Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in review / 2014 preview

Seeing lots of year end / new year posts this week and that is always fun.

For myself, I'll keep it brief.

Highlights of 2013
- Eldritch Witchery was published in October and the Witch continued to sell very well.
- I got to play a lot of games this year which is always nice. 3.x and AD&D1 with my boys, the occasional Basic game and I even ran AS&SH.
- I also got to play in ongoing Pathfinder game and an occasional D&D4 game this year.  I am playing the same character (basically) in both games so it gives me the chance to compare and contrast the systems in a way I like. Which I also find fun.
- Got to play some Settlers of Catan again, which I enjoy.

On the other hand I am not sure if I networked as much I as I would have liked and I was slow getting involved with Google+ for the most part.
I did not get as many reviews in this year as I would have liked. Some at DriveThruRPG, a few at Amazon and one or two at RPG.Net.

Looking Ahead to 2014
- I have a few Victorian age supplements coming out which should be a lot of fun.  Not for Ghosts of Albion but for Gaslight.
- I have a big project starting up soon that I'll be talking about a lot here.  Nothing I want to say yet.
- White Dwarf Wednesday will draw to a close in 2014.  I am not planning on replacing it with anything just yet. The above mentioned project will prevent that.
- Looking forward to Gen Con this year and D&D5.  I am not as excited about it as I could be, but I will certainly be buying it.

I might not (still undecided) do the bloghops this year. The April A to Z or the October movie marathon.  I do have posts I could do for A to Z, but April is going to be busy for me and I didn't see the increase in traffic or interaction as I had in the past. Plus it is a lot of work.  A recharge might be in order.

I will be doing some 80s Sword & Sorcery movie marathons though.  Not sure how those will work out, but it could be fun.

Until then, have a safe New Years Eve and here's to a great new 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Warlocks, part 2

Over the past week I had the chance to run an AS&SH game and loved it.  My only request to my players was for someone to play a Warlock character.  That was also really fun.

I have never really considered the warlock much. But I have been thinking a lot about the warlock as a class in D&D of late.  There is a Warlock in Eldritch Witchery. It is a type of Wizard basically. I liken it to "Wizard Grad School" to be honest.  They use the same spells as the witch and gain a few extra powers.

The AS&SH warlock is something more akin to a swordmage.  We see something similar in D&D4 Essentials Hexblade.  In general I liked the D&D4 Warlock.  They were a class that wanted quick access to power and none of the work that Wizards had to do.  That was a fine role-playing excuse, but not something that played out in the rules.  Warlocks gained powers just like the Wizards did and had no more or no less requirements.

The Warlocks in Fantastic Heroes & Witchery are another sort.  It is a chaos aligned wizard and has a lot of the same features really.  It uses the same xp per level tables, same HD and same spell progressions.  The FHW Warlock does gain some power, similar in many ways to my own witch, but at a cost.  On the surface this doesn't make it much different than a wizard, with a different selection of spells.  What makes this class, and really this book, different are the selection of spells (the book has 666) and the additional rules for acquiring magic and casting spells.  Adding this material makes the Warlock a much more interesting character.

The Pact-Bound in Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts is another warlock-like class.  Again the idea here is a class that takes a quick path to power for a price, usually to an other worldly power.

There is a similar one in the pages of the ACKS Player's Companion.

In the 3e era we have a couple of "warlocks".  There is a warlock in the Complete Arcane and the witch in Pathfinder, which always felt more like a warlock to me.

Somewhere at the intersection of all these warlocks is the one I want to play.

These are the features I am looking for:
- spontaneous spellcasting
- same spells as the witch or at least some sort of connection
- pacts with other worldly powers that grant the warlock power
- shortcuts to power, so they should get more spells faster, but maybe fewer as time goes on.
- some idea of corruption. Warlocks should be unnatural and not part of this world anymore.

Going to be playing around with this a lot more in the new year.


Just a quick one, still out and on the road.

What do you all think about warlock classes?

I know of a number of different ones, AS&SH, D&D4 and others.  What are your favorite ones and why?

More on this in a bit.

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013 Game of the Year

2013 was a great year for gaming personally.  I got to try out a lot of old things, which is fun, and had a chance to try out some new games as well.  I got to play a lot of Basic and 1st Ed AD&D with my kids, do a little more with 3e, started both a Pathfinder and 4e game.  The Pathfinder game kicks up again next year and I just got a notification about my 4e game just two days ago (on Tuesday, so I guess this post was premature).

But of all the games I tried out only one really grabbed me this year.
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

Today we played a very Howard inspired "rescue the princess before the Old God is awakened" sort of deal.  It was fun and I borrowed a lot from Spellcraft & Swordplay and Call of Cthulhu for this one.
We had an Atlantean warlock, a Keltic Bard, Kimmerian fighter and a "Norse" Cleric.  It was a lot of fun.

For my money it is the best of the "Dark Fantasy" games on the market right now.
I hope I get to play it more in 2014.

If you don't yet have this game then you are really, really missing out on some fun.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Classic Christmas

Every year for Christmas I ask Santa for a game item that I am not likely to buy for myself.  This year I asked for the limited edition Original D&D reprint boxed set.

Well I must have been a good boy.

The new books came in large wood box with dice and a nice felt bottom.  Plenty of room if I wanted to add a copy of Chainmail (curiously absent from this).

The books compare favorably with the originals.  Save for the covers they are authentic reproductions of the originals.  Though having the "Dungeons & Dragons" logo/titles in different colors would have been a neat touch.

Can't say I like the newer covers better.

Gods, Demi-gods and Heroes has the biggest changes.

Missing are the Conan and Elric mythos; which makes sense really.

I am pretty pleased with this set to be honest.  I'd love to run an old-fashioned OD&D game with them someday.  I have been dying to do something like a John Carter/Barsoom game using OD&D.

How abut you? Did Santa Orc (or Krampus) bring you anything nice this year?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays from The Other Side

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Other Side!!
Here are some of my favorite "modern" Christmas songs.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Alas, 4E

2013 will go down, at least for me, as the year Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons died.

It was an ignoble death. When 1st ed gave way for 2nd ed there was a feeling of renewal mixed with an attitude of it was a change for the better.  When 2nd ed was replaced by 3e there was a feeling (again in my mind) of a reboot, a new era.  4e always started out on the wrong foot.
Many complained it was too video game like, albeit from many that had never actually played it. Others complained it was too soon (though it was shown that we do get a new edition every 8 years or so).

We are now all gearing up for D&D Next and I hope that they don't end up calling it that.  What will 6e be called? D&D The Next one after that?

There is a lot to like about D&D Next and I am looking forward to it.  But I can't help but feel a bit of remorse for the loss of my D&D4 game.

I will not lie. I had fun with 4e.  I loved the books and the fluff and I *will* be recycling as much as I can for whatever I do next. Whether that is Next or even Pathfinder.

I did pick up 13th Age which was described to me as a "4e Retro-clone" . It's not exactly that, but there are some really nice ideas in this to bring 4e closer to 3e and it addresses some of the complaints I have heard about 4e.

While 4th Ed might be retreating to the back of my gaming list I am not done with it.   There are few things I wrote for myself for 4e that are going to see the light of day under different systems.  I had created a number of new Warlock pacts that I would love to expand on and even some materials I wrote for a Witch class before WotC published their own.

So it is not good bye really.  Besides I can still use all those minis, tiles and monster tokens.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

All I Want for Christmas is...

It's the weekend before Christmas!
It is also the first (full) day of winter.  Traditionally my wife and I give each other gifts on this day.

What are you all hoping Santa (or Krampus) leaves under your tree this year?

I am hoping for an OD&D boxed set.

How about you?

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Power of the Witch & Witchcraft: Myth and Reality

A great little video from England in 1971.

Talks about witches and witchcraft but gets it all confabulated with satanism.  It does feature noted witchcraft experts Alex Sanders and Doreen Valiente.

Still though, exactly the sort of thing I would have been watching in the 70s and 80s when I was gaming and playing wizards, priests and witches.

Another one from around 1998 is Witchcraft: Myth and Reality.

It is a bit more even handed.

Watch these and you will get an idea of the sort feel I wanted in The Witch and Eldritch Witchery.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Skylla: Pathfinder Witch

I have been playing around more with Pathfinder and the witch class from the Advanced Player's Guide.
So the Pathfinder witch has come up here before,
Now I have some more hours playing a Pathfinder witch logged I feel like I am getting a better feel for her. So far I do like the class more than I initially did. But there still some things about it that are not particularly "witch-like" to me.  For starters I don't like how covens are handled at all.  And there is no ritual magic to speak of.

There is a lot of things I want to do with the Pathfinder witch. I think there is a lot of potential here. Some things I can live with, others I might need to re-write. Many things I can fix with a suitable skill choice, a feat here or there and some old-fashioned roleplaying.  Case in point here is Skylla as a Pathfinder witch.

Skylla in Pathfinder
The Pathfinder Witch gives Skylla the chance to try out a different repertoire of spells.  Since care was given to make sure there was not a lot of overlap in the Witch and Wizard spells in Pathfinder.  Her Patron gives her access to some "divine" like spells which is a nice touch.  Given her background I thought Deception would be nice, but I could have picked Wisdom as well.
I went with the Hero Lab version to focus on the materials that are just from the Pathfinder books.
Pathfinder also allows me to detail her skills a bit better and give her some background traits.

She stacks up nicely to her other counterparts, though more spells and powers.


Female Human Witch 7
CE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +0; Senses Perception +3


AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 11 (+1 deflection)
hp 30 (7d6+1)
Fort +2, Ref +2, Will +6


Speed 30 ft.
Melee dagger -6 (1d4-1/19-20/×2) and
   quarterstaff +2 (1d6-1/×2)
Special Attacks hexes (cackle, disguise [7 hours/day], misfortune [dc 15], slumber [dc 15])
Witch Spells Prepared (CL 7th; concentration +9):
4th (1/day)—scrying (DC 16)
3rd (2/day)—tongues, arcane sight
2nd (4/day)—invisibility, detect thoughts (DC 14), levitate, burning gaze
1st (5/day)—inflict light wounds (DC 13), hypnotism (DC 13), chill touch (DC 13), sleep (DC 13), charm person (DC 13)
0 (at will)—daze (DC 12), detect magic, light, read magic


Str 9, Dex 11, Con 10, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 11
Base Atk +3; CMB +2; CMD 13
Feats Arcane Strike, Brew Potion, Craft Wondrous Item, Deceitful, Spell Penetration
Traits magical talent, scholar of the great beyond
Skills Bluff +3, Diplomacy +1, Disguise +8, Fly +4, Heal +5, Intimidate +8, Knowledge (arcana) +12, Knowledge (nature) +7, Knowledge (planes) +8, Knowledge (religion) +4, Perception +3, Spellcraft +12, Stealth +2, Swim +0, Use Magic Device +4
Languages Abyssal, Common, Elven
SQ patron spells (deception)
Combat Gear Staff of charming; Other Gear Dagger, Quarterstaff, Ring of protection +1, 148 GP

Special Abilities

Arcane Strike As a swift action, add +1 damage, +1 per 5 caster levels and your weapons are treated as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
Cackle (Su) As a move action, extend the duration of other hexes by 1 rd.
Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar (Su) Your familiar can deliver touch spells for you.
Disguise (7 hours/day) (Su) Can change own appearance, as disguise self but with longer duration.
Empathic Link with Familiar (Su) You have an empathic link with your Arcane Familiar.
Familiar Bonus: +3 to Appraise checks You gain the Alertness feat while your familiar is within arm's reach.
Magical Talent (Mage Hand) (1/day) (Sp) Choose one 0-level spell - it becomes a 1/day spell-like ability for you.
Misfortune (1 rd) (DC 15) (Su) Foe in 30 ft must take the lower of 2d20 for rolls (Will neg).
Share Spells with Familiar Can cast spells with a target of "You" on the familiar with a range of touch.
Slumber (7 rds) (DC 15) (Su) Foe in 30 ft falls asleep for duration, or until damaged or roused by ally (Will neg).
Speak with Animals (Ex) Your familiar can communicate with animals similar to itself.
Speak With Familiar (Ex) You can communicate verbally with your familiar.

Female Raven
CE Tiny magical beast (animal)
Init +2; Senses low-light vision; Perception +10


AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 16 (+2 Dex, +2 size, +4 natural)
hp 15 (1d8-1)
Fort +1, Ref +4, Will +7


Speed 10 ft., fly 40 ft. (average)
Melee bite +7 (1d3-4/×2)
Space 2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.


Str 2, Dex 15, Con 8, Int 9, Wis 15, Cha 7
Base Atk +3; CMB +3; CMD 9
Feats Skill Focus (Perception), Weapon Finesse
Skills Bluff -1, Diplomacy -1, Disguise +4, Fly +10, Heal +3, Intimidate +3, Perception +10, Spellcraft +6, Stealth +15, Swim +6, Use Magic Device -1
Languages Abyssal
SQ improved evasion

Special Abilities

Flight (40 feet, Average) You can fly!
Improved Evasion (Ex) No damage on successful reflex save; half on failed save.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.

Hero Lab and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at http://www.wolflair.com Pathfinder® and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC®, and are used under license.

The Hexes are nice, I like how they work not just on paper but in game play too.
This version also forced me to think more about her skills than previous versions.

One thing for sure I am going to need to try out some more Pathfinder witches to get a proper feel of them.

Other Skylla writeups

The Odyssey

No. Not Homer's epic exactly.  Well. there is an epic here. But let me get to that.

This Odyssey is an epic through the generations of video gaming consoles.
You can read more about over the Trollish Delver blog (also home of Trollish Delver Games).

In Odyssey you travel through the history of the gaming consoles, so each level is the next generation. The graphics get better and better and more difficult.

I played it a bit this morning instead of getting my Pathfinder post ready. It is fun and addictive.
But what I really liked was it's sense of history.  Like old RPGs I also like old technology.  One of my side projects is to get this older computer I am calling Son of Frankencomputer up an running and putting on a bunch of old computer and console emulators.

Odyssey is really a bit like a retro-clone.  It emulates earlier modes of play, it just does it one step better than the OSR crowd by progressively getting better/more detailed.  Though one could argue that while computer and console software has demonstrably gotten better over the years, RPGs maybe not as much.  D&D Next for example might become the biggest "retro-clone" on the market.

In any case Odyssey captures the same spirit of the Old-School movement and for me that is enough.
It also happens to be fun. Which is important to me at least.  It is epic in the sense that you have to pass through all the levels of video game generations to get to your goal.

Terrible time though for me to find a new video game. I need to be ready for Spring term by the end of this week!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Poll

I have set up a new poll, the first of a few.  I want to get a better idea what games everyone is playing.

This first pool is a simple D&D Editions one.  Your choices are:

*D&D (B, 1, 2) or Retro-Clone (Original up to 2nd Ed, all clones fit here.)
D&D 3.x/Pathfinder
D&D 4
D&D 5/Next

You may choose multiple choices. Even that gives me some information.
You can expand on your choices here if you like.  I am not interested at the moment in what you are *not* playing, but what you are playing.

The *D&D/Retro-Clone category is huge. Yes. But I am going to split that one out later.

So have it!  Tell me what you are playing.

White Dwarf Wednesday #91

Daleks in Sombreros.  oops sorry. Getting ahead of myself.  I'll get back to this.

Headed into the deep summer of 1987 with White Dwarf #91.  I can honestly say this is the first time I have ever flipped through this issue. This was not one of the ones I had in my collection I bought a few years back and had to later get.  Not really sure if this was money well spent or not.  I guess it completes my collection.

White Dwarf 91 does look different than its predecessors.  Not just the "10" on the cover, but on the interior as well.  I recall that Dragon was due to make some similar changes here around 1988-89 just prior to AD&D 2 being released.  Here it is the herald of the "Warhammer Magazine".

This month's cover is Blood Royle by Chris Achilleos again.  The date on it is 1986, but it doesn't seem quite up to his normal quality.

Mike Brunton is still our editor and he gives us another insight on how the magazine is made. Didn't we just do that?

Open Box covers Mayfair's DC Heroes' take on Watchmen.  Sad as this is to admit, but I learned of Watchmen from this book. Hey, we had no comic book stores where I grew up, but I did have access to RPGs.  It was an interesting take on the Moore's classic to say the least.  Ah. Now I get the cover.  It is the cover of the Blood Royal board game from GW.  If you are one of those Grognards that believe all the ills that happened to AD&D can be blamed on Dragonlance then the review of the "Tales from the Last Inn" is for you. It confirms all your preconceived notions and fears; well at least for this book anyway.  My recollection of this book is there is almost no game material in it and it instead focuses on DragonlanceTM.
Book of Lairs II gets a mostly positive review.  Interestingly there is a picture for the Egg of the Phoenix (one of the last pre-packaged modules I ever went through) but I can't find the review.  I am sure I am not missing any pages.

Critical Mass is next with the list of what was hot in the summer of 1987.  This is the sign of my turning away from Sci-fi and Fantasy; that is I have not read a single book mentioned.  Each installment of Critical Mass had at least one book I had read, this one doesn't.  I was sticking with Piers Anothony's Incarnations of Immortality out of some blind sense of duty or loyalty, but otherwise I was done with SciFi/Fantasy at this point.  No my muse had become Lovecraft and Poe and soon Clark Ashton Smith.

As if on cue, "Ghosties & Ghoulies & ... Squid?" talks about the mythos behind the Cthulhu Mythos and the Call of Cthulhu game.  In truth this article is much more needed now than it was then.  A lot of so called "mythos" games are a thin pastiche of what Lovecraft wrote about.  You can put tentacles on some horror and say it is Lovecraftian.  It also takes the shine off of Lovecraft. I enjoyed his stories, but lets be honest here, he wasn't great. He has had lasting effect mostly I think because his stuff was so novel and struck a chord in people. It did with me.  I think this article, or ones like it, need to be required reading for anyone attempting to play any game inspired by the Mythos or has Lovecraft's themes in it.

Moving on we get fumbles in Warhammer Fantasy.  Reading it over it could be adapted to any game really.

David Langford gives us "Quotes for a Newer Testament" which is part story, part fluff and part post-apoc RPG background.

A Matter of Pride is a short D&D adventure for 6-8 characters 3rd to 5th level. It is actually a longer one and involves some NPCs, a goblin lair and an evil (chaotic actually) elf.  And yes it is for D&D and not AD&D.  While it reads like most other D&D adventures of the time it does seem to have a few new twists here and there.  Might give this one a try. Since I am going to xerox the Lovecraft pages, might as well do these too.

Little Lost Warbot is a Paranoia adventure featuring the aforementioned Daleks in Sombreros.  Let those words sink in a little.  Or better yet look.

It is a really long adventure about finding a lost warbot, but honestly it looks like an excuse to blow up PCs and make silly Dalek jokes.  Maybe I am old and bitter but I just don't get Paranoia anymore.

Nobelese covers Nobility and Royalty in Warhammer Fantasy. Mostly rules free, but certainly very much in the Warhammer world. It could be paired with some of the Nobility articles from the last few issues.

A Hard Act To Follow is a nice little guide to Law and Order in CoC games based in Great Britain.

Of interest is an ad for the Manual of the Planes.  The art is a little different than what we got later on.
Of course we would have to wait till Planescape to get stats for that Astral Dreadnought.

'Eavy Metal gets 4 full color, bright pages.  I can say this for sure the quality of printing is getting better since #89.

Moving on to a few ads I could not help but notice some art plagiarism in a Creations Unlimited ad.

These are things I notice.  Sure they are not exactly the same to the point of tracing, but very close.
Goes to show how long this sort of thing has been going on (and yes even Gygax did it on the cover of the original D&D boxed set).

Blood in the Snow is a Warhammer Fantasy adventure for 2-4 players. 8 pages, so a decent size to be honest.

End with Letters, ads, classifieds and full page ads.

Quality is up as is page count, but I am finding less that hold my interest here.  Crimony I am focusing stupid Daleks and art theft from 30 years ago.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cancer Fundraiser for RetroRoleplaying

I have long been of the frame of mind that gamers, in general, are some of best people when it comes to helping others.  Is it because our hobby is one of pure social interaction? Is it because we learn the value of helping each other out in the game very early one?  Not sure why, I can only say I have seen it work.

One only needs to look no further than the fundraisers at DriveThruRPG for various disasters or even the Bad Myrmidon fundraiser.  I have raised a little money myself for various charities.

So I wanted to let you know about another one that I think is worthy and not really getting the attention it deserves.

Randall over at RetroRoleplaying is raising some money to help treat his wife's cancer.
He is asking for donations, but he is giving away an absolute trove of treasures from the early days of gaming.  It's insane the stuff he is parting with, but I would do the exact same thing.

So please. Go to his site. Donate what you can. It's Christmas after all.
How about this.  Instead of that large coffee you get before work today or while doing your last minute Christmas shopping, you donate $5 to Randall's wife.  Make her life a little better, and hopefully a little longer. Not trying to sound overly maudlin here, but this community has given so much for lesser reasons (myself included and especially) that maybe this also something we should do.

If everyone that reads this blog here, via Facebook or even Twitter gave something, well that would be great.

Start here:

I can't promote this one enough.

Monday, December 16, 2013

To Stranger Skies

I have been watching, but not participating in (yet, see below) Bruce Heard's World of Calidar Kickstarter.

I will be honest, it looks fantastic and it should be a lot of fun.  But I was going to wait for the PDF since I never feared that he would get to his goals.  Plus I am trying to cut back on my Kickstarter addiction.

Bruce is a great guy and I have been a fan of his work since the Glantri Gazetteer first came out.  So I know this is going to be a good one.  Thorfinn Tait is doing the maps. If you don't know Thorf, well he has been doing maps for Mystara's fan community for decades; going all the way back to the MYSTARA-L list on MPGN.net.

I changed my mind this past weekend.  I was going through a stack of old notes and sheets for a different project that I found my old Spelljammer characters.  I say Spelljammer, but we never quite got that far.  The idea was loosly based on Star Trek and they characters all started on ship that would eventually get to the stars.  All the characters were officers  so even the 1st level wizard began as a 3rd level fighter.  It was going to be something very, very different than what I had done in the past.  But the realities of college life got in the way and we never got all that far with it.  I have no idea if my DM at the time even did anything else with it.  I think he did.  The game was going to be predominantly on the shared Mystoerth world my DM and I had.

There had been games that have arisen in the past that made me think back to that old game, but this is the first that has made want to try it out again.

World of Calidar is set up to be "edition neutral" so really I could use anything with it.
So I am going to support this one. I'll look for a good edition to try it with too.  I'll admit I am tempted to do this with 2nd Ed AD&D or Adventures Dark & Deep.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Saw the Hobbit

I saw the Hobbit yesterday and I enjoyed it.  I was not expecting the book, but I do think some of the changes were a bit too much.

I consider myself a huge Tolkien fan.  I have read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings 12-14 times over the last 30 years. I have read the Silmarillion a couple of times and I loved it. Really. I have read many of the lost tales, the Tolkien Reader and tons of his works.   So I am approaching this as a fan.

Spoilers follow.

I liked the bits with Gandalf at Dol Guldur, that was all in the Lord of the Rings and expanded tales, so I am 100% fine with that.
The CGI didn't bother me. In fact Smaug looked fantastic.
I liked the addition of Tauriel. Yeah she was not in the books, but I don't care.

But the movie was too long and some of the things added to the movie had no real benefit.
In many ways the movie was exactly like the giant golden dwarf statue in the movie.  Large, overwrought, a monument to excess and ultimately ineffective.

So in the end I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted, but it was still a lot of fun.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Zatannurday: ICONS

Digging through some characters and found some ICONS stats for Zatanna.  Time to share!

It's been a long time since I last talked about ICONS.  I would like to do more with it someday.

Zatanna Zatara

Prowess: 3
Coordination: 5
Strength: 2
Intellect: 6
Awareness: 7
Willpower: 8

Wizardry (Magic) 8
- Blast
- Mind Controll
Telepathy 4
Teleport 5
Astral Projection 6

Performance (Stage Magic) - Mastery
Sleight of Hand - Mastery
Occult - Mastery

Stamina: 10
Determination: 1

- "World's Greatest Magician"
- "Mistress of Magic"

Weakness - Must speak backwards to use her magic
Relationship issues.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Friday the 13th!

It's Zatannurday er Friday the 13th!

Hope is it a great one.

Bitten on SyFy

"Bitten" is the breakout novel from author Kelley Armstrong. It deals with Elena Michaels, the only female werewolf.

With Bitten Kelley began a 13 novel epic story of many lives and different types of supernaturals collectively known as "The Women of the Underworld".  The last novel of the series came out this last year and it was a very satisfying end to the series.

It is also the name of the new SyFy Channel's new series based on the book.

It stars Laura Vandervoort, in what might be the best bit of casting ever, as Elena.

Can't wait for this!

Of course I am looking forward to seeing Paige, Eve and Savannah; the Witches of Underworld. And Jaime, the Necromancer.

Tomorrow is her birthday, so stop by her site and wish her a happy birthday and a congrats on the new series.  http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lilith can be Yours

Normally I like to spend the profits from my books on more art for the next book or something like that. You know, put it back into the creative effort.  But this was a particularly good couple of months so I splurged and got something nice for myself and my game room.

I got this from the artist's, Israel Llona aka Isra2007, shop over at Deviant Art.

The great thing is, you can get one of these prints too!
Just go to the prints page, http://www.deviantart.com/art/Lilith-142131246 and choose one of the prints.
This is the 12" x 18" art print.

Plus all the money goes to the artist, well minus whatever DA takes, but I don't get any. Not even a commission.   So if you liked my book and the cover, or you picked up my book for the cover, grab an art print too! It will look great on your wall.

You can also see all his great art here, http://israllona.wix.com/isra
He has a few more that I think would make awesome book covers.

The 12 Days of OSR-Xmas

Tenkar over at his Eponymous Tavern will begin his "Twelve Days of OSR Christmas" where he will be giving away a TON of great OSR products.  Included in the mix are a copy of the Witch and Eldritch Witchery.
That tomorrow is also Friday the 13th makes it doubly fun for me.

So please make sure you stop by and give it a look.  Hopefully you will win something cool.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #90

June 1987.  I graduated from High School and started working two jobs to have extra money for college.  White Dwarf also hit a few milestones.  The price increased to £1.25, we hit the 90s (issue numbers), the issue is larger (as promised last week) and celebrate 10 years of White Dwarf.  It is also nearing the final turn from a general games magazine to a purely Games Workshop one.  But first lets see what is inside.

The cover features the White Dwarf himself by John Sibbick. The cover is marred by the unfortunate choice of blue and yellow text.  Not sure what the thinking was here.

The editorial is the expected reminiscing over the past issues and the long two month wait between those early issues.  More of this stuff later on.

Open box covers the new Warhammer Battle supplement teased last issue, Ravening Hordes.  It gets a good review.  There is The Shattered Ilse for Stormbringer, but the highlight (for me) is Terror Austrails for Call of Cthulhu proving once again that games are not immune to the popular trends of the time.  You might recall that just the summer past (1986) one of the biggest movies was Crocodile Dundee.  At least Terror Australis is much better reminder of this time than Yahoo Serious.  One does not normally put Australia and Lovecraft together, but they really are a chocolate and peanut butter mix.  Aboriginal myths and legends are practically Lovecraftian anyway.  This book, one of the must haves for CoC in my opinion, really gets into that.
Open Box also covers local favorites Mayfair Games adventures, Wizard's Revenge, Pinnacle, Crystal Barrier and Beneath Two Suns.  I had real love-hate relationship with Mayfair at this time. I liked thier D&D products on principle even if I thought some of them were not very good.  My opinion would change in a couple years when I got to play more DC Heroes, 2nd Ed Chill and of course their famous book Witches.

Awesome Lies, the upcoming news and rumors feature lets us in on the next Bloodstone/BattleSystem module, H3 Bloodstone Wars.  I remember picking this one up only after I had gone through H4.  There is mention of two branches of the same Greyhawk novels tree, the New Infinities "it's not in Greyhawk honest!" Gord the Rogue book and Rose Estes' The Price of Power.

Green and Pleasant Language was supposed to be included in the CoC adventure A Green and Pleasant Land.  It covers various bits of colloquial British and American slang and well as words from Cornish and Welsh.  Great actually if you want to capture the feel of some NPCs from some rural areas of Great Britain.

Ian Livingstone is back with Ten Years On a retrospective of the early days of  White Dwarf and it's fore-runner Owl & Weasel. There is a lot of interesting tidbits about Brian Blume getting a copy of O&W because he subscribed to Albion.  This lead to Blume sending Livingstone a copy of the Original D&D rules.   They loved it of course and turned issue 6 into a "D&D" issue.  O&W had 25 issues till it morphed into White Dwarf.  It was named that to cover both Fantasy and Sci-Fi gaming.   I think it would be interesting to see those early issues of Owl & Weasel.  Though I stumbled on these WDs and there were no Owl & Weasels to be had.  I didn't even know about it till I started doing this retrospective myself.

The Magard Scrolls is an interesting article.  It's a bit like the old Ecology of articles from Dragon. This one deals with a particularly silly (on the surface) monster, the Jack O'Bear. A bear with the head of pumpkin.  Yeah.  Though in the elvish they are called Yalarvagoon. Ok less silly. And they are some foul chaos monster with a swollen head. Ok even less sill now.  Might need to adapt this one.

Fear & Ignorance covers being a better Paranoia game master.

Practice Makes Perfect is more career guidelines for Warhammer Fantasy, but can be used as a guideline in other FRPGS.

Killing in Silk is one of the last of the AD&D adventures in the pages of White Dwarf and it is not a very long one.  Though it has everything I would have loved back then, a city-based adventure, lots of NPCs and dubious legality of the actions of the PCs.  You won't find a bunch of monsters in this one, save the townspeople and no dungeons to speak of.

There is article on playing criminals in Judge Dredd, something I am sure came up a lot in the game but the rules didn't cover.  It's a longer piece and a pretty good one too.  While I don't play Judge Dredd I could see the potential in the game.  There are some neat ideas that I could see applied to Shadowrun.

Two parallel articles are next, The Difference and A Monstrous Regiment dealing with the female persona and the female warrior respectively.  Interesting reads, just odd it took THIS long to get into the pages of White Dwarf.  But I am coming at this from a Post-90s, Post-White Wolf age and from the point view of guy that likes playing witches.  The Difference deals mostly with female sterotypes in the game. Not how they are played or portrayed, but what those stereotypes, or even archetypes, are.   This isn't Mongooses' rather awful Guide to the Female Gamer, but nor is it Confessions of a Part Time Sorceress either. There is a quite a lot of myopia here that I am not sure if it was because of the 80s or England or this particular author.   A Monstrous Regiment provides a different point of view that is closer to what we except now as the role of the female character in a game; ie anything one gender can do, so can the other in terms of role-playing activity.

Graham Staplehurst covers Ley Lines and their connections to ancient monuments.  No game is specified though many are mentioned (including Traveller), though special attention is given to MERP, Warhammer Fantasy and some AD&D.  It is a general guide on how to use ley lines as a power source.

More Judge Dredd in Tales From Mega City 1.  A bunch of adventure ideas.
Letters is up to it's usual odd bits of nonsense.

Finally there are some new cards for the Rogue Trooper board game.

Ok so 10th anniversary.  I was expecting more to be honest. Now keep in mind I have been reading and rereading these a lot over the last two years, but I would have liked more articles like Ian Livingstone's. Maybe an article on the covers or one on the changes they have seen in gaming hobby in England or even more insight on where WD wants to go next.  Huge build up, but only a little pay off.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Dyvers: Best Reads

This has been making it's rounds and I even posted a little about it on Friday.

Charles Akins has posted, and updated, his massive list of all the "OSR" blogs.

Here is what he had to say about your truly:

An OSR blog that's biggest cause is the Witch class in Dungeons and Dragons style role-playing games. The author is quite persuasive and will make you jump on his bandwagon if you give him half a chance. Updates: An average of 45 times per month. Wow! An amazing amount of out put!
I wholeheartedly concur!

While some may claim that the blogging community is loosing steam, I prefer to think of it as gaining focus.  Instead of 25 posts a day on roughly the same thing we now get 10 posts a variety of topics.  It also shows that there is more going on than I even knew.

So stop by, read his massive list and stick around to read the rest of his blog.  It's some good stuff.

Monday, December 9, 2013

EW doing Well!

I popped on to DriveThruRPG today and was greeted with a nice surprise!

Eldritch Witchery is now a Copper Best Seller!

That was faster than The Witch made it to Copper.  By the way, The Witch is now a Silver Best Seller!

Ghosts of Albion is still doing well too.

It's not gold or platinum, but I am not complaining.

Thanks everyone for continuing to support my work.

Return of the Dragon

So I got this in the mail the other day.

I had this poster when it first came out.  I honestly have no memory of how I got it except that it was something I had to send off for.
I had it till college and had it hanging on my wall in typical college fashion.  That is till my idiot roommate got mad at me one day and ripped it down.

Ever since then I have wanted one.  Well thanks to magic that is eBay I finally got another one.
I am not going to tell you what I paid, save it was more than most people would have been willing to part with, but enough that I am happy. It was still rolled up in the original tube in fact!  

The poster is actually in very, very good shape for being 30 years old.

The timing is great since the Dragonslayers (my kids group) need something from a "rainbow dragon" to finish their quest.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Greater Good

I'll admit it. I am a total Harry Potter fanboy.
Loved the books, loved the movies, loved the hype.  JKR can do no wrong in my eyes and I hope she sleeps on a bed made of gold like Smaug (though in truth she supports more charities than most groups of people).

I have read the books a number of times. Have seen all the movies multiple times and I want to throw it out there that if ever a Harry Potter RPG ever gets made then I want my name on the short list of authors.

So anytime there is something new in the Potterverse I am pleased.
The newest new thing is a fan movie called "The Greater Good".

It deals with the end of the friendship and relationship between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindelwald and the lasting effect it had on the Dumbledore family and eventually on a boy named Harry Potter.
This 17 minute film is based around a brief narrative in The Deathly Hollows.

Watch it and make the next magical battle between wizards you have this cool.


TBBYANR: Old School Edition

I have not done one of these in a long time so I thought this might be a good occasion.  There are a few old-school blogs out there I follow and really enjoy.  I think you should add them to your reading list.

Halls of the Nephilim
I have talked about Justin Issac's blog in the past.  He recently hit 200 posts so he has been chuggin along doing his thing for a little bit now.  Justin spends his time looking for a good Old-School game to play, currently he is trying out the home team favorite from Elf Lair Games, Spellcraft & Swordplay and Pathfinder.  He is know currently working through the 30 days of Dungeons & Dragons, so that will be interesting. Other topics that come up are Doctor Who, Mutants & Masterminds and one of my favorites Succubus Sunday.
If you enjoy my blog then check out Halls of the Nephilim. Justin is doing a lot of cool things.

Dark Corners Of Role Playing
Eric Fabiaschi runs this and Swords & Stitchery - Old Time Sewing & Table Top Rpg Blog.  Both are great, but I want to focus on his Dark Corners blog today.  DC is a great resource for anything vaugly D&D-pulpy.  The blog mostly focuses on the Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea RPG.  Maybe it is my new-found love of this game, but everything posted here is brilliant. Recently he has posted links to a number of out-of-print pulp mags for use in your games. Also a good number of new monsters, all with a pulp-D&D feel to them.  Sure they are all 100% compatible with any Basic-era D&D clone of your choice, you miss a bit not using AS&SH.
Eric is right around 230 posts or so, but there is a lot great stuff; so a high signal to noise ratio.

Both of these blogs are great resources and both are currently tackling a lot of the same topics that interest me.  So there is more value there too.

My advice is to take some time and go over both blogs. Read their past posts and comment.
But most importantly add them to your reading lists!

Special Note: If you are looking for other blogs to read Dyvers has a huge list of gaming blogs he has linked to and reviewed. Go there and check it out! http://dyverscampaign.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-great-blog-roll-call.html

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Krampus, The Christmas Demon

Today (December 5) is the eve of Saint Nicholas Day. It is also the time when the pagan demon Krampus walks the earth in search of bad girls and boys.

I had done Krampus a few years back for Ghosts of Albion.  Though today I'd like give him a try is old-school/retro-clone stats.  As before I am taking a large number of liberties with this write up.  So please keep that in mind.

Krampus, The Christmas Demon
Long ago, long before children would know of the kindness of St. Nicholas there was a demon that tormented the long Alpine winter nights.  This demon, know locally as Krampus (from the word meaning Claw) would torment children and punish wrongdoers. Sometimes Krampus would even carry off a child that had been particularly wicked.
The trouble was that Krampus was more or less in a pact with the parents of the region that had used him as a means of controlling unruly children. Over the decades since their un-witting pact Krampus had grown in violence and deceit.
That is till the coming of St. Nicholas.
St. Nicholas was able to confront the demon and was well on his way to dispatching the fiend (Santa was a bit more of a fighter in those days) when the issue of the pact was brought up.  The pact made with the demon was strong, and even though not one adult in area had made it an overt one, built up over the centuries with a little tale here, a story there, made it as strong as any pact sealed with a soul.  St. Nicholas then employed Krampus as a personal assistant, he could still torment bad children, but now under the eye of St. Nick himself.  Krampus also got more children as he traveled with St. Nick. Since St. Nicholas was know as Sinterklass in some areas and Father Chritmas in  others, Krampus also received more names such as "Belsnickel" or even "Black Pete".
Sometimes it is even said that his travels with St. Nicholas has tempered his evil.
Or maybe he is just bidding his time.

Armor Class:  2 [17] (hide)
Hit Dice: 6d8+5* (32 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws /  bite / birch switches
Damage: 1d4+2 (x2) / 1d6  (bite) / 1 (birch switch)
Special: Acute Senses (taste, sight, smell), Cause Fear (Cha: 2), Unique Kill
Movement: 60’
No. Appearing: 1 (rumored to be unique)
Saves As: Fighter 6
Morale: 12
Treasure: None, Krampus carries a bundle of birch switches to hit bad children with
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
XP: 500

Krampus will only attack bad children and typically only with a single whack with a birch switch.  If attacked though Krampus reveals that he is in fact a demon with claws and bite.

Krampus appears as a particularly nasty looking satyr or demon.  He is covered in fur, but is sometimes wearing a coat covered in soot.  He has one cloven hoof and one animal-like paw for feet.  His legs are like that of a goat and his upper body is humanish.  His hands are human, but end in terrible claws. His face is a twisted snarl of evil, with goat like eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth.  His long tongue lolls out of his mouth and constantly drips saliva.  Despite this he can still speak eloquently.  He uses his tongue to lick a person, typically their face, to know if they are naughty or nice.  His head supports to long curved horns.  He smells of burnt coal. He is sometimes seen carrying an old rusted chain. It is not clear if the chain is for himself or for the children he terrorizes. He also carries a satchel of switches that he uses to beat children with.
His overall appearance is menacing and demonic. He cowers though from any stern word from St. Nicholas.
Krampus does have a weakness.  If given a piece of fruit, typically an apple or an orange, by a child, he will sit down to eat the gift, sharing it with whomever is there and engage is polite conversation.  Krampus will then leave the area, harming no one.

Krampus may be a demon, but he is fair and impartial. "Good" children have nothing to fear from him, "Bad" children are only punished in relationship to the severity of their "naughtiness".  Of course Krampus will attempt to use any trick he can to get someone onto his naughty list. For truly evil children he carries a sack to put them in. He will either drown them or take them off to Hell.
It is suspected though that he in fact feeds on the children's fear and the tales told by the parents.

Krampus is most often seen during the first two weeks of December.  All other times he is bound to his cave somewhere in the Alps.  There is no known way to dispatch of Krampus permanently.

Like many of the supernatural creatures associated with Christmas, as long as one child believes then he will return next year. He can be killed but will return next year.

Krampus is kinda like the Grinch really.  Except a Grinch that eats bad children.
Though given how Cindy Lou Who turned out the Grinch might reconsider.

AS&SH and Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts: Plays Well With Others

I often buy games together. Recently my two purchases were Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts. While not explicitly designed for each other, they share a common DNA in terms of Basic D&D via the d20 SRD.

AS&SH has a number of new classes, in particular magic-using  ones.  MT&DP is nothing but new classes and spells. AS&SH is a grittier, almost primitive, experience. MT&DP is straight up Basic/Expert/LL with spells that go up to level 10.   So where does the commonalty lie?

Ok take the MT&DP classes and limit them to 12 levels only.  Typically not an issue. And in some cases also reduce the spells to just 6th level.  Use the Magician as the base class. As far as the powers each class gets, well I would deal with them on a class by class basis.  Maybe give them some of the spells as powers.

Let's take the classes in detail.

Cleric and Wizard 
These classes are pretty much the standard archetypes, use the classes in AS&SH instead and swap out spells as desired.

Elven Swordmage and Elven Warder
These classes can't be used, no elves, but you could make a Swordmage or Warder and split their Casting Ability and Fighting Ability evenly.

Similar to the other Sub-classes"

This class has so much potential in AS&SH.  Given the horror elements in the game (and even the mythos elements) this classes takes on a more malevolent tone.

A subclass of the cleric. I would reduce the fighting ability, so "0" for levels 1, 2, 3; "1" for 4, 5, 6 and so on for a maximum of of 4.

Inquisitor, Merchant Prince, Unseen
I think these guys would work a little like the warlocks.  The warlock is a bit of a fighter and mage, so these classes are all a bit like thieves and mages.

AS&SH has a necromancer. Just use these spells.

This is closer to the concept of the Warlock

These guys are neat ideas.  They are close to what would be a cultist in AS&SH. Spellcasters learning from long lost liturgical texts.

So a lot of really good choices.   Honestly there plenty of class choices in AS&SH already, but these can give your game an interesting twist.  Plus they feel right together.