Saturday, February 28, 2015

Blogger's New Adult Policy, Part 2

I was looking up some stuff for our Castles & Crusades game today and I discovered this:

An update on Blogger porn content policy

In a nutshell Google/Blogger is going back to the policy it had all this time.

So we can all go back to worrying about what color that damn dress is.

Zatannurday: Zatanna at Hogwarts!

You might have noticed from my post yesterday that I have been rereading all the Harry Potter books.

Yeah they are for kids, but damn are they good.

This of course got me thinking about Zatanna and what she would have been like at Hogwarts.  Would she have been admired as a student? John Zatarra was well known and certainly his daughter would have been accepted even if she wasn't British.  Or maybe she would have been a guest Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.

Here are some images of people who have wondered the same thing.










Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Sojourn in Hell

Welcome once again to Friday Night Videos!

Tonight I want to feature videos from the soundtrack "A Sojourn in Hell".  Never heard of it? No one has.  It was a collection of MP3s I listened to while I was working on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG and then later when I was writing Ghosts of Albion.

Some of this music also fueled my playtests of Buffy with games that became part of The Dragon and The Phoenix, my alternate Season 7 of Buffy.

The Wallflowers were at the height of their popularity at the same time Buffy was. So I always associated this song with Buffy's last good season (season 5).   In my games I always wanted Buffy to fake her death so she could leave Sunnydale and start over.  Maybe with someone that looked like Jakob Dylan.



Around the same time we were hit with the death of a performer that actually meant a lot to me and my gaming life, Warren Zevon.  I mentioned in the very first FNV that "Werewolves of London" was one of my favorites and the album Excitable Boy was thrust into my hands by my DM with the instructions to listen to it before our next game.

Lawyers, Guns and Money was one of those songs that just stuck with me.  This version is not by Warren Zevon, but by his son Jordan with the Wallflowers (again).  Of course the lead singer is the son of Bob Dylan.  This is from the Warren Zevon tribute album, Enjoy Every Sandwich. A line that he gave to David Letterman when he learned he was dying of cancer. Sage advice really.




Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory was just one of those albums that came into my life and grabbed every bit of my attention.  I admit I have always enjoyed the mashup of hard rock and rap.  Public Enemy's Bring the Noise with Anthrax is still one of my all time favorite songs.

"In the End" was just one of the those songs and one of those videos that captured exactly what I wanted my games to sound like.



Spend anytime here and you know I LOVE old horror movies.  Especially sexploitation, Euro-sleaze. No one is better at than Jean Rollin and no appreciates this more than our next artist Rob Zombie.

Hellbilly Deluxe was an album I got for my 30th birthday and I listened to it on pretty much repeat for the next four years.  Living Dead Girl was what my group always thought would be Buffy's theme song, but really there is a lot here that also influenced Ghosts of Albion.  The Charlatan archetype, which didn't make it into the final book, is based on Rob Zombie's character in this video.
This was also one of the first MP3s I ever bought and I put it on the Sojourn in Hell disk.



In the early 2000s Chris Rea seemed to be everywhere for me.  I am not sure why a ten-year old album, Road to Hell, was so popular again, but it was.  For me the song "Road to Hell" was the title track of Sojourn in Hell at least in spirit.   One day I'll revisit this and maybe even talk about why it was called Sojourn in Hell.  But until then here is the title track and partial inspiration for my Buffy adventure Road to Hell.



Finally for this set we have the 2007 update of the 1994 Megadeth classic, "À Tout le Monde".  I have the 1995 Youthanasia version on the disk, but this version actually captures the feel so much better. A little faster, a little louder and 100% more Cristina Scabbia.  If there something I like more than rap with my metal it's Goth.  Not only is her French better than Mustaine's, she is a lot better looking too.



Ok. I lied.
I said Goth and immediately thought of this one.  Not Another Teen Movie is actually a send up of the teen movie tropes in the opposite direction than Buffy was.  Tainted Love of course was huge hit for Soft Cell back in the 80s and in the 2000s Manson made it his own.  I actually enjoy how he is not taking himself very seriously in this.  I mean really if the Rodney Dangerfield reference wasn't enough.  You can be dark, scary and all gothy but that doesn't mean you can't have a sense of humor about it too.

Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: February Reviews

Here are the reviews for February for the Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge.

First up this month is a continuation of last month.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I am REALLY enjoying rereading all of these.  I read this book soon after it first came out and I have seen the movie dozens of times. What I am enjoying are the differences between the book and the movie that I had forgotten. I don't fault the movies for the changes they made, but the books are obviously much more enjoyable.
Honestly I could not help but smile like an idiot the entire time I was listening to this.
Witch Count: Hundreds if not thousands.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
"Expecto Patronum!"

I followed Chamber of Secrets directly with Prisoner of Azkaban.  One of the things I love about these books is how well JKR shows how much the characters grow and change through out the books.  What I also enjoyed was that this book was not overtly about Lord Voldemort.  Oh, his presence is felt, but he doesn't need to be there in person to make his evil known.
Reading this book again I am struck by how great it was to get Alfonso Cuarón to direct the movie.  The first two are very much "boys adventures" and thus perfect for Spielberg protégé, Chris Columbus who wrote such movies like The Goonies and directed Home Alone. These are now young adults, teens, and much closer to Y Tu Mamá También than The Goonies.
Witch Count: Hundreds if not thousands.

While reading I figured out there has to be about 1000 students at Hogwarts. So about 250 per house (with Slytherin and Gryffindor having the fewest) and the class sizes tapering off.  I bet there are some drop outs after 1st year, some more after the OWLs, and some more when students turn 17.

I am of course going to read all the books.

Harry Potter and the Adventures in Role-Playing
In many of my other gaming circles a constant topic of discussion is who would we get to write a Harry Potter RPG and what system would we use.

I think the biggest issue with a Harry Potter RPG is you have 11 year-olds that know more spells than most 2nd level Wizards.   Here is a quick list of some Harry Potter spells and their D&D equivalents.

Harry Potter Spell D&D Spell*
Accio (Summoning) Summon Object
Aguamenti Create Water
Alohomora Knock 
Anapneo Telekinesis 
Avada Kedavra Power Word, Kill / Death Spell
Avis Summon Nature's Ally (Birds)
Colloportus Wizard Lock
Confringo Summon Flame
Confundo Feeblemind /False Memory
Densaugeo Growth
Diffindo Ghostly Slashing 
Engorgio Growth
Episkey Cure Light Wounds
Evanesco Disintegrate 
Expecto Patronum Shield, Dispel Evil
Expelliarmus Disarm
Expulso Move Object
Ferula Mend Light Wounds
Flagrate Witch Writing
Furnunculus Curse
Geminio Duplicate
Glisseo Trap
Imperio Charm Person
Incarcerous Bind / Web
Incendio Produce Flame
Legilimens ESP
Locomotor Tenser's Floating Disk
Locomotor Mortis Power Word, Stun
Lumos Light
Meteolojinx Recanto Control Weather
Mobiliarbus Levitate
Muffliato Silence 15' Radius
Nox Darkness
Obliviate Feeblemind / Erase Memory
Obscuro Blindness
Petrificus Totalus Petrify
Piertotum Locomotor Animate Object
Protego Shield / Protection from Magic
Protego Totalum Circle of Protection
Reducto Explode
Rennervate Quick Waking
Reparo Mend Objects
Repello Muggletum Protection (from Muggles)
Riddikulus Protection from Evil (Boggarts)
Salvio Hexia Protection from Magic
Sectumsempra Ghostly Slashing / Bloodletting
Serpensortia Summon Snakes / Snake Staff
Silencio Silence
Specialis Revelio Identify
Stupefy Daze
Tarantallegra Otto's Irresistible Dance
Wingardium Leviosa Levitation

They very on level by edition, but the thing to remember is that some wizards can cast most of these spells by the time they leave Hogwarts at 18.

D&D is the worlds biggest RPG, but it might not be the best fit for Harry Potter.  I am going to spend some time looking at other games as well.


Books read: 5
Current Level: Initiate (Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey

I got to click another Kickstarter off my list!

New and Original

The new Ubiquity version of Space 1889 is now in my hands!
It is a great looking book. I really enjoyed the original Space 1889 (also available in PDF).

This new book captures the feel of the original rather nicely and the Ubiquity system is easy to use and adapt.  The book itself is gorgeous and well worth the wait to be honest.  It really envokes the feel of the original which was quite an original idea back in the day.

New and Original
I love Victorian games, weird science and space exploration.  So this really is right up my alley.
At first I have to admit I didn't like Space 1889, but as I played it I really began to enjoy it.  Once I started doing research on what the Victorians believed about space and the solar system then I REALLY started enjoying it.

For me then this new version is distillation of everything I enjoyed about the concept.

Recently I went on an "Appendix N" bender and read everything I could get my hands on from the pulp era.  So I read all of Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars books, the Pelucidar books, and the Moon Maid series.  I still want to read the Venus books.  I also read years ago Jules Verne, so the idea of a Scientific Alt-Victorian Time really appeals to me.


The best thing about Space 1889 is that the Ubiquity system that powers it is the same as Hollow Earth Expedition and Leagues of Adventure.    So you can pull them together for a high action Victorian fun.  Throw in Revelations of Mars (when it is done)  and you have a Solar System spanning game of adventure.

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey 
The idea behind this game is to split the difference between the Victorian period and the Pulp Age.  Still focus on adventure, or more to the point, Adventure! and space travel but shake it up a bit.

Set it in the Spring of 1901. King Edward sits on the throne and he has declared that explorers of all sorts must head to the planets for the glory of the British Empire.  Adventures run into Barsoomians, Selenites and giant reptiles and snake men on Venus.

Not sure when I'll work it in, but it will be a blast!

I've Been Blitzed!

So yesterday I was on the receiving end of one of DL Hammons' Blog Blitzes!


I ended up with about 80 people coming by to read my blog and leave a message.  Hopefully some will choose to stay. I know I have blitzed others in the past and found something new to read.

I do want to thank everyone that came by. My goal is to revisit each blog over the next week or so.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

On Wednesdays we wear black

I have many times professed my love for +melissahunter's "Adult Wednesday Addams".
It is so funny and clever.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyX7977vwwko1lurVlEJszQ

It should be no surprise or shock that I loved Wednesday.  Melissa Hunter takes the Christina Ricci  version of Wednesday (which was inspired by Winona Ryder's "Lydia Deetz" from Beetlejuice) and taken her into adulthood.

Today's episode (updated every Wednesday!) is fantastic.



Though she got a lot of attention recently with her recent "Catcalls" episode.


I has gotten 2 million more hits than her other episodes and that is great, but really the other episodes are just as good and need to be watched.  Though to be fair none of the others have "Bob".

So on Wednesdays we wear black here at the Other Side and celebrate my first true love.
Scary goth girls.




Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Blogger's New Adult Policy

Google is sending out emails to some bloggers on the Blogger platform about their new Adult policy that becomes effective in one month.

https://support.google.com/blogger/answer/6170671?p=policy_update&rd=1

Basically if you have an "adult" blog you were emailed and have 30 days to remove said content (though they are  vague on what that content is) or have your blog turn to "Private".

This basically means if people are not invited to read your blog they can't see it.

I am not sure what this means for the majority of the bloggers here.
Will my blog get tagged because of Eldritch Witchery later on?  No idea. Likely not.

Though I suppose this is a good time to start thinking of what your blogger exit plan is. I am sure it will not be around forever.



Monday, February 23, 2015

Castles & Crusades: Into the Woods...of sorts

So this past weekend I ran a quick version of Castles & Crusades using some ideas from the Codex Celtarum.  The idea was that the characters are on the edge of the Faerie lands/Fae/Feywilds.

It occurs to me that I have been building up to this game for years really.


Allies and Enemies
Races
Ans of course, Witches
I am sure there are some good adventures I could adapt and I have plenty of my own too.  It would be nice to run "All Souls Night" for a new group; heck I could even re-purpose The Dark Druid for this.

This could be a lot of fun.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Castles & Crusades weekend

Spent the weekend doing a lot of work around house so didn't get to a game till late.

We were going to try out our converted 3rd to 5th ed characters but for various reasons we could not get everyone at the table at the same time.  So we opted for something new.

We made characters for Castles & Crusades using the Codex Celtarum.  Everyone has some Fae based powers and going to be playing in the lands of faerie.

The first adventure was a nice short one; rescuing a girl kidnapped by some goblins.  Turned out the girl also had faerie powers.
I totally ripped of True Blood and gave the girl flashy light hands that caused damage.

It was a lot of fun.  Not sure what we are going to do with it from here on out but it sure was fun.

The great thing is there are a ton of cool adventures I can use with it too.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Zatannurday: Videos

Been on YouTube a lot lately; listening to music, watching a lot of videos of a lot of topics. It's been fun.

I found a few Zatanna videos out there. If you need some more information on the character then these are worth a watch.  Yeah some are a bit annoying, but hey you get what you pay for.

First up is a nice history of Zee from ItsSuperEffective.




Next is a topic that gets a lot of coverage. Well it does if you are me.
Who would win in a fight, Zatanna or Scarlet Witch?  ComicBookCast2 asks.




I loved seeing all the various Zatanna's on the Animated DC universes.  Here is a nice little guide to all her voice actresses.




I never watched Smallville, save for a couple of episodes, but here is Zee's introduction on that show.




There are some more. But this is a good batch.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Steampunk Videos

Welcome once again to Friday Night Videos!

To celebrate the newest member of the Victorian / Steampunk RPG gaming community I thought some Victorian Chap-hop was in order.

Of course I love Victorian games of all sorts. Just love the time period and the endless possibilities.  You can have adventure, science, magic, occultism, spiritualism and the entire world is both at your fingertips and still large and mysterious at the same time.

So let's open it up with some good old Professor E!

+Professor Elemental donning his Fighting Trousers.




Professor Elemental might be the first name you think of when it comes to Victorian era chap hop but he is not the only one.   So just like Biggie had Tupac, the good Professor has Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer.





I am not sure how one can describe Abney Park.  They are steampunk yes. But in more of a Forgotten Futures sort of way.  They have their own RPG, Airship Pirates which comes to us from the same people that brought us Victoriana. In fact it even uses the same system as Victoriana 2nd Edition.



+Lindsey Stirling might not be the first name you think of when it comes to Steampunk music, but her Roundtable Rival certainly has the right look and feel to it.  Plus Lindsey has upped her own geek street cred by providing a song for the Dragon Age soundtrack.  So there is that.
So here is the girl that my friend Cal refers to as a "magical musical pixie" or how I think a Ghosts of Albion Occult Musician would look.  Frankly I think she is amazing.



And lastly tonight back to the good Professor to remind us that we can all enjoy different things, but we are all in it together.  One of the reasons why many of us in the Victorian RPG community get along so well with each other.  We all enjoy each other's games and talk about our favorite bits.

Kickstart Your Weekend: Victorious

I was going to cut back on these, but this is very much a Peanut Butter and Chocolate situation for me.

Victorious is the newest RPG from the Troll Lords.
It is a Victorian Era / Steampunk game using the SIEGE Engine system, the same that powers Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures.   So you can see why I am interested.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/victorious-the-role-playing-game


It should be 100% compatible with Amazing Adventures, but I won't know till I get it obviously.

I am certainly NOT in the market for a new game, let alone another Victorian Era one (I have them all), but damn if it's not attractive.

This being Troll Lords they were funded long before I ever saw the page.  I have supported them well in the past and I am on the fence on this one.  Yes I am going to buy it, that isn't even a question.  I just think this time I might wait and give my FLGS the money instead.

I am going to keep an eye on it for what ever bonus levels and features they add.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Skylla: D&D 4th Edition

For a while now I have wanted to see how the various spellcasters of D&D4th edition would stack up.  In particular the Witch (Wizard) vs. the Warlock.  Also I having just done this with Skylla for D&D 5 I thought it would be good to see how the 4th Ed Witch would work out.

For this conversion I am doing it completely by hand. No character builder what so ever.
My sources are:

I have to admit that these (Feywild and Arcane Power) are two of my most favorite D&D books.  One day I want to run an adventure series, maybe small, set completely in the Feywild or Faerie Lands and use D&D4 for it.  I think it would be fantastic.

In this case however I think I am going to find that the Witch build (based on the Wizard) is going to be closer to what I want.  Though I am willing to be surprised.

In this case since so many of the ability scores are expected to rise I started her slightly lower than her Basic D&D counterpart and raised score by the rules.  She did end up with a greater score in Intelligence.  While getting high for a Basic D&D character this actually puts her on the "low average" side of a D&D4 character.

Skylla, level 7
Human, Wizard (Witch)
Moon Coven Option: Dark Moon Coven
Dark Apprenticeship (+2 to Intimidate)

ABILITY SCORES
STR 9 (+2)
CON 10 (+3)
DEX 11 (+3)
INT 17 (+6)
WIS 12 (+4)
CHA 11 (+3)

AC: 16 Fort: 14 Ref: 17 Will: 17
HP: 49 Bloodied: 24 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 12

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +14, Dungeoneering +9, History +11, Insight +9, Intimidate +10, Nature +9

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +3, Athletics +2, Bluff +5, Diplomacy +3, Endurance +3, Heal +4, Perception +4, Religion +6, Stealth +5, Streetwise +3, Thievery +3

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack, Staff  +2
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack, Dagger (thrown) +3

CANTRIPS
Chameleon's Mask

AT-WILL
Magic Missile
Ray of Frost
Witch Bolt

ENCOUNTER
Dread Presence
Color Spray
Lightning Bolt

DAILY
Acid Arrow
Sleep
Bigby's Icy Grasp
Web

UTILITY
Feather Fall
Dimension Door
Invisibility
Shield

FEATS
Arcane Familiar (Dragonling), Action Surge, Toughness, Skill Focus (Arcana), Ritual Caster, Arcane Reserves

ITEMS
Battle Staff +1 x1
Delver's Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing) +1 x1
Cloak of Resistance +1 x1
Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing)
Adventurer's Kit
Staff Implement x1

While going through this I am very sure what the Warlock class would give me.  Skylla is a seeker of knowledge so a pact with a demon or vestige might work, but the spells are rather different.
Still. I could see it working.

This build shows again how powerful the 4e characters are vs other editions.  Skylla here has 14 spells she can use at least once per day, often more.  I have always said that D&D4 characters are about 2-3 levels in power compared to a same "name" level character of other editions.
5e really scales this back.

Compare the stats above to her BECMI, Pathfinder and 5th Edition D&D versions.

I like this witch class, just not sure if it works as well as I want here.

In case I forgot them, here are some more links about Skylla and her proposed appearance in the classic Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon.
http://www.dungeonsdragonscartoon.com/2009/08/yugol-and-curse-of-stone.html
http://www.dungeonsdragonscartoon.com/2009/08/skylla.html

The A to Z Blogging Challenge Theme Reveal

I am participating in this year A to Z Blogging challenge again.

While the challenge for me is not to post every day, I already do that, but to post with the proper subject letter AND to stick to my theme.

The theme reveal this year will be on March 23.   Come back and see what I choose...although I have not been very secretive about it.


You can see what others are doing as well. If you are interested in doing the challenge (and I would suggest you try it at least once) and thinking of a theme the head on over to the sign up list.
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2015/02/the-great-and-powerful-to-z-theme.html

Even if you don't sign up for the Theme Reveal, you can see what others are doing in time to sign up for the A to Z yourself.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

White Dwarf Wednesday: Games Workshop History

I know, sort of a cheesy way to use my supposed retired weekly feature.  But a couple of things came up in the past week to make it seem worthwhile.

First up is Part 1 of a History of Games Workshop. It also covers the same time I spent discussing White Dwarf here.  From Unplugged Games.
http://www.unpluggedgames.co.uk/2015/02/13/games-workshop-the-inside-story-part-one/

Honestly it is a fascinating read and gave me some insight to what I was reading "between the lines" in White Dwarf.

Ian and Steve
The map of Ian Livinstone's first dungeon just begs to be used somewhere.


There is some great anecdotes here too. For example they had a bigger issue with the cover of White Dwarf #44 than I did.

And then from ENWorld, a posting about how the first ever Games Workshop store is now going to be demolished.
http://www.enworld.org/forum/content.php?2344-First-Ever-GAMES-WORKSHOP-Store-Is-Being-Demolished#.VOSN6vnF_ZQ

Opening day in 1978
And today
While Games Workshop went into new directions around the end of my reviews, I still enjoy all the fun and wonder those early days gave me.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

President's Day Gaming - Converting to 5e from 3.x

Had yesterday off so wanted to spend the day doing some gaming.

My boys wanted to play our 5e game, but we were a player down, so I suggested we wrap up our 3e game.  That didn't go over as well to be honest.
Both boys said they were burned out on 3e and everything took so long compared to 5e.  I reminded them that their 3e characters are nearing Epic levels and all combats will take forever at that level.

So long story short, we all decided to convert the 3e game to something else.  I was pushing pretty hard for 1st Ed but the boys wanted 5th ed.  I cant say that I blame them really.

Converting adventures is easy. I do that on the fly 90% of the time anyway.  Converting characters is a bit more involved.  The group's wizard converted fine. For the paladin/dragon-rider we went with a straight paladin.  The rogue/ranger/sorcerer/arcane archer required me to get more creative. In 5e the character became a rogue (arcane trickster)/ranger (hunter).  I let him take spells from the sorcerer list or the druid list where appropriate for the character concept and what he had been able to do in the past.


My 3.e Witch GMPC was more difficult.  I started out by converting her to a Warlock with a pact of the Tome feature.  This gives me access to more spells.  I then took the Magic Initiate feat and the Ritual Caster feat to gain some extra spells.  I like it, but I am not 100% happy with it.

It occurs to me that that old 2nd Ed Witch Kit and the 4th Ed Witch "sub" class might be good starting points for what a 5th ed witch might look like using the wizard as a base.

I compared the Wizard and Warlock in form of Skylla for 5th a while back.  With her I Was happier with the Wizard build even though the Warlock build had some interesting things going for it.

It is worth a little extra research.  I am NOT in the market to build a 5e Witch class right now.  I still have other commitments to finish.  Plus I enjoy playing 5e and not necessarily having to play and play-test with the same game.

Besides I think I would like to see some other people's take on a witch class.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Zatannurday: Traci Thirteen

Traci Thirteen is another member of the Homo-magi race and thus a distant relative to Zatanna.

http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Traci_Thirteen_%28New_Earth%29
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traci_Thirteen
http://www.comicvine.com/traci-13/4005-46538/

I always liked the idea of Traci Thirteen.  I liked her "urban magic" and felt it was it fit in well with the gritty feel of the earl 2000s.  I have also always thought she would be great as a YA, Modern Supernatural book heroine;  a character somewhere in between Harry Potter and Harry Dresden.  Only female of course and give her a whole set of unique problems.  DC has demonstrated they can de-couple their worlds when it comes to magic (see Hellblazer) and still tell a great story.

While a "Young Zatanna" story would be fun, a Traci Thirteen one might actually be better. You could even include, or work up to, her boyfriend Jaime Reyes to current Blue Beetle. Plus Traci has a different outlook than Zee does and it might work to bring younger readers in.

Traci Thirteen
Cinematic Unisystem (Buffy/Ghosts of Albion)
Life Points
Drama Points 10

Attributes
Strength 2
Dexterity 3
Constitution 3
Intelligence 3
Perception 5
Willpower 5

Qualities
Attractiveness +2
Contacts (the Justice League) 2
Contacts (Supernatural) 3
Hard to Kill 1
Fast Reaction Time
Magic 4  (Homo Magi race)
Magical Family
Nerves of Steel
Occult Library (Impressive)
Resources 3
Situational Awareness
Supernatural Senses (the Sight)

Drawbacks
Adversaries 3
Honorable (Minimal)
Mental Problems (Fear of Commitment)
Obligation (mundane humans, Important)
Secret 1 (really uses magic)

Useful Information
Initiative +4
Actions 1/2
Observation 1d10 + 11
Lesser Sensing +14

Skills
Armed Mayhem/Getting Medieval 2
Art 6 (stage performance)
Athletics 2
Crime 1
Computers 2
Drive / Ride 1
Engineering 2
Fisticuffs/Kung-fu 2
Influence 4
Knowledge 3
Languages 3 (English, Cantonese, Latin)
Marksmanship 3
Notice 5
Occultism 5
Physician 2
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry    +5 - Defense Action
Grapple +5 - Defense Action
Punch +5 4 Bash
Magic +14 per spell additional +1 to +3 with various artifacts
- Deflect +14 Special Deflects spell 45 degrees
- Hold +13 Special Deflects spell 45 degrees
- Dispell +11 Special Deflects spell 45 degrees



Traci and Zatanna
Traci and John

Flashpoint Traci

I should do some more writeups for her.  She looks like a really fun character.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Led Zeppelin

Welcome to the Friday the 13th edition of Friday Night Videos!

If Iron Maiden represents AD&D 1st Ed. Then Original D&D is Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin were the pioneers of what would become "Hard Rock" and even "Heavy Metal".  Though it would take bands like Black Sabbath to really provide what we think of when we consider 70s and 80s metal.

Led Zeppelin was heavily influenced by jazz, blues and folk music. Plus a rather healthy dose of themes from J.R.R. Tolkien, they have long been associated with the 70s occult scene (backward masking, drugs, lyrics) and by association D&D.

Let's start with what was start for many my age, Led Zeppelin's 4th album from 1971.  Sometimes called "4", "Sticks", "Zoso" or "Symbols". I prefer "Zeppelin IV" myself.   This song was on the B side and is often overlooked due to the fantastic set on the A side.  Pack your bags for the Misty Mountain Hop.



The same album gave us two other greats. Well it gave us a lot of greats, but two in particular.

Honestly I doubt there is a more D&D song than Battle of Evermore.  This song features the amazing vocals of Sandy Denny, the "fifth" symbol on this album.



Zeppelin IV also gave us one of Led Zeppelin's most enduring, if not overplayed song. Stairway to Heaven.


This one song fueled more D&D games of mine than I carry to consider.

Going back a bit to 1970's "Led Zeppelin III" another great song is The Immigrant Song.  What it lacks in length it makes up for in Saxon fueled energy.



Finally no Led Zeppelin discussion can happen with out a nod to the near Moorcock-like visuals of Kashmir from 1975's Physical Graffiti.




This barely scratches the surface of their catalog.

Post 2600!

Why pick such an arbitrary posting milestone?

Well as many gamers my age might recall the "2600" was the part number of the first Atari home video game console.

The Atari 2600 changed how looked at home entertainment forever.



Given the general feel of 80s nostalgia we have here on the Other Side and other related blogs I am a little surprised that the Atari is not mentioned more.  Maybe it could be that unlike some others my age (or older) I always *liked* the idea of computers and video games working with D&D.
I am sure we all (or most) remember this game.


Yeah, it was a weak ass version of "D&D" but hey for the late 70s/early 80s it was the best we had and I played the hell out of it.  I even played again it here just recently (like a month ago) on my Atari Flashback 5.  Yeah I still had fun.

Though some of my most favorite memories of playing "D&D" is playing "Rogue" on my TRS-80 Color Computer 3.


Sure. It wasn't D&D, but it was still fun.  Plus we know that there would not have been any of these games had it not been for D&D.

So yeah while I am looking up old RPG books from the 70s on eBay I have been looking up old computers too.  I have an Atari (and an emulator) but I keep looking at the various Tandy Color Computers too.  With the recent news that Radio Shack is closing I have been thinking more and more about it.

I know it is a stupid idea. I can get emulator and run them on my phone that 1000s times faster than the original machines.  There are even browser based emulators to play the games I liked. But I also have a program I worked on back in the day to manage and run a party of AD&D characters that would be fun to dust off.  I still have the source code in fact.

 For me at least, D&D and computers have always gone hand in hand.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Wizards of the Coast Sale at DriveThruRPG

Right now every Wizards of the Coast D&D product at DriveThruRPG is now on sale.


And there are some great deals.

D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic) for $5.00
Seriously, if you don't have this grab it now. Just do it.

Rules Compendium (3.5) for $7.00
For D&D 3.5.  I don't even have this (was burned out on 3.5 when it was published) but I am grabbing it now.

D&D Rules Compendium (4e) $5.00
I have a post coming up that the 4e might find a new life online thanks to cheap PDFs.  This is certainly a good place to start.

I would also like to point out the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (1e). This thing is really high priced on eBay, but here it is only $8.50.

Grab these and more now.


Updates

I am booked with meetings today.  So I only have some minor updates today.

Over the week I updated a few pages.
I also added a Twitter feed to the lower right.  For those that need to read my opinions all the time.  It mirrors my Facebook feed and other things.




Let's see how it works out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

They Might Be Giants!

My kids are going to be going through the Classic G series modules here soon (I am hoping to do it by Gen Con) in our 5th Edition Game.  I have a great memories of this adventure and I really looking forward to it to be honest.

Yesterday Tenkar posted a link to the wonderful "Extended" series of the Giants adventures by R.C. Pinnell, aka +Thork Hammer.


I have had a copy of G4, Sanctum of the Stone Giant Lord.  I liked this one because it was short and it included Stone Giants, something I always felt was missing from the original.  I knew about some of the others (G5 and G6), but only recently discovered the others (G7 to 9).

Well thanks to Thork, Tenkar and +Vincent Florio I now have all of them.

All together the adventure is over 100 pages.  This is a bit more than I wanted to be honest.  The Giants are tied up pretty close to the Drow of the next series. So for me the Giants are just the pawns of the Drow.  The Stone and Mountain giants I can see.  Maybe even the Cloud, if they are more on the evil side.  I have not read all the adventures yet, but maybe the Cloud Giant queen has something to do with the Sun being blocked out in my adventure.



My feeling on these is that would work best as pure Giant themed series of adventures divorced from the GDQ series.  That being said, I am very, very sure there is something here that is perfect for my game. So for me it is worth printing this all out.  Given what I am planning I am a touch disappointed I don't have the 4th Ed D&D adventure, Revenge of the Giants.

The really nice thing about running these classics so many years later is all the material out there to support them.  For a while there WotC was publishing maps for the Giants series (among others).

I might need to print these all out and get them into a binder or something.

Links
So lots of great stuff out there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Witches of the (Dungeon) World Unite!

A while back I downloaded  +David Guyll and +Melissa Fisher's playbook The Witch.  I loved the cover and since it had the same name as my own book I was curious.  I knew very, very little of Dungeon World save what David Guyll had posted on his blog, Points of Light.

So last week I finally decided to sit down and go through the Dungeon World game so I could better understand The Witch playbooks.

Dungeon World

Dungeon World is a "D&D-like" game based on the Apocalypse World game engine.  Like a favorite of mine, Monsterhearts, the base system has had some changes to reflect the nature of the game being played.  So DW features stats named "Strength", "Constitution", "Dexterity", "Intelligence", "Wisdom" and "Charisma".  This makes playing DW a little more familiar to those of us that cut our baby teeth on D&D.
DW is a large book, 400+ pages and it basically details the sorts of things one can do in a D&D-like game.  I keep saying D&D-like because that is really what this is.  This is not D&D, nor is it a clone. It is a different system to achieve the same sort of stated goals. Though there are other things you can do as well.
There are a lot of reviews for DW out there. It is a well reviewed game with good reviews.  I have not played DW myself, so I can't speak for the game play, but the rules read easy enough.
In DW there is a very basic mechanic (The Move) and it is up to the player to describe what that is.  After that it is a simple Attribute+die roll vs. Target Number roll. In this case the Target Number is 10, but things happen if you roll a 7-9 or below a 6.  This is similar to many modern games.  The attribute modifiers for DW are the same as most Old-School D&D/Clones, ie 18 = +3 (not +4).  This makes using your current character a bit easier in some respects.
Chapter 3 covers the Character Creation.  Chapter 4 covers Basic and Special moves.  Each chapter after that is dedicated to each of the character classes and their class-specific moves.  Each class gets about 8 pages, and then some more for spells.  All the classics are here. The Barbarian is even added as a seperate file as a value add.
Chapter 13 covers how to Game Master, Chapter 14 covers the first session and Chapter 15 covers areas or Fronts where the action will happen. Not bad chapters actually.
Chapter 17 covers the monster creation and use guidelines.  After the monsters are divided up by locales or by theme.
Chapter 18 cover equipment including magic items.

What does DW offer the D&D Player?  
Given the more narrative focus (and less crunch) of DW, D&D players can get some more tips on role-playing, setting up adventures and more immerseve play in general.  It seems to me that DW was created as a retort to 4th ed D&D and it's focus on battle-mat play.  It is rather compatible though with 5e.  Many of same ideas in terms of playing a character or running a game are in both games.
For $10.00 for a PDF and at 400+ pages it would be a nice resource for a group wanting to continue in the same world or the same characters, just looking for some more depth and faster play.

The Witch - A Dungeon World Playbook - by Melissa Fisher & David Guyll

This is a "playbook" for the witch character class for Dungeon World.  Class might not be the right word since this is more of a "role". The book is 27 pages, released via Creative Commons and has art by David Guyll.  I have to admit, it was the art that first drew me into this book.
The book covers the same basic material found in all the classes in the main DW book.  Where we get to the new stuff is under Starting Moves.  Here we can see immediately that we are not dealing with a distaff wizard.  Some of the moves could be used by other character classes, but there is a distinct "witchyness" about them all that I really love.
The Bonds for the Witch are really nice and one of the things I wish I had thought of.  Well, at lease something similar. Bonds work differently in terms of the DW game, but the idea behind them, and how they can be roleplayed, are easily adapted to other games.  Other games would call these "hooks".  There are also a fair number of Advanced Moves that are great for a witch. These are the powers of the witch and her magic. Unlike the cleric and wizard, the witch has no spells, just these powers. I can see why they went this route and it gives the witch a very different feel than either the cleric or wizard. A must with a game light on crunch.
There are plenty of new magic items, mundane items and items unique to the witch.
All in all I like it a lot. With a price under $2.50 it is a steal. It includes the playbook, a character sheet and a printer friendly version.
This Playbook is also part of the Awful Good Games Playbook Bundle.
These authors also have written another Playbook on the Psion.  I am going to need to pick that one up as well.

The Witch - A Dungeon World Playbook - by Jacob Randolph

This Witch for Dungeon World is a 3 page playbook with descriptions on the moves of a witch character.   In general this book covers how to play a "Weather Witch", a "Wicked Witch" or a "Winter Witch".  I approve Jacob Randolph's penchant for alliteration. Everything you would expect to see in a DW character is here.  There are Bonds, Starting Moves, Gear and Advanced Moves.
In this version the details are printed right on the sheet.  This is rather convenient and saves some space.  If it were reformatted to look like the layout in Dungeon World I'd imagine it would be more like 6 to 8 pages.  So you get a lot of text, but not a lot of pages.
This playbook is under $2.50.  I would have liked a little more I think, but it is still really nice.  I have to admit I really like this cover too.

So what good is all of this to me?  Obviously if I am going to play DW, I am going to opt for a witch character.  So it is nice to know I have choices.
I am more likely to want to take DW and convert some of the concepts back over to D&D.  I like the Bonds for example and might end up using something like that.

I am going to talk more about these witch books later on in the week.

Conan and Roll-under systems

There is a new Conan game coming out.
http://www.modiphius.com/conan.html

While I am sure it will look great and have a lot of things going for it there are a couple of things that bug me off the start.

First I like my systems anymore to be simple. I like rules that "get out of the way" and let me play like I want.  Presently the only rules-heavy system I play is D&D and that is only because I have absorbed the rules to the level of abstraction.

Secondly I don't care for "roll under" mechanics either.  The new Conan is a 2d20, roll under system.  Generally speaking roll under games require lesser rolls to be considered better than higher ones.  There is an counter-intuitiveness to this.
Yes there are some great games out there that are roll under such as BESM 2r and anything using the Chaosim Basic Role-Playing (Call of Cthulhu, Runequest).
And there are some games where you need to roll high but still keep in under the targeted number.

I am just not a fan of those.

If I want to play a "Conan" game then I want something that has the right feel to it. Like Original D&D or better yet, something like Spellcraft & Swordplay.  Simple mechanics (2d6 roll over). It is both grim and cinematic at the same time.

What are your thoughts on Roll Under games?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Box for Downloads

My Box for Downloads applet isn't working right so I took it off my page here.

You can still get to all the free downloads here by going to my Downloads page.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/p/downloads.html

I like to provide free things when I can and I know some of you are using this feature.


History of the Known World

A couple of great posts came up over the weekend.

Lawrence Schick posted "The “Known World” D&D Setting: A Secret History" over at Black Gate.  A nice history of how he and Tom Moldvay came up with the Known World for their own games and then ported it over to D&D Basic/Expert.  It is a fascinating read if, like me, you are a fan of the Mystara world.



+James Mishler takes this one further and provides the maps for the Moldvay/Schick known world on his blog, Adventures in Gaming.  James also provides a bit more information and some Hexographer files for them as well.

It is interesting how there are so many familiar names and even locations in different places. Like looking at a world you know, but through some sort of distorted lens.

But what is most interesting to me are the new lands.  Places and names that are entirely new to me.
Certainly gives me some names and places to help fill in some blanks I have for my own Mystoerth world.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Zatannurday: The Fate of Constantine

Zatanna's sometimes love interest John Constantine's fate is still up in the air.

As of this week (ending 2/7) we still have not heard if the NBC show "Constantine" has been renewed or not.

Next week is the 13th and last episode of the season.  So I didn't get my wish to see and John and Zatanna moment on the show.

Another show that came close was Smallville, though they did manage it in the pages of the Smallville comic, Harbinger.



Not only that it also has John and Zee's first meeting in the Smallville universe.

Not exactly the same as the Justice League Dark meeting.

The story is spread out over 4 issues and has a lot of what makes John and Zee so great together.

It even features the introduction of Rachel Roth, aka Raven to the Smallville universe.
She is the girl that John and Zee rescue from Brother Blood.
So Zatanna, Constantine and Raven?  All in one comic at the same time?  Sounds great to me!


Might be the closest we get.

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