Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Kickstarter - Worlds Without Number RPG: Offset Reprint

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 10/03/2023 - 01:42

First, it is Kevin Crawford. So, even if you aren't crazy about his ruleset, the tools he includes for GMs and running a sandbox are prices. Second, Kevin always gives back with his Kickstarters. Initially, it was putting the art commissioned for the project into the public domain. Now, he is releasing SRDs under the CC0 license, essentially the public domain. Wow. Simply wow.

Worlds Without Number is simply a beautiful ruleset. Bringing it back in an offset printing is awesome. A mini Gazetter is even better. An SRD under the CC0 license? Priceless.

Those backers who pledge at $80 or more will get the true prize of the campaign.

The Worlds Without Number offset-print book will be dispatched to them. Unlike the glued-binding print-on-demand books of the present age, these 400-page books have their pages folded into bundles and sewn directly into the spine of the book. The higher-quality printing also allows for richer ink colors, heavier matte paper for the pages, and fully-printed endsheets on the inside of the front and back covers. These books will be entirely identical to those issued as part of the initial offset print run except for the absence of the ribbon bookmark. If the campaign does well enough, I might be able to remedy that absence in the final release.

Offset-print backers within the United States will get their books shipped to a US address at no additional cost. International backers will be prompted for an additional fee for international shipping when they make their pledge. This fee does not include any duty that may be charged on receipt, as international tariffs are sadly too complex for me to manage on my end.

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

chatGPT vs. D&D game design

Blog of Holding - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 17:07

Can ChatGPT generate D&D rules? As D&D freelancer, that question is top of mind these days.

Not “can ChatGPT generate better rules than a good game designer?” I think the answer to that is quite obviously no. But “can ChatGPT generate content good enough that a publisher might think, hmm, paying 0/word is better than paying 5, 10, 15 cents per word?

Let’s see where we stand. I’ve just made a ChatGPT account and I’m going to give it a few prompts to see whether it’s good enough to take my job – or work for me, if I’m inclined to hire it! Fair warning, I’m rooting against ChatGPT, but I will try to be fair here.

Task 1: Translation. I’ll start off with an easy one just to calibrate my expectations. I’ll assign a simple, right-or-wrong task that anyone could do with a little research.

In the 2014 Players Handbook, one of the images has some runic letters on it, and the the letters spell out a supremely disappointing message: in something akin to Elder Futhark the runes spell something like “This is the Photoshop Lorem Ipsum Text.” A huge wasted opportunity for a hidden Easter egg. This could have been a hint about an upcoming product or a little “no x were harmed” joke! Could we use ChatGPT to come up with some more plausible text to jam into this image?

To see if ChatGPT can do this, let’s give it a nice easy question. My prompt:

Transliterate the first sentence of pride and prejudice into elder futhark

Elder Futhark is a runic alphabet with a wikipedia page and lots of information about it on the web, and Pride and Prejudice is a public domain book with a supremely famous first sentence: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” This should be an easy one.

ChatGPT’s response:

ᛁᛏ ᛁᛋ ᚫ ᛏᚱᚢᚠᛋᚫᚫ ᚢᚾᛁᚱᛡᛋᛚ᛫ ᚫᚦ ᚫ ᛋᛁᚾᚷᛚᛖ ᛗᚢᛋᛏ ᛒᛖ ᛁᚾ ᚹᚫᚾᛏ ᚩᚠ ᚫ ᚷᚢᛏ ᚠᛟᚱᚢᚾᛏ, ᛗᚢᛋᛏ ᛒᛖ ᛁᚾ ᚹᚫᚾᛏ ᛟᚠ ᚫ ᚷᚮᛞ ᚠᚮᚱᚢᚾᛏᛖ, ᛗᚢᛋᛏ ᛒᛖ ᛁᚾ ᚹᚫᚾᛏ ᚢᚾᛁᚱᛡᛋᛚᛖ.

This translates to

it is a trufsaa unirhsl ath a single must be in want of a gut forunt, must be in want of a g?d f?runte, must be in want unirhsle.

Arrant nonsense! The response is not all Elder Futhark runes, and it’s certainly not all Jane Austen. While it has stretches of being plausible, it gets into a sad loop at the end. Simple transliteration should be an easy task for a computer, so I’m astonished that ChatGPT failed so hard right out of the gate.

Task 2: Monster Creation. I write a lot of D&D monsters, so let’s see how ChatGPT copes with that task.

Prompt: write a D&D stat block for a CR 20 monster suitable for a campaign villain.

Here’s what ChatGPT came up with:

Eldrith the Malevolent
Large Fiend (Demon), Chaotic Evil

Armor Class: 19 (Natural Armor)
Hit Points: 270 (20d12 + 140)
Speed: 40 ft., Fly 60 ft.

STR 24 (+7)
DEX 18 (+4)
CON 24 (+7)
INT 20 (+5)
WIS 20 (+5)
CHA 22 (+6)

Saving Throws: Str +14, Dex +11, Con +14, Int +12, Wis +12, Cha +13
Skills: Arcana +12, Deception +13, Insight +12, Perception +12
Damage Resistances: Cold, Fire, Lightning
Damage Immunities: Poison; Bludgeoning, Piercing, and Slashing from Nonmagical Weapons
Condition Immunities: Charmed, Frightened, Poisoned
Senses: Truesight 120 ft., Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception 22
Languages: Abyssal, Common, Infernal, telepathy 120 ft.
Challenge: 20 (25,000 XP)

Legendary Resistance (3/Day). If Eldrith fails a saving throw, she can choose to succeed instead.

Magic Resistance. Eldrith has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Innate Spellcasting. Eldrith’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 21). She can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At will: detect magic, dispel magic, telekinesis, plane shift
3/day each: feeblemind, imprisonment, teleport

Spellcasting. Eldrith is a 20th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 20, +12 to hit with spell attacks). She can cast spells from the sorcerer and warlock spell lists. Eldrith has the following sorcerer and warlock spells prepared:

Cantrips (at will): eldritch blast, mage hand, prestidigitation, minor illusion
1st level (4 slots): eldritch blast, mage armor
2nd level (3 slots): misty step, suggestion
3rd level (3 slots): counterspell, dispel magic, fireball
4th level (3 slots): dimension door, greater invisibility
5th level (3 slots): teleport, wall of force
6th level (2 slots): chain lightning, globe of invulnerability
7th level (2 slots): finger of death, plane shift
8th level (1 slot): dominate monster, feeblemind
9th level (1 slot): time stop


Multiattack. Eldrith can use her Frightful Presence. She then makes three attacks: one with her bite and two with her claws.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 19 (3d8 + 7) piercing damage plus 14 (4d6) poison damage.

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +14 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d6 + 7) slashing damage.

Frightful Presence. Each creature of Eldrith’s choice within 120 feet of her and aware of her must succeed on a DC 21 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to Eldrith’s Frightful Presence for the next 24 hours.

Legendary Actions

Eldrith can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. Eldrith regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.

Attack. Eldrith makes one claw attack.

Spellcasting (Costs 2 Actions). Eldrith casts a spell from her list of prepared spells, using a spell slot as normal.

Teleport. Eldrith magically teleports, along with any equipment she is wearing or carrying, up to 120 feet to an unoccupied space she can see.

Lair Actions

On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), Eldrith takes a lair action to cause one of the following effects; Eldrith can’t use the same effect two rounds in a row:

Eldrith casts teleport to switch places with another creature within her lair.
Eldrith casts wall of force to create a barrier, dividing the battlefield.

Regional Effects

The region containing Eldrith’s lair is warped by her magic, creating one or more of the following effects:

Eldrith’s presence causes plants to wither and die within 1 mile of her lair.
Creatures within 1 mile of the lair are subject to unsettling dreams and fitful sleep, causing them to suffer from exhaustion.
Non-magical fires within 1 mile of the lair burn with an eerie, green flame.

These effects fade if Eldrith is slain.

Description: Eldrith the Malevolent is a fiendish being of immense power, with command over both sorcery and warlock magic. Her lair is a dark and twisted realm, corrupted by her malevolent presence. Eldrith is a cunning and manipulative adversary, using her vast array of spells and abilities to outsmart and overpower her foes. She is known for her ability to strike fear into the hearts of even the bravest heroes, and her cruel and sadistic nature makes her a formidable foe in any battle.

Roleplaying Notes: Eldrith is a master of deception and manipulation, and she delights in toying with the emotions and minds of those who oppose her. She is relentless in her pursuit of power and is willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her goals. Eldrith is fiercely intelligent and strategic, always thinking several steps ahead of her enemies. She revels in chaos and revels in the suffering of others. Eldrith is a truly malevolent force to be reckoned with, and facing her in battle will be a challenge that only the most skilled and determined adventurers can hope to overcome.

OK, there’s a lot here, both good and bad. On the good side, ChatGPT got the format approximately correct. It realized that a campaign villain should be a legendary monster (on the other hand, since nearly all CR 20+ monsters are legendary, maybe that’s a coincidence based on the way the dataset is weighted?) Hit points and other stats are plausible for CR 20. It seems to have correctly calculated skills and saving throws, which is amazing for a bot that mangled a single line of Pride and Prejudice beyond all recognition. It made a few errors, of course. D12 is the wrong die type for a Large monster, though it got the hit point caculation right otherwise. It has eldritch blast listed as both a cantrip and 1st-level spell; I guess someone named Eldrith really has to lean into eldritch blast. But this is just nitpicking. The real problem with Eldrith is that she’s boring and her mechanics don’t support her story.

Mechanically, Eldrith is a reskin of every 5e dragon ever, which is unfortunate since we’re all sick of stock 5e dragons at this point. Frightful Presence followed by a claw/claw/bite is marginally plausible for a fiend, I guess, but we all know what we’re looking at here, and that’s a dragon without a breath weapon. The spellcasting tucked in the legendary actions is interesting: I don’t mind it, to tell the truth. But I’m not sure it will salvage the boring gameplay of this dragon sans breath weapon. Let’s take a closer look.

What spells will Eldrith cast? Time stop is good but she doesn’t have a lot of buff spells to back it up (mage armor is useless given her natural armor; greater invisibility, wall of force, and globe of invulnerability all use concentration). Dominate monster and suggestion are not great in combat. Plane shift, misty step, dimension door, teleport, her bizarre extra innate teleport, and the teleport legendary action are amazingly redundant (maybe not so amazing considering the results of the Jane Austen task). So what spells will this campaign boss cast? After using feeblemind, chain lightning, and finger of death, Eldreth is maybe best off using her high-level slots to upcast fireball in order to make up for the breath weapon she’s missing. Overall, she’s got a somewhat random assortment of spells, best suited to running away (not a bad skillset for a campaign villain tbh).

How well does Eldreth fare lorewise? Her description is cliche-ridden (cunning and manipulative adversary, cruel and sadistic, master of deception and manipulation, strikes fear, delights in toying with the emotions and minds of those who oppose her, relentless in her pursuit of power, got it, yup, yup.) And the description doesn’t particularly match her mechanics. She has no unique stat block mechanics that let her be cunning and manipulative — or unique stat block mechanics of any other kind. Spell-wise, suggestion and dominate monster are the best matches for her flavor. I’d really like to see more charm, fear, phantasmal force, and modify memory on her spell list. And she desperately needs a signature ability — something, anything, unique, preferably something that matches her manipulative-mastermind lore.

What strikes me about Eldreth is that she is unfinished. She’s a half-baked cake with no icing. ChatGPT did the easy part for us, but left the hardest part – “make it interesting” – undone.

Task 3: Magic Item Enchantment. OK, maybe a 20th level monster was a bit of a stiff challenge. Let’s try something significantly easier: a magic item.

My prompt:

Write a magic item description in the style of the Fifth Edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide. The magic item should be named “The Rose of Estes” and should provide specific benefits that interact with D&D game rules. Word count: 100-150 words

ChatGPT’s response:

The Rose of Estes

Wondrous Item (Amulet), Legendary (Requires Attunement)

This exquisite amulet holds a crimson rose within a crystalline pendant. Crafted by the enchanter Estes, it embodies the eternal cycle of nature. While attuned, you gain the following:

Blossom’s Vigor: As a reaction when hit, the rose blooms, granting you temporary hit points equal to your proficiency bonus.

Photosynthesis Affinity: When exposed to sunlight, you regain hit points equal to half your level at the start of your turn.

Verdant Resilience: You have advantage on saving throws against poisons, diseases, and effects that cause exhaustion.

Curse: You are compelled to protect plant life. If a plant is harmed within 30 feet, you must make a Wisdom saving throw (DC 15) or take 1d6 psychic damage.

Roleplaying Note: The Rose pulses with the rhythm of nature. Its petals shimmer when danger nears, a testament to Estes’ love for the wild. When worn, it’s as if the amulet breathes in time with the natural world.

Shoot, that’s … not bad. The lore is maybe a bit bland, but I like the curse. It is, however, somewhat OP. Too OP? Temporary hit points AND regeneration every turn is pretty strong. Let’s compare other items. Ring of Regeneration (very rare) grants regeneration of 3 hp per 10 minutes, and the Ioun stone of regeneration (legendary) grants 15 hp per hour. Even the Eye and Hand of Vecna combined — two artifacts — only grant a regeneration factor of 1d10 hp per turn. Meanwhile, the Rose of Estes grants your level HP per turn (probably 15 or more hp considering the item’s rarity), though it’s limited to sunlight situations, which is a significant limitation. I wonder, though, is this a case of the Rose of Estes being OP or of the DMG items being too conservative? When characters are high-level enough to use legendary items, between-battle healing is not exactly hard to come by.

Balance aside, the Rose of Estes description misses on the most important qualification for freelance writing. It’s 160 words — higher than my very clearly-spelled-out word count. Making it… just like every freelance writer turnover ever.

My conclusion: ChatGPT is sometimes astonishing in what it can do. It’s amazing that a bot can intuit and regurgitate game rules! But despite that, it’s just not there yet as a RPG-writing tool. Half the time, it gives you solid but uninspired work. That might be useful in a certain niche, but you can’t trust it because the other half of the time, it spouts nonsense with the appearance of utter confidence. Just as AI art prompts so often produce conventionally attractive folks festooned with extra fingers and other tendrils, ChatGPT’s D&D rules prompts generate a mixture of the banal and the broken.

Right now, ChatGPT is not a finished product but a promise — a promise to democratize art by separating creative workers from their means of production. Inasmuch as I just want to watch the world burn, I’m curious to see where it will go next. As AI improves, we’ll have to figure out a way to live alongside it. After all, you can’t get the genie back in the bottle. All you can do is find a way to survive the genie’s Frightful Presence and claw/claw/bite.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Dangerous Idolatry

Doomslakers! - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 16:01

I enjoy discovering new artists and being amazed by what they can do. The internet has been a magnificent blessing for the arts as more and more folks are practicing and sharing their work. In the old days, you'd find new artists by reading comics and browsing the bookshelves and magazines. Today you can find ten new ones a day and get bored before you run out.

Sean Aaberg amazes me.
The ones that impress me to the most often have copious amounts of work, including a seemingly endless series of sketchbooks in addition to their finished works. And I'm always blown away by that because that ain't me. I'm the artist over here with just a handful of sketchbooks, most of which are not full.

Erol Otus mesmerizes me.
Part of this is because I don't believe I'm obsessed with drawing. I love to draw, and I think about drawing nearly all the time. But I don't actually do it as much as I would like. Another part of the reason is that between 2009 and 2023, with maybe a year offset somewhere in the middle, I drew almost exclusively digitally. So I don't have physical drawings lying around from that period. I have thousands of PSD and TIF files*.

Raven Perez blows my mind.
But that's an aside, really. The point of this post is to talk about why envy is a potentially toxic shitty thing to do to yourself.

Brian Baugh makes me happy.
To be clear: it is good to look at the art of others, marvel at it, love it, and even express the very human "man, I wish I could do that!". This is not the problem, as long as you don't let it become one. That feeling turns dark when you look at their work and compare it to your work, looking for all the ways in which you are not as good as them.

Don't do this.

Evlyn Moreau enchants me.
It isn't helpful to anyone, most of all to yourself. You are not them. The strokes you make are yours. The drawings you draw are yours. You can never do what they do because you are not them.

Bud Root gives me funny feelings.
Also, they are not a representation of perfection. I don't care if their art is the most beautiful you've ever seen and it makes you cry and they have thousands of beautiful pieces and other thousands of pages of sketches. They are not you, you are not them. And you can only be you.

Joe Vaux kickstarts my imagination.
It sounds stupid to say it. Like a "duh" kind of moment. But you gotta realize how urgently true it is. You are an embodied individual tied inextricably to your own personal history and your own personal future, which has yet to be written. Focus on what you do. Look at their work, enjoy it, learn from, take from it what you feel will help you grow and feel more robust. But never do the math on who is better. That way leads only to dread and self-loathing.

Matthew Allison makes me want to get better.
*Honestly, to satisfy my lust for printed material, I am considering doing a "digital sketchbook series" where I collect tons of those drawings into a few print books. I think that could be super fun. 

Vaughn Bodé sings to my spirit.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #260: Sinister Bare Ridges

Roles & Rules - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 15:49

 Four hexes northwest, eight north of Alakran.


These hills, not graced with a name, have an evil reputation in Kin-Yan. They are the barren end of an otherwise wooded series of ridges, but it is not the high points that are shunned, but the valleys. Supposedly those low places were carved by the great two-headed demon, ill luck to name, dragging its tentacular limbs in the manner of ploughs to sow all manner of vileness. Scoundrels fleeing pursuit from villagers, or from the nearby military garrisons, might do well to remember this. All the same, an arrow and a sling stone from the heights can catch a person unless they are very well hidden in the valley. And whether a curse does linger in the vale, none have dared for generations to find out.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Village on the Borderlands

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 11:11
By Mark Taormino Dark Wizard Games OSRIC Levels 1-3

Enjoy those fucking hill giants at level one, you fucking idiots!

The Hamlet of Taldren has been a peaceful settlement for many years, however dark times have fallen upon its denizens. Roving bands of Ogres have been raiding the stockpiles and animal pens in the night! It is believed they answer to a rambunctious giant living in a nearby lush green valley known as the Hill Giant Highlands. There have also been reports of strange animated fungi plant monsters appearing in the Caverns of the Wicked Peaks. Folks have even spotted bandits lurking around the ruins of Sternholm Keep and wandering skeletons in the old cemetary in the Forest of the Fallen Oaks. The villagers have cobbled together a ragtag group of willing adventurers to put an end to these dastardly fiends wherever they spawn. Fame, fortune and glory await those brave souls who can defeat these evil monsters and restore order to the Village on the Borderlands!

This 64 page adventure describes a village and four small dungeons. It represents all that is wrong with the universe and I literally do not give one shit about it. 

Fucking garbage through and through, that’s what this is. A complete insult to every other adventure ever written, the last fifteen years of the internet, and every bit of common sense that should be available to even the most casual fan of Dungeons and Dragons. I hope I die before I wake.

64 pages is what we get. For fifteen fucking dollars. Fifteen dollars. I’m not usually one to bitch about price, but it’s this kind of shit that gives moderately priced supplements a bad name. Why the fuck would I ever spend even five dollars on something if this is the kind of quality I can expect to get from it? Why not just pirate the fucking thing since it’s going to be garbage anyway. Sure, tell yourself you’ll pay for it if its good, whatever gets you through the night. The real issue is that this dude took fifteen dollars from me and gave me this great steaming pile of shit. Why ever buy anything? Just take the shit they shovel down your fucking throat and be fucking happy that they didn’t also kill you when they fucking did it. Expectations. Don’t have any. Ever. Just expect that you are burning your fucking money. If anything else happens then be fucking thrilled about it.

But, of course, the first 36 pages describe the village. An utterly boring village. I’m not even sure how you get to 36 pages describing a village. Oh, wait, I know, you describe fifteen farmers hovels. All idyllic. All with chicken and all french country kitchen and tuscan kitchen. No, don’t get your fucking hopes up, the descriptions aren’t that good. Oh, they are long as all fuck. Long, overlong, read-aloud. And long DM text. Paragraphs. Long ones. With lots and lots and lots of bolding. Of Entire sentences. Multiples sentences at a time. Half of a long paragraph bolded. Whats the fucking point of doing this? You’re calling attention to what exactly? That there’s a jar of pepper on the shelf? It’s a fucking abomination. Theres NOTHING going on in this place. NOTHING. Take this, one small snippet from an overly long DM text that happens after an overly long read-aloud about Yet Another Farmers Hovel “He is looking for extra money so he may offer to sell the PCs his Potion of Water Breathing for a reasonable price (GMs discretion). His wife is dressed in a modest, but well-kept dress that hints at elegance despite its simplicity and her blonde hair is tied back in a neat bun” You could have fucking done something with that. But, nope, nothing. The highlight is a druid that is blind. If you steal from him it’s a “moral challenge”, but, also, he’s got 400pp in a chest along with a +3 dagger and a necklace of prayer beads, along with other goodies. Moral test indeed! And these ARE the highlights, by far, so don’t go fucking telling yourself that you can handle something with that kind of content. 

Oh, oh, all of the read-aloud is in second person. Everything. EVERYTHING. Second person. “

As you survey the area you can’t help but wonder what other dangers and mysteries this valley holds” Pardon me while I throw up in my mouth from the hackneyed writing and then throw up again from the second person writing. 

And this extends to the writing in the dungeons. Fucking railroaded encounters. Oh, no, not that kind. Oh no it’s the absolute worst kind. After suffering through a long read-aloud about a throne room in a cave it ends with the figure on the trone standing up and saying “My blade and I have been waiting for you.”  If you stumble upon some ogres in the hill giant caves then one of the read-alouds ends with “The one with the club drunkenly grumbles about him cheating as he turns around and notices your party. He speaks in Common, “Any of you want to play Knucklebones with me… hiccup?” So fuck you and fuck your stealth. Fuck your invisibility. Fuck your wizard eye and gaseous form. Fuck everything you, as a player, do. Fucking railroaded second person read-aloud. I thought I had seen everything but this is surely a new low in adventure design. 

Page long read-aloud. Quarter page read-aloud. That throne room? The art above the room entry shows a skeleton dude on a throne. Turns out though that it’s just a normal human dude. Perfect. The art is not just not contributing to the adventure it is actually working against comprehension. Just the fuck what I want in an D&D adventure. 

It’s all fucking garbage. The village. The dungeons. All trash. Second person. Too long read-aloud. Too long DM text. Bolding EVERYWHERE to the point it actually causes more confusion than not using it. Boring ass dungeon full of stabbing things and a few traps. “Use DMs discretion” advice everywhere. 

This thing can go fuck itself. FIfteen fucking dollars. Fuck you man. Fuck You. Dark Wizard Games needs to get a lot smarter a lot faster.

This is $15 at DriveThru. The preview is ten pages. Check ou preview page five/real page three for an idea of the bolding issues, but, imagine MORE bolding.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A More Civilized Age

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 11:00

Art by Donato Giancola
I'm all for "lived-in futures" and dusty, grubby space Westerns, but I feel like there are some science fiction aesthetics that don't get their due. And I'm not talking gleaming, featureless rocket hulls and silver lamé outfits. I mean the more refined, swashbuckling, adventure film derived style.

Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon was probably the biggest feature in promoting this style, but it shows up in other places like Cody Starbuck by Howard Chaykin:

And in Milady 3000 and i Briganti by Magnus (Roberto Raviola):

It's not really absent from the Star Wars saga. It just shows up more in the prequels than in the original films. I think there's a hint of it in Lynch's Dune and the SyFy mini-series version--though it is sorely lacking from the drear Villeneuve version.

Black Pudding #7

Doomslakers! - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 09:10

I'm very proud of Black Pudding. What started in 2016 as an experiment to create the kind of OSR stuff I liked to see has persisted, albeit at a slow pace. This post is about the latest issue, #7.

This issue is a milestone for me because it includes a 16-page gazetteer (17, counting the names tables) setting of my fantasy world of Yria. I had toyed with this idea for a long time, assuming I would have to devote an entire 100-page book to the topic to do it right. In the end, I realized all I needed was a quick-and-dirty GM's guide to the setting. And 16 pages did the trick, at least for me.

It starts with a map, as is often the case. I have a love-hate relationship with maps. They define things a little too much up front for my tastes, but they are also beautiful and inspiring - and the whole point of any Black Pudding zine is to inspire. The Yria map is one that has went through a lot of incarnations over the years, but the one showing up in BP7 is as close to legit as you're gonna get. Hell, in a future edition I might utterly change it. I don't know. Each TTRPG table is its own world, after all.

Next you get a list of the major areas on a d66 table. So 36 areas are given as possible birthplaces
and/or adventure locations. I also include a d20 inspiration table for adventure keywords, something I've always done for myself. I often call these "beats". So when I'm coming up with an adventure to run I might list 3 or 4 beats such as ritual, paranoia, moon, and dead crops. Beats sort of paint the images in your head. The keyword table in BP7 includes words that are essential to the Yria setting. They are not random words, they all have meaning to me. They are deliberate choices.

The next two pages are an actual gazetteer of the 36 locations, ala X1: Isle of Dread. Less is more. I went with broad strokes, planting images using keywords for each location. Instead of describing the government structure and ruling elites of Seapath, I just tell you the vibe: One of the five cities. Serpentine across the mountain pass, ruled by the rich, sought by the desperate. Come to trade, stay to dream. You get an image of the city (serpentine across the mountain pass... it lays like a snake, humped over a mountain). You know who runs the show. You know why folks would go there and something about why they might stay. It seems to be a place rife with corruption, but also full of hope or at least potential wealth.

Next five pages are devoted to the five cities. Yria only has five cities of note. Any other cities are either ruins, cursed, or not very big. This concept is very much in the vein of the "points of light" across a "dark wilderness" motif. That is, I believe, a super-effective way to game*. Each city gets one page with imagery and various tables for what you might see or encounter. The rulers are noted, and a very brief description is given, akin to the 36 location gazetteer style. So if the short description of Seapath from above isn't enough, the one page for Seapath gives you a little more.

The second half of the section is the mythos. This mythos (100% using that term because of Deities & Demigods, the most inspiring D&D book of all time) has been with me for many years. Decades. It underpins almost every fantasy setting I've ever created or tried to create. It is based on one dozen beings, each of which I sketched onto small blue cardboard cards sometime in the early 2000s. Those images appear in the book, though in gray scale of course. The section gives you that list of beings and their general powers, broadly-speaking. Being heavily influenced by Deities & Demigods, I wanted/needed each of them to be corporeal as well as spiritual and eternal. They have bodies. They have stats. You can interact with them.

Rather than giving the specific stat block for each deity, I opted to merely suggest them. Each one is based loosely on an existing B/X monster. So for example Black Wing (death) is based on a giant roc with 300 hit points. Each god is described loosely, focusing on their demeanor and concerns. Some sketch is given of how you would worship them and what their clerics are like. And the final detail, which I really liked, is that each one has some lists of keywords to describe being in their presence. I think that's all you need.

The whole thing wraps with 5 d66 tables of common names, each keyed to one of the five cities.'

In case you ever wondered, this is my favorite thing so far in the series. I realize it isn't exactly the same kind of stuff that made the zine popular. It isn't hand-scrawled, it isn't universally useful. It's very specific to my world. But I designed it as loosely as possible to allow easy access. It is very easy to steal from.

Other things in the issue are more typical of the zine. There are 4 new character classes, one of which is the Rat Bastard. I created that one way back in 2017, which is why it, more than any other, has the tone and vibe of early BP issues. It was meant to go into issue 2 but somehow I left it out. I have no idea what happened or how I missed it all these years. Happy to finally include it.

The other class I really love in this one is the Eyeball. That one is a keeper, for me. And we also get some coolness from contributor David Okum! A handful of monsters and a character sheet round the thing out. In fact... this one features my favorite character sheet so far. I love this one because it is the cleanest and most useful that I've ever created.

*The first proper D&D campaign I was ever in, way back in 1987 in high school, started as a crude 8.5 x 11 map of a town. It was the DM's setting at that point. I think he only knew the town and nearby areas, so that's where we adventured. It grew a bit over time. It's a brilliant way to do a campaign: don't flood the players with information! Just paint the image and start playing.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Running B1-9 In Search of Adventure '87 With Castles & Crusades For a Mini Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 04:59
 "Threshold. The northernmost town in the Duchy?and your last stop before your adventures begin. Threshold, the gateway to mysterious castles, lost temples, deadly caves and caverns. You have heard the stories and legends now you wish to see for yourself."This product provides a complete campaign adventure that will take beginning characters from 1st all the way to 3rd level and possibly beyond, Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Review & Commentary On Using Quick Ship File: Roanoke and Raccoon Class Ships By Moon Toad Publishing For Cepheus Engine Rpg & 2d6 Traveller rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 19:28
 "The Roanoake Class Merchant is a low cost, general purpose, 400 dton commercial merchant vessel, that is a cost effective, short range, cargo ship suitable for mixed passengers and freight. It is suitable for operating in a slightly higher threat environment than normal vessels of this class as it is equipped with 4 turrets, as standard."Quick Ship File: Roanoke and Raccoon Class Ships By Moon Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Trollopulous Adjusted Session 25: The Tutorial Dungeon that Wasn’t

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 17:22

Okay, this one… we lost the two girls to scheduling. And the dad was taking care of family stuff. My alpha-gamer buddy managed to scrounge up a couple of millennial guys who I could not quite figure out. They kept talking about going to this guy’s dad’s house for Father’s Day and I was like… “uh, are you… brothers…?” It turned out they were married. Womp womp.

Being of the hotbed of hardcore radtrad Catholicism that is the BrOSR, you would think I would be concerned about these guys fitting into a retrograde campaign with explicit Christian elements but no. After some back and forth about AD&D’s humanocentrism, Fritz Leiber, and a couple of bits from the campaign, the two guys were working up cross dimenasional Ptolomeic elves with some sort of connection to the Olympian pantheon due to their alignments.

We worked up an entirely new party because the other group was in time jail due to training. Nobody complained or even asked about it. It did take forever to roll them up. AD&D takes at least twice as long as B/X as far as this goes. I really need to xerox the relevant charts and tables for people for in the future.

Now, I had worked out with the other players from the online game an attack on the party with the dragon eggs. I thought this would be a big hit and was wildly excited about it. As I broached the subject, I got pushback on this simply having happened as a background event. Not having the same group as last time helped stymie the excitement, too. As we began to go back and forth on it, I finally had to table the discussion because we really needed to get playing for real.

After another of those three minute Trollopulous overviews, the players opted for the local dungeon. (They were not going to to anything about the hill giants that dropped by Urgrecht demanding protection money.) I had to restock the dungeon on the fly and got “gnolls” and “a sulphurous oder”. The players rolled into the dungeon entrance and asked if they heard anything, so I described this sound of something struggling to breath. The mom IMMEDIATELY declared it must be a pug, which amazed me. I showed everyone a illustration from the booklet for a pug-man and everyone had a laugh. Someone, maybe a ranger, rolled up on it and took it out quickly. The party continued on, passing over the sulpherous smell and the passage marked with a skull on a spear. They came up on the rest of the pugs and had a nasty fight. The four henchman lost a figure and then failed a saving throw. After some back and forth, the pugs failed a saving throw as well and two ran out of the dungeon.

At this point the players decided to go for a proper burial for the fallen henchman that needed a week to recover. I think they gave him additional hazard pay due to his taking a solid hit. The players decided that this dungeon must be too hard– though in this case it was a fluke that a second level monster had ended up on the first level. (See the obscure DMG stocking rules.) The 15-year-old boy really wanted to gamble so I ran the Zowie game for him a few times. The guy wanted to really play cards and didn’t like it, but then one of the ptolomeic elfs agreed to gamble with him playing blackjack. We chitchat for a while and the two new dudes left for a father’s day meetup.

At this point the players decided to go to the tutorial dungeon. There was no way I was going to stock this before the session, I was shocked when they went there. There were no wilderness encounters on the way there (unfortunately) so my hope for more freeform gaming in the overworld fizzled away. (Making Steadington too hard to bottle the players up was now working against me.) There was another group of hill giants hitting Lothrivengrove up for protection fees and again the players ignored the obviously too-hard hook.

Going into the dungeon, I had hobgoblins near the entrance. I decided he would taunt them and then run away, and the extremely aggressive party ended up trailing up to his lair. This resulted in a rather tedious fight in which the group’s wardogs did most of the work. The players found a chest and had the elf PC that was serving as a henchman here check it for traps and open it. The inevitable poison needle hit him and he made his 7+ roll to avoid getting killed. A false bottom in the chest revealed an illusionist scroll.

At this point the players hear footsteps coming down the hall and they rush out. I described them as short creatures with long, darkened faces and long pointy ears and horrible sneering faces. They decided they were goblins and attacked. This was a REALLY tedious fight and though the “goblins” were losing, they made their morale roll when the odds were wildly against them and continued to fight. Then when they later failed their morale roll and ran away, I found out that there movement rate was so slow they were just not going to be able to get away at all!

At this point I didn’t want the game to be too boring. The treasure amounts were just too small. I declared this group had a piece of jewelry when this was a wandering monster that shouldn’t have had any at all. This was a bad call and I feel bad about it in retrospect.

The players continued their delve, however, in spite of their having lost some war dogs. They turned into a room with a giant, leering face on the wall. The mom carefully drew out my description of the fangs, horns, and tongue. Beside the face was a box with three buttons on it. And I think there was a smell of sulpher coming from its nostrils. This was obviouslly a silly and dangerous puzzle which the players opted to leave alone.

Moving on, there was a room to the right which had a disgusting, godawful smell emanating from it. The players decided it is the monster bathroom and move on.

Rounding the corner is another large room. The light from the bullseye lantern sweeps right and left and across the cieling before settling on a horrific nine foot tall humanoid gnawing on a broken femur.

The thing charges and I think instantly cuts a hired footman to pieces. Between rounds I check for morale and I think the failure was so bad, I declared that the men were frozen with fear a la that chick from the alien movie. Everybody else runs and we find out the 15-year-old that wanted to be an evil Jedi was the only person in the group with a move of 6″. I think I calculated that if the players had a two round head start they could escape the dungeon without getting caught. The jedi kid elected to throw himself into the poo room and then later snuck out of the dungeon when everything calmed down.

The players noted that the “tutoral dungeon” evidently had encounters in it that were definitely not “tutorial” grade. I thought a very large area of level one monsters with level one treasures would be very boring. Also I had alluded to the troll being there back at Madicon.

I think the thing to do is to leave the Troll in as a wandering monster with maybe a hidden lair loaded with extra good loot. Also… those poor “goblins” need something. Maybe a mine or a forge. Who were they delivering that necklace to? [

The players were offered 2000 for the necklace in Lothrivengrove. They looked for a buyer in Urgrecht and got 3000. I thought it was too much. It got split 3.5 different ways.

I think the news item was that a diplomatic mission from the dwarf king to Kickatrix to help with the impending war effort. Wanted posters with the PC’s description will be circulating.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Just Discovered a New Console/Computer RPG for Under $10....

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 16:55

This weekend has been a pretty good one for me gaming-wise. Got to sling dice Friday night for a bit...and that'd normally be enough to record this as a good weekend (unless you have a shitty GM & group....been there, quit that, sorry if that hits close to home), but Saturday was a bit more game-filled than expected and this Sunday morning I'm dragging ass a bit because of it.

I know, I know, why should you care.....I'll get there...eventually.

So Saturday morning I managed to get a while hair up my ass and decided to finally break down and pick up a game I've been wanting to try for like, forever. Stopped in at my FLGS and they did not have a copy of HeroQuest. I've never played it, but it isn't a cheap game by any means, so deciding to pull the trigger on a $100+ game isn't something I take lightly.

Since that didn't happen, I drove around town, did my normal Saturday errands, and stopped off at my local Gamestop to look at used XBox games. That store did have a copy of HeroQuest, and it was $95! Online it's listed at $135.....yoinks, mine now. I haven't cracked it open yet because I don't need to see more minis I'm not going to paint and terrain I need, but am not going to build (I'll eventually do that is a lie I tell myself often). 

On a side note, I just did a HeroQuest google search and I think I may have started myself down a very dark and dangerous board game path.....holy hell there is a lot of add-ons and customization....this purchase may be my gateway drug to a new gaming addiction...(hope not).

While I was at Gamestop, well it was my main purpose for being there until I got sidelined by HeroQuest, I managed to pick up some games during a 4 for $20 (priced $10 or less). Normally it's hard for me to find enough games that I want to pretend I'll play, but I found three I liked & wanted to try, but I needed a I grabbed up Pillars of Eternity (Complete Edition).

Holy crap did I just luck out, and if you're anything like me you might be going, WTF is Pillars of Eternity? Hell, I didn't have clue.....just picked it up to round out my purchases figuring the $7 was essentially free. Now I had asked about the new Baldur's Gate game and Gamestop didn't carry codes or copies of the game. I liked the original Baldur's Gate game, have bought it like three time now, but the Xbox version.......suuuuuuuuuuuucckkssssssss. The controls are crap. I guess that the new Baldur's Gate 3 game isn't yet available for Xbox, and last I heard it will be download only and only available on the Xbox Series X. If you have a S or Xbox One, you're just SOL. Now that's just what I've heard....

If you don't want to wait and/or shell out $60 or like $560 if you don't have a Series X, and you liked the OG Baldur's Gate, then check out Pillars of Eternity. While it took a little getting used to, the controls (and graphics) are great and....well I'm impressed. It feels like instead of taking a tabletop RPG and forcing a console game over the top of it, they did the reverse. It's playable and a lot of the fiddly bits are pushed aside, but there if you need them. I don't quite understand the game mechanics 100%, but I don't need to. There's enough to get to just jump in and there's a lot of lore I can either dive into, or just gloss over.

I thought I'd just make sure the game ran, maybe see what character creation was like, and get through the intro. Next thing I know it's 1 AM. 

One thing I really liked it that this game doesn't coddle you and aside from a little necessary rail-roading during the intro, lets you figure things out on your own. A couple of barely-spoilery events in the first bits of the game:

  • You enter your first "dungeon" with a couple of NPCs....or maybe they'll be party members....and one wants you to do one thing and the other definately doesn't want you to do that one thing. If you do what the one character wants, which makes sense and is totally reasonable, the other character nopes out.
  • When you get past the end of the required adventure start railroad you're free to explore. You comes across a solitary character that is morning the loss of a friend to a bear attack. He warns you to not enter the cave to the North, which I promptly tried to do.....and got ganked hard. Well that dude did warn you..... My PC has leveled a couple times so I got back and try again. Oh hell no! That bear un-alived my group just as quickly as before, and this time I had tactics and everything. I'm not sure what level I need to be to overcome this brute, but so far the only way to survive this Kobayashi Maru is not to play.

There's a few game mechanics that I'm really enjoying, mostly because I have some pre-conceived notions that Pillars of Eternity is just not playing into. First is that I'm expecting party members to just come along for me to accept or turn down, so I'm talking to every character with a name. After a few hours of gameplay I've found one. That guy is an established new party member, but I could, and just did, hire an adventurer. When you do that you get to basically create them like you did your main PC, and so far there isn't really any difference between the hired gun and the discovered-in-the-wild party member.

The other new thing I like is actually kind of two-fold. When you level your character and get to add some traits/abilities, you can choose to add a low-level starting ability of another class. I haven't taken one of these options yet, but I'm hoping that can basically lead towards some sort of dual/multi classing. Speaking of classing, if you decided you don't like where your PC is heading ability-wise, you can pay to basically retrain (re-class) your PC. Again, not something I'm taking advantage of, but the fact it's there is pretty cool.

Pillars of Eternity was made by Obsidian Entertainment, who has done some damned fine computer games (pretty much too many to list) and this game was Kickstarted! I know, listing a successful big-budget gaming KS here at the Tavern is like almost unheard of. It's also available on Steam right now for a whopping $9.99 (for the version I have on XBox). I'm considering picking up the PC version as well for when I travel.

If you like isometric computer RPGs and don't want to (or can't) shell out $60+ for Baldur's Gate 3, then I highly recommend Pillars of Eternity.....for $10 or'll defiantly get your money's worth!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #259: The VIllage of Kin-Yan

Roles & Rules - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 15:42

 Five hexes northeast, seven north of Alakran.


With fertile grounds nearby and a source of water from the Nahlu river, Kin-Yan has grown almost to be a small town, population 750 or so. The growth has led to conflict between the old village residents, who wear traditional black-dyed clothing, and the more diverse newcomers. As well, the old village families stick to a traditional faith around a Shrine to a nameless god known only as the All-Creator, with three priests who are pledged to a vow of ignorance. But the newcomers have brought their own faiths, although as yet, no practitioners of those faiths.

The arrival of people of war, magic, or faith augment these tensions, as each side suspects the other of having made a deal with the newcomers. So, gifts of up to 250 gp incrementally can be gained from each side by adeptly playing the situation.  But exploiting the tension increases the chances that violence will break out. The first sign of this will be a fistfight between two villagers, which the others strive to break up. The next fight will be three on a side, and after that there is a brawl involving veryone in earshot. After that, the villagers turn to their farming and trade tools when they fight, and only bloodshed involving ten or more deaths will start the sobering process of peace.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

John Ra

Doomslakers! - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 14:30

I really don't care too much about precision when it comes to describing the arts. For example, there might be an album I call heavy metal and you say it is technically grindcore, I think that's fascinating but ultimately I don't care about getting it "wrong" very much. It's still metal. And let's be real: some of the sub-categories of metal are ridiculously granular*. Unless you're a super-aficionado, nobody cares. Heavy, thrash, death, prog, and black are probably all you need to describe the landscape. Maybe.

That's a digression. The point of this post is to talk about genre in fiction, a little bit. And to ramble. A lot.

I am not an avid reader. When I was a teenager I read what I considered to be a lot of books. Started with some books I can't remember and moved into Tolkien and Howard and others. But upon hearing the reading habits of some of my RPG friends, holy shit I was not an avid reader. I was a dabbler at best. My god some of you people read like you want to destroy your eyes.

Anyway, the books I read when I was young were mostly fantasy novels with a few SF tossed in here and there. I know a lot of people say that D&D expands kids' vocabulary and leads them to read more. In my case, once I started playing D&D I actually read fewer books. I was too damn busy making things up and giving them stats. Why would I read someone else's ideas when I could make up my own?

Later, mostly in my 20 and 30s, I read a lot of nonfiction. Far more nonfic than fiction. I was really into books about science, such as The Beak of the Finch and River out of Eden and I also read things like A People's History of the United States and Night.

Today what I discover is that my favorite genre of fiction is sword and sorcery... a sub-category of fantasy that isn't easily defined and is historically marked by some of the most egregious sexism and racism you can find in fantasy fiction. I never claimed to have lofty tastes, after all. I am a lowbrow artist, I believe.

But when it comes to making games, I really do love sci-fantasy. That is, fantasy with spaceships and robots. It's kind of goofy, a little over the top, but it offers everything and that appeals to me for some reason. Especially when running games. I like to riff and improvise and such a setting is most forgiving in that regard.

*I use Spotify a lot. Like a fucking LOT. I go to sleep with it in my ears on most nights. Each year they do this "wrap up" thing where they tell you what you listened to. Mine always tells me I'm "adventurous" because I listed to over 1,000 genres in the past year. How the FUCK are there 1,000 genres? I know for a fact I do not listen to all types of music. I've never been into hip-hop, for example. But I guess because there were a handful of hip-hop songs that I listened to more than once that counts as me being adventurous. I dunno. But jesus, "hyper-techno-death-thrash-grindcore-alternative" is not a fucking thing. It's probably just rock.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Women and Weirdos

Doomslakers! - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 11:00

Beauty and the beast is a kind of trope that refers to a juxtaposed couple: the beautiful, pure, true, good female and the bestial, rough, bad male. Of course the story typically entails her finding the good in him.

But what is the wider trope of the beautiful female juxtaposed against the grotesque, weird, robotic, or monstrous male? Not quite the same as beauty and beast, this wider trope can involve any sort of weirdo being next to the female character. It's a super common thing in fantasy art. You see it all the time with artists like Bode, Azpiri, Corben, Frazetta, etc. It's so common it just kind of hides among all the other art.

Women and weirdos. Hotties and horrors. Chicks and chucks (ok, that's a stretch).

To wit, here's an Arthur Suydam piece perfectly illustrating the idea. Let's ignore that he's a prick for a moment and enjoy his Wally Wood impression.

Arthur Suydam
Blas Galego doing it as well. I don't know anything about Galego, but I enjoy his work.
 Blas Gallego

I recently fell in love with Brian Baugh's art, which is 100% in this vein. So check him out.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Doomslakers! - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 08:14

WARNING: Rambling ahead. Just a whole lot of rambling.

I'm trying to remember life in the 1980s. I was born in 1970, so my entire later childhood and teenage years were in the 80s. I grew up in the 80s.

This is an interesting position, I think. Because I remember the 70s, to a lesser degree. I was there for disco and punk rock... at least temporally. I was a kid so I didn't know punk rock from pop rocks. I heard of disco, of course.

The 70s was before the rise of cable TV, but at the heights of TV's general power. When I was really little, we only had whatever channel would come in using the antennae (bunny ears). That was basically KET and the local Fox 41. I saw Emergency, Bozo, and The Incredible Hulk.

But anyway... the 80s came. Things changed as they do. Cable was a thing. We were poor, so we didn't have it. But we did have it once for a few months, including The Movie Channel. It was great. I saw 1941 and Excalibur and a bunch of stuff I don't remember. Hell, I watched Excalibur when I was 12... probably too young. Those scenes of naked women juxtaposed against armored knights really left a lasting imprint on my brain.

In the 80s, you had rotary phones and push button phones at the same time. And phone cords that got twisted up. We didn't have a phone at all until I was about 16. If you have never lived in a world without a phone, that is probably hard to fathom. Like... how the fuck would we have called for an ambulance if we needed one? The answer is we'd run to the nearest neighbor with a phone. When I was about 8 in 1978 my mom and I lived alone on a hill in an old shack without a phone, bathroom, or sometimes electricity. There was an old lady about half a mile down the road who had a phone and would let mom use it if she needed.

So anyway. In the 80s you had the rise of the VHS. We didn't own a player but you could rent one with your movies. If I remember correctly, it was about $5 to rent the player for 3 days and I think $1 per movie. So one of the things we'd do on some weekends, after mom started working at a factory job, was rent a player and 3 movies. I got to pick one movie. The store had maybe a hundred or so movies and my focus was on fantasy and sci-fi.. so basically this one shelf with maybe 20 films on it. I watched Beastmaster, Road Warrior, and Weird Science many times.

The other way you'd catch a cool flick was when they would put it on TV as a special event. They did that frequently with Conan, Road Warrior, and First Blood.

For music, this was the reign of the cassette tape. My first foray into listening to music on my own was to get my hands on a cheap jam box and score a few bootleg cassettes at the flea market. Alabama's Roll On was the first, I think. Then a cousin hooked me up with some AC/DC and it was all over for me. I was a metalhead. When I got my job at Hardees, I would buy at least one tape every paycheck. Often it would be based on the cool ass album cover and names of songs, having no clue who the band was. I didn't read magazines and didn't know anyone who knew shit about it other than a couple guys at school who seemed to know what was up. They clued me in on Metallica.

It was like that, though. Word of mouth was perhaps the most potent form of advertising. Because you weren't going to see TV ads for the super cool shit like D&D (with exceptions... there was the cartoon) or Vinnie Vincent Invasion. You needed your stoner friend who was a year older than you to say "Check this out, man. It's badass."

We were afraid of being consumed in a nuclear fire. This is not hyperbole. We were in a cold war with the USSR and a full-blown nuclear arms race was the name of the game. We had post-apoc movies like Mad Max. I remember checking out books from our local library about survival. They had one called Nuclear Winter that scared the shit out of me. At one point I planned to move to South America and live in the Amazon... probably because I had watched Romancing the Stone a few times. Kathleen... sweet Kathleen.

Let's see... I rode the bus to school pretty much my entire career with the exception of my senior year when I carpooled with some guys. The road I lived on at the time was hilly and curvy. If it snowed and school let out, the bus driver would not attempt to go up the hill. So she would stop and let us out. It was about a mile and a half to my house from there. About 8 of us would get off and hoof it home. By the time I got home, I was alone because I lived near the other end of the road. It was a weird, dreamy time. I don't know if the driver was supposed to do that or not, but it was done.

My friend had a computer (Tandy) and so we did play some games. Test Drive, Galactic Conquest, Bards Tale, etc. But the idea of an "internet" didn't enter my vocabulary until around 1994. I didn't get my first computer until 2000. I think I got my first email, a Yahoo account, in 1996 or something. But in the 80s, almost nobody had a computer until much later in the decade.

We did have consoles. Specifically Atari 2600. My cousins had one, which we played on their huge floor model TV on the carpet in 1982. We didn't get an Atari until a few years later when mom started working. Combat, Pac-Man, Pitfall, Berserk, Duck Hunt, Asteroids, Space Invaders, Swordquest!

Lots of people smoked. Every restaurant had ashtrays, every car, everywhere. Yes, you would visit some office such as a doctor or whatever and you'd see people smoking inside. That's just how it was. It was less so in the 80s than the 70s, but still omnipresent.

In my experience, which I know is particular to me, there was never any discussion of race, gender, or sexual orientation in the better part of the 80s. Sexual orientation definitely became a topic as the decade progressed, with the AIDS epidemic. And I know it was a hot discussion point for a very long time before that, but those discussions never filtered down to my level: rural white trash. Fuck's sake, in 1982 I was still telling racist and gay jokes in school. EVERYONE DID. And even though I felt that nagging sensation that "this ain't right" it didn't stop me from occasionally doing it to get the yuck-yucks from my peers, who were mostly redneck boys who probably still tell them to this day.

It was a time.

Another topic nobody talked about was socialism. Holy shit... the fucking communists were the enemy! Socialism was very literally a dirty word. I had no idea what it meant other than it was "people who hate freedom". The level of propaganda against communism and socialism that blanketed the USA at that time is incomprehensible. If you are a leftist today posting on social media about politics you really have no idea how lucky you are to be able to do that at all. You couldn't breathe a positive word about that shit when I was a kid. It was exactly as bad as saying you were gay... and that shit would get you beat up.

Not the best of times. But it had its charms in other ways. We got B/X D&D, some great heavy metal, some classic movies, and some killer comics out of the deal.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wulf and Batsy

Doomslakers! - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 06:42

Like I have with so many other artists, I discovered Brian Baugh's work via Instagram. Let's face it, old farts, we live in a time of great riches in terms of art. You can complain all day long that they don't make 'em like they used to, but god dammit they make a lot of 'em and a lot of 'em are fucking awesome.

It was through following Baugh's Insta that I noticed all the posts about this "Wulf and Batsy" duo of a big werewolf and a slinky vampiress. Which eventually lead me to visit the Alterna Comics website and actually BUY THEM. Good move. Because these are great comics.

Physically, the comics I got from Alterna are tops. They are lovely objects, very old school, with a $1.99 cover price that is kind of amazing today. Not sure how they do that. But the printing is on some kind of newsprint, interiors are black and white. But it looks fantastic.

Printing aside, the comics look gorgeous. Baugh is not worried about being in a hurry or trying to cram too much into a small space. One story about a weird science villain takes four issues to play out but what happens is actually very simple and straightforward. But Baugh likes to soak up the scenery and give us what we came to see: cool ass black and white horror line art that is one part gothic, one part classic, and one part sexy pinup.


Check out the cool trailer for the series.

I'm just happy this kind of thing has space to exist today. I want more.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary On CM2 Death's Ride By Garry Spiegle & Adventurer Conqueror, King 1st edition Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 06:08
 "A cloud of death hangs over the land, as an unlikely trio of evildoers orchestrates a reign of terror over the tiny Barony of Twolakes Vale. Because of these fiends' actions, hordes of undead have escaped through a gateway from the Sphere of Death, laying the peaceful lands of the barony to waste and terrorizing its citizens. Can the undead be stopped?"Right so let's pick this  right where we Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Fehu Games OSR Short Halloween Quest for Swords and Wizardry

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 10/01/2023 - 01:53

I'm always looking for short adventures. Lloyd is one of the better writer/artist combinations in the OSR. I always enjoy his work, and the price is right with Lloyd's Fehu Games OSR Short Halloween Quest for Swords and Wizardry project - 4 bucks for the PDF, 17 bucks for print, and 20 bucks for both. Full disclosure, I know Lloyd personally, and greatly respect him as a creative.

Justicar Kavendish sentenced the Wrenmarsh brothers to death via oubliettes. Little did he know the Wrenmarshes are masters of the assassins’ guild and much worse, so, fearing reprisal, he must escape the city to the family hunting cabin. 

Can the heroes keep the Justicar safe? What is the hunting cabin? There may be much more to this simple request than a "walk in the park".

Game systems:

These adventures are written using the newest Swords & Wizardry game system from Mythmere Games. It is fully 1E / BX / OSE / OSR compatible with minimal adjustments. A digital copy of the game can be found free online, as well as the latest print editions for a very reasonable price.

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 HOSTILE Situation Report 009 - Extraction - A Zaibatsu/Hostile Mini Campaign On Colony World - Tau Ceti Session Report 6

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/30/2023 - 20:24
 Tau Ceti five was an interesting little romp with the PC's having to work with thier rivals 'The Coldwell group from last game session here on the blog. The September group went in hard with them putting thier mecha in to help with running miners and others on Tau Ceti five. This latest romp found the September group dealing with the local conditions with the wind whipping the paint off of thierNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #258: Mysteries of the Meadow Belt

Roles & Rules - Sat, 09/30/2023 - 15:47

Six hexes northeast, six north of Alakran.


West of the village of Kin-Yan, a strip of greener land divides the dry desert plain. The village's herders use it as a marker guiding to the pastures south and north. The reaosn for the belt is a mystery, but the older folk suspect an underground channel. One of these oldsters advocates sinking a shaft near the north of this area, to give the village an extra well, for its burgeoning growth is causing scuffles around the well. However, to do this will dry up the grass and cause the Meadow Belt to wither within a season. This conflict will add to the woes of the village, to be revealed in the next hex...

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Subscribe to Furiously Eclectic People aggregator - Tabletop Gaming Blogs