Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Planetary Picaresque

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:00

We're all familiar with the Planetary Romance or Sword and Planet stories of the Burroughsian ilk, where a stranger (typically a person of earth) has adventures of a lost world or derring-do sort of variety on an alien world. I'd like to suggest that their is a subgenre or closely related genre that could be termed the Planetary Picaresque.

The idea came to me while revisiting the novels in Vance's Planet of Adventure sequence. The first novel, City of the Chasch, is pretty typical of the Planetary Romance form, albeit more science fiction-ish than Burroughs and wittier than most of his imitators. By the second novel, Servant of the Wankh (or Wanek), however, Vance's hero is spending more time getting the better of would be swindlers or out maneuvering his social superiors amid the risible and baroque societies of Tschai than engaging in acts of swordplay or derring-do. One could argue the stalwart Adam Reith is not himself a picaro, but the ways he is forced to get by on Tschai certainly resemble the sort of situations a genuine picaro might get into.

These sort of elements are not wholly absent from Vance's sword and planet progenitors (Burroughs has some of that, probably borrowed from Dumas), but Vance makes it the centerpiece rather than the comedy relief. Some of L. Sprague de Camp's Krishna seem to be in a similar vein.

The roleplaying applications of this ought to be obvious. You get to combine the best parts of Burroughs with the best parts of Leiber. I think that's a pretty appealing combination.


1d6 Random Ancient Minor Treasures of Clark Aston Smith's Forbidden Places & Vaults Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 06:45
There are minor treasures that have been left behind in the wake of ages past in the vaults & tombs of ancient & vastly dangerous peoples. These items are tinged with the irony of ages past & wreathed in the mystique of forbidden history. “Stern and white as a tomb, older than the memory of the dead, and built by men or devils beyond the recording of myth, is the mansion in which we dwell.”Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The one where I get interviewed.by Brendan Davis

Bat in the Attic - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 05:16
I been doing maps for  Brendan Davis of Bedrock Games for a couple of years. As part of the process we get together online to various reviews of the work in progress. More often than not we wind up chatting afterwards and discuss all thing roleplaying.

So when Brendan started a podcast, I was happy when he invited me on for a episode. We talked about the early days of gaming, sandbox campaigns, and gaming in general. Also I talk up what +Tim Shorts  of Gothridge Manor is doing. Along with a mention of the stuff that +Dwayne Gillingham has been working on with 3d6 based Crit System.

You can find the podcast here.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Greyhawk update/designer's notes

Greyhawk Grognard - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 03:05
Hey-o!

So back in January I announced that I was working on some 5E Greyhawk products on the off chance that Wizards of the Coast would eventually open up my favorite setting to designers on GM's Guild. No, this isn't some announcement that they have done so. I just want to give a quick update and let you know about the approach I'm taking.

Specifically, I've been working on what was the Players Guide to Greyhawk, because the rest all hinged on having Greyhawk-specific 5th edition material to make it all work. Unfortunately, that turned out to be too large a task for a single book.

So now, what was the Players Guide to Greyhawk is going to be three different books.

Most of the crunchy bits will be in the Player's Guide. The class options, the backgrounds, the spells, factions, etc. There will still be plenty of color, but this will be where the majority of the rules-heavy stuff will be found. All new, but a lot based on things from the earliest days of Greyhawk and the 1st Edition rules. Because I'm a 1E nerd, and proud of it.

The DM's Guide, on the other hand, is going to feature the new monsters (mostly drawn from the Greyhawk Adventures book and the Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk volume) and new magic items (again, mostly from the GA book). But the majority of it is going to give history and the current state of the Flanaess circa 576 CY; the same era as the original Folio and Gold Box editions. It will have all the information in those books, plus a lot more gleaned from all the other products that have come after; history, NPCs, etc. from various adventure modules, sourcebooks, boxed sets, articles, and some more outré sources that I think you'll find pretty cool.

I was going back and forth between just having a brief entry for each country, and going on a full-bore in-depth recitation based on the sources, and have decided to go with the latter. It won't be completely comprehensive (the book would be a thousand pages) but it'll cover everything the DM needs to get things going in 576.

And the third will be something I've been writing about for years; the Great Greyhawk Campaign. It would have all the information a DM needs to take the Greyhawk setting forward in time up to 591 CY, a full fifteen years of game time. And in so doing, it would allow the DM to set his or her game in those other periods that have been extensively covered in the past; 585 CY (From the Ashes), or 591 CY (Living Greyhawk Gazetteer).

So anyway, that which was one is now three. It's really no more work for me than I had originally envisioned (other than maybe the GGC book), but as I go through the sources, it's really just a question of putting the information in the right place.

__________

And hey! Don't forget that the GM's Day sale is still going on, and you can find almost everything from BRW Games on 30% off; if you ever wanted to check out Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, or nearly anything else, now's the time!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Podcast - Hobbs & Friends of the OSR

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 02:46

I had emergency uncle duties today (sick niece home from school) so I was finally able to catch up on some podcast listening. On the ride home I listened to the first episode of Hobbs & Friends of the OSR, and I must say - I was impressed.

It was a nice, relaxed conversation between Jason Hobbs +Jason Hobbs and +Eric Hoffman  and it felt like I was sitting at the local watering hole with them.

Much of the episode was spent talking about USR 2.0 (Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying), a game I've followed from a distance. Its intrigued me enough to decide to give it a look. Heck, its PWYW, so why not? ;)

Its also made me curious about The Treasure Vaults of Zadabad (S&W version - there is a DCC RPG version too) An island sandbox and more.

Hey, even I got a mention along with SWL, but more in the context of a recent discussion over whether or not less rules / text / etc is viable as well as useful. I think much of the viability depends on the goals of the product in question, but that's a whole 'nother discssion.

In any case, enjoyable episode. Now I need to catch up :)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Picks for the GM's Day Sale, Part V - White Star Edition

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 15:18
Yep, its time to make some OSR Picks for the current GM's Sale at RPGNow. This post is Part VPart I ,  Part II , Part III and Part IV are linked. Remember, 5% of your purchase goes to support The Tavern and associated costs for projects like Swords & Wizardry Light and the upcoming Torchlight Zine.

White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying - What can I say about White Star that I haven't already said? Probably the easiest to pick up SciFi RPG for the OSR grognard there is. If you don't already have a copy, grab a copy - "Whether a noble Star Knight protecting the universe from galactic tyranny, a hot shot pilot in the cockpit of the fastest stunt fighter in space, or an enigmatic Alien Mystic, classic science fiction adventure awaits you with White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying. Based on Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox, White Star brings all the simple elegance  of WhiteBox out of the dungeon and into the stars! This complete roleplaying game includes seven new classes as well as rules for advanced technology, laser weaponry, space combat, and so much more! So ready your star sword and fire up your faster-than-light drive! A galaxy full of thrilling heroics is at your fingertips with White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying."   $9.99  $6.99

The Graveyard at Lus - sandbox White Star? - "Space Graveyards - what's left behind when battles are fought among the points of light that map out the universe. Sometimes there's good salvage to be had there. There's always danger, though. Not everything is dead in a Graveyard, and you're not the only one that's come looking for the good stuff. And that's not even mentioning the radiation and debris left behind, or the dangerous creatures that end up finding their way there like graveworms and ... the undead. - A comprehensive toolkit for creating space Graveyards - the result of battles between forces at war in the stars - Multiple tables for the creation of starship damage, system damage, and crew survivorship - An event table to ensure that exploration is dynamic during sandbox play - New rules for Cinematic and Realistic space combat - New starship technology including sensors and rules for targeting/repairing specific systems - Additional rules for space-based phenomena, space-based explosions, and boarding other starships - Four new alien races for your White Star RPG campaigns - Updated starship usage for four of the core alien races in the main game - Five new creatures, including The Unquiet, a horriffic form of undead - Use the pregenerated Graveyard At Lus for your own games, or as a guide to create your own Graveyards - Worksheets and sample hexmaps at the rear of the book to help with generation of Graveyards - Designed for use with the White Star RPG, but easy to convert for other OSR sci-fi systems." $4.99  $3.49

White Star Companion - You already have White Star and you simply want more? The White star Companion is for you - "Daring Men of Tomorrow and intrepid Deep Space Explorers face off against a horde of savage White Simians in the floating jungle of a lost world. Plucky Sidekicks escape relentless Bounty Hunters aboard their modified skyboards. Somewhere on the edge of the galaxy, an Orbital Battle Station is about to obliterate an entire planet with the push of a button. The White Star Companion brings nearly one hundred pages of new options to your White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying experience. New classes, new aliens, new creatures, new weapons, and new starships are all revealed. Complete rules for planetary vehicle combat are provided along with ways to generate complete star systems simply by rolling a few dice. The brand new skill and Serial systems can instantly flesh out a character's history and talents. With the White Star Companion, you'll expand your game to the edge of the galaxy and beyond!" $6.99  $4.89



Star Sailors: The Magical Girl Supplement for White Star RPG - Watch Japanese Anime? - "This supplement is designed to introduce a new player character class into your White Star campaigns. A Star Sailor is a “magical girl” trope often found in classic Japanese anime and manga, but with a science fiction twist. Star Sailors guard the universe from the evil Gloom: extra-dimensional invaders with a talent for destruction. There are new rules for character creation, mascot sidekicks, special powers and abilities as well as write-ups for several adversaries and monsters." $2.45  $1.72

FIVE YEAR MISSION - Like Star Trek? Like White Star? Two great tastes - This is a supplement for White Star with a sort of Star Trek theme. If you're a fan of Star Trek, Andromeda, or Farscape, and even if you're not, there's a lot for you to like here! What do you get? FIVE (5) new classes: Engineer, Expendable, Guerilla, Sawbones, and Scientist, as well as additional notes on the core classes from White Star! FOUR (4) new racial classes: Disgraced, Living Starship, Quixoitic Alien, and Simulacrum! NEW EQUIPMENT that you can requisition, including weapons with a "stun" setting and badge communicators! FOUR (4) new starships and THREE (3) new starship modifications, including the Quantum Teleporter! NINETEEN (19) new NPC alien races, including a table to randomly determine the appearance of your own aliens! SIX (6) random tables for space exploration! HEXCRAWLS... IN... SPAAAAACE! A complete setting in TWO (2) different eras, THE CONTESTED ZONE! What are you waiting for? You can afford it. Treat yourself before the utopian post-scarcity economy kicks in!  $2.95  $2.06


Have Death Ray, Will Travel - Like cheese in your scifi? Flash Gordon flies again :) - The year is 1999 and a new millennium is on the horizon. Mankind has colonized outer space. Lunar City is a bustling metropolis. Earth has found new allies with the Martians and Venusians.  The Solar System is filled with mysteries, danger, and adventure! Have Death Ray, Will Travel is a retro-future setting inspired by  old pulpy serials, Sword & Planet adventures, the Wild West, and film noir.   Want exploration? Want political intrigue?  Like the Wild West with ray guns?  Want a little gritty film noir?  Bounty hunters? Space pirates? Gangsters? Alien emperors out to conquer the universe? It's all there. Includes two new classes (Scientist and Gunfighter), ten new ships and over 30 monsters and foes, and an introductory adventure: Lost Mines of the Brain Masters.  $2.49  $1.74
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic to Demo Games at GAMA Trade Show 2017

Cryptozoic - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 14:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment, today announced that it will be demoing games at the 2017 GAMA Trade Show, which takes place at Bally’s in Las Vegas, March 13-17. Hosted by the Game Manufacturers Association, it is the largest annual...

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weird Revisited: Desolation Cabaret

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 12:00
This post appeared in March 20, 2011. I think it was first straight up "rpg fiction" on the blog.

In 5880, writer and Great War veteran, Geoffersen Turck, arrived in the Republic of Staark intending to write a travelogue of post-war Ealderde. What follows is from Turck’s journals...


Like home, the capital of Staark has an old name, which nobody bothers to use. It’s just “the Metropolis” these days.  I have to admit, it outdoes the City in some ways--giant skyscrapers are everywhere, with aircars flitting busily between them like insects, interrupted by the stately passage of the occasional zeppelin. Automata direct traffic in the streets, and there’s the ever-present hum and vibration of the underground factories and power plants. You could almost forget the country was flatten by war, then buried by debt--but of course, glittering towers and airplanes keep you looking up, instead of at the faces of the poor walking the low streets.

Then there’s the dark side--what they call “the half-world.” This is a town so full of prostitutes they actually publish guidebooks so the inquiring libetine can stay up on the shifting codes of clothing and color accessories that signal what sort of perversions a hire is game for! Below the elevated roads and railways, lurid neon decorates cabarets and clubs that offer all that's on the streets and more. These streets are all-night candy store for drug fiends--their narco-alchemists must work in shifts. Maybe they’ve got automata doing that, too. In the shadows on the periphery of this underworld are the poor, discarded veterans of the Great War. Those pressed into service by crime or poverty as Eisenmenschen--men thaumatosurgically reconstructed in the Imperial bodyworks with machine parts to be implements of war. The rising National Purity Party has been scapegoating these unfortunates in their rhetoric--blaming them for Staark’s humiliation and defeat.


The air’s starting to get to me. They say things about Metropolis’ air, like its some sort of intoxicant all its own. To me, it’s just the constant stench of stale cigarettes, diesel fumes, and sweat, poorly covered with cloying perfume.

I think I'll give the country a try.

There are areas of the Staarkish countryside posted with warnings. These are the desolation zones, places still tainted by the strange weapons used in the War. Mostly people heed the warnings--the signs aren’t even needed really, when you can see the sickly vegetation, or the pale glow on moonless nights, or hear the weird cries of things unseen. Locals sit in taverns and swap tales about things like gibbering mouths, dire worms, flabby men, or susurrous shamblers. They talk about the zones, but they stay out.

The fellows I’ve thrown in with have other ideas.


The government’s put a bounty on the malfunctioning constructs and golems from the war still stalking the countryside, still carrying out their orders. Menschenjäger--manhunters--they’re called. From the description of the frightened farmers, the leader of our band calls the one we're after a Betrachter, but when we finally see the thing, it looks like a cyclops to me.  Then it fires that disintegrating ray out of its eye and one of our group is seared to ash in its too-bright glow.

That night, after we’ve wrapped the head for transport, we’re sitting in the cold, and the tomb-stillness with the smell of burnt flesh still lingering unpleasantly, and eating iron rations, and I think--Maybe Metropolis isn’t so bad after all?

Review & Commentary on Beyond the Ice-Fall By Joseph D. Salvador & Raven God Games For Swords & Wizardry White Box & Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 07:17
Recently I've put a six month hiatus on doing reviews for this blog mostly to concentrate on my own writing, designing,running, & enjoying the OSR games that I own. The reasons for this are myriad but it all comes down to a matter of time & work. There are going to be exceptions from time to time but those are going to be under my purview; I'm getting very picky these days. When Joseph D. Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Tavern Chat Tonight - 9 PM Eastern - Where the Cool Grogs of the OSR Hang!

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 23:58


Just two weeks to Gary Con. Which means in two weeks, I won't be hosting Tavern Chat - as I'll be at my first Gary Con.

Still, plenty of stuff to talk about tonight.

Such as the ongoing GM's sale at RPGNow and some picks The Tavern has made (and more picks to come)

Or perhaps further details on the upcoming Swords & Wizardry Continual Light / Swords & Wizardry Continual Light Deluxe releases (yep, we've got you covered)

Maybe even some rare old school collectibles that will be auctioned of in The Tavern's Facebook Community starting tonight / tomorrow morning. Doing so for a friend who's family is set to incur some medical costs. I'll try and sneak some pics into the chat tonight - of the pics are working. You ARE a member of The Tavern's Facebook Community I hope.

Remember, 9 PM Eastern time - tonight - in that little chat box on the right hand side of this page. Log in with the Social Media membership that you favor - it takes most of them.

If chatting via phone or tablet, download the Chatwing app at the Playstore or iTunes.

If chatting via browser, i usually pop the app out of The Tavern's homepage, shrink my browser a bit and place the app on the right side of my screen.

See y'all in about two hours.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Picks for the GM's Day Sale, Part IV

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 20:45
Yep, its time to make some OSR Picks for the current GM's Sale at RPGNow. This post is Part IVPart I ,  Part II and Part III are linked. Remember, 5% of your purchase goes to support The Tavern and associated costs for projects like Swords & Wizardry Light and the upcoming Torchlight Zine.

WWII: Operation WhiteBox - You want a WW2 RPG as well as one that stays true to the roots of RPG gaming? Look no further - this is built of S&W WhiteBox with a Sherman Tank as its shell - "Tabletop roleplaying games have always been about epic quests, heroic deeds, and great crusades. These games feature mercurial wizards, diabolical dragons, and cunning adventurers. Such fantastical tropes are not so different from what has come to pass in our own history. In fact, it is that commonality which gives such stories their power. But what gives World War II its true power is that it was all real. It happened. Real men and women fought and died—including many of our own living ancestors. They laid down their lives when faced with unfathomable evil. And that is legendary. WWII: Operation WhiteBox is an homage to these heroes, both living and fallen." $7.99  $5.59

Crawling Under A Broken Moon fanzine (DCC) - Eighteen issues and going strong. This isn't just gonzo sci-fi - its Saturday morning cartoon gonzo sci-fi ;) - "a fanzine dedicated to bringing gonzo post apocalyptic content for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG from Goodman Games." $1.99  $1.39

Castle of the Mad Archmage Adventure Book - Ever wonder what gonzo Castle Greyhawk may have looked like? (and I'm not talking about the TSR version with Gummy Bears). We'', here's one take on it - "More than thirteen levels and over 1,500 keyed encounters of perils, monsters, traps, and treasure to bedevil your players. Find levels of warring humanoids, the deadly Arena, ancient artifacts, lost temples, portals to other worlds, and the ultimate secret of the dungeons... the Mad Archmage himself. Originally released as a free electronic book in serial format, the Castle of the Mad Archmage has been completely revised, expanded, and updated. It is a complete adventuring environment, from the surface ruins to the deepest caves and caverns. You and your players could literally spend years exploring the dungeons beneath the Castle and still not discover everything. It can accommodate characters from first to fifteenth experience level and beyond."$9.95  $6.97

Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Rulebook - Blood & Treasure is the OSR RPG offering by the man behind NOD and the series of Hex Crawls offered by Frog God Games. John knows his stuff -"Blood & Treasure is the fantasy role-playing game for people who want to spend less time arguing over rules and more time playing, and the new 2nd Edition continues this tradition. Compatible with old school games, it strives to be rules lite and options heavy. Thirteen character classes, as well as suggested variations on the existing classes - The classic fantasy races - A streamlined and easy optional feats system - Hundreds of spells and magic items - you can run games for years without running out of new things to try - Optional scientific treasures for those who like science-fantasy - Quick and easy rules for exploration, combat, mass combat, naval combat, strongholds and domains and a simple task resolution system - Guidance on designing dungeons, wilderness, settlements and even the cosmos - Suggestions on converting to other old school systems and changes between the first and second edition." $9.99  $6.99

Lairs & Encounters - Nominally written for ACKS, L&E is chuck full of adventure seeds, seedlings and full grown (if small) adventures - well worth the 7 bucks - "Lairs & Encounters™ is the ultimate supplement for fantasy RPG sandbox campaigns. Designed for use with the Adventurer Conqueror King System™ (ACKS™), it is readily compatible with other fantasy role-playing games built on the same core rules - More than 165 ready-to-play monstrous lairs— one for every major monster in the Adventurer Conqueror King System. The lair listings are designed to be used both as dynamic points of interest that can be discovered while wandering through the wilderness and as obstacles to a would-be ruler’s attempt to secure land for a domain - A cartographic compendium of 36 lair maps for the Judge’s use and 6 treasure maps to hand out to your players - A catalog of 30 new monsters, including the chaos hulk, child of Nasga, dire beastman, draugr, desert ghoul, hag, khepri, and mummy lord - New subsystems for sandbox play, including rules for populating 6-mile hexes with lairs based on the terrain and extent of settlements in the region and rules for searching for lairs in the wilderness, factoring in terrain density, aerial reconnaissance, splitting up to cover more ground (never split the party!), and more - Additional mechanics for monsters, including ability scores for monsters, proficiencies for monsters, and young monsters." $10.00  $7.00

Dungeon Grappling - if you are anything like me, the first thing to get jettisoned from the AD&D 1e rules was unarmed combat and grappling. No one could get it done right it seemed - until now -"From the first story ever told, to tales on the silver screen. They all have at least one thing in common: Grappling. Grappling is thrilling, dangerous, and drives thousands of years of epic storytelling. Dungeon Grappling brings those thrills to the oldest fantasy RPG with rules and examples for Swords and Wizardry (and other OSR-style games), the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and 5e. Dungeon Grappling provides: Simple, unified mechanics, using the same concepts as weapon strikes - Variable outcomes – grapples can be good or bad - Dynamic, tense stories - Weapons, talons, magic . . . they’re all in here. - Grappling just got scary again! -  this book contains rules based on Open Gaming License content from several editions of the industry’s most popular RPG – explicit examples for Swords and Wizardry, the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, and Fifth Edition." $9.49  $6.64
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[BLOG] OSR Module O2: Credit’s Due

Beyond Fomalhaut - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:53
“Have you forgotten something?”
The great work is finished. You have crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s, filled out the copyright notice in the legal appendix, designated your open game content, delineated your product identity, approved the final layout. You have paid a few hundred bucks out of your pockets for artwork, including an eye-catching cover, which has your name plastered on it. Inside, you have credited your layout guy, your editor, two profferaders, a cartographer, the cover artist and multiple interior artists, and even added a special thanks section for the Kickstarter backers after the dedication. You have an ISBN, and you know you need a separate one for print and PDF. You may have trademarked something along the way just to make sure.
“Have you forgotten something?”
Daddy faces the musicIf you are in the majority of old-school writers and publishers, you have forgotten something very important: you have not credited your playtesters. In fact, I have done a little investigation, and I have here in my hand a list of 90 products without giving credit that were made by well-known members of the Old School Renaissance, who nevertheless are still working and shaping discourse on the Internet. Of course, you can rest comfortably. While no one serious would forget to credit their cover artist, and only the most heinous would decide to remove author credit (TSR, our own little Evil Empire, tried to pull that trick in the 1990s with their fiction writers by using “house pseudonyms”, but even the low-grade suckers who worked for them rebelled against that), leaving playtesters uncredited has long and noble traditions in this hobby. Many of the classics never had them listed, and here’s the rub: they are still good stuff.
However. Returning to play-oriented and play-informed game supplements has been one of the major promises of old-school gaming, and that casts things in a different light. By the fans, for the fans, from gaming group to gaming group. Here, the role of playtesting and giving everyone due credit becomes more than a simple act of courtesy. I would like to argue that it is, or at least it should be part of our ethos, our mission statement. In a hobbyist subculture that embraces amateur effort and the DIY spirit, shared creativity should recognise its contributors. It is only proper to give credit to those who played a part in realising a game project.
There are important practical concerns, too. Playtesting an adventure is an essential step of the design process. Yes, this sounds stupid in a hobby about games. And yet, the trust of gamers has been abused again and again by designers who do not game regularly, if at all, resulting in adventures which don’t work as interactive entertainment, which have terrible structural or balance issues, or which have decent ideas but are so inaccessibly written that they are cumbersome to use at the table. Playtesting is a certificate of authenticity which tells us that someone somewhere has run the module and someone somewhere has played them, and presumably had fun with it. It tells us the module is functional. My submission policy for my RPG, Swords & Magic was based on two simple, hard criteria: the author should be willing to put his or her name on the cover ( “Do I take responsibility for this thing I have written?”), and it would have to come from actual play with full tester credits (players and their characters). No playtesting, no publication.
In theory, there are many experienced GMs who could design an adventure and go straight to the presses while bypassing the testing process, and still deliver something functional and fun. Why not? After all, if it is the same thing we would run for our home group with confidence, is there a difference? There is no clear answer. Sometimes playtesting doesn’t change an adventure all that much, it just confirms it works fine and it is ready for publication. However, the confirmation is still an important part of quality assurance. Without that step, we only have an educated guess about the adventure’s viability. Much more often, playtesting is tremendously useful in turning a raw adventure into a polished final version. Maybe it still doesn’t change things fundamentally. But it can help highlight encounters which don’t work as expected (or work, but in unexpected ways!), text which is hard to interpret in play, details which are insufficient or overdone, and so on. Adventures also have a tendency of growing in depth and complexity as they are played, as the players discover connections and pursue courses of action the GM had never thought of. Incorporating some of these emergent elements can make the difference between safe mediocrity and something truly excellent. And that contribution belongs to our players – our co-designers. Of course, in an ideal world, an adventure should also be tested with multiple gaming groups, and should be GMed by someone else than the original designer. In a well-functioning game industry, this is what I’d expect the pros to do. Sadly, most of us do not have that luxury (although it is one of the reasons I like going to conventions) – and one group is usually okay.
***
Why you should give creditWhat about the List, then? What about the List? I will not publish the full thing – for reasons I will go into shortly – but I did my research and some of the results are pretty interesting. My research was based on my current collection of old-school adventure modules (excluding those I don’t have presently at home in either print or PDF). I only considered adventures which were released as “full”, standalone products, whether commercially or for free. Adventures published in fanzines weren’t counted. I counted hex-crawls (bottom-up setting material) and mini-settings which could be directly used at the table among the adventures, but not pure setting material or rules (although if anything, those two should see even more testing than adventures – it was with a sinking feeling that I realised a well-regarded old-school designer didn’t credit any playtesters in his RPGs). I also restricted my investigation to the modern old-school scene, starting from 2006 with the early OSRIC modules and Rob Kuntz’s Pied Piper Publishing, and finishing with early 2017 (one product). My sample is obviously skewed by including only products I actually had an interest in picking up, but otherwise includes a fair variety of stuff from random internet finds to some really professionally made adventures with relatively high circulation numbers.
This meant a sample of 131 adventures, of which 90 (69%) did not credit their playtesters, and only 41 (19%) which did.Let’s face it: these numbers are not good. It costs nothing, it sure does not take up much space (if you can squeeze in that extra monster description, you can squeeze in your list of friends who had gone through your module), but for all the lack of good excuses, people still don’t do it. In truth, there are only two genuinely good reasons for leaving those names off: one, if someone doesn’t want to be associated with the module (oh boy!), or if they would prefer not to be listed out of concerns for their privacy or professional reputation. In this case, it is still common courtesy to thank those testers anonymously, or in a general sense (“thanks to all the people who have played this module on Convention X”).
Does this mean those OSR people don’t game, or does that mean they just don’t have a habit of crediting their playtesters? Fortunately, the situation is slightly better than the numbers would suggest. There is no reason to suggest we are facing an omission out of malice – I know some publishers who don’t usually credit playtesters (although tellingly, there are invariably exceptions to that rule in long product lines), but who are otherwise ethical and well-respected actors. They may never have thought it was important, or they may have missed it once and fallen into comfortable routines. Some people are simply inconsistent, listing testers in one product and missing them in another. Likewise, I am certain some adventures which don’t have playtester credits have in fact been tested, sometimes very thoroughly (there are also some which I have good reasons to suspect have never seen a single minute of actual play). But I believe without a doubt that those non-gaming gamers are also out there, silently plotting their nefarious, never-played adventure scenarios.
In the absence of naming the List’s great offenders (you know who you are) and the innocent bystanders who have meant no harm, I would rather try something different: I will mention a selection of people who have consistently and fairly given people playtesting 
  • Rob Kuntz, often in anecdotal form, and with detailed play information (too bad he has stiffed publishers and freelance artists alike).
  • Zak Smith (although not in Maze if the Blue Medusa)
  • Chris Kutalik
  • Daniel J. Bishop

The good examples are out there, and they should be easy to follow. It is a small issue, but there is tremendous room for improvement. Which is to say: let’s make that small act of courtesy into a natural one.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Parts & Purpled Piece Under The Hyperborean Sky - A Deeper Look At OSR Campaign Construction

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:29
B/X Dungeons & Dragons has always been far push away from the OSR material that inspired especially with the third wave of OSR stuff that has come out recently or has it? Let's take a deep gaze into the background of  classic TSR era Dungeons & Dragons, Venger's Satanis's material, & call to pulp adventure once again. When it comes to classic B/X Dungeons & Dragons I draw down from the Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Figure Forge 78: Black Mamba For Heavy Gear Blitz

Gamer Goggles - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 15:53

In this Figure Matt Shows you the basic build for the Black Mamba.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

 

Hey Who wants to play I’m ready.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Automata Run Amok

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 12:11


By John Ivor Carlson
Dwarven Automata
OSRIC
Levels 1-2

Out-of-Control automata have driven a wizard from his shop. He would like the PCs to solve the problem (without damaging his creations) while his rival will pay for evidence of the wizard’s dabbling in forbidden knowledge.

This is a 22 page adventure in a wizards tower with about nineteen rooms. It’s laid out quite well, using a bullet-point style, and has several great new monsters & magic items/treasure. The tower is in a city and there’s enough extra detail about the city to allow the DM to spice things up a bit before, during, and after the tower adventure. It’s a little one-note for me, being just “monsters in a guys house”, without the house itself adding much. It’s PWYW, so for a $1 it’s worth checking out the interesting format used.

The adventure is laid out in three sections. The last section is the appendices, with the bestiary, magic items, and the like. The middle section is JUST the wizards tower, and it’s laid out in landscape format, further delineating it from the first and third (last) portions of the text. The first section is all the introduction, lead-in, context, and follow-up to the keyed encounters. I find this quite interesting. It recognizes that the adventure is really in two parts: the dungeon and everything else. It’s a small point but I think it shows that the people behind this really thought about how to use the thing. In addition to this the monster stats are found on the map of the wizards tower (which has a front door, back door, and balcony entrance!), allowing for a quick reference kind of thing, and little mini-maps are scattered throughout the dungeon pages, on facing pages. Again, the way these features contribute to the actual usability of the adventure is quite nice.

Complementing that is the format used for the rooms. Each room has one sentence, which could be mistaken for read-aloud, that gives the vibe of room. FOllowing that are some sections headings like “Occupants”, “Exits” and then room features like “Shelves” or “Display Case.” Under each of those section headings are some bullet points, one per interesting thing, with some text. What this results in is a way to quickly at a glance scan the room to relay information as needed. It’s like heaven after all of the wall of text stuff I’ve seen!

Copy/Pasting a room wouldn’t do it justice. Here the “description” for the study: “Expertly staged salon for impressing clients with plentiful money but little sense.” That’s followed by several section headings. One for Exits, another for bookshelves, fireplace, and high-backed chair. Thus we now know, at a glance, that bookshelves, a fireplace, and chair are major features of the room. For the fireplace we get the following:
Fireplace:
• Imposing stone replace occupying the entirety of the study’s western wall
• Stocked with Birtmin logs, which release a heady scent and blue ame when burned

Just the basics, expertly arranged for use in play.

This is all augmented with a nice little section at the beginning, about a third of a column, describing the city and major events going on, complemented by a couple of great tables that describe some random encounters, etc, tied in to city events. It’s a nice little additional that really supports the DM well in bringing THIS city to life. The adventure pretext provides, in very little space, five different ways to get the party involved in the adventure, all related. Two groups on the docs, some beggars, some children and some shop folk. Eventually one of these is going to catch the party’s eyes. It’s a great example of providing multiple opportunities to hook the party without it feeling forced. Those hooks are complemented by the nasty little guys who are interested in the party’s services. Academic, rivals, guild members, they don’t like each other, and thus you have the opportunity for backstabbing as well in some loose “outside the dungeon” factions/complications. (The preview on Drivethru shows most (all?) of this lead in to the dungeon proper. I’d check it out!) Scattered tips through the adventure are also pretty useful for running the game. It has a nice little “Playtest notes” kind of vibe to it. Finally, ALL of this is complimented by the art for the monsters. I don’t usually mention art; I think I have only a handful of times. The monster art is quite nice in evoking imagery, particularly the “Undying” piece in the bestiary. The treasure, both mundane and magical, is well done and a cut above the usual book items.

Clearly, I want to like this adventure, but it’s got a problem. It’s flat. Or maybe I mean One Note. The amount of interactivity is a little low. Other than the monsters roaming about, the rooms proper don’t have much going on. Oh, there are details. And things to look at. And things to search for loot. But, other than the combats … there’s not much else to interact with. It’s a bit like walking through an Ikea, except some rooms have a monster in them. You look around. You pick things up. You move on. Without the extra interactivity of the tower you’re left with the room descriptions being out of place. By this I mean that MOST of the descriptions are superfluous to the adventure. The fireplace, above, doesn’t actually have any impact on the adventure. It’s window dressing. As is almost everything else. An item or two serve to house some treasure but the rest just EXISTS, as if you’d succinctly described the major features of the rooms of your house. It’s not that I don’t like window dressing. I think it can do a good job helping a DM paint an evocative picture of a room. (Sometimes …) But in case it’s ALL window dressing. Or, close enough to “all” to be functionally the same. That same sort of thing DOES contribute to a more dynamic combat environment. Monsters climbing shelves, pulling the shelves down. Using an large armchair in combat, all of that is great detail for rooms in which combat might take place. I know this isn’t DCC, but a dynamic environment is still appreciated, and the rooms, with their descriptions, certainly do provide that. I might be a little unfair with this. I seem to be saying it’s not a classic exploration tower. And it’s not. The adventure is more of a “clean the spiders from the basement” variety. If that’s all you’re looking for then this does that and does it well.

It’s Pay What You Want on DriveThru, with the preview being most of the first third of the adventure. IE: everything that’s not an appendix or the dungeon proper. I think the preview is worth checking out, and the adventure proper, also, for the formatting/layout used, if nothing else.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DC Deck-Building Game Organized Play Kit Coming This Summer

Cryptozoic - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 08:06

Cryptozoic Entertainment, leading creator of board games, trading cards, and collectibles, and Warner Bros. Consumer Products, on behalf of DC Entertainment, today announced their plans to release the first DC Deck-Building Game Organized Play Kit

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Picks for the GM's Day Sale, Part III

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 04:24
Yep, its time to make some OSR Picks for the current GM's Sale at RPGNow. This post is Part III. Part I and Part II are linked. Remember, 5% of your purchase goes to support The Tavern and associated costs for projects like Swords & Wizardry Light and the upcoming Torchlight Zine.

Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure - I've reviewed part of this book and it is simply amazing. Solid 5 star reviews on RPGNow - "Hubris is a weird fantasy setting that  uses the awesome Dungeon Crawl Classics rules!  In this book you will find 10 territories filled with tables and charts to generate interesting locations and encounters, new occupations, 4 new classes, 5 new playable races, 3 new spells, 4 new patrons, including 3 patrons spells for each, 11 new and terrible gods, 14 tables and charts for a GM to use to aid them in their game or create interesting/fun situations, two new adventures to kick off a campaign, and 51 new enemies.  Hubris is hackable!  Each territory can be used as the GM wills!  Need a desert, swamp, or frozen tundra for your game?  Use what's in Hubris!"  $14.99  $10.49


Starships & Spacemen 2e - What to play an OSR styled Star Trek TOS with the serial numbers scratched off? If so, this is for you - "Boldly explore the galaxy in search of alien civilizations! You take the role of a Military Officer, Technical Officer, Science Officer, or Enlisted Man in the Galactic Confederation. Travel in a starship under your command, on missions of first contact, rescue, exploration, and more in a galaxy full of hostile aliens. Try to maintain the tenuous truce with the militaristic Zangid, and fight the Videni who may look like your Tauran allies, but do not adhere to a philosophy of peace and logic. Design alien humanoids with either "original series" or "next generation" sensibilites, or blend the two approaches! There are 100 forehead shapes that may be randomly rolled when a new alien race is encountered." $6.45  $4.52


Fat Goblin Games - Stock Art - Whether its individual pieces, collections or subscriptions, Fat Goblin Games has an excellent assortment of high quality stock art, much of which is on sale. Perfect for little guys like me or bigger fish in our hobby ;)  30% off

Fat Goblin Games - GM Journal Series - If you are a mess like me, these form fillable PDFs are a Godsend. I just need to use them more. 30% off




Raging Swan Press - GM's Miscellany Series - System NeutralIf you haven't tried any of the releases in this series, may I humble suggest GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing "Are you tired of dungeons lacking in verisimilitude? Want to add cool little features of interest to your creations but don't have the time to come up with nonessential details? Want to make your dungeons feel more realistic? Then GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing (System Neutral Edition) is for you! This gigantic compilations comprises all 34 instalments in the line as well as scores of riddles, new material and design essays by Creighton.  GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing (System Neutral Edition) presents loads of great features to add to your dungeon. Designed to be used both during preparation or actual play, GM’s Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing (System Neutral Edition)  is an invaluable addition to any GM's armoury!" 30% off

Sunken City Omnibus (DCC RPG) - What can I say? I've enjoyed all of the Purple Sorcerer releases - "The Sunken City Adventure Omnibus & Guide contains four complete beginning adventures and a host of new material to enhance your Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign. Features include - Every best-selling Sunken City Adventure (Perils of the Sunken City, The Ooze Pits of Jonas Gralk, A Gathering of the Marked, Lair of the Mist Men) combined and refined into a single full-color volume. Both a 96-page desktop/print version and a 200-page mobile version built from scratch for viewing on your tablet! A massive 84-page master appendix containing extra content, pre-gen characters, player maps, 1-inch scale battle maps, and over 150 paper miniatures.  A patron write-up of Malloc, the devious master of secrets. At long last... Opossuman player characters! Adventure seeds, new monsters, 24 new magic items, judging tips, and more!"  $12.99  $9.09

Dwimmermount (Labyrinth Lord version) - Yes, I know I have a history with Dwimmermount, but the final product far exceeds what was playtested by my group. So, kill some rats and grab your coppers, you have a dungeon to conquer! -  "The gates of Dwimmermount have opened. After years of rumors, it is time to discover the secrets of this vast mountain fortress for yourself... Dwimmermount™ is a classic megadungeon and old-school campaign setting presented use with Labyrinth Lord™ and other d20-based fantasy role-playing games." $10.00  $7.00

Savage Rifts - Sure, while not strictly an OSR pick, it does do something that the original Rifts rules could never do - actually make the game playable without ignoring or making up rules. Go figure - "In the battle for survival the Tomorrow Legion brings together the greatest, the bravest, and the craziest to stand against an infinity of threats. They stand for a better future than the past they've known. The Rifts® Tomorrow Legion Player's Guide contains everything you need to make and equip mega-powered characters for the Rifts® Earth setting. Iconic Frameworks load you up with options for well-known concepts (Glitter Boys, Juicers, Ley Line Walkers, Mind Melters), as well as the capacity to craft your own custom ideas. New Setting Rules bring home the gonzo, cranked-to-eleven nature of Rifts®, and the gear lists include everything from incredibly powerful weapons and armor to cybernetics to arcana-fueled Techno-Wizard items. New rules for Mega Powers bring magic and psionics to super-powered levels, and Hero's Journey tables flesh out your characters in exciting and fun ways."  Savage Rifts: The Tomorrow Legion Player's Guide: $14.99  $10.49
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Legacy of Ned Stark

19th Level - Wed, 03/08/2017 - 03:30

As part of my Master's program in Strategic Analytics, I'm taking a management class on Organizational Leadership and Decision Making. I'm working on a research paper which has to include characteristics of leadership and a leader, either someone we know or someone famous, who exemplifies them. I'm writing about Abraham Lincoln but I have to confess I was sorely tempted to write about Eddard "Ned" Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire. (Spoilers for A Song of Ice and Fire through A Dance with Dragons).

Ned gets a bit of a bad rap. He certainly made mistakes and wound up paying with his life for those mistakes. But his mistakes were mistakes of being an ethical man, a man who would do all he could to spare the lives of children, even the children of his enemies. And he was determined to do what he felt was right, such as supporting the claim of Stannis over that of his brother Renly even when it would have been to his advantage to have supported Renly.

Ned is removed from the game of thrones in the first novel of the series. But what I find fascinating is the legacy he left behind. The people of the North respected the Starks. Even the traitor Theon comes to see how well treated he was by Ned Stark. Perhaps the most powerful message is when the men of the North march on Winterfell in A Dance With Dragons in the hopes of rescuing who they believe to be Arya Stark. Hugo Wull put it best:

“Aye, men are dying. More will die before we see Winterfell. What of it? This is war. Men die in war. That is as it should be. As it has always been.”  Ser Corliss Penny gave the clan chief an incredulous look. “Do you want to die, Wull?”  That seemed to amuse the northman. “I want to live forever in a land where summer lasts a thousand years. I want a castle in the clouds where I can look down over the world. I want to be six-and-twenty again. When I was six-and-twenty I could fight all day and fuck all night. What men want does not matter.  “Winter is almost upon us, boy. And winter is death. I would sooner my men die fighting for the Ned’s little girl than alone and hungry in the snow, weeping tears that freeze upon their cheeks. No one sings songs of men who die like that. As for me, I am old. This will be my last winter. Let me bathe in Bolton blood before I die. I want to feel it spatter across my face when my axe bites deep into a Bolton skull. I want to lick it off my lips and die with the taste of it on my tongue.” Martin, George R. R.. A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 5) (pp. 561-562). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. To be honest, I'm not certain that Ned did lose at the game of thrones. Would Tywin's bannermen be loyal to him after his death? Would Balon Greyjoy's? They'd likely remain loyal to their houses if the house kept its power. But Ned inspired a loyalty that none could match - men are marching to their likely deaths to save their lord's young daughter. House Stark is no more so there is nothing in it for them - nothing but loyalty and vengeance. Ned Stark, executed falsely as a traitor in the first book continues to motivate men four books later. That is a leader.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Box Breaking 204: HALO Ground Command

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 20:13

In this Box Breaking Matt takes a look at the two player starter for HALO Ground Command from Spartan Games.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I have played HALO Ground Command and I like it.   I find it to be a game that can easily be casual or competitive, and that’s a hard balance to find with miniatures.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ch. 4, Page 24

Castle Greyhawk - Tue, 03/07/2017 - 18:18
Ehlissa's first instinct was to run, but she knew the dog that followed Erac's Cousin looked dangerous -- too dangerous to turn her back on -- and it would quickly free itself from under the curtain.

She glanced at the desk and noticed the open book. There might be something useful in there, she hoped. She just needed to buy herself a little bit of time to look through it. She looked around for something else to throw on top of the curtain and pin it down.  Something heavy...


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