Sunday, September 30, 2012

Auction time

Going through all my games for the upcoming Games Plus auction.

Made some deep cuts this year.  I am enjoying playing all sorts of D&D and still love my horror games, but I have so many games that I could never, ever play them all.

So gone are my Cortex books (kept a few) and True20 ones.  Unloaded a few modules and a few older D&D books that I had duplicates of. A few other games.

I might end up regretting it all, but right now I feel it was all the right choices.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Zatannurday: MachSabre Superwomen

One of my favorite artists is MachSabre, aka David Reynolds.

Long time readers here might recognize the name or at least his art.  David was one of the two Davids of the ShadowGirls fame and I have featured his art here many times.  I am doing that again today. Mostly because I like his art and Dave loves Supergirls.

So to celebrate the announcement that David is part of a new comic, Shadow of the Black Banshee, here are some of my favorite pieces, featuring of course Zatanna.


Zatanna by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Raven by ~MachSabre on deviantART


The Scarlet Witch by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Ms. Marvel vs. Power Girl by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Hawkgirl by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Kim Possible 02 by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Last Daughter of Atlantis by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Starfire by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Wonder Woman by ~MachSabre on deviantART


Wonder Spin by ~MachSabre on deviantART

This one of all the Batgirls was my desktop bitmap forever.

Chiropteras by ~MachSabre on deviantART

And of course you have all seen this one,


Commission - Tara and Willow by ~MachSabre on deviantART

But imagine my surprise when I found this one!


Willow and Tara Cuddling by =AstronSoul on deviantART

AstronSoul is just another fan like me that had D Rey make this.  I think it is cool.

Friday, September 28, 2012

October is coming...

Ok everyone.  October and Halloween is coming.
This like Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July all rolled into one here at the Other Side.
There is a lot going on here this next month so here is what is on tap.

First and foremost I am anticipating the release of The Witch and Eldritich Witchery.


Keep an eye open here for more details!

To celebrate the release, I am joining this bloghop.


http://closeencounterswiththenightkind.blogspot.com/2012/07/wicked-after-dark-halloween-giveaway.html

I am joining a bunch of other Halloween themed giveaways (mostly paranormal erotica, but hey) and I am going to give away a PDF copy of "The Witch"  to one lucky winner.

I am also participating in a few other bloghops/blogfests you may have heard. ;)
There is Monstrous Monday, which you can post something about your favorite/least favorite monster on October 29th.  I am going to be participating every Monday!



This is being cross promoted with the Savage Afterworld's Mutated Mondays.


There are a wide variety of sites that have joined, so please consider it.  It should be a blast!

And again this year I am joining Krell Labs in participation in the October Horror Movie Challenge.


The central site for this year seems to be the Facebook site.

Hope I am not biting off more than I can chew.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Busy...

Wow. What a week.

I may or may not be ready for October yet.  I need more Mt. Dew I think.

More updates soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #33

Our next monthly White Dwarf is issue #33 which brings us to September 1982, so 30 years ago.

We have another great looking cover that is evocative of some alien landscape. Works for Sci-fi and Fantasy.

The editorial is interesting. First on the perspective of 1982 it is a portent of change of things to come.  And it is. Reading it today it is reads almost like an obituary of the Golden Age of Roleplaying games.  !982 is the transition year between the Golden Age and the Silver Age.  The 70's era of RPGs was over with 1982.  1983 was going to be very different.  A tip of the hat then to Ian Livingstone for pointing this out.

The rest of the issue feels this out.  You see it in the art and layout, White Dwarf is changing again.  The Silver Age is nigh.

Bob McWilliams gives us some more weapons for Traveller. Actually the weapons are a from a number of people.

Open Box reviews Striker from GDW. It's another Traveller tie-in table-top minis game.  By this point I had thrown my hands into the air and gave up on Traveller.  I would not come back to it for another 25 years almost.  This is no fault of the game or GDW mind you.  I just felt overwhelmed.  I had purchased the The Traveler Book that year but I never got very far with that. Oh, and Andy Slack gave it 6/10.
We also get the A-Series modules from TSR.  Jim Bambra gave the lot a 7/10.  There is also a review for the Elric boardgame and the first Gimetooth traps, which my then DM bought because of this review.  To make things worse he added the traps to the A-series modules and turned it into a death machine.  Elric and Traps both get 7/10.

Paul Vernon is back with Part III of the medieval town. This time it is running a town and city.  He covers government  customs, laws and order.  Something a band of "murder hobos" will likely run afoul of.  I have seen a lot of people talking about this series now.  Most times it is in older blog or board posts, but now I am seeing them.  The consensus seems mutual, these are quite good and still work today.  Perfect for the time when we all were striving for more realism in a game dominated by elves, magic and dragons.

Steve Cook and Starbase pick up (almost) where McWilliams left off and covers guns for Traveller.  Again there is a lot of guns here are that "futuristic" versions of modern day weapons and some SciFi staples.

Rumble at the Tin Inn is a mini scenario/bar-room brawl for Runequest.  I remember pulling this one for a brief OD&D session we played back in 87 or so.  It was fun then, and it still looks fun now. It's the map that  sold me on it.

We have more combined AD&D weapon charts.  Something only useful for this version of AD&D. And only if you did the weapon type vs. specific armor class.

RuneRites has a collection of Invisibility and Magic points of view from Jim Sizer and Greg Stafford.

Lew Pulsipher is up next with a article that rocked my world back in the day.  Brevet Rank for Low Level Characters.  This days I only rarely run into someone with more gaming experience than my self, and when I do it is a case of wonderment and the exchange of stories.  But in 82 a year or two difference was HUGE and it meant my characters (typically) were much lower levels than everyone else's.  So this idea of Brevet Rank was a watershed moment for me. Now my characters could play with the big boys.  I never understood what "brevet rank" meant till I worked for the Navy years later though.   I notice that in some online games, Pokemon in particular, my sons' Pokemon would gain or loose levels in much of the same fashion when they battled others online.

Fiend Factory has a group of psionic monsters. All with old-school AD&D1 Psionic Ability attack and defense modes.  We loved that stuff back in the day.  The Monsters themselves though are somewhat forgettable.  The Psitan, the Psi-mule, the Giant Mole and the Grimp.  There is also Zytra, lord of the Mind Flayers who is described as being like a demon prince.  Interestingly enough this creature was created by Charles Stross.  There is enough here to make something of this creature; Demon Prince or not.
Also forgotten are the Monstermark ratings.

Treasure Chest is a mixed bag called "Witch's Brew".  It includes a magical Rubik's cube like item, a spell, armor vs. disintegrate and a word search.

We wrap with a few pages of ads.

Again a good issue of a magazine in the middle of change.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Super Sale at DriveThruRPG

DriveThru RPG is featuring it's best Super Hero RPGS.  They also are highlighting bits from the reviewers for your enlightenment and yours truly is featured!


No surprise really, I have reviewed all these games at one point.
Here they are.

Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
What I said: "MHR is more of a game where the players are providing the framework. You need to create your character with the other characters and players in mind. Maybe not as much as Smallville or Leverage, but still. It is also a game where the main drama is about heroes, not really supers. It really is a "comic book" RPG, not a cartoon, supers or even super hero movie RPG. This game is about building characters, the relationships between them and the drama. Which, if you think about it, is kinda what Marvel Comics is about."

Icons
What I said: "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. 
...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."
Read more herehere and here.

DC Adventures (oddly, not on sale)
What I said: "When you take the world'ss best superhero game and combine the world's super heroes you get a combination of pure awesome that looks exactly like DC Adventures from Green Ronin. Based on the next version of Mutants & Masterminds DCA is not only a great game for Supers play, it is also a great introduction to Supers RPGs for the DC comic fan. All the iconic characters are included, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and more. Plenty of powers, traits, feats and skills to make any character you would want. It improves on the Mutants & Masterminds 2.0 design with some elements of True 20 and some nods to some designs of supers RPGs of the past. Plus the art is fantastic."
Read more here, hereherehere, here and here.

Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul
What I said: "Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul (CCaVF) is the eagerly anticipated supers/comic book emulation game from Spectrum Games. The same folks that gave Cartoon Action Hour. I want to start off by saying that this is an attractive book. At 164 pages of full of color it feels like a comic. Since that is what the author aims to emulate I would say it so far is a success.
All in all I am quite pleased with this game. I agree with the author in that I love Supers games, but it is hard to find that perfect game for your group. There have been some great choices that have come out in the last few years, but none are 100% perfect. CCaVF may not 100% perfect either, but it is really damn nice and has a lot of great things going for it."
Read more here and here.

Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook
What I said: "M&M 3rd Edition first off looks a lot like the DC Adventures RPG also from Green Ronin out earlier this year. What are the big changes from 2nd Edition? Well GR is moving more and more away from the d20 3.0 standards and more into True20 land. That is the Abilities (and there are now 8 of them) are the pluses. So instead of Strength 18 (+4) like you see in other d20 games, M&M3 just uses Strength 4. Easy enough and a logical extension of their line of thought with True20."
Read more herehere, here and here.

BASH (Original and Ultimate)
What I said: "BASH! is a fantastic little game of Super Heroes. Instead of a huge book of powers or effects, BASH instead focuses on "What do you want to do?" and "What kind of hero are you?", Simple, but powerful questions. The game achieves the near miraculous feat of being simple to use and learn and yet powerful enough to keep you interested and coming back to the game."
Read more here and here.

BESM d20
What I said: "Is BESM d20 Anime?  Well I guess I have to ask, what is Anime?  BESM d20 is a good d20 version of BESM.  I am not convinced though it taps into that collective known as "Anime" as well as BESM 2 or 3 does.  I have played more BESM d20 than BESM 3 so to me it came off more like "Cartoon Cinematic d20".  Which is in itself not so bad.  I have mixed BESM d20 and D&D3 and gotten something a bit more cinematic. I have also mixed BESM d20 with d20 Star Wars for some really weird stuff, but all of it fun."

BESM 3rd Edition
What I said: "The book is very attractive and one of the most colorful RPGs I have seen in a long time. It reminds me of Mutants and Masterminds in terms of color. It is a thick tome, and now sized to fit well on my shelf. The Niko Geyer artwork is great and really captures the feel of the game well. On the other hand I have seen all this artwork before, maybe not in color, but certainly in other editions of this book. Now I understand that money was very tight at GoO and the art is great, so I am willing to cut them some slack here."
Read more here and here.

BESM Revised 2nd Edition
What I said: "All in all. BESM 2r is still the standard in which all other Anime games must be measured against.  Despite (or maybe even because of) it's flaws the game has style and character that no other game (even BESM d20 and BESM 3) have been able to duplicate."
Read more here.

Enjoy!

I Don't Like Mondays

But this October I'll make an exception!

While I will be doing a Monster every Monday in October culminating in MONSTROUS MONDAY on Oct 29th.  The Savage Afterworld will be doing MUTATED MONDAYS!

http://www.savageafterworld.com/2012/09/monstrous-andor-mutated-mondays.html


This is a good thing too.  I am going to be posting a lot of monsters that either are in The Witch or are compatible.  So lots of "Basic Era" game goodness.

You still have time to participate and since I am getting a few people now outside the RPG community this is a great chance to show of your game, game supplement, or what ever makes you happy about RPGs.  As long as it has a monster in it!

So sign up today!
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/p/bloghop.html


Monday, September 24, 2012

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Witch: Art and Layout

Art and layout is nearly done and I can't wait to show you all this book.
So here is a sneak peak at my latest version of Page 1.



Once I have all the pieces in that page will be updated with the artists' names.

I am going to use some Public Domain art from the witch trails too.  I just love the way it looks and it takes me back to the imagery of reading books about witches at the Jacksonville Public Library.   I hope you all enjoy it as much as I am.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Zatannurday: When Zee met John

Justice League Dark #0 will be out next week.

In it we get a new perspective on when John Constantine met Zatanna.

I don't recall if this has ever been covered before.  In the Books of Magic it was understood that they were once a thing and not anymore.

Looking forward to seeing this one. I have not been keeping up on JLD, though I do have them in my queue at Comixology.

We also get a new (old) outfit for the younger Zatanna.  I have to admit I like it, though I do miss the fishnets.



Friday, September 21, 2012

Fire and Ice

Fire and Ice are my oldest son's favorites superheroes.  So today for him here are some Fire and Ice pics!
Plus tomorrow is the first day of Fall, equal parts Summer and Winter as it were.  Since I used Fire for the first day of Summer and Ice for the first day of winter, here they are in equal measure.


Fire Ice Showcase by *petercotton on deviantART


Fire and Ice by *CrimsonArtz on deviantART


Fire and Ice by *TiuanaRui on deviantART


Fire and Ice by *HanieMohd on deviantART


Fire and Ice by ~Ziggyman on deviantART


Fire's Ice Cream by ~Lame-o-Inc on deviantART


Fire and Ice by ~Lame-o-Inc on deviantART


National Pride by ~blubeetle3 on deviantART


MAXIMUM Cover by ~blubeetle3 on deviantART

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

We are talking about this again

Another article basically asking the current status-quo in fandom to stop being a bunch of jerks.


We only get this on the periphery in the RPG community, but it is there.  Maybe only because old-fashioned table-top RPGs are not quite as popular in the same way comics and comic book movies are.

I talked about this back in June, and again, I hope that we as gamers are doing better.


White Dwarf Wednesday #32

White Dwarf #32 is without a doubt the most important issue of White Dwarf since Issue 1.  Why?  Because with #32 in August 1982 White Dwarf goes monthly.  Ian Livingstone praises the move, rightfully so, in the Editorial.  Our cover, before we forget, is a great bit that reminds me of the movie/magazine Heavy Metal.  This will not be the last time that will happen.

Stephen Bland is up first with the Rings of Power from Lord of the Rings. In addition to the rings we get stats for the winged beasts and the Nazgul.  I don't ever recall seeing this one before.  Oddly enough I never used LotR in my D&D games.  Outside of having a halfling thief named Bilbo once, but everyone is allowed to have a character named after a LotR character at least once.

Now this next article I do remember.  Marcus Rowland discusses Slower than Light ships.  One is a ram-scoop that looks just like a ship out of Carl Sagan's book Cosmos.  I had recently read the book and found this rather neat.

Paul Vernon takes us back to the town in The Town Planner, Part II: Designing Cities and Towns.  Again this is another "clip and save" article and one you could still use today.

Ken St. Andre is also back with more T&T goodness with some tips on designing your own T&T world including how to adapt T&T to fit your playstyle.  Again, this one has utility beyond the game and time.  T&T was always much more of a tool-kit game than D&D was and has remained so. There is something rustic about picking up the rules today, more so than any OSR project, and reading an article like this.

There is another reason why Issue #32 will be remembered as Watershed.  This is the issue that reviewed Call of Cthulhu in Open Box.  The game has not changed much in the last 20 years and reading this article is like reading a blog post review.  Ian Bailey gives it 9/10 and I wonder why it didn't get a 10/10.  There are very few perfect games, but I think this is one of them. But as they say, the hits keep on coming.  We also get a review of another classic, Bushido. Mike Polling gives this game a justified 10/10 calling it "maybe the best game I have ever seen."  This game came out just on the cusp of the huge fascination the 80s had with all things Japanese.   It was also for that reason I unfortunately avoided it then.  What did I know, I was 13.
We also get another spot on review of the Mattel Electronic Dungeons & Dragons.  Jamie Thompson gives it a generous 4/10.

Up next is Phil Masters and The Chaos From Mount Dorren a mini adventure for AD&D. At three pages it looks like a lot of fun.  What a great time to be getting back into AD&D!

Starbase has more Traveller fun in the form of Strikers, civilian vehicles.  So yes. Space cars.  But it is fun.

Letters is next and readers go back and forth on whether or not microcomputer articles should stay out of White Dwarf.

RuneRites for RuneQuest is next. Jim Sizer gives us the Cyclops.  We also get Griselda's stats from WD 29 and 30. I do recall seeing these.

Fiend Factory gives "Small Things" as the theme this month.  We get the Greater Raven, the reptilian Nightlings, the really odd Qothe, the Wyrmlet, which is a living coin, and the Mara.  None of them jump out at me, but that is fine.

Now this one I do remember, Treasure Chest has "Drug Use in D&D".  This is certainly something that could be updated for Pathfinder or your Old-School game of choice.

We end with 12 pages of ads and classifieds.

Again, a good issue content wise, but a great one if you consider what this means in the longer run of White Dwarf.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Free the Necromancer!

Er, rather, the Necromancers are Free.

Two free sources of Necromancer fun for you and your games.

First up a free class for Labyrinth Lord AE,
http://the-city-of-iron.blogspot.com/2011/08/necromancer-new-class-for-labyrinth.html

And an old book on Project Guttenberg, Lives of the Necromancers by William Godwin.
http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/7082

Enjoy!

Art of "The Witch"

The Witch is done editing and now layout and art.

I have a bunch of art I have been buying over the last couple of years for this. So now comes the process of picking out images.

I have a few I really love and have meaning to me.
Note: All the art I am posting today belongs to me.  The artist holds the copyrights (it is still theirs) but I own the publication rights.  So these are not considered OPEN under the OGL or Fair Use.

Here are two that were done for me by my brother Daniel.   A Druther and a Halfling Witch.



Plus a magical Distaff,



These are from a former student of mine, Aitor Gonzalez. Two witches.





I am using some old Public Domain witch art to give is a period feel and some art from Larry Elmore.  
I make no apologies for that, I have always wanted to have a witch book out with Elmore art in it. 

There is a different set that will appear in Eldritch Witchery.

So looking forward to getting this out to you all!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Genre Favorites Blogfest

Alex J. Cavanaugh's The Genre Blogfest.



In this blogfest I need to talk about my favorite Genre of Movie, Book and Music.  Plus my guilty pleasure.

So here we go!

Movies
My favorite is still Horror.  I love all that scary stuff. I do enjoy other movies, but horror is my go to.

Music
I would have to say Classic metal or even classic rock.  I still love to listen to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Dio.  My wife accuses me of living in the past, I prefer to think of it that my tastes are so refined that I know exactly what I want.

Books
Again, gotta say horror, but I enjoy the Modern Supernatural genre as well.  The ones where it's all teh same creatures as horror, but living in the world of today.  Things like The Dresden Files.  I do still enjoy fantasy.

Guilty Pleasure
This is a hard one.  I have so many!! Well, so many that others might call guilty, I don't feel any guilt in these.
But to narrow it down to one...well that can only be my love for really, really bad movies.  I am not talking your average B or C movie, I am talking about Z grade, unfit for human consumption.  Things they might have considered doing on MST3k, but were to bad.

What do you enjoy?
Read what others have posted too: http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com/2012/08/bourne-legacy-review-ninja-news-tv.html


See what everyone else is doing!


Guest Post over at Blogging A to Z

I have a guest post up over at Blogging A to Z today.
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

I talk about my past participation and my new Monstrous Monday blogfest.
So far turn out has been great!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

What is going on at White Dwarf?

If you come here for my White Dwarf Wednesdays you know I am a big fan of early (pre #100) of White Dwarf.

While I was not a fan of WD after it became devoted only Warhammer I didn't fault it because that was the trend for magazines at the time.

I might be stuck still in the 80s but White Dwarf did move on, in fact there was a recent posting about how we are going to be getting a new and improved WD magazine, http://lasgunpacker.blogspot.com/2012/09/white-dwarf-relaunch.html

But it also looks like Games Workshop is having troubles with some of the older issues.  Namely being able to prove what they may or may not own.

A post over at Pork's Expanse explains it better: http://theporkster.blogspot.com/2012/09/what-gw-owns.html
As does Russ Nicholson himself, http://russnicholson.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-horror-of-it-all.html.

I really enjoyed Russ' art in WD's golden age, and I hope he can get this all sorted out.  


This and the latest Kickstarter-based-project drama though shows me one thing:
I don't have a clue about what drama is going in the various gaming blogs.  

Well, unless I start it of course.   I don't think I am being particular obtuse and I do read all the same things everyone else is (I assume).   I mean I am not reading message boards hardly anymore (ha! see what I did there) and my Google+ participation is not as high as it could be.
I'll see some good posts and think to myself, "that is a good post, but what the hell are you talking about?"

Maybe it is the nature of blogs.  We sometimes feel that everyone is reading the exact same things we are because they are reading at least some of the same things we are.

Random thoughts on a Sunday.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Zatannurday: DC Adventures

I really enjoy the DC Adventures RPG from Green Ronin.

It is not the best Supers RPG I have ever played, but it is certainly right up there.  It is quite a bit of fun and based on the same rules as Mutants & Masterminds. (For the record, I think I enjoy Mutants & Masterminds 2n

Not a lot of material has come out for it yet as compared to the old DC Heroes or even the various Marvel Games.  But that is ok with me.  I enjoy the DC Universe so much more.

So far we have three main products:

DC ADVENTURES Hero's Handbook
The main core rules book.

DC ADVENTURES Heroes & Villains, Vol. 1 and
DC ADVENTURES Heroes & Villains, Vol. 2
Details of all the heroes and villains (or at least the major ones).

Of course all the new M&M 3rd edition materials can work with this.  In particular I found these very useful to help flesh out her world:
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #12: Magic Powers
Mutants & Masterminds Power Profile #13: Illusion Powers

And of course my favorite villain, Dracula.

Zatanna is featured in both the Hero's Handbook and Heroes & Villains Vol. 2.

Honestly, I love these books, even if I don't get much of a chance to play.  They remind me of the old Marvel Phile in Dragon mag and the Who's Who in The DC Universe.


I love how it describes her other costume more "traditional" than the tux and fishnets.

Reading this I had forgotten about "Bewitched".  After reading the Books of Magic, I don't think she really "hangs out" there, but is at least known.  Bewitched would be a great location in any game. Putting it in San Fran in my games would ad least gather the attention of the Charmed Ones, but in a DC/M&M game leaving  it at 666 Haight St. Though that is a real address. It would have to be like 12 Grimmauld Place in the Harry Potter books.  Magical types can see it, but the mundanes can't.

Just wish I had more time to game!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Something Wicked...

Eldritch Witchery is now down with finals edits and sent back to the publisher.

The Witch needs one last look and then finish up layout.

Things are shaping up for a very good time here at the Other Side.

You might notice a new poll in my blog sidebar.

The Witch is done, but I would love to cut down the page size a bit.   So, I am thinking of taking out the monsters.  You can still get the monsters in EW and some will be posted here.  Ultimately it depends on the layout, but I wanted to hear what you all think.

So vote and let your voice be heard.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I am not afraid to admit this,

But I am in constant awe over the level and depths of research J. K. Rowling did for the Harry Potter series.

Just even the care and attention that went into the names of, well, everyone.

Doing some research on some other topics and it keeps coming back to something I read in Harry Potter.  That then leads me somewhere else.

I think what I need to do know is re-read all the books and I will also admit that I am looking forward to her new book, The Casual Vacancy.  It sounds, as my friend Andrew puts it, Fab".  It sounds like a good British black comedy.

I also think it is a crime there is no official Harry Potter RPG.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Rogue Mage (2012)

What if someone held an apocalypse and nobody came?

That is an over-simplification, but it is the jist of what I get from reading a little bit of the Rogue Mage series by Faith Hunter. Now I need to be upfront here about a few things.

1. I have never read the Rogue Mage books, but they are something I have been aware of and I have been meaning to check out.
2. I know Christina Stiles and have worked with her (somewhat) in the past.

That out of the way, lets look at this game.

Rogue Mage is a new RPG from Christina Stiles and Faith Hunter, published by Misfit Studios.
It is a modern supernatural game, so I am already inclined to like it, but also inclined to be critical of it.  I will work to balance this for this review.

The game is a d20 based one, but not 100% d20.  There is a list of changes for those of us that pick up a d20 game and try to go as we always have.  So no attacks of opportunity, no hp, no classes, no levels and so on.  Mostly this resembles Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Ed quite a bit.  The damage tracker is similar, but  simpler. There is a Toughness save (like M&M) and Combat is a skill (like other games). So mechanics wise this is really an elegant system, but it doesn't add a lot of new material.
So like M&M all you need is a d20 to play.
Also this is the Player's book only.  The Game Master's Guide will be out later.

Chapter 1 covers the basic rules of the game.  I thought this was a touch odd, since we have not rolled up any characters yet, but I think the reasoning is that the rules are so simple that leading off with them allows you to read them once and then easily refer back to them as needed.

Chapter 2 covers the setting.  You don't need have read the Faith Hunter books to use this game, something I think is very important.  The books look good and I am looking forward to reading them, but I have this book now.  Briefly the world changed with the return of the Seraphs on June 12, 2011. Day before my birthday. The war that follows engulfs the world and leaves it in shambles; in fact it is known as the Last War. The present day is 2117 (or 105 PA, post ap).  Given Rush is in concert as of this writing 2112 would have been cooler for me, but hey.   Immediately I am drawn to the parallels between this game and Eden's Armageddon. Except in Armageddon the war is still going on and it's 2018 (that seemed SO far away back when I was playtesting the game). The world though in Rogue Mage is more messed up with the new Ice Age and all the plagues.   Tech is all over the place with advanced technology in the regions away from the ice to steam powered retro-tech.

Chapter 3 is Character Creation. There are abilities and skills familiar to most d20 games.  Characters though have points in which to buy these similar to many other non-d20 systems and M&M. In addition there are Talents, Drawbacks and Magic.  First up are the character races; neomage, third-generation kylen, human, seraph-touched, rogue daywalker, and second unforeseen (mule). These are detailed in the book and fit into the cosmology of the game.  Races can be bought with character points, or in the case of humans, character points are awarded back to you. Attributes and skills are bought with points.  Talents can either be normal, special or supernatural and have varying point costs. Drawbacks give you back points. There are also Luck points (think Hero or Drama points) and a virtue/taint tracker which is a new twist.
There is a character creation walk-through and many sample characters.

Chapter 4 deals with abilities; Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom and so on and saves.
Chapter 5 deals with skills. The list is a familiar one for anyone that has played a d20 game in the last 12 years.  Of note though, Combat is a skill now.  I rather like that to be honest.  A trainable skill instead of a built in aptitude.

Chapter 6 covers Talents.  Think of these as something similar to Feats or Qualities, or most like the Powers in True 20.  Many of these are Feats from the SRD, but that is fine because they still work here.  As you can imagine there are a lot of them here, a little more than 30 pages worth.  Then we also get the Drawbacks.  These are like negative feats.  They take something from you, but you get Character Points in return. We get 10 pages of those.

ASIDE: While this game diverts a bit from the d20 mainstream, there is enough here that is the same to make you wonder if your other d20 resources might work with it.  For that answer I would have to say I see no reason why not.  Sure you are deviating from the source material more, but mechanically speaking, unless it relates to levels, classes or HP I can't see why it wouldn't work.

Chapter 7 is Magic. There is a lot here, not just in terms of rules for magic, but the spells themselves. Over 46 pages.  Again some spells from other games could be converted and used here.  One would need to figure out the point cost for casting them.  I wonder if the spells from the d20 Call of Cthulhu would be compatible?  Or even BESM d20 Advanced Magic.  If so, then this game would open up a wealth of playing options.

Chapter 8 details Virtue, Money and Luck.  Virtue and Taint stand in for the basic alignment system, but this also has more in-game effects.  Virtuous characters are more resilient to some magics for example.
Wealth is a score, rather than a track-able resource like gold pieces.  And Luck Points, like I mentioned are like Hero or Drama points.

Chapter 9 discusses Secondary Characters, aka NPCS.
Chapter 10 has equipment. It is an interesting mix of future and past tech and high tech and magic.

Chapter 11 details combat.  Combat normally gets it's own chapter, but I would have figured it a little closer to skills.  No matter, it is here and it tells you what you need to know. Of importance here is the damage track and conditions rules.  Remember, there are no HP here, so this is how you know if you are good or about to die.  This combat makes this game a bit more deadly than your typical d20 game.

We end with some fiction from Faith Hunter (each chapter had some too) and an Index.

The layout is clean and easy to read.  The art is really good as well and really captures the feel of the game well I think.  It is all black and white so it won't kill your printer.

There is a lot I really like about this game.  First it has so much potential with things I am already doing.  Secondly the fact that is also seems to fit in mechanically with a bunch of books I already have is also great.

I think I would have loved to have seen this as a Unisystem game.  But I know there are a lot of reasons why that could not have been done.  Plus the rules from Mutants & Masterminds, as I have done in the past, can be tweaked to give you a Unisystem like experience.  To be 100% honest if there is anyone out there that could be trusted to do that it is Christina Stiles and Misfit Studios.

Something though is keeping me from absolutely loving this game though.  I think it is because I have not read the books it is based on yet.  I also think there is not enough information here on how to run a game.  That is not a big deal for me really, I have 100s of books that tell me that. I don't know how to run one in this universe.
But these are not the shortcomings of this book; only my understanding of the world of this book.
I do hope the Game Master's Guide comes with a sample adventure.

Here is what I do know.  Misfit Studios has done a a great job in the past with Unisystem products and Mutants & Masterminds ones.   This rule set seems to be a perfect middle ground for them and I hope that we get to see it for more games.

White Dwarf Wednesday #31

White Dwarf #31 covers months June and July of 1982.  Speaking of covers check out this great looking city. Good choice for the city article in a couple of pages.

The editorial is kicked off by Ian Livingstone celebrating the 5th birthday of White Dwarf.  The first 10 readers that send in a completed feedback form will get a White Dwarf t-shirt!  Also we are again promised a monthly White Dwarf.  Let's wait and see when that happens.

Paul Vernon is back and this time he is building towns for D&D.  The Town Planner starts it's run this issue with Part 1: Designing and Running Villages.  Again, a great, timeless/editionless article.  In fact there in nothing here that could not be used with any FRPG.

In an another return Ken St. Andre is back with a mini Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventure.  How mini?  Well the first page of the The Mad Dwarf is taken up by an image of said dwarf.  The adventure itself runs along the bottom two inches of the magazine for the next 7 pages and then another 6 pages after a bit.  So a little more than two pages really. It is done like this due to the "programmed" nature of the solitaire adventure (ie if you do X go to A, if you do Y go to B).

Some new Traveller material in the form of Prior Service from John Conquest. An aside, I never quite understood why any sword type is considered to be basic training in some of the Traveller military.  We always played it off as the same reasons Marines get a sabre with their dress uniform.  Oddly enough the Marines in Traveller don't get a sword, but the Navy gets Cutlass-1.

Open Box has some cool SciFi entries this month.  Task Force Games brings us Federation Space, the Federation controlled area of Starfleet Battles.  John Lambshed gives it a 8/10 and says it is a must buy for Starfleet Battles fans.   FASA releases four Traveller books this time, Ordeal by Eshaar, Action Aboard, Uragyad'n of the Seven Pillars and The Legend of the Sky Raiders. They are generally well liked, but have their issues.  Bob McWilliams gives them 6, 5, 8, and 8/10 for novices and 7, 6, 8, and 9/10 for experts.
Thieves get some love in two books by Gamelords, Thieves Guild (I-IV) and The Free City of Haven.  Lewis Pulsipher generally likes them and gives them 9, 7, 7, 8 and 9/10 respectively.

Letters focuses mostly on questions from/about the DMG.

Lewis Pulsipher is back with another article that made that big packet of articles I was reading about this time.  Arms at the Ready takes all the weapons tables in AD&D and shuffles them up.  Now you can look at a weapon and then see how the attacks are by character class and level.  This might not seem to be such a big deal today, but back in the AD&D days various weapons had different attacks versus different ACs.  For example there might be no change at all to AC 5 but AC 4 had a +1 to hit.  Of course this is because it was called "Armor Class" and not "Defense Score", AC 4 was a different type of armor than AC 5.  A point Lewis makes in the article.

RuneRites is back again for Runquest.  This time Geoff Winn has Crime and Punishment on the mind.  This really is a good companion piece to the city rules above.  Sure is for Runequest, but it is also generic enough to work with any game, with some tweaks.    The great thing about the early days of gaming was how free everything was.  I remember using the RuneQuest demon rules from WD a lot with D&D.  This article would work even better.

Starbase has your Traveller needs covered. That is if your need is Additional Deflector Systems.  If it is then Antony Cornell and Martin Barrett have you covered.  I can easily see this converted over to Star Frontiers, in fact that is what I was starting to do around this time (though SF does not grace the pages of WD till later on).

Treasure Chest has more Amulets & Talismans, this time sent in by readers.  Some interesting items too.

Fiend Factory is still doing themes.  This time it is a theme+adventure.  In Search of A Fool is described as a "D&D" mini adventure. The stats are D&D and not really AD&D, though odd bits of AD&D are mixed in. The monsters this time are all faerie creatures like the Daonie Sidhe (fae), the Leanan-Sidhe (vampire, and different than my own), Lorelei Willow (plant, sounds like something I'd come up with) and the Dendridi (a type of gnome).  The adventure is very brief, but great for a side trek.  Honestly I read it and it sounds like something I could drop into a 4e game in the Feywild with no modifications.

News, classifieds and ads follow.

All in all this issue felt more "80s" than previous issues.  Great content that worked well together.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tell Me About Your SciFi games!

My friend Greg is having fun with Traveller and Star Frontiers and I am jealous.
I have been reading White Dwarf now for a while and all I can remember is how much I had with Traveller.

So I have been itching to find a good SciFi game.

This is the part where you tell me how great your game is...

So please tell me.  I want to know.  Plus I am not sure what all the SciFi games out there are.
I know all about Starships & Spacemen and I am looking forward to the newest edition.


Tiamat/Takhis research

Anyone have anything on Tiamat or Takhisis for D&D?

I need to go beyond the normal web-crawl/wikipedial-trawl and get some deep, hard research.

Something beyond this post I made in the summer.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/06/tiamat-on-my-mind.html

Thanks all!

It was on this day...

12 years ago that I stayed home from work so I could be at my FLGS to buy a copy of the new D&D 3rd Edition Player's Handbook.


Sorry if I choose to be selective on how I remember this day.

In truth 9/11/2001 was also a watershed date for me personally.  I had just gotten laid off from my "Dream job" in the Dot Com world (they had laid off 65% of their workforce that day).  So I was home with a new baby when all the events went down.

I then spent the next few months (before I swallowed my pride and went back to teaching) working on various RPG products.  One, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, lead to many, many other projects that eventually landed me Ghosts of Albion.

Since 9/11/2001 was 11 years ago, it was also a Tuesday when it happened (perpetual calendars are 11 years long), so to me the "big anniversary" of something is not 10 years, but 11.  Weird I know.  But that is why it is on my mind more today than say this time last year.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Genre Blogfest

I enjoy these blogfests.  Mostly for the community building and to see what other people have to say.  But I also enjoy them because they help me get out of the posting rut.

Alex J. Cavanaugh, who has run so many blogfests, presents another.
The Genre Blogfest.



I will be participating in this one, it looks fun!

Kickstart your week!

Another Kickstarter that I thought looked cool.

Invasion of the Saucer People - Card Game
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lestersmith/invasion-of-the-saucer-people-card-game



A cool looking card game from Popcorn Press, the same folks that are bringing us Cthulhu Haiku next month.  Check them out and see what they have!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Zatanna: !nmad .?ydaeR.

Err. I am not quite ready really.

Normally I like to work on these ahead of time.  But my week was busy at work and my Saturday is already lost.

Ok. I will be ready next time.


Friday, September 7, 2012

More Monster Images

Since I want to make this more inclusive here are some more image fro you to use to link back.





There's a Monster in my Blog!

I have had a couple of questions about the MONSTROUS MONDAY Blogfest.

Again, here are the rules.
  1. Sign up below
  2. Grab a button and link back to my site
  3. Post your Monster on Monday October 29th 2012!

That's it!

What can you post?
Lots of things.
- Monster stats for your game.
- a description or story of the monster from your new book
- the monster you love/hate the most

I am even considering some other ideas.  But the key here is it has to be a monster.

So lets see them!



3.5 Reprints

The 3.5 reprints are hitting the shelves soon.

They look nice, very evocative of both the 3.0 and 3.5 covers. Though they lack the "old tome" feel the originals went for, and were often imitated during the entire d20 boom.




I am not sure I will get them though.

I have my 3/3.5 books.  I even have the leather bound deluxe 3.5 books. And Pathfinder.

How about you all?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

MONSTROUS MONDAY!

This year I wanted to do something extra for Halloween (which in my mind is the entire month of October).  So I am going to be hosting the MONSTROUS MONDAY Blogfest!

The rules are really simple.

  1. Sign up below
  2. Grab a button and link back to my site
  3. Post your Monster on Monday October 29th 2012!

That's it!

What kind of Monster?  Well that is up to you really.  I am going to be posting Monster stats.  You can do that, or post a monster you like/love/hate, or tell us about the monster in your new book coming out.  Anything would be great really.

I will be posting some more soon.

Here are some banners for your use with some code to link back here.


Code:

<a href="http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/"><img alt="MONSTROUS MONDAY!" src="http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-F6_vhbYvl30/UEkKTie6XKI/AAAAAAAADrw/EDDgZMrBKes/s1600/MONSTROUS_MONDAY1.png" /></a>



Code:
<a href="http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/"><img alt="MONSTROUS MONDAY!" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-5mCyKpTA7jY/UEkKUFV6xCI/AAAAAAAADr4/Ol7TFGEr8bs/s1600/MONSTROUS_MONDAY2.png" /></a>



Code:
<a href="http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/"><img alt="MONSTROUS MONDAY!" src="http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-0rt2vIh0nt8/UEkKU7NSWnI/AAAAAAAADsA/kndgxn0xfMw/s1600/MONSTROUS_MONDAY3.png" /></a>


OR Right-click on the picture you want and re-size as needed.

You can sign up here now.

Blogfest/Bloghop anyone?

So I was looking at my calendar last night and I noticed that October has 5 Mondays and 5 Wednesdays this year.  Yeah it has 5 Tuesdays too.

I was thinking that it might be cool to post a new monster here every Monday in October.  Then I thought, why should I have all this fun by myself?

So here is an idea and I'd like to see who would all like to join in. On the Monday before Halloween (10/29) everyone post a new Monster.  It doesn't have to be horror related and it can be in any system.  I then thought I could expand it to let anyone post something about any sort of monster.

I would do this as a Blogfest, like the A to Z challenge, and everyone could see what everyone else has done.

Any takers?  This would be a great way to spread the word about gaming into areas beyond our "Blog borders" and it could give you all sorts of ideas.

Let me know what you think.  I am still going to post a new monster every Monday in October and mine will be horror themed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: Mazes & Perils (2012)

EDITED TO ADD: There is a new version out, but I have not had a chance to read it yet.  I will get to it, sometime in the future.

My first experience with D&D was the Eric Holmes version of D&D Basic.  While I soon moved on to Moldvay and to AD&D 1st Ed, the Holmes edition holds a warm and fuzzy place in my gaming recollections. I know I am not the only one that feels this way. So anything that is done as an homage to Holmes I pay attention too.

So I was thrilled when I heard there was a "new" retro-clone that was an homage to the Holmes version of D&D.  That thrill quickly turned sour when a.) I couldn't get it any more and b.) I heard the author was the same one as the OSRIC fiasco about a year ago.  You can read the drama here as a retrospective:
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/09/osric-players-guide-retraction.html
http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2011/10/fool-me-once-shame-on-you-fool-me-twice.html
http://swordsandwizardry.blogspot.com/2011/10/copyright-and-osr-part-1.html

Fast forward to this year and there is a new Mazes & Perils out.  I was curious and more than a little skeptical about the game.  I want to give the game and the author, Vincent Florio, a fair shake. The OSRIC book was a copy paste job with some art that he didn't own and the first M&P was copy and pasted from Holmes.  But again, I never saw that first M&P and can only go on what I read.  So, I want to judge this new M&P on it's own merits.

First things first, obviously the name of the game is a nod to John Eric Holmes' book "The Maze of Peril" and I can respect that. If you are going to do a Holmes' homage or pastiche then that is a perfect name really.
Secondly, some others have complained about the art.  I rather like it to be honest.  The cover is very cool and the interior is no worse than what you would have seen in Holmes.
While this is an homage to Holmes I am not sure what I have here.

Taken as a retro-clone by itself it is not much different than Labyrinth Lord or Basic Fantasy RPG, except it is now quite as good as either of those.  M&P stops progression at level 9.  Which I kind of get, but there is not enough here to support an end-game style D&D, say the way Adventurer Conqueror King System does.
The rules are simple, as befits the times it is emulating.  There is some missing information in some areas (or not easy to find, which is just as bad really).  There are tables for STR, INT, CON and DEX but not for WIS or CHA. This is an artifact of Holmes, but M&P expands STR into the AD&D1 numbers, but still does not include these other tables.Some other oddities are the XP levels for Cleric and Magic User.  Some of the monster text is awkward to read.  There are various grammar errors that even I noticed, and I am terrible at that.

Taken as a "Holmes clone" it certainly does that, even to the point that they are little too similar in some respects.  There are some spots of the text that are nearly identical, including some text that is more similar to Holmes than OGC text that is essentially the same in LL and BFRPG.    Other differences from the source material has Elves, Dwarves and Halflings as races and not race/classes like Gygax/Holmes/Moldvay/Mentzer.   This puts it closer to BFRPG.

This is certainly a labor of love on the part of the author.  And as a Holmes fan myself I can respect that.
But I am left feeling that this is too close to the source material.  It even shares some of the shortcomings of the Holmes book.  I understand the desire, but to mimic the style, even to the point where some sections are not very clear, is not a good idea.  This is one of the reasons the Moldvay book was made, Holmes was a transitional project.  There are lot of places in Holmes that say "these are give in ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS".  M&P does not have that advantage.

In the end this still comes off as a collection of house rules added to Holmes and not really a "Holmes clone" or even a "Holmes what-if".   Plus I have the suspicion in the back of my mind that this is merely an edit of a Holmes cut-and-paste job.  I am sorry, but it's true.  If this had been the first effort of this author then I would give him the benefit of the doubt, but that went out with the second copy-pasta.  If you read LL or BFRPG you can see where their text came from; the SRD.  This text does not.

Mazes & Perils is a free product.  It has that going for it. It is also released under the OGL and has it's own compatibility license.  If you can't get a copy of Holmes on your own then this will give you an idea of what it is like, but it's not as good.

In the end it has too many flaws, both in terms of execution and design, for me to really get behind it.
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