Thursday, July 31, 2014

#RPGaDAY Blogfest

Maybe it is all the allergy drugs I am on or maybe it because I know August is going to be a busy month.
But I am going to take part in the #RPGaDAY Blogfest dreamed up by David F. Chapman over at Autocratik.  Dave is the main guy behind the Doctor Who RPG and Conspiracy X 2.0; two games I adore.


Since Fall term starts are coming up for me and Gen Con this will be something cool to do.  Plus I am a sucker for a good blogfest.  Yeah I think many of these I have answered before.
And truthfully I would rather post about this than latest D&D5 tempest in a tea pot.

So join me.  It is frivolous and fun and won't require a lot of thought on your part or your readers.

Here is a text based list:
1st - First RPG Played
2nd - First RPG Gamemastered
3rd - First RPG Purchased
4th - Most recent RPG purchase
5th - Most Old School RPG owned
6th - Favourite RPG Never get to play
7th - Most “intellectual” RPG owned
8th - Favourite character
9th - Favourite Die / Dice Set
10th - Favourite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction
11th - Weirdest RPG owned
12th - Old RPG you still play / read
13th - Most Memorable Character Death
14th - Best Convention Purchase
15th - Favourite Convention Game
16th - Game you wish you owned
17th - Funniest Game you’ve played
18th - Favourite Game System
19th - Favourite Published Adventure
20th - Will still play in 20 years time…
21st - Favourite Licensed RPG
22nd - Best Secondhand RPG Purchase
23rd - Coolest looking RPG product / book
24th - Most Complicated RPG Owned
25th - Favourite RPG no one else wants to play
26th - Coolest character sheet
27th - Game You’d like to see a new / improved edition of…
28th - Scariest Game you’ve played
29th - Most memorable encounter
30th - Rarest RPG Owned
31st - Favourite RPG of all time

Dates in red correspond to Gen Con dates.

Sick Day

Bad News: I have a cold and feel like crap.

Good News:  At least I am getting it done before Gen Con.

I wanted to thank everyone that voted for me for the ENnies at Gen Con this year.  Really looking forward to going.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #4 May 1975

Owl & Weasel #4 takes us to 1975.
Still 8 pages and still 10p.

The feel of this is still very, very local.  But I did enjoy the front page story on Go (a game I have always wanted to learn).
Outside of that the zine is still focused mostly on Wargaming.  Which is interesting comparing it more modern White Dwarfs.  I feel less and less like White Dwarf turned it's back on RPGs and instead just went back to its focus.

There is another Monopoly variant published here.  If you have three or more undeveloped properties then the lowest one goes on the auction block.  Also the bank can bail you out if you go bankrupt.  Though the editors dislike the Labour-style hand-outs.

Some newer movies are reviewed by comparing them to games.  Cute, but little utility in that.   Also a batch of "Urban" games are also reviewed, but they could also be called "Ecological" ones.  I can remember being in grade school and getting hit with a ton of ecology related curriculum or propaganda so I guess that it was in vogue over in England as well.

There is an editorial/letters page in which we learn that a Game Day is being planned. First of many as we now know.  And that the crossword puzzle is going away due to complaints.   There are not really any letters, but a place to send them is noted.

Some used games for sale are also noted.  See what I am saying about the local feel.

Finally we get to the aforementioned crossword.




Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mary Poppins: Witch or Time Lord, Part 2

Mary as a Time Lord

So I explored how Mary could be a witch.  How can she be a Time Lord?



Well in addition to all that we know she speaks a lot of languages including Baby.  Her carpet bag could be a bag of holding or it could be Time Lord science.   She acts both young and wise, much like the Doctor and spends a lot of time with younger companions.  The 11th Doctor even made references to her in "A Christmas Carol" and in the book "Magic of the Angels".  In MotA the Doctor even has a carpet bag that he claims he got back from Mary.

Mary could have avoided the Time War much like the Doctor did.  She could have been The Nanny even.  Heck if that is case maybe she regenerated into Nanny McPhee.

She knows people from other planets such as the girl from the Pleiades.
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is almost as bad as Raxacoricofallapatorius.


Mary Poppins
Time Lord
From  Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Limited Edition Hardcover Edition
Story Points: 8

Attributes
Awareness 5
Coordination 4
Ingenuity 6
Presence 6
Resolve 5
Strength 3

Skills
Athletics 1
Convince 4
Craft 3
Fighting 1
Knowledge 5
Marksman 0
Medicine 4 (little drop of sugar and all)
Science 3
Subterfuge 1
Survival 2
Technology 3
Transport 1

Traits
Animal Friendship, Attractive, Brave, Feel the Turn of the Universe, Friends (major), Indomitable, Keen Senses, Lucky, Quick Reflexes, Resourceful Pockets, Voice of Authority, Time Lord
Argumentative, Distinctive, Eccentric, Owed a favor to (the family she serves), Selfish (to a degree)

Equipment
Umbrella, Carpet Bag

Home Tech Level: 10 (mostly conforms to 4)

Personal Goal
To protect the Children

The Time Lord known as Mary Poppins fled Gallifrey in the earliest days of the Time War with one goal in mind. To protect those who could protect or help themselves.   She has been known to have encountered the Tim Lord known as The Doctor at lease once.

She has a number of family members she will mention, but these are all adopted and are world wide.
It is also not too much of a stretch to see her working the Paternoster Row Gang at some point.


Next time I'll cover why Ms. Frizzle of the Magic School Bus is not just a Time Lord but is in fact River Song.

So how about you?  Is Mary a Witch or a Time Lord?

Mary Poppins: Witch or Time Lord?

Mary Poppins is an interesting character.

She is both serious and fanciful. Strict and stern, yet kind and lovable. Old and wise and still young and innocent.  A witch and a Time Lord.

Wait.
What was that last one again?

Certainly Mary has a number of traits that could be considered magical and even witch like.  But there are other times her crazy world could be explained easier if she were in fact a Time Lord.  Both seem as likely as the other to be honest.

Mary as a Witch



Mary has a number of qualities that make her seem more like witch or some sort of magic user.
Indeed a lot of what she does is called magic.  It could be that is just what she is calling it to help explain it to the locals.

Mary Poppins
20th Level Witch Eclectic Tradition
From  The Witch

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 15
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 18
Charisma: 18

Saves
Death Ray or Poison: 5
Magic Wands: 6
Paralysis: 5
Dragon Breath: 8
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 7

To Hit AC 0: 14

Hit Points: 50
Alignment: Lawful
AC: 7 (coat equal to leather)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Jackdaw
7th level:  Speak to Plants and Animals
13th level: Permanent Magic
19th level: Witch’s Blessing

Spells 
Cantrips: Alarm Ward, Animate Tool, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Object Reading, Warm
First: Comprehend Languages, Everlasting Candle, Fey Sight, Light, Magic Circle Against Evil, Consecration Ritual (Ritual)
Second: Augury, Detect Thoughts, Guard Watch, Mind Obscure, Rite of Remote Seeing, Calling the Quarters (Ritual)
Third: Astral Sense,  Dispel Magic, Scry, Spirit of Albion (Avalon), Imbue Witch Ball (Ritual)
Fourth: Analyze Magic, Divine Power, Ethereal Projection, Remove Curse, Drawing Down the Moon (Ritual)
Fifth: Calm Weather, Dream, Greater Command, Seeming
Sixth: Anchoring Rite, Greater Scry, True Seeing, Legend Lore (Ritual)
Seventh:  Ball of Sunshine, Greater Arcane Eye, Binding Ritual (Ritual)
Eighth: Astral Projection, Discern Location, Mystic Barrier

Magic Items:  Umbrella (works as a Witch's Staff), Bag of Holding (Greater).

Mary Poppins
Very Experienced Master
From Ghosts of Albion

Life Points 44
Drama Points 10

Attributes
Strength 3
Dexterity 4
Constitution 4
Intelligence 5
Perception 5
Willpower 6

Qualities
Attractive 1
Charisma
Contacts (Underground) 3
Contacts (Supernatural) 6
Good Luck 2
Hard to Kill 2
Magic 8
Magical Family
Nerves of Steel
Occult Library (Amazing)
Resources 8
Situational Awareness
Supernatural Senses (the Sight)
Status 4

Drawbacks
Adversaries (Lots) 5
Honorable (Minimal)
Metal Problems (Cruel, mild)
Metal Problems (Intolerance, mild)
Obligation (To the family she serves)
Rivals 2

Useful Information
Initiative +2
Actions 1/2
Observation 1d10 + 11
Lesser Sensing +19
Fear +12

Skills
Armed Mayhem 2
Art 5
Athletics 2
Crime 2
Drive / Ride 2
Engineering 3
Fisticuffs 1
Influence 6
Knowledge 7 (Science, Mathematics, Astronomy)
Languages 7 (English, Italian, Latin, Greek, French, Animals)
Marksmanship 1
Notice 6
Occultism 9
Physician 4
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry    +2 - Defense Action
Grapple +2 - Defense Action
Punch +2 4 Bash
Magic +23 per spell Usually graphs a horoscope first
- Counterspell +20 Special Magic defense action; dispels spell
- Deflect +23 Special Deflects spell 45 degrees
- Hold +22 Special Magic defense action; delays spell SL turns
- Deflect +16 Special Magic defense action; returns spell to caster

These builds assume that Mary is one of the more powerful witches in your game.  Of course to deal with children she would not need to be this powerful.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Found my Gen Con Game

Every time I have taken my kids to Gen Con we have started a new adventure.
I like to pull from the classics no matter what it is I am playing.  So in the past we have done S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and B2 Keep on the Borderlands.

This year it is going to be L1 The Secret of Bone Hill!


I am rather fond of this adventure and have figured out some new tweeks to it to make it work great in my kids' AD&D game.  Plus I have a bunch of Len Lakofka's material from Dragon that I want to port into this.

Should be a blast!

Margot Adler (1946 - 2014)

I have long stated that the witches of my books and posts here have had far more to do myth and fairytale than they have had with the witches of modern paganism or Wicca.

But even a casual glance at my work will reveal that while my witches are more Baba Yaga than Isaac Bonewits or Fiona Horne, there is a bit of modern pagan thought there.  This is no surprise really.   I have often talked about how my influences are in line with the occult revival of the 70s and even the Satanic Panic of the 80s.
So in addition to reading a lot of fantasy stories about witches I also read a lot about Wicca, paganism and modern witchcraft.

One of those books I remember well was Margot Adler's Drawing Down the Moon.
What I liked about it was how it took each of these religions/belief systems and gave them equal weight.  Some books I read at the time were either predominantly pro-wiccan and thus put their system in the est possible light or had a Christian bias and thus looked down their nose on all the systems.
It also avoided what I have come to call "Margret Murrayism" and make claims that could not be supported.

For gamers I would say pick up this book to see how you can run cults and faith in your games.  Yes there are other texts, and even some that are better suited for this. But this is a good overall text and also one I think fits the feel that some of us want in our "Old School" games. Either the original 1979 printing or the revised 1986 one would be best for this.
The 2006 revised edition though is the only one I can find for an eReader.

This is also one of the books that I attribute to my cultivation of my own feminist thought (yeah I know that "feminist" is a bad word to some and loaded word to others. I don't care. I can use it to describe myself as I choose).   It shares that distinction with Carl Sagan's "Dragons of Eden" and Carl Jung's "Man and His Symbols".

Margot Adler died today after a long battle with cancer.  She was 68.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/07/28/336081618/margot-adler-an-npr-journalist-for-three-decades-dies
http://admin.patheos.com/blogs/themediawitches/2014/07/shocking-and-sad-rest-in-peace-margot-adler/

I Don't Believe in Bloody Mary

I don't believe in Bloody Mary, I don't believe in Bloody Mary, I don't believe in blood...

Bloody Mary is one of the more scary childhood monsters under the bed, or more accurately in the mirror.  Say her name three times while looking in the mirror in the dark and she will appear.
But who is she?

Stories abound, was she a young mother whose children had died?  Was she murderess who killed her husband to be before taking her own life?  Or is she as some stories have told the mother of Jesus, weeping tears of blood for the son she lost?


Bloody Mary Trickery by ~Skyberry-13 on deviantART

One of the stories I remember best was one about a witch named Mary Worth who in the late 19th century would kidnap slaves to torture.  Very so like the tales of Elizabeth Bathory or even Cathy Bates character of Delphine LaLaurie in American Horror Story Coven.

For The Witch I thought something else might be nice.

Mary Worth was a young woman who dreamed of her future life as a wife and mother. One All Hallows Eve Mary waited till midnight to look into her looking glass. She had heard the stories that you would see the face of your future husband in the glass.  But what Mary saw filled her with dread and horror.  The face she saw was that of a man, covered in blood with a countenance of pure evil and murderous intent.

A year later Mary was arranged to be married to an acquaintance of her father, it turned out to be the same man. Though this man seemed fair enough and treated her well.  Years went by and she gave him two children.

To protect herself and her children Mary turned to witchcraft so she could learn more of her fate and possibly change it. She suspected her husband was unfaithful that one night she went to brew a potion to ensure faithfulness. When she returned home she discovered her husband in the arms of another woman while her children slept.  They argued and she struck him with the poker from the fireplace. As blood raced from his brow she saw the vision she saw so many years ago.  She screamed and pushed her husband back into the fireplace.  Quickly the fire spread throughout the house.  Mary ran screaming, but her husband, his mistress and the children all died in the flame.

From that day forward any time Mary looked into a mirror she saw the faces of her dead husband and children.  Mad with grief she clawed her own eyes out and dashed her head into the mirror.  The glass severed her neck and she died in the mirror.

She now haunts all mirrors, scarring girls away who wish to learn their fates too soon.  She also captures younger children to replace the ones she lost, but these children cannot survive in her land of the dead.

Bloody Mary (when alive)
4th Level Witch (Eclectic Tradition)

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 16

Saves
Death Ray or Poison:  13
Magic wand or devices: 14
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 13
Dragon Breath: 16
Rods, Staffs and Spells:  15

To hit AC 0: 20

Hit Points: 25
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 9

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Talking Mirror

Spells
Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Ghost Sound, Open, Sound
First: Bad Luck, Cause Fear,
Second: Burning Gaze, Evil Eye,

That works for me!

--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Long Day

Been a long day. Long week really.  The Day job kept me busy and I didn't get the posts in I wanted.

Hope to fix that soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Whatever Happened to the Teenage Witch?

I don't talk much about Sabrina the Teen-age Witch much here.

I never read the comic, I never watched the Melissa Joan Hart TV show or movies.  I do remember seeing a cartoon of it back in the 80s.

A while back I did do a post about her as a potential Queen of Witches.  But that was it.

Well, not just content with zombies, Sabrina has a new adventure in the Afterlife with Archie comic.


Check out these links for more information.
http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/07/23/the-rather-surprising-fate-of-sabrina-the-teenage-witch/
http://lovecraftzine.com/2014/07/24/afterlife-with-archie-issue-6-is-a-comic-every-lovecraft-fan-will-enjoy/

Sabrina Spellman, Queen of Carcosa.

I have to admit. I never saw that coming.




Why Should You Vote for the Other Side?

The Other Side is up for an ENnie Award for "Best Blog" this year and I could not be more thrilled.
You can see the list of nominees here: http://www.ennie-awards.com/blog/2014-ennie-awards-nominees/ and can vote here: http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/



As you can see I am in some really great company.  But there are some reasons I think that my blog deserves this award.

- I am going to be at Gen Con this year with my kids.  I like to take my kids to Gen Con. They love it and they have been talking about it for WEEKS now.  What would really be nice is to see their dad win an award for all the hard work he has been doing.

- Where else can you go to get the variety of games I talk about?  D&D, Unisystem, Chill, d20, Old-school, new-school, Call of Cthulhu and many more.

- My week long dips into various games.  I know from my stats that you have enjoyed it when I take a game and cover it all week long, whether it was Adventures Dark & Deep or Super Babes!

- Features. I give you features on either a weekly basis like Zatannurday or White Dwarf Wednesday. Or my semi-regular features Plays Well With Others or The Best Blog You Are Not Reading or Kickstart Your Weekend.  I may not have the most up to date news or know what is going on in every corner of the Internet, but I like to think I am posting things that people want to read.

- Reviews. Along with the features I have posted my reviews of various game products here.  So far I have written 676 reviews.  Not too shabby really.

- Community.  I try to bring other blogs and bloggers into our orbit.  Either they have something really interesting to say or to help expand our hobby.  I believe than in a strong community more ideas will flow and ultimately that will be better for our hobby.  Both for ourselves and people outside of it.  While I am not the one to sit around the camp fire and sing songs about getting along, I am the guy that will say we should chill out and just roll some dice.

- Gnome Stew is a great blog, but while they have a team (nine authors) I am just one guy.  They have 2,000,000 visitors and I have 1,500,000+. They have written 2500+ articles since 2009, while I have written 2300+ since 2009.   Plus they have won every year, so maybe it is time to give someone new a chance!

- I respect the ENnies as a peoples choice award. Does ENWorld have problems? Sure. But the truth is that gamers and fans of games vote for these products and sites.  It is a way of the community saying "yeah Tim, you are OK" and I appreciate that.  So yeah, I would love to have one.

- You know who else likes awards? My Mom!
No seriously, she does. This would make her day.

- The ENnies do open up doors for writers. This would help me out a lot in getting more material written and out to you all.

My fellow nominees all have fine blogs, but I hope you will vote for me and The Other Side.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #3 April 1975

Owl & Weasel #3 takes us back to April of 1975.
We are still at 8 pages and 10p but there is more "layout" now.

Ian Livingstone's first Editorial is a sample of what we will see later in White Dwarf, only much more verbose and more personable.  It get the feeling that Ian and Steve knew their subscribers personally or at the very least knew where they were coming from.

There is still a lot of "Subscribe to us" and "Advertise with us" through out the zine.  This is not unexpected.

If you ever doubt the roll Chess plays in the gaming community then look no further than pages 4 & 5 of this issue.  Two pages of an analysis of a game played by Arjura Parakrama and John J. McCallion in Colombo Sri Lanka on December 8th, 1974.

There are discussions of Kingmaker and Avaon Hill's Baseball.

Page 7 has the various games now all in one place and Page 8 has a feature that will be a regular in White Dwarf; the Notice board.   People looking for games to play, players and some games for sell.

It is hard for me to gauge this issue.  By today's standards the articles are long(ish) and there is nothing to grab into the article.  To be fair this is Ian and Steve at 25 and 23 (respectively) and they are inventing our fandom here.  But this is less of a "rough draft" of White Dwarf and really a different sort of animal.
Though all the seeds are here really.  Just missing a comic really.  Though I do feel I need some more cultural context here.  With WD I had my own experience to draw on. Here I was 4 and the only board game I knew how to play at this point was checkers.  I'll do some more research.

--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Map of the Flanaess

There are a lot of really, really great products and people up for ENnie awards this year.  But I want to draw one to your attention in particular. 

Anna Meyer is the founder of the Flanaess Geographical Society on Facebook.  She is also up for the Best Cartography for her Map of the Flanaess. A project she spent a considerable time on.

So if you can, please consider voting for.
"Map of the Flanaess - Anna B Meyer Fantasy Maps"

These maps are beautiful and frankly I want a large print to put in my game room.  
If you are an old-school Greyhawk fan like me then this should be a no-brainer vote.

I could spend hours going over these and never get bored. But I love maps.


--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: James Mishler Games

+James Mishler is having a big sale on all his Olden Lands products and they are worth checking out.
James runs a great blog over at http://jamesmishlergames.blogspot.com/ and Google+ Group where he posts tons of great old-school material for the price of a click.
I am partial to his works since the Mystoerth map I use is based on his work.  One day I really, really need to chat with him about this map and how he runs/ran his combined Mystara/Greyhawk world and see if was similar to how we did it back in 86.
Anyway check out his products.

I guess the first thing that needs to be said is that all these products are designed to be used with any Old-School game.  They are overtly labeled for Labyrinth Lord and some dual-stated for Castles & Crusades, but really you could pick up anything from the *D&D family and play these.

The look of the books is certainly Old-school with the Souvenir/Soutane font.
Most of these books lack art, but I don't think that is an issue here. They do fine with out it.

Castle Adlerstein and Environs Map Pack
8 maps. Pay What You Want
The maps are all hires PNG files.
Features the hex area around Castle Adlerstein which is to be detailed in the future. Again at present it is avery sandboxy and can be used with anything.  8 maps (7 maps and a grid) and PWYW make this a great deal.  It will be a better deal when the rest of it comes out too.

Chronicles of Mhoriedh Map 00 Olden Lands Continent
7 maps and a guidebook. Pay What You Want.
The maps are all hires PNG files.
The guidebook lists various monsters and resources of the areas. No descriptions of the lands or anything else.  That is all coming in the in the Gazetteer of the Olden Lands.  But it works as a huge sandbox and I was already mentally placing it in my own world. Easily worth the price of a look and throwing a few bucks into James' hat.  Easily more things to do here than I can put down on paper (pixels?) now.  IT really recalls that feel that getting the original Expert Set box and seeing the maps.

Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
This 21 page (cover, OGL, and 19 pages) book is the first of the GODS,DEMI-GODS, AND CULTS series.  This one features Khraliche Karinkhamür the Chaos Queen of Ants.  Presented here is plenty of detail about the cult, the sub cults and the important figures.  Worshipers are detailed and discussed. We also get some new spells for both Wizards and Clerics and some new monsters.
What I like most about this is that it can be easily added to any game world.  The feel is overwhelming old-school and sandbox, but that is great.

Hercynian Grimoire #1
46 pages (cover, OGL, 44 pages).
The first of hopefully more books in this series as well.  This is also the first of the Olden Lands and the Chronicles of Mhoriedh line.   The book is divided into a recognizable "Men & Magic", "Monsters & Treasure", "Underworld & Wilderness" and a newer, but still recognizable "Gods & Demi-gods".  So needless to say I am hooked so far.
First up a great few of pages on Gnolls and their human-half breed kin the Gnoles.  I never gave gnolls a second thought but this is some good stuff.
Another feature that you see the d66 table. Roll two d6s like percentile dice and get 36 outcomes.  Like Traveler used to do.
Next up is a section on spells. What I love about this and can get 100% behind is that Magic-user/Wizard spells are also labeled as "Intelligence", Cleric spells as "Wisdom" and Witchcraft spells as "Charisma". It is like it is custom made for my Witch class!
There is a Gnoll encounter table, a random faerie table.
The next section is a collection of new magic items.
About half-way we get to a monster manual like section.  Plenty of new hyena types and more.  All monsters are dual stated.
Following some more tables we talk about some of the Olden Lands.  Up first, the Realm of Alspadia and it's major settlements.
This is a pretty packed book at 46 pages. Lots of things to use to be honest and all can be added to your current game with no troubles.

Ogres of the Olden Lands
Ogres are the boogeymen of the Olden Lands. Or at least that is how they are depicted here.  I love what James is trying to do with the ogres here. Give them something more of the supernatural. It works to be honest and for how little this book costs you have no excuse not to be using this to spice up the ogres in your own game. Ok though, I do plan on using this information for goblins instead!  The random ogre feature tables for both Ogre and Ogre Magi is just great.
Though the STAR of this book is the Half-Ogre as a player character.  Gamers of A Certain Age (like James and myself) grew up on a steady diet of fantasy and the half-ogre is the result of that.  Either from the pages of Dragon magazine or the pages of Piers Anothony, the half-ogre was something that was sure to show up in someone's game in the early 80s.  This half-ogre does that memory justice.
As a bonus we get the lands of the ogre and full color maps!

Vampires of the Olden Lands
The Olden Lands is James' in house campaign the Chronicles of Mhoriedh. All the books in this series are dual stated with Labyrinth Lord and Castles & Crusades stats. This appeals to me on a number of levels. I like that he went through the effort to do this and the nice effect is that between these two sets of stats you can play this under any old school version of D&D you like. There is also plenty in this book that work with any other game as well.
We start out with some common protections against vampires. We follow with 8 very different sorts of vampires including living, dead and spirit. All dual stated. There is a new race to play, The Dhamphir. I have seen a lot of "Dhampirs" over the years, but this one is one of the best so far just in terms of simplicity.
All in all a really nice take and these vampires are not like the Dracula-Lestat-Edward clones that can populate so many other games.

All in all these are great additions to my game library and something I plan on using in my own game world.
I hope to see a LOT more of this world to be honest.  I would also love to see how people are using it in their own games.  For me, I am planning to set Dolmvay in the Olden Lands somewhere.

Plays Well With Others
I could not help but notice that there are lot of references to a Witch class in these books.  This class is left undefined for the most part (outside of it being a Charisma based spell caster) and is really meant to be any kind of witch.  I can't help but notice how perfect this fits with my own Witch class.  So if you liked my class and have the book, then grab these too, but especially grab Hercynian Grimoire since it has witch spells in it that would be perfect.

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Magical Tattoos for Unisystem

Note: This is something I did a while back and have been meaning to redo for old-school D&D.  But this works well enough on it's own and I never could get it to jell just right for D&D games.

Magical Tattoos
One of the oldest forms of art is decorating the human body. Consequently one of the earliest forms of magic was decorating the human body to achieve supernatural effects. Whether to aid in battle or to connect more closely with the natural or supernatural world, body art and modification was amongst the first magics performed.

Inscribing a Tattoo
A sorcerer, witch or magician usually learns their magic from learned masters, ancient tomes or some other supernatural agent. Magical tattoos are not that much different, but the ways of inscribing the magic is very different. Often words are not used as most magical tattoos pre-date written language; instead the secret language of symbols, shapes and often color is needed.
Learning to inscribe a tattoo is a dying art. While once used the world over now only a handful the world over know the art. Directors then can rules that the Cast do not have access to the knowledge to learn how to make these and must seek out a Master.

To inscribe a magical tattoo is much like casting a spell. To learn how to do it the Master must match or exceed in Success the power level of the tattoo to be learned. This is usually a Perception + Art + Occultism (not Magic) roll. To cast or inscribe the tattoo is a Willpower + Art + Magic roll.

Like spells some tattoos have durations and some may be of limited use. Other may require a sacrifice of life force (Quality Points) or even Magic Levels to be able to use.
Unlike spells magical tattoos are never quick-cast. Typically it takes 1 to 2 hours per Power Level to inscribe. Any interruptions render the tattoo useless.

Anti-Magic Tattoo
Power Level: 2 to 5
Requirements: recipient looses 1 level of Magic per level of Tattoo
Inscribing Time: 1 hour per PL
Effects: This powerful and rare tattoo is one of the most sought after all of magical tattoos. The application renders the recipient immune to magic. They are immune to any offensive spell below the Power Level of the tattoo (ie. a PL 3 tattoo protects against PL 1 or 2 spells). It can also negate up to PLx10 Life Point in damage per supernatural attack (say the fire breath of a demon).
If the Ghosts of Albion magical combat rules are used then the PL of the tattoo is treated as the defenders level in Magic. They may not however attack back.
The cost for this protection is high. The recipient also cannot be effected by any magic including healing from a spell or other beneficial supernatural effects (such as rapid healing). The recipient must also sacrifice 1 level of Magic (Sorcery) per PL of the Tattoo in order to gain its protection. The recipient of the tattoo can no longer cast magic themselves.
Example: Eric the Witchhunter gets an anti-magic tattoo. He has 3 levels of Magic and finds a master that will give him a PL 3 Anti-Magic tattoo. He looses his 3 levels and nearly six hours later he has his tattoo. If he wishes to get a PL 4 Anti-Magic tattoo then he must first earn another level of Magic before he can do so. While he is doing so he can not of course even use them due to his own tattoo negating them.

Celtic Battle Tattoo
Power Level: 1 to 5
Requirements: Special woad paint from the British Isles
Inscribing Time: 1 hour per PL
Effects: This special tattoo requires special woad paint found only in the British Isles and a master at applying the tattoos. Once inscribed the tattoo provides an armor value equal to the PL of the tattoo +1. The tattoo must be exposed and visible in order to provide this protection. Once active the tattoo is treated like thick hide or leather. Weapons, even bullets, seem to bounce off the user. They still suffer from environmental exposure however. A naked painted blue Celt might have enough protection to be bullet-proof, but will still freeze to death.
A user may have multiple tattoos, but the protections are from the most powerful one (highest PL) only. Each additional tattoo regardless of PL provides only an extra +1 to the armor value. The tattoos, as the name implies, are permanent and only come into their magical effect when the user enters battle.
The maximum protection in any combination is +6.

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Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Christmas in July Sale

DriveThruRPG and RPGNow are having their annual Christmas in July Sale.


25% of of THOUSANDS of titles. Over 19,000 in fact.

Go there an pick up an ENnie nominated game or just a game you have been wanting for a while.

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Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
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Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side".
Thanks so much!

TBBYANR: The Power Score

Up next on The Best Blog You Are Not Reading is The Power Score.
http://thecampaign20xx.blogspot.com/


I discovered the Power Score last week via the RPG Blog Alliance. The site's author, Sean, had posted a bit on the Demonomicon of Iggwilv that got my attention.  I stuck around and read the rest of his blog.

What I liked most was how he moves from the various incarnations of D&D with ease. There is no edition war here, just different ways to play to the same game and all the material is good for any edition.

He goes into some detail in the posts, so they are longer than your average blog post.  But they are worth the read to be honest.

The blog only really got going this year, but has done a pretty good job to be honest.

Go by and check it out.  Worth your time.



HEY: Like his blog?  Go visit and say hi.
Like my blog? Go vote for it at the ENnies award voting for "Best Blog"!  Thanks!
http://www.ennie-awards.com/vote/

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: NPC Player Cards & Another Witch

I have not been doing my Kickstarter posts here because there hasn't really been anything that interests me.

Well I have found a couple and look very cool.

Non-Player Cards: An Artful & Inspirational Generation Tool
by Andreas Walters
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/metalweavedesigns/non-player-cards-npc-a-card-based-npc-generator



Creating memorable NPCs can sometimes be a chore. Creating even marginally interesting ones can even be a challenge.  NPC Player Cards help with this task and can even flesh out any already created NPC.
The cards include Names, Professions, Relationships, Personality, Traits, Quirks, Goals and Secrets.
By my quick count that is 48,828,125,000,000 different NPCs.
Not too bad of a deal to be honest! Certainly worth checking out for the art alone.

Sean K Reynolds presents "Goody White's Book of Folk Magic"
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seankreynolds/sean-k-reynolds-presents-goody-whites-book-of-folk


Sean K. Reynolds gives us a book of Witch magic for Pathfinder.  Hmm. Sounds neat!
It is a book on Folk Magic for witches, so there should only be a little overlap between his book and mine.
In fact I have already sent in my pledge.

Check these both out!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Castles & Crusades 6th Printing

Castles & Crusades is now on it's 6th printing. So like many others I got in on their latest Kickstarter and the first book, the Player's Handbook, has been sent out.


No we could debate the need for a copy who is successful and on their 6th printing of even using Kickstarter, but I am not. If Troll Lord wants to give a portion of their pre-orders to KS then who am I to judge.  Plus I think there is an advertising bump just being on Kickstarter vs. just doing pre-orders.

In any case the book is fantastic looking and a step up from their 5th printing.




The text is easier to read and the graphic images sharper and more colorful.

The increased text size also adds about 50 pages to the book.


Though there might be more text as well.

The character sheets are also subtly different.

I really, really enjoy Castles & Crusades.  I think it is one of the best D&D-like games out there. I just wish I got to play it more.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Banner Code

Working on some new code to change my top banner at random.

Not quite working yet....

Biggest List of Retro-clones I have seen

This list was posted to my Facebook feed today.
http://taxidermicowlbear.weebly.com/dd-retroclones.html

It is easily the biggest list of Retro-clones, near clones and other Old-School games I have ever seen.

Do yourself a favor and check it out.
The website's owner is also the author of Full Metal Plate Mail and Grey Six.
Grey Six includes an interesting take on the Warlock class and uses a lot of my OGC witch spells.


Owl & Weasel Wednesday #2 March 1975

Owl and Weasel hits Issue #2 and doubles in size!  That is something even White Dwarf can't claim.
Still mot of the articles are by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, but some other talent is coming in.

Steve Jackson discusses the Brighton Toy Fair on page 1. Interesting in this perspective since this is a hobby on the verge.  How so? Well by how little he mentions is there. The Fair is big enough to take over "3 hotels"  he only mentions a handful of games and these are all board games.  Yes, at this point D&D has not come to England but there are no War Games mentioned either.

So a question the true Grognards out there.  Were War Games already dying out in 75?  I was under the impression that this was a good time for them.

A brief mention that the board game magazine Albion was no more. I had not heard of it at before this.

A little math puzzle for you to try at home:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 = 100
Add mathematical notations to make the answer equal 100.
(eg. 123 + 4 - 56 ... etc.)
Let me know if you figure it out.  Puzzles seem like a must add really to a games magazine. I wonder why it wasn't done more.

Ah that is why.  In the Editorial on Page 4 Steve Jackson reports a reader saying "get rid of the puzzles".  A thus the first irritated gamer raises his voice against the establishment or something. The editorial does mention more exciting things to come.

There are some more puzzles and a bit about the recent resurgence of Mah Jong.  1975 Percy Kenyon would be happy to know that nearly 40 years later the game is still played and in various formats.  At one point I remember my FLGS carried nice and expensive Mah Jong sets for a while.

The overall feel of O&W2 is a zine starting it's stride. It is obvious that Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone feel they are on to something big. While retrospect tells us they were right, it is not the same "big thing".

What I love is the frontier feel of this.  These are two guys, passionate about their hobby and want to share it with everyone and anyone they can.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How to Run Your Game

We have a couple of independently produced books out now to help you run your game.  One new and one getting more attention.

The first is +Alexis Smolensk's How to Run: an Advanced Guide to Managing Role-playing Games.  It just came out last night.  From what I can gather (and I could be wrong) this is a guide that is more directed towards the long time gamer (thus the "Advanced" part) and it might be exclusively drawn from a D&D perspective.

The older book is +Mike Shea's  The Lazy Dungeon Master. It has the feeling of being on the other end of the spectrum from Alexis' book, but I don't have it either so hard to say.  What it says it is guide to help the time constrained DM.  It has some good reviews and the content seems to be drawn largely from later editions of D&D.  You can read a more detailed review of this book over at The Traveling Spellbook.

While I am sure both of these are very fine books I am wondering about their scope.  Or to put it bluntly are they only about D&D?  That is fine. D&D is a great game, one of my favorites. But it is not the only game I play. I also don't think I am the target audience anyway.

Over the last 35 years or so of my game playing I have read numerous books on how run games.  After a bit they do tend to get a little repetitive.  By the late 90s I was focusing most of my time and energy on running Horror games and Horror-themed fantasy RPGs; so my own reading took me in that direction.

For my money the best guide for running a game is still the 1st Edition AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide.
Not only is it a perfect example of High Gygaxian Prose, it is also just so filled with material you need to run a game.  I have often thought about doing an RPG.net style read-through of the DMG.  Follow it up with the 3rd Ed D&D DMG which is not as good, but still a surprisingly good guide.

If you want to run a horror game (and I often do) then the best guide is still Nightmares of Mine.  Written by Ken Hite and published by ICE and Chaosium it is small but filled with material, but it also out of print and not cheap. This handy little guide is everything you need to run every sort of horror game. Straight up horror, survival horror, personal horror, comedy horror. You name it, this book covers it.  Failing finding this a copy of Call of Cthluhu or GURPS: Horror are also good choices.

I am looking forward to hearing what people will have to say about these two new guides.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Other Side Nominated for an ENnie Award!

The Other Side has been nominated for "Best Blog" at this year's ENnie Awards!

http://www.ennie-awards.com/blog/2014-ennie-awards-nominees/

I have to say I am quite excited  by this and even a little humbled.
I am not the biggest blog on the list of nominees. Nor even am I the best looking.  But I post what I like to post and it seems to click because people keep coming back.

I have some pretty serious competition to be honest.  Gnome Stew is a blog I vote for every year (but NOT this year!) and +Christopher Helton's Dorkland has been one of my favorite reads for a while.  But I like to think I offer something a little unique, a little different, and whole lot of entertaining.  So I hope you will consider me when voting begins next week.

To my fellow nominees I am looking forward to being at Gen Con this year and wish you all the best.

Jackson De La Croix for WitchCraft

I wrote this up for a WitchCraft game I was running a few years ago.  Jackson never made an appearance, but I will certainly want to use him for my Spirit of '76 game. Cerri and Brigh were two Wicce characters I had created as NPCs.  Similar to the layout in Chill Vampires the dossier is a collection of reports, news clippings (in this case printouts) and written reports.

Jackson De La Croix, or Jackson Jammer, was one of my favorite vampires from the Chill Vampires book. Here is my attempt to bring him into Unisystem and the 21st century. I am going with 2nd Edition Chill here even though it states that Van Helsing began to tour in 1979 (left over from 1st Ed to be sure). If you want to use 1st Edition Chill, subtract 10 years.  For my game I am going to have Van Helsing start around 74-75.

SAVE Report compiled 01-15-2006 by Cerriweden nic Brigandu, Special Envoy
Note: Cerriweden "Cerri" nic Brigandu is a member of the Daughters of the Flame coven. Born in Boston to Irish immigrants, Cerriweden has served not only as a valued and trusted Special Envoy to SAVE, she is also a top notch rock critic. She has been following the career and exploits of Jackson "Jammer" De La Croix since the death of Pablo "Bubba" Rodriguez in 1992.  She first encountered the vampire in Boston while visiting the Daughters of the Flame sanctuary there.
(incl: Include photo of Cerri and Brigh with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page from the 1994-5 Page/Plant tour).
Quote:
News item: May 17th, 1996. Raleigh, NC. Jammer Jackson, Dead at 27.
Legendary guitarist Jammer Jackson (news:sear) was found dead this morning in his hotel room in Raleigh, NC. His band Van Helsing had been performing last night (see related story in Arts, page 1D) in Raleigh. Cause of death was not immediately known, but corners office has not ruled out death due to drugs.
Van Helsing had been in the news quite a bit recently due to the often public arguments of its lead singer, Anton Van Helsing (news:sear), and Jackson. Van Helsing's last album failed to chart a Top 100 hit leaving many critics to wonder if the band was a relic of the late 80's
Quote:
May 18th, 1996. New Orleans, LA. Jackson Death Ruled Natural Causes.
A representative of the Raleigh County NC corners office has ruled that Jammer Jackson's death was due to natural causes. A family spokesman has released a statement that due to religious observances Jackson's body was claimed by his family before an invasive autopsy could be performed. Toxicology results revealed no presence of drugs.
Quote:
May 19th, 1996. New Orleans, LA. Fans Bid Farewell to Jammer
A simple wooden coffin baring the ashes of Jammer Jackson was laid to rest today. Several celebrities and members of the music business joined with fans, friends and family to say goodbye to what many considered to be a modern legend. Often compared to Jimi Hendrix in style and looks, though Jackson himself likened his style more to blue legend Robert Johnson. Jammer had recently become friends with another gone before his time musician, Kurt Cobain. The inevitable comparisons between all these great musicians cannot be understated.
Quote:
June 13th, 1996. Los Angeles. Van Helsing, Dead at 31.
Anton Van Helsing the once flamboyant front man of the eponymous band Van Helsing was found dead in his hotel room today. Police are still questioning his long time girlfriend, Astra, in connection to drug paraphernalia found in the hotel. Van Helsing's death comes less than a month after the death of his bands lead guitarist Jammer Jackson.
Quote:
Website: The Johnson-Hendrix-Jackson link, circa 2001
I know this sounds crazy but Johnson and Jackson shared more than dying young, listen to the cover of Crossroads (the Eric Clapton song for you born after 69, the Robert Johnson song for the rest of us) on Van Helsings 6th album. If you slow it down to 1/16th speed you can hearI mean why did we never see his body! I am telling you that just like Elvis and Morrison, Jammer Jackson is still alive.
Quote:
November 7th, 2004 Fresh Faces, New Orleans, LA.
You have to living under a rock for the last Summer not to have heard the infectious grooves of the New Orleans hottest club band De La Croix. A spicy Cajun blend of hip-hop, rap, and good old fashioned blues driven rock, De La Croix is ready to take on the world. Whether you are a fan of vocalist Joaquin Esperanza's politically charged lyrics or the rap styling of co-frontman DLC, the one thing everyone agrees on is the shear talent of the band's 20 year old guitarist J.J. It has even lead some to speculate that J.J. is none other than the son of Jammer Jackson, last seen as a 10 year-old, standing by his fathers coffin so many years ago.

Jackson De La Croix Today, Cerriweden nic Brigandu
Jackson did fake his death, but the tiff with Van Helsing's leader was real. Anton wanted to hit the big time, Jackson wanted to remain small and anonymous. Anton used drugs, while Jackson didn't. So Jackson decided to die. He allowed a doctor to examine him to sign the papers, but he hired a single mother to portray the grieving widow. In a rare occurrence of generosity, Jackson gave away almost all his earthly possessions and a fair sum of money to this woman and her son in return for their silence. Attempts to locate the woman have failed and no record of her exists after 1997.

Jackson did in fact kill Anton Van Helsing, but that was a mere technicality. Anton had been slowly dying of drug addiction. Jackson also later killed Anton's longtime girlfriend Astra, though no newspaper reported her death.

Jackson's whereabouts between 1996 and 2004 are unknown, but all reliable sources point to a long period of inactivity. It has been long speculated (see page 212 of the Rodriguez dossier) that Jackson has a hiding place in the ruins of the Belle Marche Plantation.

It is certain that the guitarist for De La Croix, J.J., is in fact Jackson De La Croix. What is curious is that in the hundred or so shows observed by SAVE, no deaths that meet Jackson's former MO have been noticed. In fact no deaths at all have been recorded outside of random stabbing in the same bar after the show.

Physical Appearance: As usual he appears to be a medium-complexion African American man in his early 20s. The same penetrating stare is there and it gives you the impression that he does not blink enough.  He looks much like he did when he was the lead guitarist of Van Helsing.

Jackson De La Croix, WitchCraft RPG Stats

Strength: 5 Intelligence: 4
Dexterity: 8 Perception: 7
Constitution: 4 Willpower: 6

Life Points: 55 Endurance: N/A
Essence Pool: 97 Speed: 24

Skills: Play Instrument (guitar +9, all other stringed instruments +8 ) , Hand gun 3, Streetwise 6, Occult Knowledge 2
Qualities and Powers: Vampyre, Artistic Talent (guitars), Bard, Become Mist/Fog, Charisma 1, Contacts (Music industry), Hard to Kill, Increased Essence 6, Resources 4, Status 2, Semblance of Life, Time Stop
Drawbacks and Vulnerabilities: Aversions (Mint, Religious Symbols, Salt), Bloodthirst, Minority

Punch Damage: D4(2) x Strength
Kick Damage: D4(2) x (Strength+1)
Large Knife Damage: D4(2) x Strength. Damage Type: Slashing/Stabbing
Handgun, .22 caliber Damage: D4 x 2(4). Range: 3/10/20/60/120. Capacity: 8-10

Become Mist/Fog: One of Jackson more amazing powers is the ability to become mist or fog. Anytime he drops below 0 Life Points or below 5 Essence Points (or when he feels threatened) he can become a thick low-lying mist that moves at twice his normal speed. Jackson will then attempt to escape to a safe location. He has several plain wooden coffins stored away in safe houses in New Orleans, Nashville and Savannah, as well as one or two in smaller locales. He has a coffin in his standard gear, but knows that is the first place anyone will look. He disguises it as a crate to carry gear.

Note: Where did this Power Come From?
Not much is known about origin of this power. We do know from Rodriguez's research that Jackson's mother was a powerful Mambo and we do know there are reported, but undocumented, elemental powers among the Legbans. Was this a power Jackson had before becoming a vampyre or was something he developed later? Could this be an evolution of the Greater Shifting power? Further, careful, investigation is needed.

Religious Symbols: Jackson does not cower or flee from religious symbols like other vampyres, but he cannot come within 2.5 (1 meter) from them. He has the same reaction to Mint leaves (but not artificial mints) and Garlic. None of these have attracted any attention in a world where rock musicians will trash a room based on whether or not they got enough green M&Ms in their rooms.

Holy Burial: To permanently destroy Jackson one must perform a variation of the Holy Burial ritual described in the Mystery Codex. A wooden stake needs to be driven through Jackson's heart. His body must be placed in a plain wooden coffin (no other material will suffice) and taken to a crossroads by pallbearers. At the crossroads the coffin must be spun around at least three times. If one piece of the ritual is not done properly or is missing, Jackson will remain dead until the stake rots and he will then rise again to continue his façade of humanity. If every part of the ritual is followed to the letter then Jackson's spirit will pass to the Death Realms, never to return.

Essence Vampirism and Bloodthrist: Jackson De La Croix regains most of his essence during his concerts (has the Bard quality). Over the years he has perfected his performances to cause his audience to release almost imperceptible amounts of Essence (usually only one or two points per), but given that he plays to hundreds, even thousands, at a time, he can absorb a full two weeks worth of Essence per show. Of course Jackson will turn around and use Essence to power-up his performance, attract young ladies (usually several) to his dressing room, or typically enjoy the high that holding on to Essence gives. While in his Jammer days, De La Croix would go for the limelight and shun the backstage antics, as J.J. he provides a solid performance but remains an unknown element on the stage. His backstage antics are often sorid tabloid fodder. It is of course a ruse. De La Croix plays up this persona to distance himself from his previous ones. It also allows him to hide in plain sight as it were, no one thinks twice of some rock musician sleeping all day if he is rumored to be engaging in amorous activity with young groupies all night.

His Time Stop power is actually a Supernatural Quality/Power that causes a localized distortion of time perception, similar in many ways to the Mirage power. It costs 15 Quality/Power Points and 5 Essence Points for the first subjective minute and 2 Essence Points per subjective minute after that. So the drain someone in 5 minutes, Jackson spends 13 Essence Points.
Of course one might ask why he goes through the effort of using this power when he has better ways of getting Essence. Simply put Jackson enjoys the hunt. He has a taste for blood, particularly that of young females, and he enjoys the thrill of picking one girl out of the crowd to drain and doing it in front of everyone. Plus if Jackson does not feed at least once every two weeks he begins to loose Essence.
Like Mirage, this power ineffective against other supernatural creatures and those that can see Essence patterns.
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