Thursday, April 30, 2020

New Release: The Warlock for Old-School Essentials

Once again evil witches gather to celebrate Walpurgis Night and good witches celebrate Beltane.

And once again the Warlocks join the festivities.

The Warlock for Old-School Essentials



Mine is the Power!

Power. Humans have always sought it.
Clerics pray for it. Wizards study for it.

Warlocks take it.

Introducing the Warlock class for your Old-School RPGs.

- Four new warlock pacts: Chaos, Cosmic, Death, and Dragon.
- 78 Warlock spells including Cantrips
- 13 new spells for clerics, druids, illusionists, and magic-users each.
- 55 Warlock Invocations, the ultimate expression of their power!
- Magic items and warlock patrons.

Fully compatible with Old-School Essentials and other Basic-Era Games.
Fully compatible with other witch and warlock books from The Other Side.

Requires Old-School Essential Core Rules.

Cover Art by Conner Meek.  Some interior art by Jeff Dee.

POD version on the way.

This book is 100% compatible with The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition also for Old-School Essentials. In fact it is written so warlocks can use witch spells (up to 5th level) and witches can use warlock spells.   The two groups of classes are also natural antagonists for each other.

This book is also 95%(*) compatible with The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry
Both warlock books feature pacts, invocations, spells, and lodges.  There is some minor overlap (invocations like Arcane Blast, some spells) but otherwise, each book adds to the other.  Expand the warlocks spell list and invocations.






Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Night Shift Pre-Orders are Open

Well. The books are off to the printers and we will start sending out copies to our Kickstarter backers.

But if you missed our big Kickstarter last fall I have some good news. We are now taking preorders of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars.

The shipping date for the hardcovers from the Printer is June 10, and we will then be sending copies out to the Kickstarter backers. After that, we will fulfill all pre-orders.

Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars

Pre-orders of the Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg are OPEN! Grab a hardcover/PDF bundle and get your PDF right away! https://elflair.com/nightshift.html 


Get your pre-order in here: https://www.elflair.com/nightshift.html

If you want to "try before you buy" there are the Quick Start rules here.

I plan on having a lot of fun with this over the Summer.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Horror of the Hodag for NightShift and more!

Been wanting to do this beastie for a while!



The Hodag

In the wilds of Wisconsin there lives, or rather lived, the fiercest to ever run on stubby little legs.  The Hodag.  This monster has a wide face full of razor-sharp fangs. Its head is topped with a pair of horns and spikes running down it's back.  It's four legs are short (and it has no knees) and also end in razor-tipped claws.  It is fierce, vicious, and mean-spirited.

The hodag is seven feet long and about two-and-half feet tall. It is almost supernaturally strong, but are not fast runners.  They have to sleep leaning against a tree since it has no knees and their own spikes would impale them if they were to lie down. Because of this, they can't be surprised. This also might explain why they are so cranky.

Hodags are believed to have died out due to a lack of their primary food source, pure white bulldogs.

Hodag (NightShift)
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 4
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 6
Special: 4 attacks (2 claws, bite, 1 tail spike), can't be surprised
XP VALUE: 150


Hodag (Old-School Essentials)
Armor Class 4 [16]
Hit Dice 6 (27 hp)
Attacks [2 × claw (1d6), 1 × bite (2d6)] or 1 × tail spike (1d6) or 2 x horn gore (1d4+1)
THAC0 14 [+5]
Movement Rate 90' (30')
Saves D10 W11 P12 B13 S14 (6)
Morale 11
Alignment Chaotic
XP for Defeating 500
Number Appearing 1 (1)
Treasure Type None

  • Horns. The hodag can rush an opponent to attack.  The horns are sharp and cause piercing damage.
  • Nasty Mood. Hodags are always in a foul mood. They can't be charmed nor subdued. They always attack.
  • Tooth and nail. The preferred attack of a hodag. Razor-sharp claws and fangs.


Hodag (shadow creature) (Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
3 Accuracy (Claws)
1 Communication
3 Constitution
2 Dexterity (Stealth)
1 Fighting (Fangs)
-1 Intelligence
2 Perception (Smell)
3 Strength
2 Willpower

Speed 16
Health 40
Defense 14
Armor Rating 0

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Claws +3 1d6+1
Fangs +2 1d6+2
Horns +1 1d6

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack

Threat: Moderate


Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars

Pre-sales of the Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars rpg are OPEN! Grab a hardcover/PDF bundle and get your PDF right away! https://elflair.com/nightshift.html 



Monstrous Mondays: How Much for a Book?

I had a Monstrous Monday planned for today but in the process of going through my monsters to make sure I hadn't already done it (spoiler: I hadn't, expect to see a Hodag soon!) I began to notice a couple of things.

1. I have been doing Monstrous Mondays for a while now.
2. I have a ton of monsters.

I went back through all my data and found I have done 230 monsters for my witch books.  About 80 for Monstrous Mondays and another 75 or so in just A to Z posts.

Counting for duplicates and overlaps that gives me over 300 monsters.

That's more than the Monster Manual had.

It got me thinking. Would a new monster book be fun to do?



Well, the answer is yes, it would be fun. I have enough monsters for sure.  They all have a general "theme" of witches, demons, undead, and the occult.  So that is something.

The biggest issues are:

1. Art. Art is not cheap and I would like to have as much as possible.  The biggest cost of the book will be this.

2. System. As of now I have written monsters for Basic-era (at least four different clones), S&W, AD&D, Unisystem, AGE, Ubiquity, and D&D5 with a smattering of others.  What system would be best to use?  AD&D/OSRIC gives me more detail, Basic/LL & S&W gives me the most audience. D&D5 gives me a little of both, but the art requirements are much higher.

3. New content. This is a big one for me really.  Despite the fact that there are over 300 monsters, all of them have appeared in one of my books or blog already. While an individual may find something they have not seen before, anyone who has purchased a book from me will see something they have already seen.

Granted, this is the exact same thing as the Fiend Folio with content from the Fiend Factory and most of the Tome of Horrors books are filled with monsters we have all already seen. In fact there is a group of demons I have taken to calling "The Usual Suspects" because they are in every book of demons there is.  I have even gone as far as to look into commissioning some art with them all in a police lineup.

Even Monsters of Mayhem #1, a book I rather enjoy, is made up completely of monsters from all the adventures from Dark wizard Games.

Obviously, I could do this as a book and sell it anyway. The enjoyment would be for me to have my very own book of monsters.  If other people enjoy it, then fantastic!
BUT that assumes that I either have all the art I need and any I need to buy will be cheap. 
I like my witch books to make a profit (so I can buy more books!) and just breaking even is not a good business strategy.

Under any circumstance, I would HAVE to include new, never before seen monsters.

Now just figure out which ones make the cut and where some gaps might be.

Friday, April 24, 2020

BlackStar: Mercy and Other Random Trek Ideas

A lot going on at my day job.  This social distancing has us busy as hell revise a number of our courses. Well, nothing like job-security I guess.

Going through my various Trek RPGs and collecting various ideas that may, or may not fit in with my BlackStar campaign.

Star Trek: Mercy
This idea came about by watching the hospital ships come into New York, and Beverly Crusher-Picars's ship the USS Pasteur in "All Good Things."  I was going through my new FASA Star Trek boxed set and was thinking about my first Trek character, Dr. Scott Elders, the CMO of the USS Andromeda.

I thought a good Post-Enterprise (2151), Pre-TOS (2265) era game might focus on the USS Mercy, a Federation Hospital Ship.  It has the authorization to go into other parts of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants to provide medical assistance.  I was also thinking it could doctors of dozens of different species.  If I set it between 2151 and 2265 it gives me an excuse to use a character that has been mentioned in my games, but never actually seen, Fleet Admiral Lucille Ball, Commander of Starfleet Operations.

How Lucille Ball Helped Star Trek Become a Cultural Icon
In any case, she is part of my Trek-universe history. So just as Admiral Nyota Uhura is a central figure to my BlackStar game, Admiral Ball is to Star Trek: Mercy.

I am partial to a Daedalus or Olympic-class style ship, with the extra space in the "saucer" section dedicated to hospital beds and medical care facilities.  Maybe I would have something a little more advanced than the Daedalus-class (2196), but not quite the Olympic-class (2395).


It is tempting to split the difference and set it in 2295.  That would put it firmly into the Enterprise-B time.  Again, appealing for just for the newness of it.  Among other things, it gives me a Captain Nyota Uhura, a Cmdr. Chekov is part of Starfleet Intelligence and an Admiral McCoy.
I might also get a Captain Demora Sulu.

This is also a good time because this is the time period I set my original Ghost Ship adventure.
Maybe I could do a Mercy one-shot to set up Ghost Ship later on!

Star Trek: Federation News Network
This came from a couple of different places.  First, going back to the Star Trek Generations and the new Picard series, both featured news reporters in the Trek universe.  I really liked that idea and thought it might be fun to have some other points of view than just Starfleet officers.
Secondly, I am working as a mentor for a high school senior.  She is writing her own Trek story and the central character is a reporter.

That is all I have at the moment, but it could be something I could add to any game.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Magic Item: The Witch Whistle

This image has been floating around the net for about a year.  Figure I should do something fun with it.  So here it is for Old-School Essentials.



Witch Whistle (Witch Flute)
Summons an army of rats when blown.

  • Summons 10-100 (10d10) normal rats when blown (usable 2x per day)
  • Or summons 5-30 (5d6) giant rats when a short tune is played (1 per day)
  • Or summons 1-4 (1d4) wererats when a longer song is played (1 per day)

These whistles are created by Pagan Witches and Death Pact Warlocks. Crafted from the bone of a wererat and petrified paw of a rat.  They keep the songs well hidden but allow the magic to be used to summon normal rats.  If the songs are learned the player can use one of any of the powers once per day.
Under any circumstance, the player does not control the rats that are summoned.
They arrive within one round.


Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The *Other* Basic

I have been doing a nearly two-year-long dive into the D&D Basic game. I have been playing with, working with and talking about D&D Basic and the various retro-clones that emulate it.

My focus has largely been on the Moldvay/Marsh-Cook versions of the Basic and Expert games (B/X) and a little bit into the Holmes Basic. I also occasionally dip into the Rule Cyclopedia.

But there is a Basic set I almost never talk about and actually have very little experience with.  That is the Mentzer BECMI sets.

In fact I don't even own much of the BECMI sets save for a Basic Set (box and imported book).



Yes, the dice are still in their plastic, the crayon is intact and that is Frank's signature.

I do own them all on PDF from DriveThruRPG, and that has been great.  It's a D&D that a lot of you all know, but is somewhat new to me.

There are obvious reasons.  I have never really got into this edition and now seems like a good time.  Also, my kids' Second Campaign is now in the Serpent Peninsula in the Known World (Mystara), so reading these books gives me a good vibe on how I want to run those games.

Mind you, I am not going into these without knowledge. I have picked through my Basic set a bit and read over the others.  I do have printouts of my DriveThru PDFs, so I am not completely in the dark here.

I am not expecting to find some deeply hidden truths here, or even anything really new.  Though a gem or two of new knowledge would be welcome. I am sure there are things in the Companions, Master and Immortal rules that would be new to me.

It's not a quest for knowledge. To quote Clark Griswold, it's a quest for fun!

Obviously not my collection

Monday, April 20, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Magiphagous Rust Monster

Rust Monsters are a great threat to low-level characters.  Nothing scares a group of fighters as much as a rust monster.  Orcs, kobolds, goblins, even trolls can be dealt with when you know what is going on.  But a rust monster never fails to put fear into most players.  Just not for the reasons the other monsters do.

Plus I have to admit I have always loved these weird little dudes. Especially after I learned of their true origins!

So here is a version of the rust Monster my oldest is using in his games.  Helps keep the fear of these guys alive, even when characters have gone up a level. Maybe even more so that they have gone up in levels.


Rust Monster, Magiphagous

Appearing as a paler and larger version of the rust monster, these creatures are otherwise exactly the same as rust monsters, save for one detail.   These creatures only eat magical metals.

Rust Monster, Magiphagous  (Old-School Essentials)
Magical, armadillo-like creatures with long tails and two long, antennae-like feelers. Feed on the remains of magical metals.
AC 2 [17], HD 7 (31hp), Att 1 × feeler (rusting), THAC0 13 [+6], MV 120’ (40’), SV D11 W12 P13 B14 S15 (5), ML 9, AL Neutral, XP 175, NA 1d4 (1d4), TT None

  • Rusting: Magical metal that touches a rust monster (e.g. weapons that hit it, or armour struck by a feeler) crumbles instantly to rust.  Each time a magic item is affected, it loses one “plus”.  Each item gets a base saving throw of 13, plus any "pluses" the magical item has.
  • Mundane damage immunity: Can only be harmed by magical attacks.
  • Smell metal: Attracted by the scent of magical metals such as weapons, armors and artifacts.


Rust Monster, Magiphagous (Fantasy Age and Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
1 Accuracy (antennae)
–3 Communication
2 Constitution
1 Dexterity
2 Fighting (Claws)
–3 Intelligence
1 Perception (Smelling)
2 Strength
1 Willpower

Speed 14
Health 20
Defense 12
Armor Rating 4

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Antennae +4 1d6+2

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Knock Prone

Eat Magic: The Magiphagous Rust Monster eats magic from metal magical items leaving behind useless rust.

Threat: Minor


and for 5e D&D



Rust Monster, Magiphagous

Large monstrosity (magical), unaligned

Armor Class

 
15 (natural armor)

Hit Points

 
52 (7d10 + 14)

Speed

 
40 ft.

STR

14 (+2)
 

DEX

12 (+1)
 

CON

14 (+2)
 

INT

2 (-4)
 

WIS

13 (+1)
 

CHA

6 (-2)

Senses

 
darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages

 

Challenge

 
1 (200 XP)

Magic Scent.

 The rust monster can pinpoint, by scent, the location of magical metal within 30 feet of it.

Rust Metal.

 Any magical weapon made of metal that hits the rust monster corrodes. After dealing damage, the weapon takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to damage rolls. If its penalty drops to -5, the weapon is destroyed. Magical ammunition made of metal that hits the rust monster is destroyed after dealing damage.

Actions

Bite.

 Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.

Antennae.

 The rust monster corrodes a magical ferrous metal object it can see within 5 feet of it. If the object isn't being worn or carried, the touch destroys a 1-foot cube of it. If the object is being worn or carried by a creature, the creature can make a DC 11 Dexterity saving throw to avoid the rust monster's touch. Bonuses to save per plus of the item's enchantment.
If the object touched is either metal armor or a metal shield being worn or carried, it takes a permanent and cumulative -1 penalty to the AC it offers. Armor reduced to an AC of 10 or a shield that drops to a +0 bonus is destroyed. If the object touched is a held metal weapon, it rusts as described in the Rust Metal trait.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Zatannurday: J.J. Abrams Justice League Dark

Well, the big news is the rumor that J.J. Abrams has three new shows coming up on HBO Max.  One of them is supposed to be Justice League Dark!

Here are some of the links to various news sites.

https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/16/21224271/justice-league-dark-jj-abrams-hbo-max-warnermedia-shining-berlanti-dc-comics

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/jj-abrams-sets-3-hbo-max-shows-justice-league-dark-shining-spinoff-duster-1290530

https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/justice-league-dark-series-the-shining-series-hbo-max-jj-abrams-1234582489/



I am looking forward to this, but Justice League Dark has not had a lot of success getting off the page to the screen, save for the one animated movie. And even then they had to throw in Batman.

With a little bit of luck, we will get Matt Ryan to play John Constantine.

The thing I am looking forward to the most is who will play Zatanna.

Related, I did find this video on all the portrayals of Zatanna over the years.




An here she is from the Justice League Dark animated movie.

Friday, April 17, 2020

PWWO: Calidar, Part 2

A while back I a did a "Plays Well With Others" for Calidar. It's pretty to do, there are a lot of great ideas and it has a system that lends itself well to easy conversion.  After doing a series of reviews I thought another go at another PWWO.

The Reviews
For this PWWO I think I am going to focus mostly on Calidar On Wings of Darkness and related products.  In particular the various magic schools featured in Caldwen.

Given the various conversion guides and the rules presented in the books, mathematical style conversions are less of an issue, the big factor is more how do I replicate the same feel of Calidar in a different game while still preserving what I liked about the original game.

Calidar and "New" D&D


These are the easiest of course.  The level limits for both D&D 5 and Pathfinder are a set 20. So follow along with the rules for 20 levels.  D&D 5 and Pathfinder characters tend to be more powerful than their same-level counterparts in older editions.  Cantrips really boost what a Wizard can do every round even at the lowest levels.  Plus the addition of cantrips can become an interesting element to the wizard school. 1st level wizards/magic-users have a lot more they can do.

Retro-Clones


These conversions are handled by various current products and upcoming products from Calidar.  Plus these mimic the games played by most of the people involved with the Calidar lines.

Calidar and Glantri


Let's address the obvious mix here.  Bruce Heard is fairly well known for his work on the Mystara lines and Glantri in particular.  You can use details from one mage school for the other, they are roughly compatible in style, and it makes either product a little more robust.  You do lose a little of the unique feel of Calidar this way if you set it all in Glantri.  Though what I have been doing is considering setting the caldera on the north pole.  The whole area is hidden away from the rest of the world.  Still playing with this idea.


I am using the "Mystoerth" map for this. I made a globe, and see there is some room up on top. Enough for Calidar?  I have not done the math yet, but it looks right.   I still to play around with it.

That is if my next idea doesn't take over.

Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade


This idea has grabbed my imagination.  Calidar has a great early Renaissance feel to it.  So somewhere between Dark Ages Mage and Mage the Sorcerer's Crusade is a perfect time.  In this case I would use Calidar as is, but the game system would be White Wolf's Mage.
What I have not decided yet is if the various schools represent Spheres (which means Mages would need to attend to multiple schools) or Traditions (which would make the rivalries more intense).
So everyone in "How to Train Your Wizard" would be part of the Euthatoi.   I think just to have some fun I would keep the Verbena out of it unless I work in the Glantri Wokani.

There is a lot I would love to do with that idea.  D&D backdrop, Calidar setting, Mage/White Wolf rules.  The possibilities are staggering, to be honest.

Conversion though is a bigger issue.  The Calidar system is pretty flexible, but it is level-based to a large degree. Mage uses the White Wolf Storyteller system which is a dice pool system. So the conversion books won't be much help here save to figure out some guidelines.  Still maybe if I can dig up a copy of Monte Cook's d20 World of Darkness it might give me some ideas.

WitchCraft


Nothing specific yet.  But if I can convert Mage I can convert this a lot easier.

Most likely I would combine a lot of these ideas to make the schools in Calidar a little less D&D and little more Scholomance if possible.

Blue Rose AGE


Ah.  Now here is something that would be a lot of fun.
I would need to make some changes to what kinds of magics could be taught at the schools, but AGE is level-based and so should convert well.  Green Ronin already did some of the heavy lifting for me with their converting for Fantasy AGE.

The bottom line is that Calidar gives me a great magic school that I really want to drop anywhere.

Plus it gives a Fantasy-era Breakbills and an excuse to do this:



And any excuse to put more Brakebills into my games is a good one.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Review: CA1 Calidar Dreams of Aerie

I make my last stop on my vacation in Calidar to an honest to god Flying Circus!
Monty Python quotes and references are as much a part of the D&D experience as anything else really.  Let's be honest, how many games start out as "Excalibur" but end up as "The Holy Grail"?  Well now, thanks to Bruce Heard and Calidat you can bring a real live Flying Circus to your games.  The Monty Python references might be light in the book, but the games will abound with them.

CA1 Calidar Dreams of Aerie
PDF, Hardcover and Softcover, 132 pages, Color covers. Color and Black & White interior art.

I am reviewing the PDF and softcover book from the Kickstarter.

Dreams of Aerie is for the Calidar world setting, but let me say this upfront, you can use this anywhere with any system. The book uses the Calidar game system, which is not really a system but a short-hand way of talking about stats.  If you have any of the other books you will know what this is and how to convert it.

The book is part source guide and part mystery adventure. The setting is the Amazing Flying Circus a traveling circus that flies overhead.  There is some great in-game/in-universe background to this circus and how it is no longer at its hey-day, but it is also attempting to reclaim its former glory.

Now. If this is all this book was, then it would still be a fantastic bit of work.  But we do get a lot more.

The circus is home to all sorts of entertainers as well as misfits and those rejected by society. In many ways it mirrors a real circus from our, or most worlds.  It is also a religious monument to one of Calidar's gnomish gods, Belgomeer.  That gives it a nice twist.  I'll discuss this more at the end.

We get a great cast of characters including the Ringmaster, Vox Hammerdin, aka The Great Mirabilis.  That's a hell of a name! Based on his style and personality I think he must be related to my Crazy Omar.  There are so many interesting NPCs here I could spend pages talking about them, but instead, I will leave it at that and let you discover them on your own.  These NPCs are needed because of the adventures character can have here.  There is a cult plot to take over the circus, a murder, rival factions, and 11 different guilds that make the circus work. Oh and the dragon in the middle of the maze on the lower decks.

That makes up the first 30 or so pages of the book.

What comes next is the adventure hook for the players. The players, and characters, can be hooked in on the circus' arrival alone or get a letter from the Ringmaster or even the local Mayor.  The main mystery deals with the disappearance of the show's "Bearded lady", Branna “Stubble” Briarchin.  She has been in fact murdered in part of the plots of the cult of Balladoo-of-the-Hoo, who are trying to take control of the circus away from the followers of Belgomeer. The PCs need to uncover the murder and cult plot.  But even if you and the players are not interested in this hook, there are plenty of reasons to visit a Flying Circus.  Let's start with the fact that it is a flying freaking circus!  The murder and cult plot though are well done and plenty of clues are provided for the GM to hand out to the players when they find them.  It also gives them an excuse and leave to explore the entire circus.

There is a detailed description of all parts of the circus, all three decks, with some beautiful maps and art here.  The layout by Calidar's cartographic expert Thorfinn Tait is fantastic.  This book is not just fun to read it is gorgeous to look at.  This part covers about 110 pages of the book. So yeah, really detailed.

There is an appendix with character stats, but keep in mind that most people you run into here are not meant to be fought. These are not "monster" stats even if the person you encounter might be a monster in a different situation.  This adventure is about solving a murder and stopping a cult, not "killing things and taking their loot".  You can use this with any system, but the mindset has to be this is a mystery to solve.

The appendix also covers some "Random Events" to keep the players moving along while other things are happening.
There is a great index of all locations. A 1d20 rumor mill. A banner advertising the circus. And some pre-rolled characters to use.

I have said it before but it is true here, Dreams of Aerie punches way above its weight class.
At 130 pages and $6 for the PDF, there is a lot here.  A complete circus, a FLYING circus no less, a murder mystery and a cult faction war.

The Circus as Setting
While the circus is set in the World of Calidar it can easily be used elsewhere or all by itself.  While reading through it I could not help but think back to the old Ravenloft Carnival product. The two might work well together, in particular some of the NPCs. Plus I can't ever resist adding more horror to my games.

Two of my favorite movies are Vampire Circus and of course Tod Brownings Freaks. Both have strong horror themes.  So I guess I find circuses kinda creepy.

The Circus as Religious Center
Dreams of Aerie was written WELL before the third season of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  This season featured a traveling circus full of "pagans" dedicated to the "Great God Pan." Yes. very much in the Arthur Machen vein.  The Amazing Flying Circus is not a collection of the world's misfit monsters and rejected myths.  At least not in the way it was done on CAOS.  There is the faction fighting between the followers of Belgomeer and Balladoo-of-the-Hoo in Dreams that I can build upon.  There is a lot of cult-based conflicts here.

So, in the end, what do we have?  We have a hell of a product with a ton of great ideas, opportunities, and something that can be used in pretty much every game.

Please visit the DriveThruRPG page to see some excellent samples of the maps.

If you want to run a circus adventure then THIS is the one you need. Full stop.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

HeroForge 2.0 Color

Crazy busy day today.  This working and school from home has me working more than ever.  Hell of a way to get job security.

I checked my email and I got my early access to the new HeroForge 2.0 with color, and I am happy to say that it really exceeds my expectations.

There are a lot of nice features, not all are in yet, but enough to make very, very happy I backed this Kickstarter and the original HeroForge Kickstarter.




You get a bunch of tools and textures to work with.




There are some pre-configured color themes that can really help get you started.



Not everything is ready just yet.  Likely good or I'd be spending too much money now.  This will likely be good for tattoos and designs.  If we can upload our own designs then I have a few custom tattoos I am going to do.



While there are plenty of colors to work with you can use a standard RGB palette to adjust everything.

Here are a few I made tonight.


My superhero character Justice.


A new version of my iconic witch Larina.  I love the shading on her hat.


Iggwilv and The Simbul from my War of the Witch Queens campaign.


Of course my two favorite witches. You may or may not be able to tell, but even Tara's fingernails and toenails are painted.  That is the level of control you have.

And my two newest characters.



Asabalom and Maryah.  These are my new druid and ranger characters for Old-School Essentials.  They have made appearances in my Pumpkin Spice Witch book, in NIGHT SHIFT and other places.  They have been my playtest characters for other things as well including a couple of Blue Rose adventures I have written.  I am quite happy with how they turned out.

Maryah, in particular, is just fantastic looking.  If you compare her and Justice to Willow, Iggwilv or Larina above you can see she has more musculature. Appropriate for a ranger and superhero respectively.


If you look you can see her eyebrow piercings are different metals, copper and two gold.

The minis are $45 each in the color plastic OR $145 to have someone paint it there.  Frankly, I am not sure how they are going to make money at $145 to paint a mini given the amount they are going to do.

I am going to at least pick up four right away.  Though it will likely be a couple of months before I see them.

Gonna have to sell more books to feed my mini addiction!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Characters: Freyr, Mage Knight

One of the things I have been doing as part of my Back to Basics is creating characters using all the Basic-era clones I have.  In particular I have been looking for characters that optimize the system in question.  There things you can do in Labyrinth Lord for example that you can't do in OSE and things you can do in Blueholme that you can't do in either of the other games.

Now, keep in mind "can't" is a strong word.  I should rather say "rules as written".

To keep it interesting I am using characters from the fantasy playtests of West Haven that appear in NIGHT SHIFT in my "Ordinary World" setting.
West Haven also makes an appearance in my War of the Witch Queens campaign, so these characters have also been my playtests for that.

One character I needed was a half-elf knight or cavalier that also used magic.  His main job was to protect his half-sister, an elvish princess, who I am depicting as an elvish party girl. Yes, she was originally a "Valley Elf" back in the 80s.

But back to my half-elf.  None of the books I have really had what I wanted. Not exactly anyway.
That is until I got a copy of CAL2a Conversion Guide to Caldwen for Vintage Roleplaying and CAL2b Conversion Guide to Caldwen for the OSRIC System
Setting this character in Caldwen makes perfect sense since he is part of a mage school in my concept.  It seemed then at a Mage Knight might be the best choice for him.

So let's try him out.
I am also trying out some new software for character design.
So the art here is from Overhead Software's ePic Character Generator. so far it is pretty fun.

To build this character I am using the following:


Freyr, Mage Knight of Caldwen



Male, half-elf Mage Knight 6th level, Chaotic Good.

Abilities
Strength  16 (+2)
Intelligence 16 (+2)
Wisdom 10 (0)
Dexterity 16 (+2)
Constitution 12 (0)
Charisma 12 (0)

AC 2 (Chain mail, shield and Dex -2)
HP 25
Base THAC0  15 (13 mod)

Saving Throws
Breath Attacks 13
Poison or Death 10
Petrify or Paralyze 12
Wands 11
Spells, Spell-like devices 14

Powers
+4 to saves vs. Paralyzing touch of Ghouls
Spellcasting
Sense Raw Mana
Demon Enmity
Laying On Hands

Spells
First Level: Light, Magic Missile, Shield
Second Level:  Knock, Detect Evil

Really straight forward and he compares well to the 5e version I also created.

Reviews: Conversion Guides to Caldwen

I am still spending a Virtual Vacation in Calidar's beautiful Caldwen.  But you know what every tourist needs?  A tour guide.  Thankfully our thoughtful travel agent Bruce Heard has supplied us with not one, but two new "tour guides" for anyone traveling to Caldwen.

CAL2a Conversion Guide to Caldwen for Vintage Roleplaying and CAL2b Conversion Guide to Caldwen for the OSRIC System.

Both books follow the same format. The only differences are the systems they are being converted too.  The books cover both CAL2 Calidar On Wings of Darkness and CA2 How to Train Your Wizard.  Knowledge of PG2 A Players' Guide to Caldwen and Game Mechanics for the World of Calidar is helpful.  (links are to reviews, not the products themselves.)

The books are 30 pages with full-color covers and color with black & white interior art. Prices at $3.95, but currently $2.95.  You do not need both, but I find it nice for my own system analyses.
Unlike the main Caldwen/Calidar books the art here is sparse, but that is by design since the focus of this book is the stats.  Here Heard make explicit the conversions he discussed in the main books using the Calidar game stats.  Depending on the system book you grab, you get easily familiar stat blocks and guides on how to use the books.  Now obviously the "vintage roleplaying" can be used with any 70s and 80s circa version of the World's Greatest Role-Playing Game. Or as I have called here, any Basic-Era edition.  It is labeled for "Labyrinth Lord" but any game similar enough to Labyrinth Lord can be used (ie. only a Law-Chaos alignment axis, race-as-class), or adapted.  The OSIRC-labeled version can also be used with any Advanced-era version of the game.

One of the main features of these books is the Mage Knight class. I am quite fond of this class so I wanted to try it out.  Now I have choices, a "Basic" or an "Advanced" version.  Now the class has been converted faithfully, so don't expect them to look exactly the same between the Basic and Advanced versions.  There is no description of the powers the Mage Knight has, you still need the Caldwen book for that, but this is expected.

After the Mage Knight, we get into the How to Train Your Wizard material. 

Throughout the book, page references to the sourcebooks are given. 
So the great thing about these books is if you play a particular system then you only need one conversion book.  True, it does mean you need two books, but for me the flexibility more than outweighs this minor issue.  I am a system guy, so I like being able to have multiple versions of the same material to blend between my games.  So yeah for 3 bucks it is totally worth it for me, hell it is worth it for 6 bucks to have both versions. 

There is an obvious logical extension here. CAL2C for Pathfinder and CAL2D for D&D5.

Up next, I try out a Mage Knight.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Monstrous Monday: The Jackalope

There are few creatures that say "Americana" than the Jackalope.  Created from the same tall tales that gave up Paul Bunyan, Captain Stormalong, Piasa Bird and the Hodag. Stories I enjoyed as a kid.

The Jackalope, of course, has had the "advantage" of taxidermy where several stuffed Jackalopes can be purchased across the US.  I have lost track of the number of truck stops, gas stations or diners I have stopped in from California to New York that had at least one stuffed Jackalope for sale.  Though I admit I have never had the desire to own one.

Though having a Jackalope in my games?  Yeah, that is doable.

Jackalope
These creatures seem to be a magical crossbreed of a large rabbit and either a deer or antelope.  The jackalope is a large creature, larger than a rabbit, about the size of a large dog.  Its head comes up to about 2-3 feet, with its antlers adding another 12-18 inches.  Some are smaller but rarely larger.
The jackalope is an intelligent creature, capable of speech and is even known to sing.  It is fond of singing in the evening just as the stars are coming out.
When relaxed the jackalope is a cordial creature and good company. It will even share stories of other magical animals it has met in its life.
When hunted, the jackalope is a fierce opponent.  He will run towards hunters to attack with its antlers. The jackalope is also very fast and can outrun most opponents.


Jackalope (Old-School Essentials)
A large jack-rabbit like creature with antlers and intelligent eyes.
Armor Class 2
Hit Dice 3 (13)
Attacks 1 antlers (1d6+2)
THAC0 17 (+2)
Movement Rate 120' (40')
Saves D12 W13 P14 B15 S16 (3)
Morale 10
Alignment Neutral
XP for Defeating 50
Number Appearing 1
Treasure Type none (Jackalopes have no need for treasure)
  • Antlers. The jackalope can rush an opponent to attack.  The antlers are sharp and cause piercing damage.
  • Fast. Jackalopes are very fast when escaping they can double their speed once per day.
  • Speaking. Jackalopes can speak and sing.

Jackalope (Rhy-creature) (Blue Rose)

Abilities (Focuses)
1 Accuracy (Antlers)
3 Communication (Performance)
2 Constitution
2 Dexterity (Stealth)
1 Fighting (Antlers)
2 Intelligence
2 Perception (Hearing)
1 Strength (Jumping)
2 Willpower

Speed 16
Health 30
Defense 12
Armor Rating 0

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Antlers +3 1d6+1

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Defensive Stance, Lightning Attack
Arcana: Calm, Illusion, Psychic Contact

Threat: Moderate

Jackalopes could be considered Rhy-Rabbits if there were such a thing, but they are a unique sort of creature. All Jackalopes are Rhydan. In this respect, they are more like unicorns or griffins, though some would contend as more humble and even "rustic".
Jackalope rhydan love nothing more than to hop through the land, sing and tell stories.  All jackalopes are natural storytellers.  Not for epics involving dragons and great queens or kings, but simple tales like the luck of widow's sons, or small clever creatures that most heroes would ignore.


Of course, the best Jackalopes sound like Bud Luckey from Boundin'.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

Zatannurday: WitchFire

I was SUPPOSED to be working on some FASA Star Trek characters.  So I was going through my character folders trying to find some of my old characters for Decipher Trek.  I didn't find them.  I DID find characters for my very, very first Generation HEX characters.  Namely Taryn aka "Teen Witch" and Brianna who had a lot of names, but one of them was "Witch Fire."

Imagine my surprise when it finally dawned on me that there was a DC character named Witch Fire AND my complete surprise when I found out Marvel also had a Witch Fire!

I pulled her out, went over her stats and thought it would be great to update her to Mutants & Masterminds 3.0 from version 2.

I also looked over the DC Witchfire and the Marvel Witchfire for some ideas.

DC, Rebecca Carstairs
Fandom: Rebecca Carstairs (New Earth)
Fandom: Rebecca Carstairs (Prime Earth)
ComicVine: Witchfire
Comic Book Realm: Witchfire aka Rebecca Carstairs
Notes

DC Earth-27 Project, Rebecca Carstairs
PhilChoArt: Rebecca Carstairs (Earth 27)
Rebecca Carstairs (Earth 27)
DeviantArt Sheets, Page 1 and Page 2.

Marvel, Ananym
Wikipedia: Witchfire
Fandom: Ananym (Earth 616)
ComicVine: Witchfire


All three characters (Marvel, DC, and Mine) had several similarities.
- All three are redheads
- All three had fire powers in addition to magic
- All had strange, magical parentage.

So instead of trying to do one or the other (and I am partial to the DC version), I'll present my own with some add-ons from the other two.
Here she is!

Witchfire aka Brianna O'Kelly
PL 8
Strength 3, Stamina 1, Agility 3, Dexterity 1, Fighting 1, Intellect 2, Awareness 1, Presence 1

Advantages
Attractive 2, Languages 1, Well-informed

Skills
Acrobatics 1 (+4), Athletics 2 (+5), Close Combat: Fire Aura: Damage 4 1 (+2), Insight 1 (+2), Perception 2 (+3), Persuasion 3 (+4), Ranged Combat: Fire Blast: Damage 8 2 (+3), Sleight of Hand 1 (+2)

Powers
Alternate Form (Fire) (Activation: Standard Action)
   Damage: Damage 1 (DC 16)
   Flight: Flight 3 (Speed: 16 miles/hour, 250 feet/round)
   Immunity: Immunity 0
   Insubstantial: Insubstantial 3 (Energy)
   Teleport: Teleport 1 (60 feet in a move action, carrying 50 lbs.; Medium: Energy Medium)
Dazzle: Cumulative Affliction 1 (1st degree: Impaired, 2nd degree: Disabled, 3rd degree: Unaware, Resisted by: Fortitude, DC 11; Cumulative, Increased Range: ranged; Limited: Sight)
Enhanced Ability: Enhanced Agility 3 (+3 AGL)
Enhanced Ability: Enhanced Strength 3 (+3 STR)
Fire Aura: Damage 4 (DC 19; Reaction 3: reaction)
Fire Blast: Damage 8 (DC 23; Increased Range: ranged)
Magic: Burst Area Line Area Damage 8 (DC 23; Burst Area: 30 feet radius sphere, DC 18, Line Area: 5 feet wide by 30 feet long, DC 18)

Offense
Initiative +3
Damage: Damage 1, +1 (DC 16)
Dazzle: Cumulative Affliction 1, +1 (DC Fort 11)
Fire Aura: Damage 4, +2 (DC 19)
Fire Blast: Damage 8, +3 (DC 23)
Grab, +1 (DC Spec 13)
Magic: Burst Area Line Area Damage 8 (DC 23)
Throw, +1 (DC 18)
Unarmed, +1 (DC 18)

Complications
Fame (well known under real name)
Motivation: Thrills

Languages
English, Irish Gaelic

Defense
Dodge 3, Parry 2, Fortitude 2, Toughness 1, Will 3

Power Points
Abilities 14 + Powers 91 + Advantages 4 + Skills 7 (13 ranks) + Defenses 4 = 120


Not bad.  She is PL 8 since that is where I set all my M&M3 Generation HEX.
I might have to do some more.
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