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News Desk (April and May 2014)

A Super-Sized episode of the News Desk. Covering two months at once means more content. Having big news like the announcement of the date/cost of the new edition release, plus a free basic game, plus a new organized play program all mean more content. But we couldn't skip any of the news...so that's more content. Plus an interview with Ed Greenwood about the last book of the Sundering series.

That's more content than a D&D fan can handle!
Hope you enjoy!
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Updates & Making Time to Game

I've been shifting a few things around. My Virtual Game tanked. I suppose I partially tanked it myself, but we had one player start his night job and was unable to continue. Then I couldn't make Thursdays anymore--schedules were a bit hairy anyway--so we called it off for the time being. I will say it still holds possibilities.

So I sat down with my calendar, may all year calendar and began looking at all of my obligations and ... I called my brother.

My brother is a very busy man as well. He has a young family, he is [...]

I Know It's "Too Soon", but I Can't Believe

that “Zombie Maya Angelou: Still I Rise” isn’t a meme yet.

Rest in Peace, awesome 20th century poet lady!

The Death Reserve Movie Is On The Rise!

Well it looks like my buddy Von Kreep has started up with the funding drive for his film Death Reserve! The alternative Diesel punk WWII movie epic. According to the Death Reserve Facebook page: "Hey gang! I just started a GoFundMe to help launch the film project. I'm planning on adding more Reward Levels later today, and continue as we go. Please be sure to check it out, donate, or share. " Let's make horror cinema history together! http://www.gofundme.com/HelpMakeDeathReserve

There's lots of other developments happening with this. 
Check out more details over on Face Book HERE 
More coming details soon as they become [...]

Adventures as Sourcebooks

I only run published adventures very rarely out of the box. I have run a few - T1 The Village of Hommlet comes to mind - straight as published, but on the whole I look at adventures more as mini-sourcebooks about a facet of the game world (in my instance, Greyhawk, of course), rather than for their adventuring potential in and of itself. I assume this places me in the minority when it comes to consumers of D&D adventures.

This, in large part, explains my fondness for location-based adventures over plot-based adventures.

Even adventures like A1-4 (the "Slavers" [...]

I am a Winner and I Want Waffles with my Chicken Dinner

+Lee Hadley over at The Blog With No Name has awarded me with the Liebster Award...I have no idea what that means.  But!  It's still cool.  I don't know German, but looking at the word I would say it's somebody who lies about beer.  So I accept the lying about beer award.  What I liked best, Ian broke the rules to give it to me.  I like that.  I'm supposed to answer a list of questions, but I'll break the rules and make up five of my own.

Pancakes or Waffles?
These days, waffles.   Although my heart [...]

Free Map 030 (in three versions)

Monday I posted about Google Plus being a great Free GM Resource. On Monday I also took some extra time to check out the plethora of communities G+ had recommended to me based on my current communities' involvement.

One new community I joined was the Micro Map community, where I just had to get in on #micromapmonday. It was fun, and anything that makes gaming, and gaming prep, fun is worth a shot.

I ended up coming up with this small map, which I dressed up a couple of different ways:

Now you can have the two [...]

Prodigious Performances Provided In Due Course

Back in "Exceeding the Extraordinary: The Meaning Of Feats" (April 2012), I promised that a future article would discuss the approvals process for feats, prestige classes, etc, in my 3.x Fantasy campaigns...

Prep in Progress: Chapter 17, Final Becoming Interlude

  The Prep in Progress entries are short summaries of my prep for my on-going campaignThe Tales of the Hero Wars.   Yesterday’s game of Becoming was an intense one. We played through another four scenes, which only leaves us with the last three to resolve on Saturday. The position of the Hero grew much …

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Trouble in Westcrown

Our heroes find themselves in the cellars of the guildhall Wallcourt. They have just slain the vampire master of shadows and former Pathfinder chronicler, Ilnerik Sivanshin. Westcrown is now free of the shadows that haunted the streets everynight. Now their goal is to disrupt the plans of the New Guard of the Council of Thieves. Chammady and Eccardian Drovenge are seeking to overthrow the old order and rule the city of Westcrown directly. Armed with the infernal contract of their father Sidonai Drovenge, the Redshirts of Westcrown hope to drive a wedge between the siblings.

The first problem to [...]

Spoilertastic Recap Of The Last Episode Of Game Of Thrones...

As there's been a week's gap in the flow of Game Of Thrones, I thought I'd run this to remind us all of where we're at before the next episode airs.

Throwback Thursday: Pool of Radiance

Who among you recalls walking the cobblestone streets of Phlan and cleaning out the foul beasts that plagued it? In 1988 the first D&D computer game was released. TSR licensed the game rules and brand to Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI). It was available for Amiga, Apple II, C64, MS-DOS, Apple Macintosh, NES, PC-9800. The former names alone should be a throwback!

Among my friends and circle of gamers in the late 80s we all logged countless hours playing Pool of Radiance. Since it was part of the Gold Box series it was designed with the AD&D game as [...]

Confessions of a Newb GM: Making the Obelisk Smaller

I'm going a bit more in depth on what you can do with the language used on Obsidian Portal today. I do have a tiny bit of programming knowledge which helps me find what I'm wanting on the dense reference page linked by Obsidian Portal. Here are several things I've found and bashed into working for me. I’m going to be referring back to my Draeks page quite a few times, so it might be useful to have it open in another tab.

Obelisk von Luxor, Paris (HDR)
Von Ren Warich

General Formatting:

Formatting for the fluff is pretty simple. Treat it like [...]

The King is Dead: Trials and Punishments

So... Player's Guide information or GM Guide?  I'm leaning toward GM Guide, but I'd like players to know how risky the life of a revolutionary can be...
COMMON AND CANON LAWThe people of Malleus have been cowed into submission by centuries of brutal oppression by a corrupt and malignant State and Church.  While the system breeds resentment like a festering corpse breeds flies, it takes the truly brave to openly defy it.  Most who fly in the face of it are swatted down.

Trials and JudgmentThe depraved legal system of [...]

D&D Encounters: Dead in Thay (Week 3)

During week 2, our first session in the Doomvault, we discovered just how deadly this killer dungeon really is. Our party of seven spent most of the time running form monsters only to be forced into a fight with two Gorgons. The creatures' breath weapons petrified two PCs leaving us with 5 PCs and two statues.

On the plus side one of the other parties exploring the dungeon found a master Glyph Key that was attuned to all gates (except the Temples of Extraction). They came to us, since the Gorgon fight happened within sight of a Black Gate, and copied [...]

Blake Marquis, Vampire Aspirant

Blake Marquis was the new ruler of a previously abandoned tower in Cormanthor. He, along with some mercenaries and a handful of devoted followers, cleared the tower of its previous inhabitants. The tower itself was constructed years ago by the Zhentarim as an outpost, but was abandoned shortly after Randal Morn freed Daggerdale from Zhent rule. Since he began using it, Blake has turned the place

Orange Spice

The illegal drug industry has fascinated me for years. As neither a contributor nor consumer, I’m (thankfully) on the outside of the industry looking in. Everything about the process is gripping and utterly illicit – growing, manufacturing, smuggling, buying, selling, and consumption. I’m not alone. Drugs have captured our imagination in critically acclaimed television showslike The Wire, Breaking Bad, Weeds, and many, many other ways. Movies, books, comics, and more have all sorts of stories related to the drug industry.

I’m lucky enough to work for the National Geographic Channels. One of our most-watched series is a program called Drugs, Inc. [...]


Job Opportunities - Gaming and Publishing

A couple of job opportunities have recently come to my attention that I thought I would pass them along.  The first is a manager's position at a local game store, Lake Geneva Games, that has been posted to Craig's List and the other includes three job openings at Tor Publishing.  See more here and here!


The Durog are a race of nihilistic aliens that appeared in our solar system in the year 2014 intent on destroying Earth. You can read all about it in the Story Thus Far. The Durog are actually comprised of several different alien species although they are all collectively called Durog. They are an ever-present dangerin Solarian Conflict (our scifi setting).

Artwork by Daniel Tyka.


Durog stormtroopers form the backbone of their military. Fanatically loyal to their unholy god Drol and utterly lacking in compassion, stormtroopers enjoy the pain and suffering they cause.Possessing the fearlessness of a religious zealot, Durog stormtroopers are a [...]

Grazes House Rule for Armor as Dice

Grazed!In the GURPS Alien Menace game, we use armor as dice. So their DR 35 combat armor is now 10d on the torso. The 3d (5) blasters knock that down to 2d armor, doing 1d burn injury per hit through the torso.

It's fast and easy.

But we wanted to come up with a rule for grazes, and have settled on:


If a defense is missed by 1, a hit turns into a graze. Armor DR is doubled, and if any penetration occurs, injury is only one point of damage per 6d of injury, minimum one point of injury.

Parting Shot

This makes it possible to get hit by a .50 BMG for less than 12 points of damage, which is something I tried to deal with (badly) in Armor Revisited (Pyramid #3/34: Alternate GURPS), and TBone did much better in his article in the same issue: Ten Tweaks.

I wanted to keep the quick and easy feel of Armor as Dice, not change any rules. So if you biff your defense by 1, you get grazed. Seems like it would be fair to allow one to spend a destiny point for this as well, or maybe even a two-fer. One point can turn that attack from success into failure anyway, so you can spend a point and turn two or three hits into grazes . . . maybe even on different shots. It's terribly meta, but "get missed once, or grazed [...]

Hubris Recap, Sessions 10-12- Dead Mutilated Hookers- OOO! Mystery! Into the Corrupted Wizard's Tower

A few weeks ago I put up a wizard's tower dungeon that I created (using the one page dungeon format) for my players that I am running through Hubris up on my blog. This recap will recap what happened to my players in it and the changes that had to be made based on their decisions.



At the end of the People of the Pit module the characters were saved from impending doom by Yelsa. In return for her actions she charged the group with a quest: whores were getting cut up and having their innards removed for some dark purpose- [...]

Prop Maps For Heroes & Other Worlds Campaign...

The other week I happened to stumble across a prop maker on eBay - standon123 - who was just testing the waters with her hand-drawn maps on hand-made paper. Knowing I could always find a use for interesting looking maps I bid on a couple and eventually won them. Chatting with Lucy about her maps she explained they could be delivered either without any text or with text, and she kindly

Games Without Frontiers... at Camp

I’m continuing to watch how things play out in a camp environment where games are run very loosely. I can’t quite follow what the real standard is because it’s very situational. Sometimes a contest is handed to a kid just based on their cuteness factor and it’s clear that the activity is all smoke and mirrors meant only to distract, engage, and amuse. In things closer to “real” games, cheating is frowned upon as poor sportsmanship only after someone’s in tears. But to press for consistency in rulings, to confront cheating, or to organize a team into an effective strategy [...]

It's Not What, But Rather Who.

Most of my posts here have been about specific games, game mechanics, and other topics along those lines. Today I'm going to deviate a little and instead talk about the players. A key component to good gaming, is a good gaming group. I have a few sets of players I get together with regularly, and they all have wildly different levels of geek cred, dedication to gaming, and styles of game they

WotC Talks "5e OGL Plans" - 2015 at the Earliest

From today's Legends & Lore Column
(offered without comment)
Over the past week, we've shared a lot of exciting news with you about D&D's future. We've rolled out the details for our epic Tyranny of Dragons story, shared release dates for the core rulebooks and Starter Set, and spilled the beans on Basic D&D. As we gear up for previews of the upcoming D&D products, I wanted to take a moment to address a common question we receive about the Open Gaming License and what it means for the future of D&D. Since the start of the fifth edition process in early 2012, we've committed ourselves to taking the time to getting things right. We passed the game through numerous playtests, painstakingly reviewed survey data and [...]

North Texas RPG Con Kicks Off in a Week - What, Me Worry?

Lets see:

My son turns 21 tomorrow, May 30th.

The Tavern turns 5 on Saturday, May 31st (we don't count the aimless post from 2008)

My wife and I arrive in the Lone Stat State on Wednesday, June 4th.

It's my first gaming con is 20 years (my last was Gen Con in Milwaukee)

It will be my wife's first gaming con (and if I dont run a session with her prior, the con will be only her second time roleplaying - work has been a killer and interfered with those plans  - hopefully loose ends at work will be tied off before I go end of tour tomorrow and start my vacation).

Talk about interesting times ;)

NPC Strategy Sheets

By far one of our most popular free downloads,NPC Strategy Cardsare a useful tool for any GM. They are especially tailored to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and 4th Ed. Using Strategy Cards Before a session, look at your monsters and NPCs. Fill out a card for each. If you have […]

New Magic Item: Seal Ring of the Sea-Fey

From the grimoire of Ostanes the Ancient:

The fey of the sea have created various artifacts for interactions with surface dwellers. Among the most common are rings, bracelets, and necklaces that are enchanted with the ability to breath water and to speak the language of the sea-fey. Forged in underwater volcanic vents, and adorned with pearls, these trinkets are often sought out by those who sail the seas.

However anyone who seeks these charms needs to be aware that many, if not most of them, are also enchanted with other spells directed at the wearers. Commonly encountered [...]

Arkham Insiders #24

Heute wurde Folge 24 des Arkham Insiders Podcasts verffentlicht. Thema der Folge sind die Jahre 1917 bis 1919. Neben Lovecrafts Haltung zum Ersten Weltkrieg geht es auch um die Amateuerjournalisten-Community sowie die Ereignisse in Lovecrafts familirem Umfeld. Arkham Insider kann auf der Homepage des Podcast heruntergeladen werden und ist auch auf iTuneserhltlich.

Atlantis Fallen: Atlantean Legacies for PCs

My main premise for Atlantis Fallen is that player characters are survivors of Atlantis. They are civilized people, used to a life of decadence and luxury, suddenly thrown into the a savagely primeval world of the mainlands, where they have to learn to survive.

However, each PC gets a choice of three Atlantean items to start with. The idea is these are the few personal treasures you were able to grab and bring along in the confusion of fleeing Atlantis as it sank. Initial ideas for the choices, in no particular order, include:

Also called the [...]

All Change For The Tuesday Knights...

Coming home the other night from a wedding anniversary meal with Rachel and her parents, I discovered I had an email waiting for me from Pete - asking if I'd be willing to take over running the campaign for a couple of sessions.Originally I'd planned to see the year out with our TFT (now Heroes & Other Worlds) campaign as a player before slipping into my new role as "co-gamesmaster", but after

Image Thursday

There are many awesome and inspirational images on the web these days. Here’s a few that were found that you may enjoy and draw ideas from.

Clicking on each image will open it in a new window.




This image feed will show the last 12 images that have been pinned and may change if you return to this post later.

Red Dice Diaries - Beer & Pretzels 2014

Red Dice Diaries visit Beer & Pretzels 2014
On weekend on 17/18th May myself and Hannah visited the local Beer & Pretzels gaming convention and did a bit of filming (apologies if the sound is a little muffled in some areas, we're still getting used to filming out and about). 
Planning to run some RPGs at next years B&P and would love to see some more UK RPGers down there :)

I'm on Storium

When I first heard of Storium, I was uncertain if I wanted to get into it.  The project was on Kickstarter and what made me uncertain if I was interested was the fact it had a membership fee.  Admittedly, given the amount of money I invest in game books (PDFs and actual purchases), I wasn't too keen on trying an online gaming service that required fees.    Curious to how it works?  Check out this link.

Then it all changed when through Ben Woerner started posting about it as well.  I consider Ben to be a great judge of [...]

Brands of Imperial Space

One of the small things I like to add to a setting – modern or later, that is – are companies and brands. This is probably caused by my teenage fascination with Cyberpunk, in which this was a heavily-used “trope”. Just consider the advertisement screens in Bladerunner’s city scenes, Ono-Sendai in Neuromancer, Omni Consumer Products in Robocop, or the Zik Zak Corporation and Network XXIII, not to mention Cyberpunk 2020 and ICE’s Cyberspace games.

But brands also have a firm place in more mainstream science fiction. 2001′s famous Pan Am orbital shuttle, Weyland-Yutani from the Aliens franchise, U.S. Robots. Companies feature [...]

Fragments from the Rim -- Glow Sticks

Ji’em Fil nearly has a heart attack when someone brings one of those special glowy things those bathrobe boys pack around.

He’s not happy to see it and he’s got the lowdown on why you shouldn’t be packing it around.

Because these things are dangerous, even if you don’t turn it on.

From Imperial sources of ‘interest’ to those who see it as a status symbol, Fil brings all the info you need to deal with one of these thingswhiletrying to stay out of trouble.

He’s such a sweetheart, he even takes it off your hands for you.

Nice of him, yes?

Of course it is.

More [...]

The Chronicles of Heavenly Artifice CLIX -- Our Halcyon Hedgerows

Aikiko’s trip to the Atlanta Gate was reasonably swift – there seemed to be no disruptions of the flow of the canals today – and offered a marvelous view of the Salient of the Unconquered Sun along the way, but even from the canals there were glimpses of the empty quarters. She hadn't really paid that much attention before – but the signs were clear if you really looked. Yu-Shan was in serious trouble. The frenetic activity, disorganization, and damage… were in large part symptoms of the city's illness, much as feverish activity, confusion, and deterioration were the symptoms of [...]

Dead in Thay: Legendary Actions

Another Dead in Thay session is in the books. You may recall that last week my players were misbehaving a bit. This group has one player in his 40's, and the rest of them are between the ages of 13-17. When we sat down to play tonight, I explained that I don't want to hear anybody badmouthing anybody else's character, just in general. That's just not acceptable at my table. They understood.

Then I went on to explain that this dungeon is a test of their skills as players. I told them that I hoped that by the time [...]

Stock Houses from Assassin Games---REVIEW

Due to the very political nature of my current campaign, I’ve been running a lot of urban encounters. These can be tough because of setting up the environment. The environment is much more interactive in urban encounters because of the amount of potential NPCs in play, so it becomes that much more imperative to describe the setting to the players. In the midst of an important battle, my oral descriptions cease to satisfy the conditions, and I must draw things out for the sake of equity to the PCs versus DM-controlled combatants. The more descriptive and elaborate I want to make the combat zone, the more time I risk in losing momentum. Therefore, having a few stock houses was the first product at Assassin Games that I knew 100% would improve my DMing. For the price offered, I doubt I could make cheaper ones with this same amount of colored ink.

They came in colored sheets of fairly thick paper, between the strength of cardboard and printer paper. I’m not an expert in paper thickness types, but it was strong enough to stand up sturdy yet still remain flexible.

I first set the houses up folded over each other, but then realized they were equally usable not folded. I think the product was probably designed with the latter idea in mind, so I felt a bit foolish. However, I would’ve done it similarly no matter what because I wanted a little variety in my house sizes. Both techniques retain the door and [...]

Different Horses for Different Courses

Last night we played a game of FATE Accelerated Edition (FAE) based around the Roman legion again.  It was one of the better games I have ever played (run by +Dan Hall ) but that is not necessarily what I am here to discuss.  See, after the game ended we chatted for about half an hour to an hour about game systems that we have played and how they ran.  We talked pretty much around systems that the others had not tried.

There is a lot of support in that game for story specific games so I discussed Earthdawn which has [...]

Warmachine Wednesday: A Metal Khador Juggernaut

Around Christmas time, I won this Khador auction. The minis reeked from cigarette smoke SO bad I had to dunk them in simple green for two weeks to get the stink off. One of those minis was a metal juggernaut. I painted it with a classic paint job. The result is a simple but very usable model. This one I do not plan to use myself, as I plan to sell off (note to readers: make a good offer now!)

One thing about those metal Khador jacks. They are really heavy! They could be used as weapons! Like the [...]

Detroit Transfer - An Encounter For Mutant Future and Your Old School Post Apocalyptic Campaigns

The PC's are approached by the 'Made Men' a group of super science smugglers who have an offer the PC's can't refuse. It seems that someone hired the 'Men' to transfer a special cargo container with to a buyer  out in the ruins of Detroit. 'The Reclaimation of Detroit' was happening at the outbreak of the Apocalypse. The armored car they were using for the transfer hasn't been heard from in two days and the Made Men are very nervous. They've heard of the PC's and their dealings with items of a sensitive nature.
They're representative Lenny Loose Lips a mutant [...]

Talking About Free, Stripped Down but Functional RPGs - Basic Roleplaying Quickstart

Sure, it says it's a "quickstart", but it includes rules for advancing your skill and it doesn't include an adventure, so really, it's a "basic" version of Basic Roleplaying (which is the system that CoC, RuneQuest, Legend, OpenQuest and a few other D100 systems are built from / off of / derivative of. It has it's roots in the original RQ and branched off of CoC if I recall correctly)

The price is right, so why not give the Basic Roleplaying Quickstart (Chaosium Link) Basic Roleplaying Quickstart (RPGNow link)a peek before D&D 5e Basic becomes all of the rage later on this summer ;)

Do your characters have appropriate talismans?

In a setting where magic is more-or-less commonplace, superstition becomes pragmatic.  Charms and amulets become less frivolous and -- perhaps -- gain some degree of efficacy.  Presented here is a plate from The Book of Talismans, Amulets and Zodiacal Gems along with notes from that tome.  What game effects -- if any -- would these items have?  What would it take to 'activate' one of these things?  Would the owner need to wear it for a year and a day?  Perhaps 'invest' a hit point?

104:  Harpokrates -- "...god of eternal youth and fecundity..."

Crossword for Geeks

   Geeks of level 10 and up will own this crossword, and maybe won't even have to seek out Google's help. Geeks of a lesser level will (probably) need Google. Non-geeks don't stand a chance -- maybe even with Google! Enjoy.

DOWN1)   Chief of Security aboard Deep Space Nine. | The last Duke of Kln.3)   King Arthur's foster-brother, and his Seneschal. | First name of Captain Future (his real name).5)   This Great Old One reigns over his Formless Spawns.6)   Director of 1990's Misery.7)   Sure enough, Will Robinson was tired of hearing this word.8)   [...]

The Adversary Part 2 (Book Club)

In this episode of the Tome Show Book Club we continue exploring the Sundering event of the Forgotten Realms and speak with the author, Erin M. Evans. Joining us in this episode is: Eric Paquette, Geoffrey D. Winn, and Kiel Chenier.

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Noble Knight
Noble Knight Pick - Aasimar and Tieflings by Green Ronin

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[Let's Study] Mindjammer the Roleplaying Game, Part 9 : Running the game

Hey everyone, today we’re looking at the GMing advice chapters of Mindjammer: Scenarios & Campaigns, and Themes, Genre and Styles.

I’ve always had a soft spot for these kind of chapters as even after so many years of running games, you’ll always find some nugget of wisdom that will come in handy not just in one game, but in others. In Mindjammer’s case, we’re looking at a gold mine of ideas, especially for FATE newbies like myself.

Mindjammer offers a framework for building scenarios to a new GM, a step-by-step process to help guide a GM’s efforts to come up with a [...]

Hazards of PvP: Character Assassination

The Wikipedia entry (somewhat paraphrased in this instance) describes character assassination in the following way:

Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, social group, or nation. Agents of character assassinations employ a mix of open and covert methods to achieve their goals to cause their rejection by their community, family or members of their living or work environment.
  • raising false accusations
  • planting and fostering rumours
  • manipulating information to present an untrue negative picture of the targeted person
  • exaggeration or misleading half-truths about the subject's morals or actions
For all of [...]

Hump-day Hildebrandt and A Rant

Well, it looks like after the hell week I had last week things may calm down at work.  That's great for me.  Also, I got in TWO sessions of my Friday night home campaign over the long weekend.  That was quite good since we had over a month off.  Things are starting to get interesting now that the PCs are beginning to gain followers.  
We have also incorporated TheBook of Familiars, which I can say is good and bad.  Good in the options it offers, bad in the fact that it is a badly edited version of the D20 version [...]
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