Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch Tradition

Tonight, evil witches gather on the Brocken to celebrate Walpurgis Night.
Tomorrow, good witches gather to celebrate the new spring with bonfires of Beltane.

But now you can join the celebrations with the Daughters of Darkness and the Mara Witch Tradition for Labyrinth Lord and other Basic Era Games.

The Daughters of Darkness for Basic Era Games


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/274429/Daughters-of-Darkness-The-Mara-Witch-for-Basic-Era-Games?affiliate_id=10748

Hail Lilith!

“Humanity has forsaken their Dark Mother.
 We will remind them.”

Lilith. 
 First Woman. First Witch. Mother of Demons.
 Now Her Daughters of Darkness are ready to take what is theirs.

Introducing the Mara Tradition, witches dedicated to the Dark Mother.
 - The Daughters of Darkness coven
 - 175 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
 - 39 Monsters to challenge or be allies
 - 3 Non-player characters to challenge the mightiest characters

Fully compatible with Labyrinth LordTM and other Basic-Era games.
Fully compatible with other witch books from The Other Side.

Part 1 of my "Back to Basics" series!

April TTRPG Maker, Day 30

Day 30: If you were in charge of the TTRPG Industry what would you change?

Ok.

First off I think it is a misconception that there is a single RPG industry.  There are many.  The OSR crowd doesn't follow the Storygamers.  The DIY and Indie gamers try to avoid the big publishers and everyone is off doing their own thing.

This doesn't even take in consideration the related markets and products like Actual Play podcast/videos or even something as simple as selling dice.

I don't think I would change it, to be honest.

There are things I would like though.

More Market Data
Seriously how have we gone this long and not even know who we are selling too?  I know companies have their own, but a lot of it is still guesswork.

People Need to Be Better to Each Other
Look we are all here to have fun really.  So let people have fun.  Don't like their game? Fine. Don't play it.  But maybe you are missing out on something.  That guy over there is being a dick?  Ok, call him on it.  Find ways to get him to stop. 

Look not everyone is going to like everything and RPGs have boomed since 1974.  The average player...doesn't exist.  There are so many people in this hobby with so many different points of view.  I think this 30 Day Challenge has shown that.

I think I would like to have more Cons closer to me.  Yeah I know I am spoiled, but still, you asked and I answered.

I hope you all had as much fun as me with this!
Thank you Kira Magrann for getting this going.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monstrous Monday: The Elusive Nauga Beast!

I had something else planned for today, but better for next week.  This post was inspired by a post by Bruce Heard and frankly, it is silly enough to run with!

Nauga Beast
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice (HD): 7d8 (31 hp)
No. of Attacks: ram
Damage: 2d8
Special Attacks & Defenses: Fear
Move: 210’ (70’)
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: Fighter 8
Morale: 5
Treasure Type:  See Below
Alignment: Neutral
The extremely rare and extremely valued Nauga Beast is not one encountered often by adventurers but very sought after.  The nauga beast looks like an abdominal cross between a boar, dog, crow, and a large  cow.  Some sages believe that the same horrible experiments that gave us the owlbear spawned the nauga.   To call the nauga beast "ugly" is generous.  It is horrific.  Creatures below 2 HD have to make a Saving Throw vs. Paralysis or run away in fear.  Creatures with greater HD are still repulsed by this creature. 
Their only attack is their ability to run very fast and ram into creatures.  Typically though it will run away. 
There are very few nauga to be found in Known World.  They suffer from the dual problems of being "too ugly and too stupid to breed" according to celebrated Glantri naturalist sage Phygora.
So ugly in fact that the nauga is frightened of each other. Even it's own reflection will cause it to run away as per the cause fear spell.
The nauga has no natural predators or enemies. Indeed the meat of the nauga has been described by goblins, the only creatures known to have tried to eat one, as "rat floating in an open sewer for a week."  The beast would be happily ignored if not for its hide.  While unsuitable for armor, the hide is often used in other clothing or in covering.  It is flexible, waterproof and unlike leather seems to last forever.
The hide of a nauga beast will be worth anywhere from 300 to 800 gp in value (1d6+2), but requires an expert in dealing with the hide.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 29

Day 29: Exciting 2019 RPG Trends?

Ha! I'll be the last to know!

Honestly, I got nothin'.

My to be reviewed pile is about 2000 items deep (that is not a joke or hyperbole).

I am just not writing stuff for the "new" D&D 5 and it is already 5 years old.

So yeah, I don't keep up with the trends really.

Go back to day 21 and see what I said there.  True here too. I just don't have the time in the day to do it all.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 28

Day 28: What Tools Help You Create?

I have to say my best tool has been my Chromebook.

I love that little computer.  Lightweight, fast, connected to Google including docs.
It has been great.

I spent YEARS messing around with computers. Everything from my 16k 800 khz Tandy Color Computer, to bleeding edge desktops, Linux boxes, mainframes, minicomputers and nearly everything in between.

This has been the best thing for me.  I can focus on my writing and every bit of research material is at my fingertips.  I love it!

Plus if I am on my work laptop, my home PC, or even my phone, I can still get to all my stuff. 


Saturday, April 27, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 27

Day 27: How Do I Market My Work?

Hopefully very well!

But seriously I tend to focus on the online communities I am part of; Facebook, Twitter, formerly Google+ (pour out a bit for our departed brother).

I have paid for ads on Facebook and I have done DriveThruRPG deal of the day.

Back in the day I even did a little bit of advertising on Usenet!

It seems that my best recommendations are word of mouth.  People telling others about my books.

Again, this one where I am curious to see what others do.  Hope to pick up some tricks.

Since this is a marketing post, please have a look at my games!
https://www.rpgnow.com/browse.php?author=Timothy%20S.%20Brannan

Friday, April 26, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6

Mark Taormino is a hell of a guy. For the last few years he has been out there on his own delivering some of the coolest, most Gonzo adventures the New Old School has seen. Crazy adventures with Vampire Queens, Dragon Princesses and a laser-rifle wielding heroine name Chocolate Thunder.
These are not Gary's modules...but I somehow think he would approve all the same.

So it was with much rejoicing (yay!) that he announced his sixth adventure module.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6: Moving Maze of the Mad Master


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marktaormino/maximum-mayhem-dungeons-6-moving-maze-of-the-mad-m?ref=theotherside

From the Kickstarter:
Hordes of metal monsters are ransacking small towns and villages and it's up to you to track down and put an end to the terror. The quest will take you to an ancient ruins where you must face off against the diabolical designs of the Mad Master and traverse the mind-bending dungeon of his grand maze. Devilish inventions, clockwork horrors and insidious traps will test your party's mettle as to the unravel the mysteries, solve the puzzles and escape from the Moving Maze of the Mad Master!

It wouldn’t be a Mayhem Adventure if it wasn’t packed with that little something extra. It’s not called “Moving Maze” for nothing! In addition to the regular cover and stationary blue map, there is a 11”x17” game board with two rotating maze wheel components. 

The game board is a 4/c, fully rendered version of the blue map with a maze that literally rotates in game; opening and closing doors, revealing wonders and horrors alike. Flip the wheels for a dynamic final encounter your players will never forget. The maze is designed to be engaging, complex and dangerous without being a confusing, infinite slog.
It looks insane, deadly and a lot of fun!
Exactly what I expect from Mark.

Lots of great add-ons and stretch goals in this too, so please check it out

April TTRPG Maker, Day 26

Day 26: Favorite Online Community

So many really. I love all my online communities.

I guess my greatest love is still blogs.  Best signal to noise ratio, best content on the games I enjoy and a chance to interact with other creators.

Facebook is still a great place to find a wide variety of opinions and games but that also means there is a large collection of "noise".

This is one I will really enjoy seeing what others are going to post.  I am always in the market for more places to learn about games.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Busy Day: Edits, Module Prep and oh yeah, the Day Job

I am trying to wrap up some edits now on Daughters of Darkness.  Some monsters and some spells did not make the cut.

Also, I am deep in helping launch a new graduate program in Social Work, so that has me REALLY busy.

But I also thought I'd share these.  Printed them out last night.




I like to print out my classic modules when running 5e so I can write notes on the adventure. Both in-game ones and conversion notes. 

I do have some notes from the Classic Modules Today team.


REALLY looking forward to running all of these as my huge "Deserts of Desolation and Death" campaign.  It should be epic.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 25

Day 25: A rad diversity consultant?

Ah...I am not sure what this is asking.

Am I one?  I am sure there are others more qualified than me.

Do I need one?  I don't know.

Have to see what others are saying for this one.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 24

Day 24:  Favorite RPG thing to Create?

Hmm.

That's a toss-up.  I love making monsters.  Monsters are what got me interested in RPGs to start with.

I also love to make classes.  My witch is my foremost example, but I have many more.

But in the end, I would have to say spells.

According to my spreadsheet, I have written over 800 unique spells for various games.

Spells and magic are my favorites.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Daughters of Darkness: Lilith and the Mara Witch Tradition

This year marks my 40th year of playing D&D.  I started with Holmes Basic and quickly moved to Moldvay Basic when it was released.  It is also the 20th anniversary of my "Netbook of Witches & Warlocks".  So fairly auspicious anniversaries.

Since this year has been about "Back to Basics" for me I have some books ready to celebrate.

I am pleased to announce the first of three new Witch books for Basic Era Gameplay.

Daughters of Darkness: Lilith and the Mara Witch Tradition



Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told
(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)
That, ere the snake’s, her sweet tongue could deceive,
And her enchanted hair was the first gold.
And still she sits, young while the earth is old,
And, subtly of herself contemplative,
Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,
Till heart and body and life are in its hold.
 - Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Lady Lilith” 1873

"The world has forgotten their dark mother.  
WE will remind them why they should fear the dark."
- Traditional Mara oath.

Presented here are:

The Mara Witchcraft Tradition, an evil tradition for Basic Witches.


To be released next week on Walpurgis Night or Beltane Eve, or April 30th.  Print version to follow.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 23

Day 23: Mentoring/Being Mentored By?

I suppose you could say I am mentoring my sons.  They have both been playing a very long time and now they have the bug to write their own material too.

I have always told them that if there is something they want and they can't find it then maybe they need to make it themselves.

My oldest son writes about dragons and my youngest has created a Bitcoin farm in his room.  He took my advice right to heart.

Now if you are new here and ask "what about your daughters?" Well. sadly I don't have any.  But they would be getting the same advice from me.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Killer Rabbits & Blink Bunnies

It's Easter Monday.  Not that this means much to me, but it is an excuse to talk about rabbits and bunnies!  There is the Ostara connections too, but I'll delve into those at some point.

In the meantime, here are some rabbits to add to your Basic Era D&D games.

Killer Rabbits
Armor Class:  8
Hit Dice (HD): 2d8 (9 hp)
No. of Attacks: bite or by weapon type
Damage: 1d4 or 1d6
Special Attacks & Defenses: Surprise
Move: 120’ (40’)
No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Save As: Fighter 2
Morale: 6
Treasure Type:  Nil
Alignment: Chaotic (Neutral)
Killer rabbits are huge, 7' tall when standing upright, rabbits.  They are intelligent creatures and have none of the timidness associated with the much smaller normal rabbits.  These creatures often wait by roads in out of the way areas where they will surprise a lone traveler.  They will beat the traveler with clubs or maces or sometimes bite.  Despite their name, they do not often kill their victims.  Instead, they will beat them and then rob them.  They don't seem to have use for the gold they steal and often unload it a little more down the road, but they are fond of wine, spirits, and pipeweed.  They enjoy attacking traveling clerics since friars, brothers and other holy men often travel with wine.
Killer rabbits will only attack if they feel the odds are in their favor.



Blink Bunnies
Armor Class:  9
Hit Dice (HD): 1d8 (4 hp)
No. of Attacks: bite
Damage: 1d2
Special Attacks & Defenses: Teleport ability, speech.
Move: 120’ (40’)
No. Appearing: 1d4 (1d6)
Save As: Normal Human
Morale: 4
Treasure Type:  Nil
Alignment: Neutral
Blink Bunnies are small rabbits, most often white, that are used as messengers between Magic-Users.  They are often confused with the magic-user' familiar,  but they are more akin to the messenger birds used by some kingdoms.
The bunny can remember a message of up to 12 words.  If more information is needed then most bunnies should be sent.  They can teleport to any location they have been before with no error.
Otherwise, their ability is exactly like the Magic-user spell teleport.
Blink Bunnies expect to be fed once they arrive to deliver their message.



New Spell

Summon Blink Bunny
Level: Magic-User1, Witch 1
Range: Special
Duration: Special
This spell summons a Blink Bunny, a type of faerie creature that looks like a small white rabbit.  The rabbit can be given a small message, no more than 12 words, and then sent to someone the caster knows.  If the location is well known to the caster then the teleportation is done without error.   If the location is unknown then the caster uses the same table for the magic-user spell teleport.
If the cast has an object belonging to the place to blink bunny is to visit or something from the person the bunny needs to communicate the message too then the teleport is improved by one step.
Material Components: A bit of carrot and some lettuce.


April TTRPG Maker, Day 22

Day 22: How are you working to improve the ttrpg community?

I hope I lead by example.

I would like to be the example that not all "old guys" are stuck in the 80s (although my wife would question my tastes in music) and we are not all a bunch of grumpy assholes.

I also try to call out bad behavior when I see it and correct my own when it happens.

My reach is not very far, but I am hoping that things like this will help.

I like to be an RPG evangelist.  Show everyone what is good about RPGs and the joy of sitting around the table with family and friends and rolling dice.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 21

Day 21: What external factors do you struggle with to create?

Another easy one.

Time.

There is not enough time in my day to work full time, be a husband and father and then still find time to write.

I spend my day job writing. I spend blog time writing.  Then to sit in front of a computer and do more?

Sometimes it is hard.  Often times it is hard.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 20

Day 20: A Game You Want to Make You Think No One Will Play?

Oh, that's easy.

I want to make an officially licensed Charmed RPG.

I am not ashamed of this, but all things considered I vastly prefer Charmed to Buffy. I don't even consider myself a Buffy fan, to be honest, more of a Willow & Tara fan. But I am an unapologetic Charmed fan.

There is the whole witch thing to be sure.  And the Charmed Ones are rather easy on the eyes.  But I think my friend and former TV writer Robert Black said it best,  Charmed never forgot who their audience was and never forgot they were a TV show.

While I know the demographics of the show and your average gamer are not exactly the same, I think with the amount of "modern supernatural" fiction being published today that a Charmed game would be fantastic.  Buffy sold well, Dresden Files is doing nicely.  Granted those are properties with significant geek/gamer buy-in and at the time of their games the properties are still active.

I would like to point out that with all the stuff I have written about witches and magic in the things I have published that this game would be a natural for me. ;)


Friday, April 19, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 19

Day 19: Favorite Themes to Explore

When I write games it is magic and the nature of belief.

My favorite characters tend to be clerics, paladins, and witches.  All characters that are defined by their relationship to divine forces.

Maybe it has something to do with me being an atheist in real life. I don't know.  I suspect it is.

I just find them rather interesting.



Thursday, April 18, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 18

Day 18: What are some underlying messages in your work?

Witches are cool. Haunted houses are awful places in my world.

I suppose the underlying message I want to convey is that as long as everyone is having fun (and no one feels hurt or left out) then it's all good fun.

There is no wrong way to play.

Also, let people enjoy the things they love.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Magic School: Idle Thoughts

Been busy this week.  I am part of a team that is building a new Masters of Social Work program.  It is great because this time I am NOT in charge of it, one of my really qualified co-workers is heading it up and I am really looking forward to working with him in his "Senior" role.  We are the same level so this is a nice switch and will give me some freedom to work creatively at a more "on the ground" level.  Last time our roles were reversed and he got to do the cool fun stuff while I had to mind all the details!
Remember, the reward for hard work is more hard work.

I was in my home office yesterday and two minutes before our video conference meeting started I noticed that my notebook was still out in my car.  So I grabbed the closest thing, my son's D&D notebook.  While sitting through the meeting I keep a set of parallel notes on D&D-ish social work program.  If is SOOO half baked right now and may never, ever see the light of day. But I was amused.

But it got me thinking on larger Magic School ideas and how they tie into my desire of "Back to Basics" this year.

Bruce Heard is over at his blog and online quietly building all sorts of great stuff for his Calidar world. Recently his big project is one I am REALLY dying for; Calidar On the Wings of Darkness. This product will include his magic school for his country of wizards.  Bruce gave us much of what we know about the Great School of Magic located in Glantri City.  If that work is any clue, add 32 more years of game development and writing and that gives me a hint of what we might see in On the Wings of Darkness.

His latest post also helps me figure out which flavor of Basic I am planning to use.  While my great love is B/X Molday/Cook/Marsh D&D, a strong  case has been made for BECMI flavor of Basic.  Plus I have my snazzy new Rules Cyclopedia thanks to POD so this is a good thing for me.
I just like the idea of crazy Magic School hijinks using the Basic rules.

Speaking of the Great School of Magic.  A new-to-me blog, the Breath of Mystara, pointed out a great resource to me, a 555 page PDF on the Great School of Magic.

Seriously that is a lot of material.

Another interesting bit that came up for me yesterday was this fun little character creator for making your own Hogwarts student.
https://www.deviantart.com/hapuriainen/art/Hogwarts-student-maker-302435099

For fun, I did one of me and my iconic witch Larina.  This would have been back when she had brown eyes and her hair was a bit darker.



For my magic school, I have not thought of "houses" really. but think about how important they are to the Harry Potter world and fandom.  EVERYONE has a house they think they belong to.   In my mind, I was more focused on the "Colleges" which is what we did in actual college/university and grad school.

I have also been following Dave Chapman's discussions on a Harry Potter RPG (hypothetical RPG that is) and taking a lot of his advice to heart.

Now I need to work more on my idea of "High Witchcraft", but more on that later.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 17

Day 17: How Does Your Identity Influence Your Work?

This is related to yesterday's post.  But let's break it down into how I see myself.

I am an aging Gen Xer
Not a Baby Boomer (thank you!) and not a Millenial.  I grew up on a diet of MTV, horror movies on basic cable and later on VHS.  I learned to program a computer to get the software I needed (no aps or stores yet).  So I have learned to make do with what I had available and then create the rest.
My books are often the games or supplements I wanted to play in the 80s but no one had written.
So I also have a preference for some older games. I am not saying they are better (and if you spend anytime here you will know I play and love a lot of new games) I just find them fun. I like them.

I am a Midwesterner
I grew up in the mid-West.  My high school was in the middle of two corn fields. We lived through the Satanic Panic of the 80s so "of course" everyone knew of someone that knew someone that saw a Satanic altar.   I got the see the power behind a social movement early on and in your face full color.
This also affects my next bit of identity.

I am an Atheist and Skeptic
I grew up as an Atheist in a town whose claim to fame is the number of churches they have.  Look I love writing about ghosts, witches, magic, and gods. I just don't believe in any of it in real life.  None. In a very significant way, my early explorations into RPGs (D&D in particular) and mythology was a way of dealing with being the only kid in school* who didn't believe in fairy tales.  * I have since learned through the wonder of social media that I was not the only one they were just as afraid as I was to say anything.

I am a Father
Becoming a husband and father is one of my greatest achievements in life.   Yes, I have had plenty of other really great achievements; my education, my degrees, my books.  But being a dad.  Nothing ever comes close to that.  I write games I want my kids to also enjoy.  I want worlds that they would want to play in.

I am sure there is more.  I used to have a professor that said culture is like a tackle box that someone shook up.  It is very difficult to pull out one thing or separate one from the other.  I think that is true here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 16

Day 16: How does your environment inform your work?

I have talked about this one before.

I grew up in the midwest in the 70s and 80s.  My "adventures" were often road trips. My backgrounds included a love of horror movies, a mother who knew some of the most blood-chilling stories I have ever heard, and a fascination for mythology and the occult.

It was a heady brew that only the alchemy of the 70s and 80s could produce. 

In my books, I want to recapture the feel of finding some lost occult tome of the 70s.  Something a little subversive, a little dangerous and a little outside of the reach of the normal people out there.

Hammer Horror + Occult 70s + NWoBHM from the 80s gives you the environment I grew up in and what informs all my RPG creations.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Ghūl and Ghūla

This was inspired by some recent readings and thought it would be fun to try out.  More Basic D&D fun!

Ghoul, Demonic (Ghūl)
Armor Class:  4
Hit Dice (HD): 5d8+7 (29hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claw, 1 bite, + Paralysis and Ghoul Fever
Damage: 1d4, 1d4, 1d6
Special Attacks & Defenses: Ghoul fever, paralysis (2d6 turns), shapeshift, undead
Move: 90’ (30’)
No. Appearing: 1d2 (1d3)
Save As: Fighter 5
Morale: 10
Treasure Type:  B, C
The demonic ghoul also called a ghūl or ghūla, is a much more dangerous version of the ghoul and ghast. This creature appears to be more monstrous than the common ghoul, though there still plenty of similarities to attest to their relationship. Demonic ghouls are believed to be corpses with a demonic spirit inhabiting their body. Similar in a way to vampires.
The demonic ghoul has the hindquarters of a donkey, sans tail, and sometimes the horns of a goat.  They have the same ability to paralyze others, including elves, and are given away by their stench.
Where ghouls and ghasts feed on corpses, the demonic ghoul is not above providing their own corpses by hunting and killing humanoids.  They are also known to eat living children.
The demonic ghoul can also shapeshift into hyenas and can assume the form of the last person they devoured.
The female demonic ghoul, the ghūla, can also pass as a living human woman. It is said they will lure prey back to her lair to seduce and then feed on them.  Children born to these women are still-born but will grow up to become ghouls on their own. 
Demonic Ghouls are undead and turn as Mummies.
Ghoul Fever is a disease caused by the bite of demonic ghouls.  The victim must make a save vs. Poison or become infected. One full day after this failed save the victim loosed 1d3 Constitution and 1d3 Dexterity points.  At this point, they must make two consecutive saves vs. Death to survive.  A fail on one save adds one more day to the disease and another loss of points. Two fails results in death.
A humanoid who dies of ghoul fever rises as a ghoul at the next midnight. A humanoid who becomes a ghoul in this way retains none of the abilities it possessed in life. It is not under the control of any other ghouls, but it hungers for the flesh of the living and behaves like a normal ghoul in all respects. A humanoid of 4 Hit Dice or more rises as a ghast.
Ghoul fever is also present in 10% of all ghouls and 25% of all ghasts.

April TTRPG Maker, Day 15

Day 15: Favorite Tropes to Subvert?

Halfway there!

Favorite Tropes to Subvert?  ALL OF THEM!

But seriously, a few come to mind.

You will never, ever see a "Women in Refrigerators" situation in one of my games.  No woman will ever be killed to forward a male character's arc. Never. 

You will never, ever see rape as a means of helping to build up a character as via a Rape-and-Revenge arc. As in when you take a character down to their lowest levels so they can be built back up into something more powerful.  I guess the trope could be called the "I Spit on Your Grave" trope.

Most of all you will never, ever see a "Bury Your Gays" or a "Dead/Evil Lesbian cliché" in anything I publish. Ever.

"But", you may ask "what if the story calls for it?"
Sorry, but no. Time to write a new fucking story then.

"But aren't you giving 'special treatment' to a certain group?"
No. And also fuck you, go write your own fucking games and don't buy mine if that is what you think.

These are my lines in the sand.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 14

Day 14: Are Your Game Mechanics and Characters Intersectional?

My mechanics are math which is about as non-intersectional as you can be. Math is math.

Again, not to sounds like a broken record, I go back to my key philosophic design foundation; Is it fun?  Everything else flows from that.

Now to be fair.  I DID write The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition AS I thought a radical feminist witch group would look like in a D&D/Fantasy world. 

Here I did play with concepts of power and gender as they related to the archetype of the witch.  I based it on the "Reclaiming Tradition" in modern Wicca who have decided that they need to reclaim the name "witch" and make it their own positive label.

The Aiséiligh are in a very real sense my Social Justice Witch class.  Lawful, Good, and sick your patriarchal shit.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 13

Day 13: Participate in Streamed Games?

No. I really don't.

I am of an age where I don't get a lot of time for my games, so I like to run them when I can.  Since my regular group consists of my family there is not a lot of interest in me streaming the game.

Plus streaming games have a certain flow to them that my home games do not.  Plus there is a ton of inside humor. What's the point in streaming content that really only the people at the table will get.

I have not against streaming games and think they are kind of cool really.  The ones I have watched have been a lot of fun.  But you likely will not see me doing it anytime soon.

Would I play in one that someone else was running? Yeah, I might do that.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Old-School Essentials

Gavin Norman of Necrotic Gnome has been producing some great products for Old School gaming with his own unique style for years. His B/X Essentials is one of my favorite products.
Well now he is producing an updated version and it looks fantastic!

Old-School Essentials


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/necroticgnome/old-school-essentials?ref=theotherside

A faithful reproduction of the B/X-era rules in a digest-sized boxed set or "Rules Cyclopedia" style book.  I am pleased the what I have been calling "Black Box Basic" for years is now coming in an actual black box!

Really there is so much awesome about this and I will spend some time next week talking about it.

I have seen what is very, very close to the final PDFs and they look fantastic.

I do want to talk about those covers. 

Not sure if this will be the final cover, but it's awesome!

I mean look at that!  A castle on the back of a giant turtle? I want to GO THERE NOW!
Kudos to Andrew Walter for these great covers that feel so 70s inspired.  They look like the cover to a Yes or Uriah Heep album.  That's an adventure right there.

So yeah. I am in.  You should be too.


April TTRPG Maker, Day 12

Day 12: How to Make Work more Inclusive?

I hope that my work is fairly inclusive as is. 

With my two primary philosophies "Is it fun?" and "Can I play what I want?" I hope that I have not left any room for anything exclusionary.

Since I also feel that once the book leaves my hands and it is in yours that you can make as inclusive as you like/want/need.

I just have to make sure there is nothing in the rules that say you can't.

I'll be interested in seeing what others have to say about this.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Featured Artist: Jonathan F

Welcome back to Featured Artist!  This time I have an artist who is making a name for himself doing custom characters sheets.  That is not all he does, but these are so much fun I had to share.

Jonathan F, aka Jonathan Fountain, aka Farstride, has been making art for a while.  I first noticed him in the Facebook D&D Fantasy Art Group.

He did a couple sheets so I contacted him to see if he would be willing to do one of my iconic witch Larina.  Here are the results.



I am happy to report that my sheet for Larina has gone on to be his most viewed sheet of all time!

And a colorized version by Rueben Mcfadden.

Dragonborn Druid





He does more than just character sheets too.



Check out his Facebook page and request a character sheet for your favorite character.

Links
Facebook "Jonathan F did an Art" https://www.facebook.com/Farstride/
Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/farstride7/
DeviantArt (not updated as often), https://www.deviantart.com/farstride

April TTRPG Maker, Day 11

Day 11: Shoutout to an Underloved Creator

I know of a lot of creators that are doing great work.  But underloved?

Justin Issac is doing some cool stuff under his labels Halls of the Nephilim and The Lone Bards.

Gavin Norman has been putting out some great stuff for his Necrotic Gnome label.

Any others I mention I think are pretty well known.  Liz Chaipraditkul at Angry Hamster Publishing I think is well known now. At least I hope she is!

I am sure there are more.

How about this.  Here is your excuse, permission, invitation to post YOUR favorites below.  Post yourself if you wish!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

BlackStar: Old School Black Holes

Today is a big day in astrophysics.  The first-ever image of a black hole has been released.
The black hole is 500 million trillion km away, or 500,000,000,000,000,000,000 km or 52,850,042 Light Years.



When that light left the black hole's event horizon the Earth looked like this:


Just some perspective, plus I love those maps.

Much like magic, black holes have "suffered" due to the expansion of science.  What do I mean by that?

For much of the 20th Century, the black hole of science fiction was monstrous, mysterious, even evil thing.  A star that ate everything that came to close including light and time.  It's not hard to see why there were some sci-fi authors who categorized them as monsters.
In fact, this one is a monster. It is 40 billion km across and has a mass 6.5 billion times that of the Sun. For reference, the Earth has a diameter of 12,756 km and the Sun has a diameter of  1.392 million km.  That dwarfs the Sun more than our sun dwarfs the Earth.

In fiction black holes lead to other universes, often evil ones. Or sending people to different parts of the universe in defiance of any laws of relativity.  Indeed they were the ultimate "MacGuffin" to break all sorts of laws of reality.

BlackStar, as a game concept, really owes a lot to these older ideas of black holes in more than just name.

In truth, the ideas for BlackStar got their very first start for me in the 1979 Disney movie The Black Hole.  I remember seeing this at the 67 Drive-In in my old home town.  The movie is full of ideas that characterize what I want BlackStar to do and be even before I add the Lovecraftian bits.  We have a crew exploring space. There is a psychic crew member. We have an evil mad scientist in his old castle spaceship surrounded by mindless servants and evil strongman; it's practically gothic horror.  Even the tag line is horror, "A Journey That Begins Where Everything Ends".



Another black hole sci-fi/horror movie that was a big, if not one of the biggest, influence on BlackStar is 1997's Event Horizon.

In Event Horizon, we have a black hole, in this case, an artificially created one (like what we see in the Romulan Warbirds) that power the ship.  The mystery, and horror, of the Event Horizon, is where was the ship the entire time it's been missing.  We learn that the black hole has taken the crew into a hellscape not dissimilar to what we saw at the end of The Black Hole.  Claire Weir's, Dr. Weir's (Sam Neill) dead wife, tells us "I have such wondrous things to show you" brings to mind Pinhead's "We have such sights to show you" from the Hellraiser movies.  Indeed they can be assumed to be the same sights.



In both cases breaking the laws of physics, in both cases trying to move faster than light, opens you up to the consequences of breaking the Laws of Creation. The black hole becomes the proverbial gate to Hell.  Abandon all Hope Ye Who Enter Here.

This is made even more explicit in the Doctor Who episodes "The Impossible Planet" and "The Satan Pit" from 2006.  In this, the scientific portrayal of black holes is contrasted with the classic sci-fi portrayals.  In Doctor Who black holes are a means of travel. Gallifrey and every TARDIS is powered by "The Eye of Harmony" a captured black hole created by the Timelord Stellar Engineer Omega. It has as much horror as the engine in a Tesla sedan. Neat yes, but not horrible.

The Satan Pit turns this on its head.  Here the black hole "just eats" according to the Doctor. The black hole is The Pit, the jail that the devil can't escape from.  It is the Christian Hell or the Abyss.
Consequently, the episodes have been compared to "Event Horizon" and "Alien" by critics.


So that leaves me at today.  What can black holes do to inspire horror?
Much like "anti-matter" gave way to "dark matter" in the minds of the creatives, black holes have been largerly replaced by "Wormholes".   But even a wormhole is still sci-fi shorthand for "short cuts in FTL travel".  Sure they can be like "gates" but the fear is diluted.

I think where I am going to go with all of this is take a page from Event Horizon and make the drive of the new Mystic class ships be the problem.  They were designed to move faster than light, the heralded Warp-13 drives, but the real purpose is to open rifts in space-time to allow these horrors to come through.  Both sci-fi horrors and cosmic horrors.

Black Holes, like the God of the Gaps, has had its mystical notions removed for the more appropriate scientific ones.  As someone that originally studied to be an astrophysicist, this is a great thing.  But as someone who loves horror and sci-fi adventure, I feel like I have lost something.

Maybe Dark Matter and Dark Energy can be my new mysterious thing! In any case it needs to be frightening.  They say "in space, no one can hear you scream", but I also want "in space, no one wants to hear you yawn".

And this song was on my mind while working on this post.



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