Friday, July 27, 2018

Five Albums, Five Days: The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

I honestly can't of another album that has had the impact of this album in my life. Like Dark Side this album had always been in the background noise of my life.  Both of my older brothers were huge Beatles fans, my brother Mike, in fact, got a job at the local Capitol  Records plant as a teen just so he could get the albums the day they came out.
It was Mike that told me about the Beatles.  We spent hours talking about music.  I learned more from him about music than from anyone else on the planet; except maybe for my older brother Pat.  They are the kinds of musicians that can pick up any instrument and play.  I was envious of Pat (he bought me a saxophone that I was terrible at), Pat was always envious of Mike.

Mike sat me down one day. He gave a pair of headphones that cost more than the computer I had just bought and he said I was going to listen to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.  I told him I had heard this album before. He said, maybe, but I had never listened to it.

Mike died a few years ago.  After I heard, I went looking for my copy of Sgt. Pepper's. I couldn't find it. I am sure I had loaned it out. I was always doing that.
I got a new copy. But I still miss my brother.

Album: The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band




Kickstart Your Weekend: The World of Aihrde and TROGDOR!!

A couple of Kickstarters near and dear to me.

First up, 5th Edition Players Guide to Aihrde.



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/5th-edition-players-guide-to-aihrde

This is near and dear to me because I love both 5th Ed and Castles & Crusades.  The book brings them together, in a manner of speaking.   In any case, all the new Troll Lords material for 5e has been great.

Trogdor!! The Board Game



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1999933720/trogdor-the-board-game

For 15 years Trogdor has been burninating the Internet. Now all his majesty can burninate your game room.  The only question about this kickstarter is will it clear a $1 Million?  10 days in it is 80% in.


These both promise to be a lot of fun. 
I think we need 5e and C&C stats for Trogdor!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Five Albums, Five Days: Thomas Dolby - The Golden Age of Wireless (1982, 1983, 1984, 2009)

Very, very few albums actually reinvent themselves to me and stay with me over the years.  The Lion and the Cobra does, Dark Side of the Moon doesn't.  But this album(s) does.

Is it a synth-pop ode to the dawning of the computer age in the 80s?  Is it a proto-techno album? Is it a Steampunk/Diselpunk album? Or is it a screed against the very technology it seems to embrace.
Each new time gives it a different feel.

Album: Thomas Dolby - The Golden Age of Wireless


Of course depending on where, who and when you bought this album you could have something different.  Does yours have "She Blinded Me With Science" or "Urges" or neither of those? If your's had SBMWS then how long is it? Does "Radio Silence" feature a lot of synthesizer or guitars?   It took me a while but I tracked down most of these copies and they are now part of my collection.







When I was young I was in love. In love with everything. But now there is only you.







Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Five Albums, Five Days: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

Continuing now to Day 3.  This album had always been there in the background noise of my life for as long as I can remember.  I am not sure who it was who first told me to listen to it in its entirety with headphones; likely my brother Mike or my friend and DM at the time, Jon Cook.  I am going to give Jon the nod since I know how much he loves this album and what it means to him.

Simply put this might be the greatest album of all time.

The Album: Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (1973)








Survive This! Dark Places and Demogorgons - Carmilla / Buffy Crossover

My Dark Places and Demogorgons Buffy game has been a lot of fun.  I keep reaching back into my own high school years for ideas and one that came up was the "Foreign Exchange Student", once I hit on that everything else flowed.

So a bit of background. The year is 1983 and the place is Sunny Valley, OH. Here the events of lives of Buffy, Willow, Tara, Dawn, and the others are playing out.  We just had Sam and Dean Winchester come to town so we now know there is a lot more going on.
In today's special episode we meet 13-year-old Laura Hollis played by Elise Bauman and her father Sherman played by Enrico Colantoni.  Of course, this is my big Carmilla crossover.



The problem is that I have a GREAT idea and it involves Laura at 13 in full-blown "kid investigative reporter" mode AND it would also fit nicely with the timeline in the movie Styria.
BUT it also means that I am planning on NOT using Carmilla herself.

Having Carm in the mix, even if she is a "useless vampire", is just asking Buffy to try to stake her.  Not preferred.  But I figure this can be like Pre-Flash Barry Allen visiting Oliver Queen in Arrow.

So for a week or so, Laura Hollis, Teen Reporter is in Sunny Valey, OH and she does not like it. No sir, not one bit.

Of course, this is a perfect time for all those old jokes about "having a girlfriend in Canada".  Alex should be the butt of that joke.

What Class is Laura?
That's a good question.  He dad teaches her Krav Maga.  He makes his own pepper spray that can drop a bear.  He could be a Doomsday Prepper, but he is not paranoid, just overprotective.  Laura could be a Karate Kid, but that doesn't really define her either.  In truth, there is an archetype of the horror genre that is not covered; the Kid Gumshoe or Kid Reporter.

Kid Gumshoe (new Class)
THEY are hiding the truth. What truths? Well if the adults won't get up off their butts watching "Dynasty" or "Wide Wide World of Sports" then it's up to you.  You are ready for it too. You have your notes, your tape recorder (and hope to save up for a real camcorder one day) and you have the one thing that the others don't; moxy, gumption, the desire to dig and keep digging.
While most of your fellow students have pictures of Duran Duran and Bon Jovi on their walls you have Woodward, Berstein, Cronkite, and Murrow.  Of course, those are there to hide your giant map/pin board of every weird thing going on in town.  That jewelry store that never has customers save for late at night.  Your money is on werewolves.  And really what is the deal with a Light House in middle of a landlocked county where then the nearest body of water is the YMCA Pool.

"The Truth is Out There" - X-files

PREREQUISITES: Intelligence or Wisdom 12, Survival 8
LEVEL 1: Step aside Woodward and Bernstein. You have this covered!
+2 to Courage saves,  Investigation +2, Outdoorsmanship OR Stealth at +1,  Computer, Ranged Weapons, First Aid. Because of the frequent scrapes and fights you find yourself in you add +1 to melee attacks.  Typically this something like a martial art or brawling.

LEVEL ADVANCEMENT
2 +1 to AC, +2 to Investigation and Spot checks
3 +1 to Courage saves, Gain a local contact that grants you +2 on any one Investigation Check
4 +1 to Survival, +2 Brawling
5 "I gotta a guy." Gain more local contacts, +2 on any three different Investigation checks per day.
6 +1 to Intelligence or Wisdom, +1 Investigation
7 "Are You Sure?" can reroll any one Investigation check. 

STARTING GEAR:  notebooks, pencils, lists of contacts, pocket tape recorder with extra tapes.  5d6 Dollars, fake ID.


Laura Hollis
Class: Kid Gumshoe  Level: 2
Alignment: Good
Languages: English, French
Age: 13

Attributes
STR: 10 +0
INT: 16 +2
WIS: 12 +0
DEX: 15 +1
CON: 14 +1
CHA: 16 +2
SUR: 16 +2

AC: 11     HP: 8   Attack Bonus +1

Courage: 4
Critical: 3
Death: 3
Mental: 3
Poison: 3

Background
Mother is dead, Father is way overprotective.
She has not admitted she is gay yet, father knows.

Class Abilities
(see above)

Skills
Investigation, Stealth, Computers, First Aid, Spot

Possessions
Notebook, pencils, pocket tape recorder

Money: $5 (Canadian)


I like it! Both the NPC and the Class.  They might need some tweaking, but all in all I am happy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Five Albums, Five Days: Stevie Nicks - The Wild Heart (1983)

The search for my muse continues.

The year is 1983 and it is my 13th birthday.  There was was always a lot big "to do" about your "Golden Birthday" when you were a kid. That is when your age matches the day you were born.  I was born on a Friday the 13th in June and now I was 13.

Not sure what I got that day from others.  But I do know one.  My best friend Steven Todd gave me a copy of an album by an artist we both loved.  But in truth, I think he did it so I would stop borrowing his tape.  The artist was the immortal Stevie Nicks.
Last year for my birthday my wife got me the extend cut rerelease.   It was like listening to it for the first time again.

The Album: Stevie Nicks - The Wild Heart (1983, 2017)











Monday, July 23, 2018

Five Albums, Five Days: Sinéad O'Connor - The Lion and the Cobra (1987)

Creativity still at a remarkable low.  But I figure I should type something.
Gaming stuff likely to comback around Gen Con.

I finally got tagged in one of these so I am supposed to post five albums (or was it supposed to be 10) that have deep meaning to me.
Instead of me tagging others to do this, I want to tag/mention people that share that meaning with me. Up first, and no surprise given the time.
The year is 1987.  I am in college and I just met this girl who was going to become in roughly this order, someone I could never beat at cards, my best friend, my girlfriend and as of yesterday July 22, 2018 my wife of 23 years.  So tagged here, for oh so many reasons, Natalie Brannan

The album: Sinéad O'Connor - The Lion and the Cobra (1987)









Thursday, July 19, 2018

DC in the News

So I remain, despite a box-office trouncing, a devoted DC fan.

Few things are cooking in the DC Universe that will make me happy this fall.  Lets start with a big one and move on to EVEN BIGGER ONES!


We already knew that Kate Kane, AKA Batwoman will be featured in the Fall sweeps 4-Episode Arrowverse crossover (I guess that also means no tying in Black Lightning just yet).

Now it seems they want to use that as a backdoor pilot for a Batwoman series for 2019-20.
They are currently looking for an out lesbian/queer actress of any ethnicity to play Batwoman.

I commend them on this.

There is nothing about Batwoman's background that says she has to be white, or black, or Asian, or Algonquin, or Hispanic.  There are three things though that immutable about the character.

1. Kate is a Soldier. She lives to serve. Just now she wears the uniform of the Bat.
2. Kate is a Lesbian. Even in her earliest interactions, this is something she knows about herself and we know about her.
3. Kate is Jewish.  This informs how she sees life, how she approaches everything she does. The colors of her uniform.

In Comics Dark seems to be the new Black.

The Witching Hour will be a 5-comic arc featuring Wonder Woman, JL Dark and the plot revolves around Hecate and Witches!


I mean read this:
Part one, WONDER WOMAN AND JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: THE WITCHING HOUR #1, with art by Jesus Merino, sets the tone for the Wonder Woman-centered event. In this 48-page debut one-shot, Hecate, the witch-goddess of magic, always knew a day would come when the monsters she stole her magic from would return. Now she must activate the Witchmarked, humans within whom she secreted vast stores of power. This hits Justice League Dark especially hard: one of the most powerful of the Witchmarked turns out to be Wonder Woman! WONDER WOMAN AND JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: THE WITCHING HOUR #1 is on sale October 3.
Those aren't tears in my eyes.  No. Not at all....Shut up, you're crying.

And just when my poor heart couldn't take anymore.



Holy Shit!  Robin just said "Fuck Batman" and that Raven!  That is the Raven I have been waiting nearly 38 years to see on my screens.  Even Dove and Gar look great.

So yeah.  You can have your Infinity Wars and your snappy Thanos (who is a rip-off of Darkseid anyway). I know where my action is going to be this fall.

Right?


That's so Raven!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Survive This! Dark Places and Demogorgons - Supernatural / Buffy Crossover

Came home last night to a nice treat.  My hardcover version of Dark Places and Demogorgons came in.   This one I ordered from Bloat Game's own website.  After all the fun I had, I wanted to have this hardcover version too.



I even got it signed!


It got me thinking what would be a great one-shot Crossover for my Sunny Valley, OH game.  Then it dawned on me! The only thing that makes sense is Supernatural
In the in-show continuities, they were all born between 1978 and 1984 so why not extend that to my Sunny Valley game.

Supernatural even has baked in reasons for Dean and Sam to show up.  John Winchester has heard the rumors of Sunny Valley and has come to town to help clean it up.  He decides to enroll the boys in the local High School for a bit and this is where they meet the cast. 

If Tumblr is to be any source on this the meeting goes a little like this: Buffy and Dean meet, Dean hits on her, she rebuffs...(ouch), monsters come, Dean tries to save her, she instead kicks the monsters asses and saves Dean.  Dean falls more in love with her than before.


Sam and Dawn, as the youngest are stuck together.  They each discover the other's secrets; That Sam has some demon powers in him and Dawn is a powerful psychic.

Dean Winchester
Class: Monster Hunter (demons)  Level: 5
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 16

Attributes
STR: 15 +1
INT: 10 +0
WIS: 12 +0
DEX: 16 +2
CON: 14 +1
CHA: 16 +2
SUR: 18 +3

AC: 12     HP: 26    Attack Bonus +3 / +3 (vs. monsters)

Courage: 6 (additional +3 vs. monsters)
Critical: 4
Death: 5
Mental: 4
Poison: 5

Background
Mother is dead, Father is always on the road.
Annoying little brother.

Class Abilities
+3 to hit, track, dmg to monsters
+1 Toughness

Skills
Outdoorsmanship +4, Paranormal +5, Brawling +3, Persuasion +1, Basic Athletics +3, Stealth +2

Possessions
Leather jacket, knives, access to guns

Money: $25 (in stolen credit cards)


Sam Winchester
Class: Telekinietic/Monster Hunter  Level: 1/1
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 12

Attributes
STR: 15 +1
INT: 16 +2
WIS: 12+0
DEX: 16 +2
CON: 14 +1
CHA: 15 +1
SUR: 16 +2

AC: 10     HP: 10   Attack Bonus +3 / +3 (vs. demons)

Courage: 3 (additional +3 vs. demons)
Critical: 3
Death: 3
Mental: 4
Poison: 3

Background
Mother is dead, Father is always on the road.
Annoying older brother.

Class Abilities
+1 to Psionic attacks
Move 11 lbs of items, Push, Psionic Attack.
+1 to hit, track, dmg to demons
+1 Toughness

Skills
Outdoorsmanship +2, Paranormal +2, Knowledge (Demons) +1,  Knowledge (History)
Possessions
Members Only Jacket

Money: $5

The arrival of Sam and Dean also mean the arrival of demons to the show.
We end their streak on the "show" with Alex showing the Winchester boys how to play AD&D.

This could be a lot of fun to play at a Con sometime.  Now I just need to work Charmed in there somehow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Inactivity Update

Things have been kinda quiet over here at the Other Side.

Sorry about that.

My day job has hit a busy period and I have been given a promotion.  This time the promotion came with the increased pay AND responsibility...not just the increased responsibility.  So I have been working an extra ten hours each week.

Lite reading for work

Gaming-wise I am really busy.

I am still running my three independent-but-connected D&D 5 games.  My oldest is also running three different D&D 5 games covering 15-16 different players.  In fact this week the only day that a game hasn't played in my house was yesterday.

I am also in serious prep-phase of my Gen Con game of D2 Shrine of the Kuo-Toa and D3 Vault of the Drow.  It is going to huge and I want to make it as Epic as I can.





Hope to have some more soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

OMG: Celtic Mythos, Part 1

Brigid. Imbolc by TerraIncantata
Welcome back to another edition of "One Man's God".  Today I want to cover something very near and dear to my heart; the Celtic Myths.

The Celtic Mythos from the Deities & Demigods is an interesting combination Irish and Welsh gods.  Truthfully, this is no big deal. There was a lot cross-pollination between Irish, Scots, Welsh and Manx cultures.  Even the first page of this section features an Irish god, The Dagda, and a Welsh one, Arawn.

While I could go on (and on) about the Celtic gods, the point of this series is talk about demonized gods.

We do know that when the Christian monks settled in Ireland and Wales they did a fantastic job of saving these old oral traditions.  Not only did they take them down, but they were immortalized in such remarkable in their own right texts such as The Book of Kells.  Maybe because of the literacy of these monks and their obvious love for their country and these stories we do not see the demonization of these gods the same way as we do in other cultures.
Instead of becoming demons these gods often became faeries or other creatures of fey.

Not to say there are not monsters!  I am beginning to think that Ireland is the home to more types of Undead than anyplace I have ever seen.  I might follow up with that.   But let's talk about the gods and heroes in the book now.

Irish Ways and Irish Laws

The section on the Celtic Gods is smaller than some of the other gods here.  This is not a big surprise.  There have been some fairly major changes to how scholars see the Gaelic world since 1988 and on to today.

In Irish myth, we learn that Ireland was invaded many times.   Some of these invaders are viewed as gods, or at least some of their offspring are.  We can read this in the Lebor Gabála Érenn, or "the book of the taking of Ireland". There are four major groups (there are others, but these groups also connect to the Mythological Cycle of Ireland), the Fomorians, the Fir-Bolg, the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians.
Of these, the Formor and Fir-Bolg are at least quasi-divine.  The Tuatha Dé Danann are seen as gods, but mortal gods and the Milesians are human.

Most gods, namely the ones associated the most with the Tuatha Dé Danann,  diminished in power with the coming of the Milesians.  They become the sídhe or the fairy folk living under the mounds.
We have to assume that the Milesians are there since Cú Chulainn is listed as a hero and that puts us in the Ulster Cycle of Myths (the one after the Mythological Cycle).

Of course, some gods are still gods.  The Morrigan, for example, is a goddess and features prominently in the Ulster cycle.

Other gods went in the opposite direction.  The goddess Brigit (Brigid, Bri, Bride, among others) was not later demonized. Quite the opposite. She would later become Saint Brigid.

What About the Fomorians?

If there was a case for a demon in Irish myth it belongs to the Fomorians.  Giant, supernatural, ugly and representing the destructive side of nature, their king is even named Balor.
To me though the Fomor were always closer in nature to the Greek Titans.  Yes they are evil, but Brigit is the daughter of a Fomorian king.  There are many blood ties between the Fomor and the Tuatha as well.  This makes their relationship more like Tolkien's Orcs and Elves.




Next time, no demons?  No problem! The celts have enough troubles with the undead!
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