Tabletop Gaming Feeds

A Totally Different Take On B10 Night's Dark Terror By Jim Bambra, Graeme Morris, Phil Gallagher For Your Old School Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 17:15
"Barely one day's march from Kelven, the uncharted tracts of the Dymrak forest conceal horrors enough to freeze the blood of civilized folk. Those who have ventured there tell how death comes quick to the unwary - for the woods at night are far worse than any dungeon. But you are adventurers, veterans of many battles, and the call of the will is strong. Will you answer the call, or are Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

That vague setting behind Points of Light and Blackmarsh

Bat in the Attic - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 14:36
For those of you with both Points of Lights, and Blackmarsh know that there are common elements like the Grand Kingdom, the Ochre Empire, Delaquain, etc throughout the different setting. While never spelled out in detail they are all could be considered part of the same setting. In the first Points of Light each of the three lands (Southland, Wildland, and Borderland) are also separated in time that when put together open a window into the larger history.

+Ethan Gundry asks whether has anybody had any success merging all the Points of Light settings, along with Blackmarsh? A while ago I combined the Blackmarsh and Southland map along with the work I done with the Wild North merge with Blackmarsh. The result was this.

But do I have a "master" map that combines everything? Do I have a master document like the old Greyhawk Folio? Yes I now have a master map, no I don't have a Greyhawk Folio style master document. Keep in mind the focus on the Points of Light/and Blackmarsh is usability. That each individual setting stands on it own as a useful backdrop for a campaign. Making them into the equivalent of region supplement defeat that purpose. But still I want the option to exist to combine them so I keep the few background elements I write about consistent.

So what the deal with the master maps. Well I drew a lot of maps over the years and I have a bunch that not part of the Majestic Wilderlands or any other setting. For example this giant map I made for what I call the Eastgate region.

At the heart of which is the City State of Eastgate

Both originated in 2008 before I got my license from Judges Guild. I took all the content I made for the Majestic Wilderlands and stripped out the Judges Guild IP which included drawing new maps. I started writing the initial draft of the Majestic Wilderlands when a fortuitous set of circumstances led to me to securing a license to use enough of the Judges Guild IP to publish the Majestic Wilderlands supplement. Having that license meant I could use my original notes as is saving me a lot of work.

But the above work didn't go to waste as I used some of what I created for Blackmarsh.

So back to Ethan's question about combining the maps. A year ago I was sketching out some map on paper to get a feel for how mountainous and hilly regions really looked like based on Earth's geography. I decided to draw a outline map as an experiment to see how real I can make it look. The result was this.

And I figured if I am spending the time doing this I might as well incorporate the Points of Light/Blackmarsh maps use the above as a future reference.

Here is the annotated version of the above.

At this time I am not going to flesh out all the blank spots as I want to leave the possibilities open for further Blackmarsh style projects. The thing I am currently working is the circle marked Beyond the Borderlands basically my answer to the question of what lies beyond the Cave of Chaos in B2 Keep on the Borderlands.

I am also working on the tweaks to the Wild North to make it fit along the north edge of Blackmarsh. This is the map for that. Basically everything below Row xx26 has been tweaked while everythiing above is pretty much the same as the version from Fight On #3.

Hope this answers your question Ethan. Appreciate asking it as it gave me the idea for this blog post.
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Bolshevik Marketing and Ursula Le Guin’s Subliterate Fans

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 14:06

So we got some feedback on my critical review of The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas:

  • “and you understand that those two passages are literally better then anything written by authors you enumerate as better? le guin, in this story, clearly stands a ground in which genre literature transcends itself and in that way she is more akin to conservative gene wolfe and harrison (whose politics i don’t know or want to know about) then to any of the pulps you compare her with. you are the one with the ideological bias and lack of taste that goes with it.”
  • “In other words, he’s saying you’re to stupid to get her.”
  • “You’re probably better off reading the story of hers that came out in Playboy….that is, if you’re genuinely trying to understand her appeal as a storyteller and not just looking for a reason to trash her as too political for your taste.”

Okay, not knowing the difference between “then” and “than” or “to” and “too” is one thing. But getting a recommendation for Playboy magazine from the crowd that takes for granted that the pulps were a rather disreputable venue…? That’s rather amusing!

Seriously though, the position these people are trying to is untenable. And the arguments made here have no substance. They are mere pose, akin to Cathy Newman‘s tediously small bag of rhetorical tricks.

Ursula Le Guin’s schtick is transparent once she is compared to the grand master fantasy and science fiction authors from before 1940. When her cachet was at its height in the seventies, it was an open question as to whether or not she would take her place within the fantasy and science fiction canon. But note the framing there. The question was whether she could measure up to the standards of a group of superlative authors that had stood the test of time. She doesn’t magically become a better author when the literary canon is effectively erased via the decades of the coordinated Goldsteining of its exemplars.

With the benefit of some hindsight, it’s obvious now what she was and why the cultural commissars would promote her so heavily. Le Guin wasn’t backed for the quality of her fantasy and science fiction. She is quite purposely lackluster in comparison to the real thing, after all. That was the point! And her work has more in common with today’s heavily discounted Rose Tico toys than with anything produced by the greats.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Maze of Screaming Silence

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:14

By James Thomson
MonkeyGod Enterprises
Levels 3-4

For a thousand years, Yagga-Kong have offered a fabulous reward to anyone who can find their way through the maze. Every generation or so, someone lives to claim it. Will you be the first this century? Then come to the Last Redoubt, where the mountains scrape the dome of the sky and the air makes men bleed from their ears. Come walk the twisted streets of the City of the Damned and brave the depths of the Maze of Screaming Silence.

This is an older, out of print adventure and doesn’t seem available digitally. I don’t normally review out of print products, or older for that matter. It somehow made it on to my list and I stumbled across a copy at Half Price. This isn’t going to be a regular occurrence, although I have promised Kent I would get to The Beholder, eventually.

This one hundred page(!) adventure describes an “evil” town with a few pages devoted to the pretext to going there: the titular maze. It oozes character, revealing in the environment it has created in the way few other products do. The core elements are excellent. It can be evocative in the way few other products can. It also probably has four to five times more text than it should. It wears that onion on its belt because it was the style at the time, but, even given those allowances, it’s hard to get past. It is fairly close to that platonic ideal I have of stumbling on to a classic adventure at the “dead rpg’s” booth at a con.

Evil Iggy, a warlord/raubritter, has a small outpost. Down beneath it is a little town/village that has grown up full of scum and dregs. Every day everyone gathers around the Maze to see who till try it. If you stay in, and survive, you get a bunch of cash. People bet, obviously.

This is a mostly a town adventure with extensive social components. I’m VERY fond of those elements. Town adventures are some of my favorites. Nothing gets the players going like the freewheeling nature of a good town. The Maze is mostly a pretext to get the players in to town and interacting with people. And, of course, to kick off the plotting and scheming that goes with something like “defeat the maze and win a prize.” The whole thing feels like a less mercantile Bartertown/Thunderdome thing. More scummy and knife you in the back than sell your camels.

I find the text, some of it anyway, some of the most evocative I’ve seen. It pulls at every fiber of your being as a DM. You WANT to run the encounters in this thing. At one point there’s a little paragraph that goes something like: “The Oracle presents a fearsome sight, blood pours out of her mouth, eyes and ears, her fingers are torn down to the bone, she laughs and screams “soon!” continuously as she lashes out at all and sundry.” She’s just turned in to a king of zombie, the “kill you and you become a zombie” kind. That kind of strong imagery, or maybe concept, is present over and over again in the adventure. Almost every single encounter/element has that something quite strong on which the DM can hang their work and work with. You WANT to run these and cackle gleefully to yourself on the joy you expect to have. Not the joy of punishing the players, or see their own difficulty, but in the joy of your mind racing with delights and possibilities. It’s a great example of really and truly communicating the vibe of an encounter to the DM. Creepy ways the locals interact with you. Guards that present pidgeon common in a wonderful way. Rumors presented in voice. “Last winter was bad. We had to eal all our dogs.” Yup, thats a bad winter! But anyway, “no there’s no dog fights in the pit … Someone times you can get a pit fight gong between two drunks, but it’s not like betting on dogs.” That’s a fucking rumor. (of the fighting pit and the guy that runs it. I removed that part)

It does a great job of giving advice to the DM via side boxes, and in the main text, aon adding atmosphere. How to communicate the flavor of the locals. Little things to cement the character of the town. It helps the DM communicate the flavor to the players. At one point there’s a ncie page section on various schemes the characters could engage in to acquire the ring the warlord wears. A pretext to drive the action to be sure, but it recognize that, once laid out, its up to the adventure to help the DM understand some of the more common responses and advice them on making them fun.

And the big bad the center of the maze? The beast that everyone fears? It’s a minotaur. Just a minotaur. Not one of those BloodWolf Tainted Exalted Minotaur King things. But it’s referred to as The Beast, not as a minotaur. It’s a great example of making a normal monster from the manual mythic without resorting to bullshit. Fuck yes a 6HD minotaur is a challenge to a party of 3’s and 4’s!

One more thing, at one point the local use their sly humor to get the party to stay in a cursed home. If/when the party survives they are then treated with a newfound respect and deference by the locals. That’s a great touch. Not enough adventures have the locals give the party their due. There are some real mechanical effects in addition to the roleplaying ones. It’s a great technique and one that should be used more.

It is also MIRED in too much text. The hook takes up the first 20 pages (that oracle that eventually goes zombie.) It also involved a dream (ug!) It has almost two pages of read-aloud. If you kill her and the loot the place BEFORE she goes zombie then there’s a little section of advice on how to punish the players by having their characters tortured and killed by the local lord. Being punitive to the players is never good. There’s also a writing style that almost is like a novelization of the adventure. It’s clear someone had a certain set of elements in mind and by god the players and their characters were going to follow that script. “If someone is disrespectful enough to pull back her hood then …”The usual culprits of irrelevant backstory and if/then writing combine with the “novelization” and ham-handed oracle/dream scenes to produce something truly atrocious, and quite out of place compared to the rest of the adventure. “Run this until the players get bored.” Indeed?

The writing is too long throughout the product. For every evocative couple of sentences we also get mountains of text that is not relevant or written a little too clever, irrelevant to the direct play of the characters.

It can also be generic at times. “Before your eyes, and before you can take any action, a man is stabbed to death by another man, who then runs right past your position. There are a few witnesses, but no one does anything about it.” That’s a weird style and uncharacteristic for most of the adventure.

But, still, quite good for the time period in which it was published (2002.) This is that most rare of things: a physical RPG product I’ll be keeping. I’m not sure it can be run well, it’s organized for shit and, like I said, you need a highlighter and a weekend taking notes to get it organized. But what’s inside, at its core, is a magnificent city adventure in hive of scum and villainy. Someone needs to update the writing, editing the fuck out of it and putting in a bit more of a summary for the DM, and publish it anew.

Alas, I can’t tag it The Best. It’s too unwieldy and I’m not selling my standards down the river because it’s a town adventure. But I can recommend that you pick it up if you see a copy.

Read more about it at:

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: X-Men Grand Design

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:00

X-Men: Grand Design is a mini-series, planned to last 6 issues, that is intended to weave the over 40 years of X-men publication history into a single, epic narrative. This bold perhaps even foolhardy task is undertaken by Ed Piskor, alternative comic artist, who has already authored another sprawling epic, the Hip Hop Family Tree.

Piskor's version begins with Namor's flooding of New York in the 1940s (setting the stage for mutant hysteria) and moves through the formative years of both Magneto and Xavier, before getting to the formative years of the X-men--and that's just issue one. This is no summary like Marvel Saga, but something more like comic book adaptations of the Bible. It's pretty condensed, but it's a genuine narrative. Piskor makes up very little. Instead he emphasizes certain elements and streamlines or omits others in the name of giving these stories by numerous creators with different visions a throughline. The incarnation of a new Phoenix Force host is a big thing that obviously didn't appear quite some early in the original comics.

The style of the comic is a fusion of an alternative comics sensibility with the decidedly retro that works. There are no glorious splash pages to drool over, though. This is all about the story.

Issues 1 and 2 are currently available.

Fury & Horror - The Formorians Ecology In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 17:56
I've been doing an extensive amount of reading into European mythology this week about the Irish, Celtic & its relation to deep significance into the historical events that shaped Europe. This little tidbit on Wikipedia got me;"The monarchy of England was itself thrown into turmoil during the last phase of the Hundred Years' War to 1453, and the Wars of the Roses (1460–85), and as a Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Into the Unknown Available for Pre-Order

Zenopus Archives - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 13:38

The new project from Goodman Games, Into the Borderlands, is now available for pre-order, per an announcement on their site a few days ago. This compilation includes reprints of the Holmes Basic versions of the modules B1 In Search of the Unknown and B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, along with the later B/X versions and new 5E conversions, plus other material. 

The format is hardcover and in a standard 8.5 by 11 inch size, as opposed to their oversized Metamorphosis Alpha and Judges Guild books. A whopping 384 pages, some of that due to 5E stat bloat as they admit in the FAQ. $49.99, and there will also be a PDF option eventually.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Fun Thing D&D Players Love that No One Mentions and that the Game Almost Lost

DM David - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 12:15

Game mastering advice tends to lavish attention on what players enjoy. Things like playing a role, enjoying a sense of power, plotting strategies, and so on.

Another pleasure of role-playing games ranks just as high, even though the folks who offer game mastering advice rarely mention it.

Players love to figure things out. The process makes them feel smart and capable. It reveals hidden order in the (game) world. Humans love finding order in a jumble. The impulse drives scientists, detectives, and conspiracy theorists.

In Dungeons & Dragons, this joy of figuring things out can come from various sources: mysteries, puzzles, and objects with unknown functions—call them traps and toys.

The joy of figuring things out led to a type of adventure that didn’t exist during the first years of role playing. Investigation adventures now rank as one of the most popular styles. Much of the fun of an investigation or mystery comes from connecting the dots between clues. The challenges come along the way.

For example, players investigating missing magical reagents might start with the guild alchemist. He stole the reagents to help a secret lover out of a jam. Under pressure, the alchemist explains that his lover hasn’t been seen since getting the reagents, but that the couple used to meet at an particular inn. This leads to the innkeeper, who saw someone with the lover’s description meeting with someone wearing a flower that only grows at the royal arboretum. One clue leads to the next. Investigations ask player to make connections and figure things out.

Before investigations, player still found pleasure in figuring things out. Tomb of Horrors is packed with things to figure out. Taunting clues, secret doors, false endings, and so on. This abundance leads to some of the Tomb’s lasting appeal. But the tomb also set a terrible example.

In the Tomb, players figure things out to advance or to survive. Too often, D&D adventures have forced players to figure out puzzles to continue. For example, countless adventure include a magic portal that requires just the right activation to open. If players fail to figure out the key, they reach a dead end. Or in the case of the Tomb, they’re dead, the end. About everything in the Tomb works that way.

This sort of design gave puzzles—D&D’s original thing to figure out—a bad rap. No one likes to feel stuck or frustrated or stupid.

To avoid such bad feelings, fourth edition’s designers emphasized character skill over player skill. They aimed for a D&D game where no player felt forced to figure anything out. Accidentally, they nearly lost a source of fun.

Nonetheless, adventures that force players to solve a puzzle risk a bad D&D session. But players still love to figure things out, and the best adventures give them lots of chances to indulge—if the players like.

When you create adventures, rather than forcing players to puzzle out something that blocks their way, add more toys to figure out. For instance, imagine a magic fountain that the players can ignore. Scattered coins lie under its clear water. A bag of coins hangs from a hook. Tossing in a coin causes the waters to cloud and show a room somewhere. At the far end stands a statue of a king. The vision fades. Dropping a second coin reveals the same room from a different angle. This time a statue of a queen faces the viewer. Players can move on, but interacting with the puzzle reveals something interesting to figure out.

Fun adventures come sprinkled with things to figure out.

The best traps challenge players to figure something out. Puzzle traps hint at their presence. The fun comes from either deciphering clues to locate the trap or from working out a method to evade the trap, or both. Players rarely disable a puzzle trap with a quick check, rather they figure out the game-world steps required to avoid the threat.

I used to think that the fun of figuring things out came from the thrill of beating a difficult puzzle. The harder the challenge, the greater the thrill of victory. I was wrong. Part of the fun of figuring things out comes from feeling smart and successful. When players stall on a confounding problem, they just feel thwarted. The best puzzles serve just enough challenge so players suppose that they succeeded where others might fail.

Examining the coins reveals the faces of kings and queens. When the players toss in the queen’s coin, they see the king’s statue, and vice versa. Any party could figure out the fountain’s operation, especially if tossing another coin reveals a familiar place. Casting a coin temporarily reveals a view from a royal statue depicting the figure on the coin. Still, figuring out the fountain will bring fun.

Once players figure things out, they appreciate rewards that validate their success. Sometimes insight leads to treasure or an easier encounter. At first, the alchemist pretends to know nothing of the missing reagents, but if the players find a hidden love letter and make the connection, he cracks. That fountain could reveal some secrets in the adventure ahead.

In investigations, figuring advances the plot, but the same joy can come from spotting and making connections that don’t affect an outcome. Movie Easter eggs bring this pleasure.

The chance to figure things out provides a painless way to deliver backstory to the players—if they care. Start with the story and add ways to reveal it to the players. Avoid using journal entries. Think of subtler clues that reveal history in bite-size chunks. In Tomb of Annihilation, the Garden of Nangalore reveals its story in clues scattered throughout the site. Success here even leads to a reward: At the end, players who figure out the story can fare better when they meet the queen.

The next time you dream up an adventure, add things for your group’s actors and tacticians, but also add something to figure out.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Shinobi 7 Announces “Sonic the Hedgehog” Pre-Painted Miniatures Board Game

Gamer Goggles - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 01:07

Shinobi 7 Announces “Sonic the Hedgehog” Pre-Painted Miniatures Board Game


January 26, 2018 – Shinobi 7 LLC is thrilled to announce Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers, an all-new board game based on SEGA’s beloved video game franchise, Sonic the Hedgehog. The fun-filled, strategic game, meant for 2-5 players, will allow you to take on the role of Sonic or one of his many friends and rivals in an obstacle-laden race to the finish.

Shinobi 7 will launch a Kickstarter for Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers in early February. The Kickstarter version will include exclusives and Limited-Edition items.

A retail version of Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers will also be available in the back-half of 2018, distributed exclusively to all channels by Diamond/Alliance.


About Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers:


Burst into action with Sonic the Hedgehog: Battle Racers! Select your racer, choose your route, and fight your way to the finish while avoiding opposing racers and a variety of dangerous obstacles. Control your speed, use your abilities, and activate your special powers to collect as many rings as you can in an amazing race. The course changes with every race, so no two games are alike!


The base game will feature five highly-detailed full color miniatures of the following characters: Sonic, Knuckles, Amy, Tails, and Dr. Eggman. Also included are a variety of colorful cards, tokens and race tracks. Every expansion set will contain one pre-painted character miniature and their racer profile, while larger expansions will also be available and will include additional track sections. All miniatures will be 40mm scale.


About Shinobi 7:

Shinobi 7, LLC is a tabletop game company dedicated to producing and publishing high quality games based on hit pop culture brands. Formed in 2016, Shinobi 7 is an independent subsidiary of Seven Seas Entertainment, LLC. Shinobi 7 products are distributed by Diamond/Alliance.

For more information, visit us at or on Facebook and Twitter.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

[REVIEW] Fever Swamp

Beyond Fomalhaut - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 20:34
YuckFever Swamp (2017)by Luke GearingPublished by the Melsonian Arts CouncilMid-level
[NPC] will die in 4 days if not treated, as polyps in his appendix burst, showering all in a 5 foot radius with his disease.” Much of your reaction to this module will depend on how this piece of text will make you feel. If you find it absurdly funny, you are going to like Fever Swamp. If you find it puerile, disgusting, or plain doltish, this module will annoy you to no end. In either case, rest assured that the rest is not any worse or better.
Fever Swamp is a 28-page hex-crawl describing an accursed marshland where player characters may go to pursue one of the adventure hooks provided in this product, or by the GM. They are going to hate it. Fever Swamp is designed with a single-minded determination to make you hate it with every pore of your being. Vile diseases, wound infection, a bestiary of grotesque and lethal denizens, wretched tribes with disgusting customs, burrowing parasites, two apocalyptic forces and an evil cult make it a place you want to get out of as soon as humanely possible.
If you like imagery centred on disgust and decay, this module delivers. Everything is foul, dead, insane and wretched. Gruesome mutilations and bizarre deformities populate the marshland. Even roots are described as “grown fat on animal corpses”. There are sickening body horror elements, and the PCs can suffer fates worse than death. There is a disease chart where diarrhoea and weeping sores are a relatively happy outcome.  A bunch of original swamp monsters are provided, all macabre, some quite inspired (the stilt-walkers, thin and ragged figures of doom watching cursed locales from atop their swamp-walking stilts, are a classic; and dredgers, deformed giants dragging huge nets through the dirty water in search of victims, are like a bad dream).
The product is very brief and compact, with little wasted space (even the interior covers are put to use). Everything is laid out well and perfectly cross-referenced. Utility is very good. With all that, there is not much to the swamp, since the booklet is printed in a rather large font size, and many of the 14 locations are one-paragraph entries. It is dense and expressive, there just isn’t much of it. The entries are rounded out with guidelines and random tables to generate degenerate swamp tribes, and procedures to make the players regret ever having their characters set foot in this foul place.
Altogether, Fever Swamp is well-made, creative, and very-very one-note.
No playtesters have been listed for this module.

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

Box Breaking 228: Dropfleet Commander From Hawk Wargames

Gamer Goggles - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 20:26

Matt takes a look at the Dropfleet Commander two player Starter. Take a look at the game that is rocking the world!!

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

Wait until you see how easy they are to magnetize!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Chaos & Cruelty - A Completely Ecology Point For the Goblin In Old School Campaigns

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 17:49
Goblin from the First Edition Monster Manual by DAT. I've been thinking over the weekend about goblins in old school games & specifically OSR games. I've seen various threads, blog posts, etc. about making goblins great again or some such. But it got me thinking about goblins from the dungeon master's point of view. Goblins are a completely different humanoid  in mythology & that of course isNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Once and Future Avremier

3d6 Traps & Thieves - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 16:30
One of the underlying concepts of Avremier as a setting is that it can be presented in different eras of world history, present events, and future possibilities. Also, each era can be impacted by events that have gone before. The idea of "Make This YOUR Avremier" is more than a tagline.

While Players and Referees can make their own history, the "default setting" is known for specific events that shaped Avremier as offered in published supplements. These events can be included or left out, as desired - or, as gameplay dictates. Each event, by its occurrence or absence, has the potential to change the structure of the setting in major ways.

For example, an Avremier campaign could be run during the time humans first came to these shores. There would be no human civilization beyond fortified encampments. PCs would be exclusively human - unless the partymembers were made up entirely of native species. PCs could conceivably influence the entire future of human society in the setting. Perhaps humanity prevails during the Harrowing. Maybe humanity is exterminated. Could be the Harrowing is avoided entirely. Such a setting might have no halflings or gnomes *GASP*. PC race options might include humanoid otters and badgers instead. Or, giant upright pangolins.

Some "Era Supplements" would include:

Avremier: Arrival.
Avremier: Settlement.
Avremier: Harrowing.
Avremier: Compact.
Avremier: Heritor.
Avremier: Planewrack.
Avremier: Crucible. Long ago, there was even a setting option called Dwelethyr - the world before humans showed up. 

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Way of the Fighter Available February 14!

Gamer Goggles - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 16:21

Way of the Fighter Available February 14!

Look and feel of old school arcade fighting games brought to the table top with Ninja Division Publishing’s latest release, Way of the Fighter
BOISE, IDAHO JANUARY 17, 2018 – Ninja Division Publishing™ LLC is excited to announce Way of the Fighter™, a new player vs player card and dice fighting game created by Benjamin Yamada, will be available February 14th! Way of the Fighter™ joins Ninja Division’s range of incredibly successful products including: Super Dungeon Explore, Ninja All-Stars, Relic Knights, Luchador!, Codinca, and DrunkQuest.

Way of the Fighter™ is a hard-hitting, high-jumping, leg-sweeping, fireball-dodging fighting-style card and dice game for 2 players. Featuring 10 unique fighters—each with diverse backgrounds and powerful skills and abilities—players go head to head, employing strategic actions to weaken one another. Rolling dice to determine attack speed and using cards to enact specific abilities and actions, players ultimately attempt to knock out one another to become the victor in this boardgame street battle! Way of the Fighter is available in two core sets; Way of the Fighter SUPER and Way of the Fighter TURBO. Expansion fighter decks are soon to follow with new techniques, new tactics, and new fighters that bring even more fun to the Way.

Way of the Fighter™ is a customizable card game that allows players the ability to create their own custom decks by swapping technique packs between fighters with matching combat styles. With numerous configurations available based on associated combat styles between various fighters within the expanding array of the game, players can test out new techniques and create even more unique configurations for their character. Flexible and fun, Way of the Fighter’s fast fighting gameplay mechanics and dynamic deck construction ensure it is great for novice and experienced players!

It’s time to train hard, throw down, and follow the Way of the Fighter!

Distributors and retailers may contact Ninja Division Publishing immediately with any trade enquiries regarding Way of the Fighter™.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

attack spells for dabblers

Blog of Holding - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 16:07

​Let’s say you’re a D&D character with secondary casting ability, like a paladin, ranger, eldritch knight, arcane trickster, or even a character with the arcane initiate feat. You only have a few low-level spell slots, and your spell save DC is probably not that high because it’s based on your second or third best ability score.

Which of your attack spells will still be useful at high level? Which will drift into irrelevancy?

The highest level monsters tend to have high strength, constitution, and even charisma, as befits the biggest, baddest, and most fearsome monsters in the world. But as monsters get bigger, they don’t get much more nimble, smart, or wise.

If I were really committed to data, this is where I’d have a graph of all six monster attributes from CR 1/8 to 30. It’s too tiresome to do that. But I will go to the trouble of coming up with attribute averages for epic monsters.

The average attributes for the 12 epic-level non-dragon monsters, from the CR 17 Death Knight to the CR 30 Tarrasque, are

(Str 23, dex 14, con 22, int 16, wis 17, cha 20, ac 21)

Let’s say you’re a high level paladin with a spell DC of 16 and a spell attack of +8. As a group, the epic-level monsters will frequently weather your constitution-based spells (55% of the time) and your spell attacks (60% of the time) but will rarely avoid your dexterity-based spells (only making their saving throw 35% of the time) or wisdom-based spells (40% of the time).

When you throw dragons in the mix, the pattern is even more pronounced. The average attributes of the ancient chromatic dragons are

(Str 28, dex 11, con 26, int 16, wis 15, cha 19, ac 20)

So the dragons will beat your constitution-based spell 60% of the time and your spell attacks 55% of the time but a dexterity-based spell only 25% of the time and a wisdom-based spell 35% of the time.

So because monster Dexterity doesn’t scale much, dexterity-based spells rule, right? The only problem is, most dexterity spells are direct hit-point damage spells, and monster hit points scale very well. Your dragon will probably miss its save against your Burning Hands but barely notice its effects.

Therefore, an interesting class of spells are those that require Dex saves and have non-damage effects. Highlights of this category include:

Faerie Fire: all attacks against the target have advantage for a minute! My Druidic arcane initiate character uses this spell. A+ would learn again
Grease and Sleet Storm: creatures fall prone! Good for arcane tricksters and eldritch knights, though neither are from their preferred magic schools.
Web and Evard’s Black Tentacles: creatures are restrained until they take an action to break free with a different attribute check. Again, good for arcane tricksters or eldritch knights though not from preferred schools.

Wisdom-based attack spells are also good for dabblers, and there are a ton of low-level, non-damage spells that require a wisdom save. Highlights include:

Command: make the opponent do something stupid. Good for paladins.
Compelled Duel: monster has disadvantage attacking anyone but you, allied attacks end. Good for paladins.
Tasha’s Hideous Laughter: incapacitates, save ends. On brand for arcane tricksters.
Wrathful Smite: frightened, save ends. Paladin, obviously.
Crown of Madness: opponent attacks a target of your choice, wisdom save ends. It’s a wizard Enchantment spell, so it’s useable by eldritch knights but best for arcane tricksters.
Hold person: paralyzed, wisdom save ends. Wizard Enchantment, best for arcane tricksters.
Fear: fear, must dash away from you, Save ends. Wizard enchantment, best for arcane tricksters.
Hypnotic pattern: incapacitated for 1 minute. Wizard illusion, best for arcane tricksters.
Slow: target is seriously debuffed, save ends. Off-specialty but useful for arcane tricksters and eldritch knights.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

THE ART OF TOKAIDO on Kickstarter

Gamer Goggles - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 16:05
Coffee table art book being offered from Funforge, currently on Kickstarter

As many know, Funforge is among the very first partners which we were lucky enough to work with when Passport Game Studios was founded. Their game Tokaido, as well as all the subsequent products which have released in the Tokaido family including two expansions, a deluxe edition & related accessories, metal coins, miniatures, and even an app– have all helped in making Passport a well known name in our industry.

This month, the team at Funforge is expanding the Tokaido product line further by taking all the gorgeous, iconic art from their line and creating a stunning hardcover book featuring all sorts of images from the entire life of the brand, from concept art to final print versions of characters, locations, and more. While Passport isn’t directly linked to this project, we’re so fond of Tokaido and the amazing work that Funforge pours into their products that we wanted to take a minute and make sure every one of you had a chance to see this new project, and to share with your audiences if you like.

The Kickstarter campaign page can be seen here.

Here are some additional images from the campaign showing off the vision for their final product:

In addition to the hardcover book, Funforge has plans in the campaign to unlock game content for fans as well, including alternate art versions of select traveler boards, as well as other Tokaido-themed merchandise only available during this campaign including bookmarks, playing cards, and more.

Take a minute to check out their campaign, and if you love it as much as we do, please feel free to share it with your fans! Hundreds of Tokaido lovers have already pledged their support for the book, and we can’t wait to connect many more to this amazing project.

Thank you for your support, and have a great weekend,
The Passport Game Studios Team,
Scott, Ryan, and Chaz

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Spores of the Sad Shroom

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:13

By Karl Stjernberg
Self Published

A spore-filled series of caves where everyone is sad, sad, sad!
Console sad fungoids, argue with a gargoyle, risk getting your skin melted off and replaced by a moist, spongy matter! All that and more, in Spores of the Sad Shroom!

This sixteen page adventure details an eleven room dungeon full of mushrooms. Nice detail, terse writing, great treasure, freaky effects all bring the mushroom vibe. It’s just a tad too “system neutral” and a bit short, otherwise it would be a home run.

This thing brings the detail, that’s for sure. Or, rather, it brings the specificity. I’m a strong believer that being specific in your dungeons really cements a scene in the DM’s head and allows them to expand upon it. That allows the designer to communicate far more than the actual text they write. At one point, if you talk back, this could happen: “An angry mushroom-brute takes one gigantic step out of the wall and cracks its knuckles, loudly. It insults trespassers and gut-punches anyone standing up to it.” That’s a good example of being specific. It really cements the entire scene and communicates the flavor. It does it in just two sentences. It doesn’t drone on with details, or text, or meaningless backstory. It’s an icepick to the brain of an idea. This adventure does that over and over again. It’s one of the more terse written written adventures AND one of the most flavorful. In fact, I’d say this is pretty close to perfect as you can get and still use sentences. There may be other formats, like bullet point phrases or “impression words” (used to such great effect in Hyqueous Vaults) that can also be used, but, for sentences, this one is close to the top.

Looking at just the “what happens if you talk back” table, you get anxiously apologizing mushrooms who explode, wailing in emotional pain mushrooms, kill me and eat me mushrooms, the knuckle-cracking mushroom, an especially emo mushroom, and a NPC henchman mushroom that steps out. That’s a great deal of detail, and doesn’t even cover the table at the rear to help with the inevitable “I eat a mushroom” character action.

At one point there’s a river and the text offer three possibilities on where it goes if the characters want to further explore it. All three are magnificent and you could build a lot of fun around them. “The other evil manta rays are jerks!”

The treasure can be great. From mushroom effects to hollow magic swords, gobets to be repaired, fingernails and eyeballs (ala Vecna) it reveals in the OD&D non-standard vibe that I love so much.

No everything hits on all cylinders though. Most of the rumor table is, in contrast to the rest of the adventure, a little generic on detail. “A great evil was sealed down there.” Uh, yeah. Ok. That’s a good example of NOT being specific to the detriment of imagery and helping the DM.

Further, the adventure is almost systemless, needlessly I think. It doesn’t really provide stats for almost anything, except for a couple of new monsters. “Gargoyle” you get to go look up in your own system. Further, there are areas that could be trapped, or, another adventure, have some mechanic associated with them. In one area you pull a sword out of a mushroom and are sprayed with sticky liquid. That’s the extent of the mechanics. “ you are sprayed with sticky liquid.” I really like lightweight mechanics … but I’m colder on “no mechanics at all.” The original mind flayer and his 1d6? That’s fine. Older D&D versions, clone or not, are close enough that this could have been for Labyrinth Lord and it would not have detracted from it.

It’s also short, at eleven rooms. It feels like you just get in to the swing of things and then its over.

All of that old D&D mushroom art, from Sutherland and his ilk, sure seem to have had a disproportionate impact on the OSR. It strikes me that a higher percentage than normal of mushroom adventures are pretty good. Maybe it’s the permission to be more fantastic and less Tolkein?

This is $6.66 at DriveThru. The last two pages are representative of the product. There’s a bit on mushroom commenting on the party … and the repercussions of giving them lip back, as well as the first three or four rooms. It’s a good preview.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Unfathomable Variations

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 12:00
The digital version of Operation Unfathomable is now in the hands of Kickstarter backers, inching us closer to the time when anybody will be able to buy it. Having played OU in a game run by its creators, I can attest to it being a solid adventure, and one I could see using in more contexts than just old school D&D. Jason's vision seems to be informed by pulp fiction (when the boundaries of science fiction and fantasy where not so clearly delineated), B science fiction movies, and comic books. While some traditionally-minded epic fantasy campaigns might need to do some tweaking to content and tone, their are other genres where it would work with about the same amount of effort.

Here's what I've come up with with just a little bit of thought:

Post-apocalyptic: Put the Underworld beneath a Gamma World or Mutant Future. The monsters become weird mutants or alien incursions. The Chaos becomes literal radiation, or some reality warping residue of the biggest super-weapon the ancients had. Or the malfunctioning drive of an immense alien saucer. Whatever.

Call of Cthulhu or similar Pulp Horror: Tweak the tone a bit, and Jason's Underworld is every bit as much a lurid place of weird menace as K'n-Yan or red-litten Yoth. It already Great Old Ones and their cults lurking around, too, though it would be easiest enough to substitute known mythos horrors like Eihort or Tsathaggua. Turning lurid up to ultraviolet, I invite you to contemplate the potential parallels with the Shaver Mysteries.

Superhero: This will seem the most unlikely of these suggestions, and it certainly won't be for all campaigns, but I would point to the Silver Age strangeness of Cave Carson (recently rebutted for modern psychedelic strangeness) and even the Mole Man and the various subterranean cultures of the Marvel Universe. Obviously, the parameters of the mission might be different, and the previous force that cleared the path the PCs followed, might will be the campaigns next major villain. (Or the original X-men to your team's New X-Men, if you get my Giant-Sized X-Men #1 drift). You might also want to Kirby up the monsters a bit, too.

Actual Play: The Art of Madness Part 1

19th Level - Mon, 01/29/2018 - 03:06

The Art of Madness is an adventure from the anthology The House of R'lyeh, written by Brian Courtemanche. Featured heavily in this adventure is the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Living fairly close to Boston, I've been to the Museum many times. It's been neat playing an adventure with a familiar place...

Setting: Boston, Mass. Wednesday, December 1, 1920


  • Earl Crowley - Antiquarian settled in Arkham
  • Jordaine Furst - Strasbourg-born Great War spy for France
  • Fredrick Tardiff - Great War veteran, Kingsport artist

Summary:Fredrick Tardiff had been constructing a new series of contacts to assist with investigations into the bizarre, with the last of his Great War compatriots moving back to Harlem. He had begun meeting with Earl Crowley, an antiquarian who had uncovered one too many things that couldn't be explained by science. Jewelry from Innsmouth of metals unknown to science. Reviews of a French play that had made its audience go mad. He'd also made the re-acquaintance of Jordaine Furst, hailing from the Alsace region of France, recently taken back from the Germans. Furst had assisted the Entente during the Great War, having been raised by French patriots within German Alsace. She had encountered strangeness during the war as well as in the tomes of the Bibliothèque nationale et universitaire and had traveled to Massachusetts in search of more information from libraries in Boston, Cambridge, and Arkham.
The three went into action together on December 1, 1920, when Tardiff received a phone call from the head of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Mr. Edward Walfo Forbes, asking for his help in investigating a series of disappearances.
The three visited him in his office. He explained that three members of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts had vanished. A new professor, Jason Davies, was last seen on Sunday, October 31, at the Boston Art Club. About two weeks later a second year student, Helen Wilson, vanished. And finally just recently a third, a first year student, Ruth Hall, went missing. The school was participating with the Boston Police but in the wake of all nearly officers being fired after the Police Strike, the force was way over its head.
From talking with instructors and students they learned all three had a bit of a taste for the macabre - Wilson, for example, always carried an Edgar Allan Poe book with her and her work was inspired by him. She was friends with Hall who shared her interests to a lesser extent.
A janitor followed them around and finally approached them. It turned out he, Roberto Silva, knew much more but was nervous to involve the police for fear of getting himself or the school in trouble. Silva explained he saw all three, on different occasions, meeting with a heavyset man, middle aged but not looking well. He thought he might have been a relative of one of the young ladies or perhaps a major donor to the school interested in students. But he also saw Davies on the 31st of October, after his meeting at the Art Club. This is where he feared getting in trouble, as Roberto had used his key to enter the school to listen to a radio broadcast from the AMRAD station, 1XE. Silva was a radio aficionado but had not been able to afford his own set. Hw liked listening to 1XE as well as the station that sometimes broadcast out of Kingsport. Davies had seen him enter and, not having a key of his own, asked to be let in so he could prepare for his Monday class. Afterwards he saw Davies leave on Fenway and run into the heavyset man - going off with him somewhere - willingly it seemed.
Their investigations got some traction when they went to the Boston Art Club - an exclusive club that was beyond Tardiff's means - or ability to find a sponsor for. Between the charm of Furst and wealth of Crowley they got admittance to the "Ladies' Room" where some of the club members agreed to talk with them - Joeseph Minot and Walter Eliot. They explained how Davies, of limited means, had been sponsored by Franklin Thurber. They'd not seen much of Thurber lately - perhaps he had been upset by the disappearance of Davies. He'd been hitting the bottle hard over the past year, often talking of another member, one not seen in ages, Walter Pickman. Thurber had claimed that Pickman was convinced monsters were living under Boston - and he'd apparently convinced Thurber as well. A photo of Thurber matched Silva's description of the heavyset man perfectly. After much wrangling and threats, they got Thurber's address from the Club - a brownstone in a wealthy area, just off Louisburg Square. They also saw some of Pickman's art, in the Club archives (certainly not for display). Tardiff recognized the near-human canine-things in the art - ghouls they were called - at least in many of the volumes he read. They had a taste for human flesh - often long dead, though they'd go for fresh meat for the occasional treat.
A disheveled Thurber answered the door and quickly confessed that he'd been forced by someone named "Peters" (they were certain he was lying about the name) forced him to bring him art supplies - and students. Willing students, he assured them. In return he was given jewels and other valuables to pawn off - which helped support his drinking habit. He had to do an art supply dropoff in a North End basement and was "convinced" to take them along.
In the basement they saw a closed shaft in the floor. Hiding for some time they saw the shaft open from below, a rubbery hand emerging and grabbing it. As they ran to the shaft to attempt tracking it, it heard them and leapt back up - a hideous ghoul, about to strike!
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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