Monday, August 21, 2017

D&D Beyond

I signed up for D&D Beyond this morning.



I pretty much knew I was going to sign up anyway, but gaming over the weekend convinced me.

Currently, I am running two D&D 5 games, the Come Endless Darkness game and The Second Campaign.  Eventually, I am going to get my aborted 4e game converted over to 5e and I'll get that going too, tentatively called Into the Nentir Vale.

My son is also running games. A D&D 5 game with his friends,  the same adventures (with different characters) with my youngest son and his friends (average age 14) AND the occasional one we take turns running for his cousins (aged 13 to 22).



So six D&D 5 games with about 40 characters total.
To say we have lost some sheets here and there is an understatement.  To say we need to be able to access our materials in a bunch of different places is also pretty clear.

So I pulled the trigger this morning and got a DM's Subscription and picked up the three core books.

I know there has been a lot of complaining online about the price.
For me, the price compared to what I get was worth it. I was a fan of the 4e character builder and I used it quite a lot.   When Beyond was in Beta I also used it a lot.  So far I am pleased with my purchase so far.

Are there cheaper tools? Of course.
Are there better tools? Maybe.
Are there tools that do everything that Beyond does? None that I know of.

So I'll be sharing my thoughts on this tool over the next few days.  Need to load about 3 dozen characters into it now.

Anyone else using this?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Zatannurday: Going Back to School with Zatanna

Tip O' the hat to JasperAK for this!

Zatanna Is Going To Magic School in Her New Comic Series
http://io9.gizmodo.com/zatanna-is-going-to-magic-school-in-her-new-comic-serie-1797945307

http://www.dccomics.com/blog/2017/08/17/exclusive-zatanna-faust-and-more-enroll-in-mystik-u?sf106880888=1

From DC: Zatanna Zatara is one of the most powerful magicians to walk the Earth, capable of altering the fabric of reality with one backwards word.

But what was she like in college?

If you’ve ever been a college student, you know it’s a highly unique time in a person’s life. You’re a newly minted adult, free to make your own choices, but those choices are complicated by the fact that you haven’t yet settled into the person you’ll ultimately become. It’s an unpredictable and wild time in most people’s lives. So imagine what it’s like when magic is thrown into the mix.

This is the background of MYSTIK U, an upcoming prestige-format limited series written by Alisa Kwitney (Destiny) and drawn by Mike Norton (Revival, Runaways) that will reimagine the lives of four of DC’s magic users in spectacular new ways. To give us the background on this unique new title, we spoke with both Alisa and Mike about what readers can expect when classes start this fall.

I LOVE, LOVE the art I have seen far.




Hell.  I am in for punk-Goth Teenage Enchantress alone!





Writer Alisa Kwitney and drawn by Mike Norton can be found online at @akwitney and @themikenorton respectively.

To say I am looking forward to this is an understatement.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: My Last Sunrise

This one started out with a limited amount of time and we are already near the end!

My Last Sunrise - Gothic Horror 28mm Miniatures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1512506318/my-last-sunrise-gothic-horror-28mm-miniatures

If it didn't have me at "Gothic Miniatures" or at a Dracula mini it had me at their witch mini.

Yeah, I am predictable.  But that also means that when these things hit the internet I will share them with you.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #83

Have a look at that cover.  1984 was a good year for Chess themed things.  In October we would get the #1 hit, "One Night In Bangkok" from the Album Chess and sung by Murry Head.  In March we got this famous cover of Dragon #83 by  Denis Beauvais.  It is part of the oft mentioned Chess series that stretch to the modern day.  On the radio "Jump" by Van Halen dominates the airwaves. In the theatres we get "Against All Odds", "Police Academy" and "Romancing the Stone" as the big box office hits.  On the shelves "Dragonlance" is starting to appear and we get Issue #83 of This Old Dragon!

Letters cover the usual questions about psionics and where someone can get an article reprint.  Hang tight, you will be able to buy everything on CD-ROM in about 15 years.   There is also a letter on the longest continuous game of D&D at 100 hours.  I think the longest game I ever played was a combo Ravenloft I6/I10 game at 48 hours.

Ads for James Bond and Cities of Hârn.

Michael Lowrey is up first with The many facets of gems. Since a lot of my D&D game play is 70s and 80s fueled I always wanted to use gems as a means of storing magical energy in my games.  I never quite got it the way I wanted it to be honest (still working on it) but this article was a huge help back in the day.  It is also a pretty long article.

Ed Greenwood is back with the Ecology of the Stirge. Is it a bug? Is it a bird?  Going back and rereading these now I admire how well Ed could take even the most banal monster and turn it into something interesting.  While I used to find his "in universe" writing a little twee now I am genuinely amused by it.  I can imagine some Academy in the Forgotten Realms where monster experts debate the finer points of monster biology and killing methods, all safe in their academic halls and ivory towers.

Sign of the times.  The fiction section is not only by Margaret Weis, it is the first Dragonlance story in the pages of Dragon magazine.  Test of the Twins features the twins Caramon and Raistlin.  A lot of ink and pixels have been spilled over the effect on D&D by Dragonlance.  Whatever your point of view on this the Dragonlance era starts here and now with this issue.   The story is a pivotable one in the Dragonlance saga. So much so that I have read it, or versions of it, in other books before I saw it here.

The centerfold is the massive adventure from Roger Moore, the Dancing Hut. This was such a great adventure then that I had to rerun for my kids.  Though I combined it with bits of the 2nd Edition version that came out much later.  This one is a keeper.
Baba Yaga is such a historic figure in D&D it is no surprise there are so many adventures built around her.

Roger Moore follows this up with a simplified unarmed fighting system in How to Finish Fights Faster.  Frankly, I never used it.

There is an ad for my FLGS here, +Games Plus.  This might have been the first time I discovered them to be honest.  I used to order the hard to find stuff from Games Plus because they were the only Illinois game store that knew of that did mail orders. They were about 210 miles away from me at the time, but now they are only 8 miles. So I am very, very pleased to still be going there.

There is a Top Secret article here, but mine was cut out.

There is another ad and a long review of the James Bond 007 game.
I am a HUGE Bond fan.  My first Bond movie was Live and Let Die. It gave me a life long obsession with Bond, Voodoo and Jane Seymour.
Despite this, I have never played a James Bond game.  My loss to be sure.  I'll need to fix that someday.
My first Bond may have been the late great Roger Moore (no relation of course to the above-mentioned RM), the BEST Bond is Daniel Craig.

Ads...an order form for the Mail Order Hobby Shop to get back issues of Dragons.

In the comics section we get a rare celestial conjunction; Wormy, What's New with Phili and Dixie AND Snarf Quest all in one issue.  There is even an entry of Talanalan here.

A great issue really, if for nothing else than for the Baba Yaga adventure.

March 1984 was also a good issue of White Dwarf. Check that out on my White Dwarf Wednesday Issue #51.

Using Baba Yaga in your games
This adventure features Baba Yaga and gives her stats ala Deities and Demigods.  She is a tough one to beat too.   She has 3 attacks, 135 hp, a -1 Charisma which gives her horror like effects.  She fights like a 16HD and has the spell casting ability of a 25th level Magic-User, a 15th level Illusionist and a 14th level Druid.  Crazy.  Oh, and she has some abilities of an assassin too.

There is no doubt that she is one of, if not THE, most powerful witch in the D&D multiverse.  When she is not working with her daughter Iggwilv on Oerth she is off on Golarion dealing with the Winter Witches of Irrisen.  I would not be surprised to discover she has also been to Aglarond and Rashemen. And if she hasn't been there then her Hut has.

No one is better suited for a Basic Witch write-up to be honest.
I will use Roger Moore's stats as a guideline and use the witch rule from my The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games.

Baba Yaga, Witch Queen
36th level Queen of Witches, Daughter of Baba Yaga Tradition (She is the Tradition founder.)
Female, Chaotic (Nuetral Evil)

Strength 20 (+3 / +8)
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 23
Dexterity 18 (+3)
Constitution 21 (+6_
Charisma -1* (Baba Yaga uses her negative CHA the way other witches use positive. So +5)

Saving Throws
Death Ray/Poison 3
Magic Wands 3
Paralysis, Polymorph 3
Dragon Breath 3
Rods, Staffs, Spells 3
+5 to all saves via Ring of Protection
+ for Wisdom

Hit Points:
AC: -10
(Grandmother's Shawl +5, Bracers of Defense +3, Ring of Protection +5, Dex 18 -3)

THAC0: 4
(I know, THAC0 was not used in Basic D&D. You know what this means)

Occult Powers
Lesser: Familiar (crow)
Minor: Kitchen Witchery
Medial: Detect Bloodline
Greater: Curse
Major: Shape Change
Superior: Longevity

Spell Immunities
Baba Yaga is immune to the following spells:
Cause fear, charm person, command, friends, hypnotism, forget, hold person, ray of enfeeblement, scare, beguiling, bewitch, domination, fear, charm monster, confusion, emotion, fumble, suggestion, telempathic projection, chaos, feeblemind, hold monster, magic jar, mass domination, quest, geas, mass suggestion, rulership, antipathy/sympathy, finger of death, mass charm, Otto's irresistable dance and any spell created by one of her "Daughters" (for example Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter).

Other Powers
Arcane Diversity: Baba Yaga may learn other arcane spells (Wizard, Necromancer, Illusionist). She can replace 1 Ritual spell per spell level with an arcane spell she has learned.  These spells must be learned like other magic-users and recorded in her Book of Shadows.

Spells
Cantrips (8): Alarm Ward, Arcane Mark, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Object Reading, Summon Vermin
1st (9+4): Bad Luck, Black Fire, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Chill Touch, Darkness, Endure Elements, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Minor Fighting Prowess, Protection from Spirits, Silver Tongue
2nd (9+3): Agony, Biting Blade, Discord, Enthrall, ESP, Evil Eye, Ghost Touch, Hold Person, Invisibility, Mind Obscure, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile
3rd (9+3): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Circle of Respite, Dispel Magic, Feral Spirit, Ghost Ward, Lethe's Curse, Lifeblood, Magic Circle Against Undead, Toad Mind, Witch Wail, Witch Writing
4th (9+3): Abomination, Analyze Magic, Arcane Eye, Charm Monster, Divination, Ethereal Projection, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations, Speak with Dead, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee, Withering Touch
5th (9+2): Baleful Polymorph, Blade Dance, Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Endless Sleep, Greater Command, Hold Monster, Magic Jar, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue
6th (9+1): Anchoring Rite, Anti-magic Shell, Break the Spirit, Death Blade, Eye Bite, Ethereal Banishment, Mass Agony, Mislead, True Seeing, Dismissal (Ritual)
7th (9): Call the Restless Soul, Death Aura, Draw Forth the Soul, Greater Arcane Eye, Greater Blindness, Foresight, Insanity, Wave of Mutilation, Gate (Ritual)
8th (9): Antipathy/Sympathy, Astral Projection, Destroy Life, Greater Mislead, Mystic Barrier, Pit, Trap the Soul, Ensnarement (Ritual), Imprisonment (Ritual)

Magic Items
Grandmother's Shawl (Greatest), Broom of Animated Attack, Baba Yaga's Hut, Baba Yaga's mortar and pestle.

To make her closer to the version presented here in Dragon #83 I could give her the Mind Bar from +Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Death to the Reptile God!

The "Treasure Hunters" group of the Second Campaign defeated the vile reptile god (in reality a Naga). They also freed many of the villagers charmed by the naga.


We very nearly had three character deaths when the Naga charmed the gnome rogue ("Erky Timbers") and proceeded to attack the ranger and warlock.  The wizard (near the ring) was badly burned by the flaming sphere spell.

Everyone though managed to survive thanks to every healing potion they had on them.

Up next?
"Rumors of a magnificent city and foul, horrid rituals! Riches and wonders - or death!"
The Treasure Hunters follow some more leads to the fabled Forbidden City!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Web of Wind (Silverglass #2)

We are back to the world of Nyctasia r'n Edonaris brenn Rhostshyl and Corson brenn Torisk.  Our leading ladies are still on the run from...pretty much everyone when they discover a thief with treasure riddle.  Not a map, but a riddle leading to the treasure of the ancient Cymvelan Circle.  This order of monks and mystics were destroyed when the locals believed they were practicing black magic.   Nyctasia wants to learn what secrets they had, Corson wants gold.
The book unfolds at a much slower pace than did the "running for their lives" tale of Silverglass.
In fact the pace slows WAY down. The heroes spend the vast majority of their time at the Edonaris estate and vineyard. These are distant cousins of Nyctasia, so they are not as haughty as their urban relatives and most importantly they are not trying to have Nyc or Corson killed.
Here the pieces of the riddle are unwound and their secrets found.
The treasure is not a secret cache of gold and treasure, but rather a collection of ancient books.  Nyc though notices one of the dusty, web covered books is recently missing and maybe the extinct Cymvelan Circle is not so extinct after all.

The book is a fun read and the mystery, even if slow, was a compelling one.

The "author", J.F. Rivkin, is actually two different people. One wrote the first two books and the other wrote the last two.  I am not sure who J.F. Rivkin is and I have still not found out any information about a real identity either.

The book is out of print and there are no digital or audio versions I have found.  They pop up every so often at Half-Price books.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 18
Level: Crone
Witches in this book: Nyctasia is very much a witch
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Nyc does a better job at being good in this book.
Best RPG to Emulate it: For this book I have been trying the characters out in the AGE version of Blue Rose.  Despite the Sword and Sorcerery tropes, there is a strong vibe of  Romantic Fantasy here as both Corson and Nyc look for a place to belong.
Use in WotWQ: Likely, but since I am using them as characters in the Blue Rose game I am currently playing their involvement might only be as a cameo.

I have the sheets for the characters but need to get to work.  So here is a cheat.

I made Corson a warrior. Easy call.  Given her propensity to be an adventurer and never settling down I thought "Swashbuckler" was a good choice.  She also has Arcane Potential, and in particular The Sight.  This covers her feeling of unease around magic.  She doesn't see it as much as feel it.



Nyctasia is an adept, but what kind?  I gave her Bard to cover a wide a variety of her skills but she doesn't have the Performance pre-req.  I am using her Cultural Lore in place of that.  I could have gone with a sage as well, but this fits concept wise a little better.


I might give them a try in D&D 5 or Basic D&D next.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monstrous Monday: The Olitiau

The Olitiau are giant bats. Large enough and strong enough to serve as a steed for those that know how to summon them. Most often witches, fey, and goblinoids.
Orcs will sometimes use the larger and more monstrous varieties as steeds in battle. These are often called "Orc War bats".

Olitiau (Monstrous Riding Bat) 
Basic-era stats
No. Enc.: 1d12 (4d6)
Alignment: Neutral (Chaos)
Movement: 180' (60')
            Fly: 360' (120')
Armor Class: 5
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 1 (bite) or Sonic shriek
Damage: 1d8 or see below
Save: F4
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: 135

Olitiau are giant bats. Found in deep, dark caves these creatures can be used as steeds for those that know the secrets of summoning them or for subterranean races that speak their language.
Like Giant Bats (qv) these creatures can also be vampiric, though the percentage is much higher, 45%.  The bite of an Olitiau will not cause a living creature to rise as a vampire though.
The Olitiau have a bite attack and sonic shriek.  They can use one or the other once per round.  The sonic shriek is a cone 5' at it's base (mouth) and extends 120' long and 40' wide.  Creatures caught in this area take 1d6 points of damage and must save vs. Paralyzation or be stunned (unable to attack) for 1 round.  The Olitiau can extend this range to 360' long and 120' wide, but only creatures of less than 1 HD are affected then.
Olitiau do not fare well in sunlight and are at a -2 on all attacks.  They are unaffected by darkness of any sort including magical darkness.


Summon Olitiau
Level: Druid 2, Wizard 2, Witch /Warlock 2
Duration: 24 hours
Range: 60 miles
By means of this spell, the caster can summon one* Olitiau to serve it for 24 hours.  The olitiau must be treated well and given its body weight in fresh meat to eat.  The olitiau will operate as the steed for the caster and even attack whomever the caster directs it to attack.   Most often the olitiau are summoned as steeds and can carry 300lbs of weight.
The olitiau can only be summoned at night or underground where it is dark.
At higher levels the caster can summon more Olitiau.
At 7th level the caster may summon two, at 9th 3 may be summoned and so on for every other level to a maximum of 8 olitiau at level 19.
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