Episode 26: Chaos in the Great City

Chaos in the Great City’ is the 26th episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

With the excitement fading in the Overlord’s safe room, the adventuring party takes a few moments to recover, imbibing healing herbs and calling upon Mani for healing magics. Moving on up the party reaches the roof of the Stronghold as an undead pterodactyl arrives carrying Leotah! A battle ensues as the group fights the wizardress, though all is not as it seems. After the battle the party examines the stronghold more closely and takes in the cityscape as the Great City falls leaderless.

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-26.mp3


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


Grimtooth’s Ultimate Traps Kickstarter

grimtooth_ks_imageThere is just under 7 days left in the most recent Goodman Games Kickstarter. The Kickstarter this go around is for Grimtooth’s Ultimate Traps Collection. As I write this they are $91k into their Kickstarter (and that will likely be at least several thousand higher by the time this actually posts). Goodman Games knows how to run a Kickstarter, so if you are in the need of traps or simply some inspiration for some traps you owe it to yourself to take a look at this Kickstarter.

Grimtooth’s Traps is over 500 systemless traps for your game. You can either use the traps as written or simply use them as some inspiration for your own traps with some tweaks and modifications of your own to adjust the deadliness of them for your game. Systemless means whatever your fantasy RPG system, there is going to be something in here for you.

Grimtooth’s Traps was originally released back in 1981 or so and had several volumes. The first five – Grimtooth’s Traps, Grimtooth’s Traps Too, Grimtooth’s Traps Fore, Grimtooth’s Traps Ate, Grimtooth’s Traps Lite – are the focus of this Kickstarter, but if the $100,000 goal is hit, then Grimtooth’s Traps Bazaar, Grimtooth’s Dungeon of Doom will be released in PDF form. If $130,000 is hit, then the extra content will be included with the gold foil cover and leather cover.

There are several levels one can pledge at to get this tome. Depending on your pledge level will dictate which form you get. Anything from PDF to soft cover to hard cover to faux leather to full on leather cover.

At this stage there are already a good number of stretch goals already hit. Everything from Grimtooth’s board game to ribbon bookmarks in the book to retro dust jackets to a DCC module with Grimtooth himself in it. So lots of extras as things coming into the home stretch of this Kickstarter.

If you are on the fence, there are a few PDF previews of the book over on the Kickstarter page so you can check it out.

Episode 25: The Overlord’s Safe Room

dcc_rpg_cover_smallThe Overlord’s Safe Room’ is the 25th episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

With the adventuring party in the Overlord’s safe room, they quickly learn the battlefield is rigged against them. A difficult fight erupts as the Overlord’s minions work to hold off the group, aided by many tricks of the room itself! Everything from suppressed casting ability, to traps within the room itself, to powerful guardians await the party in the Overlord’s safe room.

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-25.mp3


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

Shudder Mountain Theme Song

dcc_rpg_cover_smallThe new Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign kicked off earlier this week with my online group. We are starting out in the Shudder Mountains from the recently released Chained Coffin boxed set from Goodman Games. The set has plenty of great material to get the campaign rolling and we opened up with the 0-level funnel, Sour Spring Hollow.

Most of the guys from the actual play podcast are back together again for some DCC fun. Everyone was pretty excited and had characters generated well over a week ahead of game start time.

One of the players, Dustin Clark, has even gone as far to write and record a Shudder Mountain Campaign Theme Song! He unveiled the lyrics early in the week to our little community group. But then a few hours before game time we were treated to an actual recording!

And here it is!

Artist: Dustin Clark
Song:  Cross Your Path (Rough Cut)
*all rights are Dustin Clark’s

If you liked it, Dustin has some other songs out their previously released on Spotify:

Spotify – Dustin Clark


Amber Company 10th Anniversary

amber_companyLast week was my local group’s 10th anniversary! In early January 2005 our group started playing together for the first time. It is hard to believe that this humble group I started 10 years ago is still going strong today.

The Beginnings

I got back into gaming via PbP’s initially. It was easy to fit into a family schedule and it scratched the itch pretty well at the time. But eventually, I wanted more and decided to see if I could get a group started. Now – to gather a set of players when one lived in a pretty rural area.

The first member recruited as a former co-worker who had become a good friend. He’d gamed in the past and had a strong interest in RPGs. He was also willing to host at his place which was in a suburb that would be much more convenient for folks to meet at.

From there we started recruiting via message boards – primarily EN World and Wizard’s boards. The first hit from the Wizard’s board was someone that had recently moved to Ohio and was looking for a group. The two of us decided to meet this message board guy at a local restaurant as a meet and greet, sort of feel each other out. Good food was had, and he passed the “not a freak” test. So we welcomed him to the group!

I actually forget which source led to the other member of the group at the time. He only played with us for 2 or 3 sessions. The drive was a bit long for him once we started playing, so it didn’t really work out.

I also recruited a co-worker at my job as well. He was actually my boss at the time. In fact as we ramped up he used to call me over to his office at lunch to talk about his character and his plans for him. Good times!

And we rounded the group out with Crothian (a.k.a. Chris, a frequent guest poster here) from the EN World boards. We didn’t actually screen him. It was close to the game’s start and how wrong could you go with someone that had like a bazillion posts over at EN World, right?

The First Campaign

I DM’ed the first campaign. It was a Forgotten Realms campaign set in the Silver Marches running D&D 3.5. I remember I crafted my own first adventure, had this great map, I figured 2 sessions, possibly 3 sessions of play out of what I came up with. Chris had an uncanny knack for route finding and chose correctly at every choice, essentially made it s straight shot to the final room. Only managed to get one session from that adventure!

The initial player roster shifted a bit. One player dropping because of commute (we think!). One player moved away within the first 6 months. We filled those spots in with co-workers at that point.

The first campaign came to an end about 6 months later due to a TPK. (Who knew an arachnid mouther with 15’ reach and 8 attacks was too much for a 3rd level party!). The group didn’t let me DM again for several years!

Over the Years

We had some small group membership fluctuations over the years. Another person moved away back to sunny California. Some lost interest in dedicating time to RPGs.

But for the most part we’ve had a pretty solid core group. Currently, three of us are original members. A 4th joined for the last session of my campaign (so the 6 month mark), and another joined probably 7 or 8 years ago.

Over the years we’ve played and run many campaigns. Fantasy campaigns are our default, but we’ve done Star Wars games, Superhero games, some modern investigation games, and more. We’ve rotated GMing duties across several of us over the years.


For what started as a group of folks essentially gathered from co-workers and internet forums, we have become more than just a gaming group. We’ve become the best of friends. At his point over 10 years of life, we’ve all been there for each other in some form of fashion.

We’ve all supported each other over the years in any of the curveballs life has thrown our immediate group members or our families. Many cookouts, gatherings, and such that were non-game related. A supportive group that transcended our humble beginnings of just a gaming group.

What’s With The Mug?

So last week Chris brought us all a little present. Seemed a little odd, as Christmas gifts had been exchanged prior to Christmas. But each of us got a white box packed with bubble wrap. Inside was the glass mug/jar pictured above with the words:

Amber Company – 2005 – Have your heard of us?

What’s up with that? During the first campaign I ran, the group named itself the Amber Company within the first session or two. One of the players in the group’s character would always say to people the party met “We are the Amber Company, have you heard of us?” All. Of. The. Time. It was a running joke amongst the group years later.

Here is to many more years of friendship and gaming with the Amber Company.

Episode 24: Stronghold Pursuit

dcc_rpg_cover_smallStronghold Pursuit’ is the 24th episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

With the Overlord escaping the dining hall beyond Meffridus’ Snarling Vines, the group begins their chase through the stronghold to catch the Overlord before he can escape. Quickly working their way level by level, encountering many guards who wish to slow their hunt, the group eventually reaches the top floor of the stronghold. Here it seems the Overlord has a little surprise in for the heroes!

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-24.mp3


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

Orr Group Report – Q4 2014


THE ORR GROUP Releases 2014 4th Quarter Tabletop Gaming Industry Report
Creators of Roll20 Virtual Tabletop report 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons Surge

Kansas City, Kansas (January 8th, 2015) The Orr Group, creators of the Roll20 Virtual Tabletop, have released their newest collection of game popularity data from their system in the form of an Industry Report. The biggest change since the third quarter report is the significant growth of the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons from 12% to 20% of all games played and from 16.6% to 24.3% of players. 

“It is clear that the release of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition tools like the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide along with The Rise of Tiamat adventure book stirred Roll20 users towards picking up and playing in this new rule set,” said The Orr Group cofounder and Roll20 spokesperson Nolan T. Jones. 

The Orr Group Industry Report also saw changes from last quarter via growth in number of respondents and several new games being added to the list. 

“We expected our sample size to grow with population, but we also believe more users are taking the time to select what games they are playing in reaction to knowing their selections are being noted by the roleplaying community via The Orr Group Industry Report,” said Jones. 

Roll20 began as an effort to keep The Orr Group founders Riley Dutton, Jones, and Richard Zayas in touch via long distance gaming. Since launching via Kickstarter, it has attracted more than 725,000 users as a free service. The program continues to be funded by subscribers who receive features that assist advanced gameplay.


Here is a summary of the report numbers. My commentary is below.


Those are some interesting numbers! Folks curious about how they gather their numbers in a little more detail should take a look at their blog post explaining their method.

For those that want the quick summary, they essentially mine the data from two parts of Roll20. The Personal Profile page where Roll20 user can list what games they like to play. For them to be counted, according to the blog post, the player has to have been active in the quarter the data is compiled. The My Campaigns area is also used to mine this data. This is the page where a GM states what game he or she is running. Those two locations are where the numbers for Game % and Player % are generated.

For this quarter’s data it looks like the data was pulled from a collection of nearly 26,000 games and 18,000 plus active players. Definitely an interesting snapshot into what is being played on what is one of more successful VTTs out there.

It is also interesting to note that unlike ICv2, which is focused on sales, Roll20 doesn’t rely on certain systems to have had new releases or currently in print books. Their data mining is much more a look into what is actually being played.

This should be an interesting way to see what is out there being played as future quarterly reports are released!

Shudder Mountain Campaign

chained_coffin_coverMany followers of the blog know that the Sunken City campaign from the actual play podcast wrapped up a couple of months ago. Our online group is flush with excellent GMs and the guys gave me a break from early September until now. We had some Swords & Wizardry, Labyrinth Lord, and Dungeonslayers at the table during the break. Then I warmed up with a Tomb of Horrors holiday campaign that went 4 sessions.

Now I feel rested and energized and ready to get back behind the screen. Polling the group showed they were ready for more DCC! Initially I was going to start the whole thing off with a 0-level funnel idea I had (and got partially through writing), but then I realized The Chained Coffin box was going to be showing up at my house any day! I pitched a campaign based on that boxed set and the idea was well received!

Shudder Mountain

While the boxed set is called The Chained Coffin, the mini-campaign setting is actually focused on a region called the Shudder Mountains. The vast majority of writing for everything in this set is Michael Curtis. The man was a machine turning out words for this setting! Steve Bean wrote a 1st level adventure included with the set. An owner of the boxed set gets a regional map, a 0-level funnel, 1st level adventure, 3rd level adventure, 5th level adventure, an almanac, and a companion guide.

The easiest way to describe the Shudder Mountains is to think of the forgotten hollows of Appalachia West Virginia. Hollows, creeks, forested, rugged land. Parts well isolated from “modern” times. Throw in some superstition and DCCify it a bit and you have a great place to start a campaign in!

Cool Stuff – Spoiler free

I have of course started prepping for the campaign (we start playing next week!). This is how more campaign settings should be written (mini or not). There is just enough information to save me a lot of work in coming up with, while leaving a tremendous amount of opportunities for me to expand on.

The history of the Shudder Mountain region stretches back a great many centuries. With two ancient races – one somewhat traditional for some fantasy worlds and the other definitely Appendix N style. This offers up a plethora of possibilities for the Judge to expand on either ancient civilization in their game.

I have several ideas already floating around in my head based on this history. Some to older modules (even some Forgotten Realms stuff I think) and some to some products from Goodman Games. All of this off what was essentially a pretty short read.

All of this feed into why the people of Shudder Mountains are they way they are. Many of these things make the region quite unique and interesting. There are lots of new things to toy with as a Judge to keep the players on their toes.

Campaign Start

I can tell my players are excited as I think all of them have already posted their 0-level characters to our G+ Community group. Usually a good sign! In a lot of ways I wish I had started the campaign tonight (as I write this), but it was my first week back to work after a long holiday break and I thought I’d be pretty tired already!

I will be launching the campaign with the 0-level from the boxed set. Looks to be much shorter than the 0-level I started them with, but potentially way more lethal! From there I will probably fall back to my listening to the players to see what “lead” they want to investigate. We shall see!

Actual Play Podcast?

At this point I am leaning towards releasing actual play episodes of this campaign. I have setup the computer I use for our G+ Hangout/Roll20 sessions for recording. Feedback has been positive on the release of episodes from the last campaign. And some have commented that hearing a campaign from the start would be even better.


Episode 23: Sneaking into the Stronghold

dcc_rpg_cover_small‘Sneaking into the Stronghold’ is the 23rd episode of a Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG actual play podcast. Additional information can be found at http://irontavern.com/podcast.

Session Synopsis

The party completes their planning for their assault on the Overlord’s stronghold. Following a guide provided by the local Thieve’s Guild the group maneuvers their way through the sewers under the Great City. Suffering an attack by sewer vermin, the adventuring party tries to navigate the obstacles into the stronghold and seek out the Overlord!

Download Link: http://irontavern.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Episode-23.mp3


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


New Year 2015

The New Year is upon us! Time for a brief look at 2014 and a look at what is ahead for 2015 on several fronts (all gaming related in some fashion). There will be lots of similar posts from people on the Internet today via blogs, social media posts, etc. So I will try to be brief in this reflection post!

Iron Tavern

The Iron Tavern itself has continued to be a fun platform to post random thoughts from me. Some are reviews of product, opinion pieces, or a vehicle to promote Iron Tavern Press products or the Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Actual Play Podcast. Posting got a little slow towards the end of the year, I have recently learned a 3 or 4 day break from work will do wonders for recharging the creative batteries that power my hobby interests.

The most popular post from 2014 was D&D 5e and PDFs. I suspect a lot of those hits are just people looking for PDFs to download, but even today that post tends to rank a spot in most visited posts of the day.

Since that post we’ve seen Dungeonscape crash and burn (surprise, surprise) and we still don’t have PDFs from Wizards. This is still one of my major complaints about 5e. While I own all the physical core books, I would readily pay for PDFs of the product. It just helps my preparation to have them available digitally. Not having PDFs is a handicap to my preparation of sessions.

The recent break from work has helped recharge my batteries. Blog posts will continue and I will still use the Iron Tavern blog as my platform for reviews, commentary, and promotion of some of my RPG related products. While not the most famous RPG blog on the Internet I get enough traffic to keep Iron Tavern useful to me, and seemingly its loyal readers!

DCC RPG Podcast

This question was answered yesterday! I finished editing all of the queued up live play audio and have the remaining sessions of the Sunken City Campaign scheduled for posting. Starting on Monday, January 5th, one episode will be released per week for folks to hear the completion of the podcast.

The big question is do we post actual play sessions of the next DCC campaign I am starting in January. The group is already gathering up and we should be kicking off next week or the week after. It takes a fair amount of time to prep the episodes, so there is some question as to whether I will continue the AP or not. The current one seemed pretty popular as far as an AP podcast goes, so there seems to be some interest. Just not sure how much.

Do you want to see an AP released for the next campaign? Post in the comments and let me know.

Iron Tavern Press

2014 saw the launch of Iron Tavern Press. This is my effort at self-publishing and has focused on Pocket-Sized Encounters, short scenarios designed to be dropped into a person’s campaign on a short notice with minimal prep. The line has been well received, but is still in its early stages. These things take time and I am learning a bit as we go.

Iron Tavern Press suffered a bit from my business towards the end of last year. But I have a good amount of product already written and in my queue to be published. These include some more Pocket-Sized Encounters and a Dungeon Crawl Classics module. Things are already underway to get the next PSE release out there. I expect we will see it released by the end of January, perhaps a little sooner.

So far all of Iron Tavern Press releases have been in PDF form. When catering to an old-school audience this is necessarily optimal. The customers want physical products – often buying both physical and digital form. This year I hope to work the kinks out of creating a physical product and release in print on demand form as well. I still have some learning curve to get through on this front.


And lets not forget what this whole blog is centered around – gaming! 2014 saw me in an online game and a face-to-face game. A good mix of gaming. I plan on continuing in and with both of those games.

My biggest shift here (and this is the closest thing to a New Year’s Resolution I am making), is I want to focus on gaming with my kids more often. The oldest is definitely of the right age and my youngest has interest and would happily play. So if a blog post has to slip, an AP release a little late, or an ITP product slide a touch because it allows me to play a game with my kids then so be it!

Now resolutions require some plan of action. I think we have the makings of a kid’s game with some of my son’s peers. I am making plans to get that coordinated to start in January will take the form of a Friday night 5e game. This might even involve some mini painting (I have a boatload of Reaper minis with more on the way!!!) and maybe even finishing off my Dwarven Forge pieces!

And that’s it! A look back and a look ahead to 2015! Thanks for all your support and interest!