Thursday, January 31, 2013

An Open Offer to GROGNARDIA readers

Hello!

I want to extend an offer to the many, many readers of the Grognardia blog.

Like you I have been a fan of James' writings from the early days of his blog.
Like you I have also noticed a visible lack of presence in my Google Reader and blog rolls.

Well today I would like to offer you something of consolation.
Please subscribe to my blog, the Other Side.  Go ahead and click that "Join this Site" button there on the right. Just scroll down a bit.

We all know that James has been going through some tough times and is really busy with real life and getting his magnum opus Dwimmermount done.  I wish him all the best and hope it lives up to all the hype and beyond.

I am not asking you to replace Grognardia with the Other Side by any stretch.  I am giving you something extra to read in the interim.

Now why should you read my blog when have been to this point reading his?  That is a very good question.  Here are some points in favor for my blog.

- My age and background is very similar to James.
- We began playing around the same time. We have had similar experiences.
- He does retrospectives and I have done them as well.
- He has done Ares and Imagine, I am doing White Dwarf.
- We both have ties to the early masters of the game.  My DM in the later part of 1986-87 was a guy that had learned from Gary himself (his name was also Gary), that year I played D&D straight out of the White Box.
- We both do reviews of products.
- We have both published a number of books.
- We both have written for WotC. Granted James has done more of this than I have.
- Chicago (where I live) is a lot like Toronto (where James lives).

In my favor:
- While I have played a lot of *D&D I have also played tons of other games too.
- I like every edition of D&D and can find something good in all of them.  No edition wars here.
- I make it a point to post at least once a day, some days twice.
- I read a lot of blogs so I know what is going on in that realm and I am friends with a lot of designers and freelancers.
- I write about more games. Granted I have a few I really like, but I have a few more that I have never mentioned in the queue ready to go.
- I actually liked Ratatouille.  (ok that one might be a low blow).
- I give stuff away! Well, it has been a while, but I should find something to give away in concert with this.  Though I do provide a Downloads area of some free stuff.
- Kurt Wiegel at Game Geeks has only reviewed two games more than once.  One of those was mine.

So until he comes back, give the Other Side a try.

Like the great sage Stephen Stills once said:


Don't be angry - don't be sad
Don't sit crying over good times you've had

And if you can't be with the one you love honey
Love the one you're with

If this sounds like a thinly veiled attempt to gain more followers then I failed. I was looking for a more heavy handed one. ;)

Basic Fantasy Role Playing Blog Appreciation Day

I am participating in "Basic Fantasy Role Playing Blog Appreciation Day" hosted by Tenkar's Tavern.
You can follow the links here that lead to this day:
I really enjoy Basic Fantasy.
For me this is the D&D Basic/Advanced hybrid I was playing in 1981-83.
I liked Basic D&D and I loved Advanced D&D, just not every part of each.  The game we played was mostly Basic/Expert with bits of Advanced thrown in.  There were no "races as classes" and instead it was class and race.  We didn't worry about weapon speeds, or to hit bonuses for different ACs and weapons (though I kind of dig that stuff now).  We wanted simple, fast and fun.

All just like Basic Fantasy.

Basic Fantasy has suffered a bit I think because it tends to be overshadowed by Labyrinth Lord. There is nothing wrong with either game, and I proudly own both, LL just has better (and dare I say, more aggressive) PR.

Even I was not that familiar with it back when I started doing this OSR thing.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2009/05/i-went-on-old-school-bender-this-last.html
But I later realized what I had,
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/04/b-is-for-basic-clones.html

Basic Fantasy though has a lot going for it.  For starters, it is free. You just go to the Basic Fantasy website, http://www.basicfantasy.org/, and grab a full version.  Grab other stuff too, it's all free as well.
Even the books on Lulu are sold at cost to keep the price down.
I also like it because it sticks closer to the SRD in terms of descriptions.  This is a good thing because for me it also acts as a nice bridge game between editions.  It also means that things that were not in the original Basic Game but are in 3.x/SRD can be converted back fairly easy.  Love 3e Sorcerers? Love Basic? Well conversion then is pretty easy.

I also like it because it reminds me more of the Eric Holmes edition of Basic.  Labyrinth Lord feels more like Moldvay/Cook/Marsh.  Holmes was my first D&D.

Basic Fantasy and The Witch
Since Basic Fantasy is so very close to Holmes and close to the SRD, I did a lot of playtesting of The Witch using these rules.
I think I can say, without worry, that The Witch and Basic Fantasy get along fantastic together.
One of the assumptions of the Witch class is that it can be open to any race.  I have an appendix in the back of the book to use demi-humans either as race-as-a-class or race-as-a-Witch-Tradition.  Either way you go,  I have you covered.

Of course I do prefer to have my spells to go a bit higher in level.  BFRPG caps at level 6, the witch goes to 8.  But I cover 7th and 8th level spells as special.

Using The Witch with Basic Fantasy
To make many allowances to cover the most games there are some odd specific game quirks.  So here is my recommendations for using my Witch class in BFRPG.

Limit the witch to 20th level. So no Witches Court witches, a witch of 20th level is the Queen of Witches.
At 13th level a witch can cast a 7th level spell only if she is part of a coven. The witches in the coven must also know the spell.  Same for 15th level and 8th level spells.  OR drop the 7th and 8th spells completely.

In the spirit of BFRPG, here is a free preview of The Witch.

If I have done nothing else in this post, then I hope you will at least give Basic Fantasy a try.
The price is right, the game is solid and you have nothing to loose.

Even if you have never played an RPG in your life then you also can't go wrong here.
You can even try the Beginner's Essentials from the downloads page. Again for the fair price of $0.00.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

New to Old School Gaming: Give this game a try.  It does a great job of handling the "farm kid to hero" arc that is so important in so many tales and games.  I enjoy 3E and 4E, but the characters can start out so powerful; especially in Pathfinder and 4e.

NON-GAMERS:  If you ever wanted some insight to what I talk about around here, then grab this free copy.  It is a complete game. Just add dice and friends.

Want to know more?  Visit Tenkar's Tavern to see all the other blogs participating.
http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2013/01/basic-fantasy-role-playing-blog.html

EDITED TO ADD: Chris Gonnerman, the brains behind BFRPG has a blog up as well.
http://basicfantasy.org/blog/

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #50

Wow. 50 Issues.  We are half-way through my collection now, give or take a couple of Best of's.  The staff of White Dwarf is just as excited in this February 1984 issue.  Let's go!

Now this issue I have some pretty fond memories of.  First I enjoyed it when it came out and it was also one of the first one I sought out in the 90s when I wanted to get back into Call of Cthulhu.  The cover art represents the main feature of this issue, a new CoC adventure.

There is a big ad for Warhammer which includes some game bits about Dark Elves.  I liked how "elf maidens are a as cruel and murderous as their menfolk."

Ian Livingstone starts out my also being amazed at 50 issues. It's a pretty big milestone really.  He lets us know some more changes are on the way by Issue #52.

Garth Nix is up first with Red Tape in Traveller.  Almost as exciting as red tape in real life.  Glad he went on to bigger things.

Open Box has the first set of reviews in a long time that do not have any D&D or RuneQuest books.  Marcus Rowland reviews GW's Steve Jackson's Socrcery for use with Fighting Fantasy. He liked it but didn't think it brought anything new to the game, 7/10.   A bunch of ICE Middle Earth RPG supplements are also reviewed.  Back in 84 ICE's Middle Earth was a big deal for me.  I loved the books, but no place local had them and no one around me would play it.  Reviewed by Jonathan Sutherland are: Guidebook and Gridded Map (6/10), Angmar - Land of the Witchking (7/10), Court of Ardor - In Southern Middle Earth (7/10), Umbar - Haven of the Corsairs (7/10), Northern Mirkwood - The Woodelves Realm (8/10), and Southern Mirkwood - Haunt of the Necromancer (8/10).    Rereading this review still makes me want these books, even if I never play MERP.  Finally Tarsus for Traveller is up. It is called an "Adventure module"; scenario having been dropped. Andy Slack, Traveller expert in residence, gives it 9/10.

Critical Mass reviews some Brian Aldiss.  Aldiss gives me a headache sometimes. I get why he is liked, I just don't share it.

Fiend Factory self-indulges in stating up the various personalities from White Dwarf in both RQ and AD&D versions.  Included are The White Dwarf, Gobbledigook, Thrud the Barbarian, Agaroth the Unwashed (guy from the ads), Ugbash Facesplitter,  and Ian Livingstone (??).  Also included are Griselda and Wolfhead for AD&D, their RQ stats having premiered earlier.  While I normally am cool to these sort of things and don't care for the stating up of real people as themselves in game, I like this because of the dual stating.

Jim Bambra has another look of Clerics in Divinations and the Divine.  I remember using some of this for my cleric classes.

The Watchers of Walberswick is the aforementioned CoC adventure.  I was excited for this adventure back then, and it is fine, but it doesn't stand up to the tests of time and memory.

Dean Aston has some "hardware" for RuneQuest characters.  Again this one is generic enough to be used anywhere.

Part 2 of the The Key of Tirandor is next, picking up right where Part 1 left off.  It is quite long at 5 pages.

Thrud is messing things up on the next page.

Microview is still chugging away, this time with two short programs on vehicle capacity and costs for three different games.  I liked this one becuae it ws using the flavor of BASIC I was using at the time, so no need to convert.  Though I seem to recall that the ' for comment didn't work on my CoCo and I had to use REM afterall.

Letters has some quibbles about the survey.

Lew Pulsipher has an alternate view of leveling up in AD&D in Going Up.  The same idea would end up being reused in True20 and D&D4 (for the most part).

Counterpoint covers ICE's The Fellowship of the Ring board game.

Treasure chest has weapons for the Assassin: Garrote, Two-Stage Poison (used a lot of that!), The Killing Cup and Dagger of Slaying. I don't recall this article per se, but I do recall these items.

Another attempt at a gossip, rumor, small news page is rolled out.  This time it is "KaLi Presents: Baelpen Bulletins".  Still under the "News" header.  Nothing jumps out at me in this one save that TSR is working on a "Spider-man" game.

Travellers is next, followed by Small Ads and Gobbledigook.

We end with ads.

All in all a great issue.  I remember using quite a bit of these things back in the day so this issue holds up for me.  Funny that the reason I re-bought it turned out to be the least interesting to me now.

Morning updates

So a few things going on already today.

I won a book from James Michler Games! 
http://jamesmishlergames.blogspot.com/2013/01/we-have-winners.html
I have already picked up the book, Vampires of the Olden Lands, and I am looking forward to reporting on it here.  How did I win this?  Easy, I just followed James' blog, http://jamesmishlergames.blogspot.com
He plans to give away something new each month.
I like his books since they appeal to me need to multi-stat everything I do.


The A to Z blogging Challenge is now open for sign up.
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2013/01/a-to-z-challenge-sign-ups-start-today_29.html
There are already 177 entries and it has only been open a few hours.  It is going to be huge this year.   So big in fact that there are categories you sign-up under including Gaming.
I would love to see a lot of blogs from our little corner of "teh internets" to enter.  Really get the word out there.  I am thinking of doing a theme again this year, just no idea what yet.  Last year I did game reviews which I think worked out well.

Barbarians of Lemuria: The Scorpion King
Justin over at Halls of the Nephilim saw my She-devil with a Sword and raised me one Scorpion King.
http://punverse.blogspot.com/2013/01/barbarians-of-lemuria-scorpion-king.html

Don't forget that tomorrow is Basic Fantasy RPG Appreciation Day and Talk to the Hand at Hero Press.

ETA:
Here is the signup for the A to Z Challenge.



Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Basic Fantasy Appreciation

I wanted to let you all know about the "Basic Fantasy Role Playing Blog Appreciation Day" being held by Tenkar's Tavern.


If you are not familiar with Basic Fantasy then stop by their website and get yourself a free copy.
http://basicfantasy.org/

To find out what this is all about pop back over to Tenkar's and have a look at his original post.
http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2013/01/the-red-headed-step-child-of-osr-basic.html

It should be pretty awesome.

NON-GAMERS:  If you ever wanted some insight to what I talk about around here, then grab this free copy.  It is a complete game. Just add dice and friends.

Review: Barbarians of Lemuria + Red Sonja

I had the chance to pick up Barbarians of Lemuria: Legendary Edition recently and I have to admit I was quite pleased.  The game was not at all what I expected it to be.  Well...the setting and the tone was, the mechanics were not.  This is the best combination really.

Ok, so tone.  Barbarians of Lemuria is what I expected in that it is a fantasy game of mighty barbarians, evil warlocks, sly thieves and semi-naked women.   Very much the stereotype of the Pulp Age of fantasy I expected it to be.  Except it plays it with an honesty and earnestness that I really want to play a big, dumb barbarian with might thews and a giant axe.

The game is full of sorts of great background that I could adapt it to any old-school fantasy game with no issues and run with it.  I mean honestly look at the cover.  Barbarian standing in a pit surrounded by vaguely eldritch horrors as a tribal shaman gorilla prepares to sacrifice a slave girl.  If you think the next scene is the girl's spilled blood and horrors unleashed over the land, then go play a horror game.  If you think the next scene is that sword cleaving through the bodies of the horrors and the barbarian killing the shaman and saving the girl.  Then this is the game you want.

The system I have to admit took me aback, in a good way.
I was expecting another OGL-based or D&D-clone, but instead we get a very nice, very simple system.  Character creation is all point-buy, and not dozens of points, but 4.  The real joy here is being able to create a character is minutes and get going.

The underlying mechanic is a simple 2d6+mods vs target number of 9.  This makes it very, very similar to Unisystem and also to Spellcraft & Swordplay.  I suppose that if you wanted a more flat game then you could use a d12.  But d6s are great and they give us boons and flaws.  Boons and Flaws are a neat mechanic. In either case you roll 3d6 instead of 2d6.  If you have a boon, drop the lowest d6. If you have a flaw, drop the highest.  Each character gets a boon or two boons and a flaw.

There is plenty for everyone to do in combat since fighting style can vary.  I like that the emphasis here is that everyone has a chance to be the hero.  Sure you might be a lowly thief or slave, but you still have something to contribute.

The careers are nice touch and helps give your character some background on what they were or did, or what they can do now.  Frankly I enjoy how it is all put together.

The art is good, not up to the level one expects from say Pathfinder, but perfect for the tone and the feel of this game.  And I liked it, so that is great for me.

The magic system is very open and reminds me a lot of magic from the time period.  These are sorcerers that gained their power through evil pacts or forbidden knowledge.  There are no Hogwarts grads here.

It really is a lot of fun and the rules-lightness of it is a huge benefit.
Even if I didn't like the rules I could use this for my own fantasy games since the background information is so great.

Of course I should stat up a character and who better than Red Sonja.

Jettie Monday as Red Sonja
Red Sonja
Attributes  Combat 
 Strength          2 Brawl                1
 Agility  1 Melee    3
 Mind  0 Ranged  -1
 Appeal  1        Defense   1

Careers
 Barbarian   2   Lifeblood   14
 Mercenary   1  Hero Points    5
 Noble   1
 Assassin   1

Protection: d6-2 (light armour)
Weapons Sword d6+1, Knife d6-2

Languages
Spoken: Hyrkanian
Written: as spoken

Boons: Attractive, Hard to Kill

Flaws: Scáthach's Curse (never lie with a man unless he bests her in single combat)

Not a bad build.

You can find more at Beyond Belief Games'  website, http://beyondbeliefgames.webs.com/

Monday, January 28, 2013

Please Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself

I am a man of wealth and taste....oops. Wrong introduction.

Today (and I almost forgot about it) I am participating in the "Please Allow Me to Re-Introduce Myself" blogfest. It is hosted by Stephen Tremp, C.M. Brown, Mark Koopmans, and Elise Fallson.  Plus I should mention I saw this first on L. Diane Wolfe's Spunk on a Stick blog.


The purpose of today's blogfest is to re-introduce yourself to your readers.  I think that is a great idea since The Other Side has gone through quite a bit a growth over the years.

So, hello. My name is Tim Brannan, and I have been running the Other Side blog now since 2007, though I really didn't get going till 2008.  The name "The Other Side" came my old website, The Other Side that I have been running since the mid 90s.  Back around 2003 or so my site began to wane a bit so I took it down.   Creating this blog was supposed to be a band-aid or temporary solution till I got my site back up.

Things didn't really happen that way.

I started to blog, and not run a website, so I could have a design journal for some of gaming books.  In particular The Witch and Eldritch Witchery.

I started playing RPGs back in 1979 with a copy of the Holmes Blue book.  My small group played during recess with that and a copy of the Monster Manual.  That Monster Manual changed my life.  I got into gaming hard core with the Molvay Red book and then later moved to AD&D.  I have played scores of games, but mostly horror games and versions of D&D.

I have been writing games and game books on my own for years. I "released" by first netbook back in 1999. It was every bit the amateur effort you would expect, but it was mine and based on things I had been working for years.  That lead me to doing some freelance work on some d20 products, including some work at Eden Studios.  There I worked on a WitchCraft book and then moved on to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
This lead to my big break, writing the Ghosts of Albion corebook.

Working on Ghosts was awesome. I got work with Amber Benson and Christopher Golden on their world. Plus get a lot of acclaim for it.  It has been great.

In my "other life" I was a university professor. I taught research design, statistics and ed psych.  I later moved to online teaching and now online curriculum development.

I live in the Chicago burbs with my wife and two great kids.

That's me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Going Back to Glantri, Glantri, Glantri...

Just picked the old GAZ3 Glantri Gazetteer.
I had it before, but lost it in one of my purges over the years.


Glantri was my old stomping ground since I first picked up the Expert Set all those years ago.

Course I changed it around 8th grade (82-83), the population was tired of being controlled by creatures they barely recognized as humans, so there there was an uprising.
Eventually a king was named and the country converted to a Lawful Good religion.   I began calling this "The Holy Lands of Glantri".  If you were on the old MYSTARA-L lists you might have seen me post somethings about it.


I loved that the city of mostly waterways.  And of course how could I not love the Glantri School of Magic.

Re-reading this now I am still impressed and can't wait to use it again.  Though I wonder if I should run it as is?  With the Princes in power.   I really kinda like the political intrigue though I have now.

Great stuff here really.  Even without my own additions.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Zatannurday: Tempting Fate

I have talked about Dr. Fate here before in relationship to Zatanna.

Over at the Tower of Fate there are some new Zatanna/Fate "crossover" images and posts.

DC Dark Characters
http://toweroffate.blogspot.com/2013/01/some-dc-dark-characters-art-by-eddy.html

DC Mystic Cosplay
http://toweroffate.blogspot.com/2013/01/dc-mystic-characters-cosplay.html
More images are here: http://rarityfleur.deviantart.com/

Dr. Fate Art featuring Zatanna
http://toweroffate.blogspot.com/2013/01/dr-fate-art-featuring-zatanna.html
With more images here: http://mantisstudiocomics.deviantart.com/

Despite their similar powers I have not found too many stories that feature them both.
There is the Young Justice episode, but I can't find anything in the comics proper.

So here are some of YJ Zatanna as Dr. Fate,


Zatanna's Fate by *inspector97 on deviantART


Zatanna is Doctor Fate by *Glee-chan on deviantART


Doctor Fate by ~King-of-Losers on deviantART


Doctor Fate Zatanna. by ~Hero-sketch on deviantART


Fated by ~Sherlockmysteries on deviantART

Friday, January 25, 2013

Let's Talk About Sex(y)

Here is a question I am pondering this snowy Friday.

How much sex and/or nudity is "too much" in an RPG?

Rachel Weisz as Lilith
I know the stock answer is "depends on the person".  Well in this case the person is you.

I recently bought some art for inclusion in a new book.  One piece I got is a full frontal of a woman. It's line art, and not "porn" but certainly more than you would have seen in say the Monster Manual of 1979.

briefly touched on this before.

I have picked up some books recently that featured a fair bit of nudity of some sort another.
In the Teratic Tome it is meant to horrify, in Sisters of Rapture it is meant to be alluring.

For me. I guess I don't really know.
I mean I buy these games to play so the art is great, but are the words with it good?
I am an adult, but my kids also like to play and read my books.  So some books I stick on the higher shelf for now. My oldest does have his own 1st Ed Monster Manual, but he also has access to the internet.
I try to be honest with myself and say yes I like looking at sexy women, but don't want to objectify people either.
Plus why am I squeamish about this and not the violence?  I have spells in The Witch that send out waves of necromatic power to twist, break and slash people for crying out loud.
I do know what I like.

Share your thoughts.
What would you buy?


D&D PDF reveiws

For these D&D PDFs I will review the content as it is with the intended version in mind. I'll also look at these in terms what you can get out of this for any other version of D&D. Finally I'll look PDF conversion itself.

Deities & Demigods (1e)
Deities & Demigods was the first Hardcover D&D book I ever purchased. So it is fitting then it is the first of the re-release (1/22/2013) of the D&D PDFs that I have purchased.

First of this is book is an update on the old OD&D Gods, Demigods and Heroes. Presented here are the gods (greater and lesser), demigods and heroes of 15 pantheons. Included are: American Indian Mythos, Arthurian Heroes, Babylonian Mythos, Celtic Mythos, Central American Mythos, Chinese Mythos, Egyptian Mythos, Finnish Mythos, Greek Mythos, Indian Mythos, Japanese Mythos, Nehwon Mythos, Nonhumans' Deities, Norse Mythos, and Sumerian Mythos.

There is plenty of information for build your world myths and the multivesre around your world. This also features the first update to known planes that appeared in the Player's Handbook.

The layout is somewhat like a Monster Manual, which is unfortunate. I can say that back in 82-83 that is exactly how we used it.

The art is now classic in my mind, with some of the biggest names in D&D/TSR at the time.

If you are playing newer editions then all the gods you know about had their start here in this book. All the other deities books are sequels to this one.

The PDF is clean and easy to read. There has been some post-scan cleanup on it so the pages appear very white and not scanned in white.

I feel as good about my purchase today as I did 30 years ago.

D&D Basic Set Rulebook (Basic)

If you are like me then this is it.  THIS is what D&D was.  Sure I had read a friends Holmes/Blue-book Basic set and I knew of AD&D through the Monster Manual.  But this is the D&D book that started it all for me. This is the one that set fire to my imagination.

This is a complete set of rules.  Character creation through to 3rd level. Monsters, treasures, dungeons.  Everything that ever was or will be D&D had it's start right here (more or less).  Honestly this book is not worth 5 stars here.  It is worth 6 out of 5.

I almost would say that if I could only play one version of D&D ever, then this might be the one.  It lacks the complexity of AD&D or 3e, but anymore I see this as a feature.

64 pages plus cover.  Marbleized dice and crayon not included.


D&D RPG Starter Set "Quickstart" (4e)

Everything you need to start playing D&D 4e except for people, dice and some monsters.

You have heard a lot about this game to be sure, but the proof is always in the playing.  At the incredibly low price of Nothing you can see how the most current version of D&D (as of this writing) plays.

H1 Keep on the Shadowfell & Quick-Start Rules (4e)
The first module of the great Orcus/Raven Queen campaign for 4e.  The module itself tries to harken back to another Keep; The Keep on the Borderlands, but the feel here is very, very different.  There is a lot more going on and it can feel very combat heavy and even a touch predictable.  But that is fine for a 1st adventure.  Everyone is still too busy figuring out moves and markingins and surges to worry whether or not rumor X or rumor Y turns out to be true.
The big feature of this module though is also the quick start play rules.  There is lot here that can help the new 4e player and DM.  So it you are at all curious about 4e then give this one a look.


Adventurer's Vault (4e)
Tons and tons of magic items for your 4e games.  Broken up basically the same way they always have been.  Armors, Weapons, Swords, Potions, Wands, Rods, Staves, and Miscellaneous. At 250+ pages with multiple items per page this is a packed book and there is something here for everyone.

Looking at this with an eye towards other editions, you could convert these to 3e without much difficulty.  Other editions have more or less the same items (or similar ones) in edition specific books (The Book of Marvelous Magic comes to mind).  But still a good selection for the money and a must have for the serious 4e player.

The art is top notch and the PDF is straight from the digital source file.

Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (3e)

The 3rd edition update to the classic Gygax intro adventure.

Return to the The Temple of Elemental Evil has a new generation of characters returning to the Village of Hommlet (where time seems to have stood still) to investigate the new uprising of evil.
Designed obviously to appear to adults who were kids when the original T1 and ToEE came out, it looses none of it's appeal.

Regardless what version of the game you play, if you ever played the original ToEE then pick this up.
If you have never played or run the original, but are a fan of the 3rd game, then certainly pick this up.

This is one of those adventures that should be republished for every edition of D&D.  Great to start with and run some 1st level characters through but dangerous enough to merit coming back to at a later time.

Besides who doesn't want to go up against ultimate evil, stare in into it's ugly face and say "come get some!"

This PDF is in great shape.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

J. J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars


Sorry. Had to do it.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Yeah...looks like pure cheese, but I'll go see it.
Opens tonight at midnight.



http://www.hanselandgretelmovie.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hansel_and_Gretel:_Witch_Hunters

We lost two good men out there

Two longtime bloogers are hanging up their...gloves? shoes?  what is a good analogy here? closing their laptops? keyboards...

Anyway. Two blogs are shutting down at least for the time being.

Tommy Brownell of The Most Unread Blog on the Internet. Ever. is closing shop due to a massive hard drive failure.
http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-end.html
I enjoyed Tommy's reviews and always looked at them as the games I should also be reading.
He does plan to keep it up so his posts will remain.

Sword & Shield is going on a hiatus.
http://swordandshieldrpg.blogspot.com/2013/01/hiatus.html
In enjoyed the old-school vibe from this blog and Fenway5's/Christopher's take on various topics.  Hope to see this blog back sometime in the future, but I will continue follow his other blog Heroes & Other Worlds.

It is always too bad when a blog leaves the scene, at least in this case we got a chance to say good bye.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A game without combat

So I am reading this new book and it is really good with interesting characters and a great, well developed world and background.

But there is nothing really in the way of combat.

This got me thinking.  How would you do a game based on a property that has very little in the way of combat or even conflict.

A good example (but not the book I am reading) is Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Great series of books, but not big with the "killing things and taking their stuff" though in HHGTTG there are some "Goals".  "Did I get on the right ship?" "Do I know where I am going?" "Do I have my towel?"

So what are your favorite combat-less systems?

White Dwarf Wednesday #49

White Dwarf #49 opens up 1984 for us.  A big year in gaming for me personally.  Let's see what this issue has in store for us.  A sci-fi inspired one, no doubt for the multi-system adventure later on.

Ian Livingstone comments on the Orwellian overtones, or lack thereof, of today's gaming.  Honestly it seemed like a weak linking to me.  It's 1984 and you need to say something about 1984.  Interestingly enough I read 1984 just the year prior.  Never really thought there was much for RPGs in it.  Computer gaming yes, but not TTRPGs.

Up first is Shuttle Scuttle by Thomas M Price. This is the mentioned multi-system adventure.  This one supports Traveller (natch), Space Opera and Laserburn.  I'll admit, I have never heard of Laserburn and I am sure it is not one I forgot.  Now as a general rule I love multi-system products.  I like them for their own value but also for the insight they give on conversions. The adventure is 4 pages, so not a bad deal really.

Open Box has reviews.  Up first is the Monster Manual II for AD&D by TSR.  Megan C. Evans gives it a 7/10 stating that there too many high level monsters and no "good" aligned monsters.  Up next Marcus Rowland reviews a couple of  solitaire adventure books by Puffin Books/Steve Jackson, Starship Traveller and City of Thieves.  They get 9/10 and 8/10 respectively.  We get some Traveller expansions by GDW,
Supplement 12 - Forms and Charts, Supplement 13 - Veterans and Adventure 9 - Nomads of the World Ocean.  Again Andy Slack is on Traveller duty, but he gives the first two a rare 2/10 and 3/10 claiming that most of this is available elsewhere.  Adventure 9 gets a more respectable 9/10.  Jon Sutherland takes on the classic Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes.  Though he doesn't seem to think so giving it and it's adventure, The Jade Jaguar, a 4/10 and 3/10.

Critical Mass has a bit on the book The Neverending Story.  The upcoming movie is mentioned, but honestly cold anything prepare us for Limahl.

Chris Felton has Clay to Marble: Construction in AD&D. A neat little article with guidelines for constructions times. I seem to recall reading this years ago since some of this sounds very familiar.

Thurd the Barbarian goes up against the evil Necromancer.  Not sure if this is the Necromancer from #35 or not. ;)

Dave Morris has some variant rules for RuneQuest in Runes in the Dungeon.  Skills groups and other rules to help build D&D-like characters.  In particular I like the "witch" rules.  I would expand it into a 120 page book, but that is just me.   RuneRites is up next with various questions and answers.

StarBase has more fleets for your Traveller game.
Letters covers mostly praise for Irillan and the new look of WD.


The Key of Tirandor Part 1 is a new campaign for levels 6-9 by Mike Polling.  This part is five pages and includes 6 PCs.  It looks quite interesting to be honest.

There is more of The Goblin Cult of Kernu for RuneQuest, but like I mentioned before it is interesting enough and flexible enough to use in D&D.

Travellers is next trying to fit in any and every sci-fi in joke and reference it can.  I am not sure I can even find the story here to be honest.  There is though an 2000 AD comic feel to this one. 

Super Mole is back as an RPG "gossip" column.  Normally I like these sorts of things. Much for the same reasons I like previews in the movie theaters, I like to know what is coming up.  Reviewing a 30 year old gossip column though is odd to say the least. What is interesting is not what was going to come out, but what didn't.  Though there are some bits that are interesting.  Such as Rose Estes leaving TSR. There is a bit about Mayfair vs. TSR and the eventual fate of what will become the loved BECMI sets.  Mole does not predict I at all.

Fiend Factory features Insect World this month with the Skullcatcher, Giant Praying Mantis, Giant Moth and the Golden Beetle.  Serviceable, but nothing special.  

Treasure Chest covers Illusions and Illusionists. I can't help but feel a lot of work was being put in to making the Illusionist interesting and cool and having it all sort of fall flat.  I did have an Illusionist character back in the day.  As much as I liked the guy I still felt and feel that he was really nothing more than a weak Wizard.  Obviously I thought the Witch was a better choice as a class.  I think I was even getting all my materials together at this point for my very first witch class.

The survey results from #45 are in. Long story short, most people like most things about WD.  There are not a lot of surprises here really. Microview and Counterpoint were the lowest rated articles.   Of the recent features, The Dungeon Architect was #1, followed by Irilian, the Town Planner, Dealing with Demons and The Necromancer.  Lew get's his revenge.
Issue 44 had the best art work proving once again that near-nudity sells.  Dragon and Imagine are the two other magazines most often read/bought in addition to WD. AD&D, RuneQuest and Traveller are the top 3 games played. Followed by D&D, T&T and Call of Cthulhu. Home computer ownership is about 50/50 and most of the ones that do own them do play games on it.  98% of the readership is Male and the median age is (was) 15.  Yeah. That was me.  

Gobbledigook gets deep. And we end with the normal small ads/classifieds and ads. 

A good issue. Not an inspired one to be sure, but solidly good.  
We are going into the 50s now where my memories of them are less solid.  I was not reading WD much into and past 1984.  I was solidly into Dragon at this point, but I still enjoyed WD and picked it up again in 1987 or so with some of the back issues going back to the 60s.  


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Hallows Day!

Today is the day that Ever After by Kim Harrison is released.


I really enjoy these books. Rachel is growing not only as a witch, but a character.  She is not making the same dumb mistakes she was making in "Dead Witch Walking".  Though this time she has to solve a problem she made for herself.  And damn. Is that not the coolest looking cover?

I don't do Pinterest, but there is a collection of all the cool Hollows covers from Kim Harrison's site.  It's kind of cool to see so many different versions of Rachel and Ivy. 

Maybe I mentioned this or not, but I alternate between reading a Hallows book and a Dresden Files one.  I just finished the very awesome Cold Days and now Ever After is up.  Yeah me!

Of course this causes interesting thoughts in my head.  What would it be like if Harry and Rachel ever had to take on a case together?  Totally different worlds yeah, but maybe that is part of the problem.  Their realities are bleeding into each other.  How would they react to each other? Violence seems to be the likely answer.  What would Ivy think of Thomas? Jenks of Toot-toot? Trent of Mab or Marcone?  The possibilities of mayhem are almost too delicious to ignore!

Given that all the Hallows books' titles are plays on Clint Eastwood movie titles it is tempting to use something like "Le Streghe" aka "The Witches".   The movie was made of five different stories, so I could do five different games where Rachel and Ivy find themselves.  Hmm.

Ok. Here we go.  Rachel and Ivy are on a run.  They fight some bad guy and get some weird artifact. The artifact jumps them to different realities where they have to encounter different witches.
I could use some stats I have already put together for some of the games.
So I have Unisystem for their crossover to Willow & Tara's universe. The start of Cortext Plus for Smallville Crossover to meet up with Zatanna and OVA for some other crossover, maybe Witch Hunter Robin.  I would HAVE to do the Dresden Files RPG for that one and then one more game.
I'd do Harry Potter but Hermione is already involved in her own crossover.

Could be a lot of fun with the right people.

Damn You WotC for giving me what I want!, Part 2

And one of the other rumors I mentioned the other day is now to be revealed.

As many have already guessed the D&D pdfs are back at DriveThruRPG.
http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=44&affiliate_id=10748

As of this writing they have 85+ PDFs up for various versions of D&D, Basic through 4e.

There is even a new sub-site called D&D Classics, that has "Red Box" trade dress and all the pdfs.
You can even get a copy of module B1: In Search of the Unknown for free!



I don't see any POD yet, and no idea if that will happen, but the ability to finish off my collection with pdfs is still really nice.

All the reviews from when the pdfs were originally on DTRPG are still there.  So nothing has been lost.

I think this is a good move for WotC to be honest.  I am hoping to see much more.

Dungeons & Dragons Classics

Monday, January 21, 2013

Going to Class

Not much to report today.

Staying away from computer to be honest.  It's a day off for me and I don't want to even be remotely tempted to take a peek at any work related material.

Though one thing I am doing for work is taking an online course through Coursera.
What I am taking is called a MOOC, or Massive Online Open Course.
I am taking the one on Science and Super-Heroes.
https://www.coursera.org/course/scientificthinking

It starts today and it should be fun.

Rarely do I get to find something that marries my professional education interests and my hobbies.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Damn You WotC for giving me what I want!

People are going to find it much harder to complain about WotC in the future.

They released the Premium 1st Ed AD&D Hardcovers last year and soon Unearthed Arcana will join those ranks.
And we have the 2nd Ed Premium Edition reprint on the horizon. (Thanks to Tenkar's Tavern for the WotC links)


There are other rumors about other things WotC may be doing in the near future.  Including rumors about product support for older editions.

Plus D&D 5/Next is shaping up to be very, very old school inspired.

Wizards of the Coast are making it very hard to cast them as the Evil Empire anymore.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Zatannurday: Alouette Cosplay, Part 2

A while back I posted some pictures of a great Cosplayer, Alouette.
I talked to her a bit on Facebook and she is really sweet and great.

And look what I got!


'To Tim: "Thank you for Saturday!" Alouette'

How cool is that!  This is going up in my game room!

She has some more prints for sale on her Facebook, DeviantArt and Storenvy pages:
http://www.facebook.com/AlouetteCosplayPage
http://alouettecosplay.deviantart.com/
http://alouettecosplay.storenvy.com/

I love her Catwoman and Batwoman costumes. But of course Zatanna is my favorite!
(Her Catwoman is really, really close though...)

I am now thinking that I need a wall of these. You know like you see in restaurants where celebs sign pictures of themselves when they have been there.  I could do all the superheroes that have appeared in my games and get them from cosplayers.  My game gets decorated and I help support their costuming!

Cause remember. Cosplayers make cons more enjoyable for everyone.  I drag my wife to cons and she looks forward to seeing all the costumes.  She acted like a total fangirl when she saw "Rose" from Doctor Who.

Thanks Alouette!

OH and LIKE her Facebook page too!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ohmigod! It's Totally 80s Friday!

At the beginning of the week I was talking about the OSR of Computers where I was interested in going back to buy a computer I had owned back in the day for nothing but nostalgia.  I instead just went out an got an emulator.  Now I just need to transfer the ROM from the machine in my parent's basement (I guess I still have some stuff there).

This train of thought kept going all week, and now I have come full circle.  Looking for games not from the 80s, but set in the 80s.  Not as many as I wanted to be honest.  Here are the ones I got and enjoyed the most.  It's not all of them, and not even all the ones I would potentially like, but the ones I bought.

D20 Decade: The 1980s
It is difficult not to compare this to Damnation Decade or Solid! in terms of capturing the feel of a decade.
For starters this is for the d20 Modern RPG, which I am not even sure is still being supported by anyone.  That all being said, there is a lot of great stuff in this book.   There are some pages spent on modifying the d20M skills, in particular how Computers worked then. That and the new Perform (Break Dance) and Perform (Free Style Rap).  No Perform (Gymkata!) though.  Of particular use to any 80s-based game is the list of common items we take for granted today that just wasn't there then.  Easy stuff like Smartphones, but other not so obvious things like Caller ID. Sure there were cellphones, but they were huge and the batter life was only a couple hours.  Chapter 1 covers the 80s. At 20% of the book content is really worth the price of the book.  It is a great overview of 80s tech, culture and pop psychology.  Its not a history book, but it shouldn't be either.  Even at 30+ pages somethings are going to be missing; but this is the 80s writ large, not Master's Thesis.
Chapter 2 covers the "Imaginary 80s", an 80s that never was.  Among the new races there is also a list of other games you can look into to help you out.  With the OGL they could have simply included what they wanted from many of those games, but I thought it was kind of neat to include them.  Speaking of the new races, they are really new.  Some are twists on familiar concepts, but others are new and all fit the 80s to a tee. My favorite might be the Arcadians (Video game fey) or the Spetsnazski, the Russian Super Soldiers. Cause the only thing more fun than Nazi Weird Science is Russian Weird Science.  The Crow Folk and High Solstice Sidhe could work just as well in a Pathfinder game.  There are also about 16 new occupations for your 80s character.  There are also, surprisingly, 144 new feats! Going past those for a bit there are also 5 new Advanced classes.  If you were wondering when the Miami Vice influences would appear then take heart with the Blue Equalizer, which let you play any sort of 80s "Super Cop".  Perfect foil for the Drug Lord Advanced Class.  These are followed by a few new spells.
The last part, Confetti, has a few bits for the GM for adding 80s flavor to their game.  These are also useful for any 80s game.
There is fairly good list of resources both non-fiction and fiction, and a good list of movies, TV shows and graphic novels.
Final the OGL where everything is released as Open Gaming Content.  Very nice.
Ok, so this is a really cool idea and a lot of work went into these 164 pages.
They did a great job with this, but I am not without some quibbles.
I am not going to mention anything missing from the 80s.  Trying to squeeze an entire decade into a game book is hard and something is going to get left out. If it's not there and you remember it add it on your own.  Though missing *something* about a Valley Girl seems a bit like a huge omission to me.
The art is all over the place. Most is fair, but none of it is great.
The layout has a number of issues.  The background on the pages is not great.  In most cases it is only just there, in others the "page number block" obscures some text.  It's the 80s, where are the pastels?
I have mixed feelings about even mentioning it since I have seen newer products of theirs and they look great.  This one is an early effort.
Going back to my totally unfair comparison to Damnation Decade, I think it would be interesting to see this updated to something like True 20 (which is at the time of this writing just as dead as d20 Modern) with better layout.
Despite all that I can't help but really, really like this product. At 6 bucks it is a great buy.
4 out of 5 stars.

Cartoon Action Hour
Cartoon Action Hour: Season 2
I reviewed CAH in depth before and if you spend anytime here at all you will know my fondness for this game.  This not an 80s emulation game, but an 80s cartoon emulation.
The biggest news though I have heard is that Season 3 is on the way.  Looking forward to that!
5 out of 5 stars.

World of Darkness: New Wave Requiem
It's Totally Vampires! Playing in the 80's never looked so good. While I don't follow many of the new WoD titles, this supplement is great. It brings back all sorts of memories and it is nice to see a shift in mentality from the paranoid 90's (birthplace of V:tM) and the weird 2000s. Nice to get back to a time when greed was good, sex was not safe and drugs were everywhere. We can't go back to the 80's but we can pretend to. The art, like all the art in WW's books, is fantastic.
I want a print of that Erik Jones book cover for my game room.
This is one of my favorites really. Not just about the 80s but from the new WoD.  Put on some Bauhaus and give this one a go.
5 out of 5 stars.


So anyone know of other good 80s games?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Email blues

So I was talking to a few people this week and today  about email.
One thing that came up is that is hard to figure out what someone's email  is supposed to be unless you do some digging and very difficult without a Google+ account.

So to that end I created an "email me link".  I used an image to help stop at least some of the spammers.
You can click on it and email me now if you like.


Just another service provided to you, the readers of the Other Side!

Slight Rant: Answer your D@#% email

Sorry slight rant here.

Publishers: It is common courtesy that if you get an honest inquiry about one of your products you answer or at least acknowledge the email.

The end result is I don't buy your product.  And some of you are small enough that you can't afford to ignore your customer base.

Not naming names, but seriously. Customer support.

I have sent out emails to four different companies over the last week or so. Heard nothing back from any of them. One I can forgive, the others? Well to be honest they don't have enough business to be too busy to ignore potential customers.

If we have learned anything from the various Kickstarter non-starters then it is keep in communication with your potential and actual customers.  This business is too small to ignore people.

Rant over.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #48

White Dwarf Wednesday takes us to the end of 1983. For Christmas I got a copy of the Police's Synchronicity and I believe the Monster Manual II (and check out the ad for it at the end...if you have a copy).  Out of the shelves was White Dwarf #48.

This one of the cooler WD covers. Brought to us by Alan Craddock I for years thought it was a Chris Achilleos.

Ian Livingstone talks about bring out some RPGs to play with the family this Christmas, wondering what Granny might think of Orc stomping.

Up first is Open Box with a ton of items.  For AD&D we have UK1: Beyond the Crystal Cave, EX1: Dungeonland and EX2: The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror. For D&D X3: Curse of Xanathon. Jim Bambara likes the modules for the most part giving them 9/10, 9/10, 9/10 and 7/10 respectively.  Andy Slack tackles the new version of the Traveller basic rules. This is the cover I remember most about the mid 80s.  It is also the version of the Traveller I never tried having ended with the Blue Book. He gives it an 8/10 overall, but still states that neophytes are better served with one of the other sets.  Jon Sutherland takes on the two Call of Cthulhu adventures (and they are called Adventures now, not Scenarios). Death in Dunwich and The Arkham Evil.  He gives them 7/10 and 8/10 respectively saying these are not for fool hardy players used to hack and slash.  Finally we have the Autoduel Champions and Car Wars Reference Screen.  Autoduel gives us Car Wars for Champions.  Marcus Rowland gives them 8/10 and 6/10.

The book reviews focus on the then recent batch of sci-fi/fantasy books. The Complete Book of SF and Fantasy is one that jumps out at me.  I think I owned this at one point, but the title is so generic I could have owned something very similar.   There is also a review of Moorcock's  Dancers at the End of Time, which I have not read.  A couple of Trek books are also covered including what is likely to have been the first time I had ever heard of what is now known as Slashfic, called Kirk-Spocking here.

Lew Pulsipher's  Lew's Views is back this month and covers Gods, Magic and FRP battles.  He discusses the nature of Gods and Magic in fantasy battles.

Rick Priestly has an article on using Giants in Warhammer.  There are some interesting and mostly game agnostic rules about giants getting drunk.  I might try these out.

The Dark Brotherhood is an alternate system for Assassins in AD&D by Chris Felton.  I remember reading this way back when and it influenced the assassin guilds I had made for my game. The Brotherhood (no relation I am sure since I was big into acronyms then and wanted it to spell out BEAST) and the Red Assassins were two rival guilds in my games.  I never made characters in either guild sign contracts.

Counterpoint discusses boardgames derived from books. The big ones are discussed; LotR, Dune, Call of Cthulhu and Asimov's books and the varying degrees of success they achieved.

Ian Bailey has some RuneQuest crunch and fluff for us in the form of Crom Cruach, a Goblin Cult.   It is interesting enough to use anywhere.

Tracing Errors is this issue's Microview article and Gareth Williams covers how to find and debug errors in your programming.

Letters covers level limits in AD&D, Marc Miller and Thomas Price praising the coverage of various Traveller articles.

Marcus Rowland covers computers in Traveller.  By this time the concept of what a computer could do had changed in the world since Traveller had been published.  Computers had always been one of Traveller's weakest area in terms of future tech.  This article helps, but doesn't quite get it there.  My smart phone laughs at the idea of 1 ton batteries powering a computer for only 12 hours.

RuneRites has a double feature for us today. Monsters and a new scenario.  The monsters are listed (nothing jumps out at me), we break for a Thrud the Barbarian strip and head into the scenario.  The Lone and Level Sands is dual stated for AD&D AND RuneQuest.   New monsters are given both RuneQuest and AD&D stats (or at least where you can get them).

Fiend Factory returns the favor and converts the RQ demons from the last few issues into AD&D demons.
Treasure Chest follows with some demon related spells for D&D/AD&D.

The Travellers get into more trouble. And the Victoria Gazette is another attempt at a news article.  No jokes this time, just straight news.

Classifieds and Small ads follow.  Gobbledigook shows us how to handle Illusionists.
Ads end the issue including full page ones for James Bond, Games Fair 84,  Games Workshop and TSR for the Monster Manual II.

In general I feel that once again the layout and general design of the magazine was turned up a bit.  The page count is now up to 52 and still only 75p.

You can get a better look at that cover art here:


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Classes from Barrel Rider Games

I love new classes.  I love all sorts of new options. So when the chance comes around to get my hands on a new class, especially if it is for my current favorite version of D&D (Basic/Expert) or clone (Labyrinth Lord/Basic Fantasy).

So I have been picking up a few from Barrel Rider Gameshttp://barrelridergames.com/

Barrel Rider Games (and I will admit I love this name) is in the biz (so far) of producing a new class for a buck. Not a bad biz to be in really. There is always a new class that can be made, there is demand and people will part with a dollar pretty easy.

In nearly every case you get a class, some art (usually just cover art), descriptions, and the LL compatibility license and the OGL.  Also, I am afraid to admit they are usually missing the Saving Throws table and sometimes how the class gains To Hit rolls.  This is not a huge deal for most of them since it usually pretty obvious what they should be, it would still be nice if they had them.

Here are few I have tried out.

The Bounty Hunter

In many ways the Bounty Hunter (class) is a better class for "Basic" Era Games than the Assassin is.  The Assassin has a history in the "Advanced" Era and it has it's place, but a game aimed at simpler rules might not be it.   That is why the Bounty Hunter (this book) is a good choice for Labyrinth Lord or any other Basic-era compatible game.

Like all the books from Barrel Rider Games this book presents a class, reasons why it can be used, and the associated skills and tables.  The Bounty Hunter (class) then is part thief, part assassin and part tracker/ranger.  Honestly it might well be the best of all the BRG classes.

Also, though, like the other classes, this one is missing some key information.  Namely this book is missing the saving throw tables and to hit tables for the Bounty Hunter.  I would suggest using the thief tables in both cases.

Other than that, this is a solid class.

The Undead Slayer

I love undead and all the classes and trappings that go around them; so slayers and necromancers are great in my book.

This class is a very specialized one, against other monsters it has the fighting prowess of the a thief (which isn't bad), but it shines against Undead. I felt the powers it received were fine, I think I would have started them at lower levels to be honest. The feel of this class is akin to the ranger. It has some sneaking ability, some magic and bonuses to fight undead.
If the Cleric is modeled off of the Hammer-era Van Helsing, then this class is more along the lines of a Captain Kronos.

The class might be a little under powered in some respects to be honest. But that is only a read-through and the proof would be in the playing. For example it does have some thief abilities that would aid a party in non-undead adventures.

In earlier reviews of products from Barrel Rider Game I mentioned that I didn't see the Labyrinth Lord Compatibility License. That was an error. It is very clear on the same page as the OGL. This book has it.
I also mentioned that in some of the other classes that I could not find the to-hit and saving throw progression for the classes. I also could not find it in this one. There is only about a page and half of text and about a page of tables. I am sure I would have seen it. I suspect that the undead slayer uses the Clerical to hit and saving throw tables.

I would like to try this class out sometime. I think it would work well in the right kind of adventure. Care though needs to be given that it does not interfere with the cleric's role of hunter of the dead.

The Assassin

I don't expect a lot for a buck. Can't buy a bottle of Mt. Dew or a cup of coffee for a buck anymore. But you can buy a class.

This is the classic "1st Edition" class for Labyrinth Lord, but should be compatible with any number of other Old School RPGs.
You get a cover page (oddly formatted, but hey), fours pages of the class and the OGL statement.

The class has what you would expect, tables for advancement and assassinations. Also there is a bit on the use of poisons.

There are, unfortunely a few things missing.

In the missing must haves there is no saving throw advancement tables and no to hit advancement tables. I would use the Thief for these.
In the missing like to haves there is nothing on new weapons unique to the assassin. Nothing for example about the garrote, the time honored classic of all assassin weapons. This is almost a missing "must have" to be honest.
So it has a lot of potential, but the publisher really needs to fix these omissions.

The Dragon

Again, I don't expect a lot for a buck. Barrel Rider Games though gives you a whole class for a buck.

This one is a bout Dragons as a class/race. Not Dragonborn or Dragonfolk, but full blown dragons.
Now my first thought is these characters could be unwieldy in a group of adventurers or even overpowered. That is best left to the Labyrinth Lord to decide really.

The book is five pages: Cover, 2 pages for the class, and 2 pages for the OGL.
This one does have the Labyrinth Lord compatibility notice.

There seems to be a bit missing though.
For starters there is no "To Hit AC" tables for the Dragon. Nor are there any Saving Throw tables.
Kind of need these in order to play the character.  In this case I don't have any suggestions.

I would have liked have seen a little on how to play this character class and what motivates them to adventure.

Smith and Scholar

This book is only a buck and it is very simple. But don't let "Simple" translate into "not worth it". This book is filled with ideas for all the Basic/LL core classes. They are billed as professions, but if you are familiar with the old 2nd Ed "Kits" then these are very similar.
There are 6 per class and all provide some background, history and some mechanical bonus for the character. There is no balance issue from what I can see if everyone in the game opts for one or if there is some sort of DM-enforced obligation attached. For example the Exorcist Cleric should be obligated to investigate any claim of possession he/she hears. The other Professions can work the same way.

These are set out as flavor, but I think in the right hands these can really brighten up what would be an ordinary game into something very interesting.

They have other books that I have not tried yet as well.  The Barbarian, the Swashbuckler, Half-Orc, Half-Elf and Dark Elf.

I say give them a look.




Monday, January 14, 2013

Justice is Returning

I have been really, really negligent in keeping up with posts on my supers character Justice.  In fact it looks like the last time I posted about her was March.

That's just not right.

So I do plan on posting some stats.  But in the mean time here is something to keep you entertained.

A commission from my friend David Reynolds of ShadowGirls fame.


Not sure what the Penguin's name is yet.  But I do know she finds him in her father's Fortress of Solitude.

As for Stats, I am hoping to do some FASERIP/Marvel/4C, Super Babes, Villains & Vigilantes and some Capes, Cowls and Villains Foul.

EDITED TO ADD: David is taking commissions again. http://my.deviantart.com/messages/#/d5rjqrc

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The OSR of Computers

I am of the age that my involvement in RPGs began at the same time as my involvement in the burgeoning home computer market.

Indeed, my games were from TSR and my computers are from TRS. As in the old TRS 80 and Tandy Color Computer.

Most of my first attempts at programming were ways to help, improve or other wise supplement my D&D experience.  This went on for a number years. In fact I upgraded past (ie got rid of) my CoCo3 right around the same time I moved to 2nd Ed AD&D.

It should then be no big surprise then that while I am trolling eBay for old RPG materials I am also looking at old Color Computer stuff.
Which is really dumb.  I have owned at least three or four of these things over the years.  I have computers sitting in my office unused that are 1000s of times better every respect.

Yet. Here I am. Looking at these toys off my youth.

Maybe an emulator is the way to go.  I have a computer I could rebuild I am sure.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Zatannurday: Movie! For Real this time

I have been hearing some rumors of a new Justice League Dark movie.
Maybe not by that name, but certainly something very, very similar.

It is going to be directed by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth and others) and currently called Dark Universe.

It would feature many of the JL Dark characters as well as some from the the DC/Vertigo Books of Magic series. Currently we are set to see both Zatara and Zatanna.

Now remember talk is cheap and no where is that more true than in Hollywood.  I am not sure if this will see the light of day or not, but here's to hope!

And here are some links. They are all pretty similar.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Dragonborn Books

My son loves Dragonborn.  He plays Skyrim because there is a "dragonborn" in that.  He wanted to get all the Doctor Who episodes on DVD that feature the Draconians, and in every game we play that is the character race he wants.

Well...not every game has them.  But there are a lot of great third-party publishers that feel the same way.

Good thing for me I know about Goodman Games.
They have two products out, The Complete Guide to Dragonkin (for 3rd ed) and Hero's Hanbook Dragonborn (for 4th ed).

The Complete Guide to Dragonkin
This book is the older of the two, so let's do it first.
76 pages, covers, OGL.  Pretty packed really.  A brief intro and some background on dragon-kin and how they are all connected to each other (an interesting touch).  This assumes that a lot of different races inter-bred with dragons like humans, orcs, goblins and of course kobolds. So we have a variety of bloodlines; half-dragons, dragon-touched and "wyrm-bred".
The Half-Dragon Racial Template is presented and the associated powers.  If you are playing 3.x/Pathfinder and want to play a "Dragonborn" character then this is a great book.  It predates the Dragonborn in 4e and the Dragon bloodline sorcerer in Pathfinder, so a Pathfinder update would be nice to have, but still this is a solid book.
There is a lot in this book. It even covers how these races view, and sometimes worship, the dragons they are related to.  There is a chapter on Dragon magic which includes new spells and "dragon egg sculpting".
There is not much in the way of news monsters, but I think that is fine.  There is a Dragon/Kobold crossbreed that works well as an antagonist. Especially if your players tend to laugh when you throw kobolds after them.
I compare this book rather favorably to their Complete Guide to Fey.  It was because I owned that book that I felt comfortable picking up this one.  I was not disappointed.

Hero's Hanbook Dragonborn 
99 pages, GSL, covers. There is a quite a lot in this book.  While Goodman Games could have used a lot from their previous book (The Complete Guide to Dragonkin) this one has a completely different approach.  Dragonborn are well established in D&D4, so none of that material is repeated here. Instead the book covers different clans and variations of Dragonborn.  There is also a lot of crunch to go with the fluff.  Frankly Dragonborn need a lot more "fluff". Unlike all the other fantasy races, Dragonborn/Dragonkin are really a creation of D&D.  Sure there have been other types in the past, but even in the early days of the game their origin is purely a D&D one. That gives this book a lot of room to run.
There is also a nice collection of items to help give this race a sense of history. Plenty of powers for Dragonborn characters, options and magic items.  If you are like my son and love to play Dragonborn in 4e then this is a great book to have.

This book though suffers from the fate all 3rd party GSL books suffer and that is the material is not in the character builder.

In the process of reading these books I became aware of other ones, not by Goodman Games though.

One of the first is from Barrel Rider Games, The Dragon and it is only a dollar.
Again, I don't expect a lot for a buck.  Barrel Rider Games though gives you a whole class for a buck.

This one is a bout Dragons as a class/race.  Not Dragonborn or Dragonfolk, but full blown dragons.
Now my first thought is these characters could be unwieldy in a group of adventurers or even overpowered.  That is best left to the Labyrinth Lord to decide really.
The book is five pages: Cover, 2 pages for the class, and 2 pages for the OGL and the Labyrinth Lord compatibility notice.
There seems to be a bit missing though. I would have liked have seen a little on how to play this character class and what motivates them to adventure.

Fehr's Ethnology: Dragonblood is another one for Pathfinder by Purple Duck Games, a name I have grown to like.
This one is pretty good really. Nice art, clear easy to read text and 7 pages of content (1 full page art, 1.5 of OGL and ads for 10 total pages).  Simple race rules with not a lot of fluff, but a lot of crunch. There are some alternate racial characteristics and some feats.  There are class suggestions and suggestions on play.  For 10 pages it is really packed full. My son has been using this in our 3.x game now for a bit and we like it the most out of the many free options we have also found.  At $1.25 it is an absolute steal.
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