Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose for Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition

As many of you know I have been in "research mode" on Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose for some time. And you may also know I just picked up Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition. Well I felt it was time to give them both a spin and see what I can come up with.

Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose

Real name: Rowan Gender: F Age: mid-20s Height: 5'9" Weight: 140 lbs Hair: Red Eyes: Green
Group Affiliation: The Black Rose Coven. Base of Operation: Witches' Hollow, Salem, MA

Power Level: 9

STR: 2AGL: 3FGT: 4AWE: 4
STA: 3DEX: 2INT: 3PRE: 5

Dodge: 6
Parry: 6
Fortitude: 5
Toughness: 6/3
Will: 5
Armor +3

All out attack, Artificer, Attractive 2, Benefit (Witch of the Black Rose), Connected, Contacts, Diehard, Equipment (Sword and Armor), Extraordinary Effort, Languages (English, Latin), Minion 3 ("Pooka" her flying Goblin Cat), Power Attack, Precise Attack (all), Prone Fighting


Acrobatics +7, Athletics +6, Close combat (sword) +12, Deception +7, Expertise (Magic) +11, Insight +6, Intimidation +5, Investigation +5, Perception +6, Persuasion +7, Sleight of Hand +5, Stealth +5, Treatment +5

Healing 2
Magic 5 (Dynamic)
 Eye bite (Blast, does not require hands) 2
 Dazzle 2
 Flight 5
 Forcefield 5
 Impervious Toughness 3
 Teleport 5
Magickal Senses (Awarness: Magic, Precognition (limited to Tarot's loved ones and to tarot card images)) 3
Telekinesis (Move Object) 5

Rival: Raven Hex (sister)
Enemy: Dragon Witches
Prejudice: Wiccan
Relationships: Jon "Skeleton Man" Webb (lover), Boo Cat (lover), Mother (mother)

Power Points
Abilities: 52 Powers: 34 Advantages: 21 Skills: 20 Defenses: 8 = 135 pp

This version of Tarot focuses on her fighting ability. She admits herself that she is not the most powerful witch, magic wise, around, but she has had quite a bit of training with the sword and in combat as a Swordmaiden of the Goddess. I also wanted to focus on the magical nature of her armor. Sure she goes to the same armorsmith as Red Sonja, but there is a magical aura about it that protects her all the same.

I opted for PL 9 here. She could not stand toe to toe with the likes of Zatanna or even Willow and Tara magic wise, but still has some room to grow her abilities.

ETA: I am also posting this on The Atomic Think Tank.

My First New Game of 2011: Mutants and Masterminds 3

Well, it's still 2010, but 2011 is starting off like 2010 did , with a new Supers game.
In this case the new supers game is Mutants and Masterminds, 3rd Edition.

M&M 3rd Edition first off looks a lot like the DC Adventures RPG also from Green Ronin out earlier this year.

What are the big changes from 2nd Edition?  Well GR is moving more and more away from the d20 3.0 standards and more into True20 land.  That is the Abilities (and there are now 8 of them) are the pluses.  So instead of Strength 18 (+4) like you see in other d20 games, M&M3 just uses Strength 4.  Easy enough and a logical extension of their line of thought with True20.

I mentioned there are 8 abilities now; Strength, Agility, Dexterity, Stamina, Intellect, Awareness, Presence and Fighting.  Agility and Fighting are the big new ones.  Agility had been part of Dexterity and does some of the things Dex used to do.  Agility relates more to "bodily dexterity" and dexterity is more like "hand-eye coordination".  Fighting is now the close combat ability. Now while I rather see this more of a skill than an ability, this is a comic book world and it works here.  There are "close combat" and "ranged combat" skills as well.  So Fighting I suppose is more of a natural aptitude towards combat.

Skills are given greater coverage and are streamlined from the d20 3.0 base, but not quite as streamlined as say D&D 4.  They are closer to Cinematic Unisystem in nature really.  Skills are still linked to a specific ability like d20, but are also now detailed on what sort of action they are, move, standard or free.  Much more detail is given for skills and how to use them in a variety of situations.

Feats have become more Unisystem/GURPS like and renamed Advantages. They are ranked and used very much like a Advantage or Quality would be used in another game.  I can see the next evolution of True20 doing something like this too since they are organized in a similar manner to True20's powers.

Powers come next.  Powers are similar to Advantages, but have a much greater effect on various game systems.  An Advantage might boost a skill or change an aspect of combat.  Powers go above an beyond that.  In general the Powers are much more detailed than earlier editions.  There are a lot of Extras and Flaws to add to Powers for a lot of customization.  Gadgets and Gear are separated from Powers in this edition.

Damage is handled differently in this game.  The Damage Track is gone replaced by a very Marvel Superheroes looking chart.   The results are basically No Effect, some penalty all the way up to incapacitated.  It is simple enough to use.  I am of two minds on this.  First, while I never really warmed to the damage track in M&M/True20 it was easy to use and innovative. The damage chart here is also very, very easy to use as well and works on similar principles. The chart has some Old School "feng shui" about it without it being an "endless chart".

Green Ronin has always produced top notch products.  This one is no exception.  I didn't notice much in the way of recycled text from earlier editions or even from DCA, but it very well could be there.  I would be surprised if there wasn't really;  I only really noticed one or two bits of recycled art and that was from their Magic book and Powers book for 2nd Ed.  There were few other bits here and there and there might have been others, but if I didn't notice it that is the same as it not being there right?

All in all this looks like a great game and it might even be superior to M&M 2nd ed aka "The World's Greatest Superhero Game", which I notice M&M 3 does not say on the cover.

The big issues for me of course are conversions.  How easy will it be to convert to/from M&M2 or Unisystem?  Converting actually looks pretty easy.  To/from M&M2 might even be trickier than Unisystem.  I am going to have to give it a try in the next few days.

Well I just put away all my M&M 2 books.  Looks like it was only to make room for my new cache of M&M 3/DCA books.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Year End Review?

Last year I did a "Best" and "Worst" of the year.

This year I have seen so much more that it is hard to quantify and qualify it all.
So here are some random highlights of the year.

D&D Essentials
D&D Essentials became basically what 4e should have been.  I think if WotC had waited and not done D&D4 like they did and came out with Essentials....well people still would have bitched and moaned cause that is how gamers are.

God we suck.

D&D Essentials boiled down D&D 4 to its, well, Essentials.  Presented in a format that certainly owes something to the old-school vibe (note I don't say Renaissance or movement here), Essentials does an end run around edition wars by focusing on being fun.
Interestingly enough WotC seems to be acknowledging the old-schoolers out there with the release of the Red Box Starter set and the revamp to their website.

DriveThruRPG Reviewer
I became a featured reviewer at DriveThruRPG this year.  My plan to have more reviews up next year.  At least a couple a week.

Lots of great blogs out.  Just look down the side of my blog here.  Many of them have very interesting things to say.

I am a stats junkie.  I love seeing what people are reading here, what pages people go back too the most and which ones are the most popular.
While this will skew my data,  here are my most popular pages of the last year.

My top referring sites were:

A lot of really fun games came out this past year as well.  I have not had a chance to catch up on last years even yet though!  Pathfinder was a big hit this year in addition to all the new D&D 4 and OSR games I scored.

For me though the highlight was the release of B/X Companion.  A really well done book and a lot of fun too. Best release of the all the OSR games this year.
B/X Companion as well as some nice buys at this years's game auction at Games Plus, has gotten me really interested in Basic Era D&D again.  It is very much nostalgia, no two ways about it, but it is still very fun.

The Bad
Still no Ghosts of Albion in print format.

I guess the Worst part of the year, gaming wise, was getting hit by another driver coming back from Gen Con this year.  I on the plus side, everyone was fine and now the van is back to running fine too.

What will 2011 bring?

Monday, December 27, 2010

How much Fantasy in your FRPGs?

I am still thinking about world building in my game and I was thinking about Oerth, the Greyhawk world.  In Greyhawk the sun goes around the world, as it did in some dark ages beliefs.

Now here is the thing.  Or two rather.  First, in today's age we tend to think of ourselves as very progressive and smart and forget that a lot of the things we know now, people also knew then.  Sure there are some "fantasy" style beliefs.  After all the Greeks knew a lot about Astronomy and even knew the size of the Earth (and the fact that it was round) as far back as the 4th century BC.  Sure today some people still think the world is flat or created by magic, but for the most part people are and were smart.
Secondly I like my universe to make some sort of sense.  Afterall I still would like to play a Greyhawk 3000 game someday and that might be harder if  my sun is really just a burning mountain going around a flat earth.

So yeah, I like magic, vampires and ghosts in my games, but draw the line at Earth-centered cosmologies.
Maybe I can have parallel cosmologies.  If one goes to the sun via magic, they find the realm of Pelor there, but if you launch a probe, it is just a ball of nuclear fusion.

What do you all do in your FRPGs?  Do you even bother?   What is your cosmos like?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sometimes Wikipedia really irritates me

I have a love/hate relationship with Wikipedia.
As an academic I like it because it is a nice starting point for any topic, but hate it for anything close to "real" research.   As a  teacher I would never accept Wikipedia as a source unless there were plenty of other sources to back that up.

As a gamer I like it since it usually gives me what I need fairly quickly. 

I also like the "every one works together" aspect.  But that also gets on my nerves.

Today though the wikipedia community is getting on my nerves.  Long story short, some articles I worked on are up for deletion.  Not only that, the editor that put nominated them for deletion chose to do it over Christmas where it is likely that he will get them deleted since no one can help me "save" them.

I used to be a very active editor on wikipedia.  I even donated money.  But it seems more and more that there are some people there with personal agendas to have articles they don't like deleted.  I just spent a a couple years waiting for one such person to get banned, and now others want to take up his crusade.

Maybe I'll just post stuff here instead.  The audience is smaller, but at least I get the feeling that it would be better received.   Though some of the stuff I work on wouldn't fit even the broad range of topics I cover here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Undead Christmas!

So Christmas has come to the Brannan house.  Electronics were had by all.  But I wanted to talk about what I got RPG related this year.

Castle Ravenloft Board Game
I got this as my "big" RPG gift.  It looks like a lot of fun and we are going to play it later today I am sure.  I grabbed my Strahd mini that I got a while back and put it into the box to replace the weak looking vampire it came with (he is fine for the "young vampire" they also have you use him for).  Tons of skeletons, ghosts and other things were included.  Got a dracolich and a zombie dragon too.

"Orcus" Modules
I got the last titles in the P and E series I needed.  E2 and E3 and P2.  I now have all nine of the "Shadowfell/Orcus" modules.
I know the reviews of these are mixed, but I wanted them all.

Beholder Gift Set
I also got the D&D Beholder Gift set, which comes with 4 beholders.  A regular one, an shadow beholder, a ghost and a frost beholder.  They are very cool and I can't wait to use them somewhere.

Now on to the other gifts!

Forgot to mention!  I also got a new book, "Vampyre Kisses" and a bunch of "Tarot Witch of the Black Rose" comics.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Happy Hanuka, Merry Yule, Joyous Solstice, Happy Festivus, Happy Kwanza and any other number of holidays I have forgotten.

And Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Played some AD&D 2nd Ed today.

Got home from half-day at work today and sat down and played some old-school AD&D 2nd Ed today.  My oldest wanted to try it out (I bought him a 2nd ed Monstrous Manual years ago so he wouldn't mess up mine).

Odd how it happened really, we were going to play D&D 4e Red Box, then it was going to be D&D Basic Red Box.  Finally landed on 2nd Ed.  Spent some time, though not as much as I thought, looking up some rules.  Spent more time just figuring out where I put the XP table for my witch.

It was a fun quick little dungeon crawl, no plot, no backstory, just kicking in doors and killing monsters.  Used some 4e minis and the map from the Dungeons & Dragons' Black Box.

All in all a good bit of fun. Doubt we will continue with 2nd Ed, but it was nice to give is a another try.

Jenny Everywhere

I was reading Old School Heretic's post on Jenny Everywhere the other day and thought it was a great concept.

Jenny Everywhere is a shifter, that is she can shift between the realities and interact with who knows who.  Whether there is one Jenny Everywhere that is very mobile or multiple Jenny's that have a vague awareness of each other is left to the individual authors.

Jenny Everywhere is also a public domain character.  Meaning anyone can use her in what ever project they have. You just need to include her license, as below:

"The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed."
It is such a cool concept, not just the open source of it (that is cool also) but a character that exists in every-single reality there is and can shift between them.

Regular readers should by now know of my love for the multi-verse.  It is a very cool concept I enjoy on principle but also how it has been employed in various sci-fi and fantasy publications.  My favorite might be the great Micheal Moorcock stories of Elric, Corum and the other Incarnations of the Eternal Champion.  Jenny would be a bit different I think.  While the Eternal Champion feels the combined weight of all his incarnations as it were, Jenny is freed by hers.  Reality is hers to roam because that is what it is there for.  In one of the comics I saw she fights against a force known as Chaos, but I don't think that makes her an agent of Law as we would have seen in say the Corum books.   Jenny is more like the Doctor really.
I have done something like this before. I have a witch character that is aware of all of her own past lives and future ones.  All within the same reality, but it gives her some insight to what is going on around her.

Of course the openness of Jenny is very appealing.  Something everyone can use and share and just a promise not to break her.

Here are a bunch of links I have been collecting to help explain who Jenny is.  The Jenny Everywhere Chronicles webcomic

What does all this mean for you the gamer?  LOTS!
Jenny, by definition is perfect in every game.  Jenny, by definition, is already in every game, she just needs to be stated out and given a plot.

For Ghosts of Albion I would imagine her as an american girl of possible Japanese lineage living in London.  She would be some sort of Steampunkish tech wiz (must be the goggles) and constantly speaking anachronistically.  So for example, even though she is not a time traveler per se I'd have her say things like "it sucks we have to wait 170 years for descent cell phone signal here." and then totally not explain why she says such things either in-game or out.  For her I'd use the super-science quality from the Magic Box, but limit it to steam-punk style tech.

Her "shifter-ness" comes form her ability to remember/know of her other incarnations and her ability to create high tech gadgets out of steam-age materials.

Jenny Everywhere

Strength: 2
Dexterity: 3
Constitution: 4
Intelligence: 5
Perception: 4
Willpower: 4

Life Points: 40

Attractive 1
Hard to Kill 2
Superscience (Steampunk tech, from the Magic Box book) 3
Nerves of Steel

Honorable 1
Minority (woman, Asian looks (it is the 19th century after-all))
Mental Problem (Mild Recklessness)
Out of Time (like Archaic, but in reverse)

Armed Mayhem 2, Art 2, Athletics 3, Engineering 6, Fisticuffs 1, Knowledge 7*, Languages 3 (English, French, Japanese), Marksmanship 1,  Notice 2, Occultism 1, Physician 1, Science 6

The create a steam punk item Jenny rolls her Intelligence + Engineering or Science  + Superscience or 5 + 6 + 3 = 14.
A success means she has made something, the SLs tell us how well she has done it and if it does what she wants it too.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Could my Answer be in the Realms?

I am moving my 3.x game over to a 4e one soon.    I have been buying up the Essentials books and some modules and I generally have what I think is a cool idea for campaign.  The world is fleshed out and I know what I am going to use and what I am not.

Except there is one little-bity problem. So much of what was true in my 3.x world no longer "works" under 4e.  Or rather it works so differently now that it is hard to see it working the same way when I was playing 3.x.  Then there are other issues.  My kids want to play the children of their D&D 3.x characters and these characters have some serious magic.  And there is the whole killing Tiamat thing they want to do.   How do I explain the changes?

Turns out the answer was under my nose this whole time.  In the Forgotten Realms Player's Guide.

I was never a fan of the Realms.  I considered it to be a pretender to Greyhawk and not a very worthy one at that.  I picked up the 3.0 Realms Guide when it came out and I liked it.  I felt it was a good book and all it really was missing was monsters.  The new 4e campaign books are a good model too.

But what I like the most about the Realms book is how completely gonzo it is.  Smash two planets together to get one world! I love that!  Spell plagues? Bring it on!

I know I have talked around all of this before in many posts, but it is time to make it more real I think.

So what will I include from the Forgotten Realms book in my Game World?

First, well, it is going to be in the future.  I am going to say about 25 to 30 years.  Not 100% sure, but long enough to have the world changing events happen at least a generation ago.  The Characters of this game have only know the world as it is now, never the world before.

Next, there will be a Spellplague.  The defeat of Tiamat and the Ascension of Asmodeus are just parts of that.  I am also going to have Raven Queen in my game and she just killed Nerull.  There will other things of course, but it was a series of Cosmos-shaking events that left the world changed.  The Fey-wild is now easier to get too, as is the Shadowfell (previously only known as the Plane of Shadow).  The main effect for the PCs is that some of the old magic no longer works.  So there is a quest for sources of "Old Magic" or even "True Magic".  With this, some older magic items are now useless.  Of course the spellplague was chaotic so some normal items are now magical.  There is still magic to be found out there "New" and "Old".
Living things touched by it have been altered.  There will be spell scarred.

The ancient Astral empire of the Tieflings, Bael-Turath, has crashed into the world.  Here I am taking inspiration from the 90's TV show "Alien Nation".  Though this is a "magical crash" so there are now lands where there are ruins of the Tiefling society that seem ancient and always part of the land.  Bael-Turath had warred against Asmoedeus and the devils for countless centuries.  Part of Asmodeus' ascension was to reclaim the power that emperors of Bael-Turath had stolen from the Nine Hells.  The tieflings are now a broken, homeless race with members now fond all over the world and many still in the Astral Sea.

The Blood War is over.  With Asmodeus' Ascension and the Reckoning of Hell, the long war with the demons is over.  Asmodeus even managed to conscript entire demonic species under the auspices of Hell.  With the the power he gained Asmodeus broke the paths through the Astral that the demons and devils used to attack each other, effectively blocking demons from being able to enter the Prime Material.  If a demon wants to get to the Prime Material plane it has to go through Hell first.  By the time of the new game the distinction between "demon" and "devil" is a loose one in most peoples minds.  Plus the entire race of yugoloths were sacrificed in the process, with many seeking refuge in either the Abyss or Hell.
Asmodeus covets the Material World and wanted to bring Hell into it.  Here he failed, but managed to get it much "closer" metaphysically speaking.

One repercussion of this though is demons now focus on the Prime Material.  While it is harder for them to reach it now, many still do and with out the Blood War to contend with it is possible that more demons than ever are now attacking mortals.   This is something Asmodeus wants.  He has placed members of his cult in areas to fit demons and rally humans to his cause.  As the game progresses the influence of this cult will be more readily felt. To combat this the Gods will be using the mortal realm as their battlefield.

I think this is a good start and gives me a good idea of what my end game needs to be too.  Lolth, in one form or another will have hand in all of this too.  Events that began in my Shadow War of 1st Ed are now coming to a head.

Now I need to figure out who the main bad guys are and what they want to get out of all of this.

Monday, December 20, 2010

ChicagoWiz's RPG Blog: Using my DM skills for "good"?

Please read this!

Use your D&D skills to fight real world evils.

ChicagoWiz's RPG Blog: Using my DM skills for "good"?: "This is an odd post to write because it's not as much about gaming as it is about the exercise of my skills in creating alternate realities ..."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

School Bites as a Witch Girls setting

I have been a long time fan of Eerie Cuties a web comic featuring high school age vampires, witches, a succubus and other fantasy/horror creatures.  I have mentioned Eerie Cuties in the past and in particular Chole the Succubus. At the time I thought EC would make for a great alternate setting for Witch Girls Adventures.  I still think that in fact and will try to stat up a few of the characters this week.

One of the comics that is advertised on the EC page is School Bites.  I have read it a few times and enjoyed it.  Well I have been doing my research on Tarot Witch of the Black Rose and it dawned on me then that the Holly G of Tarot was the same as the Holly G of School Bites.  I suppose all the Tarot ads should have been a giveaway.  

So School Bites is about Cherri Creeper a new vampire and the vampire school she now attends. There is a lot going on in the comic that make it great material for a game.  New powers, a rival gang coven of vampires and of course plenty of teen angst issues.  It's funny, witty and certainly PG-13 with some of the drawings and innuendo. Of course that is also a great description of Witch Girls Adventures, except swap out witches for vampires.

While I did read through all the comics, there are not a lot of powers demonstrated yet.  Which is kind of the point, they have some powers they just don't know how they all work yet and don't have the rest.

But I can make some guesses.

Cherri Creeper (former name Charlotte Webb)
Body: d6
Mind: d6
Senses: d6
Will: d4
Social: d6
Magic: d6

Life Points: 12   Reflex: 9
Resist magic: 9  Zap Points: 12
Skills:  Acrobatics 1, Art 2, Basics 2, Fib 2, Hear 2, Plucky 2, Streetwise 2, Urchin 2
Cryptozoology 2, Mysticism 1

Traits: Friendly,  Urban, Vampire

18 year old Charlotte Webb was living on her own in New York attending art school.  That is till one night (Halloween to be exact) that she was attacked by vampire Dante Le Bon.  Now a new vampire and loving her unlife Cherri (as she is now known) is learning what it is to be a vampire.
She has some new good friends, a fuzzy bat, some cool new teachers and wings (that she doest quite know how to use yet).  Of course there are problems.  There is this guy she likes, but he is human, and Le Bon now knows of her and wants her back for his coven.

There are more characters including a vampire cat girl, a vampire cheerleader, a nosfeatu prince and a vegan wicca vampire.  It's like chibi-animie World of Darkness.

It's fun stuff and I am looking forward to seeing some more.  I'd like to see some of the world myths explored some more and how exactly a cat-girl vampire came to be.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Satan's Game

Saw this online and made me laugh.

"If Dungeons and Dragons is Satan's game, then Satan is a giant nerd."

From James D. Hargrove's sig file on RPGNet.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Superhero RPGs: Welcome to the lower shelves

I started out this year on a Super Hero high.  I picked up Icons, Bash!, the new DC Adventures RPGs.  I was looking forward to the Mutants and Masterminds 3.0 and all was good.

Then today I put all my Mutants and Masterminds books on the lower shelves.  My lower shelves have these nice doors and look really sharp, but the games are there are ones I have not touched in a very long time.  Mutants and Masterminds 2.0, Hero High, Freedom City Source book and the Book of Magic all went down below today.  They were replaced with the Mentzer BECMI books I got at the auction recently that had just been sitting on my game table (much to chagrin of my wife).

The hierarchy of my games are the Upper Shelves, these are the games I play all the time.   The ones at the level the kids can reach are usually D&D related.  Out of their reach are my horror games and Unisystem games.  The Lower Shelves are closed off, so out of site, out of mind.  These games can sit there for months or years before I even recall I have them.  Then there is the selling shelf.  It is the same level as the Unisystem stuff, just a different part.  I am planning to sell these soon either at the game auction or Half-Priced books.

I am not sure when I going to play a supers game again.  I know I will, but I just have no ideas at the moment for one nor do I think my various groups will want to do one any time soon.  M&M joins some high quality games in the dark of my lower shelves.  The "new" World of Darkness books (Vampire the Masquerade remains on the higher shelf), True 20 (really wanted to love that game) and all my Anime games.  Dresden Files and Little Fears are there too, but I expect I'll be be pulling them back after a bit.

There are still some things I want to try though.
I have a character that is the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman for this Next Generation supers game we started.  I am basing it on the events of Kingdom Come and Batman Beyond.  I wanted to try her out in a bunch of systems (M&M2, DCA, Bash, Icons) to get a good idea how the games stat up against each other. Plus I liked the character.  She was raised on Paradise Island, trained by Bruce Wayne and my main influence for her was...Ally McBeal.  Sorry. I just thought it would be neat if she had decided to be a lawyer.

Ok so you know how much I love Willow & Tara?  Well my oldest is the same way.  His obsession though is Fire and Ice. He has Fire and Ice figures and even Hero Clix that we use in his Dragonslayers game (in this game they are elemental wizards).  I feel like I owe it to him to stat them up at least once in some system.

Maybe I'll still get them up sometime.
I can go with their Pre-Crisis incarnations what are more magic based.

Is 2nd Ed the next wave of OSR?

I posted a couple days back on the growing 2nd Ed AD&D love I have been seeing on the net and in the blogs. Not a lot of it mind you, more like a few vocal people in a crowd still going on about how the LBBs are the "best thang evar!"  (Ok for the record NO one has ever actually said that, that way.)

But the OSR movement has slowed down to stead pace now and we are not getting Yet Another OD&D Clone this month and I think people are giving 2nd Ed another look.

I have mentioned in that past that 2nd Ed is the game I ran the most but hardly ever played.  I was very much a DM only with that game.  In fact I was one of the early adopters of the game, buying it on the day it came out and not even taking any of my 1st Ed books with me back to college.  But sometime in the late 90's that (and I) changed.  When 2nd Ed came out I was a single college kid, living in the dorms and surviving on the the money I made tutoring others in math and physics. When 3rd Ed came out I was married, living in a house with a brand new baby and just laid off my teaching job because the grant funding at the university dried up.   I was two completely different people.    In the middle I nearly gave up on D&D all together and even sold off 80% of my collection in favor of games like "WitchCraft RPG" and "Vampire" and other horror games.  All that I have left now for 2nd ed is the three cores, the Celts guide and some Ravenloft stuff.  Though the PHB and DMG are my originals and I got them the day they were rel

Why is any of that important?  It's important because it has permanently colored how I view AD&D 2nd Ed. for years.  I did remember the joy of the getting the latest Monstrous Compendium supplement, I only recalled the dreck of the Skills and Powers books.

But as time goes on and I wax on about earlier systems it is only natural that eventually my rose colored glasses gaze on 2nd Ed. Others seem to be doing the same.

2nd Ed as a retro-clone though has some issues it must deal with first.
- First, 2nd Ed is mechanically not all that different from 1st Ed.  One could in theory play a "2nd Ed Game" with nothing more than OSRIC.  One of the big selling points behind 2nd Ed was it re-organized the material from earlier editions.  It is in a sense the first Retro-clone.
- What made 2nd Ed special to many were the campaign worlds, and those don't fall under the OGL at all.  Plus most of the OSR folks seem to prefer sandbox worlds so anything created by them would naturally fit into any other world.
- The Proficiency system of 2nd Ed is needlessly complicated.  Note I am not saying it is complicated itself, it's not, but it is more complicated than it needs to be for a game.  3rd Ed's Skill system is superior in nearly every respect, and 4th Ed's is better still.  Reverse engineering it would not be difficult (premise, not every skill is worth the same amount) but I'd have to ask why?

The monster's in 2nd Ed were a nice improvement over 1st ed. I like the one monster per page format, something that 3rd ed dropped but 4th ed picked back up.

Personally I think it is only a matter of time before someone does a full on 2nd Ed clone.  I know there are some in development now.   I know of and have looked at the beta of Adventures Dark and Deep, a sort of "what-if game", as in what if Gygax had developed AD&D 2nd ED the way he had planned.

Blog pimpin'

So I have been adding blogs in my blog list to various social book marking sites like Digg and Delicious.

I don't know if it will help drive hits to these sites, but it can't hurt right?
Here are my bookmarks.  Still adding to it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To follow up

On yesterday's post about Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose.  I have seen some issues now and I see that both sides have some valid points.

But I am afraid of becoming this guy...

More later.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Well, that's odd.

It occurred to me this morning while I was running (what, I can run!) that I have never done a post on Tarot the Witch of the Black Rose.  I mean it seems to have everything that ends up in my games; red headed witch, lots of supernatural and fantasy creatures, scantily clad women and at least lip service to real practitioners.

Maybe because I haven't actually read any of the comics.

Reading synopsis and overviews online though, "Tarot" or Rowan sounds like what is typically called in my games a "Witch Guardian".  Sorta like a Warden of the Dresden Files, but more focused on protecting the coven than being the Wicce secret police.  I like that she has a winged cat, that is something I have used in my games too.

I am a fan of Holly Holly Golightly's webcomic "School Bites" and she is one half (or two/thirds even) of the Tarot creative team.

Other parts of it though look fairly cliche'd and even drifting into softcore (neither of which I mind, but everything in it's place after all).

I have seen that includes such notables in witch/wiccan community as Fiona Horne and Raven Grimassi.  Not that it matters that much to me, but I have to admire Balent's attention to detail.

The reviews I have seen are somewhat mixed.  There are lot of positive ones to be sure,  but there are others complaining about the cheese-cake factor, nudity and sex.

So have any of you read it? Is it any good?
Can you give me your thoughts, comments?
Anyone know where I can buy the collected editions?

Test post

 this can be ignored really.

Bookmark this on Delicious

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Houri for Basic D&D

A few posts back I mentioned the Houri class as a follow-up to the posts at Dangerous Brian

The class is an update of the Houri class from White Dwarf #13 by Brian Asbury back in June of 1979.
In my discussion I felt that the class had certain qualities to it that would work as a race as well as a class. Well since I have been experimenting with Basic D&D of late I thought I would give this a try. 

Since this based on the work of others it is NOT released as part of the OGL. 
The Houri Class

The Houri is the offspring of a human or elf and a nymph. Nymphs are known for their unearthly beauty and lascivious natures so the offspring of a chance liaison with an attractive human or elven male is not only expected, but often the way of things. Most of these children are nymphs themselves and continue their lives with their mothers. Every so often though, a child is born that is not wholly nymph. She is not wholly mortal either, but finds a way to live in the world of mortals. Such a creature is known as a Houri.

The typical houri appears as a very attractive female human with elven features, or as an elf with something human about her. Many will claim to be "half-elfs" to avoid any confusion about their racial make up. The houri knows a bit of magic, not as much as a full magic-user or elf and she knows a bit of thief skills, but the main power of the houri comes from her powers of seduction. The Houri has a natural Charm Person like ability that is modified by her own preternatural Charisma.

(*Whitewitch by Tommie Lejis,

Minimum Ability Scores: Cha 15, Dex 10, Int 10

Hit Dice Type: d4 (maximum level 11)

Alignment: Any

Experience Bonus: Dex and Cha both 15+

Armour/Shield Permitted: Leather Armour and Small shield (which often features in certain erotic dances) only.

Weapons Permitted: Dagger, Concealed Pin, Flaming Oil, Scimitar (again, all used in certain performances)

XP Required
Hit dice (d4)Special123456
2Thief 12-----
4Thief 232----
6Thief 3532---
8Thief 46532--
10Thief 566532-


Death Ray or Poison
Magic Wands
Paralysis or Turn to Stone
Dragon Breath
Rods, Staffs and Spells


Target's Armor Class

Special Abilities

Seduction: the Houri may attempt to seduce a single humanoid of the opposite sex or aligned sexual orientation as per the Charm Person spell. The seduction may only focus on one person and their saving throw is penalized by -1 for every level of the Houri. So for example a 6th level houri would impose a -6 to the target's saving throw vs Spells. The seduction is not a spell, but rather a natural spell like ability of the houri.

Thief: At 2nd level and every other level after the houri can use thieves' skills as a thief half her level. The skills are mundane and still require the proper tools.

Spells: The houri may cast spells as per a Magic-user or Elf. Her spells though are more limited in nature and are listed here. Houri record their spells in a spell-book as do magic-users. Note: A houri may also use cantrips if the Game Master allows them. Houri gain bonus cantrips based on her Charisma score rather than intelligence.

As a Monster

Armor Class: 9
Hit dice: 1*
Move: 120' (40')
Attacks: 1 Weapon
Damage: By Weapon (typically 1d4)
No. Appearing: 1 / 1-2
Save As: Elf 1
Morale: 10
Treasure: Same as Nymph
Intelligence: 10
Alignment: Neutral
XP Value: 10

Monster Type: Demihuman (race)
The Houri are the offspring of a nymph and a human or elf.  There are fey creatures, but the more mortal ones choose to join the worlds of humans and elves.
A Houri can cast Charm Person any number of times a day, but can only have one charmed "thrall" at a time.

Houri that are closer to their elven parent are sometime indistinguishable from other elves.  Houri's are often found with Gypsy Elves whether their lineage includes elf or not.