Tabletop Gaming Feeds

Kickstarter - Monsters! Monsters! Rules 2.7 & Crystal Caves Challenge solo

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 08/26/2023 - 22:32

Yes, Kickstarters have been a frequent theme here, and the scary thing is, each of the ones I've highlighted in the past week I'm also backing. I need to make a list of Big Box Games I'll be donating to ShireCon, simply to make room for more recent acquisitions (I know there was a rumor last summer, being passed around by some that don't follow The Tavern on a regular basis but like to believe rumors, that I was downsizing my game collection due to "financial constraints". The truth was, and still is, I'm dealing with "space constraints", and there's a shit-ton of gaming material that can fit where one OGRE Kickstarter Box is right now. I am like most of my readers, still actively collecting. These donations are part of the current "decluttering" Rach and I are currently in the middle of. It is neither a simple nor short process, but it IS well worth the effort.)

I'm really excited to see the updated Monsters! Monsters! rulebook being released, and spiral bound at that. I'm a licensee to publish under the Monster! Monster! rules, but other events (not the least of which is figuring out how to get Continual Light out the door with the OGL still in flux for the 3.5 SRD) have kept that from getting completed in a timely fashion. Don't let anyone tell you that retirement doesn't have its own time constraints :)

In any case, just like I'm a huge Tunnels & Trolls fan (still waiting on an update as to what the new owners of the ruleset have planned), Monsters! Monsters! is becoming very much a refined T&T "what if" ruleset, as in "what if the system wasn't human-centric, but rather monster-centric?" I'm really enjoying the Monsters! Monsters! rules, and I'm excited to get my hands on the update.

There are numerous options to back the Monsters! Monsters! Rules 2.7 Kickstarter. I'm backing at the "kitchen sink" level, but remember, I'm a huge fan of T&T, M!M!, and related goodness. 38 bucks get you a wire-bound copy of Monsters! Monsters! 2.7, but you can get for less in PDF, or pay more for more options.

What's in this Kickstarter:  We have three rpg books, one is Trollgod's Crystal Cave Caverns and the 2.7th edition of the Monsters!Monsters! Rules. PLUS we are offering a limited edition of the never-before-seen 1976 Zero Edition of Monsters! Monsters! We also have some add-ons including a new set of standees and a new full-color adventure map and a couple more surprises,  You can buy either book separately or get them both at a discounted price. 

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

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

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

S7 Stains Upon The Green, Adventurer, Conqueror, King Rpg, & the Borderlands Campaign - The Red Tide Comes Rolling In

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 08/26/2023 - 20:54
 "Stains upon the Green"'s copper rings might lead to other places and circumstands. And one of these might well be into dire trouble. Imagine stepping through the rings and landing on an island someplace in the middle of nowhere. Back about two years ago I got deeply involved in a Red Tide campaign that DM Steve a friend of mine and fellow DM was running. Now once again I've been thinking about Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Flames Witnessed at Temperance

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 08/26/2023 - 11:11
By  D. D. Gant Self Published Labyrinth Lord Levels 1-3

Dreams of the sleeping wizard seep into reality. Manifest familiars war over the fate of a remote islet.  An infinite garden houses an escaped experiment.  The god of purity is fooled for his blessings.  Into the nightmare we go.

This sixteen page adventures features a small island with around ten locations. It’s all a dream, with no death possability, but a lot of novelization language and a little heavy reliance on anthropomorphic animals, trying for a fairy tale/dream vibe. It’s minor high points don’t save it in any way.

*sigh* ANother dream time adventures. The sleeping wizards dreams invade reality blah blah blah. Go in to his nightmares and “kill” him to wake him up. Blah blah blah. How can you have your pudding if … I mean, how can you have an adventure when there are no consequences? This is one of those things that, as a player, I tune completely out on. I don’t really give a shit when there are no consequences. Anyway. People on shore see a light on the island and off you go to figure shit out. Once there you meet a bunch of animals who can talk and are intelligent and maybe tell you to go to the forest and kill the wizard. Once there you enter his nightmare and kill him, waking him up. There are also nightmare descriptions for the other nine locations on the island, although why you would go back there is beyond me. You enter the nightmare in the forest. The forest is one location. The dude is in the forest. Seems pretty straight forward to me. 

This thing is FULL of overly dramatized prose. The kind of shit that is supposed to be full of imagery, if you were reading it in a novel. But this isn’t a novel, its an adventure. One of the entries starts “In defiance of expectantly calm conditions …” Seriously? I’m supposed to run something that starts with that? One of the encounters is called “The tree will remember” and has a statue in it. That does nothing. The trees do not enter in to the location, except the statue is in a grove of trees. Yeah, super meaningful dude. I am inspired. “Half-buried crab cages entomb expired crustaceans where the gulls cannot reach.” Why do we care that the gulls can’t reach the crab bodies? What the fuck is the point?  “Under the spell of the beckoning nightmare the adventuring party find themselves stumbling out of the shady grove …” This isn’t writing. It’s not adventure writing anyway. Passive sentence structures. Overly purple prose. The writing needs to be clear, direct, not passive, and targeted at running the game. “Where the gulls cannot reach. *pffft* Garbage.

There is one section where things just do not make sense at all. In a lab there’s a table for a snow globe. The globe is never mentioned anywhere. Just a table for a globe. Ad it’s written, at least in one of the entries for the globe, like you can enter it. But there’s not enough to run that. And, where the fuck is the globe anyway? Its like the designer left out a paragraph. 

There’s a decent bit of thing or two in this. A potion of bees! You turn in to a swarm of bees for two turns. Kind of a nice reimagining of a gaseous form. And A rat who dons a repurposed chainmail coif over fine silks and waves around a sewing needle in command of his fellow rats. This is in a room with a familiar toad who ready to release a tamed tabby on the rats. Decent little vignette there, but maybe a little too much Watership Down for me. I just don’t get the anthropomorphic animal thing. The wanderer table has “Deer wearing prayer bead necklaces clip-clop out of a nearby room.” That’s suitable creepy for me though.

It’s all a dream. Who cares. The writing would be fine if this were a novel, but it’s not. You need to get the dream vibe to the DM, who can pass it to the players. You want an Annihilation vibe. You don’t do that by tormenting the DM who has to wade through the passive, purple prose. 

Then again, who cares, it’s all just a dream anyway.

This is free at DriveThru. The marketing blurb promises more like this from this designer. Oh boy.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Hex Crawl 23 #223: Am-bushy Hills

Roles & Rules - Sat, 08/26/2023 - 09:14

Ten hexes northwest of Alakran.


"Am-bush" is not just a terrible pun, but solid etymology. Ultimately it comes from the Latin in boscus, referring to an attack conducted from concealment "in a wood," and "bush" likewise derives from boscus. While the travellers of the Road of Flowers speak a different language, the many shrubs and low trees that cling to the highlands to the west give rise to thoughts of danger as they pass this section. There is even a tale about it -- in which bypassers may find themselves a character, if you'll allow it.

A merchant with two armed guards, passing by this spot, was hailed and threatened by two bandits. His men, though, convinced the attackers that a fight would be to their mutual detriment. They then agreed to join the ambush, doubling their numbers, and the greedy merchant assented. The next passer-by was a tough veteran, clinking in bronze. He might have taken on three, if not four assailants, but was instead persuaded likewise to join the gang lying in wait.

The tale goes on for three or four repetitions, each time swelling the numbers of the ambush band with more and more colorfully described personnel, including five members of the Obliterating Fists on furlough. Finally, along comes a stooped, white-bearded, pulling a hand cart laden with goods. The forty or so ambushers leap from their bushes with a terrible yell, and the poor old man drops dead on the spot. But the battle they had all sought to avoid breaks out at last among the would-be bandits, for they cannot agree on a division of the spoils, which turn out to be just bundles of alfalfa. The few survivors limp away in shame, having unleashed such a bloodbath over a month's donkey fodder.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Intitial OSR Impressions & Review of Wretched Darkness Rpg Second Edition By The Red Room For The Wretchedverse rpg Campaign System.

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 08/26/2023 - 06:03
 "This week’s release is Wretched Darkness - Second Edition. Welcome to the nightmarish realms of the Wretchedverse, where horrors lurk around every corner, and the darkness hides untold terrors. Wretched Darkness is a mature horror role-playing game where players take on the roles of anti-hero characters who must face the unknown and confront the supernatural and the paranormal head-on. It may Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Army Ants '81 Now Available

The Splintered Realm - Sat, 08/26/2023 - 03:47

So much for THIS stealth operation.

It was a simple enough mission. Sneak up on the termite compound. Take some notes. Get out. You weren’t geared up for a full frontal assault.

But then Gonzo thought the tower guard spotted him. And Burner got an itchy trigger finger. And, before you knew it, the compound was a smoldering ruin, and you’d used up all of your grenades. 

The Colonel was going to go ballistic. You would be lucky to have latrine duty for the next fortnight. You’d barely broken in your sergeant patch, and you had visions of it being ripped from your uniform in a barrage of obscenities.

… But maybe it didn’t have to happen that way. Because maybe THIS didn’t happen that way. 

What if you had done your recon, but realized that the termites had a bomb - no, a MISSILE. They had a missile that was going to destroy the Hill. Your only choice was to throw caution to the wind, to respond to the new intelligence, and risk your life for Queen and Hill.

You gathered your patrol together and explained the plan. If they could stick to this one, maybe things wouldn’t turn out so badly after all…


Army Ants ‘81 is the RPG I wish my friends and I had when I was in eighth grade. Because that would have been SWEET.

Kickstarter - Legacy of the Green Flame: A Solo Campaign for 5e & Classic!

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 08/25/2023 - 17:47

I've been dabbling in the world of solo play recently, snagging rulesets and trying to get comfortable with the idea of playing when I have a few minutes to spare, without a GM or other players. As such, I constantly have my eyes open for new solo play options, which brings us to Legacy of the Green Flame: A Solo Campaign for 5e & Classic from Pacesetter Games.

The Legacy of the Green Flame: A Solo Campaign Kickstarter offers a full campaign (to 5th level), to be played with essentially any OSR system, or 5e (and probably Pathfinder with some minor tweaking). Hardcover plus PDF, for the system type of your choice, is 45 bucks, which I consider to be very reasonable.

This multi-part solo campaign includes four linked adventure modules that can be played as part of the campaign or independently. Each module is set in a unique location and environment. There are two versions of the campaign adventure, 5e and Classic (which includes BX, Holmes, OSE, Swords & Wizardry, and 1e). Additionally, your character gains experience and advances in level as you move through the adventures (5e uses benchmark leveling but may opt for traditional experience point leveling, while the Classic version uses experience point progression).

Legacy of the Green Flame uses Pacesetter’s innovative SoloSystem for augmented solo gameplay; however, you still use the core rules of whichever RPG system you prefer (5e or Classic). Every creature, magic item, and new spell is full described (with full stat blocks in the Classic version). Did we mention there are dozens of new monsters, magic items, and spells? Well, there are. The SoloSystem provides added guidelines and rules to help move the game along while maximizing the solo game experience. These are generally items such as resting, wandering monsters, hirelings and henchmen, Adventure Points, etc. You also can map as you go! This is a unique facet that Pacesetter innovated way back in 2010.

Each of the adventures has multiple adventure paths and routes so you can play them many times and experience new adventure areas and results.

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

Editing Odds and Ends

The Splintered Realm - Fri, 08/25/2023 - 12:05

As I complete edit number 372 or something of the Army Ants '81 rules (they are only ten pages, so I've spent much more time editing and refining than I did writing the original set of rules), I find little things I'm still considering tweaking. Here are some things:

I think I'm going to have aid kits and first aid work the opposite of damage; aid kits are DT 1 to apply, and restore 2 base Grit, but you get to carry over extra successes on your Mind check to the result (as well as the medic skill) to improve the outcome. This makes Mind more valuable (which is good, because it's still the third wheel of the traits, and this boosts it a little), and helps to offset some of the scaling of Grit I've done - a level 6 ant (so fairly high level) with Body 3 and toughness 2 (a likely build for a heavy weapons or recon specialist) has Grit 34. A decent medic (Mind 3, first aid skill 1) with an aid kit who rolls 3 successes with the aid kit restores 2 (the overage beyond the DT) +2 (aid kit) +1 (medic skill) = 5 Grit. If he rolls 1 success, he restores 3 Grit, and if he rolls something crazy like 5 successes, he restores 7 Grit. None of this breaks the game (even remotely), but it accounts for the higher trait and the investment in medic skill. I have to re-write the medic skill so that it doesn't grant bonus points restored... because I would double-dip, getting the bonus to the dice pool that then carries over to the points restored. Heck, I might even go ahead and have aid kits restore 3 base Grit! If you're going to spend an action to use an aid kit, you should get some return on your investment. I also keep thinking about levels 1-2... if I'm spending a few valuable Clout to get an aid kit, I better get some bang for that buck.

On the other side, I have grenades. I keep trying to balance grenades so that they are effective and useful, but also not too deadly. I keep thinking about the poor level 2 ant with Body 1 and no Toughness; he only has Grit 6. If a grenade deals more than 6 damage, it can one-shot a level 2 ant. Then it hit me. So? I'm conceptualizing this as an 'old school RPG'. Well, magic users in B/X could be level 5 with 10 hit points. If they get hit with a 5D6 fireball, they could die whether or not they make the saving throw if I happen to roll 20+ on the damage. Too bad, so sad. Grenades are deadly. As the MM, if you are allowing level 1-2 enemies to walk around with lots of grenades, then you're going to have lots of dead ants. I liked how my play test yesterday had tension about the presence of grenades; however, a little bit of that tension was about my own thoughts of grenades, and not necessarily their mechanical applications in this game right now; if a grenade had bounced into the foxhole, there is a decent chance its overall effects on the game would have been minimal. That should not be the case; a grenade ends up in your foxhole, and the snot is about to hit the fan. I think going to damage 10 on a grenade is not out of the question. I'm going to toy with that a bit.

Finally, (if you've read this far - I wonder how many people make it all the way through my long, rambling posts...) I have noticed a philosophical shift in my thinking about creative 'stuff'. As I get ready for this school year, I'm well aware that I'm on the back end of my career. This is the last go round for me on Romeo and Juliet, so I want to do the best job I can with it. I'm taking my time to get it right. I sort of feel that way with my Army Ants game. I cannot see me making Army Ants games in my 60s... but I couldn't see me making them in my 50s when I was 20, so what do I know? Anyway, I'm enjoying the process of getting this right, and I'm appreciating the reality that it could be for the last time.

Hex Crawl 23 #212: Lake of the Vampires

Roles & Rules - Fri, 08/25/2023 - 06:54

Here's a hex I inadvertently missed out of the sequence, so I have had to renumber things. We detour northeast from the Execution Spikes to visit this place, which lies nine hexes northwest of Alakran. Then, back northwest to #223.


To sweeten the fame of the farmers of the Rows of Muttra, they built a canal to feed a formerly dry lake bed with the runoff from their water source. Travellers along the Road of Flowers could take a short detour to replenish their water on a hot day, ten miles into their journey.

But the small lake, originally known as Pulka'al, now has an evil reputation. "Beware the Lake of the Vampires!" travellers warn. Some believe it literally, but others know the real reason. Swarms of vicious mosquitoes of prodigious size hover over the water, pursuing up to 300 feet, and their attack spells death to all but the most hardy. Even if one swarm is dispatched, there are dozens more, and clusters of eggs in and under the water to give rise to the next generation. From any point on the shore one or two unburied victims can be seen, each with d20 x d20 worth of coins and goods, although to give these people a decent burial rather than simply robbing them is a good act worth 100 xp each.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Army Ants Playtest #... 4? 5? Not sure anymore.

The Splintered Realm - Fri, 08/25/2023 - 00:53
Let’s try a different sort of play test with the variations I’ve made to the rules, and see how they hold up. I’m going to make two ants who are sitting in a foxhole with sandbags, defending a pathway up to a key location during a battle.
What battle? What location? Why?


Anyway, my two ants will be a Heavy Weapons gunner dude and his best friend, a covert ops specialist with some medical training. That should be fun. I’m going to make them only level 2, and they are holding the pathway from three waves of attacks in a minute. The first wave will arrive in round 1. The second wave in round 4. The third wave in round 8. Good stuff.

Wave 1 will have 5 ticks. One of them has a stun grenade. They are all on foot.

Wave 2 will have 7 ticks. One of them has a gas grenade and another has a fragmentation grenade. They are all on foot.

Wave 3 will have 3 ticks in a jeep with a machine gun mounted on top. The jeep gives them all Cover +1. The jeep carries a bomb, so needs to be disabled before it makes it beyond the sandbag too far. I’ll figure out what that means exactly when I get there.

In rolling them up, I love the way that rank works… while the law of averages will favor smarter characters with leadership over time, a good roll (or bad one) can change a lot… as is the case here. There is no WAY that the heavy weapons ant should be higher rank than the covert ops ant, but that’s the military for you… Blitz rolled a 6 followed by a 5 on his first roll, so came out of Boot Camp with the Lance Corporal insignia. Poor Specs barely got confirmed for Private First Class (one success total in two tries), even after all the paperwork he’s done for the Major! Life just isn’t fair… 

Blitz, Raucous Ant Heavy Weapons 2 (A3 Lance Corporal; Grit 12; Clout 30) 

Body 3 | Mind 1 | Reflex 2

Heavy Weapons 1; Toughness 1

AM-60 (damage 4); 3 grenades; 3 aid kits

Specs, Studious Ant Covert Operative 2 (A2 Private First Class; Grit 6; Clout 25)

Body 1 | Mind 3 | Reflex 2

Medic 1; Small Arms 1

AM-16 (damage 3); 4 aid kits; walkie-talkie

The sandbagged foxhole provides +1 to Reflex for cover, and also increases the DT of grenades by +1, since it has netting over it to cause grenades to bounce away.

For each wave, they must make a Mind check (DT 2) to see the enemies at 13 cm. Otherwise, they become aware of them at the 10-cm mark. The foliage is pretty thick on the road.

Round 1

They both fail the first check, and are surprised when a group of 5 ticks appears on the road, coming around the bend. The ticks go first. Two are going to stand back and open fire, while three run forward. One of the forward ticks carries the grenade. The boys are shooting at the runners. The first shooter gets… 6 successes. On 2D. He rolled double sixes, followed by another six and a 3. He’s firing at Blitz. 3 of these go to damage, so he deals a total of 5 hits, leaving Blitz at 7. Ouch! With his second shot, he gets 2 successes, which ping off of Blitz’s machine gun. The second fires at Specs, but his one success lodges in the sandbags. His second shot misses entirely.

On his turn, Blitz fires at the first of the running ticks. He gets 3 successes, so 2 carry over to damage; he deals 6 damage, which is enough to drop the first one. He gets 2 successes on the second, which deals a total of 5 damage. That one is still up with 1 Grit remaining. Specs tries to use his AM-16 to finish the injured one, and gets 2 successes, which deals 4 damage and finishes it. He uses his other action to patch Blitz’s wound, and rolls only 1 success - which is barely enough. He restores 3 Grit to Blitz, who is now at 10. There is a 4 in 6 chance that one of the runners was carrying the grenade; he was. The grenade now lies on the ground near the feet of the one runner who still survived. He ran 6 cm, so is now 4 cm away from the foxhole. His BODY 2 allows him to throw it that far, so that’s going to be his play.

Round 2

The ticks in the rear are taking a strategic advance; they can move 1 cm and attack in an action; they would have done that last round as well… so they have moved 2 cm and will move 2 more as they are firing. They are both focusing on Blitz. The first attacks and gets 3 successes and 1 success. The three hits for standard damage (2), and Blitz is at 8 Grit. The second gets 2 successes with each attack, but needs 3 to hit them behind the sandbags. They are now 6 cm from the sandbags. The one 4 cm from the sandbags uses 1 action to pick up the grenade, and another to throw it; he needs 2 successes to land it in the foxhole, and gets 0. The grenade hits the net, bouncing away and exploding next to the sandbags, which absorb the full brunt of the attack. 

Blitz opens upon the closest one, getting 2 successes (so dealing damage 5), and then 3 successes (so damage 6). He kills the nearest tick, and two remain. Specs tries to shoot one of those, getting 2 and 2 successes, for a total of 8 damage, killing him.

Round 3

The tick doesn’t have many options, so he drops to one knee and takes aim at Blitz’s head, firing one shot at +1 He misses with only 1 success, as his bullet sinks into the sandback a tenth of a millimeter below Blitz’s head (I’d say this is a game of inches, but it’s not THAT big - that sounds like a marketing idea). Blitz returns fire, getting 5 successes, and dropping the tick like so much wet laundry. Or so many potatoes. Or like a tick you just filled with machine-gun ammunition. Mostly that last one.

Specs wants to try and apply some medical help to Blitz, who is at 8 Grit out of his starting 12. Two kits will get him back to full, and (they don’t know this), but they have less than half a round. Specs can try to apply one aid kit; he rolls 4 successes, so easily swaps out the bandage for a new one and gets Blitz back up to 11. Ticks appear on the path. Only Blitz gets to try and notice, since Specs is busy. He gets a 6 followed by a 2, so that’s enough. He taps Specs on the shoulder, nods towards the path, and gets back to his position. Specs gets his AM-16 ready.

Side note: This is very cinematic. I’m really appreciating how the action flows here. Part of it is just how I’ve structured this encounter, but the mechanics are allowing me to do this fluidly. 

Round 5

They let the ticks get to 10 cm and open fire, winning initiative automatically.  Blitz gets 4 successes on the first attack, dealing 7 damage and killing one. He misses the second one entirely. Specs hits one for 4, and again for 4 more, dropping it. Five ticks remain. 

They do the whole strategic advance thing. One of the dead ticks had the gas grenade, but the one still up has the fragmentation grenade. Four of them provide cover fire as the grenadier runs up to throw his grenade. They do a lot of missing. One gets 3 successes against Blitz, which deals 2 damage, leaving him at 9. They hit the sandbags a lot. Funny thought: I just realized that a sandbag might have only 10 to 20 grains of sand in each one. Heh. The grenadier will throw next round… if he’s still alive.

Round 6

Blitz is going to try and prevent that. He does. He has 4 successes for 7 damage, cutting the grenadier down; it is possible he’s already pulled the pin (he has), and now I decide if it bounces to harm one of the others; it is very unlikely, but 1 in 6 shot. Nope. It rolls off the road and explodes. Blitz tries to kill a second, rolling 0 successes. Ugh. Specs fires at another one, hitting with 2 successes and dealing 5 damage, leaving it at 1. He fires again and finishes it off with 2 more successes. Three of them remain.

These all focus on Blitz, trying to take out that machine gun as they continue their strategic advance. They need 3 successes to hit; they get (2 attacks each, so six total attacks): 3, 0, 2, 2, 1, and 1 successes. Only the 3 gets to Blitz, tagging his shoulder and dealing 2 damage, leaving him at 7. He’s still above 50% of his starting Grit, so no penalty.

Round 7

They all hear something coming up the path. It will appear next round… but it’s going fast.

Blitz opens up on one of the three remaining ticks, getting 3 successes, which is just enough to kill it. He gets 2 successes on another, which deals 5 damage and leaves it with 1 Grit remaining. Specs uses an aid kit quickly to patch Blitz up a little bit and restores 3 Grit. Blitz is back to 10. Specs now takes a shot with his final action, barely hitting, but doing enough to finish it off. One tick remains… for the moment.

Round 8

That tick stands and lines up to take a shot, as a jeep filled with more ticks runs him over as it barrels through. 

The boys have one round to do something. I’m giving the jeep initiative; the driver keeps driving, while the machine gunner opens fire, and the passenger lobs a grenade towards the foxhole. The gunner gets 2 successes, which sticks a lot of lead in the sandbags. The grenade thrower misses entirely, his grenade going off the netting and into the brush on the far side. The driver drives.

Blitz tries to throw a grenade into the jeep; this is going to be tough, so I’ll say DT 3 because of how fast the jeep is moving, and the relatively small target area (far less than a cm square to line up). He gets 3 successes! (5 and a 6 on the dice). Dang. I’m going to go with his stun grenade, because that has the best odds of doing something good. 

The machine gunner gets 0 successes; it is possible that he falls off the jeep. Nope. He’s in a harness, so he slumps against the gun post.

The passenger gets three successes. Impressive. He’s stunned for 1 round…

The driver gets 2 successes, so is out for 12 seconds… that is definitely long enough for the jeep to crash. It does, and each has to roll Body to soak 6 impact damage from the crash. The gunner soaks 3, the passenger soaks 1, and the driver rolls a botch and is impaled and dies. The boys open fire on the jeep until it explodes… it is possible that they are in the blast radius of the bomb that was on the jeep when it goes off. They are. Specs can try a Mind roll DT 2 to see the bomb casing and realize what it is just before it goes off…  he gets 5 successes! Finally! Being smart helps. He grabs Blitz and pushes him down in the foxhole just as the jeep erupts in a huge blast that shreds several of their sandbags.


Wow. I made a few changes to Grit, soaking, and damage, and it sped things up SO much. I really, really liked the tempo of that fight.

I like grenades. I like that you have to get close to use them, but when you do they can be pretty effective.

Changing the dynamics from attacking to defending changed the combat a lot, and made for more interesting strategic choices on the parts of the ants. That was nifty. 

Big picture: changing the scope of the setting from only Ants vs. Wasps to ‘whole area is in chaos and everyone is fighting everyone all the time’ gives a lot more story opportunities. If it’s not the wasps, it’s a group of mad tick terrorists trying to lay waste to the Ant army in the name of anarchy. Good stuff. 

Aid kits are applied really, really fast. While it is logical that you’d have to use a full round to apply an aid kit, mechanically you aren’t going to give up two actions to apply an aid kit, so they would never get used. Because they can be applied in one action, it makes sense to give up an attack to get back the health, especially on the part of supporting characters. I like that the game sort of encourages a player to take the ‘cleric’ role; you can still be a good fighter and effective in combat (Specs is not bad), but you also serve a vital role as support and healing. Specs restored a total of 9 Grit during the fight, which is right around the full Grit of a typical ant at this level. That’s a significant contribution. Because of his healing, Blitz never dropped below 50% and never took a penalty to attacks. This is strategic stuff that the game sort of naturally supports that makes for genuine tactical decisions; you want to heal your allies while they are still above 50% so they never take penalties, or if they are taking penalties, you want to get them back above 50% asap. I like it.

For what it's worth, I also like these two characters. They lived, so that's good. Maybe a two-ant team would be the best way to run a solo game, so I have more options and versatility, but not an entire group to juggle on my own. Hmmmm....

Humble Bundle - Dungeon Crawl Classics MEGA Bundle (Over 70 Adventures for 3e, 4e, 5e, DCC RPG for 25 bucks)

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 22:42

Dungeon Crawl Classics, or DCC, adventures, had their star in the 3x/D20 era, progressed through 4e, and finally spawned their own RPG, the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, or the DCC RPG.

I have run 3x era DCC Adventures as well as DCC RPG Adventures with the Swords & Wizardry (OSR) rules, converting on the fly with little if any hiccups. The adventures themselves are generally the most imaginative, most inspiring adventures one can choose to run as a GM.

The 74 adventures included in this bundle include some personal favorites that are well worth the price of admission on their own. DCC #29, The Adventure Begins includes a collection of low-level adventures to kick your new campaign off with. DCC #35, Gazetteer of the Known World is one of the better fantasy settings around, regardless of system. DCC #51, Castle Whiterock, is a mega-dungeon that will take your players through level 15 or so. While all three of these highlighted choices are written for 3x, they convert easily to the system of your choice.

20 of the included adventures/PDFs are from the 3x era of D&D, 14 are from the 4e era, 8 are for D&D 5e, and the rest are written for the DCC RPG (over 30) as well as a 20% off coupon for use at the Goodman Games Online Store. There is a lifetime of gaming potential in the Dungeon Crawl Classics MEGA Bundle at the $25 price point.

Get ready to put your players through the meat grinder with this gargantuan collection of modules and supplements for the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG system from Goodman Games! This bundle includes 70+ DCC books, ranging from essential modules like Idylls of the Rat King, The Lost Vault of Tsathzar Rho, and The Mysterious Tower, to mammoth supplements like Castle Whiterock, a veritable campaign-in-a-virtual-box. Pay what you want for enough material to keep your campaign going for ages—valued at over $1,000—and support World Central Kitchen 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

Stars Without Number Game Session Two - Phaseworld & Trey Causey's Strange Stars Campaign

Swords & Stitchery - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 20:26
 I had to pull a campaign out of moth balls  & so  Trey Causey's Strange Stars. And his OSR Strange Stars  rulebook came out of retirement at the table top. "It's the far future, Old Earth is lost and shrouded in legend, and the children of paleo-humanity have long ago populated the stars, branching into new forms and strange cultures. Adventure is measured in light-years!" The PC's were trying Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Ants - Diving Deeper into BODY implications

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 19:46
As I've started to tinker with BODY, I'm seeing the metaphorical spider web (extended pun intended - actually worked hard to shoehorn that in) of how BODY influences other things hardwired into the system. However, I'm seeing that now as a flaw of my original design which requires a more surgical approach to remove.
I had set things up that AOE attacks had a fundamentally different mechanical resolution than direct attacks on an individual. If an ant shoots a bee, he rolls an attack against the bee's REFLEX; if he gets a number of successes equal to or better than the bee's REFLEX score, he hits; any points beyond are added to damage. If you hit by +2, you deal +2 damage. Easy peasy.
Conversely, AOE attacks almost automatically hit (you only need to succeed with against a DT 1), and then all creatures in the area are affected; you aren't trying to hit any one creature, you're just aiming for a generalized location, and then letting things play out. This makes a lot of sense; a grenade deals 4 damage, and I'm just trying to mitigate the damage I suffer from that.
The problem was that AOE attacks almost always hit... whereas other attacks don't. I'm torn. I mean, it makes sense to me that you only need one success to throw a grenade... but I'm not sure if I like it. 
Let's delve a little deeper... if a grenade requires 1 success to hit the 1-centimeter square you are aiming for, you have (If I did this math right):a 3 in 6 chance with Reflex 1 (50%)A 30 in 36 chance with Reflex 2 (83%).A 189 in 216 chance with Reflex 3 (88%)
This... isn't as bad as I thought. Even with Reflex 3, you are missing with your grenade 12% of the time. I don't hate that. The roll still matters. Yes, you can have thrown weapons 3 and reflex 3, but seriously... at that point, you are investing a LOT into being able to hit with grenades, and you get a limited supply of them, so go for it!
I just need to tweak other attacks a little bit... for example, both flame throwers and artillery can be a default DT 2. This means that you line up the artillery or flame thrower to hit where you want them to hit. I think that these are a little clumsy and hard to manage, so you'd be off with them a little bit more. 2 is pretty typical for an enemy's dodge, so we'll just go with that. If I get my 2 successes, I lined this thing up the way I wanted. I could go with one success on these as well, but then it's really easy to be a flame thrower operator (although it has very short range, and only works once per round, so it's not the awesome killer you might think it is). Artillery also is self-limiting; you can only afford so many shells. You aren't walking around firing your bazooka every round; you are preparing it before combat, firing it once or twice, and then doing other stuff.
Okay. Default DT 1 it is. This is simpler to remember, and makes more sense. The only drawback is that you have little incentive to invest in the artillery skill; this is a valuable skill point that, if you have Mind 2 or 3, I cannot see anyone wasting. I suppose I can insert more sophisticated artillery later (rockets and missiles and the like) that require more successes, but for now this works well enough. I can take the artillery skill out entirely for now, since I don't know that anyone needs it much anyway. However, the other attack abilities have a skill, so I guess I'll keep it.

More Play Testing of Ant Stuff

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 18:07

Playtest time! I’ve decided to make three experienced ants (put them at level 3) and see how they do with a challenging mission…

Gus - Fun-loving Ant Infantry 3 

A3 Lance Corporal; Grit 10; Clout 40

Body 2 | Mind 2 | Reflex 2

Medic 1; Small Arms 1; Transport 1

AM-16 (Ct. 12; dmg. 4) 5 Aid Kits (10); 6 grenades (18)

Mort - Serious Ant Recon 3 

A4 Corporal; Grit 12; Clout 45

Body 3 | Mind 2 | Reflex 1

Heavy Weapons 1; Hunting 1; Stealth 1

AM-3Z (dmg. 6; Ct. 30); Camouflage Fatigues (6); 3 grenades (9)

Rocko - Reckless Ant Heavy Weapons 3 

A3 Lance Corporal; Grit 14; Clout 40  

Body 3 | Mind 1 | Reflex 2

Heavy Weapons 2; Toughness 1

AM-3Z (dmg 6; Ct. 30); Camouflage Fatigues (6); 2 Aid Kits (4)

Let’s Play!

My ants are on a mission to sneak up on a hidden bee facility where they are manufacturing a prototype helicopter. They are to sneak in, steal the helicopter, and escape with it. The facility has 12 bees and a hornet (as the overseer). The roof requires 3 rounds to retract once the button is hit to open it. There is an anti-aircraft gun positioned on the roof (dmg. 10). Once an alarm is raised, another helicopter will arrive in 1 minute to engage. 

The ants try to sneak up towards the back of the facility, moving through thick grass. Gus rolls 2 dice, Mort rolls 3, and Rocko rolls 3. The watchman has Mind 1, so they each need only 1 success. Gus gets 2, Mort gets 3, and Rocko gets 4. They are super sneaky, getting to the back wall of the complex. The back door is locked, and the windows appear to be sealed shut. None of them has security, but they can try to pick the lock anyway; this is a straight up Mind roll, but with DT 4 (so good luck, boys). Um. Okay. Mort gets double 6s (4 successes), with no extra successes on the second roll, but he didn’t need them. Wow. Okay. He gets the door open.

There are a few bees milling about. They can try to sneak to the helicopter, but odds are not good. They need 4 successes to cross without being detected… they decide to create a distraction… and maybe take out a few bees in the process. The idea is to throw a grenade to the far end of the area, draw attention, and use that to sprint to the helicopter. If all goes well, the stealth check will be vs. DT 2. They are no longer outside, so nobody gets a bonus from camouflage fatigues; all are rolling 2D to use stealth. Rocko will throw a stun grenade that he gets from Gus. Gus will prepare to sneak towards the helicopter, and Mort will sneak towards the button to open the roof.

Not loving this plan. But whatever.

It goes sideways quickly. Rocko failed his check to throw the grenade; it bounces back towards the helicopter and goes off next to it. One bee is nearby, and gets caught in the blast. He fails his BODY check, and is stunned for 4 rounds. All of the other bees and the wasp are suddenly at attention. The ants seek cover. It’s initiative.

The ants win with double 6s. Nice. Gus runs to the chopper, and Mort runs to the button. Rocko will lay down support fire. Mort is successful (no check required), and the roof begins to open. It will be open in three rounds. It is possible that the helicopter is open. Nope. Door is closed. It is likely that the door is unlocked; Nope. The helicopter doors are locked. Well darn. Rocko fires at one bee; only 2 successes on 5 dice is a little disappointing, but it’s still a hit for 6 damage, which deals 4 to the bee, leaving it at 4. He fires again, this time getting 6 successes, which is 10 damage and shreds the first bee. One is dead and one is stunned.

The bees go. Three will attack each ant. Then I’ll decide on the hornet…

One hits Gus for 3; his Body soaks 2, so he suffers 1 damage. The second misses, and the third hits him for 3, so he suffers 1 more damage, down to 8.

Mort gets peppered; he’s hit three times, for 3, 4, and 6 points respectively. His Body 3 soaks a good chunk of this, but he suffers 1 and 3, down to 8.

Rocko is hit twice, but his Body absorbs all of it. 

The hornet is smart (gets 2 successes on his MIND roll) and knows they are trying to steal the helicopter. He flies to Gus to stop him. He orders the bees to focus on the other two. 

Round 2

Gus tries to pick the lock with his first action (which is going to be very, very difficult). 1 success. Nope. He takes his rifle and tries to break the lock open. I’m going to argue this is part of his small arms training (use the butt of the weapon as a hammer), and he rolls 3 dice… and gets no successes. Yeah. He needs the key. Which is around the neck of the Hornet…

Mort and Rocko decide that he’s the biggest threat, and both fire at him as he flies (they won’t be able to once he’s in melee with Gus).

Mort opens fire, getting 3 and 2 successes. He hits once for 6 damage; the hornet soaks 3, so suffers 3 and is at 17. The 2 misses.

Rocko also fires, getting 3 and 8 successes. He hits twice; once for 6 and once for 11!. The hornet soaks 3 from each, so suffers 3 and 8… the hornet is down to 6 Grit remaining. Wow. That helps a lot.

4 Bees attack Mort. They get 0/2/1/2 successes. This is hits for 4, 3, and 4. Mort’s Body soaks 3 from each, so he suffers 2 and is at Grit 6 remaining. He’s hurt, suffering a 1 die penalty.

4 Bees attack Rocko. They get 1/3/1/4 successes. These are hits for 4 and 5 hits; his Body soaks 3 from each, so he suffers 3 damage total, leaving him at Grit 11.

The Hornet attacks twice as it lands in front of Gus. It gets 5 successes on its first shot, and 5 on its second; each attack deals 10 hits; Gus’ Body soaks 2 from each, so he suffers 16 damage! Wow. Gus is very dead. The hornet is going to try to get inside the copter before it is killed. It is using Gus’ body as cover (+1) as it tries to get the lock open.

Mort unloads on the hornet, but only gets 2 and 3 successes; he misses both times (but peppers Gus’ body a little bid for good measure).

Rocko does the same. He gets 1 and 2 successes. Well fudge. He misses twice.

The hornet gets into the helicopter, slams the door, and fires up the engines. That’s not good.

4 bees attack each ant.

Against Mort, they get 0/3/2/4 successes and 3/1/1/4 successes. I have been forgetting to let the bees attack twice each round. Uh oh. This is hits for (after accounting for his BODY soaking 3) 2, 1, 3, 2, and 2 damage. He suffers a total of 10 and is at -4, and is dead. Drat.


Against Rocko, they get 3, 1, 1, 2 and then 2, 4, 4 and 1. Five of these hit, for a total of 1, 2, and 2 damage (Body soaks quite a bit). He suffers 5 damage, and is down to 6. He’s now suffering a penalty of +1 to DTs because he’s hurt. 

The roof is open (thanks to the ants), and the hornet is about to escape. Rocko has one round to try and do something about it. He checks MIND (DT 4 because of his penalty) to come up with something clever, but he gets 1 success. That’s a hard nope.

The only thing he can do is try to shoot down the helicopter, which is very, very unlikely in one round, but what the heck. The hornet is piloting, so it’s his REFLEX as the defense (+1 because Rocko is hurt); Rocko fires twice, getting 4 and 5 successes. He hits twice, once for 6 and once for 7 damage. The helicopter has armor of 4 and GRIT of 15… he deals 5 hits, which definitely punches some holes in the side of the helicopter, but it’s not enough to stop it. The hornet lifts off, ordering the incoming combat helicopter to destroy the building; it has served its purpose.

Rocko steps out into the middle of the room, emptying his belt at the bees who swarm at him as rockets set the entire building ablaze.


Well, that was… interesting. It ended up feeling like the first ten minutes of an action movie, setting up the big bad (the hornet) and probably killing the older brother of the real star of the movie. Like, it was Rocko’s younger brother who was supposed to be on the mission, but Rocko stepped in at the last minute and took his place… so now he has guilt, and needs revenge, and all of it. Anyhow…

The game is deadly, which is should be because A) It’s about Army Ants and B) it’s an old-school game. A total party kill should not be that exceptional.

They would have died quicker if I remembered that the bees get two actions per round. I was only giving them one per round for a little while there.

In retrospect, this mission was a little overly-hard for them. If they had pulled off the stealth pieces of it, they might have been okay, but in a straight up firefight, they had very little chance. I figured that the presence of the helicopter, and the possibility that they could commandeer it quickly, was playing in my imagination as the balance. If they get control of the helicopter quickly and can get someone in the pilot’s seat, this whole thing changes dramatically. A failed grenade toss and the 1 in 6 chance it was locked that happened to end up with a 1 did them in.

I like the game a lot, and I like the balance of the characters. If you want to deal a lot of damage and be tough, be heavy weapons. You are hard to kill, and you dish out lots of damage. However, the other two characters had a little bit more flexibility in what they could do outside of combat, so that seems to mitigate things quite a bit. 

I didn’t get a chance to check the rules for applying aid kits in a fight (because things were very chaotic), but I do think that these are going to be valuable; changing bugs back from hurt to not hurt (for example) can be a significant event. For Gus to give up actions to apply aid kits makes sense; he’s dealing the lowest damage, so putting him in a support role as infantry is workable. I don’t know if restoring 2 hits is enough for an aid kit; I think I’m going to bump this up to 4, which Medic +1 would put at 4. That’s a bit more reasonable to me. I might even want to have medic grant more; for example, maybe have each rank of medic grant +2 to GRIT restored (so Medic +3 makes an aid kit restore 10 Grit - that is not that outrageous considering the amount of damage they were taking). 

I've found that I'm escalating things as I go to try to offset other things... I increased weapon damage to bypass BODY better, then increased GRIT to offset the increase in damage... now I'm increasing first aid to account for the great Grit and damage that are going on.
None of this is BAD, but it's a slow, steady escalation of numbers in what was smaller a week ago. BODY is the culprit. It's a bit overpowered as a stat (I assumed REFLEX would be, but it's BODY). BODY double dips on your health; you reduce damage because of BODY, but you also have greater GRIT because of BODY. If I take BODY out of the equation for soaking most damage, I can scale the numbers way back to where they were... Reflex can prevent you from being hit (or minimize damage when you are), but then your BODY increases the total amount of damage you can sustain. I'd keep BODY checks in the game for areas of effect (you still soak grenade damage with BODY, for example).
If I go back to GRIT being BODY + Level, a level 1 ant has 2 to 4 GRIT... if a weapon deals 2, that can kill a bug. However, if I roll 4 successes against a REFLEX of 1, I'm dealing a base 3 damage, and adding that to a weapon 2 deals 5 damage... which is a LOT. I need GRIT to stay a bit higher, and (BODY + Level) x2 is not bad. Scale back weapon damage by 2, and that will account for the average BODY 2 soak. I think that balances enough.
I'm going to take a break and do a little more play testing. The good news is that I am in no particular rush to release the game, and I want it to be very, very solid before I do.

Inching Closer to Publication - Ants

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 13:02
The core rules are in final edits (I think), and I'm finding nifty little things in the rules that can impact play in cool ways. For instance, Leadership allows you to grant a bonus to another ant who can hear you, once per minute. For my solo game, I like the idea of this - I might end up using it. He's linked up with a ladybug mission coordinator who sits behind a computer in a bunker somewhere, using sophisticated ladybug tracking technology to monitor his activities - this emulates some of the action from movies like Mission Impossible ("you have two bogies ahead to your right - 2 cm"). This would give a bonus to one roll against those two foes, as directions are wired in. 
The rule is written (and conceived) as a battlefield leader - Sarge makes the team better by his presence, because he's able to grant bonuses to other ants based on his commands. It's a simple, clean, useful way to include a leadership mechanism in the game and 'reward' someone for being a good leader. However, for a solo game especially, it has the application listed above. The GM could always do this as well, having an external mission facilitator who they play, and who is able to do stuff like that (although it ends up being a little too Deus Ex Machina for my tastes, but whatever).

Into the Arena

Sorcerer's Skull - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 11:50

 Our 5e Land of Azurth game continued last Sunday with the party still trying to find the power core within the crashed spacecraft. It turns out there weren't any more major threats after the undead spacemen--just a will o' wisp and some poltergeist, so it's mostly down to doing a thorough search. The party finds the core, but they are (quite reasonably) afraid of some sort of malign energy or radiation off it, so they choose to handle it with mage hands. They carry it back to the Church of Clockwork without (apparent) incident. 

Viola thanks them for their help, but now she has another mission for them. She needs them to Bellona, the Battle Princess of Sang, out of the arena of Junk City. She's fallen under the control of the Loom--the mad and bad duplicate of the mind of Mirabilis Lum. She leaves it to the party to determine how they do it, but she assures them it's necessary.

The next day, the party disguises themselves and heads over to the arena to check things out. Waylon disguises himself as a theatrical gladiatorial combat promoter from Yanth Country and Erekose pretends to be a fighter. They talked to the trollish emcee of the arena, but things go badly when Dagmar gets insulted and snaps back at the caustic creature. 

They do get to check out the games, though, and they see the fierce, silver-masked, woman warrior, who they are sure is Bellona.

Hex Crawl 23 #222: Execution Spikes

Roles & Rules - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 11:15

One hex southwest, nine northwest of Alakran.

Three Governorships ago, the civil governor of East Wahattu was held by a man of infamous cruelty, Erkuzakir the "Fragile Tunic," so called because the slightest affront to his image or authority would cause him to go into a rage, rend his garments, and ordain a sentence of death to be carried out at this remote place -- the Execution Spikes.

The site of the spikes is visible from the road Nama'a in the hexes to the east. There are five of them, twenty feet high, of black lacquered cedar wood. Their pointed bronze tips have long since been salvaged, and indelible stains imbrue the ground around each one.

There are no ghosts of the victims here, no cries or groans in the night. An old woman, Ettu, visits every day to lay withered flowers, the last surviving daughter of one of the victims. She itches to unburden herself of the tale; of how a mobile scaffold once stood here, so that the victim could be impaled at the top, but with care to bypass major organs. They were then given an agonizing choice; to stay immobile and die of blood loss and thirst; or to wriggle down, multiplying injury, but with the chance of reaching the water and honey offered to anyone who reached within five feet of the base.

A demagogue may be heard today in the market square of Gesshed, opining loudly that Governor Zakiti is a soft touch; that crime and disrespect are rampant today; and that the cause is quite simply that wrongdoers no longer fear the Execution Spikes. More and more agree with this opinion, and the only voices raised in opposition are soft and somber and fewer every year, a generation of Ettus fading from the earth.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Kickstarter - Prison-Pit of the Agelast King - for the Shadowdark RPG

Tenkar's Tavern - Thu, 08/24/2023 - 02:02

A fully written, edited, and illustrated low-level adventure for the Shadowdark RPG.

I've been a friend, and fan, of Thom Wilson / Throwi Games for years. He's had some amazing releases for various old-school games, from B/X to Gamma World and beyond. I've been a special guest at Thom's local convention, ShireCon, in NW Connecticut since the first year of the con.

Prison-Pit of the Aglelast King is Thom's current Kickstarter, a low-level adventure for the Shadowlands RPG. It's 4 bucks in PDF and 12 bucks in POD plus PDF (plus shipping)

Prison-Pit of the Aglelast King is a 24-page, saddle-stitched, B&W adventure book for the Shadowdark RPG. Written by Thom Wilson of ThrowiGames, LLC. Edited by Joshua Newey. Cartography by Dyson Logos (commercial use license). Filled with stock art.

For 4-6 characters of 1st to 2nd level. 25 encounter areas filled with hazards and monsters. Playtested at North Texas RPGCon in June of 2023.

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

S7 Stains Upon The Green, Adventurer, Conqueror, King Rpg, & the Borderlands Campaign - Castles & Crusades & Adventurer,Conqueror,King Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Wed, 08/23/2023 - 23:07
 Its been extra busy at my day job and so this blog entry is a bit late today. And add to that I've had to go out as well. And this blog entry is going to pivot on yesterday's here. When it comes to Adventurer, Conqueror, King, Rpg the levels are similar to Moldvay/Cook. And this makes it easier to deal with when converting back and forth with Castles & Crusades. Where do I know this from Tim Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Isle of the Bleeding Ghost

Ten Foot Pole - Wed, 08/23/2023 - 11:11
By Jordan Thompson Self Published Shadowdark Level 1

Years ago the infamous pirate Captain Marrow led a campaign of terror across the high seas. The Pirate Queen hid her plunder on a remote island before killing her own crew to preserve the secret. Only a single map of the island survives to this day, with clues pointing to a treasure hoard within Captain Marrow’s Grotto. Within the caves, would be thieves are met with perilous traps and restless undead

This eight page adventure details a seave cave with seventeen rooms. Mermen, crabs, and skeleton pirates cavort about while the party blunders through one simplistic encounter after another. If the encounters made sense, then the good writing and formatting would be a credit. As is though, they are wasted.

Looks like a certain someone has been riding Piratesof Caribbean. Again. All that treasure on the cover photo? “Trinkets, gemstones,and doubloons totaling 350 gp.” Enjoy your slog, suckers! But, seriously, this thing is written well, its just nonsensical.

Map is fine for it’s size. Lots of varied terrain, and an underground river always adds a little flair to the game. The room descriptions are a sentence or two, up top, followed by a couple of bullets with some bolding. It’s a clean and easy to read format, maybe it uses whitespace a little too liberally, but, otherwise, it helps the DM locate information well. Which is what the fucking formatting should be doing. It’s the entire reason for formatting. 

The descriptions sprinkle adjectives and adverbs about in a way that adds colour without droning on and on. A rock stickup out of the water is “littered” with treasure. Crabs skitter. Pools teem with sea bass. There are piles of polished bones. There’s is the occasional miss here and there, and the word giant, and a few other boring descriptors, pop up a little too much, but, dude knows they SHOULD be doing. Which is more than most people can say. This extends in to the wanderers, with skeletons running cackling in to rooms, or mermen dragging the corpse of a castaway away, in to the briney deep. Perfect little descriptions, just a few extra words, and they help bring the wanderer to life. Two Teeth Tim (human, optimistic) is an NPC, a castaway, you can meet in the dungeon. As well as One Leg Charlie, the careless halfling. Great little descriptions. You know how to run these dudes. They spring to life in your mind. They are memorable. And the designer does it all in just a couple of fucking words. Why is that concept to fucking hard to grasp for other designers? 

Ok, so, decent formatting and descriptions. No real serious complaints. So how was the play?

I think not.

It’s level one. You find a treasure map to the pirate treasure. There are castaways. How did you, at level one, get to the island with the dungeon on it, that the castaways can’t get away from? Now, I understand, you think I’m nitpicking here. But, I want to to consider that this is not in isolation. This sort of design inconsistency, the lack of thinking things through and how they integrate, is present throughout the adventure. It’s almost like this adventure was never run, or the designer has not run it in any serious way. That issue would come up immediately, right? Room two is skeletons sitting at a dining room table furnished with the fetid remains of a feast. They animate if the table is disturbed. Room three is a kitchen with two HUMAN cooks. What?! They are making the food for the dining room? Why? No clue. Fetid food on the dining table? Why? If there are cooks that make it regularly? The cooks are hungry? Why? Why are they there? Theres no mention of human slaves anywhere. It’s just nonsensical. “I guess this is what is happening now.” This sort of disconnected stuff is all over the place.

How many HD is a giant octopus? They are bad as sin OSR, right? There’s on in this adventure. And one or two traps that would be quite appropriate in a Grimtooth book. WHich I’m fine with, but a little out of place these days. Hmmm, the final pirate queen boss ghost screams blood at you. Thats nice. Otherwise, enjoy stabbing shit. I guess you can talk to the various castaways you meet. To little effect. They are essentially just trivia. So … stabby stab stab to your hearts content … there is little in the way of interactivity beyond this. And, continueing a long tradition on this blog, there is no Isle. Just a dungeon with an isle implied.

If the designer can figure out how actual D&D gameplay works, the meta, then there could be a future here.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs


Subscribe to Furiously Eclectic People aggregator - Tabletop Gaming Blogs