Thursday, March 31, 2011

Horror RPG Blogs

So putting out a request to all the RPG bloggers out there.

What Horror RPG blogs do you all read?
I have some, but not as many as I'd like.

Looking for some reading suggestions.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Class Compendium: Warlord

Back a bit ago WotC announced they were cutting some books and the minis line and other things and the cry went out far and wide that they were doomed.  To be fair if WotC had changed the name of a book or the cover art there would be people out there on teh internets claiming it was a sign of their near death.

One of the books that met the gallows that day was "Class Compendium: Heroes of Sword and Spell".  It's purpose was to update some of the earlier PHB classes to the new Essentials format.  It was never high on my list as something to get; PHB classes and Essentials classes are still equal.  But it would have been nice to see some of the content.

So Wizards has released the Marshal, which is the Essentials version of the Warlord.
And they have done it for free.  In Dragon Magazine 397.

You can download the Marshal from Wizard's site here, http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/dra/201103warlord

I checked from other browsers to make sure my DDI password was not cached in.  It is free.

So if you have not looked into the Essentials classes yet here is a good example.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Lucy Lawless

In celebration of who might very well be the biggest reason most people come to my blog, here is a happy birthday to Lucy Lawless, aka Xena.


And since DC Women Kicking Ass has declared Xena an honorary DC ass-kicking woman, here are some stats for her for DC Adventures/Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Ed.

I am going with the idea here that Xena might be more than just human.

Xena, Warrior Princess - PL 8
Strength 4, Stamina 4, Agility 4, Dexterity 3, Fighting 5, Intellect 2, Awareness 2, Presence 3

Advantages
All-out Attack, Attractive 2, Chokehold, Connected, Contacts, Defensive Roll 3, Diehard, Equipment 2, Improved Critical: Nerve Pinch: Suffocation 1, Improved Grab, Improved Hold, Leadership, Power Attack, Precise Attack (All) 4, Skill Mastery: Close Combat, Skill Mastery: Ranged Combat

Skills
Acrobatics 6 (+10), Athletics 6 (+10), Close Combat: Sword 4 (+9), Insight 2 (+4), Intimidation 6 (+9), Perception 6 (+8), Persuasion 6 (+9), Ranged Combat: Chakram 8 (+11), Stealth 4 (+8), Treatment 1 (+3)

Powers
Leaping: Leaping 1 (Leap 15 feet at 4 miles/hour)
Nerve Pinch: Suffocation 1 (DC 11, Advantages: Chokehold; Grab-based)
Protection: Protection 2 (+2 Toughness)
Regeneration: Regeneration 1 (Every 10 rounds)
Equipment
 Chakram (Boomerang), Sword

Offense
 Initiative +4
 Chakram, +11 (DC 20)
 Grab, +5 (DC Spec 14)
 Nerve Pinch: Suffocation 1, +3 (DC Fort 11)
 Sword, +9 (DC 22)
 Throw, +3 (DC 19)
 Unarmed, +5 (DC 19)

Complications
 Honor
 Motivation: Doing Good
 Relationship

Languages
 Greek

Defense
 Dodge 7, Parry 7, Fortitude 8, Toughness 9/6, Will 4


Power Points
 Abilities 54 + Powers 8 + Advantages 22 + Skills 25 (49 ranks) + Defenses 11 = 120

Wanted to Trade

Hey out there!

So I have a couple copies of the 4th Edition "Manual of the Planes" and a copy of the 1st Edition "Manual of the Planes" that I'd like to trade for a 3rd edition version.

The 4e one is in very good condition. A couple of the pages have had some corners bent by accident, but I have it sandwiched between some heavy books and that should fix it.  That is all that is keeping it from being in Mint status.

The 1st Ed one is in really sad shape.  It has one of those "Dragon Skin" covers on it that has melted to the cover.  The book is stained a bit and the binding is loose. It is in poor to fair shape.  You can still turn the pages and read them all.  But I don't want to play this one up, it is in sad shape.

I'd like a 3e version if anyone would part with one.  Just email me or post something below.

I am not at home at the moment, or otherwise I'd post pictures.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A to Z blog challenge, update

Getting ready for the A to Z April blog challenge.  I see there are a lot of RPG bloggers taking part too.  That is great, I can't wait to see what everyone does.

I have a tentative schedule and even some posts in the starting phase.  Trouble is I keep re-doing my posts for A, B and C!  That and I have two Hs, no J yet.  Though I think I just came up with something....

I have some game posts, but I am also using this as an excuse to post some non-rpg, non-horror content.

Hey! If you have a blog and are going to participate post a link to blog below so others can also see what you do!

Here are some I am going to follow.

Ands a few new blogs to me that are also participating.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reviews: Eden Studios / Misfit Studios Edition

Some more reviews, my goal is to have my review queue cleaned out by the end of 2011.

Here are some of my favorite products from two of my favorite publishers, Eden Studios and Misfit Studios.  They had a partnership a while back and produced some really good products.
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?cPath=299_4530&affiliate_id=10748

Armageddon: Armed Force
For a while Misfit Studios and Eden Studios worked on a partnership, one of the outcomes of that partnership was this new book for the Armageddon game.  Filled with just tons of information on real world and the world of 2018 military equipment.  Plus a bunch of new qualities that would also work great for WitchCraft or even Conspiracy X. Great map of the conflicts and what is going on in the war, new combat rules for Unisystem. Not to mention new magic and monsters. If you play Unisystem and need any type of military information then this is the book you need. If you play Armageddon, then this is the book you need.
5 out of 5 starts

Armageddon: Enemies Archived
You can never be too rich, too thin or have too many monsters. And in the post-Reckoning world of Armageddon, this is also true. This book contains a number of horrible beasts that rose up after the reckoning occurred. Some have always been around, others are new to this realm. Written by Steven Trustrum for Misfit Studios under license from Eden studios. This book is a fantastic guide that is perfect for any Classic Unisystem game or even Cinematic Unisystem. It's faux military dossier style makes it perfect for Conspiracy X or even an Initiative based Buffy/Angel game.
5 out of 5 starts

Odyssey Prime
Odyssey Prime is a fantastic premise that was perfect for the time. What if all your d20 (and Unisystem) worlds were connected? One part Armageddon: The End Times, one part Conspiracy X and one part Stargate SG1, the Odyssey Prime Mission was to "seek out new life and new worlds, and get to them before ours blows up!". Some examples were given of various d20 products from many publishers on how link in their product to this one. Pluses: Great use of the d20 system to do a variety of things (military, tech and magic). Built in excuse to use all your d20 books in one game. Minues: Lacked product support since the line was delayed. Still a fun game though and one I would enjoy seeing come back.
4 out of 5 starts

Odyssey Prime: Southern Discomfort
Odyssey Prime was a noble experiment. Take all the d20 worlds you can grab (or buy) and link them all together with a Stargate like device to transversing the multiverse. And for good measure include the in-house rules of Unisystem.
The game was a great idea, but something about it never caught on with everyone. Regardless the ideas are sound and this is a good adventure based on the simple idea that everything is better with velociraptors.
Worth it for the dino-stats alone really.
4 out of 5 starts

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 2

We continued on with White Plume Mountain.

The Dragon Slayers made their way through and fought the giant crab protector of Wave.  They got the idea really fast about not poking the semi-solid membrane and they even remembered to shut all the doors in case it did break.

They are now in the inverted ziggurat room they defeated the first water layer and the dessert layer.  Then pizza came and the combat was held for another day.  I have mentioned that there are other groups of adventures here also looking for the other items, Blackrazor and Wave (they are supposed to get Whelm for Omar), but I have not pulled them out yet.   I think I will do that next session.

Also the final battle will be with Keraptis and Dragotha.  Dragotha will swoop down and grab the PC holding one of the items and carry them off to the Cave of Bones.  Cheesy I know, but it works.

I have the 3.5 update for WPM and while it is nice to have the stats for the monsters handy I don't care for how the weapons have been re-done as legacy weapons.  Even with everything that you need to do to get the powers up and going they seem less interesting than they did under 1st Ed.  I am thinking of just using the 1st ed stats to be honest, not even really upping them.

Might get some more in tomorrow.

Zatannurday: Adam Hughes


I have mentioned elsewhere that I think Adam Hughes might be my favorite artist for Wonder Woman.  He also does a very awesome Zatanna.


This might one of his most recognized versions of Zee.


And this one,



And let us not forget this awesome piece of all the DC women.


He keeps his Deviant Art page updated as well and you can visit his Zatanna gallery here, http://adamhughes.deviantart.com/gallery/27635250

Friday, March 25, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 11

Episode 11: The Burning Times

April 30, 2005 (Beltane)

Willow and Tara are mad. They have spent the last month researching all things mage, “Awakening” and every prophecy they can find and there is nothing useful out there. Though lots of stories of mages going insane or accidently causing destruction wherever they go. Plus their Adourflame condition is getting steadily worse, now they can barely touch each other without setting something on fire. A quick kiss in the kitchen one night causes the microwave to explode. In fact they discover in their research that most fire-starting supernaturals are either evil or groomed by evil. Independently each discovers something that might help, the binding ritual they used on Amy and Beth to remove their own magic. They do not mention it to the other.

They do get a visitor in the form of Anya, who is here to represent Lilith. She tells them that they have learned that Witches’ Committee is pissed off and they will be sending operatives to come and get them soon. They change plans and instead look for a refuge since they figure out that the town will not be safe. They discover there is a coven of witches, The Daughters of the Flame, in Sacramento. Willow and Tara are certain they can teleport there on their own. Anya remains, not wanting to trust their new powers teleporting them to an unknown location.

Not a moment too soon either as Bob appears to tell them that there are Witches’ Committee operatives headed their way. Anya says she will try to stall them. The girls along with Bob and Cordy, teleport out.

Arriving at the covenstead Willow and Tara are surprised to see it is really a commune with a few score witches. As soon as Willow and Tara though arrive they are set upon. There is a scuffle but soon the leader of the coven, Mistress Brent, recognizes the two and kneeling she welcomes them “home”.

They all go to Brent’s office. Cordy and Bob are silent as Brent explains the history of this coven. Bob and Brent keep looking at each other, till finally Bob calls her “Cathy”. She gasps out loud and says “Robert?” Brent, like all the women here, takes a coven name that is some form of a Celtic Goddess’ name. She explains she has been expecting them for some time now. She knows they are the reincarnations of Bohdmal and Liath, the founders of this coven. She didn’t know that Liath/Tara was the daughter of Robert Mclay, a man she had known about, but never met. Tara’s mother had been raised by the coven and was sent out to work with a “Robert Mclay” many years ago. Brent blamed that man for Megan’s death. Though Brent is torn now that Megan’s own daughter is here, seeking aid and the reincarnation of Liath to boot. Cordelia asks her leave to report this situation to the Elders and find out what she needs to do.

The girls explain what their problem is, the magic and being followed by both the Witches Committee and Lilith. Brent doesn’t trust either side. Brent offers the coven’s library, but she has never heard of two witches that were becoming mages that were also Anamchara. Bohdmal and Liath were Anamchara, but they never became mages. Brent says it is an exciting time in their cycle of life to have become mages at this point and waxes on what their next life might be like. Willow doesn’t care about the next life, she wants this one, with Tara. Tara mentions the binding ritual. Brent says that would destroy their magic, all of it, and also remove them the witches’ cycle of life, death and rebirth. Plus there is the roll they have to play in the Awakening. Willow and Tara argue that a life that they can’t have each other is no life at all. Brent agrees that if they ask her to she will perform the binding. It also means that they will never see Cordy or Bob ever again, but it will stop the Witches Committee and Lilith from chasing them. But she asks for 24 hours so they can all research a better solution.

They all agree and set to work. Because of their position in the coven, Willow and Tara are given a “Guardian” by the name of Ceridwen and a research assistant named Brigh. Brigh is in awe over Willow and Tara, having studied Bohdmal and Liath all her life. She couldn’t help but notice that their auras were brighter than any she had ever seen and more strangely they were exactly the same. Brigh said that even married couples whose auras begin to blend still retain distinctive patterns. As an example she asks them to view her and Ceri. They had been handfasted a few years back (June 21, 1997) and legally married recently (in Cerri's home of Boston last year), though both agreed that their handfasting was the true date of their bond. Brigh mentions that her own aura had been disrupted due to exposure to Taint a few years ago and when she and Ceri fell in love and were married the interplay between their auras “smoothed out” the Taint. Willow and Tara are a little stunned to meet two married women and their thoughts turn to each other. Brigh notices this and studies their auras more carefully. She gasps and tells them the exchange spiked the power in their auras. She doubts that they have 24 hours. She doubts they have 2 hours in fact before their magical feedback blew a hole in reality.

With Brent involved now the girls begin to think very seriously about the binding ritual. Of course I had dropped a hint or two, but they asked not about a binding ritual, but a bonding one. They discovered that a handfast could do the same thing but also allow them to still use their magic as always. Taking that huge step they agreed. That evening they prepared. Robert stood for his daughter, Cordy for Willow and with Cerri and Brigh as witnesses. Brent performed the ceremony. The girls kissed for the first time in a month and their auras were visible to all.

The girls are given the night to consummate their marriage, but by morning the reality of their mission hits them again. The Witches Committee are at the coven’s doorstep demanding that they release Willow and Tara to them.
The Daughters of course refuse, but the Committee tells them that they are not capable of dealing with mages. If Willow and Tara were only “just witches” it would be fine, but the Committee was set up to deal with witches that become mages. Both sides agree to allow Willow and Tara to be seen by the Committee’s people (called The Keepers). To everyone, Willow and Tara’s auras no longer look like mages, but just really powerful witches. Though they still have their mage powers. The Keepers, seeing but not believing, challenge them both to a battle Arcane. If they are Mages then they will be fine, but have to go with the Keepers. If they are witches then they will loose, but can remain here. Before anyone can say anything though Willow is grabbed by the female Keeper and Tara by the male and they all phase. All four have been removed from the reality of the coven, though everyone can still see everyone else. Willow and Tara are also not in the same reality and can’t touch to get the benefit of being Anamchara. The battle progresses, and does so poorly for the girls. Willow is locked in a reality with her attacker and Tara is also locked with her own. Cordy and Bob both make different attempts to phase into either girl’s reality, only to run into a wall. Willow and Tara both try to exploit their own connections to somehow bring themselves together, but no luck there either.
Tara does notice that the aura’s of the Keepers are also strangely linked. She figured out (with some good rolls and a drama point) that these two must be sleeping together, but don’t want anyone else to know (she sees lust and guilt). She uses the binding ritual on the male keeper to pull him closer to his clandestine lover. They crash into each other, metaphysically speaking, a cancel the magics in place. Brent rules that since Tara defeated them both not with mage magic, but witch magic they don’t have to leave with them and they can stay here. The male Keeper, furious, knocks down Brent, pulls out a gun and fires on Tara. Willow throws up a barrier and the bullet ricochets off and hits the Keeper in his side. He lives, but will need surgery to repair is intestines.

Willow and Tara decide to remain with the Daughters as a “honeymoon” and as a way to be trained on their new mage powers.

Notes: Brigh was “played” as Lexa Doig, Ceri was Yancy Butler, Brent was played by Kate Jackson, I did not cast the Keepers, but any resemblance to certain Executive Producers or show runners I am sure is by coincidence only.

Ok what is going on here?
A few things. The Daughters of the Flame are a coven I had made for my 1999 AD&D Witch book. I had used the coven a number of times in my own works and games for years before that. Lisa, who had been helping write a bunch of these episodes and was my Tara had also, independent of me, used the Daughters in her own writing. Brigh, Ceri and Brent were her creations. I ran Brigh and Ceri through some WitchCraft adventures back in 2003-2004 (where Brigh picked up some Taint from a Mad God cult), so it was nice to have them back here. In my WitchCraft game at the time I specifically mentioned that Brigh can’t read auras. Ah well, I forgotten that. The Keepers were also her creation (though she only had one) and their job was to train Mages into assassins. I wanted them all here in Season of the Witch since their genesis was so related to the “witch culture” I had built in my own games (Mages were even Prestige Classes for witches in my later d20 book).

The Daughters also gave us the chance to poke a little fun at our selves, the Willow and Tara fan community. Often stereotyped as fanatical lesbians devoted to Willow and Tara above anything else, the daughters became (on the surface anyway) a group of fanatical lesbians who believe that Willow and Tara (or rather their past lives) were their reason for being. If the Wicce book had ever come out for the WitchCraft game you would have seen a more balanced view of the Daughters of the Flame. There were the “Eala” or swans that were more passive and the “Brenna” or ravens were more fanatical.

The date the girls were married is set in my world as April 30, 2005.
Marriage. If there is one thing that is debated more in W/T fan communities more than when they first had sex it is what sort of wedding the girls should have, if any at all. I forced the issue by well, forcing the issue. Since no situation would have appealed to all tastes I made it so they had to get married in order to preserve their magic. There is a nice little bit of parity there. To save their magic (which had been a metaphor for love) and likely the world they had to get married. The Keepers, who were having an illicit affair (the male Keeper was married), actually became their weakness. I don’t pretend to be subtle.
This is also the Gaelic Tree month of "Willow".  Again.  Not subtle.
Plus we wanted to talk about the whole same-sex marriage issue, it's not something a TV would do to be honest, at least not one at the time.

Originally there was going to more to this episode making a double episode really. Dawn was going to be there as well since she was taking college courses and still in town. Willow and Tara were going to “confront their Old Souls”, but we had kind of done that with The Dragon and the Phoenix. Cordy was mostly an NPC by now anyway, but I was happy she was at the wedding, someone from the Original Series there was nice. I had more political play between the Daughters and the Witches Committee but it never came out well in the game, so it was dropped. There was also more scenes with Willow/Tara and Brigh/Ceri. We did learn that Ceri’s birth name was Susan and she had played drums in an all girl KISS tribute band called LICK when she lived in Boston. Brigh had been born Amy Nakamura to a Japanese father and an Irish mother. She had lived in Toronto.  Amy's transformation into Brigh was part of the background for my Witch Guardian post.

Next up: The Cast travels north to find the Veil between realities is torn and the witches holding it together are not in the mood to hear some new-comers' ideas on how they are supposed to do their jobs; fated or no.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

White Plume Mountain, I challenge you to do this!

So.  Been a really busy week for me.  Work. School. Family.

I took a mental health break from it all last night around 8:00pm and was looking through all my material for the White Plume Mountain and I realized something.

Edition wars are fundamentally bullshit.

The concept of an "edition war" is based on the idea that one edition of a game is better/worse than another.
My running of White Plume Mountain flies in the face of this.

Here are the materials I am using:

Rule base: D&D 3.0 (not 3.5, just 3.0).
Module: White Plume Mountain, 1st Ed AD&D, with 3rd Ed D&D updates and an extension, Dragotha's Lair, written for 2nd Ed. AD&D.
Characters: A Pathfinder Ranger, a 3.5 ed Paladin that is a 4e race (Dragonborn), a 3.0 witch, a couple of converted elemental sorcerers (were M&M 2ed, now Pathfinder), and a Star Wars revised ed bounty hunter.
Dragotha (Big Bad 1): D&D 4e stats from the Draconomicon.
Keraptis (Big Bad 2): BASIC D&D Witch that I am playtesting.
Plus I am using D&D 4e fortune cards.
Also maps released under GSL and minis from at least 5 or 6 different sources (which are all of course edition-free).

Everything so far has run nice and smooth and everyone is having a blast.

So.  Either I am some Mad Scientist, Super-Genius-level DM that can make all these conversions on the fly  OR there is just not as many differences between these systems as some people think.

You may not like a particular edition, but that doesn't actually devalue it nor change it's worth to others.

Anyone else out there do this kind of D&D freestyle mixing of editions?  What were your experiences?  Did it work? Did it fail miserably?  If none of the above would you be interested in trying it out?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 1b

So I picked up my 4e Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons and read up on Dragotha.

Cool stuff really.  What they have there is largely compatible with what I want to do in my adventure.  Dragotha was Tiamat's consort, he was betrayed and left for dead.  In the Draconomicon he was "aided" by Kyuss.  I think I might not use that part or just not bring it up.

Course now is the big question.  Will Dragotha help the PCs or try to fight them?  I am going to have him under Kerapis' thrall, so as long as Keraptis is alive, then Dragotha will attack.  Would Dragotha know of the PC's quest?  They have not been secret about it to be sure.

So till next session, I'll hit the research.  Certainly I could "just make stuff" up, but I like the feeling of my little game being part of a larger world.  Plus one day, maybe one day soon, my boys will be searching for this stuff online too and I want them to be able to say "yes! I Was there, I did that."

What have I learned?

  • Keraptis was a contemporary of Acererak.
  • He delved into Necromancy, pretty deeply in fact.  He may have been one of Greyhawk's premier necromancers.
  • He is most certainly a lich now; if not dead.
  • The magical items are each connected to the elements, Whelm-Earth, Blackrazor-Fire, Wave-Water and a fourth, Seeker, an elven arrow for Air.  
  • White Plume Mountain is a place of ancient magics.

To be sure, this is a lot of background for a guy that is essentially the Level 20 Boss.  But a well developed villain is a good villain.

I might change Seeker to a bow and my other son has been looking for a sword called "The Dragon Blade" that he is certain has to exist. I'd give it pluses for killing evil dragons and allow the wielder to be looked apon favorably by good dragons.  He is not interested in Blackrazor at all.  It might end up in Omar's shop!

I even found a place for the final battle, the Cave of Bones.
http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/dx20010817a

Refs
http://www.canonfire.com/wiki/index.php?title=Keraptis
http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=465
http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=464
http://www.canonfire.com/cfhtml/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=447

Monday, March 21, 2011

There goes the last shred of my OSR-ness

I am beholden to the man now.



Just got paid for writing some D&D 4e stuff.  Not a lot as you can see, but I didn't write a lot either.

Now if I can just get paid some of the other things I did for companies I'd be very happy.

The Dragonslayers vs White Plume Mountain, Part 1

Sunday was cold and rainy, so the perfect day to recover some stolen magical artifacts in a volcano!

The Dragonslayers (my kids' 3.x game) ventured into the classic module White Plume Mountain.  I changed the set up a bit, they have been hired by one of my more infamous NPCs, Crazy Omar, to recover Whelm, which he claims is owned by his family.  He tells them of Wave and Blackrazor and that representatives of their owners (which of course are already dead now).

I spent a couple days cutting out and taping the the White Plume Mountain Dungeon tiles I reviewed a while back, and the boys loved them!  They liked being able to see the doors and being able to write on the maps themselves.  BTW i figured if I printed the map out and connected all the tiles they would be about 7 feet by 5 feet.




Astute readers will recognize Fire and Ice back there as well (they are quasi NPCs in this game). Our minis are an eclectic lot of D&D minis, Heroclix, Darksword, and Heroscape. More astute OSR players will recognize this as room 10. 


My sons' ranger/arcane archer found the deeper pool and they made short work of Sea Hag and her pet, even with me boosting the Hag using some of my new rules on the witch (all hags in my game can take levels in Witch).

We had to cut short the adventure, diner was ready, but we will be getting back to it very soon.  I think my youngest wants Blackrazor, my oldest, who plays the Dragonborn Paladin, wants nothing to do with it.

I am dropping some of the Cthulhu-ish ideas I had earlier in favor of running it "straight", but there is something I just can't pass up.  A totally throw-away by Erol Otis I am sure, but the picture has always intrigued me. 


My boys after all are the "Dargonslayers" and Dragotha has to be one of the most powerful dracolich around. I figure he is a ancient (1,000+ years) red dragon lich.  I'll have him breath "black fire".  Give the boys something to really remember.  Maybe even put Kerapis on top of him, a lich of course.  Make them both pretty difficult to beat. 

Spoke too soon!  I found this online, http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4pr/20081105a.  Sweet.  And given that he is in 4th Edition, I might let him escape to plague the characters when we move over to 4e.  Plus, his stats are pretty much custom made for my son Liam!  Red dragon, dracolich, breaths cold blue necrotic fire, I am a bit surprised he never pointed this dragon out to me before in fact.  He does own all the Draconomicons.


To fit it into themythology of the game, Dragotha was once the red dragon consort of Tiamat.  Like all her consorts though he did something to offend the great Queen of Dragons and she killed him.  Of course Dragotha and Kerapis had already struck up a deal.  Kerapis, already a lich himself, turned the great dragon into a demi-lich and has been in Kerapis' service ever since.   If the players kill Kerapis first then Dragotha is free and he will use that freedom to lay waste to Kerapis' lair; ignoring the characters (till another time!).  The Dragonslayers only need his tooth to complete their own ritual to create a portal to Tiamat's lair.

This will be fun!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vampire Tara: Unisystem

Vampire Tara

I have mentioned Vampire Tara in posts in the past, specifically with Cortex and earlier today with Season of the Witch.


Quote:
Interviewer: Chris [Golden] said you had a great time doing Vamp Tara (for Chaos Bleeds).
Amber: I did. I had such a good time doing that. I think that people were like oh if shes doing vampire Tara then thats bad Tara but its a videogame. To me its a completely different thing than the show.
Interviewer: Can you give us a sample?
Amber: I think it was something like, I cant even remember the words, what she said. But it was very like sexy and you know purry and she made all these like weird noises and when she got killed aaghaa [funny impression that makes everyone laugh] it was very embarrassingly funny and everyone from the Buffy game were just laughing when we did it. It was a lot of fun though.

Kitten Board Interview with Amber Benson, July 5, 2003









Why Vamp Tara?

Why not.

Seriously.
Why not?

I personally have lost count of all the Vamp Tara and Vamp Willow fanfics I have seen out there. Most are excuses to have the girls kill people or act out their pornographic fantasies, or both. Often both. Sometimes at the same time. But all the death, killing and hot girl-on-girl action aside, there are some really good stories out there too.

So if we go with the premise that Willow and Tara are together in every world (and I always do) then it is certain that Vamp Willow must have found Tara and turned her. A great example of how this story could have played out is Leah's One Soul.

If there is a Vamp Tara, then is also stands to reason that she would come looking for Vamp Willow at some point (see Chris Golden's Chaos Bleeds). That and the fact that Amber Benson has said she has always wanted to play a vampire (and got her chance in Supernatural) Vamp Tara seems like a no brainer.

Soul or no Soul?
Now the next question arises, should Vamp Tara have a soul or not? The fanfics are about split 50-50. Some start her out soulless, and then gain a soul, others still start her out with a soul and she looses it. Of course by my own rules they cant have the Anamchara quality unless they both have souls, but I am surprisingly neutral on the subject.

In my adventure Through a Glass Darkly Vamp Tara has no soul, but the cast have the option to re-ensoul her (and Vamp Willow) if they choose, or they can stake her.

Going to the (other) experts, Chris Golden makes her soulless in Chaos Bleeds, but Amber plays Lenore with a soul, or at least a moral compass. Its apples and orange to me, or rather apples and different kinds of apples. To take in one last piece of information, vampires in the Ghosts of Albion and Chris Shadow War Saga stories all have souls. So if anything the scale might tipped towards soul, just to accommodate the different points of view.

Personality
So what is Vamp Tara like? Well lets use Vamp Willow as our analogue. Shy, dependable Willow becomes bisexual, raging psychotic killer vampire Willow. So what happens to Tara? Shy, not-large-with-the-butch, fear of rejection Tara, becomes a sex crazed nymphet. Also it is a well known rule that turning evil turns you into a sex fiend, or least prone to wear skimpy clothing and shifting morals (see Raven from Teen Titans, Jean Grey from X-Men, Xena). That being said she is not above killing a few people that piss her off. In One Soul and Through a Glass Darkly one of Vampire Taras first kills are her brother and father. Of course this will depend on the soul or no soul question above. But I can tell you that given the chance my regular Tara player enjoyed playing a tramped out, evil Tara. And lets face it. The look on your players faces when they encounter Tara and then she rips someones head off to drink from the crimson fountain belongs among the joys of being a Director.

Getting Vamp Tara into your Game
Ok, you decided to use Vampire Tara in your game. Congratulations. Now, how do you get her there? The McGuffin often used is the spell gone awry but that is what got us Vamp Willow (both times) so lets be more original.

In my adventure Through a Glass Darkly Vampire Tara casts a spell to find her favourite sex-toy, Vampire Willow. So the spell this time works exactly as she wanted it to. She needs a powerful witch to bring back Vamp Willow, so who better than Real Willow. That way if real Willow fails, Vamp Tara can still just bite her and have a new plaything to train. Trouble is how do we convince Real Willow and Real Tara to do what a bloodthirsty (literally and figuratively) vampire wants them to do? Take a page from Dracula. Vamp Tara manages to get Real Willow alone and put her under thrall. Holding Willow as her hostage (a game she played a lot with Vampire Willow I am sure) and have Real Tara go get the spell needed. In Through a Glass Darkly Tara went off with the ghost of her father, Robert McClay, to find the spell. They cast it, bringing back Vamp Willow and for a special twist (and not a few experience points earned) they re-ensouled her, ensouling Vamp Tara (her Anamchara) in the process. The vamp girls were not very happy about that.

Tara Maclay
Vampire



Life Points 66
Drama Points 10

Attributes
Strength 6
Dexterity 5
Constitution 5
Intelligence 3
Perception 3
Willpower 5

Qualities
Attractiveness (2 levels)
Empathy
Fast Reaction Time (Vampire)
Hard to Kill 4 (2 from Vampire)
Natural Weapon (Vampire)
Reduced Damage (Bullets) 2 (Vampire)
Regeneration (6 Life Points per hour) (Vampire)
Sorcery (3 levels)
The Sight
Vampire

Drawbacks
Adversary (1)
Love (2)
Mental Problems, Covetous (Lechery) (2)
Minority

Skills
Acrobatics 5
Art 3
Computers 2
Crime 1
Doctor
Driving 1
Getting Medieval
Gun Fu 1
Influence 2
Knowledge 4
Kung Fu 4
Languages 2
Mr. Fit-it 1
Notice 3
Occultism 6
Science 1
Sports 2
Wild Card Riding Horses 4

Maneuver        Bonus        Base Damage        Notes
Bite                +11        18                Slash/stab, requires Grapple
Grapple        +11                        Resisted by dodge
Break Neck        +11        24
Punch                +9        12                Bash
Kick                +8        14
Dodge                +9                        Defense
Axe                +10        30
Magic                +14        Varies

Armor Value: 2 (Leather coat)

Real Name: Tara A. Maclay
DOB: 11/07/1980, turned to a vampire sometime in 1999-2000
Height: 55, Weight: 125lbs, Eyes: Blue (yellow when feeding), Hair: Dark Blond


Stories
Here are some other stories to use as inspiration.

Leah, One Soul
www.uberwillowtara.com/onesoulcover.htm

Zahir, Never the Twain
www.shadows-and-dust.co.uk/SDFA/Round1/neverthetwain.htm

Season of the Witch: Episode 10

Episode 10: Through a Glass Darkly

March, 2005
Sunnydale

Willow and Tara are preparing for a special dinner with Willow’s parents, Ira and Shelia. Bob has been trying to get them back on “the mission”, but has agreed that at the moment they don’t have any information on where to continue. Cordy is off in northern California looking for other witches that might know more about the Awakening. Not wanting to wait around to see this domestic scene (and maybe a little uncomfortable with the connotations of what the dinner means) Bob offers to spend some time shaking down the any supernatural locals that might be left over.

The girls spend some time discussing exactly what this dinner does mean and what it means to them. Willow was introducing Tara to her parents, not as her “friend” or even as her “college rebellion or experimentation”, but as her lover, the woman she wants to spend the rest of her life with. This of course has made Tara nervous to make sure everything is perfect. Willow is nervous not because of that, but because she wonders what then the next step has to be for them.

Willow attempts to engage Tara in a conversation about what their future is going to be, will they stay here, where should the live, what should they do. Tara is too busy frantically getting dinner ready. She was making sure everything was Kosher, using new pots, pans and kitchen utensils. Tara panics when she discovers the wine they have for cooking is not a Kosher one. Willow tells her not to worry about it, they had another wine, but Tara insists on running out to the store to get more. Willow says she wants to stay home and look up something. Tara runs out to the store.

Willow spends some time researching various topics, mostly anything about witches, historical or otherwise but ends up on the website about gay marriage in Massachusetts. There came a knock at the door. Followed by Tara’s “Hello?” Willow went to the door, shouting out to “come on in”. Tara replied back that she can’t. Willow mentioned that she was only supposed to get wine, not a bunch of stuff. Willow opened the door to and Tara is just standing there. She smiled at Willow, saying “thanks, I needed you to do that.” She vamped out and attacked Willow.

Tara (real Tara) walked into the house (they are staying at the Summers’). The door was wide open and she started calling for Willow. Willow said she was upstairs. Tara went upstairs and saw Willow sitting on the stairs. She was holding a towel to her neck, she had been bleeding. Tara freaks out and asks what happened. Willow indicated that what happened was currently in the bathroom puking her guts out. Tara tentatively walked into the bathroom to see herself doubled over the toilet throwing up blood. The vampire Tara looked up at her and said “oh great, you too.”

Tara freaked out and runs back to Willow, who is fine, mostly. Vampire Tara left the bathroom, she looked awful. Willow tells Tara that she accidently invited Vampire Tara in and she attacked her. As soon as she bit her though, she began to retch, claiming her blood was “all wrong”. Vampire Tara looked at Tara and said that hers was the same. Willow, still sitting on the stairs, said that she was here for something. Something she needed them for. Tara asked if she (VT) had said that, Willow (surprised) just said she knew.

Vampire Tara talked to Willow and Tara, now in the kitchen, and told them she wanted something and her spell somehow brought her here. Tara asked her doppelganger what she was looking for. Vampire Tara looked to both girls and said “Willow” or rather her Willow, the one that made her into a vampire. She had been staked, but she wanted her back. Tara began to explain how you couldn’t do that and her spell must have backfired and brought her here instead. Willow had been silent this whole time. She had cleaned up and was using a glamour to hide her neck.

She finally said that they would help Vampire Tara, which surprised both Taras. Willow says she knows of a spell. But they will have to go to LA to get it. Tara said they shouldn’t do it. Willow said that they have too. Tara asked to speak to Willow in private and argues that Willow’s parents are showing up in less than an hour they can’t do anything between now and then. At that point Robert appeared in the kitchen, seeing Tara and Vampire Tara, Robert rushes over to protect the girls. Vampire Tara saw Bob and vamped out, saying “I killed you! What are you doing here!” The two supernaturals were getting ready to attack when Tara tried to get in between them. Bob was demanding that they kill Vampire Tara, Vampire Tara was vamped out and trying to get to Bob. She looked over to Willow and said “Willow! Help me!”and Willow stood and walked over to Vampire Tara.

Everyone calmed down to a stalemate. Tara was starring at Willow in confusion. Vampire Tara laughed a bit and said “I didn’t get her blood, but I got enough of my salvia into her system to make her a thral. Oh it will wear off soon, but long enough for me to get what I came here for.”

Tara agreed to find the book needed to bring back Vampire Willow. Bob would go with her. Willow would stay with Vampire Tara as insurance. If Bob and Tara are not back by midnight (now almost 5 hours away) she was going to kill Willow and vamp her.

Tara called Cordy, who showed up, and orbed them to LA.

Vampire Tara turned to Willow and asked seductively what they were going to do with all that time? Willow told her matter of factly that she needed to change because her parents were going to be there in less than an hour for dinner.

Tara, Bob and Cordy ended up in a underground cavern in LA. Using the maps from Willow’s research Tara broke into a run. Bob and Cordy followed her.

Willow had Vampire Tara change clothes, and was telling her that she was going to behave herself for her parents tonight or the deal was off. Willow told Vampire Tara that she agreed to this not because of the vampire thral but something else. She knew the loneliness that she was feeling, the loss, and would do what she could to help her, but vampire Tara had to help her in turn.

Ira and Shelia showed up, bringing wine. Dinner began, Willow was nervous and quiet. Shelia kept talking and to everyone’s surprise Tara was quite chatty.
After dinner conversation began. Shelia though could not help but comment that Willow needed to think of her future, what she planned to do with her life. Shelia wandered over to the computer in the living room and saw the website open on gay marriages. Shelia asked Willow if that is what she really wanted and that is she wanted to do. She continued on about how sure, she was young and her time with Tara was exciting, but sometime she would have to grow up. Shelia asked her if she ever wanted to have children?
Tara finally had enough and defended Willow to Shelia. Telling her that she loves Willow and that is all they need.

Tara, Bob and Cordy worked their way to a temple. Inside there were scores and scores of vamps all on their knees chanting before a mummified figure. The figure stood up and beckoned them all closer. Cordy exclaimed “oh crap. A Lich.”

Tara demanded to know were the book they needed was. She used her nascent mage abilities (and a drama point) to set the kneeling vampires on fire. The Lich turns to her and tells her “that was very rude.”

Back at the dinner, Vampire Tara and Shelia are still arguing. Vamp Tara breaks down and tells Shelia how much Willow meant to her how she saw her when no one else did and how she took a shy, timid girl and made her into a strong woman and in the process did the same for herself. She said they were soulmates. Argument over, Ira agrees it is time they should go and maybe they would like to have breakfast in the morning.

They leave, and Willow goes back to Tara, still in the dinning room. She asked her if she had meant everything she had said and Vamp Tara said yes. She told Willow that without her, without her Willow, she didn’t see the reason to go on. She lifted her head and vamped out and said, “so if I can’t have her, I’ll have you.”

Tara (again the real one) was facing off with the lich. He called her a curiosity, that he had not seen her kind in a thousand years. She asked about the tome. He said he had it. She asked him if she had to fight him for it. He said, “No.” To everyone’s surprise. He told Tara he would give her the spell she wanted, for a small token, that one day she or her offspring would owe him a favor that he could call upon. Cordy and Bob told her not to do it. But Tara was desperate. She agreed. He asked for her hands. She brought them out and placed the spell parchment in them. She turned to go and he grabbed her wrist. His hand were strong and cold as iron. He left a black circle on the inside of her left wrist. A mark that would stay with her till she paid her debt.

Taking the spell Tara went back to Bob and Cordy and they orbed out.

Back at the house Willow had Vamp Tara on the other side of the table trying to keep it between them. The other orbed in with the spell. Vamp Tara calmed down.

Tara and Willow embraced and she gave Willow the spell. Reading it quickly she told vamp Tara they needed something of Vampire Willow’s. Vampire Tara goes to her duster and pulls out a pair of panties. Which gets looks from everyone. Vampire Tara corrects herself and says that her Willow hardly ever wore those and gives them a pair of padded bondage cuffs instead. Vampire Tara changes back into her regular clothes and Willow and Tara prepare the spell. (at this point my Willow player hands me a note).

They draw a circle in the basement and begin the spell. The spell is complex and even with Willow and Tara both reading it it takes some time. At one point Willow begins a secondary incantation, Tara keeps reading.

There is a flash of lightning and thunder. A rift appears that gathers itself into the shape of a woman. Another flash and the blackness becomes the naked form of Vampire Willow, pulled out of time and space. Vampire Tara runs over to her, putting her duster around her asking her if it is really her. Vampire Willow, confused, only looks up asnd said “you found me!”

Vampire Tara and Willow looked at their human counterparts and said “we don’t know how to repay you. Oh. Wait. Yes we do.” and they vamped out. They told the human girls that they were going to kill them and take their places in this new world. Tara gets ready to attack, but Willow says wait (and tosses me another Drama Point). Approaching Vampire Willow and Tara double over in pain and begin to scream. They fall to the ground while magical auras form around them. Soon they stand asking what they hell did they do. Though it is obvious. Willow had re-ensouled them both. Not needing the focus since they were soulmates they acted as each other’s focus. Willow told them they were not cursed, they could be happy together, just as long as they didn’t kill anyone and they stayed out of each other’s ways.

New unlife at hand Vampire Willow and Tara drive off into the night in Bob’ Thunderbird (much to Bob’s chagrin). Tara tells Willow that her spell was amazing and Willow tells Tara getting the time and space spell was also fantastic. She asked Tara how she got it so fast, and Tara promises to tell her some time.

The next morning Willow, Tara, Shelia and Ira all have a much more pleasant breakfast at the Rosenberg’s. Shelia tells Tara that her words last night really touched her and she would be proud to have Tara in her family.

They are leaving and Willow promises her mom that she will not be so much of a stranger anymore and that she is happy to bring Tara over. Shelia tells her Ira really likes Tara, but could not help but think she was a vampire!

Notes: Ok bit of a shift here. Less action and more drama. My Willow player had the idea from the start to re-ensoul Tara and Willow when she had the chance. She planned it well and paid me enough drama points to do it.

Tara’s player played both Tara and Vampire Tara. Which was a lot of fun.

I was beginning to lose my group here, so the big magical battle with Magnus (the lich) was scrapped in favor of the more horrific Faustian deal. Also my Willow player had to play Cordy in this session too.

No overt allusions to the Awakening except at the very beginning. I wanted to focus on characters here.

Giving up the Thunderbird was a spur of the moment idea by my Tara player. They felt they could teleport via the Ghosts of Albion spell to anywhere they really needed to go. I revisited them in my WitchCraft adventure "Vacation in Vancouver" they had joined the supernatural night life there and basically enjoying the hell out of themselves.  They had not killed anyone, but had plenty of willing volunteers to give them the blood they needed. 

Tara’s debt is not dealt with anytime soon, but becomes a major plot point for the next season.

The title is an allusion to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s book In a Glass Darkly that gave us the first lesbian vampire tale “Carmilla”. As well as the Through the Looking Glass website, a site dedicated to all sorts of alt-reality Willow and Tara fics. http://www.uberwillowtara.com/

Next up: The girls come into their full power, but they might not be able to deal with it. Plus the Witches’ Committee is back and they are not happy about getting a depowered Amy and Beth instead of Mages Willow and Tara.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

DriveThru RPG March update

So normally I would be posting the codes to get some cheap PDFs at DriveThruRPG/RPGNow and then a code to get something for free.


Well today I got an email from Sean Fannon of OneBookShelf saying they have not had the time to get the codes up but instead would like to direct your attention to the relief funds they are running for Japan and New Zealand.

I have always been a fan of DTRPG's relief programs.  You can get a lot of PDFs for a great price, some I might have ever tried before, and the money raised goes to help those in the most need.  The amount of money that gamers tend to raise in this is also fantastic.
So again I would like to direct your attention to these fundraiser products.

Japan is experiencing one of the worst natural disasters in living memory, I think it behooves us to help them anyway we can.

Ronin: Oriental Adventures - JAPAN EARTHQUAKE RELIEF EDITION
Get this product for half off with money going to help the relief efforts.
This is a great book and reminds me a bit of the better GURPS supplements out there; dense with great information and full of ideas.
The product also includes a coupon for GeeklyClean.

Japan Disaster Relief - Red Cross - $5 Donation
This is a straight $5 donation to the Red Cross.

ICONS: The Aotearoa Gambit
Proceeds go aid the earthquake efforts in New Zealand.

I have been impressed with the generosity of the RPG community before and I expect to continue to be impressed.

DriveThru Reviews: Books of Magic

Some magic books reviewed.
Most of these are older books, but they could still be used with Pathfinder or even converted to a retro-clone.

Dark Ladies: Villainesses in RPGs
A collection of femme fatales to sick on your players. From the subtle to the savage this are not your typical "Bad Guys". From myth, legend and folklore and sometimes even history.
These 17 are not your typical "monsters" but fully developed NPCs.
My only issues are with some of the choices for feats or skills, but that is what you get sometimes. If you need a good NPC and what something different, then this is a good choice.
For d20.
4 out of 5 stars

Internet Arcana
You can never have too many spells. Internet Arcana culled the best of the of OGC spells and put them one easy to use book. The format is for 3.0, but it would not take much at all to convert these to 3.5 or Pathfinder or even "downgrade" them to your favorite retro-clone. Not a "must have" but certainly a worthwhile purchase.
4 out of 5 stars

A Touch of Magic
11 great looking graphics to use as NPCs or characters in your games. They are all CGI and approach more "pinup" than character, but it is fantasy after all. There are also paper minis to use as well. For the price not bad at all.
4 out of 5 stars

Dweomercraft: Enchanters
This one is a bit of a mixed bag. There is a lot of fluff, which is fine really, but I might not ever use any of it. The cover art is great, the interior art, less so (though not bad). There are some new feats that are good and some new gods. The best part though are the spells. There are a good number of useful spells here. Plus some interesting tomes and magic items.
It might take some tweaking to fit some of the background information into your game, but there is still enough here to make it worthwhile to buy.
4 out of 5 stars

Necromancer's Legacy - Gar'Udok's Necromantic Artes
An interesting little book. Full of all sorts of necromantic fun. There are spells, some creatures, an NPC and magic items.
There are also some new races and a bunch of background material on these necromancers.
I bought it for the spells and the monsters.
4 out of 5 stars

Behind the Spells: Vampiric Touch  and  Behind the Spells: Sanctuary
An interesting idea. The "Behind the Music" or "Ecology of" a particular spell. It gives you some fluff and background material on how the spell was created and used and even has a couple of newer spells. This will not be everyone's idea of a good supplement, but certainly helps keep the magic fresh and interesting in the game. Plus it is a great idea for researching new spells or even finding "lost" spells.
Every spell has a story, this one costs you a buck-50.
4 out of 5 stars

The Primer of Practical Magic
Designed for the Dying Earth campaign setting there is a ton of material suitable for any fantasy d20 game. Scores of new spells (most with suitably fantastic names), magic items and prestige classes. The magic items are pretty interesting and there are a number of magical books to be had as well. There are even a few new creatures and feats thrown in for good measure.
There is an interesting appendix on the Dying Earth world, but you don't need it to get the full advantage of this book.
The spell component price list is very useful to have as well.
4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 10 Teaser

Episode 10: Through a Glass Darkly

Introduction

Willow and Tara were standing in front of a full-length mirror. Willow was looking very pleased, Tara looked uncomfortable. Tara was wearing a simple black skirt and blue sweater. The sweater's neckline plunged to reveal some cleavage, not much, but enough, and in a way to make her neck look longer. The skirt itself was cut a mid-calf above her knees.
"I don't know Will." Tara said after looking at herself from a couple of different angles.
"What? You look beautiful." Willow admonished.
"But is this appropriate for dinner with your parents. I mean they are coming here to give us their stamp of approval, and I want to make a good impression. I don't want." Willow covered Tara's lips with a finger. Then replaced it with her own lips.
"First. You look beautiful. Second. Mom and Dad are both in town at the same time anyway. Third. We don't need their stamp of approval. Fourth. You look beautiful."
"You mentioned that one twice." Tara said with a crooked smile.
"Because it is true." Willow turned Tara around to face the mirror. "You are a young, beautiful woman. You should let the world know and see."
"But I have never been very comfortable showing off so much." Tara said, then a side long glance. "But if you had your way I'd be in corsets and mini-skirts all the time."
"Well not all the time." A slight raise in Willow's voice and the innuendo was clear. "So, I like girly-girls, and you girly-girl are hot."
"You really think I am hot?" Tara said still looking in the mirror. "It's weird, I never could see myself as hot." Fade into the mirror.

A flash in the same mirror, only now it is dark and there is no reflection.
"It's weird" said Tara. "I can't see myself and yet I still know I am f**king hot."

Tara was standing in front of the mirror. She was wearing a flimsy blue blouse that barely covered her chest. A black lace bra pushed her pale cleavage upward and showed off her assets well. The bottom half of the blouse was unbuttoned to show off her navel ring against pale skin. The black leather skirt was split almost up to her hips, offering a just a tease of what might lie beneath. The dark red lipstick she was wearing contrasted so sharply with her pale skin that her lips almost seemed black.

"Now. To get what I want." She turned from the mirror to a small table covered with lit candles, an athame and a cup. The cup looked like it was filled with blood. She picked up the athame and slid it into a sheath in her boot.
She reached down to grab a sheet of parchment and a picture.
She read the spell with a hand placed on the picture.

Coming soon.

DriveThru Reviews: Fantasy Heartbreakers

The term "fantasy heartbreaker" is a term coined at The Forge to describe a then new breed of fantasy games that were very detailed, but obviously not far from the root game that spawned them, D&D.  To me Fantasy Heartbreaker games always come across as someone's house rules of D&D or how they would have made D&D.  Now sometimes they are supposed to be a game in their own right, a supplement to another game or in the case of more recent years, an OGC/d20 ruleset.

Most times the rules are nothing more than D&D with a different coat of paint, though sometimes were are treated to something new.  Take Pathfinder.  It is basically a Fantasy Heartbreaker that cleaves very close to the original source.  So close in fact that it even has some of the same staff on it as the 3.x version of the D&D rules.  Plus it gives a few new things.

World of Lykarnia
World of Lykarnia certainly feels D&D-ish.  There are 6 traits that map perfectly onto the 6 standard abilities of D&D. There are skills, classes, levels, the standard races. Everything we expect in a FRPG.  The equipment list the same weapons we have seen dozens of times. Granted I am not expecting much there.
A couple of things I felt were odd.  The table of contents is huge, even for a 169 page book.  I think the author could have collapsed a level or so; give us the broad categories, not ever thing to a Level 3 Header.  Secondly the book starts off with (Chapter 2) with an example on combat.  We don't even know what some of the words being used are (Spirit Score?) but we are supposed to follow along?  Didn't like that.
The system is a simple d10 based one, not all that different than Unisystem or True20 (with a d10 instead).  I found that more interesting since I could use this with Unisystem fairly easy (Characters are even ranked 1 to 5 on their traits).  The magic system is interesting, but the spells are not all that different than what can be read in the Basic D&D books.  I do like how they were grouped into classical elements.
The bit about psychotic disorders seemed way too modern for a fantasy game to be honest.
The monsters are just descriptions with their stats at the back of the book in a big table.  Like OD&D.
There is a introductory adventure in the back as well, which I thought was a nice touch.
The author obviously put a lot of work into this book but there is nothing here that we have not seen already.
The included JPG map is very nice.
I give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Tome of the Lost Realms Players Handbook
Released not long after the world had heard about 4th Edition, Tome of the Lost Realms does what Pathfinder also sat out to do, extend the life of the 3.x ruleset. Also like Pathfinder, this is a massive book at near 480 pages. The fonts and typography are meant to bring another Realms to your mind I am sure.  The realms themselves are interesting as far as that sort of thing goes. the races section is rather large with all sorts of fantasy races, again many we have seen before. The same classes as 3.x/Pathfinder, with the Warlock replacing the Sorcerer in all but name.  There are skills, feats, equipment and spells just like 3.x but it is hard to tell if anything here is new or not since there is so much of it.  The Section 15 of this book leads me to believe that there is a ton of stuff in this book above and beyond the SRD, but nothing jumped out at me.
In the end this is 3.x or maybe 3.6.  It is not quite Pathfinder and it has not moved past it's D&D roots to be completely unique either.
I gave 3 stars out of 5 since there is nothing really new here.  But the price puts it at a fifth of the cost of Pathfinder, so maybe 3.5 out of 5.

I think the issue here is that if you are going to make a new fantasy RPG you have ask yourself what are you giving us to overcome D&D-inertia.  What is new, interesting or otherwise different than before.  Retro clones will start to fall into the same issues, if they haven't already.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Young Ones for Ghosts of Albion

Being sick made me think of the Young Ones episode "Sick" and that made me realize I had not posted my Ghosts of Albion stats for the Young Ones here yet.  So without further ado.

The Young Ones


Once in every lifetime
Comes a love like this.
I need you and you need me.
Oh my darling cant you see.

The young ones,
Darling were the young ones,
And young ones shouldnt be afraid.

To live, love
Theres song to be sung,
For we wont be the young ones very long.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meioyAthGDw

(Character descriptions stolen from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Young_Ones_%28TV_series%29 )

Rick: Oh no, the front door's exploded. Vyvyan.
Mike: Vyvyan.
Vyvyan: Vyvyan, Vyvyan, Vyvyan. Honestly, whenever anything explodes in this house it's always 'Blame Vyvyan'.


Neil Pye
Name: Neil Pye
Alias: Neil the Hippie
Played by: Nigel Planer
Type: Pacifist Hippie

Neil: Oh, look, I know, I know, why not put "boomshanka"?
Mike: Ahh... that's hard to tell, Neil. What does it mean?
Neil: It means "may the seed of your loin be fruitful in the belly of your woman".


Life Points: 25
Drama Points: 10

Attributes
Strength 2
Dexterity 2
Constitution 1
Intelligence 3
Perception 4
Willpower 4

Qualities
Hmm...he is the only one that cleans the house. Hard to Kill (though he does manage to get killed) 2, Natural Toughness.

Drawbacks
Emotional Problems (Depression, Severe; Fear of rejection, Severe), Bad Luck 3, Honorable 1, Humorless, Mental Problems (Delusions Sleep will give you cancer, Severe; Obsession pacifism, vegetarianism, Severe; Paranoia Deranged) , Outcast, Resources (Miserable),

Skills
Acrobatics 0
Art 2
Computers 0 (he hates technology)
Crime 1
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 0 (Pacifist)
Gun Fu 0 (still a Pacifist)
Influence: 0
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 0 (yeah)
Languages 1
Mr. Fix-It 3
Notice 3
Occultism 2 (only because he has a personal devil)
Science 1 (limited to Natural Sciences)
Sports 1
Wild Card

Neil Pye, the hippie, is a clinically depressed, suicidal pacifist, vegetarian and environmentalist working towards a Peace Studies degree. He is victimised by other housemates (especially Rick and Vyvyan) and forced to do the housework, including shopping, cleaning and cooking. He is never acknowledged for it unless it goes wrong.

Neil is pessimistic and believes everyone and everything hates him, a belief which is mostly true, though he does have some friends, two hippies, one also named Neil and one named Warlock. He dislikes technology (except for videos) and speaks out for Vegetable Rights and Peace. He is a chronic insomniac, believing that "sleep gives you cancer".

Neil wants the others to feel sorry for him, or even just to acknowledge his presence. His attention-seeking antics range from repeatedly banging himself on the head with a frying pan to attempting suicide. He claims that "the most interesting thing that ever happens to me is sneezing". This is because whenever he sneezes, it causes a large explosion.

In the second series his parents (who appear in the episode "Sick") are revealed to be upper middle class. They are conservative Tories who look down on Neil for starring in such a disreputable comedy series.

He also says 'heavy' a lot.

Neal in Modern Games: Neal is still living in the house and working on his Peace Studies degree. He does not know that the other guys have left, since they never told him, and thinks they just have been avoiding him for 25 years.


Rick
Name: Rick
Alias: Prick (the p is silent), The Peoples Poet, Rick the Complete Bastard
Played by: Rik Mayall
Type: Communist Bastard

Rick: Neil, the bathroom's free. Unlike the country under the Thatcherite junta.

Life Points: 22
Drama Points: 15

Attributes
Strength 2
Dexterity 2
Constitution 1
Intelligence 3
Perception 2
Willpower 2

Qualities
Is complete and utter bastard a quality? If so Rick has it in supernatural levels.

Drawbacks
Adversary (Vyvyan), Emotional Problems (Easily Flustered; Fear of rejection, Mild), Bad Luck 1, Mental Problems (Coward, Severe; Cruelty, Mild unless it is directed towards Neil then Severe; Delusions is charming and intelligent, Severe; Obsession Cliff Richards, Severe; Paranoia Severe; Zealot(communism, socialism, Rickism), Severe), Resources (Miserable), Talentless/Dullard

Skills
Acrobatics 1
Art 2 (he thinks its 5)
Computers 0
Crime 2
Doctor 1
Driving 0
Getting Medieval 1 (but it refers only the medieval police state he is living now)
Gun Fu 0
Influence: -2
Knowledge 2
Kung Fu 1
Languages 1
Mr. Fix-It 0
Notice 1
Occultism 0
Science 2
Sports 0
Wild Card

Rick is a self-proclaimed anarchist who is studying sociology and/or domestic sciences (depending on the episode). Rick writes poetry and calls himself "The People's Poet".

Rick is a hypocritical, tantrum-throwing attention-seeker who loves Cliff Richard. Rick tries to impress the others with his non-existent wit, talent and humour. He verbally insults (and often physically assaults) Neil at every opportunity. He fights and bickers with Vyvyan and often attempts to impress Mike.

Rick is also vegetarian and wishes all men to love each other like brothers. However, he rarely does anything that can be attributed to brotherly love.

Rick is portrayed as unlikeable and so self-absorbed that he believes he is the "most popular member of the flat" even though his housemates hate him (Vyvyan describes Rick's name as being spelled "with a silent P"). Despite the fact that the other members dislike and disregard Rick, at one point he is heard to say that they "really are terrific friends."

Believing himself to be the 'People's Poet' or the "spokesperson for a generation", Rick often greatly exaggerates or lies about his political activism and class background and is exposed in the final episode "Summer Holiday", when it is suggested he comes from an upper class, Conservative background.

While he perceives himself as an anarchist, he is actually very fond of ideals produced by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky and states his interests in them in several episodes. However, he claims to have a dislike of Margaret Thatcher, as is noted by his efforts to threaten her with a bomb in the eponymously named episode "Bomb." This is also noticed in "The Young Ones Book," first published by Sphere Books, wherein negative references are made to both Thatcher and The Conservative Party.

Rick speaks loudly and cannot pronounce his "r"s.

Rick in Modern Games: Rick died in 1985 before receiving his degree in a student protest march. Rick thought it was for an anti-Thatcher march, but it instead was to protest the replacement of Coke with New Coke in the student commons.
He is now haunting a castle in Scotland that houses a magic school.

Vyvyan Basterd
Name: Vyvyan Basterd
Alias: Vyvyan the punk rocker
Played by: Adrian Edmondson
Type: Anti-social Bastard

Vyvyan: What we need is a large consignment of very hard drugs.

Life Points: 49
Drama Points: 15

Attributes
Strength 5
Dexterity 2
Constitution 4
Intelligence 3
Perception 3
Willpower 2

Qualities
Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill

Drawbacks
Mental Problems (Anti-Social impulses, Deranged; Cruelty, Deranged; Obsessions, Mild; Paranoia, Mild; Recklessness, Deranged), Resources (Miserable),

Skills
Acrobatics 1
Art -1
Computers 0
Crime 3
Doctor 2 (he is pre-med after all)
Driving 2
Getting Medieval 4 (practically his middle name)
Gun Fu 1
Influence: 3
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 2
Languages 1
Mr. Fix-It 2
Notice 1
Occultism 1
Science 2
Sports 3
Wild Card

Vyvyan is an orange-haired, mohawked punk rocker and medical student. He is extremely violent and regularly attacks Neil and Rick with pieces of wood, cricket bats and other large objects. He never harms Mike, whom he respects. He despises Rick more than he does Neil, taking every opportunity to insult and attack him. For example, when Rick, Mike and Neil meet his mother at a bar in the episode "Boring", he calls both Neil and Mike his friends, but not Rick, whom he refers to as "a complete bastard." Ironically, the antagonistic relationship between Rick and Vyvyan makes them all but inseperable; by a wide margin, the two spend more time together than apart or with the other housemates.

Vyvyan owns a yellow Ford Anglia, with red flames painted along the sides, and a Glaswegian hamster named Special Patrol Group ("SPG" for short) which he is very fond of, although SPG is also frequently subjected to Vyvyan's extreme violence. His mother is a barmaid and former shoplifter who before "Boring" had not seen Vyvyan in ten years and has no idea who his father is.

Vyvyan displays feats of inhuman strength on occasion (moving entire walls with his bare hands, lifting Neil above his head in a fight with Rick, biting through a brick and even being decapitated and re-attaching his own head), and eats just about anything; televisions, dead rats, cornflakes, or cornflakes with ketchup.

Despite being a homicidal maniac, Vyvyan seems quite sociable and creative; In one episode ("Flood"), he has developed his own potion to transform a person into an axe-wielding homocidal maniac (he claims "it's basically a cure...for not being an axe-wielding homocidal maniac...the potential market's enourmous!"). He has more friends than the others but apparently "he doesn't like any of them." He frequently causes havoc or damage such as wiring the doorbell to a bomb and adding a 289 CID Ford V-8 engine to the vacuum cleaner which proceeds to suck up the carpet, the floorboards and a friend of Neil's (the vacuum also prompted one of the few clashes between Vyvyan and Mike; when Mike admonished Vyv not to use it anymore, Vyv replied by calling him a "poof"). Disturbingly, Vyvyan also appears to be the only member of the group with a driving licence.

Vyvyan in Modern Games: Vyvyan became a very successful plastic surgeon.


Mike
Name: Mike
Alias: "the Cool Person"
Played by: Christopher Ryan
Type: Con-artist

Mike: Neil, have you upset the neighbors?
Neil: No, I've blown them up.

Life Points: 26
Drama Points: 15

Attributes
Strength 2
Dexterity 3
Constitution 2
Intelligence 4
Perception 4
Willpower 5

Qualities
Charisma 1, Criminal (Con Man)

Drawbacks
Covetous (Greedy, Desperate; Lechery, Serious; Ambition, Desperate; Conspicuosness; Serious), Mental Problems (Anti-social, Mild), Resources (Miserable),

Skills
Acrobatics 1
Art 2
Computers 1
Crime 5
Doctor 1
Driving 0
Getting Medieval 1
Gun Fu 2
Influence: 6
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 1
Languages 1
Mr. Fix-It 2
Notice 4
Occultism 0
Science 1
Sports 2
Wild Card

Mike was the odd-one-out of the four. He is the assumed leader of the group, despite his diminutive size, and does not involve himself in the battles between the other three. He makes puns, which are either deliberately cheap or humorous but over-celebrated.

He frequently utters confusing, profound-sounding phrases which baffle the others (for example, when asked by Rick if he stole his apple, Mike replies "Well, if you're gonna sin you might as well be original."). Mike is supposedly the ladies' man of the bunch and brags about his prowess with women, although he is eventually forced to admit his virginity to the others in "Nasty." Though he is a virgin, as are the rest of the housemates, he makes every attempt at wooing the opposite sex, being quite forward and unsuccessful.

A con artist, he always has some kind of plan to make quick money such as renting out Rick's bedroom as a roller disco and soliciting bids for the unexploded atom bomb that fell into the house. Mike attends Scumbag College only nominally as he has blackmailed his tutor and the Dean of the school for grants and apparently passing grades. In "Summer Holiday" he muses "I think I'll ask for one of those Ph.D.s next year."

While Mike often does things at the expense or detriment of his housemates, he rarely expresses the sort of open hostility that the others do, and seems to cause them trouble only when it benefits him, rather than out of sadistic joy. He has, however, managed to nail his own legs to a table, and knocked Neil out during a game of cricket, albeit unintentionally. We only see violence inflicted on him once (at the end of the "Living Doll" video, when Vyvyan knocks him unconscious with a hammer).

Mike in Modern Games: Mike bought and conned his way to a seat on the House of Lords where he was instrumental in working on the committee to elect Mr. Harold Saxon.
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