Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: AD&D 1 in print

Last week saw the release of the AD&D 1st Edition Core books in POD at DrivethruRPG.

Monster Manual
Players Handbook
Dungeon Masters Guide

This is a pretty big deal really.  This means for the first time ever 1st Edition will remain perpetually in print.

Today even more 1st Edition goodness was released.

A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity
A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords
H4 The Throne of Bloodstone




Soon every adventure of my "Come Endless Darkness" campaign will see print.

Looking at H4 it is only $12 for a POD version.  No idea if it has the giant fold out map (I highly doubt it), but you get the PDF with it and can printout the map on multiple pages if you need.

Throne of Bloodstone has always gone for top dollar on eBay.  I am not sure what this will do to the aftermarket since there are many that will want that map.  I do know that in many cases when PDFs of TSR/WotC products first came up the aftermarket took a hit.

I still have have a copy of H4.  I had a couple in fact adn sold one a while back for 30 bucks.

I played Throne back in the day. Soon after it came out in fact.  It is a killer module and it took us all summer to complete it but it was worth it. I played it the first summer I was back from college. So in between working two jobs I tried to squeeze as much gaming in as I could.

I would love to use this as the capstone to my Come Endless Darkness game, but I need to figure out how to get the characters there.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Promises, Promises & RPG Blog Carnival

"You know, going on adventures sound great. Until you actually do it." Drusilla, dispossessed princess of an oppressed people.

Promises, Promises is one of those books that people have been telling me I need to read for years. It features witches, oracles, a Red Sonja-like warrior woman, and, as the cover proclaims, plenty of dykes.

But more importantly, it is a fun story with some great and memorial characters.  This is L-J Baker's first foray into comedy and it's a ton of fun.
In the pages of this book she lampoons and satirizes: Star Wars, Dune, Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Princess Bride, Shrek, the Valdemar Books, Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, Eragon, Narnia, every fairy tale, Buffy, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (many times), Harry Potter, Monte Python and the Holy Grail, Conan, and of course lots, and lots of D&D.

Not all her jokes hit the mark, but there are so many you don't really care.  This is not, as others have claimed. a Xanth-like novel, but the comparison is a fair one.

I honestly believe that L-J Baker had to have been (or still is) a gamer.  The references are too well done and actually too lovingly well done to be anything else other than admiration.    Yes she is poking fun at some long-held tropes but in such a way as only someone who has loved these tropes can.

If you love stories of adventures or games of them, then I would suggest getting this for those reasons alone. It points out some of the most ridiculous situations adventurers often find themselves in, but again does it in such a way as never to ridicule, but have light fun.  The lack of proper hair care products, insect repellant, steady wages and sleeping accommodations are only the tip of the iceberg. You quickly learn that every adventuring company needs a "Ruth".

A couple of nitpicks. Sometimes the book tries to be too clever. Especially when talking about anachronistic details like flushable toilets and advanced cartography. BUT even these are meant to poke fun at modern biases you see in many fantasy books, especially ones based on game worlds.
Also, I picked up the audio-book for this and the narrator really has an odd way of pronouncing some of the words. Not sure what was going on here, but I cringed every time she would say "talons". Other words she just didn't know how to pronounce. I picked up the Kindle version too just to make sure I was not mishearing something.

All in all, though the book was extremely fun and enjoyable. There is a good story here and even a message about not having to go out to seek something that you already have.
It's no spoiler that there is a Happily-Ever-After (it's on the cover) but like all adventures, most of the fun is getting there anyway.

Thank you my internet minions for suggesting this book to me! Now go forth and find me more!
(Or...if I take the lesson from this tale, I should just go over to my tower of "To Be Read" and tackle that.)

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 4
Level: Initiate
Witches in this book: Miss Sandra Sybil Blunt, first rate wooer of women, but only a third rate witch.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Sandy is good. She doesn't always know that.
Best RPG to Emulate it: So easy. This book SCREAMS "Play me in Pathfinder!"
Use in WotWQ: Given all the cameos of so many fantasy characters in this book Sandy, Ruth, Dru, Mavis and Bob will have to make a guest appearance in my adventures someday.  Dru will have to say something appropriately anachronistic.


The Problem With Oracles
Consequently, this book also ties in nicely with this month's RPG Blog Carnival, Prophecies & Omens.  It really illustrates how and why Oracles, Omens, and Prophecies are such a pain in the ass (and often very fun to use).
In "Promises, Promises" we get two oracles of a sort.  The first is "The Infallible Oracle of Ring" that has stated that Drusilla, dispossessed princess of an oppressed people, will go on many adventures with the Great Obtuse Mage, and survive to get her kingdom back.  This is great since it gives Dru plenty of motivation to go on this otherwise ridiculous adventure, sadly everyone else thinks she is insane.

The second oracle is the previously mentioned Obtuse Mage, also known as Sandy Blunt herself.
She is the one that gets everyone in trouble.  She tries to hit on a princess in disguise (another princess) and commits the capital offense of Prophesizing to one of Royal Blood.  She has a year and day to make all her alcohol and lust-fueled boasts come true.

"Promises, Promises" plays on the setup of prophecies in fantasy fiction quite well.  Several others are mentioned such as various farm-boy turned chosen ones (read Star Wars, Dune, Eragon and Harry Potter).  Dru will often throw herself right into danger because of the Infallible Oracle of Ring.

While fun for a book, even a book based more or less on RPGs, it is a bit harder to pull this off for RPGs in play.  So if I was the DM and I had a party that included a witch, a princess, a warrior woman, a clueless paladin, an ogre druid and a highly resourceful shop girl (first I guess I'd question what the hell was I playing) I would not let my princess jump feet first into the deepest part of the ocean because the Oracle said she would get her crown back.

Prophecies have to be vague, Omens have to be hard to read.  The Prophecy in Harry Potter, for example, was vague enough to mean Harry or Neville.  Or in the case of Anakin his "bringing balance back to the force" meant killing every Jedi until there were only two Jedi and two Sith left.

In my own games, I had set up a situation where a child was going to be born who would essentially become the "Messiah of Witches".  This was during my "Willow & Tara" game in Season 2, "Season of the Witch".  Season 3, "Generation Hex", would fast forward a bit (the child was born in 2005) to deal with the children born then in high school now.  One of those characters was going to be this new power in the world.  I didn't know who yet, I wanted to keep that much vague even from me, but I knew it was going to be one of them.
What I could not foresee (though it should have been obvious) was my Season 2 taking forever, so much that the game's future became the real-world's past and Season 3 never getting started.

Who was going to be the new Witch Messiah? No one knows now.

So here is my advice for Prophecies and Omens in your games:

1. Keep them Vague
Just like the prophecies of Nostradamus are ret-conned to mean or justify anything today, keep your's vague so they might mean anything at all.

2. Have the Players Give them Meaning
Let your player decide what the prophecies mean for their characters.  Along with being vauge, this gives you an "out". Plus they might come up with something much more interesting than you did and they will find ways to make it come true.

3. Use them Sparingly
Omens, Prophecies and the like have more punch when they are a rare thing. No considers the weather app on your smart-phone to be magical, but it has a far better success rate than what Nostradamus has said.   Part of that reason is well, science, but also I can get a weather report anytime I want one. Back in the early days of the internet (the 80s) I was dumbfounded when I logged in and could get a real-time weather map. Why? Because it was rare and new.

Prophecies can be a lot of fun. Or like for the poor Obtuse Mage and 3rd rate witch Sany Blunt, they can be a real pain in the ass!



Sunday, January 29, 2017

Lazy Sunday Image Dump

Not much happing today. That is good.  So here are some things that have attracted my attention.

My son has been playing Skyrim since it came out. Well I guess they have a bunch of mods out for it now on the Xbox so he has been playing more.  I told him when I could get a witch hat to let me know.  It came out near the start of the year so this is the character he helped me make.  The "Elder Scrolls" version of Larina.




Not really the most appropriate adventure gear really. This is the "Witch Armor". The tattoos are actually the armor.  I have to admit I like the colors and really dig the pentagrams.   The feathers on the cloak are a nice touch as well.


This image appeared on my Tumblr feed.

http://vintagegeekculture.tumblr.com/post/147818530148/gil-kane
It reminded me I need to do more with my own Astra, the superhero known as "Justice".

After all, she really could be called the Girl of the Future considering her dad is the "Man of Tomorrow".  The history of this character though is something of a mystery. You can read the details here, http://eroticmadscience.com/2017/01/09/tumblr-favorite-2717-the-big-brain-am-winning-again/

I should get my supers game going some more to get Justice some more game time.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Team Synergy & London Gothic

I have a couple of really fun ones for you today!

First up is a Superhero team of cousins called Team Synergy.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hbcomics/team-synergy-vol-1-spellbound



From their Press Release:

“Team Synergy” Kickstarter Promises New Heroes For Young Girls
HBComics' super-hero comic on kickstarter is“For every young girl who never had a hero of her own”

HBComics, a boston based indie comic publisher, has launched a kickstarter campagin for “Team Synergy,” a comic about a super-team of teenage girls, aimed at getting young female readers interested in super heroes.

According to the creators, the book was very much inspired by their own daughters and nieces.

“This book is so important to be, because I have two young girls...we have a lot of girls in our family.” said Chris Hebert, in the campaign's video. “(The young girls at comic conventions) would light up when they saw the book. One girl was literally jumping up and down hugging it. She was so excited there was a book just for her.”

The description of the comic on the kickstarter reads: "Five Teenage Girls. All cousins. All super-powered. Trained by their great grandmother, the original super heroine, to be the next generation of heroes. For every young girl who never had a super hero of their own to look up to, this is TEAM SYNERGY!” The book is written by Alan Hebert (Writer of Lazerman) and has art by Scott Shiver (Fem Force) and colors by Chris Hebert.

The kickstarter is running until February 24th, and can be found here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hbcomics/team-synergy-vol-1-spellbound

About HBComics™: HBComics™ is an independent comic book publisher, founded by two brothers from Boston. More information on the company, or the titles being produced, can be found at www.hbcomics.com

####

If you'd like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call Chris Hebert at 781-588-9867 or e-mail info@hbcomics.com

The heroes include team leader Awesome Girl, cheerleader turned superhero Hot Pink, introvert and skeptic punk (and destined to be a new fave here at the Other Side) Scatterbrain, shrinker and anime fan GlitterBug, and finally the hyper social butterfly Pinball. Love these names.  I could see these characters EASY in an Icons game.

Personally, I think it looks awesome and I love finding Kickstarters like this. For me this why Kickstarter was created; to help out independent creators get their creation out to you.

Switching from comic fun to the dark streets of Victorian London.

A London Gothic
Dark Tales of Vampires, Witches, & Demons on the Streets of Victorian London!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/415194828/a-london-gothic


As I mentioned to the author, Paul Voodindi,  "Vampires, Witches, Demons, London of the Victorian age?  Sounds like my Christmas list!"

From the press release for this:
Paul Voodini welcomes you to the dark and Gothic London of an alternative 1888. A dark and Gothic London where the shadow of Jack the Ripper still hangs over the streets of the East End like a malignant memory, fresh in the mind and with the power still to terrify. It is barely a month since Saucy Jack claimed the life of Mary Jane Kelly, yet, as our heroine Little Nell Trent is about to find out, there are more horrors than just old Jack lurking in the grim backstreets of Whitechapel.

Attacked on her own doorstep by a vampire girl, 18 year old Nell is herself transformed, joining the ranks of the East End vampires, known by the human residents as Tooth Fairies, and is plunged into a world of blood, lust, and dark wonder.

Captured by a human gang and forced into servitude, Nell befriends her one-time assailant Sally, the girl who originally turned her from mortal to vampire, and over the Christmas period of 1888, Sally protects her protégé as best she can, and every night recounts to her a Gothic tale from the dark underbelly of London.
“I had so many stories to tell,” explains Paul, “that I didn't know which one to focus on. So then I thought, why not write them all?!”

Inspired by the classic '1001 Arabian Nights', in which a wife successfully manages to stave off her execution by reciting a tale each night to her king husband, 'A London Gothic' features a series of short stories intertwined within the main narrative. And so, amongst others, we hear of Mary Shelley, who in this reality is a witch intent on raising back to life her dead friend, Amanda Frankenstein; Tiny Tim, the vampire boy, who prophecy tells will lead the vampire girls of London's East End out of the shadows and into the glittering heart of the British capital; and the poor, young funeral worker who on Christmas Eve is possessed by the unquiet spirit of Jacob Marley.

“Yes, these are tales of horror and melodrama,” says Paul, “but they are also tales of love and of loss, and although the anti-heroes of my stories are all creatures of the night, the stories they tell are of being cast adrift in a world that shuns them. I think that's a story that we can all, on one level or another, identify with.”
Find 'A London Gothic' on Kickstarter here: http://kck.st/2kwaq9b

See, sounds like a blast.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

More Hero Forge Minis

Got home Monday night to a really nice surprise.  My next batch of Hero Forge minis had arrived.


I opted for the new "Premium Plastic" figures this time.  They were more expensive (which is why it's been two years since I ordered any) but they are really sturdy and nicely detailed.  I picked up two new witches and my son got three for the first time. Two assassins and a dragonborn paladin.


This shot is a bit dark, but this is Skylla and my iconic witch Taryn.


This is Taryn in the premium plastic next to her mother Larina in the nylon plastic (used to be called "strong plastic").
The detail for the premium plastic is night and day difference.


Here is my attempt to make a 28 mm Skylla. Not 100% the same but good enough!

The minis really render nicely from the software.



Once again, just need to get them painted.

My son noticed that these mins are much sturdier than what we get from Wizkids (D&D 5 and Pathfinder) now.  Also if you put a texture on the base they are even sturdier still.



Now I just need to find someone who can paint them for me.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Retro Revival Blog Challenge Week 3: Toys

Today I am joining the Retro Revival Blog Challenge.  Seem like a good fit, they talk about a lot of 80s and so do I.  This is Week 3 and the first one I wanted to chat about.

This week's topic is on Toys.  Now the original post was about favorite toys. But instead, I want to talk about the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons toy line from LJN.

I was never a big collector of these, to be honest.  I had a few figures that I thought were cool, Kalek for example, but that was about it.  My brother had collected some and I bought some myself, but always said they were part of his collection.  I was 13-15 at the time and was not into buying toys anymore.


So a few years back I got the whole collection given back to me by my brother with bits my youngest brother added to it.  I remember buying the Ogre and the Umber Hulk.  The others were new to me.


You can see all I have left of Kalek is his spellbook.  Maybe I'll put that in my witch figure display in my game room.  I really like the ogre and the hook horror.  That hook horror looks like he walked out of my Fiend Folio and I still prefer this look to the "revised" one we get today.


Of course what my son was most psyched about is the Tiamat figure.  She does not have her wings anymore, but he quickly said "she is the god of dragons, she can fly without wings if she wanted to".  Plus he has been coveting my aspect of Tiamat D&D mini for a very long time.  So this is a nice little prize for him.


When I first got these from my brother I thought I would not use them in my games, but recently I have used the Ogre as a proto-Orcus demon and the Troll as Vaprak the Destroyer.

In the adventure, the boys were transported back to the Dawn War where He Who Was was killed by The Destroyer (who will become Demogorgon) and Dis, the god that dies and then becomes the demon Orcus.


I am not sure if finding the other toys in this line is something I want to pursue.  It would not be easy and it would not be cheap.  I hit plenty of swap meets, flea markets, and second-hand-stores though that when I find one, I pick one up.

Of course, no discussion of these toys is complete without mentioning Skylla.
I have taken my obsession with this character to, well, my typical levels of obsession.

She is the evil magic-user/with from the LJN Advanced Dungeons & Dragons toyline and Basic/Expert modules. So there is a lot of reason for me to like her.  So I made witch stats for her for every game I currently play.

I even made a Hero Forge mini of her to use in my games now (more on that tomorrow).





There you have it!  There is a great listing and discussion of all these toys at The Toy Archive.


Check out the other posting this week at Retro Revival.

http://retroramblings.com/retro-revival-blog-challenge-week-3-toys/
http://retroramblings.com/retro-revival-blog-challenge/

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: Black Box BECMI Supplements

The mid 90s were an odd time of gaming for me. I started out very excited about the new AD&D 2nd Edition game, moved completely over to Ravenloft and in the end had left D&D completely in favor of games like WitchCraft and Mage.   Consequently, I started the 90s as a college kid and ended the 90s a house, a wife, a kid and ABD on my first Ph.D. so I saw a lot of change.

What that all adds up to is that there were a ton of D&D-related releases that I not only didn't experience or play but also never even heard of till much later.   "Black-box BECMI" was one of those.  Again, as I mentioned, I was into AD&D2 pretty hard and then left D&D, so BECMI was not something I paid attention too.  Fast forward to the mid-late 2000s I started to discover these boxed sets.  In some ways they seem so retro; a boxed set with board-game like pieces in a world edging towards glossy (and thick) hardcovers.

At a +Games Plus auction I was able to pick up these,



They are a ridiculous amount of nostalgia and I REALLY want to use them some time as the start of a pure BECMI campaign.

Well today we got two new releases in this line on DriveThruRPG, The Dragon's Den and The Goblin's Lair.

I have no idea how the scans are. The box interiors have quite a lot of pieces.


So it will be interesting to see how they scanned all of this.  At $5 a piece, that is not too bad of a deal really.   The "Black Box" is not available on DriveThru yet, so you will need to use the Rules Cyclopedia for these.

I don't have a campaign in mind for this at all, outside of knowing I want to use Quest for the Silver Sword as the next adventure after these.  I am always a sucker for a haunted house adventure.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Witch: A Tale of Terror

Sam Harris is an author and neuroscientist most often known for his views on atheism and skepticism. Last year I read his book "The End of Faith" and rather enjoyed it. I was very pleased to see this year he had done a reading of selected sections of Charles Mackay's 1841 book Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. I should add that book next to my reading list.

Harris has a breezy style to his reading, this book is an audio-book only release. I found that there was som much the resonated with today that I had to keep reminding myself that this book was actually published at the dawn of the Victorian-era and not our own.

Listening to this tale is a horror story, no doubts about it. I was trying to mentally keep track of all the people murdered as witches in the name of God or fear that I lost count close to a million. These are not "alternate facts" counts, but court records poured over by Mackay. As they say though, the murder of one is a tragedy the murder of millions is a statistic. So to make sure you don't loose sight of this horror Mackay, through Harris, reminds us that children some as young as 5, 9 and 10 were also burned at the stake because, someone, somewhere thought they might be a witch.

Thankfully, I had spent my summer reading the history of England, so the main players in the "Witch Craze" were well known to me.

I will not lie, the whole delusion has always sickened me and paid no small to my anti-theistic attitudes.

Harris does a great job of narration and in not letting his own point of view override the narrative. If you have ever read or heard his books in the past then his point of view is obvious. He mentions things in the Introduction and that is really it. Personally, I would have liked an Afterward too, but the Introduction covers it all.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 3
Level: Initiate
Witches in this book: Millions or None
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Too many innocents to count
Best RPG to Emulate it: Not really a good choice here. But I'd love to try some of this under WitchCraft.
Use in WotWQ: I got so many ideas on who the "Big Bad" really is going to be in this.
https://www.samharris.org/books/witch

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Lazy Sunday: S&W Witch Edition

This morning I am sitting here, drinking my coffee, reflecting on the amazing women's marches around the world.

I am also working on my next "OSR" project, the Swords & Wizardry Witch.  I have loads of text, I just need to make sure it all works with the feel of S&W.

Today, I got my first bit of official art in the mail.  Here is my iconic witch, Larina, and her winged cat familiar.


This art is from +Mona Dowie.  We found each other after she did some work on Petty Gods.
She did the art for my characters Nox and Syla.

I love this. I like that she is sitting there watching the moon while her cat is asleep on her cloak. Her familiar is sleeping because according to Mona, "Supernatural or not, they're all lazy little fuzzballs sometimes."

This is going to be a lot of fun.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: Army of Darkness RPG

I don't know...something about today reminded me that there is fun to be had is fighting mindless hordes of things that are dead inside.  Wait, I think I mean Deadites.  Deadites. Zombies. Alt-Right Douchebags. Same things really.

This is an older review but never posted here.

Army of Darkness RPG

Disclaimer: I have been a freelancer for Eden studios for years and have worked on a lot of their books. I have been an author or co-author on some and a playtester on many. But in this case, I had nothing to do with “Army of Darkness” other than purchase the book like everyone else.

Time to kick some Ash.

If nothing else the Army of Darkness RPG from Eden Studios (AoD RPG) will give your game group hours of puns like these or spontaneously shooting off quotes from the movie, if they don’t already do that now.

The AoD RPG is the latest offering from Eden using the Cinematic Unisystem rules. Cinematic Unisystem is a stripped down to basics rule set to foster fast play in a cinematic style game. That is not to say the rules are non-existent, just non-obtrusive. Cinematic Unisystem plays similar to its big brother Classic Unisystem, which powers such games as All Flesh Must Be Eaten, WitchCraft and Armageddon. If you want to use this game with those, no problem, not only is it very easy, but there is a great Appendix in the back to handle the details. AoD shares Cinematic Unisystem with Eden’s Origin’s winning Angel RPG, Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG and Ghosts of Albion RPG. Here taking characters from one game to next is easy and no conversions are needed. In fact one could conceivably play one game consisting of all four game books in one big, really bad world.

Rough parallels can be drawn between Cinematic games and Classic one. Buffy is built like a cinematic version of WitchCraft, Angel invokes the same feel as Armageddon, and likewise AoD takes on a lot of it’s feel from it’s older brother All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

If you like the movie Army of Darkness (or any of the Evil Dead movies) or any of Eden’s other games then you should pick this up. If you are not sure if the AoD RPG is for you then let’s get into the details.

Chapter 1 is the introduction with some Army of Darkness style fiction added in. It’s nice, but you will only read it once in your life. The rest of the chapter is pretty straight forward and reads exactly like every other Chapter 1 in any Eden book. This is both good and bad. Bad in the fact I have now bought this chapter at least 10 times now. It’s good because it also means that I can pick up any of those books and know immediately what to expect. There is a new part here though, one on the cosmology of the game. It’s not bad, but I am not sure if I will use it or not. Like most roleplayers I have a varied and complex mythos surrounding my games where the machinations of powerful beings 5,000 years ago shape my world today. Then again this is supposed to fast and loose and for crying out loud the movie depicted England with a desert, so heck with all that, what I really want to do is stomp on some deadites. I don’t care if they were sent by “The Old Ones”, Satan or Santa.

Chapter 2 is the meat for the normal gamer; how to create characters and give them some cool stuff. Again, some of this is ported right over from “Angel”, but that is not really that bad since it is really the best stuff with more added. Plus I want my games to be compatible, so I do want my “white hats” and my “mundanes” to be able to hang with the “primitive screw heads” and not bicker over which version of “Hard to Kill” to buy. There are some new qualities and a lot of new drawbacks to choose from. Plus the focus shifts from the magically empowered supernaturals of Buffy/Angel to the regular guys and gals doing what’s right of Army of Darkness. If you enjoy playing “normal” characters then this is the book for you. The skills are unchanged from Angel/Buffy in keeping with the Cinematic scope, but they are a little more defined. Let’s face it, Ash did more with his car in two hours than Buffy/Angel did in 12 collective seasons, so a little more attention is paid to what you can do. The archetypes are great and if you are familiar with the archetypes from Buffy or Angel you will recognize the style and art here. In general the archetypes reflect the focus of the game, normal guy or gal, way weird circumstances. I found them a tad hard to read with the colored background, but that could be my PDF. Loved the archaeolbogist (though her portrait has Appearance of at least +2 even if she doesn’t in the sheet) loved the Zorro guy, gunslinger, night stalker dude, and the roller baller. Adding the game designer might have been a little too cheesy, but hey I don’t blame them one bit and for this game it works. It also includes the original cast, but Ash is the main guy. For anyone that has ever wanted to know “who would win in a fight, Ash or ____?” well here is where you can find the answers.

Chapter 3 is also the same as many of Eden’s chapter 3s. It has the rules. Since the rules are not significantly modified from other games, some can skip this all together. But if you do you will be missing some good bits. First off Eden has learned from Buffy and Angel and this chapter is laid out a lot clearer. There is also the whole new set of rules covering land vehicles; a really nice addition to the Cinematic game universe.

Chapter 4 is really nice. Every Eden book has it’s true gem, the one thing that makes that book worthwhile. WitchCraft has it’s magic system, Angel has it’s demon creation rules, and Army of Darkness has it’s Battle System. This is mass combat system for Cinematic Unisystem but on reading it, it would certainly work for any Unisystem game. It keeping with the cinematic tone the rules are fast and free flowing, but like all of Cinematic Unisystem they are designed to maximize the fun and playability.

Chapter 5 is the information for the Directors out there. Not too different, and in this case that is not the best thing. I was reading it over and the whole time I keep feeling I was reading a chapter out of Buffy or Angel, with the talk of “episodes” and “Seasons”. Yes, "episode" is still a fine name and great workable game mechanic. But “Army of Darkness” is not a TV show, it is a movie. I would have liked to see how to set up a big epic battle or mimic the feel of a movie with some plot elements compressed. Like Ash said to Shelia “first you want to kill me now you want to kiss me”, things like love have to happen pretty fast, faster than TV. So what I would have liked then is to see the sidebar on “Other Ways to Do It” expanded into a full chapter with “The TV Show” set up as just one option. Granted, for those Directors planning huge AoD/Buffy/AFMBE/WitchCraft epic crossover campaigns, this chapter works to your advantage.

Chapter 6 sets up the who, what and where elements. All needed for this game where being sucked into a portal and waking up in England in the Middle Ages is normal. It is nice the see that one other movie is Eden’s most watched list outside of Army of Darkness and that is The Holy Grail. Or at least that is how I felt after reading this chapter because I sure as hell can run that Holy Grail RPG now with this book. It is a bit odd that some characters, Arthur in particular, got a full character sheet in Chapter 2 and a quick sheet here as well. Reason? Don’t know, see the disclaimer above. But I do know that it was spaced used that could have been dedicated to something else. No big. Moving on. I have to admit the title “Graveyard…of the Dead” made me laugh. The creatures are neat and there are a lot of ideas here for an AoD game or even adding them to your Buffy/Angel game. OR better yet expand these little nasties with the Angel demon creation rules.

Chapter 7, coughWorlds of Darknesscough is actually really cool. It is your typical “here's how you set up adventures”, but the examples given are more fleshed out that some other entire game worlds. There is an ancient Sumerian style adventure where you need to prevent the writing of the Necronomicon (you have to love any game that refers to Ereshkigal as a Goth Chick); a pulp-era stop the Nazi’s from getting occult artifacts adventure and future setting hinted at in the Director’s Cut of Army of Darkness. All are complete with more really cool monsters and vehicle rules.

Chapter 8 is a full blown adventure, I won’t talk about it too much here so as not to ruin it for potential players.

There is an Appendix of Unisystem conversion notes if you want to switch between this and Classic Unisystem. I nice detailed list on Character Creation, all the tables from the text including a comprehensive list of qualities and drawbacks from the book. Tables and charts for combat and weapons. The book ends with a solid index (the weakest part of ‘Angel’, not repeated here) and a nice character sheet. Sure you can use your “Buffy” sheet or even the Buffy or Angel character Journals, but this is a nice clean sheet. Since I have the PDF I printed one out on a B&W laser printer and it looked great.

What's Good: Overall the book is fantastic, a completely playable game based on Eden’s Origins award winning Cinematic Unisystem rules (Angel, Best New RPG 2003). Plus it captures the feel and the fun of the original movie quite well.

What's Bad: I have to admit I got tired of the informal tone of the book, but that could be just me. And let’s be honest, it is a perfect choice to go with the movie.

What's Missing: No magic rules. But they do acknowledge this and there wasn’t really any magic in movie that wasn’t used “off stage” or by the minions of evil. Want magic in your AoD game? Buy a copy “The Magic Box Sourcebook” for the Buffy RPG or get a copy of Ghosts of Albion.

UPDATED: Since I have written this review I have used AoD in a lot of my Cinematic Unisystem games. In particular for an army of undead fighting the Protectors of Éire in Ghosts of Albion: Blight.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

New Adventure, Character and Resources

Kinda buried at work this week.
So I'll share some resources and new adventure I am reading.

First up is the adventure.
The Witch of Monte Rosa is from Bill Barsh over at Pacesetter Games.
For 12 bucks you get an old-school like adventure and PDF.  This adventure is for low-level characters using OSRIC or your favorite OSR rule-set.
It is a sanbox adventure designed to be dropped into any campaign and is adaptable to higher levels.  The main focus though is the titular witch and the damage she is causing to nearby life.
There are some new monsters and some new magic items that look like a lot of fun.
The main antagonist is Helena, a "Cauldron Witch".
It would not take much at all to retune this to work with my Witch class.  "Cauldron Witch" becomes a tradition with some alchemy based powers.  Instead of Magic-User spells, give her witch spells.

Here is my take on her.

Helena
9th level Witch, Cauldron Tradition
Chaotic Evil

Strength: 15
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 10
Charisma: 17

Saves
Death Ray or Poison:  11
Magic wand or devices: 12
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 11
Dragon Breath: 14
Rods, Staffs, and Spells: 13

Hit Points: 50
AC: 7 (Leather Armor)
To hit AC 0: 16
Weapon: Staff (1d6+2)

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Cauldron*  (her connection to her cauldron is explained in the adventure)
Lesser: Immune to the Affects of Undead

Spells
Cantrips (6): Black Flame, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Quick Sleeping, Spark, Summon Vermin
First (3+2): Bewitch, Black Fire, Burning Hands, Cause Fear, Charm Person
Second (3+2): Agony, Biting Blade, Blast Shield, Hold Person, Spell Missile
Third (2+2): Bestow Curse, Danse Macabre, Ghost Ward, Scry
Fourth (2+1):  Arcane Eye, Elemental Armor, Spiritual Dagger
Fifth (1): Death Curse

Certainly a worthy opponent!

What sold me on this adventure was that she was described as a "Witch Queen, long forgotten."
Kinda makes it perfect for my War of the Witch Queens adventures. So perfect in fact I am going to use this as the introduction to the series.


Going to be a blast really!

Here are free resources on witches and witchcraft.



Though if you are like me these are all very familiar sites.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

It's Swords & Wizardry Wednesday!

Was in the middle of a meeting today and my bell rang.  This was waiting for me on my front porch.



My Swords & Wizardry hardcover!

I mentioned in the past I wasn't keen on the cover art, but that has changed since then.  Now that I have it in my hands I can really appreciate it.

The interior art though is so freaking good.



There is more. A lot more.

The book compares favorably to its predecessors.



Both versions of the character sheets have their own unique charm.  I'll use both.


I have been thinking alot about S&W lately. How I am planning to do something with it for the Witch.

Expect to see more that in the future.

Whatever I do I want it to be worth your time and money to buy and worth my time to write.  Well...I know it is worth my time to write.  I enjoy writing about these things.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: Blue Rose AGE Edition

I always pictured her as a blonde
It's Tuesday. That means new releases all over the place.  Today at DriveThruRPG we have the new release of Blue Rose: AGE Edition.
I scooped this up before I even got to my second pot of coffee!

There will be a full review later, but right now I want to say this book is gorgeous! The art is fantastic and all 384 pages are in full color. It just looks so good.
But this is not a coffee table book, it is an RPG book.  Well for that it will take more detailed reading, but I love what I see so far.

Some highlights

  • The World of Aldea has moved forward in time. Some NPCs are gone, some are now married (!), and there are plenty of new and interesting NPCs to be had.
  • Blue Rose maps onto the AGE system so well that I might actually drop the True20 version.  In fact it seems (from my readings so far) it works BETTER.
  • A lot of the material from the True20 Blue Rose line made it to this book.  At 384 pages it is packed.
  • There are no True20 to AGE conversion rules that I have seen yet.  Personally I am taking the "Forgotten Realms" approach and having a particular event in the new book signal a shift in paradigm. Classes and levels though do convert on a one to one basis and so do many of the "powers".
  • The book is divided into a Player's Section, a World of Aldea Section and a Narrator's (GM) Section. 
  • The Narrator's section is the most expanded and updated.  Benefits of having 10+ years of game play.
  • The PDF is fully bookmarked (I know, that should be a given now-a-days, but you would be surprised how many I run into that are not).
  • Did I mention how gorgeous the art is?
Sea-folk, Human, Vata, Rhy-cat, Night Person, Rhy-wolf

Chances are if you liked the True20 Blue Rose you will enjoy this one even more.
I have both Fantasy AGE and DragonAge and there is a lot of material that would work well between all three books.  

The tone of this book is more swashbuckling adventure and acts of derring-do now. Not that it has moved away from Romantic Fantasy (far from it).  In fact the feeling is that Aldea is entering into a new age.  I would liken it to the reigns of Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria. The True20 version was the cusp of Queen Jaellin's reign and now this is a new Golden Age of opportunity and adventure. 

I can't wait to get into this book!
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