Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Live! From Gen Con

Ok. Sort of live.

Right about now I should be knee deep in killing zombies.
Or at least running a group through Castle Ravenloft.

The thing I like best about Gen Con isn't just the games, or the hall to buy new games, it's meeting up with old friends and meeting new ones.   Basically these are my people.

Professor Elemental has been featured here before.  "All In Together" is an ode to being with your tribe.




One of my kids' favorite songs is Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song".  They pretty much demand this song every time we play D&D and drive to Gen Con.




Another song that reminds me of drive to Gen Con is Fastball's "The Way".  Seemed like I listened to this song a dozen times on my first drive to Gen Con.



Kickstart Your Weekend: Vermin

GenCon Special!

I had the pleasure of running into Trace Beaulieu aka Dr. Forester from MST3k.
He told me all about this new webs how he is working on, Vermin.
Sounds funny as hell really.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/792672696/relaunch-vermin-web-show.

Check it out and send some cash their way.
Do it for Crow!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Red Sonja

Another great character that made the conversion to a great Steampunk title is Red Sonja.   Dynamite's latest Red Sonja comic, Legenderry Red Sonja takes the She-Devil With a Sword and transports her to Victorian times.
I am not caught up, but so far it is a fun read.

Red Sonja
Archetype: Warrior
Motivation:

Health: 6
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 5
Strength 3
Charisma 2
Intelligence 3
Willpower 3

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 8
Perception: 6
Initiative: 8
Defense: 8
Stun: 3

Skills (levels only)
Athletics 6
Brawl 6
Firearms 2
Intimidation 2
Investigation 5
Medicine 3
Melee 7
- Sword 8
Ride 5
Stealth 4
Survival 5

Talents
Alertness
Attractive
Danger Sense
Keen Senses

Resources
Contacts (the Justice League) 3

Flaws
Obsession (to defeat any man in battle)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Wonder Woman Wednesday

It's Wednesday so that means Wonder Woman!
I have to admit when I first read Mysteries of the Hollow Earth I wanted to try out an Amazonian character.  Specifically a Themysciran style Amazon.

Wonder Woman here is going to be ridiculously powerful.  Maybe even to the point of breaking the system, but she is worth it. I am largely basing this on the Amazonia version of Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman

Archetype: Warrior
Motivation: Justice

Health: 20
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 12
Dexterity 10
Strength 12
Charisma 8
Intelligence 6
Willpower 8

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 22
Perception: 14
Initiative:  16
Defense: 22
Stun: 12

Skills (levels only)
Archery 15
Athletics 10
Brawl 12
Investigation 5
Medicine 4
Melee 12
 - Sword
 - Lasso
Stealth 7
Streetwise 4
Survival 4
Warfare 6

Talents
Agile
Attractive
Danger Sense
Keen Senses
Strong

Resources
Contacts (the Justice League) 5

Flaws
Obsession (justice)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Hawkgirl

One of the great thing about Mysteries of the Hollow Earth are the Hawkmen of the Hollow Earth. Hawkmen have a nice long history in Sci-Fi. From the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon to the Thanigarians of DC Comics.

Shiera Saunders was a student of archeology when she discovered her true calling.  While investigating a tomb in Egypt she discovered the tomb of Egyptian Princess Chay-Ara.  Shiera learned that she was the reincarnation of Chay-Ara and she needed to find the reincarnation of her soul-mate Khufu, now taking the form of Carter Hall.  Shiera now looks for her lost love and helps others as the flying Hawkgirl.

Hawkgirl

Health: 5
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 5
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intelligence 3
Willpower 2

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 8
Perception: 5*
Initiative: 8
Defense: 8
Stun: 3

Skills (levels only)
Academics, Archeology 5
Archery 5
Athletics 6
Brawl 6
Investigation 5
Medicine 3
Melee 7
- Mace
Stealth 7
Streetwise 6

Talents
Attractive
Danger Sense
Keen Senses

Resources
Contacts (the Justice League) 3

Flaws
Obsession (find her soul mate)

Monday, July 27, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Cat Women

Some more Ubiquity stats today.  Keeping in line with my posts for Batgirl and Zatanna, these women represent a league in 1887 for use with for Leagues of Adventure or Space: 1889.

All are based on Michael Dooney's 1887 art.  His Deviant Art page is at:
http://michaeldooney.deviantart.com/gallery/33431300

Black Cat
Felicia Hardy is a notorious burglar known for her flamboyant costume and her penchant for jewels has made her well known to police.  Due to the number of accidents that seem fall on any who pursue her she has been given the nickname "Black Cat".
Despite all her heart is usually in the right place.

Motivation: Escape/Revenge
Health: 7
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 6
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intelligence 4
Willpower 4

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 9
Perception*: 8
Initiative: 10
Defense: 9
Stun: 3

*Due some magical trinkets she can see as well in the dark as a cat.

Skills (levels only)
Academics, Criminology 2
Archery 2
Athletics 7
Brawl 4
Con 5
Drive 2
Firearms 6
Investigation 4
Larceny 8
Linguistics 3 (English, Latin, French)
Medicine 2
Melee 6
Performance 5
Ride 2
Spying 4
Stealth 7
Streetwise 6

Talents
Agile
Attractive
Blind Fight
Danger Sense
Headstrong
Keen Sense
Lucky

Resources
Ally 3 (The Spider-man)
Contacts (Criminal) 5

Flaws
Obsession (protect Spider-man)



Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
Selina Kyle comes from the opposite end of the social spectrum than her rival Black Cat.  Selina has clawed her way to the top of social circles despite of her humble beginnings.   Selina has amassed a collection of the who's who of nobility and well to do.  All the better for the Catwoman to relieve them of their priceless treasures.

Motivation: Greed/Duty
Health: 8
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 4
Dexterity 6
Strength 3
Charisma 4
Intelligence 4
Willpower 4

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 9
Perception: 8
Initiative: 10
Defense: 10
Stun: 4

Skills (levels only)
Archery 2
Animal Handling 6 (specifically cats of all types)
Athletics 8
Brawl 6
Con 5
Connoisseur (Jewelry) 5
Drive 2
Firearms 4
Intimidation 3
Investigation 2
Larceny 8
Linguistics 2 (English, French)
Medicine 3
Melee 6
- whip 7
Performance 5
Ride 2
Spying 3
Stealth 7
Streetwise 7

Talents
Agile
Animal Affinity
Attractive
Bold Attack
Headstrong
Quick Reflexes
Well Connected

Resources
Ally 3 (The Bat-man)
Contacts (Criminal) 5

Flaws
Obsession (steal cat-themed items of great value)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Zatannurday: Evil-Lyn Strikes Back!

I will admit. I really don't know a lot about Evil-Lyn.

My knowledge of the Masters of the Universe is only a passing one.  They existed in the 80s with me and a bunch of other things, but I was never really "in to" the show.

But I have read a lot over the years and I have seen a few episodes.
So today I thought it might be nice to feature my favorite character, Evil-Lyn.

I am sure you are all shocked.

Of course I have talked about her before.
http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2014/04/zatannurday-evil-lyn-attacks.html




Evil-Lyn by lemomekeke on DeviantArt


The Sorceress by cityoffog on DeviantArt


Now I Have You He-Man! by cityoffog on DeviantArt


Maleficent Evil Lyn Shadow Weaver by cric on DeviantArt


EVIL-LYN - Masters of the Universe by antoniodeluca on DeviantArt


[4] Evil-Lyn by TheBlackRoseHunter on DeviantArt


Mercenary Evelyn by thepolishgirl on DeviantArt


Evil Lyn 1887 by MichaelDooney on DeviantArt


Evil-Lyn by Inspector97 on DeviantArt


evil lyn 200x - commission by nightwing1975 on DeviantArt


MOTU, Vol 1, Issue 1, Evil-Lyn by valstaples on DeviantArt

One of my old high-school friends (who is now a con organizer) with Evil-Lyn,



And to keep the day "on topic".


Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Gen Con / Vacation Edition

Welcome back to Friday Night Videos! Vacation / Gen Con edition.

Tonight the songs are less overtly about gaming or my relationship with gaming and more about my vacation in Gen Con.

Summer meant a lot of thing to me over the years.  Going out with friends, picnics, drinking, teaching while in college, working two jobs for college!  But for a shinning moment there for a while in the early 80s before discovering girls, beer, or the crushing responsibility of being an adult(!). Summer was also about vacations and playing some RPGs.

So here is my ode to that time and to Gen Con next week.

The Go-Gos.  Was there ever a band LESS like D&D?  Who cares.  This is a fun song.




While I followed Stevie Nick's solo career with the obsessiveness than only a teenage can manage, I never was that interested in Lindsay Buckingham's.   I did want this album at one point I recall.




Wednesday was my 20th Wedding Anniversary.  We got married in Jamaica and you could not go twn minutes and not hear Shaggy.  This whole album is a ton of summer time vacation fun.  This song NEVER fails to put me into mood.




Let's get to some more D&D/RPG-ish songs.  Going to California by Led Zeppelin is another great one.  Why? Because no one has written a "Going to Indiana" song.




Ok. Let's pay homage to Indiana's favorite son, John Mellencamp.  I know a lot of my audience might not get this, but John "Cougar" Mellencamp is a pretty big deal here in the midwest.  And nothing captured the feel of living in the Midwest in the 80s better than his 1985 album Scarecrow.  Believe it or not but it was a huge influence on my gaming.  I wanted my Chill games to capture the same feeling of hopelessness as "Rain on the Scarecrow" and joy as "Lonely Ol' Night" (yeah, listen to the song it is an ode to summer nights in the midwest where everyone feels like they are on their own).  I may live in the Chicago greater area now, but I did grow up in a small town.



See you all at Gen Con!!

Kickstart Your Weekend: Round-up Edition

Nothing special to share with you today, just some repeats that I really enjoy and a couple of new ones with familiar names.  Getting ready for Gen Con.

Reaper Miniatures Bones 3: The Search for Mr. Bones!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1513061270/reaper-miniatures-bones-3-the-search-for-mr-bones
Man I wish I could paint minis.  But I am really, really terrible at it.  I can't see the detail and my hand shakes too much thanks to all the caffeine I drink.  Still this looks awesome.

Leagues of Gothic Horror
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1588759266/leagues-of-gothic-horror
I mentioned this one before, but it looks really, really fun.   I am really looking forward to it.

Castles & Crusades Mythos
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-mythos
Not one, but three new book from Brian N. Young who brought us the Codex Celtarum and the Codex Nordica.   This time we have books for German, Slavic and Classical Greek myths.  Sure to be excellent.

Star Trek: Axanar
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/star-trek-axanar#/story
I LOVE Star Trek and this to me is "real" Star Trek.  It just looks so good. There is so much love, care and attention put into this I can't wait to see it.   Plus pledging for the blu-ray is still cheaper than a night out at the movies with the kids.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Christmas in July

DriveThruRPG / RPGNow / OneBookshelf is running their Christmas in July Sale.


Lots of great deals going on.  I even have plenty in my wishlist that went on sale.

So much good stuff really it is hard to know what to recommend.  Chances are  good that something you have been wanting is on sale.

Ubiquity Month: A Tale of Multiple Mars'

One of the reasons I was so keen on doing an in depth review of the Ubiquity system was to look at both Revelations of Mars and Space: 1889 in depth.  In particular I wanted to look at both versions of their Mars.

Both have some very fun and very interesting ideas for their Mars.  I think if I were to merge these into one game, say my "1901: An Æther Space Odyssey" game, I would have to make some choices.

For starters I might jettison BOTH sets of Martians in favor of something more Barsoomian.  Why?  Well a couple of reasons.  I really enjoyed the John Carter novels and liked the Martians in those books.  The Revelations of Mars book is the closest to that. Don't me wrong, I like the Space 1889 stuff too, but even back in the GDW days it didn't grab me.  Now the Space 1889 Venus, that is something I can get behind.

As interesting as I find the Space: 1889 Martians, the Revelations of Mars Martians seem to fit the idea of "Barsoom" better.

Martian Princesses

Also the other reason is that I have ALWAYS wanted to play a pure Sword and Planet game on Barsoom using either OD&D or Spellcraft & Swordplay.  It would be nice to fully develop one Mars than to do two half-developed ones.  I have toyed with the idea of playing one using Castles & Crusades too, mixing in bits of Amazing Adventures, but I think I owe it to myself to play it under OD&D.

I would also love to figure out a way to get "War of the Worlds" mixed up in this.  The Martians of that book are very, very different than any of the above.   I could take a page from Mars: The Home Front on how to mix them.  Though I like the idea of the Therns using the Sarmaks (the creatures from H.G. Wells Mars) as advance troops for the conquest of Jasoom (Earth).
I also like the idea that the dwarf planet Ceres is somehow involved.

In some ways I like Space: 1889's solar system better and RoM's Mars better. I have not gone over the histories of both with a fine tooth comb, but I can say that mechanically they will work with each other rather nicely. There is more to the solar system than just Venus, Earth and Mars.

I think I would also want to have a Moon more similar to H.G. Well's moon than to  Edgar Rice Burroughs' Hollow Moon from the Moon Maid.  Though it would be the natural choice given the parallels to ERB's other works (Pellucidar and Barsoom).  Heck, I could almost lift Space:1889 Martians off the planet and replant them on Venus/Amtor.  That would work for me.

I have not given much thought to the other planets yet.  The four large Jovian moons are a good place to start, as is Titan.  I think I am contractually obligated to use Pluto and make it into Yuggoth.

It's nice to have so many options really.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Review: Revelations of Mars

Ubiquity month continues with a return to Mars in Revelations of Mars.

Revelations of Mars (RoM) is the newest book in the Ubiquity universe and the newest from Exile Game Studio. Like Space: 1889 I got in on this one via the Kickstarter.   I am going to spend some time looking at both games, but today I want to focus on RoM by itself.

Revelations of Mars is a nice thick tome.  Or it will be when my hardcover comes in next week.  The PDF is a healthy 224 pages.  Color covers and inserts, but mostly black and white interior.  Like it's older brother, Hollow Earth Expedition, this works well for the style and feel of the book.  What is that style?  Overtly it is Pulp Action, like HEX, but there is a good helping of "Sword and Planet" and "Planetary Romance" action here as well as, and this is fun, 50s sci-fi mentality.  In fact while reading this I kept thinking more and more of the staples of 50s UFO invasion movies.  I am not sure if that was the author's intent, but it is what I got.  I had ideas for this game, but now I am thinking "Day the Earth Stood Still" and "Journey to the Seventh Planet" (ok that was early 60s). The Mars of RoM is closer to the Barsoom of Edgar Rice Burroughs than say War of the Worlds.
This book is also a sourcebook for Hollow Earth, so you will need the Core HEX book to play.

Chapter 1 covers Characters which gives more material for Mars based and Mars travelling characters.  We get the expected run of Martian nobles, nomads and even robots.  There are plenty of new Talents and Flaws.  Everything from four arms, dual brains, Vrii-based talents and more Atlantean-based ones.  Looks like we are in for a treat here!  There are also Robot and Alien creation templates.
The Sample Characters/Archetypes are in beautiful full color and done really, really well.

Chapter 2 Supernatural Powers is another chapter I was eager to devour.  This covers psychic powers. Everything from psychic healing, precognitive powers and pyrokinesis.  Mix in with the Hollow Earth books and you have quite a bit of psychic powers to cover most situations.

Chapter 3 details more Equipment and weapons.  For you fantasy role-players out there here is your list of swords, maces, flails and spears.  Everything required by a Sword and Planet story.  Not to worry, there are still "blasters" and "ray guns" to be had as well. Naturally.   There is even Martian Red Steel that can be used in some weapons.

Chapter 4 Vehicle Combat covers all the new craft one can find on Mars.  My favorite are the sky ships.  Not a huge fan of pirates, but these are cool.

Chapter 5 is all about Martian Natives.  Several races are covered. There is the expected four-armed "green" Martians (the Dheva) but there are plenty of others. There are insect-men (well, beetlemen), Grey Martians which do remind me of "Greys",  Apemen, Purple Martians (that new!), dinosaur men, the Vrii, which are like giant crystal formations and finally the Red Martians.   In a interesting choice the Red Martians are related to Atlanteans.  There is a lot here and I am not doing it justice by any means.

Chapter 6 follows with The Red Planet, background on Mars.  Mars is very much a dying world.  That is the same story we get in the Barsoom books and even in DC comics, so that much is familiar.  There is also a feel of Vance's "Dying Earth" here too.  First we cover how to get to Mars.  There are your standard weird science rockets, but also projection from the Astral Projector, Atlantean Portals (which I rather like to be honest) and the good old fashioned abduction.  The bulk of the chapter details various locations on Mars and the inhabitants.  Very nicely detailed.

Chapter 7 Atlanteans details these ex-pats on Mars.  Not only their involvement on Mars, but also their involvement in the greater Solar System. Even if you don't want to play on Mars but want more information on the Atlanteans for your Hollow Earth Game then this is a great, must read chapter.  Several Atlantean "Gods" are also detailed and how their affairs affect Mars.

Chapter 8 Friends and Enemies covers the various peoples of Mars and what Earthlings can expect. Several unique characters are also discussed.

Chapter 9 Bestiary is exactly that, the beasts and monsters of Mars.  We have a number of "Earth-like" creatures, some different sorts of Dinosaurs and lots of insects. There are some near-humanoid creatures as well. There are even "sand worms".   There is some more modern influences here as well. The bestiary is more "Avatar" than it is "This Island Earth".  There is nothing wrong with that, though with the lack of water and plants I don't see many of these creatures, save the bugs and scavengers, living long at all.

Next is a Sample Adventure, Revelations of Mars.  I won't say much (spoilers!) but it is for human characters coming to Mars.  That makes good sense really.

The appendix covers some inspirational books of the Planetary Romance sort.  The usual suspects are here; Herbert, Vance, Howard, Burroughs, Zelazny and Wells.  But there are others worth looking to.  Comics, movies and TV shows are also mentioned. As with the other games in this line books are given the most attention.

There is a good index and list of Kickstarter backers.
A few full color "ads" and a full color map of Mars.

Honestly there is so much in this book that you could easily make a completely Mars-based campaign.  Just traveling from city to city would be adventure enough.  Thankfully the book covers more than just that.  Exile really has something nice here and I hope to see more in this line.  Could a Venus book be in the future?  Hope so.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide

The last book of the trinity that got many of us on this road was released in PDF today.

Dungeon Master's Guide



No more need to haul my books to the 1e game.  I can just bring a tablet.

Castles & Crusades: I can't quit you...

My Castles & Crusades Castle Keeper Guide came in the mail yesterday.


With lots of swag that I don't remember being offered. The dice box is nice and it has C&C dice in it.
Love the "Epic Level Play" book too.  Some good ideas I might port over to D&D5.


I just have so much cool stuff for this game. It is a shame I don't get to play it more than I do.

Maybe after Gen Con I can work on that.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Dimetrodon for Ubiquity

Ubiquity Month continues!

We were at the Field Museum of Natural History this weekend.   One of my favorite museums in the world.  I love the dinosaur exhibit. Got to see Sue and Lucy, two of my favorite girls in anthropology.  I also got to see the creature I loved as a kid.  The Dimetrodon.  Often confused as a dinosaur these creatures are much, much older.    The also do not appear in the Ubiquity books that I have seen.

So here is my hand at making a monster.



Dimetrodon
Follower 2
Archetype: Prehistoric Synapsid
Motivation: Survival

Style: 0 Health: 9-10

Primary Attributes
Body: 6 Charisma: 0
Dexterity: 5 Intelligence: 0
Strength: 5 Willpower: 3

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0-1
Initiative: 5
Move: 10
Perception: 3
Defense: 10
Stun: 6

Skills Base Levels Rating (Average)
Brawl 5 3 8 (4)
Stealth 5 3 8 (4)
Survival 0 5 5 (2+)

Talents
Skill Aptitude (+2 Survival rating)

Resources
None

Flaw
Bestial (Cannot communicate or use tools)

Weapons Rating Size Attack (Average)
Bite 0 L 0 8 L (4) L
Claw 2 L 0 10 L (5) L

Ready to attack your players!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Urban Horror / Soundtrack of the Apocalypse

Welcome back to Friday Night Videos! Urban Horror edition.

D&D is metal. But the gritty Urban Horror I enjoy is Rap with Metal. Two great tastes that go great together.

Make sense to me really.  I was getting into more urban horror in the 90s when rap and hip hop were huge and nu Metal was on the rise.
Personally I believe that Metal and Rap/Hip-Hop have far more in common than they differ.

So how about we start where it started. More or less.
Anthrax and Public Enemy are as about as different as you can imagine.  That is till you dig beneath the surface and realize they are saying the same things to their audiences.  Public Enemy is more politically charged than Anthrax is.




Judgement Night.  Not just a sub-par Emilio Estevez film, it is also a great urban battle song.  Personally I always felt this was a better soundtrack for an apocalyptic battle scene between humans and demons.




Ozzy + Trick Daddy.  Ok, Ozzy is only sampled in this.  But this was one of the songs I had on repeat when working on the Ghosts of Albion game.  My understanding is that Ozzy rather liked this.




I won't lie. I listened to Linkin Park's "Hybrid Theory" on pretty much repeat all throughout my time working the Buffy game. When I began work on Ghosts of Albion I switched over to "Meteora".
Linkin Park is pretty much the archetypical Nu-Metal band. An alchemy of rock, rap with bits of punk and grunge.  Absolutely part of my soundtrack of the Apocalypse.




For shear oddness you can't beat the Gorillaz.  One part Blur, one part LSD trip and a bunch of  Del Tha Funkee Homosapien.  This doesn't really fit in the "hard rock" mode, but the trippy video is pure "All Flesh Must Be Eaten" crossed over with "Terra Primate".



I am still taking applications for Guest VJ!

Kickstart Your Weekend: Axanar

If you have been on the internet at all over the last year you might have seen the Indiegogo campaign for Star Trek: Axanar.   If not, here is the link:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/star-trek-axanar#/story

It takes a bit of Star Trek lore, the war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation and talks about the pivotal battle that won the war.  The Battle of Axanar and the Captain of that battle, Garth of Izar, were detailed in the Original Series episode "Whom the Gods Destroy".

This though is several orders of magnitude beyond what the Original Series could do in effects and a better story than we have seen in the theatres in a long time.

Here is the first part, done as documentary.



The full movie plans to be even better.

Here is a teaser trailer for the movie with a bit more background on what is going on.



Frankly this looks so good and "feels" like Star Trek.

Plus Tony Todd shouting "I DO NOT FEAR THE KLINGON EMPIRE!"... I mean come on.
That has got to be worth some of your dollars.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/star-trek-axanar#/story

Thursday, July 16, 2015

1901: An Æther Space Odyssey

All month I have been talking about Ubiquity and all week about the ether space of Space: 1889.  But while I am off in a world of fantasy the real world of science and space has done some really great stuff.  Below are some artist renditions of the recent New Horizons photos of Pluto.

http://timsbrannan.tumblr.com/post/124151141014/homostook-hungry-for-change


Then combine that with this video that appeared on my feed today showing the Magnus Effect.




Which lead me to read about the Rotor Ship. All of this has combined to produce something new(ish) in my mind.

1901: An Edwardian Æther Space Odyssey

January 1901. Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, Jedak-Regent of Parhoon, Mars has died.  Her son Albert Edward, now Edward VII, has picked up production of the empire's fleet.  He has decreed the 20th century to be the new dawn of the "Space Age".
Aiding this is a new invention by Nikola Tesla, the Tesla-Magnus Rotor.  This new form of ether space propulsion threatens to make the Edison engines obsolete.  They offer better maneuverability in close quarters to smaller celestial objects and now thanks to super conducting magnets found in the asteroid belt they can be pushed to speeds of up to 4.5 mm/d!

The first of five new ships, The HMS Victoria, has been equipped with this new drive and it will begin the race to the outer planets.  Now the fabled diamond mines of Jupiter and the cloud cities of Saturn are within reach.  Even the mysterious planets of Uranus and Neptune are now within a two year journey.  Who knows what lies beyond? A ninth or even tenth planet!

The Victoria is a long range ship with a crew of 50 and supplies for 2 years.  The ship features 12 Tesla-Magnus rotors. Two each on the fore (bow), aft (stern), dorsal, ventral, starboard, and port sides to affect three dimensions of movement. It is also equipped with a main sail and two secondary sails for normal ether flight.

I never claimed to be an artist.
Now if Tesla can only figure out how to make the radio work at the same time the engines are going.

What is "Space 1901"?
Well there are some very, very obvious things going here.
First off it is a nod to the classic Arthur C. Clarke book 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Like that book, this will deal with mankind's first attempt to reach Jupiter. Though this time with a background of Imperial Colonialism.
Also as much as I enjoy the Victorian setting of Leagues of Adventure and Space: 1889, I wanted to move out of the Victorian setting.   I also was not overly wedded to the Pulp action of Hollow Earth.
The Edwardian period of 1901-1910 seemed like an untouched area in gaming.
And of course Tesla.  How could I not do something with Tesla?
There would be a bit of "Star Trek" to this (strange new worlds) and "Space: 1999" (cut off from Earth).
I am sure I will have more ideas when I am done reading Revelations of Mars.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Monster Manual released on PDF

WotC has released the 1st Edition Monster Manual on PDF for the price of $9.99.


Looks like that is up from $9.95 when it was originally released. Damn inflation!

The Monster Manual was the first RPG I ever read. The one that started this whole crazy business for me.  I judge every RPG I pick up against how the Monster Manual made me feel.  Does it ignite that fire of excitement and creativity? Will I spend hours and hours reading the pages?

Review: Space 1889 - Red Sands (Savage Worlds)

Another very quick side-step from Ubiquity to look at another version of Space: 1889.

Space 1889: Red Sands

This is the Savage Worlds update to the classic Space 1899. Like it's fore-bearer this is a game where brave men and women from Earth brave the Ether to travel to a dying Mars or a Venus covered in lush jungles and dinosaurs. Loosely based on the works of Burroughs and Verne this is a space travel game with a twist. There is plenty of room for adventure and the opportunity to plant the flag of the British Empire on a new world or even find adventure of your own.

It is the Savage World rules and you need the core rules to play this. It is great fun and it is to date the best reason given to me to play Savage Worlds.
The only downside to this is that there is no conversion notes from the old Space 1899 to the new system. But that is minor compared to all the material you get here.

The book itself is 193 full color pages.
The "value add" for this book is that it focuses completely on the Space: 1889 universe.  The character creation rules, combat and the rest are all in the main Savage Worlds book.
This leaves room for the "Savage Tales" chapter which is full of adventure hook, ideas and mini-scenarios. Note: There is nothing stopping you from using these with any other edition of Space: 1889 you might own.

This is also a time to address the Pachycephalosaurus in the room.  Why choose Ubiquity over Savage Worlds?

Ubiquity vs. Savage Worlds

Both systems are designed to "generic" systems.  I also associate both system with Pulp-era action.  In fact I might have even said here at some point in the past that Savage Worlds was my "go to" system for Pulp Era Action, but I think I have to give that nod to Ubiquity now.

Though both seem, on paper anyway, of handling the the type of adventure found in Space: 1889.  The Space: 1889 - The Strange Land adventure even comes in both flavors, Ubiquity and Savage Worlds.
I suppose then it is a matter of taste.  Savage Worlds gives you access to things like Rippers and Gaslight.  But Ubiquity gives you access to things like Hollow Earth Expedition.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Review: Space 1889 - GDW Edition

Not taking a break from Ubiquity month here, but I am taking a side step.  I want to look at the the other version of Space: 1889 and talk about their utility with the new Ubiquity version.  Plus there is a lot of material out there that can be found in book stores and at DriveThruRPG for the original version that can, with some tweaking, be used with the new version.

So like the song says, let's start at the very beginning.

Space: 1889 was originally released in 1988 by Game Designer's Workshop.  I am reviewing my old GDW hardcover from the time and the new PDF by Heliograph, Inc..  The are identical in most respects, save for copyright information.
The book is 225 pages with covers, ads and maps.  The maps are also really nice featuring the three faces of Mars and of Venus.

The book lacks proper chapter numbers, but instead goes with titles.
The Introduction covers the basics of what Space: 1889 is all about.  This includes a brief history of the last few years and some of the events of the modern day of 1889.
Characters covers basic character creation.  Today a point-buy system is the defacto means of character generation for most games, but in 1988 it was a new-ish idea.  Characters have six attributes, Physical attributes of Strength (Str), Agility (Agl), and Endurance (End). Psychological attributes are Intellect (Int), Charisma (Chr), and Social Level (Soc).  Like Ubiquity and Unisystem these are ranked 1 to 6.  Characters are given a total of 21 points to distribute among these attributes.
Characters also have 24 skills they can train in either via Careers or training aka purchasing extra skills.    Also detailed is Wealth, which is a function of Social level and what career you may or may not have.
A few guideline careers are offered with suggestions on what attributes they should have.

Up next is the Victorian Age.  While I didn't get to play this game much back in the day, I devoured this chapter. It is the Victorian age, but not exactly like the one we know from history.  Afterall the British were not fighting on Mars back then.
The chapter is largely Anglocentric, which is to be expected really.  There is not a lot here we have not seen before...except that this is one of the first Victorian Sci-Fantasy games on the market.  Even Masque of the Red Death would be another year off and Cthulhu by Gaslight was still not everywhere yet.
Note: Those three games, Masque, Cthulhu by Gaslight, and Space: 1889 made up a sort of holy trinity for me back in the late 80s and early 90s.  So much I wanted to do with them all as one campaign.  College though got in the way...

The Referee section covers basic rules, NPCs, adventures and experience.  The system is largely a Attribute/Skill Dice pool vs a Target Number.  Not too difficult really, and in fact still playable by today's standards.

Equipment is predictably a large chapter.  More so than the Characters and Referee chapters combined. But it also has nice illustrations of various equipment including weapons.  Heck it is worth looking just for the picture of the rail gun! This is also one of the chapters that has utility for other games.  I have not compared the prices or other stats of the weapons with other versions of the game, but they seem consistent.  Indeed, the prices and stats (range, rate of fire) are useful for plenty of other games too.   I have not run down the lists in all the games, but it looks like there are more weapons in this version.  The PDF and the hardcover includes the original color inserts.   I love the designs of the Martian ships. Wery cool.

The follows right into the Science chapter.  This one is of course just fun.  Flying through the ether and other weird science.  This covers building your own equipment and inventions.

Combat covers... well combat.  All sorts of conditions are covered, ground, aerial, missile, melee, and heavy weapons.   There are even sections on explosives and animal combat.  Color inserts here too.

The next two chapters cover Travel.  The first is Travel and Exploration and Space Travel.  Personally the meat of these two chapters is the Space Travel.  Several points of interest in the Solar System are discussed, mostly the inner planets and the asteroid belt.

The next chapters cover the various locations in the Solar System. Luna, Mars and Venus. Each deals with the unique flora and fauna of the planets. The most detail goes to Mars of course.

We end with some useful charts.

The art throughout the book is a mixed lot.  Very much a part of the times of the late 1980s.  Though I noticed some good Jim Holloway and Jeff Dee illustrations.  Judging it by today's standards though isn't really fair.

The game is still surprisingly playable today.  Though in my heart the newer Ubiquity version has eclipsed it.

I have not come up with a conversion between this and the Ubiquity one yet, but it looks like it would be pretty easy to be honest.  They are roughly scaled the same, skills might be a problem but for the most part it seems pretty easy.  The nice thing is reading this version (again) I can take adventures and supplements designed for it and use them with Ubiquity easy...or rather, easier.

Monday, July 13, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Batgirl

Here is another installment of the League of Extraordinary Ladies.

The premise is the same as that other League, only gathered this time are powerful women. I am going to alter backgrounds a bit to better suit the time and the place. Overtly these are for Leagues of Adventure, but I think I can safely mix in some Space: 1889 as well.

Batgirl (Barbara Gordon)

One of the youngest members of the League, Batgirl is a top notch athlete, researcher and crime fighter.
Barbara is the daughter of Chief Constable James Gordon and was trained by the shadowy figure only known as The Bat-Man.  By day she works as a librarian at the Gotham Library, which gives her access to the collections thousands of books and periodicals.  She has amassed a collection of crime files that she hopes will be of use to herself or others someday.

Health: 8
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 4
Dexterity 5
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intelligence 5
Willpower 4

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 8
Perception: 9
Initiative: 10
Defense: 9
Stun: 4

Skills (levels only)
Academics, Criminology 6
Archery 5
Athletics 6
Drive 2
Firearms 6
Investigation 6
Larceny 6
Linguistics 3 (English, Latin, French)
Medicine 3
Melee 6
Performance 2
Ride 2
Stealth 7
Streetwise 6

Talents
Attractive
Danger Sense
Headstrong
Well Connected

Resources
Ally 3 (the Bat-Man)
Contacts (the Justice League) 4
Contacts (Criminal) 5

Flaws
Obsession (protect others)

This Batgirl is not Oracle. Not yet anyway. This concept is actually closer to the newer "Batgirl of Burnside" younger Babs.

Again with these I am not sweating the points. I want them to feel like their comic book counterparts.

Review: Space 1889

Space: 1889 was always one of those games that I wanted to play, but never found the time or the group to play it.  I remember picking up a copy back when I was in college and was...well odd to say the least, but still I loved the idea.  It was very much Jules Verne meets H.G. Wells meets Nikolai Tesla meets Weird Science.   The book sat on my shelf for years though unplayed.

Fast forward to Summer 2013 and there is a new Space: 1899 in the works, this time as a Ubiquity game. At the same time the makers of HEX are giving us a Ubiquity-based Mars game.  Seemed like a good time really to jump onto the Ether-ship to Mars.

Space: 1889
This review covers both the PDF and the hardcover book.  The book is 260 full-color pages, with some black & white art.   The hardcover comes with a ribbon bookmark.

It is a gorgeous book really and one that really captures the feel of the original GDW game.  For the first time a Ubiquity book (this time published by Clockwork Publishing) breaks with tradition and gives us some of the background and setting first.

The first few pages, Prefaces, The World of Space: 1889 and  Storytelling in Victorian Space, cover a bit of background and set the stage for what it to come.

Now. Let's be fair.  While this is a science-fiction or science-fantasy game, a lot of real science is ignored to make it work.  Just go with it.  Think about this from the point of view of the Victorians. Many who thought electricity still had "divine" attributes.

Earth (there are no proper chapter numbers) covers Earth. In particular it covers the space exploration of the time and the Alt-Victorian timeline.   If you are using League of Adventure with this, then you will need to figure out which alternate timeline you want to use.  Or just make up your own.  It also covers a little bit on adventuring on Earth. But with all this I am sure you are not going to stick around.  Stats for various creatures are presented throughout.

Mars is next.  This is not Barsoom but the Mars of Space: 1889.  It has influences from various Sci-Fi stories, but this is all new to many.  This chapter covers Martians, the lands, flora and fauna.  I have toyed around with the idea of scraping this Mars in favor of a John Carter version of Mars, but that would really be wasting a lot of good material here.

Venus is our next chapter.  This Venus is the lush, tropical jungle filled with dinosaurs. Not the planetary hellscape we know it is today.  This I am inclined to keep as is.  I read a lot of sci-fi from the 60s and 70s that still described Venus like this, complete with dinosaurs and too me that is just too much fun.  Something like Jurassic Park meets King Kong only on a planetary scale.  The day of Venus is modified to fit more Victorian understanding of science and is not the 117 day long days we know it to be now.

Mercury is not very long, but still a fun read.

The Ether might be the funnest, and most important, chapter in the book really.   This deals not only with the mechanism of space travel, but also the medium.  Here we really get into the Jules Verne-ieness of it all.  This is fun chapter for me because I can see uses of this in other games.  For it's also about having my cake and eating it too.  I love RPGs, but my first love was and still is hard science.  I think that is one of the reasons I have trouble finding a good Sci-Fi game but can play any fantasy game. The Ether is a way for me to hand wave all the scientific inaccuracies and just focus on the fun.

Next we get into the "rules" section of the book.

Characters covers character generation.  This is pretty much the same as other Ubiquity games and that is a nice plus.  I know my League of Adventure characters can now travel to the Moon or Mars.
Now the nice part of this chapter, and something that can be used in other Ubiquity games, is the "Variation on Starting Points".    Your core-book standard is known as a "Promising Character" now. But you could also start as an "Unlucky Fellow" with almost half the starting points or as a "Veteran" with a few more points.  This is something that the Unisystem game system does in all their games and it works out brilliantly.  I expect it would work just as well here.
The Archetypes section includes a nice variety including a couple of Martians. There is no special Talent to buy to be a Martian. Nice change of pace really.

Rules covers rules.  Combat, Damage, and Healing cover that as well.  Again this is a Ubiquity game so these rules are not very different than other Ubiquity games I have read and played.

The main differences in these chapters is the focus on space travel and the planets characters can travel to.
The Equipment chapter should be noted for the shear number of new items this adds to the Ubiquity body of work.

One of the funnest chapters is the Inspiration one.  This is no mere list of Victorian era sci-fi.  Books of fiction and non-fiction alike are listed, with an accompanying paragraph on why they are inspiring. Even a handful of comics are discussed.   TV shows and movies are just listed.  This is afterall, a literary time.

The Glossary is rich and very useful. The Index covers topics and rules.
We end with one of the best looking Ubiquity character sheets I have seen.

In the hardcover the maps of Mars and Venus are on the liner pages.  In the PDF they are seperate wide pages.  In both cases the maps are gorgeous.  They would look fantastic as framed art prints.

This game is a guilty pleasure and I wish I could play it more often.


I might spend some time this week discussing the other versions of this game.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Zatannurday: League of Extraordinary Ladies

Introducing the League of Extraordinary Ladies!

I have posted some of these pics in the past, but really it is time for me to pull them all together.

If you can, please stop by Michael Dooney's Deviant Art page for more.
http://michaeldooney.deviantart.com/gallery/33431300

The premise is the same as that other League, only gathered this time are powerful women. I am going to alter backgrounds a bit to better suit the time and the place.

Overtly these are for Leagues of Adventure, but I think I can safely mix in some Space: 1889 as well.  I am also using the magic systems found in Secrets of the Surface World and Mysteries of the Hollow Earth.

In this case I am doing a more straightforward conversion of my Cinematic Unisystem version of Zatanna.

Zatanna Zatara

Archetype: Occultist
Motivation: Justice/To help others


Health 9
Style 5

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 4
Strength 2
Charisma 4
Intelligence 4
Willpower 6

Secondary Attributes
Size 0
Move 7
Perception 10
Initiative 8
Defense 7
Stun 4

Skills (levels only)
Academics, Philosophy 7
Academics, Religion 7
Animal Handling 5
Archery 3
Athletics 2
Con 6
Drive 2
Firearms 3
Investigation 5
Larceny 6
Linguistics 8 (English, Italian, Latin, Greek, Egyptian, Backwards talk)
Medicine 2
Melee 2
Performance 6
Ride 2
Stealth 4
Streetwise 4
Sorcery (Homo magi) 9 (Willpower based)*

Talents
Attractive
Danger Sense
Headstrong
Magical Aptitude (Homo Magi race)
Psychic Ability (ESP, precognition, TK)
Well Connected

Resources
Ally 3 (John Constantine)
Contacts (the Justice League) 4
Contacts (Supernatural) 5
Fame 4 (well known Stage Magician)
Wealth 4

Flaws
Mental (Fear of Commitment)
Obsession (protect others)
Weirdness Magnet

* While Sorcery is Charisma based in Secrets of the Surface World, I am going with Willpower Based here since this is a straighter point-for-point conversion.  I want to play around with different bases for Sorcery.
I might make Witchcraft Charisma based and High Magic Intelligence based.
Zatanna can choose any spell, but she must be able to speak backwards.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Friday Night Videos: 2,000,000 Other Side fans Can't Be Wrong!

Welcome back to Friday Night Videos!

Tonight we do a little self-celebrating and mark 2,000,000 hits to the Other Side blog.  Yeah I know, a little self-aggrandizing, but hey. I pay the bills here.

I have talked about the history of this place before, so no real need to do that again.  Let's just get to the videos.

I am not 100% sure, but it is likely that the name "The Other Side" came from this Moody Blues song.  I had a newspaper article in my school newspaper back in 86-87 named "The Other Side of Life".  My first web site was then called The Other Side.  Kinda anti-climatic isn't it.  But still I like the Blues and this was a good album for 1986.
Like the song, thought the video was a little lame.




Interestingly enough the next Other Side, my website, came out a little after this Areosmith song did. It was from 1994, the same year I moved to Chicago to work on my Ph.D.




I have been a fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers since "Mother's Milk".  The Otherside came out at a very, very weird time for me.  I might talk about it sometime. or not. Have not decided yet.




Here is a new one for me. Sirenia.  I know nothing about Norwegian symphonic metal, but I like the sound of this.  It certainly has all the elements of things I like.  This video is kinda cool.




If I had to be honest. Really honest. Well then I would have to stick with the Moody Blues story above.  But I was rewriting my personal story then this is the song that really motivated me to name my lexical outlet to the world then I would have to choose The Doors and "Break on Through (to the Other Side)".  Total cheat on the title too.




Red Sun Rising is another new band for me.  They have this Alice in Chains feel about them that I really enjoy.   I heard this one on the radio the other day when trying to come up with tonight's theme.




Hope you are all with me for the next 1,000,000 hits.

The Refrigerator for Hollow Earth Expedition/Ubiquity

Taking a a quick break from reviews on Ubiquity books till next week when we head to space.  Today I want to try my hand at another NPC, this one a Mad Scientist.

A while back I introduced you all to Dr. Andreas Gelé, aka The Refrigerator. He is a socially stunted misanthrope with mommy issues and the intellect to act out in the worst ways possible.
I thought I might stat him up for Ubiquity and Hollow Earth Expedition in particular. He seems particularly well suited for this game.  Here is some background.

This guy came, literally, out of a nightmare.  Around 1982 or so (I was 12) I was hit with a double shot of women being frozen alive, the movies were "In Like Flint" and "Kiss the Girls and Make them Die".  It really bugged the hell out of me and gave me nightmares for a long time.  Still kind of bugs me.  Of course later I learned there is a whole creepy fetish thing related to this.  I think my issue is far more basic.  I hate being cold and think being frozen is quite possibly the worst thing ever.  Then recently I found a cover from the pulp magazine "Horror Stories" from 1937.



The cover is by John Newton Howett and typical pulp tradition it was reused for the first issue of Startling Mystery. That picture deserves a villain.  I have not found the issue yet so I can't say if there is a story that goes with that cover. But I have enough of my own nightmare fuel.

History of The Refrigerator
Dr. Andreas Gelé was born to wealth and privilege but never to love.  His father was a was a rich industrialist who made his money on the work of others and his mother was a noted and beautiful stage actress.  From his father he gained his intellect and from his mother he learned lessons in cruelty.

As his mother aged she became more and more cruel.  In his mind's eye he saw her as beautiful. This was reinforced by all the pictures of her on the wall of their estates where she was young, beautiful and happy. Frozen in time.  Gelé began to work on a process to forever keep the beautiful women young.  He was drawn to beautiful women, and his prestige later as a doctor and his wealth made that easy.  But he never could talk to or relate to them having grown up socially stunted.  So Gelé embarked on a plan so he could have his desires met.
His first experiments in cryonoics were failures. Animals would not return to life when frozen and even when he perfected the process they still had damage.  Finally through a combination of fluids and gases at super cooled temperatures.  He tested it first on his hated father. He died soon after he was free of the ice, but Gelé expected that since the old man's heart was now weak.  He froze his mother next. He was overjoyed that the ice preserved her remaining beauty.
All his research though has left his fortunes depleted so he robs banks to keep himself funded for more research and to keep his "beauties" on ice.

Dr. Andreas Gelé

Archetype: Scientist
Motivation: Power (Preserve Beauty, he seeks power over something he can't control.)

Style: 2 Health: 5

Primary Attributes
Body: 3
Dexterity: 3
Strength: 2
Charisma: 1
Intelligence: 5
Willpower: 3

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 5
Perception: 8
Initiative: 8
Defense: 6 (3 + 3)
Stun: 3

Skills (base + level)
Science: Engineering 5 7 12 (6)
Science: Cryonics 5 8 13 (6)* Not in any of the books.
Medicine 5 7 12 (6)
Firearms 3 4 7 (3)

Talents
Skill Mastery Science

Resources
Weapon 1 (Freeze gun: +1 bonus to stun opponent)
Refuge 1 (Secret laboratory: +2 Skill bonus when inside)

Flaw
Mental, Obsession: Obsessed with preserving beauty in young women.**

(**  There might be issues with setting his Flaw so close to his Motivation, but I would play his Motivation to build better freezing machines and steal more money.  His Flaw causes him to seek out attractive women even when he could be caught easier.)

Weapons
Freeze gun 4 N 0 8 N (4) N
Punch 0 N 0 0 N (0) N

Freeze Gun
Special weapon
Can do lethal on non-lethal damage.

Still playing around with the stating of characters.  But I am getting the hang of it.
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