Thursday, May 24, 2018

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

AMAYzing May!

I have been very remiss at posting this, but Troll Lord games is having their AMAYZing May celebration with all sorts of sales but in particular their Amazing Adventures line.

All as a build up to their new 5th Edition version of Amazing Adventures, which you can get a preview of now.

5th Edition Amazing Adventures Preview

I have not read it all yet, but what I have looks like fun AND it still retains the best qualities of both 5e and Amazing Adventures.

Could this be my new modern game?

I am going to have to give it a go.

Monday, May 21, 2018

OMG: Level Setting and American Indian Mythos

To start this first post on One Man's God I wanted to set some levels on what I want to look for, in particular, what constitutes the top end of what is a demon vs. what is an evil god.

Now a couple "rules" regardless of what edition I plan to post the stats in I am starting in the lingua franca of 1st Edition AD&D.  That's what the Deities and Demigods is written for and the Monster Manual I am using today.

Level Setting
How powerful are these demons?  Well, let's have a look at our high-end examples.
The first edition Monster Manual gives us four of the biggest big bads we STILL talk about today. Orcus, Demogorgon, Asmodeus, and Tiamat.  Each one of these can be viewed as a god in their own way; two of which Orcus and Tiamat were gods in their respective mythologies. What the MM does not give us are the HD for these creatures.  Orcus has 120 hp, Demogorgon has 200 hp, and Asmodeus has 199. Tiamat has 128 but is also listed as a 16 HD monster.  This is nice since this gives us a nice example of a monster with maximum (8 per HD) hp.  So dividing the others by 8 we get:
Orcus 15 HD, 120 hp
Demogorgon 25 HD, 200 hp
Asmodeus 25 HD, 199 hp
Looking at other editions you can see them climb over the years.  Till we get to today.


Still very powerful in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

What this means to me is I am looking for monsters in that 15 to 25 HD range if I want to call them Demon Princes or Archdukes of Hell.  Likely none will come up to that level, most will fall short of Prince or Archduke power.

American Indian Mythos
If there is one thing I know it's I am in no way qualified to talk about American Indian mythic traditions.  I mean I did grow up in the mid-west and I spent time going to both the Dickson Mounds and the Illinois State Museums.  So I feel my background is better than most, but still very much lacking.   The American Indian section in the Deities & Demigods in no way represents all the myths and stories of these extremely diverse peoples.  Sure there are some commonalities, but there are just as many differences. Maybe more.   Since I am limiting myself to the entries in the D&DG this one will be really fast.

There really are not many "demons" in the classical sense in American Indian myths.  I mean there are some, but not many and none of them appear in this book.   Even the monsters that do appear here are more monsters than demons and the evil gods (both of them) are more destructive forves of nature than anything else.   So not really my idea of demons to be honest.
Hastsezini is the fire "god"* of the Navajo.  I put god in quotes based on the work of Professor Grant L. Voth, Ph.D.  He claims that Amerindian did not worship gods per se but larger spirits that they honored.   This god/spirit doesn't really give me a demonic vibe.

Next time I will cover the rich and fertile ground of the Babylonian myths.  Might need to spend more than one post there.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Charmed is Back!

Last week we go the "upfronts" for the various TV networks. What did we learn?
Well, Batwoman is coming to the Arrow-verse on the CW so that is a cool thing.
And we got this!



I'll admit I watched it a few times. Plus WOW Valerie Cruz as the mother? Seriously.  That almost makes up for not picking up Wayward Sisters! (ok, no it doesn't).

This has promise.  Hard to judge a show based only about 7% of its content, but I am excited.

It joins Supergirl on Sunday nights.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes

Busy day. spent the whole day gardening with my wife.  But I sneak out to go to my FLGS.


Grabbed a hobby-store exclusive and regular cover of Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

260 some odd pages.  Filled with monsters, background on the Blood War, new racial variants for all the races.  Tons of monsters. 

It's going to take me a bit to digest it all.  But so far I love it.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #118

It's February of 1987.  I am preparing to graduate high school and get out of my then hated hometown (I have softened up a little since then).   Everyone is listening to "Livin' on a Prayer", I am listening to a lot of Pink Floyd.  Gives you a good idea of why I wanted out of there so bad.  In any case, I did have a world to go to. To bad at this point it was overrun with demons, demonic-ogres, and dragons in an all-out war!  Ah, the good times.  Let's go back and check out Issue #118 of This Old Dragon.

Issue #118 marks the last of the "Chess" series for Dragon by Denis Beauvais.  Maybe one of the more evocative ones too.

Letters ask for coverage of more non-TSR games. The editors maintain that they don't get a lot sent to them.

The main feature of this issue is games within games.  So tournaments, duels and the like. Or as I like to think of it, a walk through the Ren Faire.

First up from Dan Salas is The fighting Circle: Gladiatorial Combat in the AD&D game.  I can't help but think that this is somewhat due to the recent Dragonlance books where Caramon is sent back in time and becomes a gladiator.  The article is actually pretty long and light on the crunch.  In fact there is none till you get almost to the very end. What is provided is fairly edition agnostic.

Hardcore into writing the next draft of my witch class now.  So you know I wanted my own set of Time-Life books.

Leonard Carpenter is up with Surely, You Joust (no and quit calling me Shirley).  This one is more specific to AD&D 1st Ed, but has some good material that can be ported over.  A joust should really be something that is featured in your games at least once. This too is a long one ( are already on page 30).

A Day at the Faire by Eileen Lucas gives all the other characters something to do while the knights, cavaliers, and paladins are off at the joust.  NPC stats are in 1st Ed, but everything else is easy to add to any game.  I do wish this one was longer though.

Not sit idle, Leonard Carpenter is back with On Target: Archery Competitions.  These are more linked to the rules and the Jousting article.

Ok. Up next is one of odder articles I have seen.  Christopher Wood must like a sense of realism in his games since he gives us "ARRRGH!!!" an article on the various races pain thresholds.  As expected Dwarves come out on top here with elves and half-elves the worse of the lot.   While I appreciate the thought here this is not something I'd ever use.  Plus it has "Advanced Rules" and "Optional Rules".  As an old-school gamer I know I supposed to like this stuff, but if I wanted to do this then just give a Constitution roll or something.

C.C. Stoll gives us the centerfold of the issue with Nibar's Keep, The Game of Magical Arena Dueling.  Some interesting ideas sure, but it is a stand-alone mini-game.

There is the fiction section from Lois Tilton.

Some Sage Advice covering the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide.

Ah here is something interesting.  Leonard Carpenter is back again (again) with A Hero's Reward. Or a basic Hero point system for AD&D.  You can almost hear the Grognards flipping over their sand tables in disgust!  ;)  This, of course, has been done before and will be done again.  Personally, I like them.  I wrote a lot about the Drama Point system in Cinematic Unisystem over the years so you know where my preferences lie.  The system suggested here is simple enough but used mostly for dice rolls. No "rewriting a scene" like you can in Cine Unisystem.

Next, we get an article about playing Neanderthals in the D&D (Basic/BECMI) game.  So it is a race as a class and yeah, it works.  The article, Out of the Stone Age by Jack R. Patterson, is not a long one but it's for BECMI so it has to be brief and get its point across quickly.

If you don't like spiders then skip over this one, but The Dragon's Bestiary has a bunch of different types of spiders.

TSR Previews covers the up and coming releases from TSR for March and April of1987.  Let's see we get two new Windwalker novels and the Lazer Tag Official Tournament book and the Chase family board game.  No, I don't really remember these either except for the Lazer Tag book.


Thomas Kane has a bit about war, revolution, and secret agents in Unfriendly Fire for Top Secret.  Or military operations for Top Secret agents.  It's not detailed enough to make TS into a warfare game, but at least enough to get a flavor of what you could do.

Jon D. Martin has the Marvel-phile article in all but name with his profiles of Adam Warlock, Pip some green woman named Gamora and Paragon/Her. 

Role of Computers features a number of games for the Macintosh, the then state of the art in computer hardware.

Games Guide covers the small ads.  All the usual suspects are here.
Convention Calendar is a healthy three pages.

Nice full-color ad for SnarfQuest the Book.  Only $9.95!
Snarf himself is three pages but still black/white.

Wormy weighs in at 4 full-color pages.

Ok, not an issue I have many memories of and there is not a lot here I would use today either.  Seems to be the time I think because I was saying more or less the same thing about White Dwarf #86 from the same month.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

OMG: One Man's God

I came to D&D back in the 70s via my interest in myths about the Gods and Heroes.   I was reading D'aulaire's Book of Greek Myths when a friend lent me his copy of the Monster Manual.   The rest, as they say, is history.

One of my favorite books in the entire AD&D line was/is Deities & Demigods.  I have been mentally going back to that treasured volume since I picked up The Great Courses: Great Mythologies of the World.



The scholarship in D&DG is not University or scholarly level, but I give Rob Kuntz and James Ward many kudos, and really it was not supposed to be.  It was supposed to be a game book and in that it succeeds wildly.

But it all got me thinking about that old adage; "One man's God is another man's Devil."
What would it take to grab some of the evil monsters and revisit them as AD&D/OSR style demons, complete with their placement in the Gygax-ian Great Wheel?   One of my bigger misgivings about D&DG, despite how good it was, it did not try to integrate into the larger D&D view of the multiverse and planes.  Today I think that is perfectly fine, but then it bugged me more.

I guess in a way this is my gift to me of 1981 or so.

My plan is to go through the D&DG and take an extended look at the pantheons and the myths behind them and find some good bits (there are lots) and comment on some others and hopefully find some cool demons to fit the larger D&D world.

Ok, so I have a Ph.D., I can do academic rigor. That is not what this is about. This will not be a treatise of comparative religions or a dissertation.  This is blog post, with game material.  My audience is the same as Kuntz and Ward's, the D&D gamer.

The only thing I have not figure out yet is whether to do these as an OSR-friendly S&W/Basic-era format or as D&D 5.  Maybe both or one or the other as it strikes me.

I am not likely to include the non-human deities since they are already more integrated into the larger D&D mythos,  but I may focus on one or two that I want to expand on; Blibdoolpoolp and Vaprak the Destroyer come to mind for different reasons. Possibly Laogzed too.
I am also not going to go in order.  I have this notion of starting in the Fertile Crescent and working my way out, both physically and temporarily.   This is for my own education so I can mentally place various cultures in their proper times in relation to each other.
I also have not figured out what to do with beings that began as gods and later were transformed to devils, for example, Astártē to Astaroth.  I am planning on splitting up Greek and Roman, if for no other reasons to deal with some unique Roman ideas and dabble a little in some Etruscan myths and legends. Or maybe do an extended Greco-Roman-Etruscan post.

Love to hear suggestions and ideas.

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