Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Adventure Week: The Mosidian Temple

The Mosidian Temple
 Here is another one I have been waiting for for a bit. The Mosidian Temple is from David Flor of Darklight Interactive. With this you actually get three products. There is the The Mosidian Temple, OSRIC version, the "Developer's Cut", and the original 1983 version.

The Mosidian Temple

by David Flor, 50 pages, color covers, black & white interior art.  Art and maps from David Flor, Dean Spencer, and Dyson Logos.

So, there is a lot to love about this adventure. First, I LOVE that it is an update of something David wrote in 1983. I wish I had saved some of my adventures from then. 

You don't need all three to run the adventures, but the original and the developer's cut are so much fun. 

The adventure is a dungeon crawl, pure and simple. Don't go looking for deep plots or characters; that is a "feature" and not a "bug."  There is a background here that is reminiscent of B1 In Search of the Unknown and T1 Villiage of Hommlet. An ancient temple, set up by some former adventurers, falls into ruins. A Macguffin hunt. Evil cults. There is nothing *new* here but that is fine, in fact that is great.  

Like all good adventures of the 1980s, this one features new monsters, new magic, and plenty of interesting locales. 

Monsters are given brief stats with notes to their page numbers in the Monster Manual. Not 100% sure that is fine with the OGL, but that is just me nickpicking. There are a LOT of monsters here too. This adventure will challenge the characters. It is listed for character levels 6 to 10, and I believe it. 

Half the fun of this adventure is reading the original version and the developer notes. 

The regular and developer editions are currently $5.99, and the Original 1983 edition is PWYW. So the price is quite good really.

How I Plan to Use This

Not quite sure just yet. It has a lot of potential but mostly it is just a fun adventure. No plot, no over arching narrative, just rolling dice like it is 1983. And honestly, what more do you need?

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Adventure Week: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

The Temple of the Serpent Queen
 Today's adventure is the eagerly anticipated adventure from The Danger Forge. If you have been on Facebook in any of the old-school groups, you have seen postings from The Danger Forge. I don't know much about them personally, but they seem to have a genuine love for all sorts of old-school style play.  And it seems, they have done their homework.

TQ1: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

This is their first adventure and you can get four different versions of it. I bought all four because I wanted to see the differences and how much work they put into making them different for the specific rules.

All four are largely the same and have only minor differences based on their OSR rules set of choice. All four are available as PDF and POD options.

It doesn't really matter which one you grab. Get the one for the rule system you are most comfortable with. 

While this is a great way to give people what they want, it also splits their sales among four different titles, making it harder for them to get a "Best Seller" medal. However, it will tell them which ruleset sells better for them.  

I am going to review all four as one. 

This adventure centers around the reawakening of Khaliassa, the ancient Serpent Queen of lost Samarra. She is a compelling NPC/Foe so building the adventure around was a good start.

Khaliassa

The adventure is 56 pages with maps (in proper Old-School blue), License declarations, and covers. The covers are full color, and the interior art is black & white. Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

The adventure is divided into four chapters, roughly a chapter for each major location. There is some background, largely background on Khaliassa and her realm. Other than that, this adventure can be dropped into just about any campaign that has a rainforest-like environment. 

This adventure also includes plenty of new monsters, new magic, some NPCs to add to the adventure, and pre-generated characters.

The adventure itself is a simple affair. Someone has awakened an angry demi-goddess, and now she wants to rise to power again. There is even a neat little mechanic for much more powerful she gets as time goes on.

This one hits all the nostalgia buttons. 

The art is good, but the layout and presentation are excellent. The Danger Forge knows when to invoke nostalgia and when not to be a slave to it. 

Khaliassa reminds me of Shahmaran from Turkish myth, and I think I see some subtle hints that this is what The Danger Forge was going for, albeit an evil version. 

The adventure is fun and can be run in a couple of longer sessions, to be honest. If this is their first then The Danger Forge is off to a great start.

How I Plan to Use This

I have to admit when I first saw I thought I might be able to slot it in as a potential adventure for War of the Witch Queens, but the more I read it I had other ideas.

Deserts of Desolation & Death

My Deserts of Desolation & Death, the second act of the Second Campaign, is one I have been thinking about a lot lately. This would fit in perfectly between I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City and I3 Pharaoh. Maybe as a companion adventure to I2 Tomb of the Lizard King. I can see the Lizard King and the Serpent Queen in a centuries long war. 

Considering how I am converting my "Second Campaign" over to Castles & Crusades, this would fit in just fine.

Now. Do I print it out to put in my Second Campaign binder, or do I buy a POD?

Monday, July 22, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 22 July Log of the Demeter (Cont)

 More log of the ill-fated Demeter.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


22 July.—Rough weather last three days, and all hands busy with sails—no time to be frightened. Men seem to have forgotten their dread. Mate cheerful again, and all on good terms. Praised men for work in bad weather. Passed Gibralter and out through Straits. All well.

 

Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Calm before the storm?


Adventure Week: Faerie Tales (Quest of the Ancients)

Quest of the Ancients: Faerie Tales
I wrapped up two big projects last week and turned in my final draft of my materials for Thirteen Parsecs. So my schedule is back to being open. This week I am going to focus on a few adventures I have recently acquired and how I might use them.  Today is a rather special one.

Quest of the Ancients: Faerie Tales

Today's adventure was a bit of a surprise. I have been playing around with Quest of the Ancients recently, I was talking with QotA creator Vince Garcia and I bought a new core rules book from him for my son to use. I also picked up one of the last pieces for my collection, the adventure anthology Faerie Tales

I have to admit I had not had any plans for it until I began to read through it. Now I am really happy to have it.

The anthology consists of three small adventures and three longer ones.

Black Shuck (1st to 3rd level) is a "pocket" adventure featuring the black dog of English folklore and myth. It is a smaller adventure and one that can easily be dropped in anywhere. The PCs must get across a swamp (or a wet moor as I plan to use it) and avoid the demonic hound.

Dreamspinner's Art Gallery (Any level) introduces the party to one Islay's (the realm of QotA) powerful witches. She is a 15th level artistic witch and the adventure has a lot of flexibility to use as the starting point for plenty of other adventures. 

Hot Sands (3rd to 5th level) is our last pocket adventure and takes place in a desert. 

The Witch's Tower (1st to 4th level) deals with the return of witch that had been bound to her tower. The first of the three longer adventures.

The Star Splinter (4th to 5th level) is the second of the three longer adventures dealing with an ancient meteor. 

Belshazzar's Music Show (Any level) deals with a travelling music show that is more than meets the eye.

Every adventure comes with detailed NPCs and new monsters.  There is even a three-page writer's guideline in the back for people who want to write for QotA.

The adventures are not Earth-shaking, but they are fun and I am happy to have them. Converting them to say OSR-style D&D is such a non-issue that at one point, I forgot I was reading something designed for a different game. There are charts in back to help with this.

Quest of the Ancients

How I Plan to Use These

I have been thinking a lot about adventures lately. I have a few I want to get done for various projects/publishers, and a few I want to run.

War of the Witch Queens

A lot of these are perfect for my War of the Witch Queens. I feel like I need to include something from Vince in that campaign. I did a little with DL15 Mists of Krynn, but these are a better fit. In particualr I want to include Dreamspinner's Art Gallery and The Witch's Tower as a single adventure arc.  Black Shuck could fit in there are well. 

Deserts of Desolation & Death

My Deserts of Desolation & Death, the second act of the Second Campaign, is one I have been thinking about a lot lately. Hot Sands helps me fill in some gaps.

I am sure I can find homes for the other adventures as well. 

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 20 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient. Has he made a new discovery?

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


20 July.—Visited Renfield very early, before the attendant went his rounds. Found him up and humming a tune. He was spreading out his sugar, which he had saved, in the window, and was manifestly beginning his fly-catching again; and beginning it cheerfully and with a good grace. I looked around for his birds, and not seeing them, asked him where they were. He replied, without turning round, that they had all flown away. There were a few feathers about the room and on his pillow a drop of blood. I said nothing, but went and told the keeper to report to me if there were anything odd about him during the day.

 

11 a. m.—The attendant has just been to me to say that Renfield has been very sick and has disgorged a whole lot of feathers. “My belief is, doctor,” he said, “that he has eaten his birds, and that he just took and ate them raw!”

 

11 p. m.—I gave Renfield a strong opiate to-night, enough to make even him sleep, and took away his pocket-book to look at it. The thought that has been buzzing about my brain lately is complete, and the theory proved. My homicidal maniac is of a peculiar kind. I shall have to invent a new classification for him, and call him a zoöphagous (life-eating) maniac; what he desires is to absorb as many lives as he can, and he has laid himself out to achieve it in a cumulative way. He gave many flies to one spider and many spiders to one bird, and then wanted a cat to eat the many birds. What would have been his later steps? It would almost be worth while to complete the experiment. It might be done if there were only a sufficient cause. Men sneered at vivisection, and yet look at its results to-day! Why not advance science in its most difficult and vital aspect—the knowledge of the brain? Had I even the secret of one such mind—did I hold the key to the fancy of even one lunatic—I might advance my own branch of science to a pitch compared with which Burdon-Sanderson’s physiology or Ferrier’s brain-knowledge would be as nothing. If only there were a sufficient cause! I must not think too much of this, or I may be tempted; a good cause might turn the scale with me, for may not I too be of an exceptional brain, congenitally?

How well the man reasoned; lunatics always do within their own scope. I wonder at how many lives he values a man, or if at only one. He has closed the account most accurately, and to-day begun a new record. How many of us begin a new record with each day of our lives?

To me it seems only yesterday that my whole life ended with my new hope, and that truly I began a new record. So it will be until the Great Recorder sums me up and closes my ledger account with a balance to profit or loss. Oh, Lucy, Lucy, I cannot be angry with you, nor can I be angry with my friend whose happiness is yours; but I must only wait on hopeless and work. Work! work!

If I only could have as strong a cause as my poor mad friend there—a good, unselfish cause to make me work—that would be indeed happiness.


Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Seward is getting a little ahead of himself here, but that is understandable. Every doctor, at one time or another, thinks they have a case that will blow apart our understanding of medical or brain science. 

In the movies, Bram Stoker's Dracula in particular, this is also explained by the fact that Seward was also taking opiates. An almost unnecessary addition, really. You spend enough time working with, and around the mentally ill you begin to lose track of what is normal. 

In any case, Renfield's own experiments seem to be at an impasse. He can eat flies and spiders, but birds make him sick. That means there is at least one Little Old Lady that is better at this than he is.  Now, there is a chilling thought.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 19 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient and things are getting more dangerous.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


19 July.—We are progressing. My friend has now a whole colony of sparrows, and his flies and spiders are almost obliterated. When I came in he ran to me and said he wanted to ask me a great favour—a very, very great favour; and as he spoke he fawned on me like a dog. I asked him what it was, and he said, with a sort of rapture in his voice and bearing:—

“A kitten, a nice little, sleek playful kitten, that I can play with, and teach, and feed—and feed—and feed!” I was not unprepared for this request, for I had noticed how his pets went on increasing in size and vivacity, but I did not care that his pretty family of tame sparrows should be wiped out in the same manner as the flies and the spiders; so I said I would see about it, and asked him if he would not rather have a cat than a kitten. His eagerness betrayed him as he answered:—

“Oh, yes, I would like a cat! I only asked for a kitten lest you should refuse me a cat. No one would refuse me a kitten, would they?” I shook my head, and said that at present I feared it would not be possible, but that I would see about it. His face fell, and I could see a warning of danger in it, for there was a sudden fierce, sidelong look which meant killing. The man is an undeveloped homicidal maniac. I shall test him with his present craving and see how it will work out; then I shall know more.

 

10 p. m.—I have visited him again and found him sitting in a corner brooding. When I came in he threw himself on his knees before me and implored me to let him have a cat; that his salvation depended upon it. I was firm, however, and told him that he could not have it, whereupon he went without a word, and sat down, gnawing his fingers, in the corner where I had found him. I shall see him in the morning early.

 

Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Renfield is progressing to larger and "higher" life-forms. Seward sees this as a progression towards homicidal mania, and he is not too far off, both in terms of the story and real-world psychology.

We know that many serial killers progress from harming animals to later humans. Not that all who harm animals will be serial killers, some are just assholes, but most serial killers start out this way. 

Kickstart Your Weekend: The Mosidian Temple: D&D 5th Edition Conversion

 I just turned in my last bit of content for Thirteen Parsecs and finished up two other projects, so I am back at it today.  Almost.  I wanted to get you some reviews up of some adventures I bought recently, but time ran out. I'll do them next week. Make a week of it I think! 

One of the adventures I am going to review is David Flor's The Mosidian Temple. In the meantime, he is running a Kickstarter for the 5th Edition version of it and it is worth checking out.

The Mosidian Temple: D&D 5th Edition Conversion

The Mosidian Temple: D&D 5th Edition Conversion

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dlimedia/the-mosidian-temple-dandd-5th-edition-conversion?ref=theotherside

Like many of us, David Flor wrote D&D adventures as a kid. He happened to save this one, and honestly, from what I have read of it so far, it is a lot of fun.

This is the 5e conversion, so perfect for when the new Player's Handbook drops in a bit. 

It's fun. It's nostalgic, and you help out an independent publisher. 

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 18 July Log of the Demeter

Log of the ill-fated Demeter.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


18 July.Varna to Whitby.

Written 18 July, things so strange happening, that I shall keep accurate note henceforth till we land.

 

On 6 July we finished taking in cargo, silver sand and boxes of earth. At noon set sail. East wind, fresh. Crew, five hands ... two mates, cook, and myself (captain).

 

On 11 July at dawn entered Bosphorus. Boarded by Turkish Customs officers. Backsheesh. All correct. Under way at 4 p. m.

 

On 12 July through Dardanelles. More Customs officers and flagboat of guarding squadron. Backsheesh again. Work of officers thorough, but quick. Want us off soon. At dark passed into Archipelago.

 

On 13 July passed Cape Matapan. Crew dissatisfied about something. Seemed scared, but would not speak out.

 

On 14 July was somewhat anxious about crew. Men all steady fellows, who sailed with me before. Mate could not make out what was wrong; they only told him there was something, and crossed themselves. Mate lost temper with one of them that day and struck him. Expected fierce quarrel, but all was quiet.

 

On 16 July mate reported in the morning that one of crew, Petrofsky, was missing. Could not account for it. Took larboard watch eight bells last night; was relieved by Abramoff, but did not go to bunk. Men more downcast than ever. All said they expected something of the kind, but would not say more than there was something aboard. Mate getting very impatient with them; feared some trouble ahead.

 

On 17 July, yesterday, one of the men, Olgaren, came to my cabin, and in an awestruck way confided to me that he thought there was a strange man aboard the ship. He said that in his watch he had been sheltering behind the deck-house, as there was a rain-storm, when he saw a tall, thin man, who was not like any of the crew, come up the companion-way, and go along the deck forward, and disappear. He followed cautiously, but when he got to bows found no one, and the hatchways were all closed. He was in a panic of superstitious fear, and I am afraid the panic may spread. To allay it, I shall to-day search entire ship carefully from stem to stern.

 

Later in the day I got together the whole crew, and told them, as they evidently thought there was some one in the ship, we would search from stem to stern. First mate angry; said it was folly, and to yield to such foolish ideas would demoralise the men; said he would engage to keep them out of trouble with a handspike. I let him take the helm, while the rest began thorough search, all keeping abreast, with lanterns: we left no corner unsearched. As there were only the big wooden boxes, there were no odd corners where a man could hide. Men much relieved when search over, and went back to work cheerfully. First mate scowled, but said nothing.

 

Notes

Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Something is going on aboard the doomed ship Demeter.  I have not watched "The Last Voyage of the Demeter" yet (I know, I am behind) so it will be interesting to see how it fits with the novel. 


Tuesday, July 16, 2024

More Updates

 Still a crazy time here with the day job and trying to get Darker Stars done. 

I have been getting a bunch of behind the scenes updates done here as well. Getting my #RPGaDay posts sorted. Getting my October posts figured out, not just for my horror movies, but also various reviews and posts for the RPG Blog Carnival.

When I have some free time (which is never) I am also poking around trying to update and modernize this old TRS-80 computer.

TRS-80

As you can see I have not gotten very far.  But I think everything I need is there. It is an upgrade from 64k to 16g. That is an increase in memory of 250,000 times. Not too bad, really. 

A few other projects I still have going.

My Forgotten Realms exploration continues. My oldest is currently running what we are calling "It's Always Sunny in Waterdeep." The PCs have gained the deed to a bar and are in the process of building it up and going on side quests to fund it. Of course, this isn't "Cheers," so the side quests usually involve something illegal. 

I am helping update the classic "A Paladin in Hell" to be a sequel to "Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus" and calling it "A Barbarian in Hell."  Everyone in his group has played Baldur's Gate 3, so they are all very eager to go to Hell and rescue Karlach.

A Barbarian in Hell

Under 5e A Barbarian in Hell is a killer adventure. I am expecting more than one death here.

A Barbarian in Hell

I'll have to let you know how it all goes.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Kickstart Your Weekend: Fantastic Quest of Whimsical One & Lost Tomb of Mummy Lich

 More Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games!

Fantastic Quest of Whimsical One & Lost Tomb of Mummy Lich

Fantastic Quest of Whimsical One & Lost Tomb of Mummy Lich

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marktaormino/mmd-10-fantastic-quest-and-mmd-11-lost-tomb?ref=theotherside

I mean by now you should know what these are all about.

The Fantastic Quest of Whimsical One features art from Erol Otus, so that is a nice added feature. 

Both of these fit well with my idea of a long campaign for B/X or OSE. And they look like a lot of fun!

No 5e versions this time around though.

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Quests from the Infinite Staircase

 I picked up the new D&D 5 adventure omnibus, Stairway to HeavenQuests from the Infinite Staircase yesterday. It looks like it was well done.

Quests from the Infinite Staircase

Quests from the Infinite Staircase

The back cover has a "50" logo on the back which is nice, but damn, Wizards is really dropping the ball on this 50th Anniversary.

The adventures are some classics.

The Lost City

The Lost City

I have not looked to see how well this new version of the Lost City compares tot he Goodman Games version out a few years ago. I know there are a lot of tweaks to the older adventures in this new version.


Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

The Expedition to the Barrier Peaks looks down right scary, which is great as far as I am concerned. 


The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth is an old favorite of mine and this new version looks like a lot of fun. 

Drelnza

It even has stats (as it should) for my old girl-friend Drelnza.

Beyond the Crystal Cave

Of all of these , Beyond the Crystal Cave is the only one I have not run or played in. As you can see, my old copy is a bit worse for the wear. 

Infinite Staircse and 13th Doctor

I also picked up the Thirteenth Doctor sourcebook for the Doctor Who RPG. It also looks great.

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Larina Nix and Malcear for Quest of the Ancients

 The other night my oldest son Liam and I were going to continue our AD&D 2nd Ed game in the Forgotten Realms. I got to talking about about some of the NPCs of the Realms and mentioned the strangest one I knew was Raven of Raven's Bluff.  Which got me on the topic of Quest of the Ancients in general and what a Fantasy Heartbreaker was. He asked if I had stated up Larina for it already, and too my utter shock I saw I had not.

Instead of playing some AD&D 2nd Ed, we rolled up characters for Quest of the Ancients. I built Larina and he did his human/demon-hybrid assassin Malcear. 

Quest of the Ancients


I do want to extend my public thanks to Vince Garcia. I told my wife there was a game developer out there who was as obsessed with witches and Stevie Nicks as me, and she didn't believe it.

Larina Nix
Larina Nix
13th level Human Witch
Female

Armor rating: 0 / 0
Tactical move: 10'
Stamina points: 36
Body points: 10

Stats
St 9 (Dmg. +0, L/N/H/VH Load 18/45/63/90, Max lift 180)
Ag 12 (AR att +0)
Cn 12 (Rest 7, Stamina/Body recovery 1/1)
IQ 20 (memorization time 1)
Ch 19 (Reaction +15%)
Ap 18
Lk 7

Attack 1
Combat phase: 4
Dmg: 1D4+1 (dagger) or by spell
Ethics: I
Size: 5'4", 125#

Witch Abilities
A: Create Focus (wand)
B: Additional Combat Skill Slot (2 for 4 total)
C: Create Potions and Elixirs
D: Form Coven

Skills (200 pts)
Language: 50 (read/write 10)
Courtliness: 15%
Danger Sense: 4%
Herbalism: 60%
Music: 10%
Nature Lore: 10%

Spells

Rank 1: Beguile, Control Fire, Disenchantment, Evil Eye, Magic Dart, Read Magic Script, Skull of Flame, Slumber, Trick, Whisper, Witch Warrior
Rank 2: Cure Wounds, Enchant Bracers, Fire Darts, Jack-o-lantern, Moon Sigils, Witch Wand, Witch Wind
Rank 3: Babble, Charm, Charm, Electric Arc, Energy Blast, Hand of Glory, Sheet Lightning, Starburst, Witch Mark
Rank 4: Bat Swarm, Death's Eye, Hex, Shooting Stars, Time Vision, Witch's Eye
Rank 5: Candle Magic, Cauldron of Magic, Moon Web, Witchfire
Rank 6: Aura of Fear, Enflame, Pentagram of Protection, Starfire
Rank 7: Ethereal Whirlwind, Witch Ward


Malcear
1st level Human (demonic) Assassin
Male

Armor rating: 1 / 1
Tactical move: 10'
Stamina points: 36
Body points: 10

Stats
St 17 (Dmg. +1, L/N/H/VH Load 34/85/119/170, Max lift 340)
Ag 20 (AR att -5)
Cn 15 (Rest 6, Stamina/Body recovery 1/1)
IQ 15 
Ch 12 (Reaction +0%)
Ap 13
Lk 10

Attack 1
Combat phase: 1
Dmg: 1D6+1 x (short sword) 
Ethics: I
Size: 5'8", 175#

Assassin Abilities
Disguise: 40%
Information Gathering: 37%
Stealth: 45%
Climb: 67%
Concealment: 40%
Detrap: 40%
Lock Pick: 40%

Skills (150 pts)
Blindsight: 30 pts
Danger Sense: 24%

Larina and Malcear in Islay

--

Ok. Not bad. The system was not really enough to keep Liam's attention, so we did not try to play it. I am thinking I have extracted pretty much everything out of this game I can get. I think this one is moving to the lower shelves now.

Unlike some other games I have tried out over the last couple of years, I do not recommend this one as a D&D 5 replacement. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Mail Call: More Mayhem from Dark Wizard Games

 Nice little surprise in the mail today.  Two new adventures from Mark Taormino's Maximum Mayhem adventures from Dark Wizard Games.

Adventures from Dark Wizards Games

Again there are 5e versions (for my kids) and classic OSR versions for me.

The OSR maps are in classic blue and the 5e are in full color.

Seven Golden Demons

Slime Pits of the Sewer Witch

Legend of the Seven Golden Demons is his highest-level adventure to date at levels 14-18.  This will stretch my ability to use these for OSE-Advanced, but I am sure I can do it.

Maximum Mayhem Adventures

Slime Pits of the Sewer Witch is a low-level mini-adventure that honestly looks like a lot of fun. Normally I would put this one in with the others in my Maximum Mayhem box to run as a gonzo campaign. But my box is getting full, and I can add it to my War of the Witch Queens adventures instead. 

War of the Witch Queens

 Right now I have WAY too many adventures to run, so I should maybe be more selective on what I get.

Monday, July 8, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 8 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


8 July.—There is a method in his madness, and the rudimentary idea in my mind is growing. It will be a whole idea soon, and then, oh, unconscious cerebration! you will have to give the wall to your conscious brother. I kept away from my friend for a few days, so that I might notice if there were any change. Things remain as they were except that he has parted with some of his pets and got a new one. He has managed to get a sparrow, and has already partially tamed it. His means of taming is simple, for already the spiders have diminished. Those that do remain, however, are well fed, for he still brings in the flies by tempting them with his food.


Notes

Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous

Stoker was reading up on popular theories of the new and growing field of psychology. Sometimes I wonder if my reading Dracula at an early age was not some seed that later put me on the path of a psychologist. 

I wonder what will happen to the sparrow?

#RPGaDAY2024 for August

 I know I have been really quiet here for a bit, trying to wrap up everything for Thirteen Parsecs. But I am taking a break to let you know I will be participating in Dave Chapman's #RPGaDAY2024 for August. I have done it in years past and this looks like a good list of prompts.

#RPGaDay2024

Here are the text prompts.

  1. First RPG bought this year
  2. Most recently played
  3. Most often played RPG
  4. RPG with great art
  5. RPG with great writing
  6. RPG that is easy to use
  7. RPG with 'good form'
  8. An accessory you appreciate
  9. An accessory you'd like to see
  10. RPG you'd like to see on TV
  11. RPG with well-supported one-shots
  12. RPG with well-supported campaigns
  13. Evocative environments
  14. Compelling characters
  15. Great character gear
  16. Quick to learn
  17. An engaging RPG community
  18. Memorable moment of play
  19. Sensational session
  20. Amazing adventure
  21. Classic campaign
  22. Notable non-player character
  23. Peerless player
  24. Acclaimed advice
  25. Desirable dice
  26. Superb screen
  27. Marvelous miniature
  28. Great gamer gadget
  29. Awesome app
  30. Person you'd like to game with
  31. Game or gamer you miss
  32. Alternative - Amazing anecdote

There is also an alternate version from Skala Wyzwania. who I do not know but seems to be a name in the Polish RPG scene. Here are her prompts.

Skala RPGaDay

Text version of the alternative campaign:

  1. Runes
  2. Forest
  3. Demonology
  4. Cosmos
  5. Fairies
  6. Portal
  7. Forgotten City
  8. Experiment
  9. Heroes
  10. Steampunk
  11. Invasion
  12. Parallel Worlds
  13. Zombie
  14. Awakening
  15. Genetics
  16. Dungeon
  17. AI
  18. Curse
  19. Hologram
  20. Battle 
  21. Disaster
  22. Interdimensional Space
  23. Ritual
  24. Antique
  25. Mutant
  26. Tattoo
  27. Shapeshifting
  28. Mimic
  29. Knight
  30. Trap 
  31. Dragons

Each day roll d10 to go with the prompt:

  1. Describe a Monster
  2. Create an NPC
  3. Write a Bulletin Board Quest
  4. Invent an Item
  5. Write a legend or rumour 
  6. Create a random table
  7. Create a simple mechanic
  8. Present an idea for a Random Encounter
  9. Write an Eavesdroppable Dialogue
  10. Draw!

I am not sure if I'll do just Dave's, both, or a combination.

In any case, it should be fun.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 1 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals


1 July.—His spiders are now becoming as great a nuisance as his flies, and to-day I told him that he must get rid of them. He looked very sad at this, so I said that he must clear out some of them, at all events. He cheerfully acquiesced in this, and I gave him the same time as before for reduction. He disgusted me much while with him, for when a horrid blow-fly, bloated with some carrion food, buzzed into the room, he caught it, held it exultantly for a few moments between his finger and thumb, and, before I knew what he was going to do, put it in his mouth and ate it. I scolded him for it, but he argued quietly that it was very good and very wholesome; that it was life, strong life, and gave life to him. This gave me an idea, or the rudiment of one. I must watch how he gets rid of his spiders. He has evidently some deep problem in his mind, for he keeps a little note-book in which he is always jotting down something. Whole pages of it are filled with masses of figures, generally single numbers added up in batches, and then the totals added in batches again, as though he were “focussing” some account, as the auditors put it.


Notes

Moon Phase: Waxing Crescent

This is the start of one of the great exchanges in the novel, a prequel as it were to the exchanges between Van Helsing and Dracula. Note that in the novel, there is actually very little interaction with Dracula in London and Dracula and Van Helsing have no interactions at all.  But that is for a later date.

Here, we see the acolytes match wits. Renfield is Dracula's and Seward is Van Helsing's. 

Personal notes.

I played Seward in our High School production of Dracula. 

Years later, when working on my Master's degree in psychology, I was a QMHP (Qualified Mental Health Professional) for the State of Illinois. I worked with schizophrenics and yes, I saw one or two of them eat bugs.

Monstrous Mondays: Nouveau Orcs

 Still busy this week so this is drive-by. 

Art previews of the new D&D 5R (D&D 2024) Player's Handbook were released including art for orcs as a playable species.  As expected the Grognard crowd is taking this with measured patience one should expect from the elder statesmen of our hobby.

5r Orcs

No, they didn't. They predictably completely lost their shit. Again.

This seems especially true of the segments that claim never to play "WotC" versions of D&D and don't pay any attention to them.  So the ones that will be least likely to play this version are also bitching and moaning the loudest.

I mean the art is bit too cutesy for me, but a.) this is for a Player's book, not the monster book. and b.) I am not (nor should I be) the target audience.  That is something I am going to get back to, but let's address the prominent issue; that of non-evil orcs.

When it comes to orcs many like to point to their history as defined by the Professor. This great, IF (and only if) we are talking about Lord of the Rings or Middle-Earth. This is D&D and Gary did nothing else if not spend a lot of ink telling us that D&D is not Lord of the Rings. So all the talk of "Melkor can't create" is cute but has little bearing here. 

D&D and AD&D has had "good orcs" before, this is not a new concept. The Forgotten Realms boxed set had them. The AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendiums had them. Good Orcs are not a new thing. Even Half-orcs were a playable race as long as they were non-good.

One of the cardinal rules of D&D has always been to change what you want to work with your group. That means yes, people can have "good" orcs, and other groups can have "evil" orcs. This should counter any "one true wayism" that seems to clutter up the D&D-related YouTube channels.  

Besides no one is saying you can't have purely evil orcs as well. I have several sub-species of orc, some good, many very evil. Works great for me. Pathfinder 2 has orcs you can have as characters and still fight. 

I think what the older crowd, of which I am a member of that crowd, needs to realize is that we are no longer being catered to. We do not have the buying power we have enjoyed for so long. This group, or at least many members of it, have said "we are not buying any non-TSR D&D" and WotC has said "fine, we don't really need your money."  And they don't. The younger generations have shown they have buying power all on their own. 

Look, Wizards of the Coast is not without some serious flaws and a lot of blame. Their handling of the OGL, sending out Pinkertons, all the layoffs and firings. Not to mention some rather lack lustre adventures. But freaking out over good orcs? Yeah, that should not even be on the list.

So here are a couple of reminders.

  1. Whatever appears in the D&D 5r books only maters to people playing D&D 5r.
  2. Nothing posted in D&D 5r effects any other game. Same as nothing in Pathfinder effects any version of D&D.
  3. Despite the Chicken Littling out there no past book has ever been changed.

Play how you want. Let others play how they want. Stop acting like it's the end of the damn world.

Better yet, adopt these new orcs into your old-school games to challenge your players.