Tabletop Gaming Feeds

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

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

Not Nice at All

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

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

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

No, dude. My thesis is that it isn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Saturday Morning Art Rumble 9

Doomslakers! - Sat, 05/18/2024 - 12:00

Let's get ready to... well, y'know.

This is the DEATH GORE RING OF DEATH for my own art! Randomly selected drawings... which will take the prize??

And it's a vicious rumble as nosering warrior gets blasted by giant robot who gets insulted by the wizard Max Dobo! But in the end, none can stand before the power of the giant robot, which was also the alternative cover to Mike Evans' Barbarians of the Ruined Earth. WINNER.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Bundle of Holding - Wyrd Breach

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 05/18/2024 - 01:53

Some games look interesting simply for the default setting. The Wyrd Breach Bundle is in that category. I'm not sure I'd play the system, but I may snag it at this price for inspiration.

Fated one! We've resurrected our November 2021 Wyrd Breach Bundle featuring the Through the Breach Lovecraftian-Wild West-steampunk tabletop roleplaying game based on the Malifaux miniatures game from Wyrd Games. In the magic-saturated parallel world of Malifaux, you take on the roles of unique Fated citizens such as Gunfighters, Drudges, Dabblers, and Entertainers. Your destiny, or Fate, is created during character creation, and it affects every aspect of your life. As the game progresses, the destinies of the Fated entwine, driving you all inexorably toward a final reckoning. Will you fall to Fate, or cheat it?

This revived offer once again gives you five Expansion Books and many adventures. For just US$17.95 you get all five titles in this revived offer's Starter Collection (retail value $100) as DRM-free ebooks, including the complete, full-color 412-page Through the Breach Second Edition core rulebook (2017) and four full-length Penny Dreadful adventures, ideal for introducing the Gothic, necromantic-industrial city-state of Malifaux: Days Without Accident, Fire in the Sky, The Obsidian Gate, and A Stitch in Time.

And if you pay more than the threshold price of $31.34, you'll level up and also get this revival's entire Bonus Collection with eleven more titles worth an additional $164, including five Expansion Book rules supplements – Above the Law, From Nightmares (play a monster!), Into the Bayou (play a Gremlin!), Into the Steam, and Under Quarantine – and six short Penny Dreadful One-Shots designed for a single play session each: Bubbling Up From Below, The Iktomi Shuffle, Jurassic Faux, The Show Must Go On, Silurid Showdown, and Uncontainable.


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

Random Order Comics Revisited

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

Way way back in 2002 I did a whole series of comic strips called Random Order Comics. I did them in this big ass 11x14 hardback sketchbook, which I only filled by about 20%. So I dragged it back out recently and started drawing new strips. For giggles.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Commentary & Ascendant Rpg Session Report Five - Capital City Casefiles #2: Served Cold By Karl Gustav- Gamber's Round

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 05/17/2024 - 05:55
 The PC's in tonight's Ascendant rpg campaign session started poking around for evidence that Poker Face had indeed returned. The return of one of the group's old villains Poker Face means that the murder count could rise. This vile villain is highly unstable often getting frustrated in his schemes and taking his frustrations out on his victims. He has a hair trigger making this low Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

OSR Sale - Ambition & Avarice: 2nd Edition

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 05/17/2024 - 02:11

It's Greg Christopher's Birthday Week, and he's put Ambition & Avarice: 2nd Edition on sale for 5 bucks in PDF (regularly $15). A&A 2e is one of the best OSR games on the market (and I'm not just saying this because Greg is a good friend, which he is). A&A 2e should be on every Grognard's game shelf, as the equipment charts Greg has included would be an asset to any OSR campaign, regardless of the ruleset.

Ambition and Avarice is an action-adventure roleplaying game with an easy-to-understand OSR chassis. The 2nd edition maintains focus on character classes and races that walk the line of respectability.

2nd Edition at a Glance:

- Simple OSR-style resolution mechanics

- 10 Races: Dark Elf, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Goblin, Halfling, Hobgoblin, Human, Lizardfolk, and Orc.

- 12 Classes: Brigand, Conjurer, Cultist, Elementalist, Enchanter, Knave, Ranger, Savage, Shaman, Witch, Veteran, and Zealot.

- More powerful low-level magic users + more powerful high-level mundane characters.

- Pre-built backpacks to grab off the shelf for quick character creation.

- The most comprehensive medieval fantasy equipment chapter in the RPG industry (I checked).

- Monster trophies to take after the battle and use as magic items; Cyclops eyes, Giant frog tongue, Nymph hair, and more.

- Catalysts: A spell component system that is actually fun to use.

- Clear and useful rules for hex crawling, managing retainers, and building your own barony.

- A complete customizable cosmology system with major/minor gods and demigods of your own creation.

- 596 spells: a mix of old favorites and reimagined wonders divided across six traditions: conjuration, elementalism, enchantment, primeval, salvation, and vexation.

- NPC design system mixing reaction rolls and attitude to determine exactly how far each NPC will go to help or harm you.

- A dungeon familiarity mechanic to allow the players to gather information BEFORE going down the steps into darkness.

- Full Bestiary of 182 monsters with a simplified combat stat block system for easy management.

- Monster entries include formulae for creating your own twisted undead.... if you don't mind dabbling in necromancy.

- Treasure chapter with rules on magic item creation and numerous treasure tables to stock your dungeons.

Each class features;

- Expertise in a class-specific task; like the Conjuror's binding circle ability or a Cultist's ability to sacrifice humanoids to curry favor with their god.

- Identification of something in the world; like the Witch's ability to identify sickness/disease or the Savage's ability to recognize familiar scents and follow them.

- Recruit followers to serve as henchmen; like the Knave's ability to recruit spies or the Conjurer's ability to create imps to serve them.

Six flexible magic-using classes have a varied selection of new and exciting spells. There are easy methods to create your own enchantments, raise unique undead to serve you, or craft cursed items to give to your enemies. The non-magical classes have their own rich choices and don't fade away in importance as the magical characters advance in level.

These classes can then be combined with 10 classic fantasy races; from elves and dwarves to orcs and lizardfolk. You can combine them however you wish, creating everything from goblin rangers to dwarven brigands. Your race is no longer central to your destiny, playing a marginal role in restricting your actions in the game world.

The entire package is designed to allow quick character generation and presented in a format that is clear and easy to read. The text is packed with explanations of not just the rules, but the reasons behind the rules. It is an ideal choice to hand to a new player who is looking to get into the great game, but turned away by dense technical rulebooks with byzantine organization. The adventuring mechanics are also OSR compatible and allow easy integration with a variety of old school campaign material. You can pick up this game, grab an old module, and get playing in a very short amount of time.


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

Tunnels & Trolls is the First Rpg

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 14:07

It’s true.

If you love rpgs, then the man to whom you owe everything isn’t Dave Arneson, it isn’t Gary Gygax, and it isn’t David Wesely. It’s Ken St. Andre.

Stay with me on this. We have an iron-clad case here!

In the first place, Braunstein is not an rpg. Yes, it has a referee that is similar to what you find in rpgs. It has players playing roles like they would in an rpg. Nevertheless, it is a fundamentally different type of game from rpgs. Braunstein is explicitly competitive where rpgs tend to be cooperative. In rpg’s, the referee is much more of a mastermind and often described as being sort of a “god”. In Braunstein, the players are liable to run out of control when away from the referee– and the referee himself may not have a clear idea of what all is really going on. This is a fundamentally different type of game!

What about Blackmoor, then? Take a look at The First Fantasy Campaign and you don’t get a description of how to set up and run an rpg campaign. You get a bunch of random notes on how he set up an incredibly large multi-year Chainmail campaign. Though this campaign was initially billed as being a type of Braunstein, it is clearly such a departure from David Wesely’s game that it rapidly turned into something else.

Original Dungeons & Dragons would be the game which most people that aren’t eggheads would describe as being the first rpg. However, sit down and attempt to play the game that is actually described by the rules and you will get a game that is quite unlike anything people playing rpgs are doing. The 1:1 time rule contained within its pages turns the game into a sort of continuous, ongoing Braunstein. It also allows the referee to coordinate the activities of multiple independent parties, characters, and factions under a fog of war. When played in this manner it becomes necessary to actually use all of the wargame elements from the game that roleplayers typically omit from their campaigns. From this vantage point D&D becomes precisely what is written on the cover of its rules volumes: Rules for Fantastic Medieval Wargames Playable with Pencil and Paper and Miniature Figures.

That subtitle is not what anyone into rpgs thinks of when they attempt to define rpgs. That subtitle isn’t the result of someone reaching for words to describe the concept of rpgs before the term even existed yet. It’s a very clear indication that D&D is a unique sort of game that is unlike anything people imagine it to be.

D&D is not a role-playing game. It is a framework for creating a type of continuing campaign that is much more in line with the things you see written up in Arneson’s First Fantasy Campaign than anything really that came after. So, what is a roleplaying game? Rpgs are derivative of Original Dungeons & Dragons. But they did not evolve from it. Rpgs are what people created when they wanted to play D&D but could only understand fragments of its rules. The only way they could play it was if they created their own game out of just the parts that they could understand.

This new type of game tended to eject the 1:1 time rule of OD&D. It shifted from being a sprawling wargame campaign to focusing almost entirely on the exploits of a single party. Dungeon exploration became the primary focus in this initial phase of rpgs with nearly every other gameplay mode being relegated to handwaving and ad hoc rulings. So many needful rules got thrown out that a very early paraphrase of the idea of “rulings not rules” quickly emerged as a means of holding this new amateurish type of non-game together– typified by the phrase be reasonable. All of the premises and assumptions games like Rifts and GURPS and the B/X branch of D&D can be traced back to this point.

The first person to get aggravated that he could not understand D&D, create a variant rule set that detailed how to play the type of game that people today think of as being an rpg, and then publish it and get it into the hands of people that wanted in on this burgeoning hobby is Ken St. Andre. And the game he did it with was Tunnels & Trolls.

Everyone that loves rpgs owes him a tremendous debt. Even as late as 1979 Gary Gygax was still convinced that the thing hobby gaming needed most was a set of instructions that would recreate the awesome scope of the old Blackmoor campaign. He completely failed to anticipate that the derivative non-games of the people that had no idea what he was pointing people toward would ultimately overwhelm his own efforts and even retroactively define what people understood OD&D and AD&D to even be.

If you love rpgs, then truly… you owe Ken St. Andre a tremendous debt. And not just Ken, either really. But everyone that lacked the ability to read and follow the instructions of this odd little group of eccentrics that hailed from the Midwest.

Thank you, Ken!

And thank you to everyone who just didn’t get it!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fifty Years of D&D: Table of Contents

Zenopus Archives - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 12:06

Fifty Years of Dungeons & Dragons has been out for two days now, and copies have begun to arrive in the mail. Here you can see my co-author Tony's copy, together with his collection of reference material for the essay we wrote (Tony has one of the best collections anywhere of J. Eric Holmesiana). Read more about our essay and the book both here and on Tony's blog. If you haven't order your copy yet, you can get it here on Amazon:

50 Years of Dungeons & Dragons

And I'm happy to announce that the full Table of Contents can now be found on the MIT Press site here, along with a preview of the first page of each chapter. For convenience, I've copied the ToC over to here & annotated with links to other books by a few of the authors that I'm aware of:

PREFACE - page xi

1. Is This The Golden Age Of Dungeons & Dragons? - page 1
by Premeet Sidhu, Marcus Carter, and José P. Zagal (co-author of the new Seeing Red: Nintendo's Virtual Boy, also from MIT Press)
Introduction To Designer Vignettes - page 13
by Sam Mannell

Designer Vignettes I - page 15

2. Fantasy Games At Fifty: An Academic Memoir - page 17
by Gary Alan Fine (author of the 1983 book Shared Fantasy)

3. Exploration And Experience: The Game Changers - page 23
by Jon Peterson (author of The Elusive ShiftGame Wizards, and the forthcoming second edition of Playing at the World).

4. Combat In Dungeons & Dragons: A Short History Of Design Trajectories - page 43
by Evan Torner

5. “Doctor Holmes, I Presume?”: How A California Neurology Professor Penned The First Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set - page 63
by Tony A. Rowe And Zach Howard

6. Reflections On The Open Game License: An Interview With Ryan Dancey - page 79
by Michael Iantorno

7. Playing Custom: A Curious History Of Dungeons & Dragons–Based Digital Games Modifications - page 91
by Mateusz Felczak

8. A Return To The Magic Circle: Dungeons & Dragons And Friendship & Magic Fifty Years On - page 109
by Stephen Webley

INFLUENCING DUNGEONS & DRAGONSDesigner Vignettes II - page 119
9. “You’re Going To Be Amazing”: The Mercer Effect And Performative Play In Dungeons & Dragons - page 121
by Esther Maccallum-Stewart

10. The Other D&D: Religion(S) In Dungeons & Dragons From Deities & Demigods To Today - page 141
by Adrian Hermann

11. Spelling With Dice: The Role Of Dungeons & Dragons In Contemporary Speculative Fiction 161
by Dimitra Nikolaidou

12. Classrooms And Dragons: Learning From Dungeons & Dragons - page 179
by Premeet Sidhu

13. An Ensemble Of (Role-)Players? Exploring The Influence Of Performance On Dungeons & Dragons - page 197
by David Harris And Josiah Lulham

14. Forging Family Through Queer Dungeons & Dragons - page 211
by Jay Malouf-Grice

15. “Race” And Race: Longitudinal Trends In Dungeons & Dragons Character Creation - page 231
by Amanda Cote And Emily Saidel

16. Hack The Orcs, Loot The Tomb, And Take The Land: Reflections On Settler Colonialism, Indigeneity, And Otherwise Possibilities Of Dungeons & Dragons - page 259
by Daniel Heath Justice

17. Seeking The Unimaginable: Rules, Race, And Adolescent Desire In Dungeons & Dragons - page 275
by Aaron Trammell And Antero Garcia

18. Defamiliarizing Dungeons & Dragons: Playing Out Western Fantasy In Singapore - page 283
by Kellynn Wee

19. Soft Communities And Vicarious Deviance In Dungeons & Dragons - page 301
by Victor Raymond (who blogs at the Sandbox of Doom) and Gary Alan Fine

FUTURESDesigner Vignettes IV - page 323

20. D&D&D&D&D: Imagining Dungeons & Dragons At 150 And Beyond - page 325by Jonathan Walton
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Roaming the Mind of Gob

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 11:00

After a hiatus we returned to the Land of Azurth last Tuesday and picked up where we left off in an adaptation of the Role-Aids adventure Swordthrust. The party was roaming the labyrinth inside the mind (or at least brain) of the giant, crystalline gnome, Gob. They were trying to collect all the pieces of a magical suit of armor.

This time, they avoided some fights with some Rat folk cultists, a dining troll, and a kobold Necromancer:

This, and their previous expressions of solidarity with some goblin revolutionaries made their job of exploring the dungeon easier because it allowed them to backtrack through controlled territory. This was particularly useful then they wanted to move from one "hemisphere" of Gob's brain to the other. 

They didn't negotiate their way around everything, though. They had to kill an irate cockatrice and 3 disagreeable harpies:

Like these guys but more birdy

No armor pieces discovered this session, so the quest continues!

Bundle of Holding - They Came From Beneath the Sea!

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 23:39


1950s horror-movie tabletop roleplaying! From Onyx Path!

This is the first I have heard of this line of RPG releases, and I wonder how I missed it. This is the type of gaming that RPG conventions are made for, and I'm grabbing my copies right after this post goes up. I want to run a session using Them! and one for the Blob! :)

They Came From Beneath the Sea (B-Movie Collection) is 12.95 at Bundle of Holding.

EEEEYAAAHHH! This all-new They Came From Beneath the Sea! Bundle presents They Came from Beneath the Sea!, the tabletop roleplaying game of drive-in B-movie horrors from decades past – of melodrama, science fiction, and farce – from Onyx Path Publishing. PLAY heroic humans driving back watery threats that seek to invade, destroy, or subjugate humanity! CAPTURE everything great about monster movies of the 1950s and 1960s – the thrills and (optionally) the campy humor – using the cinematic Storypath dice-pool system! GRAB your chocolate malt, turn on the jukebox, and ready your harpoons! Don't be caught unawares when it's revealed that They Came From Beneath The Sea!

For just US$12.95 you get all twelve titles in our B-Movie Collection (retail value $58) as DRM-free ebooks, including the complete They Came From Beneath the Sea! Core Rulebook, plus the Party Beach Creature Feature Jumpstart, the Beneath the Sea Quips and Cinematics Cards, and the Director's Screen; the bestiary Monsters of the Deep! and the character book Heroic Land-Dwellers!; the scenario collection Tales of Aquatic Terror; and five "Tasty Bits" mini-scenarios that highlight the many places They Come From: The Bikini Beach Party!, The Bermuda Triangle!, North Herald Beach!, Outer Space!, and Plan 9!

Onyx Path has also provided purchasers a coupon code good, while supplies last, for 50% off one copy of the hardcover They Came From Beneath the Sea Core Rulebook at Indie Press Revolution. Your coupon code appears on your Wizard's Cabinet download page.


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 Shrine of Thasaidon - Warriors of the Red Planet & Clark Ashton Smiths Zothique - Session Report

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 17:26
 Our characters in DM Paul's game entered a gateway to another plane but we were cautioned not to stray from the path. We strayed from the path and ended up on a flat ever expanding desert.The PC's immediately recognized the giant bloated red star in the sky. We found ourselves on Zothique! It is believed that the cover art can or could be obtained from Ballantine Books.This was Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Braunstein Was the First Braunstein

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 13:46

They keep saying that David Wesely’s 1968 Braunstein was the first rpg.

Questing Plagiarist: “By fusing the tactical infinity of wargames with the concept of each player playing a single character, Wesely had inadvertently created a new type of game: the rpg.”

Mr, Professor: “Dave Arneson, the co-creator of D&D, was the first player to ever die in a roleplaying game.”

That’s a nice bit of rhetorical sleight of hand, isn’t it? By virtue of the fact that they never define their terms, they are able to insinuate all manner of things that just aren’t true. Pretty tacky! People like this are not precisely dumb. They are primarily malicious. They will happily undercut their own credibility as sages of rpg lore just to prevent people from learning how to win at rpgs.

So, let’s not be like these losers. Let’s define our terms now so that we can all know what we are talking about.

Braunstein: A Diplomacy-like game where players take on individual roles either cooperating or else working against each other’s interests under a fog of war. The referee meets with them in succession and while the referee adjudicates interactions between players as they come up, the other players are free to engage in negotiations and diplomacy in the next room

Rpg: Conventionally, an rpg is a cooperative game where the players take on individual roles within an adventuring party and work together to overcome a range of challenges in a sequence of encounters adjudicated by a referee. This type of game can run from relatively procedural dungeon crawling type games all the way up to more freeform narratives that only retain an illusion of being a game.

It is natural to ask how something like a Braunstein could evolve into what we today think of as an Rpg, and the answer to that is that… it didn’t. Conventional rpg play is derived from a weird and broken folk game that was collectively improvised by entire generations of people that lacked the virtues required to either read or implement that rules that are outlined in the OD&D and AD&D rules manuals. Astonishing but true!

Those of us that do not pronounce the word “Braunstein” with a ridiculous impression of a German accent can all see it clearly, however. Braunstein was its own type of game distinct from all others both before and since. It was a highly volatile form of game and to this day it is extraordinarily compelling to anyone that experiments with them. Just as with Diplomacy, there are many variants of the original Braunstein game. Colloquially, we call these variants “Braunsteins”. If you devised one yourself and adjudicated it, you would naturally tell people that you “ran a Braunstein”. Everyone would understand what you meant by this… unless they were simultaneously stupid, ugly, malicious, and dumb.

Now… there is a question of why Dave Arneson would bill his Blackmoor game as a “Braunstein” when it was first announced. Was it originally intended to be a single session event like Wesely’s? Did it subsequently rage out of control and turn into something else? There are quite a few people alive today that might know a few things about this matter, but at this point I have no doubt that they would outright set fire to any primary documents still extant that might corroborate anything I have to say about it. No matter. There are actually many more intriguing questions. And the best thing about it is you don’t have to wait for old boomer to let you in on the game.

  • Why does Braunstein play fit so well with the older D&D rule sets?
  • Why does Braunstein play seem to solve so many problems that would kill off so many other continuing campaigns?
  • Why is it that people that have been bred on conventional approaches to rpgs become so thrilled and engaged and elated with they participate in continuing campaigns that consciously leverage David Wesely’s ideas?

It’s a mystery! And strangely enough, sinister forces in the real world are arrayed against you, dead set on preventing you from solving it!

Honestly, though, they can’t stop us. Even better they can’t stop you! Because someone has taken the time to show you how to get the best possible results of integrating Braunstein events with ongoing continuing D&D campaigns. And that guy is Night Danger.

Check out his recent session report detailing his phenomenal game session here. Also, check out the video below where he shares his thoughts on the finer points of how to get the best results when running this type of game. They are cogent, lucid, and of great utility to anyone looking to try this in their own campaigns. Speaking of which, why don’t you jump on the team and come on in for the big win? There has never been a better time! It has never been easier to do this than right now.

Night Danger has demonstrated that you really can win at rpgs. And more than that… he has explained how you can, too.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Wednesday Comics: DC, August 1983 (week 2)

Sorcerer's Skull - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 11:00
I'm reading DC Comics' output from January 1980 (cover date) to Crisis! Today, I've got the comics released the week of May 12, 1983. 

Justice League of America Annual #1: This Levitz/Wein story with art by Hoberg/Giordano is notable mainly for having appearances by Dr. Destiny and the Bronze Age Sandman, both of whom will appear in the early issues of Neil Gaiman's Sandman in 1989. Beyond that, it's a classic JLA story of the team splitting up to deal with dream-related menaces before entering the Dream Dimension where Destiny has imprisoned Sandman and stolen his supply of sleep sand. Mention is made of the crisis in Markovia and Batman being on the outs with the League which will occur in Batman and the Outsiders #1.

Batman #362:  Moench and Newton bring back the Riddler who was last since seen in Detective #526, but outside of that cameo, hasn't had a story since '81. He's up to his same old schtick, but Moench throws in some decent wordplay for the Dark Knight to unravel. Meanwhile, Bullock decides to abandon his false charges against Gordon after...well, I'm not really sure how we're supposed to read what happens, unless it's a veiled threat by the Batman against Bullock made by giving him an egg with his name on it similar to ones the Riddler had employed in his caper.

Flash #324: Bates and Infantino/Jensen officially kick off the "Trial of the Flash" saga (or I guess you could say last issue did sorta), though that name is not, of course, used in the issue since there isn't any trial yet. With Fiona waiting at the altar and his family and friends gathered expectantly, The Flash engages in a round-the-world chase to stop Professor Zoom killing Barry's bride to be. He succeeds--just barely--but apparently the Reverse Flash loses his life in the process.

G.I. Combat #256: The first Haunted Tank story is mostly from the ghostly Stuart's point of view, as we see how he came to be watching over a "yankee" tank crew (Alexander the Great's orders!) and how he is unable to warn the crew of an ambush coming. Naturally the Haunted Tank makes it through. The second story is told from the perspectives of the Sherman and a German Tiger II tank. It's better than the first though not improved by Kanigher's "equipment's perspective" gimmick.
There's a "Silent Service" submarine story about the crew of the U.S. sub, Barracuda, willing to do whatever it takes to sink a Japanese sub-hunting destroyer, and another story of the Pacific Theater where a G.I. hides a gun in his bandages to get the drop on a Japanese ambush. 
The Mercenaries are back, and Kanigher and Catan have them in a mythical African micronation, Zamora, where their plan to get work with the king is sunk when his son kills him in the name of American petroleum interests. In a surprise turn, the king names Prince his successor, but once they've thwarted the coup planners, he turns over leadership to a teacher and political revolutionary--whose first act as president is (wisely) to tell the Mercenaries politely to leave the country.

New Teen Titans #34: Wolfman and Perez deliver something better than the last couple of issues, though mostly for set-up. Terra is grumbling that the Titans don't seem to trust her as they haven't shared their identities or anything. The Titans have reasons for not doing so, but all those are forgotten after the Terminator attacks and Terra plans a big part in defeating him. A staged part, it turns out, as the reveal at the end shows she is infiltrating the Titans on Slade's orders. Meanwhile, Adrian Chase's vigilante tactics (which he dragged Robin into) has consequences as a bomb comes off in his apartment. Also in this issue, Donna says yes to Terry's proposal, but wants to wait to marry him until she finds her parents, and it turns out Sarah (the woman Cyborg was into) isn't engaged after all.

Superman #386: Bates and Swan/Hunt continue Luthor's quest for revenge against Superman as he (wrongly) blames him for the destruction of Lexor. Despite the overall more serious approach to Luthor in this arc, this issue shows hints of characterization inspired by Hackman's Luthor in Superman: The Movie. Luthor discusses his plans with minions as one of them shaves and buffs his head. When he comes to believe killing Lois won't have the same impact on Superman since the two have broken up, he muses on working to get them back together then killing her. For right now, he settles for tricking Superman with a sham device similar in appearance to the one that destroyed Lexor and taunting the hero. He promises to strike for real when Superman least expects it.

Saga of the Swamp Thing #16: Pasko is back and joined by Bissette and Totleben on interior art, an artist team destined to make their mark on this character. After finding Linda Holland's grave empty, Swamp Thing and friends are on their way to Washington, D.C. to uncover the roots of the Sunderland Corporation conspiracy against them. On the way, Swamp Thing finds himself in an eerie small town where a form costume shop operator gives him a mask that appears to transform him back into Holland. He romances a local girl but doesn't feel right about his deception. In the end, it's revealed that everyone in the town is wearing a mask to hide some mutation or deformity. They invite Swamp Thing to stay with them, but he declines, feeling he can't abandon his mission.

Deal of the Day - Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures (OSR Ruleset)

Tenkar's Tavern - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 01:02

Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures is probably the OSR ruleset I'm dying to play or run at some point. I'll be using bits and pieces in my own campaigns, that's for sure.

Through Sunken Lands and Other Adventures is Today's Deal of the Day. Normally 9.99 in PDF, on sale for 3.99 until tomorrow in PDF.

Danger and glory await the bold...

In the common rooms of the great city’s countless inns, in the bathhouses of the merchant quarter, and before the altars of a thousand gods, brave and desperate adventurers meet and make plans. They leave every day and seek their fortunes in the Sunken Lands.

Travel with us through sunken lands...

Lots of times, we want to play a roleplaying game but just don’t have the time for all the prep work involved. No more. Through Sunken Lands is a kit to make a motley crew of ruthless sellswords, gifted sorceresses, and cunning thieves, and send them off in search of gold and glory. Now we have this simple swords and sorcery roleplaying game that gives a group all the tools they need to play an exciting adventure in a single evening, no homework, no fuss.

Anyone with a background in OSR games will already be comfortable with the core rules of Through Sunken Lands.

• Inspired by the works of Michael Moorcock, Fritz Leiber, and Robert E. Howard.

• Character Playbooks and Scenario Packs for play in a single evening with no prep.

• Player driven setting design for fleshing out the great city and the world beyond.

• A sample sword and sorcery setting: the impossible city of Jundarr and the Hundred Seas.

• Nine Character Playbooks, including the Spell Thief and the Eldritch Sorcerer King.

• Three Scenario Packs: the Mysterious Island, the Treasure Hunt, and the Wizard’s Tower


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

Fifty Years of D&D: Out Today!

Zenopus Archives - Tue, 05/14/2024 - 12:59

As I wrote three weeks ago, today is the release date for Fifty Years of Dungeons & Dragons, a new retrospective compilation published by The MIT Press celebrating the half-centennial of D&D. It includes a chapter that I co-wrote, along with Tony Rowe, about the work of J. Eric Holmes. For more details, see my earlier post, "50 Years of D&D: Forthcoming Book from MIT Press".

The book is now available for regular ordering from various booksellers. Here is the Amazon order page:

50 Years of Dungeons & Dragons

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - HYPERBOREA: Modulistic Terror

Tenkar's Tavern - Tue, 05/14/2024 - 00:43

Just mentioning Hyperborea (formerly known as Astonishinh Swordmen & Sorcerors of Hyperborea or ASSH) should be enough to draw your attention. The modules published for Hyperborea by Jeff Talanian are second to none in terms of content and quality, and can literally be run with ANY D20-based OSR ruleset. Yes, even the DCC RPG, but it would take some tinkering ;)

You can get all three modules of the HYPERBOREA: Modulistic Terror collection, in Print and PDF, for 85 bucks plus shipping over at Kickstarter.


An adventure in Hyperborea for four to eight characters of 5th to 7th levels

Abductions and murder! For many months, small villages and farmsteads along the eastern coasts of New Vinland, and up the River Maedbh as far north as Bogrest, have been plagued by swift and deadly attacks. The few surviving witnesses describe a vicious band of Viking berserkers—led by a giant of a Viking and a beautiful Keltic woman—descending without warning in their sleek longship. They seize victims (some scarcely older than children), loot and burn homes, and slay any who resist. Rumours of these raids have reached your ears, as tales spread through mead-halls and taverns as far distant as Khromarium. Tensions are high in New Vinland; the jarls eye their neighbors warily, speculating upon the identity of the raiders and placing the political stability of the entire region at risk. Attempts by Keltic and Viking chieftains to suss out these malefactors have thus far been fruitless—but your party has now become privy to information that could put a stop to these murderous slavers.

Text: Joe Maccarrone 

Editing: Ben Ball, Jeffrey P. Talanian

Front Cover Art: Del Teigeler

Back Cover Art: Johnathan L. Bingham

Interior Art: Johnathan L. Bingham, Mick Fernette, Skye Talanian, Del Teigeler

Cartography: Andreas Claren

Book Format: Saddle-stitched softcover book with #60 unfinished paper and two-colour interior layout.


An adventure in Hyperborea for four to eight characters of 3rd to 5th levels

Bold is the man who travels to the Skarag Coast, where the fell bargains of desperate ancient folk birthed the terrible dæmon-blooded race known as the orc—a species of abomination which now rules the land with blood and iron. Bolder still is he who would dare to erect a stronghold on that accursed shore in open defiance of those Hell-spawned horrors. Just such a man is Ronan Svendoros, a fighter lord of renowned courage who left distant Brigand’s Bay to rear a keep at the mouth of the Bloody River Basin. Now your party journeys to his holding, lured by the promise of gold and glory. Will you triumph, or will your bleached bones join those of countless others who have vanished into the darkness of the dæmon-haunted Skarag Coast?

Text: Ben Ball

Editing: Jeffrey P. Talanian

Front Cover Art: Adrian Landeros

Back Cover Art: Mick Fernette

Back Cover Colours: Glynn Seal

Interior Art: Ian Baggley, Johnathan L. Bingham, Mick Fernette, Adrian Landeros, Glynn Seal, Phil Stone, Del Teigeler, Mike Tenebrae

Cartography: Ben Ball

Book Format: Smyth-sewn hardcover book with #60 unfinished paper and two-colour interior layout


An adventure in Hyperborea for four to eight characters of 4th to 6th levels

Avoiding the lawless pirates of the Zangerios Islands and the blood-thirsty half-bulls of Minotaurios, your party sails to the Isles of Maedsid, deep in the Hyperborean Sea. Maedsid is surrounded by treacherous waves and clinging mists, a place of mystery since time immemorial. Over three centuries ago, the isles became the sacred home to a clandestine sect of sun-worshipping druids called The Awakening Dawn, but they have not been heard from for about forty years. Concern has grown amongst mainland druids, prompting calls for inquiry. Furthermore, speculators, treasure hunters, and curiosity seekers of all stripes are attracted by growing rumours of treasures undreamed and the possibility of unravelling peculiar mysteries. Now, your party voyages to investigate the fate of the lost druids, but perhaps some things are best left unknown.

Text: Johnathan L. Bingham

Editing: James T. Demers

Additional Development: Jeffrey P. Talanian

Front Cover Art: Val Semeiks

Front Cover Colours: Daisey Bingham

Back Cover Art: Johnathan L. Bingham

Back Cover Colours: Skye Talanian

Interior Art: Johnathan L. Bingham

Cartography: Johnathan L. Bingham, Glynn Seal

Book Format: Smyth-sewn hardcover book with #60 unfinished paper and two-colour interior layout. 

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 Talk of the Town

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Mon, 05/13/2024 - 22:04

We did another show. I have to say, too, this is easily my best performance yet. There has not been a shakeup this big since my appearance on Inappropriate Characters! If you have been hiding under a rock this past week, go pop some popcorn and fire this baby up right now!

There are a lot of people that are less than excited about this. I am here even more of a monster than I have ever been. People actually enjoy hating me– if they can bear to speak of me at all.

This doesn’t bother me. My big debate with RpgPundit had a very similar vibe when it came out. At the time that it aired, everyone thought I was a moron. In the years since, however, there has been a significant shift. Guys that were heckling me in the chat ultimately changed sides as all parties involved began to show their true colors. Heck, one of them would end up doing thoughtful videos about Appendix N, endorse both Zero Prep gaming and a more RAW-oriented ethos, and even publish a retroclone that explicitly incorporated the time rule that nearly anyone else would have omitted before.

Some people walking into the middle of this conversation have no idea what we are talking about, though. I would normally be inclined to dunk on them, but I am feeling magnanimous as I experience this seismic shift in the rpg culture that is entirely in my favor. For the ten or twenty people that would like to know more of what I am alluding to in this conversation, please see the following:

That’s all old news, though. If you want to see some really exciting stuff, look at the people that have decided to apply these incredible ideas to their own campaigns.

Of course, I can see how you might not want to tune in to the sort of rpg hipsters that tend to run with me. I get it. We’re imposing. We come off as arrogant. People think we’re rude and insufferable. I know! We’re terrible people. Our only virtue is that we are having more fun than everybody else!

I laugh, but this really is a real problem. It would be nice if someone tried to experiment with some of these ideas but then did it all with people that haven’t been brainwashed by the Jeffro cult. It would be great if the that people did it were familiar with more recent game systems than the weird esoteric texts the bros regularly pick through. It would be great if the people that did it were more representative of contemporary gaming culture with more conventional tastes, normal senses of humor, normal types of banter, and much less of a chip on their shoulders.

And hey, y’all. I’ve got news for you. We finally have you covered:

What happens when a seasoned referee drops cutting edge “bro” innovations like Braunstein play and 1:1 time into more of a straight ahead 5e game that incorporates much more player autonomy than typical story type tables would think to do?

Well, see for yourself.

There’s some good stuff here. Although personally, I like it when the guy attempts to succinctly explain what playing 1:1 time is like and ends up rambling incoherently without saying anything that comes to a point or that makes any sense. Welcome to the club, man! You’re just like me, for real for real!

Seriously, though. I couldn’t be happier that some of my detractors showed up in the chat to ask what things about 1:1 time DIDN’T work and what things about this experimental campaign they liked the LEAST.

The players, who evidently are unaware of my utterly noxious internet persona really had to struggle to come up with something here. They have not drunk the Kool-Aid. They were not going to bombastically declare that 1:1 time is a panacea like I would. So, they kind of hemmed and hawed on this. I feel like they were forced to almost make up a non-problem in their efforts come off as fair and considerate and evenhanded. Either way, the sort of Achilles Heel that guys in the peanut gallery were clamoring for never really manifested.

As to the other question, no one else will notice this but they actually came right out and gave the most Jeffro answer that they could. The thing that they dislike most about their campaign is… they just haven’t had enough time to develop all of the parts of the world that they are most excited to play with. The biggest problem with their campaign is that they haven’t spent enough time playing in it yet!

That right there is funny, y’all.

At the end of the day, it’s all there: the comradery on display in this group, the level of engagement these people can now take for granted in their game, the excitement they share over the subtle shift from “my” campaign to “our” campaign that these ideas naturally engender…. It’s all there. If you know what to look for, it’s all there! There is no doubt that people that honestly want to run the campaign of their dreams cannot help but want to get in on this once they finally see it.

Lucky for them, you really can win at rpgs!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

Sorcerer's Skull - Mon, 05/13/2024 - 11:00

Despite the attention lavished on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, and even Star Trek or the Alien universe, I feel like the science fiction franchise most consistent in quality is the Planet of the Apes. Sure, it's not without its duds (Burton's film) and lesser lights (the last original film, the cartoon, perhaps), but the Wyatt/Reeves reboot?/prequel? series of the 2010s is defied sequel gravity and only got better as it went along. (To me, anyway. Some would say Dawn was the high point. Either way, War was still good.)
When Reeves left and Disney acquired Fox, I had some trepidation about where the series would go. Happily, it seems like Wes Ball has things well enough in hand, at least with this first installment. While it's not as good as the best of the 2010s series, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was more enjoyable and more substantial than any other existing-franchise entry I've seen in the theater since the end of the pandemic--though perhaps that's damning with faint praise.
Anyway, it's "many generations" after the time of Caesar. He has become a mythic/religious figure. His name is borrowed. and his legacy evoked by an up-and-coming bonobo tyrant who (like King Louie in the Jungle Book) wants the technology of humankind. He needs (ape) slave labor to get it at it and a mysterious, young human woman, so when he captures Noa's village and kills his father, the young chimpanzee makes common cause with the human. 

There are hints of Beneath of the Planet of the Apes in here, and (perhaps unintentional, perhaps not) Biblical echoes with a hero named "Noa," but those are as they should be with an ape installment. The special effects are amazing, and it makes me mad the Marvel Cinematic Universe films often seem sloppy. I guess with your whole premise requires motion capture, you have to get that thing right.
I miss Andy Serkis here like everybody else, but he trained the new cast of apes well. I probably could have been a bit shorter, particularly for a film that is a lot about establishing a new conflict, but I'm not immediately sure what I would have cut.
All that to say, if you liked the previous ape films you should see this one. If you haven't seen any of the new apes films (which lately I've discovered a large group of folks that haven't) then you should see those and see this one.
You can also check out the watch and commentary Jason "Operation Unfathomable" Sholtis and I did of the much less good but still entertaining 70s Planet of the Apes TV show over at the Flashback Universe Blog.


Subscribe to Furiously Eclectic People aggregator - Tabletop Gaming Blogs