Friday, June 23, 2017

Within the Dungeon Interview: Kicksnarker in Charge Eric Franklin

Armed with a well-bristled beard and a healthy thirst for games, Eric Franklin joins me for a chat about Kicksnarker, a G+ community focused on providing a critical, often cynical, and sometimes comical take on all things crowdsourcing.

Eric thanks for agreeing to this and welcome. So, for those poor and downtrodden souls who have no idea… What is Kicksnarker? What motivated, or why did you decide to create this community?

The man behind the beard (link to blog)
Kicksnarker is a community which was originally there so people could vent their frustrations with crowdfunding. Late projects, uncommunicative creators, and (of course) things that were just plain stupid. There was a project I had backed that I was venting about, and someone tagged the project creator into my (personal) vent post. It was awkward and weird, so I decided that I needed a rant space.
Is there a method to all this madness? Any tips for Snarker Sleuths?
Snarker Sleuths? I assume you mean "people who are looking for stupid things in crowdfunding."  If you're looking for stupid, it's really not hard to find. Pick your hobby, and search that category on Kickstarter (or IndieGoGo or your platform of choice). I guarantee you'll find dozens of stupid projects that aren't worth anyone's time or attention.

“Just plain stupid” and “stupid things” are you thinking of specific crowdfunding projects? Or what is an example of a project or two, which spikes the stupid meter?
I find projects that re-invent the wheel to be stupid. Like this one, that reinvents the bundling board. This project is an example of a zero-effort project where someone heard there is money to be had, but doesn't actually demonstrate how or why they deserve your money. People who overestimate their own talent create projects that are accidentally funny, like this one.  All three of those, by the way, have appeared in the community in the last month.  Projects that fix imaginary problems are another thing that, for me, falls into the category of "stupid."  Like this. Or this.

If there was such a thing as the “Seven Deadly Snarks” or a ranked list of the most common campaign crowdfunding mistakes, (before funding) what would that list start with? Why?
Here's some of what I look for when deciding whether or not to back a project:
- Is the pitch coherent? When you're selling yourself, grammar and punctuation (and spelling) do matter.

- Do your pledge levels make sense?  There was a project a few years ago that had the game for one price, the dice as an add-on for another price, and the game with the dice for a third price. It was cheaper to buy the game and add the dice on than it was to buy the bundled pledge level. I've also seen a number of projects that have limited pledge levels where even if every level sold out, it wouldn't hit its goal.
- What do your stretch goals look like? I've seen too many projects sunk because the stretch goals cost way too much.

What’s been your best experience with building the Kicksnarker community? What’s been the worst experience? Or at least, one you’re willing to share. Is being a moderator in the community really like herding cats? Do you think the community is successful? Why or why not?
My favorite thing about the community is how it's grown. Most of the community members are gamers, and nearly all of them have a well-developed sense of sarcasm and the absurd. It's led to a unique culture that I really appreciate. My favorite thing ever? It was the April Fool's gag that Sarah and I pulled on the community in 2016.  We spent months putting that together.  My least favorite? Drama. We have a number of strong personalities in the community, and they occasionally do clash. Usually it's a respectful clash, but (despite what the FAQ says), we hate banning people.

April Fool’s gag? Does it have anything to do with your Top 100 List: Things that Eric Franklin Dislikes? (or stage left) 
That top 100 was a direct response to the community from Lee's Lists, because we mocked their product a few times. To be fair, we mocked several other rip-off products that were similar, too - it's not like we singled them out.  The April Fool's Gag is linked above.

Since founding Kicksnarker you’ve found new and interesting ways to spend more money, or less money?
I've become pickier about what I'll back, but it seems like I wind up spending the same amount of money.

Have you ever backed a project which didn’t deliver, or one which you were so disappointed in the final product, that you considered pulling your beard out in pure angst? Care to name it? 
Yes.  I backed Far West, which is infamous in tabletop RPG circles. I also backed Power Chords, which was well before Far West, and has yet to deliver. And Alas, Vegas, but that might be delivering eventually.  MIskatonic School for Girls delivered, and I kindaZ wish it hadn't. It needed quite a bit more playtesting, and they forgot to include the fun in that one.

The complete list of what I've backed is here.  If it's in orange, it's completed. If it's in blue, it's only waiting for stretch goals. That doesn't give you good/bad on the fulfilled, though.

Who is the target audience for your community?  What do you wish new members of the community knew before posting?

The target audience for the community is human beings. Because monkeys have terrible grammar. My preference would be to have members join the community and just read for a few weeks before posting.  Read and/or comment only. Don't just link things, either. We want content. Tell us what you find stupid or objectionable or cause for concern. If you want us to check your project for red flags, it's best to do that prior to launch. And don't expect us to help - if all you do is "help make my project better," we'll probably ignore you.

What sort of advice would you give a first timer who is interested in backing a crowdfunding project?

Keep your eyes open. If it looks too good to be true, don't sink a lot of money into it. Don't pledge money you can't afford to do without, just in case. Assume that the project will be late and won't be as awesome as it looks. There are awesome things out there, but they are few and far between. Before you pledge, check Amazon to see if something similar already exists cheaper. Because it probably does.

What sort of advice would you give a first timer who is running a crowdfunding campaign?

Project creators? Don't jump in blind. Back a few projects - and wait for them to complete. This teaches you what the climate and culture is like. Be VERY careful with your stretch goals.  Double and triple-check your math on everything. If it's a writing project (including an RPG), have it written before you start. Remember that Kickstarter takes a cut of your total and so does their credit card processor. Remember that some cards won't go through. And don't drag your feet - freight costs go up regularly and never go down. Don't just do a blanket "rest of world $X" for freight, either, because Brazil and Australian freight will kill you if you're not prepared for them.

Playing Devil’s Advocate: If you owned and ran a crowdfunding site how would it differ, from what is currently available? What do think crowdfunding companies can do to improve their future?

Kickstarter used to review every submitted project. Unfortunately, they grew too quickly to be able to keep that up. My ideal platform would be very similar to Kickstarter, but it'd still have that personal touch. It'd also have better protection for backers in case of non-delivery. I have no idea how I'd work that, though. It's why I'm a backer and not a crowdfunding site.

Some folks say, “Backing a crowdsource project is an investment.” Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

It's not an investment. It's a gamble. Kickstarter especially has gone out of their way to state that they're not an investment, because there are a number of laws and regulations that apply to investment, and they don't want to be tied up by those regs (and I don't blame them).

Eric thanks for doing this and we are just about at the end… Do you have an elevator pitch for Kicksnarker? It’s not for monkeys for sure (damn those monkeys), but why should humans consider joining the community?

Kicksnarker's tagline is a pretty good elevator pitch: "Mocking things we might be capable of loving."  So many of the things we feature are almost good. People who are thinking about starting a project should join and read the "Tools for Tool-Users" category - it has useful links and post-mortems and the like. The FAQ is long, but it really should be read. It gives you an idea of the culture we have in the community.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

RPG Gag Comic: The Yahtzee Confrontation

I'm running out of these (I don't have to write content today) savers... I will have to make some more!

Friday, June 16, 2017

RPG Gems: SFF Audio Podcast

SFF Audio Podcast
In the last three to five years there has certainly been an uptrend in RPG writers & creators who borrow, whether in an official or unofficial capacity, from classic works of fiction. Lucky for us, many of these works are in the public domain and if you've ever wondered where all this great RPG material originates, or you're just an unabashed fan of fiction to begin with; you might consider mashing some internet buttons and adding SFFaudio Podcast to your list of favorite sites. What's SFFaudio Podcast?:


As it stands there are over 400 audio podcasts to date. You get can started and browse that list here. And if you haven't left yet and the works of Robert E Howard (Conan the Barbarian), H.G Wells (War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau), or Philip K. Dick who's work has inspired more movies then most are aware (wiki)... How about you at least consider checking out my absolute favorite audio render of H.P. Lovecraft's (click the title), The Statement of Randolph Carter; Narrated By: Wayne June.

Navigation Note: The player is at the bottom of the page of each audiobook podcast, I'm attaching a pic, cause its a little less than obvious. This screen capture is of Bram Stoker's Dracula. A recent edition and which you are welcome to give it a click and be directed to the SFFaudio site.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (Bottom of the Page)

Friday, June 9, 2017

RPG News: Onyx Path Publishing; Lack of Professionalism Works Both Ways

"Throw a D20 in any direction, and you'll be hell bent to not to hit a disgruntled RPG freelancer."

If I have this correct, and it's a modestly messy if: For reasons uncertain, Onyx Path Publishing (OPP) recently "un-optioned," Exalted 3rd Edition Line Developers Holden Shearer & John Morke. I say un-optioned, because as I've put the this picture together it seems clear that duties as a line developer at OPP is... A work for hire position? Similar (but, "oh-no" not the same) as a regular work for hire freelancer... But with a way-cooler-and better position title. (meh) Yeah, I don't make friends easily... 

In an interesting post Mr. Shearer took to Facebook, to air a grievance about some of his "cutting room floor" material from the Exalted 3E Kickstarter being repackaged and sold without payment. If you want to get the full picture, Mr. Shearer's Facebook Page is here. Below is a screen capture of the initial post:

Attribution: This news comes via (mashing random buttons) theRPGsite and so following a podcast of events by: Sponsored by Nobody (to that podcast) Who have also put together an imgur gallery, which consists of former OPP freelancers (imgur gallery link) twittering away.

While admittedly the podcast is a bit hard for me to listen to, and it's a bit too much from a consumers perspective, there is some merit to parts of the discussion.

The fact that Holden' notes 90k words were not being paid for (and cut) by OPP is a surprise, in only that he wrote that many, without being paid... (that's my professional asshole perspective) On Twitter (imgur post above) the number is 150K for the Orichalcum Edition, which is still in production from the Kickstarter...

I'm I the only one to think that a line developer... developing lines (words) that aren't published in the bulk of the production, is as much a problem for OPP, as it might be the writer... And now that writer is no more? It doesn't bode well for either; the company or the writer.

This is the RPG Edition of throw enough shit and some of it will stick, but that's not to say whether it has merit, beyond noting dysfunction of everyone involved. On one hand we have a number of freelancers outing (of note, recently let go or no longer working for) the company, on the other we have the company and a number of freelancers defending said company. The real problem is that ethics and professionalism aren't the same dance.

Certainly, line developers, freelancers and anyone producing creative work for a company in a work for hire capacity and especially if that company puts that work up for sale, should be paid an agreed amount, for an agreed amount of work (a contractual tongue twister). There is no doubt.

Work for hire employees should also carefully read the contract provided. With most RPG companies what you find is that "your work," is no longer yours once you turn it in. If you put your signature on that line, you've agreed to that. And sometimes pay for that work, and especially if the writing is repackaged, is entirely optional.

Professionalism, works both ways.

In honor of that... A little Ellison!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

RPG Review: I Need RPGs to Review!

I write role-playing game (RPG) reviews for Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT), and for EN World's RPG News and Reviews page. If you're interested in a product review, use the Contact Me (button above) or click here to get my email.


If I've already corresponded with you and agreed to do a review (PDF), you're good. I've got your RPG in my files. Due to the slew of submissions going forward, reviews for PDF products are closed.
For the review request: Type in the subject line of the email: Review Request; include the title of the product. Include details about what the product is in the body of the email. 
Most of the reviews I produce, are for complete RPGs or system neutral products. If the product does not fit this criteria, you are welcome to contact me, but it is very rare that I produce reviews concerning adventures, or writing which focuses on the mechanics, rules or tweaks of an established system.  
In addition to the above mentioned publications, reviews are posted on this blog and shared in my communities on Google Plus and Facebook. Reviews for KoDT are owned by Kenzer and Company and re-published here with permission one year from the reviews publication, per specific issue. Reviews written for EN World may or may not be republished on this blog. Long story short, that is up to me (in how I format the review for EN World).   
It is rare when I do not have a virtual PDF slush pile, and there is always a wait. Products are reviewed in the order they are received, unless the publisher is willing to eat the cost of shipping a physical product to my address; these are bumped to the head of the line  (And also and because it is 100% important to note, a physical product mailed to my front door-while wonderful, does nothing to sway the review).
As a freelancer I cannot guarantee a review of the product you send will publish or the location of the review itself. I will certainly pitch and write the review, but it's at these companies own discretion whether the review publishes. Under no condition will the review of one product be written for both companies. Worst case, the review will not appear for either company, and only on this blog as well as shared with my G+ communities and Facebook. This has not happened yet, but it easily could. Welcome to being a freelancer 101.
I do not guarantee a positive review. I take into consideration what each specific product is and what it attempts to accomplish; and as best as I am able, review each RPG on it's own merits and faults. Sometimes, I will have the opportunity to introduce an RPG to my player group by playtesting it. Sometimes I create a character, or (literally) calculate the mechanics. Of these three, creating a character (or two) is the most common, and reflected in the review. If I playtest it, it is rarely reflected in the review.
Thank you, and I look forward to reviewing your RPG! 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Revew Burp: KoDT #244 & Writing RPG Reviews for EN World

Disclosure: Links to RPG products and the banner below, include my affiliate identification. I received a token % if you purchase something. Purchasing though these links is one way to support this blog. Thank you.

KoDT #244
Strange Stars
Knights of the Dinner Table issue #244 is out. This issue has my review of Strange Stars. Trey Causey has written three space opera setting books, in system neutral, OSR and Fate Core format.

This product wasn't my cup of coffee. It's well written, the production value is top notch, but as far as putting forth a "setting," eh... A quick trip over to their seller page on and you'll see my opinion is in the minority; the system neutral version is an electrum seller.

OD Pirates & Dragon
As I mentioned with Submissions Open (tag) EN World is paying freelancers for RPG news and reviews. My review of OneDice Pirates & Dragons was posted on the front page a couple of weeks back. A version of that review is also here on this blog.

Admittedly, I'm really enjoying what Cakebread and Walton are doing with the OneDice, line. If you prefer to get a look before purchase, Cakebread and Walton have you covered with the OneDice Quickstart which is Pay What You Want (PWYW). I think OneDice is a super awesome introduction or gateway RPG for youth, as well as folks who have never delved into the hobby.

Best Selling RPGs - Available Now @

Friday, June 2, 2017

RPG Revew: Mermaid Adventures

Disclosure: This review contains affiliate links to I receive a token % if you purchase something from the landing page. It's one way to show your support of this blog, and its content. Sincerely, thank you for that support.

Mermaid Adventures
Mermaid Adventures
By: Eloy Lasanta
Published By: Third Eye Games
Scouted By: J.L. Duncan

Welcome to a review of Mermaid Adventures, a complete role playing game (RPG) available in portable document format (PDF) at and Mermaid Adventures was brought to the surface via Kickstarter to the tidy sum of just over 5k internet bucks.
Indeed, there is a growing market of games aimed at introducing a young (or younger) player base to the fold of RPGs. Mermaid Adventures is one such, but there are a few pleasantries about this game which distinguish it from some of the games I’d happened upon over the years. We need not play the name-games-game, but some of these “other creators,” should consider taking some notes.

Clicking off the first couple of pages on my PDF copy the first thing to be appreciated is that the games list of play testers, include members of its target audience. Ahem, “other creators,” ages four to eleven. While you might not think this is such an innovative idea, you’d be surprised at how many RPGs while designed for kids, fail to include the target audience (or even playtesting at all) in the mix. Just saying…

 I was impressed by the overall organization and design of this book. Certainly, Mermaid Adventures is not a large volume at just over 100 pages cover to cover, but everything contained therein feels or seems to be where it should be. I’m not exactly certain where this sentiment comes from, but my ego tells me it’s because: everything is where it should be! The game is properly organized; I’ll leave it at that.

The illustrations are bright, colorful-as well as plentiful and should appeal to the young gamer, more specifically I would argue girls, a bit more than boys, under the age of ten. Tables are well placed throughout with the pertinent information to each section. The book is structured without a multi-column format, which makes the print larger than typical as well as easy to read. For the most part Mermaid Adventures passes the eye test, so let’s move the review to what I like to call “the fiddly-bits,” otherwise known as game content and mechanics.

Creating a character in Mermaid Adventures is broken down into four steps. The first of which is picking a species of Merfolk from a list of eight varieties. Each type of Merfolk has some special abilities and provides the starting base for character attributes. For example, Lobsterfolk have a hardened body, Rayfolk can flatten their body, while the Jellyfolk have a see thru body, in the right lighting, etc. etc. Overall, each Merfolk is pretty interesting in the range of available abilities to start with and so each has their appeal in playing them.

Each Merfolk starts with a base number for each of the four character attributes with character creation. With step two, players receive five additional points in which to distribute among the character’s attributes as they desire. The Attributes are Body, Mind, Charm and Luck. As you might surmise, all conflict or contest resolution will be determined on these scores and will aid the number of dice rolled relevant to the situation. Each attribute, fits and will be used in game, exactly where you would intuitively guess it should.

Step three of character creation is the option of rolling on random charts to determine superficial things about a character; hair color, clothing etc-etc. This section is a bit of optional fluff, whether characters roll or the players determine it themselves is left to the Navigator (GM). Any good parent knows, you don’t tell a four year old the color of her character’s hair. She tells you. That is that and to quote the late great Professor Snape, “Obviously…”

The last and final step of character creation is selecting four qualities which will help make each character unique. Qualities are character perks, which will impact game rolls. These extra qualities are in addition to those awarded with the type of Merfolk that has been selected. The quality: Sneaking will give a bonus success, when attempting, you-guessed it- do some sneaking! Mermaid Adventures offers a decent sized list of qualities, including magical qualities if you wish to include magic with your game, which will assist players, while providing some additional utility to each character.

Mechanics in Mermaid Adventures involve the use of black and white six sided dice and is a D6 system with a bit of a tweak. Fear not, if you are a Seattle Seahawks fan (like this reviewer) and possess only green and blue dice. If I can figure this out, I have faith that you will as well.

Success on a specific roll (or how many are required) is determined by the Navigator (GM). The difficulty level (1-5) determines the number of black dice rolled, while the characters Ability and Quality determine the amount of white dice rolled. Success for either is rolling a 4, 5, or 6. Overall triumph on a specific task is getting more counted successes on the white dice, than the black.

My one criticism is that overall the mechanics for dice rolls are a bit too fancy for my taste and I think the four, five and six year olds might agree with me: small hands and all. There’s nothing wrong with setting a target number a notch higher (perhaps 3-10) and requiring some straight rolling. Let’s not forget it’s hard enough for a six year old to keep a dice roll on the table let alone wield more than one successfully. The four year old might forgo rolling altogether and wonder instead what a handful of dice tastes like! Luckily no doubt the navigator will be there to navigate and forgive me Mermaid Adventures I kid, yet I’m serious. Add to this comparing success vs failure between the two toned dice and as I said it’s just a bit too fancy. I’m sure this system works but something simpler could work as well; and to be clear this is not a criticism of four to six year olds…

I couple of nice sections are the pre-generated characters which the players could utilize or a navigator could use as non-player characters (NPCs) and the sections that stat out creatures of the sea natural and fantastical.   

Progress Points are the game’s experience point system. As a character in Mermaid Adventures progresses they get points awarded by the Navigator after a session. The player can choose how to distribute those points to build their character and for the most part the system is set up for rewards that will happen once a single adventure is concluded. Keeping the target gamer in mind this is a very simple and effective system.

Advice sections for the Navigator and role-playing are pretty basic stuff for an experienced gamer-but no doubt credit is due for including them. There is also a cute story at the beginning of the book which (gives a narrative of play) I found delightful enough to read to my daughter as well as the section which gives a good example of what gameplay will be like. I like products that boast being a complete RPG to maintain key sections, which explain the role of players and basics of roleplaying-it just makes good sense-and Mermaid Adventures ties it all together with a creative approach.

The final chapter of Mermaid Adventures consists of five short adventures. Beside an interesting mix of adventure, I would say nothing ground breaking here, however something to consider, is again-the target gamer. The adventures maintain a basic approach at introducing RPGs to a younger gamer. Dare I say a gamer who’s attention span is a bit more easily influenced to distraction and who’s, (Are we there yet?) mentality would be more pleased at arriving sooner to the conclusion of the adventure, rather than later. Two dolphin fins up for this section.

To close, Mermaid Adventures provides a good introduction to roleplaying. As a product it does a good job of not forgetting who this game is designed for. If you skipped ahead to the final couple of paragraphs of this review: Kids! This game is for kids. The layout is crisp and the game rules are easy to follow. The art is very appealing or at least my seven year old hasn’t stopped bothering me about playing it, since peaking over my shoulder, whilst I was thumbing this review.

Speaking of which, the five sample adventures are certainly enough to get a Navigator started. So it looks like I will be making a visit under the sea relatively soon. Perhaps we’ll see you there!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

RPG Review: OneDice Pirates & Dragons

Disclosure: This review and the banner at the bottom of this post, contains affiliate links to I receive a token % if you purchase something from the landing page. It's one way to show your support of this blog, and its content. Sincerely, thank you for that support.

OD P&D Cover
OneDice Pirates & Dragons
Published By: Cakebread & Walton
Publisher Homepage:
Reviewer: J.L. Duncan

Avast, me Hearties!

This is a brief review of OneDice Pirates & Dragons. The PDF digitizing before me is 134 pages front to back, in single column format, and includes a printable character sheet. Illustrations are full color along with a two page map of the Dragon Isles, the RPGs main setting.

Let’s jump right off the plank and outline the setting…

The setting of OneDice Pirates & Dragons is the Dragon Isles, a collection of tropical islands innate with ancient magic and besieged by dragons. One hundred years have passed since the first Uropans crossed the vast Adalantic Ocean discovering the Dragon Isles and the mighty continent to the far west, High Bressayle. The four seafaring cultures of Uropa: Albion, Batavia, Esbania and Gaule have developed a number of settlements and ports throughout the isles, which when these cultures are not acting to underhand or war with each other, are busy enslaving the native islanders for their own ends.
Dragons inhabit a number of islands, some more powerful and infamous than others. They too war with each other and any pirates and privateers who have the misfortune of happening upon their territories. The most powerful dragons are worshiped by native tribes and wield necromancy magic at their scaly finger tips.
Creating and running character in OneDice Pirates and Dragons is land lubber simple. Adventurers have three primary abilities: Strong, Clever and Quick. Magic is optioned as a forth primary ability, but is only available to characters native born to the Dragon Isles, which can be made, but doesn’t increase the starting primary ability points. In creating an adventurer, players distribute six points among the primary abilities, with the caveat that no ability can be higher than 3 or less than 1. From these, three additional abilities are derived: Health, Defense and Move. Characters receive six points to distribute among a list of thirty plus skills.

The prime mechanic of the OneDice system utilizes a single six sided dice (d6) and like many aspects of this role playing game (RPG) it’s succinctly defined… So let’s use it:
“To see whether your character succeeds at a task, roll one six-sided dice, then add to the result the relevant ability (the character’s score in Strong, Clever or Quick) and skill (if he or she has one). Compare the result to the Target Number – if you equal or beat it, you have succeeded. If you have failed to beat it, your action has been unsuccessful (and there may be a consequence).” (PG 27)

Included with mechanics and throughout is respectable amount of rules, including how to sections and examples of play; the sections on ship to ship combat, and Game Keeper sections are really well done and give the Game Keeper something to run on as a one shot or build an entire campaign from.

Overall, OneDice Pirates & Dragons offers a succinctly defined system, and a unique setting of black powder, magic and high seas adventure. While I’m not a proponent of “rules lite” systems, as I prefer medium to heavy crunch, there is certainly some clever and well-designed content. The inspiration of European activity in the Caribbean from 1600-1800 (Uropa/Europe) is a nice jumping off point. The use of the number six with character creation: mechanics d6, distribute 6 ability points, select 6 skills, makes this a great gateway or introduction RPG be it for kids, or adults who have never delved into this wonderful hobby before.

Note: An abridged version of this review originally appeared with EN World's RPG News & Reviews-community content program (CCP) here. Thanks to EN World for allowing me to post it on my blog, as well as providing a venue to produce paid content.

Additional Note: I'm really enjoying what I've seen with Cakebread & Walton's OneDice line. Just about every genre is covered so if pirates aren't your thing (fantasy, cyberpunk, ghost hunting and many others) stop in over at their sales page, or direct a Cakebread & Walton's home site: here. Each of the products from the OneDice line, are available in full color, print as well as PDF.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Map! Forest Keep Available Now!

Current Price: $1.00

Disclosure: Links in this post include my affiliate identification. I receive a token % if you purchase something.

Map products are 100% digitized in the U.S.A. on a computer which was manufactured in China... However, the computer includes circuit boards, plastic, and imitation aluminum screws, which may have been manufactured in other countries, such as the Philippines, Taiwan and perhaps even Zimbabwe... Truthfully, I don't know-cause I've never cranked this machine open, so therefore; there is certainly a chance, and let's not get caught up with specifics.

However, the point is... That your purchase not only supports me, but the entire world! Add to that, the fact that no trees were directly harmed in the making of this product... And well... you get the point. Buy it! And if you're really looking for bonus points, tell someone you did.

Map! Forest Keep: $1.00
Map! Forest Keep
Map! Products are in full color, providing a visual location for the Referee (DM/GM) to populate and for the player characters to discover. This product contains a master PDF (preview), four print friendly versions at 300 DPI and four identical versions for the digital tabletop at in 100 DPI. The 100 DPI digital tabletop versions include a single unit of measurement near the center of the page, one for hex and one for graph. For closer look, check out the PDF preview.
This Download Contains:
  • Map! Forest Keep PDF (preview)
  • Print Friendly, Zip File PNG (300 DPI)
    Four Versions: clean, graph, hexagon, & labeled  
  • Digital Friendly, Zip File PNG (100 DPI)
    Four Versions: clean, graph, hexagon, & labeled 
  • My appreciation. Please take the time rate, review and comment. Also, what sort of Map! products would you like to see in the future? I welcome your ideas.
Note: Hexagon and graph measurements are at 5ft per side. This product is not for use in commercial products.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Making a Thing!: Map! Forest Keep

Map! (now
Okay, so I was able to get a little time away from writing RPG reviews this week. Map! Forest Keep, is in the final stages of completion. The commissioned piece is a bit different, and has already been sent along. Thank you, Ken for asking.

I don't own Adobe; I do it the old fashioned way with Desktop Publisher, and save the file as a PDF. It works fine, given that the PDF itself is really just for the preview feature of the product page.

While the finishing the work, I noticed my other Map! products are scaled at 10ft. sq., on the graph and at 5ft. per side for the Hex in the map keys. This is an error. Sides for both scales, should be at 5ft. as each of the sides are the same measurement in proportion.

I'm not fixing it. And as it was noted to me, the novelty of a map key isn't really how most fantasy maps are used. And most measurements assume 5ft.

Graph/Hex 100 DPI Example
However, what I am working on is going through and making a more digitally friendly pack for each of the previous three Map! products. These will be 100 DPI, which after a visit to Fantasy Grounds revealed that the original 300 DPI maps are much to big. Instead of hexing or graphing the full page for the 100 DPI maps, I'll be putting one unit of measurement near the center of the map, which the GM can scale with digital tools. This will avoid the double line problem that occurs when digital software is overlaid with fully graphed and hexed maps.

Product Sale Ends Soon
These digital tabletop additions will be completed by Sunday. And on Sunday Map! products (which are currently marked down) will return to their original pricing. So stop on in, a buy something, before I put the price to standard. And please click on the MAP! banner below to do so. Below is the rough draft, of the product page... Map! Forest Keep, will be ready and up for sale, mid to late next week.

Labeled/Hex 300 DPI Example

Map! Forest Keep

Map! products are in full color, providing a basic a visual location for the Referee (DM/GM) to populate and for the player characters to discover. This product contains a master PDF (preview), four print friendly versions at 300 DPI and two digital tabletop versions at in 100 DPI. Each digital tabletop version includes a single unit for measurement, near the center of the page one for hex, one for graph. For closer look, check out the PDF preview.
This Download Contains:
•Map! Forest Keep PDF
•PNG, generic; labeled (300 DPI)
•PNG, hex unlabeled (300 DPI)
•PNG, graph unlabeled (300 DPI)
•PNG, clean (300 DPI)
•PNG, hex digital unlabeled (100 DPI)
•PNG, graph digital unlabeled (100 DPI)
•My appreciation

Note: Printed on standard the hexagon and graph measurement is 5ft per side. This product is not for use in commercial products.
Disclosure: The Map! product banner below includes my affiliate identification. I receive a token percentage if you purchase something from the landing page. Your purchase supports this blog and it's content, thank you.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Dicey Politics

This one was one of those comic ideas, which never found a home. Obviously, with Trump in office it's dated... I'm not much on political rhetoric and such, and the theme of dice talking politics is a pretty thin stretch. Needless the say, we've had a totally unsatisfactory experience of the Marketplace...

Happy Mother's Day. Moms we love you.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

RPG NEWS: Rifts Board Game Kickstarter; Part Two

And... The Top Three Reasons Not to Participate!

Rifts Board Game (mock)
Look, the internet is the worst sort of venue to provide advice. Somehow, in the back of the readers mind, is this idea that what's really being shown, and especially if that topic is one which incites passion, is moral authority. Or worse, that you're trying to dissuade them, because in "secret" you are actually in support of the company which (so far), essentially ripped them off...

This often gets out of hand, such as is the case with my inbox receiving a number of emails (5 total) concerning my blogposts posts here, and my posts in reference, on the DakkaDakka  forum.

Angry Nird

Writing which, specifically concerns Robotech RPG Tactics (RRT) by Palladium Books & the about to launch Rifts Board Game (RBG) by Rogue Heroes. The only thing I can attribute this to, is me asking (angry) nerds, that if they decided to troll the Rifts Board Game that...

1) It would be in bad taste, given the circumstances and based on what they were claiming they were going to say, and...

2) That they might consider posting with consideration and stick to the facts, without making it a personal endeavor.

Okay... Maybe I did insert some moral authority... What can I say? There is a difference in showing displeasure with someone (or a company) based on their work (or lack thereof), or attacking them personally. And that's my view and I (apparently) have no right to insert it...

Okay, I could have also said, that if you backed Robotech RPG Tactics, and didn't even attempt to roll, (as in lift a finger to do some checking) on your research skill check: you are a moron... Because honestly, that's my view despite the fact I (apparently) have no right to insert it...

After all what's good for the goose...?

If you chose not to do any research into Palladium Books concerning the RRT Kickstarter and you backed...

Are you still angry? Even though I might think it, would it be okay for me to call you a moron based on that, alone?

No, it really wouldn't, and neither should it be. This sort of rhetoric could go on endlessly... Reap what you sow, but get off of my grass (or inbox) in the meantime.

The truth is all of us have made mistakes, some worse than others...

And before anything explodes I'm not addressing the many reasoned and more eloquent voices of dissent, the ones that might actually say or post something "insightful" and give links to prove their points or in the least reference their "theories." Including distinguishing the difference in the first place... (You know who you are)

Unless you truly believe Palladium Books botched this on purpose (which I'm pretty certain this in not the case), I say the time has come to give them (and all their mismanagements) some slack... In the end we are talking about a game made with pieces of cardboard and plastic. If you're planning to troll, in the way, which was explicitly detailed to me... Just don't.

Honestly, this is my last post on the topic, I'll edit in the links to the actual Kickstarter post (3:00pm). Not that I need to say it, but I have been a serious and (hopefully) thoughtful pundit of both the RRT and RBG from the get-go. I do not support either project, which I covered the reasons why here and here. Originally, I planned to address the trolls more specifically, but in the spirit of reasons to NOT back the Rift Board Game, I'm Not addressing the trolls more specifically, other than send a link to that forum. Reasoned discussion is always welcome in the comments, troll comments which intend to inflame me when I've spent the time urging friends and blog readers to not back this project is pretty F@#$in' ridiculous. I guess in a way you got what you wanted (anyway).

In truth, I've reached the point where this whole debacle makes me (watch your shoes) want to "gak-gaaahk-gak." In the spirit of moral authority lets consult an expert... from a church I'll never attend and seemed the most relevant to the topic at hand.

Top 3 Reasons Not to Back!!!

 “No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

“The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture 

 “People are more important than things.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Review Burp: KoDT #243

Disclosure: Links to Wander Heroes of Ogre Gate and the banner below, include my affiliate identification. I received a token % if you purchase something.

KoDT #243
Knights of the Dinner Table (KoDT) #243 was recently released and was bit late. Kenzer and Co. is juggling the A&8's Reloaded Kickstarter, (funded and stretching). Inside the issue is my review of Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate.

Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is the latest awesomeness from Bedrock Games. It's really well put together, and by far, the best wuxia/martial arts themed RPG I've read to date. The PDF is Pay What You Want and you should defiantly pay something for it. (Did I mention its awesome!)

Huge Discounts on your Favorite RPGs @"

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Submissions Open: Pyramid

Somehow, I forgot Pyramid for GURPS! The new Pyramid is a monthly PDF e-zine, which publishes RPG articles based on a specific theme. Pyramid pays 4 cents/word. The nice thing about the submission process is that you can view the content amount based on those themes, via the wish list. Pyramid publishes a variety of GURPS and system neutral material.
"Pyramid is the monthly PDF magazine for serious gamers, created by serious gamers. Each month, Pyramid delivers articles about a specific theme, from modern-day superheroes to post-apocalyptic gaming to magic on the battlefield. Most of Pyramid's articles are either generic, suitable for your game system of choice, or designed for GURPS, one of the best choices for serious gamers for over 20 years. We also feature humor, ready-to-print props and tools, and other diversions; we may be serious but we're fun, too."

The toughest thing about writing for GURPS is getting a handle on the WYSIWTG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) format. The guideline index is here.

Steve Jackson Games also publishes GURPS material with Warehouse 23, modules in short PDF format. Details for that is here. And if you're feeling so inclined check out the vid of Editors Sean Punch and Steven March along with some of Pyramid's most prolific submitters.

Monday, May 1, 2017

RPG Review: Luchador

Disclosure: Links to product in this review and the banner at the bottom, include my affiliate identification. I receive a token % if you purchase something from the landing page. It is one way to support this site and it's content, thank you.


Luchador, Way of the Mask
Written By: Gabe Ivan
Published By: Spartacus Publishing
Publisher's Website:
Review By: J.L. Duncan

Welcome to a review of Luchador, Way of the Mask. This review, concerns the portable document format (PDF), which is available at and Those who might prefer an actual dead tree version can get their hands on one by ordering direct from the Spartacus Publishing website at:, or just click the link above. Mash some buttons and it can be yours.

Let’s begin by letting the game speak for itself…

“Players take on the roles of luchadors pitting their high-flying talents against international criminals, secret spy enclaves, evil cults, mad scientists, and other luchadors. Sometimes they will even get to wrestle each other (this is a great way to teach players the rules). Throughout it all, the characters should embody the flamboyant excitement and code of honor that all luchadors revere. This is not a game for cautious schemers and meticulous tacticians. This is a game for swashbuckling daredevils who know every adventure should end in a free-for-all battle royale.” (PG 4)

For context, a Luchador is a professional Mexican wrestler.
The premise of Luchador is undoubtedly unique. I would say that the setting is unique, but beyond the above quoted paragraph and a few tidbits sprinkled in for flavor Luchador doesn’t focus too much on setting beyond its own game elements. The game elements are the setting.

Luchador also doesn’t take itself too seriously or most notably, zero in on the cultural significance of the sport. Though I’d have liked to seen something in this regard, I’ve decided not to hold this fact against it.
Back to elements: Luchador’s main bad guys are worth note and a bit outside the box for what one would intuitively conceive in regards to a wrestling RPG. I imagine a lot of fun hi-jinx should come with the package. While I wouldn’t call Luchador a monster mash, the mix of Harry Dresden meets James Bond type villain tropes is an aspect which creates an interesting dynamic.

Featured is the Umbral Accord; an evil network of criminals, spies, scientists and general no-do-gooders. If a government fails, the Umbral Accord is likely responsible. If your cat gets stuck high in a tree-and you record the tortured meows and play them back later at one third speed in reverse you will hear, “The Umbral Accord is responsible.”
Creepy huh?-yes that last one was my feeble attempt at humor.

Besides other Luchadores, the big heavies our heroes might face include a laundry list of evil creatures. Just to name a few there’s vampire women, zombies, chupacabra and Aztec mummies. Okay, Luchador is a bit of monster mash…     
A certain familiarity with professional wrestling couldn’t hurt, but there is enough covered within this book that even a fleeting awareness of the sport, should get you started. If you don’t have that, there are lots and lots of illustrations. As per usual let’s start with making a character.

Creating a character in Luchador requires a little calculation as well as some roll-drama and is finished up in four steps. The first step is choosing a class, of which there are four possibilities. Character Classes are the Aerialist, Technico, Gimmico and Bruiser. Each has strengths relative to their name, which is reflected in their individual (attributes) Stat-Lines. As well, each character class has its own black and white illustration which helps a player get the basic of idea of the “type,” of Luchador they’re about to select.
Interior Art
The next two steps are generating the Primary as well as Secondary or Figured Statistics and spending Skillpoints. The Primary Statistics are Strength, Agility, Conditioning, Presence, Wits and Determination, these being the raw physical attributes of the character. The Secondary or Figured statistics are Initiative, Fatigue, Resilience and Vitality. Figured Statistics are the sum of two primary statistics. For instance, the Resilience score is cumulated from strength and conditioning.
Each new character receives fifteen Skillpoints to spend with generation, but may have also acquired a few more points if the rolls concerning the primary statistics were below adequate. Skills in Luchador fall under four categories but are essentially either, “in the ring” or “out of the ring,” skills. Out of the ring skills are mostly left to the group to create, with a few examples to show the way. Since this is a wrestling game as you might guess, most skills in Luchador are combat based and most fall into the category of wrestling moves. Each skill and their relative costs are expensive compared to the amount of skillpoints to start. Newly rolled characters won’t begin with more than a handful.    
The fourth and last step is Paint and Finish which is a short section of ideas about how players can add some details to their characters.

Overall, creating a character in Luchador is a bit more involving than it first seems. The section requires a bit of page scrolling (for good grasp) and additional mouse clicking, but putting it all together it takes a bit more time than I initially expected.
The process is inlaid with a few carefully placed checks and balances. Character classes do not begin with a set amount of skills but points to spend, while each skill is catered to work with a specific primary statistic. Choices-choices… Character Mini-maxing is impossible. Gamers who prefer balance with character generation will find Luchador more than passable.

A key specific to characters is how they progress. Luchador doesn’t have character levels in the classical sense. Instead, players will be able to purchase new skills, increased stats etc., with the experience points they earn. This is a point buy system. Luchador’s experience point system, much like character generation, doesn’t just lean toward balance-it encompasses it. Advancing a skill or stat becomes increasingly expensive the higher the number or the more proficient the character becomes.
The mechanics of Luchador is named the DEG System and involves the exclusive use of a twenty sided dice. DEG isn’t innovative by any stretch, but it gets points for being original and for the most part serviceable. DEG is for the most part a medium crunch system. By my assessment, the more familiar you are the lighter the system will be. This will take a few sessions however so the learning curve is a bit sharp. Combat which is a feature of this game, such as it should be, is a bit on the heavy side. This is mostly due to how much data will need to be tracked by players during physical confrontations.   

The basics of DEG in regards to checks and game rolls, are that the GM utilizes a level (or target number) of difficulty, while this number will be subtracted from the characters rating based on skill or statistic (character attribute) for a specific task. DEG encourages the GM to present story elements based on the margin of success (MOS) or failure, be it some extra flavor text via epic success/failure.  
There is a bit more to these checks but I thought they fit together well-given the nature of the game and how this is encouraged to work in consideration with margin of success/failure. I did find myself with a few questions after reading though the intricacies of DEG. For instance, the Taking Damage section feels a bit taxing towards combat, but there didn’t seem to be any major problems or at least nothing exploitable.

Luchador also has some unique game elements which lead it towards the more theatrical nature of what you might find with wrestling on television. First among these is that the game provides a basic framework which allows players to create signature moves for their characters. After all what would a Luchador be without some signature moves? I thought this was nice addition to the ruleset, and while different examples of play can be found throughout, I thought a signature move example-could have clarified this a bit more.
Luchador also incorporates components of Fame and in game karma coined: Heat, which a luchador can accumulate and burn during a game session. Heat works very much like luck or tokens in other game systems; allowing a character to acquire and use it within a session for a special feat beyond game rolls.

There are defiantly a few rough spots with Luchador, but overall I had a favorable impression. I really enjoyed the concept of the Luchadores as the heroes, and opposing an evil spy network and a bunch of classic monsters actually fits better than you would think.  

The writing is decent save a few minor errors, while the overall layout and organization is very well done. The book itself is only a bit more than sixty pages and it reads a lot bigger than it is. The table of contents serves its purpose, though with how chapters and sections are marked, the table functions as an index of sorts. Black and white illustrations are plentiful and decent. Character creation and progression is more balanced than you will find in most games.
Is Luchador a niche game? Unequivocally, yes. Though unlike most niche games you’d be inclined to pass on, the game has some additional charm that might just grow on you if you let it.

Note: This review is property of Kenzer and Company published here with expressed permission. Luchador was provided by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of review.

Superheroes - Available Now @