Thursday, April 30, 2015

Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: April Reviews The Mist-Torn Witches

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

This month I only got a couple of books in.  Been very busy with work and the A to Z Bloghop.  But I got two quality books!

The Mist-Torn Witches Series by Barb Hendee
I took on the first two book of Barb Hendee's Mist-Torn Witches. I had heard a lot of good about this series and the author so they had been on my TBR pile forever.  I am glad I finally grabbed them and got into them.

The books deal with sisters Céline and Amelie Fawe.  Céline can see visions of the future and is a knowledgeable apothecary.   Amelie is the younger sister and sees images of the past and is just as hand with a sword or dagger.

The Mist-Torn Witches (Book 1)
We are introduced to the Fawe sisters in their small home and shop.  They have been orphaned but have been making well on their own.  Tragedy strikes and sends them on the run.  At the same time their emerging powers places them in deeper harm.  They now are working for a prince that they don't know if they can trust and his lieutenant at arms (who has a shady past) to solve a supernatural murder.
I will admit this book grabbed me from the very, very start. I immediately liked Céline but Amelie might end up becoming my favorite before too long.  There is some world building in this, but only enough to keep the plot moving.  The characters are instantly compelling and Hendee gives you plenty of reasons to like them.  The sisters are just coming into their powers, but even so there is an investigation here. Strip away the magic and the fantasy elements you have a compelling murder mystery here. I would LOVE to say I figured it out early, but I didn't.  Oh the clues were there, but the mystery is very well crafted and you, like our main characters, will just have to figure it out as you go.
I also liked that while the girls are powerful, they can make mistakes and they have very human failings.  There is a hint of romance here, but no awkward hook ups and no bending the rules of logic to get characters together.  I will not spoil the end but if this were a movie it would pass both Bechdel test AND the Mako Mori test.
This is a great start to a series.
I am reviewing both the Kindle ebook and the Audible audio-book.
Witch Count: 2 (maybe 4)

Witches in Red (Book 2)
This book takes place soon after the events in book 1.  Céline and Amelie are settling into their new lives when they are summoned to the castle by their Prince.  A series of murders has been going on at his father's silver mine. Murders committed by men that become giant wolf-like beasts.
This is another supernatural-based murder mystery, but in addition to learning the who we need to learn the how.  In this book in particular we see Hendee's deft skill and weaving a mystery plot, but also doing so with wry sense of humor.  While this could have ended up as a fairly unimaginative pastiche of werewolf lore and "Little Red Riding Hood", it didn't.  Not so much that it didn't do it is how well it didn't do it.  Again we see some great character development here. Unlike the last book where the sisters were in survival mode, here they have a feeling of belonging that makes them want to help the Prince. It is a maturity.  We learn more about the Prince's Lieutenant, Jaromir and he turns out to be just as interesting as I hoped.
As before the girls use their extraordinary sight to find the who is behind the killing, but that only gets them so far. Detective work and intelligence has to get them to their goal.
There is more world building here as well. We learn more about the world-travelling Móndyalítko, the gypsy-like "children of the world" and Céline and Amelie's bloodline.
I am reviewing both the Kindle ebook and the Audible audio-book.
Witch Count: 4

I should point out that Book 3 Witches With The Enemy will be out next week.  Preorder if you can because this is a fun series.



Hopefully I will have a review of Book 3 up next month.

Books read: 10
Current Level: Maiden: Read 6 – 10 Witchy Books

A to Z of Vampires: Zburător

Here we are at the end of our blogging challenge for another year.
Today let's return to the "home" of vampire legends and myths, Romania and pay a visit to the Zburător.

Max Ernst's Une Semaine de Bonté 1934 collage.
This creature is somewhat similar to an incubus, a male demon, but it is a vampiric spirit inhabiting a male body.  It preys on young girls (particularly virgins) and widows. They always appear as stunningly handsome young men with dark eyes and black hair. It will find a woman and prey on her nightly till she is dead.  It will typically charm the woman before hand and then gain an invitation to her home.  Once there he will come to the woman's bed and drain her blood while having sex. This results in the loss of 3 Constitution points per night.  Typically no one survives more than three encounters with a zburător.  Women killed become vampires under the zburător's complete control.

Despite being very fast and very strong the zburător is a stereotypical "lover and not a fighter" they will flee if faced with violence or great numbers. If forced to attack the creature will use a weapon or attempt to charm his way out.

The zburător is a shape shifter. It can become dust, mist, or flame to escape capture. It can also fly.
Though different than other vampires, the zburător has large bat-like wings that grow out of his back that he can hide when needed.  These wings are strong and can carry the vampire and his victim. This creature can also teleport (as per the spell) back to his lair once per night. Additional spell like powers include the ability to charm person, hypnotize, cause fear and phantasmagoria.

Like many vampires the zburător is destroyed by sunlight, is repelled by garlic and holy items, casts no reflection or shadow and can only be harmed by silver (or magic) weapons.  Additionally garlic or wolfsbane can be spread on windows or made into garlands or wreaths to hang on windows to keep it out.

Zburător
AKA: Zemu, Zmeu
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Apperring: 1
Size: Man-sized (M)
Armor Class: 3 [17]1
Movement
 Basic: 180' (60') / Fly: 210' (70')
 Advanced: 18" // Fly: 21"
Hit Dice: 9+4 (45 hp)
% in Lair: 50% (coffin by day)
Treasure Type: Weapon + Blood Drain
Damage: Weapon + Blood Drain
Special Attacks: Per Vampire; Blood Drain
Special Defenses: Only killed by silver or magic weapons or sunlight
Save As: Magic-user 92
Magic Resistance: 25%
Morale: 53
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level/XP: 9/4,250 + 12/hp

STR: 21 INT: 10 WIS: 10 DEX: 21 CON: __(13)4  CHA: 235

1 Descending and [Ascending] Armor classes are given.
2 This is used for Basic games, and S&W. Also for monsters that I think need to save a little differently than others.
3 Morale is "Basic" Morale and based on a 1-12 scale.
4 Have not decided yet if I want to use 3.x style undead Constitutions or not. (15) Reflects what their Con would be if I do use it.  I might just put a number in () like I do for Ghosts of Albion.
5 obviously more reflective of personality and character than looks.

The zburător is the prototype of the "suave, sexy" vampire.
I have seen these type of vampires in other mediums, sometimes called "Dark Angels".  While they are better looking than other vampires and typically do not fight, they do prey on weaknesses; young girls looking for a 'dream lover' and widows longing for a companions touch. They still leave a trail of bodies where ever they go.

They are still popular enough to have a recent film made about one.  "Ultimul Zburător" or "The Last Incubus" focuses more on the "Dark Angel" aspect of this creature.


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3031914/



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Harry Potter Videos

Just a little YouTube silliness for a Wednesday afternoon.

Gandalf vs. Dumbledore




Every spell in Harry Potter




I do believe that the Harry Potter books will go down in time as just influential as Lord of the Rings.

A to Z of Vampires: Yara-ma-yha-who

Let's head to the land down under for one of the strangest vampires I have found.

The Yara-ma-yha-who is a vampire of the aboriginal peoples of Australia.

It appears as a small red man with a large mouth but no teeth.  He lives in fig trees and jumps on people as they walk by attacking them with his sucker tipped fingers.   The Yara-ma-yha-who will then suck blood out the person unless he is flung off.  Each attack by the Yara-ma-yha-who makes the person a little shorter.  The attack drains 1 point of Constitution while attached.  A successful grapple role is needed to remove it.

Anyone drained to death by this creature will become one. The Yara-ma-yha-who will open it's wide mouth and swallow the dead victim whole.  It will sleep and then regurgitate the victim who will be small and red like the Yara-ma-yha-who itself. It will rise by the next dawn as a new Yara-ma-yha-who and must find a fig tree of it's own to haunt.

Unlike other vampires the Yara-ma-yha-who hunts during the day and sleeps at night.

Reducing the vampire to 0 hp or turning it will cause it to flee to it's tree.
The Yara-ma-yha-who can only be destroyed is by staking it int he heart with wood from  it's own tree and then then burning it and it's tree.

A Yara-ma-yha-who cannot enter a personal dwelling or holy land at all.

Yara-ma-yha-who
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Apperring: 1
Size: Halfling-sized (S)
Armor Class: 5 [15]1
Movement
 Basic: 120' (40')
 Advanced: 12"
 3e: 30ft
Hit Dice: 8+1 (37 hp)
% in Lair: 100% (fig tree)
Treasure Type: Attacks: 2 (claw/claw) + Blood Drain
Damage: 1d4/1d4 + Blood Drain
Special Attacks: Per Vampire; Blood Drain
Special Defenses: Only killed by fig tree wood
Save As: Fighter 82
Magic Resistance: Normal
Morale: 83
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level/XP: 8/3,450 + 12/hp

STR: 16 INT: 10 WIS: 10 DEX: 19 CON: __(10)4  CHA: 135

1 Descending and [Ascending] Armor classes are given.
2 This is used for Basic games, and S&W. Also for monsters that I think need to save a little differently than others.
3 Morale is "Basic" Morale and based on a 1-12 scale.
4 Have not decided yet if I want to use 3.x style undead Constitutions or not. (15) Reflects what their Con would be if I do use it.  I might just put a number in () like I do for Ghosts of Albion.
5 obviously more reflective of personality and character than looks.

I am working on a monster stat block that I can use in my old-games and future publications (if I do any).  I want something that anyone can pick up and use regardless of the system they are using.
What do you think?


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: Xiāng-shī (殭屍)

Jason Rhineville
Back to China today for the Xiāng-shī also spelled Jiāng-shī or 殭屍.  These are the famous "hopping vampires" of Chinese myth and folklore.

The Xiāng-shī shares many similarities with the neighboring Rolang.  Both result from improper burial, both appear to be more corpse like than alive, and both have odd means of moving around due to the stiffness in their legs.   While rolang has a zombie style jait, the Xiāng-shī hops.

The character 僵 in it's name, means hard or stiff.  So this vampire can't bend it's legs at all and must therefore hop about. This is more effective than it appears as this vampire can move about quite well.
Additionally the Xiāng-shī can also fly.

Unlike some vampires the Xiāng-shī does not drain blood, but rather chi or life force from the victim.  While the results are the same; draining Constituion points (2 per attack) the difference is the Xiāng-shī does not have to bite the victim to do it.  On any attack roll where the Xiāng-shī lands two claw attacks it can grab the victim. Instead of a bite attack it begins to suck the breath or chi from the victim.

The claws of the Xiāng-shī are long, hard as iron and sharp as razors.  They can retract them or grow them as long as daggers.

If reduced to 0 hit points, a jiang-shi vampire crumbles to dust but is not destroyed. It reforms in 1 minute with 1 hit point in the same space, or the nearest unoccupied space. Scattering the dust before the jiang-shi reforms destroys it permanently, as does mixing rice into the dust with a dose of holy water. Jiang-shi vampires are also susceptible to wooden weapons carved from peach trees, as such weapons represent the unity of all elements and life to these creatures.  Any successful hit from such a weapon that reduces a jiang-shi to 0 hit points immediately destroys the creature. Although they normally retreat from daylight, jiang-shi vampires are not destroyed by sunlight like regular vampires and can move around during the day without harm.

Xiāng-shī turn as vampires.  Rice, incense and holy items will keep them at bay. Holy water will burn them.

This Xiāng-shī is based a little on the Pathfinder Jiang-shi.

Trying out a new format here for old school games.  This takes the bits from OSRIC, Basic Fantasy and Swords & Wizardry. I am also inserting a bit of 3.x where I need it.

Xiāng-shī
AKA: Jiāng-shī
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Apperring: 1
Size: Man-sized (M)
Armor Class: 1 [19]1
Movement
 Basic: 120' (40') / Fly: 180' (60')
 Advanced: 12"/18" (Fly)
 3e: 30ft
Hit Dice: 9+4 (45 hp)
% in Lair: 100% (home 50%, grave 50%)
Treasure Type: Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite) + Life Drain
Damage: 1d6+4/1d6+4/1d4 + Life Drain
Special Attacks: Per Vampire; Life Drain
Special Defenses: Per Vampire
Save As: Fighter 92
Magic Resistance: 25%
Morale: 103
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level/XP: 9/4,240 + 13/hp

STR: 21 INT: 18 WIS: 15-17 DEX: 9 CON: __(15)4  CHA: 165

1 Descending and [Ascending] Armor classes are given.
2 This is used for Basic games, and S&W. Also for monsters that I think need to save a little differently than others.
3 Morale is "Basic" Morale and based on a 1-12 scale.
4 Have not decided yet if I want to use 3.x style undead Constitutions or not. (15) Reflects what their Con would be if I do use it.  I might just put a number in () like I do for Ghosts of Albion.
5 obviously more reflective of personality and character than looks.

I am working on a monster stat block that I can use in my old-games and future publications (if I do any).  I want something that anyone can pick up and use regardless of the system they are using.
What do you think?


I should point out that my blogging buddy Natasha Duncan-Drake talked about the Xiāng-shī last year too.  http://tashasthinkings.blogspot.com/2014/04/atoz2014x.html

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Dragonslayers Assemble!

The Dragonslayers are fresh off their victory over the Tomb of Horrors.  We had one near casualty and one character that had to take that other character back. They are now headed home but the Barrier Peaks are in their way.

We converted our 3e based Dragonslayers game over to 5e last session.  I wanted to try something new again, Castles and Crusades, but ended up overruled. So we are sticking with 5e.



Last night we began the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.  I am using 5th Ed. D&D along with the 1st Edition versions of the module (the original, the new reprints and the old S1-4 super-module Realms of Horror) along with the 3e updates and some 5e updates supplied to me by +Rich Howard.



They all mix together nicely in a big vat of D&D goodness.  I am also adding in some material from the classic 1st Edition version of Metamorphosis Alpha.  I have already specifically decided that this is the Starship Warden.  In addition to carrying colonists it was carrying a number of Ilithid prisoners to be dropped of at a penal colony prior to going to high warp.

Since my other 5e game with most of the same players takes place in the future of the Dragonslayers, I am setting up the Ilithids as being one of the major bad guys.  It should work out nicely really.

With this adventure I will have run the Dragonslayers through all of the S-Series of modules, and it had been a total blast.

A to Z of Vampires: Wurdalak

Off to Russia again today to visit the family preying Wurdalak!  The wurdalak was popularized by the film, Black Sabbath (from which the famous band gets their name!).  I covered this movie in my last October Horror Movie marathon and stated it up for Ghosts of Albion.

Once again going with OSRIC format today.

Wurdalak (Vampire)
(turned as type 11)
Frequency: Very Rare
No Encountered: 1
Size: Man-sized
Move: 120 ft
Armor Class: -2
Hit Dice: 9+1
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite) + Blood Drain
Damage: 1d6+5/1d6+5/1d4+Blood Drain
Special Attacks: Per Vampire; Blood Drain
Special Defenses: Per Vampire
Magic Resistance: 25%
Lair Probability: 100% (home 50%, grave 50%)
Intelligence: Exceptional
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level/XP: 9/4,240 + 13/hp

A wurdalak is created by a family curse.  Typically one laid down by a powerful witch on an entire line. When a member dies they will return as a wurdalak to feed on members of their own family.  Sometimes a wurdalak will also spontaneously arise when a member of the family disgraces their family name or when a member (typically a daughter) goes against the wishes of a recently deceased member (such as her father or uncle).

Once risen the wurdalak will return to their home to prey on the family members. It needs blood lke most other vampires and drains it at the rate of 3 Constitution points per attack.  A wurdalak can make up to three attacks this way per night.  Family members drained by a wurdalak become wurdalak themselves.  Non-family members drained by a wurdalak become ghouls.

It is wrong to assume to that because a person is not part of the wurdalak's family that they are safe.  The wurdalak will kill anyone in their way or whom they perceive as a threat.

The wurdalak has the following spell-like powers; charm person (3/day), cause fear (3/day), knock, spider climb (at will), and gaseous form (at will).  Once per it's "life" it can cast bestow curse as if they were a 9th level witch.  Typically this curse is bestowed near their death.

In combat the wurdalak will attack with claws and a bite. If it bites a victim in combat it can drain 1 point of Con. The other drain attack is for sleeping victims.  The wurdalak is very strong with a Strength of 22.

The wurdalak can cast shadows and reflect in mirrors.  They are not active at sundown like other types of vampires, but wait till 10:00 pm exactly.  To kill the wurdalak one must use a dagger that has been in the monster's family for at least three generations.  Sunlight reduces it to 0 hp, it will become gaseous and return to their coffins.   A sleeping wurdalak has an AC of 10.

Wurdalaks do not shape-shift into animals.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Zatannurday: Rise of the Vampires

Rise of the Vampires was mini-series/crossover event starting in March 2012 between the then new comics Justice League Dark and I, Vampire.

It was a minor success in my mind. Interesting story but didn't set the comic book world on fire at all.   It did have Zatanna and Constantine in it, so that was good for me.




It did however feature one of the reasons why there is a Justice League Dark, there are some threats out there that the regular Justice League just can't deal with.  In the first arc it was the Enchantress June Moone (played in the Suicide Squad Movie by model Cara Delevingne) going crazy.  This arc featured the rise of a vampires (natch) and their charismatic leader, Cain.  Yeah that Cain.  Same as in the Vampire the Masquerade books.



What I liked about the series was it had a beginning, middle and an end.  And at only six issues (3 for each title) it was a great size.

The story mostly takes place in Gotham, which is also always great. So we get to see Batman and the Bat Family.   But what bugged me was that the main cast ultimately didn't do anything.  I won't get into details about it here (spoilers) but it gave me a lot of ideas.



I have often wanted to bring in Dracula as a big bad in a Supers game.  And frankly I love the DC universe so that is an easy choice.  Dracula has always had such a great presence in the Marvel Universe that I feel he should have the same in the DC Universe.

David Baymiller has been stating up the various supernatural/horror monsters for D6 including Dracula, that it all seems to come together well with something else I have been working on.

So it would be better to use Dracula than Cain because, lets be honest, Dracula is way cooler.

Hopefully I will have something for you all soon.

A to Z of Vampires: Vrykolakas

We come now to Greece which is the home of the Vrykolakas and a host of smilar creatures with similar sounding names.They ranged all the way from Greece into Romania and France.  The word is believed to have come from the Bulgarian word vǎrkolak, which actually means were-wolf.

The vrykolakas is sometimes described as a werewolf or more aptly a demonic, undead werewolf.

In game terms the vrykolakas is a werewolf that came back from the dead as a powerful vampire. Once rising it is ravenous, attacking anyone it meets outside.  Legend has it that the vrykolakas will go from house to house knocking on the door. It will knock once and then move on to the next house.

The vrykolakas will move about in the night but it has no qualms about operating during the day.  The problem is that the body of the vrykolakas has swollen with stolen blood and will look stretched.  The vrykolakas can also shift into a large werewolf like creature.

Here is the Vrykolakas in OSRIC format


Vrykolakas (Vampire)
(turned as type 10)
Frequency: Rare
No Encountered: 1d6
Size: Man-sized
Move: 120 ft
Armor Class: 1
Hit Dice: 8+3
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
Damage: 1d6+4/1d6+4/1d4+Blood Drain
Special Attacks: Per Vampire; Blood Drain
Special Defenses: Per Vampire
Magic Resistance: Standard
Lair Probability: 25%
Intelligence: Exceptional
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level/XP: 8/3,810 + 12/hp

The Vrykolakas is a powerful type of vampire  that occurs when a werewolf comes back from the dead. The vrykolakas is a fierce fighter attacking with 2 claws and a bite per round.  Each bite of the vampire drains blood at the rate of 1 Constitution point per bite.  Victims drained to 0 Constitution will rise again as a vampire.  Victims that don't die must have a remove curse or remove lycanthropy  of they will become a werewolf.
The vrykolakas is immune to sunlight but can be repelled by holy items.

To destory a vrykolakas one must drag it out into the sunlight, stake it to the ground with iron spikes, cut off it's head and then burn the body.  The ashes must be taken to a crossroads where they are dispersed.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Night Videos: The Lost Boys

Welcome back to Friday Night Videos as we continue the Vampire theme for Vampire Month here at the Other Side.

For this last FNV of Vampire Month I wanted to do something special.

Rarely does a movie come around that captures the feeling of the times quite like 1987's.  My DM had moved to Chicago, I was in the middle of my world changing campaign that would later become part of The Dragon and The Phoenix and I was getting ready for college.  I came up to visit and we went and saw this film.  It was full of cool vampires, great music and fantastic ride of a movie.  Yes it was taking advantage of the Anne Rice craze of the time, but it did more than that. It took the stock 80s teen movie and turned it into something else.
Given I was on the edge of my Ravenloft years this was the final push I needed.

The soundtrack to this movie fueled many nights of my early college days.  To this day it still holds a special place in my heart.  No one song is fantastic, but as a collective they are more than the sum of their parts.

The movie opens up with the Echo and the Bunnymen covering the Doors "People are Strange".  I like this version and it is a worthy version, but you just can't beat the original in my mind.





Another song that helped make this soundtrack so iconic was Roger Daltery's cover of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me".  I have a confession. I don't care for Elton John much, but I have always liked this song.  Hearing it sung by one of my favorite front men made it an entirely new song.  Is it better than Elton's version?  Probably not. But I can't hear this song and not flashback to a time between 1987 and 1991, holding a beer and watching the sun set.



"I Still Believe" by Tim Cappello is an interesting choice.  I am not really a fan of the song per se, only the memories it brings up.  Though it is also the only song where the performer appears in the movie.  Tim Cappello was known at the time for being a really big and cut guy.  So oil him up and stick him into the movie.




Looking back nearly 30 years later, "Cry Little Sister" is not a great song.  It's even a touch melodramaic, overwrought and a little over produced.  So the perfect theme for 1987.




I hope you enjoyed this!

Kickstart Your Weekend: Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall

This week I would like to draw your attention to a new Old school Kickstarter.

Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall is set in the same Duchy as the Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/665143704/guidebook-to-the-duchy-of-valnwall



This project will detail the Duchy of Valnwall and the surrounding areas.
The book has already been funded and the first stretch goal reached.
It is the stretch goals that are really the interesting features of this book.

Each stretch goal will include an adventure or content by some of the best in the OSR.
Check these names out.

Stretch Goal #1: ($1250)  MET
A mini-adventure by James M. Spahn of Barrel Rider Games.

Stretch Goal #2: ($1,500)
A mini-adventure by Jason Paul McCartan of Infinibadger Press and OSRToday.

Stretch Goal #3: ($1,750)
A mini-adventure by Tim Shorts of Gothridge Manor.

Stretch Goal #4: ($2,000)
A mini-adventure by Joe Johnston of Taskboy Games.

Stretch Goal #5: ($2,250)
A mini-adventure by Tim Brannan of The Other Side Blog.

Stretch Goal #6: ($2,500)
A mini-adventure by author Paul "greyarea" Go.

Stretch Goal #7: ($2,750)
A mini-adventure by cartographer Matt Jackson.

Stretch Goal #8: ($3,000)
A mini-adventure by Jeff Sparks of Faster Monkey Games.

Stretch Goal #9: ($3,250)
A mini-adventure by Erik Tenkar of Tenkar's Tavern.

Stretch Goal #10: ($3,500)
A mini-adventure by Pete Spahn of Small Niche Games.

Not a bad crowd to be included with!

I promise I have something special planned for this, but only if the stretch goal is made.

A to Z of Vampires: Upierczi

Heading to the final letters now. So lets go to Poland and meet a vampire that fascinated me when I was younger, the Upierczi.  Also known as Upierczica, Upierci, and Upir.

Two Upierczi consider their prey
This vampire was interesting because it had a barb under it's tongue to puncture the victims neck instead of fangs.  The use the barb to cut their victims and then curl their tongues to suck up the blood.

Active day or night they can be found out of their graves from noon to midnight.  They must feed on a human before retiring for the night.  During the day they look human, but when they are sleeping they appear dead. Often they sleep with their eyes open so they will know if they are being visited.

In human form they are physically one of the strongest vampires, having strength roughly equal to a Fire Giant (Str 22).  They are also the vampire that most easily passes for human. They can eat and drink; though they must regurgitate it all later.  After feeding they are even capable of sexual intercourse.

 Upierczi can be detected by the drought they cause. Plants near them will wither and die.  Small ponds will dry up and it will not rain in the areas they are in.  If you can find a stream of running water then they can be killed with that.

Upierczi
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 10d8+5** (50 hp)
No. of Attacks: bite
Damage: 1d4+1/1d4+1 or by weapon + blood drain (2 Points Con)
Special:  Con drain, charming voice, immune to sleep, charm and hold spells. Slashing weapons have no effect. +1 or better to hit.
Movement: 40’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: F10
Morale: 10
Treasure: as per vampire
Alignment: Chaotic Evil

The Upierczi drains blood from his victims via a sharp barb under his tongue.  He uses his charming voice (same as the Charm Person spell) to lure victims into his embrace. He can drain 2 points worth of Constitution with this attack.  The upierczi must feed on 10 points of con at least once per week.
People killed in this fashion rise up as a 6HD Upierczi under the control of the one that killed them.

The upierczi is a very strong and tough vampire.  Piercing and slashing weapons have little effect on it. Swords, daggers, arrows, spears all will only do 1 hp point of damage per attack, and that is only if they are magical.   Bashing weapons and blunt weapons such as maces and staves do normal damage.  Swords specifically designed to kill vampires will do their normal damage.

In combat this vampire is very fast, gaining two claw attacks per round.  It can also opt for a weapon and also get in two attacks vs the same opponent per round.  The upierczi favors small light weapons it can conceal on it's person.

The upierczi is not repulsed by garlic, salt or anything natural.  They cannot enter into a home unless invited, but they can use their charm voice to get that.  They are however repelled by holy symbols and take 1d8 hp of damage from holy water.  They are turned as Vampires by clerics.

The only true way to destroy an upierczi is drag it out of it's resting area before noon. Nail it to the ground with an iron spike through it's head and then set the body on fire.  The body will burn quickly and then explode with all the upierczi's flesh becoming squirming maggots.  These must be burned as well.

Like the Moroi, Upierczi consider themselves lords of vampire kind.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

PWWO: A Red & Pleasant Land + Victorian Games

The print version with ribbon.
I don't think there are many of these left.
Time for another edition of Plays Well With Others!

A while back I picked up +Zak Smith's vampire-themed Alice in Wonderland mashup (though that does not really describe it) A Red & Pleasant Land.  It is well reviewed and you can read my review here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2014/12/review-red-pleasant-land.html

What got me at the time is a.) how much I liked it and b.) how much I didn't want to play it under D&D (any version).  I started thinking about Alice, Dracula and this book   I thought that what this book really needs is not a background of fantasy, even the Grimdark of LotFP or DCC, but the prim and proper sensibilities of a more refined time. Victorian England.

Think about it.  I described the country, Voivodja, in AR&PL as Nightmare scape. Not an overt one like say the Hells, but a subtle one, and mostly a chaotic one.  What a better contrast to the streets of fog soaked Victorian London?  After all Voivodja isn't in our world, it's out there somewhere; down a rabbit hole or through the looking glass.  Through a looking glass darkly.  OR if it is, maybe it is an odd mirror.  Page 14 of AR&PL will give you ideas. The difference now is that we are all using the same world. Unless your D&D game is set in Europe of course, then you are ahead.

There are a lot of great choices for games to use this with and each offers something special I think.


Cthuhlu by Gaslight


Cthuhlu by Gaslight is one of the best Victorian era magical games out there. CbG has rules, via Call of Cthuhlu, for dealing with the Dreamlands. This is a good way to get characters from the "real world" to Voivodja.  Now Voivodja could be in our Carpathian Mountains or they could be in the analogue in the Dream lands.  Who knows.
One thing I would suggest is get a good grip on the Sanity rules and how to apply them using AR&PL.  There are things here that could be abused and drive the characters completely insane.  I say use them sparingly; instead focus on the weirdness of it all.  Not the mind bend weirdness typically one associates with the mythos.  Translations of monsters would not be hard.  Though the average CoC/CbG game is more about investigation. There is more doing in AR&PL, even if that doing isn't always combat.  Though they both have that in common.

Ghosts of Albion



I think there are plenty of good reasons to use Ghosts of Albion.  First the there is more expectation that characters will do more in GoA than in CoC.  Again monsters are easy to convert; most are in the Ghosts core book or could be found in any of the Buffy books.  Secondly let's address the elephant in the room.  Zak may not have meant Alice to come off as an ersatz Slayer, but she kind of is.  Or rather the Alice is the trope that the "Buffy" is trying to set up. All I am saying is that thematically they work well together or even as each other.  Alices are not Protectors, but they can be weaker Slayers or Chosen Ones (Army of Darkness) in any case the rules in GoA have it covered.
Alice's would get extra Drama Points (I would say 2 extra at starting).  The leveling up table would be used for every 25 XP gained.  Just allow her to take the appropriate Supernatural Qualities.

The Alice would be a 5-Point Supernatural Quality. I'd have to work out what is in it, likely bonuses to Charisma, Hard to Kill, but some drawbacks too.  Nothing major and nothing more than 5 points.
The more magic-rich world of Ghosts works well for AR&PL too.  And between Ghosts' Supernatural rules, Angel's demon rules and Buffy's vampires you could make every type of vampire in the book and then some.


Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death


This of course might the best fit.  Ravenloft, Masque of the Red Death is set on Earth in the Victorian era.  It uses the same D&D system as AR&PL. Plus a lot of the changes that LotFP made to D&D can also be found in this book. Specialists are called Tradesmen in MotRD.  While the other two can be "easily converted" this one does not have to be converted at all.  You can even use the Alice as is.
Plus a lot of the strangeness in AR&PL can be explained by the power known as The Red Death.  I would opt for the 2nd Edition version pictured here as opposed to the 3.x update from Arthaus/SSS/White Wolf.   In fact going back through my Masque books I think this might be the one I would use for this.
You could travel the Orient Express and end up in A Red & Pleasant Land.

In any of the above cases I am much more excited to run this than under D&D or a clone.

A to Z of Vampires: Tenatz

Let's head back to Eastern Europe and check in with the Tenatz, the vampire of Bosnia and Montenegro.  The tenatz is another corpse that comes back from the dead. In this case it is an evil spirit, though some books claim the spirit of the person can come back to their own body if they are strong willed enough and evil enough.

The tenatz rises from his grave after sunset and will change into a mouse to enter a person's home.  Unlike some species of vampire it does not need permission to enter if it enters in mouse form.  As a mouse it can't be killed.   It will crawl up to a living person and feed on their blood.

The tenatz is one of the weakest vampires, it's attack does not drain any ability and only does blood loss damage.  It's main defense is it's resistance to magic.  Tenatz have ar +2 vs any magical based attack (fire ball, lighting bolt, etc).

In their "human" form their skin is grey, regardless of the color it had been in life, and they have red, goat-like eyes.   This is the form they will be found in when roaming about at night outside or in their graves.  The tenatz must return to their grave before sun rise or be destroyed.

To destroy a tenatz you must find it's coffin and bring it out into the sunlight.  The body must be burned to ash.  The tenatz is powerless in the daylight.

The tenatz is repelled by holy symbols and garlic.  Running water will also kill them.

Tenatz
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 6d8+3** (30 hp)
No. of Attacks: bite
Damage: 1d4+1 +1d6 blood drain
Special:  +2 saves vs. Magical attacks
Movement: 30’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: F5
Morale: 8
Treasure: None
Alignment: Chaotic Evil

Tenatz are lone vampires. They cannot make more of their own kind and it is rare to see more than one in an area.
Tenatz are turned as mummies.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Adult Wednesday Addams taken Offline

Anyone that comes here often knows I am a HUGE fan of +melissahunter's Adult Wednesday Addams videos.

These skits deal with the trials of Wednesday as she struggles to be a single gal in LA.

They are clever, well done and Melissa has Wednesday's sardonic wit down pat.  They were a real gem.
Till last week:


http://newmediarockstars.com/2015/04/adult-wednesday-addams-pulled-from-youtube-over-copyright/

http://www.dailydot.com/entertainment/adult-wednesday-addams-copyright-claim/?tw=dd

Here is the post from Wednesday Melissa herself:
Hi everyone! Thank you for the outpouring of support and concern about the disappearance of Adult Wednesday Addams from the internet. As many of you have seen, the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation flagged the show and, for now, it is off of YouTube. I am working actively on coming to a resolution and will not let Wednesday be caged in internet purgatory. I appreciate your patience and support while I sort this issue out!

Obviously, this is very upsetting that the videos aren't online. Wednesday means so much to me as I know she does to you. Thank you for all of your enthusiasm. Your support every step of the way has meant the world to me.

****UPDATE: At this point, the Tee & Charles Addams Foundation cannot do anything to change the status of this issue, so sending messages and donations will not remedy the situation. If there is anything that can be done in support of the series, I will let you know. Thank you again for everything!****

Full Heart, Dead Eyes, Can't Lose.

xo Melissa

I hope there is a resolution that everyone can agree with.

A to Z of Vampires: Soucouyant

Let's head to the Caribbean now, in particular Trinidad. Here we find the shape-shifting, vampiric hag,  the Soucouyant.

In game terms the Soucouyant could either be a hag, a fey, a vampire, or something else entirely.  Today I want to look at how she is a vampire since there are some definitely undead characteristics to her.

The Soucouyant by day appears much as she did in life, an ugly, ancient old crone.  By night though she removes her skin (much like a Boo-Hag) and turns into a floating ball of fire.  Here she flies around looking for small cracks in peoples homes. She resumes human shape, albeit skinless. She sucks blood from their arms and legs, leaving behind blue marks.  She then uses this blood for her magic.
In her fireball form, similar to a Will-0-Wisp or Feu Follet, she is powerless to attack save by blood drain.  If attacked she will speed away to her skin, which she keep in a motar.  To identify the Soucouyant the next morning look for the old woman covered in bruises.

In her human form she can cast spells as a witch.  Her true strengths are her magic and her ability to summon lycanthropes, Loogaroo (a type of werewolf).

To prevent her from entering your home you must leave a pile of rice on the ground or at the local crossroads, which she will be compelled to count.  If she is still counting rice when the sun rises she will be destroyed.  Also if her skin can be found fill the insides with salt. She will not be able to don her skin and die when the sun rises.  The skin of a dead Soucouyant is prized by wizards for it's magical effects.

Game Stats
For Pathfinder a Soucouyant is any hag that the vampire template has been applied to.

Basic Era Games

Soucouyant
Armor Class
- Human form:  7 [12]
- Skinless: 9 [10]
- Fireball form: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 9d8+9** (50 hp)
No. of Attacks/Damage
- Human form:  witch spells only
- Skinless: Blood drain 1 Con point
- Fireball form: 1d6 fire damage on touch
Special Qualities: Dark vision 60’, Iron Vulnerability, Summon 1d4 werewolves (loogaroo)
Movement: 40’
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Witch 10
Morale: 9
Treasure: 6d6 CP, 0 SP, 2d8 GP, Gems: 50% 1d8, Magic 50% any 1d6, 2 potions
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)

The Soucouyant can cast spells and use occult powers as if she were a witch of 7th level of the Demonic Tradition.
A loogaroo is local type of werewolf. They are solitary and can change to large wolf like creatures on the command of the Soucouyant.
The blood drain of the Soucouyant does 1 of Constitution damage. She can only do this while the victim is asleep.
A throwback to their hag/fey origins the Soucouyant is vulnerable to damage from "cold" iron weapons, taking an extra +2 to all damage.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

D6 Dracula

David Baymiller, blogger and owner of The OSR Library, has been doing a lot of posts about the D6 system.

I am planning on doing something with D6 over the summer (been working on it for a bit), but this is too good not to share now.

He has stated up Dracula for the D6 system.

http://theosrlibrary.blogspot.com/2015/04/d6-supernatural-monsters-not-show.html

Have a look.

A to Z of Vampires: Rolang

The Rolang is the mysterious vampire of Tibet.  The name "rolang" literally means "the corpse that got up" or "the rising corpse".  It is believed that if the proper funeral rites are not performed then a spirit can re-enter the body and a rolang is formed.    There is also another, more sinister form of rolang, the demonic, that is created when a sorcerer (witch or necromancer) performs a rite to attach a demonic spirit to the body.

Rolang


Personal  Demonic 
Armor Class:                    7 [12] 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 7*+3 (35 hp) 10*+5 (50 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claw, 1 bite;    2 claw, 1 bite or weapon
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d4 1d6/1d6/1d4 
Special: Wisdom Drain      Con Drain
Movement: 20'  30' 
No. Appearing: 1 (or 2-12) 1
Save As: Monster 8 Monster 11
Morale: 9 11
Treasure Type: see below see below
Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral) Chaotic (Evil)
XP: by system by system

Rolangs come in two varieties. The Personal rolang has it's own spirit attached, the Demonic rolang instead has a demonic spirit.
The personal rolang rises up from improper burial rites. It is stiff, unable to bend it's joints very well and it walks with a strange straight legged gait like a zombie. Thus it is not very fast.  It can not speak at all. It will make it's way home to be with family.  It can't enter the home, but must be brought in.  If so it will begin to drain Wisdom from everyone in the home at the rate of 1 point per night.  Once a victim reaches 0 points of wisdom they will die.  When everyone is dead the rolang will leave the home and attack anyone it sees.  It can only use the wisdom draining effect on their own family.
The demonic rolang is much the same save that a demonic spirit is now inhabiting the body.  The demonic rolang is a bit more agile but it still can not bend at the waist.  Many homes in fact have low entrances requiring a person to bow or duck to enter to keep rolangs out.  Unlike the personal rolang the demonic rolang can talk. Also the demonic rolang drains blood in the form of Constitution points (2 per night) instead of Wisdom.  The demonic rolang will attempt to drain as many people as possible.  Victims killed by a rolang become a personal rolang under control of the demonic one.  In this case when a demonic rolang is dicovered there is a 30% chance that there will be 2-12 (2d6) personal rolang in operation at the same time.  An entire village or town could be over run with them.

Both types of rolang appear to be walking corpses with long black claws. Often their tongue protrudes from their mouth as a corpses might.  They have long fangs and will attack with them for biting damage.   A demonic rolang can not drain unless they get a "critical hit" (a natural roll of 19 or 20) with a bite.  At that point they will also drain 2 points of Con in addition to normal biting damage.


Method of destruction.
To destroy either type of rolang a shaman (cleric or priest) must hold down the rolang and remove it's tongue.  The tongue is then burned to ashes while praying.  If done correctly the body of the rolang will turn to gold.  The gold must then be divided among the church and the family of the rolang. PCs destroying the rolang should expect 1000 gp for a personal rolang and 5000 gp for a demonic.
Rolangs are kept at bay by a salt line, burning incense, or by laying out a line of rice.
Rolangs are not destroyed by sunlight as are other vampires, but they become unable to move and the sunlight reveals them for what they truly are.
Notably the rolang have a weakness that is almost unique among the undead.  If knocked over they can not get up.  Rolang are very strong and knocking them over is difficult.  Personal rolang have a strength of 18 and demonic rolang have a strength of 20.  They must be knocked completely prone. At this point they are helpless.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A to Z of Vampires: Vampire Queen

Something a little different today.   I want to talk about the Queen of the Vampires and her relationship with my gaming. BTW, there is a "Q" Vampire, but only one I have found. The Quaxates is a vampire from Mexico that makes women cry before they feed on them.  That is all I have been able to find.

Last year I did Witch Queen but there is a longer history of Vampire Queens in gaming.

The first Vampire Queen was also the very first published adventure for D&D back in the early, early days of 1976.  Palace of the Vampire Queen was written by Pete and Judy Kerestan.  I should also note that the very first published adventure was also co-written by woman; so yes women have always been a vital part of this hobby.
This adventure was always something of a holy grail for me.  I knew about it, but had only seen bits and pieces.  I didn't know much more than it was the first published adventure and it was really, really rare.  Sites like the Acaeum helped fill in the blanks.  Copies are still very rare, but I managed to score a couple of official reprints from Pacesetter.  As well as the sequels Crypts of the Living and Castle Blood.


I have run the original PotVQ before and it was great fun.   The adventure is so barebones by even the standards of the early 80s that it is easy to use anywhere.  The next two are more "story" driven.  I have run Castle Blood, but it didn't quite live up to the promise of the Vampire Queen.
Personally I would like to take all three and recraft them into something else.  Keep the Vampire Queen elements of course, but introduce some more background.

Hitting that nostalgia feeling hard is another adventure, The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen. This adventure, written by Mark Taormino might be an homage to the first Palace of the Vampire Queen adventure, but it is more likely an homage to those meat-grinder, total-party kill, fun-house dungeons of the late 70s early 80s.  There is a basic plot here, enough to get you in the door and moving along, but really this adventure is about killing things and avoiding getting killed.  Example, in one of your first encounters you have to run a gauntlet and get past a bunch of fire giants. Eight of them. And their hell hound pets.  This is "room 1".  It is downhill from there.  It has demons and other vampires in the wander monster table. Liches, demons, succubi, greater devils, nearly 50 vampires in total, tons of other monsters and of course the Queen herself, Lady Neeblack.
This is not an adventure to challenge the resolve of hardy role-players. This is an adventure to survive and leave a trail of bodies behind you.  It is old-school, but old-school through the eyes of 40-somethings looking back on their times as teens.
The adventure itself has a great lead in to get you interested, but that is just the carrot on a stick, most people buying and playing this module are going to want to jump right in.  Another example (this is not a spoiler), you are captured by Lady Neeblack and told you have to run through her crypts for her amusement.  The conceit is the characters will feel coerced into doing this, so they slide down a passage to the previously mentioned Fire Giants.  In truth my players wanted to jump in like they were doing a dive at the pool.
Though to claim people will play this for nostalgia reasons is completely unfair.  Mark did a great job of this. The rooms are detailed and what detail!  There are interesting encounters and Lady Neeblack herself should really move up the ranks as one of the more memorable NPCs ever.  In fact I am hoping that she comes back for a sequel sometime soon.  Just like a good Hammer villain she should find ways to come back from the dead.  +Mark Taormino, this needs to happen.
The text of the book is big, easy to read and despite the "old school" claims still has boxed text to read (screw you Grognards! I still like boxed text even when I don't use it.)  Each room is unique and feels like it belongs.  Plus the "Hanging Coffins" themselves are the coolest idea in vampire graves since the Lost Boys.
The proof of any adventure is not in the reading, but in the playing.  So I played it. It rocked.
Now the game is designed for OSRIC, but can played with 1st or 2nd Ed AD&D.   I played it with 5th Edition D&D.  I just replaced the monsters and made a character sheet for Lady Neeblack.   I ran the same group of people that I had taken through the original Palace of the Vampire Queen and we all treated it as an unofficial sequel.  I worked out well enough.  We all had fun, but if this module reads as a deathtrap on paper it's a killer in the playing. So make of that what you like.
Personally I would love to run it again using AD&D1.
In any case this is one of those adventures that will have your players talking for a long time.

One I would like to take all these and combine them in a longer campaign, or part of a campaign.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Zatannurday: Cosplay Time Again

Spring and Summer Conventions are getting underway and that means time for cosplayers.

Here are few new ones. Enjoy!




Zatanna Cosplay Photoshoot 6 by DenoxPhotography on DeviantArt


Zatanna Zatara - 08 by elkhanartphotography on DeviantArt


Zatanna Zatara - 02 by elkhanartphotography on DeviantArt


Zatanna Zatara Cosplay by daniellevedo on DeviantArt


Zatanna Zatara by daniellevedo on DeviantArt


Harley and Zatanna by Blueloth on DeviantArt


Gotham Girls Crazy Photoshoot by MishyMisheru on DeviantArt


Zatanna Zatara by KuyenGrigory on DeviantArt


Not another ordinary magical girl by S-Lancaster on DeviantArt


Zatanna and Huntress by sith2886 on DeviantArt


The real magical girl by S-Lancaster on DeviantArt


I Put a Spell on You - Zatanna by SilverShadeCosplay on DeviantArt


Got the Magic in Me - Zatanna by SilverShadeCosplay on DeviantArt


Be astounded! ~ Zatanna Zatara Cosplay by daniellevedo on DeviantArt


A to Z of Vampires: Pĕnanggalan

The Pĕnanggalan really is an interesting vampire and really one of the reasons why this whole theme even exists.   Back in the early days of my gaming I picked up the Fiend Folio hardback for AD&D. Had to be about 1982, the book was new enough that not everyone had it yet.

I am flipping through this book full of weird monsters and I see this crazy looking flying head with it's guts hanging out. Turns out it is also a vampire!  I had no idea there were any other types of vampires.

Lots of research later, which in 1982 meant getting on my bike and riding to the public library, I discovered there were all sorts of vampires out there.  But this is the first one I discovered.

What got me most about the Pĕnanggalan in the Fiend Folio was how much like a vampire it wasn't, save for the sucking of blood.   It was just a weird creature and I liked it.

What I also like was that this was one of the first vampires I read about that made a link between vampires and witches, two of my favorite topics.
The Pathfinder game has a Pĕnanggalan witch.

The Pĕnanggalan comes from Malaysian folklore and may be distantly related to the Aswang.

Pĕnanggalan (Vampire) (S&W stats)
Hit Dice: 8 (see below)
Armor Class 2[17];
Attacks: 1 bite (1d6 + blood drain);
Move: 12 (Fly 12);
Save: 8
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 11/1700;
Special: Immune to non-magic weapons, regenerate (3/round), charm gaze, drain 1d4 Constitution points per bite.

The pĕnanggalan head will take 4 HD worth of damage (half what the full creature has) before it flies back to it's body in retreat.
To drain Constitution the pĕnanggalan must attack a victim she has charmed or is sleeping, she can not  drain constitution in a combat situation.  Male drained to 0 Con become Ghouls under her control. Females drained to 0 Con become pĕnanggalan, but free of being controlled.  For this reason pĕnanggalan attack males most times.

The pĕnanggalan will look like a normal woman during the daylight hours. Any attempts at divination (ESP, Know Alignment) will reveal she is a normal woman.  Once the sun sets she will retire to a secret place where her head will rise out of her body and fly out in search of blood.  Her lair will be protected from the sun and will also contain jugs of vinegar. The pĕnanggalan must soak her organs in vinegar before she can return to her own body after a night's feeding.

The pĕnanggalan can use her charm ability during the day to charm men.  If they fail their save she will return to them at night and drain their blood.  The men will believe they had an amorous encounter with the woman.  Typically the pĕnanggalan will have charmed several men and spread out her feedings so not to spread suspicion when they start to die.

The pĕnanggalan must return to vinegar jugs before dawn.  If sunlight strikes her organs she will be paralyzed. If she remains in the sunlight for 10 round she will destroyed.
Likewise running water will destroy her and a line of salt will keep her at bay.

To destroy a pĕnanggalan you must discover her lair and destroy her vinegar jugs and burn her headless body.

The most common remedy prescribed to protect against a pĕnanggalan attack is to scatter the thorny leaves of any of the subspecies of a local plant known as Mengkuang, which has sharp thorny leaves and would either trap or injure the exposed lungs, stomach and intestines of the pĕnanggalan as it flies in search of its prey

Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Vampire Music The 90s

Welcome back to Friday Night Videos as we continue the Vampire theme for Vampire Month here at the Other Side.

The early 90s were a great time for Vampires.  Think it is good now?  Back then in the RPG scene we had White Wolf's Vampire the Masquerade, Chill 2nd edition, Ravenloft and plenty of other games. We even had one of my most favorite Rifts books ever, Vampire Kingdoms.

We also had singers like Suzanne Vega with her "Blood Makes Noise".  Suzanne Vega also kinda looks like a vampire.



That the one song that always got me in the mood to do some writing or run a game was Faith No More's The Morning After from their epic album The Real Thing.



Sinéad O'Connor's second album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got was without a doubt the most anticipated album of 1990.  Well. At least by me.  In 1988 I discovered Sinéad and The Lion and The Cobra.  My best friend at the time and I blew off class to pick it up.  I later bought her a copy of the EP of I Am Stretched on Your Grave.  It became one of my favorite songs on the album.

Was the woman singing the vampire in this? Or was the grave she was lying on?  (yeah I know it a song about a woman talking to her dead mother, but vampires worked better for me).



That best friend?  Yeah I ended up marrying her five years later.

Another artist that isn't normally associated with vampire or the 90s is Thomas Dolby. Many remember Dolby from "She Blinded Me With Science", but he had a number of later released that were critically praised but not great sellers. One was 1989's Aliens Ate My Buick with the haunting "Budapest By Blimp" a song I always thought was about a vampire returning to his ancestral home to only be sad by how much it had changed.




Dolby does have street cred when it comes to Gothic Horror. He worked on the soundtrack for the movie Gothic which recounts the tale of Lord Byron, John Polidori, Percy and Mary Shelly.  A weird little movie from the guy that gave us Lair of the White Worm, starring the Warlock, Wormtail., the guy who almost survived Keyser Söze, and the Handmaid.

In the early 90s nothing was bigger than Concrete Blonde.  I remember seeing them opening up for Sting on the last leg of his Soul Cages tour.  "Tomorrow Wendy" might not be a song about vampires, but it oozes pathos and thanatos.  Frankly it captured those early days of Vampire the Masquerade perfectly.



A to Z of Vampires: Ovegua

Note: This is my A to Z Challenge post for O.  If you are looking for my S&W Appreciation Day post, go here.

Let's head back to Africa today, in particular to visit Guinea, Africa and their local pest the Ovegua.

The Ovegua is actually very similar to a lot of creatures, Asanbosam, Owenga, Ovengwa, Otgiruru and many more found in West Africa.  They all likely share some linguistic root.
This creature is created when a sorcerer or witch is killed.  It can take the shape of a dog and has hooks for hands, or sometimes hooks for feet.  The Ovegua will hang out in forests at night and call out to a victim by name.  If the victim answers them the vampire will then target them by sucking blood through their thumb.  During the day they hide in dark caves.

Ovegua has all the standard weaknesses of all vampires. They can not cross running water, sunlight destroys them and religious items keep them at bay.
To destroy one you must locate it's cave. Nail it to the ground and burn the body to ashes.

The Ovegua can shapeshift to a wild dog and mist. It has two claws and a bite attack. It's drain attack drains 1 point of Constitution per night; regardless of number of attacks. It can only drain sleeping victims, not in combat. It is only a little stronger than the average human (Str 14) but not much faster.   Ovegua would be a weak vampire but it retains some of the knowledge it had as a sorcerer.  It can cast spells as a 3rd level witch.  Additionally it only regenerates 1 hp/round vs. the typical 3.

Since today is Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day, here he is in S&W format.

Ovegua (Vampire)
Hit Dice: 7
Armor Class: 2 [17]
Attacks: Bite (1d6 + CON drain)
Saving Throw: 9
Special: vampire powers, witch spells
Move: 12
Alignment: Chaos
Challenge Level/XP: 7 HD (9/1,100)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day: Multiclassing




For this Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day I want to put out something I have been playing around with.

For the record I am using the Swords & Wizardry Complete Rulebook from Frog God Games.

Swords & Wizardry Multiclassing

I LOVE the old school games. B/X, AD&D, BECMI, and the clones.  But the one thing I always felt 3.x Edition did better than any other edition, past or future, was multiclassing.  The rules were easy, you could multiclass into a lot of great combinations to get that character concept you really wanted.
With many of the OSR games (original and clone) the multiclassing rules were less than optimal in my mind.

So I wanted to bring 3e style multiclassing to the clone world. The biggest issue with doing this though is 3e made the classed more alike in terms of advancement.  Now people will complain that this attempt at game balance "ruined" the class's uniqueness. I say rubbish.  So the classes are bit more balanced than before, that's not a bug, it's a feature.  I was looking over SW and I realized I could do what I wanted easily.

Swords & Wizardry classes are largely like 3e ones now.  The unified Save and Ascending AC make saves and to hits much easier to deal with.  I just need to see if something like this is feasible.

So I dumped it all into Google Sheets. Which I am sharing below.



The tabs are where I worked out median XP vaules, base to hit and base saving throws.
The final analysis is on tab SW Level Advancement.

So like 3e, this has all the classes  use the same level advancement table.  Base Saving Throw is based on Character Level (not Class Level).  Classes then add what ever bonuses they need.
Now if you are adding things up in your head you can see a problem right now.  Take a level of Ranger and improve your total saves.  I thought about that.  My solution is not elegant, but it works.  I will get to that in a moment.

So how does it all work?  Simple you take a class just like you do in SW when you get enough XP to level up you can keep going in that class and get the advantages listed for that class you you can take another class.  Your hit points are determined by your Class Levels.  Saves are based on Character Levels.

So if you are a Fighter 3/Magic-User 2 you have at least 16,000xp, your Base Save is 11.
Your hit points are 3d8 + 2d4 + Constitution Modifier x 5 (class level).
With these rules this character can still use a sword and cast spells.  He can't wear armor since that is a restriction of the Magic-user class.

There are a couple of logical next steps here.

First this opens up a wide variety of choices for demi-human characters.  Keep level caps if you like, but I think there are not enough game-design reasons to do this.  If you want to "balance" things out give humans +1 on any two ability scores of their choice and +1 on saves.  Call it Human Resilience.

The other logical leap is this would allow Prestige Classes in SW.

Prestige Classes in Swords & Wizardry

Here is an example of the Loremaster.

http://www.d20srd.org/srd/prestigeClasses/loremaster.htm

Requirements
To qualify to become a loremaster, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Skills
Knowledge (any two) 10 ranks in each.

Feats
Any three metamagic or item creation feats, plus Skill Focus (Knowledge [any individual Knowledge skill]).

Spells
Able to cast seven different divination spells, one of which must be 3rd level or higher.

These would have to change to something more fitting to S&W.

Requirements
To qualify to become a loremaster, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Character Level: 6th
Intelligence Score of 16 or higher.
Wisdom Score of 14 or higher.
The ability to cast five different divination spells, one of which must be 3rd level or higher.

Loremaster
Level Attack  Special Spells
1 +0 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class 
2 +0 Lore Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
3 +1 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
4 +1 Bonus Language      Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
5 +2 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
6 +2 Greater Lore Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
7 +3 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
8 +3 Bonus Language Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
9 +4 Secret Add additional level of previous spellcasting class
10 +5 True Lore Add additional level of previous spellcasting class

Saving throws are based on Character Level, not Class Level.
Level is obvious.  Attack just adds to the attacks as the base class (like Cleric or Magic-User).  Spells are also obvious, keep advancing in spells as you normally would.

The Special will need some work.

From the SRD:
Class Features
All of the following are Class Features of the loremaster prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency
Loremasters gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.

Spells per Day/Spells Known
When a new loremaster level is gained, the character gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if she had also gained a level in a spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that she adds the level of loremaster to the level of some other spellcasting class the character has, then determines spells per day, spells known, and caster level accordingly.

Secret
At 1st level and every two levels higher than 1st (3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th), the loremaster chooses one secret from the table below. Her loremaster level plus Intelligence modifier determines the secrets from which she can choose. She can’t choose the same secret twice.

Loremaster Secrets
Level +Int Modifier Secret Effect
1 Instant mastery 4 ranks of a skill in which the character has no ranks
2 Secret health +3 hit points
3 Secrets of inner strength +2 bonus on Will saves
4 The lore of true stamina +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
5 Secret knowledge of avoidance +2 bonus on Reflex saves
6 Weapon trick +1 bonus on attack rolls
7 Dodge trick +1 dodge bonus to AC
8 Applicable knowledge Any one feat
9 Newfound arcana 1 bonus 1st-level spell
10 More newfound arcana 1 bonus 2nd-level spell

Lore
At 2nd level, a loremaster gains the ability to know legends or information regarding various topics, just as a bard can with bardic knowledge. The loremaster adds her level and her Intelligence modifier to the lore check, which functions otherwise exactly like a bardic knowledge check.

Bonus Languages
A loremaster can choose any new language at 4th and 8th level.

Greater Lore (Ex)
At 6th level, a loremaster gains the ability to understand magic items, as with the identify spell.

True Lore (Ex)
At 10th level, once per day a loremaster can use her knowledge to gain the effect of a legend lore spell or an analyze dweomer spell.

So items in red need to be redone.  In order:
+4 to any check involving Intelligence on a previously unknown topic.
+2 on Saving throws vs. Mind control, ESP and Charm.
+2 on Saving throws vs. Petrify or Polymorph
+2 on Saving throws vs. moving out of the way.
Applicable Knowledge = Something like Secondary Skills.

Each prestige class would require some tweaking.  But at least now there is a place for them in S&W.

Earlier I mentioned the Ranger and Paladin are a bit too much (despite the fact that the median XP per level is the same as the Paladins).  My solution is make them Prestige Classes.

You would have to be a fighter first before moving into the vocation of Paladin or Ranger.  There is some precedent for this in Rules Cyclopedia and even Unearthed Aracana.

It would take some cleaning up, but I think this is a solid system.  It would still have the same feel as S&W while giving you the flexibility of 3e.

What do you all think?
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