Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Would You Play With a Dungeon Master Who Kept Your Character Sheet and Hid Your PC’s Hit Points?

DM David - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 13:10

Have you heard of dungeon masters who keep character sheets from players and who make all the die rolls? Instead of revealing hit points, these DMs say, “Your character feels badly injured and close to death.”

To improve a TV audience’s immersion and to avoid numbers, the Dungeons & Dragons games on Community adopted this style. The creator of Community, Dan Harmon, brought this style to his HarmonQuest live-play show. For performance, the style makes sense.

Some real DMs also took the style for simulation and immersion. They explained that the characters’ don’t know their numbers, so why should their characters? In theory, hiding the mechanical guts of the game lets players focus on the game world and on immersing themselves in their characters.

In practice, when a DM takes such measures, players see a control freak. Players worry that the DM will fudge numbers to force a plot. But even when players trust their DM’s impartiality, the hidden numbers create discomfort. The game rules serve as the physics of the characters’ world. When the DM hides numbers and mechanics, the players lose some ability to make good choices for their characters. They feel robbed of control.

Also, everyone likes to roll their own dice.

Aside from performing D&D for an audience, most stories of DMs hiding the game’s numbers date from role playing’s early days. Then, gamers experimented with styles of play that no longer seem appealing. In White Dwarf issue 75 from 1986, an article titled “Gamemanship” recommended preventing players from reading the game rules. “Players who haven’t read the rules will be unable to spring anything ‘new’ on you.” The author, Martin Hytch, aims for better role playing, but he seems like a control freak.

Nowadays, tales of DMs who hide the game’s numbers from players seem like legend. Any DMs committed to the style probably wonder why no one wants to join their game.

But every DM weighs how many game numbers to share with players. My research turned up contemporary game masters willing to hide a character’s hit points from their players.

Martin Hytch would approve. “Telling a fighter he has lost eleven hit points can have a totally different effect if the DM says, ‘The beast strikes you in the face, breaking your nose.’” I suspect few players share Martin’s devotion to immersion.

A mere description of damage leaves players confused about their characters’ conditions. The broken-nose example falls particularly short. In the DM’s estimation, does the injury leave a character halfway to death, or just a little battered? The DM knows. In the game world, the fighter knows. Only the player feels baffled.

The characters see, hear, smell, and touch the game world. They sense more of their world than even the most vivid description shows the players. The characters bring years of training and experience. They know nothing of hit points, but hit point numbers provide a measure to bridge the information gap between a character living the battle and the player at the table.

DMs rarely hide hit-point and damage numbers from players, but most DMs conceal difficulty classes. Until recently, I kept DCs to myself, but now I typically share them.

As with hit points, the difficulty class number helps span the gulf between a character’s vivid sense of the game world and a player learning from a DM’s description. When a rogue decides whether to climb a wall, she can see the bricks, mortar, and slick condensation. She can compare to walls she has climbed. At the kitchen table, a DC just sums a character’s experience.

Some folks object to sharing DC numbers because they feel numbers hinder immersion. But hiding the DC leaves plenty of immersion-foiling game in the check. The player still looks up numbers on the character sheet. They still roll a dice and add the result to a number on their character sheet. What’s another number?

In games like Runequest, Call of Cthulhu, and GURPS, players make checks by rolling under a skill number. These games put a chance of success on the character sheet and make hiding difficulties cumbersome. These games still thrive. Even though players almost always know their chance of success, no one accuses Call of Cthulhu of undermining immersion.

Characters might have more trouble telling the odds of making a saving throw than the difficulty of a jump or climb, but the benefits of revealing save DCs encourage me to reveal them too.

Especially with a high-stakes save, revealing a DC heightens the drama of a die roll. When a character’s fate rests on a roll, when a roll seizes the table’s attention, a player can figure the number they need before throwing the die. A known DC tells players that the DM can’t fudge the line between success and failure. Then the moment the die lands, everyone knows the outcome without asking the DM for an interpretation. By revealing a DC, the DM sides with the players. No one sees where the next roll will take the game. Only the dice decide.

As a DM, revealing a DC frees me from any urge to nudge the narrative by moving a hidden target to land a success or failure. My transparency shows players that their characters’ fate rests on their choices and the luck of the die rather than on a DM’s whims.

Revealing DCs also speeds those situations where several players need to make a roll. Instead of forcing each player to report their role to learn an outcome, just announce DC and let them figure the result.

None of this applies when the characters can’t know the difficulty of a task. Don’t reveal DCs for checks…

  • made to gain information using skills like Insight and Perception.
  • involving a non-player character’s state of mind, such as with Persuasion and Deception.
  • where characters know too little to estimate a difficulty.

The rest of the time, try sharing DCs. I think it makes my game better.

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Using WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun By Gary Gygax For AD&D 1st Edition As Sword & Sorcery Jump Off Point

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 19:10
I've been quietly thinking about WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun & adapting it to my 'Old Earth' setting along the lines of Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique. The Norkers are the key here, now since I'm going to be running this with a combination of Adventurer, Conqueror, King & Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea second edition. The key here is the Norkers which in 'Needles
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Cryptozoic Will Showcase Games at BGG.CON 2017

Cryptozoic - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 14:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment today announced that it will be showcasing upcoming and newly released games at BGG.CON 2017, November 15-19 in the Hyatt Regency DFW at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Bringing game players, designers, and publishers together, the annual convention is hosted by BoardGameGeek, the popular and influential website for tabletop gaming. Cryptozoic will be at Booth #209 displaying and demoing several games, including ones based on various DC properties, Cartoon Network shows, and Adult Swim’s Rick and Morty TV series. In addition, selected Cryptozoic games will be available for purchase from retailer Funagain Games (Booth #112).

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Empyrea Project Funded and Waiting to Move Forward

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 13:30
Its been a busy weekend but I wanted to make sure I shared the above before heading to NYC later today (we don't arrive in NYC until nearly midnight)

Looks like the Empyrea Project is funded and ready to go.

I'm unsure who or what entity is empowered or authorized to conduct investigations in the gaming industry but I'm glad to see the project is ready to move forward without crowdfunding.

Tomorrow I  should be back with The Tavern's normal posting frequency ;)
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Weird Revisted: The Tintype of Dark Wonder

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 12:00
The original version of this post appeared on November 2, 2010. This version has been lightly modified for 5e usage:

The Tintype of Dark Wonder is a magical artifact, often discovered at a carnival photography booth or in the possession of a street photographer. The photographer will not have taken the picture himself, nor will he know how it has come to be among his wares. It’s usually sold cheaply.

The small cult who follows the picture's movements, and chronicles them in iterations of the mimeographed or photostatted tract known as The Menagerie Grotesque, holds that it has its origins in drowned Meropis. No serious scholars view the cult as anything more than a collection of crackpots, so this, like all their other claims, are doubted. What is not in doubt, however, is that the item gives the possessor control over three magical entities, but at a price.

The possessor may summon the three, frankly ludicrous, animal caricatures pictured by simply holding the tintype, looking at the desired creature, and willing said creature to act in accordance with his will. When a creature is summoned it disappears from the picture, returning only when its task is complete. The creatures will act in the following manner:

The gluttonous frog: When called the frog will follow any individual the possessor wills. It will be invisible to all with magically aided vision but the possessor. The victim will find themselves with a growing appetite for food, sex, and other pleasures. Over time, these appetites will grow increasingly bizarre. The victim will gain weight, whether eating excessively or not. Over a period of 2-12 months they will become immensely fat and virtually immobile, and entirely depraved. A saving throw will allow the victim to intuit that they are under a curse. Remove curse will chase the frog away.

The lanky hound: When called, the hound begins harrying a victim. It will only be visible to the victim, the photo’s possessor, and those with magical sight. The hound will always stay far enough away from the victim so that it is a vague shape in the distance, or perhaps a distorted figure in the fog, glimpsed by peripheral vision. The hound's presence will cause the victim increasing feelings of dread and paranoia. Within a week, they will be suffering the effects of poor sleep. Within two, they will be unable to perform in any critical situations and be essentially homebound by fear--only being able to leave with a successful Wisdom save at disadvantage. The victim seeking out the hound and chasing it, will drive it away for a time, but it will return in 1d4 days. Only remove curse or the like will drive it away permanently.

The twisted eel: The twisted eel causes the degeneration of the body of the victim, by progressive nerve death, and crippling arthritis. The victim will feel the eel's cold-blooded presence but only the possessor and the magically sighted see it. After a 1-6 days of the eel’s influence, pain will cause a -1 [disadvantage] to all roles involving physical aptitude. After 2d4 weeks, dexterity and strength will begin to be reduced at a rate of 1 point a week. Healing magic will stave off loss for that week, but not halt the degeneration. When strength and dexterity are reduced to zero, constitution begins to decline at a rate of one point a day. Once again, remove curse or the like will drive away the eel.  If the eel is driven off before a score reaches zero, it will fully heal with time.

Death of the one who summoned the creature will also end its attack. If a remove curse drives the creature from its intended target, it will attempt to attack the possessor instead, unless a successful saving throw is made. Each possessor may only summon each creature once, after that the picture seems to be just a picture....except for the untoward attention it brings to the possessor from extraplanar entities, and sorcerous collectors eager to add the tintype to their collections.

Play Session Report For S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth By Gary Gygax & Actual Play Event At Privait Con 2017

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 11/06/2017 - 07:14
Privait Con 2017 came off in the hills of North Western Connecticut today without a hitch. What is Privait Con? Well its a small gathering of like minded OSR war gamers & OSR Dungeons & Dragons players for a private Con that's been happening for around five years solid now. About fifteen people showed up in today in Litchfield Ct at an undisclosed location. Its been happening for those who Needles
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[REVIEW] Under Tenkar’s Tavern

Beyond Fomalhaut - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 22:12
Under Tenkar’s Tavern (2017)by Thom WilsonPublished by Throwi Games
Memories of an Exalted CoverThere are always rats under the tavern. Editions come and go, gaming philosophies rise and fall, but those little fuckers are never giving it up. If your campaign starts in a tavern, you can bet there will be rats under it somewhere. So here we have this first-level adventure, and yeah right, the rats are at it again: they have dragged off the kitchen staff, and you have to follow them down into the rat dungeon to kill them. On your way down, there are captives to rescue, enough money to get rich, and a whole lot of rats. I’m not terribly surprised if that doesn’t sound very appealing. And yet, Under Tenkar’s is an adventure that almostgets it right, and that’s a very encouraging almost.
To start with, this 12-page module actually has a good content-to-page count ratio. It starts with a mercifully short one-page introduction (this could have been two longish paragraphs, but it is good enough), and follows it with a three-level mini-dungeon, featuring 37 keyed areas spread over 9 pages. A lot of small modules have a disappointingly minute amount of content (the proverbial 16 encounters in an 18-page package seems to describe most mini-module heartbreaks), or they are so minimalistic they strip out their meaningful content along with the dross. This one is just fine (and has room left over for “GM notes” if you want to add some). There is boxed text. Boxed text is usually bad news in gaming, a common warning sign for bloat or the removal of player agency. This time, it is mercifully short, functional, and mostly well written. The module could have done without it, but that’s splitting hairs: for boxed text, this is surprisingly passable.
The dungeon itself is a fairly simple beginners’ affair, following a linear structure with the odd side-branch here and there along the way. It is not bad. The encounters are mostly conventional dungeon fare, featuring living quarters, junk, and no less than three evil shrines of increasing menace. Lots of combat along the way, and a generous supply of low-profile magic items. The individual pieces are not outstanding, but it feels like a proper descent into an underground realm of dangers and mysteries. Evil idols, an underground lake, prisoners and cultists. Make this dungeon complex three or four times as big, add distractions and sidetracks, let the players get off the beaten track, explore and get lost, and it’d be very good indeed, while remaining a classic whack-a-rat deal.
Once again, as small, rat-based modules go, this one was surprisingly good for all the the low expectations. There are a lot of things which should work against it, but in the end, it is almost surprisingly decent, and has clawed its way up into a three-star rating. We are told there may be expansions, and there completely should – this is a good launching pad for something bigger – but it has to be bigger to really realise its potential.
No playtesters were listed for this adventure.

Rating: *** / *****
The Ratte Problem
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November Campaign Design III - The Religion Question

Greyhawk Grognard - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 22:00
As mentioned in the previous post in this series, here's the trimmed-down map that only focuses on the northern, settled, parts of the continent (which I've christened "Lost Artanis"):

The map has a scale of 10 miles per hex. The eastern areas definitely need some more detailing, and I might throw another large lake in there to break up the landmass and give things an interesting contour.

I also realized I need names for the home countries of these colonies. New Valais is obvious, of course, with its people coming from Valais, and being beholden to the king of that nation. Aedgaria is a colony of the kingdom of Wynnland, a rather conventional, bucolic place; while Lippegen is a colony of the Dual Kingdom of Grott-Heimburg, with its two kings who swap out the duties of royalty as the seasons turn, with one being the Winter King and the other the Summer King.

Regarding the question of religion, I've already decided I want Aedgaria to be a traditional cleric-based religion, and Valais will be drudical in nature. That still leaves the question of what to do with Lippegen. I could go with something completely new, or I could go with another clerical land, but with a different spin than Aedgaria. Since I already have one country that is completely different (Valais), I'm going to go with the option I think lends itself to the most dramatic possibilities, and say that Lippegen and Aedgaria share a religion, but that they are in schism, and thus each regards the other as heretical.

This religious tension can flare up and be tamped down from time to time, with hostility increasing or decreasing as events unfold. It gives me another arrow in my quiver for making plot-advancing events come to life.  So what's the deal with this religion in crisis?

The Church of the Holy Kin is based on the worship of the Holy Family, a trio of gods that is said to have created the world and who are related to one another. There are no evil deities, but demons, devils, daemons, and etc. take that role. The Holy Family consists of:

Adar - Sky father, appears as a powerfully-built human male with the head of a lion. Neutral good. Greater god. God of the sky and weather, storms and the rain that quickens the fields. He is prayed to in most circumstances, especially for fair winds, gentle rains, and good weather. He is also god of craftsmen. A primordial being with no father or mother.

Amara - Earth Mother, appears as a beautiful woman with the head of a falcon. Chaotic good. Greater goddess. Goddess of the earth, plants, animals, and agriculture. She is prayed to for bountiful crops and game, and also in childbirth and healing in general. A primordial being with no father or mother.

Kest - The Joyous Warrior, appears as a prototypical knight in shining armor, with great eagle wings, or a beautiful young girl, scantily clad, with butterfly wings. Lawful good. Lesser god. God of war, victory, chivalry, and knighthood as well as sex, lust, food, drink, and pleasures of the flesh. S/he is prayed to for victory in battle. Child of Adar and Amara.

Temples of the Church are dedicated to all three members of the Holy Family, as are clerics. The idea of a cleric dedicated to a single member of the Family is unknown. Clerics wear blue and white, and are as described in the Players Handbook. The religion is a moralistic one, embracing the tenets of Good, imported from a now-destroyed city-state of great splendor in the distant past. 

There are, however, specialty clerics that arise in different places and cities, emphasizing particular aspects of life that are of particular interest to their faithful. Naturally, Lippegen and Aedgaria have their own, and some from Hanar (the home continent off to the west across the Stormsea) will have come themselves as settlers. No specialty clerics trained in Artanis will be anything other than Lippegen or Aegarian Order. Here are a few such orders of specialty clerics that could be found:

Lippegen Order specialty clerics: AL LG, LN, NG; RA blue and white tunic and leggings with green and yellow trim; WPN longsword*, dagger, spear; SPL tracking as a ranger 2 levels lower; ADD burning hands, locate plants, slow poison, stoneskin, transmute rock to mud. The Lippegen Order evolved to be more aggressive and warlike, while at the same time gaining skills that are helpful in a new environment.

Aedgarian Order specialty clerics: AL LG, NG, CG; RA blue and white tunic and leggings with red and white trim; WPN flail, battle axe, horseman's pick; SPL re-roll all 1's when curing wounds; ADD animal friendship, charm person or mammal, plant growth, animal summoning I, animal summoning II, commune with nature, anti-animal shell. Such clerics are well-suited to the rigors of life on an untamed continent. It is possible that a North Aedgarian and South Aedgarian order will emerge at some point, but it has not occurred yet.

Lordain specialty clerics: AL any good; RA blue and white tunic with silver and blue trim; WPN dagger, knife, cutlass*; SPL predict weather 1/day at 1st level, gust of wind 2/day at 5th level, control weather 1/day at 14th level; ADD feather fall, fog cloud, call lightning, control winds. Lordain is one of the great seaports of Wynnland, and their clerics are used to serving aboard and helping ships and those that travel by water.

Kreff specialty clerics: AL any good, RA blue and white tunic with gold and red trim; WPN longsword, lance*, horseman's flail; SPL +1 to hit when mounted, immune to fear at 3rd level; ADD flaming sphere, fireball, protection from evil 10' radius, wall of thorns. Kreff is a barony in Heimburg that has seen generations of warfare in the struggle between the Orthodox and Reformed churches. Their clerics serve on the front lines, encouraging paladins and their troops to greater deeds of action. They follow the Orthodox church, but a single decisive victory by the Reformed church forces would render them all but extinct.

The nature of the schism within the Church is, on the surface, one of theological minutiae. The Orthodox church, to which Grott-Heimburg (and thus Lippegen) holds allegiance, believes that Kest can only be male or female at any given time, thus constantly shifting the balance of gender within the Holy Family. The Reformed church, to which Wynnland (and thus Aedgaria) is pledged, holds that Kest is at all times inherently both male and female, and thus there is always equality of gender within the Holy Family. There are other, minor, issues as well.

But that is on the surface. The real root of the schism is political and economic. The Orthodox church is centralized, with a single Great High Priest who rules as priest-king over his own realm in Hanar and who has spiritual authority over the church organization in the various kingdoms that uphold it. The Reformed church, on the other hand, is very locally centered, with the highest level of authority at the level of an individual temple or shrine, or at most a town with three or four temples.
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GameHole Con - A Jolly Ole Time

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 21:32

It felt good getting my picture with +Jolly Blackburn today, something I had meant to do since Friday when he stopped by the Frog God Booth. Huzzah!

Business was good this weekend and it literally thrilled me to no end to hear stories from folks that had been introduced to Old School Gaming with the release of Swords & Wizardry Light at last year's Gamehole as they stopped by the booth at this year's Gamehole.

Alex Kammer runs a really organized and fun convention. Slowly but surely we are adding to the Erik & Rach convention schedule. Today mars out 6th wedding anniversary and we couldn't be spending it in a better place with nice people. It has truly been an awesome weekend.

Thanks to all that stopped by to say hello.

More posts to come about GameHole when I return home.

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Weekend Movies

Sorcerer's Skull - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 15:00
A saw a couple of movies this weekend, and I both of them made me think of gaming in one way or another:

Everyone will tell you Thor: Ragnarok is the most fun of the Thor installments, and I can say it is the best of that lackluster franchise, but its pleasant in the moment farce doesn't entirely makeup for it's threadbare story, and lack of any dramatic core. What Thor: Ragnarok sort of reminded me of, though, is the conception of an rpg session versus its reality. Thor is the PC trying to cool and dramatic but fumbling. Surtur is the GM trying to present a heroic drama tone, but can't do it due to player interruptions. Goldblum's Grandmaster is the GM darling NPC who the GM finds more amusing than any of the players. In the end, the adventure doesn't come together in the way any of the participants were individually guiding it, but it's still a fun romp.

Free Fire by Ben Wheatley is kind of a more humorous Reservoir Dogs, if the shootout between the criminals near the end of Reservoir Dogs had been two-thirds of the movie. Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, and other character actors are party to a gun deal gone bad for random reasons who wear each other down bullet by bullet, blow by blow. You wouldn't necessarily think a film that spends most of its length following wounded gangsters crawling around the dirt floor of an abandoned factory would be interesting, but it will surprise you. What this one reminded me of was a Boot Hill session. It's all down to the gunfight, injury and the maneuvering for cover and placement. In fact, a little reskinning and you could run a cool modern Boot Hill session with this premise.

GameHole - Venger Joins the Swords & Wizardry Legion

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 11/05/2017 - 00:29

Venger paid a visit to the Frog God Booth this afternoon. I think we've recruited V and his familty into the Swords & Wizardry Legion.

All Hail the Frog God
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1d20 Random Deadly Sword & Sorcery Encounter Table With The Royalty of Undeath For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 11/04/2017 - 18:04
"Echoing foot falls sounded through the dusty canyon of the old mountains, older then when life had paid its tax to the universe. These rocks throbbed with occult energies beyond the ken of man's knowledge. For the three wizard's apprentices it just might become their graves. They had awoken something ancient, mean, & evil. Now it wanted their hides! "Do you see it?""No but I can feel it, you Needles
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Review: Thor Ragnarok (Spoiler Free)

Greyhawk Grognard - Sat, 11/04/2017 - 04:08
I saw Thor Ragnarok tonight in a mostly-filled theater with the new (to me, anyway) Dolby system installed. Supposed to have better sound and visuals. The sound was definitely more rumbly; the seats would shake when there were explosions or ships flying past, but I didn't notice anything particularly better about the viewability of the film. The power recliners were a definite plus, though. No 3D, no IMAX. Now on to the movie itself.

Bottom line; this is easily the best of the Thor films, but that's a pretty low bar, as they're on the bottom end of the MCU films as a whole. A lot has been said about the level of humor in this film, and there are definitely a lot more jokes (sight gags as well as silly moments in general) to be had than in most Marvel films in general, save the Guardians of the Galaxy films.

At first when I heard about the humor in the movie, I was afraid it would descend into farce, and had visions of using the phrase "the MCU has finally reached the level of Abbot and Costello Meet Loki" but my fears were unfounded. The humor is definitely stepped up, but it's well-done and adds to the film, rather than taking it down the Abbot-hole.

Valkyrie from the comic booksHela (played by Kate Blanchett) is one of those rarities in the MCU - a villain whose motivations are relatively easy to understand and clearly defined. Unlike Malekith in Thor The Dark World, I might hasten to add. I won't go into too much detail, but they tie her story into that of the Valkyrie (played by Tessa Thompson) very nicely.

Speaking of whom, I comfort myself that they never actually call her Brunhilde, as she is known in the comic books, so she is "one of the Valkyries" rather than "the heroine called Valkyrie, whose real name is Brunhilde, in the comic books" who is a leggy blonde, as one might expect someone named Brunhilde to be. Ahem.

Jeff Goldblum's Grand Master is a treasure to behold, and he's just as quirky as his brother and fellow Elder of the Universe, The Collector, seen in Thor The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy.

Hulk is the Big Guy in the room, and dominates the film's second act. He's more vocal than we've seen him before in an MCU film, but that's perfectly in line with his comic-book incarnation, where he speaks regularly. I found myself really liking the talking Hulk a lot more than the screaming-only Hulk we saw in the first two Avengers films (with one notable exception):

There's a great call-back to this scene in the film, by the way, and it's brilliant. You won't see it coming, but you'll know it when you see it.
What struck me overall about the film was the use of color throughout. From the opening title you know this is a film much more grounded in the MCU's Cosmic side, with its bright colors, asymmetrical designs, and weird angled line ornamentation that doesn't seem to serve any purpose, but which should be instantly recognizable by fans of Jack Kirby's work in the comics. Visually, this film establishes the use of color and crowded design as a hallmark of the Comic MCU definitively. Sakaar is what Asgard should have looked like (and Attilan from the Inhumans show on ABC, for that matter, but that's another story). The use of contemporary music also recalled GotG, but to a lesser degree.

The pacing is also worth noting. The film runs longer than either of its predecessors (130 minutes) but it doesn't feel like it. When the final battle in the third act rolled around, I thought the movie still had a ways to go. It never feels rushed or bloated. Great pacing. Spider-Man Homecoming was similarly well-paced.
It's far from a perfect movie, of course. They completely unnecessarily re-use a musical theme. Holding off until the end of the film would have had a lot more impact. Doing the same thing twice feels like they couldn't be bothered to find anything else (someone send the folks at Marvel Studios a bunch of Manowar CDs, pronto!). Once or twice a joke could have yielded to a straight line and provided greater impact. Meekly-voiced Korg became a one-trick pony. But these are relatively minor issues. There are none of the greater problems that plagued Dark World, for instance.
On the whole, this is an entirely fun outing for the MCU. We see a side of the Cosmic universe we've not seen before, which broadens it immensely, setting things up for even greater things I'm sure when Captain Marvel hits theaters in 2019, and we get to see the Kree (again) and Skrulls (finally) in action, not to mention the inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy 3. This will surely be yet another hit for Marvel, and deservedly so. Its definitely in the top third of their catalog.
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GameHole Con - Day One Recap - The Vendering

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 11/04/2017 - 03:29

Yep, that's +Zach Glazar and +Michael Badolato manning the Frog God Booth.

Notice the hanging art behind them? Its for sale at the booth. As is the Bards Gate Map and the level of Rappan Athuk shown on the table.

It was a good day. Met a shit ton of great folks, some I've known prior and others I met for the first time. I really can't express how much your support means to me.

Feel good moment of the con. Meeting a woman in her 50s who had never played an RPG until given a copy of the Swords & Wizardry Light last GameHole Con. She was apparently challenged to give the 4 pages a quick read and return to the FGG booth with her impressions. She returned to the booth a short time later and said "I understand this and I want to play it" and she did.

Well, I met her today as she grabbed copies of Swords & Wizardry Complete and Swords & Wizardry Continual Light at the Frog God Booth.  Oh, and she had registered to play in a number of Swords & Wizardry game sessions at this weekend's GameHole Con.

This is why Swords & Wizardry Light IS. It works ;)

We'll have copies of Swords & Wizardry Light, S&W Tome of Horrors Light, Bunnies & Burrows Light, some Swords & Wizardry Legion packs and maybe even some Orcus themed dice - all for free at the Frog God Booth.

Yes, I did say Bunnies & Burrows Light. Play a rabbit - you know you want to :)
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November Campaign Design II - Better Map, Firmer Concepts

Greyhawk Grognard - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 21:00
So after the previous effort, I sat down with Hexographer and took a stab at a first-draft map. Here's what I came up with:

Click to embiggen
A few things are different from the sketch map, of course. There are more towns. There are islands, Things have names. This isn't a final map by any stretch - I want to do it in the same style I did my Beyond the Flanaess maps - but it will do to get some concepts going. I'll pretty it up at some point. (Although I may, just may, do a hand-done map for this one, in true old school style.)

One thing jumps out at me. The whole desert area in the south is unnecessary at this point. At a scale of 10 miles per hex, we've got 400 miles by 200 miles of adventuring terrain, just in the areas claimed by the colonies. I might want to expand into the southern part of the map at some point, but I think I'm going to cut it off and focus on the settled areas.

I have my Big Concept now. I want this to be a campaign without dungeons.

Yup, no dungeons. No credulity-defying gilded holes. There will be ruins from Lost Artanis (the civilization that was here before the founding of the colonies, but which was mysteriously destroyed 500 years ago), but they will be just that. Ruins. Like you'd see in Rome or Greece. No vast megadungeon complexes, but there will be vast ruined cities to explore. Mines are a possibility, and dwarves and gnomes live underground, and there will be sewers, but no dungeons in the conventional sense. Tombs will be small, four chambers, maximum. I do think there will be an Underdark-type area where the druegar live, but even then there will be conventional buildings in large open underground areas, like Erelhai-Cinlu in the Vault of the Drow.

The far eastern half of the map still needs to be fleshed out, and I should start thinking about the nature and location of those Artanian ruins.

I'm also thinking about the nature of Lippegen's religion. I could go with something completely new (designing a new sub-class of cleric to go with it), or I could have the church in Lippegen and Aedgaria in schism. Both have clerics, but they are at odds with one another over some point of theology, somewhat analogous to the Protestant and Catholic churches in the 16th century. But do I want to put them at each others' throats?
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Worthy Cause: Extra Life

Greyhawk Grognard - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 18:17
Starting tomorrow, Thramack and Darth Cupcake will be participating in Extra Life's game stream marathon tomorrow into Sunday. You can pledge any amount, which will go to help ill and injured kids in need. Do check it out, here:

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Look Back at Cryptozoic's Arrow Trading Cards Series

Cryptozoic - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 17:00

As many of you already know, we will be releasing our highly anticipated Arrow Trading Cards Season 4 set in just a couple weeks. It's been two years since our first Arrow release (for Season 1), which we followed up with releases for the second and third seasons. Each set has boasted more amazing content that the one before and, with Season 4, we think we've created the best set for the show ever! As we prepare to release this last set, it felt like the perfect time to walk down memory lane and revisit all the previous sets based on Arrow. Plus, it doesn't hurt to remind you that some of the earlier sets are still available, including some amazing props from the show!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

GameHole - Day 1 - Time to Man the Frog God Booth

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 14:25

Yesterday was table set up time. Muscles are aching and if you see me laid out on the floor behind the Frog God Table, its my right calf. Feel for me... heh

You will have many booth monkeys over the next three days but Bad Mike and I will probably be your man ones. If we aren't at the booth we're probably roaming the grounds looking for Swords & Wizardry games being run in order to offer goodies. We like goodies ;)

Signed and numbered (limited to 50 copies) Swords & Wizardry Continual Light will be available for sale at the Frog God booth. I'm sure Bill, Mike, Zach and other Frogs would be willing to add their signatures if they're at the booth. Copies are 20 bucks each. We'll also have a ton of Swords & Wizardry Light and Bunnies & Burrows Light to hand out for free :)

If you are a Pathfinder player, I do believe the vast majority of the Frog God Pathfinder releases will be deeply discounted.

See you at 10 AM :)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic and Cartoon Network Enterprises Announce Release of Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis: Animation Annihilation Deck-Building Game

Cryptozoic - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 13:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Cartoon Network Enterprises today announced the November 15 release of Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis: Animation Annihilation Deck-Building Game. The game allows 2-4 players to become characters from fan-favorite Cartoon Network shows such as The Powerpuff Girls, Adventure Time, Uncle Grandpa, Cow and Chicken, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, and Ed, Edd n Eddy. The game utilizes Cryptozoic’s popular Cerberus Engine, which has players build up their decks with the goal of defeating as many Nemeses as possible. It is a follow-up to the original Cartoon Network Crossover Crisis Deck-Building Game, adding more characters and features, such as the new keyword “Wonder.” 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary On The Kingdoms of Dust & Sand 'X4 Master Of The Desert Nomads' By David 'Zeb' Cook For Expert Dungeons & Dragons & Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 05:36
"To arms! To arms! The battle lines are drawn as desert men and inhuman tribes wait poised to strike on the fertile and rich lands of the east. The call has gone out through the civilized lands. The armies have been raised to match the invading foes from the west. Nobles and peasants have joined swords to greet the foes. But Fate or Chance has decreed another role for a small few. No Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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