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Hex Crawl 23 #254: The Shunned Hills of Hamuparra

Roles & Rules - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 09:58

Ten hexes northwest, two north of Alakran.


This series of two or three folded ridges surveys the plains around and the heights of the Dhuga to the east, but has an evil reputation. It is said that no enterprise that ends in the Hills of Hamuparra can end well.

A foolish thief, it is told, once put the superstition to the test by escaping from the agents of the law into the Hills. "Yes, I may end up in these Hills," he reasoned, "but my pursuers must also end in the same place as I am if they succeed, and these are the Hills, so they are bound to fail. And as my ultimate goal is to leave the Hills, it cannot be said that my flight is at an end there, so I will prevail!" He did not consider that for them to find a dead thief would also be failure. Indeed they found him face-down, perished from a scorpion bite.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Review & Commentary On Hacker By Paul Elliot for your 2d6 Science Fiction or Cyberpunk style rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 00:41
 "You need a set of hacking rules for your futuristic RPG setting.HACKER is system-neutral – a fast and unobtrusive set of cyberspace rules that recreates the colour and danger of a classic cyberpunk ‘consensual hallucination’. In the words of William Gibson, it is a ‘graphic representation of data … lines of light ranged in the non-space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data.’In theseNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

DTRPG Cyberpunk Sale - Up to 80% Off!

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 00:30

It's been an interesting month with the different DTRPG Sales, as they've been rotating a new sale on a weekly basis. This week is a Cyberpunk Sale, so, let's find the deep price plunges.

Cyberpunk Red marked down to 7.50 from 30.00 - Cyberpunk RED is the latest edition of the classic tabletop roleplaying game of the Dark Future and encompasses everything you need to explore the post-War world of the Time of the Red, including:

  • A dense, deep-dive into the history and geography of Night City and the greater Cyberpunk world, and plenty of the lore about the Time of the Red.
  • Ten unique Roles for you to play: charismatic Rockerboys, lethal Solos, quick-hacking Netrunners, inventive Techs, lifesaving (and taking) Medtechs, hard-hitting Medias, duty-bound Lawmen, scheming Execs, clever Fixers, and range-riding Nomads.
  • A huge collection of useful tools, powerful weapons, protective armor, and gleaming cyberware to help you rule the Street.
  • Three Screamsheet adventures to show you what Cyberpunk is all about.
  • Pregenerated opponents perfect for populating the Combat Zones and Corporate compounds, plus encounters that use them to bring the City to life.
Altered Carbon: The Role Playing Game - Core Rules - 4.99 from 24.99 - In theofficial Altered Carbon role playing game based on the hit Netflix series, wear any body you can afford, transmit your mind across the cosmos in an instant, and, if you’ve got the credits and political cachet, re-sleeve time and again for centuries, accumulating enough wealth and power over the millennia to become the societal equivalent of an immortal god. Welcome to Bay City.

Included inside the Core Rulebook, you’ll find:
  • Rules to play Archetypes ranging from Socialites to Soldiers.
  • Explore the expansive metropolis Bay City in both its criminal Underground, and vaunted Aerium world of the immortal meths.
  • A highly customizable Trait and tech system.
  • Storytelling-focused rules, that help create dramatic tension inside of combat and intrigue outside combat.
  • The means in which to transfer your characters digital consciousness into a new sleeve should they come to a tragic end.
  • Opponents ranging from unhinged augmented thugs to cunning and manipulative political adversaries.
Carbon 2185 | A Cyberpunk RPG Core Rulebook - 4.90 from 24.48 - Play as a Cyberpunk, a rebel refusing to live life by the rules of the oppressive megacorporations that rule San Francisco in this high action tabletop roleplaying game by Robert Marriner-Dodds. Carbon 2185 gives you the chance to play in the cyberpunk worlds you've seen in movies, television shows, and video games. The Core Rulebook is the only thing you need to run and play hundreds of hours of games in the world of Carbon 2185. Carbon 2185 is a brand new tabletop roleplaying game built using the D&D 5e open game license, with all the magic, magical items, and fantasy elements removed, and replaced with cybernetic augmentations, upgradable and customizable weapons, and computer hacking skills. 

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

D&D’s Biggest Controversies Ranked—1. D&D Becomes a Target of the Satanic Panic

DM David - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 11:18

Content warning for discussion of murder, suicide, and mentions of child abuse.

Through the 1980s, Satan made regular headlines. Folks kept blaming the devil for luring kids to murder, suicide, and ritual sacrifice. Police dutifully investigated. The falsely accused sometimes went to prison only to be cleared years later. And the media trumpeted every lurid moment. Concerned parents found the devil’s work in heavy metal music, Dungeons & Dragons, and especially day care centers. The fervor became known as the Satanic Panic.

The panic started in 1980, but its power came from the culture of the seventies.

Throughout the seventies, the counterculture of the sixties lingered as a new age passion for astrology, crystals, and such. To some, things like tarot cards and witchcraft just seemed like a way to explore their spirituality in daring ways, but Christian fundamentalists saw the fad as an invitation to the devil.

In 1969, Charles Manson led his followers to perform a series of murders. The group staged the killings to appear ritualistic, leading the public to search for other murderous cults potentially inspired by the devil. The seventies had no more serial killers than other eras, but serial killers now got nationwide attention. The public learned how killers could seem like friends and neighbors, and how their bloody crimes might follow a ritual pattern. The Zodiac Killer even coined his nickname from astrology.

In the media, The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey reached bookstores in 1969 and went to sell over a million copies. In 1973 the The Exorcist set box office records. The movie claimed to be based on a true story.

Meanwhile, the number of women working outside the home surged. They put their children in day care, but they felt guilty about it and feared time outside the home might somehow damage their children.

To battle what seemed like a rise of a depraved and godless culture, conservative Christians like Jerry Falwell organized the religious right into a voting block and helped elect Ronald Reagan as president.

Together, these trends created the right culture for a panic. The furor started when a 1980 book titled Michelle Remembers became a bestseller. The book tells how its author, psychiatrist Dr. Larry Pazder, treated a housewife named Michelle Smith using a technique called “recovered-memory therapy.” Prazder claimed to have uncovered Smith’s repressed memories from when she was five years old. She claimed to remember being given to a satanic cult and enduring 14 months of captivity and torture, while seeing ritual murders and mutilations, often involving babies. Today, recovered memory therapy is discredited as pseudoscience, but then many accepted Smith’s stories as fact. Pazder and Smith established themselves as authorities in “Satanic Ritual Abuse,” and they became resources for psychologists and law enforcement authorities. They made television appearances on shows like Oprah.

An anxious public came alert to the threat of satanic cults hiding next door, and they started seeing the devil’s influence everywhere.

In 1983, a California mother named Judy Johnson accused staff at her son’s preschool of abusing him. Questioned by investigators, her accusations grew to include sexual encounters with animals and a story of one teacher flying through the air. Prosecutors found no evidence, but the investigation expanded to interviewing several hundred children who had attended to school. Interviewers used suggestive techniques that invited children to pretend or speculate on supposed events. Children told of sexual abuse, and also of flying witches, hot air balloon trips, animal sacrifices, and a goat man. During the interviews, one child identified Chuck Norris from a photo as one of the abusers. Based on media reports, the day care seemed like a front for a satanic cult. The investigation lasted until 1987, and trials until 1990, when all charges were dropped without convictions. After a 12-day psychiatric examination during the affair, Judy Johnson was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.

Original Proctor & Gamble logo

News media and talk shows made the scandal into a national spectacle. Across the country, people found clues that seemed to reveal satanic cults hiding everywhere. Rumors spread that the consumer goods corporation Proctor & Gamble supported Satan. The evidence came from the company’s man-in-the moon logo from 1882. Part of the man’s beard resembled a reversed number 666 and the image included thirteen stars, a reference to the thirteen original U.S. colonies. Law enforcement officers trained to spot cult activities and traded information about satanic calendars, symbols, and supposed organizations. Authorities spent millions investigating hundreds of accusations of satanic abuse, especially in day care centers. They put suspects in jail and ruined lives and families. Eventually though, the cases proved baseless.

While this panic raged, D&D featured devilish-looking creatures and idols on the covers of its rule books. Inside, concerned parents found descriptions of demons, devils, and spells that could summon them. In 1979, the public learned about the game from reports that painted the game as “bizarre” and its players as “cultish.” During the Satanic Panic, D&D became a lightning rod.

D&D co-creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson both identified as Christians. Gary’s devotion even led him to refuse to celebrate Christmas, in part because of the holiday’s pagan roots. But Gygax recognized D&D as make believe and happily added elements from real Christian religion to the game. That included holy men who could walk on water and turn sticks into snakes. He added demons named in Christian sources. If demons and devils served as foes to kill, Gygax saw them as fair game for pretending.

However, fundamentalists saw the game differently. In 1980, Utah parents demanded that Wasatch High School ban its D&D club because the game’s lack of holy reverence for biblical miracles like water walking and resurrection. Christian Life Ministries examined D&D and reported on the dangers they perceived. “If it’s only a game, why do they use hundreds of traditional Christian terms? And why do they use them in such blatantly blasphemous ways?? Why??” Across the country, parents fought to rid D&D from their schools.

In 1982, teenager Irving “Bink” Pulling II committed suicide. The Washington Post reported that the boy had trouble fitting in. A classmate said, “He had a lot of problems anyway that weren’t associated with the game.” On his death, his mother Patricia Pulling learned for the first time that Irving had been playing D&D for the last two years. She blamed the strange game for her son’s death and started a crusade against D&D. She founded the group BADD, short for Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons. She sued her son’s high school principal for negligently allowing D&D play at the school. She sued D&D publisher TSR and accused the company of brainwashing kids and leading them to the occult. “If kids can believe in a god they can’t see then it’s very easy for them to believe in occult deities they can’t see.”

Televangelists like Pat Robertson, whose Christian Broadcasting Network reached millions, connected the game to “news reports of murders, suicides, fantasy mental changes. Young people are going totally crazy as a result of this game.” Evangelist Jack Chick published Dark Dungeons (1984), a comic that aimed to show readers how D&D led to Satan.

Many parents saw the alarm about devil worship as silly, but they still worried that the game blurred reality and fantasy in unhealthy ways, potentially causing psychological damage. The news offered plenty of stories to support that fear. For a while in the eighties, anytime a young victim of suicide happened to play D&D, the media reported on the D&D angle. A youth convicted in a murder case even tried to use D&D as part of his defense, claiming the game accustomed him to violence and led him away from God. Whenever tragedy struck the lives of young people who happened to play D&D, parents looked for something to blame, and the strange new game they didn’t understand seemed like an obvious culprit.

In 1985 more than 22 million people watched a segment linking Dungeons & Dragons to suicide and murder on the prime-time news show 60 Minutes. The report interviewed Pat Pulling and her tearful daughter. Gygax defended his game, but he stood little chance against the emotional appeal. On 60 Minutes, part of the entertainment comes from showing apparently guilty culprits squirm under the camera. Gygax tried to explain that D&D’s surging popularity meant that millions of kids played the game and, separately, some of those kids happened to be involved in tragedy. He aptly called criticism of D&D a witch hunt. The segment steered away from the devil-worship angle and toward the notion that the game damaged young minds. Still, psychiatrist Thomas Radecki talked about parents who saw their son “summon a Dungeons & Dragons demon into his room before he killed himself.”

To defend D&D from claims that the game threatened emotional harm, TSR hired psychologist and TV personality Dr. Joyce Brothers. TSR avoided ever showing gameplay that blurred reality with fantasy, so Gen Con banned any “live action events.”

To defend D&D from claims that the game lured kids to the occult, TSR removed the devilish idols and efreet from the covers of the Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide in favor of more wholesome pictures in 1983. Then they renamed Deities & Demigods to Legends & Lore. The game’s second edition removed the words “devil” and “demon” and replaced them with the purely make-believe terms “tanar’ri” and “baatezu.”

Today, most parents’ opinion of D&D completely reverses the fears of the eighties. Parents see the game as a creative activity that teaches teamwork, encourages reading, practices arithmetic, fosters social skills, and creates real-world friendships. Today’s parents fear that children spend too much time glued to screens, so best of all, D&D games encourage kids to spend time with friends together at the kitchen table.

Go back to number 10.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Day in the Wasteland

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 11:15

By Yorgan Self Published Tinyd6 Wasteland Level: Intro

A Wastelands mad scientist attempts to keep the Enclave from interfering in his greatest experiment

This nine page adventure is a “hunt” for a missing truck in a Gamma World type place. You follow a linear path, stabbing things, until you die of boredom.

I’m gonna try to take todays review seriously. It’s hard, when confronted by such reckless hate. What can men do? Anyway, dude mailed me asking for suggestions and since it wasn’t 5e or Shadowdark I went for it. Also, I don’t drink in the mornings anymore. That’s sad. I now do eight shots of espresso with a little steamed milk. 

And thus, feedback!

You have written your adventure for Tinyd6, the wasteland version. I assume you did this because it is some kind of new hotness that everyone is talking about in whatever circles you hang in? Wonderful. I understand. Also, why? Gamma World is too complex? I have noted, I believe, that Gamma World is the greatest RPG ever in the history of everything? Gamma World. Or, you know, pay $20 for a TWO HUNDRED PAGE pdf for a system that boils down to “Roll 2d6, a 5 or 6 succeeds.” I’m not supposed to judge this aspect of games, though, so, feel free to ignore it.

Your marketing blurb sucks ass. It’s one sentence? I’m not the biggest fan of the long ass marketing blurbs, but, maybe three or so would be better? But, also, it’s generic as all fuck? “A wasteland scientist”? The Enclave? His greatest experiment? This is so abstracted and generic as to be meaningless. The purpose of the blurb is to get us excited to buy/download/play this adventure, and there’s nothing in this blurb that makes me want to do anything but sigh in resigned regrets.

Ok, so, let’s look at the intro. “Several days ago, the Drill Truck went out testing for wells and it hasn’t returned. Water is scarce in the Wastelands. The Enclave can’t afford to lose it. The truck was traveling west into the wastes, along the makeshift telegraph line that connects the Enclave to Salt Flat City. Someone needs to find it quickly. That someone is you.” This is terrible. First, it’s not how a survivor community acts. I mean, not unless there are, like, several hundred thousand people living in it. Are there? No? Then the community bands together and sends out a mob. Further, again, this is generic and abstracted. No details. Who meets with you. What do they say. Do they have a personality to speak of or a quirk? Anything interesting going on? No? None of that? Just “get the fuck out, who cares about the part of the adventure that sets the tone for everyone to come.” Do you know what the purpose is of the shit you see when you stand in line as Disney? It’s clear you have no interest in the pretext or setting up the vibe.

Let us take a look at some typical read-aloud: “Lying across the road are several telegraph poles. They have been cut through and the telegraph wire is broken. Above vultures circle in the sky.” This is not the way you write read-aloud. There’s no mystery here. You say, instead, tha the poles are down. Then the party investigates and finds them cut through and the lines broken. You are over-revealing in the read-aloud. By doing so you are destroying the natural back and forth between the DM and the players which is the HEART of EVERY rpg, tinyd6 or no.

There’s an emphasis on set pieces. The dude jumping from a motorcycle to land on the car roof to saw through with a chainsaw. Of course. I shall not comment on every mad maxx trope from every movie appearing, but, just focus on the emphasis on set pieces. And, of course, of people getting away so they can appear ;later. You’ve written a linear adventure with “Scenes.” You’ve kept your antagonists alive to build tension for later. This is shitty. By doing so you’ve removed player agency. That’s a cardinal sin. Instead of the usual five scene nonsense, why not instead white a little setting that the players can explore, with some shit ging on in it? A real adventure instead of a movie?

“After Carburetor Jack cut down the telegraph poles, Conrad was ordered by Scientist Joe to watch the road and to lure anyone to the lair of the Hypno Toad.” Is that sentence to be taken seriously? 

The formatting is crude, at best. A shaded read-aloud box followed by paragraphs of information with no formatting beyond that. We bold, italics, bullet and whitespace things to call out important information for the DM while they are scanning the adventure. 

Bad read-aloud. No formatting for the mass of DM text. Set piece after set piece in movie format. No real depth to anything, just generic abstracted trope after generic abstracted trope with little specificity to ground it.

It’s free, if you so desire:

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Arena Assault

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 11:00

I completely forgot to write up our last session (two Sundays ago) in our Land of Azurth campaign. The party was still trying to figure out a way to free Bellona, War Lady of Sang, from the control of Loom. Their attempt at subterfuge hadn't played out the way they thought, so they shifted tactics and cased the place for an assault under cover of night.

The were pretty sure Bellona was being housed in the building behind the arena, but the means of spying (using Waylon's owl familiar) were insufficient to get a real sense of the inside of the place. Still, they are confident in their abilities.

The sneaking across the deserted arena is easy, but they must have tripped some alarm, because an image of a being called itself Loom appears before them when they reach the door and demands they bow down in reverence. Most of the part goes along, but Dagmar views it as sacrilege and won't do it. Loom allows his lackeys to attack first: Helmarg the troll woman and her ogre bruisers move in to attack--but Loom says this match won't be to the death.

These guys are tougher than the party anticipated, but after a battle that saw Waylon fall twice only to be revived by Dagmar healing magics, they finally prevail.

When they still won't bow to Loom he unleashes some sort of poison cloud on them. They still isn't enough to take them out, thanks to good saving throws all around. After looting their unconscious foes, they prepare to move into the complex. 

Hex Crawl 23 #253: Ugunazir and Kulla'a on the Road

Roles & Rules - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 07:59

Eleven hexes northwest, one north of Alakran.


Another road encounter for the Road of Flowers.

Two walk together, both of advanced middle years; one a short and wiry man who plays snatches of songs on a bone flute, and one a stout, complacent-looking woman wearing an array of tubular scroll cases across her back. He is Ugunazir and she is Kulla'a. They each claim a talent that people might rightly be wary of.

Ugunazir can play a song on his flute that makes female goats certain to conceive in their next mating season (the early autumn) and bear a litter of three healthy kids. He will relate how some villages are skeptical of his gifts, and others take advantage but defer payment until he returns after birthing season. The ones who try to cheat him by denying his effectiveness, he simly smiles and and announces the song that will make all goats sterile, which they should equally disbelieve in. This always produces payment, as the evidence of the first song's effectiveness is there.

Kulla'a has a world-weary, mournful air about her. She will give cynical lessons, tutoring from the collection of accounts of historical folly she carries on her back. Though her instruction is of little immediate use to adventurers, she also offers risk assessment, similar to the augury, with an uncanny ability to tell whether a proposed course of action will end well or poorly. If met with doubt, she can point to a handful of satisfied clients in both Eryptos and Gesshed. You may try to seek out her dissatisfied clients, who will announce themselves only reluctantly. However, if enough questions are asked to cut through their bluster, it will turn out that they brought disaster on themselves by following their desired course of action instead of her augury.

After their talents have been established or questioned in conversation, the pair will pull out the two halves of a treasure map, which is the reason they are traveling together. Ugunazir's half shows a path starting out eastward from Eryptos, and Kulla'a's half shows its ending in the broken hills abutting the Scarp, with warnings of danger and unholy guardians. They are looking to sell the map for whatever they can. Whether you trust them after the revelation of their powers, or should trust them, is up to the choice of the players, and the cynicism of the GM.

wiry fertilization

didactic cynicism

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary- '83 'Into The Frying Pan' With Frank Mentzer's Expert Dungeons & Dragons set

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 05:44
 So let's pick it up from the other day's blog entry here. So the year is Eighty Three and the revamp of the Expert Dungeons & Dragons set hits the stands. And this was another rung on the ladder of Dungeons & Dragons. Not only do we have total reexamination of Dungeons & Dragons but the PC levels skyrocketed. And the Expert set increased the PC levels from four to fourteen! This was a big deal Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Believe it or Not, NTRPG 2024 Prep Has Begun

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 23:55


So I know that North Texas RPG Con is like 27 weeks away, but this weekend is the time to begin preparing for next year. 

So the last 3, maybe 4 if you count the unintentional 1st time, conventions I've hosted a tasting event. Last year's event was...well it was interesting. By most accounts everyone had fun, except maybe me. The themed...libations....I had brought, at no small expense or effort, were simply atrocious. I mean they were bad. Everyone had fun in the shared misery and in making fun of the drinks.

It was a fair cop....the drinks were pretty bad. 

Thing is that I brought an extra...a bonus...drink that was supposed to taste bad, at least relatively bad, but it ended up being the group's favorite.

A couple weeks ago I delivered a walnut liqueur to my Step-Father as souvenir from the same distillery that I got a few of the bad drinks from. I don't know why I'm actively trying to avoid saying "Whisky". That stuff.....that stuff was pretty much the best alcohol I've ever tasted. bad as all that whisky was, this walnut liqueur was on the opposite side of the taste spectrum. I'm going to try and see if I can get some more imported since I'm not going back to Germany anytime soon.

I've already go the Whisky procured for 2024. It's actually what I had originally planned for this year before I had an opportunity to try and get some Germany Whiskies (yes, it's a thing and if you're paying attention you already know it wasn't good....I think they need another couple hundred years to work on it) and when I had a friend visiting special for the con. 2024 will be themed like 2023 was and I plan on having coasters for the participants again, as well as a special bonus drink....but this time it'll be an actual drink, and just not a taste of an alcohol.

It's a custom drink I've made before, but the infused Whisky I use takes a month or two to...well infuse...and the main ingredient/mixer will take some time as well. Today was the first stage of work on those drinks. I am not willing to have a repeat of last year, so I'm starting now so I can re-do everything in time if needed.

In addition to working on next year's stuff I finally managed to bag and box my various Zines I mentioned, I don't know....months ago. I got the bags easily enough and managed to figure out that a certain size magazine board cut in half fit the bags perfectly. I just had to spend some time to fix my paper slicer....ends up it was easier than anticipated.

The zines do fit amazingly well in those cheap Harbor Freight ammo boxes I got for about $2.50 each. I just put them all into two for right now, but I'll get off my butt eventually and actually sort/file them into a few boxes.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Urban Hunt - Lamentations of the Flame Princesss & Wretched New Flesh Second Edition Adventure Idea

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 19:55
 So this morning I began to look deeper into a discussion that we had around the table top about Lamentations of the Flame Princess rpg.  And we were talking about the fact that someone once described LoFP as an 'OSR horror rpg disguised as a retroclone'. Now this put me on the trail of using LoFP for a modern horror game. And in various OSR Facebook groups LoFP has become 'the forbidden rpg gameNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Throw Them in the Dungeons!

Doomslakers! - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 19:46

Here's a thing that is very common in adventure stories but is not necessarily the easiest to use in an adventure RPG: the heroes are captured and thrown into the actual dungeon (jail)!

Happens all the time in movies and TV shows. All. The. Time.

But in a traditional adventure RPG, what is the first thing that tends to happen when any NPC tries to lay a finger on a PC?

"I cast fireball."

"I throw my axe."

"I slip into the shadows so I can get a backstab next round."

Combat. Initiative.

Now, I'm of the mind that the GM should practice firm-but-gentle scene-framing. I think the GM has the power - nay - the responsibility to "force" PCs into certain situations if the alternative would lead to absurdity or certain doom.

I mean, players always assume the PCs can find a way to do anything. And that's great, because they are the heroes. But surely there are times that the party knows collectively when it should measure its words and actions and bide its time. Right?

But we covet our free will as gamers so furiously! Those magic items we carry are not separate things, they are PART OF US. The IDEA of some NPC just taking Hipcracker the +2 war hammer or Whipcakes the Staff of Power off our person and escorting us into a dirty cell? RIDICULOUS.

Of course the NPCs have to be careful. If you have 5 powerful entities in your throne room carrying such mystical magical items and possessing unknown magic powers... you might think twice before just saying "Throw them in the dungeon!"

So there's a caution for the GM as well.

But still. We need to have some cool "will they escape??" moments without "I skewer the first guard on my spear" as the default reaction.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #252: Fortress of the 6th Maniple

Roles & Rules - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 07:58

Twelve hexes northwest of Alakran.


After all these elite companies we finally see an outpost of the regular army of Wahattu. This is the sixth of eight maniples, a force limited by the influence of Urighem and intentionally cut too small to stand up to its mighty hosts, for each maniple numbers five phalanges of fifty men each. One phalanx is archers, three are spear, and the fifth has mastered both weapons. 

The manipular troops know they are less valued than the colorful companies which are maintained under the guise of fraternities and hunting clubs, outside the range of Urighem's inspectors who seldom stray too far eastwards. They are kept in their walls -- sloped earthworks topped by stone ramparts and towers -- by coercion and lack of other opportunities. If a patrol from this fort is encountered it will be (d6) 1-3: 10 spear and 10 archers on patrol, with 2 sergeants (level 2 fighter) and 1 lieutenant (level 3 fighter); 4-5 it will be twice that amount on an exercise, march or maneuver; 6 it will be a group of d6 deserters.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Humble Bundle - Eerie Comics Collection by Dark Horse

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 02:09

I only managed to snag 2 or 3 issues of Eerie over the years, and the content was, mostly very good. Sure, some clunkers were in there, but there was also some work by artists and writers that would make huge names for themselves in mainstream comic books.

18 bucks gets you 30 volumes, which is over 130 issues of the classic Eerie Comic run. Perfect reading to get one in the mood for Halloween ;)

Looking for some macabre reading for the spookiest season of the year? Fix your gaze upon this massive Eerie archive from Dark Horse, collecting over 130 issues of the long-running horror comics magazine! Featuring terrifying tales and astonishing artwork from legends like Gray Morrow, Frank Frazetta, Alex Toth, Neal Adams, and Joe Orlando, this Eerie library is for everyone who loves strange and twisted tales of terror, fantasy, and science fiction. Lose yourself in the Eerie Archives, and help support the Hero Initiative with your purchase!

 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

Weird Fates Vol 1

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 09/23/2023 - 11:11
By Laszlo Feher First Hungarian d20 Society OSR Levels 3-6

A cornucopia of four short, open-ended adventure outlines leading to lands of pure imagination, this collection should astound and entertain any company of players interested in exotic locales, strange individuals, and a generous helping of satire. Herein, you will journey to a tropical island to answer the eternal question, “What is Art?” (or die trying); confront a reclusive artist with a peculiar scheme to enlarge his audience; find the fabled graveyard of the elephants and partake of the fruits of the Tree of Forever Return; and judge a pie-baking contest in a rural backwater where nothing could possibly go wrong… or could it? Some assembly required!

This 44 page booklet has four adventures in it: an island, a jungle trek, a frog-pond and a village pie baking contest. Leaning farcical, the descriptions could be better even if its creative heart is in the right place. 

This is a compilation of four adventures, with the common theme being “Farce.” In the first you are whisked away to a remote island by an efreeti, who wants you to create/find art so he can present it to the sultan of the city of Brass. In the second you face a toadman noble with a penchant for poetry who is turning others in to frog-men also. In the third you trek through a jungle in search of the elephant graveyard. In the fourth you end up as judges in a pie baking contest in a small village … with a lot of oozes present and infiltrating. 

Among the ten thousand nations of the OSR empire there lies a portion that are devoted to farce. I loathe these. I don’t do joke adventures. The black comedy of a (slightly) serious Paranoia/Brazil is fine. We can have a bunch of farcical things and people running around an adventure., That’s ok also. But, straight on comedy? Nope. And, if the adventure proper turns in to farce, then, I’m out as well. I prefer a light hearted D&D that is still, I don’t know, realistic? That’s not the right word. We’re allowed to have fun, but this isn’t a three stooges movie. But that’s not the vibe we’ve got going on in this compilation. We’re more than a little over the line here in to comedy, or, perhaps, so much farce that its comedic. The first adventure, for example, has the party finding/creating/passing off things as art to the efreet critic/collector. I’m not too harsh on the concept. I think it would be great as an individual encounter in a different adventure. But when the entire adventure is about this concept then we’ve gone a bit too far over the line. Now everything and everyone in the adventure shares this farcical outlook and every encounter bends this direction. I’m not going to go down the path of “D&D is serious!”  … because those people are fuckwits. Errr, I mean, you should all have fun the way you want to have fun.  

There are many ways to write a good encounter. My favorite is, perhaps, the ones with a certain slyness to them. They are giving you a little wink in way that lets you read more in to the situation than is actually written. And that’s certainly the case here. This is somewhat related to the encounters being situations instead of static things. It allows the DM to build upon an encounter, bringing more to it than the actual words on the page. 

But, also, the actual DESCRIPTIONS of the places here are not altogether that strong. Each of these adventures tends to have places described instead of rooms. A village, for example is described as “Houses crudely hewn from red volcanic rock are living quarters for …”There is more here, describing what’s going on in the village of pirates, but the actual village description, what it looks like, is just what you’re being given. The House of Embers, where the efreeti lives in the first adventure, is given “structure resembles a M?ori longhouse, keeps glowing and smouldering without end” or a “big two-masted pirate sloop.” I’m pulling descriptions from the first adventure, because I’m lazy as fuck today, but the other adventure descriptions are much the same. For while you get a decent little situation description, if a little farcical, you don’t get much of a physical description. 

I think that doing a little more work on the physical descriptions and vibe, and pruning back a bit of the situation descriptions (which by far make up the bulk of each location description) would go a long way with this one. There’s nothing to be done about the farce: either you’re in to it or you’re not. 

This is $6.50 at DriveThru. The fourteen page preview will show you the first adventure. All four, I would assert, are in the same style. You can see that the thing was constructed well and inspired, just a bit off in tone and in practice.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #251: The Ayotochin (Player Race)

Roles & Rules - Sat, 09/23/2023 - 07:45

One hex southwest, eleven northeast of Alakran. 


In this desolate hex, an encounter roll of 1 will cross your path with that of an ayotochin wanderer, seeking justice for the slaves of Ukutta.

I don't like halflings in any of my games. And 5e halflings are particularly repulsive to me, their tiny Liefeld feet crudely announcing to the world that no intellectual property debt is owed to Tolkien. Their niche can usefully be replaced by small funny animal folk of various kinds -- frog-folk, rabbit-folk, talking ducks. Others agree.

So when a player in the Game of Bronze said he wonted to play a halfling bard, I explained the funny animal concept and he decided to play an armadillo-man - an ayotochin, as I styled the race, after the Nahuatl. These creatures combine traits of different armadillo species.

 The lore:

The Ayotochin (singular, Ayotochtli; adjective and short form, Ayoto), are a species of armadillo-like humanoids known in the Urig trade-tongue as hallu-awile ('dillo-folk). They are found in the deserts and plains south and east of the Salt Sea, and scattered throughout the civilized lands adjacent.

Scholars who have travelled widely classify Ayotochin as "halflings" along with the rabbit-folk and frog-folk of more northern realms. Various theories have these small and generally mischievous humanoids originating either in the previous Yuga or in the Copper Age, created as entertainers for one of the dominant humanoid kindreds. These speculations are nonsense to Ayotochin themselves, who believe that they get their lively nature from their ancestor Father Rabbit, and their resilience from Mother Tortoise.

The dillofolk are about four feet long but can only stand three foot because of their plated keratinous shell. Their coloration is a light tan to dark brown, varying towards yellow or red. They are keen-scenting but near-sighted. Their plates overlap such that they can roll into a ball for protection. More acrobatically trained ones can roll this ball around by flexing their bodies inside. Their claws are long and optimized for digging, but civilized ayotochin will clip these nails from a number of their digits to allow for fine manipulation.

Ayotochin live in small villages of 20-50 individuals. They are herders of giant insects and growers of fodder for them, for their preferred food is insect meat ,and insect shells which are crunched the better to strengthen their own carapace. However, they can also live on other kinds of meat and plants, and find eating large quantities of smaller insects enjoyable. A typical village will have some combination of giant beetles, ants, millipedes, sowbugs, or centipedes, kept in pens or herded around on leashes attached to piercings in their shells. There will usually also be fields where grass and shrubs are cultivated to feed the insects, and sometimes pits and wells where large quantities of normal-sized bugs and larvae are grown.

Giant centipedes are particularly important in Ayotochin life, despite the poison which requires special handling on long-handled collars. Centipede flesh has euphoric and hallucinogenic properties to them. No festival or ceremony in an Ayoto village is complete without eating of this "black meat." Fire ants are forbidden by custom to cultivate in either giant or normal size, because their toxin is altogether a stronger and more addictive stimulant to the dillo physiology. Still, some dillo fiends seek them out in the wild.

Ayoto are particularly skilled at pottery, sandstone shaping, obsidian knapping, weaving, and knitting. Their charming crafts, dyed in vivid red, yellow, and green from desert minerals, are what they trade for other goods and necessities, as nobody else will eat Ayoto produce. Ayoto earthenware in particular is appreciated for its comical representations, sometimes obscene, of humans as ayotochin see them.

Dillo communities are usually protected with walls and trenches of earth, adobe, and branches. Things are set up so that everything can be drawn inside if there's trouble, including the insect herds. Village buildings have cellars and passages underground.To compensate for the species' poor vision, a trained hawk is sometimes kept tied to a pole on the roof of the chief's building, and squawks if it sees movement on the horizon. Everyone fights in times of danger, shooting with slings or the rarely acquired crossbow, and in close quarters using spears, obsidian axes, and weapons acquired from trade. Aggression is not in their culture, but strong defense is ingrained.

Ayoto gestation is long at nearly a year, and when birth occurs it is always of a set of identical quadruplets. After reaching adulthood, the village elders judge which of the quads has shown the most promise as a stable member of the community, initiate it into the village, and bid the others find another village or become wanderers. Many ayotochin thus become musicians, jesters, tinkers, pest controllers, or acrobats in human society, which views them appreciatively if somewhat condescendingly. It is bad luck to see one of one's birth-mates again past adulthood, and even worse luck to acknowledge their existence. In this way the ayoto gene pool remains diversified.

Ayoto beliefs about the universe are in constant flux. They have no fixed religion, but a series of fables which are often quoted to end an argument or to start another one. These fables deal with the folk-heroes Mother Tortoise and Father Rabbit, the villainous Dog who persecutes them both, the craven and opportunistic Vulture, the gullible and greedy Anteater, a mythical armadillo called the Pangolin who is oddly put together and always does things the wrong way, and the huge and clueless giant club-tailed armadillo Graven Tooth. Ayoto do not hold deep beliefs about how the world came to be or why it works the way it does, unless such ideas directly improve their lives. Metaphysical and cosmic speculation is a kind of entertainment among them, with competition to come up with the most ridiculous or elaborate story, and such productions are never taken seriously.

The crunch:

Ayotochin are treated as halflings without the traits, Brave and Halfling Nimbleness.

And with the following extra racial traits (slightly altered from the campaign):


You have advantage on saving throws against poison. You have resistance against poison damage.

Armoured Dillo

You may not wear light armor. You have natural Light Armour (AC 12), or Medium Armour (AC 14) until the start of your next turn if you are taking the Hide or Defend action.

Rolly Poly

At the start of your turn, you may roll into (or out of) a ball as a free action. This allows you to move 40', through a larger creature's space (as Halfling Nimbleness), and gives AC 16 with no DEX bonus. You are Blinded and may not attack while in a ball.

Blinky Hog

You have disadvantage on Perception checks involving vision.

It also emerged during the campaign that armadillos can swim, but at the cost of gulping air for buoyancy, which makes them prone to belching afterwards.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary - '83 Baptism by Fire Frank Mentzer's Dungeons & Dragons Set 1 Basic Rules

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/23/2023 - 05:33
 Let's pick it up right from here on the blog. Eighty three was a very good year because it brought out Frank Mentzer's Basic Box set and this was a huge leap forward in some respects. Frank Mentzer built all of the parts & pieces that had been introduced within B/X as well as previous year's Dragon magazine articles. What Menzter Basic did was three fold, it cleared up and clarified the D&D Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Bundle of Holding - Mistborn Adventure Game

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 09/23/2023 - 02:55

I've read some good things about the Mistborn Adventure Game, but I've yet to talk to anyone who has actually played it - and I have no experience with the novels. Are any of our readers familiar with the Mistborn ruleset that can offer some feedback, positive or negative?

This all-new Mistborn Adventure Game Bundle presents the tabletop game from Crafty Games based on the bestselling Mistborn® fantasy novels by Brandon Sanderson. Explore the world of Scadrial under the Final Empire and beyond, and learn the magical secrets of Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy. Your brave (or foolhardy) heroes may be former slave skaa, disenfranchised nobility, or travelers from the far-off Terris mountains. They may wield magic or have the clout to summon armies, stymie lords, or rouse the masses. Their common cause drives them to change the world.

For just US$17.95 you get all five titles in our Mistborn Collection (retail value $69) as DRM-free ebooks, including the complete 585-page Mistborn Adventure Game Digital Edition core rulebook (plus the free Preview, Primer, and Sheets Pack); the campaign supplements Alloy of Law and Masks of the Past; and the sourcebooks Terris: Wrought of Copper and Skaa: Tin & Ash.


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 Battle of Desert Swamp

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 09/23/2023 - 01:41

Okay, I am still thinking this one through, but I will throw out what I have for this now.

Cast o’ Characters:

  • One first level Rifts Juicer wearing NE-C20 Camouflage Variable Armor and armed with an NE-10 Plasma Cartridge Rifle
  • The Secret Society of Burrowing Mutants — five units of After the Bomb type mutant animals armed with mega-damage grade weaponry. Two of these are armed only with sidearms, two with rifles, and one is a heavy weapons teams armed with light anti-tank type weapons.
  • A group of four alien Phraints who have jury-rigged an energy howitzer out of parts salvaged from their crashed starship.

The intruders consist of one Invid Command Unit, three Invid Shock Troopers, and six Armored Scouts.

The premise of the scenario is that the Invid want to break through this line in order to seize protoculture on the other side. They cannot merely fly over because a host of dragons have interdicted the skies in this region.

The Invid are highly mobile but are walking into a trap. I think the key thing for the defenders is– from a roleplay standpoint at least– to determine when and how to reveal their forces so as to maximize the destruction of the Invid. The key problem for the Invid is to figure out that they need to flee at the moment the discover things are amiss.

Upon reflection, this conflict does not need an elaborate wargame. Palladium combat will suffice for the shooting and thus sidestep the need for translation between systems. Instead of devising a framework for this action, we will just make it up as we go.

The defense is arrayed as such:

  • Sidearm burrowing infantry (10 mutant animals)
  • Rifle burrowing infantry (10 mutant animals)
  • Sidearm burrowing infantry (10 mutant animals)
  • Rifle burrowing infantry (10 mutant animals), Juicer Chameleon/Assassin
  • Heavy weapons burrowing infantry (10 mutant animals)
  • Phraint energy howitzer

The infantry groups are effectively stationary due to their need for cover. (They lack MDC armor.) The Juicer may change up to two range bands between each combat round on activation rolls of 4+ on d20. Invid Armored Scouts may change up to two range bands between each combat round on activation rolls of 6+ on d20. Invid Shock Troopers may change up to two range bands between each combat round on activation rolls of 5+ on d20. Invid Command Units may change up to two range bands between each combat round on activation rolls of 4+ on d20. Upon entering within firing range of a range band that contains an infantry unit that has not yet revealed itself, the infantry will be in position to ambush it on a roll of 14+ on d20. The Ambush ends further Invid activations for that round. Invid that take damage during a combat round are at -1 to their activation rolls per 10 MDC of damage they have taken during the following movement phase.

Sidearms may fire only within their range band. Rifles and Invid weaponry may fire into neighboring range bands. The howitzer may fire up to five range bands away.

Whelp. Let’s give the Invid to avoid this whole thing. A natural 20 and they don’t wade in at all. No good!

Okay, no need for activation rolls during unopposed movement. They move into the first range band. We will give them 19+ to figure out that this is bad. No!

Moving into the next range band… 18+ now. No again!

And the next… 17+. Still no!

Okay, all hell breaks loose.

Okay, calculating the Juicer assassination of the Command Unit. W.P. Rifle gives me +1 to strike at first level. (My P.P. bonus does NOT give me its usual +3 bonus to strike.) The sensor eye is at -3 to be hit. Can also give them -1 for movement. The NE-10 Plasma Cartridge Rifle does not itself get a bonus for aimed fire. So, we will take three vanilla called shots. First shot cannot be dodged. Required roll is 11+ on each. This guy gets +2 to dodge on the ground here. The damage is 1d4x10. Let’s roll! A 16 on the first shot. 40 points of damage! Now to target a Shock Trooper: I rolled a 15 and he dodges with an 18. But then I roll a 19 and he only gets a 5. I roll a 2 for damage– 20 M.D.C!

I did not declare my actions before the initiative roll. I think these things would be done in a strict initiative order if you wanted to follow the rules explicitly. Which would allow each person on a side to adjust their actions based on the results of the other attacks on their side.

The howitzer I never statted up. I will just give it two attacks on a 9+ to vaporize a single enemy unit with each hit. Two 19’s. I arbitrarily rule that you can’t dodge a howitzer blast.

This leaves just the six Armored Scouts. The gung-ho pistol infantry are ready to jump. The ten guys will take two attacks each, reserving two dodges for defense. The do 1d6 damage. Let’s say they need 9+ to hit. 38 damage here.

We will let the two Rifle units pull the same trick. But they hit on 8+ and do 2d6 damage. If they can change targets after they finish one off, they may be able to take out more than two. Of course, if all of these infantry give up their dodge rolls, they will practically finish these things off. That is the way to go. 24 hits. (Can hit damaged guy, #2, and #5.) Three hits finished off the damaged guy. Ten hits finish off #2. The last eleven hits easily finish off #5.

The final Rifle unit can target the three remaining Armored Scouts– if he can roll 14+ for each one per my rule. Ha! He does not have line of sight on the surviving Invid, so he remains hidded. (This is the forward unit which will get a surprise attack if they flee.

Do the Invid make a banzai charge against the energy howitzer? Do they just flee? Or do they take their shots at the poor pistil infantry before they go? We need a d12 table!

  • 4-11 Punish the mutant animal infantry
  • 12 Charge the energy howitzer

Whelp. We got a three.

Let’s check for a clean sweep. The surviving Armored Acouts have activation rolls of 6+. Checking them…. Scout A is frozen in place. Scout B moves one range band and is not ambused by the hidden rifle infantry. Scout C moves twice and is also not ambushed. My Juicer also moves two range bands.

Rifle infantry can easily pick off Scout A. Scout A will not get a return shot due to its initiative roll of 1.

The howitzer can try for two kills on rolls of 10+. That is that.


The end.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #250: The Screen of Hail and Dust

Roles & Rules - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 11:19

Two hexes southwest, nine northwest of Alakran.


Fully titled "The Skin-Flaying Screen of Hail and Dust," this elite company of the Wahatti military is made up of skirmishers who throw leaden sling bullets engraved with their names at distance, and hurl heavy armor-piercing javelins at shorter range. Their round shields spend much of the time strapped to their backs. Hide jerkins and helmets are their only other armor, the faster and farther to move without tiring. Each man carries three smoke pots to be lit and thrown in a retreat when concealment is desired. Completing their armament, a dagger with a rough quartz crystal for its pommel goes strapped to the buskins around each man's left calf.

Their fortress commands a view of the northern plain from a rounded hill. It houses half of the company, the others being quartered west of Mehershal's Caravanserai where the Road of Flowers is joined by the Eryptos road. Its tall walls have multiple angled slits from which the slingers are trained to shoot accurately, and each of the eight towers has a shot-arbalest that can pepper the ground below with a fast-flying shrapnel of sharpened stones. The men entertain themselves with footraces, rabbit hunts, and a kind of hide-and seek in the hills to the south, appearing in groups of 10-20 out of their total complement here of 80.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Deal of the Day - KoDT: Tales from the Vault vol. 5

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 02:24

I really enjoy the various Knights of the Dinner Table series, but I'm running out of room (damn RPGs ;), so I do nearly all of my comics reading on my iPad. So, when KotDT pops up on Bundle of Holding or as the Deal of the Day on DTRPG, I'm all over it.

Today's Deal of the Day at DTRPG is KoDT: Tales from the Vault vol. 5. Normally 7.99 in PDF, until tomorrow morning it is on sale for 3.20.

This volume of the Tales from the Vault includes the "Dawn of the Zombies" web saga (a 32 page story arc) and KoDT strips that appeared in the HackMasters of EverKnight comic book.

Strips include:

  • Recipe for Diaster
  • It Takes 4 to Tango
  • Tap Dancin'
  • I Motion to Adjourn
  • Red-faced Ensign (Black Hands strip)
  • Ark in the Dark (Black Hands strip)
  • The Brain Drain (Black Hands strip)
  • Rumors Abound - Bonus strip

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


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