Friday, January 31, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: Swords, Wizards and Heroes

A couple of big Kickstarters today.

First up a BIG one.

Swords and Wizardry: Limited and Collectors Edition Box Sets


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/froggodgames/swords-and-wizardry-limited-and-collectors-edition-box-sets?ref=theotherside

This one is going fast.  The early bird options are all gone and all the original stretch goals we met in the first few hours.  I scored a Collector's Box (pictured above) but there are still great options to be had with this.


The Hero's Journey 2e


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gallantknightgames/the-heros-journey-2e?ref=theotherside

The Hero's Journey 1st edition was a delightful game. It was the perfect antidote for grim-dark murder hobo games that seem to be so popular.  A nice cup of tea vs whatever they sell in the local run-down dive where characters are supposed to meet.

We are in the last few minutes of this one!


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Greyhawk and D&D 5

The next D&D 5 book, Wildemount, is already breaking sales records for D&D and is well on it's way to being one of the most successful D&D books ever outside of a core rule book.

Yet some people are still not happy.

In fact, what they want is Greyhawk.


I get it. I do. There are some things I would love to see too. I love Greyhawk, it was my world for my high school days...back in the 80's.

There are petitions out now and some have been out for a while.  And let's be brutally honest here, petitions like this never work. Combined they are still just over 1,170. In other words nowhere near the 773,000 subscribers to the Critical Role YouTube channel.

I see postings of people complaining about the lack of Greyhawk, Planescape, Spelljammer, and others.  I have to be honest here, they are often from people that I also see claiming they don't play 5e.   Even if they do, they a tiny, tiny sliver of the potential buyers.


Sorry. But there are just not enough of us to make it financially viable.

There is an option for people that want Greyhawk in 5e.  Just get the Greyhawk boxed set from DriveThruRPG.

The World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting for 1st Ed is still all you need to play.
It is just under $10 too.  I grabbed my boxed set and in 130 total pages, I found four (that's 4) that would need conversion.  You won't even need to convert these if you never use the Quasi-Deities.   I never have in 40 years.

The gods are all in 1st ed stats, but gods should not have stats in the first place.

Really. I have everything I need for a Greyhawk 5e game.  Would I like a Greyhawk 5e book? Yeah! I would love one really.  I am very much in that slim crossover on the Venn Diagram of "Just These Guys".  I am These Guys.

Maybe WotC will come out with it someday.  But in the meantime, I am doing ok and I suspect many of you really are as well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

BlackStar: Kzinti

One of the races I really enjoyed back in the Pre-TNG days of Trek (Pre 1987) was the Kzinti.  I was very familiar with the race from the Animated series and was aware, vaguely, of the "Man-Kzin Wars" books by Larry Niven.  I also knew of what would now be called fan-fiction in the form of some weird Trek zines I remember from the day.



The Kzinti in the Trek Universe
The Kzinti homeworld is called Kzin and it orbits 61 Ursae Majoris about 31 light-years away.  Humans of the late 21st century, pre-warp Earth headed to towards this system in the great migrations from Earth. On their way, they encountered the Kzinti and the first of three wars between the two races began.  The Kzinti are violent, expansionistic, and convinced of their own superiority.  The Kzinti lost each time to Earth's forces (then mostly sub-light ships) and they never got over that they lost to an "omnivorous" race.
The stellar cartographers of Starfleet named the Kzinti area of space the Kzinti Hegemony. Their own name for their government can be translated as The Patriarchy.

By 2151 Starfleet had pushed the Kzinti back to their homeworld and Archer IV, also orbiting 61 Ursae Majoris, was established as an Earth colony.  By 2371 it was a fully inhabited Federation planet.  The confusion came about because the Kzinti call any world they inhabit as their "homeworld".  The Federation not only defeated the Kzinti, they humiliated them.



So we have a chauvinistic race, that has a government called the Patriarchy, who is convinced they are superior to all other races and yet still got their asses kicked by the Federation. If you think I am not going to have a go at that then you have not been here reading this blog for long!

Besides.  Star Trek was doing Social Justice in the 60s.  This is a perfect subject to do in a Star Trek RPG.

I am planning on making them my "little bads" or at least make them appear to be the big bads.  They are not, they are just a pain in the ass.  Their area of space is close (ish) to other parts of the federation including Memory Alpha. This works out well since the first mission of the USS Protector is a "milk run" to Memory Alpha.  Yes I am making the first adventure a run to the Federation "Library" as an homage to all the library runs I made to read books about space, astronomy and then Lovecraft and Star Trek.



A couple reasons that make the Kzinti great for my BlackStar game is they are superstitious, still believe in magic and ghosts (and why not, they have a high level of psionic individuals in their population) and maybe best of all they allow me to use some ideas I have created for other games that would find fertile ground here.

Rebuilding the Kzinti for BlackStar
I am setting my BlackStar game between the TOS and TNG eras.  A time, calendar wise that also corresponds to the time when I first discovered the Kzinti and a time of evolution of Trek and in particular the Klingons.

In a fairly real sense, the Kzinti represent stepping stone really between the "old" and the "new" Klingons.  The honor, the violence, and even the warrior caste system of the Kzinti can be added to the old, or TOS Klingons to create the newer TNG and movie era Klingons. 
Since this "in-between" time is also covered fairly well by the FASA Trek game I will turn to it for ideas.

FASA Trek, much like Starfleet Battles, can be seen as an alternate evolution of the same core Trek from the Original Series on.  I am already borrowing a lot from FASA Trek, so I might take some of their ideas on Klingons and use them for the Kzinti.

In particular, their philosophy of "That which is not growing is dead." to explain their desire to expand their territory again.

I am not going to make Kzinti available as a playable race. If I want something like that I'll go with Caitians like M'Ress and Srrel.



White Star

Kzinti Warrior
KZINTI WARRIOR
ARMOR CLASS: 7 [12]
HIT DICE: 2
HDE/XP: 2/25
SAVING THROW: 17
TOTAL HIT BONUS:  +2
MOVEMENT: 12 (12 when climbing)
SPECIAL: Dark vision 90 ft, Climb
ATTACK: Claws (1d6) or by weapon

KZINTI PSYCHIC
ARMOR CLASS: 9 [10]
HIT DICE: 1-1
HDE/XP: 1/15
SAVING THROW: 17
TOTAL HIT BONUS:  +1
MOVEMENT: 9 (0 when climbing)
SPECIAL: Dark vision 90 ft, Climb, Psychic Blast,
ATTACK: Psychic Blast (1d6)

Starships & Spacemen

Kzinti Psychic
KZINTI WARRIOR
Encountered: 2d4 (2d10)
Movement: 120' (40')
Intelligence: Average
Psionic Potential: inactive
Hits: 2d8
Armor: 7 (2 with power armor)
Combat Skill: 12
Save: L1
Attacks: 1
Damage: By weapon
Morale: 10
XP: 25

KZINTI PSYCHIC
Encountered: 1 (1d6)
Movement: 90' (30')
Intelligence: Above-Average
Psionic Potential: active
Hits: 1d8
Armor: 9 (5 with power armor)
Combat Skill: 6
Save: L1
Attacks: 1, Psychic Blast
Damage: 1d6
Morale: 7
XP: 15

Kzinti Warriors are 2.1-meter tall  220 kg, barrel-chested felinoids.  They can attack with claws but prefer weapons.   They have long tails and hairless ears.  Their eyesight is good in the dark, but their sense of smell is superior to that of Terrans.  They are voracious carnivores and must consume raw meat. They can survive on replicated food, but they will claim it has "no life" to it.
They are a superstitious race and will not use the weapon of a fallen foe believing that the ghost of that foe still haunts the weapon.
Kzinti Warriors will often add honorifics to their name and title. So a captain of a Kzinti warship that has never been defeated might call himself Vrust-Captain, the Undefeated.

Kzinti Psychics almost apper to be a different race.  They are much smaller, 1.8-meter, and much thinner at 130 kg. They are hunched over and appear to ready to fall over.  They are powerful psychics and know many attack and defense modes.  They are often used to extract knowledge and secrets from other species.  Even though they appear frail they are driven by the same desires that affect the warrior caste.  This has caused many among the psychic class to adopt cruelty to others weaker than themselves which is even marked by Kzinti standards.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Bánánach for OSE

Working on all sorts of things, mostly getting my bits of Night Shift done and a TON of day job stuff.

I wanted to get The Pagan Witch out to you all soon, and I still might, it is done, minus some little bits. Here is something in the mean time.

Bánánach
Semi-transparent spectres of witches that haunt battlefields or other areas of great violence.
AC 3 [16], HD 5** (18hp), Att 1 × touch (1d6 +ability drain), THAC0 15 [+4], MV 120’ (40’) / 240’ (80’) flying, SV D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (5), ML 12, AL Chaotic, XP 175, NA 1d4 (1d6), TT None

▶ Undead: Make no noise, until they attack. Immune to effects that affect living creatures (e.g. poison). Immune to mind-affecting or mind-reading spells (e.g. charm, hold, sleep).
▶ Mundane weapon immunity: Only harmed by silver weapons or magic.
▶ Damage reduction: Half damage from silver weapons.
▶ Energy drain: A successfully hit target permanently loses one point of Wisdom. This incurs a loss of all other benefits due to the drained ability (e.g. spells, saving throws, etc.). A person drained of all Wisdom becomes a wraith in one day, under the control of the bánánach that killed him or her.

A bánánach is the specter of a witch.  They are attracted to areas of great death and suffering.  They can be seen flying about the areas of death.  They drain the willpower of those she attacks. 
They are often accompanied by 2-3 wraiths.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Weekend Gaming: Wormholes and Chicken

Liam and Connor's 5e game is going on this weekend.  They are going deeper into Curse of Strahd, but as typical the party made a left turn when they should have just kept going straight.

While looking for a passageway across a mountain range they came across a "cave", turns out it was a wormhole, or rather the passageway for a small purple worm.

A special treat, we are using my old Ral Partha Ravenloft minis.

On the dinner front.  Tonight we made chicken stroganoff,  potatoes, and homemade focaccia bread.




In the meantime, I got some Blu-Rays in the mail for my October Horror Movie Marathon.


50 movies so far, ready to go!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Classic Adventures Revisited: Palace of the Vampire Queen

In this new series of posts, I want to look back at some of my favorite classic adventures both from TSR and others.  I'll give a review, though most everyone knows what is in these adventures by now, I'll also talk about how I have used them in the past and I'll also talk about what other games I have used them with or would like too.  So there is a little bit of Plays Well With Others in this too.

Why do classic adventures? Easy, I love these adventures.  I have written hundreds of my own adventures, some I have even published, but these are the adventures that everyone knows and we all have a history with them.

So to start off this series, what better adventure than the one that started it all?


Palace of the Vampire Queen

In the beginning, there was a belief that all DMs would naturally create all their own adventures and there was no market for pre-written ones.  The only printed adventure out at this time was "Temple of the Frog" in Blackmoor.  Seeing a need, the Palace of the Vampire Queen was written by Pete and Judy Kerestan. Yes, the very first adventure was co-written by a woman.
The first edition was self-published, followed by a second and third edition by Wee Warriors (1976 and 1977) and distributed exclusively by TSR.

The "Dungeon Master's Kit" (module was not being used yet) presented a simple adventure with a singular goal; defeat the Vampire Queen.  The plot, such as it is, is very thin even by the standards of what would later be the norm.  The maps are fantastic, but the descriptions are little more than that; what's in the room in terms of monster and treasure.  We get a background, the missing princess of the Dwarf King Arman of Baylor. Vampire Queen herself remains nameless.


The adventure itself is fairly straight forward.  Go to the Palace, defeat the monsters and the Vampire Queen and save the Dwarven Princess.

Despite, or maybe because of, this limited background this adventure can be used anywhere with nearly every version of the game.   I became aware of this adventure many years ago and it immediately went on to my "must find" list. Around 10 years ago I was able to get a copy and I ran it for a group using Moldvay Basic/ Cook Expert (BX) D&D.  It was a lot of fun.  There was no indication on how many characters were needed or what levels.

The adventure reminds me a bit of the Dungeon! board game.  You walk the halls, kick in the door, kill the monster, take the treasure, repeat.  Of course, this adventure is the first of such adventures so it gets a huge pass on this.  There is a lot though here to keep any DM and party busy.

Since 1976 the adventure has had a few reprints.  The first ones were by Wee Warriors.  These prints regularly go for over $1,000.00 on eBay.   There were two such covers, the "black" cover with a castle in the background and the "queen" cover, featuring the vampire queen herself.


The covers were folders with a pocket for notes or other sheets.  I nice idea and one I have used myself. Many of the early prints were 8.5" x 11", some later prints were digest-sized, 5.5" x 8.5" same as the OD&D books.

The next major set of reprints was made by North Texas RPG Con and Pacesetter Games and Simulations who printed a fairly accurate representation of the original back cover in digest format and then later a letter-sized one with images from all the covers.


While they are not the originals, but the content is all there and these were much cheaper.

Now today, Precis Intermedia has a new cleaned up reprint of the adventure.



Daughters of Darkness: Sequels to the Vampire Queen
As can be imagined such a classic adventure has had a number of sequels and homages.

North Texas RPG Con
This is the reprint of the original.  It is a fairly faithful reproduction of the 1977 version of the black cover version.  The first digest-sized version was a fairly faithful reproduction save for the NTRPG Con watermark on every page.  The digest size makes it perfect for use with OD&D, S&W, OSE or other OSR games.


To my knowledge there are no more of this print available save for on eBay and other game auctions.

Pacesetter Games

The first round of reprints and sequels after Wee Warriors came from Pacesetter Games & Simulations.



V2 Palace of the Vampire Queen

This printing was more properly letter-sized, the same as the original and features many of the cover variations on the cover of this edition.
This edition also includes introductions from the author Peter Kerestan and Pacesetter's Bill Barsh. Here we learned that the very first edition was printed by Peter himself with a printing press!
Here we also get a fair reproduction of the original.  After the introductions and the adventure background, we get to the levels proper.  On the two pages are the original maps and descriptions and on the following pages are "updated" AD&D 1st ed stats. These new pages usually cover 3-4 more pages till the next map. This repeats for all five levels.  On the new pages, a little more explanation is given and there is new art.  This makes for a fuller product and detracts none of the original charms.

Print at Pacesetter.

V5 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Castle Blood
The first sequel to PotVQ is Castle Blood.  Now here we get more modern adventure designs and maps. There is more background here too to hook the players in,
The adventure is brief, but it is supposed to be, at just 16 pages. It can be run in an afternoon.  I actually felt this worked better as a prequel to the PotVQ.  You learn more about her history here. The eponymous castle is all detailed and above ground.  You can meet the Vampire Queen here, but killing her is not the goal of this adventure, but rather finding out what is going on.
PDF at DriveThruRPG and Print at Pacesetter.

V6 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Crypts of the Living
Crypts of the Living was written as an explicit sequel to the Palace of the Vampire Queen and makes more overt references to the first adventure.  The booklet, 16 pages worth, says it is designed for 5th Edition, but all the stats are for OSRIC/1st Edition.  No worries. Converting is easy.
There are references to both the Palace of the Vampire Queen and Castle Blood.  The other adventures are not 100% required to play this one, but it does help.
The adventure is a fairly straight forward exploration affair.  There are new monsters and new magic items so that is a nice bonus. Can be played in an afternoon or combined with the others for a longer campaign.
PDF at DriveThruRPG and Print at Pacesetter.

V7 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Cries of the Tormented
This one is not presently available and I don't seem to have a copy oddly enough.
Print at Pacesetter.


Precis Intermedia
Palace of the Vampire Queen
This version of the adventure also preserves much of what made the original a classic.  The PDF of this book has a "special feature" to show a reprint of the original NSFW art.  The print copy is all paper, with the cover made out of heavier weight paper (like résumé paper).
At 24 pages it might be the most faithful reproduction yet.  While the cover is new art, the interior looks like the classic.  No additions have been made to the text. The maps are cleaned up, darker ink and clearer to read.





Other Vampire Queens
Dark Wizard Games gave us the fantastic Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen. But I have talked about that adventure many places here. Most of my posts on this are captured below.

0one's Blueprints: Megadungeons - Palace of the Vampire Queen
This product is a pretty bare-bones affair, and that is exactly why you want to get it.  You get 7 pages of "Blue" maps and 7 pages of black and white maps covering over 210 rooms.  The rooms are labeled but that is all the description you get.  There are sheets for you to detail the rooms with monsters, occupants, and treasure.  This is perfect if you want to create a mega-palace for our mysterious Vampire Queen and stock it full of her undead minions.  At just under $2.00 it is a steal.

Other Games / Plays Well With Others

The strength of this adventure is how easy you can adapt it to nearly anything.  The adventure itself, regardless of which one you have, is so bare-bones it begs to be adapted and added too.  I have run this both for Basic, B/X D&D and for D&D 5th edition with no problems.  The level of characters can be adapted to easily with the challenges and the monsters you add.




Palace of the Vampire Queen and D&D5
Converting for D&D is easy. What might be more fun is to run something like Curse of Strahd, but replace the count with a Queen.


Palace of the Vampire Queen and Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
This is the easiest of all really.  AS&SH is close enough to AD&D with hints of Basic to make it possible to run this without any conversions at all.
How to run it?  Well all I can say is have you ever read the Conan stories "Red Nails" or "Hour of the Dragon".  The queen would make for a good stand-in for Akivasha.



Palace of the Vampire Queen and Blue Rose
Ah. Now this one has a bit more going on for it.  This is no simple dungeon crawl, to play this one the Vampire Queen is in a battle of wills or "chess game" with the Sovereign, Queen Jaellin. This style of adventure would play heavily on the investigation skills of the envoys/characters.   Our Vampire Queen might even be known as a vampire even, just as a new ruler of a previously unknown island (Baylor).  Of course, you have your suspicions and you are fairly sure there is a strong taint of shadow about the land.



Palace of the Vampire Queen and Buffy,  Ghosts of Albion or Leagues of Gothic Horror
Here is something fun.  A twist on the Dracula story.  The cast comes to an old palace in the mountains from their home.  Expecting an old Lord they are instead greeted by a woman, the Lady of the castle.  Here the horror begins.
Both game systems have plenty of creatures and elements to cover everything in the adventure.  What you as the game master will need to do is smooth out some "D&D" elements and add some gothic elements, but that is so easy that I can't decide which one would be more fun Unisystem or Ubiquity.
All three would be fun to try sometime.




One could get easily lost in the potential of this adventure.  I do hope that future reviews of classic adventures prove to be just as fruitful.

Links
Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palace_of_the_Vampire_Queen
The Acaeum, https://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/modpages/dmk.html

Links to Adventures
Links to my 'Vampire Queen' posts

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Class Struggles: The New* Basic Classes

2019 was the start of my Back to Basics theme here at the Other Side.  I have covered a LOT of Basic-era/BX/BECMI/RC type products.  It got me thinking. In addition to the the base four human classes and three demi-human classes how many classes have been added to Basic D&D?

Answer. 113*
This includes at least four kinds of Barbarians, Bards and Paladins.  Three types of Rangers and Gnomes and duplicates of many others such as necromancers and illusionists.
*There are likely even more.

I am not sure if all of these are needed, but I am glad they are here.  Variety is the spice of life after all and these classes are all about variety.

The trick now is, can they all be played in same world? OR maybe a better question.  Is anything missing?

Basic Classes
Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, Theif, Dwarf, Elf, Halfling

ACKS Player's Companion
Anti-paladin, Barbarian, Dwarven Delver, Dwarven Fury, Dwarven Machinist, Elven Courtier, Elven Enchanter, Elven Ranger, Gnomish Trickster, Mystic, Nobiran Wonderworker, Paladin, Priestess, Shaman, Thrassian Gladiator, Venturer, Warlock, Witch, and Zaharan Ruinguard.

Advanced Labyrinth Lord
Assassin, Druid, Illusionist, Monk, Paladin, Ranger

OSE (Advanced)
Acrobat, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Drow, Druid, Duergar, Gnome, Half-elf, Illusionist, Knight, Paladin, Ranger, Svirfneblin

BX RPG
Druid, Gnome, Half-elf, Monk, Necromancer, Paladin, Ranger

Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition
Enchanter, Shaman

Psionics Handbook
Monk, Mystic

Class Compendium
Acrobat, Alienist, Angel, Automation, Bandit, Barbarian, Bard, Berserker, Bounty Hunter, Burglar, Commander, Cultist, Damphir, Dark Elf, Death Knight, Dragon, Dragon Slayer, Eidolon, Explorer, Fairy, Familiar, Feast Master, Fortune Teller, Friar, Gladiator, Goblin, Greensinger, Half-Elf, Half-Ogre, Half-Orc, Huckster, Inquisitor, Investigator, Knight, Lost Boy, Lucky Fool, Metaphysician, Pirate, Raging Slayer, Rune-Smith, Samurai, Shootist, Sword Master, Sylvan Elf, Tavern Singer, Thopian Gnome, Treant, Undead Slayer, Wanderer, Warchanter, Watchman, Wild Wizard (That's 52 classes!)

The Complete B/X Adventurer
Acrobat, Archer, Barbarian, Bard, Beastmaster, Bounty Hunter, Centaur, Duelist, Gnome, Mountebank, Mystic, Ogre-Kin, Scout, Summoner, Tattoo Mage, Witch, Witch Hunter.

Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts
Cleric, Wizard, Elven Swordmage, Elven Warder, Enchanter, Fleshcrafter, Healer, Inquisitor, Merchant Prince, Necromancer, Pact-Bound, Theurge, the Unseen.

Odysseys & Overlords 
Bard

Theorems & Thaumaturgy Revised Edition
Elementalist, Necromancer, Vivimancer

Class Catalog for B/X Essentials
Aasimar, Dragonborn, Dwarven Priest, Dwarven Thief, Elven Rogue, Gnome, Halfling Burglar, Half-Orc, Pixie, Tiefling

Monday, January 20, 2020

Weekend Gaming: Dungeons & Dragons & Dinners & Dramaturges

I have not done a weekend gaming post in forever, despite having a game or two going every weekend.  If you follow me on Facebook or my personal Instagram page then one thing is pretty obvious.  My family and I LOVE food.  My wife has won baking awards, my oldest son is in culinary school, my youngest loves to experiment in the kitchen and even I have won 1st place in my local chili cook-off for my "Mississippi Queen" Chili.

It should be no surprise then we LOVE to cook for our D&D sessions.  My oldest son runs three D&D 5e campaigns, one Call of Cthulhu game (3 of which my youngest son is a part of), and I have my three D&D games that meet more rarely, but the bottom line is we have anywhere from two to three groups here every week and we cook for all of them.

These are all high school and college-age kids, so other than one or two other than my kids, their palettes are still forming.  I mean in our groups we have people from South Korea, Equador, Mexico, Spain, and even a 2nd generation Greek (the Greek Orthodox Church is just down the road), so we have ethnicities all covered. So we still like to branch out a bit from just plain old "gamer faire" of burgers, hot dogs and chips, though we still do those a lot.  We have made chili for them (of course), homemade mac-n-cheese (they are still kids), but homemade enchiladas, pulled smoked pork, bbq chicken, homemade ramen (complete with soy marinaded eggs), eclair cakes, banana bread, tacos, homemade chicken sandwiches (because fuck Chik-fil-a), homemade pizza, mini pies,  and homemade wings of various spiciness from mild to "oh dear god make it stop mommy!"





Fortunately for us, we love to cook all this.  My wife has a huge garden (over 2,200 square feet) where we can grow an absolute ton of veggies, so that helps.  In fact, there are many times throughout the year where we don't even need to buy vegetables (and we eat a lot of veggies).

You can see my wife's garden from space!
We only have a couple of food allergies to deal with, but that fine with us. 
The great thing is that everyone wants to come here now for the games!  Yeah it means we have a lot of cooking to do, but we enjoy it and we know some of these guys in college with my oldest don't get a homecooked meal very often.

Today's game is Liam's college group and on the menu is the Curse of Strahd and Taco Pie.  Yeah, not haute cuisine, but it is still homemade AND we used enchilada sauce made from our own dried peppers, garden onions, and tomato sauce (yes, we make our own tomato sauce). 





Much better than a bag of chips and a Mountain Dew.

Monstrous Monday will return next week.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Marvel Movie Maddness

It is pretty well documented that I am a hardcore DC guy.
But there are few Marvel comice I really enjoy, and all of them are getting new movies!  Where to start?



Ok, let's go with what might be some of the best castings ever, Jared Leto as Dr. Michael Morbius in Morbius.



This comes from the comic Morbius the Living Vampire about a scientist who tries to cure himself with vampire blood.  Some changes will be made to this for the movie to be sure, but it looks fantastic. The cameo by Michael Keaton is also a shocker and what role is Matt Smith playing?  (Loxias Crown according to the Wikipedia).

My second favorite casting (and this is so weird to say since up till Morbius this one was my favorite) in Marvel movie gives us Anna Taylor-Joy as freaking Magick in the New Mutants.



"I killed 18 men. One. by. one." Oh Magick, you keep doing you.

I mean really, ATJ as Magick the only thing that would keep me from geeking out over the casting of Maisie Williams as Wolfsbane.  I read a lot of New Mutants back in college and was the last X-men/Marvel comic I kept up with.  Plus it has a solid horror vibe.

Those are the ones we have trailers for.

We are also getting Doctor Strange 2: The Multiverse of Madness.  That is like, three of my favorite things in the title alone.  Now the rumor is Scarlet Witch will be in the movie too. I like the movie Wanda much more than the comic one so this is great.

AND the hits keep coming with the Blade reboot with the amazing Mahershala Ali as the day-walking half-vampire Blade.

It's going to be great really.  And this is not even looking into the DC movies coming up.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Old School Essentials: New Witch Spells

The hottest new property in OSR gaming is Old-School Essentials.  Justifiably so too.   It is a great reinterpretation of the Basic/Expert rules and it is a lot of fun.  It is also on sale today as the DriveThruRPG Deal of the Day.

I am still a little bit away, further than I want to admit, from finishing up The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witchcraft Tradition.  But in celebration of OSE's sale here are some new witch spells.

First Level Witch Spells

Call Spirits of the Land
Duration: 1d4 hours
Range: The Caster
Call Spirits enables the witch to gather local spirits of the dead and elements, which appear to the caster as small ghostly disembodied heads, and listen to their tales about the surrounding
land and people.
▶ Characters listening can make an Intelligence Ability check to learn something about the local area.
▶ Characters who fail the check by five or less hear nothing but endless ramblings and chattering, possibly in an unknown or ancient language, that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.
▶ Those who fail by more than five hear nothing.
▶ A roll of a natural 20 provides completely false and maliciously misleading information.

Material Components: The caster must pay for the information with offerings of food, alcoholic beverages, incense, song, and pleasant conversation. The offering should total at least 1 gp.

Salving Rest 
Duration: Special
Range: The caster or a creature touched
This spell allows its subject to enjoy soothing, peaceful sleep, free of pain and sorrow, whenever she slumbers. As a result of this salving rest,
▶ The subject of the spell will heal an extra 1d3 hit points during each day of complete rest.
▶ The spell ends when the subject stops completely resting or if she takes any damage.

Material Components: A tea made from valerian root and lavender.

Second Level Witch Spells

Chameleon
Duration: 1 turn per level
Range: Touch
This spell allows any character touched to blend into her surroundings to the point of becoming nearly invisible. The character gains a +4/+20% to hide in shadows. Characters affected by a chameleon spell can always hide in shadows with a skill of at least 25% chance. This spell is used to create elven cloaks.

Material Components: The scale of a chameleon or a bit of skin from a cuttlefish. Alternately a bit of multi-colored cloth will also work.

Inscribe Tattoo I
Duration: Permanent
Range: One willing target
With this spell the caster inscribes a tattoo onto a willing subject. Only three such tattoos can ever be placed on one subject.
Tattoos have different abilities
Become animal: Allows the subject to shift into a normal animal, chosen at the time of inscribing. The animal’s HD must be equal to or less than the subject’s level. The subject can only shapeshift once per month.
Strike true: The subject gains a +1 to hit/damage. Magical creatures can be hit with this magic.
Magical protection: +1 to saves vs. magic. This can be from spells, wands, rods or magic-like effects.
Battle protection: +1 bonus to AC. Tattoo must be visible to have effect.
Magical Affinity: Used by spell casters this gives as -1 penalty to target’s saves.

Similar tattoos do not add their effects. Two Magical Protection tattoos do not prove +2 protection.  Only higher-level tattoos can.
The caster cannot tattoo herself.

Material Components: Special tattoo pens, needles, and inks are required.

Third Level Witch Spells

Hopping Doom 
Duration: 1 turn/level 
Range: 60 feet
The witch can summon 1d10 x 1,000 slimy wet bullfrogs to a spot designated (crawling out from rocks, nooks and crannies, or otherwise dropping from the ceiling or sky). They jump madly about, getting underfoot, and croak at a deafening volume that prevents conversation within the area of effect. The distraction is such that spellcasters must save (spells) before they can cast, and missile users roll to hit at -2. Movement within the area is halved.
▶There is a base 10% chance (+5% per level) that 1d10 poisonous frogs will be in the group. ▶They will attack non-frog targets within the area of effect, forcing them to save (poison) at +2 or die. The poisonous frogs are colorful but otherwise identical to the rest.
▶The caster can move the mass of frogs by telepathic command, at a maximum speed of up to 60 ft per round.
▶The area of effect is determined by the number of frogs summoned (10 ft² per 1,000 frogs).

Material Components: A small fly.

Malice
Duration: 6 turns
Range: Touch 
Malice weakens the target creature's attacks: each time the target creature inflicts hit point damage on an enemy (by any means), damage dice must be rolled twice, and the lesser result used.

Material Components: The witch must be able to touch the target while giving a word of power.

Fourth Level Witch Spells

Venus Glass
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: One glass of water
The witch sends a prayer out to the spirits of her ancestors and to the spirits of those not yet reborn into her life for a vision. A question is asked to give her a vision of a face. Typically the witch casts a venus glass for a maiden hoping to see the face of her future husband.
She then cracks an egg and suspends the egg white in a glass of water
She can then see the future, usually, the face of someone important to the witch or whomever the witch is asking about.
▶ Face: the face of someone will appear. It may be indistinct or quite clear.
▶ Portents: If the egg has blood in it means that the person they seek with bring them death.
▶ Visage of Death: If the face switches from normal to a skull face then the person they seek will die.
▶ Unclear: No face is revealed. The witch may try again the next night.

Material Components: An egg from a hen taken at or just before the dawn and a clear glass of pure water.

Fifth Level Witch Spells

Flood of Tears
Duration: Instantaneous and one round per level
Range: Cone 60’ 
The witch begins to cry and creates a flood to wash away her foes. 
▶ In the first round, the tears flow creatures caught in the flood must make a save vs. paralysis or take 1d6 hp of damage for every two levels of the witch (max 7d6). Save for half. 
▶ For the rounds that follow the area remains inundated with water and the flotsam and jetsam of debris. Movement is reduced to half in this area. 

Material Components: The witch must cry.

Sixth Level Witch Spells

Eye Bite
Duration: 1 round per 3 levels
Range: 25’ + 5’ per 2 levels
The witch glares at a target. 
Each round, the witch may target a single living creature, striking it with waves of arcane power.  Depending on the target’s HD, this attack has as many as three effects.


HD
Effect
10 or more
Sickened
5-9
Panicked, sickened
4 or less
Comatose, panicked, sickened

▶ Sickened: Sudden pain and fever sweeps over the target’s body. A sickened creature takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws and ability checks.  A creature affected by this spell remains sickened for 10 minutes per caster level.  The effects cannot be negated by a remove disease or heal spell, but a remove curse is effective.
▶ Panicked: The target becomes panicked for 1d4 rounds as if under the influence of a fear spell.  After the initial effect is over, the target can become panicked again if he sees the witch and fails a saving throw.
▶ Comatose: The target falls into a catatonic coma for 10 minutes per caster level.  During this time, it cannot be awakened by any means short of dispelling the effect.  This is not a sleep effect, and thus elves are not immune to it.

The witch can affect victims for 1 round per three caster levels.  Spell effects can last longer than this depending on the effect. 

Material Components: The witch needs to be able to see the victim.  She needs to touch her eye and point to the victim.


The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Traditions


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Updating Layout and War of the Witch Queens

I updated my layout a bit over the last few day here at the old Other Side.


I updated my Books page, which I have not done since 2016 or so.  Witch Links is getting updated more frequently now. I am still unsure if I'll update Downloads or OGL anymore, so they might go.

The biggest update is a new link above to my War of the Witch Queens old-school Campaign.

Here is some of the information I have on that page.

The War of the Witch Queens

The basis of this campaign was something I scrawled on my notes one day while working on one of my books.

"The Witch Queens gather every 13 years to discuss politic, issues of their realms, to share magical discoveries and socialize. But mostly they meet to make sure they stay out of each other's way.  Each Conclave a new High Queen is chosen to make sure that all witches abide by the rules.  This year however one the first day of the Conclave the current High Queen was murdered.
With the High Queen dead and her successor unchosen, the Witches are threatening to go to war with each other and worlds are caught in between."

The idea is these war of these powerful witches will happen.  The PCs get pulled in to this drama and must discover who killed the High Queen and how to stop it.

The Witch Queens 

A big old-school campaign I am working on is War of the Witch Queens.  I have been collecting these NPCs for years.  Not all are Witch Queens, but all have something to do in the campaign and all were at the Conclave of Witches, so each one is a suspect.

I will admit I have some ideas on who the murderer is.  I am also split on which of these will be the victim, though I have two in mind.  Part of the fun here is to build the mystery.
Check the link above for a list of all the Queens and adventures.

In addition to figuring out the mystery, it is also an excuse to try to use as many different D&D-like systems I can.  So DCC, S&S, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC and D&D proper all live in harmony on my shelves.



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