Friday, September 17, 2021

#FollowFriday Pauli Kidd and 'Lace and Steel'

It's another #FollowFriday!   Today I'd like to draw your attention a new RPG review site from a great "D&D" author.   

Pauli Kidd gave us the great Greyhawk novels White Plume MountainDescent into the Depths of the Earth, and Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

Pauli is still writing, but now she has a YouTube Review channel, Lace and Steel.

Lace and Steel

In particular, she has done some great sci-fi reviews.

Great stuff really.   And I am looking forward to more.

You can find Pauli online at:

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Mail Call, Part 2: Another Return to Ravenloft

Ravenloft Print on Demand
Well, I had forgotten I ordered this, but I am glad I did.  Waiting for me on my front porch after getting groceries today was a Print on Demand copy of I6 Ravenloft

It was not very expensive really, just under $9 for the book. I had bought the PDFs when it first came out so I just grabbed the Print on Demand version this time.  Getting both is $2 more than just the print but still cheaper than getting them separate like I did. 

It was about $4 for shipping and a buck something for taxes.  All in all, it came in just $15.   Sure more expensive than my original, but relatively speaking still cheap.

The scan is really nice. Not exactly what I would call crisp, but perfectly clear.

The maps are in the back of the book, as the pictures below will show. So not really useful. But when you buy it with the PDF you can print them out.  

Ravenloft Print on Demand

Ravenloft Print on Demand

Ravenloft Print on Demand

It's not like I needed another copy of Ravenloft.  I have ran it so many times now already I don't think I'll run it again as is.  But it is nice to have this.  It does compare well to my original edition and my 25th-anniversary edition.

Ravenloft three different printings

Not to mention the AD&D 2nd Edition House of Strahd, the D&D 3rd Edition Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, and the 5th Edition Curse of Strahd.  All of which are essentially the same adventure with tweaks to their respective systems.

All versions of Castle Ravenloft

I am likely to give my new copy to my oldest son who LOVES Ravenloft now.  This kid hated anything horror growing up and now can't get enough.

Maybe one day I'll run it with a distaff Strahd.  OR maybe Darlessa?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The New Golden Age of Star Trek

I have often thought that I was not doing a horror/old-school/vampire/witch sort of blog I'd be doing a Star Trek one.  I am that obsessed.  Thankfully for me there already is a great blog that does Star Trek and Doctor and more; TARDIS Captain.

Even so, I can't help but be excited for all the great new Star Trek heading my way.

Star Trek Day 2021

Here are the previews of all the upcoming Star Trek shows on Paramount+.



I am very excited!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Mail Call: Chromatic Dungeons and Candy Corn Witches

Quick one today.  I got some great pre-Halloween goodies in the mail today.

Up first, my Kickstarter package of Chromatic Dungeons from Roderic Waibel and Izegrim Creations

Chromatic Dungeons

Chromatic Dungeons Basic Rules

Chromatic Dungeons Advanced Rules

Chromatic Dungeons Basic and Advanced Rules

The game is split between a Basic rule set and an Advanced rule set.  Unlike the games these take their names from there is 100% compatibility between the two.  You can start out Basic and move to Advanced. Stay in Basic with bits of Advanced or move back and forth as you desire.

The game is rather fantastic and I can't wait to give it a full review. 

This is not all I got this past weekend.

I got some "Candy Corn Dice" from Ice Cream Dice and to go with them a "Candy Corn Witch" mini from Hero Forge

Candy Corn Dice and Witch

Candy Corn Dice and Witch

The witch was supposed to be a "Pumpkin Spice Witch" but her hat is very much candy corn!

Pumpkin Spice  Witch

Yes. That is a PSL in her hand and the cup has a bat on it.  

I am ready for my Halloween games!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Bad Idea Dept. Fiend Folio II

Fiend Folio
I should be working on monsters. I have ones to do for my Basic Bestiary. I have ones to do the Night Companion (ok, those are basically done).  But this is my busy time at the day job so there has not been  a lot of time to work on monsters.

So why not add some more work on top of it all!

I was rereading the Fiend Folio the other day as inspiration for my books and it dawned on me that we never got, despite an abundance of monsters, a Fiend Folio II.

So I was looking over all my magazines and thought there could be enough monsters.  Between White Dwarf #2 and #75 there are about 380 total monsters.  Some of those are already part of the Fiend Folio's 188 monsters.  If I needed more I could even use Imagine Magazine's 50 or so monsters.

What is my awful idea?  

I'd like to put together my own Fiend Folio II.  

This is obviously not for publication or profit. Just so I can have it sitting on my desk. I keep my Lulu-made "orange spine" Fiend Folio on my desk as my "working" copy.  This would be the same.  I already used the cover depicted above for my Lulu pod. So I'd need something different by Jeff Easley.

Again. This would just be for my own benefit, but I would want to re-write it all to make it flow better. Much like Turnbull did with the FFI.  

It sounds like a really fun project.  More to the point it sounds like something fun to have.

I know there is a so-called "Fiend Folio II" to be found online. It just collects the various Fiend Factory articles into a single PDF.  Not really what I want. 

Trouble is, something like this will take some time to do, time that I could be using to get the Basic Bestiary out.  Unless of course doing this gives me better insight into how to do better monsters.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Friday Night Videos: Viking Music!

The day job was crazy today!  Didn't get my last post in for Norse Week, so I thought I'd throw in a Friday Night Videos for it!

So what are Viking Songs?  

Glad you asked! 

Well, maybe not Viking songs exactly, but certainly ones that want me to play a Viking/Norse-themed game.

So up first, the most Viking song there is.

Is this a Viking song?  No.  But the band, Saga, always makes me think of the TSR Mini-game Saga, and that is good enough for me.

Do you know who does know about Vikings?  The British. And who better to tell us about it than Iron Maiden.

Ok. So. This song is not at all about Vikings, not even if you try REALLY hard.   But it is a song Saxon and I dig it. 

Sabaton is a Swedish symphonic metal band that pretty much only sing about Vikings.  I want to include them here too since I feel my "Norse Week" might have weighted too heavily on Norway.

Let's not forget the haunting "If I had a Heart" from the series Vikings. 

Skol!

Where I Stand

Lots of talk about lists. Red ones, Green ones, Yellow.  Talk about Neutral zones or somesuch.

While it should be obvious I'll restate it for those in the back.

Statement by The Other Side

Adjust your buying preferences accordingly. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

This Old Dragon: Issue #110

Dragon Magazine #110
While this one was on my list to do, I moved it to this week for a very obvious reason, which I'll get to, but in the meantime let us looking what Issue #110, the Tenth Anniversary issue of Dragon has to offer.

It is June 1986 and what came to be known as the Dragon Wars had begun in my campaign world.  My regular DM had graduated and was preparing to go off to the Air Force.  I was concentrating on getting in as many math and science classes as I could prior to going off to college.  It was an interesting time.

I remember sitting down in the Pavilion at Nichols Park in my hometown reading over this issue. It seemed to be filled with great things.  I am happy to report that my memory lives up to reality. 

Before we get into the magazine proper let's take a moment to marvel at this cover by Kevin Davies, The Vanquished Cavalier.  Likely one of the top 10 covers in my opinion.  And it is art you can buy for your own projects. 

Kim Mohan discusses the 10th Anniversary of Dragon Magazine here, noting that there will be less hoopla now than in Issue #100.  Future anniversaries will have a bit more "pomp."

Letters cover the topics of the day, namely more revisions of the Ranger.  Seriously has anyone EVER been happy with the Ranger??  One letter asks if the Electronic Eye is ever coming back and we told that yes, a computer-based column is back in this issue.  I was quite pleased with this. I had just bought a new computer, a Color Computer 3 but they never covered games for it.  Backed the wrong horse that time, but I can't complain.  Like the Old-School Revival for D&D there is an Old-School Revival (of sorts) for old computers.  

The Forum covers the lament of the time, this too much Greyhawk in the pages of Dragon and the Unearthed Arcana.  I remember all of this. Oh to have those problems now.  

Our first article is from Ed Greenwood and it is a classic in my mind.  The Cult of the Dragon not only introduces the titular cult, it also introduces us to the Dracolich.  Re-reading it now I find it interesting that the genesis of this article comes from Dragonlance.  Well, the Realms Boxed set won't be released for a little yet. The article was an early favorite of mine and I spent a lot of time comparing this article to the classic Blueprint for a Lich from Best of Dragon Vol. II.  I really respected what Ed was doing here.  Rereading it now I am still marveling at how good it still is.  I might need to incorporate this into my games somehow.  The cult migrated from Krynn to Toril and then to the rest of the multiverse.   This is of course the best thing to use in a Dragon article; finding something and making it work for your game. 

Up next are two articles that would make up a One Man's God: Norse Mythos, Part II.  The two articles came to the Dragon offices at the same time so they decided to run them both.

The first is For Better or Norse: I Equal time for the members of the Vanir by Joel McGraw.  This one covers the Vanir gods.  Of personal interest, we get Angur-boda, Grid, and Gullveig are all described variously as witches.  There are also stats for Njord, Mimir, Nidhogg, and Utgard-Loki the "star" of the first Norse myth I ever read.  Honestly, these should be glued into my D&DG. Again none of these would really be considered AD&D demons.

Next is For Better or Norse: II New Descriptions of Some Old Favorites by Carl Sargent.  This one gives us some updates to the Norse gods found in the D&DG.  Featured are Niord (spelled differently this time), Frey, Freya, and Loki.  Loki gets the biggest change, going from Chaotic Evil to Chaotic Neutral.  I felt at the time this was a good change.  I still do, but now I have a greater appreciation of the myths and the character.  Again, I wish I could paste this one into my D&DG.

An ad for one of my favorite Near-D&D products of all time, the Arcanum.

The Arcanum

Another Ed Greenwood article is next and it is one only Ed can do; All about Elminster.  I went from being mildly annoyed by Elminster (here) to outright dislike, to rabid dislike (2nd Ed), to acceptance (3rd ed) and even a begrudging like (now).  The article is actually rather fun.  Elminster is a 26th level magic-user.  The article also includes some new spells which is expected.  I am not sure how these compare to his 3rd Edition stats.  Since my issue is falling apart anyway this will go into my Forgotten Realms boxed set.

The Role of Computers is up for it's debut.   Examples are given for the Macintosh computer, arguably the most advanced machine at the time.  

Leonard Carpenter is up with Dragon Damage Revisited.  This revises the damage done by dragons from the Fiend Folio, Monster Manual II, and the gemstone dragons.  This very conversation came up the other day online in talking about 1st Ed dragons.  You  can see how across the editions they made dragons more and more powerful.  These numbers look pretty good, I'll have to dig up the first in the series and see what their logic is. 

Our centerpiece adventure is The House in the Frozen Lands by James Adams.  I always thought this was more tied directly to the Norse myths, but I think that was only my memory.  The adventure is for 6-10 characters of 4th to 8th level.   If nothing else there are some good ideas of the types of encounters one can find in an arctic environment.  The adventure always looked interesting to me since it didn't feel like a dungeon crawl.

TSR Previews lets us know what is coming out in July and August of 1986.  I remember buying REF2 Character Sheets and then taking them to college where I ran off 100s of copies at Kinkos on different colored sheets.  In fact, I still have some.  Those sheets outlived both TSR and Kinkos.  I had never heard of some of the board games here, but I did find listings for The BROADWAY Game and The HONEYMOONERS Game.  Nothing though in my quick search for The PARAMOUNT Game.

TSR Previews July/Aug 1986

The fiction section is The Wizard's Boy by Nancy Varian Berberick. I didn't read it, but Berberick went on to write more novels and short stories including a few Dragonlance ones for Wizards. 

Moving on to the Arēs section. 

Knowledge is Power by John M. Maxstadt gives us a skill system for Gamma World. This looks like it is for 2nd Edition GW, but I will admit I am not knowledgeable on the differences between 2nd and 3rd.  

There is a bit on underwater action in Star Frontiers from William Tracy in Going for a Swim.  I am pretty sure that I never had characters go underwater ever in SF. Space yes, sea no.  BUT that all being said there are some good ideas here that are useful to most games. This includes getting "the bends" and movement and other hazards. The article really does read like a 20th-century point of view rather than a futuristic one.  I would assume that a culture capable of FTL flight had worked some of these other issues out as well. 

Piece of the Action details organized crime in Paranoia. This is another one of those articles that would later get Wizards of the Coast into trouble with the Dragon CD-ROM.  It is copyrighted 1986 by the author Ken Tovar. 

Gamers' Guide gives us our small ads. I love looking at this even if I know most, if not all, these places have long since closed up shop. 

Gamers' Guide 1986

One thing though. Lou Zocchi's ad mentions he is selling the original Deities & Demigods with Cthulhu and Elric. No shock there, but there is also a mention of the BROWN cover Monster Manuals that are the same of the current Blue cover.  What is he talking about here?  Does he mean the original 1977 cover versus the orange spine?  That is the only thing I can think of to be honest.

Lou Zocchi's ad

Convention Calendar gives us the happenings of Summer 1986.  None were close to me.

Dragonsmirth, Snarf Quest, and Wormy follow.

Gamers of a certain will go on and on about how great Dragon was in the early 80s. And to a large part I agree, it was great.  But the late 80s and even into the 90s Dragon was great as well, for different reasons.  The first 10 years of Dragon captured the hobby in its early days and its DIY attitude, which one of the big reasons people loved it AND the same attitude that drove the early days of the OSR.  Dragon entering its second decade was a more polished magazine and the article quality had improved.  DIY was still there, but not the gritty DIY of the 1970s and early 80s.  Still, I find a lot in these pages, 1986 to 1996, that I find very useful and more to the point, things I would still use today.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Review: HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

HR1 Vikings
With the end of One Man's God on my mind, I wanted to make this week a little more special.  To that end I wanted to spend some more time with Norse Myths and Vikings.  So with on thing ending (almost) I have mental energy (or "Spell slots" as the kids say today) to do something a little newer.

I have long been a fan of the AD&D 2nd Ed. Historical References books.  I have used the Celts one over and over again with many different versions of D&D and I have been pleased with it.  The scholarship on these is a bit better than the Deities & Demigods, but I attribute this to a better budget and more space to explain what they were doing. 

Also, the focus was a little different.  The D&DG took myths and tried to fit them into the AD&D framework.  The Historical References took the myths and described how to play an AD&D game in that world.

It's Norse Week so let's start at the beginning with HR1 the Vikings Campaign Sourcebook.

HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (AD&D 2nd Edition)

For today's review, I am only going to consider the PDF version of this book from DriveThruRPG. I lost or sold back my original in one of my moves or collection downsize.  I will mention details from the physical book as I remember it, but my focus is on the PDF for the details.  In most cases the material is 100% the same, the difference coming from the fold-out map, which is separate pages in the pdf.

HR1: Vikings Campaign Sourcebook (1992), by David "Zeb" Cook.  Illustrations by Ned Dameron and cartography by David C. Sutherland III.  96 pages, black & white with full-color maps.

The first book of the Historical Reference series covers the Viking raiders of Scandinavia. It is not a separate game world per se, since it deals with Pagan Europe after the fall of Rome, but it is a fantastical Europe where dragons fill the seas, troll-blooded humans walk among us, and somewhere out there in the wilderness, a one-eyed man wanders the land.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter covers the very basics, starting off with what people usually get wrong about the Vikings.  These guys are not Hägar the Horrible or even the interpretations of Wagner.  They do point out that "Vikings" are also not really a people, but a lifestyle that some people engaged in. 

This section also covers how to use this book, specifically how to use this book about Vikings and the history of their raids with the AD&D 2nd Rules.  We get into more specific details in the next chapters.

Chapter 2: A Mini-Course of Viking History

Starting with the raid at Lindisfarne in 793 CE the book covers a very basic history of the Northmen's lands, the lands they raided, and their culture and history.  The focus here though is through the lens of an AD&D game, not a historical introduction.  The book is clear on this. 

Details are given, with maybe extra focus on England and France (though they are not called that yet) but that is fine.  There is a very nice timeline running across the top of the pages of this chapter that is rather handy. The time period, roughly 800 to 1100 CE agrees with most of the scholarship on "Viking History" so that works fine for here as well. 

There is a nice list of settlements and cities the Vikings targeted. Not a full list, but it gives you an idea of how much of Europe, Northern Africa, and even parts of Asia the Vikings would roam.  

There is a page or so of suggested readings. Likely the best at the time.  The chapter does set you nicely to explore these ideas further.

Chapter 3: Of Characters and Combat

Here we get into game writing proper.  We start with what races you will find in a Viking-themed campaign.  Obviously, we are talking mostly humans here. Humans can gain a "Gift" something that makes them special such as "Rune Lore" or "Bad Luck" or even a Seer.  There is a new "race" the Troll-born. These are stronger than average humans due to troll-blood in their veins. They get a +1 to Strength, Constitution and Intelligence but a -1 to Wisdom and a -2 to Charisma. They have Infravision and are limited to 15th level in their classes. They are not born with Gifts.

Next, we cover the changes to the Character Classes from the PHB. Fighters on the whole tend to be unchanged as are Rangers and Thieves.  Classes not allowed are Clerics, Paladins, Druids, and Wizards, though specialty mages are allowed if they are Conjurers, Diviners, Enchanters, Illusionists, Necromancers.  While this could be a negative for some I like the idea of limiting classes for specific campaigns.  Two new sub-classes of the Warrior are added, the Berserker and the Runecaster.  Both do pretty much what you might suspect they do.  The berserker is actually rather cool and while the obvious roots here are the barbarian and berserker monster from AD&D 1, there is enough here to make it work and be interesting too. Runecasters know runes as detailed in the next chapter.

The "forbidden" classes can be played, if they are outsiders. 

Lip service is given to the detail that the Vikings were predominantly men.  Though new archaeological finds are casting some doubt that they were exclusively so.  This book does give some examples of how warrior women were known.  They emphasize that player characters are always exceptional. 

There is a section on names (including a list of names), homelands, and social class.

In the purist AD&D 2nd ed section, we get some new Proficiencies.

runes
Chapter 4: Rune Magic

This covers Rune Magic. An important feature of Viking Lore. What the runes are and how to use them in AD&D 2nd Ed terms are given.  A lot of these are minor magics, say of the 0-level or 1st-level spell use.  I personally don't recall them being over abused in games, but they are a really nice feature to be honest.

Chapter 5: ...And Monsters

Monsters are discussed here, starting with which existing monsters can be used from the AD&D 2nd Monstrous Compendium.   Following this some altered monsters are given.   For example, there is the Gengånger which is a zombie with some more details.  

Dwarves and Elves are given special consideration, as are trolls and giants. 

There is not however any "new" monsters in the AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendium format. We will get those in the Celts book, but that is next time.

The section is split with a "centerfold" map of Europe.

Vikings map of Europe

Chapter 6: Equipment and Treasure

Vikings were Vikings because of the treasure they sought.  They also had the best ships in Europe at this time. So let's spend some time with these.  

We start with a section on money. For the game's simplicity, these are reduced to a couple of systems.  Coins are usually categorized by make-up and weight.  There is some good material here really and something that most games should look into. 

Treasure covers the typical treasures found.  Also, treasure was a central piece of Viking lore; it was how chieftains paid their men, it was what they stole from others, and it was also how they were paid off NOT to steal.   Some space is given to Magic Items as well. This is an AD&D game after all.  Some "typical" magical treasure is discussed and some that are not found at all.  A few new items are also detailed. 

Chapter 7: The Viking Culture

This chapter gives us are biggest differences from a typical AD&D game.  For illustrative purposes, we follow a young Viking, Ivar Olafsson, in a year of his life.  Now I rather liked this because it gave me a character situated in his life and culture.   While it is not the most "gamble" material it is good background material. 

There is a section on Social Ranking and a little more on the role of Viking women.  I think after 6 seasons of watching Katheryn Winnick kick-ass as Lagertha in Vikings, this section will be read and cheerfully ignored. That is great, but this bit does talk about, and support, the image that Viking women had it better than their counterparts in the rest of Europe.

We also get into the sundries, quite literally; Food, drink, homes, farms, and trade. There is a section on religion with lots of nods towards the AD&D 2nd Ed Legends and Lore. 

Chapter 8: A Brief Gazetteer

AD&D 2nd Ed is celebrated not really for its advances in game design or rules, but rather the campaign worlds.  This book, and this section, in particular, is a thumbnail of why these celebrations are merited.  Or, as I call it, just give me a map! This section is more than a map and maybe not as much as the famed Mystara Gazetteers, but the relationship is not difficult to pick out.

This covers, rather briefly (as it says in the title), the lands the Vikings would roam to. And there are a lot of those! In addition to the lands of Europe, Africa, Asia, and yes even North America, we get the fantastic worlds of the Vikings.  If I had done this book this would have been Chapter 2 or 3 at the very least.  This chapter is all too brief in my mind. 

We get a longship design at the end and in the PDF what was the fold-out map.

--

So in truth a really fun resource.  The AD&D game material is there, but this book could be used with pretty much any version of D&D or even many other games.  3rd Edition/Pathfinder players might lament the lack of Prestige Classes, but the Rune MAgic section can be easily converted to a Feat system.  5th Edition Players would need to work the Berserkers into a Barbarian sub-class/sub-type, but that would be easy enough. 

It is not a perfect resource, but it is really close. I am really regretting selling off my physical copy now.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

One Man's God: Norse Mythos

Norse Mythos
And here we are.  The last of my regular features of One Man's God.  I wanted to save the Norse for last because in many ways it was the myths of the Norse that showed me that there was a whole other world of myths and legends beyond the Greek.  This happened, as it turned out, during a series of events that would lead me to D&D.   In many ways the myths of the Norse are the most "D&D" of them all.  The Monster Manual might be full of monsters of the Greek myths, the Norse myths run a very close second.

The purpose though of One Man's God is to talk about demons.  So let's get to it.

There are a lot of great entries for gods here and there are some really powerful monsters.  But there isn't really anything here that says "demon" as D&D defines them.   Or is there?

Among the creatures, we have the children of Loki, who here is listed as Chaotic Evil, who certainly could be considered demons.  The Fenris Wolf is variously described as demonic and is Chaotic Evil. The same is true for Jormungandr.  But they really don't fit the notion of demons. There is a type of creature from Norse Myth that does, the Jötunn.

Jötunar as Demons

There are a lot of good reasons to list the Jötunn as demons, even in the classical sense. The word Jötunn is often translated as "giant" or even "troll,"  but another translation is "devourer."  This word is also the source of the word Ettin.  

They are also described as predating the gods, coming from the primordial chaos, and the enemies of the gods.  Sounds pretty demonic to me.  It also sounds like the Titans of Greek myth, but more on that later.

The D&DG tells us that,

Giants in Norse Myth D&DG

This lives on in the 4th Edition D&D mythology about Giants, Titans, and Primordials. 

Fire Giant
Jötunn, Inferno
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-4
ARMOR CLASS: -2
MOVE: 24" 
HIT DICE:  15+75 (143 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  0%
TREASURE  TYPE:  E, Q (x10), R
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  Flaming Sword 2d12+5 (x2)
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Fire Aura (2d6)
SPECIAL  DEFENSES: +2  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  55%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Lawful Evil
SIZE:  L  (20')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

The progenitors of the Fire Giants, the Inferno Jötunn are a truly horrible sight to behold.  They tower over the Storm Giants and rival the Titans in sheer size and strength.   They are surrounded by flames and even their eyes, hair, and mouths are filled with flames. They are more violent than their cousins from Niflheim and Jötunheimr, the Rime Jötunn, but leave their lands much less often. 

Inferno Jötunn all come from the land of Muspelheim, also known as Múspell which is also another name for these creatures.  Muspelheim is a land of bright, white-hot flames that only these creatures and their fire giant offspring can withstand.

Inferno Jötunn are surrounded by flames that deal 2d6 hp of damage at all times.  They wield great swords of flame and attack with their great strength (2d12+5) twice per round.  Inferno Jötunn are immune to normal and magical fire including dragon breath.  They have magic resistance at 55%.  Rare individuals can also cast spells as a 9th level magic-user.

Their king is Sutur, also known as Surt. He commands his subjects with an iron fist. 

Frost Giant
Jötunn, Rime
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1-4
ARMOR CLASS: -3
MOVE: 24"
HIT DICE:  18+90 (171 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  0%
TREASURE  TYPE:  E, Q (x10), R
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  Frost brand sword 2d12+6 (x2)
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Chill Aura (2d6)
SPECIAL  DEFENSES: +2  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  55%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L (21')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Rime Jötunn are the primordial Frost Giants that first rose from Niflheim.  Unlike the Inferno Jötunn, they range far and wide and are constantly battling with the Gods and other giants.

Rime Jötunn are surrounded by an aura of cold that deals 2d6 hp of damage at all times.  They wield great swords of ice and attack with their great strength (2d12+6) twice per round.  Rime Jötunn are immune to normal and magical cold including dragon breath.  They have magic resistance at 55%.  Rare individuals can also cast spells as a 9th level cleric.

These Jötunar can also adjust their size to appear as a human or elf as they need. 

Niflheim is a cold, dark place of mists, ice, and gloom.  Here the Rime Jötunn await with their lord Thrym to wage the final war on the gods in Ragnarök.  Until they will cause as much evil as they can.

--

Rereading the Norse Myths you get the feeling that the Jötunar are more elemental in nature than even the fire and frost giants of D&D. Again in this respect, D&D 4th Edition had some great ideas.

While there are plenty of supernatural creatures in the lore of the Norsemen, with trolls and giants among the more popular, they are not represented in the D&DG and indeed mainly play a lesser role to the Gods and the dwarves of Norse myth.

And here are.  The last of the regular entries for One Man's God.  I have a few specials in mind to wrap up some ideas from this series and a "Norse Mythos, Part II" in a way later this week with a new "This Old Dragon."  All in all, I am a little sorry to see it end. It has been a lot of fun.

Monday, September 6, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Hamingja

Let's get back to this!  A month off has made me a little rusty in my monster-making skills.  Today's monster comes to me from a few sources.  I spent my summer rereading a lot of my old psych textbooks and I decided to take a break and pick a bit of fluff about a guardian angel.  I had no intention of doing anything with it, just a little a bit of enjoyable fluff.

Also, I am going to be spending a lot of time with some Norse myths and I wanted a creature today that I had not already done or seen a hundred times.  The answer came to me in the form of the Hamingja.

Hamingja
Hamingja

Medium Outsider (Angel)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Lawful [Chaotic Good]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Flying 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 10d8+40**** (85 hp)
Attacks: 1 weapon (sword +1)
Damage: 1d8+3
Special: Astral projection, etherealness, fly, invisibility, luck, magic resistance 40% 
Save: Fighter 10
Morale: 12 (NA)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 3,700 (OSE) 3,800 (LL)

Str: 16 (+2) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 20 (+4) Int: 13 (+1) Wis: 14 (+2) Cha: 20 (+4)

Hamingja are akin to guardian angels. They appear as do valkyries, strong beautiful warrior women.  But where the valkyries guardian the souls of the dead, the Hamingja are guardians of the living.  

Each Hamingja exists to protect one family.  They provide protection against supernatural and mundane attacks that target the family.  They have an innate sense of which attacks are in need of their protection and which ones are not.  So do not defend every attack, only ones that will ensure their charge does not die until their time as decreed by the Norns. 

Unless they are needed the Hamingja will remain invisible. They will remain hidden in this way until they are needed.  They typically act by increasing the ambient luck of their charges.  Typically this translates to general +1 or +5% to any rolls their charges rolls. If their charge is attacked and the Norns have decreed this is when they will die the Hamingja will stay invisible until their charge is dead.  They will then fly their soul to their appropriate place in the afterlife. They will then return to serve another member of the same family.  If the Norns have not so decreed, then they will defend their charge with their swords.  

The name Hamingja name means "happiness" or "joy" and their overall goal is to make the lives of their charges happier. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

Zatannurday: TFIHS THGIN rof annataZ!

Zatannurday

It's been a bit for this. I thought with the Night Companion Kickstarter in its last few hours a NIGHT SHIFT version of Zatanna is in order.

Zee is obviously very powerful in DC Comics, or to quote Felix Faust, "You're the only one here that's really a threat." Bear in mind the others in the room were John Constantine, Etrigan the Demon, Deadman, and Batman.

How would she fare in Night Shift? For starters, I am going to shift her prime from Wisdom (for witches) to Intelligence.  In fact, I borrow a rule from my co-author's, Jason Vey, other game Amazing Adventures, and allow my witches to take whichever mental stat they need for their Primary/Spellcasting.

In the comics, we Zee practicing, sometimes with flashcards even, how to say words backward. It takes her practice to learn and do.  That is more aligned with the old-school D&D magic-user really than a witch and that means Intelligence.

Zatanna
Zatanna made with HeroForge
Zatanna Zatara
20th level Magician (Witch)

Base Abilities
Strength: 13 (+1) 
Dexterity: 13 (+1) 
Constitution: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 20 (+4) P
Wisdom: 16 (+2) s
Charisma: 18 (+3) s

HP: 83 (10d4+18) +40
AC: 5 (stage magician's outfit, with benefits)
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +8/+5/+3
Melee bonus: +7  Ranged bonus: +7
Saves: +8 against spells and magical effects
Arcana: Command, Telepathic Transmission
Innate Magic: Magical Missile, 

Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Spells
1st level: Command, Cure Light Wounds, Detect Magic, Inflict Light Wounds, Magic Missile, Protection from Evil
2nd level: Cause Fear, Continual Flame, Lesser Restoration, Levitate, Suggestion
3rd level: Clairvoyance, Fly, Haste, Invisibility 10', Protection from Evil 10'
4th level: Arcane Eye, Confusion, Dimension Door, Hallucinatory Terrain, Restoration. 
5th level: Commune, Domination, Telekinesis, Teleport
6th level: Anti-magic Shell, Control Weather, Disintegrate, Feeblemind
7th level: Ball of Sunshine, Death Aura, Wave of Mutilation, Windershins Dance
8th level: Antipathy/Sympathy, Discern Location, Mind Blank, Wail of the Banshee
9th level: Astral Projection, Breath of the Goddess, Mystic Barrier

Even at 20th level, she is still not super powerful. Oh, she will kick your ass, but you might still get a hit or two in.

--

Want more?  Back the Night Companion on Kickstarter!

Friday, September 3, 2021

Friday Night Videos: Night Shift Music

Time to come back to Friday Night Videos!

With NIGHT SHIFT Night Companion Kickstarter ending soon I thought IT would be good to celebrate the return of cooler nights.

Let's get some night music going.

Up first, the song that really should be the theme song for NIGHT SHIFT, 

The Police's Bring on the Night.


NIGHT SHIFT is old-school mechanics with a new-school attitude. D&D meets Modern Supernatural. So no one genre of music is going to cover this giant peanut butter cup of awesome.

So here is Onyx and Biohazard on Judgement Night.


One day I should stat up Gibby Haynes as a NIGHT SHIFT character.  He'd fit in perfectly.


And we all know Stevie Nicks would.


How could I forget our lovely immortal?


And the song my kids sing when we all play.  The NIGHT. BEGINS. TO SHINE!


Enjoy the night!

Night Companion is nearing the end of the Kickstarter!  Join us.

Kickstart Your Weekend: The Night Companion

LAST BIG PUSH!!

The Night Companion

The Night Companion

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jasonvey/the-night-companion?ref=theotherside

This sourcebook for Night Shift: VSW RPG blows the doors off! New classes, species, magic, monsters, core system options, and more.

Night Shift has been a labor of love for Jason Vey and I.  It has been a chance to use the rules we love (Old-school D&D) and bring it to a modern supernatural setting like the licensed products we have worked on in the past.  If you liked any of my work regardless of the system used then this is a great fit.

Here is what the book is right now:

  • Four new character classes: the Divine Warrior, the Mystic Martial Artist, the Psychic Gunslinger, and the Spirit Rider
  • Rules for playing supernatural species including Celestials, Driven, Ghouls, Infernals, Lycanthropes, and Vampires, expanding upon the "Supernatural Race" option in the core rulebook
  • New options for generating ability scores for normal, gritty, and cinematic games
  • Rules to convert your game from class-and-level to entirely point-buy
  • An alternate Alignment system focused on good, evil, light, and dark
  • Guidelines to convert your game to a unified mechanic: both d20-based and percentile-based options are covered
  • Enhanced combat rules: variable weapon damage, range increments, weapon classes, grappling rules, jumping, drowning, suffocation, poison, disease, and more
  • New Arcane Powers and spells, plus enhanced rules for ritual magic 
  • A GM section that goes behind the scenes of the system, talks about keeping track of your play style options, gives guidelines for creating cults and secret societies, and discusses tropes of sub-genres of horror and how to use them in your game
  • Dozens of new monsters, enemies, and NPCs for your game
  • New art by industry notable Bradley K. McDevitt, commissioned just for this book. At first, it will be the new classes and species, but more may be added depending on how well the Kickstarter does (see Stretch Goals). 
At the $5,000 stretch goal, I am going to provide a new Night World!  And I am quite excited to bring you this one.   AS of right now we are only $18 away from that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: NIGHT SHIFT Night Companion

The Night Companion
We are getting down to the wire here on The Night Companion

Today's character comes to you all via the Night Companion rules and a challenge from my friend Greg to rebuild his Ghosts of Albion playtest character using the NIGHT SHIFT rules.

The Game: NIGHT SHIFT, Night Companion Rules 

The Night Companion has a number of alternate rules for character creations including a point-buy system and new character types.  I figure I will show off the Immortal rules here and how they work with NIGHT SHIFT RAW.  I am also using the point-buy rules to "check my math."

The Character: Valerie Beaumont, the Immortal

Lady Valerie Beaumont has "haunted" my games for years.  She was a playtest character created for Ghosts of Albion by my friend Greg Littlejohn.  We have run games for each other off and on over the last 20+ years.  He is a great person to give a test game to and tell him "to break it."  There was an alternate combat system that almost went into to Ghosts but did not thanks to him! 

Valerie was also later used when we were playtesting the first round of Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space.  Little known fact.  A lot of the Ghosts of Albion playtesters were also playtesters for Doctor Who.

Valerie, being immortal also was part of my Spirit of '76 campaign and will be part of Black Star where she will be Captain of the USS Mystic

76 is the past and the Mystic is the future, but here is Val now, living in 2021 in one of the Night Worlds of NIGHT SHIFT.

Valerie Beaumont
Valerie Beaumont
5th Level Survivor/10th Level Sage (Immortal)

Base Abilities
Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 16 (+2) 
Constitution: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 21 (+4) P *
Wisdom: 16 (+2) s
Charisma: 16 (+2) s

HP:  5d4+5 / 10d6+10
AC: 9
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +8/+5/+3
Melee bonus: +6  Ranged bonus: +8

Saves: +3 Death Saves and area effects. +5 to saves vs. spells and magical effects.  She gains an additional +5 to all saving throws against magic, poison, disease, and death-based attacks due to her immortality.

Immortal Powers
Unique Kill: Virginia Dare (See Below)
Immortals regenerate 1d8 hit points every minute. 
+3 to Intelligence

Survivor Skills
Open Locks: 115%
Bypass Traps: 110%
Sleight of Hand: 120%
Move Silently: 120%
Hide in Shadows: 110%

Hair: Red
Eyes: light-green
Height: 5'7"

Spells
1st level: Magic Missle, Glamour, Sleep
2nd level: ESP, Produce Flame, Suggestion
3rd level: Clairvoyance, Haste, Water Breathing
4th level: Arcane Eye, Phantasmal Killer

Immortal Arcana
Innate Magic: Suggestion (x3 per day)
Enhanced Senses

Valerie was born in 1569 and is immortal. She was a young English girl that made her way to the new world in the year 1585.  She came to the new world and settled in the Roanoke Colony where she lived for a couple of years.  Then something happened.  She was caring for the young Virginia Dare and then woke up several days later and several miles from home.  When she had managed to return to the colony, everyone was gone.  She also discovered that she was immortal and was certain that the two were somehow linked.

Valerie spent the next few years roaming the new world.  She learned magic from some of the few true witches in Salem and more from the indigenous Native Americans.

Valerie Beaumont

 
She has a ring on her right little finger that manages a glamour that "ages" her.  A gift from a former lover. Currently, she appears to be in her mid-40s.  Without the glamour, she appears as she did when she discovered her immortality, a young woman of 18.  Her mind though is as someone just over 450.

Shadow Steel Sword
She also carries a long thin blade made of "shadow steel" a rare form of steel that the Fae can use.  It can attack any supernatural creature, even ones that are incorporeal or shifted out of phase. 

Valerie Beaumont

Virginia Dare

When Valerie was brought to the American colonies her primary employment was with the Dare family to act as a caretaker to the newborn Virginia Dare.  When Valerie was separated from the colony all the other people living in the Roanoke Colony were gone, including Virginia Dare.  For years and even centuries, people claimed to have seen Dare, now grown into young adulthood and called the White Doe.  Many believed the sitings of Dare were nothing more than a myth.

That is, everyone except for Valerie.  

At some point around 1622 Valerie encountered Virginia living with the Powhatan in the forests of Virginia. At first, Valerie was elated to find Virginia, but this soon turned when Virginia blamed Valerie for the disappearance of the colony.  The two fought and discovered quickly that they could harm, even likely kill, each other.  Likely they would have if they had not been interrupted by British forces.  Over the next few centuries they would encounter each other and it would lead to fighting.  

Both Valerie and Virginia are immortals.  The only thing that can kill them is each other. 

Virginia Dare is "played" in my games by Rose Byrne.

Virginia Dare by Rose ByrneValerie Beaumont by Julianne Moore

Looking forward to doing some more with these two.

--

I have her start as a Survivor.  She was displaced from her colony and spent many years wandering the unknown wilds of the North American continent. Eventually, she picked up knowledge here and there about various occult matters in including some magic. 

I like this since it really shows off how flexible the multi-classing system for NIGHT SHIFT can be.  

Want to see more?  Pledge for the Night Companion on Kickstarter!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 31 Thank

RPGaDAY2021 Day 31

This one might be the easiest one in the series.

Day 31 Thank

I want to thank everyone that read my posts, posted replies, and interacted with me on Social Media. 

I also want to thank Dave Chapman for doing this every year.

Thank everyone.  Now I turn my sights to October and Halloween!






RPGaDAY2021


Monday, August 30, 2021

Ghosts of Albion is a Platinum Best Seller!

I was working on something for later in the week and I noticed something really cool.

Ghosts of Albion is a Platinum Best Seller

Ghosts of Albion

I have a Platinum best-selling title!  I do admit I am pretty pleased by this. This game is my pride and joy. 

Another of my favorites is NIGHT SHIFT which is also moving up in the sales ranks.

NIGHT SHIFT

Silver is pretty good considering we had a successful Kickstarter and sell the book via the Elf Lair Games store-front

Ghosts of AlbionNIGHT SHIFT


Don't forget! The Night Companion is in the last days of its Kickstarter. Love to hit the 5k stretch goal, but 6k would be even better.

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 30 Mention

RPGaDAY2021 Day 30

Almost to the end!

Day 30 Mention

I thought I might mention some D&D-related content I am looking forward to.

From Wizards of the Coast

Some great-looking books coming up.

The Wild Beyond the Witchlight reminds me a bit of the Ravenloft Carnival product for 2e. Likely that is how I am going to use it.  Love the idea of a traveling carnival from the Feywild.  Plus the chance for the return of Warduke, Kelek, and Skylla?  Yeah, sign me up!

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons.  Ok, I am not looking forward to this one per se, but I am looking forward to seeing my oldest, dragon-loving, son get it.  Though it does look like it has a lot of cool things in it.

Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos. Seriously. How could I know be excited about this one? 

From Goodman Games

Original Adventures Reincarnated #6: Temple of Elemental Evil. I never played or ran the ToEE back in the day. I have planned on using it as the penultimate adventure for my D&D campaigns when they all end.  This two-volume set looks fantastic is exactly what I need for my campaign.

So yeah. I am sure there is more, but these are the ones on my mind right now.

Don't forget NIGHT SHIFT The Night Companion is nearing its last few days.  Give us some support. If we hit the stretch goal I will give a new Night World and this will keep me out of trouble for a while.


RPGaDAY2021

Sunday, August 29, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 29 System

RPGaDAY2021 Day 29

We can see the end from here!

Day 29 System

I feel today is going to be a lot about what sort of game system people prefer. Things like "d20" or "BRP" or a favorite of mine, "Unisystem."

Those are all good choices.  But today I want to talk about one that might not yet be yours or anyone's favorite. Not yet anyway.

Today I am going to talk about O.G.R.E.S. and a little bit about O.R.C.S.

The "S" in both stands for "System," so it is redundant to say "O.G.R.E.S. System" or "O.R.C.S. System" just O.G.R.E.S. and O.R.C.S. is fine. 

O.G.R.E.S.

O.G.R.E.S. stands for Oldschool Generic Roleplaying Engine System.  It is the system that powers NIGHT SHIFT.  It sits somewhere between the "rulings not rules" freeform of OD&D and the simple mechanics of d20.  The end result is something that feels very familiar and new at the same time.  

O.G.R.E.S. features three main subsystems as described by my co-author and designer Jason Vey. They are:

  • Percentile checks
  • d20 checks
  • The Rule of 2

The first two are likely self-explanatory, but here is Jason explaining all three in detail.

Percentile checks are used to check anything that requires a straight probability. Some class abilities use percentile checks (thief skills, for example, and the ranger's tracking). Other class abilities (the druid's nature lore ability) simply work. For the most part, however, any class ability requiring a check will use percentile dice. Also, just about every table in the game (with a few exceptions) uses a percentile roll.

d20 checks are used for anything combat-related. To hit rolls, saving throws, and turning undead are rolled on a d20.

The rule of 2: this is my name for a sub-system in D&D that has never been precisely codified, but is buried deep in the bones of the game. Any time a situation needs to be adjudicated in D&D for which there is not another system, throw a die, and on a result of 1 or 2, it happens. Listening at a door (and not a thief)? You hear noise on a 1 or 2. Looking to notice a secret door (and not a dwarf or elf)? Roll a d6 and you find it on a 1 or 2. Surprise? 1 or 2. The only thing that changes, for the most part, is the type of die--rangers, for example, use a d8 surprise die--and some character types may adjust the probability (elves noticing a secret door without searching is a 1 on a d6).

Three very simple subsystems.  Of course, all of these can be reduced to d% rolls.  But really it is all simple.  That is the point. In a game like NIGHT SHIFT action can happen very fast and you don't want a system of dice rolling to get in the way.

There is a hierarchy here of sorts.  Most things will be a d%, followed by combat-related actions with a  d20, and finally the Rule of 2. For everything else.

The Night Companion will expand on this and give you more options for play.

O.R.C.S.

O.R.C.S., or Optimized Roleplaying Core System, is the new version of the system that powers Spellcraft & Swordplay.  This system is heavily inspired by OD&D and other old-school play styles.

The core of O.R.C.S. is the 2d6 task resolution.  Much like the earliest form of D&D BEFORE the d20 was introduced.

Everyone talks about how Swords & Wizardry is the closest thing to OD&D, but they obviously have never played Spellcraft & Swordplay!

I am hoping we will see a lot more of O.G.R.E.S. and O.R.C.S. in the future.

Don't forget NIGHT SHIFT The Night Companion is nearing its last few days.  Give us some support. If we hit the stretch goal I will give a new Night World and this will keep me out of trouble for a while.


RPGaDAY2021