Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's A Great Time to be a Geek!

If I could send one page of my blog back in time to my younger self, it would be one where I list the dates all the major tech companies had their IPO...but  the second page I would send would be this one.  Two DC movies, four DC TV shows (more if you count Lucifer, Gotham, I Zombie and Preacher), Doctor Strange and a new Blair Witch movie.  Was Comic Con going on or something? ;)

Here are all the goodies...tip o' the hat to Tim Knight at Hero Press for most of these.




This is so good! And Etta Candy!



Aquaman looks like a bad-ass, plus a double dose of Wonder Woman?  Yes please!





Flashpoint!



Justice Society!



Not a fan of the ship design, but if it is pre-Kirk then I can live with it.


Been waiting for this one for YEARS!




Not to mention great things already out like Stranger Things, Star Trek and the new Ghostbusters.

Friday, July 22, 2016

End of July! (Sorta)

Almost.

The ENnie Voting is done.  Thanks to everyone that voted for me.

RPGNow has their Christmas in July Sale going on now and for the next week.  Check that out.
On sale, in particular, is my Sisters of the Aquarian Order for White Star (which is also on sale).


Today is also my 21st wedding anniversary.  So I'll be celebrating that today with the one thing we have done since 1987...going to see a Star Trek movie!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Class Stuggles: The Thaumaturge

I am a sucker for new classes, especially magic-using classes. So I was very pleased to hear that +Matthew Skail was releasing a new class designed to replace the magic-user in OSR games.
The Thaumaturge is a 20-level spell casting class in 10 pages for any OSR-like game.

The main feature of the titular class is their non-Vancian spell casting system.  Now  I will admit that I am a fan of Vancian magic. It is part and parcel of playing D&D in my mind.  That being said I have experimented with a number of non-Vancian and spell-point enabled systems over the years.   But I keep coming back to Vancian magic.   The Thaumatuge is a well thought out class though and the system has merit.  There is a bit of 3.0 in this class' DNA, namely extensive use of the ability modifiers, but not so much as to drive away die hard Grognards.

The class is well written and could easily be dropped into any OSR game.  In fact I think such things should be encouraged; different lands should have different types of magics.

The main feature of this class though is not just the spell-point system, but rather a system that gives the magic-user the means to do some dice-rolling just like the melee types.  Having seen this more in 4th and 5th edition for arcane types, this is not something to be underestimated.  People love to roll the dice to see if they hit or, in this case, a spell's success.   There is even something in this that I normally call a "repeated casting modifier" (called Overcasting here).  The idea of the "Mastered Spell" is also a nice one.   Again, nothing we all have not seen elsewhere, but still nice to have in one place.

Since this is designed to replace the standard Magic-User it still uses Intelligence as the primary ability.  I think though a strong case could be made to replace that with Charisma and make it a unique class.  They can use the same spells as the Magic-user does, much like how the magic-user and elf can in Basic, or the Wizard and Sorcerer in 3rd edition.

There are also a couple of new spells and some new magic items.  All for less money than a 20oz bottle of soda and a bag of chips.

There are some formatting issues with the document.  Page numbers would also be nice and I'd put in a manual page break over Optional Rules.

Thoughts on Expansion
While reading this I could not help but think that is actually two classes.  First, there is the stated design goal, an augmentation of the magic-user class.  But there is also a completely new class here as well.  We can call them the Thaumaturgic Wizard and the Thaumaturge respectively.  Now on paper there is no real difference here, but the concept opens up new possibilities.
The Thaumaturgic Wizard implies there can be Thaumaturgic Clerics, Thaumaturgic Illusionists or even a Thaumaturgic Witch.
The Thaumaturge, however, is a different sort of caster.  To go with the dictionary definition of Thaumaturgy you would almost need to add a little bit of clerical power to them without necissarily invoking some diety.  Or at least a couple of the cleric's spells.   Again, I'd base his spellcasting ability on Charisma at this point and make him something like a counterpoint to the witch.

This class as written would also gain some benefit from some of the ritual casting as presented in +Kasimir Urbanski's Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos.  If you use spell points then places of power is a nice logical extension.

I have to say there is a lot of ideas here, certainly more than it's page count suggests.

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I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Vote! (and a test post)

We are in the last few hours of voting for the ENnies. So here is my last ditch attempt to beg for votes.

Also, I wanted to test out this Facebook embed functionality.


So yes please. Vote for me!


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I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Plays Well With Others: Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos

The newest supplement for Dark Albion is now out, Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos.  With a name like that how can I possibly say no?

A bit of history, I worked with author Dominique Crouzet quite a bit back in the late 90s and early 2000s.  I know what sort of thing he likes (or at least liked) in this area, so I know I was going to be pre-disposed to like this.  +Kasimir Urbanski is also the author and his contributions were going to be a bit more of a mystery. But I liked Dark Albion so my expectations were pretty good.  Like Dark Albion, this book can be played with any flavor of D&D you like. It is simple enough and light enough on the "crunch" it can actually be played with just about any RPG really.  While reading I Was thinking about it in terms of Pendragon, Cthulhu Britanica and other games.

Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos is the cults and cult-like groups book for the Dark Albion campaign setting/rules.  The book itself is 92 pages (94 with covers). This includes 2 pages of character sheets, a cult sheet and the ogl.  Minus title page and various bits we are looking at 80+ pages of solid content.
The art is all black and white and is a mix of newer art and woodcut designs.  I am rather fond of the woodcuts myself, I love seeing these in books.  I recognize a number of pieces as belonging to Dominique; so he is one of the artists as well as one of the authors.
The first part of the book deals with the cults.  In particular their size, composition, what social class they come from (very important really) and of course their motivations and where their secret lair might be.  Life of the cultist within the cult is also detailed to a degree.  Enough anyway to get you thinking more about them. In particular what they do in the cult, why they might have joined and possible mutations.  That one needs some more explaining.
Some cults are so exposed to the forces of Chaos that their cultist can begin to mutate.  A great idea that I am glad to see here.  Dom and I did something similar for Warlocks back in my 3.0 edition of my Witch book.  So immediately I grabbed on that as something to use.  The idea though has a lot of traction. There are similar ideas in Lamentations of the Flame Princess and I believe Dungeon Crawl Classics.
The next section covers running advnetures involving these cults.  Obviously these cults are not menat to be a one-time adversary. They are meant to be reoccuring antagonists and potentially even the "Big Bads" of your game.  This includes a number of NPCs, mostly normal level humans, that are involved in the their cults.  Don't assume though that "0 Level" = powerless. Nobility wield a lot of power regardless of level, a noble in a cult can be very bad for a party of adventurers.
I might as well acknowledge the inclusion of the "Frog Cults".  I still think "Frogland" is kind of dumb to be honest, but I don't mind these cults at all.  In fact wasn't "Temple of the Frog" the first real adventure played in D&D and certainly one of the first ever published.   The "Keepers of the Frogs" from Blackmoor could certainly fit as a DA cult.


Packed amongst all of this information are also tables of rumors and other information PCs can learn.  I thought of this as the "Scooby Doo" section of the book; the PCs split up and search for clues.

We next get some sample cults and some examples of some cults in various dungeon settings.  These are split up into low, medium and high level.

The appendicies are very interesting and include a section on Elves in Albion.  This section reminded me a bit of a similar direction given in Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum.  Indeed, one could use both books together to get a large, more detailed picture of the elves/fae/sidhe.  DA tends to be low-fantasty compared to the C&S High(er) Fantasy.  Still in niether case are these "D&D Elves", they still have more incommon with the likes Obereon, Titania and Puck than Tanis or Legolas.

The next appendix details a score cults of various types. All ready to drop in your game.  The last appendix details sorcerery and chaos and the strange things that can happen when they mix.
We end with a cult creation sheet and a character sheet.  The character sheet should be offered for free download, I think people would like it.

All in all a fun book.  There is nothing here we have not seen before in one form or another, but to have it all one place with this particular presentation is great.   I am reminded a bit of the old Witches and Pagans book from White Wolf that covered similar territory. I even pulled out my Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade to see if this would work well enough with it.  It would take some work, but it could be done.


What strikes me most is how easiy it is to integrate this into any game you like.  The crunch that exsists is easily converted. Since a lot of the die rolling deals with tables and their results, conversion is a simple process.

I mentioned in the past that Dark Albion is particularily friendly to +Jeff Talanian's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea. Using a page from DA:CoC one could easily add DA style elves (and of course their cults) into the world of AS&SH.  AS&SH style witches and warlocks seem particularily suited for the the chaos magic of DA.


In the end I thought this was a fun purchase. Glad to have it and glad to mine some ideas from it.

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I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
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Who You Gonna Call in 2016?

So last night I was inspired to crack open my long forgotten Ghostbuster RPG books.  I will go into this system in some detail later (I have some D6 stuff planned) but for now I want to represent the new cast with the classic 1986 rules.
The 1986 version of the Ghostbusters RPG uses a proto-version of their later to be the wildly famous D6 system.

The nice thing about this version of the system is it so damn easy to use that I could recreate the characters in a very, very short time.

The system has you build your characters on a 12-point economy.  Well, I took some cues from the cast as presented in the books and went with a 13-point economy on points. Maybe a little less for Kevin.  One of the features (it's not a bug) of the Ghostbuster movies and cartoons is the characters are all pretty much characters.  Look, I don't care how much you love the first movie. I love it more and Venkman is pretty one dimensional.  Two-dimensional at best.  Egon? The same.  Ray has a bit more going on I think and so does Dana.  Louis Tulley? No.  BUT that is fine!  It works for this game really, really well.  So representing this cast with only 2 hours to get to know them is not a big deal.

So here they are, the class of 2016!  I am presenting them in the style of the Ghostbuster ID Cards (dropping "telex" and putting in email).



Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 5 (Paranormal research)
Muscles 3 (Brawl)
Moves 3 (Throw things)
Cool 3 (convince)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: Prove Ghosts are real
email: DrAbby@gbi.net

Dr. Erin Gilberts (Kristen Wiig)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 6 (Physics)
Muscles 2 (Run)
Moves 2 (see)
Cool 3 (orate)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: Pure Science
email: egilberts@gbi.net

Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 6 (Engineering)
Muscles 1 (Brawl)
Moves 2 (fire weapon)
Cool 4 (charm)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: Build cool stuff
email: SciBabe@gbi.net

Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 3 (Local NYC knowledge)
Muscles 3 (Break Things)
Moves 3 (Drive)
Cool 4 (Charm or Fast Talk)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: To protect her friends and city
email: pattyNYC@gbi.net

Kevin (Chris Hemsworth)
TRAITS (Talents)
Brains 1 (Basic life skills)
Muscles 4 (Lift)
Moves 3 (Attract Attention)
Cool 3 (Bluff)

Brownie Points: 20
Goal: To be a Ghostbuster, and maybe figure out the phone
email: yournamehere@gbi.net

I like it. They fit well.
I'll need to delve deeper into this system in the future.

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I am up for an Ennie this year for Best Blog!
Please click on the link and vote "1" under "The Other Side".

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