Saturday, March 28, 2015

Zatannurday: Costume Designs

Digging through my back logs here and found a few images featuring various costume changes.

I know she hasn't had the most (Wonder Woman is catching up in just last 3-4 years) but I have always liked how her "supers" costume is the same as some variation of her stage costume.
So here are some official and some unofficial costume designs.

Presentation by SaokoTai on DeviantArt

Zatanna by Black-iZe on DeviantArt

Zatanna Redesign by Femmes-Fatales on DeviantArt

Bronze Age Zatanna by Femmes-Fatales on DeviantArt

Zatanna by DawidARTe on DeviantArt

Zatanna by YuiMusunde on DeviantArt

Zatanna Redesign by NachoMon on DeviantArt

Zatanna Zatara by Salamandra88 on DeviantArt

Zatanna by kaloy-costa on DeviantArt

Zatanna-YJ by jadenwithwings on DeviantArt

Zatanna Redesign! by Comicbookguy54321 on DeviantArt

Zatanna by seanpatrick76 on DeviantArt

Till next time!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Eric Burdon, the Animals and War

Welcome once again to Friday Night Videos!

Inspiration will sometimes come from the oddest places.

Take for example the case of Eric Burdon, The Animals and War.

I "discovered" Eric Burdon while going through a stack of old 45s back in my teens. The Animals' song "House of the Rising Sun" painted such an evocative picture for me that I was obsessed with it for years.

Fast forward to the late 90s early 2000s.  I began listening to more of Eric Burdon's "new" band, War.  "Spill the Wine" was pretty much on constant rotation for me for the longest time.  Combine these two and a vista was painted for me in sharp relief.  Eric Burdon has the distinction of being the only living person I have stated up as an Occult Poet, he is also the only character I have used both in my Willow & Tara based Buffy game and my lighter tone Hex Girls game.

House of the Rising Sun is a haunting song.  It is no surprise to me that it was used in the teaser trailers for American Horror Story Coven last year.  For me the House was a house of ill-repute, but it became something more; something much darker.   In my games Burdon found the house and uses his occult powers to keep others away.

Don't let me be Misunderstood also had a similar effect on my writing.  You could almost construe it as an adventurers lament and not just a man to his lover.

We Got to Get Out of This Place.  Vietnam or "Subterranean Fantasy Fucking Vietnam".
Bloggers have spent thousands of pages of text on analyzing the pulp writings of old and their effects on the genesis of D&D, but what about the music?  I saw just like the late 70s and 80s captured the mood of the time and D&D, the 60s are what influenced the authors of the games.

Have you ever played a gnome? I have played one and that was during the start of D&D 3.0.  Jasic Goodwalker.  Jasic was a long haired overfed leaping gnome with a fondness for wine, song and women.  Spill the Wine was the song that gave birth to Jasic.  Never played a gnome after Jasic, but I would dust of his sheet in heartbeat.

Till next time.

Kickstart Your Weekend: Darkplane

Up this week is a new campaign setting in the vein of the great campaign settings of the 2nd edition of the world most popular fantasy RPG.

I think what attracted me first about Darkplane is really the art, it just has such a dream like sureality to it that it called to me.  I like that despite the "darkness" of it all, there is light too. Need that to bring the darkness and horror into sharper contrast.

Changing by Benita Winckler

But once I got into it and started reading more,, I discovered that this isn't just a campaign world, but a campaing universe to explore in.

The world is "Weird Horror" which is something I like, but rarely seen done well.  So I am excited about this one since I think the author gets it.

This one has already got to their goal so now it is about getting past those stretch goals.

Can't wait to see what this one has in store!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Living Dead Girl

Fast one today.
Normally I don't care for zombie shows or movies.  Not really into the Walking Dead and I only get moderate enjoyment out of the movies.  But I am really enjoying this new show "iZOMBIE".

The show deals with Liv Moore (ugh...reallly? ok I'll let that slide) and she is a zombie. She used to be a doctor but now she is a medical examiner and she eats the brains of murder victims.  This gives her the memories of the victims and helps her solve the crimes.

Kind of a cool idea. The TV show is based on the comic of the same name and developed by Rob Thomas.  So calling this Undead Veronica Mars is pretty close to the mark.

Looking forward to seeing more of this.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What are YOUR Favorite NEW Old-School Adventures?

For the longest time I go on and on (and on and on...) about my enjoyment of the many of the old school games.

But I am really doing my contemporaries a huge disservice.   So today I wanted to talk about some of my favorite old-school adventures published within the last few years; aka the OSR adventures.

The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen
I have talked about this one a lot.  It's a meat grinder and just a crazy, gonzo adventure with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  It is great fun and you can read more of my experiences here,

The Shrine of St. Aleena
Another great intro module and a great intro to what Old School Gaming can be.
I also covered this one here,

Oak Grove Whispers
Another great intro module set outside of the City of Domvay (and included in the special edition print versions of the book). If The Shrine of St. Aleena works for you then give this one as a try.  This is more straightforward.

A lot can be said (and has been said) about this mega-dungeon/campaign, but one thing is for sure. Autarch really saved this project.  I am not a huge fan of mega-dungeons, but this really is a must have.  I think in the end what sells me on this project is it's vision. Sure it could be described (and has been) as a monumental act of hubris OR you could look at it as a commentary on how the OSR solidified 70s and 80s nostalgia into a post-millennial marketing tool.  It might not be the best at saying what we do, but it is an honest look.

Castle of the Mad Archmage
This might be the closest we will ever get to exploring Castle Greyhawk. Yeah it is not perfect, but the effort and work here is beyond reproach and it is a damn fun adventure.  This is also on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Dwimmermount.  Like the other mega dungeon this is the vision of one man, in this case Joseph Bloch.  Though were Dwimmeromount received much hype CotMA just quietly got published with no drama.  When Bloch has done Kickstarters they have been on point, fast and he usually gets people their materials WAY before he promised he would.  This is also a good example of the OSR ethic.  There is still nostalgia here but it took a different path.

No Salvation for Witches
I will be honest. I find most of James Raggi's adventures to be unplayable.
Not due to content or anything like that. I just believe that the GMs job is to help characters to greatness, not stick them into an adventure where they have no chance of winning.   I don't mind a meat grinder now and then (see Vampire Queen above) but not a design philosophy centered around fucking with the players.  Tomb of Horrors was a one time deal, not a template for every adventure.
That being said I like No Salvation for Witches.  It still has the same art quality one expects from LotFP and the adventure still has buckets of gore, but author Rafael Chandler brings some of the same splatter-punk horror the he demonstrated in his own Teratic Tome (which would make a good add-in for this).  I like the setting and the plot is something taken out of the most salacious accounts of the witch trails. Well if those accounts were embellished a little by Clive Barker.
NSFW (cute) is set in LotFP's pseudo historical Europe, but frankly I would rather take it and set it in the world of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea to give it that "older and colder" feel that AS&SH does so well.

Liberation of the Demon Slayer
Venger As’Nas Satanis has a reputation comparable to James Raggi. Liberation of the Demon Slayer does nothing to change this.  Also this adventure is something I might like to run under Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  There is a mix of demons, devils and Lovecraftian beasts/gods that somehow feels right for that world.  There is a lot of the author's advice for running and some of his house rules. Normally I might ignore these, but they seem central to his design philosophy that maybe, just for this adventure, they should be used.
If you, like me, love eldritch abominations and dark magic then this the adventure for you. The adventure itself "sounds" simple enough. Retrieve a demon killing sword from the caves to stop the demons attack your village. Easy peasy.   Trouble is that the author grew up when dungeons-as-meat-grinders were a thing.  This adventure though is closer in tone and danger to the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen than it is to most Lamentations of the Flame Princess products.  With the right DM this could be a great and dangerous adventure where the party could live. Sure they could all easily die too. One can read this and imagine that all of the author's games are a bit like it.
Actually I have known the author for a number of years and yeah this is exactly the kind of things I expect in his games.  I think the difference here with this adventure and some of his earlier material is there is a maturity here to accept the absurd.  This adventure can be played straight or with a dash of dark humor.  Think of it as a horror movie, even the scariest have a touch of humor to them; it sets you up for the bigger punch later down the road.
Curiously enough in my own games I do have an epic weapon for killing demons. In my current world state this sword is lost and a quest is needed to recover it.  Maybe this is what I need.  If so then the value of this adventure just increased ten-fold for me.   I am going to have to spend some quality time with it and a pencil to see if it can be recrafted into something that fits my world a little better.

The Snake's Heart - A Lost Age Adventure
This is my newest one. The overall feel of this one is like an action movie. Maybe more like a horror-action movie, but you get the idea.  The adventure is hard core old school. It is compatible with S&W: White Box but like most of the OSR adventures it can be used with just about any rules.   The file is a pretty simple affair; 19 pages, line art. So nothing too fancy, but the aesthetic is very, very old school.  It looks like something your older brother's friend who was the first kid in the neighborhood to play D&D might have made; only a lot better.
The adventure itself starts with a simple set up and encounter (I like adventures that make the players DO something right away) and then that simple encounter leads to a confrontation with an evil cult. Shenanigans ensue. The adventure takes a few cues from more modern adventures and separates encounters. The effect this has is to keep the action flowing.  If this were a movie it would be Raiders of the Lost Ark or, more aptly, The Temple of Doom.  At just under $2.00 it is also perfect for an afternoon when you want to play something but don't have an adventure ready to go.  
For myself I might make some minor changes here and there.  Snake Goddesses are fun and all but what if I need a Wolf Goddess or a Centipede one?  It make a great introduction for some characters that have already been through one adventure and are their way to the larger plot brewing.   I say grab this one and use it this weekend.

Hmm...maybe there is a campaign here.

What are your favorites? What have I missed that I should be playing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Going Beyond the Murder-hobo

I have professed my love for many old-school adventures here.  Both ones published "back in the day" and the current crop of new old-school adventures.

Well I was listening to a you video on Dungeon! recently and the parallel was drawn yet again between the Fellowship in the mines of Moria and your average dungeon crawl.   There are lots and lots of similarities and by now everyone knows it. But there is a fundamental difference between the Fellowship and what a lot of dungeon crawls assume.  The Fellowship was only there on their way to become heroes, not to loot the dungeon and kill orcs.

Sometimes I do feel out of step with my Old-School brethren because I do think a character in D&D should aspire to be more than just a "murder-hobo".  I think part of that stems from my involvement with other games very early on.  In Chill for example you start out as the "everyman/everywoman".  Heck even one of the archetypes is "Socialite".  The point is that you start out like this but the horrors in the world force you to become something else.

There is an old saying in the horror genre. Take a movie's Final Girl and turn into a buff male with a gun and then you have an Action Movie.  I say put a sword in her hand (or a wand) and you have a D&D adventure.  The point though for me is whether horror, action or D&D the characters must be the heroes of the tale.

That is one of the reason why I like to weave a coherent story in my adventures.  Each one is a clue to the next to the larger threat.  A cult in the Cave of Chaos tips off the adventurers to a series of deaths on Bone Hill which leads to the rumors of slave traders that tie into attacks by giants...

Maybe I am taking too much of a modern supernatural story line to my adventures, but I find one endless dungeon crawl after the next to be boring. Its one of the reasons I never liked mega-dungeons either.  And yes I like character development.  I like heroes.

What are your favorite kinds of adventures? What do you do?

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z Blog challenge 2015 Theme Reveal

It's that time of year again!  Time for the Blogging A to Z challenge.

Today is the big reveal of what your theme will be.

This year I have the least surprising reveal of everyone I think.

This year I am going to be doing Vampires.  I know I have threatened to do this in the past, only to do witches or demons instead.  But this year I am serious.

And I am out of time. It is the only thing I have written!

So gamers, expect to see stats for various types of vampires.  I am hoping though that there will be something for everyone.

Are you participating? What is your theme?

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