Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Blue Rose 2nd Edition, Part 2

Yesterday I spent some quality time with the Blue Rose Character Creation rules. Today I want to move to the next section of this huge book and cover The World of Aldea section.

Now when it comes to game-changing events I can make due with changes in power or in the way certain rules have been handled.  It is the events in the next few chapters that will have me scrambling for the pencils to re-do my campaign!  Well, Green Ronin never asked me what I was doing in my game and I never reached out to them to make sure they were not invalidating several sessions worth of my games ( +Chris Pramas, we will just have to talk in future! ;) ).

Chapter 5, What Has Gone Before, is still roughly the same as what we saw in the True20 version. If anything things are clearer now.  The art, of course, is better and some things, like the rise of the Darkfiends, are clearer.
As before we get a history of the World of Aldea, from the Mythic Age (when the Gods were created) to the Old Kingdom (the “Golden Age” of the world), the Empire of Thrones (or the rise of the evil Sorcerer Kings) to the present age in The Rebirth of Aldis.  The history of the world is given from the creation of the world by the four greater gods and then into the creation of the lesser gods, demons, and mortal races.

I think it is the goal of every RPG writer, either professional or just sitting at home, to create a mythology for their world.   These myths feel more like The Silmarillion than it does say the Bible or Greek Myth.  Though there is a fair appreciation for Greek Myths and Pagan beliefs in this.  In makes for an interesting world to say the least.  It has been asked more than once in my groups what gods do they believe in in the other parts of Aldea. Are they same with different names (likely) or they different ones altogether (a tantalizing idea)?  We see bits of how this could work in Chapter 7 where the different lands worship different aspects of these same gods.

The biggest changes do not come till much later in the chapter.  At some point between the True20 timeline and the AGE timeline. Queen Jaellin decided that she was "officially done with Jarek's shit" and invaded Kern via the hidden ShadowGate under the palace. The present day of the True20 version was 310 (Aldin calendar) to the new current day of the AGE version of 320.   A lot has happened in ten years.
I read this and was like "whoa" what happened here?  Personally, I'd love to have some scenarios where the PCs/Cast are part of that battle and raid.I think that would be a blast.
Also this was the last time anyone has seen the Golden Hart.  The mystery here, of course, is whether or not it used up all it's magic in this last battle.  We come to the "present day" in the game with political factions in an uproar, relations within and without in question and a Queen that has made some choices that many of her own court and people do not agree with.
Basically, it is like Valdemar at the end of the Winds of Fury.
Expanded from the True20 book this new chapter also talks more about the Great Rebellion that started Aldis in the first place.  I mean wouldn't that also be a great time to play?  The years leading up to Queen Seltha's reign.  Heck, the art of the Undead armies is enough to make me want to give it a try.

Chapter 6, Kingdom of the Blue Rose then picks up with Aldis proper and discusses what is going on.  We get background on the various races living in Aldis; human, sea-folk, vata, night people, and Rhydan.  Why do all these people get along? Well... they try to. The Rhydan wanted a land that all were equal and free and queen Seltha ran with that.
We get a section on the Royal Court of Aldis.  I REALLY wish I was good at running Court Intrigue. This would be the game for that.  A carefully balanced dual of wit, manners and subtle backstabbing.  This game makes me want to be better at it.  There is just too much potential here and frankly it is not my strong suit.

Anyone who ever thought that a Kingdom that was accepting of all peoples lacks intrigue has never really read or played this game.  Aldis is not just the idyllic land that some have depicted it.  It is “enlightened” but there are still internal strife, crime, the odd sorcerer or even a leftover gates from the time before the Sovereigns, and the ever-present threats from inside and outside. A number of threats to Aldis and Aldea are detailed. Various unscrupulous merchants, a very effective criminal organization known as “The Silence”, fallen nobles, bandits, defective shadow gates,  and the remains of various shadow cults.   In a handful of pages we get plenty of ideas for characters to do.  Plus we now have a Queen that may or may not be trusted by all her people. And the Golden Hart? Gone. Hasn't been seen since the raid on Kern.  Something new is happening here.
There is a section on gender, sexuality, and marriage. Much less that you have been lead to believe mind you. Frankly, it could do with a bit more in my mind. This is Romantic Fantasy after all.
Religion gets expanded a bit as well.  I like the new art for the Gods of Light, but I had to number them on my print out to keep track of them. I still rather like the Exarchs of Shadow. It helps solves the age old philosophical question of "From whence comes evil?" It gives a good explanation of how good gods such as these would have created evil beings. Plus in this version, they are more detailed with each exarch equated to a deadly sin.   I might not be able to do court intrigue, but I can do horror like nobody's business.
The real expansion though comes in the form of the City of Aldis. Note if you are used to the map in the True20 World of Aldea book (page 18), this one (page 161) is rotated 90 degrees clockwise. It also looks like the city has grown some more in the last 10 years.
Other areas of Aldis are detailed as well. These include the Pavin Weald (Magical Forest) and refugees from Kern that have not quite integrated into Adlean society known as The Trebutane.  If you want your spot to create Aldea-as-Valdemar and need a place for Holderkin Talia to be from, this is it.

Chapter 7, Lands Beyond deals with the lands and countries surrounding Aldis.  This includes the Theocracy of Jarzon, the Khanate of Rezea (the Kaled'a'in/Tayledras from the Valedmar books, or the Kingdom of Damar from The Blue Sword), the Roamers (also Kaled'a'in Shin'a'in), the Shadow Barrens (just a bad place), The Forest Kingdom of Wyss (a new place, not in the True20 version), the Pirate Isles (more information here, can Freeport Blue Rose be far behind?), Kern (the really, really bad place. Mordor to Aldis' Gondor) and the Matriarchy of Lar'tya (basically Themyscira.)

Each section of the nation/land deals with the history of the lands, their rulers, religion, and people. Larger cities are discussed but never in the detail we got with Aldis.  Some important NPCs have sidebars and their history, but no stats, are given.  The lands also all have rough equivalents to the organizations found in Aldis.  For example, the counterpart to the Rose Knights in Jarzon are the Knights of Purity and in Kern are the Knights of the Skull.

Of the lands, Jarzon and Kern are the most interesting.  Jarzon is an interesting place where it could have been just like Aldis save for the intolerance of the Theocracy.  I suppose then it is no surprise then that it lies south of Aldis.  I could see a Jarzonni based game dealing with various heretics.  Heck a fun game would be to play part of the Jarzonni Inquisition to discover a new threat to the whole world!
Kern is Ravenloft. Or maybe it is Thay. or Iuz. Or "The North" for the "Blue Sword" fans.  I KNOW I can't be the only one to have thought in reading this new version of the game that when Jaelin killed the Lich King that the "Shadowed Seven" would be an even bigger threat.

Think of Thay without SzassTam or Apokolips without Darkseid. There is a lot of adventure ideas here. Play these evil regents off on each other. Or imagine their machinations if they ever decided to team up.   I'd love a game where characters need to face off against these foes.  That might be too "D&D" or even too "Buffy" but it would still be a lot of fun.

So advancing the timeline and story by 10 years is cool but it completely WRECKED my older Blue Rose game I was calling Black Rose. Eh. No worries. I can come up with some new ideas and maybe even resurrect some of the Black Rose ideas.   Plus it will give me a good chance to pull out one of my old NPCs, Zenaida a Rezean Witch.

If you had the old True20 World of Aldea book then a lot in this section will feel familiar.  There is a lot more material in the current AGE book and of course moved up 10 years.

Next up is the Narrator's Section.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Witches are (Still) the New Vampires!

A quick pop into RPGNow this afternoon and I noticed this.

Not too bad really!

You have my Green Witch for Swords & Wizardry.
My Strange Brew: Magic Items for Pathfinder.
And Zenith Games' Paragon Hags.

Great time to pick up a new witch book!

Review: Blue Rose 2nd Edition, Part 1

I have been spending a month (has a month gone by already?) with Blue Rose, trying it out. I figured that before I review it I had better run it through it's paces the best I can.  This review might be kinda long, but then again the book is a rather large one.

So without further ado.

Blue Rose

Blue is the newest AGE (more on that) game title from Green Ronin.  It is an update to their older True20 version of Blue Rose.  This game expands the World of Aldea and the timeline a bit as well as give us some more option for play.
I am reviewing both the hardcover edition and pdf of this game. Both of which were purchased by me and not sent to me for the purposes of review. I will post my thoughts both on the reading and playing of this game.

The Blue Rose book is a 384 page, full color, hardback book.  The hardcover is sturdy as hell and might just be one of the most gorgeous books I have seen in a very, very long time.  The color jumps out at you.  Blue Rose is not a grim-dark world and this book is not either.  The PDF is huge and fully bookmarked and hyperlinked. I love PDFs, and for ease, I am using mine for review now, but there is no comparing it to the physical book.
The hardcover retails for $59.95 and the pdf for $24.95.  You can get the PDF for $5.00 at participating game stores when you buy the hardcover.

Blue Rose 2nd edition uses the same AGE or Adventure Game Engine, game engine found in DragonAge and Fantasy Age.  All three games share "System wide" compatibility, but maybe not "thematic" compatibility.   Though if you desire more monsters in your Blue Rose or Dragon Age games then the Fantasy Age Bestiary is the absolute perfect choice.

I will detail more about the AGE system in a bit.

The book is divided into three large sections:
The Player's Section covers the first four chapters of basic rules, character creation, and magic.
The World of Aldea covers the history of the world, the Kingdom of Aldis, and the surrounding lands. This takes up the next four chapters.
The Narrator's Section covers the last five chapters. This covers how to run a game, what makes "Romantic Fantasy" different, as well as rewards and adversaries.  There is also a sample adventure in back to tide you over till you pick up a copy of The Six of Swords.

Now off the bat, an easy criticism would be, why not separate these out into three less expensive books.  Charge $24.95 each and make more money in the long run?  Sure that would work and that is what Green Ronin did with their True20 versions.   Personally, I like having everything in one tome. Though I do see a need for a slimmer, maybe soft cover, version of just the player's section for players to buy. But Green Ronin has been doing this a long time if their economics support this then I am not going to be an armchair accountant.

The first five pages start with an introduction to RPGs.  Most times I skip this, but this time I stuck with it since one of the expressed purposes of this game is to bring in new players.  The "What is Roleplaying" section covers what is expected. This is followed by a section on "What is Romantic Fantasy?"  For this bit, and for this review, I went back and read (or re-read) every book I could in the Romantic Fantasy cannon. This includes all the Valdemar books by Mercedes Lackey (minus the last series) and nearly every book on John Snead's own "Must Read" list. I'll talk about those relationships in detail as they come up, but suffice to say (for now) that Blue Rose does do a good job of Romantic Fantasy.
The next paragraphs deal with how you go about creating a character in a game world.  Not mechanics (yet) but an extension of your senses into this world.  This section I noticed also features in other Green Ronin AGE books. It asks the questions "What do you do?" and "Who are you?" The focus of this game then is character dynamics.  It is not "The party of adventurers set out to destroy the dragon." it is "Brynn, Heylg, Bethan and their friends sought out the threat to their beloved kingdom and stopped it before more lives were lost."  There is nothing wrong with either situation, it is just one is better suited to Blue Rose. Becuase of this there is more focus on group dynamic. Maybe Bethan, normally a strong independent warrior who fights for just causes, is also deathly afraid of fire from an incident in her childhood.  Now fighting this dragon is not just a straightforward matter of defeating a beast; it is now a metaphor for overcoming fear even when you are normally strong and brave. It could be that Brynn's best contribution to this battle is not her magic to attack the dragon or her healing, but her ability to empathize with Bethan and bring out the warrior she is from the scared girl she was.  If this dynamic is not that interesting to you, that's fine, the Blue Rose/AGE game will still let you kill the dragon, but something essential is missed.

The next section deals with the AGE system itself.

The system is actually quite a simple one.  3d6 + Ability +/- mods vs. Test Difficulty.
What makes this system special though are the Stunts.  Whenever you score "doubles" on a roll (on two of the dice, more later) you generate stunt points.  Stunt points can be used for any number of special features.  These are not limited to combat.  You can score Stunt Points in any situation where you roll dice.  So yes you can even generate Stunt Points (SP) while engaging in social interactions.  I have long let Bards in my D&D/d20 games score "critical hits" with puns, but in Blue Rose you can now do the same (mechanically speaking) with all sorts of social interactions like flirting!
Finally, we end with a bit on the campaign world, but I will detail that, as does the book, later on.

Part 1: The Player's Section
This section introduces us to both the Blue Rose game and the AGE system.

Chapter 1 discusses the AGE system and goes right into Combat and Stunts. I thought this was an odd choice in a game focused on characters.  At first that is. After reading through it a few times now I see it makes good sense.  I am not sure if the AGE system will ever "fall into the background" the same way d20 or Unisystem do for me, but it could get really, really close.  The system itself is very easy to grasp.  In AGE you really only need three six-sided dice.  Two of which should be the same color.  The off one is called the Drama Die.  We will get to all those in a bit.  The rolls of 3d6 + Ability +/- mods vs. Test Difficulty are simple enough.  Test Difficulties start at 7 (Routine) and increase by 2 for each level. So 9 is Easy.  The feel is the same as d20's Target Numbers or even Unisystem's Success Levels. The spread is closer to that of the d20 world so converting between the True20 Blue Rose and the AGE Blue Rose should theoretically be an easy one (in reality there is more to it, but not much more).  Like most systems an "opposed" test will be one set of rolls vs another set of rolls.

Aside: Since the rolls here are 3d6 as opposed to 1d20 (d20/D&D) or even 1d10 (Unisystem) you are going to get far more average rolls and fewer extremes.  This result is as subtle as it is ubiquitous.  This means that most rolls (67.6%) are going to fall in that 8-13 range. 18's will only happen 1 time in 216, as opposed to a 20 happening 1 time in 20.  This means that most actions will feel "normal".  It's later when we add the Stunt Points and Conviction that the real acts of Derring-do happen.  This puts the "criticals" more in the hands of the players and less to chance.  They happen less often, but more where the player wants or needs them.
This is something I have done in my own Unisystem games for years. Instead of a 1d10 I use a 2d6-1 system known as "The Chicago Way" among Unisystem players.  The effects are quite nice. The 3d6 gives AGE Blue Rose a solid edge over True20 Blue Rose.

In addition to these tests there are modifiers, which typically include a Specialization in a skill or other training.  There are are also Conviction points.  These are gained throughout your adventuring career and can be used to influence certain actions.  Conviction is used a bit like a Drama Point or a Hero Point.

On every turn the character can take a Major and a Minor action.  Each round is only 15 seconds long (4 per minute) so each action is short. There is a list of what major actions are (Attack, Defend, Heal) and minor (move, aim, activate).  In truth, the lists are pretty simple and easy to grasp. There are also variable actions that will change depending on the situation.

Next up are Stunts, the life, and soul of the AGE system really.
If you get doubles on any roll of the dice you may perform a Stunt on that roll.  So if the roll was a combat situation then you can perform a Combat Stunt.  The roll you get on your Drama Die (the off color one) is a number of Stunt Points you get.  You have to use them right away.  So if you get a 4 you have 4 SP and can buy any of the stunts listed for 4 or under.  These are things like "Knock Prone" or "Lethal Blow". As characters go up in level they gain access to more stunts and can buy others for less SP.  There are also non-combat Exploration and Role-playing Stunts as well. There are even Arcane Stunts that can be used in either.

Chapter 2 covers Character Creation.  This covers all the steps from concept to filling out your sheet.  Blue Rose is a very character-focused game, so character creation should be something done all together for the first session.  I even suggest talking about what sort of group you want to have. There is no reason why it can't be "You all meet in an Inn", but it should go deeper than that really.  How do these characters interact with each other, what are their goals, their drives?  In some ways the best Blue Rose group of heroes is something like what we get in the Dragonlance tales.  A group full of characters internal desires and drives but a community, if not a family, of others helping them.

Blue Rose has 9 Abilities. They have familiar sounding names and are even rolled up the same way.  In fact in Blue Rose, your abilities are rolled on a 3d6 IN ORDER.  Yes, it is more Old School than many Old School games out today. The spread of ability modifiers is also similar.   Every ability has more than one focus. These Focuses allow the character to be better at one particular area.  Systematically Abilities and Foci serve like abilities and skills.
Next, choose your race. We get humans from various lands (with different bonuses), Nigth People (half-orcs/orcs),  Rhydan (intelligent animals),  Sea-folk, and Vata (elves). You also get a background, which is largely what country you come from,
Up next is Class. Like other AGE games and True20 there are only 3. Adept, Expert, and Warrior.
As you level up you can gain different abilities from your class. These are typically increases in abilities (which ones depend on class).  Classes are presented from 1st to 20th level.
You then need to figure out (or randomly roll) your Calling, Destiny, and Fate.
Finally it would not be Blue Rose if there was not a bit on Relationships. Everyone in the cast is tied to another by one degree or another. These relations have role-playing and in-game mechanical features.

If you are looking for XP per level you will not find it in Blue Rose. This game uses the same philosophy as it's older True20 sibling; you increase in level after a few adventures.  It leaves it in the hands of the Narrator as to when to level up. If you really want an XP chart for Experience to next level then there is one in Fantasy Age.

Chapter 3 details Focuses, Talents and Specializations.  Every Ability has multiple focuses. The Fighting Ability has a focus on Axes and another Polearms for example.  You can gain a new focus for everytime you go up a level.  Talents are something else. These are only granted under special circumstances.  They might be restricted by class and many have prereqs.  These include abilities like Animal Training, Dual Weapon Fighting, or Psychic.
Specializations can almost be though of as "Sub Classes", these include Assassin, Bard and the like.

Chapter 4 covers Arcana, the magical arts.  While anyone in the world of Blue Rose can have arcane ability, only Adepts can master them.   Arcana are divided into six Disciplines; Animism, Healing, Meditative, Psychic, Shaping (for making Avatar like Benders!) and Visionary.
There is also Sorcery, the dark side of magic which leads to corruption.
Each ability is given with the Talent (Discipline) it falls under, sometimes it is more than one, time is takes (Major or Minor), Target Number and Test needed. What sort resistance covers this ability and fatigue TN?  Some abilities have sub-abilities too.  Many of Shaping abilities are like this.

Psychic Weapons

The last part of the chapter covers Sorcery.  This is great for all sorts of adventure ideas.  Hell, 90% of my ideas deal with some form of sorcery and it's threat to Aldea.

That's a lot so far.
Next time let's look into the world.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

It is an AGE of Heroes

Too nice here in the Mid-West to be inside. But I did pick up a couple of books this weekend.

I already had the PDFs, so getting these was a nice little addition to my collection.

Plus it is 100% compatible with Blue Rose.

I just need a cool campaign idea now.  My previous Blue Rose games wrapped up to a point where I don't feel the need to bring them back.  So something new. Something really, really new is in order here.

I might have some thoughts on resurrecting bits of Black Rose later in the week and there is something else I have been thinking about.

More later. Gotta get back outside.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Calidar: Dreams of Aerie

We all know the undeniable affect that has been left on D&D by Monty Python.  I am not aware of a single gaming group that has not thrown out at least one "Holy Grail" quote.

Well +Bruce Heard has finally given us, or will give us, our first Flying Circus!

Calidar: Dreams of Aerie

I mean seriously, how cool is this idea?

A circus, that flies. An entire mini-campaign setting, monsters, murder mystery, weird stuff!
Sounds absolutely fantastic to be honest.

From the Kickstarter page:
Adventure: This tabletop role-playing game adventure also is a self-contained mini-setting. Because the action takes place on a flying circus, Dreams of Aerie is easy to adapt to any game world. Drawing on Barnum & Bailey and Cirque du Freak, this book's main plot elements involve a murder mystery, the rivalries of circus guilds, urban adventuring, and monster-hunting. Countless hooks allow side trips and alternate storylines, as each of the 90+ circus folk hide shadowy pasts and secret motivations. The heroes must contend with secret societies vying for hegemony among circus folk. If left to its own devices, a monstrous presence hidden aboard heralds catastrophic world events.

Plus it is system agnostic.  So use D&D. Use Castles & Crusades. Use Swords & Wizardry. Heck, I am going to try it out under Blue Rose.

For me, there are some great Ravenloft books out there that are also circus themed. Sounds like a GREAT mix to me.

This looks awesome and you should support it.
Bruce has a rock solid reputation in the RPG biz and with his Kickstarters.  PLUS all these Calidar books have been top notch in terms of production.
They are also all great books to game with.

So. What are you waiting for. Time to join the circus!!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #119

While today's choice is sort of a cheat, it is a very timely one.  I grabbed it because it features one of my favorite covers of all Dragons.  The recent Doctor Who episode "The Eaters of Light" featured a story about the fate of the Ninth Legion of the Imperial Roman army in Scotland.  My first thought was "well, we know it was Kostchtchie!" from Daniel Horne's fantastic cover.
But once I grabbed it I also noticed how it was a really nice companion to my own Green Witch that was published yesterday.  So nice in fact I put the magazine down until today!  I didn't want anything in it unduly influencing me.  Though in re-re-reading it now I can see there were some things there in 1987 that did stick with me over the years, including some more Doctor Who references.
So set your TARDIS back to March 1987, put on U2's With Or Without You, and get ready for This Old Dragon Issue #119.

Letters cover a guy just discovering the Chainmail rules. Interesting to read, to be honest. We forget that in this day and age nearly every shred of information is literally at our fingertips.  I just got another copy of Chainmail for my birthday from my old Jr. High DM.  It is different than the one I had by a couple of pages. I am going to need to investigate that.

The big feature of this issue is the section on Druids.  I can't help but see the "Spinal Tap" Stonehenge every time I see the standing stones and lintel that works as the header for these articles.

That aside this was one of my favorite series. I had by this time already written my first copy of the witch class. It was though lacking in some historical oomph. This series gave me a lot of inspiration on what can be done with the class AND what not to do.  Not in terms of things being bad in these articles (far from it) but in terms of making my witches different from the druids.  In fact I put these articles as "Must Reads" for anyone wanting to play a druid.

Carl Sargent is up first with Underestimating Druids (is a bad practice). It's a look into the strengths of the class and giving them their due. Several tips and bits of advice are given for using the Druid in and out of the dungeon setting, but most telling (and also the most interesting to me) was a break-down of the XP per level and the amount of spell-power all the AD&D1 spell-casting classes had.  The Druid comes out looking the best. Plus let's be honest, Flame Strike is a MUCH cooler spell than Fireball.

Up next is an article covering the Druid in his role as a healer. We are warned that  John Warren's "Is There a Doctor In the Forest?" is unofficial material.  It is also closer to what we think we know about druids in real life; that they were the healers of their society. There is a ton of great ideas here for herbal and natural healing in AD&D. Unofficial or not there is a lot great rules here.  The crunch is the same level as AD&D, so more than I want for an OSR or even a 5e game, but worth looking into the next time I play AD&D1 proper.

On cue another ad for the Time-Life Enchanted World books!

Next up is an article I had re-read a lot back in the Summer of 1987. From by William Volkart and Robin Jenkins we get On Becoming The Great Druid.  It dealt with that little remembered now artifact of the Druid class that at higher levels you needed to defeat the druid whose level you wanted to take.   I have to admit that at the time I was not fond of the idea, though now I see as a great plot and role-playing device.  I was trying to come up with a way to add this all to my then current game.  I never really did to be honest since I figured I needed to come up with my world-wide Druid religion.  Of course, nothing in the history of the Druids supports the idea that would or even could do this (I was also reading some Margaret Murry, so I am excusing myself) but I got fixated on the idea I needed to figure out their complete religious structure first.  I made some head-way and a lot of that was actually added to my Witch class with the "Court of Witches".  I just replaced Great Druid with Witch Queen.  The Grand Coven of the Earth Mother in The Green Witch also comes from those notes way back then.

Rick Reid is up and has Cantrips for Druids - Naturally. Makes me REALLY glad I kept this to the side while working on the Green Witch and that I didn't put cantrips in that book. They will appear in the "The White Witch" later this summer.

Ah. Now here is an old friend. Ed Greenwood (who's early Dragon writing I am really enjoying again) has the Beastmaster NPC class.  It is such an overkill class.  Hell, I would not be surprised to discover that Drizzt didn't start out as a beastmaster. Though to be 100% fair it is described as an NPC only class...yup. Just like the witch was. ;)
I talked about a lot of Beastmaster classes in an early version of Class Struggles. At that time I had forgotten all about this one though in re-reading it now I see that my DM's homebrew Beastmaster was based on this one.

While not a part of the official Druid feature, Calle Lindstrand has the write up for The Uldra a new character race.  The article is the type of "anything worth doing is worth doing to excess" type that I really love. We get a new race, a monster entry and some gods. The Uldra themselves seem to be a cross between a gnome and a dwarf.  I really hope that wherever Calle Lindstrand is that Uldras as written here are still part of their game. There is too much, well, love here to ignore.  Uldrass would later go on to be upgraded to a full offical D&D race.

It is also one of the reasons while I like to include a new race in a book overtly about a class. The Green Witch, for example, has another take on Gnomes for Swords & Wizardry.

Ed is back with Ecology of the Korred.  Given that it follows right behind the article on the Uldra I often conflated the two into one race. Not really fair to either to be honest.  My then DM really enjoyed this article and it was the inspiration to the only "Dance off in D&D" I have ever done.  I later stole his idea and had another Dance Off in Ghosts of Albion: Blight. Only this time it was against the Sidhe.  This article also gives us a new god.

Dragon's Bestiary features some sylvan monsters for your game. Again, not exactly part of the Druid feature, but close enough that it fits really well.

We get some fairly interesting creatures too. The Wild Halflings are great and I think I detect a bit of what would later develop in Dark Sun.  The Luposphinx is a winged wolf/lion hybrid that doesn't seem out of place at all. The Leshy is based on some older fairy tales. There is another take on the Wendigo (none have every truly been "right" as far as I am concerned). The Wood Giant, which has since been promoted to the ranks of "official D&D monster". There is a Wood Golem here too. A bit about that. This wood golem never really stuck a cord with me. It was neat and all, but wood? Through flaming oil at it.  It was not till I read the Doctor Who story Lungbarrow and their "Drudges" that gave me the idea for something new.  I remember reading a story about an old witch that used to always say "If I'd had my druthers, I have my wooden druthers too."  The Wooden Druther became my new Wood Golem.  Wood Golems have also been promoted, but they will always take a back seat to my Druthers.

Not bad. Half the magazine and all of it quality or really, really fun materials.

In fact, if I had stopped here, 50 some odd pages in (minus ads) I would have considered it money well spent.  I suppose it is also no surprise then that I like to include a lot of these same things in my own books; a class, races, alternate classes, monsters, and spells.  1987 was a turning point year for me really.

Charles Olsen is back with an article about NPCs; Henchmen and Hirelings. Five pages of material that looks liek it should work with any version of the game.

Jeff Grub has Dinner With Elminster.  The article is a bit silly to be honest but I tend to forget that 1987 was the year of the Forgotten Realms. While everyone else was falling in love with that my  years-long game was about to hit its final Act.   How long does it take to roleplay a massive war? Two years, give or take.

Let's see what's left here... Some fiction...

Some Sage Advice...

The Gamma World article has some cryptic alliances in Politics Amid the Rubble. Just another reminder to me that I REALLY need to a Gamma World game going again some day.

The Marvel-Phile (actually in this issue!) has Psylocke in her pink outfit.  Just as an FYI Oliva Munn, the future movie Psylocke is only 6-years old at the publication of this issue.

TSR Previews covers the new and hot items of April and May 1987.  Make sure you get your copy of the Lazer TagTM rules. I did!

In May we get the first of GAZ series for Mystara and the Known World, GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

Lots of Cons advertised, some small ads. Finally, we get Snarf Quest and Wormy.
Little did I know that Trampier and I would be heading to the same town to live more or less around the same time.

Really a great issue.

I see the seeds of ideas here that later germinated in games I played then and later in college and now in the stuff I put up here.

What are your memories of this issue?

The Green Witch is now out!

Pick up a copy today for Swords & Wizardry.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Green Witch Now Available

Only running a few hours late on this one!

Now for your Swords & Wizardry pleasure, the next book in my series of witch traditions.

The Green Witch for Swords & Wizardry

A witch never fears the wood. 
Because she knows, deep in her heart, that the most dangerous thing in the wood
Is her.


Only the Green Witch knows the true secrets of the wood and the worlds that lie beyond, under and through it.  But is she protecting us from the wood or the wood from us?

Inside you will find answers to these secrets:
  • The Green Witch tradition 
  • The Green Knight and Huntsman classes
  • New race for S&W Complete: Forest Gnomes 
  • 200+ witch spells
    • 91 Druid Spells
    • 61 Magic-User spells
    • 43 Cleric spells - Places of Power for Witches and other Spellcasters 
  • Monsters  
  • Magic Items
  • The Grand Coven of the Earth Mother for Witches and Druids
All for your Swords & Wizardry games!
With a Forward by +Elizabeth Chaipraditkul

On Sale Now!

100% compatible with:

and "Clone" compatible with:

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