Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Déjà Vu Blogfest

I am going to participate in another Blogfest.  But this one is different.

On December 16th I am going to repost an older post of my own that I felt didn't get the benefit of a wider audience.

You can read all the details here: Cruising Altitude 2.0: The Deja Vu Blogfest


It is a gaming post, and one I think you will all like.

So join me on the 16 and I'll do something I have already done.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Awards

Back when the Other Side was just a website and not a blog, I used to get a lot of awards.

Sure they were really just means of getting someone to link back to your site, but I still treated them all like they  were special.  After-all, someone took the time to read through my site and thought it was good enough for an award or a least a link back.  I also had an award of my own I gave out (no, you can't sign up for it anymore).

Today's blog awards are not much different really, and that is fine.
But I did get this one and in a twist I am supposed to also give it to 15 other bloggers.  So in a way it is like an award chain letter.  I opted to go ahead and give it out, but with a twist of my own.  I wanted sites that were appealing to me either for their content, their design or some combination of the two.  I also was going to focus on blogs outside of the OSR/Gamin sphere since, well to be blunt, we all link to each other anyway.

I chose a lot of sites from writers of Paranormal Fiction or Young Adult Fiction.  I feel that these authors have the most to offer me in my own game-related writing.  I don't pretend to be, nor do I aspire to be, a novelist.  I write games.  I am a game designer.  But these sites help me think about how my games can be viewed from the character's perspective, and thus the player's.

So here is the One Lovely Blog Award.  Given to me by S. L. Hennessy at Pensuasion (BTW she got it from here, who got it from here, who got it from here...you get the idea.)


Here are the rules.  I'll give it 15 more people who in turn will link back to me and give to 15 others. Please post a comment in the person's blog to let them know they got the award, just as I am doing with you.

I am not sure why I got a "Lovely" award; the aesthetics of my site tend more towards pragmatic rather than attractive.  But hey. I am not complaining.  These sites do look nice, or at lease they appeal to me.
  1. Bobert the Hoosier expatriate - Bob is a long time friend and YA author. 
  2. Space 1970 - one of the most awesome sites on the net.  Love the late 70s and SciFi? Then go here, now.
  3. Propnomicon - Lovecraft inspired props. Creepycool!
  4. Stargazer's World - A great looking RPG site.  The author has spent a lot of time to make it look good.
  5. Rather Gamey - quirky game site with some great art and commentary. 
  6. Unedited by Jennifer Daiker - Author and Blogger with a lot to say.  Love how her site looks.
  7. Creepy Query Girl - Mother, Author and creepy stalker?  Maybe not yet, but a cool blog about getting your books published.
  8. A Writer's Journey - Melissa Cunningham is an author and book reviewer.  
  9. Ciara Knight - is another author with a great looking site. Plenty of guest posters keep the blog fresh.
  10. Susan Fields - Great writer, but don't touch her coffee.
  11. Nicki Elson - Interviews, review and author commentary.
  12. Bang out the Prose - Suz Korb is newer to the writing scene but she is working getting her rough draft done.
  13. Who can Turn the World off With Her Smile - one of my favorite names for a blog. Great movie love here. 
  14. That's All She Wrote! - Julie is a new writer working on her first book.  She is also a high school classmate of mine so I want to give her encouragement to keep on writing!
  15. The Last Witch series - Elizabeth Kolodziej's blog dedicated to her books in the Last Witch series. 
There they are!  Please visit them and have a look at what they have to say.


Strippers make the best informants

So if you have been following Sarah Michelle Gellar's new show "Ringer" you know she has ties to the mob (or her sister did, not sure)  well tonight we get a treat in the form of Amber Benson, playing a mob informant/stripper named...Tara Mary.

http://www.tvline.com/2011/10/ringer-buffy-amber-benson-sarah-michelle-gellar/
http://www.tvguide.com/News/Ringer-Amber-Benson-1040084.aspx



Now where have I seen that before?  Oh yeah.


http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/09/dragon-and-phoenix-episode-4.html

So in the Ringer-world Willow's spell went really wonky and "Kara" became real, but was implanted with "Candy's" personality.  Sure.  Why not.

ETA: I guess the sources got it wrong.  Her name was "Mary" on the show.

Runequest II License ending

The Runequest license is ending over at Mongoose.  Actually it is up tomorrow.
I had been planning to mention this before now, but my October and November got way from me.
So here is you last chance to get these books from Mongoose.
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?cPath=161_5353&affiliate_id=22713&src=MMMFB&affiliate_id=10748

I am sure RQ will be poping up somewhere else.  It is a good old school game and in today's market it should find a home pretty easy.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cyber Monday

Today is Cyber Monday, the day when most of of us go back to work after the long Thanksgiving bender and do our Holiday shopping online.  I like to shop online, even if I know I really should be shopping local.

That all being said, DriveThruRPG is offering some great deals deals today.

Get something for the gamer in your life.  Even if that happens to be yourself!


Baba Yaga

WotC has put up the 4e stats of Baba Yaga, the Hungry Witch, up.  You will need DDi access.

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/dun/201111courtofstars#77691

Baba Yaga has been part of the D&D universe since the beginning.  Eldritch Wizardry and the DMG featured stats for her Dancing Hut and there have been adventures to feature her over the years as well.  The great D&D witch Iggwilv is said to have been one of her students.

It's a good article.  Reading it I do notice that WotC falls into the trap we all do, making any mythical NPC just really, really powerful; she is a 27th level opponent here.

I think I should stat her up for "The Witch" and see if I can get by with less level, but still give her the power she needs.

ETA: The oddest thing just occurred. I was reading my post in Google Reader with auto translate on, and it changed "Baba Yaga" to "Father Nyaga".  I think I need to come up with a male witch that is Baba Yaga's counterpart, or enemy or something.  Maybe he is a wizard and thousands of years ago, so long that even he and Baba Yaga were young, they were lovers.  I like that idea.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Zatannurday: More Deviant Art

I like Deviant Art. While there is a bunch of junk on the site, there is still a ton of great art to enjoy and sometimes even buy a print of.

Here are some more of my favorite Zatanna pieces.


do you believe in magic? by ~KillerStella on deviantART


_Zatanna by ~JardelCruz on deviantART


Zatanna goes to Heroes con by ~doonboy on deviantART


Zatanna-Ink by *leonartgondim on deviantART


Zatanna - Elegance And Magic by ~Canjoke on deviantART


Zatanna by =Candra on deviantART

And more from Chrissie Zullo


Zatanna Commish by *chrissie-zullo on deviantART


Zatanna Commission by *chrissie-zullo on deviantART

And one special non-deviantART one that was posted earlier in the week.
http://artofdesignosaurus.tumblr.com/post/12071958763/zatanna-i-experimented-a-bit-more-on-this


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Witch: Artifacts

Been working on the Artifacts for "The Witch".  I know, I am so late...

I like the idea of witch artifacts.  There are so many powerful witches it follows that there are some powerful artifacts.

Here are some new books usable by witches and witch hunter respectively.

The following text is considered Open.

Liber Mysterium: The Book of Witches
This ancient tome is bound in rich leather and brass.  The book itself is a hefty volume full of information on the subject of witches, witchcraft and the topics surrounding witches such as the traditions, covens and monsters typically associated with witches.
Any witch, of any alignment, that reads this text will gain enough experience points to gain one level and  put them half way through to the next.  Reading will require 1 full lunar month of study and contemplation.
This tome also includes descriptions of all the new witch spells presented.  Witches must still learn the secrets for casting these spells as normal; that is leveling up and consulting their familiar, but now they know the spell to request.
Non-witches gain no benefit, but GM's may allow a +2 to +5 on any check that might be occult in nature.   Wizards (Magic-Users) may use this text to learn spells that also appear on their own spell lists.
Witch, Wizard and Cleric can also scribe 2-5 scrolls (1d4+1) of spells that appear on their own lists to use at a future date.
Non-witch characters also suffer the following effects.
Wizards (Magic Users): lose 100 to 600 xp (1d6x100)
Clerics: lose 500 to 1,000 XP (1d6x100+400)
All other classes: Save vs Spells or be knocked out for 1d4 turns.
Once the book is read and it's secrets revealed it will disappear to find another worthy witch.

The Malleus Maleficarum: The Hammer of the Witches
This text was penned by clerics in their attempt to rid the world of witches and witchcraft.  While not as rare as other magical texts there are in fact many copies of this book.  Only the True Malleus is the artifact.
The Lesser, or more common Maalleus once read by any class other than a witch will gain a +1 to all to hit rolls against witches and other magic users.  For game purposes even clerics of different faiths can be considered to be a witch.

The True Malleus was in fact "edited" by demonic forces to spread more unrest and chaos. This tome is cursed and anyone that reads it gains a +3 to hit and +1 to damage against any magic using class such as a witches, wizards and clerics.  The reader also becomes paranoid and must make a save vs. Spells or believe that anyone they meet immediate after looking through the pages is a witch and must be destroyed; friend or foe.
If the save fails and the reader manages to kill the "witch" they will go on a bloody rampage, seeking out all sorts of "witches" to commit mindless murder.  Only a Remove Curse spell can stop them.
Readers that do read the True Malleus, but make the save will always be suspicious of any new magic user they meet.

"Witch Artifacts" Copyright 2011 Timothy S. Brannan




Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

To all all my American readers, happy Thanksgiving!

To everyone else, Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Giving the Gift of Adventure: Patriot Edition

I was dropping off some donations today at a local women's charity; toys and the like really.

While grabbing some old kids games from my basement I could not help but think that a good way to help others out this holiday season and spread the word about gaming would be to give out some gaming sets; 4e, Pathfinder, OSR, didn't matter, just as long as someone who needed it got it.

But giving is only half the issue really, with kids you need to be able to game with them and it is a not a cheap hobby.  I know myself better, I can't donate time really, not working full time with kids of my own.  So giving to these places would not have the full impact I would like.  So I'll keep donating clothes and toys to needy charities, but my desire to spread the word about gaming though still needs to be addressed.

While unloading I think I came up with it.

Donate new RPG games to our men and women in service overseas.

I'd pick up a couple of boxed sets of something a donate, but I don't want to be alone and I don't exactly know where to give these things.

So help me out.  How can we do this this year?  Give the gift of gaming AND let the men and women that serve for us know we still care?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ghosts of Albion - Haunted Illinois

I was visiting my parents home this past weekend and of course picked up on of the many "Haunted Illinois" books that are ubiquitous in the Central Illinois region.  I thought maybe I'd repost something  I had done for Ravenloft's "Gothic Earth".  This was for a netbook called the "Crossroads of Gothic Earth" done by the Kargatane many years ago.

While this was designed to be used with AD&D2nd ed, it was mostly a fluff piece and can really be used with any Victorian Era horror RPG.

Enjoy!

HAUNTED ILLINOIS:
A GUIDE TO STRANGE HAPPENINGS IN THE HEART OF THE GOTHIC MIDWEST

Local Correspondent:
Timothy S. Brannan

When people say “heartland of America” often one thinks of Illinois.  Founded as a state in 1818, but inhabited long before that, Illinois is rich in history and in ghosts.  Former presidents walk the halls of their home or tombs.  It has been rumored that Lincoln haunts the his tomb in Springfield, the capital building in Springfield, and the old State Capital in Vandalia, a place where he had worked as a young lawmaker.  All of this has led to a popular, but  grim saying among Illinoisans, “Abraham Lincoln walks at Midnight.”
Iroquois, Fox and Sioux Indians walk ancient plains, and dead confederate soldiers march to an uncertain doom.  Illinois is a starting point for many in their westward expansion, and a final resting place for others.

Illinois
Illinois is located in the heart of the “Heartland,” bordered by the mighty Mississippi River on the west and the Ohio on the south.  This, combined with rich, flat land and warm, humid summers, produces some the nation’s best farmland.  Since the 1850’s no other state has grown as quickly and as prosperously as Illinois.  Currently (1890) the population is over 4,500,000.

History
The area was first seen by Europeans in 1673, by two Frenchmen: Louis Joliet, a fur trader, and Jacques Marquette, a Catholic missionary.  Marquette later set up a mission along the Mississippi river (present day Kaskaskia) for the native peoples.  The first permanent settlement built by Europeans was a mission on the Mississippi river in the town of Cahokia in 1699.
Up to 1763 the area had been controlled by the French.  After the French-Indian wars, France gave this part of North America to the British, who soon made it part of Quebec.  This action was one of the causes of the American Revolutionary War.  During the war both Cahokia and Kaskaskia were sites of pivotal battles.  In 1783, Britain surrendered the Northwest Territory, which included Illinois.  In 1809 Illinois became a separate territory.  About this time the settlement of northern Illinois began, centered around Ft. Dearborn on Lake Michigan.
In 1818 Illinois was admitted as the 21st state of the Union.  Kaskaskia was named as its first state capital. This later moved to Vandalia in 1820 to encourage growth in Illinois’ interior.  The capital was later (1837) moved to its present day location of Springfield.  The city of Chicago was incorporated in March, 1837 on the site of  Ft. Dearborn.  By 1850 it was Illinois’ largest city with a population above 5,000.  Chicago became the leading industrial center of the former Northwest Territories.
The Civil War began in 1861 with most of the state supporting the Union.  Illinois sent more than a quarter of a million young men to serve with the Union army.  Among those were General Ulysses S. Grant.  In 1865, after the war’s end, Illinois became the first state to ratify the 13th Amendment to outlaw slavery.
In the years of the Reclamation, Illinois has seen many immigrants from other countries.  Most notable are the Irish, Italians and Poles.  Many ethnic neighborhoods have sprouted up all over Chicago and in some of the down-state areas as well.
The effects of  the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 can still be seen to this day, more that twenty years later.  The fire killed 250 people and left nearly 90,000 homeless.  The city was quick to rebuild and surpass its previous size.
Illinois is set, here at the turn of the 19th Century, to become one of the leading industrial and agricultural areas of the Untied States.

Forbidden Lore
As America of the 1890’s expands ever westward, the forces of the Red Death follow.  Minions that are common in Illinois are most types of non-corporeal undead (Ghosts, Spectres, Haunts).  It is known that there is at least one Banshee on Chicago’s south side and two more down-state.  Many graveyards are prone to have ghouls and ghasts lurking around.  Zombies and skeletons, created by powerful necromantic magic, are usually rare.  No vampires or Liches have been recorded.
Lycanthropes, in particular werewolves and foxwomen, are more common down-state.  Other common minions are Will o’wisps.


Ghost March of Southern Illinois
The Civil War pitted brother against brother.  Nowhere was that more strongly felt than in Southern Illinois.  While Illinois was technically a “free” state, many farmers south of Springfield sided more with the sensibilities of the Confederate states.  These farmers’ fields became the sites of some of the bloodiest skirmishes of the war.
At certain times, sometime after midnight, a ghostly army arises from the mists hugging the ground.  This ragged army of undead are all that remains of a Confederate Army troop sent into Illinois at the height of the war.  The ghostly horde appears exactly as can be imagined; skeletal remains, with tatters of rotting flesh and gray uniforms.  Their weapons, long since spent of ammunition, hang in their hands useless, but serve as constant reminders of what has lead them to this fate.  Occasionally one can find a soldier that faired better than his brothers in arms.  He is not as damaged or decayed, but his young innocent face is no less of a horror than the phantasms that surround him.
It is unknown what prompts this ghastly march or what motivates it.


Haunted Cemeteries
Illinois seems to have more than its fair share of haunted cemeteries.  Often these cemeteries are the source of faint apparitions or ghost lights, as in Barrington Cemetery in Barrington, home of the white ghost lights.  Sometimes the activity is more sinister.  Pagan rituals have been seen in cemeteries along the Des Plaines river, northwest of Chicago.  Similar events have happened in cemeteries in Jacksonville, 200 miles to the south.
Hickory Grove in Wrights, south of Springfield, is the final resting place for one unsavory character.  Lying in a small unmarked grave southeast of the cemetery proper lies the body of man who was a doctor and a murderer, hung for the shooting death of a love rival.  It is said that if you stand on his grave you can hear the sounds of a hanging rope swinging in the wind.
In 1841 an unknown man was found hanging in Clement’s Cemetery east of Champaign.  Whether he was the victim of a lynching or a suicide is unknown.  The people removed his body and gave him a proper burial.  Soon after reports came back of the “Blue Man,” a thin wispy ghost of blue that can only be seen in the light of the full moon.
Old Union Cemetery in Dewitt county is considered to be one of the more haunted cemeteries in Illinois.  Its first burial was in 1831.  Located on the stagecoach route between Bloomington and Springfield, Union has become a “favorite” stopping place for the dead.  Like many cemeteries in Illinois reports of ghostly lights
abound.  This place also has areas of extreme cold, even in Illinois’ normally humid summers.  Others have reported feeling sick at certain points.
Also located on a former stagecoach route is Williamsburg Hill, or “Cold Hill,” Cemetery.  When the railroad came, Williamsburg became a ghost town; or rather a town of ghosts.  The cemetery itself is placed on a large, uncharacteristic hill among completely flat farmland.  Among the hundreds of mostly unmarked graves it is said a being wanders.  This spectre is vaguely human in appearance.  It seems to be an electrical field of some sort.  Electricity can be heard crackling in the air around it.  Whether it is a proper ghost or even if was at one time human is unknown.


Haunted Schoolhouse
Bloody Island School in Lime-Kill Hollow was a small one-room school house.  Like hundreds of other schools that dotted the countryside children young and old were sent with pail and slate in hand to learn the “three R’s” from a school marm, but what the children learned here was a lesson in horror.  Two teenage boys, long rivals, stabbed each other to death in front of a dozen screaming children.  Town officials and the kindly young teacher, Miss Daniels, did what they could to clean up the blood of the two dead boys, but try as they might the blood continues to seep up through the floorboards and into the classroom.  The floorboards have been cleaned over and over, and finally replaced, but the blood continues to flow.  Plans are now to close down the school and build a new one.


The Watseka Wonder
Just south of Chicago and west of Indiana lies the sleepy town of Watseka.  Unremarkable, save for what happened one summer of 1877.  Lurancy Vennum fell into a deep coma-like sleep.  When she awoke the 13 year old claimed she could speak with the spirits of the dead.  These episodes began to happen with more frequency and lasted many hours.  During these times Lurancy would speak in different voices and say things that she otherwise would not know of.  When she would awaken she would have no memory of the events.  Her family took Lurancy to best doctors in the state; finally they decided that she was insane and were going to have her committed.
In January of 1878 a man named Asa Roff approached the Vennum family.  He had a story of his daughter, Mary, who had suffered a similar affliction, but had died in Peoria’s State Insane Asylum.  However, Asa believed in his daughter and wanted to save Lurancy from the same fate.  During mesmerism, Lurancy spoke in the voice of Asa’s daughter Mary.
Lurancy then proceeded to speak to Asa about details that only the Roff family would know.  Lurancy (as Mary) lived with the Roffs, with the Vennum’s permission, for three months.  She was able to identify family members and favorite things that only would have been known to the family.
In May, Mary left Lurancy and she asked to be returned home.  She left, bidding everyone in the family goodbye.  She never again experienced any contacts with the spirits, but she would return to see the Roff family on occasion and allow Mary to speak through her.


Haunted Theaters
Murphysboro in Southern Illinois is a quiet town located just a few miles east of the mighty Mississippi River.  This town, known more for its apples and its close proximity to the Shawnee Forest, also has a darker secret: The Ghost of the Liberty Theater.  The Liberty was built at the turn of the century and Emil McCarthy was there.  He started working there as a young boy; cleaning, running the spotlights and other odd jobs.  Sixty years later, Emil was still working odd jobs at the Liberty.  He had developed a drinking problem and a poor attitude over the years, but since he lived in the theater and had such an attachment to the place none of his supervisors had ever fired him.  Any that tried usually met with fatal accidents.  Emil was never suspected; he was usually in a bar or passed out in the city square when the deaths occurred.
When the town decided to tear down the Liberty to put a new theater across town, Emil panicked and seemed to die of a broken heart.  Plans are still underway for the new theater, but people now claim the new site is cursed.  Tools disappear.  Workmen get into accidents.  None have been fatal, but they are increasing in number and magnitude.  All is not quiet at the Liberty either.  Patrons complain of noises, and cold areas.  Management has reported that the curtains will open and close silently on their own.  As the day of the Liberty’s demolition approaches, more incidents are reported.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ghosts of Albion - In my Hands!

Got back home today from visiting family and found a nice big box waiting for me.
Inside...



A box of Ghosts of Albion books!





Coming soon to a Game Store near you!

4E: Witch Paragon Paths

Last week I discussed what I thought about the new witch class for 4E.  One of the slights I felt was the lack of some good witch Paragon Paths.  Obviously the Essentials format now includes a "default" Paragon Path and the book could not include multiple Paragon Paths for all the classes.    So I am going to take something I thought was a weakness of the class and turn it into a strength.  Today I want to look at what sort of previously published Paragon Paths work well for the witch.

First up, the Legendary Witch from Heroes of the Feywild is a perfect fit.  It really just extends the Heroic Tier witch and gives some power based on the coven the witch is in.  Nothing fancy really.

Starting with the core rule books (PHB and Essentials) and working out here are some of my choices.
The Blood Mage and Spellstorm Mage from PHB1 are good choices.  With a bit of fluff, these can become a Blood Witch and Tempenstarii with no changes to crunch.

Arcane Power gives us a number of options as well, but really only one Paragon Path stands out as sufficently "witchy".  The Weaver of Chance has background that is compatible with the witch's and the powers work well too.  In fact with this Path you can finally make the Scarlet Witch character you always wanted.

Moving out to the Campaign Worlds we get more choices since they are designed to be something more akin to what Prestige Classes were in 3e.  The Forgotten Realms is full of wizards, and even the Hatharans and Simbul are more or less witches. The Simbul is even called Witch Queen of Aglarond and the Paragon Path based around her, Simbarch of Aglarond, is a great one for a witch to take. Another nearly perfect one for the witch of a Full Moon coven is the Silverstar.  Neitehr of these need to be changed in terms of fluff or crunch.

From the sister book Heroes of Shadow, the witch can take on powers of Necromancy or Nethermancy as she chooses.  There is also the Ravenkin path as sort of a dark parallel to the Silverstar.  The Shadowthief and Shadow Shaper are also decent choices.

Moving on to the issues of Dragon, we have the Vistani Execrator (#380), which is thematically a good choice if your witch has some Vistani blood.  For witches that focus on their familiars there is the Familiar Keeper (#374).

There are others, based on races and skill or feat choices, but these look like they are the best to me.
Now the Legendary Witch doesn't look so lonely.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Zatannurday: Happy Birthday Darwyn Cooke!

We have had the pleasure of seeing a lot of good artists at DC. But one of my favorites just had a birthday on Wednesday and here are some of his best Zatanna pics!

So Happy Birthday Darwyn Cooke!






And as a special bonus, head over to DC Women Kicking Ass for a awesome post on why Zatanna Kicks Ass.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Sales at Elf Lair Games

Hey all!

Quick one to let you all know that Elf Lair Games is offering some discounts on the print editions of the Spellcraft & Swordplay game.

Spellcraft & Swordplay: Core Rules Hardcover
Spellcraft & Swordplay:  Monstrous Mayhem Softcover

A great game and a great gift choice for the gamer (or non-gamer) in your life.

A Good Toy Goes to War

Normally Friday night is movie night at Castle Brannan.  We pop up some popcorn, order some Chicago-style pizza and watch what ever new movie is out.  Buying a BluRay disc sight-unseen is still cheaper for us than taking every out to the theater.

But tonight we are going to do something different.  We are going to try a new game.
The boys are a little burned out on D&D so I have wanted to try some new games.  I didn't get a chance to play Doctor Who with them last week, but tonight I would like to try out Toy War.

I picked this up as part of the the Teach Your Kids to Game event this week at DriveThruRPG.

My boys are at the ages where they have an odd collection of toys.  They still have some older stuffed animals and newer action figures.  This game allows you to take any toy in your house (2-3 per player in fact) and play with them in an RPG.
Actually reading through the rules I am struck more how they are closer to the War Gaming origins that I would have thought.

So tonight we are getting out some toys. My oldest has already picked out a small Dalek and my youngest has this giant polar bear and some seals that he got from The Petting Zoo.

It should be fun.   I'll keep you all posted.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

ChicagoWiz's Toys for Tots fundraiser

Many of you know that our very own ChicagoWiz is a very active supporter of Toys for Tots.
Well he is selling off some of his Battletech material to raise some money.  Please check out these auctions, help out some kids and get some game stuff dirt cheap.

Here is his message:

--------------

As part of my Toys for Tots fundraising drive, I'm auctioning off a lot of Battletech sourcebooks and some neat magazines/fanzines. All of these start at $5, and some have multiple items in the lot. I hope you bid generously and enjoy the items!

The Battletech Compendium (1990, Paperback)
The Battletech Compendium (1995, Paperback, Reprint)
The Battletech Compendium (1994, Hardcover)
Battletech Mechwarrior RPG Adventure Modules lot (1672, 1676)
Battletech Clan Sourcebooks lot (1642, 1645, 1685)
Battletech Sourcebook lot (1655, 1665, 1673) (Comstar, Objective Raids, Intelligence Operations Handbook)
Battletech Sourcebook lot (1639, 1659, 1670) (20 Year Update - 1639, Solaris: The Reaches (with maps) - 1659, Mercenary's Handbook 3055 - 1670)
Battletech Kurita/Draconis Combine Sourcebook lot (1620, 1698)
Battletech Kurita/Draconis Combine Sourcebook from 1987 (1620)
Battletech Fanzines - The Mech Factory/Tech Factory lot of 10 copies


Ral Partha Miniatures 1994 Catalog (NM, with inserts, OOP) - this bad boy is an actual print Ral Partha catalog and it's like it just was printed. Very good shape and just an amazing catalog to look at.
Renegade Legion - Centurion - Blood & Steel Wargame OOP - looks like a fun "Mech-like" game!

Well this is not a surprise

Though I did come very close to Lawful Good and Neutral Good.


I Am A: True Neutral Human Wizard (5th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-12
Dexterity-10
Constitution-11
Intelligence-17
Wisdom-15
Charisma-15

Alignment:
True Neutral A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn't feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he's not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment when it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

DriveThruRPG November PDFs

Here are the latest PDF specials from DriveThruRPG for the month of November.

Psionics Unleashed [Dreamscarred Press]
Phantasia Zoologica Volume I: Cats, Dogs & Horses (Pathfinder) [4 Winds Fantasy]
BASH! Ultimate Edition [Basic Action Games]
Forgotten Foes (Pathfinder) [Tricky Owlbear]
Due Vigilance- The Oktobermen (M&M 3E) [Vigilance Press]

Your general Support Code that gives 20% off the entire list above is: EarlyShopRPG2011
This code is good until December 10th, 2011.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heroes of the Feywild: The Witch

So I picked up the Heroes of the Feywild a while back.  I had been looking forward to this one for a while, especially when I saw that the Witch was going to be one of the character class options.
I then spent some time working on various witch characters and builds (and yes I did them all by hand). Here are my insights.

In General
Like Heroes of Shadow, Heroes of the Feywild assumes that these characters are either from or have strong ties to their "homeland" in this case the Feywild.  IF you have any interest at all in the Feywild or any sort of land of the Faerie (such as Avalon, Alfheim or any number of others) then this is a good book.  While not really compatible with older editions of D&D there is still plenty that can be used.  The feats even are written that they could even be used with Pathfinder or D&D 3.x.  I found plenty I can use for my current 3.x game that I run with the kids and Ghosts of Albion.  I actually ended up liking this book more than the Heroes of Shadow book out earlier.

The Witch
The witch is a new "sub-class" of wizard that basically learned in the Feywild.   On one level I didn't like this since the witch isn't really a type of wizard.  But in reading it I can get past it since the witch is only a type of wizard "mechanically", she uses the same rules as a wizard and thus all the same powers, feats, magic items, Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies the wizard can use.  In this respect it makes her more like what I have done in the past where wizards and witches are both a type of "magic-user".   It gives the witch a lot of power to choose from.

The witch has two builds or covens she can choose from, a Full Moon Coven and a Dark Moon Coven, or if you prefer a good witch and a bad witch.  The covens have some powers associated with them, but the witch is still free to choose powers as she sees fit.
Only Paragon Path is given, the Legendary Witch, and it focuses on the two covens.  It lacks any strong thematic element, but this is a complaint I have had of the Paragon Paths of the post Essentials line.
The Epic Destiny, the Witch Queen, though is quite good.  I had done something similar as a Prestige Class for 3.5.  This one is different but there are some interesting powers and effects.

Powers and Spells
What sets this witch apart from another Wizard or a Warlock are her spells and powers.  The witch relies on her familiar to learn magic.  Something I have seen more and more of late in FRPG versions of the witch. Her magic has a distinct feel to it different than that of the warlock, even if there seems to be some overlap.  Witches do get a minor healing power from the Full Moon Coven, and her magics in general are more subtle. She does not for example have a fireball like spell, but she can change monsters into other animals and they take damage for it.  Heavy on the charms and transformations.  Lots of powers with the Psychic key-word.  Some are similar in theme to the Warlock; Horde of Puckish Sprites is not too different, save in level, than Pixie War Band.

I would like to see more on the relationship of Witches and Warlocks.  Especially given the Fey commonalities and interactions with Patrons.  I think I'll have to write that myself.

Non-Witch Material
There are three new races to play that are well suited to a Feywild/Faerie World sort of game.  The Hammadryad, the Satyr and the Pixie. All have something very interesting about them and I'll stat up some witches for each race as well.  There are other class builds as well the Berserker (Barbarian), Protector (Druid) and Skald (Bard).  All great for a psuedo-Celtic themed game of D&D.  Just add Player's Handbook 2 to the mix to get the base Bard and Gnome and you are set.  Honestly there is enough here to run a high-magic game and never leave the Feywild.

Overall I am very pleased with this witch class.  It's not perfect, but it is very, very close.  I might try a multi-classed warlock, but that might be splitting my roles a bit too much.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Give the gift of Adventure! Part 2

I think my intentions for my last post were not 100% clear.  I am going to blame the antihistamines and try it again with a  different point of view.

This holiday season I'd like to challenge the members of the Old School Community (and the New School and No School ones as well) to give a gift of your favorite game.  It really doesn't matter which one to be honest.
The only requirements are you need to give it to a kid who has not played before, or who has only played a little, and then promise them you will show them how to play.

So pick the D&D 4E boxed set or the Pathfinder one.
OR for the normal audience of this blog, pick a game from the OSR and give it to them.

My favorites are Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy RPG and Spellcraft & Swordplay.  Order them now so you can have the print version in time to give.

Speaking of which DriveThruRPG is running a special this week on Teach Your Kids to Game.  There are a ton of great games here, many of which are not even discussed int he OSR realm or in the 4E/Pathfinder realms.
Here are some of the ones they suggested that I have reviewed in the past.
Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road - great game and available in softcover.
Cartoon Action Hour 2 - great easy game to learn and a great hook, play your favorite cartoon!
Cat - John Wick has been putting out some fun little games lately.  Cat might be one of my favorites.  Play a cat and fight monsters.
DC Adventures - what kid today doesn't like super heroes? And why not play the greatest super heroes in the world!
Meddling Kids - Got younger kids?  Maybe ones that like to watch shows with kids solving mysteries with their animal side kick?  Then this is the game for you!
Witch Girls Adventures - great game for kids that love magic, wizards and monsters.

These are ones I have known about but have not reviewed yet.
Toy War - grab some toys and play!
Faery's Tale - an excellent game that I really need to review.
Kids, Castles & Caves - I have this, but have not read it yet.  Looks great for younger kids.


So here are my questions.
Where are some good places to give games for those of you that don't have kids of your own?
What other ideas do you have to give the gift of gaming to others?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Give the gift of Adventure!

I was out shopping today with my kids today at the toy store.  I was looking down the alisle of games and it got me thinking about Christmas and games.
I was thinking it would be a great idea to give a game this year for Christmas.  It can be anything, really the new Pathfinder box set, the D&D4 box set from last year, or even your favorite OSR product.

The idea here is to buy a game for someone, a kid or a group and introduce them to the hobby.  

So what are some of choices for gifts?
The Pathfinder box set is nice, but the 4E one beats it in one key respect, the 4E starter set is only 20 bucks; a great intro price.

 What would you like to give?
Who would like to give it too?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Zatannurday: Zatanna XXX in 3D

I am not even sure I should post this one or not.
Obviously I have noting against porn or anything like that.  But this blog tends to be more PG or PG-13 rated.

So forwarned is forearmed.

Zatanna will be the star in a new Super Hero Parody Porn.

You can read all about it here, http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/11/10/zatanna-and-emma-frost-come-to-superhero-parody-porn-xxx-in-3d/

It stars Chanel Preston as Zee.
Honestly she is not that bad as this pic will show,  no worries, this is a safe one.



I have no idea what the story is about but it features Catwoman, Supergirl and oddly enough, Emma Frost.

Did I also mention it is in 3D?
No? Well yeah it is in 3D.  The Red/Green type, but still.

If you are curious here is a link, Not safe for work.
http://superheroine3d.com/

Up for pre-order now, and you can use your 3D glasses on the website too.  How's that for value add.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Red Sonja: She Devil with a Sword: Red Sonja / Witchblade Crossover

Red Sonja: She Devil with a Sword: Red Sonja / Witchblade Crossover: Dynamite Entertainment (Press Release) Join Dynamite Entertainment and Top Cow Productions as they bring two of comics most celebrated ...

Read More at Red Sonja: she Devil with a Sword

Rethinking Immortality in my games

I never played the "Basic" D&D game all the way through to the Immortals set.  Mostly because I was more B/X than BECMI.
I had also gone on to AD&D and "looked down" on the "kids game" of Basic D&D.  But some characters in my games did achieve immortality, others had it thrust on them.
Like many gamers of my age I saw Immortality not as a pathway to Godhood, but rather a Kewl Way of Not Dying.  Eventually what was considered immortality became heavily influenced by the Highlander movie.  And that was that for a number of years.  I only have one immortal character and I don't play him very often.

A while back I was watching "Morgane et ses Nymphes" for the October Challenge and I started thinking about immortals and immortality some more.   Over the weekend I re-watched one of my favorite old Doctor Who episodes, The Brain of Morbius and this got me thinking about it again.  In BoM there is the Sisterhood of Karn, protectors of the Sacred Flame.  I have used them as inspiration before for my own Daughters of the Flame coven.  Like the "nymphes" of Morgan Le Fay, this was a sisterhood of immortals.  They also had something else in common, they never changed.  They not only never grew old, they never learned anything new, never experienced anything different.  In one scene in "Morgane" two girls are play chess and one complains she has never won.  Why? Simple she could never learn anything from all her past games their ability was frozen in time at the point they became immortals.

Now think about vampire tales of the last few years.  Where is it you usually find vampires?  Well not crypts anymore and if it is outside of Bon Temps, then it seems to be in High School.  Buffy, Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, My Babysitter's a Vampire; the list goes on.  The issue is vamps, like other immortals, are stuck in the mentality of when they were made immortal.  Yes Anne Rice goes in a completely different direction with this.  Ignoring Lestat's "I'm the super vampire and perfect in every way" schtick, there is the horrifying reality of Claudia; a intelligent woman trapped in the body of a child.

Immortals then need to work hard to overcome this lack of inertia. In games with skills I think I will have Immortal characters have to pay twice the listed cost for skills. This would help explain why and how an immortal character/npc is stuck in older modes of thinking and doing things (or just hanging out at high schools all the time).

Now with D&D like games?  Maybe I'd follow the lead of the demi-human races.  Since an immortal can't die, I'd have to give them a huge bump in XP per level.  Maybe a 20% penalty.

Just some random thoughts.


TRPBTNTWA

I know I am about a week late on this one.  But here is my contribution to "Things Role Playing Bloggers Tend Not To Write About".  You can see the original posting at Monsters and Manuals, followed by Back to the KeepTower of the Archmage and Stargazer's World.

Book binding.
Maybe I have been lucky, but even some of the most notorious examples of crappy binding in RPG biz have held up for me.  So it hasn't been an issue.

"Doing a voice".
I do voices all the time.  It helps set the tone of the game and the NPC I am portraying.  Plus my kids like it.

Breaks. How often do you have breaks within sessions?
At least one break for snacks or lunch.  The characters can get a short rest, why not the players.

Description. Exactly how florid are your descriptions?
Description is the difference between a game and an immersive experience. I want the players to be able to see in their minds eye just as vivid as their characters would.

Where do you strike the balance between "doing what your character would do" and "acting like a dickhead"?
As a player I don't play dick-heads.  I think PC-on-PC violence is stupid (see below) and regardless of the story at hand the group is supposed to be acting like a group of heroes.

PC-on-PC violence. Do your players tend to avoid it, or do you ban it? Or does anything go?
As  a player I don't do it.  As GM I forbid it. It has no place at my table.  Act like the heroes you are supposed to be, not the asshole you think you can get away with being. I don't find it fun and that is not why I play.
(Actually bloggers tend to talk about this one a lot)

How do you explain what a role playing game is to a stranger who is also a non-player?
Most people know about D&D so I say it is like that.

Alcohol at the table?
Eh. I did it a couple of times in college and it never really worked out.
Now I am at an age where I don't need to have a beer at every social gathering.  Mt. Dew is still fine with me.

What's acceptable to do to a PC whose player is absent from the session? Is whatever happens their fault for not being there, or are there some limits?
Players have lives outside of the game.  If they can't make it they can't make it.  If so then I work out an excuse for the character to be absent or GM-PC them in passive mode.  They are there, but not contributing as much.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Delays

Hey everyone.

I know. I am late with a few projects.
Not to get into too deeply, but have had some illnesses and surgeries at home (everyone is fine, except for me and I have a bad cold) and work has been really, really busy.

So without further ado here is the status of various projects.

Eldritch Witchery
Done.  In the hands of the editor now.  There might be rewrites.

The Witch
85-90% done.
I am working on some of the spells and had to redo how I do ritual magic in Basic Eras games.
This one I am going to hold off on till Dec. 22.  The release will include blog posting on Befana, The Christmas Witch.

Vampire Queen Adventure
Done.  Need to get it typed up and sent off.

Here There Be Dragons...
Slower progress here.  But we have a lot of ideas and have been working on it a lot.
Bought some more art yesterday for it too.
We are hoping to release it on April 23, 2012; St. George's Day.

In the meantime Ghosts of Albion should be out in stores by the end of this month!

Having a Wicked time in Oz

File under: You Knew This Was Coming Sooner or Later

Ever since I was little, I mean really little, I have enjoyed "The Wizard of Oz".  I can recall being about 4 or so and being frightened of the flying monkeys, the Winkies and of course the Wicked Witch.  I also remember we had this old copy of the Wizard of Oz book in the house and I remembered how different it was than the movie.

Oz is a fascinating place really, and I was amazed the first time I learned how much of it was there beyond Dorothy and her friends. I learned about names like Mombi and Ozma.
I will admit I have always wanted to put a "pumpkin head" in my games largely in part due to "Journey Back to Oz".  In my WitchCraft games we also used to call witch hunters "Dorothies".

So I was thrilled when I heard of Douglas Wall's Adventures in Oz RPG.
http://fdouglaswall.blogspot.com/  and
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/575175333/adventures-in-oz-beyond-the-deadly-desert
It is, like the literary Oz, a great game for the younger set. The rules are fast, simple to learn and you can be up and playing in no time at all.
They game is also really, really fun. If you never play it, the book offers a good resource to using Oz in your own games.

I think Oz is a bit under rated to be honest.  It's not the drug referenced lands of Alice or even the purely fantasy of Peter Pan, it is, in a way, pragmatically American.  But it is fertile land as well. It gave us "The Wiz" and "Tin Man" and of course, "Wicked".

I never saw Wicked on stage, despite living in Chicago.  I did read the book and enjoyed it.  The world of Wicked is not exactly the same as that of Oz.  The names and places are familiar, but there is some differences.  Most notable is the character of Elphaba.

Elphaba is the Wicked Witch of West.  Though here she is a smart, green skinned young woman with a talent for sorcery and getting into trouble.  In the musical (and in the book) she is friends with Glinda (the good Witch) and learns that the Wizard is nothing more than a fake.

She fights against the Wizard, and for animal rights. Falls in love. Creates the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman. Plus she is the protector of her younger sister Nessarose, aka the Wicked Witch of the East.

The main feature of the musical (and the book to a lesser extent) is the close friendship that Glinda and Elphaba have.  After all, check out those posters for the musical.

Running a game in a "Wicked" version of Oz is not that difficult. It just takes a bit creativity on the Narrator's part.

Elphaba
Template: Sorcerer

Basic Skills
Athletics: 1
Awareness: 4
Brains: 5
Presence: 3
Sneaking: 2
Wits: 4

Traits: Sorcery, Magical Toolkit, Yookoohoo Magic

Elphaba also possesses the Grimmerie, the most powerful book of magic in all of Oz.  She can cast any known spells and only Glinda is her equal in magic.  She also made a pair of Ruby Slippers for her sister to help her walk (takes the place of the Silver Slippers of the game and novels).

In musical Elphaba is the daughter of the Wizard, so she is both of Oz and Earth. Despite rumor to the contrary she has no particular dislike of water.

Playing in this world the characters could encounter Elphaba since after her supposed murder she found a life outside of Oz.  Maybe even in the desert.

If you want more Oz goodness then check out Doug's Kickstarter for his next Oz book, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/575175333/adventures-in-oz-beyond-the-deadly-desert

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Horror is everywhere

I have recently seen some posts on how to do horror games.  Inevitably someone posts something like "You can't do Horror with XXXX system."

To which I always mentally add "Maybe YOU can't, but the rest of us have."
Horror is about tone. It is about style. The system can support it, even add to it.  Think about the game Dread and it's Jenga block mechanic or Call of Cthulhu and it's sanity system. Those are system supported horror.  But can you do horror with say Toon or d20?  Yes. But expect it to be a little different.

In d20 systems the characters will have more power as the level up.  You could take the cheap path and up the baddies too, but that isn't horror really.  You need to get them where their fears live.  Even the most powerful character will find themselves in a situation they can't control or even properly understand.  Lovecraft said it best, the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown.  So keep players in the dark.  The powers they have are not the ones they need.  Modern supernatural books do a good job of this.  When solving a problem Harry or Rachel have all the magic they need, but what they don't have are answers. They have allies, they don't have knowledge of who or what their enemy is.

What about Toon?  Well if a picture is worth a 1,000 words then here are 100 score words to illustrate my point.

Toon:

Toon + Horror:


Artist here: http://sideshowmonkey.deviantart.com/art/CASPER-ISSUE-41-by-Hartman-191809383
Yes that is the same Hartman who did animation for Rob Zombie.  So Wendy here is cut from the same cloth as The American Witch.

I'll keep talking about how you can do horror in future posts.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Jeff Dee kickstarter

Jeff Dee has new Kickstarter project to recreate all his old Egyptian gods art from the original Deities and Demigods (one of my favorite books).

I guess at some point TSR threw out all the art he did. So he is not only redoing them, but also doing some new ones for gods not pictured.

You can read more and donate some money here:
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jeffdee/re-creating-my-egyptian-art-from-deities-and-demig

I have supported other Kickstarters in the past and would love to support this one too.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Zatannurday: Zee with ink?

The new cover for Justice League Dark #5 is out now.

Is it me or does Zee look like she has a tattoo on her right arm?


Hard to say at this point.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heroes of the Feywild: first look

I got my copy of Heroes of the Feywild today.

I skipped right ahead to the witch and her associated paragon paths and epic destiny.

So far??

I LIKE IT.

No really, I do.  The witch is really cool.
I can't wait to roll up a new witch character and compare her not only the 4e warlock and the Pathfinder witch.

I will be honest here.  I like this witch much, much more than the Pathfinder one, but I'll no more soon.

Details later.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ghosts of Albion. In print!!

Posted by Eden's Zombie Lord, George Vasilakos.


Ghosts of Albion. In Print!!!

To say I am excited is a major understatement!!

No idea when it will hit your shelves, but it is coming!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Well...it's not YDIS

But I got called out anyway.

http://misstress-of-doom.blogspot.com/2011/10/it-only-gets-better.html

Out of the Closet blog. That made me laugh.

Mistress of Doom doesn't quite have the same level of gravitas as YDIS.  But give her time and I am sure she will end up pissing someone off just the right way to get some attention.

Until then I'll give her some free clicks.  What the hell.

Now if I can only remember where I left my flash-drive with my 10,000 page massive Willow/Tara and Xena/Gabrielle crossover epic.  Maybe it is in that jar she mentions.

Sir Gannon, the Gold Knight

I normally don't mix my professional day-to-day job with my gaming or blog writing,  but I was on campus recently and this thought came to me.

So here is a character you can steal for your game.

Sir Gannon, the Gold Knight
There is a small hamlet on the shores of a large lake in the Land of Penn that has known peace for nearly three generations.  The land has had a history of great war, the Burg of Getty in east still sees the ghosts of long dead warriors from their bloody battles there. Even the home of the King in the Burg of Harris is constantly prepared for war and many of the best warriors come to this town to learn the arts of combat.   But these towns do not have the one thing that has insured peace of small village of Erie.
They are not the home of Sir Gannon, the Gold Knight.

Gannon began, and many say remain to this day, a modest man of simple means.  He inherited his father's castle at a young age.  While he could have been content with the life of a land-owner he instead began his trainning for the priesthood.  He spent long hours in quiet meditation, prayer and scholarship.  His studies began early as a child and continued long past what others had done into his manhood.  He turned his father's castle to a place where all could come and learn as he had done to make their lives better or just to satisfy an intellectual hunger.  He only asked that help contribute to the town, and embrace his values of good over evil, charity over greed, and lawfulness over chaos.  Some said he was naïve of the world and even old-fashioned, but Gannon knew better, he simply wished for a peaceful, quiet life.
Gannon would have been at peace, but peace was not offered to him.  His land was plagued by foul undead, goblins and fell spellcasters.  Reluctantly he took up the sword and defended the people that had come to learn from him.
He doned the only armor he had available to him, his father's magical gilded platemail and he met the challenges.  For years Sir Gannon defended his lands.  He always meant to exchange his armor for something less ostentatious, but his renown had grown.  While not vain, he knew that the stories of "The Golden Knight" were often enough to persuade evil men and creatures to find spoils elsewhere. Plus the sight of his gilded armor on horseback was a welcomed and reassuring sight to those he defended.

Though now the great Sir Gannon is old and there are few willing, or able, to take up his cause.

Here is the great Sir Gannon as a Spellcraft & Swordplay Paladin (Warrior Elite-path).

Sir Gannon, The Gold Knight
Paladin 10th level
Strength: 16
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 11
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 17
Charisma: 18
HD: 10+7 (60 hp)
AC: 12 (magical Field Plate and shield)
Attacks: 8+6
Special: +2 to Con-based saves (+4 total), Combat Style Mastery: Mounted Combat +2, Healing touch 20hp per day, +2 to all saves, disease immunity, detect and dispel evil, Holy Sword +3 ("Aggredior"), Holy Mount ("Charger").

Sir Gannon has recently taken on a young squire to aid him.  Del is not a knight, but he will to aid the Gold Knight and that makes up for his lack of combat skill.
Bards are an elite path found in Monstrous Mayhem.

Del, his squire
3rd level Bard
Strength: 11
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16
HD: 2+2 (11 hp)
AC: 3 (magic leather)
Attacks: 2+1
Special: Favored Abilities (Indigence, Charisma) +1, Open Locks +3, Trapsmith +3, Pick Pockets +4, Stealth +4, Perception +2, Expert Linguist, Climb, Vital Strike, Uncanny Dodge, Lore +1,  Prestidigitation

Currently Sir Gannon and Del are perusing what they believe to be a coven of evil witches.  They are in fact Succubi.  The Succubi though have no greater plans than to stir up some trouble and maybe claim a couple of souls, or at least enough gold to move on to the next town.  They were summoned by an old warlock that died before he could send them back and now they are running free.  They have taken false names to hide their True Names.

Succubi, witches and warlocks all appear in Eldritch Witchery.

"Sabrina", "Raven" and "Destiny"

AL: E
SZ: M
AC: 7
Move: 90' / Fly: 120'
HD: 6 (25)
Attacks: Claw/Claw/Special (2 dagger-2)
Special: Fly 120', Energy Drain (kiss), Darkvision, Dominate, Magic Resistance (fire), Immune to mundane weapons
Treasure: 6
XP: 345

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What happening on the Web today?

Here are some posts that I thought you might like to take another look at.

ChicagoWiz is closing down shop.
http://oldguyrpg.blogspot.com/2011/11/winding-down-and-what-ill-leave.html

Tenkar wants to know if you can do Horror with OSR/d20 games.
http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2011/11/can-d20-ogl-osr-be-used-for-effective.html

Ckutalik over at Hill Cantons wants to know if it is time for an RPG Publishing Co-Op.
http://hillcantons.blogspot.com/2011/11/time-for-diy-gaming-publishing-coop.html

Laura, a new blogger to me, does a fantastic analysis of Mina Murray from the novel Dracula.
http://turntheworldoffwithhersmile.blogspot.com/2011/10/re-reading-dracula-was-mina-murray.html
You might recall I did something similar only with the movie versions of Mina, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/09/juxtaposition-blogathon-mina-harker.html
Actually just go read her whole blog, Who Can Turn The World Off With Her Smile?, it's great.



Halloween Purchases

Every halloween I treat myself to a horror-themed RPG purchase.

This year was no different except I didn't limit myself to one.
So here are my Halloween RPG gifts to myself and what I thought of them.

Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #43: Dracula
Drac is one of my favorite villains of all time and he is especially fun in a Supers game.  I really liked what they did here and the plot hooks are good ways to pull Dracula into your games quickly.

Savage Worlds Horror Companion
I am not a huge Savage Worlds fan, but you can't say I don't give the game a fair shake.  I also keep getting books for it in hopes that I begin to feel some of that same love that others do for this game.  I thought this one might do it.  But no.
Now don't get me wrong, this is a fine book.
There is a lot of meat here (145 pages).  There are new Hindrances and Edges for heroes (though a lot of the horror standards are in the main core book)  There are even ways to make monsters into friends (to quote the late, great Joey Ramone) or rather to make monsters into Player Characters.  I particularly like their Dhampyr and might yoink it for Unisystem.  There are new weapons, not as extensive as the listings in some other games, but still fine, though if you wanted to do "Savage Ghostbusters" or even "Savage Blade the Vampire Hunter" then everything you need is here.  There is an obligatory section on sanity. It is better than most, but I still don't like it (AGAIN that is more about me as a former QMHP than as a gamer).  There is a good section about Rituals and one about Magick (with a k) that does much in strengthening what I have always perceived as SW's greatest weakness, it's magic system. Lots and lots of great monsters too, much more than I expected. So this is a huge plus.   The book falls down a bit at the Game Mastering Section. But in it's defense what it does cover is perfectly suited to a Savage Worlds game.  So SW Gamemasters can start here and then move out to other sources to get more info. All in all this was a good purchase.

Rotworld
Believe it or not, I Am not a huge fan of Zombie games.  I love All Flesh Must Be Eaten, but as an addition to my WitchCraft/Ghosts of Albion games.  Rotworld will be similar.
Produced by Daniel Proctor of Labyrinth Lord and GORE fame, Rotworld capitalizes on the 5 billion dollar a year business of Zombies (As of October 2011).  RW uses the old Time Master system that Proctor bought from Pacesetter.  He did not however buy Chill, so he can't say it is compatible with Chill 1st Edition.  But with some work it is and that is why I picked it up.  I love Chill and plan to see what sort of goodness Rotworld could add to a Chill game.  OR the other way around.  Either way this small game (65 pages) packs a punch and shows that "Old School Gaming" is more than just making the next retro-clone of Holmes Basic or AD&D 1st ed.  I hope Rotworld is successful so Goblinoid Games does a generic horror game with this system.  There are not a lot of monsters in this book, outside of zombies, but there is plenty of  text on character creation, combat and skills.  There is a good Game Master section (Corpse Master) about how to setup and run a game.
Rotworld is a fine game.  It won't unseat AFMBE as the premiere Zombie survival game out there, but it is a lot of fun and great for an evening's distraction or even gathering up a bunch of friends with fond memories of gaming in the early 80s.

Darker Paths 1: The Necromancer
The Necromancer is the first in a set of alternate classes for the Adventures Dark and Deep RPG. Adventures Dark and Deep is an interesting "what if" experiment in gaming.  The what if here is "what if Gary Gygax had not left TSR and headed the development of the AD&D 2nd Edition rules. Based on interviews, publications of the man himself at the time, and a healthy dose of conjecture, we get a game that is familiar yet new at the same time.
The Necromancer is one of the more popular "alternate classes" developed for any fantasy RPG.  Almost always an alternate class and never a core one, the necromancer is the ultimate foe in many games or the ultimate PC in others.  But as long as horror and undead are popular in game, then the necromancer is right there with them.
Darker Paths 1: The Necromancer packs a lot of  punch in a small book. At only 24 pages, we get a new class, a "new" race and 75 new spells.  No small feat really. The material is for the Adventures Dark and Deep game, but it certainly can be used with any retro-clone, near-clone or any other game that emulate AD&D 1st ed or Basic D&D.  The art is mixed, but very evocative of the era.  Some new pieces and some public domain works (and it looks like the editor did his research too).
If you like Necromancers and play an older edition of the game, whether an honest older edition or a newer clone, then this is a good choice.

Darker Paths 2: The Witch
I am always a bit hesitant to review other peoples work on witch-related classes since I have products of my own out there. I fear of being too critical or too lax, each to out weigh the other.  In the end I think I just need to review the product as is.  Like DP1: The Necromancer this product is for the "Adventures Dark and Deep" RPG, OR any other near-clone of AD&D.  Also like the first Darker Path book this presents the witch as an evil character class; not the Earth loving priestess of old faiths or even the spiritual seeking witches of modern tales.  This must be recalled when reading the rest of this book.  These witches are more Baba Yaga and not Circe for example.  There is the obligatory disclaimer on Contemporary Witches and how this game is not that. (As an aside, as someone that has written these myself this one does seem more of a disclaimer of "don't email me" rather than a "I am not trying to offend", but that could just be me. EDITED: I did get an email clarification on this and the author was very much in the "I am not trying to offend, but these are different things" camp, which is cool by me.)
Witches in this game are all evil and their main ability is Wisdom.  Their Charisma must start high, but it degrades as the witch rises in level.  Interesting.  I am not sure I like that since it seems here that Charisma is used as an "Appearance" proxy and not as a "Force of Personality" one.  It would make it hard to make a character like Circe, who was evil, attractive and had a lot of force of personality, as a witch in these rules.  That is fine, she would have to be something else, but I do want to point it out.
Witches advance to 13th level; so reminiscent of the druid.  She has a nice variety of spells to choose from (more on this) and there are rules for her brewing potions and poisons.   Like other witches of folklore, this witch can also have multiple familiars.  A nice touch in my mind.
The spells are the real gem of this book.  Nearly 50 new spells there are a lot of classics here.  There are spells on Candle Magic (and done differently than my own) and nearly every base is covered (curses, storm summoning, afflicting others).
Like with DP1, the art is a mix of new and public domain art, but all of it is appropriate to the feel of the book.  In the end this is a very good evil witch class.  It does make me wonder how the author might do a good witch.

Happy Halloween!
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