Friday, March 31, 2017

Willow & Tara: Armageddon, the End Times

This post has been a long time coming.

Back in 2001 I started a project to stat out two of my favorite witches for every RPG I have ever played.  You can see the fruits of those efforts here.  I printed out hundreds of character sheets, filled them out, even used a few in games.  Deep diving into two characters and seeing how they work across different systems and different worlds. It has been a great time.



One set of sheets I started in 2006 and thought, oh I'll get to these when I run my "Generation HEX" game.  Well...I never got around to those sheets.  I was in the habit putting the date of the game on the top of the sheet. That way I could keep the overall campaign straight in my head.

This week was the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a milestone I was going to leave unremarked.  But I pulled out those sheets and noticed the date on them.   The game was also one I wanted to revisit this year given ...all sorts of reasons.

The year was 2017 and the game was Armageddon: The End Times.



There are so many reasons that Armageddon is the most perfect choice for Willow and Tara in 2017.

Armageddon is the sequel to the WitchCraft RPG much in the same sense that the Buffy RPG is; just a different evolutionary path. Armageddon features much more powerful characters in a post-apocalyptic world. In fact, there is a lot about the game world of 2017 that we can relate too in the real world of 2017.

I described Armageddon as:
The ultimate expression of the Classic Unisystem game line. Use it as a future for your WitchCraft games, or as source material for WitchCraft and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Far improved over the poorly edited 1st Edition, this could be C.J. Carella's finest work and that is saying something.
It should then stand to reason that my versions of Willow and Tara should also be represented in their ultimate expression.

Willow & Tara in 2017



Given what I have been doing with the characters for the last few years I would have to say they have been largely retired.  Given the reunion staged by Entertainment Weekly, I would say something pulled them out of retirement.  Maybe a horrible orange monster threatening to take over the world. Or something.

On my sheets, I gave them both 200 extra character points. One of the first things I did was buy off many of their drawbacks. Most of that stuff dealt with youth and being young.  I am also going with the fan-favorite theory that they have two daughters by this time.

I didn't buy up their attributes much save for maybe ones that would be expected to improve due to better diet and exercise.

Willow Rosenberg-Maclay
Wicce Seeker of Knowledge
Gifted Master

Age: 36, Ht: 5'3", Hair: Red, Eyes: Green

Attributes: Str 2 Dex 3 Con 3 Int 5 Per 5 Wil 6
Life Points 36
Endurance 38
Speed 12
Essence 65

Channeling Level: 8

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (25), Increased Essence Pool (+20), Adversary (Assorted, 2), Ambidexterity, Anamchara, Attractiveness (+2), Hard to Kill (+2), Honorable (-1), Minority, Lesbian (-1), Nerves of Steel (3), Old Soul (2), Resources (3, wealthy)

Skills: Acrobatics (4), Brawling (3), Bureaucracy (5), Computers (9), Computer Hacking (9), Computer Programming (9), Craft (5), Dodge (6), Electronics (5), Engineering, Robotics (5), Humanities, Psychology (1), Languages (English, French, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Russian), Magic Theory (5), Instruction (1), Medicine, General (2), Occult Knowledge (9), Research (4), Rituals, Wicce (7), Trance (1).

Powers: Absob Power, Aura of Confidence, Create Ward, Essence Shield, Farsee, Flame, Float, Mindtalk strength and art (7), Mindhands strength and art (5), Lightning Bolt, Mindfire strength (5) art (4), Mindtalk strength and art (5), Physical Shield, Search Person (4)* (8 if that person is Tara, Brianna or Chole), Sending, Soulfire Blast, Visual Illusion.


Tara Rosenberg-Maclay
Wicce Weird One
Gifted Master

Age: 37, Ht: 5'5", Hair: Blonde, Eyes: Blue


Attributes: Str 3 Dex 2 Con 3 Int 5 Per 6 Wil 6
Life Points 36
Endurance 38
Speed 10
Essence 70

Channeling Level: 8

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (25), Increased Essence Pool (+20), Artistic Talent (7), Hard to Kill (+1), Honorable (-1), Minority, Lesbian (-1),  Nerves of Steel (3), Old Soul (2), Resources (3, wealthy)

Skills: Cooking (5), Craft, Candle Making (2), Craft, Simple Crafts (4), Humanities, Art History (6), Humanities, Psychology (7), Languages (English, French, Gaelic [Irish], Greek, Japanese, Latin), Magic Bolt (4), Magic Theory (5), Instruction (5), Medicine, General (2), Myth and Legend, Folk Magic (7), Occult Knowledge (9), Research (4), Rituals, Wicce (7), Singing (2), Survival, Urban (2), Trance (2), Dancing (3)

Powers: Blessing of Protection, Create Ward, Essence Sheild, Flame, Float, Influence Emotional State, Lesser Healing (Heal Wounds, Cure Disease), Mindfire strength and art (4), Mindtalk strength and art (5), One with the Land, Perceive True Nature, Physical Shield, Search Person (4)* (8 if that person is Willow, Brianna or Chole), Sending, Touch of Healing*, Visual Illusion

*Tara still retains her healing touch divine powers from when she was brought back from the dead.

Not sure if I spent all my points correctly, but that is fine. I had a lot of fun doing this.

So for me it has been nearly 10 years since I used these characters in these incarnations.
What have they been doing?  Well in the Dragon and the Phoenix/Season of the Witch timeline they moved to Boston, been married for years. Willow owned a software security firm ("RedWitch") that she later sold making millions. Tara has degrees in art history and counseling. She teaches at a school for young magicians and witches (no not Hogwarts). They have two daughters Brianna 12 and Chole 9.

If you want to see a "timeline" of their development then here you go. These are in world-chronological order, not the order I wrote them.

Pre-2000, BESM
2000-1, WitchCraft
2001, d20 Modern
2002, BESM-d20
2003, BESM 3rd Ed
2004, World of Darkness
2005, Chill
2006, Cartoon Action Hour Season 3
2006-7, Doctor Who
2007, Savage Worlds
2007, DC Heroes
2008, Cortext
2008, World of Darkness (new)
2009, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd ed
2010, OVA
2011, Mutants and Masterminds 3rd ed
2012, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
2013, Superbabes

There are more, but you get the idea here.

This was great. Like meeting up with old friends again and seeing that they are getting along wonderfully. Been wanting to do this for a while now and it did not disapoint.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG in PRINT

I am pleased to announce that The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG is now being offered in softcover.


The book is 68 pages, so it is a small book, but it goes great with your copy of +James Spahn's The Hero's Journey RPG. (Print copies are at Lulu in full color or B&W pages.)


Or even my other Witch books.



Each book offers a different set of witch "Traditions" so you can buy them all and combine them.

Get your copy today!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Preparing to Descend

The Order of the Platinum Dragon has just begun their attack on the Halls of the Fire Giant King, but I am thinking ahead to their descent into the depths.
While I am putting together my adventures now in truth I have been planning for this since 1983.

My Giants+ binder was so successful that I am doing the same thing for the D Series and Q modules.


I bought and printed out all the PDFs plus some extras.


Some 5th edition Lolth stats I found on Redit. (I think).


D1-2 Descent into the Depths of the Earth.




D3 Vault of the Drow with the 5th edition conversion from Classic Modules Today.


I am also adding "D4" Encyclopaedia Subterranica from Dragonsfoot.

Then we get into the "Q" series.



Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits and the 5e Classic Modules Today conversions.


I am going to add in bits from Skein Of The Death Mother also from Dragonsfoot.


I'll wrap up their underdark/Abyssal adventures with Monte Cook's Queen of Lies, which I am going to mod a bit to make my own Q2.

Been planning this since 1983, back when I went through all of these myself.

It is going to be epic!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Con Weekend!

Great weekend to start my Spring Break.

Frist up, met up with a friend at AdeptiCon on Friday for some Chicago style pizza.
On my way I picked up a copy of Tales from the Yawning Portal and Paternoster Investigations.  Just not sure if it needs to go on my Doctor Who shelf or my Victorian Age shelf!


Saturday we I got up early and drove up to Gary Con.
I ran into so many people I knew. It was so great to see +Erik Tenkar+Jeff Talanian, +R.J. Thompson, +Frank Mentzer+Bruce Heard, +Tim Kask, +Tim Burns, +Venger Satanis, +Satine Phoenix, Stephen Chenault (+Ends Meet Productions), +Mike Mearls, +Bill Barsh, and Danny O'Neill of Hammerdog Games.

Ran into Erik and picked up the AWESOME S&W Light. Helluva job on that!



Bill Barsh of Pacesetter was there too selling also sorts of great stuff.  I picked up his new 5e adventure Beyond the Caves of Chaos and some great minis; a "demon witch" which looks exactly like the Pacesetter Witch of Monte Rosa and Demogorgon.




Speaking of Caves of Chaos...
The word is out that Goodman Games will be producing reprint/updates to classic modules.
First up are B1 and B2. The new books will include the original versions, a new version for 5e and a bunch of additional material.

Ran into Bruce Heard and got "our favorite book" signed.


He says expect some more Calidar material soon!

Also ran into Frank Mentzer again.  He signed my British Basic book print.


It says: "To Tim (and Family) best 'Witches' from Frank"!
Hoping the see something really great coming up from Frank here soon.

Stopped by the Troll Lords booth and picked up the C&C and 5th edition versions of "Mystical Companions".  Both look fantastic. Can't wait to review them.  Also grabbed a copy of Bluffside.




Spent the rest of the time playing 5th edition Against the Giants.
The party entered The Hall of the Fire Giant King!



Right before I left I was sitting at the table playing running G3 when Danny O'Neill comes by a sees my GM screen, which he notices is one of his World's Greatest Screens from Hammerdog Games. He takes some pictures and notices my screen has a manufacturing defect in it. I was going to fix it with some duct tape (of course) but he goes downstairs to his booth and brings back a brand new screen for me! How is that for customer service! I mean seriously. I am glad I own two of these (one for D&D and another for Ghosts of Albion). THAT is dedication to customers.

Sunday it was back to Adepticon to pick up some more minis!






Everyone had a great time. Especially my wife who has now taken up painting minis!
She has no idea how much I am going to throw her way. ;)


Friday, March 24, 2017

Tales from the Yawning Portal

Grabbed the Tales from the Yawning Portal today.


It's a lot of fun. A lot of great adventures updated for 5e.

It has another version of the Tomb of Horrors.  Noticed that there wasn't the slightest complaint like there was when the 4e version came out.

I am looking forward to running G3 here soon using these conversions vs. my own.
There are also a few Forgotten Realms adventures I am looking forward to trying out.

I will be at Gary Con tomorrow.
Look for me, I'll be the middle-aged gamer with glasses and a goatee.
Er...wait. I'll also be wearing a Games Plus 35th Anniversary shirt.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #68

Going back just a touch further in time to an issue I do remember fondly and one I still have the cover for!  I always liked this cover and to me it represents a "border" issue. That is I know all of the issues after it very, very well, but many of the ones before it I only read much later.  This one is not my original. I got this one in a different set of Dragons than most of the ones I am reviewing.

Having the cover also means having the full-color ads.  In particular is the one on the back inside cover for the MPC Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Action Scenes.  Swords & Dorkery has a write-up on them and the ad that featured in this issue and in issue #67.  Worth checking out!  I built a lot of MPC models back then. Lots of corvettes, space-ships and at least two R2-D2s. I was never very good but I loved doing it.

This issue takes us to December 1982.  I would have been in 8th grade at this point and Basic/Expert D&D ruled my world.

This issue also has more "punch per page count" than many of the other issue I have looked over recently.  Lots of material I used or will use later. Even, material I can still use today.

What do we have in this one...
Well if you like weird monsters (who doesn't really!) we have a collection of fungus monster in this month's Featured Creatures by Gary Gygax.  These monsters later would appear in the Monster Manual II.

There is a set of improved rules on two-weapon fighting by Roger Moore.  Great artifact of it's time, but have even better rules now.

Arthur Collins gives a really interesting article on playing during the Ice Age. I like the idea and there are some great bits of advice here too.  I think there should have been much more restrictions on the classes to be honest.  Humans are still unlimited in every class. I don't have a huge issue with that, but there should be far less choice.  I don't think there should be magic-users, illusionists, or really bards and assassins.  The article does suggest using shamans, witch-doctors and witches but no indication on which ones.   Great ideas for a start.

Sorceror's Scroll gives us a second Gygax article. This one covers a bunch of new spells that will later show up in both S4 and Unearthed Arcana.  Wording is a little different that what appears in the UA, but all are here.

Len Lakofa also makes an appearance with a Leomund's Tiny Hut article on the Cloistered Cleric. This is a non-adventuring cleric class. It has some interesting ideas of what to do with other clerics. In addition to this there are a lot of new Cleric spells.  I had a couple Cloistered Clerics as part of the religious order I was building in my world back then. Nice to see this again.

I always loved this ad.


We get to the "center fold" of this magazine, the huge article on Weather in the World of Greyhawk. It is very interesting and helpful, but maybe a little overkill.  There is a lot helpful tables; wind chill, temperature variations, wind speed. But 9 times out of 10 the weather that is happening is the weather I want to happen.  If it is raining, it is becuase I want it to rain for plot reasons.  Sure if I were doing a pure hex crawl then there is a lot of use to this.  In any case the cardboard "DM's Screen" is still intact so that is nice.

In the THIRD Gygax article we get more Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk.
Included are Celestian, Fharlanghn, Ehlonna, Pholtus, and Trithereon.

Katherine Kerr also has an article on using ability scores as percentage system.  Reminds me of what we all used to do after playing CoC and then coming back to D&D.  Times your ability score by 5% to get a percentage chance of success on something.

Article on a module design contest.  The entry form has been removed. Guess I can't send my idea in.



All in all, this is a good issue. Lots of great material and lots of useful material. I know it was a big hit for me back in 82.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reviews: Battleaxes & Beasties and the Witches of Hagswallow

I have been wanting to get some more reviews in and I am woefully behind schedule. So along with my deep dive into the Forgotten Realms, I am also investigating more games and products built around Swords & Wizardry.

First up is Battleaxes & Beasties by +Anthony Hunter.


Battleaxes & Beasties is a core rule book from Sleeping Griffon Productions. It is based on Swords & Wizardry, but has some interesting quirks of it's own.   The book is 175 pages, black & white interior with color covers.   There are hardcover and softcover options, I am reviewing the PDF.
We spend a couple of pages going over the basic "what is roleplaying" and "what are these funny dice".  We have all seen this a 1000 times, but it does make it work well for a new player.  Indeed the whole book is great for anyone that has never played before.
Since this is based on S&W we have the same basic six Attributes and modifiers.
It is not till we get to the classes that we some changes.  Now B&B can act as a standalone game, there are enough classes here, but it can also act as a supplement to and other S&W-based game.  I could not help but feel there was a certain level of, well, camaraderie between this game and The Hero's Journey.  Both fall closer together on the "Heroic vs Muder Hobo" scale than say Dungeon Crawl Classics.  The classes include a Beguiler (which is like a Bard, but instead of songs he masters lies), the Faithful (like the cleric), Hunter (something like a Ranger), Scout ( Ranger-y Rogues), Totemist (Druid-Shaman cross),  Warrior and the Wizard.  All the classes advance to 10th level, so this is solid White Box territory.  After the human classes, we get race-specific classes.  Now, these are a lot of fun really. There is the Dwarven Guardian, Dwarven Paladin, Elf Ranger, and the Halfling Outcast.  Seriously fun stuff. We are 20 pages in and the book has paid for itself in my eyes.
There is a section on careers, which other games might call backgrounds.
Spells come next and are sorted by class and level.  There are some new ones here too, not just a rehash of the same old spells.  Additionally, magic is divided into Arcane, Miracles and Fey magics. An interesting touch if you ask me. It doesn't have a lot of game play effects, save on how Rangers learn spells, but it does provide a nice bit of flavor.
Next, we get to the default setting for this game, the Borderlands of Zarteth.  It starts with a "Z" so you know it is going to be a dangerous or at least strange place!
The setting is very D&D; that is neither good or bad, just what it is.  I got the feel reading it that was Clark Ashton Smith plus Robert E. Howard, without the extra helping of doom and despair. It's not 4e Points of Light, nor is it Hero's Journey's "Let's go on an adventure" nor is it the Grimdark of DCC.  It is in between.
The rest of the book is the Referee's Section. I say "rest" but it is really half the book. Everything you expect is here.
The gem here is the Monster section. The monsters are divided up by type first then alphabetically.  There are some nice new monsters here too, again making the book rather worthwhile.
To go with those monsters are some great magical treasures.
There is also an included adventure, reference sheets and a nice character sheet.
Battleaxes & Beasties does not break any new ground, but covers the same ground in interesting ways. Interesting enough to make it easily worth 10 bucks for the PDF.
I am caught between 4 or 5 stars out of 5 here. I'll give it a 5 to adjust the review average.

Witches of Hagswallow Adventure is an adventure for Battleaxes & Beasties.
It is 47 pages, color covers, Black & White interior. Designed fro 3-6 characters of 2-3 level. It can be run directly after the included adventure in the corebook and gives more background on the setting of the Borderlands of Zarteth.
It is a great example on how even the simpleist monsters can be used to great effect.  The "witches" are not witches of course, they are harpies.  But for all practical purposes, the might as well be.  After all these are 2nd level characters; most have just learned which end of the sword is the dangerous one!
There are a lot of great maps, a bunch of new monsters and it expands the world a little bit more for the players.
The adventure also comes with pre-generated characters.
Everything comes in the PDF, but separate files are also included.

All in all this is a very fun system.  Familar, but with a enough new materials to make it completely worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gary Con 2017

In a last minute change of plans it looks like I will be going to Gary Con this year!
But I will only be there on Saturday.



If anyone wants to look me up while I am there that would be great.
I  am bringing my family and we hope to get a game or two in while we are there.



We don't have any games scheduled at all, nor do we have tickets. But that is fine really we can wing it.  I will not have copies of any books to sell though.  Waiting on the printer still for the Hedgewitch.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Releases: Hedge Witches and Prestige Witches

Today is the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as Ostara.
To celebrate this time I have not just one, but two new releases today.

First up:

The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG


Presenting the Hedgewitch for The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying game. Can be used with HJ or Swords & Wizardry Whitebox or Complete.

Included in these 66 pages are:

  • New Race: The Gnome
  • New Professions
  • The Witch class and Hedge Witch tradition
  • 80 spells new to The Hero's Journey
  • 15 new monsters

Fully compatible with The Witch, Eldritch WitcheryThe Witch for Swords & Wizardry Light and The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry.  In fact, all are designed to work together as a complete whole.  Getting these various witches to work together in your is another matter entirely.

A softcover print version is in the process of heading to the printer.  I am just waiting on OneBookShelf on this, they are taking longer than expected.

Also released is the next book in the Strange Brew series for Pathfinder.

Strange Brew: Mystical Paths & Prestige Classes


From the book:

Witches and warlocks come in all shapes, sizes, genders, philosophies, alignments, and focuses. Many of these concepts are expressed through archetypes, but some concepts require a bit ... more ... to fully be expressed.

Here are 23 Prestige Classes for your witch or warlock, allowing them to focus on specific aspects of being a witch or warlock, or a specific type of witch or warlock with more control than an archetype gives you. With them, your witch isn’t "just" a witch, she’s a Tempestarii Storm Raiser, or he isn’t "merely" a witch, but an Occult Scholar.

Help find the true destiny of your witch or warlock!

Also included are some of my favorites, the Imbolc Mage and the Queen of Witches.

Regardless of what game you prefer, I have a class for you.  Time to make some magic!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's a Liminal Time, A Time of Hedgewitches

Tomorrow is the Vernal Equinox also known as Ostara.
Tomorrow we will have equal amounts of light and dark.
Half-way between the start of winter and the start of summer.

It is a time for in-betweens, for liminals, for things not one thing or another.
A time for Hedgewitches.

Tomorrow you can join them.




Friday, March 17, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Fionn, Defence of Ráth Bládhma

"'I am An Cailleach Dhubh,' Bodhmhall replied cynically 'No secret is unknown to me.'"
- Bodhmhall, Bandroai of Ráth Bládhma

Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma: The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series: Book One by Brian O'Sullivan

In this Part 1 of the story of Fionn mac Cumhaill, also known as Finn MacCool, the titular character barely makes an appearance.  He is there, yes, and all the events of the story are centered around him and his mother, but he is not the hero of this tale.
The heroes are the Bandroai (or Ban Drui or Druid) Bodhmhall and her protector and lover Liath Luachra.  When pregnant Muirne Muncháem shows up at Ráth Bládhma, Bodhmhall is duty bound to give her shelter even though she knows that this woman is being pursued by an army who want her and her unborn son dead.  There is also something else in the wood, something darker and evil.
Soon the siege of Ráth Bládhma is on and others are seeking protection and it is all one outcast druid and her warrior woman anamchara can do to protect Muirne and her son.

Since this is a part one there are a lot of characters to get introduced and the whole issue of the oncoming siege and the dark power in the woods.

Ultimately this book is a tale of survival. I hesitate to call it a book about war, there is war yes, but it is more about the survival of the clan and what others will do to survive.

What attracted me to this story was course it was about Fionn mac Cumhaill as well as well as Liath and Bodhmal.  I have read many of the tales about Fionn and most of the modern novelizations.  Fionn was also a central character in my own Buffy the Vampire Slayer games.  So imagine my surprise and pleasure when I discovered this tale was really more about Liath and Bodhmal!

Very little has been said about Fionn's fosterers in the tales and little more has been mentioned in the novels.   For this book to be all bout Liath and Bodhmal was more than I could have asked more.
While reading I found myself connecting to things O'Sulivan had written; we obviously have drawn from the same sources.  So I found his work to be familiar and yet completely new.  When I had read a quarter of the book I had to stop myself from saying "Liath wouldn't do that" or "That's not what Bodhmal would say." At about half way I was so completely enjoying the book that I forgot all that.  Before I finished I had already bought every book Brian O'Sullivan had written.  There are more parts to this story as well as one with Liath and her time with the warrior band Na Cineáltaí or "The Kindly Ones".

The book is largely self contained. That is you can read it and not be left on a cliff hanger if you know the tales of Fionn. I am planning to queue up the next books in the series right away to be honest.  The tale is timeless and one that can be retold many ways.

Liath & Bodhmal
I feel I should address this subject, especially if you have ever read my blog.  Many know my long time love affair with Liath and Bodhmal.  They have appeared in many of my games and have worked their way into the histories of not only the witches I write about, but my characters too.  I have spent a long time with these two. I have very definite opinions on who these characters are and what they should be doing in any given situation.  While my interpretations are different than O'Sullivan's we both agreed on some very important key points. Liath is a peerless warrior. Bodhmal was a druid with a past and not a great past at that. We also agreed on a very key point, that Liath and Bodhmal were lovers.  It's not something I had seen in other tales before. Morgan Llywelyn hinted at it, or maybe I read into it, but Brian O'Sullivan also saw that and his tale is worthy of these two.  Sure I have to get over the first meeting in my mind of Liath and Bodhmal (Liath sparing with her two brothers with a staff and keeping them both on the defense) but this is a really great book.
I can't wait to read more.


2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 9
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Bodhmhall is called a "Bandraoi" but she is a witch in my book.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Very good.
Best RPG to Emulate it: A better question is what RPG have I NOT used to emulate it!  Again, this Liath and Bodhmhall are not my Liath and Bodhmal exactly, but they are closer than any other set I have seen.  To date I have used Castles & CrusadesLabyrinth Lord, D&D 4th Edition,  and of course Unisystem.
Use in WotWQ: What do you think?  But seriously though, in the mythology of my games Bodhmal was not the first witch, but she was one of the first. The Daughters of the Flame coven come from here and in some ways so does the Aiséiligh Tradition.

You can find more of Brian O'Sullivan's books at http://irishimbasbooks.com/.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #72

Another one I have multiple copies of. Sadly none of them have the cover or the File 13 game.

Dragon Magazine Issue #72 takes us back to April 1983. Let's see...I would have been in 8th grade then.  So for me that was the start of my AD&D 1st ed years and the waning of my B/X years.

Now I have a confession. I HATE the annual April Fools issues of magazines. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. But I admit that even the small (very small) amount of humor I find in some of the issues is off-set by the loss of what could have been good material.  Last week though reminded me that even when they had a full magazine to devote that not all the material was good.

This issue is an exception. There is one other coming up (if I even have it), but the humor here is mild and the other material makes up for it.

Let's start with this wonderful Clyde Caldwell cover.  We have two excellent cavaliers fighting a cool looking dragon.  Ties in nicely with the Cavalier class.  I am also surprised that there is no bare thigh in sight!

Kim Mohan's editorial really typifies why I hate the April Fool's issues. You are actually better off not reading it. You can save time and get to the exact same issue by reading the Letters.
The Letters section is full of bemoaning of how the magazine is getting too big (80-88 pages) or too expensive ($3.00).  Here I am in 2017, nearly 35 years later thinking that we don't have enough Dragon these days.

There is an ad for the Science Fiction Book Club. I had joined a couple of different time over the course of my years.  I wonder if they are still around? (https://sfbc.com/Yes they are!) I am pleased to see I had read a good number of the books advertised, but there are few more I'd love to get my hands on again.

The big article of this issue is the Cavalier.  I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Cavalier. I liked the idea of a knight in shining armor, but who wasn't a Paladin.  There is a lot to like here and a great example of the long-form article that I really enjoyed from Dragon.  This is of course from Gary himself.  I also love that art from Keith Parkinson.  Too bad that playing a female elf cavalier riding a unicorn is WAY beyond the scope of the rules they are with!



Following this is, believe it or not, one of my favorite Ecology articles.  The Ecology of the Piercer. Seriously. Though the article has less content that I recalled (or I could be missing more pages) we decided that Piercers are a delicacy in my world, much like escargots are  in this world.  People collect young piercers for food and are worth a lot of money.  The older the piercer the less fresh they taste, so only the young are prized.  Piercers fed a steady diet of deer, elk or other game they would not normally get are even more prized.  Piercer farming has not worked out well, but adventurers are set on the task of collecting the little ones, all while avoiding the big ones!



The article on Gems is interesting, but I would rather have gone to a science book.

The Katherine Kerr article on The Real Barbarians is not one I read a lot of back then, but find very interesting now.  Easily one that should be paired with the Barbarian class that either will show up soon or just did.  Worth reading again to be sure.

Something that is an artifact of it's time is The PBM scene.  Playing by mail is a concept that I think most gamers would never think about these days. Oh I am sure if you look around you might find one or two still going.  Likely a Diplomacy, Tunnels & Trolls or a Traveler one.  It is a long ass article too.  I am not sure if I know anyone that ever did a Play By Mail game.  I considered it, back in the day, but never got around to it. Plus I could not bring myself to pay a buck every turn.

I get to the "behind the scenes" of File 13. Which made me realize I don't have a copy of the actual game.

Ugh... we get to the April Fools section.  I'll make this one fast. Valley Elf song? pass. I have the Frank Zappa album that Valley Girl came on and I got more D&D ideas from that then I do this song.
The Jock. Pass. More Sex in D&D humor.

I am jumping ahead to the book reviews.  Ok. Lots of really cool things here. In particular, I am drawn to Philip K Dick's "We Can Build You".   I remember the book since I was then and now something an armchair Lincoln scholar (what? I can layers.) but what strikes me the most these days is how much the fiction of Philip K. Dick shaped the world we live in now.  I think that is something worthy of a post on it's own someday.

The comics feature Phil n' Dixie doing their normal shtick.  Wormy is interesting though.  The wizard creating the portal is some of the best "portal" art I had seen up to that point.



The ads were good, lots of cool memories. Nothing really in the way of computer games yet.
Nice nostalifgic issue.  Not a lot I can use today except maybe the barbarian article, but still fun.
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