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Today is Ingenium Day!

Tonight at 5:00 PM Central time (GMT-5), the Ingenium Second Edition Kickstarter goes live!

We’re very excited about this project. I personally have invested over a decade of my life into the development and playing of the Ingenium game, and it’s very near and dear to me. Now I get to share the evolved form of it with you!

As soon as the Kickstarter goes live, I’ll be available on Google+, Reddit, and Twitter to answerquestions and gush about my favorite RPG of all time.

This weekend, I’ll be doing some demonstrations of how the new game mechanics work and how to get [...]

The Next Big Thing is almost here!

You've heard me yammering on lately about "The Next Big Thing".  Well that is our latest Kickstarter and believe me when I tell you it is big.  It's most likely going to be called Castles & Crusades Kickstarter, because that is what it is -- the Core Kickstarter for C&C. 

We are sold out of both the Players Handbook and Monsters & Treasure and almost out of our Castle Keepers Guide.  So we are planning a whopper of a Kickstarter to get all of these in FULL COLOR.  As you may know if you have the 5th printing of [...]

Has Anyone Stated Out Humanoids as PC Races for Swords & Wizardry?

Inquiring minds want to know: has anyone stated out humanoids as PC races for Swords & Wizardry?

Pulling out some of my 2e Complete Handbooks last night got me thinking about the humanoid races. There are a handful that I think could work really well in S&W - or at least how I run it.

If no one has done such, I may just do my own and post them up here at the Tavern...

P is for Paladin

Next to bards, I feel paladins have the worst rep. However, unlike bards paladins tend to be loathed for their alignment and roleplaying restrictions, not lack of use. Paladins are champions of righteous violence. Many player's don't like having to play lawful good. Further than that I've heard the term "lawful stupid" used quite a bit with paladins. Personally, I find the class interesting. I never got to play one though (I tend to be a part of parties that I would classify as CN).

Sharpen your holy blade and say your prayers, P is for Paladin...

Skull Cave Preview

This weekend I will be putting the finishing touches on the next release from Iron Tavern Press – Skull Cave! Here's the blurb from the title page:

A Swords & Wizardry compatible adventure for 4th to 6th level characters.

Centuries ago nomads found a cave and felt drawn to perform their death rites to dark gods within its confines. Years of ritualistic blood offerings to malevolent forces has fed demons deep below the cave. The nomads have long since disappeared, but a recent earth tremor has freed the demon spawn from their prison deep below the surface. Seeking blood [...]

Adventure Hooks: Politics

A casual watching of any of the "news" channels on television will show you how passionate many people get about politics. Why should that be any different in the D&D world? Murder In Baldur's Gate showed us a brief look at Ducal elections, but overall the inner-workings of various groups in a fantasy city or town are overlooked by many setting writers (unless it's the murderous politics of a Drow city). With recent films like the new Captain America: Winter Soldier bringing political thrillers back to the forefront of our minds, we thought you might be interested in playing with [...]

Important Information For Tourists...

via Thanks, Cal, for the warning. I shall be contacting my travel agent about a possible refund.

O is for Osteomancer

The Osteomancer is a 3rd era prestige class that appeared in the March 2004 issue of Dragon Magazine. While the idea of a bone mage seems like necromany it's actually a specialized version of transmutation magic. These hearty mages manipulate there core (as they call their skeletons). They can extend and retract bone spurs to create armor or natural weapons.  I never got to play one, but I always loved the idea. It reminded me of Spyke and Marrow from the X-Men.

(insert juvenile quote about boners) because O is for Osteomancer...

Osteomancer by Pyridoxine Jack the Osteomancer

Campaign Design: Set Pieces

In a screenplay, a set piece is a pivotal scene in the film. Most of the time it's a scene with a dramatic payoff, typically where some big reveal happens, a big game-changer to the plot is presented, or the main problem the characters have been faced with is resolved. It's called a set piece because it often involves some elaborate location that's costly to build, and requires either meticulous camera work or carefully planned special effects of stunts to pull off. Screenplays are often built about set pieces, building up to those moment in the film, and the rest [...]

Campaign Design: Set Pieces

In a screenplay, a set piece is a pivotal scene in the film. Most of the time it's a scene with a dramatic payoff, typically where some big reveal happens, a big game-changer to the plot is presented, or the main problem the characters have been faced with is resolved. It's called a set piece because it often involves some elaborate location that's costly to build, and requires either meticulous camera work or carefully planned special effects of stunts to pull off. Screenplays are often built about set pieces, building up to those moment in the film, and the rest [...]

Word of the Day -- Oubliette

An oubliette is a dungeon with an opening only at the top.  I tried to find out a little bit more about the word as it is very interesting to me, but all I could really find is the etymology, which makes sense after reading it:

French, from Middle French, from oublier to forget, from Old French oblier, from Vulgar Latin *oblitare, frequentative of Latin oblivisci to forget

"Gaming" Fiction

My current read.Erik Tenkar, over at Tenkar's Tavern, brought up a subject a while back that had me thinking about stuff (this happens a lot). The idea that some modules, or series of modules, can be ruined by novels that are written based on them. I have never had any personal experience with this, as I have never played in a game or campaign based on a series of books I have read. But, this is mainly due to the fact that most people share Erik's view.

Case in point, I am an unabashed fan of the Dragonlance Chronicles. [...]

Red Riding Hood

Great Imagery in this shot . . .

Red Sonja News

Dynamite Entertianment is releasing a hardcover art book highlighting the really cool work of veteran artist Frank Thorne. Mr. Thorne is the one who decorated the early RS books in the 1970s. It was and remains some fantastic work.

It was certainly part of our early experiences in reading comics...conan, green lantern, red sonja and so forth...which all lay about with our AD&D books, war games and Marx toys (best toys the world has ever, or will ever see).

At any rate, the full color book weighs in at 120 pages, gloss for 150.

Pick or pre-order [...]

Movie Trailer ~ Edge of Tomorrow

Armor Up (Teutonic Grand Master)

Pegaso Models

Inter-species Cross Over Hatching Theory

Researches have determined that early man and our cousins the Neanderthals did not overlap on the Iberian peninsula (Spain). We've gotten much better at carbon dating, interpreting the decay rates with more accuracy.

With that we've learned, from our samples that, the two species did not co-habitat in Spain. The title of this article is misleading...or I'm misreading...its not 1000 years, but some 11000 years, the difference between the two.


I've said this before, but to categorically state  what happened 45000 years ago after taking samples from a dozen bones is horribly horribly misleading. We have [...]

Gothridge Manor Turns 5 and a Giveaway

Howdy folks.  Today my place in the blogosphere turns 5.  I'm not feeling very nostalgic or sentimental so I won't go on about my last five years.  However, if you are a regular to my blog and either love it or hate it or just want something free, just comment below. 

I'll select one person who will win a print version from anything in my catalog.  Even the as yet to be released Starter Adventures.  This offer is not restricted to US entries.  If you're living in Greece or Australia or Tibet I'll ship it to you.

Quick Commentary On The Free Dragon Foot OSR Resource - The Random Caves & Caverns Generator For Your Old School Campaign

A truly system neutral old school game product that has some great possibilities for a DM who needs an instant set of caverns and caves for his players to explore.
Did I mention that this is a free download? 

Grab It Right Over

This pdf clocks in at twenty pages, and its pretty easy on the eyes. The who thing takes a few moments to print out via print and it really truly is system neutral. The system is pretty easy to use and for a free product this is a very nice little tool.    Dirk Collins [...]

Daily Punch 4-18-14 Spider Silk Gauntlets for DnD Next

How about some webshooters for your Spider-Man?


Spider Silk Gauntlets

Uncommon wondrous item

This pain of black gauntlets are made from black leather and spider silk. They bare the holy symbol of Loth and are exceptionally light. Any devout worshiper of Loth who sees these on a non-drow will attempt to kill the wearer.

Property:While you wear these gauntlets, you can cast the spider string spell at will. The save DCs of the spell is 14. In addition, you may grasp spider webs without disturbing them or signalling any spider who may live on the web. Finally, you have advantage on any saving throw [...]

In the Name of All That's Holy

Catholic vs. Protestant
in the Thirty Years' WarI survived PAX East and had a blast. More on that in a different post. Between my day job, editing work, organizing game events, and keeping my house together, I'm too busy to think. This feels somewhat like I'm strapped to a roller coaster with a big stupid grin, but inwardly waiting for something to snap. More on pieces of that in a different post. And I sketched out the basic outline of an OSR starship combat system. More on that after I play with it a bit and see if it actually [...]

Daily Punch 5-16-14 Spider String Spell for DnD Next

Was watching Spider-Man and I think this spell needs to happen. Let’s get some supes in DnD Next


Spider String
Range: 60 or 100feet
Duration:Concentration,upto1hour per character level
While you are concentrating, with a flick of your wrist you canconjurea one inch think cable ofofthick,stickywebbing. The webbing does not stick to you or any other creature you want it to not stick to. The webbing may be up to 100 feet long but may only target creatures with in 60 feet. You may climb the webbing as if climbing a knotted rope if you choose. When you cancel the [...]

Bricks and Mortar Contest in THREE, and a pdf

  Time is FAST running out for the latest round of the Warlock’s Journal Contest.   See here for a full list of the Warlock’s Journal Contests.   The Journal has returned to Tales of a GM. The current contest is another look at the Storm & Shield organisation. This is a group who span …

Continue reading »

End-of-Week...Tapestry? (4/18/14)

The Unicorn Defends Itself
The famous Medieval tapestry above provides a visual for what's been running through my mind for the last week.  The last two "End-of-Week" posts on this blog discussed my thoughts regarding running campaigns in either the world of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser or the world [...]

Colonial Gothic Adventure Hooks: Middle Colonies

You had hooks for New England, what about the other colonies? Here you go, hooks for the Middle Colonies.

New York
  • There is a lot of adventuring possibilities in New York. With the various Indians living along the frontier, especially the Haudenosaunee, Game Masters wishing to run campaigns revolving around dealing with this group, have much to work with. One possibility is to have a few of the lesser tribes, who are the remnants of the Haudenosaunee former enemies, rise up and attack both the colonists and Haudenosaunee. If something of this is a little to combat heavy for your taste, you [...]

Frugal GM Review: Dungeons in Blue- Small Dungeons #8

I was browsing DriveThruRPG this week and the Dungeons in Blue line caught my eye, specifically Small Dungeons #8. At $1.29 I figured it was worth a purchase to check out what looked like a cool old-school dungeon map.

My download consisted of what appeared to be four maps, a map legend, a lower-res preview map, and a PDF. All the maps, and the legend, are 100 DPI files, which makes them suitable for use with various online displays.

After poking through my download it occurred to me that this was essentially one map that has simply been [...]

Sci-Fi Fridays! Wanderers of the Outlands Part XIV

Another Friday, another post in the Sci-Fi Fridays! series, I'm currently sharing the background I've written for my Savage Worlds sci-fi campaign. You've all been seeing a lot of these materials before my players (well I know some of them read the blog, but not all...), but this week I [...]


The first thing you do is, you find a place and make it safe. Not ‘keep the neighbors on the other side of the fence’ safe. Genuinely safe. No one, no thing, for miles. It helps if the place is a blasted wasteland in the first place. If it isn’t, you can make it one after a few passes in the dropped ship. It’ll cost you energy to do it, but if you’ve planned right you’ll soon cap off the supply again. You want sun or wind or water. Though water is the worst choice. You can’t see things swimming [...]

Magic Video Series 2: The Tools of Spell Design

Here’s the second video in a series aimed at reducing the insane mess that is the Magic System Page to a more accessible format. This video introduces the tools of the magic system a player can use to design spells:

You can take a look at myspell posts for Saturdaysto get an idea of how these tools are used to make spells.

Please let me know what you thought of this video and the magic toolsin the comments below. Cinematography advice would also be appreciated ;)

Well, This is (Bleeding) Cool!

Just in case you didn't catch the news yesterday...

I've been following comic book and entertainment news site Bleeding Cool ever since it was just Rich Johnston's rumor column at Comic Book Resources.  It's one of my favorite places to keep up with the insanity at Marvel and DC and get actual news I can use on movies and TV.  Surprisingly, they've recently started running RPG articles as well -- and the latest spotlights some of the craziness of the do-it-yourself end of the RPG blogosphere!

Self-Publishing Roundup: Three Fantasy RPG Supplements You Won't Find in Game Stores by [...]

2013 Global Game Industry Survey

The results from the 2013 Global Game Industry Survey conducted by Yehuda Berlinger of Purple Pawn are in and published in PDF form here!

[Friday Map] Aurelon's Keep

Redrawing the Castellan’s Keep for my DCC game put me in flashback mode regarding both keeps and gaming. With crenelated battlements on the mind, I thought back to an adventure I ran using the Rules Cyclopedia when it first came out (back when I was in University).

Aurelon’s Keep

Like most of my older gaming papers, the map is long lost to everything except my vaguest of memories. But I recalled what I could and let my pen guide itself a bit to finish off with this new version of Aurelon’s Keep. Not nearly as extensive as the Castellan’s Keep, Aurelon’s Keep was besieged and rapidly conquered with the assistance of a few earth elementals who built up the ramp leading to the destroyed wall. Today it is home to a few poor clans of goblins and their ilk who base hunting and gathering operations from the old wooden buildings of the keep while keeping away from the old stone keep itself that they believe to be haunted.

So, download a copy of Aurelon’s Keep and have fun with it. I’d love to hear what happens in the keep in your games.

Aurelon’s Keep was drawn using mechanical pencil and Sakura Micon pens on [...]

The Citadel - In Technicolor

On the Effects of Magic, Cantrips and Rules

An interesting wizard is a themed wizard.

The original magic-user had a very limited spell list with spells that were very focused on utility in a dungeon.

The original magic-user only had 8 first level spells, 10 second level spells, and 14 third level spells.They have 12 fourth level spells, 14 fifth level spells and 12 sixth level spells.

This gives them a grand total of 70 spells

A magic user in a second edition game has access to over 2,174 spells.

So how do the effects of magic help solve this problem? They introduce [...]

Travelling Dice 04, Thrigby Hall

  The previous Travelling Dice saw some Elven dice out in the Greenwood.     Another day out with the family, another picture of a die.   Mmmm, blue dice!   Happy Gaming Phil

Should Dungeons go "Wide" or "Deep"?

Dungeons, especially the large ones, seem to be built in one of two manners:

wide - spreading out to the edges of a sheet of graph paper or

deep - smaller levels with stairs and chutes to lower levels

Back in the day, I was very much a "wide" style dungeon mapper. I was easier (and cheaper) to build a large singular level for a dungeon than to spread multiple levels onto multiple sheets.

These days, I find I prefer smaller levels with vertical progression - mostly having the PCs delve ever deeper into the dark depths, but occasionally climbing to higher levels of the "dungeon" environment.

Of course, mid-sized dungeon levels with a handful of levels works fine too.

Next 52: Psionicist

OK, short break from heavy aesthetic slogging. I made a psionicist class for Next 52 Pages and the rules can with little effort be ported to any other system. The spell schools are Enchantment, Divination, Alteration and Destruction (fire, force).

While making it a balanced option I have also tried to preserve the rarity and elitism of the class ("Wow, Skip! You tested psionic!") and the possibility that they open the party up to a whole new kind of attention and danger from big-brained mutations. It's not quite the long-range sensing and communication of the Hiero novels but [...]

A Great Example of a Dungeon World Adventure

We have a short one for you today.

A while back, Delos stumbled upon this little gem. David Guyll of the Points of Light blog seems to try and rewrite the Keep on the Shadowfell (the first adventure to come out for D&D 4E) adventure for different systems to see how he likes it. He even wrote a version for Dungeon World.

I really enjoy the layout and style of crafting adventures the way Dungeon World does, and this adventure is what I consider the epitome of that style. Have a look and try it out.


The post A Great [...]

Monstrous Workshop: Special

Flipping through the "Denizens" chapter of the Torchbearer rulebook, you'll notice most creatures have a "Special" category in their statblock. These entries detail any special advantages the creatures have, ways in which they break break the rules, and further define their behavior. With few exceptions, any creature you make should have a "Special" entry. The book is rife with examples to steal or model your ideas upon, which I've catalogued below.

A simple way to decide what your creature's Special should be is to think what a Lore Master/Hunter roll would reveal about this creature. Sure, we know a red [...]

The Archaeology of Minoan Crete (Maps + d87 Random Runes Chart!)

The Archaeology of Minoan Creteby Reynold Higgins
I bought this $2.25 hardcover at the St. Vincent's thrift store and this bad boy is a treasure trove.  It could be shipped to you by the wizards at Amazon for around $5.50 total.  There is a short summary of what has been learned through archaeological excavations at each site, but the floorplans and reconstruction views are the real gems.  87 characters in Linear B script are also given with their phonetic values where known, so if you have a d87 time to break it out (scroll to the bottom for the d87 [...]

#MtG's #Zendikar plane as a #13thAge setting! - Part 5: Locations

One idea that I vented in my brainstorming on Icons (a post that I removed from the project, to avoid confusion), was that of having some locations in zendikar act exactly like Icons. That is, you can have positive, conflicted, or negative relationships with these places. It works in Zendikar, because the world is literally much more alive than your standard fantasy setting. So I would definitely allow some characters to have bonds to some places, if their story or their concept justifies so.

However, it must be said that even in Zendikar, locations are rather static. Maybe [...]

A Planned Setback

In many stories in books, on television, and in the movies, the protagonists are often dealt one or more setbacks before the story reaches its climax. In these cases the writer crafts specific events with an intended purpose and outcome. In Role Playing Games, we GM’s often rely on the players to create their own setbacks during a session and within a campaignthrough bad rolling and impulsive decision making, but there are times the GM wants to write a setback into the game. Depending on how it is written and executed, the setback session can be a great story building [...]

A to Z of Witches. P

P is for Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Page

I don't hide it.  I loved Charmed. One of my wishes is to write the official Charmed RPG.

Not a real game, but I wish it were.I have talked about Charmed a few times here including the first A to Z Challenge I ever participated in; C is for Charmed.  I also wrote a Buffy/Charmed crossover for the Buffy RPG, "Semi-Charmed Life".

What I liked the most really was the interaction between the sisters.  It was a show about family that also happened to be witches and kill demons. [...]

Strange New Worlds: Pandia

System Name: Pandia
Sector: 5-1
Star Number & Type: 1 - Red Supergiant
Planet Number & Type: 7 - W, D, Q, Q, J, D, T
Inhabitants: Xaviers, Humanoids (various, see below)
The Pandia star is old... very old, and like some old things, it's become strange. It emits pulses of an otherwise unrecorded radiation throughout the system every 10-20 standard years. Its inner system is composed of a lifeless hot rock that skims the stars surface, a venus analog, and a pair of habitable worlds that share the same orbit, but on opposite sides of the star. A [...]

I'm Getting Married In The Mooooorning....kinda....

So, this Sunday I get married. This will mean that there may be slight slowdown in stuff appearing on here as I go on honeymoon and generally take things easy. Next D&D game is organised for the 29th, so it won't be long until the flow of horror begins once more.
Until then, have fun and keep rolling those crits!

3DPBMCSHMtm: in the underworlds

This installment of 3DPBMCSHMtm deals with the dungeons of the three worlds.  There are places where travel between is possible.  These are often well-guarded.  For other dungeons,...

Click the title if you want to know more...

Tonight On Da Vinci's Demons...

Random List -- 20 Spanish Male Names

Need ? Roll a d and check below to see what you get!

D20 Male Spanish Names 1 Adalberto Lechuga 2 Agustn Lafuente 3 Aristides Don 4 Augusto Maduro 5 Benjamn Ponce 6 Candelario Concha 7 Cecilio Vigorito 8 Cirino Portilla 9 Duilio Merlos 10 Eutimio Londono 11 Eutropio Blanco 12 Felipe Rota 13 Germn Soliz 14 Gonzalo Sotomayor 15 Josu Nuncio 16 Marcio Behar 17 Ramon Mathias 18 Roldn Mauricio 19 Telmo Posada 20 Tristn Laureano

Need more? Try the Spanish Name Generator or get “100 Spanish Names – Male“

Bujilli: Episode 85

Wounded and possibly poisoned by contact with a Morlock anathebone, Bujilli and Leeja arrived at the doors to the Athenaeum only to be ambushed by anonymous assassins wielding gonnes...
Leeja was down. Her blood spilling across the pretty jasper tiles in front of the wide-open Athenaeum doors.

A shot ricocheted from the door.

"Hurry!" the heavy-set man in the armored apron gesticulated wildly, motioning them to pass through the door.

Another shot tore a chunk out of a marble statue's belly, one of the smaller ones arranged along the near wall. Bujilli slipped in some blood. [...]

Preparation and Player Agency in the Sandbox

Player agency is a critical element of role playing games to me. One of the things that great dissatisfies me about most series of modules is how much they tend to need the story to progress in a certain direction. The label ‘Adventure Path’ itself rings player agency warning bells in my head — ‘path’ implies a linear relationship between the adventures.

The GDQ (Giants-Drow-Queen of Demonweb Pits) series of modules is often held up as an example of how a series of modules can be done well… but I have to admit that as much as they could be a [...]

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