Thursday, June 30, 2011

Icons

I go in and out of moods for my games a lot.  Gamer ADHD as it has been called.

I have been going through my Icons collection of late with the idea to revive my long dead Supers game.
I have already stated Justice for Icons, but I have not used it for Willow and Tara just yet.  So here is my point of view on Icons.  Some of this I mentioned before, but I wanted to pull it all together in one place.

Icons

I enjoy Supers games. I don't get to play them as often as I would like, but I enjoy them all the same. I had been playing M&M 2ed and just picked up BASH! so I was hesitant to also get Icons. But Icons comes with a pretty good pedigree. First it is written by Steven Kenson, who gave us Mutants and Masterminds and also worked on Silver Age Sentinels. Steve obviously knows his supers. It has Gareth-Michael Skarka of Adamant Entertainment and one of the minds behind "Hong Kong Action Theater". Walt Ciechanowski has a ton of game systems under his belt too including M&M, True20 and Victoriana (1st ed). And Morgan Davie, whom I'll admit I am not as familiar with. But he is one of the guys that wrote Icons, so that makes him good in my book.

Comics are a visual medium. Full of art and color and eye catching action. Icons is the same. It is a really good looking book, especially one that has such a "retro" or even "indie" feel to it. It lives somewhere between the free flowing cartoon fun of Cartoon Action Hour and the slick, high production values of Mutants and Masterminds. All three of these games are fantastic and their style really tells us a lot about what they are about. Icons is a comic book game that is close to a Saturday Morning Super Heroes cartoon. The art, which some people have disliked, I think sets the perfect mood for this book. It is simple art, but it is good art and has a earnestness about that I like. That is also true for the rules.


Icons, as you may or may not have heard, is powered by FATE. Though the typical FATE/Fudge trappings of naming the power levels is gone in favor of numbers (sort of a step backwards from the FATE perspective, but fine for me). There is the option for named levels too, and I think it would fit the style of comic book action, but I myself prefer numbers. The scale is pretty simple, 1 to 10, with 3 an average. So very similar already to a lot of games I play.

The rules themselves are really simple. It is a modification of the dF system. Use 2d6 with one as positive and one as negative, roll and add, apply mods. Easy. You can be up and running in less time than it takes to say "Meanwhile back at the Hall of Justice..."

Hero creation is unique for a modern game, it is random. Not that you couldn't do it as a "point buy" system, but the randomness is what I think sets it away from BASH which can fill similar needs.

I feel I must at this point call out the Character Sheet. Long ago I was a reader of Marvel and I loved their "Whos Who" of the Marvel universe where they would have bar charts to rank their heroes on various attributes. It was almost very game-like and I loved them. Icons does something similar and it really gives their characters a different feel.

I would be lying if I didn't see bits of pieces of Silver Age Sentinels or Mutants and Masterminds peeking out every so often. That is fine with me. That familiarity is a good thing in my mind.

Icons is not really the game I would use if I were going to run a multi-year, multi-arc long game; that's what Mutants and Masterminds is for. But if I needed to run a supers game on a rainy afternoon or a convention or just something to have some fun with, then Icons is a great choice.

Other Icons products:

Hope Prep #0: Orientation
Icons and M&M 3

Ever since the X-Men went to class and the Teen Titans went to their tower, being a super powered teen has always been popular in comics. It was popular before that too, but let's stick with high school. Hope Prep is another in a long line of Schools for .... you get the idea.
This book was written for ICONS, but I am certain that the same applies for other versions (M&M).
The idea here is a day spent learning about your new school, Hope Prep. A new bad guy organization is introduced, which I really liked and will use. And it works as a good introduction to supers roleplaying and the game systems as well.

Each scene is detailed well, but not in a way that tells the GM what everyone needs to do, but instead a framework of what is going on and how to move from one scene to the next. Very nice.
There is a starter map of the school grounds and some materials to print and give to your players.

All in all, a very fun intro and certainly makes want to get some more from this line of products.
5 of 5 Stars

Hope Prep School Freshman Handbook
Icons and M&M3

The Freshman Handbook is a great product in the Hope Prep product line. Meant to follow from the Hope Prep Orientation book, this book expands what you know and provides more information.

Like the Orientation Book, this book is multi-system. I had no issue moving from the ICONS version of one to the M&M version of the other.

This book contains everything a new student will need to know about their new school. There are class schedules with information on the teachers (and their powers, listed in back). While there is a wealth of information here it's utility will vary form GM to GM. While somw may like know where the students are at any given moment of any given day, there are others that will hand wave this.

One thing I found a distraction was the multi-colored text of the two students, Maza and Kid Courage. While interesting and provided a good insight to what was "really" going on, I found the font choice and color difficult to read sometimes.
4 of 5 Stars

EDITED TO ADD:
I just found this awesome Character sheet for Hope Prep for Icons from the author's own blog.
http://www.meliorvia.com/2011/06/open-house-sale-and-icons-character.html


ION Guard
Bash! and ICONS

If you need a reason to buy BASH or ICONS then this is it. At just about 60 pages this supplement presents the Intergalactic Ordinance Network Guard or ION Guard, an intergalatic police force defending the universe from all sorts of bad guys.
Yes we have seen this before, but the the presentation in this book is so enduring you ignore the obvious DNA of this product and just pull on your ION Fist, say your Oath and protect the Galaxy. NPCs are detailed as well as bad guys for you to fight. The layout of the book is awesome and I honestly can't say enough good about it.
Dislike: would have liked to see more bad guys.
5 out of 5 stars.

Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 3 (ICONS)
A hefty collection of archetypes for the ICONS game. Lots of familiar territory here with some standard comic book archetypes. What I came here for was the Magician, Occult hero and the Psychic.

In all cases an archetype is presented with some explanatory notes on how this character works in the comics and the game. Examples from comics are given and ways to use the character. Then we also get a full write up of a ready to use character, either as an NPC or PC for your own games. Usually 4 pages per archetype.

Very good book for the price and now I want to pick up the first two as well.
5 out of 5 stars.

This might well be the most awesome product I have ever paid under a buck for.
You don't get many pages here, but you get alot. A "ripped from the tabloids" personality that can be a snap to play. All the Icons stats you need, a background, awesome art and a little paper mini to use in your game.
All for less than you would pay for a Mt. Dew out of a vending machine.

I just don't want to see more like this, I want to see LiLo and all her awesome powers of...well something I am sure.

Worth it for humor alone.
5 of 5 Stars

Icons vs. Bash vs. Mutants and Masterminds
This is something I think I need address, but at the moment I don't feel qualified enough to do this. I think I am going to have to play some games and try them out to see which ones I like the best.

More on Icons tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ghosts of Albion: Dinosauria!

This Gen Con I am going to introduce a new adventure for Ghosts of Albion.  The first I have written in a while and I am quite excited.

The adventure is centered around the New Year's Eve 1853 party at the Crystal Palace.  The characters are all invited to a most unique party inside one of the first ever models of a dinosuar!



You are invited by Mr. Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins,


and Prof. Richard Owens,


I'll be presenting some details for players here and the characters they can play.

Currently I have an immortal sorceress, a cowboy with golden bullets that he may have gotten from the devil, an Algonquin shaman, a faerie lady, and an American occult scholar.

Stay tuned.

15 Movies

Found this 15 Movies thing at The Girl with the White Parasol and at Defiant Success.
I watch a lot of movies so I figured what the heck.

Movie you love with a passion.
Hmm.  Raiders of the Lost Ark is near perfect in my mind.  But I also love the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Movie you vow to never watch.
I doubt I will ever watch Human Centipede. Not because it looks stupid (it does) I don't want to do anything that might encourage this sort of "money shot" film making.  Basically this entire movie was built around one scene.  I refuse to be a part of that.

Movie that literally left you speechless.
Monster-a-Go Go.  It was just so monumentally stupid I couldn't say anything.

Movie you always recommend.
Anything by Hayao Miyazaki.

Actor/actress you always watch, no matter how crappy the movie.
Actor: I'll admit it. Nick Cage.  He plays the same character in every movie, but that is ok.
Actress: Linda Fiorentino. I even watched Jade.  Twice.

Actor/actress you don't get the appeal for.
Actor: John Travolta. I really just can't stand this guy.
Actress: Julia Ormond.  Have no idea what people see in her. She bores me to tears.

Actor/actress, living or dead, you'd love to meet.
Christopher Lee.  I bet he is just a font of knowledge.

Sexiest actor/actress you've seen. (Picture required!)
Wow.  So many really.  I am rather fond of Anne Hathaway.


Dream cast.
Another tough one.
Dream casts are tough since so much depends on the script.  Sometime you get an Oceans 11 and sometimes you get an Oceans 13. ;)

Favorite actor pairing.
I was always a big fan of Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.  I also like anything with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter.

Favorite movie setting.
Anything horror.  But I really like Victorian.

Favorite decade for movies.
Comedy/Coming of Age: 80's
Classic Horror: 50's and 70's

Chick flick or action movie?
Horror.

Hero, villain or anti-hero?
Depends on my mood.

Black and white or color?
Love old horror in black and white, but I see in color

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Lesbian Vampire: Villain or Victim? Part 3

I am participating in the Queer Film Blogathon over at Garbo Laughs.

Let's bring this back around to what this blog is about; RPGs.

I have stated up and discussed a number of lesbian vampires based on all the movies I have discussed and even delved into why they do what they do.
Here are the links
But one is conspicuous for her absence, Carmilla.

So here she is for the Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Here is a description of Carmilla from the text:

She was slender, and wonderfully graceful. Except that her movements were languid--very languid--indeed, there was nothing in her appearance to indicate an invalid. Her complexion was rich and brilliant; her features were small and beautifully formed; her eyes large, dark, and lustrous; her hair was quite wonderful, I never saw hair so magnificently thick and long when it was down about her shoulders; I have often placed my hands under it, and laughed with wonder at its weight. It was exquisitely fine and soft, and in color a rich very dark brown, with something of gold. I loved to let it down, tumbling with its own weight, as, in her room, she lay back in her chair talking in her sweet low voice, I used to fold and braid it, and spread it out and play with it. Heavens! If I had but known all!

So based on that I think the perfect choice for casting is Anne Hathaway.

Countess Mircalla Karnstein, aka "Carmilla"
Vampire

Attributes
Strength 6
Dexterity 4
Constitution 5
Intelligence 3
Perception 3
Willpower 5

Qualities
Age (2)
Attractiveness (3)
Cloak of Beasts (Large Cat)
Emotional Influence
Fast Reaction Time (Vampire)
Hard to Kill 3 (2 from Vampire)
Mesmerize (See Me, Hear My Voice)
Natural Weapon (Vampire)
Reduced Damage 2 (Vampire)
Regeneration (6 Life Points per hour) (Vampire)
Sunlight Immunity
Vampire

Drawbacks
Adversary (1)
Bloodlust
Home Soil (Burial Shroud)
Love, Tragic
Emotional Problems, Emotionally Dependent (victims) (1)
Mental Problems, Covetous (Lechery) (1)
Minority (lesbian woman) (2)
Special Diet (only young women)

Useful Information
Initiative
Actions 1/1
Observation 1d10
Fear +5

Skills
Armed Mayhem 2
Art 0
Athletics 2
Crime 2
Drive / Ride 2
Engineering 1
Fisticuffs 1
Influence 4
Knowledge 4
Languages 5 (English, French, Latin, German, Romanian)
Marksmanship 0
Notice 3
Occultism 0
Physician 0

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +6 - Defence Action                           
Grapple +7 - Defence Action
Bite +5 6 Slash / Stab, needed for blood drain
Punch / claw +6 12 Bash / slash


The Countess Mircalla Karnstein was one of members of the notorious Karnstein family, a family well known for it's depravity and dabbling in occult practices.
Mircalla was one of their lesser evil members, preferring to be left alone so she could dally with the serving girls of the castle. Though sometime after 1698 the young Mircalla suffered the same fate as many other members of her family, she was turned into a vampire.  Like all members of the Karnstein vampire clan she must retain her burial shroud in order to keep her undeath.  Loss of it will not allow her rest and she may be killed by the removal of her head.
Mircalla, like many vampires, can only alter her name in the form of an anagram or something that sounds similar; i.e. Carmilla, Millarca, Marcilla and so on.
Unlike other members of her family Mircalla has found a way to survive in the in the inhospitable world of science and reason.

Mircalla's favored victim are young women.  Her curse is to prey only on the same sorts of women she loved in life.  She can't help but fall in love with her victims, knowing all too well that she will be the cause of their deaths.  Her compulsion to only use anagrams of her own name might be part of some desire to be discovered and put out of the constant pain she must be feeling, but her vampiric nature drives her ever forward to continue on and looking for the next victim.

If there are other survivors of the Karnstein clan, and there is at least some reason to believe this, then Mircalla does not enteract with them at all.

What we know about Mircalla and the Karnsteins comes from a variety of sources, most notable was the recollections of one of Mircalla's victims (published as a work of fiction no less) and the reports of the most excellent occult scholar and expert on vampires, Professor Hieronymus Grost. Grost has recorded a number of instances of encounters with the Karnstein clan.

All members, save the youngest, of the Karnstein Vampires are immune to the effects sunlight. They do need to keep their burial shroud with them in order to rest.  Without it they are vulnerable and my be killed by beheading.  A stake will only immobilize them, not permanently destroy them.   The Karnsteins also have differing tastes in their prey and once chosen they rarely diverge from it.  In Mircalla's case she must feed only on young women.
Mircalla can mesmerize her victims into thinking her feedings are nothing but bad dreams.  Like other vampires she cannot enter someone's home without permission, but she rarely has trouble getting that.
Mircalla can also appear as large cat, either a large black house cat or a small panther-like cat.  No reports are given whether this is a trait she shares with her family or unique to her.

Using Mircalla in Ghosts of Albion
Mircalla could very well be drawn to London in search of new prey.  A metropolis the size of London would easily hide one lone predator. With the rise of the affluent middle class and "working rich", Mircalla would have plenty of chances to engage in society to bring her closer to her favored victims.
Mircalla is not a fighter.  She will not engage in combat unless it is a last resort.  She preys on her victims and gets out as soon as she can.  If faced with destruction her choices are usually flee or fight in that order.  In any case once discovered she will attempt to flee.

Using Mircalla in Buffy/Angel/Army of Darkness
In modern games Mircalla will be continuing her modus operandi.  However she will have one additional level of Age (and corresponding skill points).  If playing a high-school game, then Mircalla will often take on the guise of an exotic foreign exchange student who surrounds herself with the most popular girls in school.  There will be no indication of anything amiss till students begin to complain of nightmares and a new wasting disease will hit the school, effecting only the young women and girls.

The Lesbian Vampire: Villain or Victim? Part 2

I am participating in the Queer Film Blogathon over at Garbo Laughs.

Today I want to continue the topic of the lesbian vampire trope in film.  Why this trope and say not the homosexual vampire in general?  Well the easiest answer is of course I am most familiar with this one.  While there are examples of male homosexual vampires in film, using the same sub-text as the lesbian vampires, and both sub-genres do have a history of literature behind it, the lesbian vampire seems more prevalent.

The obvious reason is that male film makers tended to see women more as victims and a vampire has a sexual element to their predation.  Also the vampire is the ultimate other, someone so far outside that they are nolonger alive, no longer a person.  This the same history that many gays and lesbians (and African-Americans and Jews and Hispanics and....just pick an era) have also felt.  Naturally the two have become related.

The male homosexual vampire though can also be summed up in one name; Lestat.  Watch the movies, read the books and then come back.   That is all great and everything, but Lestat does not have the presence in film history as Dracula or Carmilla.  Though as the 70's wore on and Hammer was feeling the pressure to do more and more we got a new set of lesbian vampires.

Daughters of Darkness (1971)
I spent a week back in 2009 talking about Elizabeth Bathory. Now I will contend, just based on the reports as we know them, that Bathory was not a lesbian but rather a sexual sadist that happened to have targeted young girls.

That all being said, she is most often represented in movies, like she was here, as a lesbian and one that does not care much at all for men.  Of course credit goes to Delphine Seyrig and her portrayal of the immortal Countess.  This movie presents Elizabeth along with her companion Ilona (Andrea Rau).  Elizabeth begins to prey on new bride Valerie while sending Ilona out to tempt her new husband Stephan.
There is nothing really subtle here.  Stephan is portrayed as a useless thing that later can only consumate his marriage by beating Valerie.  When he kills Ilona in an accident in the shower he is portrayed as incompetent and something to be discarded.  All the while Elizabeth holds court and seduces Valerie away.  The ending is jarring,  more "Celluloid Closet" style vengeance maybe? Valerie, with Elizabeth's voice is now off picking up a new couple to continue her immortality with.  
There are traces of we will later see in The Hunger here.  The cool, sophisticated, European, woman. She might have some royal blood in her somewhere (pardon the bad metaphor) and she is certainly worldly.  She has companions, maybe male and female, but it is in her female companions she lavishes the most attention on even if I dare say it, the most love.    This is not the rampaging monster of Dracula or even Orlock. Carmilla, Bathory and later Miriam Blaylock are exotic creatures almost unique to themselves.

Of course there is still the issue of sex.

Vampyres (1975)
I also spent a week with this movie last year.  Vampyres is everything I have been talking about turned up to 11.  There are two beautiful women who spend most of the movie in some state of undress or in bed with each other or someone else.   They are obviously lovers and were killed in the midst of their lovemaking to come back as vampires.  They kill men, mostly, till another woman discovers them.  They then run off together in the end rather than get killed.

This movie could very well be prime example of this troupe and cliché in action. Innocent women are killed by an unknown gunman to come back from the dead to kill others.  It is almost textbook Dead/Evil Lesbian Cliché. Almost. While it certainly falls into cliché it also subverts it just a little. From the movie you get the feeling that Fran would rather not kill these men. Miriam of course only cares for Fran.  The novelization of this film makes this clearer, but we should go by what we have on screen.
Despite my enjoyment of this film and the material it has given me for my various games it is not a great film and as a film about lesbian vampires it is no Carmilla to be sure.   While I felt sorry for these women and felt they were trapped in an existence they never chose for themselves, I am not sure that is the intent of the film maker. I see two tragic figures.  José Larraz saw two pretty girls that he got to film naked. Now to be fair there is some good in this movie.  The actresses, while not great, certainly have enthusiasm for their roles and they can pull of the tortured vampires well.  It is a cult classic for a good reason and I still enjoy watching it.

The Hunger (1983)
Ah the Hunger. I swear this movie is just as responsible for the whole "Vampire sub-culture" as Vampire:TM and Lestat.   Bauhaus, David Bowie, Catherine Denueve. No wonder Poppy Z. Brite once described this as "the mandated first date movie of lesbian goths".   Based on the book by Whitney Strieber (when he wasn't writing about aliens) this is a very interesting tale.  First. The word vampire is never said (that I recall) in the movie.  It is also never said in the book, but I could be wrong on both counts.

Instead of a full review let's look into what is going on here.  Miriam Blaylock (Deneuve looking FANTASTIC) is a millennias old vampire that needs a companion to stay alive.  They feed on blood together (the scene in the beginning of the film where they pick up the couple while Peter Murphy sings is almost iconic) to stay alive, but only Miriam has eternal youth.  Her companion John (David Bowie) is showing the first signs of his aging process. Miriam soon has her eyes on lovely Dr. Sarah (Susan Sarandon) as his replacement.
David's years catch up to him and Miriam sets about to turn Sarah.  The scene where Miriam plays Sous le dôme épais might very well be one of the best seduction scenes in any movie, let alone a horror movie and never mind that is also between two women.  Sarah is introduced into a new world after her sexual encounter with Miriam.  Death later follows, Sarah's boyfriend Tom is the first to feed Sarah's new hunger and then Sarah herself.   The ending of the movie is not the same as the book and frankly I never quite "got it".  So let focus on Miriam and Sarah.
It is easy to feel Miriam's loneliness here. A scene in flashback of Miriam in Egyptian dress feeding in what must be the first time, gives us an idea of the passage of years and the number of former lovers she keeps in her attic.  The Hunger's lesbian overtones have been talked about at length by Susan Sarandon in the DVD commentary and in the movie The Celluloid Closet.  The Hunger does owe a lot to both Carmilla and Vampyros Lesbos in terms of visual style and how they wished to portray the characters. The question is now is Miriam sympathetic enough to avoid falling into a cliche where she needs to kill, however slowly, her lovers?  The novel handles this better by making Miriam a seperate species. She is looking for a cure that might help her and her future lovers and thinks Sarah is the one that will discover it.  It is not particularly a feminist movie or statement, but more about loneliness felt by one person that happens to also be female and bisexual and able to kill anyone she needs.

The Clichés
One thing we need to look at seriously is the potential of clichés in these movies.
In nearly every case the story is this.  "A female vampire seduces a younger, more innocent female victim in order to bring her into a life of vampirism like herself." Now replace the word vampire with lesbian and read it again.  Are we seeing a subversion of an ugly stereotype or a reaffirmation of one?  Can be both.

The Female Vampire as The Other
The female lesbian vampire is the ultimate Other.  Outside of life, outside of "male normality" and outside of conformity.  Zalenska, Carmilla, Bathory and Miriam Blaylock are all European royalty,  they do not have to conform to society.  Their victims are more common place women, each with (largely ineffectual) men in their lives, but are seduced away.  Away into what?  Well that is what we should ask ourselves. Is this a subconscious reaction to the fear of The Other?  Or from my point of view are the film-makers purposefully making us feel for these character because they have no choices?  Is that just as bad? I don't hate you because you are a monster, I feel bad for you.   Frankly I'd rather be hated than pitied.
Jumping across the race and gender divide let's look (breifly) at Blacula. I have mentioned before that Prince Mamuwalde is a sympathetic character. He was destroyed by Dracula only share in his curse.  Here despite being a Prince himself, he is reduced in status by Dracula because of his skin color.  Plus Blacula is such a sympathetic character probably in no small part due the acting ability of William Marshal who got this role from playing Othello.

Which leads us to the oddest conclusion.  Vampyres, from José Larraz (who admits all he wanted to do was make a vampire film with pretty girls in it) might be the most "feminist" movie in the lot.  The girls, Fran and Miriam are already together and in love then they are killed to come back a enact some vengeance.  There is no seducer and victim between them they began and ended as equals to each other.

The Dead/Evil Lesbian Cliché
Are these movies part of the dead/evil lesbian cliché?  By definition any vampire is dead. And if they have to kill to live on for themselves then they are also by definition evil.
Details of this cliché are listed here: http://thekittenboard.com/board/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2539

At some level they are all guilty of this.  Again, Vampyres takes a different route by showing yes the women were murdered because they were together, but they came back to get revenge on their murderer.  This puts it closer to The Crow and other revenge movies.  Dracula's Daughter and in some cases Carmilla and The Hunger show that our vampire is conflicted, even feeling she has no choice or is trapped in this life/unlife.  The lines start getting a bit blurry.  In the end I give them a barest of passes only because of the times in which they were made and the fact that most of these are B movies.  I would naturally expect better from any movie coming out now.

For a good example of what we can get now, even though it is not a vampire, we have Madame Vastra (a Silurian) and Jenny (her human lover) from Doctor Who.

Come back later as I wrap this up and bring it back around to RPGs.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Lesbian Vampire: Villain or Victim? Part 1

I am participating in the Queer Film Blogathon over at Garbo Laughs.
The entire list of participants will be posted here: http://garbolaughs.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/queer-blogathon/

I want to explore the meme/trope of the Lesbian Vampire in horror films as the ultimate outsider and compare how she is more often portrayed as a tragic figure than that of a monster.  This can be extended to the Homosexual Vampire too (Lestat, or any of Rice's vamps) and even due to race (Blackula).   This of course will necessitate a discussion on the Evil or Dead Lesbian Cliché and whether or not even a sympathetic vampire still qualifies.

Why this trope?  Well if nothing else I need to blame Carmilla.  Long ago I had heard of this notorious film called "Blood and Roses" and I really wanted to watch it.  I had to be high school or younger.  I had already had a stead diet of vampire movies, mostly Dracula clones, under my belt and I wanted something new.  Plus my dad had this book that included a still from the movie that really was not something that ever scream horror to me.


Looking at this picture you can't tell who is the victim and who is the vampire.

I never found a copy of Blood and Roses.  But I did learn it had been based on a book and that book was at my library.  I got a copy of Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla and read it all in one night.  I was dragging the next day, but at the end the story I felt bad for Carmilla.  To me she had grown up in this family of evil and all she ever really wanted was someone to love.  It happened to be a female someone, but really that is all she wanted.  She had been cursed against her will to become something that society could not accept; at least that is how it occurred to my teenage mind then.  Still though, I mourn for Carmilla and what she lost.

I learned soon after there were other movies like this, and it was not long before a pattern emerged.

Let be honest and upfront here, what is the primary motivation for including a lesbian vampire in a horror flick?  Simple to get her in a position with the heroine/last girl and fill theatre seats.  Frankly it is no different than what you might find in most Women in Prison movies.  But I content that due to source material, namely Carmilla and some movies, the Lesbian Vampire trope evolved into much more of  a tragic figure.

It make more sense to do this all chronologically rather than when I saw them.  And depending on the size I might need to split this up into multiple posts.

Dracula's Daughter (1936)
I reviewed this movie at length back in the October Horror blogathon, but I want to get to the salient bits here. Marya Zaleska is the eponymous daughter of the Count. At some point he cursed her with vampirism and now she must also drink the blood of humans.  First thing we have here in our trope building is a woman forced into her new unlife by a man.  I am not trying to make any messages here, but I do have a point I want to get to.  Secondly this existence is not something they want.  While Drac is gladly nibbling on the necks of any young lass that happens by, Zaleska is much more tortured about it.  Like the literary Carmilla she is part of her family's curse.  Like Carmilla, what attracts Zaleska's interest is the lovely Janet.
Universal played up the implied lesbian vampire subtext here, even with original promotional material claiming "save your women from Dracula's Daughter!".  I think in a lesser actress' hand Zaleska would have been seen as an evil predator, but Gloria Holden was not a lesser actress.  The effect again is one of profound saddness for this character.  She does not want to be like she is.  The question is though are supposed to assume that is also true for her attractions to other women?  This movie is unclear, since, in true Celluloid Closet tradition Zaleska is killed and Janet is saved by her man.  In fact this movie is one of the subjects in the movie version of the Celluloid Closet.
It would be years before we get another good portrayal.

Blood and Roses (Et mourir de plaisir) (1961)
I can't properly review this one because to this day I still have not seen it.  But I have seen a number of Vadim's films and read a lot of commentary on the movie itself.
There is less connection to the novel Carmilla than later attempts, and the Carmilla of this tale is less sympathetic than say future versions, though the relationship between the two girls is more deeply developed.

The Vampire Lovers (1970)
This movie is like a perfect storm for the Other Side.  Based on the original novel, it is Hammer, has Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, Kata O'Mara, Pippa Steele and Madeline Smith, there is even a Faux Dracula there.
Honestly I am a bit surprised I have gone into this movie deeper than I have here.  The tale of the Karnstein's would be perfect for Ghosts of Albion or Buffy.  But I digress.
Ingrid Pitt's Carmilla is a tragic figure here, manipulated by forces beyond her control, either by her "mother" the Countess or the mysterious figure that lurks in the background (always assumed to be Dracula, played by John Forbes-Robertson who played D in the Seven Golden Vampires) and her own bloodlust.  Now here there is no doubt that Carmilla is supposed to be evil.  She casually uses and tosses away Mdme. Perrodot (Kate O'Mara) and she did kill Laura (Pippa Steele) but yet to me there is something underneath all of this.  Carmilla is still a tragic figure.  She was damned, but maybe the least of the damned.  Not as much as in the novella, but it is there.
Vampire Lovers goes into areas only hinted at in Dracula's Daughter and Blood and Roses.  The look that Carmilla gives Mdme. Perrodot can not be confused with anything else other than pure lust.

Vampyros Lesbos (1971)
One can not talk about this trope and not bring up Jesus Franco's Vampyros Lesbos and the haunting performance of Soledad Miranda. And haunting is the right word.  Soledad brought not only an ethereal quality to the roll, but she was also killed in a car crash after filming, but before the film was released in America.

Based on Dracula (which Franco and Miranda also did a version of with Christopher Lee) though with the gender's of Dracula and Harker switched.  Which changes the whole dynamic.  There is a languid quality about this tale.  Unlike Count Dracula, which attempts use what he can of Harker and then tosses him aside, Condesa Oskudar makes attempts to push away Linda because she knows there is an end to their tale.

This is a surreal film really.  And again one can't help but feel that the character of Condesa Oskudar is a sympathetic one. Had she not been a blood sucking vampire, albeit one that likes to sunbathe, then this movie might have been more like a Room in Rome.

There is a lot of sexploitation in these movies. Let's not pretend otherwise. But that doesn't mean that the stories themselves have to be.   Tomorrow I'll bring up some more movies that take this trope much further and we still need to answer the question here are we seeing these women as subtle examples of the alienation they must feel or are these examples of the Evil/Dead Lesbian Cliché, or are they both?

Come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Old School D&D find

Hey if anyone reading this is living in the Chicago 'burbs then the Half-Priced Books in Palatine, IL (on Rand Rd) has a copy of the D&D Basic set, Tom Moldvay edition, for sale.
The box shows some shelf wear but the books are complete (including the TSR catalog), and in near mint condition.  There are a set of yellow marbleized, un-marked dice, no crayon.

It is going to 25 bucks, an absolute steal for this.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Stars are Wrong

Look. I love Cthulhu and Lovecraft as much as the next gamer.  But I was going through a stack of games today with my oldest and looking at things coming up and decided that I am not seeing anything new.

So can we get a moratorium on Cthulhu for a while.  Five years should be about right.
I was re-reading some Lovecraft between some meetings.  The Tomb, The Picture in the House, and Polaris.  Not a tentacle in the lot.

I think we need a collective break.

Zatannurday: Anime Zee


Here is a cute little anime Zatanna.




Source: http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/preview2.php?image=solicits/dccomics/200805/dcdirect/AmeComi_Zatanna.jpg

Not sure why she has blue hair, but it is anime so I'll go with it.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Best Blog You Are Not Reading

I like to read all sorts of blogs.  Not just gaming ones but all kinds.
I have a fondness for horror and special fondness for cheesy monster flicks.

This why one of my favorite blogs is Monster Island News.
http://robojapan.blogspot.com/

Sure there are other horror blogs and other movie blogs, but the aesthetic of this one really appeals to me.
It's just monster news, but a good report on geek culture and life.

Check it out.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I recommend...

I read a lot of books.
LOTS.

I just finished Christopher Hitchen's "God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" (it was a great book) and I have a new tablet with Nook, Kindle, Kobo and a generic e-reader apps all installed.  I have about 30 new books that I got for free; and not stolen mind you, but given to me and asked to read.

But I have bought one book.

Fellow blogger, Eden Freelancer, old-school publisher and my usual verbal sparing partner, Jason Vey has released his first novel, Broken Gods.


You can find it here, http://www.reliquarypress.com/Reliquary_Press/Welcome.html
Or at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

I have the Nook version and can't wait to start it.  I read a first draft of it and I like the world Jason is building here.  If you are a fan of modern supernatural then this should be added to your list of things to buy and read.

I'll update you all as I am reading it.

But don't wait for me.  Go out and buy a copy.

Dragonchess

WotC is running their "favorites of the lat 400 issues Dragon" still and one of the ones popping up today is one of my faves from issue #100, Dragonchess.

Gary Gygax, a well known chess fan, created Dragonchess.  You can read about it on Wikipedia, or if youhave that DDi thing, then read about it in Dragon #400.  So interesting background from Kim Mohan is included too.

My DM back in High School made a Dragonchess board.  He used plexiglass and painted a bunch of chess pieces and bits from other games for all the pieces.  The paint was still drying when we played our first game, which took all of our D&D time I recall.

Might need to show this one to my kids too.  They love chess.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing Slumps and Research Surplus

In the last two weeks I have done nothing.


Well that is not totally true, I mean I have been working at my job, still reading with the kids, playing D&D with my kids and Pathfinder with the big kids.   Still doing things that I need to do around the house.

But I  have not done any writing at all.
And this is a big problem.

Not so much for "The Witch", although that is also affected, but I am supposed to have a new adventure for Ghosts of Albion ready to go for Gen Con and I am not done with it, nor have I playtested it yet.

For the Witch, I have been going back to my stacks of research.  I am re-reading Margaret Murray's "The Witch Cult in Western Europe" for inspiration.  Yeah, yeah I know, every credible anthropologist on the planet has derided her work, that would be an issue if I was writing am anthropological textbook.   Instead I am looking at it different this time.  Murray posits that "witches" are an unbroken line from pre-history to now.  What if I went in the opposite direction?  What if I took the neo-pagan tropes and reverse engineered a pre-historic ancestor using the fairy tales of the ages AND placed this recipe in a D&D-ish style world to stew for a few thousand years.  What sort of witch would that be?

Also thanks to the magic that is my new Father's day gift I have been downloading a ton of ebooks.
So far here is my research list:
  • The Witch-Cult in Western Europe - Margaret Alice Murray
  • Letters on Demonology and Witchcraft - Sir Walter Scott
  • Salem Witchcraft and Cotton Mather A Reply - Charles W. Upham
  • Brood of the Witch-Queen - Sax Rohmer (fiction)
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales (the originals) - Jacob Grimm
  • The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology - Russel Hope Robbins (one of my faves)
I am also re-reading the "Malleus Maleficarum", but frankly there is not much here for a game.
The book is laughably bad in most places when it is not sadistic, misogynistic, and overly focused on the curses a witch will put on men's genitalia (for a group of people that are supposedly celibate the writers of this book are very preoccupied with sex).

Frankly it has the mentality of a 14 year old, and a very puerile 14 year old at that.  

And lets not forget that real people were actually tortured and murdered because of this book.  While it might not be the "Witches' Holocaust" of later writers, 1 innocent person murdered is 1 more than I would like.
While I might glean some tidbits out of it, all I got out of it the last time I read it was the Malefic Witch I wrote from my 2nd Ed Netbook back in 1999.  I want to write something people want to play, not torture.

Not that I want only good witches, I like evil ones too. Grimm is a great source for that especially if you read the original versions.  Evil, child eating hags that live in the woods? Oh yeah there is room for you in my book, right next to so-beautiful-it-is-frightening faerie witches and the domestic goddesses and potion makers.

I have the traditions defined, the class, some magic items, some monsters and about 500 spells.  That will be trimmed down, but still expect a lot of spells from me.  I have art.   And it may go against some "old school" credo but I have some art from Larry Elmore to put in it.  I have always wanted to have a book of witches with Elmore art in it and now I can do so.

For my Ghosts of Albion adventure I am re-reading Sherlock Holmes and I now have a copy of  Jess Nevin's WONDERFUL The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana.  And let me tell you this. It is worth every penny I paid for it. I bought it before the prices sky rocketed but it still was not cheap.

Act 1 is done.  Act 2 and Act 3 are mostly done.  I have the characters.  I have my monsters.  What I don't have is a good way yet for the players (not the characters) to figure out how to stop the monsters before they break out and eat London on New Years' Eve.  Whatever clues I need to move the plot forward need to be in Act 1, so I might need to tweak that a bit.

Hopefully I'll get some writing in soon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

The sun stands still at 12:16 pm local time.

To celebrate here are the posters boys of the original old school Rush.
Time Stand Still.

Voting: Tell DTRPG About Your Character

Drivethru RPG is into the final stages of their Tell Us About Your Character Contest.

You can vote for the finalists here, http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/rpg_character.php?affiliate_id=10748


There are some pretty cool characters here.  I voted.

Congrats to all the finalists so far.

Monday, June 20, 2011

More Reviews at DriveThru

Here are some more reviews of some products I have gotten from DriveThruRPG recently.
Have bought too much recently.  But these struck my fancy.

Fantasy Heroines Set
I love these paper minis from Arion games and this package is no different. I bunch of little paper people for your game. There are heroines of every class type here and the "cheese cake" factor is minimal (the paladin for example is in head to toe armor). Some mounted and some tri-folded versions as well.

There is only one thing missing from this package are full sized (or even half sized) page versions of the characters to print out and use with a character sheet. That would make these perfect in my mind.
4 of 5 Stars

Greek Woman
Two hi-res pieces of art (the same, one in b/w, the other in sepia) to be used with any project personal or commercial.
A very good piece.
5 of 5 Stars

Doctor Who: Aliens and Creatures
An excellent source of new things to run away from!
Actually this is a great product, full of all sorts of monsters, aliens and other creatures primarily from the new version of Doctor Who (but some old favorites are still there).

There is also an adventure book with two ready to go adventures using these new creatures; and plenty of ideas of how to use the others.
Some printing will be required for the cards, but that is minimal.

The same level of art, design and layout given to the core game is here, making it one of the more attractive games out these days. Perfect for the Doctor Who gamer and the Doctor Who fan alike.
5 of 5 Stars

Eden Studios Presents: Volume 3
While it doesn't come out as often as I would like, each issue of ESP is worth the wait. In particular here are Jason Vey's conversions of WitchCraft Gifted to be used in the Cinematic lines like Buffy or Ghosts of Albion.

More Cinematic Unisystem spells for Buffy/Angel (and Ghosts of Albion or Army of Darkness).

If you play Unisystem games then this is a great resource for you.
5 of 5 Stars

Book of Races
This book is filled full of new and interesting races, many of which are not your typical fantasy fare. While not all are great there are some gems and I appreciate the overall effort. There are races, new feats and paragon paths for 4e (not Essentials, but easily updated).

The art does tend to be all over the place and some of it is not great. But for half price and the chance to do something very different than the typical elf-dwarf-halfling trifeca, this is a good choice.
4 of 5 Stars

F-211 Copperhead
This is actually pretty awesome and one of the best things about PDFs. For one price (and lot of printer ink) I can have a fleet of little paper spaceships.
The design is very cool, brings to mind both the Vipers of BSG and the X-Wings of Star Wars, so that is a plus.
My suggestion is to take your time and let the paper dry before gluing. I smudged my first one.
5 of 5 Stars

DRAGONSHIRE: City Ruins
More cool print and build models from FDG. I love using 3D props in my games and I love the idea I can print out as many as I like. At just $4 (and printer ink) I can build an entire destroyed village.
5 of 5 Stars

Hero Happy Hour Presents: The Sheen (ICONS)
This might well be the most awesome product I have ever paid under a buck for.
You don't get many pages here, but you get alot. A "ripped from the tabloids" personality that can be a snap to play. All the Icons stats you need, a background, awesome art and a little paper mini to use in your game.
All for less than you would pay for a Mt. Dew out of a vending machine.

I just don't want to see more like this, I want to see LiLo and all her awesome powers of...well something I am sure.

Worth it for humor alone.
5 of 5 Stars

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth

Today the boys wanted to play some D&D for Father's Day.  Really, how could I say no?

So we wrapped up the last bits of the return from White Plume mountain.  The boys went and visited Crazy Omar to collect their reward.  Omar got Whelm, as he wanted.  They traded Blackrazor for an equally notorious weapon from my world, the crossbow "Bessie Mauler" (yes, yes stolen from the Riftwar Cycle, but to be fair I stole it from my old DM and I had no idea he had stolen from somewhere else).

I also wanted to point out that they now had a crowd following them wherever they went.  After all they were the heroes that freed the Silver Princes and defeated Dragotha.  They are a long way from The Caves of the Stinky Goblin (the first adventure of the Dragonslayers).  I wanted them to feel like heroes.

Of course now they are a day's ride to the Horn of Iggwilv.  Omar has told them that great treasure awaits them in Iggwilv's lair.  They are free to keep the spell books, but Omar has his sight on "Iggwilv's Greatest Treasure" something so precious that she "wrapped in in gold".   Well Omar, or the boys yet, don't know that the rumors of the greatest treasure are referring to Drelzna and she is wrapped in gold.  Gold armor to be exact.

The made it up into the mountains.  They know there is a Gnome kingdom located in the mountains and they have just been abused by a group of Stone Giants tossing boulders at them.

I have had S4 forever and it is great to finally get a chance to run it.  I am using the original AD&D 1st ed version of this, along with the Iggwilv's Legacy update from WotC from 2007 (no longer online) and will include the Lost Temple of Tharizdun IF it seems like a good idea.  This adventure should take us well into Gen Con.

There is a blue dragon in this adventure and one in the next one I am planning, Death's Ride.  I am going to make them the same blue dragon.  It would be good to give them a reoccurring enemy.  And who better for the Dragonslayers than the Huge Blue Dragon Korbundar?

I am not planning on having them run into Iggwilv just yet.  Mostly I am torn on whether or not to make into a witch (one of my versions) or make her into a wizard.  She did study with the Circle of Eight and she does seem to be in every respect a wizard.  The easiest thing to do is cheat and wait till I am running 4e and just make her into a Warlock/Wizard multiclass.  A person of such history would be great to have in my games.  Wilva though is not a do-er, she is a manipulator. She has pawns.  I think this pic sums her up best.


I still have my Big PlanTM in motion for 4e and Iggwilv is a part of that.  So she is manipulating the Dragonslayers now to get them in place for her take over of the Abyss.  Turns out it will be their kids, but she can wait.

I just don't know if I can!  I want to play this all now!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Been Caught Stealin': Free RPG Day

In case your forgot today is (was) Free RPG Day.   Took the boys to my our favorite local game store and here is our haul.


We each got two things, the limit.  But it is a good set of things.

I might use them all together.  No idea yet.
They are all high quality products.  The DragonAge one is the thickest, the D&D and Pathfinder ones are full color, DCC really does look very, very old school, only with better production values.
The AFMBE one (the only non-D&Dish thing here) is really fun of course.
The d10 is also very nice to have.

All are intro adventures so not really good for the Dragonslayers at this point, but when we start up again with 4e I can certainly use them.

Zatannurday: Picture Round-up

I have a bunch of Zee pics laying around so I thought today would be a good time to post them and their sources.

First up from the Comic Knock Outs tumblr site:


by Da Xiong


by Stephane Roux

by Jeremy Bastian

And this one, but no idea where I got it from.


by Dave Hoover

Friday, June 17, 2011

Harry Potter: The Deathly Hallows, Part 2

This is going to be great.
The scenes where knights come to defend the school is exactly how I imagined it would be.




And there is this,  http://www.youtube.com/JKRowlingAnnounces

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Skills in D&D

I was talking with one of my friends at work today who is hard core 1st ed AD&D.  The subject of skills came up.  That is whether or not *D&D even needs skills.

I found I was rather agnostic about it.  I like skills and think they add a nice element, but the focus of the game is and has been combat, exploring and getting loot.

Pathfinder works well with skills.  Basic D&D maybe not as much.

What do you all think?
Do you like skills, do you need them or use them in you old school games?

End of an Era

We are coming up on the end of an era.

The last Harry Potter movie will be hitting theaters next month and it has been a fun 10 year ride.
Regardless of your thoughts on the books, or the movies or any of the hype there are a few things I think are very true.

1. It has been a worldwide phenomena, not just in terms of the "World of Harry Potter" but something that got kids to READ!

2. It has been a wonder watching these young actors grow up.

The books have been fantastic. The movies wonderful. I am for one sad to see them go, but all good things right.

Here is a really cool video.


What's Next for the DragonSlayers?

I like to read PDFs while running, I feel like I am getting more done that way.  On this weeks's reading list: The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth and the 3.5 update Iggwilv's Legacy.

I loved this module back in the day and I still have my original copy.

Should be a lot of fun.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Interview at Lili's Lair!!

Hey all!  I am very excited about this!

You can read an interview about me and the RPG work I have been doing at Lili's Lair this morning.

http://www.lilislair.com/2011/06/timothy-brannan-ghosts-of-albion-rpg-co.html

Read about my involvement in Buffy, Ghosts of Albion and other RPGs.

Enjoy and don't forget you can get Ghosts of Albion, Buffy and other games I have worked on at DriveThruRPG.

OH! And the guy sitting in the chair in picture to my left? Wearing the blue shirt on sunglasses? That is my High School DM.   He is almost as much to blame for this as I am.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Could WotC support ALL D&D?

There is an interesting post on Wizard's site today where Mike Mearls discusses (basically) gaming style and which version of D&D best fits that style.
http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4ll/20110614#74972

It is worth a read and reminds me a bit of the old GNS Theory that was so popular a few years back.

I am not going to get into whether or not X version of Y game fits where on Mearls grid or even Edward's GNS.
I don't particularly care about those sorts of things since they all take a back seat to the more important questions to me: "Is Game X fun?  Will I have fun with Game X?  Do I own Game X so I can find out on my own?"

Which gets me to my random though of the day.

Should WotC support ALL D&D?  

As a business model it is a flawed one, the cost to produce physical products for a game that is 10, 20 or even 30 years out of print is pointless.  But what about using their own electronic distribution?

Recently WotC has seemed open to print 1st and even 2nd and 3rd Edition related material.  Why not take that that a step further and offer a "Classic D&D" subscription.  You pay (or maybe it is part of the DDI) and get new material for your game.

Of course readers of this blog will see the error right away.  There are a ton of blogs out there now, producing for free or very, very cheap, material for those older games.  And thanks to the OGL WotC (unlike TSR in the past) is perfectly happy that we continue to do so.

But what WotC adds to the mix is something we as a group do not have.  Brand recognition.  I can say "my magic hats is for people that ply Basic Era games" (nudge nudge wink wink implied).   Only WotC can say "this is for you people that still love to play Basic Dungeons & Dragons".

Obviously there is cost.  Someone has to write and that someone has to be paid.  Art is a very important part of what WotC can bring to the table that a simple blogger or one-man shop can't do as well or as cheaply.  Of course art is still not cheap.

I am sure that a cost benefit analysis would need to be done.  How much would it cost versus how much return they could get.

So let me throw it all out to you.

Would you pay WotC for regular content for your particular favorite Old School D&D product?
How much would you pay?
Per product or monthly?
What would you want to see to make you seriously consider this?

Now keep in mind this is NOT market research.  You all are not a random sample. You are a sample that is used to get a lot of material free (if not her, then other places) but you are also a sample that is interested in this older games AND a sample that is open to other games.  You read my blog afterall, I talk about a dozen or so different games here and about a half dozen on a regular basis.  You answers are different than those of say the regular reader of Dragonsfoot or Grognardia or ENWorld.

Let me, and the world, know what you think.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June DriveThruRPG

Today is my Birthday!!

But it will be you that get the gifts today.

Here are the products you can get from DriveThru RPG for 20% off.

DriveThruRPG.com

Ninja Burger RPG (2nd Edition) [aetherial FORGE]
Heavy Gear Blitz! Locked & Loaded [Dream Pod 9]
Hero's Handbook: Dragonborn [Goodman Games]  (I am picking this one up now!)
Splicers RPG [Palladium Books]
Noir Knights (Savage Worlds) [Savage Mojo]
Mekton Zeta Plus [R. Talsorian]
Judge Dredd RPG (Traveller Version) [Mongoose Studios]
Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook [Fantasy Flight Games]
Amethyst: Foundations [Goodman Games]
King Arthur Pendragon (Edition 5.1) [Nocturnal]  (A very, very awesome game and my fave on this list)

The 20% off code is: HotJuneDrive2011

Enjoy!!

They didn't kill the Ubues.

A while back my kids group, the Dragon Slayers, completed an adventure I was calling "Return to the Palace of the Silver Princess".  I used elements of both the "Orange" and "Green" versions (sounds like something I might have bought in Northern Ireland), the Tome of Horrors books and a bunch of other materials.   I turned it from a  low level dungeon crawl to a high-mid level campaign.



But I am not here to talk about my mad DMing skillz.

I want to talk about my players, my boys.

They got to the kitchen area, which is on the second level. They had been through the first level and fought goblins, giant rats, and mutant kobolds all as warm ups. The second level was where Arik's magic was in greater force and there were a couple of beholders floating around and some dwarves that had been turned into orcs and a giant prehistoric were creature that had elements of both bear and wolf (Aliegha*).  The Ubues were up next.  Like many of the creatures I increased their HD and attacks.  Either I multiplied their levels by 3 (which is what I did here) or added 10 levels.

The kitchen was of course home of the Ubues, and home to the art that got the Orange (or Loyalist, wait wrong orange again) version turned into a collector's item.
The boys rationalized that the Ubues, being all weird looking but living in the evil glow, were not really evil, but mutated innocent humans.
So instead of killing them they put them all to sleep (usign one of the sleep spells from my d20 Witch book).  They then moved them all to a room and Locked the door with a spell.

Now I could have played this by the book and kept them evil monsters.  I didn't, I like their idea so much I decided it was the truth.  In fact each Ubue was in fact three servants merged into one creature and that had driven them a little mad.  Also by the book rules would have also said they did not get an experience points for this "encounter" I gave them full XP.  I decided that since they did in fact defeat them and caused them not to be a threat anymore then they deserved full XP.

I am pleased with what the boys did and glad they were less bloodthirsty than others.

*Coming back to this, they did kill Aliegha.  In the Orange version she was a werebear and in the Green she was a werewolf.  Since I had already had the dwarves (orange) mutating into orcs (green), I had Aliegha mutating into were creature that was somewhere between bear and wolf.  I had just finished reading "Frostbiten" by Kelley Armstrong and I had been curious about the prehistoric Amphicyonidae (Bear-dog) since a trip to the Natural History Museum.  I figure she was changing into some creature that was the ancestor of the "modern" werewolf and werebears.  They did kill her, but now I kinda wish she had gotten away.  She would have made an interesting character.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pathfinder

Today is my Pathfinder game with the "big kids".  The Northlands group.
To help explain my absence since late-February the GM has decided that my character was kidnapped.

We will see how it all goes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Testing

New blogging software test.

Zatannurday: Deviant Art


I am a huge fan of Deviant Art.  I love that they give up and coming artists a place to showcase their talent. And there is quite a bit of talent there!

So here are some of my favorite Zatanna pics from Deviant Art.


zatanna and raven by ~gianmac on deviantART


zatanna and raven colored by ~gianmac on deviantART


Zatanna quick sketch by *mainasha on deviantART


Zatanna - DSC by *zet on deviantART


Zatanna by ~Kawuamo on deviantART

More soon!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Even Witches have Itches, Part 2

Happy Harry?  Hogwarts Hanky-panky?

Please let that be the last time I ever say "hanky-panky" on this blog.

Anyway new easter egg from the 3rd Harry Potter film.
Found by the Daily What?  http://geeks.thedailywh.at/2011/06/09/harry-potter-innuendo-of-the-day/ 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Madam Vastra and Jenny for Doctor Who RPG

AGAIN WARNING: There are some MINOR Spoilers here for the new Doctor Who episode, A Good Man Goes to War.  If you have not seen it yet, you might want to come back here after you do.

My post about Vastra and Jenny for Ghosts of Albion was very popular.  No surprise really given how popular the  characters currently are.

So it seems only proper then that I also stat them up for Cubicle 7's Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space RPG.  Maybe if I get cheeky I'll even stat them up in Traveler and FASA's Doctor Who game.


You can re-read the background for them on my Ghosts of Albion post.

Madame Vastra
"The Great Detective"

Story Points: 10

Attributes
Awareness 4
Coordination 6
Ingenuity 4
Presence 4
Resolve 4
Strength 3

Skills
Athletics 4
Convince 2
Craft 1
Fighting 5
Knowledge 2
Marksman 3
Medicine 1
Science 2
Subterfuge 2
Survival 2
Technology 2
Transport 2

Traits
Alien (Silurian), Alien Apperance, Brave, Code of Conduct, Eccentric (Mild Cruelty, Speciesm), Gadget (Perception Filtre), Last of My Kind (sorta, only awake Silurian in Victorian London), Tough

Tongue Lash (Strength +2, poison)

Equipment
Perception Filtre (Major Gadget)
Katana (Strength +4)

Home Tech Level: 5-6 (higher than 21st Century Earth, but no indication of FTL travel).


Vastra as a human. 
(in reality Neve McIntosh who played Vastra)

The Silurian Tongue Lash has a lethal poison.  Vastra, like all female Silurians, can choose whether or not her lash injects the poison or not.

Vastra is very devoted to Jenny, her companion and love.

Jenny Flint


Story Points: 10


Attributes

Awareness 3
Coordination 4 
Ingenuity 3
Presence 3
Resolve 4
Strength 3



Skills
Athletics 3
Convince 2
Craft 1
Fighting 4
Knowledge 2
Marksman 2
Medicine 3
Science 1 
Subterfuge 2
Survival 2 
Technology 0
Transport 1

Traits
Attractive, Brave, Face in the Crowd, Obligation (Madame Vastra)

Equipment
Katana (Strength +4)

Home Tech Level: 4

Jenny is the human companion and paramour of Madame Vastra.  To normal people they keep up the façade of a Lady and her servant girl. Jenny had been a servant but she was also already knowledgeable in the healing arts. A skill that has served the combat prone Vastra well.  Jenny herself is not slouch at combat, having trained with Vastra many times.  She is just as deadly with her katana as is her mistress.

Using Vastra and Jenny in Your Game
If you are going to go to Victorian London anytime soon (and you must if you are playing Doctor Who) then Madame Vastra and Jenny are going to be there.  They can be the focal point of an episode, important side characters (as they were in AGMGTW) or just a rumor.


There has been discussion and a post of stats for DW:AITAS already on the Doctor Who boards.
http://dwaitas.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=characters&thread=1469&page=1
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