Sunday, May 31, 2020

June is BECMI Month

Tomorrow is June 1st.  Crazy. Where did April and May go?

Well, I have been planning something like this for a bit now and I wanted to spend some time going over the D&D system I have the least familiarity with, at least in a proper sense.

The Basic, Expert, Companion, Masters, and Immortal Sets edited and written by Frank Mentzer.


Each week I will cover a different set with reviews of the main boxed set, associated products, and topics.  In my case I am also going to compare these sets with versions I am much more familiar with such as the B/X sets from Moldvay, Cook and Marsh, Holmes Basic, and the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

Now I am not going into these reviews blind, I have had experiences with these books before, some experiences even going back to the time when they were published.

But I never played the game using these rules.

When the BECMI rules came out I was firmly in the camp of AD&D.  As the years went on I would adapt some BECMI products to my AD&D game and others I bought out of curiosity or interest.

So this will be a learning experience for me.  I am not expecting any great insights to the D&D game or any esoteric knowledge.  But who knows, maybe there is a tied bit here or there for me to learn.

Can't wait to find out.


Friday, May 29, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: Bloodlines & Black Magic

You would think we had enough "Gritty Modern Supernatural Horror" RPGs out there.  But nope!  There is always room for more.

This one looks like could be fun too.

Bloodlines & Black Magic



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/stormbunny/the-bloodlines-and-black-magic-roleplaying-game?ref=theotherside

There is a free guide, not really a Quick Start, up on DriveThruRPG for you to check out.

It reminds me a little of Elizabeth Chaipraditkul's WITCH: Fated Souls and a little bit of KULT: Divinity Lost

Only 48 hours left!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Motherland: Fort Salem for Dungeons & Dragons (all editions)

Last week was the Season Finale of Motherland: Fort Salem on the FreeForm channel.   The season was great, start to finish. It had great characters that showed a lot of growth and at least three different "What the Hell!" moments in the last few minutes of the last episode.

If you have not been watching then you are missing out.  Motherland gives us an alternate history where witches rose up during Salem and forged a pact with the then Colonies to protect the new country from their enemies.  There are fewer states in the US and a large portion, The Cession, was given back to the Native Americans in return for their help and magic.  The series follows three new witch recruits, Abby, Tally, and Raelle, as they go through Basic Training and survive as a unit.
There is a terrorist organization of rogue witches known as the Spree who resent the servitude that sends all witches to the Army.

    Honor me, make a place for me and my kind and we will win your wars.
- General Sarah Alder to Massachusetts Bay Militia, Say the Words    

The show features a full cast of strong, interesting women characters.  The leader of the Army is General Alder, a 300+-year-old witch, their drill sergeant is a woman. Even the President is an African-American woman.  Men are either tertiary characters at best (the Witch-Father) or eye-candy (Abby's two boy toys).  Tally doesn't even see a man until one gives up his seat for her so she can fly from California to Massachusetts.  Not that men are put into a bad light.  The Witch Father is respected and well-liked. Raelle's dad is proud of his daughter and worries about her.  It's just their stories are not as important here.  That's a nice change of pace really.

The witches are also not a Ms. Pac-Man trope. They are warriors, witches but also women and they are allowed to be all three. It really is quite enjoyable and very different from what I have seen in the past.  It has been a fantastic first season.

I can't believe I have to wait a whole year to catch up on the Bellweather Unit and their battle against the Spree and "The Camarilla", the "Ancient Enemy" of all witches.   This certainly sounds like a lot of fun.   But can I wait that long?


So what am I going to do?  Easy.  Convert them to D&D characters!

The witches of Motherland are perfect as adventurers really.  They are great as a group with Abigail as their leader, Raelle as the healer and Tally as the seer.   I don't know much about who or what the Camarilla is, but given what we saw in the last episode I am looking forward to it.

Witches vs. the Camarilla?  Yeah. Sign me up!

Basic D&D and D&D 5

D&D 5 is the latest and greatest version of the game but the Basic version from the early 80s is my game of choice these days.  So I figure I can do both.

Basic D&D (1981)
In this version I would use one of my own Witch classes.  But instead of Traditions, I would opt for family lines.
I am putting them all at 3rd Level since they "Finished Basic." I know. Dumb D&D joke. 

D&D 5th Edition
In this version, there is no proper witch class.  There is a warlock of course, but that doesn't feel like the right call here.  With their focus on combat, voice-based magic, leadership, and some healing the obvious choice is the Bard class.  There is even a perfect sounding group for them, The College of War.

Abigail Bellweather

Abigail "Abby" Bellweather, of the East Coast Bellweathers, is the leader of the Bellweather Unit.  She starts out in the show as an arrogant, if even spoiled, girl of privilege. By the end of the series she is the leader she was born to be.  Even her rivalries with Raelle and fellow East Coast witch Libba Swythe become something different as she accepts the responsibility of what being a soldier-witch means.

Base Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 11
Constitution:  13
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 17

Hair: Drk. Brown
Eyes: Brown

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 10  AC: 7
Tradition: Bellweather family (Leaders) (For this I will use my Amazon Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Fighting Prowess
Spells: Fury of the Ancestors, Windshear* (Ritual), Suggestion

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Lawful Good
HP:  21   AC:  11
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Eldritch Blast, Thunderclap, Truestrike, Cure Wounds, Featherfall, Heroism, Thunderwave, Phantasmal Force, Suggestion

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Tally Craven
Tally comes from the depleted Craven line. All her aunts had gone to fight in the Army and they all died.  She is the last of her line. She lived in the Matrifocal Allotment near Sacramento, California. She had not even seen a male until she answered her call of duty, an action her mother strongly wished her not to do.  Her power is to "see." She can detect disguised and hidden objects or people and might be one of the most powerful seers to come up in the ranks in a long time.
Tally is a sweet girl who loves with all her heart because that is what she knows.  She is fiercely loyal to her Unit.

Base Abilities
Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hair: Red
Eyes: Brown

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 9  AC: 7
Tradition: Craven family (Seers) (For this I will use my Classical Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Detect Evil
Spells: Foretell, Detect Invisible, Witch Sense

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Neutral Good
HP:  24   AC:  11
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Thunderclap, Truestrike, Detect Magic, Heroism, Identity, Thunderwave, Detect Thoughts, See Invisible

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Raelle Collar
Raelle lived in the part of American known as the Chippewa Cession where the Indigenous Tribal Federations are.  She is a healer of great power, like her mother was.  Her mother was reported dead by the Army and Raelle blames the Army and Gen. Bellweather in particular.  She doesn't want to be there and her plan was get enlisted to the infantry and get killed as soon as possible.  Her attitude earned her the nickname "shitbird" from Abby.
Raelle attitude changed when she met and fell in love with fellow cadet Scylla Ramshorn.

Base Abilities
Strength: 12
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 15
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 15

Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue

Basic D&D
Witch Level 3, Lawful
HP: 11  AC: 7
Tradition: Collar family (Healers) (For this I will use my Pagan Witch Tradition and Basic Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Windstirke*, Healing Touch (1d4)
Spells: Cure Light Wounds, Sleep, Heal Affliction

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 3, Chaotic Good
HP: 24  AC: 12
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting
Spells: Thunderclap, Truestrike, Cure Wounds, Feather Fall, Healing Word, Sleep, Lesser Restoration, Warding Wind

Weapons: Dagger, Scourge.

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet

Scylla Ramshorn
Scylla is a "Necro" or a Necromancer.  Because their power makes others uneasy they are quartered in a different part of the base. We learn that Scylla's parents were killed when she was young.   She meets and falls in love with Raelle.  Later we find out she is part of the terrorist organization known as The Spree, responsible for hundreds of deaths across the country.  Her job was to recruit Raelle, but she actually fell in love with her.

Base Abilities
Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 18

Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Basic D&D
Witch Level 4, Chaotic
HP: 13  AC: 7
Tradition: Ramshorn family (Necromancer) (For this I will use my Mara Witch Tradition)
Abilities: Glamour
Spells: Bewitch I, Lay to Rest, Dark Whispers, Hypnotize

D&D 5th Edition
Bard Level 4, Chaotic Neutral
HP: 35  AC: 12
Abilities: Bard Abilities, Spellcasting, Magic Initiate (Necromancer)
Spells: Chill Touch, Message, Minor Illusion, Toll the Dead, Truestrike, Bane, Charm Person, Disguise Self, Dissonant Whispers, Sleep, Enthrall, Lesser Restoration, Suggestion

Click here for her D&D Beyond Sheet.

Notes

For Basic D&D I linked to the Witchcraft Tradition that best fits each witch.  If I were to do something more like this I might revive my old "War Witch Tradition."  This is the ancient Celtic tradition of witches like The Morrigan and Scáthach.



For 5th Edition Bards felt like the closest match.  I originally had Scylla as a Magic Initiate (Warlock) to cover her other magical abilities and to represent her membership in the Spree.  But I changed it to Magic Initiate (Necromancer) to cover some of her Necro powers.  She is still too low-level to really take advantage of the necromancy spells.

I considered making them all Sword-Pact Warlocks and taking a Magic Initiate Feat at first level to cover their various Traditions/Backgrounds.  So Necromancer for Scylla, Cleric/Healer for Raelle, Bard for Abby and Wizard for Tally.  That might still work well to be honest.

*Windstrike is the basic attack ability of a Warrior Witch.  With her voice the witch can cause 1d6+1 hp of damage.

*Windshear is a ritual spell performed by multiple witches.  It is a shield from attack and it destroys whatever comes in contact with it.



The Scourge is a flail like weapon used by all witches.  It is long with a whip-like handle and a knob on the end that glows with the witch's magic.  It is considered a +1 weapon and does 1d6+1 points of damage.  In D&D 5th Ed it is considered an exotic weapon.

The real test will be doing stats for Sgt. Anacostia Quartermaine and Gen. Sarah Alder.



Other Editions of D&D

Building these characters was so much fun I could not help but think how other editions of D&D might work.

1st Edition AD&D
Bards are out because they are very different here.  I would use Magic-users and let them dual-class into another class to help.  Or even use Druids.

2nd Edition AD&D 
Ah now here is a chance to really try something fun.  Like 5th Edition, I would make them Bards, but I would also have them take the Blade kit from the Complete Bard Handbook.  Again like 1st Ed, I might let them dual-class into another class OR just allow them to take the proper spells.

3rd Edition D&D
So many choices here.  I would try out a Hexblade or Bladesinger for these.  I mean really, a witch-army has the Forgotten Realms written all over it!  Blasesigners and Witches of Rashemen are just about War Witches now.

4th Edition D&D
So many classes!  Ok make them Pact of the Blade Warlocks, let them take a multiclass feat at first level to add the other class features they need.  OR start them out as Witches from Heroes of the Feywild and then multiclass feats.

I might try each option on one character to see how it would work.  The choice is obvious.


She may be General Sarah Alder, but I know a Witch Queen when I see one.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: ePic Character Generator

I like to think I have some solid talents. I am at an age where I know what I can do well and what I still need to learn how to do better.  And what I am terrible at.

I am a terrible artist.  I don't even try anymore.  That's fine really. I know plenty of great artists and the things I am good at have allowed me a lifestyle where I can buy the art I want.  But I still love to create.   And that is where character generation software comes in.
I was a HUGE fan of the Brazilian Factory of Heroes (Fábrica de Herois), the City of Heroes character builder, the Skyrim one, and the character builder with the added benefit of 3D-Printed minis, Hero Forge.

A few weeks ago I was in the market for a new character builder, potentially one for a project I have coming up.  Well in one of those rare instances of serendipity while I was doing my Google searches I was approached by András Bondor of Overhead Games.
András offered to send me a copy of the ePic Character Generator to try out. I figured it would be fun.  Well it is. I'll get into the details in a bit.

The character builder is free. You can download it and start right away.  There are even ways to gain free "packs" of design elements.  Their model, and I think it is a good one, is to charge for various design packs.  You see something you want, say the "Sorcerer" pack or the "Drow Spellcaster" pack then you can purchase them and add them to your suite.  You get four packs for free to start, "Female", "Male", "Large Male" (think demons and centaurs), and "Season #1" which combines a lot of smaller releases.
Prices range from $5 to $150.  So there is a pack for every budget.  There is a special perk I am going to talk about later, but it helps offset those costs for me.



For this review, I built a bunch of characters over the last month or so, but for today I'll walk through the building of my new favorite character, Maryah, a Ranger for Old-School Essentials.

Your opening screen has the four basic packs I mentioned above.  If you are going with just the free version for now then the Female pack has the most options.  Click on your pack and hit "Start".
Now at this point you might want to click on the tutorial first.  But I'll leave that to you.


Clicking start gives you the Female demo pack.  In my screens, you see the other packs I have installed.  Hey, you know me, if I can't make a witch first thing then I lose interest pretty fast. ;)


You can choose a pack and start with that. OR you can choose Load Fantasy, Load Modern, or Load All.   Typically I like to load all.   The advantage is you can mix and match all your elements in one design.  The disadvantage is you have lots of screens you might have to click through.


Once you do that you are given a workspace and your new character.  You can try clicking on "Random" to see what you get or click through the various options.
"Skin" also includes species options. So if you want a drow, an elf, a catgirl, or even a zombie this where you start.



There are options for scars, tattoos, and even dirt.  These options are a little limited.  For example, you can't design your own tattoo nor move the presets around.



Some options also exist as "Presets."  So in the "Hair Preset" it is a style and a color.  But what if you want a style, but a different color.  Or a different color anything for that matter?  There is a color palate wheel at the middle bottom of your screen that will allow you to change the color of your current selection.   You move your cursor to the desired color and get a standard RGB notation for it as well as a palette of recently used colors.  The ability to type on the RGB numbers is a great plus.  I might not be able to move my mouse where I want it exactly, but I can type in the numbers.


The ability to do this helps when matching clothes later on.  After the body mods you can then choose how your character appears.  Different packs give you different options.  since I am working on a ranger here, I am going to choose light armor/clothing and favor greens.


You can choose all sorts of items like weapons, back items. and even magic effects.
You can also add tails, horns wings and other elements depending on your packs.



Lastly there are backgrounds and other effects. In this section there are a lot of backgrounds, or you can choose to make the background clear.  You can add companions as well.  I rather like the choices of the animal companions, but the people companions look a touch "off" to me.  No fault of the software or the design team, I think it is a bit of an "uncanny valley" situation.



You can also move any element to the foreground or background.
In this section there are also auras, magical effects, and other items.

Let's move Threnody to the front.

The BEST part of this section is the ability to take your character and make Tokens or Cards. I have not tried to save these and import them into software like Roll20, but I can't see that it would be difficult.




If you have the paid version you can also remove (or turn back on) the Logo.



NOW here is my least favorite part of this software.
Saving and Loading is not at all intuitive.
You click "Settings" then are given the option to "Save" or "Load".

Thankfully if you attempt to exit or go back without saving you will be warned about losing your characters. You can also export your files as a PNG (with optional transparent background) or as Photoshop PSD (if you purchase that option).  Every element in the software is saved as a layer in the PSD file.  Very convenient really.

Not sure why her hair lost it color, but that is not a big deal.
Other Packs give you the option of making character portraits or monsters.

Honestly even with just a couple of packs, including the free ones, you can have a nearly endless supply of choices.  Of course, the packs are very, very tempting and I have been very pleased with the ones I have grabbed.  Overhead Games is always making more.

I did try the software out on my Chromebook as well, installed via GooglePlay and it worked well enough.  Not enough to make me want to switch over from my Windows 10 machine, but it is an option.

Chrome vs. Windows 10
The big thing that caught my eye was their full Commercial License.  Yup, if I want to create some art here and add to one of my books I can do that!  It won't (nor is it intended to) replace an artist, but it will give me some spot art or filler art for characters.  Especially the portrait options.


Overhead Games has strong customer service and support.  In the short while I have been using it I received a customer questionnaire asking about features and prices.  They also have customer forums where others share tips, tricks, and creations.   All my interactions with the company have been great and they are eager to answer any questions.

Another perk are the updates.  The software is updated often.  In fact sometimes I went in to my software and was told: "because you purchased XXXX we are including YYYY now for free." Or something to that effect.

If you are already competent with any 3D art software like Daz3D then you won't need this.
BUT if you are like me and can't even draw a stick figure OR you just want something designed to do RPG-style art then this is a good buy.  It is at least worth the download.

I have played around with it for a while now and I have been able to create most characters I wanted.  I did try to create a passable "Batman" but it did not turn out the way I wanted, but that is much harder to do really, and I am sure Overhead Games wants to avoid people being able to create such a recognizable character.

I was able to get a couple great looking versions of Larina.


It was worth getting the Sorcerer pack for the broom and witches hat.  I know what my priorities are.

Plus some classic D&D characters I'll talk about more next week.  Aleena and Morgan Ironwolf!



I even made a card, exported and edited in Photoshop. Pretty much set up for an RPG as is.



So yes the ePic Character Generator is a ton of fun.  I also see a use for it in the future for some books, but I'll have to judge that according to the book since I most often prefer older looking art.

The pricing model is also great. 

My only complaint is the saving and loading features, but otherwise it is a fantastic bit of software. I can't to make some more characters and see what else this can do.

Get it here: https://overheadgames.com/epic-character-generator/

Monday, May 25, 2020

Monstrous Mondays: Blood Goblin (Hæmogoblin)

Here is a nasty little beastie from WAY back in my past.  I used these guys in AD&D 2nd Ed and then again for Ghosts of Albion where they were a big part of my Obsession adventure.

Blood Goblin (Hæmogoblin)

Undead faerie
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 1-4 (1-6)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4** (22 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws/1 bite (blood drain)
Damage: 1d4+1, 1d4+1, 1d6 + blood drain
Special: Acidic blood, 1d4 on touch, only harmed by silver, track by scent
Size: Small
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 7
Treasure Hoard Class:
XP: 225

Blood Goblins are nasty little beasties. Nominally part of the faerie, their essences have been corrupted by a vampiric or demonic power. The ritual to turn a faerie into a blood goblin is unknown to most mortals, but what is known is it is dark and evil and requires the vampire or demon to bind the potential blood goblin to feed it some of its own foul blood.

Once complete the faerie undergoes a horrible transformation. Their form becomes a twisted parody of what it once was. Wings (if they had them) wither and fall off. Teeth grow long and sharp. Their skin takes on the unhealthy look of a bruise or rotting flesh and thick acidic blood weeps from their pores. Arms grow long and their now taloned hands drag the ground. Their eyes turn completely milky white with no pupils visible.

They can speak, but it is difficult to understand them.

Blood goblins are bound to their master and will do his bidding. The trouble is most are far too dimwitted to be anything other than a nasty little killer. They enjoy hiding in alleys or darkened paths and ambush their targets. They have a keen sense of smell so often they need something that smells like the intended victim in order to attack them.  But they can and will attack anything warm-blooded.

Like all undead blood goblins are affected by holy water, taking 2-8 hp of damage per vial. blood goblins also take damage from sunlight. Blood goblins take 10 hit points of damage for every round they are exposed to bright, full sunlight. A “Continual Light” spell will also cause 1d4 hp of damage. Also they are unaffected by any mind spells (“Charm”, “Hold”, “ESP”) or “Sleep”.
Blood goblins have infravision to 90’.

Blood Goblins turn as Ghasts.

Here are my original AD&D 2nd Ed stats for them.


Hæmogoblin

CLIMATE/TERRAIN: Any
FREQUENCY: Very Rare
ORGANIZATION: Solitary
ACTIVITY CYCLE: Night
DIET : Living beings
INTELLIGENCE: Low (5)
TREASURE: Nil
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
NO. APPEARING: 1 (1-4)
ARMOR CLASS: 6
MOVEMENT: 12”
HIT DICE: 4+4
THAC0: 16
NO. OF ATTACKS: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1-8/1-8/1-10
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Blood Drain
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Can only be hit by silver or magic.
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Nil
SIZE: S (3’ to 4’)
MORALE: Steady (11 - 12)
XP VALUE: 800
PSIONICS: Nil

The highest level of undead a human may obtain is arguably the Vampire. It’s ability to blend in with human or demi-human society is as much as an asset to it as it’s great strength and magic. However, many sub-human races are not suitable for vampiric conversion. Some sages claim it could be their force of will or life is relatively low. Others claim it is the gods that control the sprits (and not souls) of these humanoids that do not allow them to become vampires. It could be that vampires find these sub-humans distasteful. However some sub-humans have become undead. Undead gnolls (q.v. Shoovusa) and trolls (q.v. Spectral and Spirit Trolls) have been recorded. The Hæmogoblin is also such a creature.
Hæmogoblin’s, are created by vampires in need of a specialized servant. Creating a hæmogoblin is similar to creating any other type of vampire; blood is exchanged between the vampire and the victim. However to create the hæmogoblin the vampire needs to do something slightly different. The vampire uses any humanoid creature, (orcs, kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, norkers, etc…) usually goblins are chosen, due to their size and manageability.
It should be noted that creatures as large as an ogre might be used, but none have ever been reported, also goblyns (from Feast of Goblyns) can not be used, they have already been converted using powerful magics.
The vampire master takes the humanoid victim and first drains it of most of its blood. The vampire then will regurgitate the purloined blood back into the humanoids mouth. The victim will swallow the blood and it’s transformation to undeath has begun. Usually by the next nightfall the victim will reawaken to full hæmogoblin status. The vampire lord can create a number of these creatures that is equal to its own hit dice, e.g. a 12 hit die vampire can create 3 (3*4 hit die=12) of these creatures. From this point the hæmogoblin will act as a servant somewhere between a homunculus/familiar and a vampiric slave.

Combat: Hæmogoblins attack with a claw/claw/bite routine. On any natural “20” rolled to hit with the bite attack the hæmogoblin will begin to drain the victim's blood at the rate of 1 CON point per round. The hæmogoblin can only be removed with a successful “Bend bars/Lift Gates” roll. The victim may not attack during the rounds an attempt to remove the hæmogoblin takes place. If the hæmogoblins are S size or smaller then up to two may be draining one victim at the same time. If the victim reaches 0 CON points then they die. Unless a “Bless” or “Remove Curse” spell is cast on the corpse it will rise the next night as a Ghast.

Hæmogoblins turn as Ghasts. Hæmogoblins cannot pass on their curse of undeath like the vampire to create other hæmogoblins, however, there is a 50% chance that any sub-human killed by a hæmogoblin will become a ghoul, with 5% of those becoming ghasts. These victims are free-willed, but they are at a disadvantage when encountering the vampire that created the hæmogoblin. They make their saves at –5 and are 25% more likely to fall under that vampire’s control.
Like all undead hæmogoblins are affected by holy water, taking 2-8 hp of damage per vial. Hæmogoblins also take damage from sunlight. Hæmogoblins take 10 hit points of damage for every round they are exposed to bright, full sunlight. A “Continual Light” spell will also cause 1d4 hp of damage. Also they are unaffected by any mind spells (“Charm”, “Hold”, “ESP”), or “Sleep”.
Hæmogoblins have infravision to 90’.

Habitat/Society: Hæmogoblin’s are created undead, none will occur “naturally”. They can be most often found in or near the lairs of vampires. Crypts are very commonplace for hæmogoblins. They have been known to associate with ghouls for increased protection and hunting. Hæmogoblin’s prefer to eat living humans and humanoids. Often however they are forced to eat the scraps left to them by their vampire masters. If hard-pressed hæmogoblins will eat corpses.
Most hæmogoblins encountered will be in the service of a vampire lord/lady. They are often used as spies for the vampire. In one recorded incident a vampire set up one his own Hæmogoblins as a scapegoat to cover his own tracks. While any angry mob was dealing with the hæmogoblin, the vampire left the area.
Unlike a true familiar, the vampire suffers no ill effects if his hæmogoblin is destroyed.

Ecology: Hæmogoblins are undead and produce nothing. While the corpses of hæmogoblins may be useful to necromancers or sages, they have nothing else of value.

Friday, May 22, 2020

#FollowFriday


On Twitter #FollowFriday is a long-established Friday tradition.   You post your tweet with the #FollowFriday hashtag to get more followers.

Well today I want to do to bring your attention to some lesser-known or lesser trafficked social media sites.

This is the next evolution of The Best Blog You Are Not Following. This moves a bit beyond blogs into all social media.
I'll post my links and if you have any you want to share post them below.  Just keep them on topic.

Ove on Facebook there is a lot great D&D and RPG groups.  If I posted one a week I would still be posting in a year or more.  Today I want to share a couple.

I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters
https://www.facebook.com/groups/776216536226728
This group covers the same sort of material you will see here.  Started by Tim Knight of Hero Press fame it is RPG and geeky media focused.

Victorian Gamers Association
https://www.facebook.com/groups/VictorianGamersAssociation
This group is one I run and it is dedicated to all sorts of Victorian-era RPGs.  Here we talk about the games and the Victorian-era, 1837 to 1901.

Over on Instagram there is a lot of great artists.

Wayne Reynolds Art
https://www.instagram.com/waynereynoldsart/
Wayne Reynolds has been making art for D&D and Pathfinder for years.

Djinn in the Shade
https://www.instagram.com/djinnintheshade/
Djinn is an old friend of the Other Side and she has some great D&D art and the lewd adventures of her D&D character Solaine.
If you prefer something more SFW, try her other site: https://www.instagram.com/djinninthebox/

MeWe is the newest Social Media kid on the block, and it shows, so let's give some of those groups some love.

Basic Fantasy and Table Top RPG
https://mewe.com/group/5bbcd4672ee15f2bb807556c
This is a group I am active in and it needs some more active participants.  So please come by and join!  Let me know you saw it here!

And here are my sites.

Personal Sites
The Other Side Sites

Post your links below.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

OMG: Special Edition The Goddess of Magic

I want to get back to my One Man's God series, but before I do I want to take look at the various Goddess of Magic.

Hecate by Iren Horrors
One thing myths seem to have in common, at least the handful I have covered to date, is a Goddess of Magic.  These goddesses, while different in many respects and aspects, share something in common.  They have learned the secrets of magic and these secrets seem to be something only goddess are meant to know.

Here are a few an how I see them through the lens of a Goddess of the Witches.

Ereshkigal
The world's first goth-girl.  I talked a lot about her during my wrap-up of the Babylonian, Sumerian, and Akkadian myths.  She is the goddess of the underworld and the magic associated with that. Ereshkigal is often considered to be the dark half of her sister Innana/Ishtar.

Isis
Isis is the earliest Goddess of Magic of Egypt.
With Osiris and Horus (the divine child) they make up a Holy Trinity. She is the Goddess of marriage, motherhood, fertility, magic, healing, reincarnation, and divination, to name but a few. Isis is the patroness of priestesses. One myth has Isis poisoning the Sun God Ra, offering to save him only if he would reveal his secret name. At last, at the brink of destruction, Ra gives Isis his heart, with the secret name it held, and his two eyes (the Sun and the Moon).  Isis quells the poison and ends up with Ra’s supreme power. In time the great Eye was passed along to her son Horus.  Proclus mentions a statue of her which bore the inscription “I am that which is, has been and shall be. My veil no one has lifted”. Hence, to lift the veil of Isis is to pierce the heart of a great mystery.

Hecate
Hecate got her own OMG post a while back.
Hecate is, in Greek mythology, the Goddess of darkness, magic, and witchcraft.  She is the daughter of the Titans Perses and Asteria. Unlike Artemis, who represented the moonlight and splendor of the night, Hecate represented its darkness and its terrors. On moonless nights she was believed to roam the earth with a pack of ghostly, howling dogs. She was the Goddess of sorcery and witchcraft and was especially worshiped by magicians and witches, who sacrificed black lambs and black dogs to her. As Goddess of the crossroads, Hecate and her pack of dogs were believed to haunt these remote spots, which seemed evil and ghostly places to travelers. In art Hecate is often represented with either three bodies or three heads and with serpents entwined about her neck.
Of all the deities who have covens, Hecate’s covens are the most widespread and well known. Hecate was once a fairly benign goddess in early Greek times. She later became the dread Greco-Roman Goddess of ghosts, a close confidante of Persephone, and a patron of witches. The brutally wronged Hecuba of Troy was reincarnated as one of Hecate’s black dogs, which accompanied her on her night walks. When Hades kidnapped Persephone in the later Greek myth, farseeing Hecate was the only one who witnessed it. Hecate was worshiped at three-way crossroads at night even by ordinary Greek families and could ward off ghosts if properly propitiated. But Romans also believed She had more sinister worshipers; the witches and sorceresses who could coerce even the gods to do their will.

Freyja
Freyja is associated with magic, but mostly with seiðr. What is seiðr? Well, it is a bit of an odd translation but it usually refers to a pre-Christian pagan form of magic.  Today we would shorthand it and call it "witchcraft" but that is not exactly right.
I hope to cover her more when I finally get to Norse myths.

Ceridwen
Celtic Goddess of wisdom, intelligence, magic, divination, and enchantment. She is the Goddess of the cauldron. Popular among the Celtic Classical and Craft of the Wise Traditions.
Cerridwen’s cauldron has the power to return the dead to life.

Áine
Another  Celtic Goddess is the Irish goddess Áine.  She is also the Goddess of Summer.
I want to get back to Celtic myths soon.

Coyolxāuhqui
I forgot to mention Coyolxāuhqui last week when I did Central American myths.  She is the sister of Huitzilopochtli (the God of War in the D&DG).  She is most often depicted as the Goddess of the Moon when she was beheaded by her brother and he tossed her head into the sky.

Huitaca
Also known as Xubchasgagua she is the Goddess of arts, dance and music, witchcraft, sexual liberation, and the Moon. That is quite the portfolio.  Like many Goddesses, she is associated with the owl as her animal.  She is described as a "rebel Goddess." She is really the archetypical witch.
She is associated with the religion of the Muisca which is now Columbia in South America.

From D&D

Wee Jas
Wee Jas also got her own post a while back.  Wee Jas is what Hecate would be if she were a Suel god. Or more to the point the D&D version of Hecate, the Goddess of Magic, Witches, Ghosts, Necromancy and the Crossroads.   It is said that Wee Jas guards the doorways to the dead and the same is true for Hecate.  In fact, I have used them rather interchangeably for years.

I think for my own version of Wee Jas, I would start with the Dragon 88 version, add a little bit of what we saw in D&D 3.x, and then change her "Death" portfolio to "Spirits" ("Wee Jas" = "Ouija").  She can summon undead, and her priests may do so as well, but no raise dead spells.  I rather liked the Raven Queen from D&D 4 and 5, so pass off Wee Jas' control of Death (save for spirits) to the Raven Queen.  Since the Raven Queen is described as a young or new Goddess, it could even be that she is the daughter of Wee Jas.  Ioun was one of Wee Jas' first students.

Mystra
Mystra is the Forgotten Realms Goddess of Magic.  I have not talked much about her here because my knowledge of the Realms is limited.  But I have always wanted to explore the Mystra-Mystara connection.  Is there one? Likely not, but there should be at least in my games!

I am sure there are more, lots more even, but this is good for now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Gen Con 2020 Canceled

If you have not heard the news it is official, Gen Con 2020 has been canceled.



You can read more here:
https://www.gencon.com/press/gen-con-2020-cancellation

With many cons canceling including Comic-Con this was too much of a public health risk.  We had planned to not go this year back in late March, but I was hoping that things might turn around.

My hope would have been justified if we didn't have a complete moron in charge of our country, but I should have known better.

This is the right call really.

If you look at the high-risk population and the average Gen Con attendee, there is a lot of overlap. 

Now, of course, we don't know what will be going on in late July, early August, but I do know that plenty of schools are considering not opening up for Fall term and they stand to lose more than Gen Con by several orders of magnitude.

So I am sad yes. I have not told my kids yet. 
I have canceled my hotel I had downtown (at the J.W. Marriott where we stay every year).

I was looking forward to finishing the great Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign we play at every Gen Con.  The characters are just one adventure away from retirement.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Gladyolus

One of the big influences I have had for my Monstrous Mondays and my new monster book has been my mom.

No kidding.

My mom loves sci-fi and horror. When I started playing D&D back in the 80s she took one of my D&D books, I think it was the AD&D DMG, and she proclaimed "this is just mythology and math!"  But she loved all the monsters and she had always loved telling all us kids stories about them.

Here is one of them!

She told us this story back when I was in sixth grade.  I know that it is not 100% original, but it still thrilled us as kids. Though in my mom's defense, she never read any Clark Ashton Smith.

Gladyolus
Monstrous Plant
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 2-20 (5-100)
Alignment: Chaotic (Chaotic Evil)
Movement: 0' (0') [0"]
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1d8 (5 hp)
Attacks: 1 (blood drain)
Damage: 1d4+1
Special: Nag (see below), takes 2x damage from fire
Size: Small
Save: Monster 1
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP: 15

According to tales, the Gladyolus flower began not as a plant but as a woman named Gladys.  Gladys was not a happy woman.  She nagged her adult children, her friends, but most of all she nagged her husband.  One day she was complaining about something when her husband finally snapped and he killed her.  Seeing what he had done he decided to dig up his garden and bury Gladys in it.
The next spring the flowers he had planted grew, but all had Gladys' face and voice.
The nagging drove her husband to kill himself and the Gladyolus fed on the corpse.

The Gladoylus is a monstrous plant that feeds on the blood of warm-blooded creatures.  Humanoids are its favorite source of food.  The plant flower has the face of a woman.  When encountering humanoid creatures each flower begins to talk to berate the creatures.  On a failed save vs. Spells the creatures will wade into the plants to attempt to get them to be quiet.  Once in the midst of the plants they will all begin to attack, up to 1d10 plants per round, doing 1d4+1 per plant.

The plants can't move and take double damage from fire.

--

So I am solidifying my stat-block for this book.  I am going to opt for Advanced Labyrinth Lord compatibility.  This solves two really big issues.  First, it gives a solid XP matrix to work with.  Since LL is one of the most popular retro-clones on the market, this covers a lot of players.  Second, it also gives me a Treasure Type/Horde Class that is easier to use and I don't need to invent my own.

I am still going to add Type, Frequency, and Size.  But I don't think I am going use the size = different HD as I talked about last week.  Adding Type, Frequency, and Size. is easy and won't detract too much on people's games.  Changing HD type might be a bridge too far.  So my current plan is to provide them as an Appendix.  So this creature would be listed as: "Gladyolus, Small, 1d6 (4 hp)."

This is going to be a lot of fun!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: DCC RPG: Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East

A new Kickstarter from Goodman Games and good friend of the Other Side Jason Vey!

DCC RPG: Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1409961192/dcc-rpg-fred-saberhagens-empire-of-the-east?ref=theotherside

So what do we have here?  Goodman Games.  Dungeon Crawl Classics AND Mutant Crawl Classics.  Jason Vey of AFMBE, Castles & Crusades, AND Night Shift fame.

I always enjoyed the work of Fred Saberhagen and discovered him at the same time I was getting into AD&D, so in a way I always associate him with AD&D even though I can't point to a single thing of his I imported into my games.

This might change that.

Jason has had a solid game design career.  He worked on a number of great AFMBE books for Eden, LOTS of Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures (which he is the line developer) and of course OSR games with Elf Lair Games.  And yes we worked together on Night Shift.

So these reasons alone are enough to get this. 



Thursday, May 14, 2020

Old-School Compatibility Logos, Part 2

The other day I posted some concepts for a set of "Old-School Compatibility Logos."

This morning I decided to expand on the idea some more.

Old-School Compatibility Logos Page
I created a page here with all the logos and a list of details about the games I like to use for each one.  I am not indicating 100% compatibility with a single game, but rather a compatibility with a play style.  I have also listed the DriveThruRPG categories I put items I have written that would use these logos/banners.

You can see that page here:  https://bit.ly/osclogos
If you could, please use this shortened URL for linking.

Sub-Categories on The Other Side store.
I also modified them slightly and used them as sub-categories over at the Other Side storefront at DriveThruRPG.



Here is how the Basic-Era Sub-Category looks.



Going to play around with it for a while and see what happens.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

OMG: Central American Mythos

One Man's God: Central American Mythos

I return to One Man's God today with one of my favorite groups of Mythos, and the one that is the most problematic in terms of dealing with real-world history and myths.


Central American Mythos is a catch-all section that includes gods and monsters from a variety of societies and times.

Olmec: 1500 BCE to about 400 BCE, Mexico
Maya: 2000 BCE to 1697 CE, southeastern Mexico (Yucatan), all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador.
Mezcala: 700 BCE to 650 CE, Central Mexico.
Zapotec: 700 BCE to 1521 CE, Central/South Central Mexico.
Toltec:  900 CE to 1168 CE, Central Mexico. (and there is still debate on this)
Aztec: 1300 CE to 1521 CE, Central Mexico.

While these people and civilizations overlapped and had influences on each other, there are a number of distinct differences.


Another issue to deal with here is the nature of demons and the gods of these myths.  In a very real sense, these myths are the epitome of "One Man's God is Another Man's Demon."

Even according to scholars it is difficult to tell what is a demon and what is a god.  From the outsider's point of view, many of the Aztec and Mayan gods can be considered "Demonic" and were certainly called that by the Catholic Priests that would come to these lands from Spain (predominantly).

A good example are the Aztec Tzitzimitl, or demons (or gods) from the stars.  They were thought to have been the demons that attack the sun during a solar eclipse and also been the gods that protected to place where humans were created.

Tzitzimitl
Undead Demon
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-6
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  12" Fly 24"
HIT DICE:  9+9 (50 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  10%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3 or 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-6 (claw)/1-6 (claw)/2-12 (bite) or bone club (1-10) + Special
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Cause Darkness
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1  or  better weapon to hit; double damage from sunlight
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  25%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (9')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Tzitzimitl are the demonic spirits of women who have died in child-birth or stillborn babies.  They appear as giant skeletal women wearing skirts decorated with the skulls and bones of their enemies. Around their necks, they wear the still-beating hearts of these enemies.  They are charged with protecting the lands where humans were created and thus they are invoked by a Curandero when a woman is giving birth.  They protect the mother and the child but demand that the ones that die be turned over to them.
They have been known to attack the sun during eclipses and this the time when they manifest in the Prime Plane. 
They attack with a claw-claw-bite routine or with a legbone from a defeated enemy.  On any successful hit with this leg bone, the victim must save vs. Paralysis or be blinded.
These creatures are semi-undead and can be turned by a cleric as Special.

One god in the book that works very well as a demon is Camazotz, the God of Bats.
His name means "Death Bat" and as I have pointed out before he could be a God, a demon or even a very, very powerful vampire.  In the Popol Vuh his description is very much demon-like.

Demon Lord, Camazotz
The Death Bat, Bat God, Sudden Bloodletter, Slaughter Lord 
FREQUENCY:  Unique
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: -2
MOVE:  12" Fly 24" (infinite at night)
HIT DICE:  24+24 (132 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  10%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Qx10
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-8 (claw)/1-8 (claw)/1-12 (bite) + Special, Blood Drain 3 Points of Con
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Cause Darkness, See in Darkness
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +2  or  better weapon to hit; see below
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  50%
INTELLIGENCE:  Genius
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (15')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Camazotz is the demon god of bats and vampires. But he is not truly a god or a demon or a vampire but something that is thousands of years old and akin to all three.  Vampires pay him homage more out of fear than actual piety. Humans on the other hand worship and hope that he will reward them with the gift of immortality (vampirism).  He requires blood sacrifices every new moon.  Camazotz himself goes through periods of extreme torpor and frenzied blood lust.

Camazotz dreams of one day destroying the god of the sun.

Camazotz attacks as a vampire with a claw/claw/bite routine of 1d8/1d18/1d12.  His bite (any natural roll of 18, 19 or 20) will drain 3 points of Constitution per round.  Anyone reduced to 0 becomes a vampire under his control.

He can see perfectly well in even the most complete of darkness, magical or mundane. He can also cause darkness as per the spell to 100’.  In darkness his AC is reduced to -4 and +4 or better weapons are needed to strike him.

He lives in a dark cave-like plane know as Xibalba on the Abyss where he serves as a vassal to Orcus. Again this is not out of fidelity but out of fear of the Demon Prince of Undead.  The cave is dark and the floors are stained with blood.  In this cave, Camazotz can summon up to 1000 bats to do his will.

Camazozt appears as a giant bat whose mouth is filled with bloody fangs.  He can also appear as an old man or a young warrior with bat wings.

He also makes a great demon lord to the Nabassu demons from Monster Manual II.

Tlazōlteōtl
This goddess is listed as the Goddess of Vice in the book.  She is also a "sin-eater" or someone that takes on the sins of others.   Among other things she is also the Goddess of Healing, Midwifery, Childbirth and the Goddess of Sweeping and Brooms.

Sounds like a perfect witch goddess to me!

What is Missing?

As to be expected with several lands, cultures, and 3,000 years of history, a few things are missing from the pages of the Deities and Demigods.

For example Dwarves. Dwarves in earlier Olmec culture and then in later Aztec culture are considered to be "touched by the gods" or the offspring of "witches."

Werejaguars are also an important creature with many warriors having the ability to become jaguars in battle.

Werejaguars
FREQUENCY:  Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-4
ARMOR CLASS: 3
MOVE:  12"
HIT DICE:  6+12 (39 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  50%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-4 (claw)/1-4 (claw)/1-6 (bite) + Special
SPECIAL  ATTACKS: Lycanthropic curse, see below
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  Obsidian or +1  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  0%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Neutral Evil
SIZE:  M  (6')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Werejaguars are often found in tropical cities and ancient jungle ruins, but will appear in more temperate climates as well. These lycanthropes can assume the form of a jaguar, a human, or a bipedal, jaguar-like hybrid of the two forms.
Lycanthropy: If a victim is reduced to half total HP will become a werejaguar on next new moon.
Werejaguars can only be hit by obsidian weapons or by magic.

But the biggest miss, in my opinion, is the God Seven Macaw.

Vucub Caquix, or Seven Macaw, as a trickster demi-god and thus has the best chances of interacting with the characters.  Like many tricksters, he is chaotic, and also in this case evil.  He is associated with the Hero Twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque.  He tricks them into thinking he is the God of the Sun, Moon, and Corn.  They respond by killing him and becoming the gods of the Sun and Moon themselves while their father also becomes the new Corn God.  But like all good tricksters, he comes back.

I don't fault the authors and editors of the D&DG for missing certain aspects of these myths or getting them "wrong."  While researching this I was reading that new translations going on in the 1980s and into the 1990s changed how we now view these stories.  And again, with 3,000 years of myths told and retold across seven or more civilizations there would be more to put in than the book could allow.

There is a lot more I could go about here, but one of my goals is to contain myself to the entries in the book and only add when needed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Half-Baked Idea: Old-School Compatibility Logos

I had this idea for a replacement for the venerable, but retired OSR logo.
Half an idea really.

The idea is to have a logo I could use on my various works to indicate compatible content with a style of play, but not calling out any rule system in particular.

I came up with some logos over lunch, but I'd imagine that I would need to have some sort of sheet attached to them at the very least.   You know along the lines of "Basic-era Compatible" includes, but is not limited to 1. Race as Class. 2. Monsters with Morale scores and other salient features.

I need to give it more thought. A lot more thought to be honest.  But first I guess is there and interest in anything like this? Is there even a need for anything like this?

Share your thoughts below.  I designed them to be simple and easy to read.






Yeah I included 3rd and 5th eds here.  I still do stuff for those games.

I also included a compatible with The Witch one.  I have had a few people ask for some of my OGC, which I provided for free.  I figure if I pack up a couple dozen spells for something a link back is not too much of an ask.