Monday, April 30, 2018

So Many Spells

I didn't get a chance to do any gaming this weekend.  Not likely get in any in the next few weekends since I am going to spending my time helping my wife in her garden.

So while I was outside rototilling (before and after) I was working out some spells and some spell books.  I snuck inside to check some of my databases, files, folders and materials on my cloud drive and I figure a conservative estimate is I have about 12,000 different spells spread out over all the editions of D&D.  A good 800 or so are ones I wrote myself (I know I wrote close to 400 for Buffy and Ghosts of Albion and another 380 for the various witch books).


In CineUnisystem rules (Buffy, Ghosts of Albion, Angel) there is a quality called "Occult Library" which relates how many tomes of magic you can start with and thus how many spells.  This works because there is no real formal training for would be spell casters for the most part and often spells are found in old libraries and collections.  Much like Call of Cthulhu.

Occult Library is a variable quality.  Without giving away too much here is a breakdown.

Name Points # of Spells Notes
Poor 1 4-13 A spotty collection of Time-Life books
Fine 2 7-16 Access to the internet
Outstanding 3 11-20 Some really rare books
Amazing 5 21-30 Some unique tomes that no one else has

How would this translate into terms a D&D player could use?  Well, there is no economy to "buy" features in older versions of *D&D, but there is in newer versions.  D&D 3rd, 4th, and 5th all have feats.  Now keep in mind one of the reasons that wizards (and witch and warlocks and other spellcasters) go on adventures is to find new (or more likely "old") spells.  I do not want to lose that.  So given the feat economy in 4th and 5th edition, I would use this only for "starting" spells.  The character spends a feat to gain access to a number of spells.  I would also say that this feat is a Character Creation feat only.  So you can only take it at 1st level.

New Feat
Arcane Library
You have access to a large library of arcane tomes where you can study at your leisure.
Prerequisites:  Level 1 only;  Ability to cast Arcane spells.
Benefit:  You have access to a library of arcane and occult tomes.  This library will give 3-18 (3d6) spells of up to 9th level (2d4 +1) (GM's can work with the player to determine what spells are found).
These spells must still be learned, but they are here for when you can learn them.

For older editions of the game, I would suggest adding an extra 100xp to spellcaster's Experience to the 2nd level to cover this boon.  I would allow this for Witches, Magic-Users  (Elf as a class), Illusionists and Bards, but not Clerics or Druids.

I am sneaking this one in under the wire, but this is my contribution to the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted this month by Hereticwerks.  The topic this month was Journals, Grimoires and Spell-Books. 


Thursday, April 26, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #153

Going into a bit of a mystery era for me.  It is January 1990, the 90s are officially here.  Born on the Fourth of July is still in theatres, but the music charts still have a late 80s feel to them, grunge was still a few months away, but my roommate's younger brother was CONVINCED that this new band he discovered via some bootlegs, Soundgarden, was going to be the next big thing.  (Kid, I forgot your name, but seriously solid call).  At this time my games were winding down.  I was a Junior at University and working to get into grad school.  So this is really one of the first times for and this Issue #153 of This Old Dragon!

So, like I said I have no memories of this issue, but a couple of articles I remember reading later on CD-ROM.  But that is jumping ahead.  The cover, titled "Chariot races are a dime a dozen" is by multiple Hugo award winner Kelly Freas and is really fun.  As I have mentioned in the past my road to D&D began with my love of the Greek and later Norse myths.  Seeing this cover, with Odin and Hermes betting on the races and Ares and Set controlling it via godly video-game controllers just really makes me smile.

The cover sets up nicely our feature of this issue. The Gods.

The first thing I notice about this issue is the number of full-page ads is greater.
For those wanting to put this into their own chronology, the Publisher is James M. Ward and our Editor is Roger E. Moore.  There is a sidebar on the Letters page listing some of the changes in personnel.  We only know now from hidsight that TSR was going to have a lot of troubles in the 90s even if creatively they were having some of their best output.

Letters hits us up with a CRAZY idea; Dragon magazine on disk! Not gonna happen says the management.  Others want to read four-five page transcripts of other people playing D&D. Sorry guys, but you both will get what you want in a few years.

Skip Williams is up with Sage Advice.  Like most of the SA from this time period, it deals with the new AD&D 2nd Ed rules and a bit of 1st Ed. Fitting with the theme this one covers Cleric and Druid spells.

Forum has the usual collection of gripes and insights.  One thing I had forgotten was slowing down how demi-humans gain experience points.  In 2nd Ed this has the effect of making the demi-human races feel a bit more like their Basic D&D counterparts.  I don't think I would try this in D&D 5, but it is something I see working well in other games like Castles & Crusades or even Swords & Wizardry.

Here we get our special feature.
Up first is Craig Barrett, Jr. and The Goals of the Gods. Here he talks about what motivations the gods have in your world and what they do. This article is long, well researched and only kinda-, sorta- related to Fantasy Roleplaying.  Don't get me wrong, it is a fascinating read and a good one if I wanted an intro article to comparative mythology.  Still, it is a good "Food for thought" article and a good one to start off our series with.

Craig Barrett, Jr. is back (so soon? yes) with another essay/article.  As Above, So Below talks about the power of the gods and even postulates on powers above the gods.  Again there is an academic feel to this one, but I also found it more interesting.

Following In Their Footsteps by Fraser Sherman is more along the lines of what we expect from Dragon articles; background information and advice on how to use it in your games.  Sherman treads over some well-traveled ground here going all the way back to issue 83 (and likely before) of changing the cleric class to more closely fit their god.  AD&D 2nd ed mad good strides in this direction as would 3rd edition.  But unlike past articles that focused mostly on weapons and spells, this one looks at hobbies and past times or other interests. So mostly non-weapon skills.
The article focuses exclusively on the Olympians, but there are enough archetypes here to cover the other pantheons as well.

Nice big ad for the Science Fiction/Fantasy Book club.

Your Place in the Grand Scheme by Tom Little addresses the importance of clerics in the AD&D game.  The article runs the gambit of religion, morality, philosophy, and alignment.  This really was a golden time for clerics.  The 2nd Ed rules introduced the Priests of the Specific Mythoi and later Planescape would make philosophy and the gods a very central element to the game.  Clerics were really moving beyond the "walking first aid kits" and becoming more of an archetype in their own right.  But it seems like every so often we still get articles or posts of "Cleric, who needs them!" which I find very odd, to be honest.

Fiction is next.

Jeff Grubb is next with The Game Wizards with another "conversation" with Elminster.  Jeff is a good author and game designer, yet his Elminster "voice" feels off to me.  I am 100% certain this is bias on my part.  Over the years I have gone from being amused by these articles, to avoiding them, to outright hating them and now back to being pleasantly charmed by them.  One of my goals is to collect all of these and give them a read sometime, especially all the Wizard's Three articles.

John C. Bunnell is back with another copyrighted edition of The Role of Books.  A.C. Crispin is featured here with an original book.  I was always a fan of her tie-books for Star Trek, V and Star Wars. I remember seeing her obit on StarTrek.com a few years back.

The Ecology of the Manticore is next. I liked the manticore back when I read about in mythology and it was a favorite monster in D&D Basic, but somewhere along the line I stopped using them.  This article by "Spike & Jones" does little to interest me in them again.

Through the Looking Glass has a do-it-yourself wire-frame and epoxy dragon.

Con Calendar covers the best of what 1990 has to offer this winter and spring.  It always seems like there were more Cons back then.

Wow.  I think this might the very first article on The Voyage of the Princess Ark by Bruce Heard.  I consider these "must reads" if you have any interest in the Known World as it was presented in the BECMI era of D&D.

Your Best Chances is obsessive compulsiveness after my own heart. Ed Friedlander takes all six of the ability generation methods from the AD&D 2nd Ed game and looks at your chances to get the roles you need per class.  I love how he mentions he was using Quatro on an IMB-PC.  That shit could only fly in the late 80s and early 90s.  But major kudos to Ed here for working all this out.  I am tempted to try it all out in R just to say I did it.

Speaking of computers, Role of Computers covers the then state of the art for the dawn of the 90s.

Small ads for Gamer's Guide.

The table of contents says there is a Top Secret article here, but mine has been cut out.  Same with the Spelljammer one.

Dragonmirth has the normal shor comics, but nothing along the lines of SnarfQuest or Wormy anymore.

So if you are into Clerics and gods then this is a great issue for you. It's a good issue overall and I loved Ed Friedlander's stats and a chance to see the start of the Voyage of the Princess Ark too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Back after a bit

Sorry for the lack of posts.  I am learning a new language and it is taking up a lot of my time.


Sadly, learning R will have nothing to do with anything I post here or with my games, but it is good for me to stay current in my day job.  Plus I am soooooo tired of dealing with SAS and SPSS.


Monday, April 23, 2018

The Return of Nibiru

Nibiru, the Crossing Star, is back.  With the same results that we had back in September.

So in honor of this apocalyptic repeat here is the original article!

 If you are reading this then you know we survived.

Today is the day that some conspiracy theorists believe that the planet Nibriu will destroy the earth.
Interestingly enough the Babylonian "star" of Autumn was called Nibriu.  Of course, the tin-foil hat crowd will claim that this is because the Babylonian's and the Aztecs were in contact with the same aliens (the Zetas according to one group).



Of course, this is all great stuff for a game.
Nibriu could be a sub-brown Dwarf, a body with 2.5 times the mass of Jupiter.

With a name like Nibru it could be some Clark Ashton Smith-like god, a fatal star whose invisible light shines down bringing woe and destruction.  Worshiped by insane warlocks and blind abominations whose milk-white eyes can see the foul light.

Witches and warlocks can forge a pact with Nibiru for more magics.

Nibiru's Crossing
Level: Witch/Warlock 2
Range: 1 person
Duration: Instantaneous
By means of this spell, the warlock can instantly transport himself instantly 10 feet + 5 feet per level to any unoccupied space of five feet square. So a 4 level warlock can transport 30 feet away.   The warlock does not need to see the area he is transporting too, but he must know if it is occupied or not.

Winds of Nibiru
Level: Witch/Warlock 3
Range: 40 feet from the warlock
Duration: 1 round + 1 round per 3 levels
With ancient incantations, the warlock summons the foul winds of Nibiru. The winds blow from the warlock in a cone shape and terminate 40 feet away.  Creatures in the area of effect are blown outside of it. Those outside cannot enter the cone area in front of the warlock.  Missle weapons and spells are also ineffectual in area.  Such is the concentration required that the warlock cannot move during the duration of the spell.

Dreadful Gravity of Nibiru
Level: Witch/Warlock 4
Range: 100 feet from warlock
Duration: 1 round
With this spell the warlock summons the dreadful gravity of the planet Nibiru and can pull one Small, Medium or Large creature to it to stop five feet from the Warlock.  The creature is pulled and immobilized for 1 round.  After this it may attack normally.

Eclipse of Nibiru
Level: Witch/Warlock 5
Range: 50 feet radius sphere from warlock
Duration: 5 rounds
This spell summons a piece of dread and invisible Nibiru to block all magical attacks directed at the warlock. Any spell directed at the warlock is deflected or is stopped at a distance of 50 feet from the warlock.  Magical weapons are also likewise deflected.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #109

You know how some issues don't grab you at first, but something about them keeps at you and makes you keep coming back to them?  They was me and this issue back in May 1986.  I did not buy this issue when it came out, my then regular DM did (more on that later) but I kept borrowing it. I kept coming back to it.  Today rereading it again after getting my own copy I am struck by how much of it stuck with me.  So let's set the way-back machine to May 1986, put on some Whitney Houston and see what we have in this Issue #109 of This Old Dragon!

The cover for this one is mixed for me.  I love the artist's (Daniel Horne) other works and this is objectively a good piece of work.  But there is something....I don't know.  I have never been able to come out say I like it or I hate it.  Strange.  No fault of the artist, but something with me I am sure.
Note: looking past the cover I see this is his first cover for Dragon.

Moving on!

While we are near the time of the special features and theme issues, we are not quite there yet in this one.  For example our center piece is a fold out poster and the Gen Con 19 Booklet.  Whomever owned this issue before had removed the book, but kept in a folder with all their Gen Con 19 registration materials and receipts for game tickets.  Very interesting stuff.  Heavy on AD&D.

That is not to say there are not some great features here.  Far, FAR from it.

Letters covers people noting that AD&D game seems to be growing rules-wise all the time and there is so much to keep track of.  Others discuss how Dragon is becoming the "house organ" of TSR.  Oh just wait buddy...and another asking if we will see more Gary classes he promised three years ago.  Sadly we did not know it then, but Gary was nearly out the door by this time and completely gone in less than 5 months.

Up first is an article that pretty much dominated my life for the next few years.  Paul Montgomery Crabaugh's famous Customized Classes article was for the D&D game, but could be adapted to AD&D.  I think most of us today know this article and many of the similar class customization tools you can find online or in books like the ACKS Player's Companion.   I used this to "check my numbers" for my first witch and healer classes, which were using modified XP tables based on the cleric.  I found my witch needed to be increased and the healer decreased.  The numbers I used today are based now more on playtest and some numbers I worked out in Excel.
My then DM, who owned this issue, went even further than me.  He created a whole new grouping of psychic based classes (we playing a pretty heavy Deryni-like game then were psychic were the outcasts in our world.  His classes, call Riddlemasters (based very, very loosely on the Riddle-masters of Hed) were psychic warriors that survived by making their psychic powers look like magic.   I remember coming over to play and he handed me a 25-page typed manuscript that explained them and how they worked.  They also needed something like 7,500 XP just to hit 2nd level.  Each level had different color robes with white for first level and black for 10th.  My character, Retsam, spent so long at 9th level (like a year) that in the game world and real world he gained the nickname "Retsam the Red".  He was a Bedouin-like human with dark skin and white hair and became one of my most favorite characters of all time.  But Riddlemasters were not for everyone.  He also created Shadowmasters and Beastermasters, which did basically what you think they might do.  I tried to adapt the Riddlemasters to 2nd ed AD&D and then again to 3rd Ed, but not with any success.
On a sad note this was Paul Montgomery Crabaugh's last article.  He had died in November of 1985 and never got to see it print or it's legacy online.

The Barbarian Cleric by Thomas Kane provides us with a different view of the cleric.  It is an interesting idea and one I think got great traction under the name "Shaman" for other publications/editions of the game.  I like the idea of defeating a spirit nemesis in theory, but not sure how it works in practice.  I do like it.  I like the idea that clerics all need to be different than each other.

James A. Yates has a nice long bit on mercenaries in Fighters for a price.  It's really long and has a lot of great advice and tables.  It should still work in the newest editions too.

Ahh, here is another one of those articles that stuck with me for years.
Question. Do dwarf women have beards?  Today it is not so much of a discussion, but back then? Wow.  Worth its weight in gold helps clear up some this mysteries and more by John Olson.  This article taught me to never trust a male dwarf that shaves.  It also answered for me, definitively, that dwarven women do have beards years before I met Violet of the Rat Queens.  Later when designing the Xothia tradition of dwarven witches I decided that what made these women different from others was they could not grow a beard at all.  If a dwarf woman can't grow a beard it is because she is a witch.

Bill Mickelson is next with one of my favorite Ecology articles, The Ecology of the Displacer Beast.

Role of books features the best of May 1986.  At this time I was moving away from fantasy into horror.  But I still read the second Dragonlance Trilogy (featured here) and thought it was better than the first.

Garry Spiegle covers some additions and clarifications to the War Machine rules found in the D&D companion set. I never used these rules really, or the BattleSystem for AD&D.  I wonder if there would have been more of this sort of rules if the two lines had adopted a signal use of the same rules.  I have talked to people over the years and I keep hear that War Machine is better than BattleSystem.

The Uncommon Tongue by Gregory Andersen helps provide some differences to your languages by using some old English to spice things up.

Have a couple of smaller articles next.

Locals aren't all yokels: In town, adventurers may not hold all the aces by Ralph Sizer covers unexpected NPCs in small towns.  I think back to Fred Gwynne's judge character in "My Cousin Vinnie" who got his degree from Harvard and lives in a little town.

Blades with personality by Sam Chupp discusses how to make mundane and slightly magical swords more interesting.  A name, a little history is what makes for your Excaliburs, Stormbringers and Mournblades.

Giant-sized weapons by Stephen Martin discusses weapon adjustments for large and larger creatures, something you can see in D&D now.

Ah, now this one was fun.  Hooves and green hair by Bennet Marks covers two new breeds for the AD&D game universe; the half-satyr and the half-dryad.  I remember that 4e had similar races too, but that is the only official ones I can think of.  Rereading it now I think they would make for some great race choices in a 1st ed or 5e game.

TSR Profiles covers Jeff Easley and Ruth M. Hoyer.
TSR Previews has the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (wow, how much did this one change your game?) and the Marvel Superheroes Advanced game.

John J. Terra has some advice for Top Secret administrators.

Up next is Ares.  I loved the Ares section.

Stephan Jones is first with Combat Variations in Space Opera.  I still need to try this game out, it seemed so epic to me to be honest.

For Star Frontiers we get new material for cults in Patriots, Terrorists and Spies.  Great stuff.  I used to run with a cult of "Earth First" groups.

The Double-Helix Connection gives us some rules for running mutants in Traveller from Michael Brown.

The Second Annual Hero roster is up for Marvel Phile.

Sherri Gilbert has a great article on getting started with Sci-Fi games.  At three pages it is not everything, but it is a good start in the Keys to Good SF.

Small ads and classifieds.
Dragonmirth, SnarfQuest and what is likely one of the last Wormy's before Tramp and I move to the same town (unknow to me at the time).

So a fun issue, a useful issue and one I like coming back too.

Want to see what I was saying about White Dwarf from the same time? Or do you just want to pop over and see one of my favorite White Dwarf covers of all time?  Either way, check out White Dwarf Wednesday #77.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mail Call: Star Frontiers

I have always been a fan of Star Frontiers. Despite not having much success with Sci-Fi games, my brother and I picked up a copy as soon as it came out.  We had a fun time with it for a while, but often our games became more "D&D in Space".  While I would go on to other games, Star Frontiers always held a place in my heart.

I was quite pleased to see official copies come out on DriveThruRPG and RPGNow a bit back.  I was also pleased to see the new Print on Demand versions out too.  I wondered how they would simulate the boxed sets.  Well, now I know!

I picked up PoD copies of Star Frontiers: Alpha Dawn and Star Frontiers: Knight Hawks.






The color covers are quite bright and there are some color pages inside as well.  But the vast majority of the interior is still black and white.



Can't punch these out though. They do give them to you as a PDF to print and cut out.




I am quite pleased with these.  I'd love to get a game going of this, even if if it is just for a single session.  Now I need some percentile dice!  Maybe blue and red to match the dice that came in my boxed set.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tim Kask on Witches

Tim Kask, who goes back in TSR as long as there was such a thing has been online ruminating about the history of TSR, D&D, and related topics.

He has a YouTube channel, called appropriately enough, Curmudgeon in the Cellar.  Though I think he missed an opportunity to call it Curmudgeon in the Dungeon.

In this video, he talks about a lot of things going on in social media this week.  First is the issue of gatekeeping at GaryCon.  I didn't see or feel any myself so I am not sure where this is coming from.

The big one for me, of course, starts at 6:13, where Tim talks about why there was not a witch class in 1st Ed AD&D.  A lot of this we have heard before and tracks with the history of the game.  Here he is in his own words.


Frankly, I am glad they didn't include witches.  If they had I might not have ever made my own which led to my own publications and my current career/hobby.  I likely would have refocused back on writing vampire stuff.

Tim also goes into how he runs his games.

I like Tim, even when he is cantankerous (he is a self-professed curmudgeon after all) or maybe even more so.  He is also a fellow Saluki, so he always gets a pass in my book for that alone.

I am looking forward to watching some his other videos.  Should be fun.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Weekend Games: A Tale of Bards

This weekend we got some gaming in.  The Treasure Hunters continued to explore the  Forbidden City and discovering more about the influence of the Yuan-ti.


They have not encountered the Mongrel men or the Blood Apes yet, but that will be coming up.

Everyone managed to level up to level 5 this weekend.  A lot (3) of the characters are going to take a level of bard, all of different types.  It's going to be interesting to say the least.

After this adventure the sun here will also go out.  Giving the players the first indication that their games are all linked.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Back!

Sorry for the radio silence folks.

Had a computer die on me and needed to get this new one up and running.

Back to normal posting next week.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The USS Protector game stats

USS Protector, NX-3120 
Mystic-class Starship (based on existing Ambassador-class refits)
Explorer/Heavy Cruiser/Experimental Starship

NX - 3120 USS Protector
Construction
Klatu Nebula Yards (USS Mystic and engine prototype)
Neptune Station (USS Protector; warp field configuration)

Ships of the Line
Each ship is listed as experimental due to differing warp field configurations and nacelle placements.  The overall length of ships can vary by as much as 50 meters.
Ships of the line are named after types of magic-users.  All 21 ships were built from refit Ambassador-class spaceframes.

USS Mystic, NX - 3100
NX-3100 USS Mystic
NX-3101 USS Wizard
NX-3102 USS Sorcerer
NX-3103 USS Thaumaturgist
NX-3104 USS Hierophant 
NX-3105 USS Mage
NX-3106 USS Illusionist
NX-3107 USS Summoner
NX-3108 USS Conjurer
NX-3109 USS Enchanter
NX-3110 USS Abjurer
NX-3111 USS Invoker
NX-3112 USS Diviner
NX-3113 USS Necromancer
NX-3114 USS Witch
NX-3115 USS Shaman
NX-3116 USS Incantatrix
NX-3117 USS Elementalist
NX-3118 USS Arch-Mage
NX-3119 USS Imbolic Mage
NX-3120 USS Protector

Geometry
Length: 700m
Saucer Section width: 324m
Nacelle width: 396m
Height: 102m
Mass: 4,110,000 metric tons

Personel
Number of Decks: 33
Officer crew: 320
Enlisted crew: 900-1,000
Comand Officer: Commander rank

Omega-13 Warp Drive
Cruising Speed: Warp 6 (392 C)
Top speeds:
- Traditional warp: Warp 9 (1516 C) / 9.4* (1753 C)
- Asymmetric warp: Warp 13 (5166 C)

*Asymmetric Warp has no known upper limit so speeds past Warp 9 will use tradition Warp calculations. Current top speed is Warp 13.

Impulse Drive
Full Impulse: .75 C

Armaments 
Dorsal, Ventral and Aft phaser arrays, Type 9.1 (Type X prototypes)
Four forward facing phaser cannons, Prototype
Fore and Aft photon torpedo tubes, Type 6


USS PROTECTOR NX-3120 for Star Trek Adventures

Systems
Comms 09
Computers 09
Engines 09/10 (for experimental Omega 13 Drive)
Sensors 08
Structure 08
Weapons 09

Departments
Command -
Conn -
Security -
Engineering +2
Science +1
Medicine -

Scale: 6
Power: 10 (based on normal crew compliments)
Shields: 13
Resistance: 6

Weaponry:

  • Phaser Arrays
  • Phaser Cannons
  • Photon Torpedoes
  • Tractor Beam (Strength 4)

Talents
Mystic-class starships have the following Talents:

  • Prototype (presently applies to all ships in the line with various modifications)
  • Improved Warp Drive
  • Advanced Sensor Suites


USS PROTECTOR NX-3120 for the White Star RPG

ARMOR CLASS: 7 [12]
HIT POINTS: 150
SHIELD STRENGTH: 20
MOVEMENT: 5
TARGETING: +3
RANGE:
ATTACK: Heavy Laser x5 (6d6) (Phaser Array), Laser Cannon x4 (2d6) (Phaser Cannon), Proton Missile x2 (8d6) (Photon Torpedoes)
MODIFICATIONS Advanced Shielding (3), Automated Weapons (16), Faster-Than-Light Drive (Warp Drive), Proton Missiles, Tractor Beam (2), Shield Capacitor

USS PROTECTOR NX-3120 for Starships & Spacemen

Ship type: Cruiser
Crew complement: 320 officers, 900-1000 enlisted
Command Rank: Commander
Power Pile Base: 200 energy units (two full pods)
Teleporter Capacity: 5 at a time
Beam Banks: 3
Ion Torpedoes: 2
Shuttle Ships: 12
Sick Bay Capacity: 60 (emergency to 200)

USS PROTECTOR NX-3120 for X-plorers

Ship Class: 4
Type: Cruiser
Crew: 320 officers, 900-1000 enlisted
Hull Points: 90
Weapon Damage: 3d6 (phasers), 2d8 (photorps), 4d8 (phase cannons)
AC: 14
NPC Skill: 14/12/10+
XP Value: 5,500
Cost Million Cr: 240



Monday, April 9, 2018

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Crash Override

"Sometimes you need to burn a bridge while you are still standing on so they know you mean business. ... All us witches, past present and future, need to do better...Suffer us witches to live." 
 - Zoë Quinn

This might seem like a stretch here but stay with me on this.  I finished reading Zoë Quinn's Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate, and I am going to make the case this is a book about a modern witch and the witchhunt that came from it.

I want to get into the meat of the book, but let me address the parallels first.

Zoë Quinn began, like many historical witches, as a woman a bit marginalized from the world but found solace, comfort and even expertise in a traditionally "man's space".  For the witches of old this was often medical knowledge in a world of male doctors or religious knowledge in a world of male clergy.  In any case, she was a  woman (or a girl really, she was not much older than my son when this all went down) against a patriarchy.  Does that sound like a feminist theory to you?  It is ONLY if never actually studied feminist theory or have ever used the word "feminazi" in anything other than a derisive tone.  She was attacked and all but pilloried and burned at the stake.  Though virtually speaking she was. She even describes the mob after her as a group of "inquisitors".  The appropriate name really.

Actions speak louder than words and while I had heard and read the words of these internet inquisitors and gatekeepers of their "culture" I don't for a second believe them.  Their claims can be easily dismissed and discarded.  There were no witches on Pendle Hill in 1612. No devil in Loudun, France (1634). There was no devil in Salem (1692), no Satanic ritual abuse in the 1980s and no conspiracy in August 2014 to censor video games*.  (yes there is more than this, but the trouble is sorting through a metric ton of shit to get to it. This is not the place to detail my last couple of years of "ritual filth" reading about this and going to where they "live".)

But like those times, facts do not matter once the mob smells blood in the water, or online.  Quinn is a bit more understanding of her inquisitors, the ones that would see her dead for the audacity of being a woman.  I do not extend to them the same benefit of the doubt; I have seen this play out too many times in the exact same way with nearly textbook results.

Zoë Quinn is a witch, an unburnt witch in fact (her nom de' net in fact), and like the best witches of old, her name and exploits will outlive her inquisitors and tormentors.

She spends the first half of her book recounting her love of video games, finding solace online with like-minded people and discovering that she too could build something or make something.  There were many times I smiled or laughed out loud because I could relate to exactly to what she was doing and feeling.  Then we get to that day in August of 2014 where the mob, spurred on by an abusive ex-boyfriend and some easily dismissed internet rumors decides to act.
I have seen online abuse first hand, I have also stood on the sidelines and watched it unfold like a spectator sport.  So it was not without some personal horror that I listened to what she went through.
Honestly, you have to have zero empathy not be moved here.  Even IF (in all caps) she did the things she was accused of, it doesn't justify the violent outburst here.  (seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you people?)

There is some repetition, but this is a memoir, not a research paper. It is told like a memoir, with the unedited bits of a person's messy life left in. And the author is quite upfront about that.  In fact listening to it you get the feeling it could have been a "LiveJournal" post AND that is perfectly fine because that is the vibe the author wants.  Listen to her words and what she wants, the book is the ultimate expression of that. It is also almost, but not quite, a requiem for a life lost.  I can tell you, as a former QMHP, she sounds EXACTLY like people I used to counsel after they had dealt with something traumatic or after a significant period of depression.  I do not doubt that these are the words from someone who has in my professional opinion "seen some shit".

The first half had me depressed and sad for this girl. But the second half made happy for the woman she has become and what she has been able to do.  Sure, she can never get back that old life.  In many ways, her tale is the same of that as someone that has suffered a traumatic disease or accident.  In others, it is worse, because she knows if it were not for the actions of others she could go back to that old life and do the things she loved.

The last half of the book's title is "How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate" and she talks about what she has done and what she has been doing and freely admits that she is neither equipped or qualified to do the job that needs to be done.  I hope she will excuse the Batman allusion here (she has a section "You are not Batman"), but she is the hero we need.

She is open about needing more non-CIS, non-white, non-male voices in this fight. Not that we don't need CIS hetro white males, it's just that people like that, like me, are a dime a dozen.  We are.  She is open and even empathizes with the mobs of inquisitors that were after her; not wanting them to be subject to same actions she faced.  She is very cognizant (maybe painfully so) of the limitations of the tech companies and law enforcement.

To top it all off she built the Crash Override Network to help other victims of online abuse.
This alone is worthy of praise.

In the end, her advice is simple, be better to each other online and try to empathize with the human on the other side of the screen.   She knows there is a lot of work to do and this only the start.

Final note. I listened to the audiobook version of this with Zoë Quinn reading it herself.  I think that was a great choice for me, to hear her own words in her own voice, but also to get her to do it.  She knew when to be funny and when to be sad more than some other narrator.

You can find Zoë Quinn on the web here: http://www.crashoverridenetwork.com

2018 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

Books Read so far: 2
Level: Initiate
Witches in this book: 1. Keep in mind that "Witch" has never, EVER been an insult in my mind.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Good, but in her own words, flawed.
Best RPG to Emulate it: NA. But the snarky part of me does want to build a ShadowRun game around this with real trolls and real witches.
Use in WotWQMaybe not appropriate, but this was one of many real-life events that got me to write the Aiséiligh Tradition Witch.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #167

Moving ahead to one of the "newer" issues in my collection.  This comes to us from the distant past of March 1991.  I was a senior in college, but would take another year to finish up my honors courses, my minor and to take a few grad school classes before getting into grad school.  I was not really playing much at this point, but still buying and reading a bunch of Ravenloft games and books.
I believe by this time I had printed out the first solid draft of my witch class for 2nd Ed and was revising it more.  So without further ado here is March 1991 and this is issue #167 of This Old Dragon.

To the cover.  Ok. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate faces on inanimate objects? Cars, trains, especially airplanes. But more than anything TREES!  I think it some deep-seated childhood trauma related to both "Wizard of Oz" and "From Hell it Came".   My family will taunt me with it by giving trees with faces on them for Halloween.  Anyway.  The girl on here looks she wandered off from a Clyde Caldwell cover and is slumming here.  The artist is Fred Fields.

You can tell this is the 90s Dragon because of all the ads.  Mind you I am not complaining; I like the ads.  But there are more. More pages in general too.

Given this is the era near 2nd Edition the Dragons all have themes.  This one is the Wilderness.  I liked the themed issues, gave me something to look forward too.

The Editorial is an interesting one with addresses for you to send something to anyone serving in the US or British military.  I guess this is the time of Operation Desert Storm.

Up first is ...holy shit! it's the OSR's very own +Joseph Bloch! (hmm auto-tagging is not working on this). He is up with an article right in his wheel-house, See the Pomarj - and Die!  The three page article (four with cover image) is a bit of history on the Pomarj. It even has some details about the Slave Lords and plenty of old-school tables.   This is some good stuff that I wish I had known about when running the A-series recently. Ah well.

David Howery is next with Back to the Age of Mammals, taking us back to when the dinosaurs did their disappearing act and the mammals took over. There are a ton of great, untapped and underused creatures.  One of my favorites is even here, the Amphicyon.  I used my own version for a primitive were-wolf/were-bear hybrid back when I ran Palace of the Silver Princess.  This really makes this issue a stand out in my mind.

The Ecology of the Su-Monster would have been something I would have eaten up back in the day. Matthew Schutt gives us an updated version of these monsters and they work.  I always liked these little monsters. I ran an adventure where the locals worshiped as a god.

Gregg Chamberlain is next with the Dragon's Bestiary with various plant-based monsters.

Curses are Divine* But their effects on your fantasy hero are horrible! by Mark Keavney which details major and minor divine curses.  This is not the curses of the 3rd level spell, these are special and really powerful.  Also detailed are the situation where someone can find themselves so cursed.

TSR Previews tells us what is hot for March 1991 and beyond. On the list is RA2 Ravenloft Ship of Horror, a favorite of mine. Though I would always call it "Ship of Fools" after the Robert Plant song.

Arcane Lore by Jeffrey Pettengill has some expansions to the 2nd Ed Necromancer specialty wizard and necromancy spells.

Bruce Heard is back with more Princess Ark.  I am planning on collecting these and using some of it for my BECMI Magic School game.

Role of Computers covers the best of 1990.  Again, it's hard to review a review of the "State of the Art" of 27 years ago.

Sage Advice covers some Monstrous Compendium Vol II questions and the perennial question of how do I find a gaming group.

Peter Trueman as what he calls "a more realistic approach to fantasy" in Just Give me Money!  It's a long article that details maybe than you would want to know about coins.  Or maybe it is sort of the detail you like.  For me, it is more log-work than I like in my games.  Once I ate this stuff up.

Marvel-Phile deals with some of Spider-man's foes from across the pond in England in The Lads from Liverpool.  Spiders and Beatles. cute.

Nice big and water-damaged ad for Chill (2nd Edition).

(gotta be honest here. This issue is testing the mettle of my allergy drugs!)

Thomas Kane gives us some NPCs from historical references for an Oriental Adventures game in Lords of the Warring States. We are still in that odd overlap time of 1st and 2nd Editions.

Con Calendar is huge this month.

Ed is back. Am I at a point yet where I can say "Ed" and you all know I mean Ed Greenwood?  Instead of his normal conversation with Elminster, he ends up talking to Laeral of Waterdeep.  I do not begrudge Ed this, it is always entertaining and even when I didn't like the Realms I liked these articles.  This time he is covering the Undermoutain - the King of All Dungeons.  Ok. So. It's an ad for the new Undermountain boxed set.  Yeah, I can't even be irritated by that.

Role of Books from John C. Bunnell has the best of late winter/early spring 1991 including one that is STILL on my TBR pile, Deryni Magic by Katherine Kurtz.  Yeah, Grad School was not conducive to pleasure reading.

And just like that, we are at Dragonmirth.   The big feature is The Twilight Realm, which is on part 11.  I really know nothing about that strip, I should look into it more.

Ah, here are the small ads and classifieds.

Ok. Not a packed issue, but a lot of great bright spots like Joe's and Bruce's contributions.
I wonder what else I have from this time? Will be fun to see!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Into the Borderlands

I stopped by my favorite local game store, Games Plus, today and picked up my copy of the "new" Goodman Games Into the Borderlands.



It's a huge book.

Almost 400 pages (380) and full of nostalgic content.




There are several essays from people involved with the originals and the new project.





Some full-color panels of the covers and maps.



Inside the covers where they belong!



So interesting tidbits I never saw in the earlier modules.


It compares favorably to the originals, but it's size makes it awkward for the game table.  I am hoping that Goodman Games comes out with a PDF so I can just print the sections I want.

This book also has some new spells and some "new" monsters, or really monsters ported over from the Fiend Folio for the most part. 

The large number "1" in the upper left-hand corner is quite conspicuous.  I am wondering if we will get a "2" with Palace of the Silver Princess and Ilse of Dread?  A detailed treatment of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess would be fantastic, to be honest.



Is it worth the $50 price tag?  Maybe not to new gamers, but certainly to gamers of my age bracket.

I think it is pretty damn fun in my opinion!

Areelu Vorlesh, Witch Queen of the Worldwound

I picked up some Pathfinder minis a while back and this succubus in the mix that I did not recognize.  She also had a proper name, Areelu Vorlesh.  Imagine my joy when I discovered she was not only a succubus (well half succubus) but also a witch!

A trio of wicked witches, Iggwilv, Areelu, and Skylla
Turns out she is also a major NPC baddie in Pathfinder, the primary architect of the Worldwound in Golarion.  I am not sure what happens to her there, but she would really be a perfect addition to my War of the Witch Queens.  Plus I already have her mini!  Now I just need a Wayne Reynolds print on my wall.

Her Pathfinder stats are crazy. She is a 10th level witch, 10th level demoniac and an 8th level archmage.  Plus she has a lot of her half-succubus powers.  She has some truly outrageous stats too.

Areelu Vorlesh
The human that would become the witch Areelu Vorlesh has been lost to time. It was known that she was a witch in Deskari’s cult.  She was researching the nature of the separation of the worlds and planes (Plot hook!).  It was her success at opening the Worldwound that caused her Patron to transform her into a half-fiend.

Areelu Vorlesh (28th level witch)
The Witch

Strength: 14 Death Ray, Poison 3
Dexterity: 18 Magic Wands 4
Constitution: 18 Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone 3
Intelligence: 18 Dragon Breath 6
Wisdom: 18 Rods, Staffs, Spells 5
Charisma: 19

Hit Points: 73
Alignment: Chaotic (Evil)
AC: -2 (Bracers of Defense, +3 Amulet of Protection)

Occult Powers (Malefic Tradition)
Familiar: "Gimcrak" (Quasit, Enhanced)
7th level: Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue
19th level: Curse
25th level: Polymorph Other

Succubus Powers
Fly (at normal movement rate).
Drain Constitution (1 point).
Immune to fire damage and poison.
Half damage from cold and electricity.
Takes double damage from "holy" items.

Spells
Cantrips (7): Arcane Mark, Detect Curse, Ghost Sound, Mend Minor Wounds, Message, Spark, Summon Vermin

First (8+3): Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Command, Increase Sex Appeal, Mend Light Wounds, Protect Familiar, Quicken Healing, Shattering the Hourglass, Silver Tongue, Spirit Dart

Second (8+2): Ecstasy, Enhanced Familiar, Enthrall, Evil Eye, Hold Person, Invisibility, Phantasmal Spirit, Rite of Remote Seeing, Scare, Twisting the Heartstrings II

Third (7+2): Bestow Curse, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Enlarge Familiar, Feral Spirit, Fly, Ghost Ward, Tongues, Witch Wail

Fourth (7+2): Abomination, Charm Monster, Confusion, Divine Power, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Moonlit Way, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Withering Touch

Fifth (6): Baleful Polymorph, Feeblemind, Greater Command, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue

Sixth (6): Bewitch VI, Break the Spirit, Geas, Mass Suggestion, Repulsion, True Seeing

Seventh (5): Draw Forth the Soul, Eternal Charm Monster, Maze, Binding Ritual (Ritual), Gate (Ritual)

Eighth (5): Bewitch VIII, Damming Stare, Destroy Life, Wail of the Banshee, Imprisonment (Ritual)

So this version of Areelu Vorlesh is pretty powerful, though still not as powerful as the Pathfinder version (551 hp!) but still a very formidable foe and a worthy Witch Queen.



Monday, April 2, 2018

Monstrous Mondays: AI Generated Monsters

Over the weekend I was reading about scientist Janelle Shane feeding a bunch of 2nd Ed Monsters into a neural network...the results are, well... here Dr. Shane to tell us her results.


Personally, I think these are great!

My faves are "Owlborn", "Spectral Slug" and "Vampire Bear".

But my heart goes out to, "Durp Snake" and I am dying to know what the hell a "Spectral Woof Greepy" is.

She is doing more. She has some Google forms you can add your own information too.






Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...