Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lindsey Stirling - Dragon Age / Occult Violinist

If your Bard is not as cool as this then you are playing her wrong.



I will admit I am a fan of this little pixie.

Of course with the right tinkering in Ghosts of Albion you take the Occult Poet and make an Occult Violinist.




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #18 September 1976

We take  big jump to September now. No I am not missing July and August, with Ian and Steve havig their wild adventure in the States this is the first issue we get since then.

Steve takes over the editorial in this issue to talk about their US trip. They visited TSR at Gen Con (more on that later) and generally took in the sites of the American side of the gaming hobby.  I found it interesting that they thought the America hobby stores were similar enough to London's.   I guess the differences were not as great as I expected either.  They loved Baseball and Frisbee (it was the 70s remember) and brought some home with them.

Reviewed this issue is the Lankhmr boxed game from TSR.   The whole Lankhmar stories and games are really something of a mystery to me.  I have not read the books nor played any of the games. This one sounds like an interesting game, but I wonder if it is more due to my romanticizing the time and subject matter.

Ia posts his take on their American trip They got to meet Gary, Fritz Leiber and the young Miss Wisconsin.   Tim Kask gets name dropped here as well.  Interestingly enough the report is very much like any Gen Con report you have ever read.  Coming from two such notables in the hobby though at their first Gen Con does make you smile.  Everyone has their first con sometime.

The first of the article competition is up from Andy Evans.  His article is about Reality in Fantasy.  It is the first in what will become many articles, Usenet posts, forum posts and blogs about how to build and deal with reality into your D&D game.  Andy here just happens to be one of the first.  Among the things he gets right is future of RPGs (namely they have one) and the flexibility. You can do anything in them and with them.  So he has quite a lot of good insight there.  

A brief article on the next two and last D&D supplements.  "Gods, Demi-Gods and Heroes" and "Swords and Spells".   There will be more on these in future issues, but "Swords & Spells" is really something of a semi-supplement.  Soon we will be entering my generation of D&D.

There is something else the guys picked up in the States.  Skateboarding. They devote and entire page to it in fact.  No need for commentary here from me.

Zine review is  very interesting for one thing in particular.  It discusses the last issue of The Strategic Reveiw (Vol. II No. 2) and the first issue of The Dragon. "Little Wars" is also discussed as the wargame alternate to The Dragon and the successor to SR.   Full price is £1 which makes it "expensive".  Subscribers to SR can convert their subscriptions over to The Dragon.

In this issue I can see why White Dwarf was every other month vs. monthly at first.  Things were still moving kind of slow back then.  Granted we see the same amount (or more) content in blogs and message boards in a day, but we have Internet speed and nearly 40 years of game development to talk about.  That all being said this issue benefited from the short break.  Ian & Steve seemed energized and ready to go and new games were being talked about.  To day this is the most "RPG"-centric OWl & Weasel to date.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mystara 3001: A Wild Space Odyssey (PWWO: Calidar + Star Wars + d20)

Over the weekend I spent some time cleaning.  I was going through a bunch of "old" d20 books from the dawn of the d20 boom.  I have Dragonstar which I loved in theory but not exactly in practice.  I have d20 Star Wars, which I also enjoyed but I am not totally up on all the Star Wars lore by any stretch of the imagination. I also have d20 Future which gives me all the cool Star Frontiers races I really enjoyed.

I was looking at this stack and thinking that really, I have everything I need for a kick-ass Space Opera game.  Plus in my mind Star Wars and D&D are inextricably linked together.  Not just in terms when they both hit my consciousness but also in feel.   I have often said that the best "D&D movie" ever was Star Wars (A New Hope for the younger fans).

I figure I could also grab some ideas from Gamma World and even Spelljammer.

But what I have been lacking is a way to bring them all together.

Then +Bruce Heard's Calidar came into my life.

 

I have spoken about Calidar in detail already.  The crunch is Pathfinder, which is d20 really.  So mixing it with d20 Future and d20 Star Wars is really a no brainer.

Calidar helped me smooth out some of the rough spots in my ideas.  It also gave me backgrounds and character to use.  Plus Calidar is a more solid hook for "D&D in Space" than Star Wars was.  I don't want to play a Star Wars game, but I do want to play with some of the toys in the game universe.

Space ships could be a combination of Magic-craft  or technology (not sure which yet). I would include all the planets from Calidar, but I could also take a page or two from Spelljammer and Star Wars.  Maybe not exact planets from Star Wars, but if this is going to be space opera then there has to be a "Dune" like planet there somewhere.  Or even a Dune/Tatooine/Athas composite.  But not make it a central location.

In fact to steal another page from Dune I think I need to do something to make extra special about Calidar.  In the game now Calidar is where you start and venture out.  I think I will have Calidar the destination instead.  The characters leave their home world. Likely Mystoerth and then the come here.  If I am using the Mystara Calendar then the Gazeteers were all published in or around 1015 AC.  I would make this 3000 AC. Or 3001 just to be that way.

It might seem odd to want to go back to 3rd Edition, but honestly I think it would be a blast.  The multi-classes, the Prestige classes, all of it would work great here.

I could also steal heavily from Doctor Who, Star Trek and even the 80s Buck Rogers and have a "Draconian Empire" that would be my Klingon analogues. Use Dragonborn naturally.  In many ways I guess it would by my Mystoerth world writ-large.

Yeah. The Allied Human worlds (Oerth, Mystara, Krynn and Toril) discover the new world of Calidar, which is rich in some resource.  They get there only to meet a counter claim from the Draconic Empire.  Already there are colonies of Dwarves and Elves, stationed on the moons, and an indigenous population.  This could be a lot of fun.  Plus it would give me my sci-fi kick I have been wanting for so long.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Teach Your Kids to Game Week

It is Teach Your Kids to Game week over at DriveThruRPG.

I love these sorts of games.  Sure I way beyond "learning to game" myself and so are my kids.  But back about 10 years ago my son wanted to play with my funny sided dice.
Back then I used D&D 3.0 to teach gaming to my boys and it worked nice.  In retrospect I might of done something a little different.  Maybe something like Basic D&D (a current fave) or even a streamlined version of AD&D.

So I really love seeing games like these and there are lot to choose from.
Here are a few of my favorites.

Little Wizards
If you have a kid that loves Harry Potter or Kiki's Delivery Service then this is the game to get. Quick, Easy and Fun could be the tag line for this game.  The stats are simple really. Three traits, some powers and of course a description of your wand and familiar.   I am disappointed I have not used this game more myself. It might be a "kids" game but it packs a lot of punch and frankly is one of the most clever little games I have seen in a long time.  The Character sheet is a treat too.

Hero Kids - Fantasy RPG
I have a lot of love for this game. I was supposed to submit an adventure for it, the Cave of the Stinky Goblin, which is the very first adventure I ever ran for my own son.  A Goblin is washing his stinky clothes and garbage in the river and smelling up the town of West Haven.  This game, like many others here, use a simple d6 based mechanic. This is good since that is what most people have in their homes.  My kids were attracted to my multi-sided dice, butI see no reason why you could not just replace all the d6s in HK with d8s for example.
The rules are light and fast. There are plenty of character sheets for all four classes and blanks along with cutout minis. There are a lot of monsters too.
Calling "D&D lite" does not really do the game justice, but it is rather close.

Mermaid Adventures RPG
I don't know much about this one but I have heard nothing but very high praise for it.

Monsters and Other Childish Things: Completely Monstrous Edition
This is a game that works well as a "kids" game, but there is enough here for adults to have fun with it.  I have always wanted to use this as a "dark Pokemon" (and that is saying something) or even a very dark version of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.

Kids & Critters RPG Trilogy
An absolute steal at this price.
For under 3 bucks you get 3 complete games for kids.
Tales from the Wood where you play creatures from The Wood.  Think Watership Down.
Lashings of Ginger Beer is about playing a kid in Idyllic England, so it might actually work best for adults.  Most similar to kids adventure tales.
It's a Dog's LIfe is the best of the three where you play a Prairie Dog out on the American Plains with heavy American Indian/Native American influences.
All three games are simple to learn and easy to play.
These games require a bit more abstraction to play than some other kid games, but nothing a little kid with a great imagination couldn't handle.

Faery's Tale Deluxe
I reviewed this one a while back.

Toy War
Toy War takes very simple rules (and also teaches kids how to use a ruler) to bring their favorite toys to life. Each toy has a purpose and something it does well. In one session we brought in a baby harp seal (was cute), a toy Dalek (can shoot), a space ship and some D&D dragons. We came up with this idea to rescue some fish and we were off. The adventure is fast and fun. In the end we saved the fish, only to have them eaten by the baby seal.  The baby seal got away with it because he was cute.
Depending on your kids this could be a game of structured make believe or even an on-going saga. Or it can be a great diversion for a rain or snowy afternoon.
Worth every penny and then some.

DC ADVENTURES Hero's Handbook
For older kids to be sure.  I have reviewed this one and it's Mutant & Masterminds parents a number of times here/

Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
Reviewed here and here.

Cavemaster RPG
Cavemaster might one of the biggest games here on my list (outside of DCA).   This is a "stonepunk" game where you play cavemen.  Some kids might love this idea, others might be turned off on it. For me I think it is an excellent concept and would work with a group generally smarter kids.  Kids that for example would understand our pre-history origins.
What makes this good for kids is that the system itself is so easy to use. In fact one of the conceits of the game is it is molded after the first RPGs played by cave men.  Well...not really...and Game Designer Jeff Dee knows this, but it is still fun.
The game is rich and detailed and really deserves a deeper look on my part.

Witch Girls Adventures: Director's Cut
Reviewed throughout my blog.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/wga
I do wish that The Second Edition would come out.

Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod
This one IS actually D&D lite.  I reviewed it here, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/04/d-4-kids-monster-slayers-heroes-of.html

Mutants & Marvels
From the OSR's own Tom Doolan this game is a mix of D&D & Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP), or rather OSR games and 4C.  Streamed down into just under 45 pages it makes it a great 1st supers game for kids or an on going game for the right group of adults.

Grab one of these.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: Adult Wednesday Addams

A while back I sang the praises of Melissa Hunter (+melissahunter)  and her web series Adult Wednesday Addams.

Well the for the longest time it looked like 6 episodes was all we were going to get, but now she is back with an Indiegogo campaign to bring us Season 2.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/adult-wednesday-addams-season-2#home



She is already at her goal, but a few more buck wouldn't hurt.  Plus at the bargain price of only $5 Wednesday promises not to kill you.

If you have not checked out the first 6 videos please do so.  Melissa does a FANTASTIC Wednesday. And it is a lot of fun to see her in new situations like Internet dating, one-night stands, part time jobs and looking for an apartment.  Sounds mundane, but not when it is Gomez and Morticia's youngest daughter.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cinematic Unisystem: Witches of East End

It really should be no surprise that I enjoy Lifetime's Witches of East End.


Yes it is a "chick show" and yes it is soap opera-y but really I don't care.  It is a a fun show and it has witches in it.  Plus I love Mädchen Amick and was drawn in because of her.

But a few surprising things happened.  First I was not prepared to walk away saying "wow Julia Ormond was really great in that!"  I NEVER liked Julia Ormond, I never liked her work.  Yet this show made me do a complete 180.  I think she is great in this and now I am wondering if I was just underestimating her as an actress.  OR I think she needed to mature a bit more (and maybe me too) so I could appreciate how good she is.
Rachel Boston and Jenna Dewan-Tatum are both great as the younger witches Ingrid and Freya respectively.

Honestly it is like the a crossover between "Charmed" and "Practical Magic".

Of course I was bummed out when Lifetime canceled it after Season 2.
Though there maybe hope yet. There is a massive campaign to get the show back and it seems to be making a lot of head way. Even William Shatner is Tweeting that it should not have been canceled.
Checking on the #RenewWitchesOfEastEnd hashtag on Twitter it seems to be gaining more and more ground.



Witches of East End for Cinematic Unisystem

My normal mode here is to use Classic Unisystem for books and Cinematic for TV shows.  Well Witches of East End is both.  For this posting I am going to focus soley on the TV show and do Cinematic Unisystem.  This is mostly Buffy/Angel stats, but a lot of Ghosts of Albion added in since it is a better fit for the show.
The Beauchamp witches are considered to be a supernatural race so they can choose some supernatural qualities and drawbacks normally denied to humans.

Joanna Beauchamp
Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond)
Witch
Str: 2  Dex: 2 Con: 2 Int: 5 Per: 4 Wil: 7

Life Points: 39
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Age 10, Attractive 1, Contacts 2 (occult), Control Weather 5, Hard to Kill 5, Healing Touch 3, Immortal, Magic 7, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 7, Unique Kill (Argentium)

Drawbacks
Adversary 5 (various witches, warlocks and members of Asgard that support her father),  Emotional Problems (must protect her girls above all else) 1, Honorable 2, Love (Tragic), Obsession (Find a cure for her family curse), Secret (is immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 1, Computer 1, Crime 1, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, knowledge 6, Languages 4 (English, Latin, Greek, Asgardian), Notice 5, Occultism 8, Science 2, Sports 1

Spellcasting: +22
Deflect: +22

Joanna is the matriarch of the Beachamp witches.  She is sister to Wendy and mother to Ingrid and Freya.  Joanna is over 1,000 years old and has been living on earth in exile. She tries to maintain a low profile when she can in order to keep her girls safe.
She works as an art teacher in the small town of North Hampton

Wendy Beauchamp (Mädchen Amick)
Wendy Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 4 Con: 2 Int: 4 Per: 4 Wil: 5

Life Points: 54
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Acute Senses 2 (night vision, smell), Age 9, Attractive 2, Contacts 2 (occult), Control Weather 4, Hard to Kill 8, Healing Touch 2, Immortal, Magic 6, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), Supernatural Form (dual form, human and cat), TK 6, Unique Kill (kill all her nine lives)

Drawbacks
Addiction 1 (mild lechery), Adversary 4 (various witches, warlocks and members of Asgard that support her father),   Love (Tragic), Secret (is immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 3, Crime 2, Doctor 2, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 4, Gun Fu 1, Influence 4, Knowledge 6, Languages 3 (English, Latin, Asgardian), Notice 6, Occultism 8, Science 2, Sports 3

Spellcasting: +19
Deflect: +19

Wendy is Joanna's younger sister. She is flighty and free spirited, but is fiercely devoted to her sister and nieces.  Wendy and Joanna were estranged for while when Wendy accidentally killed one of Ingrid's incarnations.

Ingrid Beauchamp (Rachel Boston)
Ingrid Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 2 Con: 2 Int: 6 Per: 4 Wil: 4

Life Points: 39
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Attractive 2, Bookish, Control Weather 1, Hard to Kill 2, Healing Touch 2, Magic 3, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 3,

Drawbacks
Adversary 2 (various witches, warlocks),  Honorable 2, Love (Tragic), Secret (is a semi-immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 1, Computer 4, Crime 1, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, Knowledge 6, Languages 3 (English, Latin, Greek), Notice 5, Occultism 5, Research 4, Science 5, Sports 1

Spellcasting: +12
Deflect: +12

Ingrid is the oldest daughter. She has only discovered that she is in fact a witch.  She spent most of her life as a rational skeptic.  She has similar powers to her mother but can also write new spells.
Ingrid currently works at the local East End library. She is also working on her dissertation on witches and witchcraft.

Freya Beauchamp (Jenna Dewan-Tatum)
Freya Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 2 Con: 3 Int: 4 Per: 4 Wil: 3

Life Points: 37
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Attractive 3, Control Weather 1, Hard to Kill 1, Healing Touch 1, Magic 3, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 3,

Drawbacks
Adversary 2 (various witches, warlocks),  Honorable 2, Love (Dash, Killian), Secret (is a semi-immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 2, Computer 2, Crime 2, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, Knowledge 5, Languages 1 (English), Notice 4, Occultism 4, Research 3, Science 2, Sports 2, Wild Card (Making Potions) 3

Spellcasting: +10
Deflect: +10

Frey is the youngest and usually the first to fall in love.  She is not as strong in her magic as her sister or mother, but has a special affinity for making potions.  She is also the daughter that gets along the best with Aunt Wendy.
Freya has calmed down a lot since her "wild child" days (which also makes her Wendy's favorite) to get married to a man named Dash. Though she falls in love with his brother, Killian.  Both brothers are warlocks though.   Freya currently works as a bartender.

Personally I think they would work great in any Cinematic Unisystem game.

I'd love to see more of this show (and so would the rest of the fans).

If you feel so inclined, send a Tweet to @Lifetime with the hashtag #RenewWitchesOfEastEnd.
I would consider is a personal favor.

Also if you are so inclined then please check out this petition.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/renew-witches-of-east-end
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