Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Elemental Echoes From G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King By Gary Gygax

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:01
"Giants have been raiding the lands of men in large bands, with giants of different sorts in these marauding groups. Death and destruction have been laid heavily upon every place these monsters have visited. A party of the bravest and most powerful adventurers has been assembled and given the charge to punish the miscreant giants." This is the final installment of Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DC Comics Bombshells Trading Cards - Sketch Card Previews, Part 10

Cryptozoic - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:00

Please enjoy the tenth installment of our DC Comics Bombshells Trading Cards Sketch Card  previews, hand-drawn by our talented artists. Links to contact the artists can be found below the images of their Sketch Cards.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Presale: “30th Anniversary Edition” Metallic Red Ryu Vinyl Figure (New York Comic Con Exclusive)

Cryptozoic - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:00

Now’s your chance to own the “30th Anniversary Edition” Metallic Red Ryu vinyl figure created exclusively for New York Comic Con 2017! Can’t make it to the Javits Center in the mad rush of the convention’s opening hours? This presale makes it possible for you to purchase this extremely limited version of Ryu now and pick it up at Cryptozoic’s Booth #244 during New York Comic Con.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review: DM's Screen Reincarnated/Tomb of Annihilation Dice

Ultanya - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 16:26
I have been using a Dungeon Master’s screen since 1983 and have more iterations then I can count. One of the big disappointments with 5E has been the lack of a useful screen offering. Because of this most DMs have just created their own DIY solution, which still really is the best option. That being said, the Dungeon Master's Screen Reincarnated is a step in the right direction.
The outside of the four-panel screen depicts an ancient red dragon by artist Tyler Jacobson. I would not have purchased the product if it were covered in Forgotten Realms locations or NPC heroes. The dragon is iconic and screams Dungeons & Dragons. This was a perfect selection by whoever was responsible for picking the artwork for this product.

Moving along, the most important part is the information behind the screen. Wizard’s FINALLY has given us a modern screen with useful reference material for the 5E Dungeon Master. Below are pictures of all four interior panels:

As you can see from above, the designers did a good job of populating these screens. I think the reference material they picked is commonly looked up by most groups. Also of note about this screen is the sturdy construction and landscape design. The latter is particularly nice since the screen does not tower over the table and obscure your view. So, would I recommend this product? Yes. I think this is a useful for tool for Dungeon Masters of all seasons.

I also purchased the Tomb of Annihilation dice accessory. Just to be clear, I only purchased this for the tin box. The Green Devil face from the Tomb of Horrors is one of my favorite pieces of D&D imagery. The box is cool, but I was a bit disappointed in the product overall. The images of the tin and dice in the marketing material is a bit different. The tin is very green and the dice appear to have sharper edges, like Gamescience dice. Instead the dice are rounded, seem a tad smaller then a normal set, and are a flat green color. Would I recommend this product? Only if you really want the box because the dice are certainly underwhelming.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Evil Hat has Applied for the Star Frontiers Trademark

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 15:22

Evil Hat's application for the now abandoned Star Frontiers trademark was all over the net last week (not that I noticed). It reminds me when I found out that the TSR trademark had been snagged - it was an obvious attempt at nostalgia. Is it the same with Evil Hat?

Although the Star Frontiers rules are freely available online - and I'm not linking as I am unsure of the legalities - I'm surprised its a game that has never been cloned (to the best of my knowledge)

Could you clone a game and then use the revived trademark to reissue it?

No idea what plans Fred "Blue Haired" Hicks has planned for Star Frontiers, but it certainly makes for a fun thought experiment ;)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reflections on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum

19th Level - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 11:23

A few weeks ago, my older daughter Victoria and I paid a brief visit to Manhattan. Vicki's been giving some thought to going to New York's Fashion Institute of Technology (still a few years to go for that) but one thing we wanted to make certain of was that she'd be comfortable with the city itself - she'd only been there once before, and that almost ten years ago.

Overall it was a great trip. She fell in love with the city. I got to meet someone from my virtual gaming group for coffee - it's always nice to really meet with people I initially get to know via email, social media, and webcams. I'm looking forward to meeting a number of people next June at North Texas RPG Con.

One thing I wanted to make certain we did was spend some time at the World Trade Center. For Vicki  (and her younger sister, Jasmine, who chose to stay home in Massachusetts with mom), 9/11 will always be a matter of history. We first found out Vicki was on the way on the Saturday after 9/11.

I'm not going to make the offensive claim that 9/11 hit me harder than other people - thankfully I lost no one I knew on that awful day. But like pretty much every American who was old enough to be aware as to what was going on, it was a horrible day. I'm originally from New York City and my grandfather had taken me to the World Trade Center countless times. As I grew older I learned he didn't particularly care for the Twin Towers, an attitude shared by old timer New Yorkers. He loved the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building. But he loved his grandchildren. The last time he took me there I was around 15 and he tried to get me up to the observatory as 12 and under for a reduced rate - one of the more humiliating moments of my youth now that I think of it.

The memorial itself is beautiful and painful - a pair of wounds where the Twin Towers used to be with the names of all the victims. On a victim's birthday, a white rose is placed next to his or her name. Looking up, one can see the new One World Trade Center. It really drove home to Vicki what was once there as I asked her to picture the two pools both rising nearly as high as 1 WTC.

The 9/11 Museum was another experience. It is located primarily under the Memorial, with remnants of the Twin Towers visible such as the "bathtub" walls. It memorializes those who died and the first responders. It brings back memories of that day, with news footage, people describing how they learned, etc. 

 There was also much to celebrate the Twin Towers - their construction, the "man on a wire" incident - Philippe Petit's tightrope crossing. I talked with a volunteer who told me how he witnessed it on just a normal workday, seeing Petit going back and forth. We got a laugh at my grandfather's proud disdain of the towers. Had he lived to 9/11, he'd've nevertheless been crushed to see them destroyed with so many innocent lives taken with them - they might have been in his view ugly towers, but they were his (and other New Yorkers') ugly towers.

There was also some beautiful, haunting, and horrifying artwork - most of it being all three at once. For whatever reason, Ejay Weiss's images of the sky through the towers stuck with me the most. The weather here near Boston was similar to that of New York City on September 11, 2001 - a beautiful day with a gorgeous blue sky.

It was a difficult trip for both of us. For me, it was a way to remember what was lost. For Vicki, it made it real for her in a way that all the school assemblies and videos never could.

Reading what I wrote, I see I focus a lot on both beauty and pain - which seems apt for the experience. The 9/11 attacks were horrible - 2,977 people were murdered that day by 19 terrorists who turned commercial airplanes into weapons. Many more were injured. In the years that followed, thousands fell victim to 9/11 related sicknesses, some fatally so. It's hard to find anything good from that day. But I think of people who when they saw burning buildings, chose to run into them in the hopes of saving people. I think of the passengers and crew of United Flight 93 who denied the terrorists a complete victory, with the plane crashing far short of its objective. On balance though, I'm still struck by what a horror that day was, with so many whose lives were cut tragically short.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Dragon’s Heart

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 11:12

By M. Greis
Greis Games
Labyrinth Lord
Level 1-3

In the deep, it has awoken. Hidden in the ruins of an old dwarven kingdom awaits a powerful relic, and an army kobolds are on the march to retrieve it. Dare the heroes enter this ancient place, and will they find the relic before the army arrives. In a race against time the adventures may unleash the greatest evil, while trying to save the world from a grim fate.

This is a twenty page single-level dungeon describing an abandoned dwarf hold, with eighteen rooms described on seven pages.. Good factions and decent read-aloud and DM text make for a good journeyman dungeon. This does a good job of presenting a nice mythic vibe in parts of it, using some techniques from various blogs and media. I recall reviewing another adventure from Greis Games, The Sunken Temple, and was favorably impressed. A Danish translation, this adventure presents a good baseline level to measure adventure against. It covers all bases, from hooks to wanderers to encounters, at a level I find Acceptable.

Let’s cover that mythic vibe first. The adventure does a good job of making the events feel important without it being The End Of The World. In reality it’s no more important than the Caves of Chaos, but the difference here is that the threat FEELS real. The backstory is only a column and describes THE dragon. Not A dragon but THE dragon. This is a technique that can be used to great effect, presenting a creature as THE creature. The adventure doesn’t present the dragon as the only one, but the text implies it was the first with that name. A great enemy, defeated, but hanging on in death, now only its heart, made of gold, remains. There are several blogs describing this technique, and of course various media and folklore also. Calling it THE, giving it only a heart, of gold … it calls out to all of that folklore and imagery of our youth. It calls to its minions, a more subtle Suaron-like influence, even to the point of having a kobold shaman/prophet called Speaker for the Dragon … ala Mouth of Sauron. The halls are full of dwarf bodies, from a former battle with The Dragon, which adds to the SOMETHING IMPORTANT HAPPENED HERE vibe. Then it combines with some room elements that presents WONDERS in the dwarf hold as truly that, truly giving that feel of lost civilization greater than now that came with Moria and the like. This FEELS like an adventure in a place greater than yourselves, and its communicated pretty well.

To this is added hooks. Not just one sentence “caravan guard” hooks, but a paragraph or two for each. There’s enough detail to communicate motivation adequately and get the DM’s imagination running so they can fill in the rest. Then there’s the rumor table, telling you actually useful things about the situation in the dungeon, and other factions that may be present, all communicated in a style that represents a little vignette, in only two sentences. And then there’s the wandering table. Most of these, creatures and events, have a little bit more to them, so they are doing something. Even the ghouls are “responding to noise and on the prowl”, the shortest, conjures up imagery of them crawling along, furtively, looking for their next ravenous meal. Finally, there’s the timer. How to solve the one hour work day? The Dragon calls to its old followers and a large band/army of kobolds is responding, you can hear their horns and drums in the distance. There’s this sense of potential energy in it. And then there’s the factions: a bugbear and his band, the kobolds, an NPC treasure hunter party, and a religious sect that wants to bury the dead dwarves. This liven the place up and it truly feels like they add to the mystery and turn it from a hack mission to an exploration mission. I note that several of these elements, from the timer to the factions, were also present in The Sunken Temple, and in both used to good effect.

And, as in The Sunken Temple, the read-aloud and DM notes are both a strength and weakness. The read-aloud only lasts couple of sentences but does a decent, but not rockstar level, ability to convey a feeling. Wisps of web sway in an unseen breeze. Air heavy with dust. Bodies covered in cobwebs and white and black tiles covered in dust that make them appear grey. Stones are “mighty” and there are sounds of dripping water. And then there’s “for awhile you lose all sense of time” and “you’re brought back by …”, these first person sections being the weakest of the writing. Likewise the DM text could be a little more focused and formatted a little better to call out different sections better. Which is not to say its bad, but just that its not perfect and little more thought and focus could really punch it up a lot. The mundane treasure usually gets a little description while the magic items tend to be just book items “a potion of levitation” and could use more improvement.

The initial text, up to the keys, is a good “read once” type that you should not have to refer to again and is a quick read with bullet points and call out. The “appendix” information after the keys is most monster stats and the like, leaving the encounters proper a feel of a separate section that you can reference … which is exactly what I’m looking for in a supplement.

Multiple entrances, a chance to make a pact with the dragons heart, or abuse it for power … there’s an interactivity here that most adventures lack.d

This is $2 on DriveThru, and worth every penny. The preview is six pages and shows you the background, hooks, rumors, factions, and wandering monsters but, alas, no actual encounters of the read-aloud & DM text. Still, I think you can get a good idea of the “read once” nature of the intro portions and it can get you excited about running it.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wizardly Imp-erfections

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 11:00
Our 5e Land of Azurth game continued last night with the mysterious absence of Kairon the Demonlander Sorcerer but otherwise the usual crew. Their investigation of the rampaging iron woodsmen had led them to the mill, where they discovered an invisible imp. It got away before they could capture it.
Our heroes still had no idea what was going on, but they knew Gargam the misanthropic wizard had told them the Snarts were captives of the woodsmen, and that was not the case. They made their way back to his dilapidated house, giving the remaining woodsmen wide birth. Waylon the Thief spied on Gargam through the window and saw him writing in a great tome. They knocked on his door and told him about the absence of Snarts and the imp. 
Gargam was his usual charming self. He professed no knowledge of the imp, but didn't seem particularly surprised that his assertion about the Snarts proved false. He quickly shuts the door in the party's face, but they decide to put him under surveillance and camp out nearby. When nothing has happened by morning, Waylon and Shade move in to pull a breaking and entering. They are surprised by Gargam's cat, Orias.
Art by JarrodOwenThe cat creates an illusion of itself, then jumps at them, growing in size to over two feet long. Erekose runs in to help, and the three make short work of the fast moving animal. Gargam shows up to acid splash them before they can deliver the coup de grace.
With Gargam's feline familar as a hostage, they demand answers. The wizard reluctantly admits to botching a devil summoning spell he got in correspondence with the Warlock of Lost Lake (now deceased). Gargam hoped to summon a fiend to destroy the mill (he loathes the townspeople) and have the blame put on the Snarts (who he hates). Instead, he got a mischevious imp that promptly ran away and monkeyed with the iron woodsmen, making them cease obeying commands.

The group forces Gargam to perform the ritual and summon the imp again. The imp admits to his had behavior, which he finds very amusing. He begs for his freedom and promises to leave the area. Shade is having none of it. This despoiler of the forest is facing his end. The party fries the imp with scorching rays, sending him back to the Nether Realms.
Next they track down the remains woodsmen and destroy those four, though as always they are tenacious opponents. Shade has a change to use the figurine of a bear she acquired back in the gelatinous dome.
After a brief talk with the townspeople, our heroes once again head out for Rivertown.

James Koti Has Passed

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 03:03

Strange how things come back to you. When I started seeing that James Koti had passed via multiple threads on Facebook, it took me a few seconds before it clicked. I remember James from my early days exploring the OSR and then he faded off the radar. Now I understand why. Cancer is a horrible foe.

Many folks that knew James much better than I have shared their thoughts and prayers on Facebook. You can read many of them here.

His wife, Jodi has posted the viewing arrangements, which will be this Tuesday.

Rest in peace James. You fought the good fight.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Video Collection - Adventure Design Part 1: Meaningful choices in D&D (and other RPG) adventures (Matt Finch)

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 00:47

There are plans in the works to do much more than I'm starting to do (not my plans mind you), but I'd like to start highlighting Youtube videos (and other videos) that would be of interest to regulars of The Tavern and the OSR at large. Feel free to add links in the comments of this post.

I've shared links to +Matt Finch 's videos before, but Matt's latest kicks off a new series - Adventure Design.

Matt makes some very good points about meaningful choices when designing adventures - commercially or for your personal table. It made me feel good that I was already following most Matt's advice when I put together Beneath the Battered Dwarf Tavern.

The link to Matt's Youtube channel is here.

You can chat and / or talk about Matt's videos at the Official Frog God Games Discord Server - Its also the official home for Swords & Wizardry on Discord.

Looking to yap about Swords & Wizardry Light or just general OSR chat? Drop into The Tavern's Discord Server -

We don't bite and neither do the Frogs ;)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Adventure Writeup: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh Part One

19th Level - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 22:56

Based on the TSR adventure of the same name written by Dave J. Browne and Don Turnbull. Tweaked to fit in the Hyperborean setting.

Year 576 (Tempest), Month II, Day 26
Cast of characters:

  • Aaron Cèampach, Kelt Warlock
  • Hoom Feethos, Hyberbrean Thief
  • Morrow, Pict Druid
  • Saratos Ochôziakos, Ixian Fighter
  • Sarukê thugatêrOchôziakos, Ixian Witch
  • William "Billy" Welsh - Common Human Pyromancer
Henchmen hired by Saratos and Sarukê:
  • Tai, Medium Infantryman
  • Zell, Heavy Infantryman

Zell told his employers about the legend of a haunted house near his hometown of Saltmarsh, a fishing town located about.a day's sail from Kromarium. There might even be a reward from the town council.

Seeking adventure, the band traveled to Saltmarsh, a moderately sized town of approximately 2,000. To quote the original adventure...

Four miles east of Saltmarsh, just inland of the old coast road and looking out to sea, stands the Haunted House. Until twenty years ago it had been the residence of an aged alchemist/magician of sinister reputation, and even then had been shunned by reason of its owner's mysterious occupations. Now, two decades after the sudden and unexplained disappearance of its occupant, the house has acquired an even greater air of evil and mystery with the passing years.  Dilapidated and now long-abandoned, the house presents an unwholesome appearance to the eye. Those hardy souls who have on infrequent occasion sought entry to it (for rumours of a secret hoard of alchemical gold have persisted since the old man's disappearance) have all returned with naught save grim tales of decay presided over by monstrous perils. In more recent years there have been reports of fearsome hauntings —ghastly shrieks and eerie lights emanating from within the dismal place. Now not even the bravest dare so much as to approach the house, leave alone enter it. Indeed, such is the reputation of the house that the fields around it, though prime agricultural land, remain untended and rank with weeds.Some discussion with locals revealed a would-be adventurer who briefly visited it, going so far as the back door and kitchen/scullery area. However, noises frightened him away. The town council wasn't quite willing to give a reward for exploring the house, but they were willing to let the adventurers keep the house should they clear it of any menace (though it was clearly a fixer-upper).

The ground floor of the house didn't challenge our adventurers too much, giving them encounters such as:

  • A huge spider and a metal box, both in a chimney. The box contained a single ring, apparently enchanted...
  • A living room with some sort of enchantment causing a magical voice to cry "Welcome fools - welcome to your deaths!", followed by maniacal laughter. Investigating further they found a hidden trap-door to the basement. But they decided to continue exploring (plus having discovered another stairwell to the basement in the kitchen area).
  • A library with a number of valuable books by mages Tenser and Nystul.
  • A study with a locked desk. Later they made use of Ned Shakeshaft to force it open, finding it contained a rose-colored potion of neutralize poison (which proved handy).
Traveling upstairs they found a number weakened floors. In one bedroom they found a pair of large spiders, one of which poisoned Morrow. The poison wasn't extreme but it did render him ill and unable to do anything but curl into a ball and empty his insides. They left the henchmen with him as they continued on. In another room they found a man bound and gagged. Questioning him he told the his tale. Again quoting the original adventure...
He was simply that he is a thief from Seaton who entered the House under cover of darkness the previous night to find a place to sleep during his journey to Saltmarsh where, he had heard, there was possible work for adventurers. He entered through the back door and had only reached the kitchen when he was attacked from behind, overcome and knocked unconscious. He awoke some hours ago — bound, gagged and stripped of his possessions — in this room. He did not see his attackers nor, until the party came along, had he heard any sounds in the House. Now he would like to be released and to join the party in their adventure. Deciding to test him out, they brought him downstairs to open the locked desk - Hoom had been unable to. Ned wasn't able to either, though Hoom could tell he was indeed trained in the arts of subterfuge. Ned eventually opened the desk where they found the potion which they used to treat Morrow.

In another room they found Ned's gear which he was glad to get back. 

Having explored the ground and upper floors, the band debated whether to tackle the attic or the basement next...
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mail call,Madmen,Mayhem, More Swords & Strangeness - Actual Play Adventure Event

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 18:32
Excuse me if I seem like I'm a bit late with this blog entry, my Saturday evening game went fine last night. The PC's have rescued the villagers of one of the PC's & former slaves from the clutches of the White Skull Formorians which gave them lots of trouble two weeks ago. The PC's hustled them out of the Roman style manor to get them healed up and sorted back in Tegel villageNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Deal of the Day - Tome of Adventure Design (Matt Finch / Frog God Games)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 15:28

Talk about a deal! The Tome of Adventure Design is literally my go to reference when I'm looking to create a new adventure. I have it load on my desktop, my laptop, my tablet, my phone and I own two hardcovers. Yes, I really like this book - a lot!

Normally $21.00 in PDF, until 11 AM tomorrow it is on sale for $8.40
A fantasy adventure game, at its very heart, is about developing an open-ended "story" of the characters. The referee is in charge of the fantasy world, and the players direct the actions of their characters in that fantasy world. Neither the referee nor the group of players has complete control over what's going to happen, and the result is an evolving set of surprises for both the referee and the players. Unlike the players, as the referee and creator of the game world, most of your "work" is done ahead of time. To some degree or other, you have to create the groundwork for the adventure before the game starts. Even though no battle plan survives contact with the enemy - and if you're an experienced referee you know exactly what I mean - the game has to start ... with a starting point. This might just be a vague set of ideas, or it might be as complex as a set of maps with a detailed key and well thought-out encounters for the players to run into. The Tome of Adventure Design is organized as a series of "books," each one providing resources at every step of the way. The vast majority of the content of each book is made up of random generation tables that we created over a quarter of a century (sigh) for our own use. It shoud be said up front that these are tables for deep design - in other words, most of them are too long, and contain too many unusual or contradictory entries, for use on the spot at the gaming table. There are already many excellent books of tables for use on the fly; the tables in these books are different. They work best as a tool for preparation beforehand, providing relatively vast creative resources for browsing and gathering, rather than quick-use tables designed to provide broad, fast brushstrokes. Our shorter tables tend to deliver cryptic results designed to shock the reader's creativity into filling in the gaps, whereas the longer tables are unusably vast for easy random generation, being designed to shock the reader's creativity into operation by presenting a sea of possibilities.Purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links help fund the various projects The Tavern is involved with. We are on pace with the current affiliate monies raised to see a small adventure posted here at The Tavern in October. If we do hit $300 in affiliate monies for the month September I'll use the Tome of Adventure Design in the adventure writing process :)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weekend Wonders - Haskent's Ring of Poison Survival (SWL / SWC)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 15:07

Haskent's Ring of Poison Survival is considered a cursed item by some, a blessed item by others. Then there are those without an opinion, those that have put on the ring and died due to their actions.

Upon fitting the ring on one's finger, four saves vs poison must be made. Each failed save results in 1d6 poison damage (successful saves result in half damage) Should the wearer survive, they will receive a + 4 bonus to poison saves going forward (and no damage on successful saves) so long as they do not remove the ring from their finger. Should the ring be removed and worn again, the entire process must be repeated.


I'm in the process of revamping The Tavern's Patreon, but that doesn't mean I can't start posting material applicable to the revamp. Weekend Wonders will be a more or less regular feature at The Tavern, dealing with magic items and magical spells for use in Swords & Wizardry Light and / or Swords & Wizardry Complete. Some posts will find their way into the Torchlight Magazine. Others may get collected and placed on sale at OBS. All Patreon Backers will get a quarterly PDF with the prior 3 months of material. Backers at $10 or more will get it in print.

Note - The pictured ring is from the Publisher's Choice Quality Stock Art Collection Copyright Rick Hershey / Fat Goblin Games.

Yep, that's an affiliate link above. Rick offers some high quality stock art. Purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links help support The Tavern
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Fae Mist O'er Hangs the Ghostlight Fen

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 11:00

The Ghostlight Fen presents a feature common to this world, but a greater danger in this place, the substance the current human inhabitants often call "magic" but their ancient progenitors called "fae." In the parlance of the original human colonists fae is a system, perhaps even a network, that spans the entire planet and can manipulate matter and energy in accordance with the will of the user. The indigenous species are born knowing how to manipulate this system in various ways, but other can learn to control it. Control is the keyword, and the system is psychoactive and will respond to unconscious mind as easily as the conscious.

Indeed, theorists in ancient times speculated that the fae was a created rather than natural phenomena and the demons from the unconscious of its creators destroyed them, leaving only their creations (the ieldri and others) behind.

Fae permeates and surrounds the world, but in some places it collects and goes awry. Some of those bad places were caused by overstressing the system, as the ieldri sorcerers did in their desperate war against the ylthlaxu. Others may be places where it has just broken down with time. The Ghostlight Fen seems to be one of the former type.

This dysfunction manifests itself several ways, but most particularly: peculiars and visitants. Peculiars are small, discrete areas of reality distotions generated using these tables. Visitants are more pseudo-encounters of weirdness using these tables. The chance of coming across these in a given hex in the Fen per day is as follows:

Green Fen Hex: Peculiar - 20%, Visitant 5%
Pink Fen Hex: Peculiar - 60%, Visitant 30%

Spellcasters and Fae: All arcane spellcasters (not just sorcerers) are subject to something akin to a wild magic surge. After casting a 1st level or higher spell, a roll of a 1 on d20 requires a d100 roll on the table in the 5e PHB. In green hexes, this roll is only required for the first spell cast by an individual caster per hex. In the pink hexes it is required for the first spell of each spell level cast by an individual caster. Clerical casting is only affected in pink hexes and in the manner of green hexes for arcane casters.

Inspirations: The concept of the fae was inspired by C.S. Friedman's Coldfire Trilogy, but also borrows from the some of the rationalizations of magic in Hite's Trail of Cthulhu: Rough Magicks, details of  Forbidden Planet (1958), and Roadside Picnic.

New PWYW Release - Daughter of the Dunes (Swords & Wizardry Adventure)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 04:17

Silver Bulette, publisher of fine Swords & Wizardry adventures, has just released their latest - Daughter of the Dunes. Its an adventure for levels 3 to 5.

Daughter of the Dunes is a bit of sandboxing, a dash of dungeon crawling and a whole lotta TPK potential. I wonder if there are any deserts near either location my current groups are in ;)

Priced at Pay What You Want pricing, there's no reason not to add Daughter of the Dunes to your PDF gaming collection.

All purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links add a small percentage of the purchase price to The Tavern's coffers. If things continue to trend as they are now, I may just be writing a small adventure for The Tavern's readers in October.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Majestic Wilderlands Races for GURPS

Bat in the Attic - Sat, 09/09/2017 - 22:07
With the release of the Dungeon Fantasy RPG PDFs during Gencon to the backers of the DF RPG kickstarter, my Thursday night group really wants to give GURPS a try. So I agreed to do a campaign later this year.

Most of the development of the Majestic Wilderlands was done using GURPS starting in 1987. So I accumulated  a lot of notes about how the setting works using GURPS. Some of which you can see here. But since then I did a lot of work on the Swords and Wizardry version of the Majestic Wilderlands. As well as ran a memorable 5th edition campaign in the Majestic Wilderlands. So I am updating my material and the first thing I got done was the Races.

You can download the races from here. Note that because GURPS doesn't have an open license I can't use the Open Game License. Steve Jackson does have a generous fan policy so I opted for a non-commercial Creative commons license for the text I wrote. For the details of various terms and abilities you will need to refer to the GURPS core books. Some of them can be found in the free GURPS Lite.

Majestic Wilderlands Races for GURPS.

Variant Character Creation Rule
There is a problem with GURPS Disadvantages and it is the same problem with DnD alignments. Either they are too static,  a source of arguments about proper roleplaying or they are not much of a hindrance.

I am sure folks are familiar with the first two but what is the third one about? Why it isn't hindrance to be honest or too have a code of honor? Well it is at first glance but then you realize that how you were going to play anyway. So in the end a 150 point campaign is really a 195 point campaign.

But not all disadvantages are the same. Some have immediate consequences for how the character plays especially the physical ones.  So what our group did over time was to stop counting most disadvantages. If you were bound and determined to play a one handed fighter than you could get the points for that as there were on-going game effects. But stuff like being poor or wealthy was discussed before the campaign started. And having a Code of honor was a written down as a note on the characters. Sometime Codes would factor in for specific aspects like clerical powers or paladins. But like when I ditched Alignment from then one, your character personality is however you played it.

Technically it not even against RAW as it clearly states that the campaign can set the total number of starting points AND the total number point cost of disadvantages. We just opt to set it to zero with a few exceptions.

So this brings me to the variant rule in the MW Races for GURPS. That is there is no cost charged for being of X race. Instead the traits of the race modify the base character attributes and the players proceed on from there.

Like for my Majestic Wilderlands supplement, a Elf or a Reptile Man has superior traits compared to a human. The thing to remember is that I emphasize roleplaying and the Majestic Wilderlands is human dominated. So for the most part characters of other races are treated as outsiders even those that are considered friendly. And if the party happens to be dominated by non-humans then there iare plenty of adventures to be found in the surrounding non-human cultures.

All this is not because I think the GURPS default is wrong, it just my changes reflect better how I present my setting as a living breathing world. If because of circumstance the player decides to act against type, I am cool with that if it make sense. I want to see that play out naturally and not have the player worry about the points on his character sheet.

So this document includes the option to treat characters as a fundamental modification of the base attributes rather than something else to be bought.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

1d15 Random Mid Tier Ascended Transcomic Encounters Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/09/2017 - 15:41
" In our veins was the chill of the ancient night of Time, with a premonition of the lentor of Lethe: over us, like invisible vampires, brooded the innumerous hours on their sable and unremoving pinions: the very skies were fraught with oppression, and we breathed beneath them as in a sepulcher, forever sealed with all its stagnancies of corruption and of darkness." Clark Ashton Smith Needles
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New Release - B/X Essentials: Core Rules (PDF - $4.99 / Plaint text - Free)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 09/09/2017 - 14:10

I'm heading out to a German Pub Crawl later this morning but I wanted to put this post up before I got hammered ;) Technically, B/X Essentials: Core Rules released a week ago. Sorry for the delay in catching up to it - the week has been a busy one.
The B/X Essentials line is a restatement of the classic Basic/Expert fantasy adventure gaming rule set, distilled down to its purest essence and given a fresh, new presentation:
Basic and Expert rules seamlessly combined. Streamlined presentation optimized for ease of reference during play. Meticulously researched; a guaranteed 100% accurate rendition of the classic rules of yesteryear. Carefully clarified, ironing out ambiguities in the original rules. This first book lays out the core rules of the game, including: encounters, combat, dungeon and wilderness exploration, seafaring, spell casting, and magical research. The second book in the series, B/X Essentials: Classes and Equipment, is coming soon! Print editions coming soon! People who purchase the PDF edition will be sent a voucher to upgrade to the print edition, when it becomes available.The PDF of B/X Essentials: Core Rules is 4.99 - The plain text file is free.

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Dungeon Magazine Summary: Issues 1 through 25

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 09/09/2017 - 11:19

I’m trying to write up my notes and finish up my Dungeon reviews, so you can expect a few more of these as I work on 25 issues a week. Then I’ll write up a grand summary and be done with the thing.

Dungeon 1
Into the Fire, the cover adventure, is surprisingly good, with LARGE wilderness encounters with huge numbers of humanoids. 12 trolls, 100 bandits, 20 soldiers, and so on. Falls in to the “gimp the players” trap in order to make an 88hp dragon challenging. That’s too bad.

Dungeon 2
Caermor has a great low magic/peasants vibe going on, with mobs and morons. Needs fleshed out more.

Keep at Koralgesh reminds me a lot of Silver Princess/Amber/Lost CIty … a little generic complimented by some very specific window dressing.Creatures & magic are both a little generic though.

Dungeon 3
Falcon’s Peak feels like a tactical assault on a real location. Good map, and the entire place presented as a sandbox locale.

Blood on the Snow is nice, but its going to take several months of game time to pull off this scandinavian themed adventure of long treks through the snow

Dungeon 5
Kappa at Pachee Bridge is another linear OA folklore adventure … that I LUV. OA gets fairies and monsters right.

Lady of the Lake has an almost dream-like air to it. The wonder of D&D is communicated fairly well, in spite of the adventures many problems.

Dungeon 6
Forbidden Mountain has a non-euclidian dungeon and it’s good to see something a little different and more wondrous. Most of it is worthless, but the non-euclidian part is neato.

House of the Brothers is much loved in Internet circles, but I don’t think it works. It’s too adversarial for my tastes.

Dungeon 7
Nightshade is pretty worthless except for a reprobate wizards home you could steal form.

Matchmakers is a good adventure hampered by its organization. Notes & a good amount of prep can turn this in to a zany adventure complications in a great town environment.

Dungeon 8
Wounded Worm has a nice evil villain and minions that you could integrate in to a region as a kind of evil bad guy … if you can dig through the mountains of tex.

Dungeon 9
Golden Bowl is an OA adventure. I like the way these tend to integrate folklore much more in to the adventure … similar to leaving out milk on the stopp for the little people. Roleplaying and combat get a good mix, with a strong folklore theme.

Dungeon 10
Secrets of the Towers is more like a group of adventure seeds than an adventure. It stands out as something worth stealing for your own ends.

Dungeon 11
Dark Conventicle is an evil temple with a good map and a massive final fight. Lame encounters will require work to turn this in to something decent.

Ward of the Witching Ways is a tournament adventure, but isn’t linear as most are. Too much text stands out, but it’s open in a way that few things are.

Dungeon 12
Spottle Parlor
A social and event based adventure with strong NPC’s and a great whimsy and absurd factor to it. Strong themes and classical archetypes for the NPC’s make this a delight.

Huddle farm highlights the mundane drama of idyllic halfling life. That’s the background to the hook … the rest is ok but very badly organized for the type of events adventure it is.

Dungeon 13
Ruins of Nol-Daer is good adventure in a ruined keep in the countryside. Good hooks, countryside, descriptions, magic items. This thing is a cut above.

Nests & Nations is going to be more of an outline that you have to build from. Good concepts but you need to throw a lot away and do a six million dollar rebuild. Lots of events, lots of chaos, and a good monster enemy.

Dungeon 14
Masqueraider was a small wilderness area and cave system that really got close to the line of being acceptable. Most of the encounters had a nugget of something good with some decent descriptions.

Stranded on the Baron’s Island was a social adventure, full of NPC’s to interact with. Unfortunately it was formatted like an exploratory dungeon instead of a social adventure, and needs to be completely reorganized to be useful.

Dungeon 15
Dragon’s Gift is a linear adventure, but it’s got that Oriental Adventures charm. I think a lot of the early OA adventures in Dungeon had a strong folklore vibe, and I’m a sucker for that kind of thing. Talking animals, classic situations … and paperwork from the celestial bureaucracy. These have a social element to most of the encounters which boosts the adventure up above its weight class.

Roarwater Caves
A great little dungeon crawl with lots of chaos, a good map, decent encounters, and a short timeline to mix things up further.

The Elephants Graveyard
I mention this one because the Internet and I disagree. I think it’s got a couple of decent ideas but falls down in the tedium of managing an expedition. The Internet has fond memories of it.

Dungeon 16
Necropolis was a short adventure in a village with a fraudster and a real undead guy that could be a future resource for the party. It could provide some nice background trivia for a starting locale.

Vesicant was a ok-ly done pirate town with some decent factions and a nearby dragon lair. With some subplots added, you could respin this through a lot of work in to a decent town campaign locale.

Dungeon 17
The Waiting Room of Yen-Wang-Yeh is Yet Another OA Adventure, meaning of course that I want to suck it off. The beginning is better than the end, feeling more like an OA/Brave Little Trailer adventure. The second half devolves in to boring old hacking.

Dungeon 18
Irongard is a Ed Greenwood adventure. He does a great job coming up with interesting encounters and decent imagery, along with great magic items. I think it’s close to unusable because of the bullshit word padding, but it is decent.

I have mixed feelings about Tallow’s Deep. It’s very tactical focused, and I’ve become very wary of that sort of adventure. There IS a place in my D&D for stabbing bad guy goblins, and this would probably meet that threshold had I not just slogged through a zillion crappy tactics-porn 3e adventures from later issues.

Crocodile Tears is another OA adventure with a strong folklore vibe, and thus I ignore, again, the linear nature.

Chadrather’s Bane has a small region with factions and an ok social element with lots of potential. It brings the factasic to D&D by presenting the characters as shrunk down and the region is the inside of a house.

Dungeon 19
This issue was plagued by good ideas used as doorstops. In almost every one, there is some good ideas, or content to be stolen, but its then WRECKED by the rest of the adventure, or goes nowhere. Nothing reaches salvageable-with-work levels for me, but there are a lot of individual elements to be stolen for other projects.

Dungeon 20
Ancient Blood is a nice winter wilderness and dungeon adventure that has a great quiet horror vibe going on in it, a kind of gothic atmosphere … if you skip the Papers & Paychecks logistics shit.

I’m disappointed in Pride of the Sky. It has man-scorpions in a cool temple, but fucks it up terribly by being boring as fuck (and that’s ignoring the shitty airship hook.) You could take inspiration from this one and do something great, if you were willing to start from scratch.

Dungeon 21
Jammin’ marks the appearance of Spelljammer and Ward does a decent job of bringing a magical and wondrous environment to life.

Incident at Strathern Point is sticky. Read it once, maybe twice, and it sticks with you enough to run it on the fly. Real, grim, gritty … it FEELS like a demon-haunted adventure.

Dungeon 22
Dark Forest had a couple of decent ideas with mass combats and weird myconids, but has a pretty weak middle section.

Dungeon 23
Vinyard Vales has a decent Viking-like theming, and a good “beast man” thing going on with some lizard men, supplemented by great wandering monster tables.

Old Sea-Dog is a great little city/harbor adventure tightly done. Good town environment and well designed.

Dungeon 25
Of Kings Unknown contains an almost platonic entry on how to write a bad room description: “4. Trophy Room. This room once contained trophies of war. Swords, spears, and armor of all kinds were dedicated here to the everlasting glory of the fallen orc leaders. Centuries ago, the walls were draped with elven banners, dwarves sigils, gnome heraldry, and the flags and standards of men, goblins, and various orc tribes. The moon orc leaders have stripped the room of anything useful in order to outfit the tribe. The weapons and armor were quickly divided among the warriors, while the flags and banners were torn down and used for blankets or ripped apart and resewn into bags, sacks, and clothing. The room now contains only refuse and rusty, unusable equipment.”

Hrothgar’s Resting Place has a good map of a “realistic” cave environment and encounters that feed off it. Nice treasure and fun stuff like a spider lowering itself on silk.

Rose for Talaka is another I disagree with the Internet on. They like it and I think its loads of emo crap with no real adventure to it.

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