Tabletop Gaming Feeds

RPGNow - Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Charity Donation - $25 for over $400 of Gaming in PDF

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 15:00

Fainting Goat Games has spearheaded a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund Charity Donation Bundle over at RPGNow. Over 420 bucks of RPG gaming material for $25. A damn good deal if you ask me and one that highlights a bunch of OSR releases (about $130 worth) . Which ones?

A Field Guide to Hot Springs Island (19.95)

A Hack of Class (1.00)

Fever-Dreaming Marlinko (9.00)

Misty Isles of the Eld (12.00)

Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak (7.99) - 5e but OSR sensibilities ;)

Slumbering Ursine Dunes (9.00)

Starfaring Exploration for Delving Deeper and OSR (1.00)

Stark Space (2.49)

Stay Frosty (4.99)

Strange Stars (9.99)

Strange Stars OSR Rule Book (5.55)

The Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia (4.99)

The Dark of Hot Springs Island (19.99)

The Druid for Delving Deeper and OSR (1.00)

The Wondrous Hoard (S&W compatible) (3.00)

Under the Waterless Sea (8.00)

Unholy Land (2.99)

Vacant Ritual Assembly #1 & #2 (4.00)

Weird Adventures (10.00)
Hurricane Harvey, the most powerful hurricane to hit the continental US in a decade, has devastated the Texas Gulf Coast. In Houston alone, it has dropped over 2 feet of rain (and counting). FEMA estimates that 30,000 people may need shelter. This bundle will help provide relief to this impacted by the storm. Proceeds will be split between the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund ( and the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund ( (which provides support to the smaller cities and towns also hit by Harvey.)All purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links return a small portion of the monies paid to The Tavern, allowing us to do what we've been doing for years - news, new releases, gaming thoughts, reviews, Kickstarter highlights, gaming material, investigative reporting and assorting sundries and miscellany. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

(5e) Yearning for Adventure

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 11:13

By Frank Schmidt
Self Published
Level 1

A religious festival in the nearby town of Saratoga is the spot your introductory level PCs have opted to begin their careers. With so many people coming to the festival the group anticipates finding information on adventures they can start their budding careers with. Action begins sooner than expected as the celebration is interrupted by a group of Stirges bothering some of the revelers and it quickly gets worse…

This 32 page starter adventure takes characters to level four from adventures in and around a small village being attacked by undead. Single column, bad read-aloud, bad DM text, “challenge” orientation … There are certain things in adventure design that make you say “ought oh!” and anticipate the worst. I’m not saying it’s right, but it happens. A high page count to low encounter count is one such thing. It doesn’t always mean trouble, but can. Another is PROMINENTLY DISPLAYING YOUR TRADEMARK NUMBER ON THE COVER. Priorities may have been misplaced. This is the usual combat dreck.

This adventure has a point of view and it embeds it in the text, deeply. The player background is a good example of this. “The time has come for you to be the hero you want to be” and “your master has explained …” and “you’ve finished your training and said your goodbyes …” Typical of most railroad adventures, you’re told what you feel and how to be. The player is robbed; their story is no longer theirs but the DM’s … or designer. This isn’t a village being attacked by undead that the characters encounter; that kind of open ended thing that you can slot your game in to. You’re told who you are and why you are there. This is embedded throughout the adventure.

Moving on to the DM text we’re told “The path of an adventurer is not an easy one and great care should be taken in selecting associates of a similar train of thought.” and “Although it is a small village, the area of Saratoga is about to present the young adventurers will a very large opportunity for their careers.” This kind of nonsense drives me nuts. It’s filler. It serves no purpose. Unfocused writing, not understanding the purpose of an adventure.

The read-aloud is consistently weak. “A quick look around shows several people near the edge of the festival attempting to fend of large flying creatures. As you look on you realize that this is a problem.” Really? They realize that this is a problem? Large flying creatures? Well that certainly makes the mind race and the pulse quicken. And the DM text for this? It starts “The first test for the new PCs will be a group of four Stirges …” Weak read-aloud, unfocused DM text …

The adventure is essentially linear, with programmed events occurring. Skeletons come down the path to the village, after the stirge attack. If you’re not there then a small child comes to get you. No skipping! Then you go to the cemetery and enjoy text like “You wanted a little adventure in your life, seems it has found you already.” Then on to the next encounter/challenge. No real village to interact with, generic descriptions …

You know, there’s something to be said for Just Do It. It’s admirable. Dude wrote and published an adventure. That’s a hurdle a lot of people don’t get over. He’s also charging for it and didn’t disclose that the fucking thing was 5e! Uncool. This thing is just a series of combats broken up by read-aloud.

This is $3 on DriveThru. They have it in the OSR category. Nothing could be further from the truth. The preview is two pages and it shows you EXACTLY the kind of content you are getting. Ponderous read-aloud. Ponderous DM text. Embedded plot. Enjoy.–Yearning-for-Adventure?term=yearning+for+adventure&test_epoch=0

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Storm Indexed (part 2)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 11:00

Here's the second part of my index of Storm albums in the sequence called "The Chronicles of Pandarve"so far. Now's the time to catch up, if you missed them.

1. The Pirates of Pandarve 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
2. The Labyrinth of Death 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
3. The Seven of Aromater 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Midweek Monster Mayhem - Meat-Eating Macaque / Bad Maque (Swords & Wizardry Light)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 03:32
Art by Patrick Pullen used with permissionMeat-eating Macaques (often referred to as Bad Maques by adventurers) are a carnivorous species of monkey. They are dangerous not due to their size (about 2' tall when squatting or 3' when standing tall) but the fact that they hunt in packs of 2-12 and prefer the meet of intelligent species. Their main attack is an attempt to rend their opponent, but if both clawed hands hit in the same round they will move in to bite their opponent. Bad Maques prefer prey their own size or smaller and will attack dwarves, halflings, goblins, kobolds and the like before larger humanoids

Bad Maque
AC: 7[12]  HD: 1  Attacks: Claw x 2 (1d6-2)  Move: 12 (may move freely through trees)
Special: If both claws hit, the target is embraced and a bite attack at +2 to the to hit roll may be made. Bite damage is 1d6

Note, although written for Swords & Wizardry Light, Bad Maques will work fine with other flavors of S&W (and other OSR rulesets) - all you need do is add expo ;)


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hero's Brew Podcast - Episode # 2 - Dark & Sundry

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 00:11
The Grognardy Trio have served up another episode of the Hero's Brew Podcast. Episode #2 - Dark & Sundry is available for your enjoyment. Yes, we're extra grumpy at NO extra charge for you ;)

Oh, and we earned our explicit label this time :)

You can play it from the player below or give it a few hours to get served through iTunes, Google Play and other podcast players.

Download link for Episode # 2

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ch. 5, Page 1

Castle Greyhawk - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 21:13
Time passed, healing wounds and moving people down the paths of their lives, drawing friends closer to or further from each other at every new turn.

Castle Greyhawk still beckoned in the wilderness near the City of Greyhawk, drawing adventurers from far and wide. Either systematically or by wild luck they slowly explored and mapped out every square inch of its famous dungeons, level by level, with new stairs always being found leading deeper and deeper into the bowels of Oerth. Many noted that the levels changed over time. Some found evidence of a mysteriously never-encountered construction company at work in the dungeons, but this mystery company never seemed to be able to keep far ahead of the relentless push to explore new areas.

Other forces were at work in the dungeons -- with so much loot coming and going, entrepreneurial forces took over choke points in the dungeon and tried to extort treasure from those coming back out. There was a clan of The Dwur -- dwarves -- controlling one, and a company of Olves -- elves -- guarding another, plus a giant guarding still a third.

Despite these challenges, Tenser continued to explore at Castle Greyhawk. He had grown greatly in power in the last year. His Wand of Paralyzing he had used on a white dragon back then was no longer his most powerful magic item. He had mastered spells now that he did not even know existed a year ago.

Tenser was often looking ahead to his next venture, but sometimes he was interested in looking back.

Tenser disliked Wayfarers Row. It was an old street, though not as old as some in the Old City, and it had stubbornly held onto its name despite the fact that no one could remember why it was called that. A better name would have been Magicians Row, as that is what the street had become. Here was a double row of shops where magic was for sale. The magicians were almost uniformly disillusioned former students of the Wizards College, men and women who had thought the mystic arts was an easy route to prosperity, found they had graduated heavily indebted to the college and with only a handful of parlor tricks to show for it. The smart, or lucky, ones had found ways to market what they knew to people who could afford no better.

So here was Rasche's Courtship Service, launched by a charm person spell, and Blume's Somnambulatorium was inspired by a sleep spell. These shop names were displayed on cheap plaques affixed to peeling plaster facades. To Tenser, Wayfarers Row represented the weak, ineffectual sort of people who had a lofty goal once, but did not try hard enough to attain it. He held them in a special sort of disdain, knowing that just a few miles away they could have sought adventure and found treasure enough to let them live like kings when they returned to the city.

There was only one reason Tenser kept coming back to Wayfarers Row and that was Ehlissa's Bird Shop. Halfway down the row of shops, on the right hand side, was one that sat a little taller and a little wider than the others. Its beams did not sag and its plaster was in better repair. It had a large shop window that stayed propped open all day and allowed people passing by to see a large cage full of songbirds of all colors. The cage was made from a fine, silvery, sturdy wire that had resisted more than one burglary attempt. It should have for the amount Tenser had helped pay for it -- since the wire was crafted from mithril and forged by the dwarves of the Cairn Hills. It had been a present for a dear friend...

Tales of Peril Book Club

Zenopus Archives - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 19:08

Now that Tales of Peril has been available for a few months, I'm starting a new blog series called the "Tales of Peril Book Club". For it I will read through the entirety of Tales of Peril and make post(s) for each chapter/section. I encourage you to read along with me, and the posts will be directed to those who do, and thus will contain spoilers. You have been warned!

I've already re-read the 1st chapter of the Maze of Peril and made several pages of notes, but the first post(s) will deal with covers/index/introduction/etc, so you have a bit of time to get the first chapter read. I expect writing notes/blog posts to take me longer than actually reading the chapters, so posting frequency may vary depending on my schedule. I may split some chapters up into multiple posts if they are getting long. We'll see how it goes.

If you still need a copy, see How to Order Tales of Peril from Black Blade Publishing

This post will eventually serve as an index for each of the posts in the series (to be updated).
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Torchbearer Sagas: The Crypt of Khaab’r

Torchbearer RPG - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 18:42

Hello friends!

Mordite Press has just released a new Torchbearer Sagas adventure, The Crypt of Khaab’r!

High in the steppes of Barbaria, the epics tell of Khaab’r, a brave and fearsome wanderer who rose to become King of his tribe. His dagger, Tiger’s Tooth, was his constant companion throughout his legendary exploits. During his daring moonlight raid of High Hollow, it was Tiger’s Tooth that silenced the lookouts. When he was captured by the army of Sanction, it was Tiger’s Tooth that cut the rope binding his wrists. Throughout the rest of his life, Tiger’s Tooth was there, hanging at his hip or gripped in his fist—a symbol of his strength and cunning. When Khaab’r died, Tiger’s Tooth was placed in his crypt to serve him in the afterlife.

Centuries have passed. Khaab’r’s tribe has settled down, building a town on the shores of the great Khor’aat lake. Now foreigners arrive daily in Shaa Khor’aat—merchants and mercenaries alike—seeking their fortunes in this once remote trading post.

Ka’mara, the elderly King of the Khor’aat tribe and descendant of Khaab’r himself, has sent out a call to all willing adventurers in the town: retrieve Tiger’s Tooth and bring it to him, so that it may aid him as it did his storied ancestor. The locals believe Khaab’r’s tomb is cursed, and they fear the goblins that reside in the Canyon of Spirits. But outsiders, handy with wit and steel, may be right for the job.

Check it out!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Other Lovecraftian Clark Ashton Smith's 'Forbidden Planet' Movie Connections To The 'Old Solar System' Campaign Setting

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 17:00
There have always been the renegades, those that seek the miraculous, & those who have mastered far more then magick. In the Old Solar systems there are master wizards and they are not beings to be trifled with. Someplace below the gods, slightly ahead of the curve, &  inheritors of legacies far to terrible to contemplate. Mankind is the late comer to the stars for there have been many others Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DCC RPG Quick Start Rules Released in PDF for 2 Bucks

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 13:34

Goodman Games has released the DCC RPG Quick Start Rules on RPGNow in PDF for 2 bucks (first released in Print for Free RPG Day and released in print to the general public for 5 bucks last month)
If you ever were intimidated by the shear size of the DCC rulebook, here's you chance to find a slightly lighter version for a whole lot less.

I have this in Print (along with the original rules) and I must say its an awesome distillation of the DCC RPG rules. Well done +Jim Wampler
These starter rules were written specifically to introduce judges and players to the DCC RPG system. In some areas, rules have been condensed and simplified. These rules will serve primarily to get characters through their first level 0 adventure and their first level 1 adventure. Although the rules go up to level 2, for the full DCC experience and play at levels up to 10th, please refer to the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG rulebook! This book includes two adventures! You get the enduring classic Portal Under the Stars 0-level adventure for new players, plus in a flip-book format, an all-new level 1 adventure, Gnole House by Michael Curtis, inspired by the works of Lord Dunsany and Margret St. Clair who first wrote of the creature called the “gnole,” which Gary Gygax later evolved into the better-known gnoll!Purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links put a small percentage into The Tavern's coffers.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Four Essential Qualities of a 4-Hour Dungeons & Dragons Adventure

DM David - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 11:15

Running adventures by other authors has raised my Dungeons & Dragons game. As a dungeon master for organized play, I have prepared adventures that seemed like duds. Sometimes, at the table, I followed an author’s script and saw that their adventure worked despite my concerns. When I had little experience with adventures other than my own dungeons, I found lots of pleasant surprises. I learned a lot.

Those surprises happen less often now. I feel confident judging which 4 elements I always want in something like a 4-hour Adventurers League session.

I have the voice of authority to back me up. The book Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games by Lawrence Schick includes a list of adventure tips from legendary designer Jennell Jaquays. Goodman Games publisher Joseph Goodman listed advice for penning a good adventures to accompany How to Write Adventures that Don’t Suck. This post features select tips from the experts’ lists. Believe them.

All 4 qualities in my list resist easy adjustments at the table. This post’s draft included, “Give it the villains a fighting chance,” but I cut it. If an adventure puts a beholder in a tiny room where the heroes can make it into a piñata, I can adjust at the table. If an adventure fails to include a variety of challenges, only a rewrite will help.

In every 4-hour adventure, I want 4 qualities:

1. A variety of challenges. This ranks as my number 1 by a wide margin. Typical D&D groups bring varied tastes, and few players like 4-hours of the same. Any session should include (1) a social scene, (2) a combat encounter, and (3) either a thinking problem or a secret to investigate.

To qualify, the social scene must start with a goal and pose an obstacle. See How to Use Scenes and Summaries to Focus on the Best Parts of a Role-Playing Adventure. Social scenes that dump purposeless characters into a banquet or marketplace confound most players.

“Make sure some role-playing interaction with other sentient beings is necessary for success.” – Jaquays

A typical 4-hour adventure features two or three battles, and I like variety in the combat encounters. When I ran the D&D Encounters program and saw the adventure for a new season, I eagerly scanned the pages, noting which monsters would appear. A variety of foes excited me. (I remain easily amused.)

At Gen Con 2017, I ran adventures set on the streets of Hillsfar. Typically, city adventures suffer from recurrent fights against thugs, thieves, and assassins. Same fight, different alley. The authors of this Hillsfar series imagined ways to pit players against a variety of monsters, and that made me happy.

“Pace it well. Long, tiresome combats should be followed by quick rooms. Thought-provoking puzzles should be followed by bloodbaths. Slow, trap-filled hallways should be followed by a rousing fight.” – Goodman

2. A fast start. When players sit for an organized-play adventure, their characters land in the the adventure too. I like adventures that speed through the chore of getting the characters to agree to the mission their players already accepted. DDEX03-14 Death on the Wall by Greg Marks includes a favorite hook: Someone fleeing pursuit dumps a pack containing a message on the characters. Bang! We’re off!

“Always begin a new adventure with action: a fight, a chase, a breathtaking escape, a witnessed crime, and so on.” – Jaquays

Nothing vexes me more than an adventure that challenges players to uncover the secret of their goal for the adventure.

Most organized-play adventure hooks should also promise a reward in gold early on. Not all characters aim to do good or to seek adventure. Players will take adventures without seeing the rewards ahead, but on behalf of their characters, they still wonder why are we doing this?

“Maintain a ‘cut to the chase’ feeling—start with a bang and get to the action fast.” – Goodman

Some critics argue that starting an adventure with a fight ranks as a cliché. Ignore them. For many D&D players, the game only starts when they start rolling dice. At my weekly D&D game, the kids can sit without a battle, but at least one parent pines for action. (Not me. Well, not just me.)

3. A choice. Players accept that a 4-hour time limit leaves no room for open worlds, but when an adventure shunts the party through a fixed sequence of scenes, players notice—and they grumble. Every adventure should feature an option that leaves players wondering what would have happened if we had….

I love DDEX2-13 The Howling Void by Teos Abadia and DDEX03-15 Szith Morcane Unbound by Robert Adducci for offering players unusual freedom. Both also demand more from a DM than a typical session. Some overwhelmed convention DMs bridle at the prospect of prepping many encounters that may not occur.

In practice, just a couple of choices satisfy players. But avoid false choices that could lead to the same scene. Players should know enough about their options to expect a different outcome from each possibility. See Illusionism: if player choices seem to matter, does it matter if they don’t?

4. A dash of the fantastic. In D&D, authors sometimes reserve the mind-bending fantasy for high-level characters. But I like every adventure—even that 1st-level strike against bandits—to include a fantastic element. Have the goblins uncovered some lost bit of magic that lets them do something wondrous?

I remember a D&D adventure that relied on a bomb as a threat, and how that made me sad. In the fantastic world of D&D, could the most interesting threat really be a bomb. I turned the bomb into a magical box that opened a door to the spirit world and lured vengeful souls onto the material plane.

Not all the fantastic elements need to be dangerous or useful. Interesting trinkets and strange phenomena can create the same wonder. The magic fountain feels tired by now, but you can create fresh wonders that put enhantment into your world.

“Convey a sense of the fantastic. Convey this through encounters, descriptions, and most importantly, magic. The fantastic is what makes D&D so much fun, and that has to come across in the adventure.” – Goodman

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

This Week will Kick Off the new Midweek Monster Mayhem Series of Posts

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 00:56
Theodor Kittelsen, Public Domain
This week The Tavern will be launching a new regular feature - Midweek Monster Mayhem. Similar in a way to the just launched Weekend Wonders (which covers magic, spells and magic items) Midweek Monster Mayhem will see a new monster for Swords & Wizardry in Light and / or Complete formats. I'll be adjusting The Tavern's Patreon later this week to reflect these changes. All Patreon backers will get these monsters compiled in PDF format and emailed to them in the following month of their release. Print copies will go out quarterly to those that back at $10 or more.

If we get enough overall backing, we may see two Weekend Wonder releases and Two Midweek Monster Mayhem releases on a weekly basis. Then there is that online OSR Con that has been talked about. All hail The Tavern's Discord Server :)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Quick Greyhawk 5th Edition Update

Greyhawk Grognard - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 20:16
Real quick update on the 5E Greyhawk material.

The Greyhawk 576 Players Manual is very far along. Races, classes, backgrounds, feats, spells, and quick descriptions of the Lands of the Flanaess are done. 23 gods out of 70 are completed, 13 are mostly done, and the rest still need to be started. Factions are about halfway done.

The DM's Guide to Greyhawk 576 is in a much less complete state. 14 nations out of 63 are finished, the rest are mostly done. Geographical features, history, and climate are done, but weather, cosmology (both the crystal sphere and the planes) are not yet started. Magic items are about halfway done, but monsters and notable NPCs are also not yet started.

Back to the gods of Greyhawk I go!

I should also mention that the playtest is still going on, and new material is constantly being sent to the playtesters. If you'd like to participate, please email and I'll send you the NDA for you and your players to sign.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

B/X Dungeons & Dragons Free & Pay Resources For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 19:13
So yesterday around the table I heard some grumbles about the B/X Essentials review I did. Namely that there were no really free expansions for B/X Dungeons & Dragons. Oh but there are my friends! Way back in '09 there was a really well put together product for B/X Dungeons & Dragons from Barrataria Games called the Companion Expansion. There's a free no artwork version of this book which Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DC Comics Bombshells Trading Cards - Sketch Card Previews, Part 7

Cryptozoic - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 17:00

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

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Box Breaking 218: Zoo Ball from Osprey Games

Gamer Goggles - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 16:53

Watch Matt open up Zoo Ball the new sports dexterity game from Osprey.

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

I did get to play this at Gen Con.  Check back soon for the review.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fat Dragon Games - Papercraft 2017 Mega Deal - Over 80% Off Printed Terrain Bundle

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 16:03

Fat Dragon Games offers an impressive line of printable 3d terrain pieces. I picked up sets last year to print and fold for my 6 year old niece and she loves it.

The Papercraft 2017 Mega Deal gives you over $154 worth of printable terrain for less than 30 bucks. Shannon may be getting more options for her dungeon building.

There are 33 releases in this bundle.

All purchases made via The Tavern's affiliate links help to support The Tavern. Thank you in advance :)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wyrd Ways of Walstock

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 11:15

By Dan Osarchuk
Labyrinth Lord
Levels 1-3

‘Wyrd’ things are afoot. This town might seem like your ordinary, post-apocalyptic-now-turned-fantasy locale, but it is not! Fell Cults have begun to take over and it is up to the brave adventurers to stop one in particular: the Cult of the Shield Ghul.

This 32 page adventure presents a timeline of a cults attempted takeover of a town. The cult has a timeline of activities and the party will, hopefully, get in the way of a few of them. At the end of the third day there’s a percentage roll to determine if the cult thinks its been effective in its lead up activities, and if they proceed/succeed. It presents a great D&D town, full of the oddities and character that I like so much, ala Pembrooktonshire and Marlinko, with the more out there elements of those filed off. It could use a reference sheet for the NPCs, and some names, in addition to numbers, on the town map. It uses, though, a pretty focused writing style that concentrates on gameable detail, with few exceptions. It’s a good town, and a decent series of events in that town.

What this adventure does, that so many fail at, is to provide the correct amount of detail, the correct amount of GAMEABLE detail, for the locations. There’s enough here, and its generally written well enough, to spark the DM’s imagination and allow them to fill in the rest. It relies on strong situations, iconic and stereotypical stretched just a little more. In one vile inn the stairs up are listed as: “These lead to a series of rickety, filth-ridden rooms, rife with vomiting and diseased dregs and harlots.” Nice! No need to stat out each of the individual rooms upstairs; from this we can get a strong idea of what the upstairs is like and run it on the fly. I could quibble, about a couple of events upstairs, but the rest of the locations, most of the more common rooms especially, have a nicee series of events/tables already for adding little things. The back door to the place is “barely functional.” There’s a pig fighting ring. The drinks are served not in glasses but in a trough that runs down the bar. Odors of manure and ale emanate on the outside. Another Bohemian, sho is bedecked with flowers, crystals, and potent incense. I think we all understand what this kind of place has, with dreamcatchers and lace and the like. These are descriptions and locales that you can hang your hat on. Further, most of the locations are contained to a single page, or part of one, meaning little to no page flipping to make scanning the entries harder.

As a social adventure it has factions, something like eight of them. The cultists, a group of healers, an ineffectual town council, the tired corrupt guards and two main merchant houses/families … not quite alike in dignity.

The timeline is summarized, the locations generally cross-referenced for easy lookup in them. There’s an overview, with more detail, of the plans that you could read once and not have to refer to again unless you want. The locations have events, like pickpockets, being vomited on, an aging harlot, and so on. There’s a table of descriptions and personalities you can use to fill out random NPC’s as an idea generator for when the party acosta someone. It’s all great stuff. Strong imagery. Decent descriptions. Not too much filler.

It’s lacking in really strong reference material. The town map is just numbered. Looking up which places are bars, or inns, for example, means hunting through the pages looking for them and then looking at the (numbered) town map. This is a good example of where putting the place names on the town map would have helped a lot. Similarly, the NPC’s are all found in their “home” locations … scattered throughout the text. That’s not good for a social adventure where the party is running around, asking questions, talking to people, investigating, and so on. It needs one page with all of the NPC’s on it, where they are found, a brief personality/feature, and their goals. Those two reference sheets would have really kicked this adventure up to another level, making it very easy to run at the table. One of the nuns in the convent runs around in all white at night, on the rooftops, as LADY LIGHT, casting light spells and preaching the wonders of Minerva. That’s the perfect kind of thing to throw in at night to mix things up, but it’s hidden in the description of the convent and not right at the DM’s fingertips, staring them in the face when they glance down.

This is a good town adventure. It provides lots of memorable opportunities for play, without forcing them on the players or feeling too contrived. Formatting for scanning could be better, and it needs some prep work for the NPC’s and map, but then again most adventures so. The amount of bullshit extraneous text is minimal, and what there is of it usually adds to the local colour of the place. This is a keeper.

This is $6 on Drivethru, and worth the price of admission. The preview falls down some, showing just the general overview of the town, factions, timeline, and plot. This is probably the weakest writing in the adventure and only hints at the better things deeper in.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

On the Use of Henchmen in OSR Games

19th Level - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 03:37

When I first starting playing D&D in the 1980s, Charisma was the most common dump stat. We pretty much ignored the rules on hirelings and henchmen.
From what I've read online, our experience was not unique. However, I've also seen for many groups henchmen were an important component of the early game and the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide bears this out, with considerable space dedicated to the acquisition and loyalty of henchmen.
In our AS&SH game, one of the players had two characters, both of whom had high Charisma scores. He decided to use some of his starting cash to hire some mercenaries. It wound up being an extremely good investment - giving the party additional firepower while at the same time giving the monsters additional targets to aim for. I suspect should the henchmen survive up to the point where the characters make it to second level, I might allow the henchmen to gain a little bit of experience and reach 1st level, with an eye towards allowing them to lag behind the main characters but be available as standby PCs should some of them meet unfortunate ends. And of course, that assumes the henchmen survive as well, something that is not a given.
One thing I'm a little curious about is what the inspiration for henchmen in the original game was. Having descended from wargaming, I can imagine part of it is a leftover from that. In fiction, I can't think of many scenarios where henchmen played an important role for the protagonists - I do seem to recall some Lankhmar stories where Fafhrd and Grey Mouser had some mercenaries but I can't think of much else - though I've also not read the entire Appendix N canon...
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