Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the US it is Thanksgiving.

Where we celebrate the day a bunch of starving refugees from another land came to a beautiful new country and systematically killed and enslave the indigenous population by stuffing ourselves to bursting and then spending money like fiends.

All snark aside wishing everyone a great day.
If you are not in the US then have a wonderful Thursday.  Those are still fun right?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Class Struggles: B/X Classes

The last few weeks I have been focussing on various classes and it dawns on me that I need something along the lines of a B/X Class Compendium for myself.  Not to publish or anything, but just my own use.   I also have to admit that I have been following (but commenting as much as I would like) +Jonathan Becker's analysis of the Holmes classes and subclasses.  If you have not read it, please do, it is great stuff.  Yeah it might be nostalgia and navel-gazing, but who cares, it is fun stuff.

Like Becker I am a fan of B/X, aka Moldvay/Cook/March era D&D.  So my class choices will be ones that are largely compatible with that.  It's also no big surprise that most of the classes I like also tend to be magic ones.

Lets see what I have.

Covered many times and many places here.  Yes, I am partial to my own witch, but I am also rather fond of the witches from other designers. While some have this class as a sub-class of the Magic-User but I have the Witch as her own thing.
Warlocks have always been problematic for me.  It was not till I started working on for Pathfinder. I looked a few of these as well.  I am still not 100% certain which is my favorite to be honest.  Maybe the one from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.
But if I am going to have witches and warlocks then I am going to need a witch hunter.  I looked at a few, but I think I will have to go with the one from Jonathan Becker's The Complete B/X Adventurer.

I have maybe played two fighters, proper fighters, in the last 36 years.  But I really enjoy rangers and paladins.
Knights/Cavaliers.  I have not covered these guys yet, but I am rather fond of the Castle & Crusades Knights.
Beastmasters. I rather like these guys and my favorite is from The Complete B/X Adventurer.
If I am going to have a paladin then I am going to want an Anti-Paladin. My favorite is the one from the ACKS Player's Companion.

Covered yesterday, the B/X Rouge could be a replacement for the normal thief class.  With this class I can make a thief, a bard, an arcane-trickster, or any other thief like class. There some templates though I can look at.
The Bard is of particular interest to me really.  A really good bard would be great.
The Occultist is a class from Fantastic Heroes & Witchery is another rogue-like class that I could build using the rogue.

I would opt for the Wizard alternate I have in my Witch book.
For Illusionists I am going with the Basic Illusionist  from +Nathan Irving. I think it is the best choice.
For Necromancers there are so many choices, I might have to make my own.

For psychic classes, +Richard LeBlanc has me covered with his Basic Psionics Handbook. That gives me a Mystic and a Monk.

I have always been fond of clerics. They were the first class I ever played.  I would keep them as is, with the additional rule that they can use the same weapon as their god.
I will also keep Druids and add in a Healer class I made back in the early 80s.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Review: The B/X Rogue

I love new B/X classes. If I have demonstrated nothing else here it is that.  So when +Gavin Norman of the excellent City of Iron blog and Necrotic Gnome Productions came out with a new B/X class, well I had to get it.
Gavin has already given us some great classes in his Theorems & Thaumaturgy and The Complete Vivimancer. Now he takes on the thief archetype in The B/X Rogue.

I say archetype because what this book tries (and succeeds, but more on that in a bit) to do is create a Rogue class that encompasses all of the various "sub-classes" we have seen on the thief over the years.  How he does it is both very elegant and very, very basic, if not Basic.

Like the thief the rogue has a number of talents at his/her disposal.  Instead of a percentile (or d20) roll the rogue is assumed to be fully proficient in their talent.  The differences lie in the choice of talents and some of the talents themselves.  The example given is the iconic Remove Traps.  If a rogue has this at 1st level then they can remove or disable a trap 100% of the time.  However the types of traps are now changed.  The rogue can only disable small mechanical traps. Not huge pits in the floor.

The rogue class begins with 4 talents. This increases by 1 per level.  Some talents have prerequisites and can only be taken at 5th level (Expert Talents, love the split of Basic and Expert Talents here).  Outside of that the class it remarkably like the B/X thief.  

The bulk of the book describe the 36 talents a rogue might take.  This allows for near infinite (or close enough for the amount of character sheets I'll print out) rogue types.  There are even magical talents for the Bards and Arcane Tricksters out there. Of course I immediately went to the magic section and quickly figured out an Occult Scholar, a rogue that raids tombs and libraries for bits of arcane knowledge and some spells to help them out. Won't help you when you need an orc killed, unless he has a scroll for it.

There is also a very useful table to help you with your archetypes.  Want an assassin? Great, take back-stab, hide, garotte, move quietly at 1st level.  There are 10 of these, so a d10 will also get you up and going fast.  Don't want a magic-one? Easy. Roll a d8 instead.

The PDF itself is 26 pages; a front cover, a back cover and two page OGL, all for a $1.50.  Not a bad deal at all really, especially when consider how flexible this class is now.

If you are a fan of the theif class, B/X or Gavin's other classes then this is a must buy.

Plays Well With Others
With the options of adding magic to the Rogue to come up with other classes (Bards, Dabbler's and Arcane Tricksters) you can add other powers to make even more classes.

Grab +Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook and use some of the wild talents for rogue talents to create a Psychic Dabbler or a Charlantan with some actual clairvoyance.

Take the Arcanve Dabbler and replace the magic-user spell at 1st level with a witch spell and then a minor or least occult power at 5th level and now you have a Hedge Witch.

I could go on and on, but for cheaper than a 20 oz Mt. Dew at the gas station you can have this book and make up your own!

I can see this replacing the theif in my B/X games easily.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Megadungeon Itch

I recently have been thinking about trying something I have never really done.  I am talking about Megadungeons.  I was reading this posting on megadungeons recently, and it got me thinking.

I have never really been a huge fan of Megadungeons.  The idea sort strikes me as being, well odd, but it is also such an iconic idea in D&D.
After a while I am I am wondering  how is it that these creatures don't kill each other? Or just freaking leave.

But on the other-hand I enjoy the Dungeon! board game a lot and that is essentially a mega-dungeon in board game form.

Now back in the day I did run the "comical" Castle Greyhawk module.  I will admit I had a lot of fun doing it, it was totally a tongue-in-cheek humor and fine for the time I ran it, it is not something I would ever pick up to run again. In the retrospect of the mega-dungeon article above and the now near mythical dungeons under Castle Greyhawk, it is really lacking.

So my curiosity is up and I am thinking of giving is a go.  Create some characters and have as a "it's rainy/cold out side, the kids want to play and I have nothing ready yet".   I like the idea of using something more akin to Basic/Expert.  So limiting it to 121t-14th level. Limit the dungeon itself to 13 levels too.   Plus something else in the article struck me as interesting.  People would come and go from the adventure when Gary was running it.  So if the boys have friends over they could drop in from one of the thousands of portals and then leave when needed.  I would imagine that dozens of groups of adventures would be there to clean out the dungeon or discover it's secrets.

Rules Systems
Looking for something with a real old-school vibe to it.
I like the idea of Dungeon Crawl Classics, to start out at 0-level, then move on. But I want something that feels more like the D&D of old.
Adventurer Conqueror King System is a great choice and some of the megadungeons use these rules.
This would also be a fun thing to do with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

Which Dungeon?
A very good question to be honest.  There are a lot of different ones out there but really I only have three contenders.
Top of my list is Castle of the Mad Archmage.  It might be as close as I will ever get to Castle Greyhawk and it is very complete.
Next is Dwimmermount which comes in Labyrinth Lord and Adventurer Conqueror King.
Finally Barrowmaze is another good contender.

Maybe this will be my new project for Christmas break with my kids.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Mythic Russia

There are tons and tons of great mythic stories in the world.  One of the ones I have always found to be interesting, though I know very little about them, are the Russian myths and fairy tales.  In particular Baba Yaga and Koschei the Immortal.  I found these pictures online from Amok Amokov.

These pictures really capture what I think the Russian fairy tales should look like, or at least how they should be in my world.

Baba Yaga

Vasilisa the Beautiful

Vasilisa the Wise

Koschei the Immortal

Ilya Muromets

Alyonushka and Ivanushka
Elena the Fair
I certainly like this version of Elena the Fair, certainly worthy of the title Queen of Summer.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Zatannurday: The Cypher Friends

+Mark Craddock over at the excellent Cross Planes blog has been doing a lot of stats for the Cypher System lately.

His series, which has the great name "Cypher Friends", has been about all sorts of superheroes in a post-apocalyptic setting.  It is pretty cool.

Here is his Zatanna,

and Raven,

They are really awesome and you should check out the whole series.

Thanks Mark!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Women Rock!

Growing up I had a friend that knew every actress' name, movie she was in all these details about their lives.  In college I had another friend who did the same thing with all these supermodels.

When asked who I found attractive or "liked" I would always say names like Stevie Nicks, Deborah Harry or Joan Jett.  For me it was always about the rock girls.

It is also no surprise that most of the female PCs and NPCs I have or have had were based on the women whose albums, tapes and CDs I would buy.

So with the new Supergirl show on now and Jessica Jones on tonight in the US here are some of my favorite ass-kicking superheroines.

This should not be a surprise to anyone I have already featured great performers like Shirley Manson of Garbage, Stevie Nicks,  So here are a just a very few of my favorites.

I have always loved Joan Jett.  She is just so goddammed cool and can rock with the best of them.  She has SOOO many great songs, but this one always gets me going.  Plus it is the "theme song" for the Grazzt/Iggwilv love affair.  That's their dirty little secret...they actually love each other.

Ever hear a song and thought "man I need to do something with that!",  Pat Benatar's "Shadows of the Night" from 1982's Get Nervous was always that song to me. It is very, very likely that the "Midnight Angel" later became Nox.  I always loved her and yes I did have a witch character that looked like her in the 80s.   I never liked the video for it to be honest.  If had been thinking about this I should have made my own video with footage of her on Charmed.  Yes. She was on Charmed for an episode.

Speaking of Nox. "Because the Night" was written by Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen thanks to the manipulations of Jimmy Iovine (who is immortalized in my games as well).   Patti Smith is such a powerful singer that most people can't do this song justice.  Bruce can.  Natalie Merchant did a good job, so did Shirley Manson.  But they can't compare to her version.   This is one of my favorite songs.

I was once asked if I thought Siouxsie Sioux was attractive. I said yes without hesitation and then I showed them the video for "Kiss Them For Me".  It's not the most iconic Banshees' song, but I really like it.

One of my favorite bard characters looks just like Aimee Mann. What can I say, she is so damn cute and more talented than a truckload of pop-princesses.

Even Darth Vader loves Blondie.  "The Tide is High" is not really related to any gaming, but damn. Deborah Harry in her prime.

What do a Gateway 486, an HP Desk Jet and Hormonally Yours all have in common?  They were the essential ingredients to the first time I sat down to collect all my notes for the Witch class.  I mention the printer because I still have that printout with a couple hundred hand written notes.
Hormonally Yours was the second album from Shakespears Sister featuring former Bananarama singer Siobhán Fahey.  "Stay" was a big hit with me in 92. I thought she was so hot back then, still do in fact.

Very, very, very few people (not just singers) have left such a mark on my psyche as Sinéad O'Connor.  Seriously. I can divide time into two very distinct and very different points. The time before I heard The Lion and The Cobra and the time after.  I have talked about Sinéad before, but the amount I have talked about her doesn't reflect what her music has meant to me.  "Troy" is not my favorite song on this album, but it is damn close.

I think this a good place to stop.  I can do a part 2 later!

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