Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Skylla: The Arcanum

The Arcanum was always one of "those books".  You know what I mean. The ones where you tried to convince your non-D&D playing friends that D&D was not evil and then they point to the black book with the red pentagram on it.  Ah well.

The Arcanum is the follow up to one of my favorite series of books, The Compleat Spellcaster, Compleat Alchemist and Compleat Adventurer.  I have discussed my love of the Compleat Spellcaster many times in the past.

Of course the class I enjoyed the most was the Witch.

All the spellcasting classes were interesting since they could choose from different lists of spells.  So there was Elementalism, Black Magic, Mysticism, and Sorcery for example.    Witches could choose Elemental and Enchantment is they are good or Elemental and Black Magic if evil.
I liked that it made for some really unique spellcasters.

Great to try on Skylla.
Since the Arcanum was a supplement, what better core rules than some D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

Skylla, 7th Level Witch
Chaotic Evil

Skylla by Neothera
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 12

Breath Weapon: 14
Poison & Deathray 11
Paralysis & Turn to Stone: 11
Magic Wands: 12
Rod, Staff, Spells: 12

Hit Points:  25
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection AC 4)

Skills
1st level: Weapon (Dagger), Herb Lore, Herbal Remedies
3rd level: Herbal Elixers
5th level: Venoms and Poisons, Philtres
7th level: Potions

Spells
1st level: Arcane Bolt, Curse, Detect Magic,
2nd level: Control, Pain
3rd level: Malediction, Summon Lesser Semon
4th level: Ring of Fire

So a very different selection of spells.  A bit different than the ones from the Compleat Spellcaster.
I would want to play with some different witch types in this to get a feel for all the black magic spells.
This Skylla, while she has some skills, is overall less powerful than others.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Monster Monday: Eretica

Been a while since I have done one of these.  Here is a rare type of vampire that was a witch in her former life. For Basic-Era games.


Eretica*

Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 7** (M)
Move: 120' (40')
 Flying: 180' (60')
Attacks: 1 touch or special
Damage: ld10 + double Con drain or special
No. Appearing: 1d3 (1d6)
Save As: W7
Morale: 10
Treasure Type: F
Intelligence: 12
Alignment: Chaotic
XP Value: 1,750
Monster Type: Undead, Enchanted (Very Rare)

Vampires are among the most feared of the undead.  Eretica are witches that have returned from the dead as a horrible vampire.  Believed to be the followers of Hecate the eretica are also created when witches denounce the predominant religion of the area and are cursed by a local cleric.
The eretica can appear as attractive young women, but their true form is that of an ancient hag in rags.

Abilities: All eretica are unaffected by sleep, charm, and hold spells, and can only be hit with magical weapons. An eretica may take the form of a human, a dire wolf, a giant bat, or as a mote of moonlight at will. Each change takes 1 round.

Whatever its form, an eretica regenerates 3 hit points per round, starting as soon as it is damaged. Like the vampire, if the eretica is reduced to 0 hit points it does not regenerate, but becomes moonlight and flees to its coffin.

In dire wolf or giant bat form, the eretica's move, attacks, and damage are those of the animal.
The eretica's AC, Hit Dice, morale, and saving throws remain unchanged. In moonlight form, an eretica cannot attack but can fly at the speed given above and is immune to all weapon attacks.

In human form, an eretica can attack by gaze or touch or can summon other creatures. The touch of an eretica inflicts a double energy drain (removing 2 points of Constitution) in addition to damage. The creature's gaze can charm. Any victim who meets the gaze may make a saving throw vs. spells to avoid the charm, but with a - 2 penalty to the roll. To the charmed victim the eretica appears to be a beautiful young woman. To others she is still a monstrous hag.

The eretica may summon any one of the following creatures, which will come to its aid if they are within 300 feet (300 yards outdoors):

Rats 6-60 Giant rats 4-16
Bats 8-80 Giant bats 3-18
Wolves 3-18 Dire wolves 2-8

Any character slain by an eretica will return from death in three days, as a wraith under the control of the eretica who slayed them.   Only witches killed by an eretica can become eretica in death this way.

Since eretica were witches in life they still can cast witch spells.  They are treated as 7th level witches, but they do not have any Occult Powers.

Weaknesses of the eretica: The eretica shares the same weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the vampire. A eretica cannot come within 10 feet of a strongly presented holy symbol, although it can move to attack from another direction. The odor of garlic repels an eretica; the creature must make a successful saving throw vs. poison or stay at least 10 feet away from the garlic during that round.

The eretica cannot cross running water, either on foot or flying, except at bridges or while in their coffins. During the day, an eretica usually rests in its coffin; failure to do so results in the loss of 2d6 hit points per day. These hit points are not regenerated until the eretica has rested in its coffin for a full day. An eretica casts no reflection and avoids mirrors.

The only way to truly destroy an eretica is burn the body at the stake or to stake her in the heart with a stake of aspen.

The eretica are Turned as Vampires.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Pirate Campaign Compendium

Still a bit under the weather here, but not so bad I can't share this awesome kickstarter with you.

Pirate Campaign Compendium for 5E and Pathfinder RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/legendarygames/pirate-campaign-compendium-for-5e-and-pathfinder-r

Here is some information right from their own Press Release.
Legendary Games launched the Pirate Campaign Compendium Kickstarter for 5th Edition and Pathfinder! This project is intended to create a spectacular seagoing supplement which includes five complete adventures plus ready-to-use nautical NPCs of every level, aquatic options for your characters, treasure troves of pirate plunder, ship combat, treasure maps, and so much more with stretch goals aplenty to create a glorious 300+ page compendium that'll shiver yer timbers!

Publisher, Jason Nelson states, “Whether you come in as a Salty Sailor or join us for a glorious Pirate Feast, take the plunge and walk the plank with us today!” Rachel Ventura, Business Director of Legendary Games, said “Everyone loves a good pirate adventure, this book has FIVE! There’s also some fun swag like clear pirate minis, wooden engraved dice boxes, and new dice!”
It looks like a bunch of fun and it appeals to my desire to dual (or triple) stat everything.

10 days are left for this and it looks like it will be a lot of fun!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Magic School: I have Hogwarts on my Miskatonic U!

Mulling some ideas over lunch today.

My kids have both over the years expressed an interest in more Lovecraft and Cthulhu themed games but not really wanting to go full on Call of Cthulhu.

So a few things came to mind right away.

- San Scores and Sanity rules.  As a former QMHP and someone with degrees in psychology, I have been largely critical of most of the "sanity" rules I see in games.  In fact, most of them suck.  My son is using an elegant option for sanity. Your wisdom modifier plus your constitution modifier plus 10.   I will still use San points as Sanity x 5.

- The College of Dreamers is gone.  If I am using the 2nd Ed Glantri school of magic as my base, then I am going to say that the School of Dream was destroyed last year.  No one knows why and because of that attendance and new admits are way down.  What happened of course is they connected to the Dream Lands and the Far Realm (mixing my CoC and D&D 3 terms) and it killed them all.  This is the first phase of the return of the Old Ones.  Totally stealing this idea from the Wizards 101 MMORPG.  This is the big mystery of the 1st Years, what happened to the Dream College (not to be confused with the Dream Academy).  They won't learn till later in the term or even next year.

- With the Dream College gone, the School lessens admit standards.  What this means is Bards are now allowed. I am even considering a type of healer.

- All characters will have a Psionic wild power.   This is another side effect of the return of the Old Ones.  I just have not figured out if I am going to use the wild psionic powers of Basic Psionics Handbook or Realms of Crawling Chaos.  I am going to use both books in other ways.

So this game will have much more horror influences even though I am planning on avoiding using demons and devils for the most part.  Undead will be fine. It is Glantri afterall.  I will add some of elements from Ravenloft, though "Gothic Horror" and "Cosmic Horror" are not always a good mix.

Not 100% sure how this will all fit into the "War of the Witch Queens", but I have lots of time to figure that one out.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Weekend Gaming: Treasure Hunters Crawl to the Forbidden City

This weekend we spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning my game room this weekend.  It needed to be done,. plus I needed to sort my minis too.

Once that was done we had a couple of hours to play.

The Treasure Hunters of the Second Campaign made it to the front door of the Forbidden City.

But before that, they had to deal with a bunch of pterodactyls.


We had quite a bit of fun fighting these and grabbed a bunch of old dinosaur toys for when they leave the  City.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Magic School: Going Back to Glantri

Curse my gamemastering ADHD!

So despite the fact that I have not one, not two, but THREE D&D 5th Edition games going, I was working out some details of my Magic School game using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

So last night I pulled out my GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri by +Bruce Heard and my Glantri: Kingdom of Magic.

I thought I might run it set in Glantri's past, 800 or so AC.  OR even 1000 AC which is close to the present day for the Gazetteer.  My current year is 1414-something AC.

But there is so much great stuff here.

This is going to focus 100% on the magic school so the political goings-on will be part of the background noise.

Though I DO want to expand on my whole Ravenloft is from Mystara/Glantri idea some more too and introduce a young professor of Alchemy from Boldavia, Strahd von Zarovich. Gives me an excuse/hook to drop in Ravenloft II.

But back to the school.

There are the Seven Secret Crafts of Magic in the Glantri School of Magic; Alchemy, Dracology, Elementalism, Illusionism, Necromancy, Cryptomancy (rune magic), and Witchcraft.

These were restructured in the 2nd Ed book, notably Witchcraft becoming Wokanism and Illusion dropped in favor of Dream Magic.  I am keeping Dream Magic from one and Witchcraft from the other.

I am thinking of adding others.  I would love to add a School of Healing; an exception to the normal rule of priests/clerics.  And MAYBE Druids.   I know they don't fit, but I like them.

Couple things I am considering.  Back in the Day I had a wizard character, Phygora, who was a
Glantri trained mage, but he "disappeared".  In reality, the mini I used belonged to my old DM.  He recently sold them all to me so now I have all these REALLY old lead minis including a recently repainted Phygora.  So guess who is now the new Headmaster!  Dosen't matter if I set this in the present or the past since in my game Phygora became something of a time-traveler.

I know that this campaign will go from level 1 to 7 (or 0 to 6), after that I want to move it over to my War of the Witch Queens.   I was talking with +Brian Isikoff this morning and he is considering doing something with Magic School grads and Bruce Heard's Calidar.  I think that is a fantastic idea!
Flying magic ships, flying circuses, I am SO there.

I just need more time to play!
But in the meantime, I can work out all these details.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

D&D Rules Cyclopedia Unboxing and Pre-review

I wasn't going to post today. Really busy at work. But this really could not wait.



I got my Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia in the mail today and wanted to check it out.



I could not decide if I wanted the hardcover or softcover.  So I got both.





As you can see the cover is more cream colored than the original white. I kinda like it to be honest.
There is a huge border of it on the front cover.  Less noticeable in the soft-cover edition.




The color is good, not as strong as the original but still extremely readable.

These books compare very favorably to the original.





You can see the colors are stronger in the original, but the paper is much thicker in the POD versions.


The pages of my original print are a little yellowed with age. The new ones are still bright white.

Compare this to one I made a while back on Lulu. I call it my "Wizards & Demons" Cover.




I also still have a really beat up version.


All in all I am really happy with these.  Looking forward to playing a game with them!

This Old Dragon

Not happening today.  To much real-world shit going on.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New Witch Tradition: The Sisters of the Chalice and the Moon


In Wormskin 8  +Gavin Norman details the Witches of the Dolmenwood (introduced in Wormskin #7). They are the inheritors of a strange magic that goes to the very essence of the Wood’s history and creation.

Sounds like my kind of witch!

In these 12 pages, he details this new witch tradition and their patron Gods, The Gwyrigon.
A lot of what he has here can be mapped on to my witch class with little to no effort.  No surprise I think since we are looking at similar source materials for our witches.

New Witch Tradition 
The Gwyrigon Tradition of Dolmenwood.
AKA Witches of the Wood, The Sisters of the Chalice and the Moon.
These witches and this tradition are detailed in Wormskin #8.

Occult Powers
Least (1st level) Familiar: These witches gain a familiar in the form of hare or rabbit.  These rabbits are long lived, intelligent and can speak to any witch. While a rabbit may seem like an odd choice for a wood as dangerous as Dolmenwood but it actually a testament to the powers of the Gwyrigon that their chosen messengers seem so weak but can pass unmolested in these woods.

Lesser (7th level) Magic of the Wood: The witch can cast the following spells once per day without need of preparation, charm person, augury, remove curse.

Minor (13th level) One with Wood: When the witch pledges herself to a particular Wood God she gains a greater measure of their power now.  The powers of  Errta, Hasturiel, and Limwdd are detailed in Wormskin #7 (p. 62).

Medial (19th level) Commune with the Wood: The witch can enter into a trance to commune with the spirits of the wood; the gwyrigon, though others can be communed with. This divination allows the witch to learn anything (GM’s discretions) that happens in the Dolmenwood.  This even alerts the witch to malign creatures in the wood such as undead and beings from outside of reality.

Major (25th level) Remove Malign Influences. The witch can place on one subject (or herself) the combined effects of Aid (2nd Level Cleric spell), Remove Curse (3rd Level Cleric spell) and Healing Circle (5th Level Cleric spell, target only). The total benefits are +4 to attack, +4 to saves involving fear, +6 to any ability, 19+1d6 additional temporary hit points and heals the character for all but 1d8 hit points. This lasts a number of hours equal to the witch’s level.

Superior (31st level) Timeless Body: The witch appears to stop aging and her effective lifespan is doubled. She also can’t be magically aged. Any penalties she may have already incurred remain in place. The witch still dies of old age when her time, doubled as it is, is up.

Witches and the Drune 
In the rare cases when witches and Drune (Wormskin #5) work together they form a Grand Coven as per the rules in The Green Witch

New Spells

Create Corn Dolly
Level: Witch 1
Range: One crafted Corn Dolly
Duration: 1 day per level
During the harvest festivals, the witch will gather rushes and other bits of discarded plant life from corn, wheat, and barley.  What many do not know, but the witches know all too well, that the spirits of the harvest remain in these discards.
With a ritual and a repeated rhyme, the witch can fashion a rough poppet that the witch can then animate. This corn dolly can then be sent out to spy for the witch.  With concentration, the witch can hear through this dolly. The range is limited to 100 yards + 10 yards per level of the witch.
The dolly can’t move, it has to be placed by the witch.  The dolly has 2 hitpoints and takes double damage from fire.
Material Components: Rushes from the previous harvest festival. Material older than a year will not work.

Summon Woodgrue
Level: Witch 2
Range: 10’ per level
Duration: Special
The witch can summon a special demi-fey, a Woodgrue, (see Wormskin #7).  At the end of the casting, the Woodgrue appears at the location of the witch where she must gift it a cup of single malt whiskey. Once that is done the witch can compel the bat-faced fey to perform one task for her. The task must be something the woodgrue can complete but not something that will result in his or another’s death.  Such tasks would be “return to me the coin I lost in the wood this past fortnight” or “harass Goodwoman Kolya for the next week for treating me rudely in the market.”
Once complete the Woodgrue is freed to return to where he likes.  The witch can only summon one woodgrue at a time.  Continual repeated summoning of woodgrue may be looked down upon by the Gwyrigon (ie. the Game Master) and be denied.
Material Components: A cup of single malt whiskey.



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Joy of Basic D&D & Magic School

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of ALL editions of D&D.  I have played them all, and all to a significant degree.  But my start, and in many ways, my true love is Basic D&D.  B/X flavor in particular.  With the D&D Rules Cyclopedia now out in POD I am going to take some time to go back and play some of the D&D that I played the least; BECMI.

I have had some ideas for various "Basic" games over the years.  I want to take my 4e Campaign and reboot that as a BECMI one, but instead, I morphed it into a 5e one.  I still want my War of the Witch Queens to be a B/X adventure, but it really could become a BECMI one since I really would love to take advantage of all 36 levels that BECMI offers me.   But in truth, I had no idea what I wanted to do until this morning.

A couple of posts on Facebook in various "old school" groups has new players, maybe ones more familiar with Post-TSR D&D, lamenting that Magic-Users/Wizards only get one spell at 1st level.
While this is familiar ground for old-school gamers, I do sympathize with these players.
Some of this for me goes back to the 4th Edition games. In 4e a 1st level wizard is quite competent with a number of spells they can use right off the bat.  In a way, it is what you would expect from a graduate from a magic school.  But in other ways, it also makes a less compelling "story".  4e Wizards might be closer to Harry Potter, or Harry Dresden, but they are not close to the Luke Skywalker model of the new adventurer with plenty talent but no training.
This train of thought got me thinking about Basic and BECMI in particular as a means to "grow into" 4e.  A lot of my analysis was on how much magic and "Combat power" a single wizard has from levels 1 to 6 in BECMI and compare that to 4e.  The goal was to have levels 1 through 6 to be training and then levels 7 to 36 map roughly onto 4e's levels 1 to 30.  The math is not perfect, as to be expected, but there is enough wiggle room that I liked it.

Well. I am not doing 4e now.  But the idea of levels 1 to 6 as "training levels" still appeals to me.


So my plan now is this.  I am going to create a magic school (long overdue really) and the characters are all magic users.  They enter the school at age 13 at level 1 and spend the next six years working towards graduation witch each year being the next level. They will graduate at age 19 at level 7 to start adventuring.

I have a lot of ideas of what needs to happen, but I also need to figure out how to fill up 80,000 xp worth of experiences that fit with a school environment.   Along the way, they can pick up specialties (Necromancy, Enchantment and so on).  Students will take classes in languages, finger position, and diction in addition to ones on Magical Theory and Thought.  I also see students working on magic items and potions.  This is where all those magic items and cursed items come from.

I am also going to borrow heavily from The Complete Wizard's Handbook for 2nd Ed. I am also going to borrow some ideas from theGlantri books, GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (Basic) and Glantri: Kingdom of Magic (2e).


I *might* even set it all in Glantri, but I am also kind of wanting to set in my new campaign setting of West Haven.  Setting it in Glantri though has a lot of appeal to me.

Obvious sources for this are the Harry Potter books and movies, but also the Magicians books and TV series, the Magic schools from Charmed and Wizards of Waverly Place, various comics like the X-Men and Teen Titans and Miskatonic University.

I am going to give this one some serious thought, there is also so much material for this out there.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #177

Ok. I will freely admit that this one was third on my stack of Dragons. But in my defense, the first one was a duplicate of one I had done back in December and the second one just was not grabbing my attention today.  So let's sit back, relax, put on some Nirvana as we go back to January 1992 with Issue #177 of This Old Dragon.

Ok. I have no memories of this issue really at all.  In 1992 I was working on getting into grad school and finishing up my first published works of research. I was heavy into Ravenloft as my game setting of choice for 2nd ed AD&D, but I had also been exploring other games. I was hearing rumors from a friend of a friend about this new Vampire game and how White Wolf was going to eat TSR.
Going on from this I have NO memory of this cover at all.  I am not sure how well a woman in a cage with leering "Dungeon Master" would go over today.  I am also unfamiliar with the artist, William
Carman.
Notably this issue still has it's cover on it.

How can you tell this is an early 90s magazine?  Big advertisement for Waldenbooks. Pour a little out for Waldenbooks and Borders.

Looking over the Table of Contents it appears the special feature is DM advice. Ok, let's jump to it!

In Letters, we get one ripped right out of today's social media, DM's Dilemma Fee or Free? A reader writes in wanting to know if he should charge for running games. The author, whose name was withheld, points out that he (assuming it's a he) has spent thousands of dollars on game material and that prep time is also that, time he is spending that the players are not.  The response to this feels less from Dragon and more from TSR, Inc.  I would love to reproduce the whole thing here, not only for the advice but for the snapshot in time this was.  Needless to say, TSR takes (took) a rather dim view on the idea of DM's charging for games.  This is also the only thing I have read that resembles official policy on the issue from the time.  I would wager that WotC is a little more even-handed on this than TSR was, but I have not read a current policy on this.

What are your thoughts on DM's charging for games?

Roger Moore talks about "Kinky" games. Meaning odd or weird games, based the interoffice slang "kinky" meaning weird.  He talks about Metamorphosis Alpha, Lace and Steel and Bunnies and Burrows.  Interesting story here.  Before I got really involved in blogging I was a Wikipedia Editor.  Still am in fact, but not as active as I once was.  One of the articles I worked on was the Bunnies and Burrows entry on Wikipedia.  In fact, I was one of a few editors who worked on it to get it to Good Article status.  Apparently, this made me and my fellow editors eligible for a grant from some large Furry research and advocacy group (yes, there are such things) and I was offered money for my work.  I was a little shocked to be honest.  I was also still in hardcore academic frame of mind then and did not want to take money for this work, so I had them donate the money to a charity of their choice.

In our DM's section we have Jim Shamlin up first with Keeping the Party Going. I was hoping for some edition-agnostic advice and I am pleased so far.  He covers the various ways a party can get togehter and stay together.  Like I said there are a lot of good ideas here and all can be used with any system, not just D&D.  I am new school enough though that I want the players to tell me why the party is together. What are their reasons they are joining forces.

Thomas M. Kane has a interesting article on technology and scientific advancements in That's Progress. The key feature of this article is a condensed timeline of scientific and technological advancements in the world up to the 17th century and it is not entirely Western-focused.

In Secrets of the Masters Revealed, Michael J. D’Alfonsi has us "apply fiction-writing techniques to game-campaign design".  While this is good advice some of it can apply to players as well and works best in a system where the players have a little more agency in the game.   Still such things as keeping a campaign journal (this is a great one and one I do all the time) and developing the personalities of the NPC (also something I do) adds a bit more fullness to the game. It also does nothing to change the idea that DMing is a lot of work!

Now we are getting to something very specific to AD&D and D&D prior to 2000.
In Defend Yourself, Blake Mobley tries to reduce some of the back and forth you see in the THAC0 based combat. The system he proposes is interestingly engough close, but still just this side of "not there yet" of the d20 combat systems of 3rd edition on.  If he could switch the idea of armor class getting stronger if the numbers go up instead of down then his system work even better. Some sacred cows do need to be ground up into burger.

Up next is the Game Wizards.  In this issue the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.
Steven E. Schend has the task to let us all know what the newest D&D book is like.  There is a nice history on the development of the D&D game line with particular emphasis on the recent 1991 "Black Box" getting started game and a little more background on the BECMI sets of 1983 on.  He refers to this book as "complete" and "exhaustive", but he also says it is not a radical change, so it is not a "2nd Edition".



I REALLY wish I had read this article back in the day when I was dismissing D&D (BECMI flavor) because I was playing the more "adult" AD&D.  Yeah, yeah I was stupid. But I hope I have made up for that now.

Marcus L. Rowland is next with some more DM advice in "If I Ruled the World...", or how to deal with "Mad scientists, megalomaniacs, and their motives in gaming".  A great read really on how to think like a megalomaniac.  He gives some examples including some sample NPC (or sorts, broad strokes).  For me, the value is getting into the head of your mad villian in order to think about how and why they do what they do.  Whether you are Ming the Merciless, Lex Luthor or Dr. Evil you have to have your reasons and they need to make sense to you.

John C. Bunnell has some books include a few I remember.  A couple in particular by Daniel Cohen (Encylopedia of Ghosts, Encylopedia of Monsters) were always great fun.

Nice big ad for the combined Gen Con 25 and Origins Game Fair in Milwaukee.

Lawrence Schick is up with a quiz based on his new book Heroic Worlds, a History and Guide to Roleplaying Games.   I wonder if he still has it the quiz?

Part 24 of Voyage of the Princess Ark is up from Bruce Heard. Done up in a very "Gazeteer style" type article with some maps, data and letters included with the story.  Still makes me want to collect all of these for a longer retrospective.

Skip Williams and Sage Advice is next. Lots of Dark Sun questions.

Role of Computers covers the State of the Art for 1992.  Let's see...at this point in time I was either using a Tandy 1000 Ex that I got from sister in a trade. I bought her a Brother Word Processor, OR I was using this knocked together 286 I bought on one of the first grants I ever got for research.  Likely that one since I in 92 I took an extra year of my undergrad to get a minor in Computer Science and I was learning to write code in Pascal and C.  There is a review for Wing Commander. My roomate, who was getting a CS degree had one of the new-fangled 386 computers and he played that game all the time.  I didn't even remember that till I saw a screen shot in this magazine.

(note the mildew coming off of this magazine is about to kill me.  I need a break!)

Ok. Back.

So we have a lot of ads and the Convention Calendar for early 92. Sadly I missed the Egyptian Campaign at SIU Carbondale even though I certainly walked by it at least a few times.  Remember I was trying to get into grad school at this point.

The Forum is way in the back of the magazine this time, well compared to where it normally has been.

The Marvel Phile is up this time by Scott Davis and Steven E. Schend with a collection of superwomen.

Chris Perry has an oddly placed D&D-themed article (odd since it is near the end after the Marvel stuff) Defenders of the Hearth. This deals with Halflings and their priests.  While the game content is specifically AD&D 2nd Edition there is a lot here, most really, that can be used for every other edition after that.  In fact, I might just copy it for my kids to use.

Ad for a GDW game coming out in the Summer of the 92 that they are calling a "break through"  I am guessing it was for "Blood and Thunder" but I could be wrong.



Rare bit of topless mermaid in the fiction section, even if it is still firmly PG.

More high-tech equipment for GURPS Space.

Dragonmirth is next, but not at the end of the magazine!  Don't really recognize any of these anyway.

Small ads.

A few pages of minis in Through the Looking Glass. The rest are for larger, full page ads.
Two close to my heart. The Rules Cyclopedia, which is my interest these days and Ravenloft Guide to Vampires, one of my favorite Ravenloft books.


So not an issue I have read until today, so I have no memory to compare it too.
It is an interesting issue though all the same.  It looks like the Dragons I read as a kid, but there is a different feel.  Of course the difference is only in me really.  Still though plenty of good advice and a testiment that somethings never change.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

D&D Rules Cyclopedia in Print again

The D&D Rules Cyclopedia often called the best one-volume D&D book there is, is now "back" in print.  Or at least Print on Demand.


This game covers the BECM of BECMI which is really what most people want anyway.
Really this book has everything.

For the longest time, I dismissed this book and felt stupid for that the second I read it.  At the time though I was in grad school and money was tight.  I have since picked up a couple of copies.

I would LOVE to run a game with this RAW (Rule As Written).  I have even talked about it here many times.

Now we can get copies of this fantastic version of the game in one volume in either soft or hard covers.  I'd get both if I had a current game of this going.

In any case, this is a great deal. Just have a look on eBay to see what these are going for used.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Weekend Gaming: Descent!

Sumer of 1982 I was in Jr. High.  My good friend Jon Cook was our regular DM only by dint he had been playing longer than my 2 and half years and he owned most of the hardcover books.  He also owned a copy of D1-2 Descent into the Depth of the Earth.  I remember flipping through it thinking how much fun it would be to run this adventure.  In my mind, it really was what made Advanced D&D "advanced".  That hex map was above and beyond anything I had seen up to that point.  I told myself that once I knew more about the game I would run that adventure.

Well, this weekend some 36 years later I finally made good on that promise.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon rode a mine cart down, down, down to the underdark (before it was even named such) and began their quest to find the drow responsible for getting the giants to raid the human lands.

The first session went great with the Order making it to the first checkpoint.  They tried to bluff their way through, but that only got them so far.  They had to fight their way out of the checkpoint.  They are now holed up in a side cave looking to heal.

(The Order, surrounded on all sides by Drow)




I have a bunch of material from a variety of sources. Enough to keep us busy for a while.

My wife even had to comment on how much fun we all seemed to have!  It really was worth all the weeks of prep and years decades of thought.  This is going to be great.

The boys are already plotting on how they can get the houses into a civil war to gain the advantage.




Thursday, February 1, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #92

We are nearing the end of the mythic year 1984 where we had been warned that Big Brother is Watching You. Fast forward 34 years people ask why no one is watching them on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and so on.  On the big screen, Beverly Hills Cop is still bringing in cash. Wham! Madonna and Daryl Hall and John Oates rule the airwaves. It's December 1984 and this Issue #92 of This Old Dragon!

Oh I am in for a treat today. This is one of my favorite issues, wonder how it stacks up to my memory.  For starters, we have another beautiful Denis Beauvais cover featuring a dragon attack. I always liked seeing dragons on the cover of Dragon.  Seemed to make the issue special to me.

A quick peek at the contents tells me this is a cleric-themed issue, so I know I would have loved it back then.

Letters are still focused on falling damage. Well, at least one letter is.  Back then I loved that stuff, I even wrote a program for my Casio programmable calculator to do it.  Which of course led to discussions of is the gravity of my game world the same as Earth?  Today I'll just roll a d6 per 10 feet and be done with it.

The Forum has some more thoughts from readers on Katharine Kerr's Issue #89 Forum discussion about evil PCs.  I tried to play in a game once full of evil PCs. Didn't work. No one could trust anyone long enough to get things done.

Big ad for the "First D&D Fantasy Novel" Dragonlance's Dragons of Autumn Twilight.  We are getting to the so-called "Hickman Revolution" in D&D.  1985, as I have mentioned here many times, was a transitional year for the game and TSR.  We only see the hints here, ones that only reveal themselves in retrospect.  Then? I had no clue! I Was thrilled to be gaming every weekend.

Our first real article is by none other than the man himself. Gary Gygax's From the Sorcerer's Scroll feature gives us Clerics Live by Other Rules.  Today this advice is given, but back then it was as close to heresy (pardon the poor choice of words) if it had not been from Gygax himself.  To summarize Clerics should get spells and use weapons unique to their faith.   We would later see this in 2nd Ed AD&D with the Priest of specific mythoi and in later editions with domain spells.  But what Gygax is saying here goes beyond the dozen or score spells that are different.

Paul Vernon is up with First, spread the faith which is all about clerics remembering what their purpose really is; they are on a mission from their gods (to quote the high clerics Jake and Elwood Blues).
Bruce Barber takes this one step further in his The more, the merrier: How clerics can find new followers. Or cleric conversion rules.  I remember getting a Xerox copy of this and stapling it to my cleric's character sheet. The problem I ran into is that there were never enough NPCs that were not trying to kill us to convert.  Still it is a nice long article and has some good clerical advice that can still be used in any game today.

Kim Eastland and Dan Sample have some text and pictures from the 1984 Gen Con miniatures open.  I never read these in detail, my money never went to minis back then, but I loved the little Jabberwock at the end and always wanted one.

Speaking of minis, next page over is TSR coming attractions featuring a set of metal minis for the Indiana Jones game.  I don't remember if they ever got made, but those would be a prize today.

Ahh.  One of my faves is up.  The Suel Pantheon from Len Lakofka.  In this, the last of the series, we get Lydia, Bralm, and Jascar.  One day I want to collect all of these (issues 86 to 90 and 92) and look at them as a single work.  These gods and their write-ups were a nice working model of what Gygax was saying above about how clerics need to be different.

Let the horse buyer beware is an article on how to buy horses from Robert Harrison who is obviously pulling on a lot of real-world knowledge he has.  While I don't find this article particularly useful to me I do admire the work that went into it.

The Ecology articles are back from Ed Greenwood. This time taking on Ettins in 'Duh Cology of...Duh Ettin!  Again, given to us in-universe, even though that universe will not be available for another 2 years.  I think this is the first time I began to think of Ettins as two-headed orcs rather than two-headed hill giants.

Ed is back for more in Pages from the Mages III, another favorite feature of mine.  In particular, I remember going on a quest to recover Aubayreer's Workbook having only the glyph as a clue.  I don't remember all the details save that the quest was dangerous and the spells in the book were a bit anti-climatic given the quest.  Not that the spells are bad (hardly!) it is the quest was that hard.
This is also, at least from what I can tell, our very first mention of The Simbul, "the shapeshifting Mage-Queen".  I guess she is looking for a copy of this book too! I think I see a plot hook for my next Realms game (and playing on the events in The Simbul's gift).  MAYBE that quest was only half of the tale! Maybe the other half was really to get this book to The Simbul.  I am only 30+ years late.   Thank you Ed!  Of course, that is only one of FOUR magic books. The others also have great history and potential for adventures.

Book Reviews are up next.
One of the books reviewed is the famous "Name of the Rose" by Umberto Eco.  Eco is required reading for anyone playing the WitchCraft RPG from Eden studios.  Name of the Rose needs to be required reading for anyone playing a cleric AND anyone who thinks playing a cleric is lame.

Our centerpiece is an adventure that I have ran on a couple of occasions. First it is for the D&D game (not AD&D).  Jon Mattson's The Sword of Justice.  It's nice little low-level adventure that can be snuck in between dungeons or other adventures. It is a nice mystery involving a missing sword, a mysterious elf (remember when elves were mysterious!) and a village full of scared but well meaning folk.  A tiny bit of tweaking here and there and it could be run under any edition of the game.  Yeah, even 4th (I thought about that version in particular. If I can convert it to 4th I can convert it to anything).

Big ad for the TSR 10th Anniversary game pack with four pages of game shops you can buy it from.  I checked the local listings and sadly only one or two reamin.  I am also kicking myself for not getting this.  Well...never had the chance really.

Let's see...
A review for the TOON game is up.  I liked the idea of this game, but never got a chance to play it.

Some advice for characters in DragonQuest, Going up and getting wet: How DRAGONQUEST natives climb and swim by Paul Montgomery Crabaugh.  DQ is another game I want to try someday.

The short fiction is The Multidimensional Caper by Mark Acres.  It is an interesting story and a good example of mixing D&D with Gangbusters.

The Ares section is up.
The Six Million Dollar Mutant covers cyborgs in Gamma World.

Jeff Grubb's Marvel Phile gives us some Heralds of Galactus.  I remember reading this one because I never understood the fascination with the Silver Surfer.  I got it, I think, a little more after this.

Ed going for three gives us (along with Penny Petticord) some answers to Star Questions on Star Frontiers.

Small ads and classifieds.
Con Calendar.

Ad from The Armory which looks exactly like the stand I bought some paint from over the weekend.

Wormy. Dragonmirth. SnarfQuest, where we are introduced to the Gagglezoomer for the first time.

Really a fun issue with a lot going on.  Plus it has a lot of material that I can still use today in my D&D 5e games.

Want to see what I was saying about White Dwarf at the same time? Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #60.
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