Friday, March 29, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Gothic Horror, Supers, Zines and the 8.2M lb Gorilla

Lots of great Kickstarters today!  Let's have a look.

Leagues of Gothic Horror RPG Expansions


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1588759266/leagues-of-gothic-horror-rpg-expansions?ref=theotherside

Leagues of Gothic Horror is one of my favorite games and these three books are a must have in my opinion. Not much time left on this one.


Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1977703373/prowlers-and-paragons-ultimate-edition?ref=theotherside

I have been featuring P&P all week.  It is a fun game and character creation is a snap. Plenty of demo videoes out there to see game play as well.

The Way of Wicked Sin #ZineQuest


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1666739355/the-way-of-wicked-sin-zinequest?ref=theotherside

Three Zines about the evilest races in FRPGs.  A zine each for Orcs, Drow and the worst of all, Humans!  Stated for 5e, S&W, Pathfinder, and Runequest.
Don't want all three? No problem pick the ones you want.


And finally, let's address the 8.2 Million Pound Dollar gorilla in the room.


Critical Role: The Legend of Vox Machina Animated Special

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/criticalrole/critical-role-the-legend-of-vox-machina-animated-s?ref=theotherside

Critical Role has blown past its funding goal, all of its original stretch goals and its second batch of stretch goals.  With 20 days still to go it is sitting at $8.2 Million (right now, but it grew by $100,000 while I was writing this post). 

I am coming around to agreeing with the Diana Jones award for "Actual Play" in 2018.  This is a huge phenomenon and like it or not one that will shape what the RPG industry does in the future.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Vampire Willow & Vampire Tara: Ubiquity / Leagues of Gothic Horror

I love Ubiquity.  It's a great system that has the cinematic feel of Unisystem and the grit of Savage Worlds.

Leagues of AdventureLeagues of Gothic Horror and Leagues of Cthulhu are Ubiquity powered games from Triple Ace Games.  The Hollow Earth Expedition RPG is a Ubiquity powered adventure game from Exile Game Studios.  All these games are compatible and together give us a world full of adventure and horror.

There is a new Kickstarter for Leagues of Gothic Horror RPG Expansions from Triple Ace Games.  It looks like a bunch of fun (as all the LoGH books are).

So today though I wanted to come back to some characters near and dear to my heart.
The Vampire versions of Willow & Tara.  In of particular use to us here is Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Vampires and Guide to Black Magic.

Of course, everyone knows who Vampire Willow is. Vampire Tara appeared in the video game Chaos Bleeds and the related stories, all by Christopher Golden.  They also appear in the Wish-verse comic One Soul.

I have also used Vampire Willow and Tara in my adventure Through a Glass Darkly. I stated up Vampire Tara for both Cortex and Unisystem.  I always meant to do Vampire Willow, but never got around to it.  Well, in truth Vamp Willow for Unisystem appears in one of the books (forget which one, I remember writing the stats) and I don't play Cortex anymore.


Here they are for Leagues of Gothic Horror, though for a modern age game.

Vampire Willow
Vampire Willow
Willow Danielle Rosenberg
Female Vampire Witch

Patron 3
Archetype: Vampire
Motivation: Mayhem, Protect Tara

Style: 5
Health 11*

Primary Attributes
Body 5, Dexterity 6, Strength 5, Charisma 6, Intelligence 6, Willpower 5

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 11, Perception 11, Initiative 12, Defense 11, Stun 5*

Skills
Academics: Computers 7, Religion 3, Athletics 6, Brawl 6, Con 5, Diplomacy 4, Intimidation 7, Linguistics 5, Science 4, Survival 3

Talents
Attractive +3, Fearsome, Fearsome Attack, Magical Aptitude, Tough, Unarmed Parry (can block melee weapons), Well Educated

Resources
Contacts 2

Rituals
Empower, Fear, Greater Hex, Harm,

Flaw
Thirst for Blood (+1 Style point when her unholy appetite reveals its true nature), Lustful

Weapons
Bite 9L**, Punch 9N

Vampire Willow has less experience as a witch than her human counterpart.  This is not a problem as Willow prefers to use her vampire powers to scare and intimidate.



Vampire Tara
Vampire Tara
Tara Ann Maclay
Female Vampire Witch

Patron 2
Archetype: Vampire
Motivation: Stay with Willow

Style: 5
Health 11*

Primary Attributes
Body 6, Dexterity 5, Strength 5, Charisma 6, Intelligence 4, Willpower 6

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 10, Perception 10, Initiative 9, Defense 11, Stun 6*

Skills
Academics: Art 4, Religion 1, Animal Handling: Horses 4, Athletics 3, Brawl 5, Diplomacy 5, Empathy 4, Intimidation 7, Linguistics 4, Performance 3, Survival 3

Talents
Animal Affinity, Attractive +2, Danger Sense, Fearsome Attack, Magical Aptitude, Tough, Unarmed Parry (can block melee weapons),

Resources
Contacts 2

Rituals
Empower, Fear, Greater Hex, Harm, Lesser Hexr, Spirit Binding, Summon Animal

Flaw
Thirst for Blood (+1 Style point when her unholy appetite reveals its true nature), Danger Magnet

Weapons
Bite 9L**, Punch 9N

Tara was essentially the same witch she was in Season 4 prior to becoming a vampire.

* Vampires are immune to lethal and nonlethal damage except fire or holy objects.
** If Vampire Willow or Tara scores 3+ successes on her bite attack, she has latched onto her victim’s neck. Until she ceases feeding voluntarily or is forcibly removed (as per ending a grapple), the victim takes automatic damage equal to her Strength rating each round.

Decapitation/Piercing the Heart: This requires a Called Shot against a vital area. If the damage exceeds the Vampire’s Body rating, she is instantly killed, otherwise, the attack has no effect.

All in all good builds I think.
Make sure you check out the Kickstarter for Leagues of Gothic Horror Expansions.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Return to the Nentir Vale

I am on Spring Break now.  Yeah, that is still a thing here in the Brannan Household.
Got back into my Into the Nentir Vale which I am setting in the Forgotten Realms.

I am doing the second part of H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth, The Well of Demons.  Throughout the course of today's adventure, the characters discover that more gods than they knew have been killed.  They are are a little disturbed.


Now I am really messing around with the Faerûn gods and history here, so bear with me.  They learned today that Bhaal the God of Murder is dead and likely killed by Baphomet.  They already knew that Mykrul was dead, but unknown who did it. They will soon learn that Moander was killed by Zuggtmoy in her attempt to open the Temple of Elemental Evil. Other gods that are dead are Azuth, Amaunater, Bane, and Leira.  There might be more.  Shit is getting serious in the Realms.

This campaign is my attempt to revive my abandoned 4e game.  My attempt to make some use of all my 4e books.


It's actually been a lot of fun.  I even worked out a quick method of converting any 4e stat to 5e.   Typically any 4e number (level, HD, hp) can become a 5e number by multiplied by 2/3rds. It's worked out to be pretty close to what I see in 5e.

I am keeping track of experience points, but I use the 5e Milestone advancement for this.  Each of the published 4e adventures (HPE, 9 in total) the characters level up one level halfway through and then one level again at the end of the adventure.  So 18 levels all together.  I am doing this to keep the levels from going crazy. I can hear people now complaining that characters need to earn their levels, but trust me they are getting far more experience points.

Really it has been a blast and I can't wait to do some more. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Justice for Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition

Since I started reading over Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition I have wanted to come back to one of my favorite characters, Astra Kal-El, aka Justice.
I introduced Justice waaay back in 2011 as the daughter of Superman and Wonder Woman. She was inspired by my favorite comic Kingdom Come where Superman and Wonder Woman eventually have children after the death of Lois.

Astra was raised by the Amazons but sent to be fostered by Bruce Wayne where she learns to be the superhero Justice.

Justice by Jacob Blackmon
Justice

HERO
Edge 10
Health 9
Resolve 4
Hero Points 125

ABILITIES
Agility 6d
Intellect 4d
Might 9d
Perception 4d
Toughness 9d
Willpower 3d

TALENTS
Academics 4d (Law, Political Science)
Charm 3d
Command 3d
Covert 4d
Investigation 4d
Medicine 2d
Professional 3d
Science 4d
Streetwise 5d
Survival 4d
Technology 3d
Vehicles 2d

POWERS
Heat Vision (Blast 3)
Blind Fighting (3)
Flight (9)
Hyper-breath (3)
Resistance (6 ranks)
Super-Senses (Analytic Vision, Enhanced Vision, Telescopic Vision, Thermal Visions)

PERKS
Contacts 2
Patron (Bruce Wayne)
Resources 2
Wealth

FLAWS
Alter Ego (Astra Kent, Justice Studies graduate student at Gotham University)
Code Conduct (will not use her heat vision anymore)
Enemy (Iron Maiden, The Refrigerator)

GEAR
Superhero outfit

DESCRIPTION
Age: 24
Sex: Female
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

MOTIVATION
Justice

CONNECTIONS
Bruce Wayne, Foster father
Diana Prince, Wonder Woman, Mother
Barbara Gordon, Mentor

Monday, March 25, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Lady Midday

One of my favorite games is Leagues of Adventure along with the Leagues of Gothic Horror setting.   It is a Ubiquity power game and it gives me the same feeling I get from Cinematic Unisystem.  So I was quite pleased to see three more books are coming out for it;  Guides to Faeries, Hags, and Walking Dead.

I'll post more about this later in the week, but today I wanted to update a monster I have used in the past, but have not featured here before.  Since I am on a Basic-era kick, let's do stats for Basic D&D (esp. as presented by Blumeholme and B/X Essentials) and Ubiquity.

Poludnitsa, Lady Midday


The Poludnitsa or Poludnica, also known as Lady Miday, is a relative of the more common Hag races. She is a creature of faerie (like all hags).  Unlike the more common hags, Lady Midday is very beautiful, unearthly so, and is only encountered on midday on hot summer days (thus her name). She appears as a very tall, beautiful pale woman with long white hair wearing a long white dress. Though it is said her true form is that a sundried corpse.

She will often appear in the middle of fields of wheat, barley or rye carrying a large set of antique looking shears or a scythe.  She will stop to ask anyone working in the field a question. If they fail to answer to it or answer incorrectly she will cut off their heads with the shears.
She is also known to kidnap girls under the age of 12 to take them back to her lair where she teaches them witchcraft if she doesn't eat them first.
Those she doesn't kill she can curse with madness or the "Heat Sickness".  Those that are not treated will die.

Poludnitsa lives in vast underground complexes, filled with ovens and roaring fires. Her captured slaves fulfill her wishes, roasting sheep and baking bread for her, all day long. Poludnitsa exits her underground lair only during sunlight hours. She usually perches in the immediate vicinity of her lair, waiting for unwary travelers to pass.

She is not commonly encountered, but parents of children commonly warn about her. Any child that wanders off, especially into fields of rye, run the risk of being captured by Poludnitsa. Parents will often warn “Don’t go to the rye, Poludnitsa will eat you!” or “Poludnitsa will burn you up!”

It is unknown if she is a unique creature or if there are many such creatures, but very, very rare.

Poludnica’s Sheep
The sheep Poludnitsa keeps are anything but ordinary. Each is a Large sized monstrosity, with wool the color of fresh blood.

Poludnitsa Basic-era stats
AC: 5
HD: 6d8 + 12hp
Move: 30'
Attacks: 1 weapon + Heat Madness
Damage: 1d8* (beheading on a natural 20) + Special
Alignment: CE
Treasure: none
XP:  1,280
Abilities: Strength +1, Intelligence +1, Charisma +2

Poludnitsa can only appear during the hour before and the hour after midday.  During the Sumer Solstice though she can appear during all hours of daylight. 
She may only attack those that refuse her questions or answer them incorrectly.  Once that has happened she will attack with her shears or scythe.  They are treated as "vorpal" weapons in her hands (treated as normal weapons in anyone else's).

Once per day, usually at the height of noon or moment of greatest temperature, she can curse one humanoid creature with heat madness.  They must make a saving throw vs. Death or be strickened.  A successful save means the creature is dazed and cannot attack for two round.  If the save is failed then the victim suffers the full effect of the heat madness. They are treated as if they had a combination of Slow and Feeblemind spells cast on them. Failing the first save means they will need to make another Death save in one full day or die.  Failing the first save and making the second means the victim is bedridden for four (4) days, minus their Con adjustment.  A Bless, Heal or Remove Curse spell will remove the heat madness.

Poludnitsa is immune to all heat and fire based attacks. She takes double damage from any cold-based attack.

A witch or cleric can "turn" (but not destroy) Poludnitsa as a Vampire if they present a Moonstone.

Poludnitsa Ubiquity Stats
Patron 1
Archetype: Hag
Motivation: Survival
Style: 1
Primary Attributes:
Body 3, Dexterity 3, Strength 3, Charisma 2, Intelligence 2, Willpower 3

Secondary Attributes:
Size 0, Move 6, Perception 4 (8), Initiative 4, Defense 6, Stun 3, Health 8, Horror n/a (human form) or 4 (corpse visage form)

Skills: Athletics 5, Brawl 5 (Grapple 6), Intimidation 8, Stealth 5 (Hiding 6)
Talents: Fearsome 2 (Can temporarily frighten foes)
Resources: None
Powers: Madness, Immune to Fire and Heat based attacks.
Weaknesses: Cold vulnerability (She takes x2 damage from any cold-based attack.)
Flaws: Thirst for Flesh (+1 Style point when its unholy appetite reveals its true nature)
Weapons: Shears 7L


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Zatannurday: Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition

Let's try my hand at doing some stats for Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition.  I can think of no one better than Zatanna.

Zatanna Zatara

Concept: Daughter of stage magician John "Giovanni" Zatara.  Both father and daughter can use real magic.

Joanie Brosas as Zatanna. This weekend at C2E2 Booth #1553
HERO
Edge 11
Health 6
Resolve 4
Hero Points 125

ABILITIES
Agility 3d
Intellect 5d
Might 3d
Perception 4d
Toughness 3d
Willpower 9d

TALENTS
Academics 6d (mostly related to magic and the occult)
Charm 5d
Command 4d
Covert 2d
Investigation 3d
Medicine 2d
Professional 4d (professional stage magician)
Science 3d
Streetwise 2d
Survival 2d
Technology 3d
Vehicles 1d

POWERS
Sorcery, Omni-Power (Sorcery, Broad) 14d (Area)
Cons: Concentration, Situational: Must say spells backwards

PERKS
Contacts (Justice League)
Fame
Wealth

FLAWS
Public Identity (not in the book, but going to try it)

GEAR
Stage magician's garb, top hat, and magic wand (the wand is only a prop).

DESCRIPTION
Age: Early 30s
Sex: Female
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue (varies on artists)

MOTIVATION
Responsibility (and Adventure)

CONNECTIONS
Dr. Fate: Fellow mage
Batman: Old friend
John Constantine: Ex-boyfriend, constant pain in her ass.
Madame Xanadu: Friendly Rival
June Moon / Sorceress: Frenemy, Less friendly rival?  Depends on June's attitude and sanity.

Ok, that took only about 20 mins.  I bet future characters builds will be much faster.
Most of her points are being dumped into her Sorcery Omni-Power.  She can replicate any other power in the book (within reason) but she must say the spell backward and she can generally only concentrate on one effect at a time.  I might not have gotten everything 100% by the book, but I will try some other builds in the next week or so.

Make sure you check out the Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition Kickstarter.
I am going to try some more over the next week.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Winter Witch is the Deal of the Day!

The calendar may say Spring, but the temps are still cold here in Chicago.

To celebrate the end of winter I am offering the Winter Witch Tradition book on sale as today DriveThruRPG/RPGNow's Deal of the Day.


So take advantage of this sale.  The Winter Witch for Swords & Wizardry is only $1.20 for the PDF for the next 20 hours (from this posting).




Kickstart Your Weekend: Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition

I LOVE Superhero Games.  I don't get to play them as much as I would like, but I love them all the same.   This one from Evil Beagle Games looks great.

Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1977703373/prowlers-and-paragons-ultimate-edition?ref=theotherside

This is the second edition of the Prowlers & Paragons Core Rules game released in 2013.
You can grab the Ultimate Edition Quick Start for free.

The changes from the first edition to the ultimate edition seem to be fairly comprehensive.   It just has a really cool vibe that I really like.

I am quite excited about this. I am going to spend some time with this one.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Featured Artist: Jordin "OneEyedNeko" McGrath

Welcome back to series on Featured Artists! Today I have a real treat for you.
Jordin "OneEyedNeko" McGrath has been an artist and illustrator for over a decade, at least online, I am sure it has been longer.

I love her work and she does some great characters.  Here are some of my favorites.










You can find her on the web at:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Home Sweet Home Summer 1985

The new Stranger Things trailer was released today!  I honestly can't wait for this.

"What did you think? We were going to sit in my basement and play games for the rest of our lives?"


Uh yeah. I did.  So I worked my ass off for several degrees so I could get a great job and then do exactly that!

Got my mix-tape play-list gathered up and going to plan some Dark Places & Demigorgons game for this summer.

I should gather up my Dragons from 85 and see which ones still need the This Old Dragon treatment.
It was also this Summer that I first remember my "Very Haunted House" dream that would later spawn "Under a Cajun Moon" and  "The Haunting of Oakcrest Manor" in the Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall Special Edition.

Hmm.  Maybe I need to re-combine them into a Dark Places & Demogorgons adventure!

If you read them both you will see the obvious relationship between Cottoncrest Manor in Cajun Moon and Oakcrest Manor in "Haunting".  That's because both places are based on a real place, Maplecrest Manor.

Yeah.  I should do that.  Have the playlist ready to go for inspiration.  Kids + abandoned spooky old mental asylum?  That's the recipe for a good time!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

OMG: Egyptian Myths, Part 2

Wrapping up the myths of Egypt today for One Man's God.   A brief note about the objectives of these posts. I am trying to go through the various myths as presented in the AD&D 1st edition Deities and Demigods and trying to reconcile them with the implied cosmology as presented in the AD&D game and Monster Manual in particular.  Sure I can, and will, draw from many other sources from real-world mythologies and religion to other editions of D&D and even other games.

Ok back to the business at hand.
You can find Part 1 here.


Apep
Last week I talked a lot about Apep.  He has been a lot on my mind of late.  From the reviews I did of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2E to Serpentine - Oldskull Serpent Folk, snake gods are getting a lot of coverage on my blog of late.  This is really no surprise.  My Second Campaign is gearing up for the trek into the great desert of the world and it will have a lot of Egyptian influences as well.

Right now my plan is to take the big desert adventures of classic A/D&D and make the end of my campaign with them.

The Desert of Desolation series:
and the Desert Nomads/Temple of Death series:
and then the two stand-alone adventures:


The adventures span several designers, worlds and even games, but all link back to the idea of ancient Egypt.  Known as Eyrpt on Oerth, Ayrpt on Mystara, and Aegypt in Gary Gygax's original Dangerous Journey Necropolis and then later Khemit in the 3rd edition version.  I combine them all into one. I call my series "The Deserts of Desolations and Death".

Apep and Yig will play a big part in this.  If Apep/Yig (yes I combine them) is an Eodemon like Dagon, then also like Dagon he invests some power in Demogorgon.  Demogorgon is a Greek name, so maybe the Egypt of my adventures is similar and this represents the Ptolemaic/Greek rule era.

Aten
Not mentioned in the DDG is the god Aten, the god of the sun disc.

Already we are getting into something about the Egyptian myths that I will talk about more in detail later.  Aten is the God of the Sun. Ra/Re is the God of the Sun.  Who is the god of the sun here?
Well, both.  And for a while, it was also Osiris.   Egyptian gods were more fluid than say the Greek or Romans ones (but they still had this quality).  Gods could be subjected to Syncretism where two of more gods were fused together into one god, their beliefs fused.  We see this in Amun-Ra (the King of the gods and the sun god).

The biggest deal with Aten was his worship by the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who may have been the father of Tutankhamun, was the pharaoh that brought monotheism to Egypt in 1350 to 1330 BCE.  This predates the other big monotheistic religions including Judaism and Zoroastrianism (and obviously Christianity and Islam, thought the roots of all of these go back that far).

When working on my ideas for Sol Invictus I always wondered what it would have been like if Egypt had continued the worship of Aten.  Or if Aten instead of being wiped out of existence with the return of the original gods and Amun-Ra had been killed by Set or Apep.   Since my campaign deals with events of the Dawn War and He Who Was, maybe that is the same sort of god as Aten.

Aten is a great place to start if you want to make a monotheistic religion in D&D's otherwise polytheistic approach.

I have not looked at length but I think Kobold Press has Aten in some of their books.

Hermes Trismegistus
Now back onto the topic of syncretism. What do you get when you take Thoth the God of Knowledge and combine him with Mercury the Messanger of the Gods and a dash of Imhotep?  Let it stew for a bit in Ptolemaic Egypt?  You get Hermes Trismegistus or the Thrice Great Hermes.

From Hermes Trismegistus, we get Hermeticism; a pre-science esoteric way at looking at the nature of the world.  In many RPGs (Mage and Ars Magica are good examples, as it WitchCraft) this leads to the Hermetic Traditions.  These are magical and alchemical traditions.

Often the Hermetic Traditions are classified as "High Magic" with witchcraft and pagan practices as "Low Magic".  Disclaimer. This is a remarkably simplistic view of what would go on to be one of the largest movements in Western Esotericism. I am just going to the beginning and following one branch of this tree. 

In any case, Hermes Trismegistus is not a god you would find in the DDG.  If some he could be an Egyptian/Greek god of Alchemy and Magic eventually (as sadly these things happen) taking over the role of Magic from Isis and Hecate.  Maybe there is this God in my campaign along with Aten.

Library of Alexandria 
So from this, I am building a Ptomliac Egyptian area that is post-Aten-heresies where Hermes Trismegistus is the god of Alchemy and Magic and Apep is still a real threat.

Spoiler for when I do the Greek Myths (and I think I should do them next).
How are Heka the Egyptian God of Magic related to Hecate the "Greek" (and I'll explain that later) Goddess of Witches, Magic and the Underworld?

Next time on One Man's God.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Monster Book Round Up, 1st Ed style

You can never have too many monster books in my mind.  Even I use one or two per book and my players are surprised or go "what in the hell is that!?" then it is money well spent.   Monsters have taught me so much over the years.  Monsters lead me to Greek Mythology. Monsters helped me learn how to write code to create databases and then later helped land a DBA job while I was still in school.   One day I'll update my old Access95 Monster Database, but that will have to be later.

Until then here are some of the monster books I am enjoying a lot right now.

Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Monsters
For the Blood & Treasure 2nd edition game, but can be used with any Old-school game.  The system is a mix of Swords & Wizardry and AD&D 1st Ed/OSRIC so reading the stats is really easy.
215 pages, over 600 monsters.  Color cover, black & white interiors.
This one has all the usual suspects from the various SRDs and that is fine for me really.  There are some new descriptions and there are new monsters.
There are things in this book that make it more worthwhile than just monster stat blocks.  There are a number of conditions and definitions ported over from 3.x OGC that are very welcome additions to the "OSR Ruleset".  There are guidelines for Monsters as a Character Race which are quite nice.
Another import from 3.x are Monster Templates.  Now you can a Celestial Gnome or a Draconic Goblin among other things.  Really expands your creature database.
There are even four mini-adventures included.
Not at all bad for just under $10.  Highly recommend!

Blood & Treasure 2nd Edition Monsters II
The second book for the Blood & Treasure 2nd edition game.  This one has 197 pages, over 500 monsters. Color cover with black & white art.  No this is what we buy monster books for! New Monsters!  At 500 some odd monsters there are some here that can be recognized from the records of myth and fairy tales, (lots and lots of dragons!) but there a plenty of more that are completely new to me to edge it out over Monsters I.  There is similar material from the Monsters I book; conditions, attack descriptions and the like.  But the bulk is dedicated to new creatures for your game. This book also has a Chimerical Monster table for making your own chimeras. Tables on mutant dinosaurs and vermin.  Also a combined monster listing of both books.

If you have Blood & Treasure Monsters then you will want this one.  If you just like new monsters then get this one too.

Malevolent and Benign
Malevolent and Benign has long been a staple on my game table.   128 pages with 150 monsters, all in OSRIC format.   The monsters are all new (to me), with some converted from other OGC sources.  The art is quite good and the feel of the book is something like a Monster Manual 3 or a Fiend Folio 2 really. It sits on my shelf right next to my monsters books, or in theory, it does. It is actually out on my game table more often than not. The softcover is very nice to have and the PDF is fully bookmarked.
The book also has a small section on new magic items associated with these monsters.
For $10 it is a good deal.

Malevolent & Benign II
In many ways I actually like M&B2 more than M&B1.  This book is 110 pages with 150+ monsters.  Again we have a color cover (which is fantastic by the way) and black & white interior.  In fact all the art is a step up.
If M&B 1 was akin to a MM3 or FF2 then this one is the next in line, but with no loss of quality. The monsters are new and quite deadly or at least the ones that are not deadly are interesting.
I have not picked up the softcover yet, but the PDF is fantastic.
10 bucks for the pdf or 20 for the pdf + softcover book is a pretty good deal.  Especially for a bunch of new monsters.



Found Folio Volume One
A collection of creatures from various 3.x sources converted back over to "Advanced era" stats. What it lacks in art it makes up for in the number of monsters (typically two per page). Lots of 3.x faves here, ready for your OSR games!
130 monsters in 70 or so pages.



Honorable Mentions. Almost AD&D1 stats.

Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
If you ever only buy ONE product from BRW and the Adventures Dark & Deep line then make sure it is this one.
Let be honest up front. We have seen most if not all the monsters somewhere else before. Most are in the SRD or from other Open sources. The new ones are great, but they are ideas we have seen.
And none of that matters. This is still a great book. At 457 pages (pdf) it is a beast. Monsters are alphabetically listed by areas you would find them in. So Wilderness and Dungeon is by far the bulk of them, but there are also Waterborne (fitting in with the rules) and "Outsiders" or monsters from the other planes. But I am getting ahead of myself.
The book begins with two monster spellcasters, the Shaman and the Witch Doctor. Shades of similar classes from the BECMI RC to be sure. But they work here great and frankly I know someone will want to use these rules to play a Shaman one day. Heck, I once tried a Wemic Shaman in early 2e days myself. Maybe I'll see if I can do that here. The classes are not detailed and they don't need to be. The do what they need to do.
The Monster descriptions are a bit like those found in OSRIC though there are some interesting additions. Each Monster has a Morale, like that found in Basic and 2nd ed, though it is not a score but an adjustment. Attacks are listed in the stat block, though they are the attack types. This is most similar to "Special Attacks" in other rules. Also wholly new are "Weaknesses" which is an interesting idea and one I think other OSR publishers should adopt. Each monster then gets a couple of paragraphs of text. Many are illustrated thanks to the highly successful Kickstarter for this (more on that later). The illustrations are great too as you can see here and here.
All the monsters have General, Combat and Appearance sections in their write-ups.
Unlike 2e (and 4e) monsters are not confined to one-page entries. Some have paragraphs, others just a few lines. This is good since I think we would have something like 1000+ pages. I think I read there are 1100 monsters in this book. Maybe 900. Anyway, it's a lot. I spot checked a few monsters I thought might not be there, but sure enough, they were. Ok so the ones that are Closed via the OGL are not here, but I was not expecting those. There are some alternates and stand-ins if you really, really need them though.
The book sections are: Wilderness and Dungeon, aka Most of the Monsters Underwater and Waterborne, larger than expected, but not surprised given the material in the core books. Prehistoric Monsters, always nice to have; Dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals. Extra-Planar Monsters, your Outsiders.
Appendix A details creating your own monsters. Appendix B has something I didn't even realize was missing till I started reading the stats; a basic psionic system for psychic strikes. Appendix C covers random creatures from the Lower Planes. This is the first "Gygaxian" touch I have noticed in this book. Reminds me of a really old Dragon magazine article from years ago. Appendix D is the magic resistance table and Appendix E covers the abilities of Gods.
All of this in a PDF for just under $15.
I have mentioned before that Joe gets his work done and gets it done fast. Well, this is not only no exception but it is the new benchmark. Joe ended his Kickstarter and then got printed books out to people 6 months early. Let that sink in for a moment. In a hobby where we tolerate (although not quietly) Kickstarters with delays of 18 months or longer, Joe and BRW are out there, turning out product and getting it to people early. You should buy a copy of this book on that principle alone.
So should you get this book?
If you like monsters then yes. If you need monsters for your old-school game then yes. If you want to support Joe and the Adventures Dark & Deep system then yes. If you want to reward good Kickstarter behavior then absolutely yes.
Lots of good reasons to get in my book. It is also the best book in his line.

Swords and Wizardry Monstrosities
The first of two HUGE monster books for the Swords & Wizardry game.  This one is also my favorite of the two by just a tiny bit.
This has mostly new monsters but some of the monsters we have seen before either in the SRD or other books. That though does not detract from its value as this is a 560+ page book since in addition to that there are some new monsters. The cover is very evocative of the old-school (pre 1980) covers. I love this cover. There is much in common between this book and The Tome of Horrors. Each monster is given a page of stats, description and a plot hook. While ToH used some recycled art, this all seems to be new art. Even Orcus (which we now have 3 listings for) is new. Actually, the art is pretty darn good and I don't mind the occasional repeat of a monster to see some new art. Honestly, there is so much great stuff in this book that even with the occasional repeat monster this is still a top-notch collection. If you play S&W then this is a great monster book to have. I am even going as far as to say it is a must have for any serious S&W GM.



Tome of Horrors Complete - Swords and Wizardry Edition
What can be said about this product? The original Tomes of Horrors were all great products that featured a number of "old school" monsters from previous editions of the game all under the OGL. It even had a brief "tutorial" on how to add these beasties to your own products. Now those very same monsters are back in one huge book "updated" to Swords & Wizardry stats. Nearly 700 monsters, all ready for your game. In addition to art and stat blocks for every monster there is also an adventure hook for each one. The monsters have been "scaled down" to fit the S&W rules better.
Color covers, black & white interior art.  688 pages (that's right!)

Converting these to AD&D1/OSRIC/Advanced Labyrinth Lord should not be an issue.

Eight monster books and somewhere over 3,300 monsters (lots of duplicates sure, but all unique presentations).

Friday, March 15, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Queen of the Damned: Velrath's Vampires

The weekend is on the way so you know what that means! Time to Kickstart Your Weekend.  And do I have something special today!

You know my fascination obsession with the Queen of Vampires?  Well, Cass Suwinski gets me.
Here is his new Kickstarter and I hope you will find it as much fun as I do.

Queen of the Damned: Velrath's Vampires



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tombguardians/queen-of-the-damned-velraths-vampires?ref=theotherside

Here are the Queen and some of her court.









Of course, they come unpainted, but that is expected.
I also got a chance to talk to Cass a bit.

For the benefit of the audience, could you please introduce yourself?  
My name is Cass and I'm the owner of Tomb Guardians, Inc.

How did you end up starting Tomb Guardians Miniatures?  
Tomb Guardians was started in June 2018.  After my son and I went to Origins as we do every year, my son came home and told his mom how popular our game we run every year and how many people wanted to join.  My wife the next day told me I should write the rule to our Dungeon crawl and adventure module.  I thought about it and agreed to do just that.  Unfortunately, I didn't realize how much work it takes and the depth of writing the rules.  As the rules proceeded, my wife again asked me if we had miniatures to match the characters in the game and I said no.  She then said why don't you create your own miniatures and I thought about it and thought it was a great idea.  I then reached out to some of the people I knew in the field and that lead us too Jason Wiebe, Bobby Jackson, and Patrick Keith.  Of which we hired all three to create miniatures for our company.  The first miniatures created was a set of 13 Dwarven heroes and 17 monsters.  They were released in December of 2018 to a very positive action.

Could you tell us more about the Kickstarter for Queen of the Damned - Velrath's Vampires, and your involvement with the project?  
The Vampires heroes is one of the 8 factions within our world.  Queen Velrath's was created and sculpted after my wife.  We used her wedding dress as the dress she wears. That was my thank you to my wife for her support and encouragement.  The back story too Queen Velrath was she was the wife of Telamir, the original leader of the Templars, and left the Kingdom of Rasa with him when he was expelled.  She very much desired to learn the ways of attunement with the moon’s power, but she was forbidden from learning it because she was a woman.  Angry at the snub, she started secretly exploring this herself, but instead of attuning with Wecarus, she found it much more beneficial to bask in the eerie darkened glow of Delaura.  When Telamir discovered what she was up to, she was burned as a heretic, and dumped in a nearby swamp.  But fortunately for her, Delaura was full on that evening, and with her strong attunement with it, she was reborn as the pinnacle of all undead beings, the vampire.  Since that day, she has been enlarging her undead ranks, while punishing any Templars or male citizens of Rasa by enslaving them to do her bidding.  Today her followers have strongholds in nearly every swamp in Elkarim, and they all hold a special hatred for the Templars. There are 10 Vampire heroes, Queen, Mage, Cleric, Anti-Paladin, 2 Grave Spirits and 4 male slaves.

How did you assemble sculptors and other artists for Queen of the Damned?  
I try and use the best sculptors in the world, Jason Wiebe, Bobby Jackson, and Patrick Keith along with painter Mary Profitt.  They do amazing work and keep my vision for the miniatures on key.  I couldn't ask for anything better.

Would you say Queen of the Damned - Velrath's Vampires is open to newcomers? Or is it for people with prior knowledge of Tomb Guardians' work?: 
Queen of the Damned - Velrath's Vampires is a collection of 21 28mm miniatures, of which there are 10 Vampires and 11 monster miniatures and accessory pieces.  The miniatures are cast in metal and come with a 5 year guarantee.  If someone breaks the miniature all they have to do is mail it too us and we will replace it no questions asked.   Queen of the Damned is not a game.

What has it been like working with Jason Wiebe, Bobby Jackson, Patrick Keith, and Mary Profitt?: 
All our sculptures and painters are amazing and very easy to work with.  I'm very happy to have them part of our team.

Could you describe your history with Kickstarter?:  
Tomb Guardians had one other Kickstarter last year and that was our first.  We learned a lot from that Kickstarter, unfortunately, we canceled the Kickstarter prior to its completion on December 5th, 2018.  However, even though we canceled the Kickstarter we did get an investor which allowed us to take pre-orders starting on December 7th, 2018.  This was with the understanding that the miniatures would ship in late February/early March.  We started shipping these orders 2 weeks ago and will finish those orders by the middle of March.  Offering Pre-Orders was a huge success and surpassed my expectations.

Do you plan to attend Origins this year? If so, will this be your first time at Origins after starting Tomb Guardians, and do you plan to promote your company as an exhibitor there?  
Yes, we will be at Origins, demoing our game that we are releasing in the fall.  This game is a RPG/dungeon crawl with an adventure module.  A group of players selects a party of heroes and has to accomplish certain objectives within each level of the dungeon.  We will be demoing this game all week.  More details later on the game itself, but all the miniatures we are creating will be used in our game!

AND I just got this announcement this morning.
Tomb Guardians is excited to announce that we are doubling your stretch goal awards. That means you will get 2 sets of all our stretch goals hit in our campaign! Anyone that pledges the “All In” pledge or upgrades will get not just 1 set but we will double that stretch goal set and you get 2 sets! That means if we hit all our goals you would get 22 free miniatures!!! The total set goes from 41 miniatures to a possible 63 miniatures. That works out to be $5.87 per miniature! This is an outstanding offer, you would get our Black Dragon that retails for $89.95 for $5.87!!! This offer applies to everyone, including those that have already pledged or if you upgrade your pledge. Don’t miss out on this incredible offer. We would like to thank everyone again for there support and trust in us.
Pretty cool if you ask me.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tombguardians/queen-of-the-damned-velraths-vampires?ref=theotherside

Thursday, March 14, 2019

OMG: Egyptian Myths, Part 1

Ancient Egypt spanned more than 3,000 years of history.  So much history in fact that there is as less time between us and Queen Cleopatra VII (reign 51 BCE to 30 BCE) than Cleopatra and the construction of the Pyramid of Khufu (2560 BCE) and Egypt was already 500+ years old by the time that was built.  There are "Intermediate Periods" in Egyptian history where very little is known about what was going on that lasted longer than the run of most countries today including the United States.

It is really no wonder that Egypt has fascinated us for millennia. 

The entries in the Egyptian Mythos section of the Deities and Demigods is no different.  The authors of the DDG acknowledge this time and mention that the religion had changed in that time.  So we are only given a few of the "big gods" and the ones that are the most common names.  This I think is perfectly fine.  A book on ancient Egyptian gods would fill many volumes this size.  Ancient Egyptian religion is very complex, but relatable to all of us I think because of a lot of ideas we have in religion now came from then.  The Trinty? First seen in Egypt.  The death and resurrection of a god? Egypt.  An afterlife? Egypt again.  A monotheistic religion? Yes, even Egypt did this (for a while and I'll get to that).

The purpose of these "One Man's God" posts is to square the mythology as presented in the DDG with the other bits of the D&D (primarily AD&D) cosmology. In particular with demons and devils and other fiends.  Not really to discuss whether or not the DDG is a good guide for religion or history (it's not, nor is it trying to be).

So. Did Egypt have demons?  Well...let's have a look.

One thing we get right from the start is that Egypt has a lot of gods and many of those gods are very powerful.  The cap given on all gods in the DDG is 400hp for the greatest god in the pantheon. Egypt has two gods at 400 (Ra and Osiris) and many more at 300 or above.  I would argue, given her predominance in the myths that Isis should also be at 400, or at least at 395 to Ptah's 390.  Some important gods, like Amun or Aten, don't even appear.

If there are a lot of really powerful gods, there are uncounted minor gods.  While some might fit the bill as a "demon", demigod or quasi-god might be a better name for them.  Of course the chief of these lesser gods, at least for mortal concerns, was the Pharoh, a god on Earth.
The Egyptians had "night lands" or an "underearth" but no Hell to speak of.  Places that "feel" like the Abyss (in abstract terms) but lacking the evil. Good or evil people would die and then continue their lot in the next life.  They could build these little statues that would do the work for them if they had enough money.  The worst thing that could happen to you is that you would be forgotten. Prayers no longer said for you and in later times if you could be mummified, having your body destroyed.  It could be our practice of burial comes from this. That and the pragmatic concerns of not wanting to see dear old depart granddad being dragged off to be eaten by jackals.

Apep, the King of Serpents
One of the few god-level monsters in the DDG is Apep, the King of Serpents.  If you recall from a Monstrous Monday a few weeks back I featured snakes and snake people.  Fear of snakes is old. Really old. The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Mulism) all have a snake as the first enemy in Eden.  Other religions follow suit.
In the DDG Apep is described as a "creature of the Abyss" and "the physical embodiment of chaotic evil".  The stats for Apep put him inline with the Demon Lords/Princes like Demongorgon and Orcus.
In the mythology of D&D it is very, very likely that Apep was one of the original demons, like Dagon and Pazuzu. Called Obyriths in current versions of D&D, I called them Protodemons or Eodemons.  Apep certainly fits the bill.   If Demogorgon has the "backing" of Dagon (see 4e and beyond) then I would argue that he also has the backing of Apep.  These two ancient Obyriths/Eodemons could be the reason why Demogorgon has the title Prince of Demons.

Apep
FREQUENCY:  Unique
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: -4
MOVE:  18"
HIT DICE:  18 (250 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  100%
TREASURE  TYPE:  H (x3)
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  3-30 (bite)/4-24 (constriction)
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Poison, Breath Weapon (6-60)
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +3  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  40%
INTELLIGENCE:  High
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (300' long)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

This creature is older than the demons and all but the most powerful stay away from his layer deep in the Abyss.  He is attended by uncounted numbers of snakes and can summon 5-50 snakes of any sort to his aid as he is their King.
This monster has a poisonous bite (3-30 points of damage and save at -4 or die), can breathe flame every other round for 6-60 points of damage (10" long and 4" wide cone) and can constrict for 4-24 points of damage.  He has slain and eaten many mortals, demons and gods. 
Some scholars speculate that he is also the same creature known as Yig to some and Jormungandr to others.

Set, The Evil God
Set is a problem.  I mean yes he is a problem because he is evil, but also a problem with how he is wedged into the cosmology here.  For the ancient Egyptians, the gods lived in their temples.  Set who is listed as Lawful Evil is placed naturally in the Nine Hells.  But...that doesn't really work.  Not for Set and not for the Hells.  Druaga we can fit in, but Set is much larger. In later Dragon magazines, Ed Greenwood in his now very famous articles on the devils and the Nine Hells places Set in Acheron or rather he is trying to build his own plane between Acheron and the Nine Hells.  While a neat idea I also don't think it works 100% for me.  Set is a bad guy, he kills his brother Osiris and tosses his body parts all over Egypt.  But he also rides on Ra's solar barge to fight Apep and even some Pharaohs were named to honor him.  So he is a complicated, but still largely evil, god.

Ammit
Not presented in the DDG is Ammit, the crocodile/hippopotamus/lion beast that devours souls/maat of the dead that fail to get into the afterlife.
Ammit certainly meets the criterion for a demon.  She is a monster that eats the souls of the dead. Horrifying visage. Certainly evil and used to scare people into moral behavior.
While she is missing from the DDG (though Erol Otus puts her in the full page art just before the myths) she does appear at Ammut in the AD&D 2nd Edition Al-Qadim Monstrous Manual.

Ammit
FREQUENCY:  Unique
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  12"
HIT DICE:  12 (102 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  100%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-10 (claw)/1-10 (claw)/2-20 (bite)
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: 
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1  or  better weapon to hit, Immune to all attacks from Undead
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  70%
INTELLIGENCE:  Low
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (15' long, 7' foreleg to head tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil
Ammit is the demon that waits in the afterlife.  If Anubis judges a person's heart is heavier than the feather of Ma'at then Ammit eats the heart and the person then must roam the outer darkness to "die a second time".  In some cases Ammit eats the heart and tosses the body into the lake of fire she resides near. 
Ammit is a huge animal like demon. She has the head of a crocodile, the mane and hindquarters of a lion, and the forequarters and belly of a hippopotamus. She is grossly fat since she has no end of wicked hearts to feed on.  For her size she is fast on both land and water.
Ammit will also attack the living if they interfere with her feeding.

Next time lets talk about Aten, how I am going to use Apep and what the hell is up with Hermes Trismegistus, the Thrice Great Hermes.
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