Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Class Struggles: The Invoker (4e)

Taking an odd turn today and looking at a 4th Edition class.

One of the nice things about 4e was the number of class choices. There were dozens, if not not scores, of classes.  4e popularized the notion that each class has a role; Leader, Controller, Defender and Striker to roughly correspond to the classic four classes of Cleric, Wizard, Fighter and Thief respectively.  There are also areas of power, Divine, Arcane, Martial, Primal and Psychic.  For the game it worked well and there was a lot of interesting class choices that were based on role and power choice.

The Invoker has no precedent and no update (so far).  It first appeared in Player's Handbook 2 for the 4th edition and it is described as a Divine controller than channels raw divine power.  In a way this makes them the divine counterpart to the Wizard; an arcane controller.
It could be described as the "Fist of the Gods".

What makes the Invoker an interesting choice is not just it's role, but the fluff text that goes along with it.  So an Invoker would worship or honor a god as part of the whole pantheon.  The examples given state an Invoker of Bahamut would also likely honor Tiamat.  Invokers are all shown worshipping older gods; not Old Gods or even Old Ones...but the first gods that are still worshipped today.

In fact most invokers would be the tireless enemy of any "Old Ones".  In the 4e fluff they are described as the human/mortal agents of the Godswar vs the Primordials.  Replace that with Titans, or Old Ones or even demons and you get the idea.

What strikes me most about this class is how well it could be added to any old-school or 5e game.
In 1st/2nd Ed it would be a sub-class of the cleric.  The invoker can turn/rebuke undead like a cleric and it also has access to divine spells.  Of course you could make an invoker easy enough with good role-playing and a conscious choice to take damage dealing spells and limit yourself on the healing magic.  Since invokers are much more of a "kill them all and let the gods sort them out" type of holy warrior I would also say that Raise Dead, Resurrection and Reincarnate are out of the question.

For their spell lists. Well the powers/spells in the 4e PHB2 are very colorful; Blades of Astral Fire, Glyph of Imprisonment, Cascade of Five Suns.  Most do damage based on Wisdom modifiers (which in 4e includes level).  If I were to create an old-school Invoker I would give them some invocation spells from the wizard's list.  Not more than 1 or 2 per level though.  I would make sure they had plenty of damage causing spells they can do from a distance.   Plus the spells all need to have very grandiose names, such as "Righteous Fury of 10000 Blazing Suns" or "Wrathful Vengeance of the Plough God" (Plough god?  Yeah, think about how important agriculture, growing and food was/is to people).  These are not hippy clerics of the "God is Love" type, these are the Old Testament, destroying people in a genocidal flood types.

The closest thing Pathfinder has to this concept is the Inquisitor. While their missions are the same, the invoker is believed to have a piece of divine power instilled in them while the inquisitor is all too mortal.  Still though there are some good ideas for some more spells on the inquisitor spell lists.

I think the reason I like the invoker so much is that it really is how I always liked to play to some clerics.  I have played several clerics over the years. First first character was a cleric of the "investigate and destroy evil" type.  I have played a number of paladins as well.  In fact my 3.x edition one was known as "The Fist of Pelor".
This class appeals to me as another sort of cleric. One that is more action and dealing damage than one that is contemplative and healing damage.

Plus I forgot how much fun some of the 4e stuff really is.  There is a lot going on in this game and it is a shame it will be tossed aside as a failed experiment.

BTW +Jonathan Becker has been running a series of posts on his thoughts of 4e. If you have played the game it is interesting to see it through the eyes of someone experiencing it for the first time.  If you have never played it then it is worth your time.  He has not gotten around to the invoker yet, but I am curious to see what he has to say.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2015 October Horror Movie Challenge

I so look forward to this every year, but this year I think I am going to fall a little short of my goals.
Busy time at work and with projects means less time to enjoy some horror.

So this years theme will be "Attacks of Opportunity".  That is, I will watch movies as the come on or as I get access to them.  The nice thing is this year I have Netflix in addition to my Amazon Prime.  So I do have many more choices.  Plus I have a stack of DVDs laying here that need to be watched.

Normally hosted by Krell Laboratories I think offical hosting is now covered by the Facebook group.



Monday, September 28, 2015

What Is Your Holy Grail Item?

As gamers I think there is a little bit of a collector in us all as well.
After all we all came into this hobby at different points so different things were "rare" or "must have" to us at different times.

Well I finally picked up one of those items I have been searching for for a while.
The AD&D 1st Ed Monster Cards.


I know these have been on eBay many times.   BUT these were still in their shrink wrap.


Yes I opened them.  I am still much more of a gamer than a collector.

Each one of these is a little work of art, it would be a shame to not enjoy them.

This collection was always one of my "Holy Grail" items.  Not because of it's significance to the game or even my own games, but because of the rarity.

I would pass by these little decks in the bookstores back in the 80s and think to myself "oh I'll get those next time."  then there wasn't a "next time" (lessoned learned there kiddies).

For the longest time I never could find these.  Plus I wanted to get a complete set of all four and I wanted to make sure they were in good shape.

Well these came along and I couldn't say no. Not after all this time.

What is your "must have" item? What have you been searching for to complete your collection?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Long Live the Queen!

Not really 100% yet, but I am sitting here at home reading through some witch material for Strange Brew. Which also has me thinking of my War of the Witch Queens adventures.

So I think then is a very good night for one of my favorite groups ever.  Queen!

Queen might not be the first band you think of when you think about RPGs, but I played the hell out my Queen tapes back in the day.  So lets start with some good game-mood setting songs.

Not a lot of talk tonight. Just music.

Since this is a Queen mix I always begin with "Let Me Entertain You" from Jazz.



Here is "Dragon Attack" from their first 80s album, The Game.
Ok I am pretty sure the song is about heroin and not actual dragons.




"Ogre Battle" was always one of those songs that painted a very cool picture for me.  So much so that when it came time to do an epic battle in my game the army was full of ogres.  From 1974's Queen II. If you really want some music, listen to the first three Queen albums.  Freddie was a lyrical god.




From the same Album is the short, but mystical, "Seven Seas of Rhye".  Both songs were later sampled on Queen's own The Works album 10 years later.




Speaking of The Works, one of the best songs on the album is "Hammer to Fall".  Played at the first Live Aid nobody had ever heard it before and Freddie got everyone to sing along.  That's showmanship.




A Kind of Magic might have been one of their biggest albums.  At least in terms of over the top theatrics.  "Princes of the Universe" was something a of D&D anthem or least for our characters.  Yes, this is the song from Highlander.




"I Want it All" is another anthem from a now dying Freddie. I am not trying to be maudlin here, Freddie's death really shook me.  Another "character" anthem it is easy to relate to the "adventure seeker, on an empty street."  From The Miracle or as friends of mine working at EMI at the time used to say "it will be a miracle if it sells".




The connection to gaming and this next song is thin at best.  But I don't care. The album Innuendo was Freddie's good-bye to us all. Who else gets to write their own Requiem?   The title track is epic as anything he ever wrote in the 70s or the 80s.  Musically it is the flip side of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and it is as good as a send of as anyone should hope for.   Plus a ground breaking video from a bad that HATED doing videos.  You can see clips from previous videos in this one as well.



Long live the Queen!

Another Sick Day....

Still not 100% so I am taking another sick day today.

Hopefully I will be up for Friday Night Videos.  Unless of course someone wants to "Guest VJ" for me tonight!


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Question of the Day: Anyone run/play a fight against Orcus

Still feeling pretty sick today.

But I was looking over some of my adventures I have laying around and I noticed a theme.

For 1st Ed I have the Bloodstone Wars modules.
For 3rd Ed I have a bunch of stuff from Necromancer Games.
For 4th Ed I have the HPE series of nine modules.
And now for 5th ed I have Into the Abyss.

What do they all have in common?

Looking pretty damn scary in his new 5e form.

Well, in the broadest terms they all deal with destroying the Demon Prince Orcus.
(ok 5e is about all demons)
Or at the very least stopping his machinations.

I mean, I get it. Orcus is the most metal of all the demon lords.

Back in the day we gleefully killed him in H4 Throne of Bloodstone.  I was looking forward to doing it again under 4e in E3 Prince of Undeath.   So there is an allure.

So how about you all?
Did you ever run/play a game where the PCs went after Orcus?

If yes, what adventure did you use?
If no, would it be something you would consider?

Bonus question.  Why doesn't Demogorgon get any of this attention?

Orcus Links (I have talked about this before)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Class Struggles: The Bard

Spend any time here and you will know I am very fond of music.  So it should also come as no shock that one of my favorite classes is the Bard.   I loved the old 1st Edition Bard. It's wonky class structure and having to be a fighter then a thief (or was it the other way around).  Then finally top it all of with druid magic.

The Bard was the class I was also looking most forward to in 2nd Edition.  It also was one of the biggest disappointments of 2nd edition for me.  The class seemed to have lost some of it's charm, sure it was still fun to play but not the same.  I doubt that I was alone in that feeling, the Bard seems to be the one class that keeps coming up in various OSR games in one form or another.

So many in fact that I am not going to try to tackle them all.  But here is a glimpse of what I know has been done.  Let's start with +Richard LeBlanc who has had a lot to say on Bards recently.

Richard LeBlanc, over at Save vs. Dragon
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2015/08/new-bx-character-class-bard-version-i.html
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2015/08/new-bx-character-class-bard-version-ii.html
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/search/label/bard
and to be featured in the Character Class Codex.
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2015/08/cx1-character-class-codex-update.html

Richard LeBlanc has given this class a lot of thought and energy.  His Version I has more thief skills, his version II has more magic.  I think in the end I prefer his version II Bard.  I tend to like a magical flair in my Bards.
This bard switches between lead, rhythm and bass guitar.

Adventurer Conqueror King System
A Basic-era sort of Bard. This is a "campaign class" or something beyond the "Basic 4".  This particular bard takes advantage of ACKs skill system, but lacks any spell power.  It's a good class, but I would see it a more of a wandering Loremaster.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
Quick note. I love the spiral bound AS&SH books.  Makes it very to have the book open and lay it flat.
The Bard of Hyperborea is a subclass of the Thief and has a number of interesting things going for it.  For example like LeBlanc's Version II, it can cast both Druid and Illusionist spells. A really nice touch.  It has the countersong of 3.x's Bard. Like most bards it also has a folklore ability.  What might be the neatest addition to the bard is it's ability to Mesmerize.  So there is you Pied Piper and Erich Zahn right there.  The bard of ACKS plays a well crafted lute. The Hyperborean bard plays a flute carved from the legbone of his former master.  He didn't kill his master, but he was there when he died.

Barrel Rider Games
James over at BRG has given us a number of Bard-like classes.
The Bard - This Bard is a full 20 level class. Like the Bards in other games they have the ability to perform with musical instruments and they have some thief abilities as well. These bards though do not have magical spell abilities. This bard plays acoustic guitar.
The War Chanter - What the Bard is to humans and the Greensinger is to Elves the War Chanter is to Dwarves. In addition to being fighters the war chanter also has some powers "Songs" that they can use to aid others. If you are playing a Basic-era game and have more than one player that wants to play a dwarf, have one choose this. It is a pretty interesting class and one that would make good use out a larger group of characters.  This one obviously plays the drums.
The Greensinger - The Greensinger is something akin to an elvish Bard/Druid. Greensingers get some special abilities and can cast spells like that of a cleric/druid. The idea is a rather cool one and frankly I wanted more. This is the lead singer of the group.

The Complete B/X Adventurer
This Bard is of the "loremaster" type with some magical effects to his music.  This bard is interesting since it also allows for the bard to learn more languages as part of his leveling up.  I rather like that.  This bard plays second hand string instrument that he bought with the first few coppers he ever saved.  He can now afford better instruments, but there is too much love in that old one for him to ever let it go.

A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore
Again, this might be the closest we will ever know of an official Gygaxian 2nd Ed Bard.  Having reread a lot of material on the Bard from Dragon magazine back issues I am confident that this is very much like what we would have gotten.  These bards use their own spell lists and have their skills in addition to Verbal Patter.  They also have a Lore ability.  So this one covers all the bases pretty well.
This bard plays a complicated 12 string guitar; hard to master but beautiful to listen to.

Fantastic Heroes & Witchery
This is a Loremaster type of bard with plenty of skills and the ability to play a counter song to disrupt magic.  With their legend-lore, gather information, persuasion and stealth skills this bard also makes for an excellent spy.  This bard can also inspire allie and bolster troops.  No spells, but the ability to read scrolls is nice. This bard plays a violin, viola, or a lyre.  Actually this bard plays them all.

Spellcraft & Swordplay: Monstrous Mayhem
While for the Spellcraft & Swordplay game this Bard will work with any rules that also has a thief class.  The bard is an "elite path" of the thief. Something like a subclass.  This bard has singing/performing ability that has some magic associated with it. Thief skills and lore.
This bard plays the bass.

In any case whatever bard you choose for your games they need to be cool. They are the face  of the party. The sly silver tongued devil that gets the party the best room in the inn, the best food and finds out where the real adventures are.

Conceivably you could run a party with nothing but bards. Load up on heal potions, some scrolls and send them on their way.  Hopefully they don't end up looking like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96A0uyFWQHs

And just because I have a lame excuse to post a Lindsey Stirling video.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Fall into Autumn

The first day of Autumn is Wednesday Sept. 23. Though the first day of Meteorological Autumn was Sept. 1 and Labor Day, the unofficial start of Fall (what we call Autumn in the US) was Sept. 7.

So however you look at it, Autumn is in the air.
I love Fall/Autumn.  I am still wired so much into the academic calendar to feel like Autumn is the start of a new year.

So here are some songs celebrating Fall and the end of Summer.

Was there ever a song more about September than Earth, Wind & Fire's "September"?  Do you remember the 21st of September?




I will admit, I liked Green Day back in the day, but right around the time American Idiot came out I had kinda out grew them.  Still this is not a bad song.  This is not the 8 min long minin movie version.




And the summer became the fall, I was not ready for the winter.

I have posted Stevie before.  This is a triple rarity.  This was a song on "Solid Gold" that was not lipsynched. It is also a video that was never as far as I know ever shown on Friday Night Videos. Also it featured a very strong performance from Stevie's own sister in law Lori Nicks. Lori sang the chorus here, but on the album Stevie sang both parts.  I really like Lori's voice and love it when she sings duets with Stevie.
Here is Stevie Nicks, the White Witch of Rock & Roll, with "Nightbird" from The Wild Heart.



I talked about John Cougar Mellencamp a while back.  Growing up in the Midwest Fall also means Harvest. Well....it means that everywhere, but just as my rhythms as an academic are defined by the school year, the harvest is very much part of the world I grew up in.
Plus it is great fucking song from a great album.



I have said it before, but Led Zeppelin is pretty much AD&D in music form. OR is that AD&D is Led Zeppelin in RPG form?  "Ramble On" from Led Zeppelin II is one of those songs that just cements this idea.  Part ballad, part metal, it could be a song about an adventurer "mine's a tale that can't be told" complete with Tolkien references.





Don Henley's "Boys of Summer" was just one of those songs that was always on the radio the Summer of 1985 and it was the perfect song for that time too.  Building the Perfect Beast was a fantastic album, but I will talk about it another time.
Here is the Atari's version.  I have actually seen a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac.




AND just because today is Casandra Petersen's aka Elvira, The Mistress of the Dark's birthday today.
Yeah....I did actually listen to this song when came out.  You can't judge me.


Kickstart Your Weekend: Strange Brew UPDATES

So for today's Kickstart Your Weekend I want to give an update on my own project Strange Brew.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/962794554/strange-brew-pathfinder-the-ultimate-witch-and-war/


So I am late.   I am late though for the best of reasons.  There is SO MUCH more material that I needed to go through.

I have material here that has never seen the light of day; either in any other publication or this blog.  I have material that I have previewed here, I have stuff I have written in the past and am updating it and some of my favorite OGC and other content we have permisson to use.

All of this needs to updated to Pathfinder and made to work together.   The spells alone are over 250 pages.

Right now I am working through the Witch themed Prestige Classes (something Pathfinder seriously lacks) and a few new witch-based hybrid classes.  I need to give the witch archetypes one more look over and then I will be done.

I do apologize for the delay, but I don't want to give you anything less than the best I can do.

The art in the book is looking fantastic. I love how it is all coming together.  I am going to be very proud of this book and I can't wait to share it with you all.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Willow & Tara: Castle Falkenstein

It's been a while since I visited my two favorite witches.  I thought they were mostly retired by now, trying to live a quiet life.    Well I was wrong!

Long time reader and friend Ronnie Bradley shared his Castle Falkenstein stats with me.  I really like what he has done here.  Ronnie was also responsible for the Kult stats from a few years ago.  Willow from Boston and Tara having a Fey background actually ties in nicely to things I have done too.

So thank you Ronnie! Here are his stats.

Willow & Tara for Castle Falkenstein

The world of the Victorian age of New Europa is a world of steampunk technology, Faerie, Magick and derring do. It is of course our own Europe of the Victorian era with a few obvious changes but the nations remain the same. How do Willow and Tara fit into this world? Here is my take on it.
Given that so much of the action takes place in New Europa and the sheer weight of history and intrigue in that area I am going to have Willow and Tara emigrating to London. Willow will be a Consulting Detective (very similar to Madame Vastra in Doctor Who) who specializes in dealing with the occult and mystical crimes with her partner and lover Tara, who is the heiress to a great estate and fortune in England thanks to her Fey lineage.

The character sheets along with a small biography for the two characters are presented below. I have added the Health Points for those who wish to use the standard combat system from the main rulebook rather than the revised one from Comme Il Faut.
Whilst the overwhelming amount of information is held by the core rulebook, some of the skills and tomes come from Comme Il faut and a few tomes from The Book of Sigils. It would be useful to have these 3 books at least (and Sixguns & Sorcery is always a good one as well).

Willow and Tara flanking the Slayer of Victorian Age, Tara LaGrange by mqken.
Willow Rosenberg
Willow was born in Boston, Massachusetts and showed herself to be an adept and able student at school, excelling in the sciences and engineering. Many believed that she would become a great mathematician and perhaps solve the great scientific mysteries of the day. However as she entered College (still a great rarity for a woman of that age) she found herself becoming interested in the mystical and how magick could be manipulated.
For Willow magick became an equation to be cracked, a formula to be stripped down and re-assimilated. Using her keen mind she was able to strip spells down to their core components and re-assemble them as she wished. In the course of her studies into the mystical arts she became friends with and eventually lover to Tara Maclay, a sorceress whose power was only matched by her beauty. Willow soon learned that there was a price to pay for her tinkering and began to realise that magick was part of the natural lifeblood of the world and that damaging and tinkering with its power unchecked could cause grave repercussions.
Unwittingly letting loose a daemon from the Unseelie Court into the college, she was able to stop it with Tara’s help. Her actions however had her thrown out of the college to the shame of her family, who could not accept Willow’s new found interests, both academic and romantic and disowned her. With nowhere to go she was heartened by Tara’s offer to come with her to her ancestral home in England, where they could live in comfort as she continued her studies. There Willow has learned to harness her intellect and keen perception in providing services for those needing help against dark magickal forces.
In the 10 years since their move to England Willow has gained a reputation in London as someone to go to when the crime is mystical or supernatural in nature and her business is a thriving one. Tara remains her partner both in business and in love and together they have defeated many attacks on British soil by nefarious  Wizards and sorcerous orders and the Unseelie Court. Willow is by nature loyal to her friends and especially to Tara although she can at times be quick tempered and whilst Tara is by nature passive Willow is more certainly more aggressive.

STATS
Willow Rosenberg, 32 yr old Sorceress (Consulting Detective) Health Points: 7

Skills:
Athletics (GD/♣)
Charisma (GR/)
Comeliness (EXC/)
Connections (GR/♠)
Courage (GR/)
Education (EXT/)
Exchequer (GD/♠)
Invention (EXT/)
Fencing (GD/♣)
Marksmanship (GD/♣)
Motoring (GD/♣)
Natural Sciences (GR/)
Perception (EXC/♦)
Performance (PR/)
Riding (PR/♣)
Sorcery (AST/)
Tinkering (EXC/)

Equipment: 22 Derringer, Rapier, Notebook, magnifying glass. Willow also has an extensive library of criminology and a small  lab in the basement of the London mansion that is their base of operations. Money is almost no object so assume any day to day items needed can be provided for.

Tara Maclay
Tara was born the daughter of a wealthy woman who met and married her father, a lay preacher, whilst on holiday in Boston and chose to stay there with him. Their eldest, a son, followed his father into the ministry whilst the younger, Tara, grew up as a gentlewoman.
Tara’s mother however had kept back one thing from her husband, her Fey ancestry. Not only was she Fey, she was in fact Tuatha De Danu, one of the rarest of all the Fey races and the most powerful. Her husband, whilst a good man in most respects, saw the Fey in strict black and white and saw them all as demons and tempters to be thwarted. As such, she did not share her life energy with either of her children, ensuring they were born mortal so as not to raise suspicion. Although she did not pass on her secrets of magick to her son, who she quickly realised was her husband in younger form, she did teach what she knew to her daughter, especially with regards to the delicate nature of balance and the need for the Second Compact. Tara showed a remarkable ability with magick. Whilst not powerful she showed an effortless ability to cast spells seeming to easily and safely grasp the thaumaturgical energy from the ether and give it form.
Sadly, her mother’s presence was soon discovered by the Unseelie and in her determination to save her children, she sacrificed herself to protect them. Her father and brother, grief stricken, declared all fey to be the enemy of the family and went on a moral crusade to rid all of them, Seelie and Unseelie, from the town. They were eventually stopped by Tara, using spells of defence and confusion to keep them from killing a family of fey who had resided in the area for decades. In doing so she accepted and embraced her fey heritage and was renounced by her family as a demon.
Tara moved away, eventually becoming a part of a small coven dedicated to protecting the people of Boston from the forces of darkness. Whilst at a meeting with the head of her coven who taught at the local college, she struck up a friendship with a young woman who was interested in learning about magick. The young woman, Willow, soon won Tara’s heart and their relationship grew stronger. She saw in Willow incredible power but a recklessness in her determination to wield and understand the forces around her. It was this recklessness that led to the opening of a portal and the near destruction of the college.
Tara aided Willow in defeating the demon that appeared but when the Coven asked her to choose between them and her new friend, she chose Willow. At that point fate intervened and she was visited by a man who turned out to be her maternal Grandfather. She learned of her lineage and of their ancestral home. Although she was not Fey she was still the eldest of the lineage as her brother had refused to acknowledge the line. She was given the title of Lady Tara Maclay of Constance Manor, a
stately home on the outskirts of London, along with the deed to the house. The grandfather died soon after, but not before giving his blessing to her love and wishing them well.
In the 10 years since their move to London, Tara has graced high society and her initial shyness has been replaced by a quiet confidence. She aids Willow in her Detective work whilst often entertaining dignitaries from around the world and from the Fey realms. She is often seen as a neutral ambassador and her clear headedness is often used for diplomatic work for the Fey in high society.

STATS
Tara Maclay, 32 year old Sorceress (Noblewoman) Health Points: 7

SKILLS
Charisma (GR/)
Comeliness (EXC/)
Connections (GD/♠)
Courage (GR/)
Education (GD/)
Exchequer (EXC/♠)
Fencing (GD/♣)
Fisticuffs (PR/♣)
Marksmanship (GD/♣)
Motoring (GD/♣)
Perception (EXT/)
Performance (GR/)
Physician (GR/)
Riding (GR/♣)
Social Graces (EXC/♠)
Sorcery (AST/)
Tinkering (PR/)
Equipment: 22 Derringer, rapier. Assume any other equipment needed is either already owned or can easily be acquired given
the wealth available.

SPELLS
Given that Castle Falkenstein doesn’t have a traditional spell list but rather certain spells in certain tomes I list below the tomes that Tara’s mother, over the years, has managed to copy out of. This makes the Maclay tome one of the most complete tomes of magick ever assembled and would mean instant death from several orders if they knew the couple had access to spells and rituals known only to specific sorcerous orders. As such the tome is held in a secret part of the library, hidden from all so as to keep the Manor and the couple safe.
A note on casting. The corebook states that if more than one person casts then only the Sorcery skill from the primary caster is subtracted from the Thaumaturgical energy cost. That is fair enough but not really in line with Willow and Tara and how they cast when together so for them subtract their total score from the TER (which yes makes them incredibly powerful). A Joker will still wildfire a spell but they should be able to mitigate the results.

The following tomes all appear in the core rulebook with the exception of those marked * which appear in Comme Il faut and those marked ^ which are found in The Book Of Sigils.

Manuscriptum Mentallis
Ritual Writing Of Psychic Binding
Megron’s Realm Of Dreaming
Realm Of The Unknown Mind
Osman’s Tome Of Physical Movement
Scrolls Of Dimensional Movement
Manuscript Of paranormal Divination
Manuscript Of Elemental Shaping
Burton’s On The raised Forces Of Nature
Primal Forces Raised*
Realm Of The Senses*
Zwinge’s Practicum^
The Didi Papyrus^
The Book Of Glass^
The Riddler’s Guide^

Ultimately this is just one possible interpretation of how the couple could exist inside the great world that is Falkenstein. Obviously change and augment what you feel needs changing but I think as they sit they would be interesting characters and fun to play and powerful in themselves without being completely unstoppable.

--

Ronnie, I don't think I could have done any better myself!  Thanks so much.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Class Struggles: Class Compendium Books

RPGNow has a big sale going on on various d20 books.


I am not done with the class analysis I wanted to do today so I thought maybe I would highlight some of the books with new classes for your OSR games.  Some of these I have reviewed in the past.  I am sure there must be others, but these are the ones I am most familiar with.  Not all these books are on sale.

A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore
One of the first, this is the book that launched BRW games and Adventures Dark & Deep. Part of +Joseph Bloch's "What If" experiment of a hypothetical Gary helmed 2nd Edition.  I recently went back and reread some of the articles from Gary about the 2nd Ed. game of AD&D that never was.  Interestingly he made comments about a 3rd and 4th edition game too!  This book covers the Bard, Jester, Mystic, Savant, and Mountebank classes.  The mystic was the first class I looked at for the Class Struggles series.

The Complete B/X Adventurer
This is the second book of the B/X Companion series by +Jonathan Becker.  Where Adventures Dark & Deep gave us a hypothetical AD&D 2nd Ed, Becker gives us a Companion set that never was.    This book gives us some extra rules but the main feature are the classes.  The classes are Acrobat, Archer, Barbarian, Bard, Beastmaster, Bounty Hunter, Centaur, Duelist, Gnome, Mountebank, Mystic, Ogre-Kin, Scout, Summoner, Tattoo Mage, Witch, and Witch Hunter. 17 new classes.  New classes in B/X and BECMI related games are a bit more varied since races are also classes.  But there are a lot of great classes here.

Basic Arcana
+Tom Doolan published his first work, Basic Arcana all the way back in 2013!  This is also a "Basic Era" product.  It starts with some "Class Variants"; Dwarf Priest, Dwarf Scout, Elf Sorcerer, and Elf Warrior. For humans we have the Martialist (like a monk) and the Barbarian. All of this and some extra rules on combat and a page of spells.

Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts
A favorite of mine, this book introduces a baker's dozen of new magic using classes and their spells. +Dyson Logos gives us the:  Cleric, Wizard, Elven Swordmage, Elven Warder, Enchanter, Fleshcrafter, Healer, Inquisitor, Merchant Prince, Necromancer, Pact-Bound, Theurge, and the Unseen.

ACKS Player's Companion
ACKS is still one of the slickest look games around.  +Alexander Macris gives us 19 new character classes, including the Anti-paladin, Barbarian, Dwarven Delver, Dwarven Fury, Dwarven Machinist, Elven Courtier, Elven Enchanter, Elven Ranger, Gnomish Trickster, Mystic, Nobiran Wonderworker, Paladin, Priestess, Shaman, Thrassian Gladiator, Venturer, Warlock, Witch, and Zaharan Ruinguard.  So a good collection really. That takes up about 44 pages of the book's 160.  New classes have new spells as well. Best of all is a character class creation guide. It look like a similar idea that appeared in Dragon years ago.  Basically it reduces any class to a set of points and you point buy a new class just like you would in say GURPS or Unisystem.  Maybe one day I'll check out a bunch of classes using this.

Theorems & Thaumaturgy
This is part a class book and of course all the new spells.  It's not part of the sale, but +Gavin Norman offers it as Pay What You Want, so make this worth his while.  The new Classes are the Elementalist, Necromancer and Vivimancer. The Vivimancer later gets his own book, but these are three very solid class choices.

Class Compendium
+James Spahn has been delivering solid classes since the dawn of his Barrel Rider Games.  This is a collection, edit of some of his best selling and favorite classes. The first 166 or pages are dedicated to a Basic Era/Labyrinth Lord compatible class.   Well this book is huge and we are given 52 classes, divided by category.
Arcane Allies: Alienist, Familiar, Thopian Gnome, Wild Wizard
Doughty Dwarves: Raging Slayer, Rune-Smith, Warchanter
Enchanting Elves: Dark Elf, Greensinger, Half-Elf, Sylvan Elf
Heroic Halflings: Burglar, Feast Master, Huckster, Lucky Fool, Tavern Singer
Holy Rollers: Angel, Friar, Inquisitor, Undead Slayer
In Shining Armor: Commander, Dragon Slayer, Knight
Martial Masters: Barbarian, Berserker, Gladiator, Samurai, Sword Master
Monstrous Marauders: Dragon, Goblin,  Half-Ogre, Half-Orc, Treant
Second Star to the Right: Fairy, Lost Boy, Pirate
Traveling Trouble-Makers: Acrobat, Explorer, Fortune Teller, Wanderer
Unhallowed Heroes: Cultist, Damphir, Death Knight. Eidolon
Urban Adventurers: Bandit, Bard, Bounty Hunter, Watchman
Virtuous Victorians: Automation, Investigator, Metaphysician, Shootist

New Class Options
One of the most recent one this comes from Genus Loci Games and +Johua De Santo.  The classes included here are the: Blood Witch, Chesh, Forrester, Highlander, Mermaid of the In-Land Sea, Mythwood Elf, Pixie, Prodigal, Ruca and the Draken-Knight.  I covered the Blood Witch in some detail a while back.

So. Over 120 (give or take) new classes.  Not to bad really.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Assembling the troops...

I'll get back to gods in a bit, but I am assembling all the pieces I need for the War of the Witch Queens.


Some OSR monster books, some rules, a bunch of different adventures. Yes that is a 4e book in the mix too.

Still working out details and having a lot of fun.  If I decide to go to a maximum of 13th level then I am sticking with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  If I think it will go higher than that, all the way to 20th level then I want to use Castles & Crusades.

Monday, September 14, 2015

What Role Do Gods Play in Your Games?

Working out some details for my games and it got me thinking about gods.

I am toying around with the idea that the gods are nothing more that super-powerful mortals ala the D&D Immortals rules.  I am even tossing around this idea that the gods loose their powers and fall to the Prime Material.

For example, I was thinking of making many of the goddesses of magic, witchcraft and the like really powerful witches, they have just come to be regarded as goddesses. So Hecate, Wee Jas, and the like.
Doing something similar with the various pantheons also seems to fix a few issues I am currently running into in my world building.

What roles do the Gods play in your games?  Do you use them much?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dark Albion, ad initium

Good weekend for gaming purchases.  I picked some finds at Half-Price books (that I may talk about later) and this was waiting for me when I got home.


I opted for the alternate cover of Dark Albion.  It looked a little cooler on my shelf I thought,


Looks great next to my copy of Fantastic Heroes & Witchery.



Saturday, September 12, 2015

Zatannurday: DC Bombshells #2

Zatanna in the latest DC Bombshells comic.
All this info is courtesy of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary.

Head on over to read their point of view of issue #2.

http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2015/09/review-dc-comics-bombshells-2.html

Interesting choice of having Zee as part of a cabret.




Ok so Zatanna is jewish? Ok, I can work with that. Let's see where this goes.

#1 was great with some great Batwoman moments and this one looks like it is just as good.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Sojourn in Hell, Part 2

A while back I posted some songs to a "mix tape" I was calling "A Sojourn in Hell".
One of the things I didn't mention in the first post is how the collection of songs got together.

On September 10, 2001 I was working at my dream job at a dot com.  Yeah I'll admit it, I was making a ton of cash. It was the near the end of the Clinton economy and we were rolling investment capital.  And then the bottom dropped out and the dot com crash happened.  I was laid off and went home for lunch.

A year before I picked up the D&D 3.0 Player's Handbook, so I thought I would sit down and finish up my new 3.0 witch book, Liber Mysterium.  Napster had just died and had a ton of MP3s.

Then I sat at home the next day, September 11, 2001 and watched TV in horror.
What began, for various reasons that I will get into on a later date (if at all) my own Sojourn in Hell.

Today I can listen to these songs and they now mean something else to me.  They represent part of my life where I was deep into writing gaming material and producing it at a rate I have not matched.

One of the videos I loved the best in the early days of MTV was Peter Gabriel's "Shock the Monkey". The video was legitimately creepy and Gabriel was the only one who seemed to know how to use this new medium.  The Nu-Metal band Coal Chamber teamed up with Ozzy "Prince of Darkness" Osbourne to do a cover of this song.  It's good but lacks something the original had. Still though I really enjoy it.




For reasons I am not entirely sure of myself I really enjoy Eminem.  It's a guilty pleasure.  Kinda like listening to Spice Girls...er wait. Maybe not.  But the deal with Marshal is he is actually pretty damned talented.  This song has nothing to do with me getting laid off. Nothing. Really.
Plus I have to admit that Dr. Dre looking over to Eminem like he is an idiot throughout this video is great.




I know the pieces fit cuz I watched them tumble down
no fault, none to blame it doesn't mean I don't desire to
point the finger, blame the other, watch the temple topple over.

Tool is the thinking person's dark metal. Lateralus should go down in history with such albums as "The Wall". "Schism" is another song that spoke to me a lot during this time.




There is a rumor/story that when Trent Reznor first heard Johnny Cash's cover his song "Hurt" he was silent for a few minutes and then said "yeah. That's what I meant."  You would have a very difficult time convincing me that Cash's version is not the TRUE version.  Much like "All Along the Watchtower" is Jimi Hendrix's song and not Bob Dylan's, despite what the liner notes say.
This is, as my brother Dan says, like watching an old man slowly die before your eyes.




"Tales of Brave Ulysses" seems the odd one out here, but not really if you consider the feel I was going for in the books I working on then.  I guess to say it makes sense to me.




Deep Purple was always one of those bands I felt that people either got or they didn't. A little like Uriah Heep. "Hush" is notable for being the first song to go into the "Sojourn in Hell" folder on my old Gateway.



I wanted to end the collection on an upbeat note.  I figure I could do worse than the Wiseguys "Start the Commotion".


Tales from the Floating Vagabond...sorta

Back in the early 90s "Tales from the Floating Vagabond" was the game that people most wanted to play in my neck of the woods.  I knew a guy who had playtested it and could ramble of adventure ideas with the best of them.

This is not a post about that game.

This is a post about a place very, very, very much like the Floating Vagabond.

I present, "Hell's Club".



Think of it as Rifts: Disco.

Kickstart Your Weekend: C&C Classic Monsters

I love Castles & Crusades. I love monster books.  This is like the Milky Way Dark of sweet spots for me.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-classic-monsters/

I am not sure how this one escaped my notice. There is only a little more than a week left.

I reviewed the 1st printing a while back and really enjoyed it. If this one makes it to a full color version it will be a treat.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Today

Today is heads down editing.  I have three projects that I need to get to editors/publishers.

Back tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Class Struggles: The Dark Druid

I am have a great time here planning out my "War of the Witch Queens" adventures.  My 5th Ed game is running like a well oiled machine and there is nothing I need to plan for it for many more months (I need a high level adventure to cap it off).

This week I finally got a copy of an adventure I have been wanting forever; Dark Druids by Robert J. Kuntz.  It is a real treat and worth the wait and money I paid for it.

I had been researching Irish myths and legends and read about how Liath, Bodhmall, and Finn defeated an enemy known as the Dark Druid. It was quite a fascinating tale and I loved the idea of an evil druid.
I want to talk today about the Dark Druid class, but first a little background.
Many years ago I wrote an adventure for the Buffy RPG called The Dark Druid. Actually it was the first ever published Buffy adventure.   The adventure was a Willow and Tara focused adventure dealing with their past lives, Liath and Bodhmall, Finn MacCool and the Dark Druid "Fer Dorich".

The idea was compelling enough that Irish author Brian O'Sullivan took the same characters and same myths and put his own spin on them in his books the Fionn MacCumhail series.   Like I did he has Liath and Bodhmall as lovers and he even has a Dark Druid, a "Tainted One".  I bring this up because HIS Dark Druid is much cooler than mine.  Mine is simply evil.  His is a perversion of nature.  In gamer circles we might want to describe this in terms of undeath or even Cthulhoid like nastiness.   O'Sullivan is better than that.  His Tainted One radiates a level of "wrongness" that it is noticed my Ban-drui Bodhmall from miles away and even puts fear into the legendarily fearless Liath.
(BTW get his books. They are great!)

Back to my Dark Druid for a bit. The adventure was designed to be a modern tale (thus the Buffy) system.  Part 2 took place in Victorian times as Ghosts of Albion: Blight.  The main enemy was an unnamed necromancer that is imprisoned in a faerie ring.  In publishing it was the necromancer, Lord of Dragons from Ghosts of Albion: Embers.  In my personal games it was the same Dark Druid.
Part 3 was supposed to take place back in Mythic Éire and deal with Liath, Bodhmall, and Finn defeating the Dark Druid for the first time.  Three parts separated by time.   Part 3 was going to be called "All Souls Night" (after the Loreena McKennitt song).   It would have been for *D&D-ish and included the new classes the Dark Druid and the Green Knight.  I did write bits of of it for 3.0 and the Dark Druid and Green Knight live on as Prestige Classes (but I am not going to talk about those today).
I was going to release it, but now I don't have too.
Brian Young gave us the wonderful Codex Celtarum and the adventure Night of the Spirits for Castles & Crusades.  Night of the Spirits does pretty EVERYTHING I wanted to do with All Souls Night.  It even has a Dark Druid.

Dark Druids is a similar adventure. I am not reviewing the adventure yet, but I do want to talk about the class it offers; The Dark Druid.

The class is like the Druid of AD&D source; only this time OSRIC.  It can be any evil alignment or Chaotic Neutral.  This has some logic to it.  The book includes the Dark Druid class and two different sects of Dark Druids.  Dark Druids eschew hierarchies  so there are no "high priests" but many that might claim that title. There are "Dread Hierophants", but that really can be more about power than actual religious hierarchies.   Advancement wise they are like Druids. The only thing I didn't care for was that the Dark Druids are controlled by a demon.  I would think that they are controlled by something older and more evil.  An Eodemon or Urdemon or even some other horror from beyond; something outside of reality.  The book also comes with 42 new spells.  I did not see an OGL statement with any of this.
Given all this The Dark Druid would also make for a great class in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

I would avoid giving the Dark Druid too many necromantic spells. Sure he can have some, but that is not their role.  Some of the vivimancer spells from the Complete Vivimancer are a good choice.  Obviously there are some good witch spells as well.

There is a lot of potential for a class concept like this.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Demons Run...

Picked up the latest D&D5 adventure Out of the Abyss this weekend.  Part of their whole Rage of the Demons.


I am not planning on running this but there are a lot of cool ideas in it.  Heck it was worth it for me just for the D&D5 stats of the various demon lords.

There is a lot of similarities between this and the GDQ series, which is good for me.  Since I am still planning on running GDQ with my kids this all fits nicely.  The events of this module are what is going on in the Forgotten Realms while over in my little corner of the multiverse Lolth, Camatoz and *maybe* Orcus are doing their thing.


Time for good men and good women to go to war.
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