Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Do Not Purchase From or Submit To Outlaw Press

Recent events have led me to decide that a reminder of the dishonest, unethical, and illegal actions of Outlaw Press and its sole proprietor James Shipman is necessary.

I am not working and will never work with James Shipman and Outlaw Press. I know that Mr. Shipman has been making statements to this effect on his website. I have not submitted anything to Outlaw Press for publication since I became aware of his illegal practices in 2009. There are no special editions of any of my solos available from Outlaw Press. I also have not given him permission to use articles from this blog in his "magazines." As the current editor of TrollsZine I have not given Mr. Shipman permission to sell printed copies of TrollsZine nor do I have the right to do so. The previous editors have also not given Mr. Shipman permission to sell older issues of TrollsZine. These are fraudulent and libelous statements intended to harm my reputation. I have saved copies of these statements and I am currently seeking advice from an attorney as to what actions to take. Anything of mine that is being sold by Outlaw Press is done so without my permission.

Obviously I am not the only one affected by the actions of James Shipman. He has a long history (since 2001) of trying to sell:

*Free RPG products without permission (Mazes and Minotaurs, TrollsZine, Escape from Khosht, and The Old Dwarf Mine are a few examples)

*Pirated books scanned, printed and sold in clear violation of U.S. and International Copyright Laws (Tunnels and Trolls 1st and 4th edition, Monsters Monsters, Sorcerer's Apprentice #1)

*Stolen writing, particularly material taken from gaming blogs and websites but also taken from previously published RPG products (Gamma World, Dungeon magazine, Sorcerer's Apprentice magazine)

*Stolen artwork

The last matter is what ended up exposing Mr. Shipman's practices. When he opened an Outlaw Press storefront on RPGnow several artists saw their stolen work on the covers of his products. To date over 70 artists and writers have confirmed that their work was used without permission or compensation. The result was the end of Outlaw Press as a perceived legitimate business. Outlaw Press is not and never has been an official publisher of T&T material nor does Mr. Shipman does have permission to use the trademarked Tunnels and Trolls name in the products he sells, most of which also violate third-party copyrights.

Since then Mr. Shipman has been acting to undermine the rising number of small press T&T publishers authorized by Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo and Ken St. Andre by pirating their work. He has been even more active in his work against Flying Buffalo and Ken St. Andre who has repeatedly asked Mr. Shipman (more nicely than he deserves) to stop these practices. Doing business with Outlaw Press only hurts Tunnels and Trolls: the game, designers, the community, and everyone trying to do things the right way by respecting the creative works and rights of others. In my opinion, Mr. Shipman's current actions are just another failed attempt to destroy the community and stop anyone else from producing new, legitimate, and authorized material for T&T.

Here is an extensive yet not exhaustive list of links to visit to learn more about Shipman and Outlaw Press. The first two links will take you to pdf documents showing a large number of examples of verified art thefts, who it was stolen from, and where it was published. It's rather astonishing.

Disclaimer: All of the information presented below is freely available on the web and a matter of public record. It is used here for educational purposes.

PDF cover comparisons of OP unauthorized publications with original artwork:

PDF File 1
PDF File 2

"Geek Related" blog posts on Shipman/Outlaw Press in chronological order:

Geek Related 1
Geek Related 2
Geek Related 3
Geek Related 4
Geek Related 5
Geek Related 6
Geek Related 7

(Note: Some comments on the posts above seem to be from people who have also discovered their material being published without authorization.)

An overview of Outlaw Press activity since 2007:

Alternate Reality Press

RPGNet forums dealing with OP in chronological order:


Posts by writers and artists whose work has been stolen:



Mazes and Minotaurs

Troll Hammer

Falck Art

If anyone has had material stolen by Outlaw Press I would urge you to contact Lawyers for the Creative Arts. This group provides free legal advice and will help you get in contact with an attorney who will work pro bono.

Everyone else should file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the Outlaw Press web host Novatrend (Claudia Eigenmann - eigenmann@novatrend.ch), and his online payment service Paypal. Three or four complaints may not be enough, but 50 or 60 will certainly result in swift action by the parties involved.

If you are a T&T fan who is also writer or artist and you are interested in publishing your work please do so. There are many legitimate publishers of T&T material. Both Flying Buffalo and Fiery Dragon are interested in publishing new T&T material. There are also many authorized independent publishers including Peryton Publishing, Trollish Delver Games, Troll Hammer Press, Tavernmaster Games and my own Lone Delver Games. Self publishing is always an option and is becoming very simple; just be sure to contact Ken St. Andre and Rick Loomis if you are using the Tunnels and Trolls name and rules.

The most effective way to put an end to the activity of James Shipman and Outlaw Press is for the entire community to act together. Boycott Outlaw Press, spread the word about his actions, file complaints, and above all publish.

To close, here is an example of stolen art from the Outlaw Press magazine Hobbit Hole #2 first published in 2001 and reprinted in 2007:

The illustration on this page is by David Sutherland and is from the OD&D supplement Eldritch Wizardry published by TSR and currently owned by Wizards of the Coast. Do you think he has permission to use this image and earn money from its sale?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

TrollsZine Is Free And Not For Sale

TrollsZine is a FREE Tunnels and Trolls fanzine produced by the online community at the Trollbridge and authorized by the creator of T&T Ken St. Andre and it's publisher Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo. It is composed of written and graphic artistic works freely submitted by their creators to the editors of TrollsZine. The copyrights of these works are held by the individual writers and artists.

NO ONE may sell electronic or printed copies of TrollsZine. Doing so is a violation of the individual copyrights of the contributors and is illegal. Anyone selling copies that they claim are produced by another party is selling stolen property.

DO NOT PAY FOR TROLLSZINE. You can download a FREE pdf copy of TrollsZine from the Flying Buffalo Storefront at RPGnow / DriveThruRPG.

If you see anyone attempting to sell TrollsZine I would urge you to contact the Better Business Bureau or report them to whatever web hosts or online payment services (i.e. PayPal) they are using.

If you would like more information on TrollsZine or to learn how to be a part of it, please visit the Trollbridge's TrollsZine Forum.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rest and Recovery in T&T

The idea of using short-term rest to recover from wounds is a common theme in most RPGs. Characters are always getting banged up, but sometimes you can't hole up in town for weeks on end waiting to heal. Those goblins need to be driven out now! In Tunnels and Trolls there are no clearly defined rules for recovering lost Constitution without the use of magic (Poor Baby) or some expensive items (potions, second aid kits, etc.). The Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition rules do contain a combat example where it is stated that an injured warrior will need at least a week to recover 4 points of her CON. This implies that natural healing takes a considerable amount of time but in a vague way. But this is one of the great things about the T&T system; little details are ultimately left to the game masters and players to decide. This allows for a lot of house rules and the generation of many creative ideas.

So what about recovering lost CON during short periods of rest in prolonged games when there is no time for extended periods of convalescence? I've encountered this issue while running a T&T play-by-post game at Role Play Online. The characters were all severely injured in a tough fight and decided to retreat from the dungeon they were exploring and return to the surface. Unfortunately they didn't have weeks to recover all of their lost CON; they needed to get back down there and finish the job they started. So I considered adding a house rule in which overnight rest (~10 hours) in a safe location with a roof over your head, a bed, and ample food and water allows some recovery of lost CON. My original idea was to recover 1D6 points of lost CON during this rest period.

My thought behind this house rule is that lost CON reflects fatigue, minor cuts and bruises and blood loss as well as actual physical injury such as deep cuts, broken bones, and head trauma. The latter types of injuries would take a long time to recover from. But simple exhaustion and some lacerations could be overcome more quickly.

But then one of my players who is running a dwarf with a CON of 26 suggested that the rate of healing vary depending on the CON of the character. So a character with a higher CON should roll more dice at the end of the rest period. The logic behind this is that if using a simple 1D6 system, a character with a low CON (say a fairy) could fully heal much faster than one with a higher CON (like a dwarf).

I do like the idea of scaling the amount of recovery, but not the idea of simply rolling more dice. Sure, a fairy with a CON of 6 that took 4 hits of damage (63% of CON) could fully recover all his/her lost CON with a single nights rest while a dwarf with a CON of 30 that took 19 hits (also 63% of CON) would need at least four days of rest to fully heal. While both characters lost the same percentage of their CON, the dwarf still withstood injury that could have killed the fairy three times over; this should require more rest. But, characters with higher CON scores are supposed to be healthier, so perhaps they should be able to heal faster.

Now enters the always useful Tunnels and Trolls Saving Roll for deciding rest and recovery. My house rule now states:

After a full nights rest (~10 hours) with plenty to eat and drink in a secure location with a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in, make a SR on your base CON. The level of success is the number of D6 rolls you get to make to recover lost CON. So if you manage a Level 3 CON SR, then you recover 3D6 CON. Fumbles are in effect, so if you roll a 3 (3 or 4 in 5th edition) you do not recover any lost CON. No adventure points are awarded for these Saving Rolls.

This Saving Roll based method of regulating short-term CON recovery is not only a very T&T solution, but it gives characters with higher CONs an edge in healing (they are normally healthier and more robust). It should allow these characters to heal minor injuries quickly and to make up some of the huge drops in CON they can sustain without death. But it also allows characters with low CONs to recover quickly every now and then thanks to the "Doubles Add and Roll Over" (DARO) rule for Saving Rolls.

Overall, this house rule allows for quick non-magical healing which can be quite useful in low-magic or even no-magic game settings.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tavernmaster Games is Open for Business

If you have not heard, the new website for Tavernmaster Games is now active. Tavernmaster Games is a new company producing material for Tunnels and Trolls composed of a number of well-established, talented, and creative writers and artists including Andy Holmes, Jason Mills, Jeff Freels, M.E. Volmar, Sid Orpin, Simon Lee Tranter, and Andy James. The website itself is quite impressive and shows just what this group can do. I'm looking forward to seeing this new company, and it's catalog, grow over time.

Tavernmaster Games will be releasing both solo adventures and game master adventures for use with Tunnels and Trolls in addition to other material. There are also hints of a number of free items that will be made available. Right now you can find a set of pre-generated characters (Hint: Find the key).

In stock right now are three solo adventures: Tavern by the Sea by Ken St. Andre and Andy Holmes, Formication by Sid Orpin, and Devotion to Duty also by Sid Orpin. These are all available in either pdf or print format.

Stop by the Tavern and have a look around. You won't be disappointed. Be sure to check the Notice Board for links to great T&T themed sites, including this one.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fiery Dragon, Tunnels & Trolls 7.5, and Jeff Freels

Some great news has come out of Fiery Dragon just last week. Fiery Dragon will be re-releasing the 7.5 edition of the rules in print format this year as well as a number of new adventures. In addition, a portion of Fiery Dragon's sales of T&T merchandise will be donated to the Jeff Freels Transplant Fund.

My thanks to Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern for bringing this news to my attention.

Here is the story straight from Fiery Dragon:

The Jeff Freels Transfer Fund

When the Fiery Dragon crew gets together to play a fantasy or sci-fi or post-apocalyptic rpg, we pretend we’re amazing individuals with crazy histories and mystical abilities. We use our imagination and pretend the impossible is possible.

And then you deal with someone like Jeff Freels, the blind artist, and you quickly redefine what amazing abilities are. Jeff is a guy who came to us through the Tunnels & Trolls community, and his art captures the feel and magic of that game perfectly.

Now, whatever challenges our characters may face in our fantasy roleplaying games, Jeff is certainly dealing with issues that are just as difficult and facing them as bravely as any warrior. Jeff needs a kidney transplant.

He’s created a page on his website that gives the details of his situation and his plan: http://www.jeffwerx.com/tf.html. Inspired by Jeff’s courage, we’d like to help him raise money for this worthy cause.

Fiery Dragon will be donating a portion of the proceeds from every digital and direct sale (from our website) of all Tunnels & Trolls products sold in 2012. We’ve just released CASTLE OF THE DEAD, a T&T Solo Adventure that features Jeff’s artwork, and we’ll be re-releasing the latest version of the Tunnels & Trolls Roleplaying Game rules and additional adventures throughout the year.

Together we can enjoy a great game and help a great cause. Thanks for your support.

Friday, February 10, 2012

TrollsZine 4 Has Arrived!!!!!

TrollsZine 4 has arrived! The fourth issue of the fan-created magazine for Tunnels and Trolls™, edited by W. Scott Grant and Dan Hembree, has 60 pages of quality content brought to you for absolutely free. This issue includes a solo adventure “Down Time”, a GM adventure “The Wild Woods”, a short story “Turmierre Returns to the Sky”, a new NPC from the world of Lingusia, rules for horses and riding and mass combat in T&T, as well as the continuing series “Delverton” and “How to Write a Solo Adventure.” Contributors include Tori Bergquist, Michael Eidson, Patrice Geille, W. Scott Grant, Christina Lea, Al McDougall, Simon Rafe, Lee Reynoldson, Zachary and Joshua Ullery, Russ Westbrook, and Justin Williams. TrollsZine 4 is illustrated by Alexander Cook, Jeff Freels, Mike Hill, Andy Kelly, Will Meddis, Steve Robertson, David Ullery, and Zachary Ullery with cover art by Chad Thorsen. TrollsZine is a Trollbridge production brought to you with the kind support of Flying Buffalo Inc., Ken St. Andre, and Rick Loomis.

Get your digital copy now for FREE at RPGnow.

This issue marks my beginning as Editor of the TrollsZine. I'm looking forward to publishing at least two more issues this year. If you have anything you'd like to see published in TrollsZine, articles, adventures, monster descriptions, art, or more art, please contact me through the Trollbridge, Trollhalla, or enter a comment below.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Human Kindred Modifier

Humans always seem to get marginalized in fantasy RPGs, and T&T is no different. Dwarves, elves, hobbs, leprechauns, even fairies all get some nice attribute bonuses to give them an edge over their human counterparts. In earlier editions of the game (1st and 4th editions) many of these bonuses were not even balanced by penalties. I've discussed the effects of these various attribute modifiers in previous posts so I won't go into it again here.

But what about humans? Yes they are typically viewed as the standard against which the other kindred are compared. So dwarves are typically stronger and healthier than your average human while elves are smarter, more agile, and prettier if a little less robust. But don't humans bring something special to the table?

What makes humans so successful in our own world? We lack the strength, dexterity, and constitution of most other large mammals (for the most part), but we do tend to be smarter (again, for the most part). What do we use this intelligence for? We make tools; tools that allow us to survive the elements, collect food, and defeat our enemies. I think, therefore, that humans in T&T should start with more of these tools than the other kindred.

We can model this condition by simply modifying the amount of gold with which newly created humans start the game. Starting gold for humans can be determined either by rolling 4D6 and multiplying by 10 or by rolling 3D6, multiplying by 10, and then applying a 1.5 modifier (rounding up). This gives humans 40-240 gp to start using the first method and 45-270 gp to start using the second method; it all depends on how much of an edge you want to provide. Compare this to the typical starting amount of 30-180 gp. The average amounts of starting gold come to 105 (standard), 140 (4d6), and 158 (1.5 modifier). This extra gold can be used by your human character to buy better armor, weapons, and equipment than his/her non-human companions possess. This falls right in line with how humans deal with adverse conditions despite their relatively frail bodies and it is not an overwhelming advantage in terms of game mechanics. Of course if you wanted to provide more of an edge, you could increase the number of dice or increase the modifier to 2.