Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Adventuring in the Partially Abandoned City of Khromarium

19th Level - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 03:14


During the Roman Empire, the city of Rome reached a peak population of around a million people. However during the Middle Ages its population dropped to the tens of thousands of people. One source I've seen says 20,000, another 50,000 - in any case, a monumental decline). The Coliseum at one point served as a landfill.

I've been thinking about this as I prep for a campaign in Hyperborea. There, the largest city is Khromarium, with a population of around 30,000. However, a reading of the Referee's Manual for AS&SH shows how much Khromarium has fallen from its peak. Depopulated twice - once upon the advent of the Ashen Worm, with Khromarium buried under ice. The second time, in more recent history, in the aftermath of the Green Death.

Having once been the capital of the Hyperborean Kingdom - for "untold millennia" I picture it also having once had a population in excess of a million. Reduced to 30,000, that is perhaps 3% of its former glory. Page 208 of the Referee's Manual gives us a nice mental picture:
Presently Khromarium is a dismal, seedy place, choked by the smoke of its factories. Some 30,000 or more individuals reside in the city, but as poverty and homelessness are alarmingly high, reckoning an accurate census is difficult. The bulk of the populace dwells at the south side of the city, close to the harbour. Twisting towers of black gneiss dominate the north side of Khromarium; this is called the “Old City”, where large groups live on the streets in tents and ramshackle dwellings, afraid to enter the towers (which are commonly held to be haunted). From coast to coast, like a great semicircle, Khromarium is walled in, protecting it from the beasts and horrors of the Lug Wasteland and the savage barbarian nations farther north. All manner of siege engines are mounted on these walls, and where the walls and towers meet the sea, these may be unleashed on enemy vessels.
I visualize almost two cities. A dense cluster close to the harbour. Perhaps even with its own walls - or at the very least carefully patrolled. And a much larger city with ruins, haunted towers, creepy monsters, wandering brigands, etc. It's almost like the rest of the city is its own wilderness, a bit like the old RuneQuest setting of Pavis and Big Rubble. Yet we have the suggestion that the outer wall is patrolled to protect it from the barbarians to the north. It is understandable that they'd not withdraw to the core - that would allow the barbarians to get a foothold in the city proper.

As a boy originally from New York City, I picture it as if the population of Manhattan has been reduced to a tiny fraction of its former self and confined to Battery Park. The rest of the city is for the most part abandoned but the entrances - the bridges and the like - are still carefully guarded.

This is an area ripe for adventure. Its size is comparable to that of Greyhawk - the 1st edition Gazeteer gave it a population of 53,000 - bigger than Khromarium, though not by orders of magnitude (and the population estimate for Khromarium is very rough). This makes the city a good place for urban adventures like those seen in Lankhmar. But for dungeon crawls, there's no need for a long journey in the wilderness - there's plenty of ruins to explore within the Old City. That's not to say adventure in the wider world isn't a possibility, but it does give the characters a nearby home base for their dungeon excursions.

What I'm doing for my own campaign prep is working on a tower and dungeon complex below. I'm not picturing a massive megadungeon but one with several levels - enough to get our adventurers up a few levels. It's got me thinking about the dungeon ecology - who is in the ruined tower, who is in the upper levels of the dungeon, who is in the lower levels, etc.? Do they know about each other? Do they fear each other? Who might move into the upper levels if the characters clear it out?


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Review: Spider-Man Homecoming (spoiler free)

Greyhawk Grognard - Fri, 07/07/2017 - 02:49
I just got back from seeing Spider-Man Homecoming. The theater was almost full, and I saw the regular digital version (no 3D, no IMAX). Short version; this is one of the best MCU films to date. It's perfect.

The new MCU version of Spider-Man was introduced in last year's Captain America Civil War, and this film takes place almost immediately thereafter, with Peter Parker (played perfectly by Tom Holland) trying to process the events that happened to him, a mere 15 year old, in Germany fighting against Captain America and crew.

To be suddenly brought back to Queens and have to deal with ordinary, "street level" criminals is an adjustment that's painful for him to make, and that forms the basis of the first third of the film, very effectively. The juxtaposition of the everyday trials and tribulations of being a high school sophomore against those of being a "friendly neighborhood spider-man" is very well done.

One of the things that stood out to me in this film was the villain. Michael Keaton's Vulture (aka Adrian Toomes) is a rarity in the MCU; he's a well-rounded villain with a real motivation, rather than just villainy for its own sake. You can relate to his motives, and it adds a layer of realism and pathos to the character that most MCU villains frankly lack. (Honestly, other than Loki and the Red Skull, can you even name three MCU villains? What was Doctor Strange villain Kaecilius' motive for doing what he did?) This alone makes Spider-Man Homecoming stand out.

The decision to cast a really young actor as Peter Parker is another wise choice, and Tom Holland is up to the task. It marks a distinct change from the last five Spider-Man movies, which showed first a college-age Peter, and then a high-school Peter who looked like he should have been in college. Or grad school.

The choice to give Spider-Man a mentor in Tony Stark, while seemingly odd on its face, really works here. The dichotomy between Tony Stark and Adrian Toomes is very well handled; they are in many ways complete mirror images of one another on more than one level (I won't go into details, but once you've seen the film, at least some of them will be readily apparent). But if you're one of those who is concerned that Iron Man overwhelms the film (a perfectly legitimate concern given some of the marketing) worry not; his presence is felt more in the breach than on the screen, and there's another character in the mix that honestly works better in the role than an equal amount of Tony Stark on-screen would have.

The call-outs to previous MCU films are many, some subtle and some not-so-subtle. There are also a number of call-backs to the comic-books, and they set up (or at least hint at) at least three traditional Spidey villains for future films. Although honestly I think this would be a terrific opportunity to finally make a solid tie-in between the Netflix MCU properties and the films, and put in Vincent D'Onofrio's Kingpin from the Daredevil series as the main villain. He could certainly pull off a movie, and it would be a perfect move. The contrast between his dark and violent Kingpin would play off beautifully against the light, breezy, wise-cracking Spider-Man, in much the way Keaton's Vulture did.

It's also quite hilarious, as befits Spider-Man. This is the joke-making Spidey from the comics, who annoys his enemies with his wit as much as he does with his webs, and the decision to focus a lot of the film on the real and ordinary annoyances of high school really bring that out.

All in all, this is a perfect MCU film. Not quite better than Avengers (but that's not saying much), and perhaps I might put Winter Soldier a notch above it, but that's about it. And #3 in such a crowd is still an achievement to crow about. See this film! Five out of five stars.

Oh, and there are two helpings of schawarma. Stay through the end of the credits.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Deal of the Day - Play Your Character Like A F@cking Boss

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 22:58


Yep, Venger did it again.
You've got to give the man credit - he knows how to name a product ;)

Until tomorrow morning 11 AM Eastern, Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss is the Deal of the Day at RPGNow, on sale from $3 to $1.80 in PDF

No, I don't own it, but I'm rarely a player these days.

Anyhow, here's the pitch:
Don't let the other guy have all the fun!  It's your game, too.  Roleplaying is a contact sport, so get in there and make it happen!!! There may be a reason why your games aren't as awesome as they could be.  Could be the system, might be the GM, or possibly it's you - the player.  I'm not saying this little self-help guide will turn you into the fucking boss overnight, but it's a start. How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss has done a lot of good for GMs over the last couple years.  This shows the other side of the curtain, and I believe it's just as vital for GMs to know what's going on with players as it is for players to examine life behind the screen.   It's a quick but important read with tips, tricks, and techniques for getting the most out of your roleplaying game.Remember, your purchases made through The Tavern's Affiliate Links warms the heart and raises monies for The Tavern. I am not affiliated with Venger Santanis, but we did have breakfast together at Gary Con and he's quite personable. Perhaps even talented ;)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

New Magic Item The Rod Of Vulthoom For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 16:14
'Now you will tell me everything you know about who placed that bounty on our heads.' Hashic Vro Tholian occultist asked his prisoner rather politely. 'Never' 'Oh I see you think you have some sort of choice in the matter do you chaos scum?''Glurgbftt''What speak up I can't understand you.. yet'  'You see there are molecule thin plant life right now working into that corrupt brain of yours. Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

New Spell - The Mists of Vulthoom For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 14:09
A radium pistol flew through the low evening air hitting the side of the red stone ruin with a low crack & thud breaking the butt & firing chamber'Er's Rce' said the 'Rel The Strong' the mercenary Martian warrior in no certain terms. 'We've been on this path for over two days now along the dead sea bottom.' 'There is no way to escape our fate.''We're out of ammo, our long swords are broken,Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Cryptozoic and Capcom Will Release Street Fighter Knockouts and Lil Knockouts at San Diego Comic-Con

Cryptozoic - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 13:00

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Capcom today announced that they are launching Street Fighter Knockouts and Street Fighter Lil Knockouts vinyl figures at San Diego Comic-Con. To celebrate the first opportunity for fans to buy the 7-inch and 2.75-inch collectibles based on the classic Street Fighter® video game franchise, Yoshinori Ono—the renowned producer of several games in the series—will be signing and giving away figures at Cryptozoic’s booth (#115) on Friday, July 21 from 3 to 4 p.m.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Spock has a 12th-level Intellect

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 11:00
This is something I was thinking about while traveling the other day: certain parallels between comic book alien species and those in Star Trek. What's the use of it? I don't know. Trek with different aliens or different backstories for the aliens? Supers with Trek aliens? Some sort of Wold-Newton Space (Woldspace)? Make of it what you will.

Skrulls and the Founders/Changelings
The Founders are a shapeshifting race that runs an expansionist space empire and so are the Skrulls. DC's Durlans would fit in a way, too. They've faced prejudice like the Changelings, but they don't run an empire.

Shi'ar and the Romulans
One species has a space empire with a bird motif and a sprinkling of Roman Empire terminology and the other is the Romulans. Sure, the Romulan Star Empire never seems as multi-species as the Shi'ar, but no reason it couldn't be. Might want to drop the link to Vulcan, though...

Coluans and Vulcans
Turning to DC comics for the Federation species, I'll not the somewhat emotionlessness and computer-like logic of the Vulcans and Brainiac's people, the Coluans.

The other other identifications I thought of, but some are too similar to add anything particularly interesting (The Khunds and the Klingons) and some distant enough to be suggest substitution (Thanagarians and Andorians. Thanagarians might stand-in for Romulans, too, depending on which version we're talking about) but you get the idea.



Tavern Chat - Tonight - 9 PM - I may not show

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 23:02
Tonight is a Wednesday Night, and that means Tavern Chat.

I may or may not show up tonight for the chat - I'm just in a kinda funk with recent events.

Don't let me stop y'all from enjoying yourselves, just use the chat window on the right side of this page :)
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

EXCLUSIVE SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON RELEASE: Orphan Black Trading Cards Season 2 and Season 3 Premium Packs by Cryptozoic and Boat Rocker Brands

Cryptozoic - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 18:44

Cryptozoic Entertainment and Boat Rocker Brands today announced the release of both Orphan Black Trading Cards Season 2 and Orphan Black Trading Cards Season 3 Premium Packs exclusively at San Diego Comic-Con. Cryptozoic will launch a pre-sale on July 6 at 10 a.m. of limited quantities of both the Season 2 and Season 3 trading card sets, allowing fans to purchase Premium Packs prior to San Diego Comic-Con and then pick them up at the event.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Posting Returns Tomorrow - Rest in Peace PO Miosotis Familia - NYPD

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 18:31

I'm kinda stunned and numb today.

I know the risks associated with police work. Every cop does. Assassination isn't on the list of risks that I was familiar with.

Forgive me from straying from the usual game related post. Well be back to regular posting tomorrow. In the meantime, there is a family that could use some prayers and kind thoughts.

http://www.odmp.org/officer/23305-police-officer-miosotis-familia
Police Officer Miosotis Familia was shot and killed from ambush as she sat in a marked command post vehicle at the intersection of East 183rd Street and Morris Avenue in the Bronx. As she sat in the vehicle at approximately 12:30 am a male approached and fired one shot through the window, striking Officer Familia in the head. Officers responding to the call of an officer down confronted the male subject fleeing the scene. The officers shot and killed the subject in an exchange of gunfire. Officer Familia had served with the New York City Police Department for 12 years and was assigned to the 46th Precinct. She is survived by her three children.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary On The Free Old School Download Fantastic Adventures v10n07 1948 07 Novella Queen of the Panther World

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 15:58
I took a bit of heat for liking & reviewing Judge's Guild Shield Maidens of Sea Rune over the Fourth of July holiday. Speaking with a client of mine whose repair came in yesterday & whose a dungeon master in her own right down in Bristol Ct. We had a discussion about how the new Wonder Woman movie had brought back the lost world Amazon adventuress. Umm yeah actually Wonder Woman is another inNeedleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Blue Crystal Mine

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 11:11

By Matt Kline
Creation’s Edge Games
Swords & Wizardry
Levels 1-3

An elven smith has recently relearned the long-lost secret art of crafting with the blue crystal known as azurite. He’s promised to craft you a few magic weapons, provided you can get him some of the crystal…

A fourteen page adventure with eight rooms in an old mine. I wish this adventure, and all of its cousins, did not exist. Boring, adding nothing of interest or indeed any detail beyond the barest of bare bones, but expanded upon with great vigor of writing. There is no reason for this to exist, let alone be charged for.

Eight room abandoned mine, four bandits in the entrance their leader in another room and a giant spider in a boarded up barracks. The back half is caved in, with a couple of giants ants and a crystal imp back there. There’s an arrow trap on a door. I have now provided you 95% of the content of this adventure in far fewer than 14 pages. I know, I’m prone to hyperbole, but, seriously, I just described the dungeon to you. The actual adventure offers almost nothing else that I didn’t just describe. The text is expanded upon, but, I’m not even sure it adds that sort of mundane detail in which I loathe so much. It’s just circular, describing nothing in quite the verbose manner.

An empty barracks room with a few generic things in it. The same, bt this time the room has a giant spider in it. The same, but the bandits leader is in it, who, of course, chalks up the slaughter of his men to them fighting … so there’s a pretext for him not leaving his room. Everyone/thing attacks on sight. There’s no nuance. There’s nothing interesting. Open door. Monster attacks. Kill it. Move on.

When you buy an adventure this is exactly the sort of thing you are afraid of: nothing of interest. Look, an adventure doesn’t need set pieces in every room. Or ANY room. But you have to add SOME value. The fourteen pages of this adventure add almost nothing to the three sentence description I offered earlier. This is like one of those procedurally generated news stories. Write an app to generate maps and random dungeon with random dressings and charge $1.50 each. Churn it out and ‘win’ by flooding the market and making it impossible to find things of value. THERE’S NOTHING IN THIS.

 

It’s $1.50 on Drive Thru. The preview of four pages, including the cover, and shows you nothing of the room design.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/214985/Blue-Crystal-Mine-A-Swords–Wizardry-MiniDungeon

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Seven of Aromater

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 11:00
My exploration of the long-running euro-comic Storm, continues with his adventures in the world of Pandarve. Earlier installments can be found here.

Storm: The Seven of Aromater (1984) 
(Dutch: De Zeven van Aromater) (part 2)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

Storm has changed into some sort of monster--the Seventh--then he and the Eternal Prince disappear to prepare themselves for the mission ahead.

Ember and Nomad have no idea what's going on. They go back to the merchant who tried to buy Ember earlier. He tells them the story of the history of  Aromater.

Once Aromater was an incredibly prosperous trading city, ruled by two young and apparently immortal Princes who controlled the forces of nature. Then, for unknown reasons, a rift developed between the twins. One of them used a device called the Brain Coral [or Brain Cell, in some translations] to create a potion from the Blood of Pandarve. It turned the Prince into a "dark demon" and his seven trusted followers into monsters. They slaughtered the guards and stole the Brain Coral.

From they time on, luck was no longer with Aromater. Their crops were destroyed, their ships lost, and their remaining Prince began to age.

The Prince formulated a plan to regain the Brain Coral. A had a fountain made surrounded by seven swords. Only the bravest and strongest citizens were allowed to try to pull them free. Those that succeeded became members of the Seven of Aromater. From the goblets left behind by the fleeing Prince and his followers, the remaining Prince and his confederates were able to synthesize the potion and change the six victors into creatures that could reclaim Aromater's lost glory. Storm is the Seventh. Now, they will go to reclaim the Brain Coral.


For their remaining questions, the merchant jokes they'll have to ask the Eternal Prince. Ember decides to go to his Tower and do just that.



Nomad has to meditate to center himself to throw a grapple across the magma moat. He succeeds! Ember crawls along the rope to an opening in the Tower.


Nomad follows, but the rope catches fire and he would would have fallen in without Ember's help.

Meanwhile, the Eternal Prince and his Second are preparing to leave. Their may only be enough of the Blood of Pandarve for one more transformation left. the Prince puts it in a chest for safe keeping. As they leave the room, Nomad pokes his head up through a hatch in the floor...

The next, morning the Prince, the Seventh, and his men leave in a paddle steamer to the cheers of the crowd. The ship heads out into the great ocean. The next morning, The Red Tear appears on the horizon. As the ship draws loser they see the Red Tear fully:



TO BE CONTINUED

Ch. 4, Page 32

Castle Greyhawk - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 04:46
"Go now. I'm ordering you!"

The words of Erac's Cousin rang in Ehlissa's ears and, compelled by his spell, she could not help but carry them out.

As she started to go, she hoped for some loophole that would allow her to obey her compulsion, yet stay...


Back at the Homestead - Ashley Hibernated for the better part of 5 Days and What's in The Hopper?

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 00:36
I took this photo of Ashley the night before the holiday weekendSo, I'm back in Queens, one of NYC's "outer boroughs" after spending Friday afternoon through morning today in the Poconos. We brought Danke (she travels well and loves to take country walks) and left Ashely with my son. Chris had one sighting in 5 days - on Sunday she asked for food, ate a whole can of cat food and wasn't seen again until she greeted Rach and I on our return this afternoon.

Lots of things to post on - I will get to them in the next 24 to 36 hours. Posts such as:

- An update on the Mona Dowie fundraiser (hint - I think we hit the $500 mark from the OSR to match dollar for dollar - woot!)

- Free RPG Day releases from last month are making their appearances in PDF - I'll give you the links to find them and do the Google-Fu for you ;)

- Ennie Nominees have been announced. No, Swords & Wizardry Light didn't make the cut. I'll tell you who did, make some Tavern suggestions on who to vote for and point a few interesting things out.

- I pick my car up from the body shop tomorrow. It was the victim of a rear-ending on my excursion to Legendary Realms on Free RPG Day. Needless to say, I never made it there. Wait, that's not a post.

- Kickstarter info - because you know you want it.

and more. I think I need a second screen for my Surface 3 - I'm spoiled by my home set up which makes posting and having multiple screens open a breeze.

In any case - I'm back! Er, not that I was really gone ;)



Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Retro Review & Commentary On Shield Maidens of Sea Rune By Judge's Guild For AD&D First Edition & Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 17:57
"Warrior Women plot to regain their home lost to the barbarous Skandiks, fearsome sea reavers all.  Torn between their Gods of the North and the Druidic worship of nature, the Skandiks grow weak.  Beware the cruel and evil Anti-Paladin who stalks this area looking for blood; he may be the death of you yet!  Can you thread the perilous path to fame and riches in this Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Misdeeds, High Weirdness, & A Fourth of July Actual Play Report For Tegel Manor

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 06:12
Tonight's adventure saw our party of Saturday night special Hyperborean adventurers astrally teleporting into Tegel Village after recovering several items from a local pawn broker/jeweler in Brigand's Bay. The Saturday night party upgraded weapons, went up a level, & got some of the skinny on the manor & the other adventuring party along with a bit more about Sir Tristan. They learned a Needleshttp://www.blogger.com/profile/11243274667834930867noreply@blogger.com0
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Happy Independence Day

Greyhawk Grognard - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 04:01

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Figure Forge 91: Rathor From the Wrath of Kings Starter

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 03:37

Watch Matt assemble Rathor from the Wrath of Kings two player starter. This model is super easy to assemble and even cooler looking.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

So far this set has been a lot of fun and I can’t wait to play.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Colonial Gothic July 2017 Bundle of Holding

19th Level - Tue, 07/04/2017 - 02:42


I don't think I've ever pitched a Bundle of Holding before but I'd encourage people to check out the Colonial Gothic Bundle of Holding, valid for the next 15 or so days. Richard Iorio II, owner of Rogue Games, is donating 100% of his proceeds, to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Richard lost three friends in succession to suicide in 2015. Having dealt with mental health issues and a daughter dealing with depression and suicidal ideation it is a cause quite dear to my heart.

Colonial Gothic is a great reference for gaming in Colonial America in the period of and around the American Revolution (with expansions covering other periods). Even if the rules don't grab you it provides a massive amount of information and inspiration for gaming in the period. The rules and supplements cover Native American and colonist characters, French North America, British North America, the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, etc. And of course there's a supplement if you want to add Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos to your game - a logical addition, given works by Lovecraft having connections to the period (see for example "Dreams in the Witch House" and The Case of Charles Dexter Ward).

A Colonial-era game has long been on my "some day" list of games to play - it's a great deal to get all of the books at a low price and help a worthy cause.
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