Sunday, March 31, 2013

Updates

Hey all!

First off, been out of the loop a bit.  Was on vacation all week. Great time.
Here are some random updates.

1. Dwimmermount. Looks like it is getting published afterall.  This is a good thing and I give Tavis and Autarch kudos for pulling this one out of the abyss.  Looks like James though has shut down shop over on his G+ plage. https://profiles.google.com/jmalisze/about. No idea yet what that might mean for Grognardia.

2. Swords & Wizardry.  Tenkar is hosting a Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day. http://www.tenkarstavern.com/2013/03/the-s-w-appreciation-day-line-up-hits.html
It is set for April 17.  That is also "O" day.

3. A to Z blogfest.  Tomorrow starts the A to Z blogfest.  I am so not ready for it!  I am doing Demons and know what I am going to post each day, just nothing is written yet.

4. Petty Gods is also back from the dead thanks to Greg Gorgonmilk.  He has really taken the ball and ran with this one! http://gorgonmilk.blogspot.com/

5. Witch Awareness Month.  I am going to participate in this one as well.  Just not sure what I am going to do yet. http://witchawarenessmonth.wordpress.com/

6. Majus draft available nowhttp://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1895361773/majus-a-magic-noir-pacesetter-game  Doesn't matter that the KS is not done yet or even how much you put into it.  Get your draft now.

You all probably know all of these anyway.

Anyway great to be back.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Damn You Goblinoid Games!!

Dear Goblinnoid Games.

Please stop making games I want to buy.  I am going broke.

Between buying copies of Labyrinth Lord from people I am trying to get into Old School Gaming and you picking up the old Pacesetter games you have gone and done this to me:

Majus Kickstarter

And it is compatible with Rotworld, Time Master and other Pacesetter games **coughChillcough**

My wife is tired of seeing "Kickstarter" on the credit card bill too.

Looks like I am going to have to buy this one anyway! ;)

Speaking of Kickstarters, have you seen the one for Veronica Mars?
I never watched the show when it was on and I feel I missed out on something.  But anyway they want to make a movie sequel to the show and took to Kickstarter to do it.  The results were 100% funding in a few hours and it continues to climb.  Check it out.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-mars-movie-project

Thursday, March 28, 2013

TBBYANR: RPG blogs

A couple of RPG focused blogs today!

Cross Planes
"Or how I learned to stop worrying and love D&D"
http://crossplanes.blogspot.com/
I gotta admit I love the alt-title.  It is something I have said in the past myself in connection with getting out of the Edition War mindset.  Cross Planes/Mark Craddock is also very much a non-participant in the Edition Wars.  He talks about D&D Next (and he was the first place where I found out the new packet was out).  He is also into Dragon Age and I'll admit that reading over his site today has made we want to check out the RPG or computer game again. So much so I did this even:

What Dragon Age: Origins Character Are You?What Dragon Age: Origins Character Are You?
Hosted By theOtaku.com: Anime

Well was there ever a doubt?

He also did a couple of witch builds for D&D Next a Maiden and Mother.  Don't know if he did a Crone at all. What I like about this blog is Mark covers a lot of topics and games.  Single purpose blogs are great, and if I want to do a deep dive into a system that is what I need.  But I also enjoy the daily reading of the general purpose blog (like this one and my own) to get a variety of topics.  Plus he playing his games with his two daughters, how awesome is that?

Silver Divinity
http://silverdivinityrpg.blogspot.com/
I actually found this one from my Monstrous Monday Blogfest a while back and again on the Blog Blitz.  One of my favorite monsters from the MM Blogfest was his Zombie Cow.
The author of this blog, John, is working on a game project "Silver Divinity" and the blog is his proving ground/sounding board/beta tester.
So far the game itself sounds very cool.  It feels like a Steampunk meets Spelljammer sort of thing if I am reading it all right.  If so then that is cool.  The stats for the races look like d20/OGL so that makes that easier to understand.  The blog is only 7 months old and he is still posting ideas to flesh out.  So I expect to see some more interesting things in the future.
In the meantime stop on by and see what he has done so far.



This week I am running my irregular feature "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading" every day.  If you can instead of replying here, go to the blogs I am featuring and reply there.  I think the owners would like that.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Blogging Contract

Blogging is not writing. Not really.  Sure there are a lot of similarities but there are plenty of subtle differences.

When writing an RPG book I have an audience in mind. That is a nebulous audience that I may or may not interact with.  I don't know who bought every copy of The Witch or Ghosts of Albion or Buffy.

I do have the chance to get to know each and every reader here via the comments section.  I post, you comment, I reply.  There is a social contact at work here.. You are not expected to reply, but I write my posts hoping that people will.

Implicit in that is one of control.  I try to keep my posts interesting to my known audience.  This is one of the reasons I have different blogs.   I control what I post.  You control what you reply with, but ...I also control your reply. See I can delete any reply I don't like.  But I don't.  There are few good reasons for that.

I don't because it is dishonest. Having people disagree with me is a great way for me to learn something new.  I have lost track of all the things I have looked into because some one said "no. you are wrong."

I don't because it violates the social contract we have.  You put yourself out there, those were your thoughts.  I may not agree with it, but that doesn't give me the right to shut it down.

I also don't, and lets be honest here, controversy and conflict means more hits, more audience and hopefully more people reading my stuff.  Not fake controversy, people can see that a mile away, but real and honest.

A natural extension of that is I will also not delete old posts.  I don't see the point. You may want to go back a read something I posted in 2010. Great!  I will leave it there.  Even if it something I don't agree with, like or otherwise grok anymore.

I have been seeing too many cases of people taking down posts, editing posts to put themselves in better light. Sorry folks, between Archive.org and Google cache people can find anything that was posted given time, so don't try to change history.

I'll remove a post of your own if you ask me to. I'll delete multiple posts if looks like you were fixing a typo or something. I'll delete spam.

That's my contract with you.
Your contract with me is not post anything to make be doubt this choice! ;)

White Dwarf Wednesday #58

White Dwarf #58 takes us to October 1984.  Right away we notice the Chris Achilleos cover.  I have always associated his work with White Dwarf and visa versa.  It's funny that some of his best work happened later than I remember.  This horde of evil is a theme he comes back too and I think he does well.  I seem to recall he has a few more coming up.

Ian Livingstone talks about how RuneQuest once again beat out AD&D for Best RPG at Games Day.  Under the new deal with Avon Hill RuneQuest will now cost £40 up from £30! Which is today's money is about $15 extra ($45 to $60), no idea what the value of that was in 1984 England, but I am sure it was a lot.

A couple of pages on traps.  After a DM with a couple of volumes of Grimtooth's traps I got used to checking for traps as I walked more or less. So today traps don't interest me much.

Open Box has some interesting games.  Lands of Adventure is first. I have never heard of it and Richard Clyne only gives it a 5/10.  Though up next is the classic Middle Earth Roleplaying from ICE.  They were such attractive books and I really lament not getting the game when it was new.  MERP gets 9/10 and Bree and the Barrow Downs (which I wanted FOREVER) gets a 7/10 from Jon Sutherland.  One day I need to spend some quality time with MERP.  The Q Manual for James Bond gets a 9/10.  Also an old favorite is the FASA Star Trek. Russel Clark loves it and gives it a 9/10.

Part 3 of the Ninja article is next. It deals with martial arts and the quasi-mystical ninja powers.  I have seen better treatments but I have seen worse too.

Graeme Davis is next with an article I remember well when I got a copy of this back in college. Beyond the Final Frontier deals with death in the games and how it might not be the last go.  The death myths of different cultures are presented it is a cool read.

Some significant typing is needed for the next article if you want to use the BASIC program to Grow Your Own Planets. This is the first time I have seen program designed specifically for the IBM PC using MS Basic (as opposed to Z80 Basic) in WD.

Some ads.  We come up next to a supers adventure for Golden Heroes and Champions.  Looks fun and simple enough.  I bet it would work fine for Icons, BASH! or M&M.
Not to be forgotten we have an AD&D mini adventure too with a couple of new monsters to boot.

Credit is detailed in Traveller.
"Colour" is the theme in Tabletop Heroes for mini painting.

RuneRites has a couple of really short scenarios. should work with about any game.
Treasure Chest details some old spells and gives them new twists.

Letters concerns itself with questions on what purpose does Tabletop Heroes serve.  Oh just you wait!
News details the new games coming up and licenses seem to rule the day; Indiana Jones, Star Trek, 2010, Conan, Star Fleet Battles and so on.

At this point White Dwarf is up to 56 pages and still 85p.  Most of the new space is used by ads though.
Serviceable issue, made better by the use of the fine cover art.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

TBBYANR: Author Friends

The next two blogs belong to two people I consider friends. Both were huge help to me when I was working  on Ghosts of Albion.

Bobert the Hoosier expatriate

http://bbovenguy.livejournal.com/
Robert Black is someone I have known for more than 10 years.  We were both deeply involved involved in Willow & Tara fandom over at the Kitten Board. It was in my discussions with him that helped me formulate a lot of the ideas I had for the Dragon and the Phoenix and Season of the Witch.  Bob also came up with the original idea for the Sisters of Paradox.  Tara's father Robert in Season of the Witch is named after him. So I owe the guy a debt of gratitude for all the work we did back on the Kitten.
Bob is a YA author. Something he learned well as a writer on the classic "You Can't Do That on Television" back on Nick.  He is the only writer of that show to have dumped green slime on Alanis Morissette.

Dave Chapman's Autocratik
http://autocratik.blogspot.com/
Dave Chapman was working on Conspiracy X 2.0 the same time I was working on Ghosts of Albion.  I used to comment that only Eden hires a guy from Chicago to write a game about Victorian England and an Brit to write an American Conspiracy game.  We helped each other out a lot and then he had come in and do some playtests on Doctor Who.
Dave talks about a number of topics, but mostly related to games he likes.

I say pop on over and check them both out. If you like what you read there pick up one of their books and tell them I sent you.


This week I am running my irregular feature "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading" every day.  If you can instead of replying here, go to the blogs I am featuring and reply there.  I think the owners would like that.

Monday, March 25, 2013

TBBYANR: Aggregate Cognizance

You might recall some posts I have made about the horrible vampire game by Mykal Lakim.
Well a lot of what I know about it all I owe to Wil Hutton and his blog Aggregate Cognizance.

Well he is known for a lot more than being a constant thorn in Paul Cape's side. He has some cool stuff on his site too. So that makes Aggregate Cognizance today's Best Blog You are Not Reading.

Aggregate Cognizance
http://rivetgeek.blogspot.com
Obviously there is the whole Dark Phoenix Publishing/Mykal Lakim/Paul Cape drama to read and I would be lying if I said I didn't find it all fascinating.  HE also has quite a bit of FATE going on his site and he is quite the Tribe 8 fan as well.
I have to admit that his Search Alphabet Soup made me run to my own search keywords to see what people were using to get to me that was worthy of sharing.
The writing is clear and honestly I think with some time this could be one of those cool blogs to read that posts on a bunch of topics but has a central core.  When I pick up FATE again this summer I am going to make a bee-line to this blog and try somethings out.

So come for the FATE but stay for the vampire. Especially vampires.

If you are into Tribe 8 then he does have another blog dedicated to that, Dreams of Flesh and Spirit.
Tribe 8 was always one of those games I wanted to try, but never did.  Of course given my juvenile brain I always think of tribade and might not get out of one session without pissing off someone.

Anyway. Go over to his blog(s). It's good stuff.


This week I am running my irregular feature "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading" every day.  If you can instead of replying here, go to the blogs I am featuring and reply there.  I think the owners would like that.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

TBBYANR: Movie Blogs

I love horror movies of all sorts.  I have a special place in my heart for sexy, cheesy euro-sleaze horror from the 70s to the early 80s.  So for the first set of "The Best Blog You are Not Reading" I would like to pick two film review sites that feature a lot of the movies that would be in my personal Appendix N.

The first is The House of Self-Indulgence

http://houseofselfindulgence.blogspot.com/
Truthfully HoSI breaks a lot of the rules of TBBYANR. It's not new, not small and has over 300 followers.  But it is also not one I see listed in the blog rolls locally, so I am going to let it pass.  Also the film reviews are so in-depth that I imagine that the author, Yum-yum, sits there in a private viewing room, whisky in hand with a leather bound journal and an Aurora Diamante fountain pen writing notes and witty insights to later be given to a secretary (who looks like Lina Romay in her prime) to be put on the blog.  Or something like that.
The reviews are long, in-depth and contain a surprising breadth of knowledge.
So yeah HoSI doesn't really need me to sing their praises, but I am anyway.

Another movie review site is For It Is Man's Number.
http://foritismansnumber.blogspot.com/
Again the focus here is horror, but a lot of other types of movies are covered. Owner Kevin Mathews has some solid old-school tastes. What attracted me to this blog was his coverage of Dracula AD 1972. One of the weakest Hammer Dracula films to be certain, but one I have used in my own games over and over.
Honestly this is one of those blogs where you want to start at the beginning of his blogging and read all the way up to the present day.  The reviews though are also the right size for getting a good feel of the movie.  He provides some Amazon links (which is nice).  I particularly liked going over all his Dracula movies.
What I find odd is that Kevin has been posting quality reviews since 2011 and he still only has 30 followers.  I think that is a crime to be honest.

If you enjoy movies then these are both worth your time.


This week I am running my irregular feature "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading" every day.  If you can instead of replying here, go to the blogs I am featuring and reply there.  I think the owners would like that.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chronicles of Mystara? Yes Please!

I was just thinking the other night I really need a video game to help my D&D itch late at night when I want to game but everyone else is asleep.

This might just be what I need.

http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4news/20130322#85749
http://www.capcom-unity.com/gregaman/blog/2013/03/22/announcing-dungeons-dragons-chronicles-of-mystara

It's Mystara on the Xbox.  How can that be bad?


Ok. So it is not going to replace D&D or even Skryim or even Minecraft in my house. But it will be fun and that is all that counts.

Out in time for my birthday.

Zatannurday: Young Justice

Young Justice ended last week. I have posted anything about it because I still have not watched it yet.  I am also avoiding spoilers on it.
But I thought that in it's passing I'd post a few Young Justice-era Zatanna pics to remind us of how it was or could have been.



Young Justice Zatanna by *Glee-chan on deviantART


Zatanna - Young Justice by ~1984neptune on deviantART


Zatanna Zatara by ~bechedor79 on deviantART


Young Justice: ZETA by *camilliette on deviantART


Young Justice by ~Lola-Gainsborough on deviantART


zatanna by ~matsuri0w0 on deviantART


Zatanna by ~Fueled-by-Rage on deviantART


YJ: The Mistress of Magic by ~galaxyshiba on deviantART


New 52 Zatanna (YJ Style) by ~Youngjusticeaddict on deviantART


Do you believe in magic? by ~Mazrilin on deviantART

And since we didn't stick around long enough to see the rest of the Titans, here are some Ravens.


Young Justice: Raven by *Glee-chan on deviantART


YJ: Raven by *Glee-chan on deviantART


Raven by ~alykam on deviantART


Raven Teen Titans by *jamietyndall on deviantART


Raven by *RagingBarbarian on deviantART
Gonna miss this show.

Friday, March 22, 2013

New Book Stores

I am HUGE advocate of supporting your FLGS and your local book store.
If you have the choice, please always support your local stores when you can.

That all being said there is a new online book store that I am calling "The Book Store of all of Tim's Favorite Things."

Wednesday Mourning from "Oddities: San Francisco" has started a new online book store Orphic Vellum Books.

You can read about it here: http://wednesdaymourning.com/blog/?p=18#comment-38
And see the store here: http://www.wednesdaymourning.com/zencart/

A lot of the books I would want here I already have, but I am hoping to see more soon!
The place looks great and getting these old books would really be nice.

If you buy something from her tell her I sent you!
Not that it would matter at all, but I have always wanted to say that about something...

Friday Updates

hmm this might a regular feature.

Ok so next is a busy, busy week for me.
I am going to post a bunch of "The Best Blogs You Are Not Reading" posts.  I may not though be able to adequately respond to responses or even properly promote the posts.

I am also unsure whether I'll have a White Dwarf Wednesday ready to go at all either.  Yeah, it's going to be that kind of week.

In other news the new D&D Next playtest packet is out. People seem to like it. I have not read it yet myself.

So let me get this all straight WotC is A.) distributing their playtest material for free for anyone to play with and they are updating based on the feedback they are getting. B.) selling PDFs again and C.) have the reprints in physical stores for people to buy.  Oh and every so often Dragon features material for older editions.  It sounds like they are listening to their customers.

Eldritch Witchery Update / Elf Lair Games Update
Ok so. Yeah. I am way late on Eldritch Witchery. It was due out at the same time as the Witch, but needed some additional editing.  In talks with Jason Vey (head Elf at Elf Lair Games) we decided to merge in a couple of other products with EW that fit.  My celtic themed Old School game based on Spellcraft & Swordplay is for the most part dead in the water.  I know. I am saddened by it too, but Jason did not want to be in a position of competing with Troll Lords who publishes his Amazing Adventures game.  I can't say that I blame him.  Besides, the Codex Celtarum looks fantastic.  Éire will see the light of day, someday, but not as a Spellcraft & Swordplay book.  The materials though that went into it have been folded into EW rather nicely.  The other book I was working on was a book on demons and devils for Old School games.  But since that project started we have had a number of good monster books come out.  So that is also being folded in and the Warlock class in EW is getting a nice boost because of it.  I am editing down some things too to make sure this is not going to be a 300 page book.  Some of that will appear here on the blog.

A to Z Blogfest
I am doing demons. Should be fun. I have 100s or so to talk about, so the trick narrowing it down to just 26.
What pushed Demons up over Vampires?  Easy. I found a "Q" demon before a "Q" vampire.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Big Reveal Bloghop

Mina Lobo from Some Dark Romantic and David Macaulay from Brits in the USA are hosting the Big Reveal Bloghop.

Bloggers who have signed up for the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge are letting us know about what their theme is going to be.

Well.

I have gone back and forth a number of times on this. Talked about it in a round about way here and I am finally ready to say I am doing....

Vampires.

No wait. Demons.
Vampires.  Defiantly vampires.....maybe not.

Demons.
Yes Demons.

Yeah.

Ok so I am going to do Demons.

I am going to talk about all sorts of demons, but these will be firmly rooted in an RPG environment point of view. How to add them to games (all sorts) and things like that.
All leading up to their inclusion in my oft-delayed Eldritch Witchery.

I suppose some explanation is in order about EW.  Yes. It's late.  Part of the deal is that it needed more editing than The Witch did.  Also I was talking with Jason at Elf Lair Games and we wanted to merge in the bits from my Celtic game that we are no longer doing and the delayed Demons & Devils book.   The nice thing is you will get a much larger book in the process.

So join me as we go investigating the evilest creatures of myth and fairytale!

Next year I'll do vampires. ;)

Want to see what everyone else is doing?  Check below:


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Second Chance: Swords & Wizardry (Frog God Games)

A while a back I posted that I was giving some products another chance.  One of those products was Swords & Wizardry.

I picked up the Frog God "Complete Rulebook" and spent a lot of time with it.  I think my biggest issue with S&W is that was sold to me as "0 Edition" or "OD&D" and it isn't. I played OD&D and S&W is nothing like it. Well, not "nothing" but it's made some serious changes.  Those changes I think kept me from enjoying the game for what it is.  So after staying away from the game for a number of months I came back and looked at in a different light.  I dropped the idea that is an OD&D clone but instead a Retro Clone stripped down to it's most basic form.  Now that is game I can get behind.  If you ever played any version of D&D or any clone you can play this.  S&W is really the basic essence of what D&D is. The most basic stuff you need to play.  In this new light I saw the changes for what they were, really nice and intuitive changes.
The classics are really basic, but they work. In this Frog God edition you have a more classes, Assassins, Paladins, Rangers, Druids and Monks join Thieves, Clerics, Magic-Users and Fighters.  Races are Human, Elves, Half-elves, Halflings and Dwarves. So again all easily recognizable.
There are a set of good multi-classing rules (which is always nice in an OSR game).
Spells go up to 9 for Magic-Users, 7 for most others.
There are plenty of monsters, tons really.  The monster blocks are simple like everything else.

Really S&W does take a lot of what made OD&D/Dasic D&D so fun, the advances in AD&D and the features that made 3.x so popular.  Yes. It has Ascending AC (which is still the best, sorry old school guys) and I like single saving throw bonus.
This Frog God version shares a lot of the art that appeared in The Tome of Horrors Complete and the layout.  This is not a big deal as far as I am concerned.

At a 134 pages it is a complete game. You don't really need anything else here, though you can use it with nearly other OSR product or any of the scores of products created for S&W.

I am glad I gave this another chance.

If you have this then The Tome of Horrors Complete is a great supplement to have.

If you are new to S&W then there are some other supplements to help you out.

MCMLXXV (aka 1975) is a new introductory module and old-school primer.
At just under 24 pages (minus cover and ogl) this is designed to be something akin to Keep on the Borderlands for S&W, only not as big.  The adventure is small, but in old school terms it is good sized really.  There is less in terms of pages of descriptions than modern day modules. It leaves far more to the imagination of the players and GM.  If there was a Frog God Games S&W box set then this would be included.
Great little adventure that really helps set the tone of the S&W game.

Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities is a new monster book.  New in that is newly published, but some of the monsters we have before either in the SRD or other books.  That though does not detract from it's value as this is a 560+ page book since in addition to that there are some new monsters.  The cover is very evocative of the old-school (pre 1980) covers.
There is much in common between this book and The Tome of Horrors. Each monster is given a page of stats, description and a plot hook.  While ToH used some recycled art, this all seems to be new art.  Even Orcus (which we now have 3 listings for) is new.  Actually the art is pretty darn good and I don't mind the occasional repeat of a monster to see some new art.
Honestly there is so much great stuff in this book that even with the occasional repeat monster this is still a top notch collection. If you play S&W then this is a great monster book to have.  I am even going as far as to say it is a must have for any serious S&W GM.




OD&D
If you really want a game that is close to what OD&D really was like you do have some choices.

First up there is the OD&D set from WotC coming out this fall.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/02/original-d-premium-edition.html

There is also Spellcraft & Swordplay, a personal favorite of mine.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2012/04/s-is-for-spellcraft-swordplay.html

While S&W has some neat ideas, S&S comes closer to OD&D for me.

In any case you can use all of these game to party like it's 1975!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #57

Ok so last week I tried something new and focused on the articles that I remembered the best and talked about what I was doing at the time.  I am not sure that entirely worked out they way I wanted.  I felt like I had left large portions of the magazine unmentioned.  This is going to become a bigger issue as I get into the 60s and 70s since I only recall a couple from that time and almost nothing from 80-100.
Still though. There is a lot I can say. So I think in the interests of trying to find a happy medium I am going to ignore the comics for the most part (unless they figure into what I am talking about) and I might ignore the book reviews.  My tastes in books was  going more to horror and dark fantasy at this point anyway so I less likely to see books I was reading at the time.  Course I could be wrong.

On to the issue!

The cover is pretty cool.  Barbarian on a zebra fighting a guy on a giant bird.  

We get a nice big full page, full color ad for the new FASA Star Trek Game.  I loved that game, but never got a chance to play it.

Ian Livingstone asks the perennial questions about licenced games.Do gamers prefer them?  That's not an easy one to answer. While D&D was and still is to a degree king I would argue that it is it's own brand.  The games I have worked on that have gotten the most attention Buffy and Ghosts of Albion did great and were based on a license.  Another game I dearly love, WitchCraft uses almost the exact same system and Eden has a hard time giving that game away.  So yeah.  My experience is that yes, gamers like licenses.

First article is one on Psionics in AD&D and other FRPGs.  I agree that psionics in most fantasy games are treated like another form of magic. I have a real Love/Hate relationship with psionics in D&D. We used it in our AD&D games and it was fun. I even was part of an OD&D game one summer that all the characters were psionic and that was a blast too.  But generally speaking I don't like to mix my magic and psionics.  Eventually my distaste for Psionics in D&D manifested as psionic characters were hunted like witches in my magic-centric world.  Played out rather nice really.  The article by Todd E. Sundsted does a good job of giving you tips on how to use psionics in a game and even gives them a more modern point of view.
Conversely I also don't like Magic in my Sci-Fi settings, but I do like to have Psionics in them.

Open Box is back to it's regular format.  Up first we have the first four Role-Aids books from Mayfair Games.  I have had a long relationship with Mayfair and I have enjoyed the Role-Aids books quite a bit.  Robert Dale here doesn't agree. He gives Dwarves, Elves and Dark Folk all 3/10.  Wizards fares better with 6/10.  Andy Slack gives 9/10 to the Traveller Adventures book.  Powers and Perils was always one of those games I was curious about but never bought back then.  I have a copy a copy now and it is cool. Adrian Knowles gives it 8/10, I'd do 7/10 myself.   Continuing with a licensed game we have the new James Bond 007 game which comes in two versions a single book or a box set.  You can see the shift here in that the reviewer, Bob Neville, far prefers the single book option. He faults it on several points, one of which I thought was amusing that it was written by Americans.   In the end he enjoyed it enough to overcome it and gave it a 6/10.

Sky Rig is a Traveller Scenario for 3-6 characters.  We are now at a point where the books needed to play must be indicated. An issue D&D has had for a bit now, but new here. The scenario is 5 pages long and looks good, but I am not a good judge of these things.  WD does use one of their color pages for an illustration though.  Most likely it for the Dragonlance ad that appears next and this was the same page in layout/printing.

Yes. Big Dragonlance ad is next. Often seen as the herald of the Silver Age or at least the herald of the end of the Golden Age.  The end actually happened much longer than this I would say.   To paraphrase Star Trek III the Search for Spock it was "the bold Experiment".  Now lets be honest.  Those ads sucked you in just as much as me.  The bold adventurers the dragons. That evil looking Darth Vader looking dude.  I never played the Dragonlance adventures, though I read the novels.  I hated the Kinder, I thought "Steel Pieces" and no gold was stupid.  But I still was caught up in it enough to buy the books again as an adult and the 3rd edition campaign guide.

We get more Living Dead in RuneQuest.  Again, cool and certainly something I want to come back too now I have finally picked up some RuneQuest books.

More on Ninjas in AD&D, RuneQuest and Bushido.  I loved these cross system articles.  The Ninja has gotten more treatments in AD&D than Witches I think (but still less than Necromancers).  I liked reading the Ninja stuff other people did cause I saw the same single mindedness I had with the witch.  Again if you remember last week I have played only one ninja my entire gaming life.

Lew Pulsipher is back with Lew's Views. He covers the life of a retired wizard. One issue it covers is the idea of "Magic Shops".  I like magic shops, but they are rare in my world as to be unique.

Part II of the AD&D of the Island of Rammas, The Sunfire's Heart, is next.  The adventure is quite in-depth as well. It got me thinking that the quality of adventures from White Dwarf always seemed a bit better than that of Dragon and the later Dungeon.  At least at this point in time.  Later I would give teh nod to Dungeon and Dragon, but today it is White Dwarf.  This adventure has some neat idea like the Frost Vampire.

Andy Slack has a new race for Traveller, the Staurni.  It's a snake with arms and wings.  Neat, but not something I would use myself.

Fiend Factory is back with monsters from the Majipoor Chronicles by Robert Silverberg.  Quite a collection too. I have no experience with the books, but the monsters looks interesting enough.

Tabletop Heroes has a how-to-do guide on how to set up bases for your minis, including some nice full color photos.

Letters has praise for the last few issues, including the comics.

Another Reader Survey is next. I'll discuss this when the results are published.

Treasure Chest has some tips for spell usage and a crossword puzzle.  I stared at the crossword and wondered if it could double up as a dungeon.

News items deals with the rumors of of games called "Toon" and "Paranoia".  NOW the Golden Age is dead! ;)

Despite the fact there is not much more here than the last issues, I felt this was a better issue.  Maybe due to the good adventures and monsters.

Book Whore: Cover Wars

One of my finds made Book Whore: Cover Wars!
http://www.bookwhoreblog.com/2013/03/cover-wars-rhiannon-frater-vs-kt-grant.html




Yes.

I have read both books.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gothridge Manor Giveaway

One of my favortie blogs, Gothridge Manor, just hit 1,000 posts!


To mark the occasion they are giving away an OSR bundle to one lucky commentor on today's 1,000 post.
http://gothridgemanor.blogspot.com/2013/03/1000-posts-osr-mega-bundle-giveaway.html

Included in the bundle is my own OSR book "The Witch".

Go on over, comment and maybe you will win this mega prize bundle!


The Best blog You Are Not Reading!

Next week I'd like to run a week long features of "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading".

I have run this in the past, off and on, but I really want to get some focus on some blogs that I enjoy that you may not know of yet.  I have five ready to go but I also wanted to give you all the chance to send me your recommendations

Preferably the blog should be newer and/or have only a few subscribers.  Alternately it can also be one that is far outside the normal reading you usually do.

Yes of course you can choose your own blog.

So let me know in the comments below and I'll take a look.  If I like it I'll mention it next week!


Monday, March 18, 2013

The Freedom of Nonbelief: Asking For it

A post over at my other blog that is not entirely appropriate for this blog.  BUT I wanted to let you know about it all the same.

The Freedom of Nonbelief: Asking For it

Leave any comments there.

The Rise and Fall of Grognardia

Content Warning: Pre-coffee navel gazing.

A couple of interesting posts this past week on the subject of James, Grognardia and Dwimmermount and how much a reputation can take before it is trashed beyond repair.

The posts are here and you can read them at your leisure if you haven't already.

Let's use Gorgonlilk's term and say this is the post Grognardia era. What does that mean (whether true or not, or descriptive or not) to the OSR blog reader in general?  
Well. We certainly have lost a voice, a cheerleader as it were.

And he was very vocal.  
Here is something I found interesting,  The daily visits to Grognardia are still about 1000 a day.   Not too shabby for a site that has not been updated since November really (and one post in December). 

Many people came to his site and then found the rest of this corner of the internet, but now I feel that many are going to his site only out of morbid curiosity.  

On one hand really, he is only late on a project.  If that were a crime then 80% of the gaming industry would be guilty of that.  On the other hand though he is on the line for nearly $50k, no communication and no paid free-lancers.  Which is some cases could be a crime.   While I have seen people and companies come back from worse PR problems, it hasn't been very many.

In those cases there is a lot of goodwill usually between the person/company and the community.  I think that the goodwill is being burned up here.

I don't know.  What do you all think?  Can James still pull himself out of the abyss and comeback?
Is there an OSR Oprah he can go to, sound contrite and get forgiveness?



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Palace of the Vampire Queen

Ran Palace of the Vampire Queen yesterday.

It went great I felt.  The kids had been playing D&D Basic all day, so I didn't have to explain the rules to them at all which was cool.

We might be doing this all again in August around Gen Con time.  I'd like to run some other games too.  Maybe that Chill game set in 1976 I have been dying to run.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Zatannurday: Wearing O' the Green

Zatanna has had some interesting costume choices over the years, but she has stuck mostly with the black/blue themes.  Superheroes don't change their costumes often.
So even on St. Patty's Zatanna (who I would say is predominantly Italian anyway) isn't really going to wear green.  But she hangs out with a lot of people that do.

Here is Zee with a collection of "Green" Heroes.











Happy St. Pats!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday Updates

Well it seems to be a race now between Feedly and NetVibes.  The Feedly intetface is nicer and faster, NetVibes adds a lot of nice social networking features.

As many of you know I am participating in the A to Z challenge again this year.  I am also working as an Ambassador for the challenge.  This means I'll be going over sites and encouraging them to post, comment and the like.
You can read about that here, http://tossingitout.blogspot.com/2013/03/meet-arlees-to-z-ambassadors-part-1.html

I also joined D.L. Hammons'  Blogging Blitz. This is an ongoing blog-fest to drive new visitors to your site.
I plan to use it in conjunction with my own "The Best Blog You are Not Reading" feature (which I am way overdue on) to get the word out on some cool, but under read blogs.


Here is the code to sign up!


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Well. This Sucks, Part 2

Ok.  I went from irritation to anger to irritation to resignation to careful optimism today on this.

This will give me the chance to try new readers and maybe ones that connect with Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter better.

Presently I am trying Netvvibes. Has a lot of features I like.  I'll post more later.

Well. This sucks.

So many of you are getting the news today about Google Reader.
Google plans to sunset the application in July 2013.

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-second-spring-of-cleaning.html
http://support.google.com/reader/answer/3028851
http://googlereader.blogspot.com/

And this for exporting your data.
http://www.dataliberation.org/google/reader

I am not sure what I will do about reading blogs, I have grown rather attached to Reader.
I suppose there are many other cross-platform solutions, so I suppose I better start looking.

So what do you all use to read your blogs with?  I am on multiple computers and OSes.

ETA: Here are some ones I am looking at.
http://www.bloglines.com/
http://theoldreader.com/
http://www.newsblur.com/
http://likehack.com/

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #56

It's August 1984 and White Dwarf 56 is on the shelves and newsstands.

I have felt that the last few issues of White Dwarf, and my reviews of them, have been in something of a rut.  So for this issue I think instead of dedicating time to the minutia of the issue,  I will instead highlight sections and talk about what they meant to me then and now.

Interestingly enough I am starting in the same place; the editorial.  Ian Livingstone (and if memory serves these are among his last issues) talks about the state of the British RPG hobby.  While in retrospect I can see what he is saying, but back in 84 England was this magical land where True Roleplaying games come from.  Even the best American games had English roots.  Or so I thought.  Imagine my surprise living in Illinois that Ground Zero for RPGS was just a couple hundred miles north of me.  When I got to college I heard stories about how Gary would come down to SIU to play D&D. The store I was mail ordering from to get rare items (like White Dwarf) was in a Chicago suburb I would later move too and stay for 10 years.  So my perspective then was one of an anglophile living in a town that was in the middle of a cornfield and not really based on any reality.  It is interesting though that reading this now I do still think of the British RPG market as being more serious.  I think this is largely due to White Dwarf itself.
It was about this time I was HEAVY into Doctor Who, so the FASA game was on my must have list.

Up next is an article about playing Ninjas in FRPGs.  In the early 80s everyone was obsessed with Japanese culture and society.  Though I guess ninjas never really go out of style. I have played exactly 1 ninja my entire  gaming life.  His name was (horrible I know) Oko-nishi.  My lame attempts at a Japanese sounding name.  In my defense at what I knew was bad I made him a half-orc.  It must have been around this time I made him too using the Oriental Adventure rules.  My then DM and I had worked up a D&D combat simulator and we plugged him in with 9 other characters.  He was attacked by a Black Dragon (or Red, cant recall) and killed. The dragon kept attacking him and only him.  We had not worked out all the errors. In the end he had been reduced to something like -70 hp.  My DM offered to let him be ok, or keep him dead. We enjoyed watching it so much and getting the mental image of this dragon jumping up and down on my dead ninja that I felt it was a waste to say it never happened.
I am pretty sure that my half-orc ninja was not based on the cover of this issue.

Open Box switches to a new format. The games are now on "cards" like an offset window, self contained.  It makes it easier to see what you are reading and jump to a particular game, but the space economy is terrible.     The review I focused on was the World of Harn game.  It gets a 6/10.

A few more pages in we get something that was a feature of Dragon, the stating up of book characters.  In this case The Belgariad by David Eddings. This is something I do to this day. The issue then as now is that characters in books, movies or TV are not built according to the D&D rules.  We saw that a couple of issues back with Gandalf cast as a Cleric.  There is an ad for the books later in the magazine.

Up next is an interesting Call of Cthulhu game that takes place in the future on a distant planet. The Last Log is an interesting thing really. I was not expecting to see CoC used like this, but of course it works.  The creatures of Lovecraft's stories are more alien than demonic.    This very notion will be explored again and again till most recently with Eldritch Skies and Cthulhu Tech.
The adventure itself would fit in nicely with either of the newer products above and it was a nice bit of forward thinking.  Not so forward was the "dot matrix printer paper" of the layout, but hey.

We also get an AD&D adventure on an island.

The minis section works with the Cthulhu adventure (which some are used) and/or Traveller or Star Frontiers.

We get more ads in the middle of the magazine, similar to the style of Dragon including one for the new Dragonlance modules.

Fiend Factory seems to get back to made it so good in the past, really neat monsters.  This issue has monsters from the Planes.

An article on Tech in D&D.  For no reason better than "I don't wanna!" I never liked tech in D&D including black powder.

The newstand reports that TSR is releasing the Companion Rules. Finally.  I had moved on to AD&D at this point and was not a fan of the Mentzer books.  Now I am of course. Also excitement over the new Indiana Jones game that is due out.  An interesting bit about a new movie based on H.P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space is being made.  Wonder what happened to it?

Near the end we get one of the first of what I call the "classic" ads for MERP from ICE.

So in truth this is a better issue than the previous ones.  The common thread is taking the game you are playing and doing something new with them.  Maybe we are turning a corner here.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kickstarter: Metal Dice

New Kickstarter brought to my attention.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/623394548/precision-machined-role-playing-dice-hyper-precisi


Honestly it looks pretty cool and might be fun to have.  I'd get a Brass d10 for Ghosts of Albion to give it a steampunk feel.

Check it out and through some money at them.

GM's Day Sale: Last 24 hours

The GMs Day sale DriveThruRPG and RPGNow is ending soon.



We are in the last 24 (or 22 now) hours of the sale, so if there is something you really want and you want it cheaper then now is the time.

The GM's sale over at DriveThruRPG also extends over to it's sister site, DNDClassics.com.
For sale are the various  Historical References for 2nd Ed AD&D, but good really for any version of the game.

DnDClassics.com and DriveThruRPG

Just click on the links or banner above to get going!





Getting Basic

Getting ready for Palace of the Vampire Queen this weekend.


Got my books, the adventure and five (soon seven just in case) B/X characters around 5th-7th level.
I still want to stat up a witch character just in case.  Just need to throw some dice into that pile and I am ready to go.  I might make the vampire queen a witch with the Gypsy tradition. Mostly because I have had "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" by April Wine going through my head ever since I have started working on this.


Two copies of the adventure, Palace of the Vampire Queen.  Since it is 5 levels and I only have 4 hours the kids will get some rough maps.  From the previous survivors, besides the Queen doesn't mind unannounced guests...for dinner! (sorry. couldn't help it.)

Good, old fashioned dungeon crawl with empty rooms, treasure just laying around random monsters and the big bad at the end.  Gonna party like it's 1981!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Return to the Tomb! Part 2

Like I reported Friday I picked up the "new" Dungeons of Dread.



The format is the same as the new AD&D book reprints.  It is a reproduction of the S modules interior from the late 70s/early 80s.  Unlike the Realms of Horror, the 1987 compilation of the the S series, these are exact replicas.  The book has been re-paginated to accommodate the newer format.

The pages are a bit glossy and remind me of the newer D&D 4 books, like Tomb of Horrors below.



You might not be able to see this as well, but the print on the new book is darker and a little less clear.   The picture of the Aludemon was the worse example I could find.   It's not bad, just a little harder to see the details.


The portions of the modules that were "pull out" like maps, the visual guide to Tomb of Horrors and Expedition Beyond the Barrier Peaks and the new monsters and spells booklet for S4 are all bound in int he book.  The 87 Realms of Horror had it as a seperate booklet.

So what is the verdict?

Well it's mixed.  The S series were "my" modules.  These are the ones I ran in my group in High School and I recently had so much fun with them when I took my kids through White Plume Mountain and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.  One day I will take them through the Tomb of Horrors, I have a copy for every edition of the game and certain the Barrier Peaks.  So yeah, I love these crazy ass adventures.
But this book is not the best way to the run them.
It's a great book for the 40+ year old geek that enjoys reading these things. I love that these books are getting made.  I also enjoyed the new introduction by  Lawrence Schick that gave some insight to the writing of the modules.

Honestly I think the best modern form of the old modules are the ones you can get from DnDClassics.com.
I can buy the PDF for cheap and print out what I need.  Often I print out player's maps and I usually print out a page per sheet (not a page per side) so I can write notes on the blank backsides of the pages.   I can then through the whole thing in a 3-Ring binder with any other material I need (such as monster page from the Tome of Horror).

Still though.  I am still considering getting the others.  I know the A series is up next.  I never owned copy of the original modules so I might get that.  I have not seen the GDQ modules on the products page, but I grabbed the PDFs.

Still though. Tomb of Horrors in it's original 1st deadliness.  That's gotta be worth something. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Palace of the Vampire Queen

Next weekend my friend Greg is hosting a mini-con for his D&D group, the Streamwood Dungeoneers.  My son plays in his group every weekend, so I was asked to prep and run an Old School adventure.
Greg wanted to give his players, the Gen Con experience since none of us are going Gen Con or even Gary Con this year.

I had a bunch of ideas, but I wanted to play to my strengths.  At first I wanted to do Ravenloft, but that would take to long.  So instead I am going to run Palace of the Vampire Queen using Basic/Expert D&D and my Witch book.

I have been dying to run this since I first scored a copy about three years ago.
This is a classic adventure and has been talked about on various blog before. Here is Grognardia's take and a bit from Jeff's Game Blog.  To be able to run this in a Con like setting is going to be a real treat.

Since that 2010 post I have picked up another copy from Pacesetter (not sure if it is the same Pacesetter that did 1st Ed Chill).

The module is thin.  Not just in size but in terms of plot too.
I'll give the kids some background and I might develop the character of the vampire queen more using my Basic Vampire supplement (which is free by the way).  She is a self-styled vampire Queen in my mind.  So not Akasha or even Marceline.

But in truth it is going to be a simple dungeon crawl with lots of undead and a big bad at the end.
Just like like to old days!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Zatannurday: Bloodspell

A recent posting on Paul Dini's Facebook page got my attention.

A draft cover for the oft delayed Zatanna/Black Canary team up comic.


 Joe Quinones is doing the art and I have featured some bits from him before but here are a few more from his blog.


I like Zee's mystical robes here.

Hopefully we will get to see this soon!


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