Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 A Look Back

It is already 2017 in some parts of the world, but here 2016 is staying around like that last guest that just won't leave.  So let's look back on 2016 on The Other Side.

D&D 5
Without a doubt D&D 5th Edition was the biggest game this year and D&D5 posts here got the most traffic. D&D got a big push in the media this year and D&D 5 benefited from all of that.  Closer to home I played a lot of 5th edition this past year. I ran games for my kids and various cousins and my oldest son ran three different campaigns. Ok, they were all roughly the same adventures, but with three different groups.
Not everything was all 5e all the time. I managed to work in some Basic (B/X) D&D as well and even a little AD&D 1st Ed. Back in October, I reignited a Blue Rose game too and even worked in a little Castles and Crusades.
I have caught some rumors of some very interesting 5e related news I can't share yet.  But 5e is going to have just as much of a good 2017 as it did 2016.

Geek Culture
This is a wonderful time to be alive if you are geek. Really. In 2016 we got more superhero movies than I can recall (ok Civil War was a bit of a let down compared to comic), Star Trek AND Star Wars in the theatres in the same year. Doctor Strange came out, a movie I wanted since the 70s, new Ghostbusters, new Jason Bourne, a new movie in the Harry Potter universe!  And that is just the movies.
On TV we have super heroes, scratch that, DC Super Heroes every night of the week! Luke Cage on Netflix. STRANGER THINGS! So much great content that I can't even keep up.  We have an embarrassment of riches here.
Speaking of DC. The rebooted, reboot of DC's Rebirth in comics is doing fantastic. Not just in sales, but also in terms of story. While the DC movies are hit and miss (I am a fan, but I am also realistic here) and the TV shows are nailing it night after night (still a fan) the comics, especially the "New52" had been iffy. Not anymore.



Bloggin'
My output decreased this year and it is likely to decrease more next year. More on that later, but mostly it is due to me needing more time for work, family and other projects.  I had a lot of fun with my deep dives into Victorian RPGs and Blue Rose. The stats show you liked them as well. I said goodbye to some regular features like Zatannurday and Friday Night Videos.  I have mostly retired Class Struggles and "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading", but I retain the right to post something with them in 2017.
I was nominated again for "Best Blog Ennie" for 2016. I didn't win, but I had a lot of fun going to awards show.



Personal
Things are good here at home. Family is healthy and good. My wife and I launched into a new exercise plan where I run every day and exercise in the evening.  I am healthier now in my later 40s than I was in my 30s. My weight is way down and my blood pressure (something I have had issues with since I was a teen) is also down. In fact, save for a minor respiratory bug last week 2016 has been one of my healthiest years on record.
Work is going fine. In 2017 I have a new graduate program whose curriculum I am redoing, so that will keep me busy for the next couple of years. I got a promotion (of sorts) and a raise (of sorts) and a new boss.

The Other Side Publishing
2016 saw the launch of my personal imprint The Other Side Publishing.  I am not trying to take the RPG world by storm here, I just want to put out a few books of things I want to play.  My biggest success so far has been Sisters of the Aquarian Order (currently a Copper best seller!) for White Star.
I am making enough here to keep going and I can keep myself in other people's books too.  That is a success in my mind. Actually, people buying my stuff and getting enjoyment out of it is much more of a success than the actual money, but the money does buy more art.



And Then There Was That Other Thing...
Yeah 2016 had it's fair share of suck too. More than it's fair share to be honest. The election was shit-show and the outcome was pretty much to worst of all possible outcomes.  I have mentioned before I am less of a "Social Justice Warrior" as I am a "Social Justice Veteran" or, more to the point "Social Justice Terrorist".  I was in the trenches before Facebook, before Twitter and back when letters and phone calls to Congressmen, Senators, and Judges were a common thing for me. I got back on the phone this year to my Representatives and other elected officials. 2017 might be the year that pulls me back into social activism.  In fact, I have already started to put my money where my mouth is, so I am also going to put in my time.



We had a lot of our icons die this past year. Not much I can say about that really. I am going to miss Bowie the most I think. I just liked the idea of being in a world that also had him in it.

So here is to 2016. The good, the bad and the ugly. And there was a lot of bad and ugly!
Here is to a much better 2017! Though it is really 2020 I am looking forward to the most! ;)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Post Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it or whatever your holiday.
We had a great one here. Lots of gifts, family, food, and plenty of my aged Egg Nog.

Boxed Set Day
+James Spahn  over at Halfling's Luck came up with a great idea and one I hope catches on. Make December 26th, Boxed Set Day!


So I plan to celebrate this in the future EXACTLY like I have been doing it for the last two years.  Last year I gave my nephews on my wife's side of the family a D&D 5 boxed set.  This year I gave my sister's son a Pathfinder Beginner Box.  Well in truth he paid for half of it himself and I gave him some minis.

A photo posted by Jessica (@zigada75) on

Next year I'll get a D&D 5 box.  Or maybe a Castles & Crusades one.  But this will be my new tradition, getting someone a boxed set of some game.  Boxed set with dice.

This is a good thing.
How many of you got your start with a D&D boxed set on Christmas?  Too many to know for sure I know that.

Now what to buy and who to buy it for? I have a little less than a year to figure it out.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Krampus for your OSR/5e Games

It's Christmas eve so you know what you need?  More demons!

Here are a couple PWYW products for your Christmas games.










Have a great Christmas, Holiday, Yule and New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Blue Rose and True20

Ok, so there are not a lot of products out there for Blue Rose.  There are for True20. Given that True20 required more of a publisher investment for some companies they really took the time to do them right. In other words, I didn't see a bunch of slapped together True20 products to make a quick buck off of an existing d20 product.
While there were/are a lot of good True20 products that will work with Blue Rose, I want to spend some time with the ones for Green Ronin themselves.

True20 Companion
This book follows the form, if not format, of the Blue Rose Companion. In this case the book covers different campaign models.  This includes Fantasy, Horror, Modern, and Sci-Fi.  Each section includes various character paths, skill uses, feats, and powers.
Outside of the True20 mechanics, there is good advice for running the various genres and sub-genres presented. In particular, I enjoyed the Fantasy and Horror sections. The big surprise to me though was the Modern section.  While I did enjoy the Modern d20 rules, I felt it really lacked something. Turns out it wasn't laking, it was over done. Thr True20 Modern is stripped down to just what you need and it is perfect.   I lament not running more Modern True20 games with these rules to be honest.  Of course, you can mix and match. I pretty much add Horror to everything so Horror-Fantasy, Modern-Horror and Sci-Fi-Horror are all things I do and they are all here.
What makes the PDF better than the print book is the ability to print just the sections you want.  True20 is not 100% modular, like say GURPS, but it is pretty close.
For Blue Rose: The ideas presented in the Fantasy genre mention Blue Rose specifically. Other ideas for incorporating other types of Fantasy are also welcome.  Of course I used the Horror chapter most of all.

True20 Bestiary
If I have said it once, I have said it 100 times. There is no such thing as too many monster books.  This is the book you want to fill your games with all sorts of nasty beasties.  The monsters are largely OGL derived and that is 100% fine by me!  As with the d20 rules, True20 monsters are built like characters, so a creature that has certain powers has to be an appropriate level to have them.  It means that monster building on the fly is a bit trickier till you get the hang of it.  But this book provides hundreds of monsters, so that is not an issue really.
The creatures have a fantasy origin, no surprise, given True20's fantasy antecedents. The creatures here though are constrained to fantasy settings though. Dinosaurs and Dragons can attack in downtown Manhattan and vampires work well in every setting just to give a couple of examples.
For Blue Rose: More monsters are good, but add them with care.

True20 Fantasy Paths
Using only the True20 classes of Expert, Adept and Warrior you can create all the standard, or at least the d20 3.x standard, fantasy classes.  Yes, Wizards in the D&D sense are not the same as True20 adepts, but you can get them there if you have this book.  Each class is defined and then progressions from level 1 to 20 are given. Of course, you can stray from the various paths to do your own thing, that a strength of True20, not a weakness.   Also, an added feature of these fully stated out level progressions is that if you need an NPC, say a 3rd level bard or a 15th level cleric, then you have those stats ready to go.  It doubles as a rogues gallery.
For Blue Rose: The rouges gallery is nice, but also following familiar fantasy paths, or converting characters, is now easier than ever.

True20 Adept's Handbook
Adepts come in many shapes and sizes. Sorcerers, pact-bound warlocks, goddess touched witches, divine clerics, psychics, and even more.  This book helps you figure them out and given them form. Various paths are given and all the expected ones are here; necromancers, occult scholar, wizard, voodoo priest and yes there are even witches. In addition to detailing various types of adepts and the genres they appear in, there are plenty of new adept/supernatural powers, skills, and feats.
There is even a section on items.
For Blue Rose: This should be obvious. Adepts are a key part of the heroes and villians of Blue Rose. A book like this will add a lot of options to your game.

Character write-ups
I also did some character write-ups for True20/Blue Rose using the above books over the years.
I also created True Spell Casting. An alternate magic system for True20/Blue Rose.  Itports over Vancian spell-casting to the True20 system.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Review: Blue Rose Companion

The Blue Rose Companion contains plenty of new material to keep your Blue Rose game fresh.
Now I will be candid here. There is a lot here that has the appearance of being material that was not quite ready for the core book.  This is not uncommon really.  I usually have enough material left over from books to make another book.  Not all of that material will, or should, see the light of day.
Most of the material here is good stuff.

Like the core the Blue Rose Companion was published in 2005 by Green Ronin.  The book is 120 pages perfect bound soft cover. Color covers and black and white interior art.  Cover art is by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. Authors are listed as: Designed by Chris Aylott, Elissa Carey, Joseph Carriker, Steve Kenson, Alejandro Melchor, Aaron Rosenberg, Rodney Thompson
Additional Material by Jeremy Crawford. Fiction by Dawn Elliot. Edited by Jeremy Crawford and Developed by Steve Kenson

Chapter 1: Heroic Roles
Nearly the first third of the book is given over to Heroic roles and Paths characters may take.  With a base class assumed (Adept, Expert or Warrior) the character can then take a prescribed set of feats, arcana (in some cases) and skill focuses to come up with a "class". Such roles include, Animist, Arcanist, Contemplative,Healer, Psychic, Shaper, Seer, Bard,Infiltrator, Merchant, Noble, Scout, Spirit Dancer, Thief, Clan Warrior, Crusader, Knight, Ranger, Soldier, and Swashbuckler.  Plenty more can also be derived from these examples.   A few points. They are not in alphabetical order, but instead grouped by base class.  The Shapers make for FANTASTIC "Benders" from "Avatar: The Last Air Bender" and "Avatar: The Legend of Korra". Making an Avatar takes a little more work.
Also, I never made a witchcraft path for this. I know crazy, but being able to customize what I wanted allowed me a lot of freedom in character choice.  I have some characters I call witches, but that is about it.

Chapter II: Heroic Abilities
This covers various uses for skills and "tricks" something you can do with a skill, such as doing a one hand handstand.  The base DCs are nice and yes, totally portable to other d20 based systems.

Chapter III: The Arcane Arts
This covers another third of the book. This chapter covers all sorts of new Arcana as well as tools of the Art, Skill and War; or items usable by Adepts, Experts and Warriors. I was quite pleased to "Daemonbane"; I had a similar named blade in my D&D games.  Rituals, summonings, and places of power are discussed here as well. This is the sort of thing that would have been great to have in the core book and more fully integrated into the rules from day one. Additionally there is a new rule associated with rituals, Élan or magical power.  This one is fine here since the heroes are supposed to using this sort of power anyway, or at least not in theory.  Still this is a good reason for me to keep printing out my PDFs. I can rearrange the pages as I like and insert this chapter in the Core.

Chapter IV: Bestiary
The last part of the book contains new monsters.  In particular I enjoyed seeing the Sahuagin, or Sea Fiends, in their True20 format. With Sea Folk, these guys are must have.  Again, good to have this printed out to rearrange.

In general this is a good addition to the Blue Rose game, in fact there are few things here that I used all the time that I would have sworn where in the Core till I started doing these reviews again.
Rereading this book today also reminded me how close Blue Rose was and is to my preferred style of gaming.

This book also set the stage for what future True20 books would look like and do.

Additional
On Monday I lamented that there was no Blue Rose tarot card set.  Reader Mark pointed out to me that there is something close.   There is the Shadowscapes Tarot Deck Cards by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law.  You can find details on it here and buy it here.  Well that is exactly what I did!


Easily one of the coolest set of tarot cards I have seen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Blue Rose and the Palace of the Silver Princess

One of the biggest issues I have with Blue Rose is a lack of published adventures. I think if others could have seen the types of games that could have been played it might have done a little better.
One of Blue Rose's strengths though is it's True20 system. It means and adapting other game's adventures is fairly easy to do.

On such adventure that would be good to convert is the classic TSR Basic D&D Adventure Module B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

I do want to use the "Green" cover and not the "Orange" one since the first is more about the rescue of the Princess and discovering what happened to everyone.

Some changes though will need to be made to make it more "Blue Rosey".  Here are my suggestions.
Change:
  • Princess Argenta to Queen Jaellin, early in her rule
  • Ellis the Strong to Captain John Cowan (and new character that I want to set up as the Queen's future lover/chosen/life-bond mate)
  • White Drakes can be kept, but change them a bit to be more like the "Skybolts" of Valdemar.
  • The Protectors (which were annoying) should be changed to a manifestation of the Golden Hart (because this IS a situation where the Hart is needed). 
  • Arik is a trapped Shadowfiend or even a lesser Exarch of Shadow. Not sure if he will be needed, though.
  • The Eye of Arik remains largely the same.  But instead of being found by dwarves it was found by Night People.  More on that.
  • Catharandamus is a Shadow aligned Adept.  Alha is a human Warrior werewolf.  They are both members of the Cult of the Crimson Eye (World of Aldea,p. 21).  They are in their late 20s but fully devoted to Shadow and the Lich King Jarek.
The plot is largely the same with some differences in the setup.

This takes place early in the Queen's rule, say only five years in instead of the ten from the core rules.  Why? I want a younger Queen that is still likely to be tested by her enemies.
Queen Jaelin avoids parties, official or otherwise.  But not tonight. Tonight is the Winter Solistice and the night of the great Yule Ball.  Captain John Cowan is the newly appointed Captain of the Sovereign's guard.  He had been a member of the White Drakes, a mercenary band that fought evil far to the north in the Ice Binder Mountains. He is charismatic, young and has the eye of many of the court's ladies and not to few a number of the gentlemen.  Captain Cowan only has eyes for the Queen.  She thinks he is loud, a braggart, way too promiscuous for her liking, and she is absolutely in love with him.  But to keep him "in his place" he has been named "The Lord of Misrule" over tonight's ball and he dressed in a gaudy outfit similar to that of a court jester.  The queen is dressed like a scullery maid as per the custom and she waits on her guests.  On the throne sits Aggie, a ten-yer old scullery maid. She was chosen, as all Sovereign's are by the Golden Hart.  Only this "Golden Hart" was Captain Cowan dressed in a ridiculous costume with "antlers" of an old tree branch. If the Queen was trying to take the Captain down a peg by making him act the fool, she has lost that gambit. She looks scared but happy as all the nobles bow to pay her homage.  Everyone is happy and making rather merry on this night of Yule.

That is except for you lot.

Aggie may have had the luck of Selene, but you all are the newest members of the Sovereign’s Finest and that means guard duty.  Still the spiced wine is warm and one of the lesser nobles acting as a servant in the Inversion Festival brings you a cup each hour and is not unattractive.  Mostly your job all night has been to make sure guests that have partaken in too much of Athne's favor are seen safely to rooms.  Other guests that have taken, or about to partake, in the favors of Leonoth or Hiathas are also quietly and quickly ushered to rooms of their own.
After ushering one particularly amorous couple off with a many "yes, Season's greetings" and "have a blessed Yule", your small group sees the Golden Hart.  Not the Captain in his fools disguise, but the genuine Golden Hart. And it is rushing towards you at a terrible speed.

The last thing you hear before the screams and terrible explosion is the psychic voice of the Hart ordering you to get down.
That's the start.  The PCs (the poor guards) are given a psychic replay of the events just before.  A group of Night People approach the "Queen" (really Aggie, but they don't know about Inversion Festivals) and present her a gift; a huge ruby.  The girl goes to pick up and at that point Queen Jaelin knows what the ruby actually is. She yells for Aggie to not to touch it.  Captain Cowan rushes the throne, the nobles scream and then the castle explodes with red light.

The Hart ran to the PCs because they were the closest AND since the Hart sees into the future knew they were the ones that could make everything right.  You begin outside of the Castle (where you were thrown) and have to work your way back in.

The cultists Catharandamus and Alha were hiding below and are now using the Eye of Arik as a focal point to a new Shadow Gate for King Jarek.  Of course, the King will deny this in the future.

Why am I using the Golden Hart here?  Simple. I am totally trolling the people that don't like this game. Well...that and the fact that the Hart actually works here and does what it is supposed to do.  Also I hated the Protectors in the original B3 module.   Sorry but even when I was 11 and I bought this new I knew they were dumb.  The Hart is a much better choice.

I am cheating and using Night Folk as Orcs.  The the Night Folk that delivered the Eye of Arik were unknowing dupes.   The ones in the castle are shadow aligned and working with Catharandamus and Alha, brought in by them.

Candella and Duchess are still here. Still theives (Experts), and just because I can they are also caria daunen. They are Twilight aligned, but if they help the party then they will be rewarded by the Queen.

New Monsters
The wave of Shadow Magic turned the guests to stone, trapped the Queen and Captain, and knocked your party out of the castle.  It also is starting to gate in things from the Shadow Realms.

Decapus
Large 4th-level aberration
Initiative +2; Speed 5', Climb 25'
Defense 12 (-1 size, +2 Dex, +1 natural)
Attack +5 melee  (no damage, tentacle), +0 melee (+0 damage, bite);
Qualities: darkvision 60ft; Superior Hearing
Alignment: Twilight
Saves: Tough +3, Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +3
S: 0 D: +2 C: 0 I: -2 W: 0 Ch: -1
Skills: Climb +10, Escape Artist +13, Notice +5, Sneak +11, Swim +9.
Feats: Improved Grab
Arcana: Illusion; visual illusion 20ft. Radius, range 60ft.

Combat Special
Rend: 3 tentacle hits target is grappled next turn and suffers lethal damage from bite. Only one target can be attacked per round this way.
Multi-attack; 9 tentacle attacks, 3 per target.

My numbers might be way off, have to play this to be sure.

For this conversion, I also grabbed the Classic Modules Today conversion of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PWWO: Blue Rose

Continuing my deep dive of Blue Rose, it's systems and world I want to see how well it Plays Well With Others.  I think for the sake of argument I refer to Blue Rose when I mean the campaign world and True20 when I mean the system.


Blue Rose and d20
I am mentioning this one just to get it out of the way.  Yes, you can mix and match Blue Rose/True20 with just about any d20 system.  I have done this in the past but I feel something unique is lost. Much like the Borg assimilating other cultures to where their individualism is lost, d20 sucks up other games and makes them a pale imitation of D&D. Or at least D&D 3rd Edition.  This is a real valuable lesson though. For something to work for my PWWO posts the uniqueness of both games, systems, books, whatever need to be retained.  The d20 conversion appendix in the back of the Blue Rose core book helps a lot and it also guides how other d20-based/derived games can be converted.  Just remember that "conversion" isn't the only thing I am looking for here.

Blue Rose and Ravenloft
Ahh.  My original Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Also what could be one of the first, in spirit, PWWO style posts I have made here.  Ravenloft was one of my favorite game worlds for 2nd Ed D&D. Heck it was my only game world for 2nd Ed.  The then new 3rd Ed Ravenloft was great, but left me underwhelmed.  Mixing in Blue Rose to the Ravenloft world gave me something new. Not totally new mind you, but new enough to highlight what made both games really shine. The darkness of Ravenloft made the brightness of Blue Rose even brighter and visa versa.
You can read more about my Black Rose exploits in these posts and here, Count Strahd Von Zarovich for Blue Rose / True20.
In this case, I want to convert everything Ravenloft to Blue Rose/True20.



Blue Rose + Ravenloft + Cults of Chaos
Ok, so what do you get when you combine Blue Roses, Black Roses, Red Roses and White Roses?  Well...a lot of thorns to be sure, but also something pretty cool.  Combining Blue Rose and Ravenloft is a given.  Since Ravenloft is, more less more "Gothic Earth" than "Gothic Greyhawk" it makes a good catalyst to add other Earth-like games. Cults of Chaos is part of +Kasimir Urbanski's Dark Albion world taking place during England's War of the Roses. Let's take my Black Rose idea and extend it to outright war between the Queen and Lord Savin.  Plus the Cults of Chaos are really not all that different that the Shadow Cults of Blue Rose. Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos goes into far more detail into the cults (naturally) which can add some more ideas for the cults in Blue Rose.  Indeed, England, the "mythical land ... of Roses" can share a lot with the World of Aldea. Aldis is, despite everything else, a mythical version of Western Europe. And let's be honest, a world where a Golden Hart can decide the ruler of one country can have a giant frog as the ruler of another.
In truth Cults of Chaos and Blue Rose have a lot in common.



Blue Rose and D&D 5
A lot of what Blue Rose/True20 did was revolutionary. A lot of D&D5 is evolutionary.  Both games though can be brought together to build something that is truly fun.
Character creation in D&D 5 is not all that different than D&D 1 when it gets right down to it.  I say keep the general rules for D&D 5 but adapt some of the Blue Rose True20 ideas. For starters, use Blue Rose's Callings to replace Backgrounds.  Sure there can still be an element of Background to this, but now these Callings of the characters are something that continues on.  A Background in D&D5 is sometimes relegated to the "oh that was what I used to be, but I am a <<insert class>> now."  Which is too bad really.  Callings can, and should influence what a character does all the time.

In this case I want to convert everything over to D&D 5 with plenty of Blue Rose material still intact.
This is going to be the basis for my "Monster Naturalists" game, but I need to figure out how to use Blue Rose's/True20's non-lethal damage track with D&D5 so the monsters can be brought in alive.
+Mark Craddock over at Cross Planes has already made some conversions of various races.
Atlantis: Second Age (OmniSystem)
Atlantis: Second Age by Morrigan Press (now +Khepera Publishing) was/is very interesting update of the old Bard Games "Atlantis" and the “Arcanum” books which were written to be used with "any fantasy role-playing game" but the obvious choice was AD&D.
This game uses the Omni System. It is a bit like True20 and this can be used with True20 with a bit of tinkering.  The differences are largely on of True20 having DCs and the OmniSystem having a table of Successes.   The author of the game mentioned online that he was a little surprised when he saw True20 but it was an obvious case of parallel development.  The natural idea is to keep True20's DCs, but use the Omni Table for Critical successes.
The book is titled “Atlantis, the Second Age” so it is Atlantis, after the Flood. A bit odd, but I’ll go with it. Plenty of information on the world and despite the name you could run it as a pre-flood/pre-sinking Atlantean empire. Tons of new races, spells and magic, all pulled from the old Bard Games books ad updated to the OmniSystem, and naturally True20. Great as a game in it’s own right or as a guide to an antediluvian time for any other game.
Now what exactly does this have to do with Blue Rose? Well the worlds are very different, but not so different that commonalities can't be found.  Atlantis (sunken or not) can most certainly lie to the west of Aldis.  Atlanteans share a certain level of egalitarianism and progressive social awareness with the folk of Aldis as well.  It could be that Atlantis was there all this time but forgotten after the Shadow Wars.  Hesparia (from Atlantis) is almost like Lar'tya (from Blue Rose) turned up to 11.
Atlantis:SA provides a larger world for Aldea and Aldis. Is it a perfect fit? By no means. But it is a fun fit. Atlantis:SA adds a number of races that are not really what Blue Rose is about (Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Hobgoblins) but others such as the Andaman (animal headed humanoids) are close enough to the the "Change Children" of the Valdemar book by Mercedes Lackey that a strong case can be made.  In A:SA they are said to be created by Atlantean Sorcerers. Ok. Or the Sorcerer Kings of BR.  Tritons (A:SA) are jsut another form of Sea Folk (BR).  Skills are largely treated the same way, I would just use Blue Rose's skills myself.  Talents in A:SA are a lot like the Feats in BR/T20.  Many of these Talents can also be used as alternate forms of Arcana.   Callings in A:SA are not exactly the same as Callings in BR. They are however very similar to the Paths introduced in the Blue Rose Companion.
Magic in A:SA is a treasure trove of ideas for any BR game.  While some could properly called Sorcery in BR, others are all together new, like Alchemy and Witchcraft.

If one wanted they could take all the OGC from Blue Rose and what little OGC from Atlantis that is open and create something that would work well with both.  Though that is a lot of work for two effectively dead systems.  Though I still enjoy this Atlantis book.  The new Atlantis book from Khepera Publishing is much more polished, but is further removed from the basic Omni System (now Omega System). Plus the book lacks some of the charm of the earlier books.

Blue Rose & Birthright
Two other games that work well together, and fit the Mercedes Lackey Valdemar feel well, is TSR's Birthright campaign setting for 2nd Ed. AD&D.  Whether you use the countries in BR or the ones in BR (err..that won't work) Birthright, the political intrigue between the rulers is now the main story telling element of the game.  Birthright also has a lot to offer players of Blue Rose in terms of inter- and intra-court affairs.  I would limit the races to Blue Rose ones; Birthright already limits races from the menagerie that was 2nd Ed AD&D.
I will say that this combination really is the ONLY time that the Golden Hart will effect what the characters could or could not do in a game.
Birthright also has that "built in maturity" factor I associate with Blue Rose. That is there is a certain audience that will enjoy playing at this level of social interaction and that audience tends to skew older.  Neither Blue Rose nor Birthright are about killing things and taking their stuff.  Unless of course, you are a king. And the things you kill are armies of other kings.
Makes me want to pull out my old Birthright materials! Have not even cracked them in years.

Consequently, I'd also throw the Basic adventures B11 King's Festival and B12 Queen's Harvest as intro adventures to this mix-up.  Just downplay the combat aspects and change the orcs to humans.
I have one other PWWO that I want to try out, but I am thinking of posting that one by itself tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Review: Blue Rose (True20 Edition)

Blue Rose was published in 2005 by Green Ronin.  The book is 224 pages perfect bound soft cover. Color covers and black and white interior art.  Cover art is by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and the book was largely written by Steve Kenson, Jeremy Crawford, Dawn Elliot, and John Snead

I am reviewing my softcover book I bought at Gen Con 2007 and the PDF.
Full Disclosure in Reviewing: I bought these on my own and Green Ronin has no idea I am reviewing a 10+ year old product.

I printed out my PDF in 2008 so I could write on my book.  I am inserting those notes and observations here.  Most of those were written during my “Black Rose” campaign where I mixed elements of Gothic Horror in with my Blue Rose.

What is Blue Rose?
Blue describes itself as a “Romantic Fantasy Role-Playing Game”.  It starts off by telling us what Romantic Fantasy is, at least in this context.  So. Romantic Fantasy. The premise is simple enough really. Instead of the works of Howard, Tolkien, Burroughs and (to some degree) Lovecraft we are going to base this game on the works of Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, and Diane Duane among others all listed on page 13.  This is the Appendix N of Blue Rose. Also. I seriously don’t understand some other arguments brought about Blue Rose and Aldis in light of these books.  I have the feeling that many of the critics of this game just don’t understand, or have read, this genre.  Calling this SJW gaming shows a profound lack of insight to the source material.  Aldis is Valdemar with the serial numbers filed off.

Now let me pause here and it will not be the first time.  If this was 2005 I would feel the need to keep moving, but this is 2016, and a lot has been said about Blue Rose and I am not deaf to that.  So I will add bits like this where needed. This is the first. Since I am giving over to retrospect we can also dispense with the notion of not knowing was True20 is/was.  True 20 and Blue Rose is a very, very stripped down version of the d20 rules.  All the dice rolls have been reduced to a single d20.  Attack? d20.  Cast a spell or use magic? d20.  Sneak into a dungeon to free slaves? d20s all around.  There are no hit points, only a damage track so no rolling for damage.  Other games now do this. Both back then and today.  This makes things move a bit faster in combat and can make combat very, very deadly.  Sure if you are high enough level you might be fine. Unless your combatant is also equally skilled or greater.

Chapter I: World of Aldea
As a campaign world we get a history of the World of Aldea, from the Mythic Age (when the Gods were created) to the Old Kingdom (the “Golden Age” of the world), the Empire of Thrones (or the rise of the evil Sorcerer Kings) to the present age in The Rebirth of Aldis.  The history of the world is given from the creation of the world by the four greater gods and then into the creation of the lesser gods, demons, and mortal races. This history is compelling and does make you feel there is much more that is not written down.  We can come back to this in the supplement book “The World of Aldea”.  I rather liked the Exarchs of Shadow.  It helps solves the age old philosophical question of "From whence comes evil?" It gives a good explanation of how good gods such as these would have created evil beings.

From the new version, but same gods.  I really like this picture, I think I love that art of Maurenna.
This chapter also covers that background of the world, the half a dozen countries/cultures you can encounter.  We have Aldis, the country of the main heroes and the “good” land of the game.  This is one that characters are most likely from.  Jarzon, a theocracy that shares some history with Aldis but is a vaguely evil, or least intolerant, land.  Kern, home of the Lich King Jarek, is a remnant of the old time before the great shadow wars.

Yes. This is the chapter that introduces us to the now infamous Golden Hart.  You know what else it is?  The last time you ever hear about it.  Unless one of the characters is going end up becoming the next Sovereign of Aldis the Golden Hart will have no affect on the characters whatsoever.   I never once cared how the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk or Waterdeep was elected or even who that person was. It has never affected anything in the last 36+ of gaming for me and neither does this.  It’s really no different than the Lady of the Lake.  Claims that the Golden Hart "tramples" on Role-playing also shows that the person complaining never actually read the book, or played the game.

Information is given on Aldis. Aldis is not just the idyllic land that some have depicted it.  It is “enlightened” but there are still internal strife, crime, the odd sorcerer or even a leftover gates from the time before the Sovereigns, and the ever present threats from inside and outside. A number of threats to Aldea are detailed. Various unscrupulous merchants, a very effective criminal organization known as “The Silence”, fallen nobles, bandits, defective shadow gates,  and the remains of various shadow cults.   In a handful of pages we get plenty of ideas for characters to do.

Aldea with Western Europe superimposed over the top. Original file here

Chapter II: Creating Your Hero

Character creation is mechanically a breeze.  Since it is d20 derived nearly everyone knows what to do here.  The big difference is that instead of scores 3 to 18 you have just the bonuses. So -5 to +5.  Everyone starts at 0 and you are given 6 points to divide up.  In more “Cinematic” games I have given out 10 points.  I also prefer players create their characters together.  With backstories that would either augment or complement each other in some way.   In Romantic Fiction we often have a single protagonist that joins up with others and soon new bonds are formed.  Here we start out with potentially a lot of protagonists.  So the dynamic is already slightly different.  Now when I say created together I mean in cooperation with each other; the characters might not know anything about each other and even come from different parts of the world, but the players have a vision for what they want and should work on it together.

Races include human, vata (somewhat like elves), sea folk, Rhydan (intelligent animals), night people (likewise somewhat like half-orcs) and the human Roamers.

Blue Rose/True 20 only has three classes; Adept, Expert and Warrior.  There are no XP advancement tables; characters level up after a set number of adventures.  To borrow from D&D4, you could level up after 10 encounters, but really it is up to the Narrator.
An aside...the Game Master for Blue Rose is called a Narrator. Personally I would prefer to call them “Chroniclers”. Seems to fit the feel of what I want in my games.

This chapter also introduces “Callings”, “Conviction” and “Reputation”.  Callings are the most interesting of all.  Each heroic calling is associated with a Tarot card major arcana.  These are related to the alignment system in Blue Rose (Light, Twilight and Shadow) and to the Natures of the characters which are associated to a tarot minor arcana.  While it can be used purely as a roleplaying device (as I have done) to guide your character. The mechanical aspect in relationship to Conviction.  Conviction is more or less like “Hero Points” or “Drama Points”.  A similar mechanic can be found now in D&D 5 with the “Backgrounds” and “Inspiration” systems.  They are not 100% the same, but one could be used in the place of the other or used to inform the other.   Personally I think it is a damn shame we never got a set of Blue Rose Tarot cards.


Chapter III: Skills
This covers the skills the characters can take.  Again in something that was new in the d20 times, and became more common later on is how Blue Rose does skill ranking.  Skill check = 1d20 + skill rank + ability score + miscellaneous modifiers.  Skills are grouped into Favored Skills (based on class), Trained and untrained skills.  Need new skills? There is a feat for that (next chapter).

Chapter IV: Feats
Like d20, Blue Rose has feats. The feats are your means of customizing your character.  Want to be a classic thief? Taken the Expert class and the right skills and feats. Want to be a Paladin or Ranger, take the Warrior class with various feats.   Unlike D&D the feats do not have ability score minimums. They do have class requirements and some have other feats as requirements.

Chapter V: Arcana
The magic of the Blue Rose world.  Magic is both ubiquitous and mistrusted.  Nearly everyone has some level of magic.  Either they are an Adept or they have a wild talent or two (taken by a feat).  At the same time magic, in particular the form known as Sorcery, is mistrusted due to the wars with the Sorcerer Kings.
Arcana is divided up into a few categories:
  • Animism
  • Healing
  • Meditative
  • Psychic
  • Shaping
  • Visionary
and finally Sorcery.
You can make a number of different sorts of Adepts using the different types of Arcana.  In particular I had a lot of fun making various “Benders” like those seen in Avatar the Last Airbender and Avatar the Legend of Korra.  You can easily make Air, Earth, Fire and Water Benders.  You can even make a “Spirit Bender” which has a lot of potential.  Of course I have made many witches.
This is not Vancian magic. Once you have a magical gift you can use it all you like...until you can’t that is.  There is a fatiguing effect here. Makes magic really feel different than D&D.

Chapter VI: Wealth and Equipment
Since the accumulation of wealth and the killing of things is not as important here there is an abstract wealth system. Instead of gold you have a Wealth score. If you want to buy something less than that, then you can. If it is greater, well you will need to roll for that.  The system is very similar to what was found in d20 Modern.
As expected there are plenty of lists of goods and services. Aldis is a civilized place.  Additionally there are arcane items that can be bought, not a lot mind you, but some.

Chapter VII: Playing the Game
This includes the very typical combat and physical actions found in every game; especially one based on the d20 rules which has D&D in it’s ancestry.  There is good section on social interactions. If run properly a good Blue Rose game will include people that can talk or socialize their way out of problems as much as fight their way out.

Chapter VIII: Narrating Blue Rose
This is the GM’s section.  Again, I much prefer the term “Chronicler” to “Narrator”. “Chronicler” also implies that the characters are doing something worthy of Chronicling.   The chapter has the very pragmatic “Assigning Difficulties” which works well for any d20 derived game, which includes D&D editions 3, 4 and 5.  It covers Blue Rose’s particular form of level advancement.  There are guides for roleplaying situations like Romance and Intrigue. Again, while situated in the Blue Rose and True20 systems, they could be used for any game.  What is particularly useful is the very old-school like table of 100 Adventure ideas.  Need an idea? Roll a d100. Each one of these can be expanded into an adventure. This flies in the face of any notion that Blue Rose is a limited game.  Equally useful is the section on “About Evil” which gives advice on how to handle evil NPCs.  They suggest avoiding using “mustache twirling evil stereotypes” or “evil for evil’s sake” NPCs. Though I will point out that some of their source material does exactly that. They favor a more nuanced approach to evil, reminding the reader that no evil person thinks of themselves as the bad guy.

Chapter IX: Bestiary
There are some familiar names here, but don’t automatically assume you know what these creatures are about.  Griffons for example are given more emphasis and intelligence here than in their D&D counterparts.  This is completely due to how they are treated in the Romantic Fiction novels, in particular the novels of Mercedes Lackey.
Also, unlike the books, there are a lot more creatures here than what I recall reading.  So there are plenty of creatures that can either guide, beguile or challenge the characters.  There are about 70 or so creatures here. Adding more would be easy, really TOO easy to be honest.  Most creatures need have a good reason to be in the game/world. For example there are no Manticores here. You could make a very good reason for them to be there as something like anti-griffon or even a magical race the bred true to fight griffons.  Maybe they were created during the Shadow Wars or even before in the Empire of Thorns. They are rare now since most were killed.

Introductory Adventure: The Curse of Harmony
What it says on the tin. An introductory adventure featuring some of the different aspects of this game.

Appendix: D20 System Conversion
Of course you know I loved this.  The ability to mix and match from d20? Hell yes.  In fact I did just that for my own Blue Rose/Ravenloft mash-up.  I found that it works best to convert to Blue Rose than trying to convert Blue Rose to some d20 system.

And True20
True20 came out after Blue Rose and offered some improvements on the base system. For example Toughness no longer increases with level.  This is a good change.  As my gaming in Blue Rose increased I found I used more and more True20.  In particular anything with a horror, supernatural or magic bend to it.  Plus the True20 system, as published,

Normally at this point I make a case as to why you should buy this book.  I figure most of you have made up your minds about this game long ago.  So instead I am going to say give this game a try.  It is fun. It is different that most of the Murder-Hobo games out there.  Even if you don’t like the game there is the setting. If you don’t like that then there are plenty of mechanics and ideas that can be used in any other game.  If nothing else check out the Quick Start version of the game that Green Ronin still gives out for free.

There is a lot here that could easily be added to a D&D5 game.  Indeed, some of the roleplaying ideas in D&D 5 share at least some history with Blue Rose and True20.  Maybe a D&D5 version of Blue Rose is in order.

Also found on Green Ronin's site:
Next I am going to see what I can do with Blue Rose and it's supplements and some other games.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Retrospective on Blue Rose

Cover for the new AGE version of Blue Rose
Blue Rose was always one of those games I felt people talked more about than played.  I remember running into it at Gen Con in 2007. I had wanted to go over to the Green Ronin booth since I was already enamoured with Mutants & Masterminds and thought Green Ronin seemed like one of those “cool companies”. Like Eden was in in the early 2000s and Cubicle Seven is today.  Green Ronin is still cool, but they are no longer the scrappy little upstart, they are elder statesmen and stateswomen now.

Blue Rose attracted me from the start. The Stephanie Pui-Mun Law art, whom I had known from her days at the Elfwood art website so long ago, was so eye catching and so different than anything else I had ever seen.  The game inside lived up to that art.
I picked up the book and saw the names. Of course I knew who Steve Kenson was (and he was standing just right over there too), I had played M&M and of course had his Witch’s Handbook from GR.  There was also John Snead, who only the most uncouth plebeians didn’t know.  I had worked with John on the Magic Box for the Buffy game and he was a great guy and great writer.  I saw other names that were unknown to me then (not now), but picked it up on the (substantial) merits of the first two authors.   Jeremy Crawford is now one of the people behind 5th edition D&D and he did quite a bit of work on 4th edition D&D as well.

Now I had an idea what “Romantic Fantasy” was.  I had read Diane Duane, Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley, but years ago.  Reading through the rules then I was struck by how much was here that I wanted to work into my own worlds.  By 2007 I was weary of d20 and the True20 of Blue Rose seemed like such a breath of fresh air.  It was almost a Cinematic d20 to me.

I played a few games of Blue Rose.  I ran a few others.  I found that converting some of my old WitchCraft RPG plots to Blue Rose was actually quite easy. For example my “Vacation in Vancouver” under Unisystem became “Vacation beyond the Veil” under True 20/Blue Rose.  The story was essentially the same; gifted individuals were being kidnapped for a demonic sex trade. The problem in both cases was that some of the victims didn’t want to be “rescued”.  It looked into issues of slavery and sentience and what people do for pleasure.  In “WitchCraft” there is a serious horror over tone, but in Blue Rose the horror shifts away from the demon to the victim.  What if a victim is sentient and a slave, but in return lives in a lap of luxury and pleasure. Are they different than the “Companions” of Valdemar or the Blue Rose analogues, the Rhy-Creatures? It became an interesting story to unfold.  When I took a turn as player (because that is something you can do in touchy-feely story telling game) I want to explore this and have my witch (hey...gotta be me) “go native” and go from would be rescuer to something needing rescued.  Sadly like many games and most online chat games we never finished the story arc.

I went back to Blue Rose in 2009/2010 to try again with my “Black Rose” idea.  This was a merging of the Blue Rose and Ravenloft games I detailed a while back.  Now there was a fun game.  Also one that did not see a terminus, but that is fine.   In Blue Rose I felt there were a lot of the same things I liked about Ravenloft.  Emphasis on character development and storytelling, less on combat.  One by nature the other by choice.  In BlueRose/True 20 I saw the answer to a lot of the problems I had with Ravenloft.  Ravenloft as an idea was Gothic Horror stapled onto a fantasy action adventure game.  True 20 at it’s core was systemless.  It was much easier to represent more people with combinations of the Expert, Warrior and Adept classes than the standard D&D ones; or worse the 36 some odd classes we had in the d20 Masque of the Red Death.  For me the match was so good that I have considered to see what bits of both True 20 and Ravenloft are OGC to try it on my own.  I never went that direction, other games have since done it.  Some of the ideas from this game lived on in my current D&D 5 “Come Endless Darkness” game.

Some binders of notes for my various Blue Rose games.
“Kingdom of Rain” was game I ran inspired by Lovecraft.  My attempt to bring a little Innsmouth to the World of Aldea.  It was an intentionally short lived arc dealing with the Sea Folk and how some of them were becoming more like Deep Ones.  I will openly admit I based it more on the 2001 movie Dagon than the story “Shadows of Innsmouth”.  I wanted to continue the game dealing with some winter-related ideas, but I only got one session in.  This was also the first time I used a Wendigo as inspired by August Derleth.

I later went back to Blue Rose after reading the works of Barb and J.C. Hendee and came up with a “prequel” to Black Rose that I called “The Guardians of the White Rose”.  I went back to fertile ground and converted some ideas from a 2001 WitchCraft/Buffy game I was running at the time called “Coming Up Roses”.  The Guardians of the White Rose was the Queen’s special cadre of adepts used to fight the many supernatural threats to Adlis.  Their motif was a White Rose intertwined with a Blue Rose.  There were two characters, Helyg and Bryn, two new adepts.  Helyg had been a scholar in Jarzon and Bryn was raised with the Roamers.  They both were also caria daunen, just to add to the in universe feel.  Only got a little bit into that one, but played it out over a long course.  The lessons learned here? There is a LOT to do in Adlis that doesn’t require any form of “Murder-hoboing”.

More recently I have been going through the newer books of Mercedes Lackey. I picked up a bunch at a local library book sale and managed to Half-Price Book find the ones I was missing.  It has put me in the mood to try out some more Blue Rose.  This time I would feature the Guardians of the White Rose, but they are background.  This would be my monster hunter game.  The non-lethal damage track in BR/T20 makes this mechanically easier.  The idea is that the great Magerium is opening in Adlis. Rare and nearly extinct creatures are going to be brought in for study and give them a place to live.  Ah now if you are at all savvy to the Blue Rose world or many of the books that it is based on you will see a problem with this.  I want to see if my players do too.

I am now coming up on 9 and half years of personally playing Blue Rose. Nearly 10 years and four (or five) different and nearly unrelated campaigns.  I have read the background material and other books that would fit the definition of “Romantic Fantasy”. I think I am in a good place to provide a nice comprehensive review of the game.


Now I am going to be looking at the True20 version of the game, which I am sure is going to be sunsetted in favor of the new AGE version.  Well. When the AGE version comes out I'll have to review that one as well.

So until the new one is out, let's get to it.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Map Your World

This is the sort of thing I love the most.  Mapping tools I never knew I needed.

+Thomas Denmark over at Original Edition Rules shared this great mapping tool to turn a 2d map into a 3d globe.

http://maptoglobe.bitbucket.org/

I quickly turned the Mystoerth map into a globe.  I added some oceans first and then converted.





http://maptoglobe.bitbucket.org/?map=hjZMZKv


I have not played with all the features yet. I kind of want a better map first then play with all the neat options.

Obviously I need to add some polar regions.  I'd also like to add Blackmoor and Ansalon to this as well.

But in the meantime this is a lot of fun.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

More Trek

Working on some more ideas for my Trek game.   I spent some time last night talking to my Trek-loving son and came up with some ideas.

I want to put this between the TOS and TNG shows.  Sometime around 2344 or later, maybe the 2350s. There is nothing that I know of going on then.
The timeline in my games might be altered, maybe not to the extent of the "Kelvin" Universe of the new movies, but some other things.
For starters I want to use these uniform variants.


Though I might swap the colors for the TNG assignments. We know the red uniforms from WoK were still being used in 2250 though with TNG style com badges.

Still planning on using an "experimental" ship.  I am going to severely limit how the transporters are used I know that much.

Now MY big plot point that has nothing to do with the play test.

My son says you judge how good the playtest is by the number of coffee stains!
I know I should be ashamed (or shamed) for doing this, but I REALLY want to do "Trek + Cthulhu".

For my first adventure "Where No One Has Gone Before..."  (might change that) the new ship is taking it's first run using the new engines.  They are pushed to Warp 13 (I know...stay with me) and they end up in orbit over a dead planet orbiting the star Thuban, Alpha Draconis, 303 light years away.  Here they encounter Mythos-creatures, ones that now know of their existence.
I get the crew back to the Alpha Quadrant (I am not redoing Voyager) but now this new threat is on them.

I want to have an Admiral or Commodore on my ship for the first adventure. He is the one that betrays the Federation to the Old Ones.  I want to keep him alive, but deeply insane, they will need him later.

Not sure what will happen to be honest.
As my wont I REALLY want to give this a 70s feel.  Why?  Well TOS was an artifact of the late 60s and TNG was very much part of the late 80s, so it seems natural to me to make this feel like something from the late 70s.  While it is still Trek, I am going to liberally steal ideas from the old Buck Rodgers series that was on NBC (I know, it was the early 80s) and the original Battlestar Galactica.  Plus I can use some trippy ass occult stuff from the 70s. The so called "left over hippy shit".  Crystals, psychic powers, all of that.   I have plenty of ideas; things I have been playing around with for White Star.

Right now I have more ideas than structure.  So I am going to keep at it for a bit.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sad Weekend Gaming

So in terrible news, JonBunny; my oldest son's pet rabbit, died this weekend.  He jumped off my son's bed, landed wrong and broke his back.  He ended up being paralyzed in his lower half.  I guess this is a known issue with this breed of bunny.  My son is (and all of us are) devastated.
We really miss that little ball of fur.


I did the only thing I could do.  I ran a marathon session yester of D&D to keep their minds off of what happened.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon went to the lower level of the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl.  They managed to free the daughter of the Storm King and defeat the remaining frost giant guards to get to the Jarl himself.   I got rid of his wife for a few reasons. She was just going to be another encounter; and not a very interesting one at that. I replaced her with a frost giant senechal who was also an ice powered warlock. Also I was going to have the Jarl attempt some weird ass forced marriage alliance with the daughter of the Storm King, so he needed to be single, or at least available politically. Also I don't have a female frost giant mini.


Everyone looks like they are going up a level after this.
After this the Order will head to the Storm Giants for aid, but little do they know that an evil Cloud Giant Queen has taken over the Storm King's Castle in Castle of the Cloud Giant Queen.

I also rewatched Galaxy Quest for some ideas on my Star Trek game.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Green Ronin Holiday Sale on DC Adventures

Spend any time here and you will know that I am a HUGE DC Comics fan.  Yeah like many others in the 80s I read the X-Men and of course Spider-Man before that.  I know Marvel, but my love is DC.

So it is with some joy (and some anxiety) that I let you know about a huge sale Green Ronin is having on their DC Adventures RPG.  All four books are on sale for $5.00 each.  Not a bad deal really.  Scratch that, that's an excellent deal.

DC ADVENTURES Hero's Handbook
This is the core book and the only one needed to play the game.  It is based on Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition, which is also a fantastic game in it's own right.  The book is jam packed with great DC art.  All of the art and the write-ups are pre New 52 and pre Convergence.  But you know what, who cares!  This is DC which means Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Booster Gold! (ok so maybe Booster is not a reason to buy this...actually Booster is not in this book iirc).
You can plan in any DC world you like.  Hell you can (and should really) play in the future with Terry McGinnis as Batman. Mix in Oliver Queen from the Arrow TV show, Isis from the 70s "The Power of Isis" show and the Birds of Prey from their short lived TV show and do what you like.
All you need is a d20.  I personally like to use a clear green one since it looks like Kryptonite.

DC ADVENTURES Heroes & Villains, Vol. 1
DC ADVENTURES Heroes & Villains, Vol. 2
The A to Z guide of heroes, villians, organizations and even some places of the DC Universe.
Very nearly everyone is here in one form or another.

DC ADVENTURES Universe
The "world book" or campaign guide for your games.  Great in that has some stats but it can't cover nearly 80 years worth of DC history, nor does it try.  It focuses on the then most current version of the DC Universe (Pre-New52 and just after the "Darkest Night" arc).
If you have read a DC comic then you know what you are in for. If you have only seen the Batman movies then you are in for a treat to a much larger and much more interesting world.

Not sure if this is the game for you?  Then try the DC ADVENTURES Quick Start PDF.

Now. I have heard a rumor that Green Ronin will be ending their DC license.  That is really too bad, but not unexpected.  Licenses cost money and the product doesn't always reach enough people to make it worth while.  I have (personal) experiences where a licensed product doesn't sell to the larger fan base of the license.  But no worries since I have my books and my PDFs.  The DC ADVENTURES game is also 100% compatible with (the same game as) Mutants & Masterminds 3rd edition.  So as long as we have that then we can play all we like.
Maybe Freedom City can be part of YOUR DC Universe.

I have spent a lot of time with this game and plan to spend a lot more.
Here are some character write-ups I have done over the years.
I have two "DC Universe" games I want to try out sometime.  Both are mostly based on the current TV universe (aka the "Arrowverse").  One is the "The Incredibly Awesome (and Not At All Made-Up) Adventures of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle!"  the other takes place in that universe but is more a rif on the "I, Vampire" storyline of the New 52 comic era.  The "big bad" of this one is going to be Dracula, something I have always wanted to do.  I'll either use my version of Dracula (which I'll need to update to 3e) or the official M&M3 one, but upgraded.
I have always wanted to use Dracula as my big bad, especially against "street level" heroes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

These are the Voyages...

I got my Trek play test materials from +Modiphius Entertainment for the new RPG coming out.
Was going to spend some time with them yesterday but other things like the day job came up.  Though I have managed to print out the rules and will be going over them soon.

Over the summer I mentioned a desire to play some Trek using what ever rules seemed right. Likely White Star, but now I might try a simple training mission using these rules in addition to the official playtest.

Of course I want to use the USS Mystic, NX 3000 that I found here:
http://www.mcfergeson.com/hobbycorner/2015/04/23/the-uss-mystic-a-kitbashed-starship-from-star-trek/



Of course I'd make mine the NCC-3120 USS Protector; an homage to all the ships that inspired it.
I love the idea of those experimental nacelles.

Not to steal too much from Voyager or even Event Horizon, but my basic outline would be that while testing their new Warp-13 capable engines (shout out to the Omega-13 from Galaxy Quest) the USS Protector is transported ...somewhere... and in this section of space the stars are right and there are horrors.

The game would have other technobable details like the curvature of the warp nacelles and how this ship uses triberyllium instead of trilithium in it's warp core.  Maybe it is a design upgrade the Federation got from the Thermians (all from Galaxy Quest). This produces an "asymmetric warp field".  So start off as a regular Trek-like game, and then BAM hit them with the horrors.   Hey, maybe the Theramins are evil. Who knows really.

Since it is based on the Ambassador Class space frame I could put it in the Enterprise C era.
Though if it is an experiment and the prototype in NX 3000 how do I explain the jump to NCC 3120?

No idea.  Maybe the old classic it was a clerical error in the system registry databases.



I have a small Ambassador class Enterprise C at home and I think it is a great looking ship. I just want to do something with it.

In any case I am going to enjoy this. I am ready with the beats and the shouting.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wizards of the Coast Print On Demand: The Results, Part 3

Today is Tuesday so that means new releases.  Wizards of the Coast has some new classic D&D books up for POD today.  Be sure to check them out.

Today I want to compare the POD 3e Draconomicon to the one I bought my son when it first came out.
A bit of background.  The Draconomicon is a watershed book for the Brannan family.  I got it for my son because he loved dragons. Still does really.  Well he carried this book with him everywhere for years.  Needless to say it is in pretty bad shape.  I have wanted to get him a new one for years and I have seen many at Half-Price books and of course at my FLGS, but none have jumped out at me saying "buy me".  We I opted to spend some of the money from the sales of my own books on the POD version.  I splurged and got the "Premium Heavyweight" paper.

In the pictures the original print in on the left side of your screen, the POD on the right.


Side by side it is hard to know which is which.  The art on the POD version seems a little bigger.  You will notice there is a spot on the bottom where the cover doesn't quite make it to the bottom.  I have seen this before on other books.  Sometimes it prints like this other times it doesn't.


The Heavyweight POD is noticeably thicker than the original print.



The POD does not have the dragon art printed on the inside cover.  The images are repeated in the original printing but only one of each in the POD.  The POD actually looks more interesting.



Inside the books are remarkably identical.


My son was 6 when I got this for him.   He carried it to school for two years straight.


This is the LightningSource/OneBookShelf page added to all the books.   So no chance someone will mistake these for originals if they know to look for this.


Equally, the original features an ISBN barcode.  The the POD has a different one that is not an ISBN.


The spines are also very different. This of course is by necessity to accommodate the varying thickness of the paper choices.

In all I am happy with it.  It doesn't look like my original, but that is fine with me.  It makes it more of a "new" book in some respects.  Yes, just like the original I am giving this to my son for Christmas. Don't tell him.

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