Friday, January 31, 2014

American Horror Story: Coven

Finished watching American Horror Story Coven last night.

Wow. That was a trip!  Pretty much everything you have read here put into a blender and poured out on to my TV.  I loved every minute of it.

I have some ideas on how to incorporate it into my ongoing games, but want to wait till next week when everyone that is going to watch it has and, well, I got caught up in work today.
(and Blogger is acting up. took me forever to post this)

I already pre-ordered the Blu-Ray.  I gotta see the behind the scenes features and listen to the commentary.

Personally I see plenty of potential for Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Amazon Store

I have set up an Amazon Affiliates store for this blog.

What does that mean? Well you can use links I provide to buy things I talk about.  But each and everyone is handpicked by me, so nothing that would not normally appear here anyway.

The store at the moment has three sub-categories.

  • Appendix-N  - classics from the Appendix N library.
  • Modern Supernatural - books and novels taking place in the modern day Earth + magic
  • Witches - books and encyclopedias about Witches, magic, demons and the like.

I am not planning on this making really any money.  Last time I did this I made something like $40.00 over three years.  But if I can I'll pour it right back into the site, or gift cards.  Those are good too.

Custom Classes from Thoul's Paradise

One of my favorite Dragon articles of all time was from Dragon #109 dealing with customized classes for the D&D Basic game. We of course adapted it over to AD&D, though to be fair we played a combination of D&D and AD&D back then.  From that article came the Riddlemaster, Shadowmaster and Beastmaster classes from my DM and the Healer, Sun Priest and Death Mage classes from me.  I had already started notes on the witch including an XP by level that I was fond of and didn't want to change it.

Last week Perdustin over at Thoul's Paradise posted a reflection on this article and got me thinking about the custom classes I had made then.  This week he posted a little on his analysis of the the classes with his tweaks.
I thought I would have a look at my Witch class as well.

Here are his posts:
Customized Classes (part I) and
Customized Classes (part II)

Here is my attempt.

So the biggest issue for me is that the Witch advances to Spell level 8, not 7 like the Cleric or 9 like the Magic-User.  So I roughly split the difference on the Magic cost, rounding up for the more Magic-user like nature of the Witch spells.

If you look at the XP values for the Witch and compare them to Thoul's my Witch is coming up a bit short on needed XP. But that is based on MU magic.  The adjusted Magic cost puts mine and Thoul's a little closer together (see Delta Col).

I'd like to try this again with my old Healer class and see how it worked out.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

White Dwarf Wednesday #95

White Dwarf Issue # 95 from November 1987.
I want to state upfront that I actually don't have the flexi-disc. It was not part of the magazine when I got it (no surprise really). Plus I don't actually own a turn-table anymore so even if I did have it.

White Dwarf #95 takes us to November 1987.  I asked my wife if she remembers what we were doing then. She didn't recall.  I know that gamewise my old 1st Ed DM had come up and we were running an adventure together for some other people in the dorm.  One of the characters we made that day would later live on as a vampire in other games and finally come back to my 3rd Ed game as the only person in my games to ever be cured of vampirism.  I think I mentioned this one before. (yup, WDW 93).

Sean Masterson discusses the influence fantasy and sci-fi has had on rock.  There is the obvious influence of metal at least on gaming, at least in terms of how WD does it.  So we should not be surprised when gaming influences metal. Thus the flexi disk that came with the magazine.

Marginalia, Open Box's lesser offspring, is next with "reviews" of some GW products.  Up first is "The Fury of Dracula" board game.  I'll admit I have always wanted to play this one, and it always looked rather cool.  Reading these design notes/reviews actually get me more interested in a game.  Though I do feel compelled to point out something. The review is written for the point of view of someone who has only known Dracula in movies and maybe never read the book.  That is fine, a lot of people don't like the book.  They are careful to point out that Dracula was killed with a Bowie knife to the heart in the book (true) but add that he was trying to build an empire of the undead (not true).  Not quite sure where they got that.  Of course people have also been looking for some deeper romantic connection between Mina and Dracula and that was also never in the book.
Covered next are two city books, one for Warhammer the other for Judge Dredd.

Critical Mass covers a number of Sci-fi books including the latest Stainless Steel Rat book.  Never could get into this series.

Our first big adventure of the issue is for Judge Dredd, "To Live and Die in Megacity One, Prog: 2 The Big Sleep".  Again hard for me to judge this one, but I have been told that the Judge Dredd adventures of this time are good. It is a long one, 10 pages with 2 more of maps.

Lots of pages of pictures of painted minis even before we get to 'Eavy Metal. Here is a review (more detailed than I ever could do) on the minis.

Actually if you are looking for you White Dwarf fix every week I would recommend Realms of Chaos 80s as a good blog dedicated to things I only briefly touched on.

Ad for Fury of Dracula.  At first I thought it was a mis-print of the first page of Marginalia again.  Looked exactly the same.

"On the Boil" is an adventure (or is it Scenario?) for Warhammer Fantasy. 5 pages.  I wish I knew more about Warhammer to be honest.  Not just to judge these, but because reading these makes me aware of a huge gap I have in my RPG background.  I honestly don't think I would get much out of the Warhammer experience. I can't paint. I don't like collecting minis of armies.  But there is something so...well, Warhammer, about it.  I am sure there has to be something in this experience that I could port back over to my own old-school D&D games.

"The Madcap Laughs" deals with setting the scenes for new Stormbringer Adventures.

"Warhammer Rock" is where the flexi-disk would have been. It is also an interview with the band Sabbat.
Here is a link to the entire article.

And here is the song.

The lyrics are in the magazine and on the video page on YouTube.

Next are ads, then Illuminations featuring the art of John Blanche.
Letters follow and then some ads.

Again we see similar things here that we did in issue 94.  I have mixed feelings about Marginalia; I like the in-depth reviews but dislike that they are only focusing on house brands. Granted that is really the only way a magazine would do it and in 1987 I wasn't buying much of anything.

If you are looking for another good source of White Dwarf information I have been enjoying the fuckyeahbritisholdschoolgaming blog on tumblr

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Coming Soon! Strange Brew

Remember when I said I had a lot of projects on my plate?

Strange Brew by Peter Bradley

She's a witch of trouble in electric blue.
In her own mad mind she's in love with you,
With you.
Now what you gonna do?
Strange brew ...

Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock. Coming soon for the Pathfinder RPG.

Discuss this over at the Paizo boards as well.


February brings us the D&D 40th Anniversary Bloghop challenge from d20 Dark Ages.
If you have a D&D-related blog I would like to see you sign up. I think it will be very interesting to see everyone's stories.

You have plenty of time to sign up.

Also coming up is the big April A to Z bloghop.  I have participated in this every year now for a while. Sometimes while doing my Atheism blog and the Red Sonja blog I participate in.

I will be honest.  The April A to Z has gotten huge. Maybe way too big. Plus I am not sure my enthusiasm is there for it this year.  I do have things I can post.  That is not the issue. The issue is one of time really.  I have a lot of projects I am working on now for myself and other publishers, so I think I might not do it this year.  Or least not do it to the level I had been.

Wait and see I guess. If I get a lot done the next couple of months I might change my mind.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hex and Skylla's Magic School Reunion

I am still enjoying the release of the Glantri Gazeteer on  One of the really fun things for me was of course the Magic School.  Loved the idea of a huge magical university, esp since I had gone off to University at that point myself.

The Seven Secret Crafts of the magic school also grabbed my attention.  They were Alchemy, Dracology, Elementalism, Illusion, Necromancy, Cyrptomancy and Witchcraft.  No surprise it got my notice.

I always wanted to try these out in a game, but by the time I had purchased this book I was moving on 2nd ed and gaming and grad school didn't mix so well.

With this new release I thought I would come back to it!  And I have two perfect characters to try out, Skylla and Hex.  

So former BFFs and now Frenemies have come back to Glantri's Magic School on their 10th year reunion. Wacky hijinks ensue. Yes. You D&D game is not complete if you can't have at least one Wacky Hijinks adventure.  To get even crazier why not have Aleena and Morgan Ironwolf there as well. All four could have been living in the apartment when going to their various schools. Sure and Skylla dated Bargle. 
Honestly, the more I think about it the more I like the idea of a "Class Reunion" style adventure.  The PCs come back to celebrate 10 years since they graduated/left home and some local guy gets the idea of disrupting the scene.   That might become my next Gen Con adventure.

This isn't too far out of an idea. The Glantri book itself suggests a "Magic School" game where all the PCs are 12 year old 1st level magic users.

Anyway. I am thinking 10 year since I am keeping Skylla at level 7. I'll use Hex at 7 as well since that would give me a good bit of comparison.  These builds will use the BECMI rules (not my more familiar B/X or Witch rules).

Both characters are basically 7th level Magic-users as per the BECMI Expert Set.

Skylla, 7th Level Magic-User (Witchcraft)
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 15*
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 8 (down from 11)

Hit Points:  25
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 3 (Ring of Protection +1)

Witchcraft Circle Powers
First Circle: Brews and Philters, Silver Tongue
Second Circle: Doll Curse, Witch's Charm

First: Charm Person, Light, Read Magic
Second: Knock, Levitate
Third: Hold Person,  Lightning Bolt
Fourth: Dimension Door

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Staff of Enchantment, demon helm (+1 saves vs. demons and charming magic, +1 AC)

Hex, 7th Level Magic-User (Necromancy)
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 15

Hit Points: 30
Alignment: Neutral (maybe a little Chaotic)
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Necromancy Circle Powers
1st Circle: Protection from Undead
2nd Circle:

First: Dark, Shield, Sleep
Second: Levitate, Phantasmal Force
Third: Fly, Hold Person
Fourth: Ice Wall

Magic Items
Talisman of Protection (AC 6)

Not bad builds. There must be something to this CHA reduction; I have seen it too many times now.  I am not a fan of it, especially in older D&D, but I guess people like how it works.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Happy Birthday D&D!

Today is the official unofficial birthday of D&D. At least according to Jon Peterson.
That's good enough for me really.

Might get to play some D&D today, depending how the weather cooperates with me.

I am thinking AD&D with Keep on the Borderlands might be the way to go.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Salem on WGN

So Witches of East End is done till Season 2 and American Horror Story Coven is done now (no spoilers, I have it on DVR).  Sleepy Hollow rescued Katrina for a few brief seconds and now it is done till Season 2.
How am I going to get my witches on TV fix now?


Thank you WGN America.  Not sure if that is the same as the WGN we get here in Chicago, but I am sure I'll be able to find it somewhere.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Organizing Day

Have a bunch things to organize today.  Sending out copies of the Witch and EW to a freind, organizing all my works in progress in Google docs, planning out the products I want to get out to you all over the next year.

Something of substance soon.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

White Dwarf Wednesday #94

White Dwarf #94 is an interesting one for me.  Not because of the content, which I'll get to, but because I didn't even own this one when I started doing this so long ago. Soon after though I found this one, added it to the box and then never really looked at it again.  I kind of like to be surprised when I first open them up and write about it at the same time.  So lets see what White Dwarf #94 from October 1987 has to offer.

First off we have another Chris Achilleos cover. Raven's Oath actually was a book cover fist. I remember finding the Raven, Sheildmistress of Chaos books at the local used bookstore that was my go to spot for old books, D&D and everything for my first year in college.  It's gone now.  But I did get a copy the original Deities and Demigods with Cthulhu and Elric for only 18 bucks.  Still have that.  Never bought any of the Raven books though.

New Editor, Sean Masterson, with an old story, big changes coming to White Dwarf.

The first big change is that Open Box is gone.
Yup. It has been replaced with Marginalia, or design notes from the GW team.  While it is an interesting idea and one I would have enjoyed IF I were at all interested in the Warhammer products, I can't help but think that it is a poor substitute for Open Box.  Sure most pretense at bias was given up a long time ago it was still no worse than the reviews in Dragon. Just a different slant.
Still. It is quite sad to see this one last vestige of classic White Dwarf go away.
There are some reviews for RuneQuest's Land of the Ninja and Paranoia 2.

Stop Press is the new rumors column.  I seem to say that a lot.  Let's be honest, rumors are really not all that interesting in a 25 year old magazine.

Critical Mass covers Elric at the End of Time. A potentially interesting, but some what dull in the end, entry of the Elric saga.  I was pretty heavy into Elric, Corum, Hawkmoon,  and Count Brass at this point so I grabbed this one when it came out. I think it sat on my "to be read" pile for a number of years.

A Rough Night at the Three Feathers is a short adventure for Warhammer Fantasy.  Could be converted I am sure, but I think something would be lost in the process.   I almost picked up a copy of Warhammer Fantasy the other day at Half-Price Books.

Likewise we have adventures for Judge Dredd and Call of Cthulhu.

Some more about Warhammer 40k and Blood Bowl.

We end with the normal rounds of ads and letters.

Yeah, so kind of a disappointment really. More so I guess seeing how I actually sought this one out to complete my collection.

If you are looking for more details on the minis that appeared in this issue then head over to Realms of Chaos 80s. A new find (new to me).

Next week: Anyone have a turn-table I can borrow?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

GAZ 3: The Principalities of Glantri

One of my all time favorite books in the GAZ series and maybe even the entire Basic D&D line is out today at

GAZ 3 The Principalities of Glantri.

Even today I go back to this book.  I loved Glantri and made it "my" country for years.  The School of Magic, the Necromancers, the Witches and more.  Just a treasure trove of great stuff.

I recently picked up a "new" copy of the dead tree version, but having the PDF will be great.

Maleficent Trailer 2

The next trailer for Maledicent is now out.  Angelina Jolie still has cheekbones you could get cut on but her evil is downplayed.  Sure we are told she is Disney's greatest villain (though I think Jafar might edge her out to be honest) we just don't see it.

Here is the synopsis according to Disney's site.

"Maleficent" explores the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty" and the elements of her betrayal that ultimately turn her pure heart to stone. Driven by revenge and a fierce desire to protect the moors over which she presides, Maleficent cruelly places an irrevocable curse upon the human king’s newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Aurora is caught in the middle of the seething conflict between the forest kingdom she has grown to love and the human kingdom that holds her legacy. Maleficent realizes that Aurora may hold the key to peace in the land and is forced to take drastic actions that will change both worlds forever.
Not a surprise here really.  But in truth villains need to be more complex than simple evil for evil's sake. I still hope there is plenty of evil in her too.

Still though it's Angelina Jolie as Maleficent. It is  going to be fun.

Id still like to see this movie though:

Monday, January 20, 2014


So old schoolers (and people with opinions).  Do you use Psionics/Pychic powers in your game?

We used to use the quite a bit in the 1st Ed days then I pretty much dropped them till I started playing WitchCraft in the late 90s.

Call me strange, but I never really liked to mix my magic and psionics.  When I did I made them very, very different things.

What about you? What did your all like to do or still do?

Hero Forge

Have you seen this new Kickstarter?

Hero Forge is new application of the character builder idea.  Like in most character builders you design your character based on some built in elements and print it out.  With this one the printer is a high quality 3D printer and your output is a miniature for your game.

Personally I think this a fantastic.  At work we have been wanting a 3D printer, just kind find a good reason to buy one.  We call it a solution looking for a problem.  Well here is the problem!

The cool thing is if you configure a 28mm mini you like you can scale it up to 3" and 6".

Here are a couple of other sites to help explain.

They blew past their funding goal in 72hours and are going great.
So they don't really need my money, but this looks so nice.

I already have some minis I really love, and I can't paint to save my life.  But this still looks really awesome.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Zatannurday: What's Up Doc?

Zatanna and Bugs. I suppose this was bound to happen. Both are Warner properties.
Saw this one on Facebook and soon there were a lot more in my various feeds.  Not enough to make it a trend or a meme but enough to make me notice.

Zatanna - Ehh, what's up, doc? by MZ09 on deviantART

Zatanna and Bugs Bunny by Helob on deviantART

Cod, pu s'tahw by Aeolus06 on deviantART

And not the first times either. She pulled him out of her hat in the DCAU. Well sorta...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Custom World Maps to Globes?

I love old maps and old globes.

But what I would really love is a globe of my game world.

All I have is this map:

I didn't even make that. That comes solely from the skills of +Rich Trickey and +James Mishler.
Nor really do I have the skills to do it myself.

But I have always wanted a globe of my game world. Something I could use, but mostly put on display in my game room.

Anyone know of anyone that has done something like this?  Anyone know of place where I could get one made?

D20 Dark Ages: D&D 40th Anniversary Blog Hop Challenge

I have been following d20 Dark Ages for quite a while now.  To celebrate 40 years of D&D Stelios is hosting a blog hop in February and I am joining in!

I think it is going to be a lot of fun to do AND to read what everyone else has to say.  In truth you can pick over the last few years of my blog here and find my answers to most of these.  But getting them all into once theme and place will be nice.

So go to his blog, sign up and start working on your posts!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ghosts of Albion: Shaniezak demon

Been going through a lot of my Ghosts of Albion materials.  Seeing if I would like to run anything for Gen Con.  One adventure I have ran in the past and would love to try under different systems is "Obsession".
I could run it under a different system each night...

Well I am not likely to run it under Ghosts of Albion anymore and it would not really work under the OSR rules.  Since I running to a meeting here in a bit, here is a demon for you that would work for any game.

I am not embarrassed to say that this was one my influences on this adventure and demon.  I thought Astrid Plane was hot.

Shaniezak Demon

“This creature at first reminds you of a fetal human.  Its wrinkled pinched face, bald head and fat features bring to mind a cherub, only this no angelic child.  Its eyes are a black with orange irises, set in a head that seems too heavy for its unseen neck.  Two fat arms extend for it like normal, but its own obesity has made the thick digits of its hand all but useless.  Its skin around its upper body is a sickly yellowish hue, like it had been soaking in bromide wash, tuning dun brown as moves down.  Its entire body is covered in a sheen of foul looking slime.  Where its legs would have been has fused into a single thick fluke that noisily slaps against its host.  Tufts of black hair appear hear and there on its body. Most disturbing though is its maw.  Starting from it’s sternum down to its malformed waist is a gapping maw. Slime issues forth from it as it suckles against the body of its host.  Its head has turned nearly 180 degrees around in order to peer at you though it’s damned hellfire orange eyes.

The entire creature brings to mind the working of an insane artist asked to make a portrait of a child.  Instead of a mother and babe we get this abomination and its host that is no more than a bag of skin over bones.  It starves while the Shaniezak gets fat.”
- From the Journal of Tamara Swift

Long ago the Shaiezak demons were banished to lowest parts of the Nether Realms where they fed on the waste and offal of other demons. There they were to be forgotten, but sometimes these disgusting parasites are summoned to the Earthly realms to cause havoc.

Shaniezak (demon enhanced human)
Ghosts of Albion
Type: Possessed human
Attributes (numbers in parentheses are original values): Strength 7 (3), Dexterity 3, Constitution 7 (2), Intelligence 2, Perception 3, Willpower 7 (2)
Ability Scores: Muscle 20, Combat , Brains 12 (9)
Life Points: 69 (30)
Drama Points: 2
Special Abilities:  Emotional Problems (Cruel), Emotional Problems (Obsessed with someone), Hard to Kill, Increased Life Points, Magic Immunity, Unattractive (1)

Shaniezak (demon enhanced human)
Basic OSR
Armor Class:  5 [14] (aura of protection)
Hit Dice: 6d8+12* (39 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 fists
Damage: 1d4+2 (x2)
Special: Makes saves vs. Magical attacks as Wizard 10
Movement: Twice base creature
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Wizard 6 (10 vs. magic and spells)
Morale: 12
Treasure: Special: The Shaniezak possessed human will collect trinkets from their victims or the focus of their obsessions.
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
XP: 450

The Shaniezak appears at a demonic parasite attached to a host body.  It gives the host certain powers, strength, increased health and magic immunity but feeds the darker emotions of the host; fear, envy, hate and obsessions.  The demon prompts its host into greater acts of violence and depravity to feed off of fear of the victims and the frustrations of its host.

An Exorcism spell will remove the demon, but kill the host in the process.  Since the removal of the demon always kills the host many opt just kill both.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

After Happily Ever After

Writing about witches I read a lot of fairy tales. Trust me, the real ones don't have Disney-style endings.
If you are here you already know that.

But did you know that sometimes it is even worse than that?

The Glass Slipper Confessionals deal with life with Cinderella after her divorce. And presently it is cracking me up.

Here are the first and last episodes just to give you an idea what it is like.

Yeah things are rough for Cindy and Tink. Vodka and pixie dust.

They join other Unreality Shows, BAMF Girls Club and Adult Wednesday Addams.

Watch and enjoy!

Yeah I might need help.

White Dwarf Wednesday #93

Before going back to September of 1987 for White Dwarf #93 I want to mention that White Dwarf in its present incarnation will become a weekly magazine.  The Press Release was just posted today over at Games Workshop. So an interesting time in the history of WD.

Today's issue features the first Warhamer 40k inspired cover.  When you get right down to it, WH40k is pretty much everything White Dwarf ever did in one game. It's fantasy (like WH, D&D and RQ), it is Sci-Fi (like Traveller), it is horror (like CoC) and it is minis.  I guess it really is no surprise.

Mike Brunton delivers his last editorial urging folks not to read editorials and instead read the rest of the magazine.

Open Quest hits us with five Games Workshop related products.  Block Mania and Mega Mania are board games, Death on the Reik is a supplement for WH, The Talisman Dungeon a board game expansion and GW's reissue of RuneQuest Monsters.  The Talisman Dungeon board game expansion is an interesting one to me since I recently did something similar to my own sets of TSR's Dungeon game (not related).  Also covered are a couple of TSR aAD&D books. The I3-5 Desert of Desolation series (which Jim Bambra liked a lot) and Treasure Hunt a "well crafted and truly creative" adventure from TSR. Something that Carl Sargent says is a rarity these days.  There is a board game called "Chase" from TSR as well.  Mike Brunton calls it easy to learn but easily one of the hardest games to play (in a good way). It sounds interesting but I don't recall it all.

Awesome Lies discusses how soon you will be able to see your own local GW store! There is mention of TSR releasing Car Wars books, I am not sure if that is a typo or something that never came to pass. More on the New Infinities and TSR troubles.  One bit of interest to me is a mention of the GW Dracula game.  Later released as The Fury of Dracula. I rather enjoyed the plot behind this one, 8 years (7 in this article) later Dracula is back and fighting the original hunters.

Critical Mass covers more books, but the only one I had read on the list was Wielding a Red Sword by Piers Anthony.  I also had a number of issues with this book, though not the same as the review.  I tried to read Mirror of Her Dreams, but gave up and decided that Stephen Donaldson just isn't for me.

The first feature article is a Tournament Adventure for AD&D. Getting Away From Most Of It is designed for 8 characters of levels 2-4.   Interestingly enough the idea here is the characters are on vacation and have motivations while they are here (to get a tan, to get drunk, to buy/get souvenirs).  It is a bit tongue in cheek, but the fatality rate looks like it will be pretty high. The adventures are pressed into returning a minor artifact to a demon and they only have 2 hours to do it. That is 2 hours of real time.  Looks like it would be fun with the right people or even in a convention setting.

Vances Evocation of Arcane Delight covers, what else, the "Vancian" magic system of D&D.  The author, Simon Nicholson, states that the magic of Jack Vance is far more interesting than what we typically know of it in AD&D.  Reading through this I am motivated (again) to do more with my *D&D spells and motivated (again) to read the works of Jack Vance.  Spells should have cool names and, well, magic about them. This is one (of 100s of) thing CoC gets right.

The main focus of the issue is next, a huge color supplement/advertising for Warhammer 40,000.

Some miniatures awards are next.

Eureka is a smaller adventure for Warhammer Fantasy.  Though it is overshadowed in my my mind by the next adventure.

"Letters from a Foreign Land" easily wins the golden WTF award for concept.  It is an adventure for Warhammer Fantasy, Call of Cthulhu and MERP. Imagine the Venn Diagram of that. What can possibly be the spot where all three overlap.  And why not just throw AD&D into the mix while you are at it! This is one of those adventures I would want to run just to be able to say I did it. Granted, this is not a crossover, but a triple-stated one.  Still though.  It is a decent size and would take a couple of sessions to run.  If it were smaller, say four hours, it would a fun thing to try at GenCon, running it under a different system each night.

'Eavy Metal covers painting.  I new painting minis is hard, but there are lot more steps here than I ever knew about.

All The Lonely People gives us some NPCs for Judge Dredd.

Sound Familiar? discusses familiars and pets for your FRPG. While nothing I haven't seen elsewhere, it is a nice treatise on familiars and how they can be used.

We end with letters and ads.

In general I have to say the articles are improving. Everything is actually better quality than it was in the last two years.  Yes the focus is shifting, but it mirrors what was going on in gaming at the time too.  At this point in 1987 I wasn't playing much myself. Though there is an interesting note. I introduced a friend to the game around this time and her character later stuck around in my games as an NPC that became a vampire.  That character is still being used in my games today as the only known human to have ever been cured of vampirism.

I keep expecting each issue to have less and less that interests me, and that is roughly true, but the issue themselves have been quite good.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Come Endless Darkness,Part 2

So yesterday I posted this great idea I had for adventures for my kids for their 1st Ed game.
I *thought* I had a cool original-ish idea.  Well...not so much.

It was pointed out to me (thanks Sciamantis!) that this was already done in a series of 2nd Ed adventures.

I must have had some knowledge of these, at least in a broad sense.  I don't own them and they date from my D&D hiatus of the late 90s.  They are written by +Bruce R Cordell, so that gives me confidence but otherwise I know very little about them.  Anyone have any experience or knowledge of these?  I'd like to know more about them before I start cruising  Half-Price Books and eBay for them.  They are not up on yet.

That also brings up a larger issue.  I am using modules in my game here to give my kids a shared experience with other gamers.  B2 is a rite of passage, the GDQ series is equally iconic.  These are things they can talk about with others.  Hell I don't even need to describe them, I can just say B2 or GDQ. 
But these other adventures are not the same are they?  They might be great, they might even be perfect for me, but if I didn't even recall them then how much of a shared experience can they get?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Come Endless Darkness

No. Not the Gary Gygax book, but related.

I have been thinking a lot about the 1st Ed AD&D game my kids are in now.   They love play 1st ed more than 3e I feel, but what is missing from this game, at least how I initially conceived it, is an epic arc.

In this campaign the characters are going to get involved in something huge, something world changing.  Since these characters are the sons and daughters of their 3e characters I also want some thing that alters the feel of the game world to help explain the shift in rules from 3e to 1st Ed.

So I am going back to an idea I had years ago that I originally wanted to try for 3e.  It was going to be called Shadow Earth and bits and pieces live on in my other products and posts.
I am planning to blot out the sun.
This was something that I toyed with now and again and thought it might make for a good plot. It was also one of the ideas I threw out later on as an idea for my "no big bad" game Season of the Witch.

The idea is a simple one really.  The vampires, drow and mind flayers* (or maybe the mi-go have not decided yet) join forces to blot out the sun.

The PCs discover part of this plot after they bust up a slaving operation being run by vampires (A series).  Unlike like other games though, the bad guys succeed in their plans and the sun goes dark.  While the big powers of the world are meeting to discover how to reverse it (and thus not able to help out their offspring) the new generation is sent off to investigate reports of giants attacking a village nearby (GDQ).

So yes I am using modules with this.  I figure I have come up with say about 100 unique adventures over the last 35 years or so.  These allow me to ease some of the heavy lifting AND also to give my kids a shared experience with other gamers.
Here is the plan so far.
  • B1 In Search of the Unknown, levels 1-3 (played at Gen Con 2012)
  • B2 Keep on the Borderlands, levels 1-3 (playing now, will include a shrine to an evil god of chaos)
  • T1 Village of Hommlet, Intro-levels (might not use now, depends on how the Temple of EE fits in)
  • L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, levels 2-4 (maybe)
  • X2 Castle Amber, levels 3-6 (the MiGo plot)
  • A0 to A4, levels 4-7 (the vampires get their victims from the Slavers)
  • A5, The Last Slave Lord, levels 5-9 
  • I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City, levels 4-7  (snakemen - minions)
  • C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, levels 5-7
  • G123, levels 8-12 (drow)
  • D12, levels 9-14
  • D3, levels 10-14
  • Q1, levels 10-14
They are currently going through Tomb of Horrors under 3e, and I am thinking of running Expedition to the Barrier Peaks under AS&SH.

The idea then will be that the PCs discover the plot and have to destroy the device blocking out the sun on Lolth's plane.  IF things work out and we have more time or they want to go on then I *might* work in the old H4 Module, Throne of Bloodstone and redo it a bit to give them a second part to destroy.

Things I have not yet figured out.  I would love to use my Ophidians in there somewhere.  I should really since they a cool race and work well.  I will have to use my take on Demogorgon then as well.

Mindflayers seem like a no brainer to me which means I should really investigate why I am using them.  I think they should be part of a more Mythos-like mindset.  Their goal of course is to enslave the entire world.  But do they have a demon lord they answer to? Not likely.  Given this many factions I need to figure out their motivations.  Why? Well that will tell me how the players will be able to succeed.
Maybe the Ophidians are in league with or controlled by the mind flayers.

I want to give them an epic. I want this to feel like opera; like all three parts of Wagner's Ring Cycle.
At the end I want to be able to look over the table at their faces and know they know what it is to shake the pillars of Heaven.  I felt that when the I was done playing in the "Dragon Wars" in 1988 and again when I ran "The Dragon and the Phoenix" in 2002-2004.

Regardless how epic it might be, it will be fun.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


We are big fans of the board game Dungeon around here.

My kids love to play it and have even gotten their non-gaming cousins into it.  I have several copies including two copies of the original 1975 version in slightly different boxes.
So last night we tried something we have been wanting to try for a while: Mega Dungeon.

We decided that there are secret doors between the two dungeons and you can teleport from any chamber to any other chamber.  Wizards get twice the amount of spells and magic swords can "stack" so if you have a +1 and a +2 sword then you have +3.  We also used minis instead of pawns cause that is more fun.
The monster rolls are on a d12 instead of a 2d6.  A roll of "1" means the player gets another attack.  We also require twice the amount of gold to win.

So far it has been a lot of fun.  We are continuing later today.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Ultimate Witch & Warlock

Been sitting on this one for a little bit but now has come the time to talk about it.

I am currently working on a new project with Misfit Studios called "Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock" for the Pathfinder game.

You can read my first post about it over at Misfit Studios blog.

The idea with this began a long time ago as a way for me to update my old Liber Mysterium to D&D 3.5 and to include what I felt was some of the best OGC.  That project never materialized, mostly because I switched focus to instead produce The Witch and Eldritch Witchery.

Recently I began talking to an old friend Christina Stiles.  We had worked together on Buffy and a few other projects for Eden and generally ran in the same circles.  She was looking to update her old Citizen Games book Way of the Witch and thinking about "getting the Coven back together" and adding me on as an editor/designer.  I had mentioned to her that I had already done most of the work she was wanted to do.  We got to talking and soon The Ultimate Witch was born.

Again the idea was to take work I had done (now close to 500 pages), edit it, combine it with the best witch-related OGC out there, and recraft it all for Pathfinder.  The goal is to have a one stop book for all everything you need to play a witch character in Pathfinder.  Not just new spells, but hexes, backgrounds, new uses for old skills, magic items, feats and backgrounds.

I am not ready to release too many details, but this book would be the spiritual successor to both Liber Mysterium and Way of the Witch.  Neither of which are available in print anymore.  It would also update a lot of great d20 witch material, some of which has no equivalent for the Pathfinder game.

Now there are a couple of really obvious questions.
First what is in this book that is not in my other books? Simple answer is "a lot". When working on the first draft of what would become the Ultimate Witch I converted it over to "Basic" for The Witch.  What didn't fit or I could not convert I threw out.  All that stuff is back.  I don't want give the impression that it was thrown out because it was bad. Some of it, like feats for example, just didn't work. Others there were no good rules for with the way I saw the Basic Witch, like 9th level spells.   Plus the d20/Pathfinder system gives me a lot room to work on things too.  Some of the OGC I want to use did make it's way into The Witch and EW, but only the stuff I had used in playtests and my own games.  With the Ultimate Witch a lot more great stuff is going back in.  In particular the OGC from Way of the Witch.
I am also being joined by others on this, so the vision is not mine alone (that would be dull!)

Another question is why do this?  I mean I do have two books I am really, really happy with and proud of.  Why go back to well?  The answer here is again a simple one.  I like the Pathfinder witch, but she could be so much better.  As it turns out I have those things on my hard-drive.

So stay tuned.  I'll have more to say on this and how I plan to have a Witch and a Warlock classes.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

PWWO: Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts + The Witch

Here is one of my first "official" Plays Well With Others posts.

Recently I spent some quality time with Dyson's Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts.
Well I rather enjoy this book and I have been looking for more ways to use it. It occurred to me while reading over the Pact Bound and Enchanter that many of the spells would work great with my Witch class and a number of my spells would work great with these classes.

So I went through the book and my book and figured out which "witch" spells would work good for the MT&DP classes.  You can see the fruits of my efforts here:

All my witch spells and the MT&DP classes, with levels.  I want do the reverse later as well, which new MT&DP spells can be used with the Witch.  If you pop into that sheet you might actually see me working on it live.  I am getting rather fond of Google Drive for collaboration.

Dyson is also talking about his book today, looking at some of the Elven classes and subclasses.   Worth checking out and adding in a bunch of new spells.

This book also works quite well if you use his "d12 subclasses" idea.  Here are his tables for the Wizard, Cleric, Enchanter and Elven Warder.

I could do something like that with the Witch, using the Traditions as a guide.
  1. Amazon: +1 to all hits, able to use a sword, spear and bow as weapons. See also
  2. Aquarian (from the Witch)
  3. Classical (from the Witch)
  4. Craft of the Wise  (from the Eldritch Witchery)
  5. Faerie (from the Witch)
  6. Family (from the Witch)
  7. Gypsy (from the Eldritch Witchery)
  8. Maleficia (from the Witch)
  9. Tradition of the Magna Mater (Great Mother)  (from the Eldritch Witchery)
  10. Venefica: Bonus to creation of potions, poisons and balms.
  11. Eclectic: Mix
  12. Choose one or make up a new one.
Certainly works for me.

World of Calidar: Kickstarter final hours

A fast one this morning.  Bruce Heard's World of Calidar Kickstarter is in it's final hours.

It has blown past all it's stretch goals and it should be a fantastic product.

It looks fun as hell and might just be the thing you need for your game.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

White Dwarf Wednesday #92

White Dwarf #92 comes to us from August 1987.  About this time I was headed off to college and my game playing took a slight hit. It would pick up again soon, but my game went for a change after this.  Interesting for me is the change White Dwarf was also going through as well. Something due to the time or just my perceptions?  Likely just me.

The cover is by David Gallagher. It has a vague Warhammer feel to it. The editorial is a rambling affair about how demons in RuneQuest are not real.  I may sound a bit glib here, but this was big deal here in the states just a few years before this.  Later in this issue we discuss more demons in RuneQuest.

Open Box covers the new Stormbringer RPG and RuneQuest (Advanced RQ).  Going back to my idea of "Plays Well With Others", Elric, Stormbringer and RuneQuest were always games I liked mixing up and together. The reviews are positive, as expected.  Also reviewed is the Ghostbuster adventure Scared Stiffs. I liked the idea of the Ghostbusters game, I just never got the chance to play it much.  Graeme Davis enjoyed it.  Also reviewed is the Miskatonic U. Graduate Kit, which is a product I always thought was fun but never used as much as I like.  DA3 City of the Gods for D&D continues the Blackmoor series.  I13 Adventure Pack I is not actually part of the I series, more of the REF series.  The general tone here is that WD is bored with D&D in general at this point.  I can't say that I blame them.  TSR at this point was in a bit of a rut.

Awesome Lies gives us the latest rumors.  The draft of West End Game's new Star Wars game is discussed. It is fast to play and the play-testers hummed Vader's theme while playing.  Cute.  Also covered is the new non-TSR D&D adventure from Gary Gygax's new company New Infinities.  I am not sure if this ever came out or not. I am pretty sure it didn't and my 20 second Google Search found nothing.  I do remember the dust up over Gary's and GDW's "Dangerous Journey" and TSR.

Three page article on how to work for Games Workshop. Sorta tongue in cheek, sorta serious, has me scratching my head.  Was GW needing a lot of people at this time?

For the Warhammer Fantasy article we cover familiar ground; the psychology of Elves, Dwarves and Halflings (and Gnomes).  Long one and and an interesting read, but there isn't anything new here.  Dwarves are stereotypical drunks and so on.  A load of missed opportunity here if you ask me, especially if you consider the page count given to it.

Clarifications and Errata for the game Chainsaw Warrior.  Anyone play this? I have never heard of it.

The "Featured" article is Demons and it is for RuneQuest 3rd Edition.  I always rather liked the demons in RQ, they felt a little different than the ones in D&D and therefore had to be better.  At 12 pages it goes into some detail. Most of the demons presented are unique and could be ported over to any game.  Back in the day I would have worked out every detail of them to make sure their power was on par with their RQ counterpart. Today I am likely just use Balor stats and work from there.   A lot of interesting creatures though.

Rescue the Paladin is an AD&D adventure for 5-8 players with characters level 6-8 by Carl Sargent.  Interestingly enough it states it is NOT designed to use Unearthed Arcana. Though it is the first mention of "THAC0" I have seen in WD.  Instead of classic rescuing the princess, this is rescue the Paladin, Sir Lawrence Le Bon (I didn't make that up).   The antagonist is of course a woman named Janni who is a "witch in all but name".  The PCs have to defeat her before she "violates Sir Lawrence's vow of chastity".   This one would have been a hard sell to my group back then.  AS can be expected I find Janni far more interesting than pretty much the rest of the adventure.  But hey. That's me.

A couple of pages of Warhammer errata.
'Eavy Metal gives painting advice.
Thrice Upon a Time in Mega City 1 has three mini adventures for Judge Dredd. Again they look good in fact with a little tweaking they could work as hooks for a Mutant & Masterminds game.  It also had me thinking that a Judge Dredd / ShadowRun crossover might be fun to try.  Not that there is anything like ShadowRun in these to be honest, but it got me thinking all the same.

Letters and Small ads end this issue.

So the romance between D&D and WD is very much over and WD is just still mentioning D&D because they still have all the same friends.  Still a lot of interesting things in this issue and the new style is really starting to come into it's own here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Plays Well With Others

Starting a new semi-regular posting thing here.

I love all sorts of games. I love buying games. I don't always have time to play the games I want or I like things from one game and other things from other games.  So I tend to mix things up a lot.

Plays Well With Others will be my you-got-peanut-butter-on-my-chocolate (or fish fingers and custard) posts where I take two or more books or games and mix them up to my tastes.

I have done some things like this in the past here already.

Witch Girls Adventures + WitchCraft RPG
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea + Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts
Cortex, Savage Worlds and Witch Girls Adventures

I am sure there are others. I know I combined Star Frontiers and Traveller in the past and talked about it briefly.

I have some more here to post soon. Hope you all enjoy.

d20 Dark Ages: D&D Blog Challenge

Stelios V. Perdios  over at d20 Dark Ages is going to be hosting a D&D themed blog challenge for February.

It is worth checking out.

Tentative list

I am going to be on board of course.  I love things like this.  I am also looking forward to seeing what everyone else does as well.

We get some grief in the old OSR for being nostalgia soaked.  Some of that grief is actually warranted. But this is a big anniversary moment in the age of this hobby of ours and a little self reflection is fun and appropriate.

Now if I can only remember everything I did!

Monday, January 6, 2014

DriveThruRPG New Year, New Game

DriveThruRPG is running a sale for the new year.  Get that game you wanted but didn't get for Christmas and now get it at 50% off.

Over 80 games to choose from so get there now and find your new game of the year.

The Day the Earth Froze

Bring me the Sampo!!!

Sorry, wrong "Day the Earth Froze".

My fridge says it is -17 outside and it is supposed to get colder.
No today is for many the first back to work day of 2014.  Here in Chicago all the schools are closed so I am in my home office on Frankencomputer trying to work.

I was going to work on my project plans for 2014 today but dealing with snow, dangerous ice and trying to work remote is putting a cramp in that.

Plus it is too damn cold to think.  I went out to shovel the end of my drive and in five minutes I went from "this isn't too bad" to "this is fucking awful!"  Can't wait to start complaining about the heat again.

As soon as my brain defrosts some I'll have something intelligent to say.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Celebrating 40 Years of D&D (or 35)

So here we are 2014.

So far it is cold (-6 outside as I write this).  But it is also something of a banner year. It is the 40th Anniversary of the Dungeons and Dragons game.  The original D&D game, the one hand assembled by Gary and family came out in 1974, but exactly when did it do that?

Well Jon Peterson over at Playing at the World has some pretty good ideas.

With some pains taking research and the skill of an archaeologist he has unearthed a number of artifacts from the time between June 1973 and July 1975 to narrow down the exact date.

I did not start playing then.  My start was a little later. Again, hard to pin it down exactly but I have always said December of 1979.  That is the first time I read over the Monster Manual and played a game of D&D during recess consisting of the MM and a bad 7th generation Xerox of Holmes.  I would not get my own copy of the rules till later, but it is the Dec. 79 date that sticks with me.

We have quite a lot to look forward to really.  D&D 5th edition will be out this summer.  You can now go to your FLGS (and many Barnes & Nobles) and buy pretty much any edition of D&D you want. has gobs of PDFs. Plus there are still plenty of retro-clones, near-clones, what-if clones, Castles & Crusades and Pathfinder.

I am sure there will be plenty of reflections on D&D over the next year leading up to Gen Con; we are a nostalgia soaked bunch really.  But that is fine. Spending some time reflecting on where we were is not a bad thing. As long as we keep moving forward too.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Mage: The Ascension (Revised) FREE

DriveThruRPG has the PDF of Mage: The Ascension (Revised) free today.

I always rather enjoyed Mage. I thought it was a great idea and a lot of fun to play as characters with world-breaking powers.   I just hated players getting so caught up in all the stereotypes and not trying anything new with their characters.  Plus some of the Technocracy stuff didn't really make much sense.

In the end I preferred WitchCraft and Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade. But I still enjoy this game a lot.

First Poll

My first poll produces some fairly predictable results:

*D&D (B, 1, 2) or Retro-Clone
  56 (70%)
D&D 3.x/Pathfinder
  34 (42%)
D&D 4
  12 (15%)
D&D 5/Next
  5 (6%)

Though what I wanted to get out of this was not just how many people responding played what "generation" of games, but how did they compare.

D&D3/Pathfinder ended up higher than I expected. And I will admit I was surprised that D&D4 even got as many as it did.

Thanks everyone who participated.  I'll be doing so more in the future.