Kajak’s Kave Labyrinth Lord Conversion Sheet

Labyrinth Lord Conversion SheetPocket-Sized Encounters from Iron Tavern Press are designed to be easily placed in your existing game to fill an evening’s worth of play as a short side-trek. While written to be compatible with the Swords & Wizardry system, they are easy to convert to your fantasy RPG system of choice.

Sometimes though even a relatively easy conversion is too much. Wait no longer Labyrinth Lords! Iron Tavern Press has created a Labyrinth Lord conversion sheet for the first Pocket-Sized Encounter release, Kajak’s Kave. This free PDF is a one-page sheet that presents the stat blocks for the encounters in the Labyrinth Lord format further reducing conversion time.

The conversion sheet is available for free at RPGNow. It does require the Kajak’s Kave Pocket-Sized Encounter product to get full use from the conversion sheet.

Episode 15: Running the Gauntlet

dcc_rpg_cover_smallRunning the Gauntlet’ is the fifteenth episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

Finally gaining entrance into Leotah’s Tower the party finds themselves in a strange foyer of sorts. After investigation they discover the way onwards and find themselves facing an unrelenting gauntlet of challenges. Paying a heavy price to reach another chamber, Leotah presents one more set of tasks before the adventurers before she will grant them audience…

 

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Episode-15.mp3

Credits

Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from http://music.mevio.com.

Bards: Style and Substance

Pathfinder BardThe Pathfinder Bard class is one I am well familiar with. The makers of the Adventure Paths love themselves a good bard NPC and in my earlier 2nd edition game days I used to play the odd bard here and there. The one problem with the bard is they get a little stereotyped most of the time. They pull the lute out or burst into song to support the rest of the party by giving them that +1 edge in combat. The good old morale bonus. but is the Bard truly just a utility class? Let us scratch the surface and find out more.

First, to break the bard “one size fits all” image, let us look at how they deliver their powers. Most of them are done through the Perform skill. The atypical bard plays stringed instruments or is a singer. Well let us branch out a bit from there. Breaking the stereotype is as easy as choosing different focused skills. For example, under perform you could have acting, mime, dancing, tumbling, comedy, magic shows, and the like. Imagine how that works in combat? Let me give you an example.

I once had a halfling bard (actually he was a duo act with another halfling bard played by another player) and we performed a tumbling act and were known as the “Zucchini Brothers”! I had specialized in a lasso and our performance in the midst of combat was to raise the famed morale bonus as well as provide a distraction to opponents. We did this by tumbling past opponents, lassoing weapons and ducking under legs. It turned our pure utility into a fun event that was colorful in description and purpose. Mind you, our GM did ban those characters as they made a fool of one too many of his NPC’s from memory. Plus they lassoed a +3 battleaxe artifact and made away with it causing some serious problems in game (this was before GM’s were meant to be fans of the players!)

Bards are not one trick ponies. Sure, most players understand the value of a bard in combat but look at all their other abilities. Bards are receptacles of knowledge. They can make Knowledge checks untrained! I am not sure about your games but in mine a lot of the information of the plot can be ferreted out utilizing various Knowledge skills. it makes the game plot a lot more robust and a robust plot is a memorable game in the players’ eyes. Having a bard and finding this information regularly allows for you to be in the hot seat for being able to lead a team of adventurers. it is not really about the strongest, but what and who you know which is all about knowledges.

Other performance abilities include countering sound based spells, inspiring competence in others, fascinating a crowd as well as giving them suggestions. There are also great performances that can be learned (using the expanded core books) that allow for even greater effects from the bard. It seems that the ones the player companions really get hooked on are the ones that give them a bonus in combat. While this is important at times, it is often more important to counter the spell that is about to destroy the party, or have the constabulary of the town suddenly become fascinated with why their horse is infected with ticks while you make away with the town treasury.

There are also the benefits to skill use as you progress in the class. You gain the ability to take 10 on Knowledge checks as well as taking 20 once a day representing your superior all-round knowledge. Then at tenth level you also gain the ability to use any skill untrained, even if training is required! This is a super ability but seems to be often overlooked by many that play a bard.

Of course there is the ability to use spells too, much in the same way as a sorcerer. That is a spontaneous caster. You know only a handful of spells per level but can cast any of them without the need to have them prepared. The spells the Bard gets tend to be a utility nature but they enhance the class features well. Apt attention to the spells you learn are a must as they will greatly enhance your character and their usefulness in every situation.

Bard’s are charismatic and knowledgeable. You may not expect to find one leading men into battle but you should not be surprised to find one acting as a tactician, general or spymaster. They have a perfect blend of social and functional skills that give them the ability to lead people. Followers always want to follow someone that knows what they are talking about and can present that information in a suitable manner. That is the bard through and through.

When you think of the bard, try to ignore that minds image of the fop in the big flouncy hat who strums his lute and sings of brave Sir Robin. Sure they exist but they are performers, not bards. Bards are inquisitive and skilled. They know how to work a crowd and do so to further their own ends. Most Inn’s have performers to draw in a crowd but most of these performers are not bards. They are musicians and singers, not bards. A bard may want to perform for money every now and again, and it is these performances that become truly legendary and memorable in the common persons mind.

Looking at the variant archetypes you can see how ranged the Bard can truly be. There is the Arcane Duelist, the Sandman, the Savage Skald, the Detective and many others throughout the books. These truly show the versatility of this class. it is a class that should not be overlooked in character generation and one that offers a true role-playing experience for the seasoned player. It also offers up a load of fun to a new player who is not yet sure what they want to play. Push them toward the bard because they are so malleable and can suit a style of play once the new player finds it.

Give the Bard a run. I promise you will not be disappointed! Keep rolling :)

Mark Knights is  40 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.

Happenings at The Iron Tavern

Whew! I have not managed to post much here since my return from Gary Con VI! Thanks to Mark for helping carry the load with his Monday posts! It is definitely exciting times at The Iron Tavern and with associated projects. Today’s post just sort of covers what I have been up to over the past couple of weeks.

Gary Con VI

Gary Con VI was a wonderful time. It was my first time attending and the size of the con was a welcome change compared to the larger cons I tend to attend (Gen Con and Origins). I was able to hangout with some great people and put real faces to a lot of virtual ones while I was out there.

I played in several Dungeon Crawl Classics games run by Michael Curtis and Doug Kovacs (though some say the latter are Kovacs Crawl Classic games). I also got in a little bit of board gaming in the evening either before the next round of RPGs started up or shortly after.

I definitely hope to attend again next year. The size of the con is big enough to meet some new folks, but small enough to find the folks you already know. My only regret is not getting in on one of the Dungeon games while I was out there.

Spellburn

While at Gary Con all three hosts of Spellburn were in the same geographic location for the first time. Though all that exists of that is one picture that someone managed to snap for the brief time we were actually in the same vicinity!

Jobe managed to post some audio from the Goodman Games seminar while we were there. After several retakes of recording the intro as we played Red Dragon Inn with others!

The day after we all got back from Gary Con we had a brief conference call and should be back on track with recording Spellburn this coming up weekend. We know it has been awhile since we’ve posted an episode, but we should have this thing back on track quite soon!

Iron Tavern Press

I missed the March release! My goal had been to release a new product every month. I even had the product through its first editing phase and just needed to get it into layout and then off for its second editing pass. Other projects kept that from happening (and these freelance projects help foot the start-up costs of Iron Tavern Press while it gets going).

This month I have the next release, Skull Cave in layout. The text is all in there and I started the art selection earlier this week. I hope to make a big push and finish the layout this weekend and get it off to the editor for its final editing pass. Make a few revisions and get it out the door! More announcements to come on that closer to release date.

Freelance Project #1

I had a big turn-over for some conversion stuff I was doing for someone (hush, hush for the moment, but I don’t think it will be a secret much longer) prior to Gary Con. I polished up that turn-over and met the deadline. Feedback has been quite favorable and I expect to see some of the results this weekend if all goes well.

Definitely happy to have been a part of this one. The person running it has a high quality product and puts a lot of time into doing it right. I’ll post more about it as the covers are lifted.

Freelance Project #2

The other big project I have been working on is mapping related. Again, not sure how much I can disclose, but it is part of successful Kickstarter that funded a little bit back. I’ve been busy mapping and such for that. This project is coming along well and I think we’ve finally synced as the more recent map turnovers (and there are a lot of them!) have required much fewer revisions and tweaks. This project has been a lot of fun as well – lots more mapping to do on this one though.

Freelance Project #3

HHHhmmm, see the theme here? I am lousy at seeing how public some of the projects I work on should be. So I default to treat as if under an NDA until it is released. I should start asking more so I can publicize some of this! But this was a smaller mapping project that I squeezed in after Project #1 turnover. I am really happy with how the maps turned out on this one and can’t wait until this product is released as well. This one is all wrapped up now though.

DCC RPG Actual Play Podcast

I released an episode of this just before I left for Gary Con. Finished editing Episode 15 earlier this week. This weekend I will mix the audio together and folks should see it hit their feeds on Tuesday. The “heroes” are facing the most recent challenge of actually facing off with Leotah. Can they run the gauntlet? Or will Leotah live to fight another day?

Wrap Up

So that is what I have been up to! Lots of exciting stuff from Iron Tavern Press and other projects I have been involved with coming soon!

Blending Genres

Purple BlendHow do you feel about blended fantasy? I mean taking the ideal of fantasy and moving it into another genre and playing a hybrid. I must admit that I never thought too much about genres until I began learning and developing game systems (mainly computer ones) and how much they have an effect on the audience.

I heard over the weekend that one of my old gaming friends (it feels like he is an old gaming friend but I met him last year on G+) will not play games like Shadowrun as he does not like blended genres. The Fantasy/Cyberpunk blend grates him the wrong way. Play Cyberpunk with him or Dungeon World and he is fine, but not Shadowrun.

My favourite system is really a blended genre game (sort of). Earthdawn is Fantasy Horror, but I like to think of that as Fantasy with a tone, perhaps not a genre. It is unlikely that I will have Jason from the Friday the 13th leap out on my broadsword wielding players. So I am curious as to how these mixed genres affect players.

When you play a game do you want it to fit into one category? Do you want Cthulhu or a World of Darkness game for your horror? Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) for your fantasy? A lot of these systems have done crossovers into other genres in their time. There is Ravenloft and Spelljammer for D&D covering sci-fi and horror. Even Cthulhu is beginning to bring out many different variant settings that could be considered cross genre.

I am running the Reign of Winter Adventure Path for Paizo at the moment and little do they know (though I am sure the cat is out of the bag now) the players will soon find themselves on an alien planet or two! The first is definitely a continuation of a fantasy scene but they will be a little bit in shock when they hit the planet after that. It will be a genre mash up they will not see coming!

The world of Golarion (which is Paizo’s in house world for Pathfinder) has a lot of these mash-ups built right on the one planet. They seek to give as many styles of game as they can so that it appeals to as many people as possible. It is a clever tactic, but is it isolating for you?

Let us start a conversation. Do these cross genre games annoy you or enthrall you? What would you like to see in a system if you could dictate its genre? Would you like to see a Fantasy/Sports game? How about a Fantasy/Robot-Sci Fi? Or would these ideas simply make you throw away your dice forever? Let me know what you think in the comments and keep rolling!

Mark Knights is  40 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.

Stand Up!

Flying Super HeroHeroic fantasy requires your characters to wear their underwear on the outside and stand up! If you are planning on playing in a heroic fantasy game your character needs to be the one the King thinks of when in dire need. It had better be your name on the peasants’ lips rather than a gods when the Tarrasque crests the horizon because heroic fantasy needs heroes, not zeroes.

These are the tropes of heroic fantasy, and largely high fantasy. They are the Dragonlance Saga and David Gemmell’s books as opposed to Elric the anti-hero. So, how do you play a character in a fantasy game that seeks to make you the star that offers change to the world around you. To make things safer for the masses and become legends across time and space?

Heroic characters are bold characters. Their actions are never for themselves and they always attempt the impossible. If there is a hard decision to make it is the heroic character that makes it and it is always the decision that risks the most but achieves the huge win. For example, if there is a 10% chance you can get all the peasants across the gorge or there is a 90% chance you can save most of the peasants crossing the rapids the hero always goes for the hard option (the bridge) because it saves everyone!

Of course this means that true heroes are forces for good and they put that force above all else. It is OK not to listen to or bargain with the lich because it is an evil creature. There need not be any thought about that. Blast the lich because it is obvious it is evil. A truly heroic individual does not work in grey. Grey areas are things that exist in dark fantasy, not heroic fantasy!

The heroic character also tends to serve a force for good, like a good God or a kingdom. Make sure that does not detract from your character though. Toss it in as a catch phrase here and there (“By the power of greyskull!”) but make sure that it is all about you! The hero is the centre of the story and the reason is backstory. Don’t let it shine too much.

When interacting make sure you are the pure fit for your class. Finely toned fighters that move gracefully. Hooded rogues whose voice is like a whisper but cuts through any noise. A wizard in flowing colorful robes with a pointed hat and eyes that burn with power. You are much more than any non adventurer. Prepare some cliched words for when you meet your nemesis, because you can be assured that you will meet a nemesis in a heroic campaign.

Spread your legend too. If there is no bard in the town, hire one to follow you around and turn your deeds into song and poetry. Hire a bard to talk to the damsels or gents that you saved in your most recent action. Speak loudly in taverns of your latest exploits. You are no hero if no one knows your name!

If you know you are playing in that heroic campaign give some thought as you build the character on how you want them to stand up and shine. A good character will trump a neutral and an evil character but these characters can also shine in their own right. Just make sure you play the character bold and brilliant to ensure that the hero within becomes the hero that the whole world sees! Until next week, keep rolling!

Mark Knights is  40 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.

Breaching the Tower

dcc_rpg_cover_smallBreaching the Tower’ is the fourteenth episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

The assault is well under way as the group takes a two-pronged approach to circumventing the Wizard Tower’s defenses. With one group prepared to battle power iron sentinels in the courtyard and the other a colossal sized yellow ooze in the sewer tunnels. The battles are hard fought on both fronts and casualties mount as the party presses onwards. Reaching the front door of the tower the group prepares to enter and face Leotah.

 

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Episode-14.mp3

Credits

Intro and outro music is ‘Wrecking Ball’ from 137 from http://music.mevio.com.

Gary Con VI

gary-con2Gary Con VI is right around the corner! On Thursday morning I will be getting up, having breakfast with the family and then headed out. I hope to get into a pick-up game of something on Thursday night and I have scheduled games on Friday and Saturday, with a short seminar on Sunday morning before I hit the road and head back home.

For those also headed out and fans of the DCC RPG Actual Play podcast I have the continuing saga of the adventurers’ assault on the Wizard’s Tower scheduled to post earlier than normal on Wednesday morning. So be sure to fire up your favorite podcast client before heading out.

Beyond that the blog will be pretty quiet through early next week. I was going to try to chronicle my trip, but I have switched thoughts and plan on relaxing and just enjoying gaming for those four days. I’ve been doing a lot of freelance work this past couple of months and also hard at work on Iron Tavern Press as well. I think I will use the con as a chance to recharge my batteries!

With that said, I am sure I will take some pics and such – so keep an eye on my Twitter feed and G+ feed for some occasional fun that will inevitably find its way into my social streams.

And if you are going to be at Gary Con this year – feel free to stop me and say hey! Whether you are fan of the blog, Iron Tavern Press, want to ask when the next Spellburn episode is, or if we just frequent some of the same circles – say hi!

Free Gaming

I read a blog on the weekend of the bloggers top 10 favorite games that were free to download. I was impressed at the depth of games that had been included and was even more impressed by the inclusion of at least one “big” name game of years gone by. Now the list that was provided was across all genres and I thought to myself that I could probably put something together in a similar style for the readers over here at the Iron Tavern blog to have a look over and consider playing. Honestly, quality gaming has never been so cheap!

Mark Knights’ Top Five Free Fantasy Games

5. Halberd Fantasy Roleplaying

Halbred

With a nod to the writing styles of Terry Pratchett and his disc-world novels this game sneaks in at number five. Humor in a fantasy game is always welcome at my table so let the system actually incorporate it! It is a high magic, high paced humorous look at the standard genre and well worth a look.

4. D6 Fantasy

d6-fantasy

If you like a fair amount of crunch with your game try out the d6 fantasy game. The rules are in place and the game has a fantastic flow to them. Even better than the robust rules set has to be the array of supplements for the game that are all free too! So they don’t suck you in with the basic free rules, they also give everything I could ever need to run a game!

 3. Basic Fantasy

Basic Fantasy

Written in an OSR style and based loosely on 3.5 edition D&D also Basic Fantasy is an open source role playing game written for fans of fantasy RPG’s by the fans of fantasy RPG’s! I am a big open source fan and it is why this one pips d6 Fantasy for third spot. The scope and setup of this game is great and I am very impressed with this games achievements! In this version not only can you download and play it, you could also possibly contribute to the game as well!

 2. Talislanta

Talislanta

Coming in a close second is a game that I have spent a good deal of time in my past playing. Talislanta! That is right, you can now download this awesome game for free (any of the 5 editions are up for grabs). This series prided itself on having no elves and in fact it has a very different fantasy setting that is rich and detailed. I am actually listed as one of the official play-testers for fifth edition which is a bit of a blast. I had a great deal of fun with this game. Although some of the books appear huge the rules are actually quite moderate and the books are heavy on setting. This game is well worth a look!

1. Dungeonslayers

Dungeonslayers

This is quite honestly one of the best looking, most professional free games out there. It is a game translated from its native German and it appears slick, rules lite and a fun game. There are a load of materials you can get for it including adventures, world information and a host of other materials. For such a great game I am surprised at how few people know about it AND how hard it is to find on Google! Use the link above to download the rules and get into some Dungeon slaying right now!

Check these games out and let me know what you think! Keep rolling :)

All images were taken from the websites that have been linked to this page to advertise the download of these products.

Mark Knights is  40 year old guy living in a small rural town called Elliott in Tasmania, Australia.  I have been role playing since I was 11 years old playing the original versions of Dungeons and Dragons, MERP, Elric, Dragon Warriors and the like amongst other genre games.  I played D&D 2nd Edition through the 90′s but I ran Earthdawn for my fantasy setting and loved it as a GM.  When 3rd Edition came out for D&D I tried it but found it too heavy on rules.  I ignored the 3.5 edition of DnD in favour of Earthdawn (big mistake) as I thought it was just a money spinner.  When 4th Edition DnD came on my players and I gave it a red hot go but hated what it had dumbed the game down to be.  On a trip to Melbourne to buy some 4E stuff from a hobby store an old mate of mine pointed me at Pathfinder and in a Fantasy setting I have never looked back.

How the Gang Got Together

Fun and Games at Origins

Fun and Games at Origins

Something that gets assumed a lot about the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Actual Play podcast is that we all knew each other prior to this game. In reality, it is online gaming that brought us together. Today’s meta post about the podcast is how we got together as an online gaming group.

Group History

My interest in DCC RPG was growing back in the summer of 2012 but it didn’t really seem like my local group’s thing at the time. G+ Hangout gaming was taking off and an opportunity to try out DCC via a Hangout was presented. Carl Bussler (of Flagons and Dragons podcast fame and much more) was going to start running DCC RPG. He wrangled up a group of folks to start out with Sailors on the Starless Sea. Hopefully I don’t forget anyone, but that group had me, Kelly, and Matt in it. It also had Tony and James who both did brief forays into the one-shot I ran and early in the Sunken City Campaign days.

We managed to play two sessions of Sailors before that game went to the wayside. Carl’s schedule got busy and we lost some momentum. I ended up running The Jeweler That Dealt in Stardust as a one-shot. That game had Kelly and Matt, plus Tony, I think James, and Dustin in it. We had a great time and I decided to kick off an actual Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign back in the late summer of 2012.

When Sunken City launched we had Matt, Kelly, Dustin, Tony, James, and Joe (a local friend of mine). James made a session or two, Tony held on for another session or two before school reared up. We quickly brought Aaron on board with some 0-levels just after the other characters hit 0-level.

From Fall of 2012 to Spring 2013 the group was Matt, Kelly, Dustin, Joe, and Aaron. Eventually Kelly had to drop because of time commitments, but we kept on with the core group rolling through the rest of Spring 2013 into the summer. Coming into the summer we made plans to meet up at Origins in Columbus, Ohio.

Oh – I should also mention that a Dungeonslayers online game was started by Kelly in January of 2013 and there was a heavy mixing of the same players with some new faces in the DS game. The Origins meetup also involved a couple of the Dungeonslayer players – Adam (now in the DCC group) and another Dustin.

A great time was had at Origins and that likely did a lot to further cement the solidness of this online group.

After Origins, Joe needed to drop from the game so we were looking for another player again. We ended up recruiting Adam from the DS game to play DCC.

Which brings us to today, a group made up of Aaron, Adam, Dustin, Matt, and me.It seems Kelly will be returning to the group in April bringing a lot of the original crew together again.

Strength of Online Gaming

A lot of folks will say online gaming isn’t like being at the table and steer away from it. And while there are differences, online gaming has brought me a group of folks that I would call great friends. Meeting at Origins helped cement that (and we have plans to do the same this year at Origins and this time we’re dragging Aaron along – can’t wait to meet “Baptist” in person!)

So if you are out there lamenting the fact you can get some local folks together for gaming, don’t be too quick to dismiss online gaming. With a little work I suspect you can find yourself a great group of folks to play games with and build some new friendships as you do so! I know our group has had a great time playing. It has worked out very well for us!