Friday, October 31, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Mad Scientist Marathon

I have a mini marathon of movies I have watched in the last few hours.  All dealing with Vampires and Mad Scientists (give or take)

The Vampire Bat (1933)
This one turns some of the vampire tropes into plot fodder and features a mad scientist that needs human blood to keep his new creation alive.  An older flick but fun.  It features the ever impressive Faye Wray and Dwight Frye.  Frye of course played one of the first ever Renfields in 1931's Dracula.  I am struck by how good his range was and his performances reminds me of Andy Serkis.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
This of course features a song about Faye Wray and a mad scientist.  No real vampire, but they do come from Transylvania. I have seen this one hundreds of times of course, but I still enjoy it.  It is though no where near as fun on TV as it is in the theaters.
I have to admit I have always wanted to write a Buffy RPG adventure based on this.  Have players play the original cast.  Great for an adult themed Con game I am sure.  Gotta get worked down to 4 hours.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009)
Man. I have no idea where to start with this one.  Dracula and Frankenstein's monster battle it out.  IF they were both super cute Japanese school girls.  There is so much blood and gore in this movie. but it is comical and beyond over the top. Plus stereotypes of all sorts of Japanese cultural fads.  It's insane.  The big battle on top of Tokyo Tower is the climax of the movie.
The interesting bit is the mad scientist (who is related to Frankenstein) uses vampire blood to animate the corpses.

Might get to more tonight.

Tally so far:  39 Total Watched / 26 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Skylla: The Complete B/X Adventurer

Been a while since my last Skylla post.  Longer than I care to admit really.
But something popped up in my feed in my feed today to make me want to get this particular post done.  Plus it is great for a Halloween post.

+Jonathan Becker over at B/X Blackrazor has been talking about witches, and his The Complete B/X Adventurer witch in particular.  What I like about his witch class is that while it is compatible with Basic Era D&D, it is also very different than my own witch from The Witch.  I have always wondered how well they interacted with each other and how his played.

If you like you can compare this version with my Eldritch Witchery version and +Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep version.

Skylla, 7th Level Witch, "Initiate"

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 14*
Wisdom: 13*
Charisma: 12

Hit Points:  20 (d4)
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection +1)

Special Abilities
1st: Book of Shadows, bind wounds (heal 1d4)
6th: Brew Potions

Maximum Spell Level: 3rd
Number of Spells know: 14
1st Level (4): Charm Person, Detect Magic, Hex, Ugliness,
2nd Level (6): Cause Fear, Disguise, Eldritch Flame, Familiar Spirit, Hold Person, Levitate
3rd Level (4):  Bestow Curse, Hoodoo, Object Read, Wizard Lock

Additional Scribed
4th Level (2): Dispel Magic, Scrying

This witch has a lot of interesting features and a lot of spell potential.  Not only will she end up with a lot of spells, her spells go up to 10th level!

I think I would have liked to see some more special abilities/powers to seperate her more from the Wizard, but this is a really cool class.

Playing with this Witch and my Witch
There is no reason why both witches can't exist in the same game.  After all Jonathan and I both used B/X-style D&D as our starting points.  So these two witches have a lot in common from the word go. While their styles of magic differ I think their overall power remains the same over the 36 levels.
I think a good test will be to take my current iconic Queen of Witches (level 36) and see how she looks under both classes.

I say take both classes, pick one you like the best. Call that one "witch" and the other one "warlock" and you are good to go.

Kickstart Your Weekend: CHILL style!


I want draw your attention once again to the Chill 3.0 Kickstarter.

With just a few hours left to go this promises to be one really fun game.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Feast of Flesh (2007)

October Movie Challenge: Feast of Flesh (2007)

In my defense I want to say up front that I thought this was going to be better.
The title is fine and my research said it was a bit like Bordello of Blood only featuring Elizabeth Bathory AND Carmilla.  I mean really. How can I say no?

I was so horribly wrong.

I think I am prepared to say that this was the WORST vampire movie I have seen this entire challenge.  Though Mama Dracula might give it a run for it's money.

The story focuses on a "high class" brothel known as Bathory House.  A couple gets a ticket to go from a poker game.  Of course they are looking for a little threesome fun and instead they get eaten (and not in the way they wanted). Anyway I guess there is a prohibition against the vampires from hunting townfolk so the local vampire hunters come in and beat the vampire-hookers up a little.
Both sides fight.  There is also a plot about a woman that is a local, but leaving town, getting brought into the brothel.  The vampires thought she was coming to town, not leaving it.  Her boyfriend wants her know the drill.

I will give the movie one credit. The ending is not what I expected it to be.  Bathory is killed and the townie girl becomes the new Madame.  The boyfriend and all the hunters are killed.

The acting is terrible, including and especially Director, Writer and head Vampire Killer Sheridan, aka Mike Watt.  What was up with that accent? He was supposed to be Dutch, but it sounded like Irish that learned from a book on tape.  Anyway.  It's not good.

I toyed with the idea of a vampire brothel in my games before.  Mayfairs is a brothel in my games run by two vampire lovers, Miriam and Fran and founded by a Street Fae, Dirty Nellie.  I now have a list of things NOT to do with it.


Tally so far:  36 Total Watched / 24 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #15 April 1976

Welcome back to the Owl & Weasel! Let's set the controls for April 1976 and see what we can learn about the hobby's history.

In something of a first O&W features a number of new "SF/F" games.  Page 1 (and 7) is an overview of GDW's En Garde game. I don't recall this game very well to be honest and had to go look it up.

SPI's Sorcerer is also covered, briefly, and a new miniatures game "Wizards & Warefare".  All of which shoe some common descent from D&D.

In another first O&W also reviews a couple of "pub" Video Games.  These are the cabinet style video games, not the home versions that became more popular after the introduction of the Atari 2600 some 18-20 months later.

Pages 10 and half of 11 deal with the new D&D society.  I am beginning to see, or rather have more evidence of, the reasons why Gygax felt the need to codify the D&D rules into AD&D.   Everyone was off doing their own thing how they liked.  Not to different than today to be honest.

In this issue there are more "RPG" elements and less board game material than previous editions.  I expect this trend to continue.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Vampire Happening (1971)

October Movie Challenge: Vampire Happening (1971)

Vampire Happening or Gebissen wird nur nachts came up in my searches for a Countess Bathory like figure.  I saw it and noticed that it was directed by Freddie Francis. The same that gave us Dracula Has Risen from His Grave, Tales that Witness Madness and one of my all time favorites, The Creeping Flesh.
So I was not expecting a lot when I saw that it was a "horror/comedy" but certainly more than I got.

The basic plot is simple. American Actress inherited a castle in Transylvania.  Here she discovers that she is a dead ringer for her Great-Grandmother the former Countess.  Not only was she notoriously lascivious she was also believed to be a vampire (of course).

The Countess does come back and causes a lot of Benny Hill-quality hijinks when she is thought to be the Actress and visa versa.  Meanwhile the entire village has been transformed into vampires by the Countess.

The plot is thin and the acting is for the most part terrible save for Pia Degermark who pulls double duty as American Betty Williams and Vampire Countess Clarimonde.

There was also a surprising amount of nudity and sex in this movie for the time.  It was released in 1971, but feels more late 60s.  Some of the posters refer to it as an "Adult" vampire movie.
I am guess it is because it was made in West Germany at the time.

I can't help but feel there is a better story here somewhere.

Since I am still working through the Vampire Queen module I am thinking that a human descendant of Lady Neeblack running around the dungeon might be fun.


Tally so far:  35 Total Watched / 23 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Into the Lair of the Vampire Queen

Over the weekend my oldest son celebrated his birthday (which is today) and we went through The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.

We didn't get through it all, but we had a great time.

I ran this under Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules instead of 1st ed/OSRIC since that is the game of choice of my son now.  I think it worked out really well to be honest.

In the party we had:
- A Dragonborn Wizard (Necromancer), 15th level
- A Dragonborn Cleric of War, 14th level
- A half-elf rouge (assassin), 14th level
- A human rogue, 14th level
- A half-orc Ranger, 14th level
and a half-elf warlock (fey pact), 13th level.

My son, since he was turning 15 got the only 15th level character.

They managed to get through a few of the rooms, but the Fire-Giants gave them some issues.  After that the "Jelly" Cubes where pretty easy.

The adventure is crazy.  I am glad I am running it "outside of canon". The module is advertised as a party killer and that is no joke.  Within the first battle many of the characters were down to about half their HP.

We are planning to finish it sometime soon, but since we didn't get started till rather late my players were fading.

the Fearless Vampire Hunters
This is the same group, but not the same characters (though pretty close) that I ran the classic Palace of the Vampire Queen adventure.   Those were lower level characters using the B/X rules.  Given that we have been calling this group "the Fearless Vampire Hunters".    One day I will try to combine all the various "Vampire Queen" adventures together into a large campaign.

I did alter the beginning just a touch to accommodate the player's previous adventures a bit.  Not a big change really and I think it heightened the whole fear factor.

 We used minis cause they are fun and the boys like doing it.

I have two perfect succubi from the recent Pathfinder demon sets that are perfect for  "Sin" and "Diabolica".   The Reaper Bones Female Vampire figure makes for a perfect Lady Neeblack.  The mini is listed as "Naomi" for the metal version. So the Vampire Queen must be Lady Naomi Neeblack!  Sure. Why not.

If I ever re-run this I will do it under AD&D1 as it was meant for.  I fear that D&D5 reduces the power levels of the characters a bit at the highest levels.  Though there is great flexibility in D&D 5.
For example in the adventure there are 8 Fire Giants waiting for you when you enter the pits.  They have 93 hp and do 5d6 damage per attack.  Their D&D 5 counterparts have 160 hp (iirc) and do a lot more damage.  Character can heal faster in D&D5 yes, but their starting hp is still not much better than their AD&D1 counterparts.  Rogues get a d8 vs Thieves d6.  So yeah. Meat Grinder.

I will say this.  If you enjoyed running Tomb of Horrors then this will be right up your alley.

I will get a more proper review of the adventure up soon.

Monday, October 27, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Nochnoy dozor / Night Watch (2004)

October Movie Challenge: Nochnoy dozor / Night Watch (2004)

Nochnoy dozor (Ночной дозор) or "Night Watch" is a kick-ass Russian film about vampires, monsters and things that go bump in the night.  It was subtitled, which I prefer over dubing, but it was not a big deal.

In the movie the forces of Light and Darkness waged a war back in the Middle Ages. They soon realized that the war would destroy everyone on both sides. They made a truce that would not interfere with each other unless required to keep the balance.  The side of Light became known as Night Watch and the darkness became Day Watch.  Otherkin could choose which ever side they wanted.

The movie deals with the mostly now bureaucratic Night Watch as the hunt down a vampire feeding without a license.  They hunt him down, but in the process discover two things. The hunter, a recently turned vampire himself named Anton discovers a woman under a terrible dark curse and a boy being drawn to the vampires.

I don't want to ruin it because it is worth watching.
There is a bleakness mixed with decadence here that I think you could only get in Moscow. Maybe Bangkok or Hong Kong too, or Detroit in 10 more years.  There is something very, very Russian to this that gives the movie such a great vibe.
I never knew if Anton was just going to up and die at any point or not, that's how bad he looked through it all.

There is a sequel, Day Watch.  I really need to see that one now too.

Tally so far:  34 Total Watched / 22 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.


Well my conference is done so now I can refocus my attentions to game and blog related writing.
I still have a couple of projects that need to be finished; Strange Brew and Darwin's Guide to Creatures.   But those are coming along nicely.

So here are some updates.

Witch Links
I have been updating my Witch Links page.  On it you will find links to various posts, mostly within the OSR blogs, on using a witch or warlock class in your D&D-like games.  It is that time of year, so expect the page to be updated even more.

If you have something you want to add just let me know.

DriveThruRPG / OneBookshelf Halloween Sales
DriveThru is having their Halloween sales.  This time no hunting around for Tricks or Treats, just sales and free stuff.
To start out we have a few of my favorites for free.

RQ1 Night of the Walking Dead (2e) for Ravenloft and 2nd Ed AD&D.  One of the better adventures for the Ravenloft game.

Eden Studios Presents: Volume 1 is a magazine like book for Eden Studios' Unisystem games ala The Rifter.  It was supposed to come out more often (and I submitted material years and years ago). But it is still a great publication and worth getting if you enjoy the Unisystem system.  There is an interview with Jason Vey of the Dungeons & Zombies game, some more monsters for Buffy and material for Terra Primate.

Wraith the Oblivion (1st Edition) which might be one of the most depressing and agnsty games I can ever recall playing.  But still a lot of fun.  Sometimes you need that.

They have similar sales and freebies over at DriveThruComics and DriveThruFiction.

I have a few more movies to get through and some reviews.

October Movie Challenge: Queen of the Damned (2002)

October Movie Challenge: Queen of the Damned (2002)

In what can be best described as an "Attack of Opportunity" I caught Queen of the Damned on TV yesterday.

Since I have been watching a number of "Vampire Queen" like movies lately this seemed appropriate.

Again, while I don't like the movie as part of the larger Anne Rice Universe, the movie is kind of fun.   I think the tried too hard to take two books "The Vampire Lestat" and "Queen of the Damned" and make them into one movie.

Though to be fair, there is lot in both books that could have been cut or least edited down to size.

It is interesting though that I can recall exactly where I was when had heard that Aaliyah had been killed.  I had never really given her a second thought prior to that.  Watching her performance here again some 12 years after her death I am struck that how she physically embodied Akasha.  I can't tell if she would have been a good actress or not, it is just a shame we never got to find out.

Stuart Townsend makes for a decent enough Lestat.  Or at least the heterosexual Lestat.  Tom Cruise probably did Gay Lestat better.

I have tried to stat up an Akasha like figure in many games before, but I usually end up disappointed in the results.  In this movie and the book she really is less of a character and more of a plot device. Maharet (and Mekare, who is not even in the movie) are easier to do since they have more developed characters.

This is a re-watch.  I reviewed this one back in 2010.

Tally so far:  33 Total Watched / 21 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Báthory: Countess of Blood (2008)

October Movie Challenge: Báthory: Countess of Blood (2008)

I am a sucker for a good Bathory movie.  Or even a bad one.  This is not a bad one, but it is an odd one.  There are some genuine horrific scenes, but nor really enough to really be called horror.

Much like the Julie Delpy movie The Countess, this is a retelling of the Bathory tale to put the countess in a better light.  I think The Countess is a better overall movie, but Anna Friel from Báthory: Countess of Blood is a better Bathory.

I think if both movies and casts had pooled their resources together one really great movie could have been made.

There are few things about the movie I didn't care for.  The monks with the "roller skates" (no. really) annoyed me.  The whole absinthe bit was way over done.  In fact I pretty have never seen an absinthe scene in a vampire movie and wasn't pretty crappy.  I blame the Bram Stoker's Dracula movie.

Not an unenjoyable movie, but at 2 hours and 21 minutes it is a bit too long.

Tally so far:  32 Total Watched / 21 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Zatannurday: Constantine

Sorry for the delay.  Have a party we are getting ready for today.

Last night was the premier of the TV series Constantine on NBC.
What did you think?

Well the critics seem to be mixed and the ratings were only ok (4.3 million). But it was up against the World Series, so hopefully we should see a ratings climb by next week (even if it is Halloween).

The actors were fine, but could have been better.
A number of comic book elements make an appearance including a few name drops (Nergal for example) and the Helm of Nabu from Dr. Fate.  Though not quite as much as say the new Flash series.  I am still quite hopeful that we will see Zatanna at one point.

I think it has potential to be honest.  Can't wait to see where it goes.

Friday, October 24, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Twins of Evil (1971)

October Movie Challenge: Twins of Evil (1971)

I watched this one back in 2012 and lamented at the time that many of the scenes seemed cut. So I picked up the Blu-Ray hoping that the "deleted scenes" were included this time.

Not so much.

There is a deleted scene; Where Anton is playing his new song to the girls school.  Glad it was deleted.

There is however a very interesting documentary on the making of the Hammer Karnstein that might be worth the price of this disc alone.

The Blu Ray itself looks fantastic.  Much better than the version I watched in 2012.

It still has it's 87 minute running time I have read there are some scenes that were filmed and never made it to the theatrical release and others that were cut afterwards.

Plus, given the recent death of Madeleine Collinson (the evil Twin Frieda) I wanted to watch this one again.

I am still hoping for a restored edition, but not holding my breath.

Tally so far:  31 Total Watched / 20 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Nosferatu (1979)

I am not sure how to classify this one really.  I thought I saw it years ago, but once I started watching it again I was less sure.  By the end I was really unsure.  Some scenes were familiar, others I remember really differently.

This movie of course is a remake of the classic 1922 Nosferatu.  Remake is somewhat of an inadequate word.  This is a re-visioning of Dracula from the 1922 source.

Klaus Kinski was one of the greatest actors to grace the screen. A strange man by all accounts, but also a brilliant actor and quite brilliant in this role.  Isabelle Adjani as Lucy Harker is also quite fantastic and undoubtedly the hero of this movie outshining both Johnathan Harker and Van Helsing both..

Nosferatu (either version) gets it right where Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) gets it wrong. Vampires are monsters and they carry plague, disease and death.  Dracula is a bringer of death.

Like the Hamilton Deane play and the 1979 Dracula movie reverse the names and roles of Mina and Lucy.  Unlike the Deane play and the original novel nearly everyone dies.

Watching this movie is treat for the eyes. Like the 1922 Nosferatu the cinematography is a marvel to behold.

I am calling this one as a re-watch.

Tally so far:  30 Total Watched / 20 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Vampire's Night Orgy (1973)

October Movie Challenge: Vampire's Night Orgy (1973)

Well after last night's suck fest (eh eh) tonight's movie was a pleasant surprise.  While searching for more Bathory movies this one came up.  I had never heard of this one before and really did not know what to expect, but the title was not giving a lot of faith.
But I have discovered that there is a certain charm to Spanish Horror of the 1970s and this one did not disappoint.

A group of travelers looking for work end up stranded in a remote village. They arrive at night and no one is around. They soon discover that everyone was at the cemetery where they stood vigil over the grave of a recently deceased towns person.   In truth they are all vampire spawn controlled by the local countess (played by Helga Liné) who plans to feed of these new comers.

In what has to be the creepiest scene in the movie the Mayor informs some of the towns-folk that the countess will provide them with the meat the new-comers need to eat.  So the villagers take to chopping up others to provide them with the meat they need.

Our hero is not like some of the virtuous found in most horror movies.  He is a lone American and something of a Peeping Tom. He finds a hole in the wall that separates him from the our heroine.

All in all there is some very creepy scenes and elements in this movie and it makes actually quite fun to watch.  I could have done with out Violet's death though.

The DVD I have is presented in a very odd format. It looks like a letter box transfer from a VHS.  The image is not very sharp but still pretty clean.
I will admit I am not a big fan of the soundtrack, but it is the 70s so that is to be expected really.  A little too experimental jazz/Jean-Luc Ponty for my taste.

It dawns on my that this would make for a great adventure.  The PCs come to a town and all the villagers are acting weird. They fear the count living up in the castle. Turns out they are all the vampires and the Count is the only human for miles and he/she is the only keeping them from spreading out into the world.

Tally so far:  29 Total Watched / 20 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Mama Dracula (1980)

October Movie Challenge: Mama Dracula (1980)

Oh gods. This one is so bad.

I love a good tale involving Elizabeth Bathory.  This is not a good tale.

Ok. Lets focus on what is or at least could have been good.
Well, Louise Fletcher is good, but she is an Oscar winning actress. Good, but not great.

The vampire twins (played by Alexander and Marc-Henri Wajnberg) are way creepy.  If the camp was turned down and their vaugley homoerotic, twincest was turned up they would positively uncomfortably creepy and great for a movie involving one of history's more disturbing sexual predators.   Here they are just some sort of freak show carnival act.

The scientist making the fake blood substitute is awful.  Though a movie that delves into the creation of what is essentially True Blood would be interesting.  Oh and his "medical "techno babble" is complete bullshit.

About half way through the movie we are finally introduced to the "love interest" of the tale played by Last Tango in Paris' Maria Schneider.  Love interest in the sense that everyone wants her.

I have a feeling that this is listed as "Comedy/Horror" only because it was so bad.

There should be a drinking game. Everytime someone says "wergins" instead of "virgins" you drink. Everytime the the inspector says "sabuu-tage! sabuu-tage!", drink twice. And when he says "you know my methods" chug.

It's the only good I can see in this movie.

BTW there is a more detailed review at if you are so inclined.

Tally so far:  28 Total Watched / 19 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Conference this Week

Hey all.

I am headed to an Education Conference this week and will be out till Friday evening.

Posting will be sporadic.  I have a few more horror movies in the hopper, but most will be this weekend.

Looking forward to talking about how The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen goes this weekend!

Monday, October 20, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

October Movie Challenge: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

We had gone to see the new Dracula movie about a week and half ago (well 10 days) and my wife and I wanted to re-watch Bram Stoker's Dracula from 1992.  Plus there had been some other movies I saw this challenge that made me want to go back and see this one.

I wanted to wait till I picked it up on Blu Ray.  I had watched the DVD a couple years back (four years) and it just didn't hold up on my HD TV.   The Blu Ray looked really nice.  It was a direct transfer, so no enhancements that I could see and I swear I noticed things in this that I didn't remember from seeing it in the theaters or on the VHS or DVD versions I have, which is cool.

I was hoping for more value added material though. There is a collection of deleted scenes, which I don't recall seeing on my DVD. There are some documentaries, which I do remember seeing.

There is something else.  I know people said this then and I ignored it, but really the acting is just not that good.  Ryder and Reeves are so horribly miscast as to be a joke really.  I like both actors, but this is kind of stupid really.  Anthony Hopkins is great, too bad he isn't really playing Van Helsing here. Richard E. Grant, Cary Elwes and Billy Campbell are great in their roles as Lucy's suitors.  Sadie Frost in her first roll (if I recall right) was great as Lucy; but I don't really recall her being this lascivious in the book (it has been 3 years since I have read it last and all the Lucys blur).
Gary Oldman though gives a great performance (though sometimes coming close to being over the top) as Dracula.  Oldman is fantastic in everything he is in really to say he is good in a roll is like complaining about Nick Cage only having one character he plays in every single movie.  Tom Waits of course was an unexpected treat as Renfield.  Maybe one of the best Renfields ever in fact.

The sets, the costumes and the effects are still visually stunning 20+ years later.

I just wish we could drop this whole "Dracula and his immortal beloved" story idea.  Dracula picked Mina because she was there. She was Harker's wife and because he is an evil bastard (Dracula, not Harker) he decided to make her his bride.  We never hear stories about his three brides being his loves.  Come to think of it. We HAVEN'T ever heard of his three brides.  Do they even have names?

Ok new rule.  If there is a movie dealing with Dracula and his "murdered/suicided/dead and now reincarnated bride" then it immediately looses 1 star in my mental ranking system.  I'll give this movie a pass even though it is not the first and it is the most egregious of the error.
Remember the real-life Dracula actually murdered one of his own wives when he caught her lying to him.  So he is not the romantic ideal movies are making him out to be.
Harker is no saint either, but the book was very clear that they loved each other.

You can read what I said about this movie in 2010.
Overall I think I am a little harder on the cast now than then, but my main points remain.

Tally so far:  27 Total Watched / 18 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

The OSR Scarecrow

Here is the only OSR Scarecrow you need.  This is the Scarecrow from The Witch.
(Yeah I am a little late on the snark here, term start and I have a conference to go to this week.)

AC: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d8* (14 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 Limbs
Damage: 1d6/1d6
Special: Paralyzing Gaze, Triple Damage from Fire based attacks
Movement: 30’
No. Appearing: 1 (always in lair)
Saves As: Fighter 3
Morale: 12
Treasure: None
Alignment: Neutral
XP: 75

Scarecrows are basic guardians similar to golems, but not nearly as powerful. Like typical scarecrows, their bodies are made of straw and cloth. The stumble about their assigned area poorly and attack most anything that wanders through it. Some Scarecrow Guardians are bound to a post. A Scarecrow can use their paralyzing gaze to imprison any trespassers (save vs. Paralysis, fail means victim remains rooted to the spot).
Scarecrows are assigned to protect a particular area. They never leave the area, even when chasing an intruder. They will attack anything, humanoid or animal like in appearance that walks into its territory unless otherwise instructed by their creator.
A scarecrow is immune to mind-influencing effects, poison, disease and similar effects. They are not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, energy drain or death from massive damage.
Fire Vulnerability: Because of their straw bodies, Scarecrows are extremely vulnerable to attacks from fire. They take triple damage from all fire attacks.
In addition, a scarecrow guardian will catch fire easily after any attack that would normally ignite mundane items. A scarecrow on fire receives 2d6 damage each round (do not double this damage)

All content is designated as Open for the Open Gaming License.
Art is from the Public Domain
Section 15 OGL Copyright Notice

The Witch, Copyright ©2012, Timothy S. Brannan
"Scarecrow" Copyright ©2014, Timothy S. Brannan

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Embrace of the Vampire (1995, 2013)

October Movie Challenge: Embrace of the Vampire (1995, 2013)

1995 Film
Like so many others I tuned in to watch Alyssa Milano's turn as a good girl gone bad (in the movies and real life) for this 1995 movie.  A couple of things struck me nearly 20 years later.
Alyssa Milano ended up to become a much better actress.  I make no apologies for my love of Charmed. But while she was not great in this, she got a lot better.
Martin Kemp is not a great actor. In fact in this he comes off more like a poor man's Nick Cage in "Kiss of the Vampire" only not as crazy.
In some cases, vampires can shoot electricity out of their hands.
The story is thin, at best.  But that is not why anyone watches this.

2013 Film
Given all of this, my expectations for the "remake" were very low. I have to admit I was very surprised.
For starters the story is different.  The characters are the same, more or less.

In both cases Charlotte is a pure, virginal character that is sought after by a vampire.  In the first movie she was the "reincarnation" of the vampire's love (gah) in the new movie she is the descendant of the vampire who killed and turned the vampire in the tale.  She is described as a Dhampir, so she has the original vampire's blood in her veins.  If the vampire in the movie and drain her he becomes human again.

The 2013 movie keeps you guessing, sort of, on who the vampire is and you are uncertain whether or not the things Charlotte is seeing/doing are real or not.

In the end I actually enjoyed this new movie much more than the original.
Yes. All the reasons you wanted to watch the 1995 movie, minus Alyssa Milano, are still here.  In fact I have heard this movie described as "Black Swan with Vampires and Fencing".  That is not too far off.

Tally so far:  26 Total Watched / 18 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Vampire 1960s

The 60s were an interesting time for horror, and not one I get into a lot.  The 60s was almost always about science delving into forbidden areas.  Where the 50s gave us giant monsters and arguably the dawn of Sci-Fi cinema and the 70s a ton of occult-influenced movies, it is easy to see the 60s a coming together of these ideas.  Science tries to explain, defeat, or ever create the monsters of old.

Atom Age Vampire (1960)
Ah the 60s and all things scary had to be about atomic energy.
Actually there are no vampires in this one. Just a crazy doctor and his "atomic" cure for skin disfigurement.  I guess the vampire bit comes from the plot that he has to kill young women to keep his patient and now love interest alive...or at least looking normal.
Pretty dull. I actually paused to watch an episode of "Adventure Time" ("Simon and Marcy") in the middle of it.  Marcelline is a much better vampire anyway.

The Bloody Vampire (1962)
"Whip those horses for Satan's sake!"  
There are some interesting bits here.  The mandagora root growing underneath a hanging victim and the horse and coach moving completely silent.  In this one the descendants of Count Cagliostro are sorcery using vampire hunters.  Actually for the time this is movie is quite good and considered to be one of the best Mexican horror movies made.  Very creepy and gothic.  The characters are actually quite engaging. Much, much better than I expected it to be.
I'd love to try a game of a family of vampire hunters and vampires dealing deadly attacks to each other over the century.
There is a great review here and I mostly concur with it.

Nightmare Castle (1965)
Another Italian gothic horror with sci-fi leanings.  This one though also features the queen of 60s horror Barbara Steele playing sisters.  Much more open brutality than you see in later movies.  Steele's character is beaten, tied up, tortured with acid and even electrocuted.   Not sure if this is really a vampire movie or not.  Sure the maid needs fresh blood and there are some ghosts.
Despite the lack of vampire in the traditional sense this made for a good flick.

Tally so far:  24 Total Watched / 17 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Friday, October 17, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Zoltan Hound of Dracula (1978)

Zoltan Hound of Dracula also known as Dracula's Dog was always an interesting one to me.
I liked the idea of Dracula having a vampiric dog.

Well maybe not the Dracula, but certainly one of them.

Some Russians (or maybe Romanians) discover a tomb belonging to the Draculas.  One of the tombs has Zoltan buried in it and he attacks and drains a guard when his stake is removed.  Zoltan also goes to the crypt of his half-vampire former master.
Discovering a living descendant of Dracula, named Drake of course, the pair head to America.

I liked that old half-vampire own could communicate telepathically with Zoltan, but honestly it only made sense.  It's not like the dog had any lines of his own.

The Drake family goes camping with their dogs. Zoltan follows. Wackieness ensues.

The half vampire guy, Vedit, constantly scolds Zoltan about nearly attacking the children, telling him that he only wants the blood of Dracula. But wouldn't the children also have his blood?

There are some neat ideas in this movie, but not really put together well.  Zoltan does show a lot of vampire qualities; glowing eyes, strength and speed.  So I rather liked that.

Tally so far:  21 Total Watched / 14 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Kick Start Your weekend!

End of Quarter, new one start on Monday.  Busy as hell today.

Here is a Kickstarter you should check out.

Of Dreams and Magic

I think they have something cool here and worth checking out.

October Movie Challenge: Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)

Also known as "Count Dracula and His Vampire Bride" this is one I was supposed to watch in 2010 when I did mini-Dracula thon.  My disk was a piece of junk and the movie never worked.  No big deal really, I had seen it back in the 70s or 80s. But I always wanted to re-watch it.  I loved the scenes of Satanic Black Mass combined with vampire mythos.

Plus I really liked (then and now) the idea that the descendants of Van Helsing keep popping up to fight Dracula.   This time we are treated to "Lorrimer Van Helsing" and his granddaughter Jessica.  Ah the mental gymnastics I went through to figure out modern Hammer canon and Marvel Comics Dracula Canon; Jessica Van Helsing vs. Rachel Van Helsing. Rachel was either Jessica's daughter or her niece.  But that is just my crazy head-canon.

Additionally there was the high tech/medical science aspect of this.  It is takes a lot of influences from James Bond (which also had Christopher Lee as a bad guy). This movie is also so in tune with the 70s occult revival it is hard to know nearly 40 years later which influenced which.

There really is a lot I love about this movie.  Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing and Van Helsing, really it is the best team up in the history of the genre.

The bit about the "Undead Sabbat" is a little silly, but the bubonic plague is a nice way to up the ante a bit.

I used this movie as a basis for my introduction of Dracula to Mutants & Masterminds.

Tally so far:  20 Total Watched / 13 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Witch Crafting ... Celebrating Halloween AND Christmas. RPG Care Packages

I am participating in Magaly Guerrero’s Pagan Culture Crafting Blooming Howls today and the challenge is to come up with something witch fiction related that you have been meaning to finish.

Really, I didn't just want to upload yet another witch character stat block (though I am sure I still will later today).  I wanted to do something special and something different.

Well this year I am finally completing something I have wanted to do for a while.
I am putting together care packages of OSR and Witch fun for our troops serving overseas.

A bit back I posted my thoughts here:
I have tried to do this in past and didn't get my act together in time so I just sent money to my local VFW and American Legions.

Here is what I have so far:

Copies of Basic Fantasy as the core rules.  I think it one of the better interpretations of the OSR rules and a nice sweet spot between Basic and Advanced D&D.  Plus it is also the one that is most compatible with my own Witch book.   I know there are a lot of great rule sets; OSRIC, S&W, LL...but enough people have also asked to participate or do something similar I figured those rules would be represented.

I am also including copies of The Witch by yours truly.  This is a Witches in Fiction crafting blog challenge so this is what makes it "Witch".

At the moment I still need to get some bags to put both books in and get some dice.  I want to include some character sheets, a pre-gen witch character (because I can). I will include a letter thanking them for their service and some links to my blog and some others, likely +Erik Tenkar's since that is a good place to start anyway.

I would also like to include an adventure and maybe a dice bag.  Make it a complete package.

If this goes well I might do a couple of sets of Spellcraft & Swordplay plus Eldritch Witchery.  The nice thing with this is the dice sets will be cheaper and the bags can be smaller.

I am also open to more ideas.

The Blooming Sponsors

- Alchemy & Ashes
- Diandra Linnemann
- Eliora
- Gothic Miniatures
- Judy's Photos
- Rue and Hyssop
- Sarah H. Original Art & Gifts
- Touch of the Goddess
- Ye Olde Crones Gazette
- and Magaly Guerrero’s Pagan Culture

Working Here...What is your Favorite OSR adventure?


So between working on Strange Brew, the Horror Movie Challenge and oh yeah the Day Job, I kinda feel like I have been phoning it in lately.

Well today is no different!!

Actually though there is something you all can do to REALLY help out.  I will post the reasoning tomorrow as part of a larger post.

But what I would like to know today is this.

What is your favorite OSR adventure module?

By this I mean a new adventure, published say since 2007 (I am flexible on that date), by a third party publisher for use with one of the OSR* rulesets or the Original Rules (OD&D, BD&D, AD&D).

(*I guess unless that is a tautology above I am saying that the "R" in OSR does not mean "Rules".  That's about as close as a definition as you are going to get around here.)

I would prefer stand alone adventures, but a trilogy is also fine.

Tell me what it is and why you like it.

Myself I am rather fond of some of the Dragonsfoot Adventures, but mostly I like the ones from Troll Lords' Castles & Crusades line.

Post in the comments below or on Google+.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Vampire Diary (2006)

Not to be confused with the teen soap on the WB, this movie is a 2006 "found footage" movie about vampires. But don't go into it expecting "Blair Witch" or "Paranormal Activity".

The star of the movie is Holly and she is making a documentary on "weekend vampires" or people that dress up as vampires to go to clubs.  In the process she finds Vicki (a pre-Hellboy Anna Walton) recording her and she is recording the crowd.  Vicki tries to seduce Holly, but Holly instead just lets her sleep on the couch.  Eventually Vicki worms her way into Holly's life. And that is when the bodies start showing up.

Vicki and Holly eventually do have sex and we discover that Vicki is a "real" vampire.  She has been feeding on people close to Holly and the club scene.  We learn that Vicki had been raped by a male vampire and left to die. Now she was pregnant and needs to feed more and more.

The interesting facet of this movie is guessing whether or not Vicki is in fact a vampire or just insane. She uses a bolt gun, like what you use to kill animals for slaughter, and you never see fangs.  Holly is dragged right on down with her and you are left guessing till the end.

The "found footage" aspect is very interesting. Giving it a good solid indie feel but also a very intimate one.  You really can see Vicki and Holly's downward spiral into madness and depravity.

There are some notes missing, but the acting is top notch and the direction is great.

I won't spoil the ending for you since I feel this one I would recommend.  

Tally so far:  19 Total Watched / 13 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.