Tabletop Gaming Feeds


Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 11:00
Art by Jason SholtisLarge monstrosity, neutral evil

Armor Class 15 (natural armor)
Hit Points 84 (8d10 + 40)
Speed 30 ft. (40 ft. on all fours)

 STR 18 (+4) DEX 13 (+1) CON 20 (+5) INT 7(-2) WIS 9 (-1) CHA 6 (-2)
Skills Perception +2
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages Skarzg
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)
Keen Smell. The skarzg has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on smell.
Regeneration. The skarg regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn. If  it takes acid or fire damage, this trait doesn’t function at the start of the skarzg’s next turn. The skarzg dies only if it starts its turn with 0 hit points and doesn’t regenerate.

Multiattack. The skarzg makes three attacks: one with its bite and two with its claws.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d10 + 4) piercing damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 14). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained and the skarzg can’t bite another target.
Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4 + 4) slashing damage.

Skarzg are rapacious predators, animalistic but cunning. They are very hard to kill, and they will eat anything. Their origins are lost in the mists of time, though some believe they were brought to this world by the Ylthlaxu who used them in sadistic hunts. They now roam free in the wild places, though thankfully, not in great numbers.

Brand New OSR Monster - The Rip Floater For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 10/26/2017 - 01:47
The party crawled along the cold, dead grey hallways of the alien tomb. Sullen Moc Ta 'the Decedent One' watched the warriors with concern. 'Fascinating' was all his parchment like thick lips whispered looking at the Neshligeer carvings that covered every inch of the giant alien tomb. 'Would please stop saying that?' Volo Draxen the warrior from Cor asked. You'll alert every damn thing within Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Longest Campaign Ever?

Greyhawk Grognard - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 21:56
This guy has been running the same campaign for 35 years!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Reminder - Tavern Chat Tonight - The Continual Light Conversation - 9 PM Eastern

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 19:46

Tonight is a Wednesday Night and that means - you guessed it - Tavern Chat!

Its held on The Tavern's Discord Server. For those that haven't joined yet, here's the link:

Open Bar is where the voice chat takes place.

Chat starts at 9 PM Eastern and lasts - well, last week it lasted until 3 AM. Ouch ;)

Folks aways want to know topics. Well, I'll be happy to talk about Swords & Wizardry Continual Light - PDF is PWYW on RPGNow and Print is 7 bucks with Prime shipping on Amazon.

Swords Wizardry Continual Light - Print

Its been a good week overall since the last chat :)

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Back to Basix Issue #3 Preorders are Live

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 15:17
If you haven't grabbed and issue of Back to Basix - the zine covering the BX edition of D&D, here's your chance.

Issues #1 and #2 are 5 bucks each.

Issue #3 is a preorder and is also 5 bucks,

Order all three for $12.50. Shipping is included in all cases.

I grabbed a copy of BtB at NTRPG in June and it was excellent. I ordered the three-pack because I can always use an extra copy ;)

Here's the order link:
As always, this issue will have a comic from Travis Hanson (part 3 of the Broken God of the Crimson Abbey), an interview with an industry legend, a product review, articles on new monsters and spell casting, and two adventures. It should be 16 pages but might creep into 20 - tbd.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 11:18

by Greg “I wrote Barrowmaze” Gillespie
Labyrinth Lord
Level 1-

The lost city of Archaia – an ancient ruin sunken into the earth – lies deep in the badlands. In recent years, caravans from Eastdale have come under attack from orcs, goblins, and worse. Some say these blood-thirsty warbands have made lairs in the deep caves and ruins. Sill others say the ancient halls are filled with magnificent treasures left by the Archaians. Are you brave (or foolish) enough to delve The Forbidden Caverns of Archaia?

This is a 300 page megadungeon, in the form of a Caves of Chaos style ravine. There are about 150 pages of room keys spanning … 50 dungeon complexes? with about a one hundred page appendix detailing monsters, treasure, etc, and about a forty page introduction descripting the region, main town/villages, wanderers, etc. The closest comparison is B2/Caves of Chaos, if there were three times as many caves, the caves were each three times larger, and the evil temple guys were greatly expanded. Much like Stonehell and Barrowmaze, there are very strong maps supporting the exploratory play and a kind of “Generic D&D with just a little extra” vibe to the place. It’s strongest when being specific and breaking the B2 mold and weakest when it emulates the worst parts of B2 … like generic elements and rooms with only humanoid monsters.

I’m going to compare this adventure, repeatedly, to B2/Caves of Chaos. That’s unfair, because it’s more than that. The near universal familiarity with B2, and similarities to this adventure, will give most readers a firmer understanding of what to expect. These days I tend to concentrate on the good parts of an adventure and then detail the bad parts. In this case I’m going to cover things a little more linearly, as they appear in the adventure.

Which means the regional data and town/village data are the first thing I’m going to cover. There’s a little background data and summary data present, but I’m going to ignore that for now. The first forty pages or so are a combination of regional overview, town/village overview, factions and wandering monsters, and a brief word on hex crawl and some related general “dungeon” features. This part is, frankly, boring. It falls in to a kind of Bog Standard Fantasy description category. The towns, villages, and various regional features get about a paragraph each and nothing really stands out. “This village has fewer religious restrictions than the main town.” and “This village has fewer religious restrictions than than that other one.” A dwarf hold with a few dwarves in it. “Men and dwarves get along in this village in order to support each other.” Nearly all of it is generic almost to the abstract. It’s like the adventures that post food prices in their taverns … the detail that is presented is not engaging. “Bob can make quarrels but prefers not to.” Yes, you can use this. But “Bob is vocal about his loathing of crossbow users, although he serves them.” paints a different picture of the establishment that is easier to wrap your head around during play. There’s a new pantheon of deities presented, but they offer little solid quirks on which to hang your hat, mostly just being retheming of the usual suspects. “The Red Thicket” has a bunch of giant trees that live a long time, giant owls, rumors of treants … if you pause and think for a moment then you’ll get the idea. But the writing is so … bland? that it just doesn’t inspire you and make your mind leap and want to run it. It’s not that it’s bad, or that it’s too terribly long, but it’s just so inoffensive and unspecific that it lacks and evocative power without putting in some decent effort.

This sort of aggressive genericism is something I’ve seen before, particularly with regard to regional data and deities, as it is in this. It has a close step-sibling in the “generic room description” that is frequently found in adventure. The bedroom that tells you it has a bed, and a chest with four socks, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of pants and the bed has sheets and a pillow on it. IE: a normal bedroom. Or IE: a normal harvest god. Or IE: a normal medieval village. We’re not paying for that, but rather the new & noteworthy. Actionable, gameable content that drives play.

This is a good segway in to the content of the actual dungeons. There are a lot, around fifty, I’d say. And the maps are, almost always, quite excellent. Lot’s of variety, good terrain features on the maps, nice layouts that support exploration. There is, however, something missing. Content.

Generalizations are a hell of a thing, but my overall impression was not one of excitement. The first major dungeon is the kobold lair. A small sentry room with two kobolds. A small sentry room with four kobolds. A guardroom for the nearby stairwell (4 kobolds.) A small guard chamber (2 kobolds.) The kobolds have grown a shrieker. Another room is “two kobolds.” Each of those is the actual description of a real room, all from one of the room description pages. This is true minimal keying.

There are bits and pieces of actual content. “A large natural column has been modi ed to include a secret door with a small claustrophobic stairwell down to Level 2 (#11)” and “A human skeleton lay prone on the ground half buried in sand It points towards the northwest.” Those begin to show promise, but again are pretty minimal and, while it’s something to work with, could be much more evocative in the same amount of space.

Stonehell was minimal, but supported by the dungeon overviews, something Archaia notable doesn’t have. Stonehell also filled its rooms full of THINGS and interactivity where Archaia just lists monsters. Even the Castle of the Mad Archmage tried for little vignettes. This is closer to the Mad Demigod’s Castle, or B2 proper. I know there’s a market for this in some circles, but I find that style lacking. Just a little more tweaking and something more evocative could be obtained without really loosing the vibe of it being minimal keyed.

There are other things that tick me off, with some organization choices. The Gem shop has a crier that shouts “Gems for gold!” …but that’s not in the keyed description for the village. Instead that bit of info is found in a separate NPC description late on, for the owner of the business. That makes no sense, it’s counter-intuitive. Likewise in one cave a wyvern mommy comes to aid of her young … but you don’t know that by looking at the room description of the young which occurs before mom’s description. SO you encounter the young first, slaughter them, then you go to mom’s room and the DM reads the description and says “oh shit, I guess she’s not coming to their aid now.” It’s not written with play in mind. There’s a reference someplace else to a staff headpiece being needed … but no reference to where it is. As a player I get the staff, figure out I need the headpiece, go home and cast Legend Lore or find object or something, and then the DM fumbles with the 300-page book for an hour trying to find where the thing is.

It’s a lot more aggressively generic than I would like. Book treasure that could be straight out of B2, a weird long description of one orc tribe, meh NPC descriptions, town & regional & god descriptions, perfunctory hooks, lack of location names on the regional map, forcing double lookups.

But the map DOES have a “Forbidden Zone” on it, and a travel time matrix between location is provided. And there are over 100 great “special” entries on the wanderers table and there is at least some mention of tribal factions … even if I don’t think it’s really enough to generate the goal: gameable situations.

And, in spite of my bitching about cross-references, it DOES have good summaries. The book is summarized, the chapters are summarized … you generally know what something is about and what to expect in a section of text, a critical feat in a 300 page booklet.

I think I’m disappointed with what could have been. A hex crawl through a badland, with tribal lairs and lot of other dungeons is a GREAT idea. The maps are WONDERFUL. Portions of the adventure, like the special wanderers are good. The genericism of the supporting information and the very minimally keying of the encounters is disappointing. Sure, there are exceptions, and in particular the non-humanoid lair dungeons are much better.

It’s still an impressive work and I’m keeping it. I’ll even probably stick it on my list, since I’m fond of megadungeons. But it’s almost certainly on the wrong side of a line for me. Which begs the question why I’m not more down on it given my comments. I don’t know. The premise and maps are VERY good.

The PDF is $35 on DriveThru. I can’t find a preview; I wish there was one for, say, the kobold dungeon, along with the map.

You might be able to poke around on the kickstarter page for more photos and description, but, again, there’s not much description. Although I do think the art piece is pretty indicative of the environment you are getting yourselves in to.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: Storm: The Slayer of Eriban (part 3)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 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 Slayer of Eriban (1985) 
(Dutch: De Doder van Eriban) (part 3)
Art by Don Lawrence; script by Martin Lodewijk

After docking the ship on the strange planetoid, Marrow, the young assassin, Renter, decides he needs to reconnoiter the city to figure out a way to get close to his target. He takes Ember with him to look less conspicuous: She can pass as his sister--or mother. Ember isn't pleased.

They see people entering some sort of arena and decide to check it out. They learn it's a sort of gladiatorial game called Barsaman. It's more than a game to the people of Marrow; it's practically a religion.

The columns lower at different rates, providing a constantly changing battlefield. In the end, only one competitor is left standing.

Renter is interested when he hears there is a more important Barsaman game coming:

He has figured out how he can get to his target. He returns to the ship with plans to sail to the capital. He finds that in his absence Storm and Nomad have been playing a new game--and they've got spectators.

Renter has no patience for such things. He tells them to set sail.

[Note: In the publication of this Story in Heavy Metal, Barsaman was called Barsball.]


1d7 Random Forbidden Treasures of Atlantis Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 10/25/2017 - 07:02
The seas eons ago claimed the spires, buildings, cities of Atlantis but the Outer Void remembers her glories. Along the hidden winds & borea gulfs there are occult artifacts & relics tossed about on the waves of reality. These treasures sometimes surface in the world in dungeons & ruins for fools & adventurers to find. Their evil continues on in the realm of men to create mayhem on whateverNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - The Folio #16 & #17 Double 1E & 5E Adventure Set (1e & 5e)

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 22:31

You know what one of my favorite part of the various Folio releases is? The covers. Seriously, pretty much each one is something you'd like to see in a print suitable for framing.

The stuff behind the covers is pretty good too. Detached covers (hey, i guess i could frame them), maps on the inside of the covers like classic TSR era adventures (hmm, maybe I won't frame the covers), adventure and setting material (which I happily steal from to use in my own going campaigns), new monsters - seriously, the whole series os good.

The current Kickstarter is for Folio issues 16 and 17. What's inside?
What’s in the adventure? All original content built in the Art of the Genre world of the Nameless Realms. Incorporating tidbits from previous Folios such as Roslof Keep, the Taux Trilogy, and of course The Isle of Jade (setting for Folio #14 & #15) these new adventures will allow players to start at mid-level as they encounter a half sunken ship that leads them to Distant Turtle City.  This Asian inspired port has fallen to the power of the dark sorcerer Molo of the Thirteen Wives, and only the players can free it while continuing on their quest to help save the world from Molo's ultimate plan. Here's the 2nd cover:

Come on! You know you want to ;)

PDF only of the two issues is 10 bucks. Print plus PDF of the two issues is 30 bucks.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

D&D is back in the mainstream.

Bat in the Attic - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 20:27

Well looks like D&D is back in the mainstream. An interesting article in the New Yorker.

Having grown up with the first video games like Pong, Space Invaders, and Atari. Then moving on to PC Gaming, then MMORPGs, etc, etc. It satisfying to see people balancing out things with a healthy does of face to face gaming. I have two sons, one is 20 and one is 13. There is a marked difference between the attitudes of how kids treated gaming when my eldest was 13 compared to what my youngest is experiencing now that he is 13. I am involved in Scouting and over the past five years there is a definite uptick in face to face gaming of all type including tabletop roleplaying.

Although to be fair, the people we owe the biggest thanks too are the euro-game companies who figured out first how to make face to face work in the internet era.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Gamer in Need - Stacy Dellorfano Cancer Fight Fund

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 19:11

Let me start this by saying my opinion of Stacy hasn't changed. I still hold a huge grudge against Stacy for her dismissive and belittling comments she made against my wife, Rachel. So, consider this a big step for me.

You see, I'm a cancer survivor. Cancer is the great equalizer. Rich, poor, black, white, whatever your gender, simply "whatever" - it doesn't care. Its probably the scariest thing that can happen to someone, as its a possible death sentence that you have a damn long time to think about every day.

I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

Stacy is being hit with all the expenses that go along with a long term illness that health insurance does not cover. Thats a heavy burden when you are fighting for your life.

Link to Stacy's Cancer Fund - link removed at Stacey's request

I'm pledging two days of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light royalties to Stacy's Cancer Fund, today's and tomorrow's sales both on RPGNow and Amazon. If it comes to less than 50 bucks, I'll send her 50 on Wednesday.

You don't need to like everyone in your community to care about everyone in your community.

edit - 10.24.17  1150 AM

The response has been excellent. When I posted this last night, $420 had been raised since Monday morning. It's now over $2,500 and halfway to goal.

14 shares on G plus alone. This community certainly rocks!

Just some further background on me. In my career in law enforcement, fundraisers for cops or their immediately family members for medical expenses beyond health insurance coverage was part of the culture. You gave what you could. Didn't matter if they were your best friend or the asshat you refused to work a single tour in a radio car with. In the end, it was a cop or a cop's family in need and that's all that mattered. Because one day, you too might be in need.

Its probably why I make announcements such as this at The Tavern when I find out about them. Most are folks I don't know personally. Some I didn't know of at all prior to their need.

We are all gamers. This is OUR community. We take care of our own.

Thank you.

edit 10.24.17 306 PM 

Apparently my assistance is not wanted. I will not be donating 50 or more dollars to Stacy's cancer fund AT HER REQUEST. The link to the fund has been removed AT HER REQUEST.

I'm sure it can be found with a simple Google search and I still encourage you to give. Cancer is a horror I wish on no one.

God bless.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

How Running Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan Reversed My Opinion of It

DM David - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 11:19

Three years and a day ago, I asked if C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was overrated. While I enjoyed the dungeon’s flavor, I felt the adventure owed its classic reputation more to nostalgia than to quality.

But when I passed that judgement, I had never run the adventure. Recently, the Shrine’s conversion in Tales from the Yawning Portal convinced me to run it. I half expected a slog through a flooded museum filled with gotcha traps. Playing the adventure proved me wrong.

In this post, I revisit my old review and explain what playing the Shrine revealed.

The adventure C1: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980) ranked 18 on Dungeon magazine’s list of the “30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time.” Compiled “with help from an all-star panel of judges including Ed Greenwood, Christopher Perkins, Bruce Cordell, and Monte Cook,” the list appeared in Dungeon 116, published November 2004. In the years to follow,
Wizards of the Coast released versions of the shine for 4th and 5th editions—more evidence that the adventure ranked as a classic.

As you may know from my posts lauding tournament modules, I love modules stemming from competitions, especially those complete with scoring information—not that I ever keep score. The best tournament adventures focus on a series of challenges that demand player ingenuity. Both Escape from Astigar’s Lair and the Fez series feature an array of clever obstacles. Also, I love adventures with keyed illustrations for the players. The Hidden Shrine comes from the D&D tournament run at the Origins Game Fair in 1979, and includes point sheets and wonderfully evocative illustrations. Between the reputation and the scoring sheets, the Shrine seems like a certain classic in my book.

Except soon after the Shrine’s release, I started reading the adventure with an eye to running it, but lost interest, mired in the mud, slime, and rubble of the first level.

In the wake of the accolades, I figured that I my first look at the module must have stopped before I reached the good bits. Then I saw the shrine ranked #3 on Willmark’s list, “The Five Worst AD&D Modules of All Time and discovered that someone seemed to share my impression.

Opinions of this adventure seem mixed. Players who probed the Shrine as a traditional dungeon crawl tended to brand the adventure as a slog. Folks who played with  red-shirted, pregenerated characters and a brisk pace enforced by the poison gas tended to enjoy the adventure. So for the best game, you play the Shrine as designed, as a race against time to escape a death trap.

Some reviewers of the Shrine paint the dungeon as an deathtrap. That fit its origin as a tournament adventure intended to grind up characters and reveal a winner. In competition, parties consisted of just 3 characters, so the dungeon must have proved unforgiving. But at my table, the adventure posed a fair challenge to a group of 5, fifth-level characters. Nobody died. One character will sleep for the next 5000 years unless the party pays to lift his curse.

I started the adventure with characters trapped at the lowest level, racing to escape the poisonous red fog. The device worked brilliantly. The players felt  urgency and peril, but they could afford short rests, so they never saw their resources exhausted. 

Does the The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan stand as a classic or an overrated dud?

Classic Overrated dud Background. The Hidden Shrine draws from a caricature of Aztec and Mayan culture, just as traditional D&D draws from a caricature of the European middle ages. In a retrospective, James Maliszewski wrote, “The Mesoamerican flavor gives the whole thing an ambiance quite unlike other D&D modules. The whole thing has an ‘alien,’ exotic quality to it, which I think adds greatly to its appeal.” The background leads the adventure to pit the characters against monstrous snails, crayfish, and hermit crabs. While exotic, these creatures seem more suited to meeting Dora the Explorer than to menacing adventurers. Dora jokes aside, the creatures seemed exotic rather than silly. At a table filled with longtime players and kids who read the Monster Manual for kicks, the unique creatures created a dash of wonder. The players enjoyed the challenge of deducing each monster’s abilities and temperament.

As a dungeon master, I wished that the text explained more of some creatures’ motives. The adventure seemed to default to the outdated assumption that everything in a dungeon attacks on sight. Locations. The Shrine features some unforgettable locations and cunning predicaments. In a ranking of classic modules, Loren Rosson III cites locations such as, “The Chapel of the Feathered Servant (one player fights an imaginary foe while the others are forced by a winged serpent to solve a puzzle), the Hall of the Smoking Mirrors (look into them if you dare), and the Hidden Room of the Alter-Ego (a statue duplicates the looks of one of the players and comes to life while that player turns to stone).” I love the immense room spanned by a miniature city, and featuring a duel with a doppelganger behind a curtain of flame. Dungeon’s 30-greatest list marks this as the Shrine’s defining moment. Particularly on the first level, the good moments seem overwhelmed by locations where PCs clear rubble, slog through silt and slime, and spring hidden traps. Too few of the adventure’s challenges require much ingenuity to surmount, threatening to turn the shrine into a tiresome struggle of attrition. I fretted that the Shine might turn into a tiresome slog, but play proved me wrong. The adventure’s text lavishes description on every room, including the mud and slime. Perhaps the chore of digesting all the verbiage fooled me into thinking that playing the adventure would also prove tiresome. 

Not every test of ingenuity requires a grand set-piece along the lines of a living chess room or frictionless hall. The Shrine mixes some grand tests with more mundane barriers. My players devised surprising and inventive solutions for obstacles big and small, and I loved watching their plans unfold.

Some reviewers joke that the secret to escaping the Shrine is don’t touch anything. Sure, if you don’t like treasure. Every corner of the Shrine includes includes items that inspire curiosity and lure characters into touching. The dungeon packs so many interesting features that my players’ exploration took more sessions than I expected.  Illustrations. In “Picturing the dungeon – keyed illustrations,” I wrote, “I first saw keyed illustrations in the Hidden Shrine and I became enchanted. The illustrations transported me into the Shrine more vividly than any text description could. The pictures showed detail that would have required all of those hypothetical 1000 words, and the details tantalized me with potential clues to the mysteries of the Shrine. I think writers sometimes avoid locations that demand long and unwieldy explanations, so we encounter too many conventional 10’x10’ rooms with a pile of debris in the corner. With the Shrine, the designers loosed their imaginations, and it showed in the pictures.” The battle with the fire-breathing bat creature on the cover never takes place in the adventure. The pictures still enrich the adventure. I wish the adventure had included illustrations for areas 42 and 45. I wish I had noticed that the original adventure included maps for areas 42 and 45. They would have helped me. Authors Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason reached beyond Aztec and Mayan culture for inspiration. In Jeff Dee’s illustration of the miniature city, the dragon boat in the room’s center looks oddly Chinese. The idea for the room and the boat comes from the article, “China’s Incredible Find,” in the April 1978 issue of National Goegraphic. The article features a fold-out picture of the sepulcher of China’s first emperor. A dragon boat bearing the copper coffin floats in a river of mercury at the center of a miniature recreation of the empire. The description notes that “invaders would have had to pass booby traps of hair-trigger crossbows to reach this prize.”

Sepulcher of China’s first emperor

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan earns its place as classic. Run it as a race to escape and enjoy the Shrine’s wealth of flavor and detail. Savor the Shrine’s ingenuity and the ideas it draws from your players.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Weekend Wonders - Kite Shield of the Damned Lords (SWCL/ OSR)

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 03:01
The Kite Shield of the Damned Lords is one of three surviving magic items associated with the Lords of The Crestfalls. Two brothers and a sister of the noble house of Avinier were sent on a quest to retrieve a piece of ancient knowledge. None of the three siblings returned, but their ghosts have been spotted roaming the streets of Town of Crestfallen, writhing in eternal pain.

The Kite Shield of the Damned Lords is a well worn shield, pitted and dented but still a solid piece of smithy work. Its enchantment comes into play when what would be a killing blow is struck. At such a time, the shield heals its wielder for 1d6+1 Hit Points. Otherwise it is treated as a + 1 magic shield. This effect may be invoked once per day.

Note: No natural healing from rest will be enjoyed by the wielder after its enchantment is invoked. Ex: Healed for 3 HP, for the next 3 days no natural healing will occur.


artwork copyright William McAusland, used with permission

Thanks to The Tavern's supporters at both The Tavern's Patreon and directly through Paypal, we have a monthly backing of over $150. This means 4 to 5 monsters for Swords & Wizardry Light / OSR per month, 4 to 5 Swords & Wizardry Light / OSR magic / wondrous items per month AND backers at $1.50 a month or higher via Patreon will get a collected PDF of the prior month's releases emailed to them. Paypal backers will need to email me in the middle of October to receive theirs. This is the fourth release for the month of October.

Layout for September's postings has commenced. Swords & Wizardry Continual Light has released on RPGNow in PDF Amazon for POD.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary On The Assasin's Webs Of 'B6 The Veiled Society' By David 'Zeb' Cook For Your Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 10/24/2017 - 00:34
"The widow insists there are demons in her house. She hears them at night in her root cellar, and now they call out to her. But she is old and nervous and her mind often plays tricks on her. Two men, their heads fully sheathed in large, black hoods, dig quickly in the darkness of the cellar. The hole grows deeper as their shovels bite into the earth. "This will teach those meddlers theirNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Twenty Questions with Rose Estes

Ultanya - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 15:30
In 1983 I was given a few Endless Quest books for my birthday. Already voraciously consuming anything Dungeons & Dragons related I could find, these were a great gift. The idea of a book where you could make story choices and change the outcome was a great concept. After all this was the very spirit of the game, where the players are crafting the story at the table together.

For me the Endless Quest books were just another reason to love D&D in the 1980s. I poured over each of them dozens of times, trying every possible outcome. My young imagination was on fire and these little books were fueling it. Now so many years later I have passed the books onto my own children, who similarly have enjoyed them.

Rose Estes was the creator of the Endless Quest series, and a name that will always be dear to me. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Rose recently, and would like to share it below.

Twenty Questions with Rose Estes

Grand DM: What was it like working at TSR Hobbies in the 1980s?

Rose Estes: Working for TSR in the early 1980's was very, very exciting. You knew that you were part of something important and that it was headed nowhere but UP! You never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next, but it was only going to be good in the long (and definitely in the short) run. You had the sense of being on a fast-moving train and all that you could do was hold on tight. It was exhilarating and every morning one wondered and looked forward to: "what will happen today?!"

Grand DM: Did you ever have a chance to interface with Gary Gygax?

Rose Estes: In the early 80's Gary's office was only a few doors down the hall and everyone interacted. Gary was obviously leader of the pack, but he was available to all.

Grand DM: I read my first Endless Quest book in 1983. As a young Dungeons & Dragons player, those stories really resonated with me. Could you tell us how the Endless Quest books came about?

Rose Estes: Well, in 1982 I took a leave of absence to travel with friends who were part of a tent circus, I figured that it would make for interesting newspaper articles. I had been with them for only a few weeks when we set up in Decorah, Iowa and went to town to do some laundry. There was a bookcase and books that one could borrow or buy and I picked up one of R.A. Montgomery's Choose Your Own Adventure books. I realized instantly that the books would be the perfect method of explaining D&D to both adults and kids. It had been my job to try to explain the game to adults, most of whom disapproved of the game without understanding it. So, I cut short my trip and called a friend to come and get me.

When I returned I tried my best to convince the powers that be that TSR should do a Choose Your Own Adventure type of book. But the idea met with little interest despite my many attempts to convince them otherwise. Finally, annoyed that I kept on about the idea I was told that if I thought it was a good idea, I should write it myself.

The thought had never occurred to me. I had worked as a journalist, but had never written or even envisioned writing fiction. But I was so aggravated that I did just that, I went home and wrote the first of what would become the Endless Quest series, "Return to Brookmere." I wrote it longhand on legal pads.

Eventually, the project was introduced at a Random House TSR sales meeting in Puerto Rico in January of 1982. The upshot was that Random House was very familiar with Montgomery's series and agreed that it was a perfect vehicle for introducing D&D to a wider audience. I was tasked with writing three more books in the next three months which I did, all in long hand on legal pads.

Grand DM: Return to Brookmere is a personal favorite of mine. So much that I have often included the “Ruins of Brookmere” in my own D&D campaigns. I was curious what your inspiration for that story may have been?

Rose Estes: "Return to Brookmere" was actually the first book, not "Dungeon of Dread." I had lived in the tiny town (pop. 16) of Brookmere high in the mountains of British Columbia, 400 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. for two years in the late 60's and had always hoped to return. But I never did. So, I suppose subconsciously, it was my way of paying homage to a brief, idyllic time in my life.

Larry Elmore cover for Return to Brookmere
Grand DM: Of all the Endless Quest books you authored, which one are you most proud of?

Rose Estes: Oddly, I have no particular favorite in the series. You have to understand, I had no background in writing, not in journalism or in fiction. I never had any writing classes of any sort and what I wrote came out of my own head, I can't blame anyone else for it. So, being thrust into fiction with no time to think, plan or even worry about it, I just wrote the books as quickly as I could to keep up with the demanding publication schedule. Each of them, I would later realize, was a learning experience and I did my best to adapt to the needs of the stories.

Fortunately, set up as they were, call and response, so to speak, the story-line and choices dictated what needed to be written, as good as an outline or a blueprint and drove the story from beginning to end. I could not have intentionally created a better teaching tool. I learned from each and every book and so, gradually, my skills improved. I had no time to be fearful or to wonder what the heck I thought I was doing pretending to be an author and writing books! Some years I wrote as many as five books, it was a hectic pace and obviously, it changed my life.

Grand DM:  I’ve heard that you were not a D&D player and it surprised me. It certainly did not seem to affect your ability to create very thematic stories. What was your secret?

Rose Estes: I think this is the most important question you've asked. No, I never played the game. I was drawn by the stories but had little to absolutely no interest in all of the dice rolling which seemed tedious and worse, interrupted the flow of the narrative. I realize this is heresy, but so be it.

Few things in my life have had as major an influence on my life and creating the person I am than reading, so, despite my lack of formal training, I am first and foremost, a storyteller and that was always the impetus behind the books. Obviously, the game created the framework and provided both the background and the characters/creatures/action and the E.Q.'s could not have existed without D&D. So, if there's a secret, that's it.

Grand DM: Over the years, there has been some controversy over the Greyhawk: Endless Quest books. I know they were published after Gary’s departure from TSR. Fans complain they were not true to the source material. Could you share with us some background and your thoughts on that?

Rose Estes: I'm not surprised that there has been controversy over the Greyhawks and if I could go back in time, I would apologize to Gary and his fans for what I did to his much loved world of Greyhawk. Writing E.Q.'s was far, far different that writing a serious novel. I had myself, left TSR and was dealing with the financial vagaries that are the due of a writer. When I was offered the Greyhawk series, I was not in a position financially to say no, but unfortunately, I didn't have the skills to do them justice.

The first two Greyhawks that I wrote embarrass me to this day. Frankly, they were awful. And yet, they are the real launching pad for the writer I've become. I cut my teeth on them and left them much the worse for being gnawed upon. I apologize wholeheartedly to anyone I disappointed. But, I think that by the time I got to books 6, 7 and 8, they and I had much improved. Unfortunately, most people had stopped reading them.

Grand DM:  I know you stopped writing for a period of ten years because of a terrible motor vehicle accident. Have you recovered from your injuries?

Rose Estes: It's very strange the way life works. Yes, the accident was a game changer. I sustained a closed head injury that killed the part of the brain that retrieves vocabulary. Isn't that ironically bizarre?  But, because I had a large vocabulary pre-accident, it might have seemed that nothing was wrong, I could still carry on an intelligent conversation, but it completely altered the way that I thought.

Before the accident I used to have to beg friends like Jim Ward for plots. Post-accident, my head overflowed with plots, ideas of all sorts gushing forth 24/7 and the problem became how to manage and live with my chaotic brain and all that it spewed out. Early days it all but overwhelmed me.

I MUST mention that I might not have survived as a writer had it not been for my longtime partner Tom Wham who helped me write and finish books that were in the works and during this period of time, and Bill Fawcett who gave me work and all but supported me at times. I owe them both a huge debt of gratitude. Over the intervening years, my brain and I have reached somewhat of a truce. It grudgingly allows itself to be caged when I have to concentrate on life and in turn, I allow it to run rampant after I'm done working. It's a strange existence being both jailer and prisoner contained in the same body.

So yes, with caveats, I have recovered. I began writing again in 2004 and wrote three books of nonfiction on the evolution and development of various dog breeds. Writing nonfiction is easier than writing fiction.

1982 Endless Quest Ad
Grand DM: Dungeons and Dragons is now enjoying what many consider to be, mainstream popularity. Obviously social media and shows such as Game of Thrones have brought in new fans. Will we see any more writing projects from you that are fantasy related?

Rose Estes: Several years ago, I was contacted by Ryan Schifferin (through Facebook!) who offered me the opportunity to write a story using characters of his creation. It was great fun and I gained a lot of confidence in doing so. Then, this year, I wrote a story for an anthology called Sisterhood of the Blade for Jonathan Thompson and Ed Greenwood, who were kind to invite me to be a part of their project.

I have not contacted any of the main stream publishers whom I wrote for, nor do I have an agent, so I am just feeling my way forward. I'm currently writing a digital E.Q. type book for Randy Price's company 2 Kings.

I do have several plots that are swimming around and demanding loudly that they be written, but I am having trouble constraining them to short formats like E.Q.'s, they all aspire to be novels. Not sure what will happen there.

Grand DM: The Endless Quest books were translated into 28 languages and have sold over 16 million copies. That is really a stunning accomplishment. If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be, and why?

Rose Estes: Advice to my younger self.....I wish I could have told myself to relax and enjoy the moment more than being so focused on plans for the future. But I probably wouldn't have listened.

Grand DM: At the end of Inside the Actor’s Studio, James Lipton has a list of interview questions. He always credits them to French novelist Marcel Proust (1871–1922). I would like to ask you those questions.

Rose Estes: Sounds good.

Grand DM: What is your favorite word?

Rose Estes:  I've always been fascinated by the fact that in the Chinese language, disaster and opportunity are the same word. Since my life has often been defined by both, I'd have to say that is my favorite word.

Grand DM: What is your least favorite word?

Rose Estes: I have several words that are my least favorites, all equally disliked: Li Berry (instead of library, and I admit to disliking people who can't be bothered to say it correctly. SMIRK (frequently over-used and used incorrectly). Amazing! Awesome! It would me everything to me! All are totally overused words and phrases and have become all but meaningless.

Grand DM: What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Rose Estes: Creative turn ons: Beauty. New thoughts, generally gained from television or books that explode in my brain and consume me. Emotionally: music and interaction with animals. Spiritually, music, watching the ocean which is at my doorstep and the night sky.

Grand DM: What turns you off?

Rose Estes:  Being told that I can't do something. Intentional meanness of spirit.

Grand DM: What is your favorite curse word?

Rose Estes:  I rarely curse, I'd rather find words that mean what I think.

Grand DM: What sound or noise do you love?

Rose Estes: Music, a cat's purr.

Grand DM: What sound or noise do you hate?

Rose Estes: The sounds of politics for personal gain, greed, destruction of all that is good that so many have strived for, cruelty, ignorance, racial division.

Grand DM: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Rose Estes: When my late husband Gary Hauser, was diagnosed with cancer in 2006,  I took over running his gallery, thinking it would only be until he recovered and returned. Unfortunately, that never happened. As I'd never even thought of having such a business, I was at a loss. His advice was for me to follow my passions. Which I did with his full support. It has enabled me to explore and collect some of the most interesting objects from around the world, which seem to delight and resonate with large numbers of interesting people. The objects and the people allow me, at this late date in my life, to vicariously travel the world. The sculpting of animals is simply a private passion.

Grand DM: What profession would you not like to do?

Rose Estes: I would hate and be incapable of working with anything mathematical, analytical or rigidly formatted.

Grand DM: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Rose Estes: “Well done, you made a difference in children's/animal's lives."
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

WizKids and Games Workshop Working Together for World Domination

Gamer Goggles - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 15:29

WizKids Announces New Partnership with Games Workshop

So, it’s not world domination but a good start. read the announcement below.

Reveals Plans to Release New Games set in the Critically Acclaimed Warhammer 40,000™ Universe

October 19, 2017 – Hillside, NJ – WizKids, the leader in high-quality pre-painted miniatures and established board games, today revealed a multi-year partnership with acclaimed fantasy miniatures company, Games Workshop. The new partnership will extend the Warhammer 40,000 universe IP across multiple categories, including, Dice Building Games™, board games and more!

“We’re thrilled to be working with Games Workshop and the Warhammer 40,000 license,” said Justin Ziran, president of WizKids. “This beloved franchise is known the world over and our partnership will allow us to create amazing products and experiences for fans everywhere.”

The multi-year deal will span numerous categories and include the most iconic Warhammer 40,000 characters and more. WizKids will create two new board games, along with dice games based in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, with additional plans to republish classic board games Fury of Dracula and Relic.

WizKids will begin rolling out the new product lines in mid 2018.

For more information on WizKids, visit:

About WizKids
WizKids/NECA, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NECA, is a New Jersey-based game developer and publisher dedicated to creating games driven by imagination. WizKids first pioneered the Combat Dial system featured in HeroClix, the leading collectible miniatures game on the market, with over 750 million miniature game figures sold worldwide. WizKids continues to produce new proprietary game platforms and properties including the award-winning fantasy board game Mage Knight, the groundbreaking Dice Building Game engine used in the critically-acclaimed game Quarriors! and Dice Masters, as well as its widely hailed execution of Attack Wing. For additional information, visit

About Games Workshop
Games Workshop® Group PLC (LSE:GAW.L), based in Nottingham, UK, produces the best fantasy miniatures in the world. Games Workshop designs, manufactures, retails, and distributes its range of Warhammer®: Age of Sigmar® and Warhammer® 40,000® games, miniature soldiers, novels and model kits through more than 460 of its own stores (branded Games Workshop® or Warhammer®), the web store and independent retail channels in more than 50 countries worldwide. More information about Games Workshop and its other, related, brands and product ranges (including our publishing division ‘Black Library’ and our special resin miniatures studio ‘Forge World’) can be found at

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Torchbearer PDF Updated!

Torchbearer RPG - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 15:07

Hello friends!

Just wanted to let you know that the Torchbearer PDF has been updated on the Burning Store and DriveThruRPG. Bits & Mortar also has the updated PDF.

If you bought the PDF through the Burning Store, or received it via the Torchbearer or Middarmark Kickstarter:

  1. Go to the Burning Store
  2. Log in
  3. Go to the My Account tab
  4. Click the My Downloadable Products link in the dashboard on the side
  5. Click the Torchbearer PDF link

The latest version of the PDF, TB_layout_r27_2ndprint_scrn brings the PDF in line with the second printing of Torchbearer. Most of the updates are fairly minor:

  • We fixed some punctuation and typos and cleaned up a few sentences to make them clearer.
  • We added Laborer as suggested help for Alchemist, Armorer, Healer, Hunter, Survivalist and Weaver.
  • We removed Lore Master as suggested help for Hunter and replaced it with Survivalist.

The only “big” change is that Level 2 traits now grant +1D to two rolls per session, rather than to all rolls to which they apply during the session. (See Trait Levels, page 22)


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Swords & Wizardry Continual Light - One Week Later - Still Holding #1 Hottest Small Press at RPGNow

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 14:36
I can hardly believe that Swords & Wizardry Continual Light released a week ago today in PDF at RPGNow.

SWCL has held the Number 1 spot in the Hottest Small Press category at RPGNow steadily since last Tuesday (and is currently at 14 in Bestselling Titles) It also secured a "Copper Pick" rating at RPGNow.

Print sales of Swords & Wizardry Continual Light currently happen over on Amazon. There, SWCL sits at the 72nd spot in Books - Science Fiction & Fantasy - Gaming

Swords Wizardry Continual Light - Print

There's a bunch planned going forward for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light, both from third parties and myself. Good times ahead.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] RPGPundit Presents #1-3

Beyond Fomalhaut - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 13:41
RPGPundit Presents #1-3 (2017)by RPGPunditPublished by Precis Intermedia
The best partA recently launched series of mini-supplements, each focused on a single gaming-relevant subject, sold as PDFs. While three issues have been published so far, they are fairly tricky to review due to their brevity: the longest has 19 pages of content, one has ten, while the shortest has a mere six (and they are clearly meant for digest-sized printing, with generous font sizes). The result is less like a zine and more like buying a series of zine articles one piece at a time. Issue #1 (Dungeon Chef) covers a topic lovingly explored in Nethack, and more recently in a manga, eating monsters and general flora/fauna you find in a dungeon. Issue #2 (The Goetia) presents brief but useful demon summoning rules and a list of 72 demons taken from the Ars Goetia. Issue #3 (High-Tech Weapons) presents general old-school statistics for modern and futuristic firearms. There is some art here and there, and the cover is very cool, showing a ghostly outline of a pipe-smoking RPGpundit in his Hunter J. Thompson getup.
What makes a zine work is the variety of its content and the personal touch the different articles bring. What makes a supplement work is the in-depth treatment of a subject matter (or an even bigger, broader collection of cool stuff). Unfortunately, this series delivers neither in its current form. All three subjects are treated on the surface level, without offering added value to the game. The most original issue is Dungeon Chef, but unlike Nethack (where corpses may give you neat special abilities like telepathy, or cause food poisoning, random teleporting, or polymorphisation – and you can turn them into tins with a tinning kit), the consequences of scarfing down subterranean bushmeat are mostly handled via uninteresting random tables. There is no interesting pattern to learn, beyond elementary ideas like “eating mummies cause mummy rot”; you would be better off just reading a Nethack wiki. The most useful of the three is The Goetia. The demon-summoning rules are one of many, but they are sensible and flavourful, and if you want a list of high-ranking demons to go with them, Pundit’s familiarity with occult traditions makes this a safe bet (or you can just consult Wikipedia and/or your favourite occult tome). High-Tech Weapons is too short and basic to bring anything to the table; the weapons it describes, and the things it has to say are elementary (e.g. a shotgun can be loaded with either two bullets or buckshot; ion weapons affect robots but have no effect on humans; grenades may miss their target and explode elsewhere). This was pretty cool in the days of Arduin, but today, most of us need more to be wowed.
Altogether, it is hard to see what this series wants to bring to the table. It would work better as a series of blog posts, or perhaps in a collection, but even then, it doesn’t rise above the level of shovelware.
No playtesters were credited in these supplements.
Currently smoking: random tables

Rating: ** / *****
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

State of The Tavern - October 23, 2017 - Ups, Downs and All Arounds

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 10/23/2017 - 13:34
Its been a hell of a week.

One the plus side, Swords & Wizardry Continual Light released a week ago. With over 550 sales to date in PDF (and over 50 copies in print) I'd call it a rousing success. I've got plans going forward which I suspect those of you that have grabbed a copy will like. The PDF is PWYW, so really, you should grab it.

On the negative side, I've received two threats of legal action in the past week. Yes, they are both groundless and no lawyers would actually act on them (let alone any court) but the stress remains. How many of you can claim to have the same shit hanging over you let alone twice in a week?

Which brings me to the bullshit side - I've seen comments on G+, Facebook and elsewhere that "Tenkar is taking a dive on the current controversy! What an ass! Why isnt he..." and all that other shit.

To those that are saying such (most of you already dislike me or worse already, so this is just a handy excuse for y'all to bitch) kindly go fuck yourself. You aren't being hit with threats of legal action. You haven't gone through the stress. If I decide a topic or subject is one that I don't plan on addressing, accept it. I have my reasons. God forbid I actually had to raise money for a legal defense, you are the same fucktards that would scream "don't give him money! he deserves what he gets!"

There, that feels much better.

And no, I'm not revealing the contents of the first threat of legal action. Many have already drawn their own conclusions as to who made the threat in question. While I will neither conform nor deny any theories, I would have been proud to have had many of you in my squad of detectives when I was still actively employed. You do good work ;)

Edit: I mistakenly left this open to comments, which wasn't my intent, as I specifically went out of my way NOT to name a specific person. Live and learn.

For those voicing support, thanks.

For Jason - I told a selection of folks to "kindly go fuck themselves." "Fucktard" would apply if I needed to raise legal funds and the same selection of folks lobbied against it. You can't claim the title yet and hopefully you aren't put in a position to do so.

As for your second issue, there is a response that was posted in the relevant thread last night. I am not a partner in any company aside my own little publishing corner. I don't get consulted on issues that you refer to and it wasn't on my radar until a third party brought it to my attention early yesterday. I am not omniscient but I am flattered that you think I am.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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