Thursday, January 18, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #95

Ok, this really is less of a cheat than it might appear.  This issue was actually third on my list for this week, it gets promoted due to one article that I'll mention in a bit.  For now, it is March 1985, Madonna rules the radio and MTV.  Eddie Murphy dominates the silver screens with Beverly Hills Cop.  On the way to our shelves is Unearthed Arcana (more on that) but there now is issue #95 of This Old Dragon!

Our cover is something of a classic from Dean Morrissey.  I will admit I did not like it when this was new.  I liked the idea, but the cover left cold.  Over the years my mind has changed and I consider this one of my top 20 covers.  Not quite top 10, but certainly up there.

The table of contents promises a lot of things, but at the bottom we get a note from Kim Mohan.  Titled In defense of advertising Kim advises us to read the letters on the next page and then come back.  I'll talk about that in a bit.  This article is a defense of the number of ads in Dragon magazine.  He points out that while the magazine has grown the price, $3.00, has been consistent for nearly five years.  Having grown up in that time with a limited income from a paper route I appreciated the price stability.  Plus I *loved* the ads.  That's how I knew what was new and what was going on with other companies.  Some games I bought solely based on their ad in Dragon.

Ok Letters. Dan Fejes sends in one titled "Hard of hearing?" where he complains about the number of ads in the magazine AND the fact that the editors are "not listening to the readers".  Dan can't defend himself here, so me ripping into him is counter-productive.  But seriously?   I understand that no one is really made of money, but this sounds like typical entitled-gamer bullshit to me.  Unless he has a degree in economics where he can show his price per useful content ratio is somehow less...but I digress.  Forget Dan. I love the ads.  My only beef is when the ads went exclusively to TSR. But that is some time away yet.

Speaking of ads...We get our first look at the nearly-mythical D&D Set 3: Companion Rules!


Suck it Dan.

Gary is up first with Demi-humans Get a Lift in his From the Sorcerer's Scroll feature. This covers the new level and class limits for Demi-humans in the AD&D game.  A preview of sorts for the new Unearthed Arcana he announces at the end of the article.  We also get an update on the D&D movie.  That is to say that there is still a D&D movie being shopped around.
Gary mentions that Gen Con was attended by 8,000 people, the most ever of this kind of convention.  I bet it will grow!  This is cover some sort of argument over which one con was better/larger Gen Con vs. Origins.

Here is the article that bumped this issue to the head of the queue today.
The influence of J. R. R. Tolkien on the D&D® and AD&D® games. Why Middle Earth is not part of the game world by Gary Gygax.
Let's take a moment and remember when this article was written.  1985.  I.C.E. has the MERP game now and TSR has already had a litigious past with the Tolkien estate.  I am going to forward this quote first,
The popularity of Professor Tolkien’s fantasy works did encourage me to develop my own. But while there are bits and pieces of his works reflected hazily in mine, I believe that his influence, as a whole, is quite minimal.
- Gary Gygax, p. 12. Dragon 95, March 1985.
Now there are plenty of reasons for him to state this, and he follows up in the article going over now well known ground on how the pulps, Howard in particular, were the source of most of his fantasy thoughts.  None of this is really in dispute.  What follows is a breakdown of creatures D&D and Tolkien share in common and where Tolkien might have derieved them.  All of which has the benefit of being true, we know this from Tolkien's own letters, and completely not really the point.
Gygax might be trying to make the point that D&D would have come about with or without Tolkien. He might be right, but it would certainly not have come out like it was in 85.  The fertile ground that D&D grew in was tilled by Tolkien.  Others have also tilled and sown those fields, but our good professor did a little more than his fair share of work.  Plus I can't help but feel there is a bit of revisionism going on here.  Lest we forget that the original D&D rules featured Hobbits, Ents and Balorgs by those names.  Halflings in D&D are defacto Hobbits right down to their hairy feet and subrace names. Harfoots, Fallowhides, and Stoors for Tolkien and Hairfoots, Tallfellows and Stouts for AD&D.  I am not going to belabor this point really other than to point out that Gary is both correct and wrong in his article.  How much of this was oversight or even on advice from his lawyers we will really never know.  There have been a number of follow-up articles, interviews and the like since then and right on up to his death.
For me. I am content that Tolkien is a model of a good D&D world. Maybe not a by-the-book one (any or either book) but for me, Tolkien and D&D have been together since the very, very beginning.

Whew!  We are only on page 15!

The Convention Calendar is up.  I see my FLGS is having a Game Day on March 30.

Yes. They are still open and they still have the same phone number!  Well, the area code has changed twice since this ad.  It is now 847-577-9656.  Not too bad really.  Want to buy a copy of the Dragons I review?  I usually buy them here!

Ok I do want to talk about this ad.


So DragonRaid got a lot of grief in the gaming communities I was apart of.  I had some Christian gamer friends that thought it was a cheap attempt to capitalize on their faith and some even that did not want to mix their D&D and belief.  As an Atheist, then and now, I thought it was interesting. As someone who was interested in psychology then and someone with degrees in it now I also thought it was an interesting way to learn something, in this case, Bible verses.  I always wanted to see the game for myself.   You can still buy the game directly from the publisher.
Anyone ever play this game?

Next up is How taxes take their toll: The king’s collectors don’t have it easy, either by Arthur Collins is done as a faux interview.  The basic premise is how to do taxes in your fantasy medieval world.

Ecology of the Cockatrice is next from Ed Greenwood.  He has another entry later on. This is another good piece and reminds me why I liked these "Ecology of" articles so much.  They can take an uninteresting monster and really do a lot with it.

In the days before the internet, this next article by Glenn Rahman was pure gold.  Prices for the Roaring 20’s: A way to measure PCs’ purchasing power gives us price lists. I remember sitting in my then local library for hours looking up prices for one of the first Victorian-era games I ever ran.  Now it is a click away.

Katharine Kerr is back with more advice on experience rules in Credit where credit is due. This article looks to examples from other games to award some non-combat experience and in particular the use of skills.

Next is an article I actually used quite a bit. The many shapes of apes: Giving primates the attention they deserve by Stephen Inniss gives us some stats for various primates including the Gigantopithecus, which I used quite a lot.

We get to the main feature of this issue. A new mid-level adventure from Ed Greenwood called Into the Forgotten Realms.   This might not be the first official Forgotten Realms entry in the pages of Dragon, but it is the biggest so far.  Run as a tournament module at Gen Con 1984, this adventure has you begin in the Realms. There are characters provided.  It has been my plan to use this adventure in my Realms based game someday. I am still planning this.  It looks really fun to be honest.

Battles above the dungeon by Tim W. Brown has advice for combat in open spaces.

The fiction section is next, Desperate Acts, I know nothing of the story save that it has one of my favorite pieces of art to appear in a Dragon magazine. No surprise it is by Denis Beauvais.


I thought she was an awesome looking character.

The Ares section is next.

We get some new starships for the Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks game NOW back in print.

Penny Petticord has some answers to various GammaWorld questions.

Jeff Grubb talks Iron Man in the Marvel-Phile.  Though at this point it is Rhodey wearing the armor of Iron Man and not Tony.

We get Dolphins as a space-farring race for RingWorld by Sherman Kahn.  Now we know how they left Earth in So Long and Thanks for All the Fish.  Interestingly enough a Star Trek TNG novel had dolphin crew member and I always pictured this art for it.

Small ads.
Big ad for Gen Con 18.

Wormy, Dragonmirth and Snarf.

Wow.  What another packed issue.  So much here that I remembered and so much more I had forgotten.

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf from the same time period?  Have a look at White Dwarf Wednesday #63.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

This Could Be Hobbit Forming!

I have been waiting years to use that title.

So an interesting thing happened yesterday.  There were not two, not three but four "Tolkien and D&D" posts made to the blogs I read all within hours of each other.  I have no reason to assume the author's all planned this, but if you are a fan of Tolkien, Lord of the Rings and D&D then it was a great day of reading.

Tolkien and D&D have had a relationship for as long as there have been a D&D.  While one only needs to look to Halflings for this there are plenty of other examples including the obvious elf and orc ones.  There are also the Balors and Treants or as they appeared in the earliest edition, Balrogs and Ents.

While it was politic for a while to dismiss the effect Tolkien had on D&D, no one really tow's that line anymore.  Gary even rather famously distanced himself from it and his followers likewise took the same point of view.

These next four bloggers are not of that frame of mind.

Tim Shorts of +Gothridge Manor starts us out in Musings from a Man Playing Two Middle Earth Games.   Tim talks about one of our other bloggers, Rob Conley, and his love for Tolkien.  We will get to him in a bit.  His point of view comes from that of the casual Tolkien fan, but also as someone that is enjoying both games he is in.  Immersion seems to be the key for Tim.  The time taken for the adventure feels different for Middle Earth than say D&D. The pacing is key.

+Jonathan Hicks over at Farsight Blogger discusses playing two other Middle Earth games as a self-described big fan in J.R.R. Tolkien and my roleplaying hobby.  His discussion centers around the classic Iron Crown Enterprises Middle-Earth Roleplaying game (of which I was also a big fan) and the later The Decipher Lord of the Rings roleplaying game using the CODA system.  Now for me both systems had their issues, but their fluff was top notch.  Hicks' post is a great narrative of games that "almost were" and some of the issues of playing in Tolkien's world. Or at least the issues of one GM in particular.  I have to largely agree with his post.  Tolkien's world(s) are huge and detailed, but sometimes that detail works against you.

+Rob Conley over at Bat in the Attic follows this up with his Why Middle Earth has been working for me. It is a follow-up to Tim Short's post above but also works as follow up to Hicks.   Rob, also a self-professed big fan, discusses his issues with the MERP system (which I largely agree with) and his enjoyment of the newer Adventures in Middle Earth from Cubicle 7 that uses D&D5 as a base.  The time period of the C7 games works well for Rob; between the battle of Five Armies and the War of the Ring.  So there is plenty of reasons (and reasoning) for young hobbits to want to go on adventures. There is also the rise in Mordor at this point and the waning influence of the elves.
Later 3rd Age Middle Earth is a time of war, but also of adventure.  Compare this to the description that Hicks gives of his Star Wars game (used by him for comparison) the characters don't have to be in some strange part of the world (or galaxy) they can be in the thick of it.

Finally, we get a long post from +Jason Vey over at the Wasted Lands, is sometimes blog about his campaign.  Jason is a huge fan of Tolkien. His post, Fellowship of the Ring: Lord of the Rings and Campaign Building, Part One, deals with as he puts it, Lord of the Rings: A Master Class in Campaign Building.   In this he builds a "Fellowship of the Ring" campaign using the book (not the movie) as a guide.  I only point out book vs. movie here since some of the differences play into the campaign building.    Jason takes a very old-school rule specific look at building a campaign based on the Lord of the Rings model.  This is a subtle difference than the posts above which deal with playing in Lord of the Rings world.  If Jason's approach could be described in a phrase it is getting back to the roots. The roots of both D&D (structure and rules) and of Tolkien (narrative).  It is not explicitly said, but the idea I get is that this is designed with OD&D in mind.  Indeed, Jason and I have talked about how if either of us were to run a Middle Earth game it would need to be using OD&D.  I suppose that Swords & Wizardry would also work, but it does not have the gravitas that OD&D has.  Plus I happen to know that Jason has copies of the LBB that still have "Ents", "Hobbits" and "Balrogs" in them, so there is that.

These posts have me thinking about trying a Middle Earth game.  Something I have wanted to try since discovering D&D and Hobbit right around the same time.   I'd love to do it with OD&D or maybe B/X D&D, but it has to be D&D proper.  I would, naturally need to remove some classes, but otherwise I think it would be great fun.



Links (to current RPGs)
Adventures in Middle-earth Player's Guide
Adventures in Middle-earth Loremaster's Guide
The One Ring Roleplaying Game

Monday, January 15, 2018

Slight Shift in Plans: Down, Down to Drow Town

Over the extended Christmas break we got to play quite a lot of D&D5.  My son, when not playing or running games for his cousins, also spent some time updating our Order of the Platinum Dragon characters. Everyone is right at 13th level and he wants to play them again.

So I am pulling out my Descent into the Depths of the Earth to get going on their first underdark hexcrawl.  I am of course using the Classic Modules Today conversion for 5e.


I am going to let them find their own way here, though maybe not as much as I could let them.
I really only need them to go up one more level before The Vault of the Drow.

To aid me in this I found a great alternate Player's Map at Blog of Exalted Deeds that I really like.


Looking forward to running this piece of AD&D history with my kids.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Kickstart your Weekend with Venger As'Nas Satanis

You gotta love +Venger Satanis and his Kortthalis Publishing
He is out there doing his own thing. Doing to make the stuff he wanted to play with back in the day and if we want to come along, well great. While he takes himself far less seriously than other publishers, he takes his games and books very seriously. And it shows in his production values.  So today I want to share two new Venger products with you.  First up a Kickstarter.

Battle Star Trilogy: Trek Wars


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1575519826/battle-star-trilogy-trek-wars

I'll admit it. I LOVE Alpha Blue.  I might be because I am the right demographic for it, but I also love 70s sleaze.  Anything for Alpha Blue then is good in my book.
This one will be three adventure scenarios for Alpha Blue, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't thinking of trying them in White Star and/or Star Frontiers.

Player's Handbook Like A Fucking Boss
Out now is Venger's latest in his "Like a Fucking Boss" series. 
Venger is a man after my own heart, and PHB-LAFB takes many nods and cues from Basic-era D&D, or at least his reading of it which is just as good.
PHB-LAFB is not a rule book or an adventure, but a collection of various tips, tricks and odds and ends to help your game along.  There are some very obvious nods to classic/Basic/OSR style play and there are nods to more modern/D&D5 style mechanics and design.  The bottom line here (and a big one for me when reading this) is I can use it with just about any game I play.
In truest old-school fashion there are plenty of tables. "Stranger Things" gives us a table of various odds and ends, emphasis on the odd.  "Honor and Fame" and "Dishonor and Infamy" are also very useful tables for rewards that reminds me of some the rules I have seen in AGE and Blue Rose; again a natural idea given Venger's own twist. 
There is a lot of great character building ideas too. Tables, checklists, backgrounds. It's all here.
For $5.00 and 33 full-color pages, it is quite worth it.
I am not quite sure if it is up to the level of awesomeness that is How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss but it is also more focused on players and characters and is half the price too.

No one does Venger quite like Venger.  Both of this products are top notch.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #52

It's August 1981.  I am hitting what is about to become the "Golden Years" of my D&D Basic playing.  Up to this point, I had been relying on a poorly Xeroxed copy of Holmes Basic (I never even knew what the cover was till almost now) and some monsters from the AD&D Monster Manual.  I had started playing a year and half before because of my interest in Greek myths.  So that had lead me to the MM and then to D&D proper. Though I was still not exactly playing proper D&D. Just a DIY version that I think many gamers of a certain age went through.  From here though I discovered The Hobbit, Tolkien and the wonderful world of Fantasy Art.  Seriously, no issue of Dragon has better captured what was going on in my life than this Issue #52 of This Old Dragon!

Ok. Let's stop here and look at this cover.  The Art is pure fantasy, but not really D&D is it.  Doesn't matter.  Dragon has had some great artists grace their covers over the decades. Many started here and got famous. Some were famous before but still growing in their fame.  Not this artist.  This is Boris Vallejo.  He was famous and popular before this.  Dragon made a lot of A-listers in the world of fantasy art, but Boris was an A-lister already.  Let's look at this cover again.  A Faerie Dragon hatching from an egg. A woman looks on (likely a faerie herself) while mountains float in the background.  It's not D&D as it was then, but it could should have been.  I want to rank this among my favorite covers, but that feels unfair.  Kinda like watching Michael Jordan join the 92 Dream Team in the Olympics.  Yes we love Mike, yes we know that he is going to kick everyone's ass. But he is the best professional there is and everyone else he meets is also great, but only at the start of their career. Still, we have more Boris in this issue and I have not even opened it up yet!

Next page is a big ad for new D&D Basic Set.  I loved these ads and wanted to find them all to see how the story progressed.


The Dragon Rumbles deals with the various different looking dragons that have appeared on their covers the last few issues.   Gamers like things to be well defined I guess. I know I was no different then.  Also don't give money to Michael Stoner and his Beholder Zine.  I guess a bunch of readers did and he ran off with the cash.  Some things never change.

The Letters cover various praise and criticism of the last few magazines.   It's issue 52 and some readers want Dragon to "go back to the way it was".  What was I saying about change?

Robert Plamondon is up first with a feature on Clerics in The Role of the Cleric.    This is immediately followed by This Land is My Land... by Douglas Loss which also covers clerics, churches and land and The Sense of Sacrifices also by Douglas Loss.
All articles strive to give the players of clerics more insight on how to play these classes with an eye towards medieval realism AND good fantasy play.  In a way this pre-sages the "feature" issues we will see more of in the next 5 to 6 years.

Sage Advice covers various questions about spells and a lot about clerics.  If you are into clerics then this is a good issue to look back too.  Interesting how there is so much in this issue that appeals to me now AND would have appealed to me then as well.  In 81 I was all about clerics, Basic D&D and already thinking a little about my future witch classes.

The next article is a two for one deal, and a must read for any student of D&D's history.
Basic D&D Points of View...From the Editors Old and New by J. Eric Holmes and Tom Moldvay is a fascinating look back at the "1st Edition Basic Game" and the "2nd Edition Basic Game".  There is an interesting disclaimer on the first page of the article that says "the opinions expressed are those of the authors and not Dragon or TSR."  Interesting. I wonder what they say to merit such a notice.


Holmes is first discussing his version of the Basic rules.  His rules, he says, were designed to teach people how to play the game that had not seen the game played before.  By contrast, the "three little brown books" (what we refer to as "White Box" today) were for people already playing and are "incomprehensible" to new players (his words, not mine, but I tend to agree).
Here we learn that Holmes had the express permission from Gary to create a "beginners guide" to D&D.  He used wording from the White Box where he could and he wanted a Spell Point system (!) that Gary quickly rejected.   The classes chosen were the ones they felt starting players would want to try.  Given this logic, there is a clearer path to AD&D from Holmes Basic D&D. 
Holmes then compares his edition to Moldvay's "2nd Edition".  We are given reasons for the simplified alignment system and for the use of a Caller.  In general, I get the feeling that he approves of it and lauds many of the new ideas it brings.
Moldvay says his piece on why a new edition of the Basic set was even needed.  I think anyone that has read and played both editions can see the reasoning now but was the reasoning then?  Well, they wanted to correct some of the flaws found in the earlier edition (corrections that Holmes applauds) and they wanted the rules to follow the same outline as the upcoming Expert edition. So now Basic flows to Expert and not to Advanced. This shift seems to come from the idea that that Basic rules need to be flexible to allow the DM to do what they want while AD&D needs to be more rigid and codified.  I wonder though, what was the business decision to move to a new separate path of D&D? Not just what gave us the Moldvay D&D, but what prompted the desire for an Expert Set so that a new Moldvay-edited Basic was needed?

I can go on forever about Basic D&D. But we are only to page 17 as is!

Moving on we get a new one from Len Lakofka in Leomund's Tiny Hut. This is so new in fact that I think this might be the first ever Tiny Hut article ever!  There is an introduction by Gary himself.  This installment covers giving more depth to the humans of the Flanaess.  Cool article and one that every Greyhawk DM should have handy.  Actually, it is good for most DMs. The article is pretty long, longer than most Tiny Hut articles in my memory.

Paul Montgomery Crabaugh gives us The Undercover Job Guide for Top Secret, though I think it could work with any spy game.  I have to admit looking at the starting salaries for some of these jobs in 1981 is interesting.

Bryce Knorr has the big feature of this issue. Boris details the life and art of Boris Vallejo.
We get eight pages of information about the man and his art.  I would have liked to have seen more art, to be honest, but I understand that it could not have been cheap to get us what we see.  Also there four photos of the artist that are all essentially the same. Not sure why that was included.  The article itself is very interesting

Giants of the Earth is next. This time Katharine Kerr covers sorcerers that like to hang out on islands.  We have Shakespeare's Prospero, Ariel, and Caliban. Though sadly no Sycorax.
She does give me a wonderful version of Circe though.  Circe, of course, is a Magic-User here, but I built my own version as a witch and shared that with you all yesterday.



Our centerpiece is an introductory Gamma World adventure Cavern of the Sub-Train by Gary Jaquet. A fun adventure on a subway line.  A fun little adventure that captures what I liked best about Gamma World; taking something as mundane as a subway line and turning it into something exciting and dangerous.

Ooo. Just when I thought the issue could not get better we get a Dragon's Bestiary!  Victor Selby and Ed Greenwood give us a lizard thing in the form of the Rhaumbusun and the vaguely Lovecraftian Pelins by Lewis Pulsipher. 

Ok. If you are keeping score at home this issue has content from Ed Greenwood, Lew Pulsipher, a bit from Gary Gygax, Tom Moldvay, Eric Holmes, Katherine Kerr and Len Lakofka. Oh. And art by Boris.  To quote a popular song on the radio of the time "They Don't Write Like that Anymore"!

Michael Kluever has a good bit on the history of siege warfare in Knock! Knock!
Great if you can't tell your catapult from a trebuchet.

Next, we get a new class. No! Three versions of the same new class!
In Wanted: the editors tell us about getting three new Bounty Hunter classes all at once and they can't tell which one is the best.
The contributors are Scott Bennie, Tom Armstrong, Robert L. Tussey,  and Kenneth Strunk. With the last two giving us our last Bounty Hunter class.
Back in the day, I would have totally worked out one class from these three.  I wonder if I should try it for a Class Struggles someday.  That could be fun really.

Lew Pulsipher is back again with some DM advice in To err is human, to repair divine.  It's interesting since a lot of it runs very counter to the adversarial DM philosophy that was popular then and often misattributed to all old school DMs and creators.
This is followed up with The best DMs will look further than the book by Tom Armstrong.
Both articles could be reprinted today and still hold 100% true and valuable.

The Minarian Chronicles continue with The evolution of the Shucassamites by Glenn Rahman.  I really don't have enough of a background to speak to this, to be honest, but I am fascinated about learning some more.

And the hits keep on coming!  John Prados is next with his Simulation Corner (a feature that completely predates my first time encounters with Dragon).  His continuing series is on game design, or maybe I should say his first one since this is 1: Choosing a Topic.  I love all the Game Design posts, blogs and videos I can get to today, but some of what they are saying was already said here if we decide to go looking for it.   In this overview, though he mentions some of the new up and comers in game design that sadly are not around at all today.  If there is a meta-lesson here it is while game design is not rocket science, managing a game company still takes a fair amount of knowledge, skill and no short amount of luck. 

Reviews are next and we look to another "Basic" this time Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying, reviewed by John T. Sapienza, Jr. in Basic Role-Playing Made Easy.  He gives these basic rules a "highly recommended".  Given that the same rules still exist more or less in the same format and guise some 36+ years later it is a good indication that he was correct in his assessment.

Off the Shelf reviews books by Larry Niven, Robert Adams, and C.J. Cherryh.  A paperback book will set you back $3.00. 

We get some comics namely What's New and Wormy. But none of the small ads that dominated the pages before the comics.

Wow. Seriously. How packed was this issue?
When Ed Greenwood is providing the "lesser" content you know it is good. 

This is Dragon at it's best.  Great articles, helpful tips and plenty of things you can use on your table for $3.00. 

Want to know what White Dwarf was doing at this time?  Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday Issue #20.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Circe for Basic-era Games

Circe by Boris Vallejo
Getting ready for tomorrow's This Old Dragon and boy is it ever a fun one.  No spoilers, but I wanted to do something above and beyond the normal offering.

The issue has articles about the Holmes and Moldvay versions of the Basic Set.
Boris Vallejo is on the cover and the subject of an article.
And Giants of the Earth deal with some Magic-users.  Including one of my all-time favorites.

Circe

I spent my childhood reading the myths of ancient Greece.  One of my favorite characters was Circe.
So when I got my first copy of Deities & Demigods I went first to the Greek Mythos.
I was not overly thrilled with how they depicted Circe, a Chaotic Evil "Black Sorceress", but I also was not surprised.
In college, I reread the Odyssey and I found Circe was much more of a complex character than most people gave credit to.  Yes, she is not good and certainly selfish.  But I like to think there is more to her than that.
The Katerine Kerr penned article in Dragon #52 is a vast improvement over the DDG version.  Given all the subjects of the magazine, I wanted to present Circe as a Basic-era Witch.

Circe has always been the poster-girl for what I call the Classical Tradition of Witchcraft.  These are the witches of myth and legend, but not the ones of faerie tales.

Circe
Witch Queen of Aeaea
Witch (Classical Tradition) 19th level

Strength: 11 Death Ray, Poison 7
Dexterity: 13 Magic Wands 8
Constitution: 10 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 7
Intelligence: 12 Dragon Breath 10
Wisdom: 14 Rods, Staffs, Spells 9
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 39
Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral)
AC: 7 (Cord of Protection, AC 7)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Sow (Autolycus)
7th level: Temporary Magic
13th level: Permanent Magic
19th level: Witch's Blessing

Spells
Cantrips (6): Alarm Ward, Black Flame, Daze, Mend, Object Reading, Quick Sleeping
First (6+2): Bewitch I, Charm Person, Comprehend Languages, Detect Invisible, Glamour, Silver Tongue, Sleep,  Consecration Ritual (Ritual)
Second (5+2): Alter Self, Enthrall, ESP, Hold Person, Mind Obscure, Nausea, Suggestion
Third (5+2): Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Fly, Hesitate, Lethe' Curse, Mind Rash, Toad Mind
Fourth (4+1): Animal Growth, Charm Monster, Confusion, Polymorph, Slow
Fifth (4): Bewitch V, Feeblemind, Greater Command, Hold Monster
Sixth (3): Control Weather, Geas, Legend Lore (Ritual)
Seventh (3):  Eternal Charm Monster, Massmorph, Veneration
Eighth (2):  Polymorph Any Object, Imprisonment (Ritual)

Compared to the stats in the article I am very pleased with this.  The Witch Circe's occult powers more than makeup for the Magic-User Circe's psionic powers.  Granted not a one-for-one, usually with a spell swapped here an there. 

Rereading my own writing here I think that the "Witch's Blessing" occult power was very much modeled after Circe and a gift she gave Odysseus in one of the myths I read.

See you all tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Star Frontiers is Back!

Back in the early 80s I flirted a lot with Sci-Fi RPGs.  I started out with Traveller, played some FASA Doctor Who and Star Trek and finally landed on TSR's Star Frontiers.
I never got to play it very much and much of the time I played it like "D&D in Space", but I still had fun and the game had a place in my heart, if not on my table very much.

Well, Star Frontiers is back in an official form Wizards of the Coast and One Book Shelf.

Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn pdf and pod
Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks
Star Frontiers: (SF AC-1) Official Character Record Sheets
Star Frontiers: (SF1) Volturnus, Planet of Mystery
Star Frontiers: (SF2) Starspawn of Volturnus

I know Star Frontiersman has always been around and they do some great work, I just never bought into their rather thin case to understoood their agreement print the rules.

EDITED: See note below about the legal agreement between Star Frontiersman and WotC.  I stand corrected.

I am really tempted to get that hardcover.  I mean really how cool would that be sitting next to my 1st Ed AD&D books?

If I wasn't so enamored with my current White Star game I would switch over.

If I get it I'll show it off when it comes in.


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