Tabletop Gaming Feeds

PRESALE: Treasure Kraken Cryptkins: Series 2 Vinyl Figure (Emerald City Comic Con Exclusive)

Cryptozoic - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 17:00

She’s emerald-colored and loves the water, so this is definitely the event for her! Here’s your chance to own the Treasure Kraken vinyl figure created exclusively for Emerald City Comic Con 2019! You can make sure you get this limited collectible by purchasing it now and then picking it up at Cryptozoic’s Booth #1233 during the event.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On the Longevity of Dungeons and Dragons

Hack & Slash - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 13:00
Why is it always Dungeons and Dragons?

Why hasn't some 'better' game come along and replaced it? Why is it always some version or variant of Dungeons & Dragons that people play?

Surely some better game that is in some way different would be the top game, only if. . .

Well, something, right? Longevity of not just game, but campaign. People talk of Dungeons and Dragons games in years—many tables into their first, second, or even third decade of the same campaign.

When you go to a convention, what game fills the room, what game tops the sales, what game draws the young man's eye, and sets the savvy girl's heart aflutter.

Dungeons and Dragons,

But why?

WhyIt's not that it's first. Dungeons and Dragons always had lots of competition, and fell out of the public eye periodically. If its popularity was solely due to it being first, it surely would have fallen to a competitor by now. It has in the past, but only to something more Dungeons and Dragons-like then Dungeons and Dragons itself; when Pathfinder outsold Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons.

It might be tempting to make it seem like something complicated, drawing out the tension, but the reasons are straightforward and simple—it's the interactions between these simple reasons that  Dungeons and Dragons lands atop the heap.

  • You keep score in Dungeons and Dragons.
  • A role-playing game has a natural social resonance effect.
  • The game is fundamentally about enforcing order over chaos, erasing the fog of war, and reclaiming that which is lost.

These three factors intersect again and again. Early Dungeons and Dragons games were run with dozens, sometimes hundreds of players, making them addictive like the first massively multiplayer online games—except they weren't online.

If all our physical needs are met, what needs do we have then? Psychologists call it  "self-actualization" and it's a fancy word for 'not being a complete piece of shit'. You want to be helpful, and have your contributions be meaningful. How do we go about doing that?

We go out, into the unknown, and find/discover/do something involving risk, which we bring back to make life better for our people. This entire process is modeled at the table, in front of a group of your peers making it meaningful. It's not just you doing it, but you all imagining it together that makes it count.

But Dungeons and Dragons presents the process in a particularly attractive way.

There is an unknown place underground, across the threshold. We, as humans, know when we step into it. If you've ever been in a situation where you realize it is not safe, then you know how you know you've crossed the threshold into the dark. We explore those spaces in dungeons, lairs, and ruins while in the game.

That sense of risk, danger, agency, and meaning: it's good stuff. It keeps people playing and coming back.

But how does it last so long?

Why it lasts so long
  • There is no core mechanic.
  • The gameplay fundamentally changes as the level increases.

Dungeons and Dragons, particularly campaigns that run in excess of three years, have lots of fiddly bits. And as you gain in power, more and more bits become available. If you simply everything down to a few mechanics, further development once those are mastered or stabilized requires the referee to somehow mechanize magical tea party gameplay. Magical Tea Party is a term for when the activity during play becomes completely dissociated from the rules, procedures, and mechanics of the game.

In traditional games of dungeons and dragons, you progress to owning land, then investing time and resources into shaping and clearing that land, and then meeting your responsibilities for the people on that land. Though a lot of the focus has shifted in more modern versions to a more 'super-hero' version of dungeons and dragons, with a few house rules or deft changes, you can easily play in the old way way.

Because when you don't, you end up meeting the 'expected campaign' determined by research done by Wizards of the Coast. Campaigns run from levels 1-10 and last six to nine months. (Sorry for the video link, but what are you gonna do?)

So yeah. It's always going to be popular, because it's about doing the most meaningful thing we can in the presence of our peers with complete freedom in how we do it.

The Peanut Gallery I know there's someone out there who's really sure if everyone just hears about their favorite game (FATE) everyone will play their favorite game (FATE).

But people have tried those other games.

Of course you could set up a game in another system to run for years, but at some point you realize that there are rules and you are playing a game. And that game has to be about something, some objective, some goal. And that goal needs to be compelling, in the same way a game like Tetris, Dominion, Stardew Valley, or Factorio is compelling. Go into the dangerous area, overcome challenges, recover treasure, gain more power, expand your influence—that's a powerful compelling game.

Obviously, it matters.

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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fight On! #14 – Citadel of the Dark Trolls

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 12:11
Citadel of the Dark Trolls
Lee Barber

This is level 9 of the community Fight On Megadungeon The Darkness Beneath. It has nine locales in a large cavern system, with each of them expanded upon in to a number of keyed entries. Deep in its own mythology, it rivals the Ghoul Kingdom. And has no idea how to organize itself for play at the table. Ultimately, a disappointment.

Some of the upper levels of Darkness Beneath rank among my best of all time, including what I think of as THE best of all time, Level one. It’s simple, terse, non-standard and creates child-like wonder. I would argue that the Citadel of the Dark Trolls is has the most expectations of all the levels presented. That “dungeon map” that rides along with every Darkness Beneath level has had it staring us in the face for many years. Yeah, it’s not the LAST level, the Tomb of the Dark Lord remains there as desert, but Citadel has the kick ass name and the teaser right from level one, with the great doors on the underground highway. Lee has written something that lives up to the expectations set. It’s deep and rich and full of that hinted at mystery and mythology that Kingdom of the Ghouls (Baur) also did so well. You get a real sense for the place, and it’s not generic AT ALL. I have an issue with expectations and you can see that in many of my reviews. It’s not my most charming quality. But this dungeon met my expectations. It FEELS like the Citadel of the Dark Trolls.

The caverns have about nine major locales. These are large open areas and  the like, on a grand scale ala Descent in to the Depths of the Earth. Not really a hex crawl, but there’s a sense of large space/distance here. It’s a nod to the ecology and the “kingdom” of the dark trolls. Each locale is expanded upon, some more than others. There are fully keyed out locations, like the citadel proper, and then other locations that get more than a nod, like the troll “farmlands.” The hand-waving gets a little deep at the some places, like the farmlands/supporting “countryside” but it’s at a level that is about appropriate for something like this. It’s enough to give the DM something to work with, as a sideline if the party should flee there, for example, but I think also recognizes that this is not a 90 page supplement but rather one article/dungeon in a magazine with about 20 other articles in it also.

I’m going to concentrate on three points to the review, two minor and one major. First, I quibble with the overview map & key. Oh, did I say key? I mean, it doesn’t actually have a key. The “big map” has a hex-like map of nine locations, each with a number and a little embedded “#1 is the gatehouse” chart on the map. And then the main text has GATEHOUSE instead of “#1- Gatehouse.”I’ve seen a couple of adventures do this lately and I’m not sure where it’s coming from. (Since this was written a few years, I guess from this?) There’s this reliance on textual headers to convey location information. I don’t get it. How does that make it clearer? Maybe if magazine page numbers were on the chart also or something. But forcing me to fig through the text to find a one line offset entry for “GATEHOUSE” is not the way to earn “I am the friend to the DM” points.

Secondly, the linkages to the other levels seems a bit light. As an example, the gatehouse notes that the guards will let you through with a legitimate reason. Three are listed: legitimate bounty, an identifying item/pass, or you want to fight in the pit games. I know, all too well, how hard it is to link up a deeper level to an earlier one when you’re writing it at different times, and yet that’s the challenge to overcome.

Both of those are symptoms of a larger problem, the need to think about how the adventure will be run and orienting the writing and layout towards that. For example, on of the rooms at the gatehouse tells us what happens if people fly over the gatehouse. It’s the room with the giant ballista in it. Ok, that makes sense, in a way. But … isn’t it more likely that the party will just fly over the gatehouse and the DM will be left digging through the adventure looking at keys, ALL of the keys, to see what happens then? Why would you not put this information “up front” outside of the keys? That’s where the information is likely to be needed. Buried in room 23 of 76 would wouldn’t have a note about what happens if the party doesn’t visit the dungeon, would you?

But, the major issue is that I like to think this level is incomprehensible. Each and every room is so THICK and DENSE that you can’t make out what is going on and how it relates to the issue/room at hand. Rooms are a third of a column, or a column. Paragraph breaks are few and far between. I’m looking at room 2 of the gatehouse right now. It’s about half a column of text without bolding or paragraph breaks. There are long digressions in the rooms of things like:

“Skaemir was returned to the Citadel by posturing goblins, his lacerated flesh sliding from exposed bone. To chastise the troll nobles, Gorangol kept the Prince’s equipment, ate his Blood Thump, and demanded that a week-long party for her wild goblins be held at Dagendreng Hold, free of charge. While recovering, the angry Prince learned that the Shamans blamed an outbreak of disease on his combined failures to uphold prophecy.”

Uh, ok. I guess so. Is the middle of a room description the best place to put that fluff?

And fluff it is. Fluff after fluff after fluff. That section comes from a column and a half that describes fighting styles and other information. WITH ONE PARAGRAPH BREAK.That’s what this level is. It’s a fluff regional setting book. I don’t review those. Since fluff is solely inspiration, and I think that’s totally subjective (or, maybe, I don’t know how to review subjective shit) I don’t review fluff. I like it, and don’t mean fluff in a derogatory term, but it’s not an adventure.

This is 27 pages of fluff masquerading as an adventure. Ye Olde Pushbacke &| guidance seems to have been missing.

It’s fucking cool, but I’m currently running a game, not reading the background guide for a Tv series writer.

This is $8 on Lulu.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 12:00

In a fit of waning Google+ generosity, Goblin's Henchman sent me a copy of his zine-size adventure Carapace, available for free on drivethrurpg.

Carapace is an interesting product. The adventure (geared toward AD&D but usuable with any flavor), involving a giant ant-hill near a isolated town has no keyed locations. There is a brief bit of setup, covering not only the situation but what various parties in the community might want done, and what the consequences of the adventure might be. After that, there's section of on not one, but three different methods of procedurally generating the maze of tunnels and rooms in the colony: Pointcrawl, Labyrinth Move, and Hex-Flower. Read the Henchman's brief explanation of them here. Finally, there's a section on random encounters and random "dungeon dressing."

If you really dig new procedural approaches and procedural generation in general, this will definitely be your thing. Even if you are like me and this isn't generally your thing, the alien structure of an ant hill seems to me exactly the place where something like this might be useful. Not only would I run this, I may steal some of its techniques for use in other environments.

Mapping With New Computer

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 19:26
So my new Surface Pro allows me to draw on the computer, which saves incredible amounts of time... and allows me to quickly create solid-looking maps. These move away from my Dyson-inspired style a little bit and towards a simpler, cleaner style. Here are a few variations of the map I created for the entry to the massive dungeon complex that I will be using for play testing... I am partial to the final one (black with grid) myself, but I'm interested to hear what others think. It's no great shakes to publish several of these. And yes, I know these are missing doors, stairs, and other elements... these are incomplete at the moment.

FYI, this is the upper tier of the dungeons beneath a fallen temple to Yahalla that has gone through several owners over many centuries. Most recently, this area was the home to a spider cult that left behind a lot of spiders, and a few undead. It's a level 1 area, and will be where my solo character starts his forays.

The Sacking of S3 Expedition to the Barrier Peaks & The Military Campaign Beyond It!

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 19:01
"A genius mad man with access with the technology of the stars. The keys & gates have been broken  all of time & space is open to his madness. Can our heroes stop the horrors  before he moves on to other worlds to pillage & plunder?! " I've been running around like a mad man but let's get back right now to Saint Stephen of The Rock & S3  Expedition to the Barrier Peaks By Gary Gygax. Let's Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Other Side of the Frontier

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 15:30

Much has been made of the themes of colonialism in D&D--perhaps too much, not because they aren't there, but because there are a lot of ways to play D&D, and "taming the frontier" doesn't seem to be the most common approach these days. In any case, it seems to me that it would be easy to reverse the roles and have the PCs and their cultures fighting colonization (or the remnants of colonization) rather than colonizing.

We can image the ur-humanoid species (be they orcs or trolls or something else), arriving at a new world and working to suppress its technology and abducting natives for experimentation like the greph in Vance's The Dragon Masters. The humanoid invaders might be technological or employ magic, but either way their "science" would be origin of many of the monsters of latter times.

The invaders have a weakness (or perhaps several, but one big one): they are from a world with a less bright sun, so they're nocturnal and prefer underground bases. Perhaps due to the magic possessed by the natives, or perhaps due to fractionalization among the invaders, the shock-and-awe conquest becoms a protracted slog that wears down both sides. The invaders borrow in and hunker down, and maybe in some places the original inhabitants think they have been wholly defeated.

The natives, of course, have paid a price as well, being reduced in number by weird weapons and alien diseases. Their civilization has as has their population, leaving many areas as wilderness filled with ruins.

So then what happens is up to the PCs and people like them. Do they drive the former invaders from their world? Do they make alliances where they can? Is it just recovering the wealth and technology for their on benefit they are after or do they try to restore their cultures to their former greatness?

Art by William Stout

Echoes Of The Past In UK1 Beyond The Crystal Cave By Brown, Kirby and Morris For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 02/23/2019 - 22:07
"Fleeing the rage that consumed their feuding families, Juliana and Orlando fled to the Cave of Echoes, where it is said every wish is granted. Two years have passed, and all attempts to return the lovers to their parents have failed, though some believe them lost in the enchanted garden beyond the cave.Many are the rescuers who have entered that enchanted park; a few have returned after long Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Retooling & OSR Campaign Expansion With N3 Destiny of Kings By Stephen Bourne For Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition And Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 02/23/2019 - 19:36
When Treason Walks the Land... Trouble stirs in Dunador! The King lies dead of a wound received during a hunting expedition. His brother, Lord Edrin, challenges the rightful Crown Prince, a half-trained young man named Edmund, for possession of the throne while Edmund travels on a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Nevron. Forces throughout the kingdom vie for control of the realm. Can the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Magic Redux

The Splintered Realm - Sat, 02/23/2019 - 15:59
One of the things that has generated the most push back from the TSR core rules is the idea that your spells reset every turn. I assume that many people are house ruling out of this… I didn’t want a complex spell chart (if one chart that goes 6-5-4-3-2-1 is all that complex), but it was one more level of logistics and charts in a game that is working hard to eschew those.
However, let’s try some options. What if you get a number of daily spells at each tier equal to your attribute modifier?
The warden is a secondary spell caster. At level 5, with a starting WIS of 12, the warden is going to have WIS 15 (+4 modifier), with access to tier III nature magic. This gives the warden 5 a total of 12 spells per day, with 4 each at tiers I, II, and III.
The wizard is a primary spell caster. At level 5, with a starting INT of 12, the wizard is going to have INT 17 (+5 modifier), with access to tier V arcane magic.  This gives the wizard 5 a total of 25 spells per day, with 5 each at tiers I, II, III, IV, and V. By comparison, a SSR  magic user 10 (the rough equivalent) has 15 spells per day…
This feels like too many.
If we go with the declining number of spells (you have a number of tier I spells per day equal to your level modifier, -1 spell per available tier thereafter, with a minimum of 1 spell per tier regardless of attribute rating/modifier)... we end up with:
The warden 5 has (4/3/2) for a total of 9 spells per dayThe wizard 5 has (5/4/3/2/1) for a total of 15 spells per day.
This is spot on with the SSR magic user, but also allows secondary casters to be useful. I am thinking that the primary casters (druid, wizard, cleric) are going to get 1 free tier 1 spell per turn as a compromise on that spells per turn mechanic I like … so they get virtually unlimited small heals, minor spells, and the like. A wizard can detect magic, cast charm, and cast sleep all day long. This offsets a relatively light spell assortment.

(5e) Sleeping Giant Mountain

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 02/23/2019 - 12:11
By Ashley Warren Self Published 5e Level3

A recent archaeological expedition in Icewind Dale has uncovered a remarkable discovery: the Spine of the World mountain range is, in fact, the actual spine of a great giant.  The discovery confirms an ancient legend, that giants as tall as mountains once roamed the Forgotten Realms.
Lead archaeologist Silja Stengravar knows the truth. Centuries ago, a lich, threatened by the giants’ ancient elemental power, banished their race to an abandoned planet known as Kaiva. The lich was defeated, but its curse remains, protected by its minions in the heart of Garagai Mountain. Held captive to the curse, the giants are suspended in time, unable to roam free and claim Kaiva as their own.  Silja’s discovery has summoned the portal to Kaiva. Will adventurers brave the perilous journey through the hostile and awe-inspiring planet to destroy the curse and reawaken the giants?

This seventeen page adventure has about six pages of actual content. Laid out in three scenes, the party travels through a hollow mountain, that is actually a giant, kills some shit, and then runs away as the giant they are inside of starts to move again. Ignoring the scene-based structure and the “archeology” bullshit, the organization of the adventure is a nightmare. It could be worse, but the lack of content and the free-flow organizational style hide a simple linear adventure.  

First, nice cover! That’s the kind of place adventurers should be dying to go to! The touch of the fantastic this brings to the adventure is wonderful. Of course, the players don’t actually get to see that, since the place is supposed to look like a mountain and not a giant. Or … does it? The advice to the DM is to do whatever you want, make it look like a mountain or like a giant like the cover shows.

This then is our first major point of divergence: the role of story & the DM. This adventure is firmly on the side of “DM as storyteller.” Want it to be a mountain? Make it a mountain. How long should the players have once the mountain/giant wakes up in order to escape from it? It’s up to the DM, as they control the pacing. Should the players be trapped on the other planet if they fail? It’s up to the DM since they control things. Somewhere around 2e the game shifted. Instead of an emergent story that develops around the party the style changed to the DM as storyteller. I find this hollow. In it lies a thousand sins. The players no longer have agency in their own action. The rules won’t let you die anymore and neither will the DM because their “story” has something going on. The baddie must escape. The artifact must trigger. Blach. So what? Someone dies and they make another character. They don’t escape and they get to have adventures on another planet. Or they have an entire campaign inside a giant. Or any of a thousand other possibilities. But it’s the players who have the action token and not the DM. This whole DM as Storyteller thing has Giovanni Chronicles in it. A hollow & empty style of play that can never be meaningful because there was never anything at risk or any chance to change the world in anyway. The plot says that at level 20 the evil god gets summoned, so whatever you do is meaningless. It’s going to happen 19 adventures from now. Just pull out your phone and play some Bubble Bobble.

So, this adventure is a part of a playstyle I abhor, and can make a logical well reasoned argument as to why it’s bad. Let’s accept for the moment that someone responds with the No-Accounting-For-Taste “But That’s the Way I Like To Play.” What then?

Then we fall back to Ye Olde Rule-e One-e: the only purpose of the adventure is to help the DM run it at the table. Does this do that in any meaningful way? No.

The data is laid out in some weird paragraph form. Inside of each “scene “are some bolded subheadings. Each subheading with have a couple of paragraphs and the various encounters are laid out in that text. There is no real organization other than “if you read the entire thing from start to finish then you will see the order of things as thing one comes before thing 2 or thing 3 in the text of the paragraph.” This is terrible, and is now the second or third time I’ve seen it. I don’t get it AT ALL. What’s the point of this? Is room/key now not being done at all? Is it impossible to just bullet point out important information, or number it, or do ANYTHING other than just list it in paragraph form? Again, the DM is scanning the adventure text at the table. They need to location the information quickly. Burying it in a paragraph is not the way you do that.

There’s a couple of inset boxes early on, when the “archeologist” is talking to the party. (This i, I think, the only time inset data is used. Or anything other than just paragraph data transfer.) The first is some … flavor text(?) about the archeologist. The second is a point of data about a curse. The inset about the curse it good. If I’m the DM, looking at that page, I can immediately find the curse data. But the archeologist flavor text? What’s the point of that? Their personality & looks are would have been much better served to have been highlighted instead of being buried in the sentence data in the paragraph before the insets.

I can quibble with the other choices. An archeologist wants your help. Why? Why not a wizard? Do we have to live in a world with archeologists and museums and shit? Why not embrace the fantasy? Easy enough to fix, they’re a wizard now. But there’s other things. There’s some note about how killing a wolf is an evil act if it hasn’t attacked yet. And it then attacks. What? Hang on there. Uh, no, it’s not an evil act. You mean it’s an evil act the way YOU play D&D. In my world it’s not. This kind of DM enforced morality garbage is a blight on the game.

This is a low page count low content adventure. It is no way lives up to the cover, even given the “run away to escape the giant” gimmick ending.

The designer runs an RPG Writers Workshop and appears to be an author. The content of the workshop appears to be of two types. The first section appears to be things you might see in any writers workshop. Storyboard, moodlists, outlining, creating villains, NPC’s, etc. The second part is about layout, editing, publishing, etc.

I haven’t gone through this workshop, but the agenda leave me with a raised eyebrow. Adventure writing is not similar to story writing AT ALL. Adventure writing is technical writing. You are trying to transfer information out of the designers head and on to paper in such a way that it enters the DM’s head that they can use it to run the adventure. All in about the three seconds you get when they glance down at the page. I don’t see that in this workshop. Joyce may have been a great writer but if they wrote a D&D adventure in the style of Wake then it would be a disaster. First, technical writing. Then evocative writing detailing interactive encounters with the POTENTIAL for combat. D&D is about interactivity and too many designers confuse combat for interactivity.

It is my great hope that the great masses of humanity who know only the WOTC/Paizo echo chambers do one day get exposed to the better writing & formats os the inside & OSR scene. There are certainly a huge pile of garbage in that community also, but they seem to be more actively thinking about these things, and experimenting with formats, etc, than the WOTC/Paizo crowd. The major publishers are really doing a disservice to everyone by not caring about information theory in their own products. People see it from the the official publishers and think that’s the right way to do it. There’s no right way. Some are easier than others, but there are many paths to good design. The WOTC/Paizo garbage is not it though. These designers get all these 5-star reviews and accolades, never knowing what’s over the next hill

This is Pay What You Want at DMSGuild with a suggested price of $1.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Retro Review & Adventure Retooling With N2: The Forest Oracle By Carl Smith For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 02/23/2019 - 04:21
"The land lies under a curse. Fruit drops to the ground, its pulp black and rotten. Leaves curl and wither on the branches. Animals flee the parched vale, or starve. Long ago, the Downs prospered under the care of Druids, but the priests of nature have retreated deep into the woods and rarely show themselves. One old man claims that the Druids have the power to save the valley, if only Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On Momentum, and Blogs, and Community (

The Splintered Realm - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 22:20
Hey there! I suppose I should give an update, especially because you all are very patient with me when I simply disappear for months at a time. I'm still deep (deep, deep) into my doctoral program in Educational Leadership. I have finished all of my course work, and I'm now on to the dissertation phase. I have written (and revised about ten times) the draft of my proposal. It weighs in at 185 pages right now, and includes about 80 references in the bibliography. It is called "How Veteran Teachers Understand and Leverage Grit: A Case Study". So, I have been reading and writing. A LOT. I just haven't done any of it in the world of gaming.

I've also been applying for and interviewing for jobs. I've been a high school ELA teacher for eighteen years now, but I'm working towards school administration, so I've applied for about 40 positions as either principal or assistant principal , and have interviewed for a dozen. I've been a finalist a few times, but have yet to land an administrative position. To be honest, it's been a pretty mentally exhausting few years, and I have not had the time or the mental energy to put into gaming.

However, my wife has been encouraging me to get back into it, and every once in a while (like the last few weeks) I get a flurry of activity with people contacting me about gaming stuff. I designed Tales of the Splintered Realm last year as a way to re-connect with gaming, and to do so in a way that is manageable. Then, everything kicked into the next gear and I got really moving on my dissertation, so gaming moved to the furthest back burner. I'd like to correct that. I have written some great games that I really love (especially Sentinels of Echo City), and it makes sense for me to support them. So, I'm going to try and do that. Let me know how that goes...

I had a considerable setback last month where my laptop died, taking everything that I hadn't backed up in several months to the grave. Then I realized that Google+ is going away, and taking a whole lot of community stuff with it. I realized today that every comment posted to my blog for the last five years is gone... so it's a bit... um. Wow. Yeah. Okay.

That said, here's something of a plan going forward:

  • This blog will remain my central hub. I like it here. So that's good.
  • I'll be updating the rules for Tales of the Splintered Realm with any mechanical fixes or little things I find that I want to clean up.
  • I'm going to make getting a few supplements for that game a priority. I'd like to get a monster book, a treasure book, and at least two character expansion books (all about 8 pages long, so no great shakes for any of those) out in the next little bit. The game desperately needs some rounding out.
  • I've wanted to publish a regular newsletter for Sentinels of Echo City that resembles the old Marvel Phile updates in Dragon Magazine. That's in the works.
  • I've set up a new community on MeWe. It will be evolving over the next few days and weeks. Stop by there and say hello if you are so inclined.

DIRECT SALE: Harley Quinn Noir Edition DC Bombshells: Series 3 Vinyl Figure

Cryptozoic - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 18:00

Don’t be fooled by all her laughing—Harley loves to embrace her darkness! Harley Quinn Noir Edition is an eye-catching variant of the regular DC Bombshells: Series 3 figure. Like the previous releases in Cryptozoic’s popular Noir Edition series, it sports a stylish gray color scheme, inspired by the timeless look of film noir.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Bgtzlian [5e Race]

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:00

In the DC Universe, Bgztlian are human-like beings inhabiting a world that occupies the same location as Earth, but at a another vibrational plane. All Bgtzlians possess the ability to become incorporeal. Here's a "Phantom Folk" race for 5e based on them:

Bgtzlian Racial Traits
Ability Score Increase. A Bgtzlian can improve one ability score of their choice by 2 points and another by one point.
Age. Same as humans.
Alignment. Any.
Size. Bgztlians are Medium.
Speed. Base walking speed is 30 feet.
Languages. Bgtzlians can speak, read, and write Bgtzlian and Common.
Phasing. As a bonus action, a Bgtzlian can become incorporeal, either entirely or only a part of their body. While incorporeal their movement becomes flight, and they move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. They takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn in side an object. They are immune to nonmagical damage while entirely incorporeal. Anything nonliving they are carrying or wearing becomes incorporeal as well, but they are unable to manipulate any new objects, or make attacks or cast any new spells.

One of my favorite OD&D villains - The Egg of Coot For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 06:25
The Egg of Coot is describe as;"Some scholars believe that it is one of the remaining servitors of the Outer Beings. In the Age of Blackmoor, these servitors are referred to as Elder Demons, and once dominated the entire continent. The Egg appears as a huge globe of mossy grey flesh and eyeballs and mouths randomly scattered across the slimy surface. The Egg is buried deep under ground and Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Three Side Wars of DA2 The Temple of The Frog By Dave L. Arneson and David J. Ritchie For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 22:29
"Green Death... That's what old hands call the Great Dismal Swamp. For centuries, this tangled maze of sluggish watercourses, stagnant ponds, and festering marshes has defended Blackmoor's southwestern frontier. Large armies and smaller parties have disappeared altogether inside its vast, dripping, claustrophobic corridors. Among those who have dropped from sight in the arboreal hell is youngNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Adventure Design: Robber’s Bridge (Part VII)

Torchbearer RPG - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 14:01
Aerial view of the remains of the Viking ring fortress of Trelleborg, near Slagelse in Denmark, by Thue C. Leibrandt

Hello friends! Today’s Torchbearer Thursday has been cross-posted with my Bridge of the Damned Kickstarter project. Please back it if you’re interested in seeing the finished project!

You can catch up on the project here:

The village of Brugard has grown up in the ruins of an ancient ring fort near the southern end of Jotnarsbru. Most of the people of Brugard are Runungs, a once prosperous Bjorning clan whose wealth and influence has waned considerably since the slighting of the bridge and the loss of Vanskrdal.

Prior to the Gott invasion of Vanskrdal, the Runungs lived in steadings and villages on both sides of the Jotnarsbru, and their chieftains were welcomed in the halls of the jarls of both lands. It was Runung warriors that held the fortifications of the bridge and collected tolls from those who would cross.

That all ended with the arrival of the Gott War Host. Many of the Runungs in Vanskrdal were caught unaware by the rapid conquest, and many others were trapped on the northern bank by the destruction of the bridge. Those that managed the crossing occupied the old ring fort, and were succored by those clan members already living on the southern side of the river.

Much of the Runung clan regalia was lost when the Gotts overran Kviholl, the hall of the Runung Chieftain Grima. The only pieces that were saved include a chariot used to drive idols of the Immortal Lords during ceremonial processions, a silver-chased drinking horn and a mangle board that once belonged to clan ancestor and ættir Runa the Battle-Wise.

Danish mangle board with a galloping horse, two kissing doves, a heart and interlaced initials, with its original rolling pin, circa 1780

Runa has told her descendents that many of their relatives survive as thralls in the north, in most cases tending lands they once called their own in service to their new masters.


This part of Vargstrond once bustled with trade. Today it is little traveled and the village of Brugard struggles to sustain itself. Little by little, the young people of Brugard slip south to Bodnyheim or Jernkloster seeking better fortunes.

Town Rules

Skills: Carpenter, Peasant, Weaver
Traits: Hungry, Conservative
Alignment: Unaffiliated
Haggling: Ob 3
Telling Tales: Ob 3

Available Locations

Flophouse, Home (equivalent to Flophouse), Inn, Market, Shrine, Stables, Street, Tavern

Brugard Laws
  • Brawling is a criminal act. Punishable by public humiliation.
  • A tax (1D of cash) must be paid to support the needy and unfortunate when visiting the market.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Omniverse: Teen Titan Edition

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 12:00

I've released a few more Omniverse posts, rescued from Google Plus. All of these have to do with the Teen Titans. One shines the spotlight on the older Barton brother, Speedy. Another looks at the villain turned hero, Nighthawk, and the teen that would assume his mantle. And finally, I look at the formation of the original team.

Follow the Omniverse label for more articles.


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