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The Kayfabe Defect

Doomslakers! - Sun, 05/26/2024 - 23:00

I don't usually do content warnings because I'm a small fish and nobody cares what I do, but I'm gonna give ya a little CW here for suicide and other heavy shit. Skip it if you don't wanna read about that. I'll probably post some light hearted stuff later.

I am one of the many who discovered the YouTube channel Cartoonist Kayfabe by word of mouth from a friend who likes comics. I did not know of cartoonists Jim Rugg or Ed Piskor, the channel's hosts. I had no baggage going into it and I greatly enjoyed watching these two guys show and talk about comic books, the art of comics, the process of making them, and sometimes getting into little descriptions of the lives and working habits of comics legends such as Bernie Wrightson or Alex Toth.

Of course, if you've ever watched a CK video, then you know they begin each one by describing their own comics and where/when you can buy them. That is the only reason I ever heard about X-Men: Grand Design, Hulk: Grand Design, Red Room, or Street Angel. I was intrigued enough to go pick up a copy of one of the Hulk: Grand Design comics (but not the cover I wanted, dangit) and later I found an issue of Red Room in a dollar box at a local flea market, which was cool.

I started following them on Instagram, so I was reading Ed Piskor's Switchblade Shorties strips, which were a lot of fun. I remember, if I'm not mistaken, he spent about a year just drawing them before he launched the comic. Ed was a workhorse, always making comics. And he was good at it.

So... spoiler alert... Ed's dead. By his own hand.

He took his own life on April 1st, 2024, a week or so after credible allegations were made that he was a bit of a creep on a 17 year old girl and a few other sundry actions. On the scale of bad things a man can do, his sins were on the lite side of the spectrum, at least until it all blew up.

Folks were calling him a rapist, which he wasn't. Worse, I saw a lot of folks on Twitter and other places calling him a pedophile. That, for me, was the most egregious thing. To sling that horrible word around on a person who has not demonstrated any behavior that puts them into that category is, IMHO, toxic as fuck. A grown ass man hitting on a 17 year old girl is called skeevy, not pedophilia. Read a book already. Learn to scale. Work on your hyperbole skills.

So anyway, as the chuds like to say, Ed was instantly cancelled. Which is true, he was. And he deserved it. He fucked around and found out. But it absolutely was not so terrible that he couldn't have come back from it. Not at all. On the whole, it was pretty lightweight shit. Some honesty and elbow grease could have corrected things for Ed, over time.

Ed didn't do that. He killed himself and left a very nasty, weaponized suicide note that sent hordes of internet trolls down upon his critics like a cancerous mass of genital warts. "Oh, my poor Eddie was sooo mistreated by those awful THUGS and BULLIES."

Bullshit. Get some perspective. Ed did bad, then Ed did far, far worse.

But Ed was a good cartoonist and his contributions to Cartoonist Kayfabe touched many, many lives. He inspired a lot of cartoonists to work harder, do better, and pursue their dreams. He introduced thousands of people to hundreds of new comics, new artists, and new ways of looking at comics. He, with Jim, made magic that we all tuned in to regularly. It was golden shit and I miss it.

There's a huge back catalog of CK videos. I have only watched maybe 50 of them. I'll enjoy going back and watching older episodes while I draw, probably for years to come, as long as Jim keeps the channel up.

Final note: Thanks Jim and thanks Ed for making a great art channel. I'm sorry this shit happened, I feel bad for Jim and for Ed's friends and family. I feel sorry for the folks who were part of this mess by simply speaking the truth. They do not deserve the ire and backlash they got. The community who felt it necessary to take Ed's shitty suicide note and turn it into a missile weapon are the biggest monsters in this whole damn story and I hope they reflect on it and become better people. That's all I wanted to say.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

New FLGS Store: Other Realms (Honolulu, HI)

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 05/26/2024 - 19:52

So last weekend I mentioned I was in Hawaii and thankfully I'm back home. I'd wanted to post about a FLGS in Honolulu, but the only store I went to was some small hole-in-the-wall I stopped at with a coworker. I'm the only gamer in my workplace....ok the only TTRPG gamer, but at least one other guy likes comics so he was willing to swing by the one place that was on way back.

The next day I was able to get back out & about and found the store I actually wanted to go to....and holy crap the difference a day makes. The Other Realms was an awesome store, easily one of the top ten, if not top 3, game stores I've had the pleasure of visiting. Seriously, if you are on vacation to O'ahu, or on a business trip like I was, you need to make a side visit to Other Realms.

Getting there was kind of odd because it is nestled between (actually behind) a big-box retailer and a small industrial park. It really is a destination stop, because I cannot fathom accidentally finding it while out & bout. Parking also seemed a bit limiting as well, which means a customer really needs to intend to check out & shop here.

Right off the bat, the store was really clean but absolutely packed with product, pretty much floor-to-ceiling.  You'd think there wasn't a stockroom, but there was...I saw it. There was also a small back (game) room on the opposite side. Roughly one half of the store was comics and the other half games. The sales counter was more on the comic book side, but a large back-issue table occupied the games' side, so it was pretty even.

This place seemed to have a little bit of everything, but that was more of an initial impression. I didn't see any used TTPG or OSR materials, and they had but a single HeroQuest item (an expansion pack). Still, there were a lot of minis and maybe a solid three-foot section of Munchkin. The available board games were essentially the entire front wall (not pictured). I finally found myself a copy of Tiny Epic Dungeons, which I had been looking for over this last year or so. Other Realms pretty much had the whole Tiny Epic line, whereas I'm lucky to find one or two of the line elsewhere.

Not even 1/3 of the store

There was a great selection of comics as well, at least as far as comics I care about. I'm not a huge comic nerd, I mean I have a bunch, but I'm really only ever on the lookout for one particular comic. If I see a single Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos it's like a good month(?), more like season. Other Realms had maybe a good dozen comics, including some single-digit issues. I picked up only half of what I wanted, which was half of what they had..... 

....seriously, if you find yourself in O'ahu you need to check out Other Realms. Just do it....

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Artists I Like: Dyson Logos

Doomslakers! - Sun, 05/26/2024 - 12:50

I first discovered Dyson Logos through the osmosis of haunting OSR-type blogs and social media posts. At this point I couldn't possibly say when it was, other than a nebulous 2012-2013 range. I mean, let's face it: If you enter any OSR or DIY TTRPG space and swing a rubber chicken around you're going to hit a Dyson Logos. Right? The guy is a map machine.

His art has been aped and copied and outright stolen a lot. He developed a signature style that has become ubiquitous in the RPG community. But more than being iconic, his maps are both beautiful and quite useful. Practical. I have used them myself on numerous occasions. They are easy to read, but full of flavor. They invite you to explore them, which is exactly what a great map should do.

I can't be unbiased here, because I have been gaming with Dyson since 2018 or so. But this is an appreciation, not a review, so it's fine.

I did a review of one of his books here in 2018, just if ya wanna see that. Check him out.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Call Of Palladium...

Graphite Prime - Sun, 05/26/2024 - 12:14
A Cyber-Knight drawing her Psi-Sword... makes you wanna play doesn't it?

And so it calls, this crazy system of games from ages past and present.
The mother of all tool boxes.
The sum of all genres.
Rules upon rules, systems upon subsystems, flaws upon flaws, coolness that knows no bounds. A deep-dive is akin to an RPG acid-trip, you awake hours later on the floor, perfectly-bound soft-cover books and character sheets scattered about, your head ringing inside, police sirens in the distance... Is this the greatest system ever or the worst? Where have you been all this time? How many hours? How many days? To play this game straight or to hack? Hacking is a must. Contradictions and the fog of war demand it. But to pull one thread... does it unravel? No matter, down the rabbit hole you go. One thread at a time. Akin to reading the God Damn Necronomicon -- a sanity check will follow...
  • Only one attack per round. Special maneuvers that use two attacks are made at -4. Full round actions are made at -8. OR... roll 2d20/3d20 and keep the worst. This also means higher level spells will take 2 or 3 rounds to cast. We could introduce a casting roll...
  • S.D.C./Hit points/A.R.. No M.D.C.!
  • O.C.C related skills are rolled randomly. A multitude of class-tailored charts are required, or one standard, weighted with precursors and bonuses (like below.) How much time do you have? And so, no spamming physical skills. Secondary skills are ignored. For example, the Cyber-Knight's O.C.C Related Skills list would read:

2 rolls on the Physical skills chart3 rolls on the W.P. charts (3 rolls total between ancient and modern)7 rolls on the chart below... (followed by rolls on the specifically rolled or chosen skill chart)
01-05  Communications06-10  Cowboy (+10%)11-15  Domestic16-20  Electrical21-25  Espionage (+5%)26-30  Horsemanship (+10%)31-35  Mechanical36-40  Medical41-45  Military (+5%)46-50  Physical (+5%)51-55  Pilot (+5%)56-60  Pilot Related61-65  Rogue66-70  Science71-75  Technical (+5%)76-80  W.P. Ancient81-85  W.P. Modern86-90  Wilderness (+5%)91-00  Choose
  • Weapon Proficiencies give a one-time bonus of +2 to strike/parry. If rolling randomly, you get a +2 every time you roll that weapon. This makes leveling up much simpler.
  • Rolling a percentile skill you already have gives you a bonus of 10%.
  • Paired Weapons roll 2d20 to attack. You can counter-strike, parry one, or both if also fighting with paired weapons.
  • All spells and psychic powers rolled randomly. More tables that don't exist, but could without too much work.
  • And speaking of tables... random tables for every single spell and magic item in the RIFTS Book of Magic and random tables for every single item listed in the Game Masters Guide. Every place you explore should produce random "somethings" to salvage and/or sell. A man can dream! Not impossible though...
  • Each skill based on the sum of two stats, e.g., Pick Locks starting percentage is the sum of I.Q. and Prowess. Perhaps +10. Lots of work, maybe too subjective. Not crucial. Not necessary. Probably simpler to start every skill at 30 or 35%. Most of them already do.
  • New skills should be less frequent, maybe 1 every 3 levels. Randomly rolled on your class chart like above. These are skills you are learning "off-screen" -- no need to explain. Perhaps have level-up instructions like 1 W.P. and 1 random skill. This way martial types will always improve combat in some way other than their hand-to-hand style. Or, add +1 to a W.P. of choice or roll randomly which results in +2 to whichever weapon skill is rolled.
  • When you level up add 5% to all skills... or roll 1d6 -- more time-consuming, but more interesting. Even if you've never used the skill, it's assumed you're using them "off-screen."
  • Hand-To-Hand styles are re-written to be more concise as to what you can and can not do and you CAN NOT trade up from Basic for a mere skill or two. 
  • Or... combine all combat bonuses and maneuvers onto one chart and depending on your O.C.C., you get so many rolls on this chart per level. So, in effect, everyone has their very own combat style. Something akin to this... 

01-05  +1 to strike/parry06-10  +1 to dodge11-15  +1 to roll with punch...16-20  +1 to pull punch21-25  +1 to disarm/entangle26-30  +2 damage -- melee31-33  +2 damage -- ranged34-36  +1 crit range (e.g., 19-20)37-38  K.O./stun on 2039-40  Deathblow on 2041-44  W.P. ancient (+1 to current or +2 to random new one)45-48  W.P. modern (+1 to current or +2 to random new one)49-51  +1 to initiative52-54  +1 to perception55-56  +1 save vs curses57-58  +1 save vs Disease59-60  +1 save vs poison61-62  +1 save vs Drugs/toxins63-64  +1 save vs Circles65-66  +1 save vs horror67-68  +1 save vs insanity69-70  +1 save vs K.O./stun71-72  +1 save vs spells/rituals73-74  +1 save vs psionics75-76  +1 save vs wards/fumes77-78  +10% vs coma/death79-81  +1 M.E.82-84  +1 P.S.85-87  +1 P.P.88-90  +1 P.E.91-93  +1 SPD94-00  Choose
  • Bionic characters (Heroes Unlimited) roll bionics randomly and total value comes from that, which might determine how badly they want you back... are you hunted?
  • No difference between punches and kicks, all are strikes that do normal strike damage or power-strike damage (2 attacks, see above.) Can't have worlds where knights in plate-mail are walking around trying to karate-kick dragons.
  • Cyber-Knights' Psi-Swords start at 3d6 and crit on 19-20. Perhaps damage or bonus damage depends on the value of their M.E.?...or... they do 2d6 ignoring armor. They are PSI-Swords after all.
  • XP based on monster hit points and finding stuff. This incentivizes action and exploration, not "story-telling." Long live the OSR!
  • Critical Hits damage A.R. by one point. Death Blows by two.
  • Spell-casting penalty for wearing armor for each point of A.R. over 10. This is added to the target's save/dodge or subtracted from the caster's strike roll, whichever is appropriate.
  • "Mega-Damage" weapons simply get a multiplier: x5 or x10.
  • When all else fails, play the game exactly as it is... except... M.D.C. must go, and XP is as described above, and no spamming physical skills, and... you see, rabbit holes inside of rabbit holes.
  • And so on and on...
  • But seriously, the game is fine... except for M.D.C..

RIFTS Ultimate Edition is so crammed with information that every time you read it, it's like you never have. The only other book that does this is the original AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. RIFTS is wildly overwritten and often contradictory. And that is why you get pulled down the rabbit hole. You can not escape the gravity of this. And, do you even want to? Despite the madness, you love it.

Is this the book I would take to an island?

The ultimate game exists here... somewhere.

Honoring Memorial Day: To those patriots who fought (and fight) for the stars & stripes, I salute you.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Deal of the Day - Fantasy City Sites and Scenes III

Tenkar's Tavern - Sun, 05/26/2024 - 01:28

Phil Reed does some amazing work in the RPG industry, and he always gives value for the dollars spent.

Fantasy City Sites and Scenes III from Phill Reed Games is today's Deal of the Day. Normally 9.95 in PDF, until tomorrow morning Fantasy City Sites and Scenes III is on sale for 4.98.

This companion to Fantasy City Sites and Scenes and Fantasy City Sites and Scenes II presents new city locations and encounters that can be dropped into almost any fantasy campaign. 

City sites. Each of the sixteen locations detailed in the book is presented on a two-page spread (for a total of 32 pages worth of locations) and includes a few assorted details the gamemaster can use to add flavor to the site, as well as assorted other bits of info that vary from location to location to give the site a little personality. Hooks that may lead to adventure are sprinkled throughout this section of the book.

City scenes. In addition to the city sites, the book also includes twelve pages of encounter ideas and two pages of random rumors. 


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Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Braunstein is the Least Interesting Thing About Braunstein

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 05/25/2024 - 20:26

Before I had permanently changed the conversation surrounding the Dungeons & Dragons game for the second time, Braunstein was little more than a curiosity. If it was invoked at all it was only because played a significant role in the development of a game that would ultimately overshadow it many times over. It was a curio. An oddity. Something that languished in some junk drawer down in the basement of the Museum of Rpg History. Nobody wanted to play one. It was merely a bit of obscurity you could pull out when you wanted to impress people with their knowledge of gaming esoterica.

With the advent of the Blackmoor Film documentary, a few things became a lot clearer than before. The conversation could now change substantially because it was more broadly appreciated that the Braunstein had several very unusual properties:

  • The Braunstein was really, really fun even when it was a half-baked idea that was clearly broken as a formal game design.
  • The Braunstein was dull when all of its game elements became nailed down, strict, and formalized.
  • Players will demand to play more Braunsteins even when they are considered to be a failure by their referee.
  • Braunsteins are volatile, but weirdly anti-fragile. It is possible to vary, alter, or extend the range of roles that are available for play and still get a successful game session out of them. They do not need to be painstakingly balanced in the same way that most game masters fret about in their coventional rpg campaigns.

There was something very exciting here just waiting for someone to discover. That someone was me. Thanks to the fact that I was surrounded by dozens of people who were steeped in playing AD&D “rules as written”, using 1:1 timekeeping, and experimenting with patron play it had become possible for an ambitious and enterprising person like myself to use the concept of the Braunstein to run AD&D at the stronghold level, combining the activities of several name-level characters and many low level PCs into a sprawling “always on” campaign that was unlike anything that that anyone had ever done with the game.

The results were sensational.

History repeated itself. Just as the players among the original Blackmoor clamored for more Braunsteins to be run, so too did ours. Anybody that was anybody wanted to play in one or else set up one of their own: The Fall of Ur, Brovenloft, Decembork, BROrientalAdventures, and now… well over a dozen session Braunsteins that demonstrate how to draw loose threads from ongoing D&D campaigns and then combining them into a relatively brief session Braunstein. The excitement surrounding these proofs of concept is so palpable there is no doubt that the use of ad hoc Braunsteins sessions within continuing campaigns will continue now for as long as people are playing D&D.

Today we can add a few more points to the things that the now classic Blackmoor documentary revealed just a few short years ago:

  • Braunstein play is a phenomenally good fit with many of the older rpg rule sets.
  • There are unusual passages within the older rules manuals that seem to indicate that their designers took for granted that people would understand how to leverage the dynamics of Braunstein gameplay in order to easily set up original campaign situations that play out in an engaging way.
  • Braunstein play appears to be essential to anyone that wanted to explore D&D gameplay at the wargame tier of play which is generally referred to as “domain play”.
  • Braunstein play can solve the most common problems that cause people to balk at running domain-level play– and it can do so without requiring new gaming supplements or design elements beyond what is extant within the original 1970’s era rulebooks.
  • While it is almost impossible to find good wargaming opponents, it is trivial to find players that will jump at the chance to play in these sorts of games.
  • Because no new game systems are required to play type of game, it is trivial for even inexperienced referees to begin experimenting with these types of games. There is no need to master separate standalone wargame rulesets that roleplayers tend to balk at playing with. (Although it must be noted that Chainmail appears to be the go-to solution when people do elect to jump to a separate set of wargaming rules when they set up their Braunsteins.)

So here we are.

Five years ago, Braunstein was seen as interesting only because it was an intermediary step in the transition from wargames to D&D. Today it is seen as interesting because it is the key to being able to pay off the promise that was implied by the many more inscrutable elements of the old OD&D and AD&D rulesets. You can finally experience the sort of games kids in the eighties suspected they should be able to run with their D&D sets even though they had no idea how to manage such things.

And the original Braunstein itself? It is now overshadowed by D&D for two entirely different reasons. And it’s sad, really. It is such an important game! Ultimately, the most important thing about Braunstein is that players love playing them so much even when they are half-baked and poorly conceived that anyone can easily throw one together and have a great time with their game group regardless of what is going on in their continuing D&D campaign.

If you are looking to run a D&D campaign that your friends will brag about being a part of for many years to come, then this is the best news you will have had in a long time.


Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

'That Which Stalks & Murders ' - The Nighterror A New Horror For The Wretched Vigilantes Rpg or Wretched Darkness Rpg

Swords & Stitchery - Sat, 05/25/2024 - 19:28
 'The cries of the last man or woman dies in the Scottish immigrant  mining camp in the mountains of Nevada.  Hideous inhuman laugher echoes off the tents as a few low moans escapes from the soon to be corpses" Written over every surface of the tents in Gaelic was the following, "Chan eil duine a 'teicheadh bho spògan eagal na h-oidhche" The heavily armored form of the Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Broken Promise of Second Edition GURPS Basic Set

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Sat, 05/25/2024 - 15:35

I want you to just look at this:

That Second Edition GURPS Basic set came with these beautiful Denis Loubet drawn Cardboard Heroes figures. Every set came with something different. The questionnaire that came with mine asked, “should we include Cardboard Heroes miniatures in GURPS products (like we did with GURPS Autoduel?)” It could have been an integral part of every GURPS supplement going forward, but just like the way that that tedious, uninspired railroad adventure would disappear from the third edition of the game, these captivating game pieces would evaporate along with the gaming dreams of my youth.

It could have been great, though. Honestly, the figures were the most exciting thing in the box. The first thing any fourteen-year-old would do would be to cut the counter sheets and then imagine a game where the players’ figures made daring breaks across the hex map in an attempt to pick up a magic weapon before the monsters could descend upon them. Piles of treasure would be placed on the map as well, and the players would be in competition to see who would be the one to get the choicest items. Alliances would form. Backs would be stabbed. Glory would be obtained.

Of course, those drab little rule booklets with the light blue covers have nothing in them that could help someone deliver such an experience. Quite the contrary, they held passages that would snub you for even wanting to play something like that. Further, they lacked anything that would equip a teenager to successfully set up such a game. And worse, the cursory instructions on setting up a dungeon environment were so spartan, they could only be successfully applied by someone that had already dedicated hundreds of hours to playing other products that actually made an effort to teach people how to do this.

Oh, but that’s okay, people tell me. GURPS is a super flexible system. It can do anything, they say. There is a supplement or a variant that fixes all of this which would come out decades down the road. Maybe that’s really the case, I dunno. Unfortunately, what we’re talking about here is what it was like for the average kid that washed up on the shores of this pitiful excuse for a game.

Why do I say that? Well, consider what you need to be in order to make this thing work? Steve Jackson says you need to be “like a mystery writer… a storyteller… an umpire… a cosmic bookkeeper… the ‘house’ at a gambling casino… and (to the characters) a minor deity.” What fourteen-year-old can be even half of those things? And why should he have to aspire to some bizarre form of megalomania just to get a game off the ground? Seriously, where does all this crazy talk come from?

I think it has something to do with the fact that there isn’t a real game inside the box at all. Consider:

The GM is the final authority. Rules are guidelines… the designer’s opinion about how things ought to go. But (as long as he is fair and consistent) the GM can change any number, any cost, any rule. His word is law!

Think about it.

Instead of simply being able to pick this up and play the Second Edition GURPS Basic Set, some fourteen-year-old is supposed to spontaneously be able to look at this mess of ideas and then be able to synthesize an actual game from them. He is supposed to be able to know when and how to change or throw out anything and everything about the game in order to hold down half-a-dozen contradictory roles. Again, the only real answer that could put a fourteen-year-old in a position to gain the sort of wisdom required to do all this would be to go play several other more complete games that could train him to the point where he could think at the level required to pull this off. That’s a project that would take years. It requires anyone that would attempt to use these rules to develop to the point where they are de facto game designers themselves.

Seriously, that is too much to lay on some kid that just wanted to have a game he could use to support the yearnings he had for the little cardboard figures that came in the box set he’d purchased. Really, the main thing wrong with this set is that it didn’t come with a note from Steve saying that he was sorry he had just sold him a nongame that couldn’t possibly work unless the purchaser didn’t actually need any of it already.

It’s not too late for that.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Saturday Morning Art Rumble 10

Doomslakers! - Sat, 05/25/2024 - 12:30

Let's get it on.

The crowd roars, the fighters flex, the cameras roll... the fuckin' fight is on. This week's battle is a god damn bloodbath.


What a bloody mess over here. But we have another tie. The savage slayer vs. the dangling mech.

1d20 vs. 1d20... slayer gets 15, mech gets 10.

Slayer wins this week's stupid battle!

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

The Grey Citadel

Ten Foot Pole - Sat, 05/25/2024 - 11:11
By Nathan Douglas Paul
Frog God Games
Levels 4-5

In the city of Dun Eamon, demons roam the streets, criminals rule the night and an important local power figure has gone missing. Can your heroes unravel the clues that lead through every social element of the city–from the heights of the Grey Citadel to far below its streets and even into the hearts of its inhabitants? Or are some mysteries better left unsolved?

This one hundred page slop of garbage from the Frogs presents a four level dungeon in about forty pages with … sixty(?) rooms, as well as a short investigation, all in an overly described town/city. It’s a wordy wall of text that focuses on combat. 

Ohs Nos! A wizzo is missing! Looks like there’s a succubus hiding in the caves under the city. And a gang of thieves being controlled by her. And a anti-paladin kinda under her control. And a rival adventuring party. And chickula is a succubus so she’s got some simps. 

[I diverge: Looking at the succubus from a more nuanced perspective, there is an opportunity here for something more interesting. Thralls being played as yes men, eager to please, wanting to get laid, etc. I’m sure we’ve all met the type, either online or that dude you knew who is not around anymore cause he’s up some chicks ass. This could be mined for some really good play. It’s not gonna get anywhere near that here, but, it further solidifies my idea of a monster manual based on that kind of description, the themes of the monster and how to represent it. And no culture warring you fuckwits; I’m talking about the dudes without boundaries exhibiting unhealthy behaviors.] 

Have no fear, as soon as you step foot out of your inn you are summoned by the Lord Soliloquy, who gives you a column long read-aloud monologue describing several small things going on in the city and asking you to investigate. You wander around a massively over described city and have some timed events until you find your way in to the sewers, err, I mean caverns under the city. On level four you find Lilith and stab her. It? Whatever. 

I don’t know what to say here. It’s peak Frogs. Long read-aloud. You can drive to detroit and back before the DM finishes the read-alouds. You know all of those morons who bitch about the players being on their phones? It’s of shit like this. I’m not sitting through a fifteen minutes read-aloud. You get a couple of sentences. That’s it. 

Almost a page of text to describe the sawmill. Which has one dirty old man in it. Fuck me man, that’s a shot paragraph at best. And everything in this is like that. You get word after word and sentence after sentence of description about shit. “the corner of the area opposite the entrance are two bodies (an Ebon Union cutpurse who failed to make it back home safely one night, and a beggar who refused to inform for the Ebon Union” That’s one long section in the middle of a HUGLY long description describing a room. And then, of course, we get a detailed description of everything they carried, including the lint in their pockets. Look man, I appreciate some whimsy in shit like this, something to keep the mood a little light or add some mystery. But I don’t need a fucking victorian laundry list of the rotation of the bedlinens. For the last 23 years.

There’s little in the way of actual useful formatting to break up the text and make it usable. There are PAGES full of condensed stat blocks, for S&W, that take up, I don’t know, a fifth of a page for a stat block. In S&W? Uh huh. It’s all in a small font, in that fucked up font they use. It is Wall of text, absolutely it is.

I wonder, did anyone ever try to run this fucking adventure? Anyone at the Frogs I mean. From this booklet. Not the designer, they are too familiar with the adventure. But some rando. Did anyone ever try? Did they tell anyone that this entire thing is useless POS? It’s hard to read, hard to run, and, I think, not the most fulfilling. Unless you like hacks.

Rooms in the dungeon have names like “JUST A FUN GUY” I’m not an asshat. I enjoy some levity also. But, also, you’ve given up any opportunity to bring more context to the rooms you’re describing. To start things off with a framing that will cement everything that follows, leveraging it in to something else Instead, though, we get equipment porn. And tactics porn. Cause that’s all D&D is. Stabbing. Instead of evocative descriptions and interactivity we instead get “You are

free to come up with colorful curses such as “can eat only insects” or “can speak only in single syllables”. You fucking enjoy that. Enjoy the slop being shoveled down your throat without any thought as to what an adventure actually is and how it achieves it.

It seems clear to me that this is a conversion of a Pathfinder adventure. That’s the vibe. I don’t give a fuck how you play D&D. You wanna play Pathfinder, that’s fine. But I give a great many fucks about my basic D&D game. And this shit ain’t it. In any measure of an adventure.

This is $19 at DriveThru. Nineteen fucking dollars. For a PDF. Which might be ok, but its from the Frogs so you know your gonna get ripped off. They got the cover right, at least. The preview is six pages, the first six, showing you just a couple of overview pages. So, not really useful.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Earl Norem Was Old Then

Doomslakers! - Sat, 05/25/2024 - 10:46

Earl Norem did his first Savage Sword of Conan cover in 1976 with issue 14. He went on to do 48 covers for that comic up through issue 218 (that's when I stopped counting). The only other artist to even come close to that many covers for SSoC was Joe Jusko (he did 33 in the same run).

Earl Norem was 53 years old when he did his first SSoC cover. I'm 53 RIGHT NOW. I guess the message here is life does not stop until you're dead. So don't buy into any bullshit about being out of touch or too old to do awesome things.

I really only know Norem for his Conan covers, though he was well-established as a respected and popular artist long before then. It's some old school sweaty barbarian and women lying around kind of shit but I'm into that stuff. Like a guy who goes to model airplane shows. He gets a lot of strange looks, but it's fine.

Aside: Here are the top 10 SSoC cover artists from issues 1-218, based only on number of covers they did.

Earl Norem 48

Joe Jusko 33

Bob Larkin 14

Ovi Hondru 13

Joe Chiodo 11

Doug Beekman 9

Boris Vallejo 8

Dorian 7

Michael Golden 7

Nestor Redondo 7

Poor ole Ernie Chan is just out of the top 10 with 6 covers. But he did a TON of comics pages for that book.

File the rest of this post under "was avoiding doing anything useful, distracted by the pretty shiny things".

While we're on the subject, here's a list of all the artists who did SSoC covers up through issue 218. Issue number on left, artist on right.

1 Boris

2 Neal Adams

3 Michael Kaluta

4 Boris

5 Boris

6 Alex Nino & Frank Magsino

7 Boris

8 Frank Brunner & Bob Larkin

9 Boris

10 Boris

11 Ken Barr

12 Boris

13 Richard Hescox

14 Earl Norem

15 Boris

16 Earl Norem

17 Ernie Chan & Earl Norem

18 Dan Adkins

19 Kenneth Morris

20 Earl Norem

21 Earl Norem

22 Val Mayerik

23 Earl Norem

24 Earl Norem

25 Steve Gan & Dino Castrillo

26 Jim Starlin

27 Bob Larkin

28 Earl Norem

29 Ernie Chan

30 Frank Brunner

31 Howard Chaykin

32 Val Mayerik

33 Earl Norem

34 Ernie Chan

35 Ernie Chan

36 Earl Norem

37 Earl Norem

38 Earl Norem

39 Earl Norem

40 John Buscema

41 Earl Norem

42 Bob Larkin

43 Bob Larkin

44 Bob Larkin

45 Nestor Redondo

46 Earl Norem

47 Earl Norem

48 Nestor Redondo

49 Nestor Redondo

50 Nestor Redondo

51 Earl Norem

52 Nestor Redondo

53 Earl Norem

54 Earl Norem

55 Earl Norem

56 Nestor Redondo

57 Nestor Redondo

58 Earl Norem

59 Clyde Caldwell

60 Earl Norem

61 Joe Chiodo

62 David Mattingly

63 Joe Jusko

64 Joe Jusko

65 Joe Chiodo

66 Joe Chiodo

67 Romas Kukalis

68 Joe Jusko

69 Joe Jusko

70 Earl Norem

71 Joe Chiodo

72 Joe Jusko

73 Joe Chiodo

74 Joe Jusko

75 Earl Norem

76 Joe Chiodo

77 Joe Jusko

78 Earl Norem

79 Joe Chiodo

80 Earl Norem

81 Joe Chiodo

82 Bob Larkin

83 Jeff Easley

84 Joe Chiodo

85 Joe Chiodo

86 Earl Norem

87 John Pound

88 Steve Hickman

89 Bob Larkin

90 Earl Norem

91 Michael Kaluta

92 Bob Larkin

93 Michael Kaluta

94 Val Mayerik

95 Earl Norem

96 Joe Jusko

97 Gaetano Liberatore

98 Michael Golden

99 Joe Jusko

100 Joe Jusko

101 Michael Golden

102 Bill Sienkiewicz

103 Bob Larkin

104 Joe Jusko

105 Michael Golden

106 Michael Golden

107 Earl Norem

108 Joe Jusko

109 Steve Hickman

110 Earl Norem

111 Steve Hickman

112 Joe Jusko

113 Earl Norem

114 Steve Hickman

115 Joe Jusko

116 Bill Sienkiewicz

117 Michael Golden

118 Joe Jusko

119 Ernie Chan

120 Bob Larkin

121 Joe Jusko

122 Ernie Chan

123 Ernie Chan

124 Michael Golden

125 Thomas Kidd

126 Doug Beekman

127 Peter Manko

128 David Mattingly

129 Doug Beekman

130 Joe Jusko

131 Joe Jusko

132 Joe Jusko

133 Doug Beekman

134 Joe Jusko

135 Doug Beekman

136 Doug Beekman

137 Bob Larkin

138 Joe Jusko

139 Joe Jusko

140 Joe Jusko

141 Bob Larkin

142 Joe Jusko

143 Joe Jusko

144 Joe Jusko

145 Roger Stine

146 Daniel Horne

147 Joe Jusko

148 Doug Beekman

149 Doug Beekman

150 Michael Golden

151 Earl Norem

152 Doug Beekman

153 Earl Norem

154 Joe Jusko

155 Dorian

156 Joe Jusko

157 Dorian

158 OVI

159 Joe Jusko

160 Dorian

161 OVI

162 Dorian

163 Mark Caparosa

164 Earl Norem

165 Dorian

166 Earl Norem

167 Earl Norem

168 Earl Norem

169 OVI

170 Joe Jusko

171 Earl Norem

172 OVI

173 Nick Jainschigg

174 Earl Norem

175 Dorian

176 Earl Norem

177 OVI

178 Joe Chiodo

179 Earl Norem

180 OVI

181 Dorian

182 OVI

183 Doug Beekman

184 Lou Harrison

185 OVI

186 Lou Harrison

187 OVI

188 Earl Norem

189 OVI

190 Earl Norem

191 Joe Jusko

192 Bob Larkin

193 Earl Norem

194 Earl Norem

195 OVI

196 Earl Norem

197 OVI

198 Bob Larkin

199 OVI

200 Joe Jusko

201 Vince Evans

202 Earl Norem

203 Vince Evans

204 Alan Rabinowitz

205 John Watkiss

206 Bob Larkin

207 Michael Kaluta

208 George Pratt

209 John Watkiss

210 Vince Evans

211 George Pratt

212 Julie Bell

213 Jim Hoston

214 Julie Bell

215 Tim Conrad

216 Toni Taylor

217 Tim Conrad

218 Earl Norem

And here's how many covers each of these artists did for the comic. Name on left, number of covers on the right.

Alan Rabinowitz 1

Alex Nino & Frank Magsino 1

Bill Sienkiewicz 2

Bob Larkin 14

Bob Larkin & Frank Brunner 1

Boris Vallejo 8

Clyde Caldwell 1

Dan Adkins 1

Daniel Horne 1

David Mattingly 2

Dino Castrillo & Steve Gan 1

Dorian 7

Doug Beekman 9

Earl Norem 48

Earl Norem & Ernie Chan 1

Ernie Chan 6

Frank Brunner 1

Gaetano Liberatore 1

George Pratt 2

Howard Chaykin 1

Jeff Easley 1

Jim Hoston 1

Jim Starlin 1

Joe Chiodo 11

Joe Jusko 33

John Buscema 1

John Pound 1

John Watkiss 2

Julie Bell 2

Ken Barr 1

Kenneth Morris 1

Lou Harrison 2

Mark Caparosa 1

Michael Golden 7

Michael Kaluta 4

Neal Adams 1

Nestor Redondo 7

Nick Jainschigg 1

OVI 13

Peter Manko 1

Richard Hescox 1

Roger Stine 1

Romas Kukalis 1

Steve Hickman 4

Thomas Kidd 1

Tim Conrad 2

Toni Taylor 1

Val Mayerik 3

Vince Evans 3

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Humble Bundle - Talisman: The Complete Collection Returns

Tenkar's Tavern - Sat, 05/25/2024 - 03:36

I remember playing TONS of Talisman back in the day. For a board game to even come close to replicating the feel of dungeon delving is a rare feat, and Talisman did so quite well.

Well, Talisman is currently up on Humble Bundle for Windows and OSX. For 10 bucks, you can snag Talisman: The Complete Collection Returns. I see some wasted hours in my near future ;)

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

OSR Commentary - The Ascendant Rpg, FASERIPopedia's Camelot, & the Unofficial Marvel Superheroes Cannon Project's Marvelous Myths & Monsters volume 6 The Otherworld By Andrew Goldstein

Swords & Stitchery - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 18:29
 In our current  Ascendant rpg campaign, the Pink Fey whose portrayed by Ginger one of our regular players has been going on about her PC's mysterious origins and her connection to the Otherworld. Well, thanks to the Unofficial Marvel Superheroes Cannon Project's Marvelous Myths & Monsters volume 6 The Otherworld By Andrew Goldstein  we've got our Otherworld adventure Needles
Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

ToH MM Riddles

The Splintered Realm - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 16:07
In my design for the Tomb of Horors mini-mod, I want there to be a significant interplay between character problem solving (a classic approach) and the use of character abilities (a more modern approach). I think that giving the characters a riddle that was left by the demilich to others is a good place to build in the 'player thinking' part of the process. Here's the riddle I've written:

To those who’d dare to delve my tomb,

I'll deliver unending doom.

And any who its traps would foil,

I'm trading you incessant toil.

And if you may still my great wealth pursue,

This missive marks your only clue.

Spoilers Ahead (so, like, stop reading if you think you might end up playing in this one day and want to be surprised)...
The doors at the opening would each have a clue in the six lines. I am thinking the number of words (8, 4, 7, 5, 9, 6) are labeling the doors (so the order would be 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). Since last line of the poem has 6 words, that would be the correct door. All others are trapped. The players would enter through the first line (8), since that is the first line of the poem. Five other halls lead out from the center chamber. I guess they could try the 'why is 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9' approach, but that will lead to remarkable pain and suffering. But whatever.
The next clue is that the first letter of every line spells TIAMAT. You will have to spell that name out to bypass one of the puzzles. I am thinking that the four statues each have the Old Gallan letters A, I, M, and T. Six keys are requied to open the door at the far end. Statues have keys in their gaping, toothy maws. The A and T statues have two keys each, the I and M have one. You have to gather keys in order. Only physical touch can remove a key. Taking a key out of order results in the hand being bitten off. The players will have recovered a bag of severed hands of undead - getting a hand severed will allow you (if you survive the shock check) to affix an undead severed hand with strange powers in place of the lost appendage, Vecna-style. So that's nice. There is no door out of this room - but there are three pit traps. Two of the traps have terrors at the bottom, but a third has a secret door, with only a keyhole revealed (successful sense mind check to see it).
Thirdly, the alliteration of the lines (D, T, M) would be the clue to defeating the gargoyles. You must destroy them in that order or they are immediately reborn. When the M gargoyle is destroyed (after destroying D and T, in that order), then its corpse would spit out the key to the next door. I might combine the alliteration with the end rhymes, so the statues would be marked 'D-M', 'T-L' and 'M-E'. Maybe even combine clues - lore checks on the letters reveal these are in two different ancient languages, so you'd be able to use either or both clues in tandem to make the same conclusion.
The final room would have two pathways - life and death. You must choose one and travel forward. Life will lead out of the dungeon - and the dungeon finally falls into a distant pocket realm for all time. Death leads into his tomb (because that is what he seeks above all things). I could be really mean and have 'life' instantly disintegrate you, because that is an immediate entry into eternal life. Maybe then I'll mark these 'eternal life' and 'eternal death'. I guess that it depends on how I'm feeling (or what the GM decides to do - maybe include both as options, so players never know which one it is - but either way, 'death' leads into the tomb and the demilich, which is the path they'd want to follow regardless).
By the way, I just googled how much a 10'x10'x10' slab of stone weighs, and it's like 80 tons. So if that falls on someone (which is likely to happen), they are not surviving. I am thinking of mechanics like this: any character in the square when the door is opening must check reflex. Failing means they are crushed by the stone. Making it without a 12 means that they get partway out; either an arm or leg is crushed entirely, and has effectively been decapitated. The character must make a system shock roll (might check) or die. That's fun. A natural 11 means that they leaped inside (and are stuck on one side), and a 12 means that they actually jumped to the correct side and avoided it entirely. Good on them.

Zine: Lead Beans & Bacon

Ultanya - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 13:46

Some time ago I purchased Frontier Scum by Den of Druids. It's a wonderful game about wanted outlaws making their mark on the lost frontier. It uses a slightly modified Mork Borg engine and is very rules light. I was so inspired by this game, being a western aficionado, I dipped my toes back into making zines. 

I present to you Lead Beans & Bacon Vol. 1

This independent production features eight rare firearms for your Frontier Scum to either find or purchase with their fistful of silver. It also contains alternate and specialty ammo that follows the same idea. Finally, look over chuckwagon meals your character can cook to become invigorated and the various drinks to throw back at the saloon or on the trail. 

FRONTIER SCUM is © Den of Druids.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

Fantasy Anime You Should Watch

Sorcerer's Skull - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 11:00
I've been watching some fantasy anime of late, revisiting the classic Record of Lodoss War I hadn't seen since the 00s, but also checking out some new stuff. Here are some recommendations:
Frieren: Beyond Journey's End (Crunchyroll)Frieren starts with a basically D&Dish world, but tells the sort of story most epic fantasy media doesn't really deal with: what happens after? The title character is a nigh immortal elven mage who realizes that she didn't know as much about her party members (the leader, Himmel the Hero, in particular) as she would like only after one of them passes on. She agrees to take on a child adopted by another one of her aging comrades as an apprentice and together they set out on a journey to retrace the steps of her original party's journey into the demon-haunted North to find the place where the dead can speak to the living. Along the way she picks up a warrior who is the protege of her old dwarf comrade and they meet other allies and get in adventures big and small on their journey. 
It's a nice combination of slice of life travelogue, magical duels, and character drama, with both humor and poignancy.
Delicious in Dungeon (Netflix)Everybody knows about this one, I think, but it deserves the hype. A group of adventurers has a deadly encounter with a red dragon, and a few of the survivors plan to go back and save their cleric before she is digested to have her raised. They have no time to buy supplies, so they resort to eating monsters in the dungeon with the help of dungeon-dwelling dwarven chef. 
It's pretty funny, but despite the setup, it has surprisingly deep setting "lore" that is slowly revealed and helps it from being a single joke show.
Ranking of Kings (Crunchyroll)This is the least D&Dish of the three. I've seen it described as "fairy tale Game of Thrones" which is probably a pretty reasonable descriptor, so far as it goes. In a world where the gods were defeated, a committee of some sort ranks the power of the mortal world's monarchs. The king that is awarded the number one ranking is entitled to a boon from the Divine Treasure Vault, a fabled trove brimming with riches and magical artifacts. Bojji, the main character, is the first born of one of these kings, the giant, Bosse. But Bojji is diminutive, deaf, mute, and weak. When the throne is given to his younger brother due to duplicity and a lack of faith in Bojji, the boy sets out to find a way to become stronger.
The fairy-tale type beginning and the cartoon art style which recalls Shotaro Ishinomori and Osamu Tezuka belie the hidden agendas and moral shades of gray of the story, as well as the level of world-building. The 1st season doesn't end as well as it begins (with some dragging out of the final fight to multiple episodes as you sometimes see in anime, and some abrupt story developments) but I'm still interested in the world and characters and want to see more.

Humble Bundle - Dynamite 20th Anniversary 20,000 Page Mega Bundle

Tenkar's Tavern - Fri, 05/24/2024 - 02:00

Holy crap! 20 bucks for 20,000 pages of Red Sonya, Project SuperpowersArmy of Darkness, Vampirella, Tarzan, John Carter, Green Hornet, and much more.

Dynamite 20th Anniversary 20,000 Page Mega Bundle is a mere 20 bucks.

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

Steve Jackson’s Concept of Adventure Circa 1986

Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 23:59

Well, Steve Jackson had evolved into a story gamer by the time that the mid-eighties rolled around. He just comes right out and says it, right after he poo poos dungeon style gaming.

  • “When you design an adventure, you are writing the outline for a story.”
  • “The ‘plot’ is your plan for things that are supposed to happen during the adventure.”
  • “The purpose of the introduction is to get your players’ characters into your plot so that the game can begin.”

Honestly, I hate that he makes out like this is some kind of quantum leap forward in gaming. And who knows, maybe hack-and-slash adventure really isn’t all that “mature”. But at least the players doing that have a genuine sort of autonomy. Players caught up in the GM’s story or plot don’t.

There is one unusual design choice within the tightly scoped 1986 Basic Set: the players have a chance to build out the broader game world by defining their character’s patrons, enemies, and dependents. D’Artagnan could build himself out to have Monsieur de Treville as a patron, the Cardinal’s Guard as an enemy, and Constance Bonacieux as a dependent. When the player of this character joined the session, the DM would roll dice to determine whether the guys in red tabards show up and/or whether Constance is in trouble. If at some point during the adventure the player elected to contact de Treville for assistance, the DM would dice again to determine whether or not that NPC comes into play. Who knows? It might even be fun to try.

But this is an unusual system. In practice, it codifies what would today be treated as arbitrary and static backstory elements. When the player works up his character, he is essentially outlining the frequency that their broader cast of NPC’s will be incorporated into session adventures at the table. Of course, knowing GURPS players in general and my players in particular, I could imagine everyone coming to the table with characters which each have significant numbers of ancillary NPCs associated with them. I would like to think I could come up with an idea for an adventure on the spot just based on which enemies and dependents turned up for the game!

Alas, I am certain that the intent of the game if for the GM to take a strong hand in outlining what character types are okay for the players to play. The sample characters have only one incidence of these rules referenced on them: Dai Blackthorn’s enemy of the thieves’ guild which shows up on a six or less. The sample adventure included with the game suggests a couple of patrons: the merchant’s guild and a mercenary company. If these examples are any indication, then Steve doesn’t expect too much more than an occasional combat encounter, a patron mission, or else possibly a friendly NPC to turn up due to these rules– certainly not enough to disrupt the rather strict adventure plot of Caravan to Ein Arris.

Sifting through the rules and the last page of the sample adventure, it’s clear that Steve Jackson’s assumption with this game is that adventures are generally going to be missions that are presented to the players by some kind of patron entity. Character points are awarded based on how well the players roleplay and how well they succeed at their assigned mission. The idea that the players would be driving the game, coming up with their own ideas for what their missions should be is nowhere to be found within the pages of the rules.

At the end of the day, my 14-year-old self could barely even read the sample adventure straight through, much less create an adventure of this sort from scratch based on what the players had decided they wanted to play. While I would eventually go on to create a set of sample GURPS characters for a convention game and then make up an original adventure of my own of this sort for people to play through, I have to say… once I did all the work required for this I never wanted to do it again. As such, this ruins GURPS as a system for long-running campaigns, at least for me.

If Steve wasn’t so hard against hack-and-slash adventure he could described how to set up an area map with a range of lairs, dungeon scenarios, and factions stocked upon it. Of course, that wasn’t at all the sort of game he was going for here. In retrospect, it’s too bad that it wasn’t. GURPS might have turned out a lot different if its original set had come with a scenario that people would actually want to play!

Maybe this explains why that yard of GURPS supplements was ultimately so useless. It was always up to the referee to wade into and then make a de facto railroad out of it. If that was the assumed use case, then none of it had to work. And none of it had to be relevant for creating game situations for the players to interact with.

Categories: Tabletop Gaming Blogs

A Commission for Skald

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 23:57

Letter of Commission for Skaldaric Silverblade

The Bardic College of Mistledawn

Issued the 33rd day of Spring, 813 A.R.

Please accept this writ as confirmation that Skaldaric Silverblade, third son of Utharan Silverblade of Reverie, has been commissioned by the Bardic College of Mistledawn as an apprentice bard of our order, granting him the authority and status that this title confers. In his studies, he has been remarkable for being unremarkable. His grasp of history, eye for art, ear for song, and gift of oratory can all be described as unmistakenly pedestrian. However, he excels in one characteristic: unrelenting determination. He has made up his mind to be a bard, and he appears unwavering in this course, despite his significant natural deficits. While more gifted storytellers and singers, artisans and cartographers failed to matriculate through our program, 'Skald' (as he goes by) has managed to trudge forward through his rigorous studies. Whether this is a product of the foolish tenacity of his human parentage or the patience of his elfin heritage, or perhaps the stangest alchemy of the two, the effect is the same. He is an apprentice of our order. 

His commission for the next four seasons is to complete a map of the Broken Lands under the jurisdiction of the High Marshal, and deliver this to the Marshal's High Council on or before the first day of Summer of 814. Any aid noble folk may give as appropriate to this station and task would be appreciated by the college. 

Finally, as a form of some recompense, Skald may be able to provide minimal entertainment with his recorder, presuming that the audience is composed of either the hard of hearing or those well into their third mug. In lieu of that, he is capable with a shovel and fork, and has some experience in the cleaning of stables. Take that final recommendation as you will.


Skaldarik Silverblade (‘Skald’), Resolute half-elf bardic student 1

Armor 1; Hits 7; Move 40’; Shortsword 3

Might 2; Mind 2; Reflex 2

Charisma, Mystic (Common, Wild), Thievery

Leather Armor; Shortsword 3; Toolkit

Originally, I had Inspire and Lore in the tag list, but swapped those out for mystic with common and wild for better versatility and survivability. I think he takes healing word as his signature spell, so that he can self heal (and maybe live a little longer). He’s going to have to be someone who thinks first and fights later. He carries a recorder, because I had one in third grade, and that’s just what you do when you’re starting out :). I almost didn't give him charisma, but I think that the force of his personality is not in his natural attractiveness, but in his absolute resolve. He's confident, even when he's not very good at what he is confident in.


Inspired: 1E Bard mod for Hack'D

The Splintered Realm - Thu, 05/23/2024 - 23:02

I was thinking earlier about how to make a bard in Hack'D, and looked back at the 1E bard. The original bard had a huge cost of entry - several levels of fighter, thief, and (eventually) druid to become a bard. In Hack'D terms, you'd need the following rough equivalents:

Traits: Might 2, Mind 2, Reflex 2 (I consider 2 the rough equivalent of a 15 in 1E)

Tags: Charisma, Inspire, Lore, Mystic (Common, Wild), Nature, Thievery

You'd need 6 trait points (which you have at level 1, so no great shakes there), but you'd need 7 tags (!), which you can never have. So, in the game as written, this is an impossible class.

At first, I was thinking that level 4 would be a great place to 'unlock' the bard (since that would feel like old school D+D in some way)... but it's just not possible. The math doesn't math.

However... the game caps at level 6, but I could always consider an elite designation a character could take after earning level 6. If I was to use my modified XP progression (which is in the Companion), you achieve level 6 at 3,000 XP. If we put in a new final tier - let's say the 'elite archetypes' become available at 6,000 XP. You get a seventh tag, but this also grants you the archetype (and its bonuses). You'd now be a true bard. This would give some kind of bardic voice that can charm in incredible ways, and your name and reputation would grant remarkable bonuses. I'd have to really think about it, but I like this as a true prestige designation. This could also work for a designation like 'warlord', 'paladin', and 'archmage' (or arch druid, grandfather of assassins, and that sort of thing). 

This also aligns better with 1E D+D thinking - getting to level 10+ was really endgame... and a bard was at least comparable to a level 10 character. This would give the game a level 6+ tier, but still keep 6 as the official end of progression (which is comparable to level 12 in 1E to me).

I'd have to think more about this, but I'm tempted to make a character and start working towards his earning the title of bard... 


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