Tuesday, May 3, 2016

New Releases Tuesday. Witch Edition.

It's Tuesday and that means new releases.

Today I am very excited to report that The Witch is now available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.

I am going to be staying up tonight to see this one.

Also out is the third book in Barb Hendee's Mist-torn Witches series, To Kill a Kettle Witch.

While not exactly a new release for today, it was released on Friday.  Rob Zombie's The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser.

On the D&D/OSR side of things The Rogues Gallery is now out.
I remember getting this and being quite excited.  I remember years laters rediscovering it and recognizing some of the names.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Weekend Gaming: Against the Slave Lords!

The Order of the Platinum Dragon made it to the throne room of the slave lords and encountered the first five.

The battle was fierce with many HP lost on both sides.
I did notice that in some cases the Playtest version of Next has slightly different monster stats than the final version of 5e.  I have used both more or less interchangeably.

Sadly the heroes were all knocked unconscious and awoke in a deep, dark dungeon with no weapons, gear or armor.   Adventure A4 begins next!

Of course while they were unconscious they had more dreams.
I am using dream sequences and flashback to give them tidbits of information about what is going on in the world or the past.  I am going with the old adage that it is better to show and not tell.  Each different dream sequence or flashback I use a different version of *D&D.  The next one uses AD&D 1st Ed for a trip back 30+ years ago (natch).

I have used Basic already and even have one planned using 4th ed D&D.

I have my summer gaming mapped out.  This is going to be epic!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Zatannurday: DeviantArt Favorites

Still have a few DaviantArt favorites to share.
I'll keep doing these till I run out.

Zatanna Cosplay - 3 by Millster-Ink on DeviantArt

Zatanna Cosplay - 2 by Millster-Ink on DeviantArt

Zatanna Cosplay - 1 by Millster-Ink on DeviantArt

Magic Trick by AndrewDobell on DeviantArt

Zatanna Zatara by Anastasia-Komori on DeviantArt

Zatanna cosplay test by Anastasia-Komori on DeviantArt

Zatanna Cosplay by archerdelalune on DeviantArt

Zatanna Cosplay by archerdelalune on DeviantArt

A to Z of Adventure! Z is for Zanzer's Dungeon

Z is for Zanzer's Dungeon.

Here we are once again at the end of the A to Z challenge.

Z, like some other letters here, does not signify a module code.  In this case there is an obvious choice.  Back in the early 90s the D&D brand was in transition.  There was the Dungeons & Dragons line, with rule-books named Basic, Expert, Companion, Masters, and Immortal (BECMI) and a single book Rules Cyclopedia that combined the first four.  Then there was the completely separate Advanced Dungeons & Dragons line which had rules-books named Player's Handbook, Dungeon Master's Guide and Monstrous Manual.  These books were in their 2nd Edition.
Confusing?  Yeah it was to us too.

In 1991 TSR, the then publisher of D&D released their newest, and what would be one of their last, in the "Basic" sets. The set was called "The New Easy-to-Master Dungeons & Dragons Game" but gamers often called it the "Black Box".  The adventure inside was a bit of preview of things to soon come.  Zanzer's Dungeon was laid out like a board game complete with little plastic minis for the characters and paper fold top minis for monsters.  This was compatible with the BECMI flavor of D&D and worked as a replacement for the Basic Set and an introduction to the Rules Cyclopedia.

While the game was highly praised for it ease of use and intuitiveness. I never bothered getting it at the time.  I picked up my copy (pictured here) many years later as a means to teach my kids how to play.  Turns out they learned like I did...just by playing.

The board-game like play area is welcoming to new players.  Now they can see what they are doing.
Persoanlly that annoyed me because for years my rule books would say that you don't need a board, only your imagination!  Though today I use tiles and maps just like this.

In fact Zanzer's Dungeon here is the same scale as the maps used in 3rd and 4th edition D&D (and 5th if you care to), so the minis we have been using will work here too.

This set would later be expanded with the Dragon's Den boxed set, which was also board game "shaped".

One day I'll use these as an intro game for something.  Better than them collecting dust on my shelves!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Werewolves For Basic Era Games

Tomorrow night is Walpurgis Night.  A night when witches, vampires, and werewolves are known to be out.
I have already given you Witches and Vampires so now I present Werewolves.

Werewolves: The Beast Within is a 10/20 level race-as-a-class class for your favorite Basic Era OSR game.

From the back cover:

The fear to loose control and become a hungry, blood lusted
beast has haunted our nightmares since we clutched together
in the dark. It has also been the secret desire of others.

Lycanthropes been a staple of role-playing villains, monsters, and
anti-heroes since the dawn of the role-playing hobby.

Now you can play these fearsome monsters of horror tales and
movies in your Basic-Era style games.

Presented here is a full 20 level class with all the classic
werewolf powers.

Fully compatible with the werewolf monsters you have been
using for nearly 40 years.

Also fully compatible with my books for Witches and Vampires.

This one is a buck, but that is really just to pay for the art.

So celebrate "Half-aween" (half way to Halloween) with some classic monsters.

A to Z of Adventure! Y is for YS

Y is for YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones.

There are no classic adventures that have a Y or a Y-related code.
Thankfully there is an adventure that does have a Y code, YS1, and it is set up very much like the classic adventures.  Created for OSRIC it can be played using AD&D 1st Edition.

YS1 The Outpost of the Outer Ones was written by Jeremy Reaban. I have featured some of his products here in the past.

Y in this case might stand for Yuggoth, which is the home-world of the Mi-Go, or at least one of their outposts.  This adventure, designed for characters 6th to 10th level for any old-school game, heavily features the Mi-Go.  While he describes it as a "Science fiction" "dungeon crawl" only a tiny bit of work is needed to make this one horror or a mystery.  Afterall, people are going missing, strangers are showing up in town and there is that whole eerie cave system.

Like most of the old-school adventures, this one is light on plot and heavy on the dungeon crawl atmosphere, and that is by design really.  The adventure is simple enough but there is so much more that can be done with it if you want.  Note: I should point out this is NOT a criticism of  the adventure, quite the opposite really.
So basically the Mi-Go are in town and they are doing what the Mi-Go do, removing brains from bodies and putting them into other bodies or their special cylinders.  The brains stay alive and are even immortal after a fashion.  They are also experimenting on the local fauna.  A couple of things in this adventure jumped out as me as hitting that 70's/80's nostalgia sweet spot. There is a Flumph the Mi-go can't figure out. A bionic Sasquatch! (I mean really, was this written just for me?) I biologic towel, a Valley Girl brain, and this whole "Escape to Witch Moutain" vibe about it.  There is a witch and Swanmay in it as well.

Personally I would take Jeremy's advice and expand the module a bit.  Have the party meet the old witch Gwen in her "old" form, but then encounter her again when she is in one of the brain jars and then again when she is in her new body.  Also, I'd make all the Mi-Go's human form all look roughly the same; perfect, blonde, blue eyes, devoid of any real personality.  Like something out of Village of the Damned.  Liked they learned how to be human by reading it in a book.
I'd also make their plans a little more nefarious. This is a scout group looking to colonize this planet.  Makes that bionic Bigfoot look a little more scary if you ask me!

Obviously, a good companion to this adventure would be Jeremy's own OSR Warlock. Make Gwen a warlock AND the one responsible for bringing the Mi-Go here.  I'd also play it under Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  Give it that "colder and darker" feel that AS&SH can provide.  Plus there are already a number of good Lovecraft Mythos beasties in that game.

My biggest issue with this adventure is where do I use it?  I have so many choices to be honest.  I could easily slot it in as a "Monster of the Week" story, but that would sell it's potential short. I could make it part of a larger campaign, but I would also want the Mi-Go to be more that just a one shot.

In any case I know this will be a fun one.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! X is for Expert.

X is for Expert.

This is not some attempt to grift the Challenge.  The Expert Set adventures were given the code X.
Of course, the most famous of these is X1, The Isle of Dread.

I got this adventure along with my Expert set back in the early 80s.  It is an obvious King Kong homage, but it is a great one.  It is another one of those adventures that people keep coming back to time and time again.
Maybe second only to B2 and B1 in terms of numbers of players, but The Isle of Dread is one of the best Basic-era adventures out there.  In today's frame of mind the adventure is equal parts Pirates of the Caribean, King Kong, and Jurassic Park.  It is a heady cauldron of tropes, ideas and just plain crazy fun.  It was included in the original Expert set and it still had expanded maps and more creatures.  I never understood why the creatures where not just in the main book, but it did make the module special.
What was so nice about X1 over B2 is you had the feel it was more integrated into the Expert rules; it felt like a logical extension.

This is also the first published adventure I ever ran for my son.  Up to this point I had ran ones I had made up for him.  He was young (6 or 7) and adventures like "Cave of the Stinky Goblin" or "Trouble in West Haven" were more appropriate for him.  But X1 had the great big dinosaur on it and he loved dinosaurs.

We had a blast. To me, 20 some odd years later, it felt like a very different adventure.  There is a lot of untapped potential here. Enough for several adventures really.
Later on I bought my son his own copy to run sometime.  It was also the first time that my kids began to recognize Tom Moldvay's name on the covers of adventures.

X2: Castle Amber
Another one of my "holy grail" items. I managed to score a copy when I moved to Chicago.
There is so much to love about this adventure, but I have detailed it all before in these pages.
Again, this is another Tom Moldvay adventure and we all loved it.

The other X modules came out a bit later and were more tied to the newer Frank Mentzer-edited Expert Set, as opposed to the Cook-Marsh-edited set I had owned. (I guess these modules should have really been called "E" for expert then). Of these I only later owned Quagmire.  I got it cheap at a used book store in Carbondale, IL.  I completely gutted the module and only kept the tower and swamp.

X3 Curse of Xanathon
X4 Master of the Desert Nomads
X5 Temple of Death
X6 Quagmire!
X7 The War Rafts of Kron
X8: Drums on Fire Mountain
X9: The Savage Coast
X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield
X11 Saga of the Shadow Lord
X12 Skarda's Mirror

In particular, I would like to get print copies of X4 and X5 for my Second Campaign game.  Saga of the Shadow Lord also sounds like a lot of fun!

This is my problem...too many great games/adventures and so little time.
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