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Bundle of Holding - Rifts

Tenkar's Tavern - 22 hours 27 min ago

From the Summer of '94 until the Winter of '97, my gaming group played a shit ton of Rifts (when I wasn't running AD&D 2e). Sure, the system needed to be balanced, if not totally rewritten, but the setting lore was second to none. It simply oozed flavor and adventure hooks.

Currently, Bundle of Holding has two Bundles with Rifts material - one is the Rifts Core Megabundlecore:

Adventurer! This revived December 2022 Rifts® Core Megabundle once again gives you a gigantic array of .PDF rulebooks, supplements, and sourcebooks for Kevin Siembieda's Rifts tabletop roleplaying game from Palladium Books. You have a new chance to get everything you need to run a complete campaign of mind-blowing adventure across a future Earth shattered by countless otherworldly invasions.

For just US$19.95 you get all seven titles in this revived December 2022 offer's Corebook Collection (retail value $71) as DRM-free ebooks, including the complete Rifts Ultimate Edition core rulebook (plus the Rifts Primer); the Adventure Guide, Game Master Guide, and Game Master Kit; and Index and Adventures V1 and V2.

And if you pay more than this revival's threshold price of $40.60, you'll level up and also get this revived offer's entire Sourcebook Collection with eleven more titles worth an additional $129, including Sourcebook One, Book of Magic, the Bestiary, Black Market, the Bionics Sourcebook, all three Conversion books (Book One, Two: Pantheons of the Megaverse, Three: Dark Conversions), and three more sourcebooks: Vampires, The Mechanoids, and Mindwerks.

The other bundle is the Rifts Coalition Wars Bundle:

Look sharp, adventurer! This Rifts® Coalition Wars Bundle is the second of two offers in progress featuring .PDF ebooks for the Rifts tabletop roleplaying game from Palladium Books of a shattered Earth invaded by countless realities. If you're new to the game, start with our revived December 2022 Rifts Core Megabundle in progress. Then return here for this new companion bundle with sourcebooks and storylines that showcase one of the setting's dominant powers, the high-tech Coalition States.

For just US$17.95 you get all seven titles in our Coalition Collection (retail value $72) as DRM-free ebooks, including Coalition War Campaign, Coalition Navy, Secrets of the Coalition States, and four supplements about the soldiers-for-hire who fight this war: Mercenaries, MercOps, MercTown, and Mercenary Adventures.

And if you pay more than the threshold price of $38.53, you'll level up and also get our entire Tolkeen Collection with eight more titles worth an additional $97, including the most recent Rifts supplement, Coalition Manhunters, and the entire seven-part Siege on Tolkeen campaign: Coalition Wars, Coalition Overkill, Sorcerer's Revenge, Cyber-Knights, Shadows of Evil, Final Siege, and Aftermath.


The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  You can catch the daily Tavern Chat cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar   

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mini-Mod Brainstorming: Tomb of Horror

The Splintered Realm - Tue, 05/21/2024 - 22:07

For my tomb of horrors Mini-Mod, I'm thinking of compressing areas (obviously), and layering several traps/tricks into each encounter area. For example, the 'entry' would have five doors to choose from (I am thinking of counting backwards Sesame Street style.... five doors, four statues, then three gargoyles, then two paths, and then one demi-lich). It would be designed for characters of level 5+ in Hack'D... 

1. Five doors. Pretty easy: one of the doors is the entry (but has a trick to opening it) while the other four are guaranteed death.

2. Four statues. Each statue activates something in the room (mostly traps and magical effects), but you have to trigger one to get into the pit that has a secret door at the bottom into the third area. All have big open mouths you have to interact with. One pit has flames, one has reverse gravity to hit the ceiling with spikes sticking out of it... stuff like that.

3. Three gargoyles (because there was a gargoyle in the original, natch). I'm thinking of some sort of round robin thing, or puzzle where the gargoyles take turns inhabiting the characters, and the characters pop into gargoyle bodies randomly. Or something. They have to kill one gargoyle in particular, but not the other two (damage to 2 and 3 restores 1?)

4. A false tomb with two doorways. They are revealed only when you defeat the false lich and figure out the clue in the bottom of his casket that it's not him. One doorway teleports you to someplace really bad (hades?) and the other leads into the actual tomb (probably just as bad).

5. Real tomb with real demi-lich. As close to the original encounter as possible.

The MUCH-ANTICIPATED Sequel to Shagduk is Now on Kickstarter

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Tue, 05/21/2024 - 16:04

You may have missed out on Shagduk. If you did, you should feel bad! It really is the best novel to come out during the past several years. Here is my old Amazon review of the book:

Shagduk is great.

Yeah, it’s got weirdness, wonder, mystery, intrigue, and magic. Of course, it does! But all of that stuff hits the mark only because the rest of the book nails down 1977 Fort Worth, Texas musician/librarian so well. It just makes everything else pop!

We’ve all seen the repackaged versions of previous decades that are just oddly, even perilously off. We scream at televisions when our childhood soulscape is retuned for a Current Year ethos. You wonder sometimes if anyone will ever stand in the gap for you in this. Well, somebody did. My favorite bits are the music shop with the No Barney Miller sign, finding occult insights in the Mini-Pages, and flipping a calculator upside down to spell dirty words– all stuff I didn’t even know I’d forgotten. Stuff that really defined the furniture of a pre-internet world.

I think the most important thing this book captures is the sense of the time before the cocooning of America. VCR’s and microwave popcorn meant that nobody went out anymore back in the day– a soft foreshadowing of our too-recent lockdown life. 1977 wasn’t like that at all. Normal people want to go out and do things. A normal culture has things going on all the time. Not just countless regional music acts, but Scottish Tartan Thistle Dancers, too.

I miss that time. I miss those people.

If that doesn’t sell you on the book, then check out my what my pal Night Danger just said:

I didn’t think anyone after Lovecraft would ever do “Academic stumbles upon eldritch horrors” in an interesting or exciting way and yet here we are.

Holy cow! Yes! This book is so so great you will be shocked to realize that nobody could pull this off until now. It really is that mind blowing!

And now this incredible story has a sequel. Yes, this book which is better than every single new work sitting in your local big box book store has a sequel. There hasn’t been anything this exciting going since Roger Zelazny was still writing Amber novels. And you have a chance to get in on the ground floor and make this phenomenal author the success he deserves to be.

I am calling all of you out here. I have given away great gaming advice and discoveries for free right here on this blog for years. I never hawk my wares. I never hold out my rice bowl. I have done everything in my power to get you off of the endless module treadmill, to save you from tacky role-playing games that would sap your money and then never deliver any solutions to the actual problems you face at the table.

You owe me.

And the way you can pay me back is by supporting my friends Neal and JB over at Pilum books. So, get in there and back this thing today. I want this book fully funded on day one.

Now, get to it!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Adventures Dark and Deep Core Rules 2nd Printing (OSR)

Tenkar's Tavern - Mon, 05/20/2024 - 21:59

I'm a huge fan of everything Joe Bloch / BRW Games publishes. Joe simply knows OSR gaming like a pro, and his Greyhawk knowledge is second to none. I can't wait to get my copies of Adventures Dark and Deep Core Rules 2nd Printing. If you still need to snag AD&D2P, you only have three days left to back the Kickstarter.

Consider this your official Last Call! ')

Adventures Dark and Deep™ is an expansion of the first Advanced version of the world's most popular roleplaying game. Originally designed to include all of the classes and other material that the original designer couldn't include in the 1980's, the game is even more expanded to include a skill system, more new classes, and much more. 

Adventures Dark and Deep™ is a comprehensive rules system, designed to allow play in a variety of different styles; dungeon crawling, exploration, epic storytelling, and more.

Adventures Dark and Deep™ is my attempt to show what would AD&D would have looked like if Gary Gygax had stayed at TSR. It starts with the AD&D 1E rules, includes all the new character classes he mentioned in Dragon magazine in the 1980's (bards, jesters, mountebanks, etc.), plus other changes and additions he mentioned over the years in online fora.

In recent years, the game has grown beyond that basic concept to include more things, and also includes expansions on things Gygax had pioneered (like the skill system, which is based on the concept he had for a skill system for C&C). This new version brings everything together, reorganizes it, and re-edits everything to make it clearer.

This second printing incorporates numerous errata, expands the material with new classes like the blackguard and skald, and centaurs as a player race, and makes many other improvements to the original three books. In addition, the original three books have been consolidated into two; the Core Rulebook and the Core Bestiary. Everything is being comprehensively re-edited and re-organized to make it much easier to use. 

The Core Rulebook has all the rules you need to play the game: ability scores, character races, character classes, secondary skills, creating characters, cost of equipment/services/etc., combat, magic, treasure, the game environment, creating the setting, and game master advice. See the FAQ for the complete table of contents (subject to change).

The Core Bestiary is a complete collection of monsters, including all of the classic monsters, plus many more, for a total of nearly 900 creatures both old and new. See the FAQ for the complete table of contents (subject to change).   

The books are written, and are estimated to be over 500 pages each once editing and art is complete (all details are subject to change as the editing and layout process progresses). The money raised will be used to pay for new art and editing. The retail price for the books will be around $65 each.


The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  You can catch the daily Tavern Chat cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar   

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Making of OD&D Book: What Might the D&D "Precursors" Be?

Zenopus Archives - Mon, 05/20/2024 - 21:53


The Making of OD&D comes out in less than a month, and the approximately 600-page tome was revealed "in the flesh" last week on the official D&D account on Twitter, with the above photo of an advance copy captioned: "The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons... it's BIG!" 

If you haven't ordered the book yet, it can be found on Amazon for $99, and with a price-drop guarantee:

The Making of Original Dungeons & Dragons: 1970-1977

Based on the Table of Contents that I re-posted at the beginning of this month, let's take a closer at what might be in the interesting section "Part 1: Precursors", which covers the ancient era before the first draft of D&D (1973). I don't have any particular insider knowledge, so these are simply my best educated guesses based on title alone:

   Grayte Wourmes (page 10) 

   Fittingly for a game that includes "Dragons" in the title, the Precursor section starts with material that is clearly from a series of articles about Dragons that Gary Gygax wrote in 1969-1970 for the Diplomacy zine Thangorodrim (named after the mountains home to Morgorth's fortress Angband), describing White, Black, Green, Blue and Mottled (aka Purple Worm) Dragons.

   Maps of the Great Kingdom (page 18)

    The use of plural "Maps" suggests this will include at least two maps. One may be the original Great Kingdom map from Domesday Book #9 (1970/1971), which was previously reprinted on page 32 of Playing at the World (2012) by Jon Peterson. 
    Another may be a later one showing the territories of the Great Kingdom; one version of this map was uncovered by Dave Megarry in 2017; see my post from that year titled "Megarry's Copy of the Great Kingdom Map".

    Medieval Weaponry in the Encyclopedia Britannica (page 20)

    In 2014, Jon Peterson wrote in a post on his Playing at the World blog that, "Gygax did indeed rely heavily on the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica for medieval information in the early 1970s for certain particulars, though that would be a story for another time". So it seems we are getting that story now. 
    I also note that on EnWorld in 2002, Gygax mentioned his "set of Eleventh Edition ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA that my most honored maternal grandfather bequeathed to me". The Eleventh Edition of EB has its own Wikipedia page.
   Chainmail's Fantasy Supplement (page 26)
    This is, obviously, the fantasy section that makes up about a quarter of the Chainmail miniatures rules. From the preview page that has been shown, the book will reprint the version from the 2nd Edition, published by Guidon Games in 1972.

    Gygax on Armor (page 46)        This may be an article that Gygax from for Panzerfaust #43, April 1971, which Jon Peterson  discussed on his blog in 2014.

    The Battle of the Brown Hills (page 50)
    This is a relatively well-known Chainmail scenario between the forces of Law and Chaos that Gygax wrote up for Wargamer's Newsletter #116, published in November 1971. These days you can play in it on a sand table as part of the Legends of Wargaming series run annually at Gary Con thanks to Paul Stormberg. This year it was run in the basement of 330 Center Street, where Gygax lived when he worked on the initial D&D rules.        Arneson's "Medieval Braunstein" (page 54)

    In a 2014 post on the Playing at the World blog, Jon Peterson described a document with this same name "A surviving set of instructions for a 1970 medieval multiplayer game".        Blackmoor Gazette and Rumermonger 2 (page 58)
    This is an issue of a campaign newsletter put out by Dave Arneson. The first issue can be see here on the Playing at the World blog.
        "Points of Interest in Black Moor" (page 60)
        An article by Dave Arneson that originally ran in Domesday Book #13 (July 1972), and was later reprinted in the First Fantasy Campaign supplement published by Judges Guild.
    The Wizard Gaylord (page 64)
        A "surviving character sheet from the Blackmoor Campaign, that of Pete Gaylord's character the Wizard of the Wood (best known from the brief biography in First Fantasy Campaign) previously appeared on page 367 of the Playing at the World book (2012).
    Loch Gloomen (page 68)
        Blackmoor historian Dan Boggs described, in a 2014 post on his blog Hidden in Shadows, how in the spring of 1972, play in the Blackmoor campaign moved to an area known Loch Gloomen, or Lake Gloomy. Material from this era appears in a section titled "Loch Gloomen" in the First Fantasy Campaign. So this is likely some of the surviving original material from this era written by Arneson.

    Outdoor Survival (page 72)
        Excerpts from the rules of the board game Outdoor Survival, published by Avalon Hill, which was in the list of recommended Equipment in OD&D Vol 1 (Men & Magic) and heavily influenced the rules for Wilderness Exploration in Vol 3 (The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures).

    Gygax/Arneson Blackmoor Correspondence (page 76)
    Personal letters between Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson prior to the development of the first draft of D&D.

See also these earlier posts:

"The Making of Original D&D: 1970-1977": Table of Contents

"How Dungeons & Dragons Started" (video about the book)

"The Making of Original D&D: 1970-1977": Everything we know about this upcoming WOTC book

Playing at the World revised edition out in July

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Clerics and Druids

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 05/20/2024 - 11:00
A little bit more about a couple of types of spellcasters in the Elden Urd setting Elden Urd setting I have been working on.

Clerics wield the power of the gods, the form of magic brought forth by Aion Demiurgos when he created the Cosmos. How clerics came to possess this power is one of several mysteries contemplated and debated by theologians of their faith. As instruments of the church, they preform rituals, mediate with the spirits, cast out demons, return ghosts and undead to rest, tend the sick and wounded, and always strive to make human kin virtuous of admission to the Higher Heavens where the gods reside.

The also tend to wear distinct headgear as part of their vestments.

Druids are the priests of the titans who remained neutral in the War and did not forsaken the world: primarily Earth Mother and the tripartite Moon. They are also the prophets of the great spirits to human kin. 
Druidic cults mostly found in the wild places and rural hinterlands. Their association with the titans of old put them at odds with the Church of the clerics and their tendency to resist modernizing authorities has made them enemies of the Draconic Empire.

Cartel Genocide - A Zaibatsu/Hostile Mini Campaign On Colony World - Earth - Hostile Situation Report #010 Street Scum

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 05/20/2024 - 01:13
 So in tonight's Hostile rpg game, we're still dealing with the fall out from Zozer Games's Street Scum - Situation Report 010 & the taking in of our Fixer Thackery. Whom we saved serveral sessions ago & put on our Russian mercenary unit known as the September Group's payroll. We ended up destroying 'The Vendetta' because of certain unsavory practices that Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mini-Mods of Classic Adventures

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 20:17

Here's a list of those who have taken the mini-mod challenge, adapting a classic adventure into a five-room dungeon. 

B1: Keep on the Borderlands

  1. Sean Wills' map
  2. Mike Desing's attempt (modifying Sean's map)

I Challenge - YOU!

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 20:13
I am officially throwing out a design challenge to the entire Internet (yeah, the WHOLE THING. It's going down for real). Earlier, I toyed with the idea of creating five-room dungeons that were adaptations of classic adventure modules. Sean Wills threw together his idea, and then I countered with a write up of my own that modified his original design. The result is... kind of awesome. 
So, here's the challenge: I challenge YOU to take a classic adventure module and re-imagine it as a five-room dungeon. The trick - as far as I see it - is honoring the 'greatest hits' and vibe of the original within the minimalist format of the five-room dungeon.
When you're done, add a link below, and I'll keep a master list of the entries. You can post it to your blog, create a Google Doc, or do it as a release that you charge like a million dollars for (you only have to sell one, right?). I'll link to the page on drivethru or your vendor of choice. You can stat it up for your favorite system, or leave it system agnostic.
And, by the way, we can NEVER have too many tombs of horrors. Or horrific tombs. Or tombs of many horrors. You get the idea.

Mini Mod: Chaos Caves

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 20:00

So, Sean Wills shared his idea for adapting the Caves of Chaos as a five-room dungeon... 

In looking it over, I loved what he was thinking. I re-arranged a bit, putting larger 'entry' caves at the southeast and southwest. Edit: And this is now an official challenge.

1. The southwest cave is in turmoil, as the goblins (south) have rebelled against the hobgoblins (north) and they are in the middle of something of a detente - the goblins are negotiating rights as 'freed servants' to the hobgoblins. A hot spring (west) dominates this cave, and a fissure has formed that keeps the two sides apart except for a narrow footbridge. The hobgoblins are likely to let outsiders attack the goblins, since weakening their forces might dampen their revolutionary spirit. A dead ogre is on the south side riddled with hobgoblin arrows; the goblins recruited him by promising gold and saying Bree Yark, and it didn't go so well for the ogre.

2. On the eastern side, a large tribe of kobolds (who have until recently been at odds with the goblins and hobgoblins) dwells here. They captured an owl bear and thought it would be a help, but it kept eating them, so they've locked it in area 3. The stairs entering the cave have a simple trap.

3. The owlbear is rampaging around the chamber constantly, breaking walls and causing a section of plastered wall in the northwest to crumble, revealing an entrance to the hidden temple. The side of the door facing him is covered in sharp stakes, which has kept him from just breaking it down.

4. When the temple was originally buried, a minotaur was charmed to stand watch over the entrance. It continues to roam its maze filled with traps for the unwary. The entire maze is filled with thick mists that have entered from area 1. Each of the letters represents a trap (although the minotaur himself may be in any of these locations instead of a trap).

5. The temple proper has been discovered by a young necromancer, who has paid the hobgoblins to let him pass, navigated the maze, and has begun a ritual to raise a dead demon. He has a few skeletons with him for backup. 

OSR Review & Commentary On The Cha'alt Experience: Designing Worlds Like A F*cking Boss By Venger Satanis For Any Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 16:01
 "This is how I built Cha'alt, and how I'm going to teach you to design your own campaign setting.  This is not like any other world-building tome.  Since conceiving Cha'alt, I've taken an unorthodox approach to its design.  The proof is in the gelatinous slime shaking like a bowl full of ichorous jelly - I'm in the middle of a second long-term campaign... after a Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Swords & Lasers

Doomslakers! - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 15:00

Sometimes you have an idea for a barbarian king on a throne with his badass skull sword but he's also been a space captain. And you think "How do I square this circle? How can a barbarian king with a sword also have a laser gun?"

Well, you only ask that question because you've been brain-doped by pop culture into thinking laser guns and badass skull swords are artifacts of completely different genres. But what the actual fuck is a "genre" anyway?

Ok, I don't want to get into that.

Look, you don't have to mix lasers and swords. I certainly don't do it all the time. I completely understand the desire to have a setting or story in which the technology is distinctly "ancient" or in which it is distinctly "futuristic". But if you want your barbarian king to have a laser pistol you damn sure can and you damn sure don't have to explain it to anyone.

"Why do your feudal warlords carry phaser rifles??"

Because they do. They live in a world where there are phaser rifles and feudal warlords with broadswords. What part of this reality don't you understand?

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Classic Dungeons Into 5 Rooms

The Splintered Realm - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 11:54
As another random idea I had that I will probably never do, I thought it would be interesting to take classic modules (I was thinking at the time of G1: Steading of the Hill Giant Chief) and convert them into a 5-room dungeon mini-adventure for Hack'D. There's something that really draws me to this idea - the whole minimalism and distillation of it. I mean, it would be likely to start limitless debate: what five 'encounters' are the most iconic for that module, and how do you then translate these into the five rooms? For G1, there has to be a great hall where a bunch of giants are meeting. There has to be a cloakroom where giant guards are napping. There has to be a dungeon where orcs are being held prisoner... but what else? What other areas would HAVE to be in it? And then, how do you structure this in such a way that it honors the 'flow' of the original adventure? Is it possible to get it down to five?
Could this even be done? I mean, what about White Plume Mountain? Tomb of Horrors? Heck, the Caves of Chaos? Is it even possible to distill these adventures down that far without losing what they originally were?
Part of the challenge of Tomb of Horrors (for instance) is just how many different dangerous obstacles there are... it is the sheer volume of traps that makes it the meat grinder it is. Each 'room' in the five-room dungeon would therefore need several obstacles to overcome. For example, the entry would have three halls as options, and two of these are deadly traps. Maybe this could be expanded to five... so you could right away build a whole bunch of dangerous traps into the first encounter area, and that echoes a little bit of the scale of danger of the original.
This kind of design challenge checks all the boxes for me. I like echoing iconic and classic as much as possible, and is it very, very tight. The entire thing would fit onto the front of a sheet of standard paper (map and five keyed encounter areas). 

Artists I Like: Chuck Whelon

Doomslakers! - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 11:30

Another great artist for the list!

Also, I need to stress that these artist entries are not meant to be comprehensive. I dash these out on a whim on Saturdays or Sundays and schedule them to post on some future Sunday. I sometimes only say a few words and I sometimes talk too much. But the point is to shine a light on artists who I think do fantastic work.

That being said...

Chuck Whelon... I first encountered Chuck's work way back in the early 2000s with his classic comic Pewfell Porfingles. In those days there seemed to be a lot of cool comics being made online. Boy oh boy we had no idea just how many artists and comics would emerge as the years went on! Back then... it was a smaller group, and Chuck was a prominent name among them.

Pewfell is a wizard. Well... he SAYS he's a wizard. He's part of the wizard community. But he's a wizard who can't, doesn't, and basically won't make any magic. I mean, who wants to do that kind of labor, right? He's much happier being a wizard who hangs out at the pub while his very hot wife Tina goes out every day to slay goblins and earn coins. Oh, and he has an annoying gnome house mate who gives him a lot of hell.

Pewfell was co-written quite a bit by Adam Prosser.

Anyway... Chuck's work is, as many are wont to say, "very cartoony". I love "very cartoony" art. I love Chuck's art. I'm particularly a fan of his lovely weight-varied ink strokes. But he's also no slouch at doing pen and ink work with steady lines. He did a whole series of Where's Waldo-style pieces where you search for items and stuff. Very fun.

A funny coincidence and a testament to what was once the small world of online artists: Chuck started doing work for Goodman Games way back in the early 2000s when I had no idea who GG was nor any concept of the growing "OSR" movement, where gamers were recreating the magic of early D&D. I discovered Chuck through comics, then later realized we were both swimming in the same waters by doing work-for-hire for small TTRPG publishers. We both do work for Goodman Games, for example. Very cool.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Falling Short of 1:1 Time and Braunstein Play in 1986

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 11:25

GURPS Second Edition is a game that no one wants to play with me.

It’s too bad, really. It’s an interesting game that came out at an interesting point of time. AD&D was still king of the hill. The second edition of that game wouldn’t come out for another three years. The DMG had been around for seven years then. Everyone knew they were smarter than Gary Gygax and everyone thought they had an idea so great that they could challenge the dominance of his vision.

And Steve! Steve Jackson was right there with a very big rework of his earlier rpg, The Fantasy Trip. Having been at the helm of Space Gamer magazine for many years at that point, he would have been well aware of what everyone else was up to in rpg development at the time. Just what exactly was his vision? How did it compare to Gygax’s framework laid out in AD&D? And again… how does Steve’s work compare to what the BrOSR is doing right now?

Well. It is rather intriguing. Steve Jackson did in fact describe a type of “Patron Play” which he termed Adversaries. Check it out:

Now, this is very limited compared to what we have been experimenting with in the #BrOSR, but this is still great advice. But gosh, Steve is so close to gaming greatness it hurts!

Note that his concept involves somebody that doesn’t get to commit themselves to playing a role to the hilt. Instead, they are sort of an assistant GM that is helping out by playing ALL of the NPC’s that are involved in the Adventure that encounter the players. Why would he draw the line there of all places?!

The tyranny of the spotlight is presumed to be in force here. Regular players are all assumed to be running just a single PC within the campaign. Under this model, you will not see something like you have in AD&D where a monk, druid, or assassin character advances and then has to face off against the next guy up from him in the hierarchy (run by another player no less) in order to hold that position.

Without the BrOSR concept of 1:1 time, Steve doesn’t really have a means of coordinating too much more than a single party… so the Braunstein-like elements of his conception of rpgs can only cover the most trivial implementations of patron play. He just doesn’t have a framework that can accommodate large numbers of independent actors!

Of course, Steve does weigh in on timekeeping as well. Let’s see what he says:

Steve Jackson suggests using stop-time between sessions… but then recommends having a set amount of time pass between adventures. This is a subtle distinction that a lot of #BrOSR critics would be eager to embrace. After all, this system would allow people who stop the game while the players are in a dungeon to just pick things back up the next time they get together. In fact, Steve Jackson explicitly highlights this exact type of situation– something the rpg scene has argued about almost nonstop since 2020.

There is a cost for this one design choice, however.

As we can see here, under Steve’s conception of rpgs, the GM is responsible for running all of the entities in the game outside of the players’ party. However much time the GM decides will happen between adventures, it’s entirely up to the GM to determine everything that happens in that period. People used to BrOSR style play would balk at the idea of having to be responsible for that much stuff in the game. Everyone else is liable to wax poetic about the god-like sway they hold over their campaign worlds.

Now, I am sure people can make this sort of thing work. But I have to question what the track record is for this method. Does it produce, as Gygax would have framed it, “the most interesting play possibilities to the greatest number of participants for the longest period of time possible”?

I don’t think it does.

Being able to run a campaign where “a war between players [is] going on (with battles actually fought out on the tabletop with miniature figures) one night, while on the next, characters of these two contending players [help] each other to survive somewhere in a wilderness” is just way more exciting. For one thing, players don’t really respect things in the campaign that sprang entirely from the referee’s mind alone. But if you create a list of rumors that are derived from the actions of other players that are operating against each other’s interests under a fog of war they will engage with it obsessively. (Note: this happens not just in large ongoing wargame scenarios but also in more modest campaigns where people from more than one table begin interacting as adversaries.)

GURPS, of course, eliminates all the material required to effect that sort of two-tier ongoing campaign with lots of player activity developing concurrently. I mean, you can stat up a king with status 7 or whatever and then play his role in the context of some kind of narrative game. But you can’t actually run his kingdom or immerse yourself in diplomatic nightmare he faces in juggling the interests of objectives of his neighboring monarchs.

Which means you can’t really set up the sort of model worlds that the bros like to tinker with so much. Which means you don’t get the sort of surprising emergent story phenomena that never ceases to amaze players and referees alike. Those effects only happen when your campaign reaches a certain critical mass of independent actors. And Steve’s concept of the game puts a very hard upper limit on how many characters and factions and forces that GURPS GM’s could handle.

Of course, Steve wasn’t putting together a type of wargame campaign at all. He set all that aside in order to focus entirely on creating a roleplaying game.

Was it worth it?

That depends on what you’d select given the choice between having a successful campaign and a shelf of unplayed games.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Lucky Opportunities to Spend My Money.....

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 10:30

Every once in a while I feel like I luck out, but I'm sure that's because I put myself in a position to be lucky.

This week I was on a business trip to Hawaii, where I got to stay in Waikiki. Believe me it sounds a helluva lot nicer than it really is. The weather is NOT cooperating and any free time I have is mostly occupied by heavy rains. The beach that is "right there" isn't much of an option and it's hard to enjoy sunsets when the sky is overcast.....

....and don't even get me started on the traffic. My work location is not far away (Oahu isn't that big), but it's at least an hour there and another back.'s work and hey, I'm being paid to got to Hawaii, so if I get a nice hour here, I'm ahead of the game, right?

Yesterday I had the day off and despite the impending rain I managed a quick trip to the "local" Naval Exchange to look for souveniers. While I can get some cheap stuff at the local markets nearby, I wanted to favor Hawaiian-made stuff as much as possible. I had no intention to buy myself anything, but then I saw it: the Reyn Spooner (i.e. high-end) D&D 50th Anniversary Aloha/Hawaiian Shirt, and it was on sale for 20% off....and in the appropriate "Fat Guy" size (AKA Gamer Medium). While I didn't feel like a $100 know I NEEDED THIS.

Originally I expected to post today about some hole-in-the-wall Hawaiian FLGS. I did get to stop by one, but it wasn't the one I was hoping for....oh well. It was tiny and clearly a hangout for locals, but it was Warhammer heavy (not judging) and the board game selection was a bit "meh"......until I saw it. This store had a 2nd edition (2019 printing) of Steve Jackson's Illuminati. I've played like 2 or 3 games of Illuminati more than a decade ago and it was on my wish-list, but I've never seen one for sale before. I think it's a bit too obscure and the 1st edition was just too big of a box, which I assume didn't help secure shelf space. The 2nd Edition isn't much bigger (if at all) than a copy of Munchkin and while I'm already pushing the max for baggage......well I had to pick it up.

So buy keeping my eyes open in a new town I found a few trinkets that I'd probaby never see otherwise.......not sure if that's actual luck...but I'll take it!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Deal of the Day - For Coin & Blood: Classic Edition (OSR)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 05/19/2024 - 01:30

Today's Deal of the Day is For Coin & Blood: Classic Edition. Built off of the Swords & Wizardry: White Box Edition, For Coin & Blood is on sale until tomorrow morning for 2 bucks (normally 9.99).

FOR COIN & BLOOD is a classically inspired d20 fantasy roleplaying game with a twist...

...a twist of the knife!

Embracing the literary genre known as "grimdark", and inspired by stories of mercenaries, sellswords and blackguards, FOR COIN & BLOOD keeps you on your toes, as you tell stories about the terrible things that happen to people, when they head out in search of coin, passion, and revenge...

FOR COIN & BLOOD uses a modified version of Swords & Wizardry: WhiteBox, but is a complete game.


The Tavern is supported by readers like you. The easiest way to support The Tavern is to shop via our affiliate links. The Tavern DOES NOT do "Paid For" Articles and discloses personal connections to products and creators written about when applicable.

DTRPGAmazon, and Humble Bundle are affiliate programs that support The Tavern.  You can catch the daily Tavern Chat cast on AnchorYouTube or wherever you listen to your podcast collection. - Tenkar   

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

GOZR Sketch Character Sheets

Doomslakers! - Sat, 05/18/2024 - 21:00

GOZR is a science-fantasy post-apocalyptic tabletop roleplaying game that I wrote and drew by hand in 2020-2021... a pandemic project, for sure.

The game uses a very simple d20 vs. target system. To do an action, a player rolls 1d20 vs. their character's appropriate Action Class (AC): Prowess for all things action and fighty, Magic for all things mental and weird, and Cunning for all things social and sneaky. There's a lot of other bells and whistles, but that's kind of the core of it.

While the game has an official character sheet, I also like to doodle new ones in my various sketchbooks just for fun. Here's a collection of them.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Deals Within Deals - - Cities Without Number, Stars Without Number, & Trey Causey's Strange Stars Rpg - Mirrors By Joseph Mohr - Session Report

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 05/18/2024 - 17:51
 We pick up with our party meeting in virtual space with the slavers representives after last week's   session available here. Our fixer did her job acting as a go between for a deal between  the Slavers Consortium & a coven  of  the Circeans witches called the Grove of Hope. The grove has a small piece of 'the rod of Evermore' whichNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Not Nice at All

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 05/18/2024 - 13:05

Looking over all reactions to Jeffro/BrOSR stuff, most of it from the now broken search engines is from 2022 or so. There is a lot of hate for the “one true wayism”, for the bro affect, for things that got me canceled in the previous decade which half of you don’t even know about. I get a lot of flack for my internet persona, but really… there is an amount of outrage and vitriol here that seems entirely out of place if it were the case that we all were really only talking about how to play a particularly strange vintage game.

But now you’ve got these guys [posting in the comments here]. They dismiss people outright for saying something provocative. (“Oh, that’s just trolling!”) They are bitter if someone developing a thesis punches back when people try to agree in a way that subtly negates it. They wanted something in an exchange they’ve had with us. People like this come to us all the time and praise us and want to be friends. But then they make a demand. “Please bro. Say that what I am doing in my campaign is okay, too. I said your campaign is okay. Please. Please just say that mine is okay, too.”

No, dude. My thesis is that it isn’t.

Wailing and gnashing of teeth then ensues. Later, people like this rendezvous and try to console each other. “Oh! So terrible! Aren’t I entitled to an opinion?!” This is all wrong. I am the person with an opinion. They are the ones that desperately want me to not have one!

This of course has nothing to do with rpgs at all. People like this have an a priori commitment to an idea that there is no such thing as objective truth. They are passive aggressively attempting to get me to bow the knee to it in every exchange. This is REALLY irritating.

When post modernists arrive in the world of rpgs, they ditch the rule books. All of this “rule zero” stuff isn’t a game design concept at all. It’s a sop for people that refuse to have ANYONE tell them what to do. After all, “what’s fun at my table is totally different.” There are varying shades of how people express this idea. Ironically, I like the weakly stated variants of it the least because they are really the most dangerous. The attitude amounts to “it’s okay to tear down the fence as long as you know why it was there first.” Such a catastrophe!

So now for me or the brosr to have any opinion at all, we have to repudiate post-modernism, explain the idea that objective truth is real and words have meanings, and then also convey the idea that we don’t really owe anyone in rpgs our blessing if we think they’re wrong. But it gets worse! Most people are dumb. We routinely uncover evidence that people are ridiculously illiterate compared to what would have been normal in the 1970s. So, we’re going to have this really nuanced discussion about these abstract ideas… with people that can’t read?

How can you communicate across this cultural gap at all? Well… I’ll tell you. You post pictures of Mike Mentzer. You come up with slogans like “you can win at rpgs.” You start speaking in off the wall parables– that sound like totally off topic digressions on social dance. And I know that sounds crazy. And I know you think I am insane. But let me tell you something. The reason these people are so mad is not because our rhetoric is so ridiculous or annoying or offensive. The reason they are mad is due to the fact they actually get the point.

So now we get to this guy Redcap. Nice dude. Runs a great show. I really appreciate him. He has done me a tremendous solid. I have always wondered what it would be like if NPR ran a segment on my ideas during Fresh Air. And he really and truly managed to pull it off. Redcap is nice. He really is. Ah! The number of times the average teenage boy today is exhorted to be “nice”! What does that even mean?

Well, I’ll tell you. It means Redcap can’t even say my name. The cult of “nice” is capable of such mean things, isn’t it? There are so many other things we could have inculcated people with besides “nice”. Virtue for starters. Things like honesty, courage, noblesse oblige. I sometimes think that “nice” is a repudiation of those things. But Redcap is nice. And he really doesn’t like having to pick a side.

I hate it, too. You know… just the other day I remember I was actually even required to put on the “jersey” of the opposing team just to go to the grocery store or sit through a Christmas eve service. Where were all the “nice” people that didn’t like having to pick a side THEN I wonder?

But we were talking about rpgs. And yeah, I am afraid that all of this high-handed philosophy talk is really just a cover for an uglier, more fundamental battle. Rule zero as it is commonly practiced amounts to little more than “do as thou wilt show be the whole of the law.” And this is probably the greatest surprise of all to emerge from this entire fight over the nature of rpgs: it really does all boil down to a weird shadow war between the forces of Law and Chaos. This. After decades of people arguing that the idea of alignment makes absolutely no sense.

I hate to break it to you, but this war between the “do as thou wilt” people and the people that oppose them isn’t just some tacky internet debate where it makes sense for everyone to just be nice and make friends. It is the outward evidence of a very real spiritual battle.

In that war, no one has the option of being exempt from picking a side.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


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