Tuesday, October 31, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

I have been keeping this one under wraps for now, but it's Halloween and it's the time for witches.



Cover art by the wonderful Marlena Mozgawa, Lenamo Art. http://www.lenamo.art and https://lenamoart.deviantart.com/.

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light includes:

  • Seven levels of the Witch Class with three brand new witch traditions
  • new, never before published witch spells
  • rules for familiars and ritual magic
  • new spells, monsters and magic items for Swords & Wizardry Light/Continual Light

All in 13 pages for your Halloween games.

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is designed for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

Monday, October 30, 2017

No Spell to Right This: Carmilla Week Round-up

Well...it was more than a week really.

I love doing these week-long deep dives into a character or a system. It's a great way to explore a topic in my mind. Whether it is a week-long deep dive into a game system like Blue Rose or Superbabes or investigating a set of characters like I did with Miriam and Fran it is something I really look forward to planning and doing.

Doing this for Carmilla and Laura was just as much fun.

I did a lot of stats for various horror games.
Not to mention my original Ghosts of Albion stats for "book" Carmilla.

I also watched a lot of movies.
I would like to try some more systems to be honest. Chill 3.0 comes to mind.
Anyone have any requests?

I am looking forward to doing some more of these deep dives.  Maybe next time a game system.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekend Gaming: Halloween Gaming, Return of the Vampire Queen

It was our weekend of Halloween gaming.  It's was also my oldest son's birthday weekend.
He ran games all night long and while he slept today I ran  "Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen" again, this time for my younger son and his group.



It was 2014 when I first ran this adventure for my oldest son, so I wanted to run it again this year for my youngest since they would have been the same ages.  Very different experiences!

I picked up this adventure back when +Mark Taormino kickstarted a few years back and it is one of my favorites. It's just so much fun.  I also combine it a lot with the classic Palace of the Vampire Queen and the sequels made by Bill Barsh at Pacesetter.

Combined they really make for a great full palace, dungeons, and vampire pits.

Today's group got much further.  I made some changes based on previous runnings and some advice from Mark.

Sin, the Queen on her throne, Diabolica, and the Queen ready to attack
Combined with mins from three different companies this represents one of the things I love the best about this hobby; everyone coming together to provide something new and exciting.
Standing Lady Neeblack is the Vampire from Reaper Minis.


Ok and a bunch of tombstones and coffins from Michaels.



Oh and an old D&D action figure Umber Hulk to represent a giant Umber Hulk.  Yeah, they were scared about that.



They managed to survive long enough to face the Succubi Sin and Diabolica and finally Lady Neeblack the Vampire Queen herself.

I can't say enough good things about these adventures.  It would not be Halloween without them.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Seven Best Horror RPGs

I wanted to get this out in time for Halloween weekend gaming.

This is based on a conversation I was having on Facebook where we all discussing the "Seven Best".  I had a number of people ask me what I felt were the Seven Best Horror RPGs.

For this I immediately thought I am not going to include any horror RPG I have either written or worked on, but as it turns out that is a non-issue since my top seven are all ones done by others.  If this was a Top 10 then we might have other problems!


So without further ado, here they are my Seven Top Horror RPGs, arranged by year and one honorable mention.

Seven Horror RPGs
There is a chill in the air, gloomy clouds in the sky and leaves are all turning.  It is October and it's the time of the season for horror games.  I have been playing horror games for as long I have been playing RPGs.  Even my fantasy and sci-fi RPGs take on a slightly darker tinge to them.  So with Halloween just around the corner I wanted to talk about my Seven Favorite Horror RPGs.

Call of Cthulhu (1981)
Call of Cthulhu might not be the exact first horror RPG, but it was one of the first and the most influential. It was certainly the first horror game that most of us have played or knew about.  It perfectly blended the mythos stories of H.P. Lovecraft with RPG mechanics. Out of the gate the game did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is why the changes in the first six editions are relatively minor.
Call of Cthulhu was monster hunting, but it was so much more than that.  “Monster hunting” covers D&D pretty well but there the similarities end.  In CoC you had to investigate, you had to research and then maybe, just maybe, you found the clue you needed.  If there was magic you used it only in the direst of circumstances and even then your victory or your sanity was never assured.  For many in the 80s, CoC was their first introduction to the weird and alien worlds of the Cthulhu Mythos. Stories from 30-50 years prior were now in vogue again and influenced a generation of gamers and game designers.
The Basic Roleplay System from CoC also powered other games namely Stormbringer (1981), Superworld (1983) and RuneQuest (1978, 1980).

Chill (1984, 1992, 2015)
Chill has the distinction of being the second RPG I ever played (Dungeons & Dragons was first).  Chill is a horror game in the vein of the Saturday night creature feature monster movies, or monster hunting TV shows of the 80s to today.  Here our heroes are brave (mostly) but are expected to push back the dark for just another day.  Chill First Edition came out of Wisconsin and Chill Second Edition came from the Chicago suburbs, so it had a strong Midwest flavor to it that drew me in immediately.
Like Call of Cthulhu’s investigators the characters of Chill are normal humans caught up in an abnormal world.  There are monsters and they need to stop them.  Not always because they are the best at what they do, but because they are the only ones that can. Unlike CoC, the characters of Chill are expected to survive, more or less.  Call of Cthulhu has investigators, Chill has heroes. The definition is subtle in play, but you can feel it.
Chill introduced me to the idea of a meta-plot in RPGs. That there was more going on than just what your characters did. There was this worldwide organization, S.A.V.E., and they helped with the beasties and things that went bump in the night. As the books came out the S.A.V.E. plot expanded.   But we ignored this for the most part with 1st Ed.  In 2nd ed and later 3rd Edition, this became more of a central feature of the game.

Vampire: The Masquerade (1991)
Very, very few games have changed the business as much as Vampire.  Up to this point, you fought the monsters.  With Vampire you became the monster and the battle was with yourself.
Vampire asks the question, what would you do to stay alive? What price is your humanity to just exist for one more long night?  There is personal horror here along with existential horror.    There are also other horrors. Things worse than you, things less human than you are.
The mechanics of the Vampire game, later the Storyteller System, were nothing new; a dice pool with successes and botches, but combined with the story and the effects it became the system of choice for many in the 1990s.  In fact it captured the fear and horror of the 90s so well that it can be better compared to the fear and horror seen in Dracula at the turn of the prior century (1890s).  Though Vampire owes its largest debt to Anne Rice and embraced (pardon the pun) by those who grew up on “Interview with a Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat”.
For better or for worse Vampire changed not only how we view games but how they were also marketed and sold.

Kult (1993)
Kult asks the question “What is reality?” and the answers are not ones that normal people want to hear.  Characters can come from all walks of life and persuasion and the background can be any large modern city.  But that is where most games stay, Kult goes beyond that and characters (and players) discover that reality is an illusion and the real reality is a battleground of supernatural forces vying for control.
If WitchCraft posits that “All Things are True”, Kult’s point of view is “Nothing is true”.  In many ways, it presaged the ideas from the movies “That Dark City” and “The Matrix”.  There are supernatural creatures that control various areas of human action and interaction behind the scene and some humans know about these creatures, Archons and Death Angels, and follow them in cults. The characters do what they can to discover these forces or keep them at bay.
The game had a great concept in Mental Balance that was the first real challenger I felt to Call of Cthulhu's Sanity score in terms of gauging the mental health of the characters involved. More out of balance you are the stranger you become even to the point of not being altogether human yourself anymore.
With Kult, the horror is also of an existentialist variety, but in that way, only the Scandinavian seem to do well. If Call of Cthulhu is Lovecraft and Chill a Saturday Night Monster Movie then Kult is Søren Kierkegaard.

CJ Carella's WitchCraft (1999)
WitchCraft is, hands down, my favorite game.  Period.  Picking up a copy of this book back in 1999 was just like picking up a copy of the Monster Manual in 1979.  Everything I ever wanted in a game was right there. Everything.
WitchCraft had such a profound effect on my gaming that I can draw a rather clean line between what came before and what came after it.
The central idea behind WitchCraft is the same as most other Modern Supernatural Horror games.  The world is like ours, but there are dark secrets, magic is real, monsters are real. You know the drill.  But WitchCraft is different.  There is a Reckoning coming, everyone feels it, but no one knows what it is.  Characters then take on the roles of various magic using humans, supernaturals or even mundane humans and they fight the threats.  Another conceit of the game (and one I use a lot) is that supernatural occurrences are greater now than ever before.  Something's coming.
You can play the same sort of games you played in Call of Cthulhu or Chill as well as Vampire.  WitchCraft assumed that all supernatural views of the world were equally likely. So vampires could rub elbows, metaphysically speaking, with elder horrors from beyond. Your characters can be there to stop them, study them or join them as the case may be.

Little Fears (2001)
When was the last time you were really, really afraid? Most people would say childhood.  Little Fears is exactly about that.  Little Fears is a game of childhood fears.  The monsters are real, they hide in your closet and under your bed. The scary old lady down the street really is a hag. But don’t worry. You are protected by Belief and items that seem mundane or meaningless to grownups can help you.   Little Fears is based on a simple system, as befitting its nature of school children fighting monsters adults can’t see. 
Little Fears also has the notoriety of being one of three RPGs one of my FLGS will not sell in the open.  You can order it, but they don’t stock it.  I don’t agree, but I respect their choice.
While it is a game about children, it is not a game for children.  The subject matter of abuse and death can be a bit much for some adults, let alone kids.  It is also one of the most effective horror RPGs I own.

Sorcerer (2002)
If Vampire is all about what will you do to remain human, Ron Edward’s Sorcerer is all about what price will you do for power?  Created at the height of the creative output of The Forge, indeed the first RPG from and starting the independent RPG movement from The Forge. 
Like Vampire your character struggles with their Humanity. But where Vampire can be described as the Beast Within, Sorcerer is the Beast Without or in this case a personal Demon.  You make a pact with a Demon for power and the more power you need, use or take causes you to lose your humanity and become more and more enthralled to the demon.  The game can do a lot of different types of play, but it is all centered around this central idea.

And one more.

Special Mention: WITCH Fated Souls (2016)
I know I am only doing Seven games, but WITCH Fated Souls by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul combines a lot of what made all these other games so much fun.  You have the struggle with power vs. humanity vs. damnation you see in Vampire and Sorcerer. The hidden world of Little Fears, Chill, and Kult and the power struggle between faction you can see in WitchCraft and again in Vampire.   All against a background that is as unique as Call of Cthulhu and Kult.
I picked up this game last year and have not done enough with it yet.

All these games are great and many have won numerous awards over the years.  They have been enough that they cover most aspects of horror.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: Styria (2014)

I wanted to go back and rewatch this one after spending a lot time with Carmilla.  I remember that this one had been pretty good and I wanted to go back and see if it held up.

I am happy to admit it does.

There must have been some sort of cinematic vibe in the air because rewatching this one now reminded me a lot of The Only Lovers Left Alive.  The soundtrack is still awesome and the chemistry I saw between the two actresses, Eleanor Tomlinson (Lara) and Julia Pietrucha (Carmilla), is still there, even if it is not the same as the newer Carmilla movie.  Not sure if I can grok a blonde Carmilla though.  Stephen Rhea is fantastic as usual playing Lara's father only as he can.  He always looks like he is one bad bender away from falling apart.

As my want, I watched this as if it was a sequel to "Daughters of Darkness" and a prequel to the "Carmilla" web series.  It doesn't...but it would fit the backstory well enough with some edits.

It is a very worthy entry into the collective mytho-storytelling of Carmilla.



This Old Dragon: Issue #126

October 1987.  I am a Freshman in University and about to hit my first big Halloween bash at a school notorious for it's 50,000+ people Halloween party.  But that is at night. Durning the day I pick up a copy of Dragon magazine that is destined to be one of my top three Dragons of all time.
So "Here I Go Again" with October 1987 and issue #126 of This Old Dragon!

Let's first talk about that cover.  It is easily one of my all-time favorite covers. Daniel R. Horne's "Saving the Best for Last" is an epic in a picture.  An old enemy back from the dead to exact his revenge and a ranger down to her last magic arrow.  Only one is going to walk away here.  To this day if I ever use a frost giant against a group of characters you can best believe that at least one of them is coming back as an undead to try to avenge.  That's some powerful shit there to still affect my gaming 30 years later.

Letters come from people looking for PBM games. I didn't have a mainframe account yet, but I knew even then that LISTSERVs were going to be the future of gaming, at least anyway for the next few years.  We also learn that Star Frontiers will no longer be published. More on that in a bit.

The Forum covers two letters concerning setting up a BBS (Bulletin Board System) for accessing older Dragon articles via modem.  Oh the can of worms that must have raised in the offices then.  This is the dawn of the age that TSR clamped down on ANYTHING on the Internet that was D&D related.  Heck in the 90s I seriously doubt I could have even done an article like this without hear from their lawyers.  Look, I am all about nostalgia here of the "Golden Age" of our hobby, but let's not forget what a bunch of assholes TSR had back in the late 80s and early 90s.  You could barely talk about anything online.  When it comes to doing anything online with D&D give me WotC over TSR any day of the week.  Sorry if that makes me loose my old-school street cred, but it is also the truth.

Ken Rolston is up first with his Copyright 1987 Role-Playing Reviews (No snark, I only point that out because it is one of the reasons why the BBS would not have worked and the CD-ROM didn't).  Covered this month is Role-Aids Undead.  I enjoyed the Role-Aids products even if they never had much, or any, traction in my groups back then.  Everyone was all "only TSR!". But Undead is a fun book an a fun adventure.  It had some great alternate lich ideas and some cool undead.  It even had a clan of disgraced dwarves.

Sage Advice runs the gambit.  One player asks if his LG Paladin could marry a CE Magic-User. It must have made a sub-conscious impact on me cause I'd spend the next few years having my Paladins fall in love with Witches.  Or maybe they are both my favorite classes.
We learn also there will be no more Star Frontiers (less details than promised) and no more D&D Cartoon.

We come up to our October feature! The Dead of Night.

To start off with a home run we have THE Tom Moldvay talking about a bunch of different vampires in Hearts of Darkness.  He gives us stats not only for the vrykolakas, Baobhan sith, and the ch'ing shih but also for Dracula himself. I had been working on the stats for Dracula for every game I knew at that point.  I even had Star Frontiers stats for him.  Seeing this was like a bolt from the blue.  I knew I was doing something right.  I still continue to this day.

Dead on Target by David Howery is a great article on using the right weapon against the right undead.  If you go with the idea that clerics can't use swords, then this article makes a lot of sense in explaining that.  Swords are not that effective against skeletons, zombies or ghouls. Sorry Michonne.  A lot of these ideas have been used in other games before or since, but here they were new and fresh and really, really bugged the crap out of my players. Especially since I Was about to go All Ravenloft, All the Time.

Vince Garcia is no stranger to the Other Side.  His article on A Touch of Evil:  Breathing life into the world of the dead was another one of those articles that were common sense in retrospect but seemed revolutionary at the time.  The article covers how to make undead scarier and more unique.  It flows well from Dead on Target to really, really make for a bad day.

And now the scariest article of all....Steve Winter is up with The Game Wizards Second Edition: An Editors Viewpoint.  Yes, 2nd edition is going to be here in about a year.  It is an overview of what the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide will contain.  I remember a few years back comparing this list to my PHB and DMG and found minor differences, but nothing that stood out.  I can't recall if I was excited then or not. I DO know what I did think eventually.  It is the same cycle I go through with ever edition change.  1. "I am not going to upgrade, I am happy with what I have." 2. "Ok, I'll have a look and see, but I am not really going to play." 3. "Wow this is awesome! I love what they did!" 4. "Abandon everything, this is now the only edition I will ever play!" 5. Repeat.  The notable exception was 3.0 and I was ready for that one the moment I knew it was coming.

Dan Salas is next with a world changing article for me. Well, game world changing.  The Ecology of the Shade gives us a look into the Shade (from MM2).  AS an alternate to the Lich this was a viable option for characters looking for immortality and not exactly Good.  Some of this would come back from the dead in 4e as the Revenant.

Bazaar of the Bizarre covers Treasures of the Orient. Neat, but I would have rather seen more spooky stuff.

Dean Shomshak is back with some spells for Call of Cthulhu in A Ghastly Grimoire.  I adapted some to AD&D.

Letters and Forum have their overflow pages.

The Dragon's Bestiary covers mutants for Gamma World.  Yes, I converted some of these as well. Especially the Giggle Bugs.

New contact system for Top Secret.

The Marvel Phile is next and it is another home run.
One of my FAVORITE Marvel Comics was The Tomb of Dracula.  Loved it. Was introduced to such great characters as Drake, Blade and of course Doctor Strange.
The Marvel Phile has stats for Dracula and bringing his "history" up to date.
I spent HOURS pouring over various books and movies and comics to come up with the most detailed history of Dracula.  I had him doing something every year from the time he was born till 1987.  Obsessive much? Yes. But you should expect that by now.
I added his Marvel stats to my collection as well.

HUGE ad for something I never thought I would see in 1987.  A Star Wars RPG.






Role of Computers covers the state of the art for PC games at the time.  One game it covered was Rogue by Epyx, Inc.  It reviewed the PC and Mac versions, but not the one I was playing at the time, the Tandy Color Computer 3.  I was most disappointed.

Small ads.
Convention Calendar
Snarf Quest and Dragon Mirth.
A double shot of Wormy in the form of a Hex-Word puzzle and the normal comic.
Fun stuff.




All in all a crazy great issue and one I still use.

Want to know what I thought of White Dwarf from the same month? Spoiler, it doesn't measure up. But check out White Dwarf Wednesday #94.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Carmilla Movie (2017)

Carmilla week continues.  The movie is out tonight or tomorrow (depending on where you are) and I wanted to save this one for today.

A change tonight from ancient, dusty videotapes for this challenge.  Instead, I am reviewing a movie that was only released to the public 2 hours ago.

The Carmilla Movie, based on the hit webseries was just released to backers and I just got done watching it.

Naturally, I don't want to say too much because of spoilers, but I will say this.  It lived up to the hype and the anticipation.

The basic gist is Carmilla is being summoned back to Styria to deal with all the deaths she caused.  We get ghosts, haunted houses, vampires and plenty of chills.

Natasha Negovanlis is an absolute treat as Carmilla and Elise Bauman shines as reporter Laura Hollis.  All the cast is great though.   The newcomer, Dominique Provost-Chalkley though puts on a stellar performance as Elle, Carmilla's first true love and the big bad of the story.  Elle is about as far from Waverly Earp as you can get and really made me appreciate her as an actress even more.

The movie is a solid horror flick despite Laura's own "goodbye Hammer Horror, hello Rom Com!"

You don't need to see the series to enjoy this movie, but if you did then there are plenty of rewards for you.

Very pleased.



We could live forever, and suffer: Laura and Carmilla for Monsterhearts

Carmilla week continues.  The movie is out tonight or tomorrow (depending on where you are) and I wanted to save this system for today.

+Avery Alder's Monsterhearts has been one of those games I that I have wanted to review and play some more ever since I first encountered the First Edition all the way back when I was introduced to it at Gen Con.

The system is an easy one, based on the Apocalypse World Engine, something else I have wanted to delve into further.   The base mechanic is simple; 2d6 + whatever mods (depending on the game), get higher than 10 for a success, or a 7-9 for something weird.

Monsterhearts is a game on what it like to play teenage monsters.  Monsters as metaphors for teenage life and feeling a little outside the norm.  I think it is something everyone can relate too I think.
While I'll get a proper review up soon the game is tailor-made for Carmilla really.

Even the game's lack of a combat mechanic works well with the very combat free scenes of the Carmilla web series.  In fact, nearly everything in this game is perfect for a Carmilla-like game. Just need a skin for the downloaded consciousness of JP 3.0 (though a Ghost might work well).

Laura and Carmilla for Monsterhearts
For these builds I used Monsterhearts 2.  I have a book of Monsterhearts 1 (and PDFs of both).  The system differences are minor. There some differences. Most of these are detailed here.  Both versions of the game are on sale now.

Given the rules where Mortals develop their characters last, I'll switch it up and do Carmilla first.

Carmilla Karnstein
Skin: Vampire
Look: Drop dead sexy.
Backstory: Mysterious stranger (Gain a Sting on Everyone)

Stats
Hot 2, Cold 1, Volatile -1, Dark -1

Darkest Self
People are your playthings.
No one messes with my Creampuff Laura!

Sex Move
Lost all Strings on Laura

Vampire Moves
Cold as Ice
Marked for the Hunt
Inescapable

Laura Hollis
Skin: The Mortal
Look: Tiny and mighty
Backstory:  Intrepid Journalism Student

Stats
Hot 2, Cold -1, Volatile -1, Dark 1

Darkest Self
Only I can figure this out, no one else can help and only I can defeat the monsters.
(borrowed from the Chosen)

Sex Move
You bring out the Darkest Self in Carmilla when you are not around.

Mortal Moves
True Love (Carmilla)
Down the Rabbit Hole
Mess With Me, Mess With Her

Oh this will be fun!
I gave them both one more move as an advancement.  I think that is fine.  In fact I could have given them more.  I think these should work well for Season 2.

Given all the skins I want to play a game where the cast is made up of characters from Carmilla, Buffy, and HƎX.  I can get some vamps, some witches, a chosen, a ghost, an infernal, and who knows what else.

Links

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Blood Spattered Bride (1972, 1974)

Another loose retelling of Carmilla, this time from Spain. The retelling is a bit loose and set in modern times, well, the 70s anyway.

Our victim this time is Susan.  Carmilla, of course, shows up (buried in the sand no less) and begins in on Susan and her husband.  Eventually, Carmilla, Susan, and some other girl (because fuck it right) are all killed by the husband.

The movie is not bad, but a confusing mess really.  The movie could very easily work as a sequel to the Vampire Lovers or any other Carmilla movie.

Alexandra Bastedo makes for good Carmilla, though a blonde one.  Which is odd of course, but she makes up for it.







Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2nd Ed Unboxing

I am interrupting today's normal posting for something I have been waiting for for a long time.

Working from home today and my doorbell rang.  Sitting on my porch was a big box!


I immediately knew what this was and got out my phone.

a few cuts and what do we have inside?



A HUGE copy of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2nd Ed!

When I say huge, I mean it.


I cleared out space on my "OSR" shelf, but now I think I need to clear out a lot more.


The book is gorgeous really.




And that is only the tip of the iceberg really.

There is a new map that is huge improvement over the old map.



It is in color and much larger.  But it is not as thick.


The new book is great and it will sit next my 1st Ed box rather nicely.


+Jeff Talanian and David Prata did a hell of a job on this.  Can't wait to game with this one.

Monday, October 23, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

For Carmilla Week I thought I go back to a the very deep well of the Vampire Lovers.  It also is one of my video tapes (along with some other movies this week) so really it works out well.

I did this one all the way back in 2012 and some observations I made then still hold true today.

Carmilla/Mircalla of The Vampire Lovers is a killer.  She is a murderess to be sure but to quote They Might Be Giants she was "the nicest of the damned".

Comparing Ingrid Pitt to Natasha Negovanlis may strike some as blasphemy, but I think it is entirely fair.  After all no one will remember Julia Pietrucha as Carmilla (Syria) or Christen Orr (The Unwanted) but these two will always be remembered.

Each is also perfect for her respective portrayal of the troubled vampire.

The movie is actually fairly close to the book.  Enough that if you read the book and see the movie you will notice more of similarities rather than the differences.

Now here there is no doubt that Carmilla is supposed to be evil.  She casually uses and tosses away Mdme. Perrodot (Kate O'Mara) and she did kill Laura (Pippa Steele) but yet to me there is something underneath all of this.  Carmilla is still a tragic figure.  She was damned, but maybe the least of the damned.  Not as much as in the novella, but it is there.  We see this more and more as the adaptations become more modern. 

Could this movie work as a prequel to the series? Sure.  In the movie just have Carmilla fall in love with Elle at the end and let the events of season 1 unfold.  OR do as I do, enjoy them separately for their own merits.

Connor didn't watch this one with me.  He is burned out on my 70s Hammer films.

Love Will Be Cruel: Carmilla for Die For You

All week I am doing RPG conversions of the Web series Carmila. Today I am going to shift my focus slightly and look at a Role-Playing Game that was directly inspired by Carmilla.

Growing Up is Weird
Die For You by Rose Bailey lists Carmilla as it's primary inspiration.  Though given the name I can't imagine that HEX was also not an inspiration.
Die For You is a slim book, only 13 pages. Character creation and rules are all, understandably really simple.  Designed for 2 to 5 people, one game master and four players, I think it could be expanded.  It also has that feel of a game that could also work with rotating GMs.

This game would classify as a "Story Game" I believe, it has that feel, but I really don't know much about its genesis.

To play you start by Picking a Setting.  Since I am going to go with Carmilla as my example (and I think it sells the game best) I'll give examples from the start of Season 1.   The setting can be random (roll a 1d6) or the group's choice.   We are going for "College" here.

Next comes Creating a Character. Again this is an easier process than most games, but one that should involve everyone playing.  First thing you need to come up with is your Concept.  The examples given are good for us, with some tweaks; “Nosey Journalism Major” or “Disaffected Vampire.”  You can decide if you are some sort of monster or a normal human.
Now define your Want. This is something your characters wants.  Let's go with "Find the Missing Girls from Silas University" as an example.  When pursuing your wants you have a better chance of succeeding, but also you open yourself up more to creating complications.  Looking for the missing girls gets the attention of the Evil Dean that wants to sacrifice them to an ancient demon.   Having conflicting Wants in the group is also a good thing.
Now determine your Traits.  You have three: Feels, Weird and Real Life.  Feels and Weird are ranked 2 to 4 and combined they must equal 6.  Real Life is the same as your lowest score.
Finally, you have Trust.  Trust is another character you trust and this can change from scene to scene if needed.

While this is going on the GM comes up with the Big Bad. This is who they need to defeat to move the story to its end.  Simpler is better. "Vampire", "Nephilim" or "Evil Dean".
Then figure where the game begins and what happens.  "At the big party, a girl disappears".   "In the middle of class, you set fire to all the paper with your mind".  And so on.

Roll the Bones
Rolls come in two types, Challenges (your character is trying to do something or opposed by an NPC) and Conflicts (opposed by another PC).   In Challenges, you roll against the Trait that the GM is most affected.  Each die that is one lower than your trait is a Success.   There are ways to get more dice. You can get help from another character, pursuing your Wants, making a sacrifice, or using your Trust.

A few minutes of set up, getting characters made and you are set to go!

Playing Carmilla
The Setting: Silas University, Freshman dorms. Laura Hollis' room.
Big Bad: The Dean (revealed later)

The Cast

Left to Right: Danny, Laura, LaFontaine, Carmilla, Perry
Carmilla
Concept: Disaffected Vampire
Want: To not do the horrible things her mother makes her do anymore. (Later) I want Laura to be safe.  (Later) I want Laura.
Traits
Feels: 2
Weird: 4
Real Life: 2
Trust: No one, Laura

Laura Hollis
Concept: Nosey Journalism Student
Want: To find the missing girls and maybe date Danny. (Later) I want Carmilla to be safe. (Later) I want Carmilla.
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: Dany, Carmilla

Danny
Concept: Really tall English Lit TA
Want: I want to go out with Laura. (Later) I want Laura to be safe.
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: Laura

LaFontaine
Concept: Would-be mad scientist; brainy
Want: To get into med school and figure out all the weirdness on campus. (Later) I want to party with the Demon of Light.
Traits
Feels: 2
Weird: 4
Real Life: 2
Trust: Perry

Perry
Concept: Dorm mom, German major and neat freak.
Want: I want everyone to be normal! Just be normal!
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: LaFontaine

There. Five characters as quickly as I could write them down.  Take them and throw them into the weirdness.  The game is a lot of fun and could be a really fun experiment to try with some exsisting characters.  Plus they would all work great on a notecard.

The game is Pay What You Want, so if you want to try it, throw the author a buck or two and if you like then toss in a couple more.
You can see more about this game at http://www.fantasyheartbreaker.com.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Die As One, Together As Lovers: Carmilla and Laura for Ubiquity

It's going to be Carmilla week here at the Other Side!  Up next is Laura and Carmilla for the Ubiquity System.

The Ubiquity system is one of my favorite systems.  For me it is a grittier, pulpier system than Unisystem.  Leagues of AdventureLeagues of Gothic Horror and the new Leagues of Cthulhu are Ubiquity powered games from Triple Ace Games.  The Hollow Earth Expedition RPG is a Ubiquity powered adventure game from Exile Game Studios.  All these games are compatible and together give us a world full of adventure and horror. 

A world that one could easily find a surly vampire and a tiny gay journalist.  The Ubiquity system compares well to the Unisystem game system.  So if the Buffy RPG versions work well enough, then these should work well too.



I am going with end of Season 1, start of Season 2 versions here.

Laura Hollis
Archetype: Reporter
Motivation: Duty

Style: 3
Health 5

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

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 4, Perception 8, Initiative 6, Defense 4, Stun 2

Skills
Academics: Journalism 5, Art: Writing 5, Brawl: Krav Maga 4, Con: Bluff 5, Craft 5, Diplomacy 6, Investigation: Research 6,

Talents
Attractive +2, Head Strong, Inspire

Resources
Ally 3

Flaw
Code of Conduct, Honest, Loyal

Weapon
Punch 0N

For Laura, she is slightly better than an archetype or starting character, but I think this works out fine.

Carmilla
Patron 4
Archetype: Vampire
Motivation: Vengange (sister)

Style: 5
 Health 11*

Primary Attributes
Body 5, Dexterity 6, Strength 5, Charisma 6, Intelligence 4, Willpower 6

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 11, Perception 10, Initiative 10, Defense 11, Stun 5*

Skills
Academics: History 7, Religion 5, Athletics 7, Brawl 6, Con 8, Diplomacy 6, Empathy 4, Intimidation 8, Linguistics 6, Performance 6, Stealth 7

Talents
Attractive +3, Fearsome Attack, Iron Jaw (+1 Stun)*, Unarmed Parry (can block melee weapons), Well Educated

Resources
Refuge: Size 1 (smaller apartments across Eastern Europe, but owned by her mother), Status 1 (Former foreign noblewoman; +2 Social bonus)

Flaw
Thirst for Blood (+1 Style point when her unholy appetite reveals its true nature, she prefers young women)

Weapons
Bite 9L**, Punch 9N

* Carmilla is immune to lethal and nonlethal damage except fire or holy objects.
** If Carmilla scores 3+ successes on her bite attack, she has latched onto her victim’s neck. Until she ceases feeding voluntarily or is forcibly removed (as per ending a grapple), the victim takes automatic damage equal to her Strength rating each round.

Decapitation/Piercing the Heart: This requires a Called Shot against a vital area. If the damage exceeds Carmilla’s Body rating, she is instantly killed, otherwise, the attack has no effect.

Shape Change, Lesser: Carmilla can transform into a large cat. This requires two complete rounds and a Willpower roll. While in animal form, she retains her own statistics but cannot speak, use tools, or use any of her other abilities. Reversion to her true form is a reflexive action.

Using Carmilla and Laura in your Games

Depending on when you grab them Carmilla and Larua could either be a fun addition to your games, or potentially a fun plot point.

One thing that would REALLY be fun happens at the end of Season 3 but before the movie:
[Spoilers]Carmilla is a human again after battling the Goddess Innana. That will certainly bring some interest to monster hunters around the world.[/Spoilers].  I am sure that would be a lot of fun.  Plus Laura's role as journalist is an excuse to find trouble.

Just four more days till the movie!

October Horror Movie Challenge: Lifeforce (1985)

I am so far behind on these.

Up next on a my Vampire tape is Tobe Hooper's 1985 Lifeorce.  Loosely based on on Colin Wilson's "Space Vampires".  The movie has the aforementioned space vampires but they differ from the book.
One thing that struck me while watching this was the fact that 19-year old French Actress Mathlida May pretty much spends the entire movie walking around completely naked.  I am not sure a horror movie outside of the exploitation types could do this anymore (see the "I Spit on Your Grave" remakes).

The movie is still fun.  In addition to May it features a Pre-Star Trek Patrick Stewart and a pre-X-Files Steve Railsback.

Of course I immediately adopted the Space Vampires (the Lovecraftian "Ubbo-Sathla" in the book) to my AD&D games.
The stats I wrote then became the basis for the Space Vampire I did a few years ago.

Connor did not watch this one with me.  I'll admit I avoided telling him about it.  Weird I know. I was 16 when saw it the theaters and he is 14 now.


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