Sunday, August 31, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 31st, Favourite RPG of all time

#RPGaDAY Day 31st, Favourite RPG of all time

Here we are. At the end of another blog-fest.  It has been a lot of fun and I have really enjoyed reading everyone's posts.  I want to thank +Dave Chapman for doing this it's been a lot of fun.

Favorite RPG of all time?
How can you even choose such a thing?

D&D has been there the longest, but I am partial to Ghosts of Albion and WitchCraft too.  All three are my "favorites".

If I am allowed to pick myself then Ghosts of Albion.  If not, then Dungeons & Dragons.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Zatannurday: Nerdee Lennox

Nerdee Lennox is a model and cosplayer from right here in Chicago! She loves cosplay and works with Cosplay Deviants.
She was at Gen Con and I got a pic of her, but here are some more.

You can find her on the web here:
https://www.facebook.com/NerdeeDeviant
https://www.facebook.com/NerdeeLennox
http://www.modelmayhem.com/1703944
http://innocentlynerdee.deviantart.com/
http://greenmartini.com/Nerdee
http://www.cosplaydeviants.com/profile/Nerdee
http://purpleport.com/portfolio/nerdee/

Note: Not all links are SFW.
my original

Nerdee Lennox

by Robert Johnston Jr.
Cosplay Deviants

And because I love the tattoo,



Tattoo by InnocentlyNerdee on deviantART

#RPGaDAY Day 30, Rarest RPG Owned

#RPGaDAY Day 30, Rarest RPG Owned

I honestly don't know.

I do have a copy of the original White Box rules of D&D, 3rd Printing.  But I think they had made a lot of those.  I also have a limited edition 1st Spellcraft & Swordplay which was not as expensive but far less were made.

I have Dracula RPG based on the 90s movie which is rare only because it is so bad.

But I collect things I like because I like them, not so much because they rare.  And all my games get played and/or used.  Even Dracula. It might be bad, but it has a great collection of Victorian era fire-arms.

Looking forward to seeing what gems everyone else has for this one.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: Gor RPG & Interview

So on pretty much to polar opposite end of last weeks Kickstarter I present to you +James Desborough's Chronicles of Gor RPG.



https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/chronicles-of-gor
http://postmortemstudios.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/chronicles-of-gor-rpg-crowdfunding/

I will be up up front. I am not a huge fan of James' earlier work.  I thought "The Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers" was juvenile and moronic.  BUT I loved "Machinations of the Space Princess" and "Agents of S.W.I.N.G."  Given the time between the projects I am more inclined to look at MotSP as his model.

The system will be D6.

James is also one of those RPG "boogey men" who people often know more about from other people than the actual person himself. Much like Zak or RPGPundit. Most of his so called bad reputation is unwarranted in my opinion.  Has he said some stupid shit? Sure. So have I. So have you.  I am not here to pillory him for that.

My introduction to Gor was not as paperback but something I had read years and years ago in Penthouse.  It was about consensual BDSM and how this woman was looking forward to getting a Kef brand.

Gor is one of those problematic topics.  A deep rich publication history and an example of fantasy and planetary romance.  But it also involves a lot of subjugation of women and paints a fairly narrow view of sex and gender roles.  It is fantasy however. It actually has less connection to reality than 50 Shades of Grey and it's tamer sire Twilight and those sold millions primarily to women and teenage girls.

BUT there are issues.

A lot of issues really.

So instead of just getting opinions from people on the internet I opted to go right to James and get his side of it all.

The Other Side: Let's start with the easiest.  What is Gor for those that don't know?

James Desborough: Gor is the 'counter earth', an idea espoused in some ancient Greek philosophy. John Norman, the author, is a pretty big classics fan which comes across in his lionisation of the Greco-Roman dominant cultures on this world he has created. Gor spins in an orbit exactly opposite ours, shielded from our detection by the sun and the advanced technology of the mysterious Priest Kings. These beings, akin to feared gods, have transplanted various historical human - and non-human - cultures and animals onto their world and have kept them in what they seem to consider a state of nature. Low technology (in some areas), warring city states and a might makes right culture virtually across the entire land. It's harsh, savage, slavery - especially gendered slavery - is integral to the cultures there and it's very, very different to things on Earth.

TOS: Why Gor?  More importantly what attracted you to this property?

JD:  I genuinely am a fan of the books. I was gifted the first 24 or so books around the age of 15 and was very much taken by them. At the time I was an incredibly voracious reader going through several books a day on weekends and to be given 20+ books in one go was a huge deal. I was already a fan of ERB's Barsoom stories, Howard's Conan and had chewed my way through the entire SF&F sections of the local libraries so this was an amazing gift. The appeal of nubile slave girls depicted by Jim Burns, Chris Achilleos and the rest on the covers was obvious, but beneath all that there were interesting societies, strange cities, alien and inhuman beings behind it all and tarns! Who doesn't like gigantic flying birds? In the days before the internet, the BDSM elements, though tame by the standards of today, were also a revelation to a teenager struggling to understand themselves and feeling rather alone. It might be hard for people to understand that today.

So, I've long been a fan, it has personal meaning to me and I think it's a fascinating blend of planetary romance, ancient aliens, skullduggery, intrigue, interplanetary plots and well realised cultures. It's just something... different.

TOS: What is the involvement of (the creator) John Norman?

JD:  Mr Norman is not directly involved, but we're allowed to refer to ourselves as 'authorised'. Involvement comes via his agent and his current publisher who have had access to the completed game manuscripts - though I need to make a few more tweaks due to feedback not from them, but from critics, fans, readers and playtesters.

TOS: Let's take the next issue head on.  Gor has some issues with it's treatment of women, namely most women in the tales are slaves and sex slaves at that.  How do you plan on approaching this topic?

JD:  It's true that most women in the stories are slaves, and indeed, sex slaves, but the lead character Tarl Cabot is not the most reliable of narrators and though he spends the first few books trying to reconcile his Earth and Gorean heritages bad things that happen to him push him to a ruthlessly Gorean mode of thought. Most women in the stories are slaves because a lot of time is spent with personal slaves or in paga taverns where they're over-represented. In one of the books the percentage of women that are slaves is put at something like 2%, one in fifty so while it's present a great deal in the stories, it's not quite as domineering from a world-building point of view as you might imagine.

I have tried to simply present the Gorean world as it is written, to make some suggestions on how to play with or around these topics and to leave room for the players to make their own judgements. It should be noted however that in many, many incarnations of fan-created Gor roleplay online, it's this very feature of Gor that makes it so popular with women. It seems to tap into a common set of fantasies for people which, coupled with a fantastical world, has great appeal to many.

TOS: Related. What will be the role of the female character in Gor?

JD:  Part of what drew me to this project, which I've been sat on for about eighteen months getting it cleared, written and ready, is that it is 180 degrees from current trends in world design. Being inclusive of players is one thing, but being inclusive and tolerant of characters is quite another. The Gorean world is a genuinely patriarchal, slaveholding culture. It isn't tolerant or inclusive. Slavery is integral. They kill cripples and the deformed at birth - most of the time. If you look at it purely in our terms, from our perspective it's pretty monstrous in a huge number of ways but that's the very thing that makes it so interesting and appealing from a storytelling and roleplaying point of view and - from the Gorean point of view, these things aren't horrible or monstrous, they're natural.

There are plenty of competent, deadly and powerful female characters in the books and examples, not only the deadly Panther Girls but the Tatrix of Tharna, bandit queens, conspirators, Ubaras, free companions. While women are subject to a lot of social expectations, that can work in the favour of female characters much as it can in authentically themed Victorian historical settings or others where women are assumed to be a certain way or are accorded certain social privileges.

TOS: Outside of these issues you have described Gor as Planetary Romance.  What does Gor offer the gamer that say a Barsoom/Mars game might not?

JD:  Barsoom's strength is in its wild fantasy, Gor, for all its strange elements is much more believable and gritty, less juvenile in my opinion - not that there's anything wrong with that. Gorean societies feel like real, functioning societies at all levels and where the elements all fit together and work. It has an air of plausibility to it and much more opportunity to bring in Earth-based characters. The scope is also bigger, especially once you include the Priest Kings and the Kur. I think the other draw is that the cultures are fairly complex and well developed and none of them are 'evil', so you have a degree of nuance and tested loyalty that you're not so much going to get in other planetary romances. It's also more grown up and sexual, whereas the only real sense you get of that in Barsoom is from Whelan's book covers.

TOS: You have chosen the D6 system for Gor.  Tell us why you chose that and what you expect it will give to Gor?

JD:   I wanted to use a system that had some pedigree with working with new players. It's my hope that Gor will bring in some new gamers from the online RP scene and from amongst the fans of the series. Doing something super-radical and indie wasn't really going to work as some basic roleplaying concepts are hard enough to get across to people - the lack of a board for example. Some familiar structure is useful. D6 also has templates, which fit the Gorean caste system extremely well and allows for quick and easy, off-the-peg character creation. D6 was, of course, used for Star Wars up until 1999 and many people have fond memories of it and found it a good system for this kind of swashbuckling sci-fantasy adventure, so I think it's a safe bet to work well with Gor.

TOS: Tell us about the two books.  Gorean Roleplaying & World Book.

JD:  The Gorean roleplaying book is a primer for the Gorean world and contains all the rules, Games Master advice, help with adventures, a sample adventure, creatures, NPCs and so on. It doesn't, however go into a huge amount of world detail, just the basics.

The world book contains no mechanics and is more of an encyclopaedia, A-Z, with observations from a supposed scribe, taken from Earth, giving his reactions to things on Gor.

For the roleplayer both books together provide a complete game and background.

For the non-gamer, the world book provides a reference to the world of Gor, its inhabitants, creatures, cities and so on. It should make a good reading companion, or a resource for those writing fan-fiction or RPing in chatrooms or on Second Life.

TOS: After this gets produced what is next? Gor adventures or related books?

JD:  We've got the license for a good few years, with options for an extension. Obviously whatever further material we produce beyond the core two books won't be canonical but I'd like to try and do something beyond the normal adventure books. I've never really liked adventure books as they're not great value for money in and of themselves. If you can combine them with a travelogue, details, parts that can be re-used by the Games Master then they become much more useful. I'd quite like to trace Tarl's steps with a series of adventures adding and fleshing things out - non-canonically - filling in some of the gaps. I also want to make the Panther Girls closer to the self-scarifying badasses they're initially described as, I think that should appeal to some people.

--

I am very interested in seeing what James can produce here. If anyone can do it I think he can.
James answers more questions here, http://postmortemstudios.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/chronicles-of-gor-faq/

#RPGaDAY Day 29, Most memorable encounter

#RPGaDAY Day 29, Most memorable encounter

That would have to be the very first time I encountered a Lich back in the AD&D1 days. I am thinking it was the summer of 82 or so.

The DM read the monster description and she decided that because it was a former high-level magic-user that it had all these new spells. She played the monster as would have today, but back then that was kind of a new thing.

Needless to say it kicked our 6th to 7th level asses.

While I was annoyed, I later looked back on it and thought about how well she had done it all.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More From Barrel Rider Games

I won't lie. I love Barrel Rider Games.
A full Basic-era class for a $1. Not a bad deal really.

Here are a bunch of my recent purchases.

In nearly all cases the books are 5 to 6 or so pages with a cover, some art and the OGL and Labyrinth Lord licenses in back.

Angel
What is says on the tin. The Angel class is something like a more powerful flying Paladin.  It works and if you like playing divine messengers or celestial ass-kickers of evil then this might be a good class for you.
Limited to 9th level the Angel has such special powers as Heal Touch, Holy Aura, Wings and Flaming Sword.
What I like the most about this class is that it could be used as something akin to a Prestige Class for Basic-era Paladins. That is if your GM allows multi- or dual- classing.

Bard
The Bard is a full 20 level class for Labyrinth Lord. Like the Bards in other games they have the ability to perform with musical instruments and they have some thief abilities as well.  These bards though do not have magical abilities. I would like to see some spell casting with Bards, even if it is limited to just 5th or 6th level spells.

Berserker
The Beserker class takes us back to some of the earliest days of D&D and The Dragon magazine.  The Berserker presented here is different but the feel is the same.  This class is a full 20 levels for Labyrinth Lord and gives the beserker such powers as Terror of the North and Form of the Bear. One can almost hear The Immigrant Song playing in background.  There is a decidedly Norse flavor to this one (as opposed to say a Celtic one) but it works great.

Commander
Commanders feel like they are on the opposite end of the fighting spectrum than beserkers.  They are cool efficient battle strategists.   The Commander is like a Basic-era Fighter, but his "powers" are his abilities to command and bolster others.  For example at higher levels those under his command are immune to fear.
It is an interesting class and has some nice features.

Death Knight
This class is something of a cross of warlock and an anti-paladin.  The Death Knight are not undead per se but do have their life force changed to undead or demonic power. It is a full 20th level class and in addition to fighting prowess the Death Knight has powers and spells.  The class is very comparable to a Paladin only Chaotic of course.  Like some of the alternate classes that used to appear in Dragon magazine the Death Knight works great, and maybe better, as an NPC class.

Explorer
This might be the consummate PC Class.  It focuses on adventuring and that thrill of discovery.  It mixes a bit of thief and fighter with some sage-y abilities (id magical items, read magic) and cast some spells.   If you are missing a class or two in your group the Explore might help feel the missing bits.  Worth it for a look.

Forester
FULL DISCLOSURE: The genesis of the class was based on discussion I had the James Spahn on what sort of class my youngest son Connor likes to play.  All the material in this book is James' own original work, I am just rather fond of it.
The Forester is basically and elven Ranger with thief and hunting abilities thrown in.  It is a 10 level class.  The forester gets a lot of interesting abilities to help it in it's role as a protector of the forests including the abilities to hide in shadows and better fighting abilities when wielding a bow.  The coolest though is the ability to get an animal sidekick in the form of an Elven dog.
Since this was built more or less for my son he has been using the class in our Old-School game.  It plays like a Ranger with a few extra tricks up his sleeve.

Friar
Friars are holy men, like clerics, but are a wandering sort.  They do not get spells but instead a new special ability at each level.  Additionally since they can't wear armor they have a Divine Protection power that keeps them from harm.  in fact the highest level friars can have an AC as low as -6 if they reach 20th level and have a high dexterity.   For those that want a different take on the cleric this is a good choice.

Goblin
Who doesn't love goblins?  Well now you can play one!  This might be BRG's smallest book but there is enough her to play 8 levels of goblin fun.  8th level goblins don't get a special title, but they do get a dire wolf of their own. Which you have to admit is pretty sweet.

Greensinger
The Greensinger is something akin to an elvish Bard/Druid.  Greensingers get some special abilities and can cast spells like that of a cleric/druid.  The idea is a rather cool one and frankly I wanted more.  The forests of Barrel Rider Games seem to be full of all sorts of strange and magical creatures.

Kassai Rider
The Kassai Rider is a mounted warrior similar to the Mongol hoards.  The class is a full 20 levels and has a number of special abilities based on combat on their horses.  Lightly armored and using bows for the most part these warriors are superior on horseback, but I wonder how well they might function in the dungeon.

Pirate
Again, exactly what it says it is.  An interesting class with some thief like abilities the best part is the "Sea Stories" power which gives the PC information in the form of rumor and hearsay that might be beneficial to the Pirate.   The idea that pirates hear a lot of strange tales out at see.

Sword Master
This class might be called a duelist in other systems, but basically the idea is the same; a master of the sword.  The most interesting twist to this class is the inclusion of the Mastery Points.  Each level the Ps hass a certain number of these point they may use to increase their dice rolls. It is a neat mechanic and helps the Sword Master to score hits when he really needs too. There is an appendix for applying this to other fighter like classes as well.

War Chanter
What the Bard is to humans and the Greensinger is to Elves the War Chanter is to Dwarves.  In addition to being fighters the war chanter also has some powers "Songs" that they can use to aid others.  If you are playing a Basic-era game and have more than one player that wants to play a dwarf, have one choose this. It is a pretty interesting class and one that would make good use out a larger group of characters.

Wild Wizard
The Wild Wizard is akin to the old Wild Mage.  It is a Magic-User, but it has a Magical Flux. Magical Flux is summarized as an 1d20 affect table.  It is is an interesting idea, but I think it needs something a bit more.


#RPGaDAY Day 28, Scariest Game you’ve played

#RPGaDAY Day 28, Scariest Game you’ve played

Good question!

I have played some great games of Call of Cthulhu and Chill that have been quite fun.  I have even played in some seriously scary AD&D games in the past.

But I have to say as far as scariest game line...that would have to go to Kult.


Everything about Kult is designed to put the players at ill-ease.

Though if we are talking about gaming sessions then there was this online WitchCraft game I was in call "Vacation in Vancouver" that was very Kult and Beyond the Supernatural inspired. Gifted and Lesser Supernaturals were disappearing all over the North West US and British Columbia.  The PCs quickly discovered an underground (metaphorically and literally) sex trafficking ring that sold gifted humans to greater supernatural types as sex slaves.  It was a pretty intense game and sometimes quite fearful.  It was an interesting game since we all took turns game mastering.  The bad part of that was we all felt the need to "out do" the others in terms of horrors. Eventually the characters all went in too deep undercover and we had to come up with other characters to go in and pull them out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #7 August 1975

Owl & Weasel #7 comes to us from August 1975.  I guess according to the editorial they were experiencing some uncommon heat then.  That is at least a explanation for the cover art.

Topics covered are the British Monopoly Championships, a set of rules for playing Frisbee (must have been the 70s) and coverage of a couple older (older even then) board games.

There is a quite a bit on Stalingrad, a game I still see played every so often.
The interesting bit is a letter from Action Games and Toys Ltd. They took exception in a page and quarter letter about the coverage from June on the London Toy Fair.

There is a letter complaining that the D&D combat system is "broken" since there is no way a goblin could ever hit a 20th level Lord with +5 plate, even 5% of the time.

Page 11 covers some more concepts in D&D like rooms and passages.
Finally there is a price list for more T.S.R. material.

Not a landmark issue by any stretch, interesting for the questionable line art, pink paper and the continued inclusion of D&D.

ETA: D&D pages.


#RPGaDAY Day 27, Game You’d like to see a new / improved edition of…

#RPGaDAY Day 27, Game You’d like to see a new / improved edition of…

That's easy.

C.J. Carella's WitchCraft RPG

There have been two editions so far. 1st Ed was from Myrmidon Press.


The more popular 2nd edition was from Eden Studios.


I would love to see (or better yet write!) a new 3rd Edition.

For a 3rd Edition I would like to see the course creation more streamlined. Like you see in the Cinematic Unisystem books.  Make the base rules the same as Beyond Human and add in some material from Armageddon (which looks very dated now).

I would also increase the number of Lesser Supernaturals you could play and bring the Bast under that group.   I would also provide an appendix for adding Cinematic style Drama points to the Classic game.

As much as I love the magic system in Ghosts of Albion I would keep the Essence based metaphysics of WitchCraft.  But I think I would also include the Ghosts/Buffy system as a lesser form of spell casting.

Though I will admit a 3rd edition is a hard sell.  Currently Eden gives WitchCraft away for free (sans art).
And in truth it would be very, very hard to top that cover.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Witch Traits

On Page 8 of The Witch I have listed an optional rule of Special Restrictions on witches.
I did not list a lot of them, and by the nature of the book they are mostly mechanical but there are some ideas.

Well +Zak Smith has crowd-sourced an entire list of Witch Traits that you can use in place of or in addition too the Special Restrictions.

http://dndwithpornstars.blogspot.com/2014/08/d100-witch-traits.html

What do you all think?

#RPGaDAY Day 26, Coolest character sheet

#RPGaDAY Day 26, Coolest character sheet

Hard call.  I love character sheets.

The original AD&D sheets were not works of art, but they certainly fueled my imagination like no other.
I loved the "new" sheets for Mage the Ascension when it came out.

My favorite sheets though are some I made myself.
- WitchCraft RPG
- my hybrid Cinematic/Classical Unisystem sheet and character journal.

There are a lot of great custom sheets over at Mad Irishman and a lot of classic and original sheets at RPGSheets.com.



Monday, August 25, 2014

What is Missing from D&D 5?

So the D&D 5 lovefest is continuing across the internet and assuming the world (it was Amazon's #1 best seller in all books for a bit).  It seems to do everything everyone wants.

But is it missing anything?
Now before some snarks off and says "yeah the Monster Manual and DMG" take a moment to think about it.

I have played it quite a bit now and really it does everything I think it should do.
Though I have to admit I miss "Bloodied" as a condition.
Part of what I want here is covered under Exhaustion.  It even makes sense now that hp are also a measure of fatigue.

But I wonder how it would work it adapt 4e's Bloodied in to 5e.

Something like if you (or a monster) are at half or lower than your max hp then you have combat disadvantage till you get above the half-way mark.

Not sure how well it works with the current healing and resting rules though.

#RPGaDAY Day 25, Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

#RPGaDAY Day 25, Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

At home it is Ghosts of Albion.  Yeah, I can't even get my own kids to play my game!

Outside of that no one seems interested in any of the World of Darkness games.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 24, Most Complicated RPG Owned

#RPGaDAY Day 24, Most Complicated RPG Owned

I honestly don't keep many complicated games around.  I play to have fun, not to torture myself with terrible rule sets.

RoleMaster is probably the most overly complicated game I ever owned.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Zatannurday: Zatanna Cosplay at Gen Con 2014

I didn't get a ton of pictures of Zatanna at Gen Con this year. Nor did I find any others online.
But what I lack in quantity I made up for in quality! At least I hope so.

Again, I didn't get anyone's names.







#RPGaDAY Day 23, Coolest looking RPG product / book

#RPGaDAY Day 23, Coolest looking RPG product / book

Not really sure.  There have been so many.

I loved BESM 3.0 when it first came out. Colorful and really captured the feel I wanted.



I loved the way the Dresden Files RPG looks too.


But for my money the coolest RPG books are still WitchCraft and the 1st Ed. Monster Manual.



These two books fill me with all sorts of geek-related joy.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend

With record numbers of families hitting Gen Con this year this next Kickstarter is not a huge surprise.

The Baby Bestiary by Andreas Walters
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/metalweavedesigns/the-baby-bestiary

Infant and young versions of classic monsters.

This is exactly something my kids would have loved a couple of years ago and it would make a great gift to a younger gamer.

The art so far looks great. They are offering a book, a calendar, desktop wallpapers and post cards.
They have 3 weeks left and are already funded. So check them out.

#RPGaDAY Day 22, Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

#RPGaDAY Day 22, Best Secondhand RPG Purchase

In one of my many moves during college and grad school I lost a milk crate's worth of my 1st Edition books.  I lost most of my modules, some Dungeon magazines, my Basic and Expert Sets and all my 1st Ed Hardbacks except my Deities and Demigods.  I still had all my 2nd ed stuff, Ravenloft and some of my modules.

At first I was not too bummed out.  I had 2nd ed and I was kind of getting out of D&D.

A few years later I saw some near mint 1st ed books on eBay.  My wife saw them and told me to get them.  Must have been something in the water because no one bidded on them.

I got a PHB, MM, DMG, and a FF all for about 60 bucks.  At the time I called it a steal and I still do!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cosplaying Drow

I am not sure what everyone thinks about this, but there is a good post on Cosplaying Drow.

http://blackroleplayersorganization.blogspot.com/2014/08/cosplaying-drow.html

I know there are some people out there reading this that are not going to "get it".  And to be honest my understanding is academic at best.  I belong to the power class. I am a well off, hetero, white male in a hobby predominated by white males. But that doesn't mean I don't have empathy or understanding.

To me a universally despised race that is inherently evil being depicted as dark skinned seemed to smack a little too much of racism or white-privilege at the least.  I have prefered to make my Drow pale skinned like the monstrous Morlocks from H.G. Wells.  Though I am also happy with purple or pale blue Drow (no offense to Scottish people).  

Come on. You all thought this was a Drow.

No I don't see this as reverse racism since like most Irish descendants I tend to be more pale pink than anything else.  My wife who has more Ukrainian in her background tends to be more reddish.

What are your thoughts?
I happen to agree with the original poster.  It is not how some other might see things, but how the people who have been harmed might.

#RPGaDAY Day 21, Favourite Licensed RPG

#RPGaDAY Day 21, Favourite Licensed RPG

Is this even a question? ;)


Ghosts of Albion is my baby. I will write other games, I might even write batter ones, but Ghosts was like nothing else.

I also enjoy Buffy, Elric, Call of Cthlhu (that is sorta licensed), the various DC Comics RPGs and more.
I'll also admit that d20 Star Wars is my favorite version of that game, but I like all versions of Star Trek.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #6 July 1975

Owl & Weasel #6 from July 1975 will be forever immortalized as the "Dungeons & Dragons" issue.

Page 1 of the issue describes the game we all know so well and it is interesting to read something like this; the game as something new and different.  The editors admit they are already obsessed with it and there is even a dragon on the masthead, making the issue temporarily Dragon, Owl & Weasel.
The article is continued later in the issue. Steve Jackson describes the contents of the box, 3 "little" books and not thousands of pieces.  Though he adds that he thinks $10.00 is "too much" to pay for the game.  Some things never change really. Jackson concludes calling D&D a "modern classic".

Moving on in the issue. The Letters page has a letter complaining about the lack women in gaming.  Again some things never changing.

Later on Steve Jackson discusses the costs of D&D. Again the $10.00 price tag is mentioned, but also $5.00 for Chainmail and "at least" $2.50 for dice.  Minifigs are also mentioned with several genres mentioned.   Additionally Games Workshop reports that they will be selling D&D in at least three weeks.

Page 11 is the second part of Percy Kenyon's coverage of Mah Jong. Interesting and more complicated than I realized. I mean I new Mah Jong was a strategy game (and not the solitaire version found on lots of computers) but I guess I didn't think about how detailed it was.

The back page features a TSR price listing of what will be soon available in the U.K.


The enthusiasm in this article abounds. Sitting here comfortably on the other side of nearly 40 years (and after the largest Gen Con on record) it is easy to forget that once upon a time this hobby of ours was new. Not just new, it had a start and that start is documented here.   I am not trying to sound all sappy here. I am big proponent of always looking forward, but sometimes you have to look back to see where you have been.  Sometimes it doesn't amount to much, other times the difference is so striking that it leaves you somewhat agape or stunned. This is one of those moments.  Sure some of the actual words said are even the same (it costs too much, where are the women?) but these are the first times they have been said and that is something important.

Not sure what the next issues will bring, but for me I am looking for that joy of discovery of a new thing.  But I guess that is what it is all about all the time really.

eta: The middle pages



#RPGaDAY Day 20, Will still play in 20 years time…

#RPGaDAY Day 20, Will still play in 20 years time…

Well.

I have been doing it this long (35 years) another 20 sounds reasonable.
Plus I could be retired then and really be an old, pain in the ass Grognard.
I could yell at the new kids and tell the how we used to do it back in the day.

Plus RPGs seem like a good way to keep your mind sharp and that is important in your later years.
It also looks like RPGs will still be around then too. Gen Con and D&D5 are both doing quite well now and there were a lot of small children there ready to take the hobby into the next generations.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Gen Con 2014 in Review. Part 2: The Games We Play

I have already mentioned that I spent a LOT of time playing D&D 5.  That was really our plan from the very start.   Plus we also went down a day early to enjoy ourselves a bit more.

Tuesday
Started with what has become a tradition for us.  Loading up the car and heading out to breakfast.  We got to Indy in record time from Chicago; not many people on the road when we left. 
Hit the pool for a bit and then played some D&D 5 Keep on the Borderlands.
The boys had hit the left hand side first so all that was left was the Kobold and Orc caves.  I was getting tired so I decided that without the influence of the Cult of Chaos the humanoids went back to their normal mode and killed each other off.  The best part?  My youngest got it and was all "whoa that evil cult was keeping them from fighting? How powerful are they?"

Wednesday
Got up, hit the breakfast and headed over to the Zoo.  It was walking distance from the hotel and really nice. We were there all day.  I thought it would be nice to take a more relaxed vacation and get in some things my wife enjoyed too.  Plus Indy is always so good to the gamers that throwing some more money into their coffers seemed like the right thing to do.
We got our swag bags.  The bags were nicer but the stuff they used to put in them was missed. 
Opted for dinner at our hotel restaurant.  Not bad, but (and I hate to say this) we are used to better food in Chicago.
We went to the J.W. Marriott open gaming room and caught a table just as a group was leaving and set up for L1 The Secret of Bone Hill.  My wife joined us for this round.  We had to look crazy with my 1st ed module, D&D 5 book and boxed set and a bunch of 3e/4e tiles.  The characters managed to completely avoid going to Restenford at all.  They went to see the gambling monks and pieced together enough information to hear about Bone Hill. Or as my wife put it, it was the name of the adventure so we had all better get there eventually.  
The adventure went well and the group stopped for the night.  The Exhibitor's hall opens in 10 hours and I needed to sleep.

Thursday
Got up, did breakfast and headed to the hall for opening day.  The boys were quite excited.
Our general rule is that we have to scope out the hall first before committing to any purchases.  My oldest ran into a friend and they were off.  My youngest, my wife and I headed over to Steve Jackson Games to pick up Munchkin Adventure Time and spin the wheel.  End of con tally on that: several card boxes, dice, munchkin cards and a cup.
Went to some other retailers. Stopped by DriveThru and Eden.  Stopped by the one retailer where they were selling "Buy 1 get 3 Free" but all I picked up was GURPS Goblins.
Went to the WotC area and played some D&D 5 with the same characters as last night. Our DM was great and she really took the time to help out my kids.  Sure they didn't really need it...but it is the effort I appreciate. 
We headed out to the food trucks for dinner (loved them!) and finally came back to the hotel.
Went back to the Open Gaming tables and got a table just as someone was leaving again! We were starting to play a guy stopped by and asked if we were playing D&D 5 and if he could set in.  Nice guy by the name of Jon.  He looked every bit the grandfather he was and had mentioned he came to Gen Con specifically to try out D&D 5.  He didn't care for it when he played it with another group that day and was actually going to give up on it.  He took one of our characters and we started.
Well he loved 5e and really enjoyed how well it worked with the 1st ed adventure.

Friday
Busy day!
Hit the hall again. We played a game of Flapjacks and Sasquatches; which was a blast.  Picked it up after playing.  It is a dice and card game where everyone is a lumberjack and you have to cut down the most trees.  Of course other lumberjacks are trying to stop you and there is the ever present danger of a Sasquatch rampage.  Honestly I was expecting very little with this and I had a great time!
Played a 1950s inspired game of Ubiquity.  It was a lot of fun but I think my youngest and I enjoyed it the most.  Plus I wanted to get a good feel for Ubiquity.  I have had Hollow Earth forever and Leagues of Adventure is just sitting there begging me to play it more.

Did a ton of walking around the hall.  Finally headed back to the hotel room to get ready for the ENnies!


(ok I had more pictures but they were blurry as hell)

It was really cool to see +Jen Page and The Dungeon Bastard in person and hanging out with the glitterati of the RPG scene reminded me just how small this business is.  

Best Blog came up and I didn't win.  
But I can't feel bad about that. All the winners were multi-author projects that even had editors.  I have me. Plus it was so cool to see my Other Side banner up on the screen.  Maybe next year right!
Oh and by now I am sure you have heard. Monte Cook, Paizo and Evil Hat took everything.  

Missed my Mage game but I just had to show off Union Station to my wife.  That is my absolute favorite place to run a game.  If I am running Ghosts of Albion then I want to do it there.
Got back to the hotel. Headed to the Open Gaming Room for more D&D 5.  We only played a couple of hours though.  Which was good because everyone was making great time. Jon found us again and had to let us know how much he enjoyed the game.  We got very, very close to finishing the game but we all started to turn into pumpkins by midnight.  

Saturday
Who the hell let all these people in???
Seriously, I have not heard the numbers yet, but it had to be 60,000 people.
We ran into some other friends on our way to a game.  We played some Dungeon Command.  The 4e-ish tactical dungeon battle game.  My youngest loved it and won.  For his efforts he got a free Sting of Lolth set!  I am not sure if you have seen these but they are full of pre-painted minis.  Worth it for that alone.
The cosplays were great! We make an effort every year to see the parade.  Some people were saying there seemed to more this year, but I thought it was less.




 

Again, my wife has the bulk of the pictures.

We played a couple of demo games in the hall, but everyone was selling out of everything!

Went for our last session of D&D 5. I ran the last of Bone Hill for about 2 hours and Jon then DMed all of us through a Birthright adventure he had.  Lots of fun.
Headed back to the room to pack.

Sunday
Ugh. Last day.  We had to get my son's bunny from his cousin so we opted to skip the last day of the hall.  Plus everyone was coming down with something so we wanted to get home.

All in all it was a great Gen Con.  We barely scratched the surface of all there was to do.  My oldest got to play Duke and we wanted to try that.  Plus there was that game "I am not a Werewolf" or something that looked fun.

Next year I hope to get in more board games and demos.

#RPGaDAY Day 19, Favourite Published Adventure

#RPGaDAY Day 19, Favourite Published Adventure

I would almost have to say my favorite is I6: Ravenloft.


There is so much about that run counter to what everyone thought D&D was or should be, but it had a huge impact on the game and my games especially.  I have ran it maybe half a dozen differ times over the years and I still enjoy it.


Of course I do have to mention my own published adventure for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG, The Dark Druid.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gen Con 2014 in Review. Part 1: D&D is back

Well another Gen Con is behind us.  Once again I ate more than I should, stayed up later and spent more money than I really should have.

D&D is Back!
I ended up play about 28 hours worth of D&D 5 over the con.  Ran most of that time and played for about 4 hours with 2 different DMs.
This is not the best version of D&D ever, but it is really, really damn close.  It plays and reads like a D&D "Greatest Hits" and you can see bits of not just every version of D&D in it, but little bits of Pathfinder and Castles & Crusades.  As I read somewhere else, every game has been stealing from D&D for so long that it was D&D's turn to steal some of it back.

I ran the end of "B2 Keep on the Borderlands" and all of "L1 The Secret of Bone Hill".  D&D 5 scales very well with the 1st Ed adventures and thanks to all the free stuff that WotC is throwing at us I was able to get D&D 5 stats for every monster in both modules.  We even had a guy join us that wanted to try D&D 5 and had played 2nd ed almost exclusively.  I think we made him into a D&D 5 fan by the end of the night.

At first I thought I would dislike the new faster XP progression but it really works nice.  While the former math teacher in me likes the nice progression from 3rd ed I think this new progression will work better.
Besides, the XP are 1/10 of what you saw in AD&D1 anyway.

Playing in the J.W. Marriott's "Open Gaming" room. 

The great thing about running the Keep on the Borderlands under AD&D and then again under D&D5 was I really got to get a good feel of both games in the same environment.  Trust me, if you liked AD&D then you should like D&D5, though everything in "5" runs faster.

I love the Backgrounds and the Archetypes.  The Backgrounds work better than what you have in Pathfinder (and can EASILY be ported over to any other system) and give you a good feel for what your character was before he/she was an adventurer; or something I like to refer to as the "Luke Skywalker".  Before Luke was a pilot or a Jedi he was a Farm Boy.  How does this translate, well he did target all those wamp rats back home.  Sure it feels a little "FATEy" but that is great.

Archetypes are the return of 2nd Ed kits, only reigned in.  Kits stopped being useful to me after the Complete Book of Bards was published and each and every kit in there was over powered.  In D&D5 they seem more reasonable.  In my group we had two Rogues, one was the Thief the other was the Assassin.  They were able to help each other out when needed but also had their own roles to play.

Multi-classing is of the 3.x variety (yeah!) and if anything easier to do.

The Wizard, Sorcerer and Warlock now all feel very different from each other.  So you can see some of 5's 4e DNA here.

I know people complain about the price of the books. Well I got in 28 hours of play and 6 more of enjoyment (reading, making characters) so far.  That's 34 hours of fun I had with my family.  Compare that to going to the movies which runs me (just tickets here) $36-40 per two hours. That's $1240.00+.  Frankly D&D5 is a steal.   Plus my wife enjoy it so much she wants us all to play a couple of hours each week!  Honestly I can't even put a price on that.

I also think, though I have not tried it yet, that D&D5 could run 3rd and 4th ed material too.  I might have to give that a go.

On an interesting note we played D&D 5 at the Wizard's area as well.  We had a WotC DM.  In the past I have less than stellar luck with this and most of the DMs were not very good.  I am happy to report that our DM was fantastic.  She let use our current characters, was great with teaching the rules and was all around a good DM.   In fact everyone I dealt with, talked to or otherwise interacted with at WotC were fantastic.

Does this mean I am done with "old school" D&D?  Hardly.  But it does mean my system of choice when it comes to D&D will be D&D5 for a while anyway.

Is it a perfect system?  No.  There are still some things I would have done differently.  But when I read the rules and I keep 99% of them intact, that is a good sign.
Hell. I am not even sure I do that with Ghosts of Albion and I *wrote* all of those rules.

Pathfinder Note
I still enjoy 3e and Pathfinder. In fact I still have a game of it going that I want to wrap up.
I had planned on picking up the Pathfinder Advanced Class Guide at the con.  I like to buy some games directly from the publisher at Gen Con since I know how much they look forward to these sales.
Well one of the Paizo employees was so rude to my son while he was looking at one of the goblin things that I decided I really didn't need to buy anything.
I am not making a big deal of this.
But it has turned me off from getting the book to be honest.

They in no way what-so-ever missed my money. But the contrast between how WotC treated my kids and how Paizo did really stuck with me.

Next update. I'll talk about all the other things I did. Plus my first time at the ENnies (short story, I lost, but still had a great time!). Oh and pictures.  All of them are on my wife's phone though.

#RPGaDAY Day 18, Favourite Game System

#RPGaDAY Day 18, Favourite Game System

Oh, so many I really love.

But when it comes right down to it my favorite is still Cinematic Unisystem.


I am also fairly partial to the various versions of "Basic" D&D out there.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back from Gen Con

Well I am back from Gen Con, but completely beat and everyone here has some sort of upper respiratory thing.

Will post more tomorrow, but I had a fantastic time!

#RPGaDAY Day 17, Funniest Game you’ve played

#RPGaDAY Day 17, Funniest Game you’ve played

Hmm.

I remember have a great time laugh at the jokes made by the players during the Charmed/Buffy/Supernatural crossover at Gen Con I mentioned earlier.

I recall some funny elements that were not actually supposed to have been funny is some games.

But nothing solid is coming to mind.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Zatannurday: Zatanna Team-ups

Zee rarely gets things done on her own.  So here are some super team-ups with DC's Sorceress Supreme!




THOMPSON's ZATANNA steve by DeadDog2007 on deviantART


Zatanna and Black Canary by xanaman on deviantART


DC's Super Babes by SIERRAREYNA on deviantART


Chalant by IronicVeghead on deviantART


Velma and Zatanna Commission by HoytSilva on deviantART


badass girls of YJ by Lisharelle on deviantART


Zatanna and Deadman colorings by RADMANRB on deviantART


Zatanna and a Couple of Boobs in Color by LostonWallace on deviantART


Lil' Harley Hijinx! by irongiant775 on deviantART


YJ: Zatanna and Rocket by Sakyru on deviantART


Women of Justice by Ponsho on deviantART


b and z by StockmanArt on deviantART


Booster Zatanna Commish by StockmanArt on deviantART


Zatanna vs Kusanagi by Battlewraith on deviantART


Wonder Women x Zatanna x Black Canary by jackcrowder on deviantART

#RPGaDAY Day 16, Game you wish you owned

#RPGaDAY Day 16, Game you wish you owned

Following up on yesterday.  I wish I had kept my copy of the Supernatural RPG.


I lost track of watching the show and I was not playing the game at the time so I sold my core book.

Of course I almost immediately regretted it and picked up the PDF.  But I would like to have a copy of this book.  Actually I would like one that is updated to the latest seasons.

The other game I wished I owned is one I wished existed and I wish I could write.


I personally think it would be a blast.

Friday, August 15, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 15, Favourite Convention Game

#RPGaDAY Day 15, Favourite Convention Game

I have had the amazing luck to have played in some really great games at Cons.

Running Ghosts of Albion: Obsession is one of my favorite things to do in fact.
But I have a couple of games that bring me great memories.

Back in 2012 at Gen Con I took my kids and we started our 1st Ed AD&D game.  We played in the lobby of our hotel and it was a blast.  Of course we kept getting interrupted by people walking by and telling us how awesome it was that we were all playing 1st Ed AD&D.  We went through module B1 and had a great, great time.

Another one where I was the player in a Buffy/Charmed/Supernatural crossover.  The game was using Cinematic Unisystem (Buffy/Angel) rules so I went into it knowing I was going to have fun.  Well I had an absolute blast.  I played Piper, one of my favorite witches ever. In the course of the game I burned through about 5 drama points but I also had earned 6 for role playing. Course having seen every Charmed episode gave me an advantage.  I wish I had remembered the GMs/Director's name because I would have easily gone to one of her other games.

--
BTW Tonight is the night I learn if I won an ENnie or not.
Win or Loose it was an honor to be nominated and I thank everyone that voted for me!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 14, Best Convention Purchase

#RPGaDAY Day 14, Best Convention Purchase

Hard to say.  I bought some really fun games on a whim at cons before.

But I think it has to be this giant 5 headed dragon I am using in place of Tiamt for my kids games.


It's a Mage Knight "Apocalypse Dragon" but that works for my game great.

Not saying what I spent on it. But it was more than my wife wanted.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 13, Most Memorable Character Death

#RPGaDAY Day 13, Most Memorable Character Death

I seem to recall talking about this one from other blogfests.

Oh well, it is a funny story and can be repeated.


I have played exactly 1 ninja my entire  gaming life.  His name was Oko-nishi (horrible I know).  My lame attempts at a Japanese sounding name.  In my defense at what I knew was bad I made him a half-orc.  It must have been around 1984-5 as I made him using the Oriental Adventure rules.  My then DM and I had worked up a D&D combat simulator on the Color Computer 2 and we plugged him in with 9 other characters.  He was attacked by a Black Dragon (or Red, cant recall) and killed. The dragon kept attacking him and only him.  We had not worked out all the errors. In the end he had been reduced to something like -70 hp.  My DM offered to let him be ok, or keep him dead. We enjoyed watching it so much and getting the mental image of this dragon jumping up and down on my dead ninja that I felt it was a waste to say it never happened.

I never played a ninja or a half-orc again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 12, Old RPG you still play / read

#RPGaDAY Day 12, Old RPG you still play / read

Gotta go back to Basic D&D with this one!


I play a lot of games, but this one keeps me entertained for hours. Now going on decades.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gen Con Bound

Posting will be a bit off-schedule this week.

Getting ready to head out to Gen Con.  Going a day early to check out the zoo and spend some time away from the computer.

Hope to see you there!

#RPGaDAY Day 11, Weirdest RPG owned

#RPGaDAY Day 11, Weirdest RPG owned

Define "Weird".

If by weird landscape, or play or just obscure then I would have to say Sky Realms of Jorune.

But if by weird as in "what the hell were they on?" then that has to go to Alma Mater.


Written and illustrated by Erol Otus this game has gone into RPG infamy.  So yeah I had to pick up a copy.

The premise is simple, it is a high school role-playing game for people still in high school.  But any relationship it has with reality ends there.
It is sub-par even by the standards of the 80s. The system is clunky and combat takes a long time.

If you love Erol Otus' art then there is something to love here.  The game itself is like someone took the Ramones Rock & Roll High School and mixed it with The Warriors movie and every other violent high school stereotype from before the Great John Hughes High School revival.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 10, Favourite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction

#RPGaDAY Day 10, Favourite tie-in Novel / Game Fiction

Well...I don't really read a lot of the tie in fiction.  I read the Dragonlance books when they came out. I read the Gord the Rogue books too.

But I guess I read the Ravenloft books more than anything.  Yeah I read all of them.
It is interesting to note that some of the authors of those books would later go on to do bigger and better things.
Christie Golden, Elaine Bergstrom, Laurell K. Hamilton, Tanya Huff, P. N. Elrod, Gene DeWeese, and James Lowder just to name a few.

It's funny but I swear I catch some "Ravenloft-ism" in the Anita Blake books (Laurell K. Hamilton) and in a few of the short stories of P.N. Elrod.

These books were sometimes the only gaming interaction I got it while I was in grad school and had almost no time to play.

Not much about any of them stick out all these year later.  I did rather enjoy "I, Strahd", "Tapestry of Dark Souls" and "Death of a Darklord".
The Azalin ones were cool for the Greyhawk ties but I felt the Lord Soth ones were weak.  No fault I think of the author, but trying to cram Soth into Ravenloft was a haphazard idea.


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