Thursday, July 24, 2014

Why Should You Vote for the Other Side?

The Other Side is up for an ENnie Award for "Best Blog" this year and I could not be more thrilled.
You can see the list of nominees here: http://www.ennie-awards.com/blog/2014-ennie-awards-nominees/ and can vote here: http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/



As you can see I am in some really great company.  But there are some reasons I think that my blog deserves this award.

- I am going to be at Gen Con this year with my kids.  I like to take my kids to Gen Con. They love it and they have been talking about it for WEEKS now.  What would really be nice is to see their dad win an award for all the hard work he has been doing.

- Where else can you go to get the variety of games I talk about?  D&D, Unisystem, Chill, d20, Old-school, new-school, Call of Cthulhu and many more.

- My week long dips into various games.  I know from my stats that you have enjoyed it when I take a game and cover it all week long, whether it was Adventures Dark & Deep or Super Babes!

- Features. I give you features on either a weekly basis like Zatannurday or White Dwarf Wednesday. Or my semi-regular features Plays Well With Others or The Best Blog You Are Not Reading or Kickstart Your Weekend.  I may not have the most up to date news or know what is going on in every corner of the Internet, but I like to think I am posting things that people want to read.

- Reviews. Along with the features I have posted my reviews of various game products here.  So far I have written 676 reviews.  Not too shabby really.

- Community.  I try to bring other blogs and bloggers into our orbit.  Either they have something really interesting to say or to help expand our hobby.  I believe than in a strong community more ideas will flow and ultimately that will be better for our hobby.  Both for ourselves and people outside of it.  While I am not the one to sit around the camp fire and sing songs about getting along, I am the guy that will say we should chill out and just roll some dice.

- Gnome Stew is a great blog, but while they have a team (nine authors) I am just one guy.  They have 2,000,000 visitors and I have 1,500,000+. They have written 2500+ articles since 2009, while I have written 2300+ since 2009.   Plus they have won every year, so maybe it is time to give someone new a chance!

- I respect the ENnies as a peoples choice award. Does ENWorld have problems? Sure. But the truth is that gamers and fans of games vote for these products and sites.  It is a way of the community saying "yeah Tim, you are OK" and I appreciate that.  So yeah, I would love to have one.

- You know who else likes awards? My Mom!
No seriously, she does. This would make her day.

- The ENnies do open up doors for writers. This would help me out a lot in getting more material written and out to you all.

My fellow nominees all have fine blogs, but I hope you will vote for me and The Other Side.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #3 April 1975

Owl & Weasel #3 takes us back to April of 1975.
We are still at 8 pages and 10p but there is more "layout" now.

Ian Livingstone's first Editorial is a sample of what we will see later in White Dwarf, only much more verbose and more personable.  It get the feeling that Ian and Steve knew their subscribers personally or at the very least knew where they were coming from.

There is still a lot of "Subscribe to us" and "Advertise with us" through out the zine.  This is not unexpected.

If you ever doubt the roll Chess plays in the gaming community then look no further than pages 4 & 5 of this issue.  Two pages of an analysis of a game played by Arjura Parakrama and John J. McCallion in Colombo Sri Lanka on December 8th, 1974.

There are discussions of Kingmaker and Avaon Hill's Baseball.

Page 7 has the various games now all in one place and Page 8 has a feature that will be a regular in White Dwarf; the Notice board.   People looking for games to play, players and some games for sell.

It is hard for me to gauge this issue.  By today's standards the articles are long(ish) and there is nothing to grab into the article.  To be fair this is Ian and Steve at 25 and 23 (respectively) and they are inventing our fandom here.  But this is less of a "rough draft" of White Dwarf and really a different sort of animal.
Though all the seeds are here really.  Just missing a comic really.  Though I do feel I need some more cultural context here.  With WD I had my own experience to draw on. Here I was 4 and the only board game I knew how to play at this point was checkers.  I'll do some more research.

--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Map of the Flanaess

There are a lot of really, really great products and people up for ENnie awards this year.  But I want to draw one to your attention in particular. 

Anna Meyer is the founder of the Flanaess Geographical Society on Facebook.  She is also up for the Best Cartography for her Map of the Flanaess. A project she spent a considerable time on.

So if you can, please consider voting for.
"Map of the Flanaess - Anna B Meyer Fantasy Maps"

These maps are beautiful and frankly I want a large print to put in my game room.  
If you are an old-school Greyhawk fan like me then this should be a no-brainer vote.

I could spend hours going over these and never get bored. But I love maps.


--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: James Mishler Games

+James Mishler is having a big sale on all his Olden Lands products and they are worth checking out.
James runs a great blog over at http://jamesmishlergames.blogspot.com/ and Google+ Group where he posts tons of great old-school material for the price of a click.
I am partial to his works since the Mystoerth map I use is based on his work.  One day I really, really need to chat with him about this map and how he runs/ran his combined Mystara/Greyhawk world and see if was similar to how we did it back in 86.
Anyway check out his products.

I guess the first thing that needs to be said is that all these products are designed to be used with any Old-School game.  They are overtly labeled for Labyrinth Lord and some dual-stated for Castles & Crusades, but really you could pick up anything from the *D&D family and play these.

The look of the books is certainly Old-school with the Souvenir/Soutane font.
Most of these books lack art, but I don't think that is an issue here. They do fine with out it.

Castle Adlerstein and Environs Map Pack
8 maps. Pay What You Want
The maps are all hires PNG files.
Features the hex area around Castle Adlerstein which is to be detailed in the future. Again at present it is avery sandboxy and can be used with anything.  8 maps (7 maps and a grid) and PWYW make this a great deal.  It will be a better deal when the rest of it comes out too.

Chronicles of Mhoriedh Map 00 Olden Lands Continent
7 maps and a guidebook. Pay What You Want.
The maps are all hires PNG files.
The guidebook lists various monsters and resources of the areas. No descriptions of the lands or anything else.  That is all coming in the in the Gazetteer of the Olden Lands.  But it works as a huge sandbox and I was already mentally placing it in my own world. Easily worth the price of a look and throwing a few bucks into James' hat.  Easily more things to do here than I can put down on paper (pixels?) now.  IT really recalls that feel that getting the original Expert Set box and seeing the maps.

Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
This 21 page (cover, OGL, and 19 pages) book is the first of the GODS,DEMI-GODS, AND CULTS series.  This one features Khraliche Karinkhamür the Chaos Queen of Ants.  Presented here is plenty of detail about the cult, the sub cults and the important figures.  Worshipers are detailed and discussed. We also get some new spells for both Wizards and Clerics and some new monsters.
What I like most about this is that it can be easily added to any game world.  The feel is overwhelming old-school and sandbox, but that is great.

Hercynian Grimoire #1
46 pages (cover, OGL, 44 pages).
The first of hopefully more books in this series as well.  This is also the first of the Olden Lands and the Chronicles of Mhoriedh line.   The book is divided into a recognizable "Men & Magic", "Monsters & Treasure", "Underworld & Wilderness" and a newer, but still recognizable "Gods & Demi-gods".  So needless to say I am hooked so far.
First up a great few of pages on Gnolls and their human-half breed kin the Gnoles.  I never gave gnolls a second thought but this is some good stuff.
Another feature that you see the d66 table. Roll two d6s like percentile dice and get 36 outcomes.  Like Traveler used to do.
Next up is a section on spells. What I love about this and can get 100% behind is that Magic-user/Wizard spells are also labeled as "Intelligence", Cleric spells as "Wisdom" and Witchcraft spells as "Charisma". It is like it is custom made for my Witch class!
There is a Gnoll encounter table, a random faerie table.
The next section is a collection of new magic items.
About half-way we get to a monster manual like section.  Plenty of new hyena types and more.  All monsters are dual stated.
Following some more tables we talk about some of the Olden Lands.  Up first, the Realm of Alspadia and it's major settlements.
This is a pretty packed book at 46 pages. Lots of things to use to be honest and all can be added to your current game with no troubles.

Ogres of the Olden Lands
Ogres are the boogeymen of the Olden Lands. Or at least that is how they are depicted here.  I love what James is trying to do with the ogres here. Give them something more of the supernatural. It works to be honest and for how little this book costs you have no excuse not to be using this to spice up the ogres in your own game. Ok though, I do plan on using this information for goblins instead!  The random ogre feature tables for both Ogre and Ogre Magi is just great.
Though the STAR of this book is the Half-Ogre as a player character.  Gamers of A Certain Age (like James and myself) grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and the half-ogre is the result of that.  Either from the pages of Dragon magazine or the pages of Piers Anothony, the half-ogre was something that was sure to show up in someone's game in the early 80s.  This half-ogre does that memory justice.
As a bonus we get the lands of the ogre and full color maps!

Vampires of the Olden Lands
The Olden Lands is James' in house campaign the Chronicles of Mhoriedh. All the books in this series are dual stated with Labyrinth Lord and Castles & Crusades stats. This appeals to me on a number of levels. I like that he went through the effort to do this and the nice effect is that between these two sets of stats you can play this under any old school version of D&D you like. There is also plenty in this book that work with any other game as well.
We start out with some common protections against vampires. We follow with 8 very different sorts of vampires including living, dead and spirit. All dual stated. There is a new race to play, The Dhamphir. I have seen a lot of "Dhampirs" over the years, but this one is one of the best so far just in terms of simplicity.
All in all a really nice take and these vampires are not like the Dracula-Lestat-Edward clones that can populate so many other games.

All in all these are great additions to my game library and something I plan on using in my own game world.
I hope to see a LOT more of this world to be honest.  I would also love to see how people are using it in their own games.  For me, I am planning to set Dolmvay in the Olden Lands somewhere.

Plays Well With Others
I could not help but notice that there are lot of references to a Witch class in these books.  This class is left undefined for the most part (outside of it being a Charisma based spell caster) and is really meant to be any kind of witch.  I can't help but notice how perfect this fits with my own Witch class.  So if you liked my class and have the book, then grab these too, but especially grab Hercynian Grimoire since it has witch spells in it that would be perfect.

--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Magical Tattoos for Unisystem

Note: This is something I did a while back and have been meaning to redo for old-school D&D.  But this works well enough on it's own and I never could get it to jell just right for D&D games.

Magical Tattoos
One of the oldest forms of art is decorating the human body. Consequently one of the earliest forms of magic was decorating the human body to achieve supernatural effects. Whether to aid in battle or to connect more closely with the natural or supernatural world, body art and modification was amongst the first magics performed.

Inscribing a Tattoo
A sorcerer, witch or magician usually learns their magic from learned masters, ancient tomes or some other supernatural agent. Magical tattoos are not that much different, but the ways of inscribing the magic is very different. Often words are not used as most magical tattoos pre-date written language; instead the secret language of symbols, shapes and often color is needed.
Learning to inscribe a tattoo is a dying art. While once used the world over now only a handful the world over know the art. Directors then can rules that the Cast do not have access to the knowledge to learn how to make these and must seek out a Master.

To inscribe a magical tattoo is much like casting a spell. To learn how to do it the Master must match or exceed in Success the power level of the tattoo to be learned. This is usually a Perception + Art + Occultism (not Magic) roll. To cast or inscribe the tattoo is a Willpower + Art + Magic roll.

Like spells some tattoos have durations and some may be of limited use. Other may require a sacrifice of life force (Quality Points) or even Magic Levels to be able to use.
Unlike spells magical tattoos are never quick-cast. Typically it takes 1 to 2 hours per Power Level to inscribe. Any interruptions render the tattoo useless.

Anti-Magic Tattoo
Power Level: 2 to 5
Requirements: recipient looses 1 level of Magic per level of Tattoo
Inscribing Time: 1 hour per PL
Effects: This powerful and rare tattoo is one of the most sought after all of magical tattoos. The application renders the recipient immune to magic. They are immune to any offensive spell below the Power Level of the tattoo (ie. a PL 3 tattoo protects against PL 1 or 2 spells). It can also negate up to PLx10 Life Point in damage per supernatural attack (say the fire breath of a demon).
If the Ghosts of Albion magical combat rules are used then the PL of the tattoo is treated as the defenders level in Magic. They may not however attack back.
The cost for this protection is high. The recipient also cannot be effected by any magic including healing from a spell or other beneficial supernatural effects (such as rapid healing). The recipient must also sacrifice 1 level of Magic (Sorcery) per PL of the Tattoo in order to gain its protection. The recipient of the tattoo can no longer cast magic themselves.
Example: Eric the Witchhunter gets an anti-magic tattoo. He has 3 levels of Magic and finds a master that will give him a PL 3 Anti-Magic tattoo. He looses his 3 levels and nearly six hours later he has his tattoo. If he wishes to get a PL 4 Anti-Magic tattoo then he must first earn another level of Magic before he can do so. While he is doing so he can not of course even use them due to his own tattoo negating them.

Celtic Battle Tattoo
Power Level: 1 to 5
Requirements: Special woad paint from the British Isles
Inscribing Time: 1 hour per PL
Effects: This special tattoo requires special woad paint found only in the British Isles and a master at applying the tattoos. Once inscribed the tattoo provides an armor value equal to the PL of the tattoo +1. The tattoo must be exposed and visible in order to provide this protection. Once active the tattoo is treated like thick hide or leather. Weapons, even bullets, seem to bounce off the user. They still suffer from environmental exposure however. A naked painted blue Celt might have enough protection to be bullet-proof, but will still freeze to death.
A user may have multiple tattoos, but the protections are from the most powerful one (highest PL) only. Each additional tattoo regardless of PL provides only an extra +1 to the armor value. The tattoos, as the name implies, are permanent and only come into their magical effect when the user enters battle.
The maximum protection in any combination is +6.

--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas in July Sale

DriveThruRPG and RPGNow are having their annual Christmas in July Sale.


25% of of THOUSANDS of titles. Over 19,000 in fact.

Go there an pick up an ENnie nominated game or just a game you have been wanting for a while.

--

Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side".
Thanks so much!

TBBYANR: The Power Score

Up next on The Best Blog You Are Not Reading is The Power Score.
http://thecampaign20xx.blogspot.com/


I discovered the Power Score last week via the RPG Blog Alliance. The site's author, Sean, had posted a bit on the Demonomicon of Iggwilv that got my attention.  I stuck around and read the rest of his blog.

What I liked most was how he moves from the various incarnations of D&D with ease. There is no edition war here, just different ways to play to the same game and all the material is good for any edition.

He goes into some detail in the posts, so they are longer than your average blog post.  But they are worth the read to be honest.

The blog only really got going this year, but has done a pretty good job to be honest.

Go by and check it out.  Worth your time.



HEY: Like his blog?  Go visit and say hi.
Like my blog? Go vote for it at the ENnies award voting for "Best Blog"!  Thanks!
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/
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