Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Remembering September 11th

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/11/2023 - 22:15
 Comic book artist Ken Branch captures my mood today on this 911.  Artwork from comic artist Ken Branch used without permission. I look at the skyline of New York & think of the minutes lost to time without reason or rhyme.The souls of friends lost to the treks of time that flow into infinity & the fact that once again words fail to move me my emotions consume me. The days are shorter now but Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

D&D’s Biggest Controversies Ranked—10. TSR Trashes the Entire Print Run of the Palace of the Silver Princess Adventure

DM David - Mon, 09/11/2023 - 11:46

In 1981, D&D publisher TSR printed B3 The Palace of the Silver Princess, but when the new copies reached key TSR management, they ordered the entire print run sent to a landfill rather than to distributors.

The debacle started when, after a year working mostly administrative tasks, the module’s author, Jean Wells, had finally landed a creative assignment writing an adventure that would introduce D&D to new players. Perhaps the company’s management expected a woman to deliver a gentle module that would nurture D&D’s burgeoning young audience. Instead, she wrote a sandbox with the same grown-up sensibilities as prior TSR products.

When TSR co-owner Brian Blume saw the newly printed adventure for the first time, one illustration titled “The Illusion of the Decapus” led him to have the printing trashed. In the picture a woman dangles from a ceiling beam, bound by her own hair. Men taunt and poke her, “pulling at what few clothes she has on.” Just a year earlier, such an illustration might have passed unnoticed. After all, in the October 1980 issue number 42 of Dragon, TSR printed a picture of a bound, naked woman on her knees before the corpulent, goat-headed figure of Orcus.

Illusion of the Decapus by Laura Roslof

In 1981 though, D&D enjoyed rocketing sales that reached beyond the older wargamers and sci-fi fans who first found the game. Now the public worried that the game blurred reality and fantasy, potentially leading players to real trauma or to act out the violence in the game in real and dangerous ways. Fundamentalist parents feared the spells, demons, and devils in D&D would lead their kids to actual witchcraft, satanism, or ritual sacrifice. TSR strategy focused on building sales to younger gamers while comforting the parents who might worry about a game full of evil creatures and supernatural make believe. The original Palace of the Silver Princess failed to fit that approach.

For the whole story, read Part 1 and
Part 2

Tomorrow: Number 9.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Lair of the Wild Hunt

Ten Foot Pole - Mon, 09/11/2023 - 11:11
By Brian Binh Pufferfish B/X Levels 4-6

Vahden is a sleepy, little sheep-ranching village in a valley on a market road. A wizard’s tower overlooks the valley, but the reclusive wizard, Chageth, hasn’t been seen in years. In recent nights, livestock and travelers have been found burned to death. Witnesses have seen a “huge, horned hunter driving a pack of fiery hounds” across the valley at night.

This sixteen page adventures features a small tower/fort with dungeon with about thirteen rooms. The descriptions are both dull and confusing, especially for a site of this size. A case of trying too hard, perhaps?

We;ve got a small tower thing on a hill with about six rooms in it. There are two separate dungeon areas connected, one with three rooms and another with about six more. There’s a nice side-profile map, and, for a small hill fort/tower thing, it’s got some interesting features that let it be more than just a simple ten room flat dungeon map. I can’t tell you how over I am of simple flat ten room dungeon maps.

The tower is infested with undead fire blobs, and has an ogre wizard inside that is a kind of shaman undead hunter that is trying to get rid of them. There are a few encounters with the blobs till you reach the main dungeon levels, where the undead pick up dramatically. You get both the undead former wizard owner and the barrow mummy thing that the fort was built over. So, stabbing undead, maybe talking to to ogre, and fucking with a machine inside (thats making undead flaming blob things) is the interactivity here. That’s kind of low, even for an adventure of this size.

The major malfunction here is in two parts: the descriptions and the … formatting? Layout? The descriptions are essentially non-existent. The False Crypt room gets “The Malevolence (viscous, vicious, grey goo): This mass of hate puppets an empty Sarcophagus and three skeletal warriors in its sticky strands of viscous ooze.” While this is not the worst description, I want you to notice the lack of scene setting. There’s nothing at all about the crypt. AT ALL. And this is par for the course here. While there’s a kind of hybrid OSE format going on (bolded keywords), the choices for what to describe aren’t done real well and there’s no real overview of the room. Further, that description would probably work better if it started off like “Viscous vicious grey goo (the Malevolence …” Starting with what you see and noting the creature in bold in parens instead. And, ug, don’t get me started on the creature names. The Malevolence. Dark Thoughts. Raging Dreams. Foul Hopes. I’m not hating too much on the names, but, rather, how they are used in the adventure. While going through the text you can’t tell whats flavour text and whats a creature name and whats something that is expanded on further. Is foul hopes a creature? A vibe? Something else? And the formatting, with the bolding choices and sidebars, while it is trying to be helpful, just gets in the way, making it harder to slog through and find things instead of making it easier, cognitively, on the DM. 

I really, really, hate the lack of descriptions in this one. And when there are descriptions we get things like “Barrels (many shattered) Pool of ooze (grey seething, knee deep)” That’s not enough. The formatting might work if the vibe were set better with the word choices, but, also, why not just describe the room? Give it an actual description that sets the mood. 

So, does it make me angry and feel ripped off? No. It makes me sad. Just another lost dream of a dreamer. The designer made an effort, clearly. They tried, but went a little overboard on the formatting and needed to focus more on the room and creatures, giving them a vibe, and then working a little more on the interactivity. Thirteen rooms in sixteen pages. ?

This is $5 at DriveThru. The preview is BROOOOOOKKKEEEENNNNNNN!!!!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #239: Salts and Hexagons

Roles & Rules - Mon, 09/11/2023 - 07:12

Nine hexes northwest, two north of Alakran.


Another salty stretch of the desert plain, not very remarkable, but a chance for some meta-mapbuilding comments. The hexcrawl is built with a version of the "nesting hexes" idea first published by Judges Guild in their Campaign Hex system. For us, 1 mile hexes go into 5 mile, go into 25, go into 125. Within the rounded-down 5000 foot mile, we have 1000, 200, and 40 foot hexes, the last one being of a scale to host a battle map.

Terrain features are shown as filling a whole hex, but to create a little bit of realism, they shouldn't extend into all the subhexes, and may poke over into adjacent larger-scale hexes. As an example, this salt pan barely reaches the center of its nominal hex, and extends out into the hexes to north and northwest.

Too much realism? Maybe, but the effect on the one-mile map without borders (only 5 mile hexes shown)  gives just enough feeling of reality, without having true randomness in feature extent and placement. Judge for yourself!


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Borderlands Campaign - The Sinister Stone of Sakkara- Session One Report

Swords & Stitchery - Mon, 09/11/2023 - 01:14
 Go to sit in on a Castles & Crusades game of  "The Sinister Stone of Sakkara" & my Dwarvian Priest PC Mikia Mechanicus  got a chance to meet up with the party outside of the Greco Roman style desert fortress of Türos Tem. The regular  merchant caravans from the nearby town of Siadanos have come under attack! And so after doing a bit of recon and shopping. We laid in for the night and got a feel Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Would you play that? (Introducing: Legacy of Gyrthwolden)

The Disoriented Ranger - Sun, 09/10/2023 - 20:33

While ORWELL is getting an errata and a pdf release, I'm playing around with a  couple of setting books based on the ORWELL rules I might start developing here on the blog (since I'm taking a close look at those rules again right now) and eventually publish, if they get any traction at all (or it just manifests, as the last game did!). There isn't enough concept work on the blog anymore, and that has always been loads of fun. Lets give it a shot!

Legacy of Gyrthwolden (Pitch)

Betrayal was what had the wardings fail. The whole school rotted from the insides like oil poisons water once the magical protection had been penetrated. They had no chance, but some still had fight left in them. It just made the destruction worse. Demons triumphantly stalked the halls, a whole menagerie of beasts had been unleashed and was spreading terror in the dormitories and the east wing. Students had turned into indescribable horrors, their screams driving others into murdering frenzies and ultimately into madness. The most powerful one ended up building a quivering flesh throne in the Lost Cellars where now the mad and mutilated mimic and pervert the old traditions Gyrthwolden held up until it fell.

And that is not all.

Within the faculty, impartial observers would have found bravery, defeat, cowardice and old grudges turning bloody fast as the end drew near. The arch chancellor had made the most impressive exit, devastatingly altering reality from the Hanging Gardens of your Holy Lady Reneviere to almost the entire Dyrkterwoods in the west. No one knew he still had it in him. Almost brought a turn of events, too, but then a doom engine materialized in his stomach and made itself a new home in his body. Some say his soul is still caught in there, tormented towards eternity. Maybe it's wishful thinking. He wasn't liked much.

Eventually, Gyrthwolden fell. Eventually, the smoldering ruins left behind cooled down and while the rest of the world fell into the darkness unleashed at the school, evil started creeping all over campus, struggling with nature for residency.

There was one area all of that could not penetrate. One last magical stronghold created through the most beautiful improvised ritual in the school's history. Build on a whim, tapping into a not yet corrupted flux of Aether, it bloomed like a flower and enclosed a whole schoolroom, layering the most severe, and costly, layers of protection around it. The teacher who did that had to forfeit her body and burn her soul to weave it strong enough to have a chance. It distorted space and time so elegantly, it stayed untouched by the apocalypse. It wove itself into a future where it persevered. It just cost all within its protective stasis dearly.

In a final effort, as her soul burned through its last milligrams some decades later, Etherina Dinklethorne forced out of stasis among the students she had saved those she thought had the most promise in a desperate and mad gambit to save of the world what may still be saved.

You are those students. You are the Legacy of Gyrthwolden.

This is her last message:

We failed you, my dear children. Our corruption and greed have brought doom to the world you knew. You are save here in this room, but outside these walls, darkness reigns. You have within you what it takes to push back ever so slightly. And if you persist diligently, if you prevail and trust that there still is light and good in the world, you have a chance to overcome this evil curse. I know that in my heart. Go now, my children. I will sacrifice my last energy to extent the wards surrounding you. I know not what will be trapped then with you inside my protective veil, so be careful. Start with freeing the school, building by building. Unlock its secrets and power, everything else will fall into place then. You will see. And never forget ...

But then her voice flattens to a whisper and as it disappears, the mummy of her corpse, trapped in an intricate summoning circle, explodes into a puff of glittering smoke.

IDEA: the students are still connected to the stasis field. When they die, they may feed their souls back into the classroom and awaken another student. No one knows how many and which students Miss Dinklethorne saved. Or what the magic did to them, for that matter, so this can be considered to be an infinite pool of replacement characters (or limited, if the GM feels like making this part of the challenge).

All said and done, it'll be your basic goth horror wizard school versus the apocalypse anime experience. Harry Potter goes Tim Burton and everything died but you ...

The Game (powered by ORWELL)

Basic premise of ORWELL is that character development happens as the character is played (each character can develop up to 10 slots per "Level"). Characters come with a potential, and players activate that potential as the story unfolds. They might create gadgets or skills or contacts, as far as the original game is concerned. Everything else is up to the players. If it fits the genre and the group can agree with it, it is fair play. Want to play a conscious spell that just wants to be human? You can do that. A little Lizard Wizard? Sure ... A sentient rock? If you can make it work. This is about having fun telling stories.

I'd shift those paradigms a bit to fit the story, so players may invent SKILLS, SPELLS or MAGIC ITEMS. While ORWELL would have players now roll to see how well established that power is, LoG might expand on that by making it something that might need to be obtained as well. Basically it'd need two additions:

1) Rules for Rituals that might need to reach a certain level, special items and specific roles for characters to assume. That'd block a slot or two. Rituals will open new areas and solve general problems with the curse.

2) Assuming the students have some idea where is what at that school, it'll need an extension where they manifest the school bit by bit as they talk about and explore it. Some stuff will be provided by the GM, but nothing says it couldn't work like character development does.

It had to be as procedural as ORWELL is, but shifting the focus a bit from having a proper cyberpunk district to where to find crucial quest items and knowledge and what difficulties await a group to their way there.

So they might know that the library would be great to have access to. And it is easy enough to assume that there is one. However, while they know where the library was before the fall, they sure as hell know nothing about what happened to it and how to get there now. So the GM will have tools to create a path of obstacles that fit the story to anything he or the group may come up with ...

There you go ...

I'd have to play around with that for a bit, but that's what a blog is for. Other than that, I'm pretty sure people could work with the premise alone easily. Doesn't even matter that much what system you are using. I guess.

ORWELL will be a great fit for the setting, on the system side of things, and given that the DM part is mostly system agnostic anyway, this should work for all kinds of games, if that's what you'd want to do.

So what do you guys think? Would you play that?

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #238: Revolt of the Shadows

Roles & Rules - Sun, 09/10/2023 - 07:56

Eight hexes northwest, three north of Alakran.


The following misfortune is said to have happened to a group of cameleers attempting a short-cut from Eryptos to the Road of Flowers, on a hot afternoon in the month of sometime in the past generation. It would be altogether unfair to spring this event on a group of adventurers with no reason. Nonetheless, these people are always putting themselves in the way of curses, opening ancient tombs, raiding ancient treasures, offending the interests of powerful wizards, reading aloud the names of obscure gods without the proper obsequies, and so on.  

It starts with one person, as the afternoon lengthens. Someone will notice that their shadow is behaving strangely, perhaps a trick of the light -- raising its arm when the originator's arms are lowered, stooping when the originator stands, or the other way around. If the phenomenon is noted, the shadow leaps to attack, drawing shadow versions of whatever the character is carrying, and attacking from the prone position, striking upwards. The shadow is a perfect double of the character with all spells, actions, and abilities, and just the following limitations:

  • Its feet are glued to the character's feet, until the character jumps and takes both feet from the ground.
  • It can only move in a 90 degree arch between the character and the sun.
  • It has +2 hit point per level two hours from sunrise or sunset, -2 hit points per level between one and two hours from noon, and ceases to exist entirely in the two hours surrounding noon.
  • If the caster lies prone the shadow's hit points are halved.
  • It is damaged by light sources, 1d6 per 20' radius of light, but gets a DEX save against DC 13 to take half.
  • If anyone other than the shadow's caster attcks it, their own shadow rises up in rebellion.
  • If a shadow has 0 hit points or below, it is tamed and will rebel nevermore. 
  • If a shadow kills its caster, it also loses its life and becomes a mere absence of light.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The HOSTILE Situation Report 008 - Life Cycle - A Zaibatsu/Hostile Mini Campaign On Colony World - Tau Ceti Session Report 2

Swords & Stitchery - Sun, 09/10/2023 - 01:50
 Let's pick it up from last Friday's session report on the blog  During this afternoon's game I decided to shove the player's PC's into deeply the alien jungle & then use HOSTILE Situation Report 008 - Life Cycle. The PC's got the assignment of ; " your infantry team to drop into the depths of an alien jungle, avoid enemy patrols, meet up with commandos returning from a long range patrol, and Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Mecha in Tunnels & Trolls

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 09/09/2023 - 20:52

After rolling up some Heroes Unlimited characters and easily converting them to Mercenary’s, Spies, and Private Eyes, I wondered if the Tunnels & Trolls engine would handle Mecha. At first I thought that given that attributes had no limit in T&T, that I could just run Mecha as characters. That may be true, but as I worked towards an initial prototype I departed from that somewhat. I had originally wanted to convert Rifts mecha to T&T, but the 3025 BattleTech lineup is the gold standard in mech concepts. While adapting those mecha, I wanted to convert missiles to be one shot weapons as well in order to better match the original source material. Here is the first pass at these rules after testing it with a battle with an Atlas and an Orion going against a Stalker and a Thunderbolt.

Stat conversions:

Constitution aka Hit Points are equal to BattleTech tonnage

Armor aka Damage Resistance is equal to BattleTech armor factor / 10 and rounded down.

Luck aka Dodge is equal to 7 + BattleTech walking MP’s

Speed aka Move is equal to 5 + BattleTech walking MP’s

Melee Dice = BattleTech tonnage / 10 rounded up (never used this in anger)

SRM’s are single shot and are rated at 2 dice per missile port. They can fire at Point Blank or Close range which is up to one range band away.

LRM’s are single shot and are rated at 1 die per missile port. They can fire at Far or Extreme range, which is two or three range bands away.

Weapons that have a range of 9 in BattleTech can fire at Point Blank or Close Range. They get half their dice in damage rounded down.

Large Lasers can barely fire at Far range. PPC’s would be solid at Far range. Some autocannon will fire at Far range. Give half their damage in dice here, but less for the large lasers which aren’t as good. These weapons can also fire at Close range.

The movement system is very abstract. It comes from the Classic Traveller range band system. The idea was that the chaos and unpredictability of combat would lead to Players declare whether a mech will advance or retreat or stand their ground. Moving mech making a saving roll against their speed attribute. That is, they roll 2s6 with doubles adding and roll over. If the speed attribute plus the die total is greater than or equal to 20, THEN the mecha actually performs its movement. (This creates some interesting situations and feels true to the action even though it may appear to be complete nonsense as an idea.)

Movement actions are declared secretly and simultaneously and then resolved publicly.

After that fire actions are declared secretly and simultaneously.

To-hit targets are 6+ for near, 8+ for far, and 10+ for extreme. To check for to-hit, roll 2d6 with doubles adding and then rolling over. If the total is greater than or equal to the target, then it’s a hit. Special note: each double that is rolled in the to-hit adds a -1 to the target’s dodge roll as does each increment of 5 that the roll is exceeded.

For hits, check to see if the target dodged. This is a saving roll against the mech’s Luck stat. Success means the hit is converted into a miss.

Total the damage done to a mech in a round and subtract the mech’s armor stat from it. This is the amount of points deducted from the mech’s constitution.

If a mech takes 25% or more in damage in one turn, it takes a -1 penalty to its speed saving roll the next turn. If it takes 50% or more in damage in one turn, it will take a -2 penalty instead. (Mechs that take a bunch of damage are more liable to get pinned down and finished off.)

In this first pass conversion, the game is mostly about what happens with the missiles. So much is at stake! After they are all fired it should be obvious who is winning. Note that these base numbers here are VERY stingy and bonuses for good piloting or good gunnery in the +1 to +4 range would be very reasonable.

To view the log of the first playtest, see this thread.

Playtester comments:

“I like the roll to activate movement here. It makes the big guys feel heavy.”

“Missiles being single shot is def more in keeping with the visual inspiration”

I did not necessarily like leaving the vanilla combat system, but Tunnels & Trolls seemed to lack a coherent set of movement rules as far as I could tell. Having a High Guard type abstraction level beyond the PC scale seems to make sense. Though maybe if I drop the commitment to recreating BattleTech I could work something else out. Building on what we have here, a strategic game where two sides attempt to kill the other’s command post is the next logical step– deployed mech would have to return to their cp to get their missiles reloaded.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Memories of the Past Into Modern Campaigns From B/X Dungeons & Dragons

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 09/09/2023 - 19:25
 We have the weekend and it's been one of both play as well as reflection. The Basic & Expert Dungeons & Dragons sets were in my hands again. And one of the most handy things to have is a Lists of Dungeons & Dragons monsters by edition Seventy Nine Through Nineteen Ninety Nine.  This gives a definitive monster listing across the board for B/X and other editions of D&D. The Expert set was the big Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #237: The Black Gazelles of Gilded Horn

Roles & Rules - Sat, 09/09/2023 - 18:03

Seven hexes northwest, four north of Alakran. 


On an eminence, an out-thrust lip of the eastern Dhuga ridge, accessible only from the east, is the walled fortress of the military and hunting charioteer company, the Black Gazelles of Gilded Horn. Their black enamelled chariots with golden ornaments are drawn by trios of the titular beast, whose delicate strain has been bred to achieve an adequate size for the swift transport of two lithe and lightly protected men. The company numbers some eighty.

Their reputation as lechers and roisterers is confined within the walls of this fortress. There is a central keep, stocked with comforts and luxuries, whereto loose urbanites and wayward shepherdesses are often lured. But in Eryptos and the civilized country to the west, the Gazelles are the very image of rectitude, travelling to and from periods of formal leave in silent groups of 3-18. 

Their hunting excursions, by further contrast, are excuses to get away from both the stiffness of formal manners, and the exhaustion of sybaritic pleasures. In the chariot, in the tent of black silk pitched on the hillside amid a stand of terebinths, the groups of 2-12 Gazelles who roam the Dhuga Hills recover their spent virility. Some are even moved to stirring song, or heroic poetry, by their fellows' exertions in pursuit of the fleet gemsbok or the wrathful rhinoceros.

If you, adventurers, meet a group of Black Gazelles, know that they travel two to a chariot, with odd numbers riding alone. A group of 4 will contain the equivalent of two level 1, one level 2, and one level 3 fighter. The fifth will be a level 5, either fighter, ranger, or rogue. A tenth will be level 8 in one of those classes. They are all skilled and dangerous with the scimitar, long lance, and longbow, as much on foot as from a moving platform. If ten or more are encountered, the Prince of Eryptos (the Radiant Gemsbok of Autumn, level 2 because of his young years, but outranking them all), will be among them 50% of the time.

How will they receive you? With deference, if you are Wahatti nobility, or any kind of Urig from the middle classes upward. With camaraderie, if you are any member of the Wahatti military, for the Gazelles strive to avoid grudges in the fraternity. Anyone else -- out of the way, thou peasant, thou tinker! Or halt -- maybe you are poaching? Scandal, crisis, and relentless persecution from the full weight of the Wahatti state (minus the Prince's particular enemies) will follow anyone who slays one of the Black Gazelles, either the literal kind or the human kind.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Lost Mines of Drothumstone

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 09/09/2023 - 11:11
By Christopher Wilson Self Published OSE Levels 3-5

King Nothrim’Ston and his kin founded the dwarven mine of Drothumstone some 400 years ago.  The hope was to build a new citadel and companion city to Zolotoheim.  Trusted by his friend and fellow adventurer, Tasadantilis, Nothrim’Ston was given one of the keys to Tasadantilis’ exradimensional space: the looped scepter. But Nothrim’Ston succumbed to an insidious mental illness that affects many dwarves.  Pushing his clan harder and harder, the dwaves recklessly pursued the gem deposits and veins of ore in the mountain.  It all ended in a single day as they stumbled upon something that had been better off buried…

This 121 page region has a “main” dungeon as well as a dozen or so sites spread out over a mountain hex map. It feels disconnected from itself, both in the hexcrawl and in the dungeons. A heavy dose of trivia and lack of exploration elements don’t help any either.

Blah blah blah, ancient dwarf mine. Go find it and loot it. The hex map for the mountain region has a road on the left side that leads to several adventuring sites. The actual mine is on the right side, with several other adventuring sites scattered throughout the map. No quite haphazard and probably things that the party will stumble upon, more or less. IE: a giant lake is in the middle of the map and a couple of sites are around the shore, where they might be seen while skirting the lake. Not a bad way to handle things. There are a few sites out in the nowhere, but, whatever I guess. The actual dungeon maps tend to be rather simplistic. A star pattern and so on. Not a lot of map terrain and, in some of them, hard to make out features. The joy of digest format, I assume. 

The actual mine in question doesn’t start until page 82. That doesn’t have to be bad, if you’re doing a kind of sandboxy region, which this thing is trying to do. The wanderer table feels a bit short for that, with most of the entires being a simple attack description with a little variety in how they attak. They erupt from the earth and attack. They come out of a cave mouth and attack. Better than a bare table, I guess. The other sites are … weird. There’s a variety of them, mostly ruins, cabins and an occasional outpost with a couple of other mines and lairs. I’m struck by the … mundanity? of it all.  Here’s a boring outpost/ It’s keyed. Which are boring. Why is this done this way? Yes, hobos are gonna hobo, they could fuck up anything. But if we don’t expect them to then we provide a minimal description rather than doing a full key. This cabin has three rooms. Let me fully key it! And have nothing interesting to say about the cabin to interact with or move the game forward! 

The room descriptions are in OSE style, which some folk won’t like. But, like all styles, it depends on the designer. And the room descriptions here are … you guessed it … boring! How you can make a majestic throne room boring in its description is beyond me. The bolded words. The extra descriptive words. All boring. A mundanity that you are continually fighting against. A full page NPC description for no real reason. Why?

And those descriptions? Disconnected. I’m not talking about the paragraph after paragraph of free text descriptions for general location information, which is bad enough. No, the rooms. We’ll get a description of a room, OSE style, and then at the end of it we’ll be told that this is the lair of a filth monster covered in filth. It’s like the monster and the room are disconnected. What if you just wrote up a bunch of room descriptions, without monsters, and then rolled on a monster table for each room and put that monster in the room, without thought to the room description? That’s what this feels like. Are cockatrice neat? No? You wouldn’t know it from this dungeon. And true interactivity is poor. Stab shit. Find a secret drawer in a desk or a tunnel under a statue. Which are great, but, also, that sort of interactivity can’t be all you have in something. There’s no real sense of exploration or wonder in this.There’s so much trivia in the descriptions, things explained and detailed for no reason. Who cares that the left kitchen cabinet has clove and nutmeg in it if it doesn’t contribute to the adventure?

A quick google shows that this was written in June and published in July. That’s not enough time to really playtest it, I think, and really not enough time to edit this, I think, for 121 pages of content. And by edit I mean “agonize over every encounter and description, hate yourself, throw it down six times only to pick it up later and work on it.”

Look, this isn’t the worst thing ever written. Not by close. It looks like dude tried and was excited about it. But that’s not good enough. You are competing with every adventure ever written for every game system, ever, since 1970. Fifty some years of content. Why should I pick a mundane adventure? Why should I ever run something other than the best ever produced? Something interesting to play, easy to run, and evocative. I am ALL for supporting the new over the old, hence the emphasis on new adventures oh this blog. But not to the extent that it makes my life hard and is less fun/easy to run. If you are not producing the best work of your life then are you publishing it? 

This is $6 at DriveThru. No preview … suckers!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Humble Bundle - Trail of Cthulhu RPG

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 09/08/2023 - 22:05

It's pretty good timing to release Trail of Cthulhu on Humble Bundle in September, just as stores are gearing up for Halloween. I always find that horror RPGs play out better in the fall, the atmosphere just seems to fit well.

Trail of Cthulhu brings The Cthulhu Mythos to the Gumshoe System. I have ZERO experience with the Gumshoe System, but I've been curious about the Trail of Cthulhu RPG for years, and this seems to be a low-risk opportunity to check it out.

With the Trail of Cthulhu Bundle, 18 bucks get you the core rules, adventures, a GM screen, audio, fiction, and more. 

Explore the sublime, horrifying worlds of H.P. Lovecraft at your gaming table with this Trail of Cthulhu bundle from Pelgrane Press. Utilizing the GUMSHOE RPG system to foreground the investigative elements of the Cthulhu mythos stories, this award-winning RPG delivers an experience that makes clue-finding engrossing and interactive for players, while amplifying the cosmic dread. Get the Trail of Cthulhu rulebook plus more than 20 other sourcebooks, adventures, and more to fuel uncountable campaigns’ worth of unfathomable eldritch horror, and support Cancer Research UK 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

Tegel Manor - Worlds Without Number & Cities Without Number Rpg - Green Horde Attack! Session Two Report

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 09/08/2023 - 17:29
 I haven't had time to blink wrong over the last couple of days let alone do a session update. But let's get deep  into it. This blog entry picks up from here. The player's PC's got into a fire fight with some Green Martian hordes at the outter edges of the Tegel Manor valley. And one of the PC's got a taste for exactly what the radium rifle ammo can do. Now there are two different Worlds WithoutNeedles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 # 236: Red Dogs

Roles & Rules - Fri, 09/08/2023 - 07:07

Six hexes northwest, four north of Alakran.


A marker for several clans of wild dogs, 12-36 strong, who roam a roughly 12-mile radius in this zone. We can model these desert canines on the diurnal South Asian dhole. Reddish-coated and almost fox-like, they are found in hunting packs of 3-5 half the time, and the rest of the time in their full clan. These dogs utter cooing sounds while maneuvering and loud yelps when attacking. If their lair is found, it is an underearth den with one or more chambers, and yes, 25% chance of some incidental treasure, you looting ghouls.

Despite being a traditional part of wilderness encounters, dogs like these really are more part of local color than a serious encounter, if played with an eye to their actual behavior. Maybe they are a threat to battered survivors of a larger battle, or to near-dead individuals left alone while their companions foolishly seek help. Otherwise, a group of these dholes is more likely to watch from a distance, and flee wisely if adventurers make a sudden move on them looking for experience points.

The local villagers hate and fear these dogs, but refrain from exterminating them out of rumors of a "special one" who lurks among them -- a crossbreed with a werecreature, demon, or even dragon, depending on who you ask.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Out From Under The Thumb Of The Dungeon Master - More OSR Thoughts On 'The Realm' of The Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 09/08/2023 - 05:40
 The older I'm getting the more I'm  beginning to understand the common sense that Eric The Cavalier in the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon had. Understand I'm not taking apart Gary Gygax or Ernie Gygax's legacy with the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.No I'm talking about the fact that there's a ton of skeletons hiding in Dungeon Master's little lawful good closet.Run Eric, Run as fast as you can but you Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Top Secret / New World Order Core Rules for 1.99 in PDF

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 09/08/2023 - 02:00

I nearly missed this! There is currently a Setting Sale over at DTRPG. One of the deeply discounted titles is Top Secret / New World Order Core Rules. Normally 9.99 in PDF, for a short time Top Secret / New World Order is on sale for 1.99!

I've played Top Secret / New World Order at NTRPG Con and Total Con, and it is a blast to play :)

The new espionage role-playing game from Merle M. Rasmussen, creator of the first espionage role-playing game.

The time: now. The place: everywhere.

Your mission: preserve peace and stability in a world rife with conflict, mistrust, duplicity, and shadowy organizations.

You are an agent of ICON: The International Covert Operatives Network. You have been recruited from your former life, trained in the ways of tradecraft, and sent into the field to handle the missions that other agencies cannot, or will not handle.

One player is the Administrator, describing and controlling the game world, while the other players take on the role of international spies, working behind the scenes where governments won’t go.

Tense negotiations, dangerous combat, thrilling car chases, tradecraft, surveillance, intrigue, and subterfuge are all at hand with the roll of the dice.

Top Secret: New World Order is a tabletop role-playing game recommended for 2–8 players. 

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

Review & Commentary On The Coner-class Trader By Michael Johnson From Independence Games

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 09/07/2023 - 18:26
" Derided by some as the ugliest and most unreliable ship ever made, the Coner (pronounced as “Connor”) is a common sight in both Earth Sector and Clement Sector.  Despite the many downsides of the ship, the Coner has a dedicated following of people such as the Coner Owners’ Association, who love the much maligned little ship.  The 200-tonne trader is an inexpensive option for many who are Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #235: Desert Marsh of Kin

Roles & Rules - Thu, 09/07/2023 - 13:04

Five hexes northwest, six north of Alakran.


A desert marsh is no more contradictory than a desert lake, for a marsh is a lake shallow enough for reeds, shrubs, and low trees to grow in. Such a tract is the area of the riverlet Nahlu-Galal known as Kin.

There are no threats, ghosts, hauntings, or folklore beasts hiding out in the Kin. Only the tales parents tell children to keep them away from water's edge cloud this watery domain. In fact, an encounter with a group of children playing in the dusty plain -- say, from the nearby villages of Gablu, Kin-Yan, or Azuppa -- might involve them breathlessly recounting the fear-stories about the marshes. Wading in will result only in the hazard of dropping into a sudden sinkhole, leeches, disease, the whole deal. For every climax, there exists an equal and opposite anticlimax.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Beetles & Birds

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 09/07/2023 - 11:00

Beetle Milk Mead 

A beverage favored in the west of Gnydrion, beetle milk mead is made from the fermentation of a sugary liquid ("the milk") produced by a species of beetle native to the titanic trees of the coastal forests. These colonials insects have members of their community who function as living casks for their hive. They gorge themselves on food and store the liquid they produce in their abdomens so they distend to an incredible degree, having the appearance when full of plump fruit with a diameter as wide as the length of the first digit of a man's thumb. The milk is harvested from the engorged beetles and fermented. The resulting liquid is sometimes added to beer to sweeten it but can also be mixed with the local liquor to render that more enjoyable, as well.

The beetles are farmed by placing thick slices of the bark of their favored trees into beetlehouses. This practiced has allowed the production and enjoyment of beetle milk mead to spread to places where the trees do not grow.


Quaklus are the ubiquitous saddle birds of the Northwest region. It is assumed by most learned folk of the modern age, that the birds are a result of the puissant science of the ancients, though the pedants of the hwaopt have alleged that the quaklus are a distinct lineage from the creatures of humankin's homeworld and so must have been taken from some other world in the past.

Whatever their origins some quaklu, considered atavistic in the modern parlance, are more than just cunning animals and are capable of speech.  The accidental acquisition of such a gifted fowl is considered an unlucky turn due to their willingness to make their thoughts and wishes known--and unwelcome trait in a riding beast.


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