Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Review: B/X Gangbusters

The latest game to take over the Old-School gaming scene like, well, gangbusters is the new B/X Gangbusters; an update to the old TSR Gangbusters.

Gangbusters is a new game from Mark Hunt based on both the original Gangbusters and Basic/Expert D&D.  At first, I was a little wary of this.  It seemed a little too close to trademarks and I have seen some shady stuff.  But it turns out that Mark legally owns the Gangbusters trademark and this has been a dream of his for some time.  Reading his posts about it online you get his enthusiasm and it is contagious.  So does it live up to the hype? Let's check it out.

Gangbusters is an old school game built on the Basic version of D&D; or at least a suitable clone of it.  So if you know that game you how this one works. 
Characters have a choice of class; Brutish, Connected, Educated, and Street Smart. And each class has six levels, complete with level titles no less!

Each class gets a good write-up and running them through my memory of Good Fellas, The Untouchables and the Godfather I think they cover just about everything.  My tastes would run more towards Private Eyes so Connected and Street Smart would be great for me.

The alignment system here is Law vs. Neutrality vs. Dishonesty.  It works. It works rather well, to be honest.   

There are a lot of lists of equipment with 1920s costs.  For historical games, I love this stuff. 
There are guides for playing characters and playing in the time period.  

Part 3 is the newest material, Piece Of the Action, covers playing the Gangbusters game. A lot of great information here. 

Part 4 covers Game Mastering or Judging. This covers running a city.  Now, this is where I commit heresy, but there some great stuff here I might steal for other B/X style games.  This also covers awarding experience points.

For Part 5 we get Investigations.  Part 6 deals with Law Enforcement and Part 7 handles The Encounter.  The big gem of Part 7 is the table of vehicles. 



Part 8 is Wandering Adversaries and that is our "Monster" section.  It is 100% or at least 99% compatible with every other OSR game.  Though these are city adversaries of the 1920s.  You get adversaries like Angry Mob, Cat Burglars, Gangsters, Klansmen,  Moonshiners and more.  I have to admit, I now want to send a coven of my witches after a group of klansmen. 

Part 9 covers Combat.  This is expected stuff, but the really cool thing are the Saving Throws.  Gangbusters gives us, Moxie. Quickness. Toughness. Driving. and Observation. Really, how awesome is that?  

There is an optional section here that grabbed my attention. Mysterious Powers allows you to play as Golden Age heroes.  That is a very, very interesting development.



The game comes as a PDF and a Print on Demand book. Color covers and Black & White interior art.   It comes in at 63 pages.  The game is also released under the OGL.

How Does it Compare to Original Gangbusters?
By using the "Basic" system there are a lot details in the original game that are not needed in the newer game.  For example, skills are less of a game mechanic in the newer game.  The original Gangbusters has more detail on various weapon effects but the newer game is far better organized. 
OG Gangbusters weighs in at 64 pages, as was common for TSR at the time and a smaller font.  So it, in general, has more text, but that doesn't mean more game in this case. 

All in all. Gangbusters is a great game.  Part of that greatest comes from Mark Hunt's enthusiasm and his obvious love for this game.  Personally, I would get it for that alone, but thankfully the game here is also great all on it's own.   

If you enjoy the 1920s, Gangster films or even, like me, B/X D&D and related games, then this is a must buy.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Monstrous Monday Review: Monster Manual

For today's Monstrous Monday I want to do another review. For this one, it still follows my 'Back to Basic' theme I have been doing all year even though it is not a Basic-era D&D book.  It is though one of my Basic era books.  The book is the Monster Manual and it was just about 40 years ago that I first held this book in my hand.

This is the book. This is the book that got me into D&D and RPGs.

But how does one review such a genre-defining classic?

My son had made himself a triple cheeseburger covered in bacon, onions, and mushrooms.  I asked him how he was going to fit that into his mouth. He said, "with determination".

How does one review such a genre-defining classic?  With determination.

My History
The Monster Manual was the book for me.  The one that got me hooked.  The one, sitting in "silent reading" back in 1979 at Washington Elementary School in Jacksonville, IL that I became the über-geek you all know today. How über? I used the freaking umlauts, that's my street cred right there.

Back in '79 I was reading a lot of Greek Myths, I loved reading about all the gods, goddesses and monsters.  So I saw my friend's Monster Manual and saw all those cool monsters and I knew I had to have a copy. Though getting one in my tiny near-bible-belt town was not easy.  Not hard mind you, by the early 1980s the local book store stocked them, but I was not there yet.  So I borrowed his and read.  And read.  And read.  I think I had the damn thing memorized long before I ever got my own game going.

Since that time I judge a gamebook on the "Monster Manual" scale.  How close of a feeling do I get from a book or game compared to the scale limit of holding the Monster Manual for the first time?  Some games have come close and others have hit the mark as well.  C.J. Carella's WitchCraft gave me the same feeling.

Also, I like to go to the monster section of any book or get their monster books.  Sure I guess sometimes there are diminishing returns, Monster Manual V for 3.5 anyone?  But even then sometimes you get a Fiend Folio (which I liked thankyouverymuch).

This book captured my imagination like no other gamebook.  Even the 1st DMG, which is a work of art, had to wait till I was older to appreciate it.  The Monster Manual grabbed me and took me for a ride.

The Book (and PDF)
The PDF of the Monster Manual has been available since July of 2015.  The book itself has seen three different covers.


Regardless of what cover you have the insides are all the same.  The book is 112 pages, black and white art from some of the biggest names that ever graced the pages of an RPG book.
This book was the first of so many things we now take for granted in this industry.   The first hardcover, the first dedicated monster tome, the first AD&D book.
The book contains 350 plus monsters of various difficulties for all character levels.  Some of the most iconic monsters in D&D began right here.  Mostly culled from the pages of OD&D, even some of the art is similar, and the pages of The Dragon, this was and is the definitive book on monsters.

Eldritch Wizardry gave us the demons, but the Monster Manual gave us those and all the new devils.  The Monster Manual introduced us to the devils and the Nine Hells.  Additionally, we got the new metallic dragons, more powerful and more diverse undead and many more monsters.  We also got many sub-races of the "big 3". Elves get wood, aquatic, half and drow.  Dwarves get hill and mountain varieties. Halflings get the Tallfellows and Stouts.   So not just more monsters, but more details on the monsters we already knew.

While designed for AD&D I used it with the Holmes Basic book.  The two products had a similar style and to me seemed to work great together.  It was 1979 and honestly, we did all sorts of things with our games back then.  The games worked very well together.



Flipping through one of my physical copies, or paging through the PDF, now I get the same sense of wonder I did 40 years ago.

Thankfully, you can get the PDF of the Monster Manual for just a little more than the hardcover cost 40 years ago.





Thursday, November 7, 2019

Reviews: OSR Mars

I have always been fascinated with Mars.  Not just the Mars I used to look at through my telescope as a kid, but also the worlds of Burroughs, Wells, Smith, Heinlein, and more.
I have often, very often, wanted to run an OD&D game on Mars, or rather a mix of Barsoom, Wells, and the Mars of DC Comics.

So one of my "Holy Grail" items has been Gygax & Blume's Warriors of Mars game. Though every copy I have ever seen is so far out of my price range.  Usually over $1,000 and one I have seen for $4,000!

I like Mars, but not that much for something I am also going to house rule a bit on. 

Thankfully, we have many talented people in the Old-School games scene that can help me with my Mars obsession.

Warriors of Mars - Barsoom by "Doc"
Up first is a fan reproduction of the Warriors of Mars book.
This is from the OD&D Forums by a user named "Doc".  The PDF was reformated by Jason Vey and done up to look like an OD&D book with permission from Doc.   The book also called Warriors of Mars uses the art from the original and naturally feels like an OD&D book with better typesetting.  At 28 pages it covers the basics and the focus is more on D&D than the original 56 pages TSR Warriors of Mars which also used a lot of Chainmail rules.  I am happy this one is out there since it gives me a basis of comparison for future books.  Plus it lets me know that I really don't need to spend 1000 bucks.




Now getting to ones you can buy.

Warriors of the Red Planet
by Al Krombach with art by Thomas Denmark and published by Denmark's Night Owl Workshop.
The PDF is digest-sized, single column, with black & white art from Denmark (so you know it looks great). At 128 pages it is a good-sized volume.  And all for $8.00.  They could have made it $10 and still it would have been a great price.  Overtly the book is for Swords & Wizardry.
This game is more inspired by Burroughs than actually being Barsoom.
There are five races to play, Ancients, Elevated, Exotic, Humans and Unliving. And four classes, Fighting Men, Scoundrels, Mentalists, and Scientists.   Each class goes to 10th level.
Mentalists have powers, Scientists have gadgets and they both work roughly like spells.
There are rules for character creation, equipment (including swords and rayguns), and several examples of play. 
While I said it is overtly for S&W, there is Ascending and Descending AC and "Basic-like" saving throws.
There are some great monsters added to this as well.  Any of which can be ported over to any OSR games if you wish.  Many are recognizable from Burroughs, but there are plenty more as well.
Some of the races get more detail in the appendix.  While an Exotic can nearly be anything (with random tables to boot!) some of the more common types are listed here. As per Burroughs we have Red, Green, Black, White and Yellow Martians.  Earthlings on Mars are also discussed.
Appendix A covers all sorts of random terrain, building, missions, and the unexplained along with weird science artifacts.
Appendix B adds the eldritch to Mars with the Sorcerers of the Black Gate.
Appendix C adds an optional skill system.
Appendix D covers ship to ship combat.
And finally, Appendix N (yup) covers suggested reading.
Again, this is a great book and 100% compatible with other "old-school" books from Night Owl Workshop. And easily worth twice the cover price in my mind.

BX Mars
This is a newer book from Michael Gibbons who also does the illustrations.  Here we get a full (8.5" x 11") PDF at 104 pages with Black & White art.  The author makes a note that the B&W art fits the mood of the game and I can't say I disagree.
This book also is more inspired by Burroughs, but the DNA is a little more obvious here.  Also, the book is designed to be used with B/X style games, this also goes to level 10 (not level 14 as some B/X games).  That's also great by me. 
The classes and these are race-classes, are Princess, Warrior, Thark! (no idea why the ! is there), Menton and Terran.  The classes are pretty much what you think they are. A couple of points. Princess is only open to Red Martian women; there is no Prince class (and sadly no Purple Martians).  The Menton is a psionic using class with powers detailed in the book.
There is also something called "Mastery" which works a little like Feats from 3/4/5e but has a solid B/X/Old-school feel to them. They work quite well here.
There is a Campaign/World-building history here.  It is some good background and fun to add to any game whether you are playing as straight-up Barsoom or something else.
This book has a completely different feel than the other Mars books out there.  While all the books I have looked at list mostly the same sources as inspiration, this one comes closer to Heavy Metal than most.  Also if I ever wanted to play a Herculoids game this would be the first book I'd grab.
The art has a really cool style that I don't often see in modern RPG books, but it fits this one perfectly.

If I wanted to describe the differences between WotRP and BXM, I would say WotRP was later Led Zeppelin and BXM is Blue Oyster Cult.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Reviews: DMs Guild Picks

Been spending some time on the DMSGuild to see what sort of products are there.  In general, I have been a bit underwhelmed.   Here are a few that caught my attention.

Class: Elven Cavalier
I have said before that someone out there picked up Dragon #114 and instead of fixating on the witch class like I did, they fixated on the Elven Cavalier.   Well, that person might be Christopher J. Ferguson.  I will look into some of his other works later, but right now let's focus this.

The PDF is 5 pages and $1.00.  The first thing I notice is that the art is largely taken from The Hobbit movies.  I am not sure what the rules are at DMSGuild, but I am still pretty sure this is a copyright violation.
The background makes it difficult to read in some places and some of the font choices also don't help.  The class is a fairly good replication of the 1st Ed AD&D class from Dragon #114.

From a D&D 5 perspective, I am not sure where this class is supposed to live. It does not seem to be part of the core classes where variants are built like sub-classes.  This could have been a sub-class of the Paladin or Fighter for example.
It's too bad really, I was hoping for more.

Witch Class, D&D 5e (inspired by Dragon #114 witch)
Another one from Christopher J. Ferguson.
This is a 9-page $1.00 PDF with color interiors.
I love the art for this one, but the background image makes it harder to read and difficult to print. He starts with a bit of history of the witch in D&D, but I am not sure if the author knows how far back this class actually goes. That's fine the focus here is on the Dragon #114 witch.

This witch uses both Intelligence and Charisma for spellcasting and is a divine spellcaster. There is a distinction between White and Black magic witches. I like the "A Blessing and a Curse" idea here. It's a nice touch. The witches also get a lot of powers in addition to their spells. Some, like the candle magic powers, really do invoke the memories of the old Dragon Magazine witch. There are even 5 new spells. I had hoped that since this was inspired by the Dragon witch that there would be High Secret Order spells too, but the author did not include those. There are some good ideas here.

I have been reading a lot of scholarly works on myths and legends and I have wanted to see more from a Shaman class.  Here are two.

The Shaman - A New Take
From A Point of Inspiration, this PDF is full color and has 9 pages. It is Pay What You Want with a suggested price of 50 cents; it is worth more than that.  This is presented as a new full caster class with two archetypes, the Witch-Doctor and warden.
The class is good, but could use a little more detail, even a little history would be fun.  Even at twice the price it is still good.  There are new powers, but no new spells.
This class has spellcasting foci, like a fetish or idol, which gives it a nice feel. Wisdom is the spellcasting ability. This class also has some spirit based powers that are interesting. The relationship here is similar to the cleric and druid is similar to the Sorcerer-Wizard-Warlock one. I think I would have liked to have seen this class use something more like the Warlock style spellcasting to be honest, but what is here works fine. IT's a good class, but I am left want more.
The PDF is nicely designed and it looks like a fun class to try out.

Shaman Class (5e)
Another Shaman class, this time from Michael Wolf.  This is also PWYW, with a suggested price of $0.00.  It is worth a lot more than that.  The book is 17 pages.
This is a pretty full class with new archetypes, a new type of magic including using spirits, and a few new spells.  The book is pretty well researched and because of that this Shaman is a much fuller class.
This one does fill that "Warlock" niche for divine spell-casters.
If you want to try out a Shaman class then this is not just a great choice, it is one of the better products I have grabbed at DMSGuild recently.






Monday, November 4, 2019

Monstrous Monday Review: D&D Creature Catalogs

Something a little different today as I wind down from that crazy October.
One of the things I wanted to do with my "Back to Basic" year was also to get some more reviews in for some the basic era products I enjoyed the most and for the products that also contributed to my love of the game.  These would both be products by TSR and third party products of the time and of more recent years.

Since today is my day to post about monsters I wanted to hit two products that really enjoyed back in the day.

Now I have gone on and on (and on and on) about how pivotable the AD&D 1st Ed Monster Manual was to my life in RPGs.  So much so that I would later pick up any monster book that came out.   I loved AD&D and played it all throughout my High School days and beyond.   But it was Basic D&D, in particular, the B/X flavor of D&D that was my favorite.  I wanted a Monster Manual for that game.  Eventually, TSR granted my wish.

AC9 The Creature Catalog (1986)
The Creature Catalog (AC9), came out in 1986 and was produced in conjunction with TSR UK and it would be one of the last books to do so.  It shared a name with a series in Dragon Magazine (Issues #89 and #94), which led to some confusion on my part, but that was soon displaced.  A bit of a background story.  My then AD&D DM had grabbed this and let me borrow it. He knew I was a fan of D&D (Basic) and a fan of undead monsters, of which this had a lot of.  I immediately started pouring over the book and loved all the new creatures in it and new versions of some that I considered "classic" by then.   For example, the Umber Hulk (MM1) and the Hook Horror (FF) now shared an entry under "Hook Beast" and the Umber Hulk was now called a "Hulker".  Given the time I just decided it was obviously the same beast and just called that in my version of Mystara and my DM kept Umber Hulk for his version of Greyhawk.  Simple.
Grabbing the PDF a while back I was hit by all these memories of flipping through the book and that sense of wonder came back.  Monsters that I had used in games and have since forgotten about came rushing back to me.
The PDF is a scan of the original book, so the quality is not 100%, more like 80% really.  BUT that is not a reason not to get it. The text is still clear and the pictures, while not high-res are still legible.  If nothing else the "imperfections" of the scan match my imperfect memory of the book.  So point 1 for nostalgia purchase.  The book itself is 96 black & white pages with color covers.
There are about 150 monsters here (151 by my quick count). Some should be familiar to anyone that has been playing for a while, but there are also plenty of new ones that reflect the differences in design tone between D&D and AD&D.
This book is separated by (and bookmarked by in the pdf) sections.  The sections are Animals, Conjurations (magically created creatures), Humanoids, Lowlife, Monsters, and Undead.
There are a lot of fun monsters here, many have made it into later editions of D&D, in particular, the Mystara Monstrous Compendium.
The index is very nice since it also covers all the monsters in the various BEMCI books for a complete picture of the monsterography of the mid-80s D&D.
If you are playing old-school D&D or a retro-clone of the same then this is a great little treat really. The book also has guidelines on where to put monsters and how to make alterations to the monster listing for a different creature.  In fact a lot of what I have seen on some blogs and forums over the last couple years about how to "play monsters" has been better stated here. Yet more evidence that there is really nothing new out there. That and people don't read the classics anymore!

DMR2 Creature Catalog (1993)
The next Creature Catalog (DMR2) came out in 1993 for the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. Most of the same monsters that appear in the Creature Catalog AC9 are here. In fact, a lot of the exact same art is used.  The net difference is this book has 158 monsters.
This book is the more customary 128 black & white pages with two, color covers.  The monsters in this version are all listed alphabetically.  This is also a much better scan and a print option is also available.
This book was designed for the Rules Cyclopedia and not BECMI the rules are 99% the same and thus both this and AC9 can be used interchangeably.  DRM2 Creature Catalog came out at the same time as the AD&D 2nd edition Monstrous Compendiums so the layout and style reflects that.  The color trim here is red instead of blue.
This PDF does bookmark every monster entry and since all monsters are listed together it is easier to find what you want here.  Missing though is some of the advice in the earlier AC9 version.
But like the AC9 version, this is a fantastic book to use with your classic games or retro-clones of them.
In both books you won't find demons or devils since they were not part of the D&D world of Mystara, but that is not a big deal.   For me, the loss is nothing compared the amount of undead both books have.  Some of my favorite undead monsters to use to this very day made their appearances in these books.  Elder Ghouls, Death Leaches, Dark Hoods, Grey Philosophers and Velyas still rank among my favorites.

If you are only able to get one then opt for the DMR2 version for the better scan quality.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Suspiria (1977, 2018)

Been wanting to get to both of these for a while and tonight was the night.  I actually kinda wanted to do them last, but I was also hoping to get a few more in.  Been busy I guess.

I saw the original (1977) Suspiria many years ago.  I honestly think it was when my oldest son was born and I remember watching one night while holding him to get him to sleep.  I rewatched it and there was a lot I had forgotten.

The remake of Suspiria in 2018 has been mixed. Some loved it, others hated it and wanted to know why we needed a remake.  I thought it was visually stunning and I will watch Tilda Swinton in anything.  If she is playing a vampire or a witch?  Sign me the hell up.  I just wanted to know why this one was a full hour longer than the original.

The basic story deals with Susie/Suzy a naive American girl joining a dance studio in Germany; a divided Berlin of 1977 in the 2018 version.   Of course, the studio is a front for a coven of witches and Susie is the newest recruit.

Both films are visually stunning, with the original Suspiria edging out over the new one.

There is a mythology here that I feel I need to read more about.  The movies are derived from "Suspiria de Profundis" by Thomas De Quincey.   I am going to have to do some research on this.

In any case, both movies are great horror movies, each with their own moments, and I am ending the 2019 October Horror Movie Challenge on a very high note.

I think I am going to put the 4k restoration of the 1977 version on my Christmas list.


Final Tally
Watched: 33
New: 25



Tis the Season

Well, Trick or Treating is nearly done here and there is only four hours left of Halloween.

If you want to grab the 2019 Pumpkin Spice Edition of Advanced Labyrinth Lord you had best do it now.  It also looks really nice with my Pumpkin Spice Witch.


Hey, they look so good you should grab them both!

It was 20 Years Ago Today...

All apologies to the Beatles, but it was 20 years ago today that I released my very first witch book on the internet.


It was a "netbook" back in the days before the OGL and when TSR would go after everyone for even talking about D&D online.  This really put me "on the web" as it were.  Of course, I also published it under my pseudonym of "Web Warlock" at the time since I want to keep my "game" writing separate from my (then) Academic writing.

Today I am celebrating the release of The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition and the last couple of hours of the Kickstarter for NIGHT SHIFT.

It has been a really fun game design carrer. That little witch book I published while sitting in the hospital after my son was born got me into working with Eden, doing some of the D&D 3e playtests, and then a lot more.  But 20 years ago was when it all really started. Also kind of fitting it was 40 years ago that started playing this game to start with!





New Release: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition



Samhain Blessings!
Autumn.

A time of change, a liminal time between times. A time for warm sweaters, pumpkin spice, and witchcraft!

Introducing the Pumpkin Spice Tradition, witches dedicated to this time.

- The Sisterhood coven
- 122 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
- New magic items including magic cauldrons, masks, and tea. Plus the magic item black market
- 3 Non-player characters to challenge or aid the mightiest characters

Fully compatible with Labyrinth LordTM and other Basic-Era games.
(But pairs nicely with Advanced Labyrinth Lord Pumpkin Spice 2019 Edition)

Fully compatible with other witch books from The Other Side.

Available Now!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

NIGHT SHIFT: Talking 'bout my Generation

We are getting into the final days here for NIGHT SHIFT so I thought I'd share some more details on two of my "Night Worlds" for the book.  Some details will certainly look familiar to readers here.



Ordinary World
This is one I have talked a bit about here.  The idea behind Ordinary World is a simple one.  You are some sort of supernatural creature.  A witch, a vampire, maybe an exiled fae.  You are just trying to get by in a world full of other supernaturals, humans, and hunters. 
Every character will get the Supernatural levels for free (different than the core rules)  BUT you have to work blending in amidst all sorts of hazards thrown at you. 
There is a government group known as the Bureau, that wants to grab any supernatural they can to either dissect or use as a weapon and they already have few working for them now.
There are is an underground slavery market of Supernaturals run by "demons" that also want to grab you.   There is a group of Witch Hunters known as the "Dorothies" that really, really want to burn you alive.
And there are the humans that do what humans do in large groups.

And you just want to get to your job and pay the bills!

Lots of urban intrigues and working against a huge enemy that has all the advantages.  It will make you wish for the days of just dealing with angry mobs with pitchforks.

I am planning on introducing some new supernatural types including Cat People.

Generation HEX
Another one I have talked about here.  This one has two focuses, foci, there is more going here.
First, magic is back and everyone knows it.  But it is only the newest generation that can do it.
So there is that kind of world to deal with.
The second aspect of GenHEX is the magical school aspect for the first generation of new witches in 300 years.

You get some of the struggles of Us vs. Them as we do in OW, but this is Magic vs. Non-Magical, as well as Generational. 

Characters will all be younger, high school age, with some members of their magic-using Generation as just a little older, maybe in their very early 20s.

Rule additions here will be more kinds of magic and rules for running a Generation HEX school in any of the other Night Worlds or even other Old School games.

We have so much more planned for you all.  So give us a little support on the Kickstarter if you can!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

October Movie Challenge: The Neon Demon (2016)

The Neon Demon is another one that has been on my list a for bit.  I admit I am a fan of Jena Malone.  This is more of a psychological thriller-horror than horror-horror.  Though there are some serious horror elements; necrophilia, murder, cannibalism.  You know, family fare.

At the core this movie is about the horrors of the modeling world and what happens to the "disposable" women of this world. 

Elle Fanning plays Jesse, a 16-year-old would-be model. She has beauty and natural talent which of course puts her in the cross-hairs of current models Gigi and Sarah and the obsession of make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone).

As Jesse gets deeper and deeper into this world and more and more narcissistic the thin veneer of everyone's sanity (or if there was any) peels away. Ruby tries to rape Jesse, but is rebuffed.  So Ruby heads to her other job as a morgue make-up artist where she violates the corpse of a woman.   
When Ruby comes home to the house she is letting Jesse stay at she pushes Jesse into an empty pool where she breaker her leg.   Ruby, Gigi, and Sarah descend on her and butcher her.  Gigi and Sarah eat her and Ruby bathes in her blood.

And it gets weirder from there.

The film is arty and maybe a little too long, but a fun little descent into madness.


Watched: 31
New: 24



Monday, October 28, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Children of Twilight for Basic-era games and Night Shift

It's time for another Monstrous Monday!  Today I have something "special" for you all. A monster I know you will all love to fight and really something perfect for the Pumpkin Spice Witch.

They might not sparkle, but here are some VINOs for you.
The Children of Twilight for Basic-era Games!

Artist: LetzteSchatten-stock.  Model: Alice Spiegel.
Photographer: A.Gavrish
Vampire, Children of Twilight
No. Enc.: 1d2 (1d8)
Alignment: Neutral 50% Chaotic (evil) 50%
Movement: 180’ (60’)
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 9
Attacks: 2 (claw, see below)
Damage: 1d6+6/1d6+6, drain constitution
Save: F9
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: XVII
XP: 8,000

The vampire is one of the most dreaded undead.  Twilight’s Children, though, are less terrifying to behold but still powerful undead creatures. Twilight’s Children share many of the same strengths that weaknesses as the common vampire. They are strong (they have strength scores of 21), undead, immune to mind-affecting spells such as sleep, hold, and charm. They are also immune to having their minds read.  Twilight Children also cannot enter personal dwellings without an invitation and are barred from holy ground.  In particular, they are prohibited from Druid’s groves and any Witch’s covenstead.

Twilight Children cannot change to bats, animals, or mist. Nor can they summon animals of any sort.  They avoid direct sunlight but are not harmed by it.  Mirrors, holy symbols, and direct sunlight will keep them at bay because when presented with them they reveal what they truly are, reanimated corpses.  A stake through the heart will kill them, but decapitation is always best.

The biggest weakness of the Twilight Children is a general malaise.  As they age, they become less and less interested in the world around them. This manifests as a flat affect; they never show emotions because they longer have them. As they continue after 100 years or so their alignments even drift to Neutrality.  Eventually, they also lose the desire to feed and waste away to nothing.  A Child of Twilight will rarely be more than 200 years old.

The Children of Twilight attack via claw, but their bite attack is reserved for when they are feeding.

They drain blood to feed, but usually only once per week.  When they feed, they must consume at least 3 points of Constitution from a victim.  This can be spread out over many victims over a feeding period.  A Child of Twilight can live among humans for years and never be suspected of anything save for being a recluse.
Children of Twilight can be turned as 9 HD undead.

Children of Twilight
(Night Shift)
No. Appearing: 1-3
AC: 2
Move: 40ft.
Hit Dice: 10
Special: 2 attacks (2 claw), constitution drain.
Weakness: Vampire strengths and weaknesses. Cannot enter hallowed ground.

DON'T FORGET: NIGHT SHIFT is in it's LAST 3 Days at Kickstarter!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

October Movie Challenge: Housewife (2017)

This one has been on my list but I debated because I saw some fairly poor reviews. But I wanted to see it so tonight was the night.

The movie starts with Holly and Hazel, young sisters, playing with dolls.  Hazel is drawing, including a very strange one with tentacles coming out of the clouds.   Hazel notices that she is getting her first period so Holly calls for their mother who is going on about "visitors".  The mother tells Holly to stay behind while she takes Hazel.  Holly goes to see where they went and she sees her mother drowning Hazel in the toilet.  Her mother chases her through the house to catch Holly, but her father comes home.  Holly's mother kills him but Holly manages to escape.

Fast forward to today and Holly is a bored housewife.  Holly and her husband Tim get invited to a cult meeting, UML, where they find their former lover Valery is now a "family member" of UML.
The cult's leader seeks out Holly and manages to read her mind and learn about her pain.

Holly, Valery and Tim head back home where they rekindle their love affair.

But things are not that simple.  Holly begins to question reality.  Did they come home? Did she meet up with Bruce the UML leader again?  Is she seeing her mother and sister?   A session with Bruce makes her think she killed her sister.

Then it gets weird.

I won't ruin the ending for you, but in truth I kinda liked it.  Weird, surreal and frankly a lot of fun.


Watched: 30
New: 23



Saturday, October 26, 2019

October Movie Challenge: Dead Space: Downfall (2008)

Part Alien, Part Zombie movie and dash of Event Horizon, I had higher hopes for Dead Space: Downfall.  Sadly it was not to be.  Based on a video game, I should have known it wasn't going to be great, but I  had hoped for a bit more.

A group of interstellar miners find an artifact on a dead planet and decide to take it back to Earth along with a big chunk of the planet.

The artifact begins to make people crazy and they begin killing each other.  The dead being to rise, transformed into monsters that kill more of the crew and thus making more monsters.

Fairly predictable.







Watched: 29
New: 22



October Movie Challenge: Voice from the Stone (2017)

I will admit, I like Emilia Clarke. I think she is a good actress and I like to see her in more roles other than the Mother of Dragons.  This movie was a late afternoon pick.  A slow-burn thriller at my wife's request (she is not a horror fan normally).

This one was not so bad.  Clarke plays Verena, a pediatric nurse that specializes in helping families.  She is summoned to Tuscany to help a mute child after the death of his mother.
The child Jakob listens to a crack in the wall where it is assumed he hears the voice of his mother.  Verena works with him to get him to talk.
As the movie goes on we begin to question Verena's perspective on things.

The movie reminds me a bit of "The Others".  The creepy atmosphere and the not knowing what is happening actually. Well...actually part of it was pretty easy to figure out.  The "twist" at the end leaves a little open to interpretations.

Still though, a nice little creepy movie.



Watched: 28
New: 21



Thursday, October 24, 2019

October Movie Challenge: The Witch Files (2018)

What do you get when you cross "The Blair Witch Project", "The Breakfast Club", with "The Craft"? Well, the producers were hoping you would answer "The Witch Files."  Sadly that is still not the correct answer.

That is not to say the Witch Files doesn't have it's moments.  It does and there is some fun to be had here, I just can't quite figure out what it is missing or what else it needs to do.

The five girls, Julia, Claire, MJ, Brooke, and Greta, fit all the needed stereotypes for a teen movie so that is covered.   The town has a spooky history, check and there is some neat displays of magic.

I really wanted to like this movie more.  Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy it, it just wasn't great.









Watched: 27
New: 20




Featured Artist: Silveztra

Today's Featured Artist is another one I found at the D&D Fantasy Art Facebook page AND on Twitter.
Silveztra is a great artist and has such a cool style I knew right away I needed some art from her.

Here she is in her own words.
Hello! I am Silveztra a 24-year-old self-taught freelance artist who is inspired by fantasy characters. I am an avid video gamer, anime watcher, and D&D player! I love drawing both cute characters, the threatening and powerful, monstrosities and also delve a lot in drawing pinups! I mainly draw females. I actually have a four-year degree in applied communications, which may seem useless, but I attribute it to a lot of my success in building my customer basis! In the future, I hope to get more commissions and be part of projects bigger than myself in the gaming, art, and rpg communities.
And here is some of her art!

Of course first up is her Pumpkin Spice Witch version of my OC Larina.  This is going to be the cover of my new Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition book.









She has a lot more, some NSFW, but all really good.

Check out all her links including her commission rates.  Twitter is her main site, but she has all the usual ones.
Be sure to check her out!

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