” until you reach your eight room goal.

Man, I gotta pay more attention when buying.

NOT an adventure.

This is $6 at DriveThru. The preview is three pages and doesn’t really inform you that you are buying just a couple of card decks.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


The Splintered Realm - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 20:29
I have realized in the editing process that I'm hitting the point where Sentinels is no longer fully compatible with Saga of the Splintered Realm... it is 90% the same engine, but there are enough changes (level system, the exact math of FEATs) that the games were starting to diverge.

And then today I was working on time. I had already changed the base move to 50' instead of 40'. But, in reading about rounds and turns, I realized that these were not logical, and didn't reflect the feel of superhero comics. To say that it takes an average character 10 seconds to move 40', when that character is a superhero, was just off... so I have changed the length of a round to 6 seconds (and a turn to 1 minute from 10). Now, a character can jog 50' in 6 seconds (which most people can do), and can sprint 100' in 6 seconds (which is basically a 30-yard dash. That's reasonable). The old numbers make sense when you think about big dudes in heavy armor trying to slog across a slick dungeon floor; not so much when you think about Captain America running through the streets of NYC.

I want the game to 'feel' fast, and I think that this has a subtle but important impact on how the game feels... there is also the benefit of additional drama. Fights can last for more than 10 rounds, and this means that powers and abilities can refresh during the course of a fight. Near round 8, you might start just trying to hold steady for 2 rounds, because your heavy attacks are about to reset, and if you can survive long enough, you'll be able to really lay the smack down. Ten-minute turns make that impossible.

Editing work continues apace. Right now, the draft is near 200 pages in 6x9 format (and that's without any illustrations). I have some clean-up work to do, but it won't surprise me if the final version is over 200 pages. I went back and forth about the size, but I am pretty sure I've decided to stick with the 6x9 format. It's cleaner layout wise, and it looks much better on a device (which is how I expect that some people use it). I've made minor changes to the fonts and the tables I'll be using, which makes the game a little sharper looking overall (in my humble opinion, of course).

More Violence & Madness From SC3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks By Gary Gygax Part II

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 18:10
"This western area, particularly the mountain fastness which separates  Bohemia from the Dry Steppes, has long been renowned for the generation of the most fearsome beasts, and it has been shunned accordingly -- save a handful of hardy souls with exceptional abilities. Bohemia has been plagued by a rash of monster attacks of horrid aspect and only a group of adventurers with the most skill,Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On the Upper Crypts

Hack & Slash - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 16:39
And here reside the upper crypts.
As always, 600.dpi png versions are available for my Patreons for use with VTT. Megadungeon #3 is coming.
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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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