Showing posts with label #RPGaDAY. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #RPGaDAY. Show all posts

Saturday, August 31, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Last

Today's topic is Last.

Here we are at the Last.  The last post of the 2019 #RPGaDay.  What have we all shared and learned?


It has been a real treat to interact with so many people here on my blog and online.

I found a lot of great new people on Instagram and Twitter and that has been great.
I discovered a couple of new games that I hope to get to try out someday.

My personal goal was do all of these.  Last year I was going through some health issues that prevented me from getting last year's done (nothing major and it is taken care of now), same with the October Horror Movie Challenge.

I am of the frame of mind that the ending of one thing is the start of something new.  I am a big believer of “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”

So with that I close the door on #RPGaDAY2019 and look forward to the October Horror Movie Challenge and #RPGaDAY for 2020.

Friday, August 30, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Connection

Today's topic is Connection.

While in games this is an easy thing to do, in the online-related world of selling games it is a bit harder.



One of the big reasons I wanted to do this #RPGaDay was the potential of connecting with others.  To see what sort of cool things we are all doing and share it that.  Like my post yesterday I mentioned I enjoy a lot of games. I also enjoy talking to people that make games.  All sorts of games really.

Ultimately I want more people to see my games and me to see other people's games too.

Drop me a note if you discovered me through the #RPGaDAY2019.  I am very curious.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Evolve

Today's topic is Evolve.

I think most gamers would agree that their play style will evolve over the years.  How have their games evolved?


I have had the pleasure and the privilege to have run many games over many years. Decades really.

The way I played in the late 70s and early 80s is very different than what I was doing in the late 90s and early 2000s and those are both very different than today.

I think if I had to describe my growth or change (who knows if a change is better until you test it) it is not Evolution but rather Assimilation

Even in the very beginning, I was taking ideas from other games and making them part of my own game.

I have talked at length about my love of the RPG Chill.  I have also talked at great length of my love for story and character of Dracula.   I always wanted a vampire like Dracula in my games. But more than just the stats in the Monster Manual or the D&D Expert book.  A real, un-breathing, un-living character to go after the characters. Or, more to the point, the character to go after.

Enter Chill Vampires.



This book and the Vampyre mini-game from TSR gave me something D&D was not. A playable Dracula (and Elizabeth Bathory and Jackson Dela Croix and more) with Dracula's castle.  I worked it in and came up with a 13 HD version of Dracula and a brief adventure stolen from the pages of Marvel Comics version of Dracula.
Then in 1983 the Hickmans did it all several orders of magnitude better with Ravenloft.  So yeah I grabbed that and all vampires in my games became named NPCs.  There was no such thing as a random vampire, lich or spectre in my games after that.

I suppose then it is no surprise I ended up working on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.

In a way, Ghosts of Albion is that assimilation in reverse. Starting with my then pinnacle of achievements (the Buffy line) and adding in elements from my past (Chill, D&D, and WitchCraft).

Even today I grab what I want from other games and mix as I need.  It is one of the reasons I have a Plays Well With Others feature here.  I have a new one coming up too that is a subset of that.  Can't wait to debut it.

This is also the reason I don't understand the attitude of "One True Wayism"  even if I didn't take material from other games in my playing I would still change over the years, so I know there is no one true way.  I have also worked on too many different games to believe that.

When I hear someone say "I only play D&D." or "I will never try game X." my first thought is "wow, how sad for you."  There are so many great games out there and even if I never play them all (and I couldn't possibly) that does not diminish their worth. Who knows, maybe the next love of my life is out there now sitting on someone's computer waiting to be published.  I might get to play it, but I will certainly adapt it for games.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Love

Today's topic is Love.

There are a lot of things I love about RPGs.  I could go on about the games I love, or the social aspects, or the friends I have made over the years.  But today I think I want to talk about one love I have not talked about before.

Gen Con.



I love Gen Con.  I do.  The larger it gets the more I love it.  I started going only recently, the last 12 years, but I love everything about it.

I love the spectacle, I love the dealer's hall, the food trucks, staying in the hotel with my family, playing games all day and all night.

Every year for the last few years we have been staying at the same hotel, the JW Marriot Indy, so showing up there feels like, well, coming home.  My kids love the hotel and we are within walking distance of everything we want.  The Marriot has open gaming till 3:00am in their ballrooms, so it has been our tradition to play a game of D&D 5 for the last 5-6 years every night.




Every year we also try out new places to eat and we LOVE the food trucks. We love the cosplay parade and all the cosplay there.



Of course, there are the games.  I try to get a nice variety in with the kids. We try out new games, play some old ones.  One year I did "The History of D&D" for my family where we played every edition we could get into. Where else can you do that?

This is no slight to other cons, I have had great times there too.  But Gen Con is our love.
I also know that people complain it is "too big", not me.  I love the fact that 70,000 people are there.


It is a great feeling to be in a place where 70k+ people are there all for the same reasons.  It is a wonderful time. 

I know there will be a time when we don't go. My kids are getting older, it is getting more expensive and that drive from Chicago to Indy is the WORST.  But for now, I am going to enjoy Gen Con with my family. 


Tuesday, August 27, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Suspense

Today's topic is Suspense.

Want Suspense?

How's this.  Tune in later today for a big announcement! ;)


Monday, August 26, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Idea

Today's topic is Idea.

Ideas come from a lot of different places.  For example, this weekend's big idea came from my desire to do something big.


I am wrapping up my first big D&D 5 campaign, The Order of the Platinum Dragon, which will end in the Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, but instead of using the "Steampunk" spider ship, I am going with the fan-created adventure Skein Of The Death Mother by John A. Turcotte.

My idea is to do something really special.

I have 5 2ft x 2ft pieces of a shitty particle-board.  I have tubing, I have some LED lights. I have a ton of plastic spiders and a few broken mini-figures. I will get some spider-webs from the Halloween store, some gaming paper, some paint.  I bet there are some maps I can print too.

I am going to build some giant "geomorphs".

The plan is not really to replicate the map above but to get the feel of it.  I am likely to make rooms close to 13, 21 and 26 above, but also do some of the clusters of smaller rooms too.

I have 5  boards, so I figure I can "geomorph" them enough to build something really cool and flexible.

It should not take me too long, unless I get loss in the details, but it should still be fun.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Calamity

Today's topic is Calamity.

In many ways, this post is a continuation of my post on Lost.


One of the things all my Lost Lands have in common is they are lost due to some calamity.

Atlantis, Doggerland and East Beleriand were taken back by the sea.  Their secrets hidden by the waves.

For the Suel Empire, it was the Rain of Colorless Fire.  And that makes it interesting.

I think flooding is something we can get.  We see it. Some have experienced it.  I  grew up near the Illinois River Valley.  My wife grew up near the Fox River Valley (it was her backyard).  We have both seen several "once in a lifetime" floods.   Flooding I get. I know what happens, even when it is terrible.

Fire from the sky?  That is some apocalypse level shit.

Ithink that is also one of the reasons that attracted me so much to the whole Suel Empire.  Their world was just under a sea, in this case the Sea of Dust, but they were wiped out by fire.  Like Pompei.

A good calamity can add some gravitas to your world.  Plus it helps explain all those lost treasure hordes dragons seem to have.


Rain of Fire 
Level: Witch Ritual 6
Ritual Requirements: Minimum 3 witches, see text
Range: See text
Duration: See text
"It is said that only those that give life know the price of taking a life.  This is why only witches were given the power to destroy." - from the Journal of Larina Nix

The witches of old had powerful rituals both of creating life and creating death. This ritual is very much the latter.
Three or more witches are needed for the most basic version of this horrible ritual, more witches added the more devastating the effects.  Each witch must know this ritual.
The witches take a prepared focus item, an effigy made from the same materials of their target.  Usually a town or a locale. Each witch contributes a bit of blood (1hp worth) to item's creation since life must be given to take life
Once the ritual has begun the witches make a plea and summons to dark gods of vengeance, destruction, and fire.   The pleas, once heard, will be answered in kind, with vengeance, destruction, and fire.   

The witches then burn the effigy, each providing the flame via magic.  Once that is done the fire rains down on the actual location destroying it and anyone in it.  Victims can run from the location if they make it out of the area, they will be safe, but a save vs. Spells must be made or take 1d6 hp of damage per all the level of the witches involved, or half on a save.

Witches Participating
Minimum Damage
Area Sq. Miles
3
36d6
5
4
48d6
10
5
60d6
25
6
72d6
50
7
84d6
100
8
96d6
250
9
108d6
500
10
120d6
1,000
12
144d6
2,500
13
156d6
5,000

Material Components: The effigy of the place targeted, made with materials from the target. Each witch also uses a rod of ash that she uses to focus her energy on the effigy then they raise their rods to sky to direct the energy out to the target.  Each witch also contributes 1hp worth of blood in the casting.

This ritual is rare and all witches must know ritual in order to cast it.

I wonder what lies in the Suel Cities of Dust?  Treasures? The Suel people preserved only as ashen shells?  One day I should find out.

Water was running; children were running 
You were running out of time 
Under the mountain, a golden fountain 
Were you praying at the Lares shrine? 

But oh your city lies in dust, my friend 

We found you hiding we found you lying
Choking on the dirt and sand
Your former glories and all the stories
Dragged and washed with eager hands 

But oh your city lies in dust, my friend 

Water was running; children were running
We found you hiding we found you lying 

But oh your city lies in dust, my friend 
Hot and burning in your nostrils
Pouring down your gaping mouth
Your molten bodies blanket of cinders
Caught in the throes 

And your city lies in dust

Saturday, August 24, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Triumph

Today's topic is Triumph.

Let's all cast our minds back to the early and mid-80s when D&D was getting REALLY popular.



There are more, if you want to find them.  Lots more really.

The biggest Triumph we have had as RPG players and geeks, in general, is that society has come to embrace us.

The biggest movies in the world now are all nerdy topics that never would have worked in the 80s.  Comic-books, stories about wizards, Lord of the Rings, movies about Aliens.

Let's have a look at the at the top box office earners according to Box Office Mojo.

1Star Wars: The Force AwakensBV$936,662,2252015
2Avengers: EndgameBV$858,188,4152019
3AvatarFox$760,507,6252009^
4Black PantherBV$700,059,5662018
5Avengers: Infinity WarBV$678,815,4822018
6TitanicPar.$659,363,9441997^
7Jurassic WorldUni.$652,270,6252015
8Marvel's The AvengersBV$623,357,9102012
9Star Wars: The Last JediBV$620,181,3822017
10Incredibles 2BV$608,581,7442018

The only "non-geek" movie in the bunch is Titanic.

Now celebrities tout their geek and D&D cred like it is a badge of honor and respect.
Vin Disel,  Stephen Colbert, Felicia Day, Dwayne Johnson, Joe Manganiello among many others routinely talk about D&D.  Will Wheaton walks around Gen Con like he BELONGS there (spoiler, he does!).

And then you have something like this.
Actress Dominique Tipper from "The Expanse", a British/Dominican actress of color so no where near the stereotype of a D&D player.



Her Twitter posts after this have been a delight.  She is falling in love with the game so many of us love and it is a wonderful thing.

The Triumph of D&D is how we went from being persecuted in the 80s to being in the limelight today.

They say the best revenge is living well and D&D is living well indeed.

Friday, August 23, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Surprise

Today's topic is Surprise.

What is the most surprising thing you ever witnessed in a game?  I have to say it was a game my older son ran for my youngest son and the sheep.


It was so surprising because of how crazy it all was and how much noise we heard coming from the basement.

So it goes like this.  The party was supposed to get to the next town to get to a job.  The job was what the adventure was supposed to be about. Simple right?  So they all decide to take a short cut through a field and stay off the main road.  They ask what is in the field.  My oldest, not having planned this bit out (because why should he) rolled and said "Sheep".

The players freaked out.  They all wanted to have sheep as pets or animal companions.  So they spent a long time chasing sheep, trying to charm them or casting any spells they could think of.  By this time some of the players got tired of chasing sheep so they started killing them. Next thing the players they started try and raise the sheep from the dead, others wanted to bring them back as zombies.  Then the characters started attacking each other, the zombie sheep started to attack the characters.  By the end of the night, some four hours later, the sheep were all dead, the countryside was on fire, and at least three characters (out of six) were dead.

There was so much yelling and laughing and shouting.  We were laughing our asses off upstairs.

Every kid downstairs had to tell us their version of the story.

I know I am not doing the story any justice here. But it was so damn funny to hear them tell it.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Lost

Today's topic is Lost.

One of my favorite things in RPGs is visiting or exploring lost lands.

I am currently re-reading Tolkien's The Silmarillion.  I didn't enjoy it as a kid, but when I re-read as an adult a few tears back I loved it.  Today I am getting a lot more out of it still.

One thing that bugged me back then that I adore now are these maps.

As a kid I was very familiar with this map:


I had this on my wall for years until I went to college.

But this map in the Silmarillion bugged me.


Obviously, these maps are related.  Reading the stories I knew these were the same worlds or at least related lands.

It wasn't till I noticed the only commonality between the two maps, on the far right of the Middle Earth map and the far left of the Beleriand map you can see the Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains.

It works better if you place the maps like this and sink the lands under water that Tolkien mentions.


Now, this map fills me with joy.  Look at all those lost lands!  If I ever do a Middle-Earth game there will be a way to visit these lands.

Even if I never do I want to know more about it.  What happened to these lands when the waters claimed them? Were there still people there?  Not just lost Gondolin, all the places.

It reminds me of Doggerland.  A lot more real and closer to home, but no less lost.


Think about it 8,000 BCE, lands to the east of England.  Walking from (what would be) London to (what would be) Copenhagen.

This is a Mesolithic (Middle to Late) period in human history.  We know so little about this time and the people that lived here.  Not just a lost land, a lost people, a lost time.

Sure we have some wonderful archeological finds from this time, but who were the people? What did they do? What sort of adventures would they have had?

Again, I might never get the chance to do anything with it, but I do love looking at these maps.

Back in the early days of AD&D 1st ed I took an immediate liking to the lost lands of the Suel Empire of the Greyhawk setting.

Like Middle Earth, I want to run a game set during the Invoked Devastation / Rain of Colorless Fire.  Something along the lines of the Doctor Who episode "The Time Monster" where the PCs get sent back in time to witness the destruction. I would have watched it around the same time I was playing AD&D 1.

I love lost lands, one day I might even get to visit them!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Vast

Today's topic is Vast.

Vast. Seriously it is like it is too large of a word to tackle all at once.


To any PC in any sort of RPG the setting should feel vast.  For D&D it is can be the world or the known planes.  In sci-fi games, this can be the galaxy or even the universe.

But I don't write vast.  I write local.

Yes, there is a whole world out there, but how much of it are the PCs going to see? What do they really know about it?  Sure, there were people in the 13th century that had a pretty good idea what the world looked like, but did the peasants?

Let's look at Star Trek and by extension my BlackStar game. Because really, what is more vast than space?


That is a map of the Known Space of the Star Trek universe roughly at the end of the 24th Century.  My BlackStar game is likely to be set 50 years prior to this.
This is a LOT of territory.  The Sol system is where the larger yellow line is.  Click to see larger.

This is roughly 1,500 Light Years wide, of the Milky Way that is 105,000 Light Years wide, about 1%.

That's a lot of untold stories. 

I wish I had more time to do more!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Noble

Today's topic is Noble.

I have to admit. I don't really do a lot with nobles or nobility in my games. Unless of course, they are a plot device.  Either a backdrop ("The King has ordered...") or the big bad ("Count Dracula, I presume.").



Honestly, I really should do more.

Recently I received my PDF of Adventures Great and Glorious from Joseph Bloch's Kickstarter.  I have not read it all in detail but so far I like it.  Between it and some of the rules found in Adventurer Conqueror King, there is a lot to help me with a good system of kingdom creation and management.   Who knows, maybe it will give me some ideas for my upcoming "War of the Witch Queens" game.

The gold standard of this sort of game is naturally Pendragon.  A game I adore but never got to play much.  Another one that comes to mind is Birthright.

Birthright is an odd one for me.  Odd in the sense that I know nearly next to nothing about it.  It came out during TSR's dying days. In the Second Ed era I was firmly entrenched in Ravenloft,  but by 1997 I was giving up on D&D.  I had started to move on to other games already (this was the height of my Mage years) and I was generally very disappointed in D&D by then. I had even sold off large sections of my collection to where I was down to just a few dozen books.

At a Gen Con some years ago I got to play in a Birthright game.  It was fun, I played a Goblin archer (fighter), but in this game, goblins were a lot smarter. So more like an angry halfling.

I don't own any Birthright books, which is a crime really.  So I am thinking of picking up the core set.   From my understanding, it would convert well to 5e.

What are your favorite games or supplements for dealing with PCs becoming nobles and ruling the lands?

Monday, August 19, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Scary

Today's topic is Scary.

It is said that everyone loves a good scare.  But I LOVE them.


Spend any amount of time here and you will learn that I love horror movies, horror RPGs and adding elements of horror to my otherwise non-horror games.

Horror was always my thing, even when I was really little.  My mom loved horror and used to tell us the way scary and certainly not appropriate for children stories when we were little and we loved them.   A lot of the horror-themed material you see here has there roots in some of those stories.

My current purely horror game is "Star Trek meets Cthulhu" game in Black Star.
Stephen King once said that horror needs to start with what you know.  To truly feel horror you have to begin in a place of safety and comfort.  For me that is Trek.  Then you add in the horrors.

Doing a proper horror game is not always easy.  Think about Gothic Horror for a moment.  The reason it is as effective as it is it that the hero, or most often, a heroine, is powerless against the forces that she is dealing with.  The same is true for Cosmic Horror, the forces against humanity are so vast and so powerful that we become insignificant in the scope of it all.

Trek represents humanity at their best, their most powerful, their peak. To turn that setting into horror I am going to need something very powerful.  So in a way, it is an experiment for me to see if I can merge two of my favorite things.

Hope to do some more here soon.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Plenty

Today's topic is Plenty.

We live in a new Golden Age of Plenty in RPGS.


I was thinking about what is commonly thought of as the Golden Age; the Early 80s.  Sure there was a lot going on and everything was bright and new and the vistas seemed endless.

But I also remember a time when finding some books was difficult and unless you were in the know then you not only didn't have access to the books, you didn't even know they existed.   Plus lots of news of new games, books or whatever was regional.

I lived near the pipeline between Chicago and Carbondale (two places I would later live in) that had a steady stream of material partially thanks due to Tim Kask and his connections at Southern Illinois University (SIU, go Salukis!).  So I came to later learn that even though I lived in a highly religious small town, we had some good access to D&D products.  With Mayfair in the Chicago burbs and the University of Illinois all the North, things were not too bad.

BUT there was still a lot of stuff I never saw.  I understand there was a vibrant scene in California and other places that produced completely different material.  Material that the local took for granted.

Today.  Today things are different. We have the Internet and easy access to several thousands of books of gaming material.

Blogs and boards produce a Dragon's magazine worth of material every week, if not every day.
Sure some of you might claim there is a lot of noise and useless information.  Well, guess what? That has always been true.

There are so many good games out now.  Yesterday I talked about One game, but today I am talking about all of them.  We don't have to choose one game for forever and forever.

It's a Golden Age and we should enjoy it.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: One

Today's topic is One.

Every so often the topic comes up of what RPG would you choose if you could only choose one.

If I over-think it, it becomes hard. There are so many great RPGs out there.  So many that I love and have loved playing.  But if I could only choose one, forever, then the choice becomes clear and easy.

CJ Carella's WitchCraft RPG.


WitchCraft is, hands down, my favorite game.  Period.  Picking up a copy of this book back in 1999 was just like picking up a copy of the Monster Manual in 1979.  Everything I ever wanted in a game was right there.
Everything.

WitchCraft had such a profound effect on my gaming that I can draw a rather clean line between what came before and what came after it.  Granted a lot was going on in 1999/2000 both gaming-wise and personal that may have added to this effect, it was an effect all the same.

Back in 1999, I was really burned out on D&D.   I was working on my own Witch netbook and reading a bunch of different games when someone, I forget where, must have been the old RAVENLOFT-L that TSR/WotC used to run, told me I really need to check out WitchCraft.  At first, I balked.  I had tried Vampire a couple years ago and found I didn't like it (and I was very much out of my vampire phase then), but I was coming home from work and my FLGS was on the way, so I popped in and picked up a copy.  This must have been the early spring of 2000.

I can recall sitting in my office reading this book over and over. Everything was so new again, so different.  This was the world I had been trying, in vain, to create for D&D but never could.  The characters in this book were also all witches, something that pleased me to no end, it was more than just that.  Plus look at that fantastic cover art by George Vasilakos. That is one of my most favorite, is not my favorite, cover for a gamebook. I have it hanging in my game room now.

WitchCraft uses what is now called the "Classic" Unisystem system.  So there are 6 basic attributes, some secondary attributes (derived), skills and qualities and drawbacks.  Skills and attributes can be mixed and matched to suit a particular need.

WitchCraft uses a Point-Buy Metaphysics magic system, unlike Ghosts of Albion's levels of magic and spells system.  Think of each magical effect as a skill that must be learned and you have to learn easier skills before the harder ones first.    In D&D, for example, it is possible to learn Fireball and never have learned Produce Flame.  In WitchCraft you could not do that.  WitchCraft though is not about throwing around "vulgar magics".  WitchCraft is a survival game where the Gifted protect humanity from all sorts of nasty things, from forgotten Pagan gods, to demons, fallen angels and the Mad Gods; Cthulhoid like horrors from beyond.  WitchCraft takes nearly everything from horror and puts all together and makes it work.

The Eden Studios version was the Second Edition, I was later to find out.  The first one was from Myrmidon Press. I managed to find a copy of that one too and it was like reading the same book, from an alternate universe.  I prefer the Eden Edition far more for a number of reasons, but I am still happy to have both editions.

The central idea behind WitchCraft is the same as most other Modern Supernatural Horror games.  The world is like ours, but there are dark secrets, magic is real, monsters are real. You know the drill.  But WitchCraft is different.  There is a Reckoning coming, everyone feels it, but no one knows what it is.  Characters then take on the roles of various magic-using humans, supernaturals or even mundane humans and they fight the threats.  Another conceit of the game (and one I use a lot) is that supernatural occurrences are greater now than ever before.  Something's coming.  (dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria).

It is most often compared to World of Darkness, but there are things WitchCraft does that I just like better.  Unlike (old) Mage there is no war between the (good) Mages and the (evil) Technocracy.  There is a war certainly, but nothing so cut and dry.  Unlike new Mage, there are rarely clean divisions between the factions.  Yes, yes Mage players, I am being overly simple, but that is the point, on the simple levels new Mage dives everything into 5 because that is how the designers want it.  There are factions (Associations) and there are different metaphysics for each, but also overlap, and sometimes no clear and defined lines are to be found or given.  It feels very organic.

In my opinion, C. J. Carella may be one of the best game designers out there.  WitchCraft is a magnum opus that few achieve.  I took that game and I ran with it.  For 2000 - 2003 it was my game of choice above and beyond anything.  The Buffy RPG, built on the Cinematic Unisystem took over until I wrote Ghosts of Albion, which also use the Cinematic Unisystem.  I mix and match the systems as I need, but WitchCraft is still my favorite.

WitchCraft, in fact, is what got me into professional game design.

Back in the Spring/Summer of 2001, I started up a new game.  I had just purchased the WitchCraft RPG book about 16 months prior and I was looking for something new.  That something came to me in the guise of Willow and Tara.  I had been watching Buffy for a bit and I really enjoyed the character of Willow.  When she got together with fellow witch Tara I thought they were perfect.  I had become very involved in the online Willow/Tara fandom so I created a game, focusing on just them.

The game would focus on just these two, no one else from the show (which I would soon become an ex-fan of, but that is a different story).  Plus it gave me something to try out in a modern setting, something I have not done since my days with the Chill RPG.

The trickiest part of developing game stats of any fictional character that belongs to someone else is knowing how to strike a balance between the game's rules and the fictional portrayal. A lot of "artistic" license needs to be used in order to get a good fit. For example, how do you determine what some one's strength is when there is little to no on-screen evidence? What spells would the girls have?

In the end, I decided to play it a little loose, but I love where their stats ended up.  In many ways, this is who Willow and Tara are to me, not the characters on TV or comics, but the ones that were my characters since that day back in May 2001 that I decided they needed their own chance to shine.

After this, I went on to work on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.  It should be no surprise then that the Willow and Tara stats that appear there are not that much different than my own.  I can be quite vocal in playtests.  That got me the chance to write the Ghosts of Albion RPG. This also allowed me to meet, work with and remain friends with Christopher Golden and Amber Benson.

WitchCraft paved the way for so many other games for me, not just in terms of playing but in writing.  If it were not for WitchCraft then we would not have had Buffy, Angel or Army of Darkness.  Conspiracy X would have remained in its original system. There would be no Terra Primate or All Flesh Must Be Eaten and certainly, there would be no Ghosts of Albion.  The game means that much to me.

But you don't have to take my word for it, Eden Studios will let you have it, sans some art, for free.
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product_info.php?products_id=692&it=1&affiliate_id=10748

Download it.  If you have never played anything else other than D&D then you OWE it yourself to try this game out.

My thing is I wish it was more popular than it is.  I love the game. If I was told I could only play one game for the rest of my life then WitchCraft would be it.

Friday, August 16, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Dream

Today's topic is Dream.

Dreams have been an important part of my RPG journey as a world creator.


I have detailed in the past my recurring nightmare of the "Very Haunted House".

The house was an old Victorian manor complete with spooky attic and sub-basements.
It was haunted by the ghost of an evil old woman that used to torture kids.

This house was based on a few things in real life.  The biggest was "Maplecrest Apartments" in my old home town.  It used to be an old tuberculosis hospital turned into low-income housing. I delivered newspapers back then and that was on my route.  Scary place.  The house took more form when I went with my dad to see the Dana Thomas House in Springfield, IL.   These nightmares plagued me forever, to be honest, and they were not the "whew that was a weird dream" nightmares these were the "oh my god I am going to die in this dream" sort where you wake up afraid and still full of terror.  I added details to dream with every movie I saw or book I read including a bathtub full of black water with a rotting corpse that I am sure I got from "Silence of the Lambs".

Oddly enough they stopped about 15 years ago. I had the dream and in it, my wife was standing in the dark attic only now it was bright. She held a mop and had her hair tied up, she looked at me and said "What? I cleaned it."  Cheesy as it sounds I think she helped get over whatever fears it represented.

I have since used this house in other adventures I have written.  I first used "Cotton Crest" in my Buffy RPG adventure "Under a Cajun Moon".  Years later "Oakcrest" made it's debut in "The Haunting of Oakcrest Manor" in the Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall Special Edition.
I am considering also doing it again, only this time Willow Crest.  Cotton Crest was haunted by demons, Oak Crest by ghosts and other undead.  Willow Crest?  Extra-dimensional aliens.  Sounds like a good Dark Places & Demogorgons adventure.

Other dreams have given me some great monsters and some other game ideas.

Looking forward to see what I dream up next.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Door

Today's topic is Door.

There are a lot of doors in D&D.  Which reminds of that old saying and my response to it.


D&D taught me that closed doors are supposed to be kicked open.

I feel the same way about "Gatekeepers".  This is a topic that has been coming up a lot lately.

Some groups are claiming that other groups are gatekeeping and those groups are claiming they are not.  I can't speak to any groups really, save my own.

Take the lessons we all learned in D&D. If you see a door, or a gate, kick it the fuck open.

Or better yet, say fuck you to those groups and do your own thing.  Someone says you can't play their way, kick in the door and take their shit.


I don't normally call out groups but I do want to mention what is going on in my back yard.

So a while back there was this new movement started to counter what they thought were some of the more regressive elements of the OSR scene.  They called their movement #SwordDream and I personally think they have some interesting ideas.  I am not 100% sure what they are doing will last, but I don't know.  I can't say though I could name a product that has been made yet under the SwordDream banner, BUT that has more to do with mether

Should the OSR be worried? No. In fact, they should be thrilled this is happening.  Competition should bring out the best in everyone and if one group wants to do things one way and another wants to do another thing then we should all be happy right?

Well...there is that whole gatekeeping thing.  SwordDream has mostly been met with derision among some old school stomping grounds and outright hostility in others.  Yeah I know, I have read the posts.  These are also the same people that will claim NOT to gatekeep. 

See the problem is that gatekeeping is not just telling people they can't play it's also telling them their way of play is wrong.  Or thinking their way of wanting to do things is wrong, or lesser, or stupid, or whatever.

Is the OSR full of regressive types? Full? maybe not. Are there a bunch of old fucks that don't want people to sit at their table? Yeah there is.  Are there good people in the OSR too?  Of course! Lots really.  I kinda wish that the critics of the OSR would see those people too.

What are you the new young gamer supposed to do?  Kick in their door.  Or better yet tell them you don't want to sit with them anyway.

Kick in that door. Do your thing. Do you.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Guide

Today's topic is Guide.

This is a topic that is likely to come up many times today.

Games work best with guides, not just books, but people and things to help show you the way.

I think my first real guide to D&D actually predates my D&D exposure.
I have mentioned in the past that my true introduction to what would become my D&D was d'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths this was nearly immediately followed by Tolkien's The Hobbit.


In between my reading of these two books was when I discovered D&D.  The line is pretty direct for me from Greek Myths to D&D and the Hobbit. These two sources were my guide to what D&D could be if not what it should be.  In fact it is not too much of a stretch to say my D&D then was very much Greek Myths + The Hobbit.

The next guide I picked up were D&D proper.


While Holmes Basic might have been my first set of D&D rules, it was the AD&D Monster Manual that was my first exposure to D&D.   But I have detailed these two books and their impact on me many times here.

From here my guides were less about books and more about people.  When I was learning to how to play and moving through my first few years of D&D I got to play in a lot of different groups and knew of several more.  Here other's experiences and their readings came to influence me.

While I had read many of the books on the infamous Appendix N, they were only a tertiary impact on me and my games.  Usually, either through someone else have read them and applying them to their games and what was in the RPG books. 

Over the years I have had the chance to play with others who have helped guide me (and vice versa) through many RPGs.  Each time I take away something to aid me or push me on.

There were my high school games where I got the chance to play with a lot of different groups. The summer from college that I played in an OD&D campaign.  Games at college and striking out all on my own in 2nd Ed to recreate my own worlds.  Campaigns with other games like ShadowRun, Vampire, and eventually WitchCraft. Meeting people online and talking games with them discovering that even though we all did things in a different way there are common stories and share experiences.  To the message boards, blogs, and social media of today.

Even reading these posts today will help guide me in other directions. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Mystery

Today's topic is Mystery.

I think everyone loves a good mystery, especially in their RPGs.

Building a true sense of mystery though requires work and the subtle use of clues, hints, rumors, and innuendos.   I have found, more times than not, the best way to it is to involve the players right away.


Not in the way of getting them all to pitch in in some shared Game Mastering role.  That certainly works for some games, but not all.  No by this I mean take their speculations and let them run away with them. 

Here are some examples.

In my Come Endless Darkness 5e campaign, I am spreading te greater mystery over three different campaigns.  No one set of characters or players has the full picture.  At least not until I get them (or what's left of them) in a room once they reach 18th level or so.  The mystery right now is so vague as to not even be there. Yet.  Some of the players in the Order of the Platinum Dragon game are beginning to suspect.  Maybe some of the characters in the Second Campaign are as well.  But I know no one in the Into the Nentir Vale suspect the larger mystery.

Of course, each campaign has its own mysteries.
For the Order of the Platinum Dragon, it has been "what has happened to the Sun?" and then "who killed all the Sun Gods?"  And now it is, or soon will be, "there is no way Lolth could do this on her own!"
For the Second Campaign, the mystery has been "why are all these 'gods' of the lizard and scally folk rising up?"  A little less tangible, but it is getting them there.
And finally in Into the Nentir Vale it has been simply, "We know Orcus is rising as a power, but why?"

Clues in each one will add to the other.  Overly complicated?  Maybe.  Fun?  Definitely.

In fact, this is where my players came into it.  Originally I saw the Second Campaign's big mover and shaker to be the Mind Flayers.  THEY were going to be the ones behind the scenes.  BUT as the game went on and it became more distinct from the Order of the Platinum Dragon game and more and more lizardfolk, nagas and Yuan-ti showed up the players began to weave this huge conspiracy theory around them.   IT was so compelling and, really, so out there, that I had to reward them by altering my own plans to fit more of their elements.

I am NOT giving them everything, but I am giving them enough that their own enthusiasm is sending down a trail.  The ending will remain the same, the mystery still comes to the same conclusion, but now we go about it on a different path.

Other little tidbits that keep coming up.  On our "crazy board" above we still have listed "Where is Cynder".  Cynder was an elven elemental fire wizard that just stopped going with the group. We totally forgot about her, well at least I did.  Even though she was only one session of the Order of the Platinum Dragon, she will show up later in Into the Nentir Vale and maybe the Second Campaign.
There is something to her, I just don't know what yet!

Another hook I was going to use was the Ranger Elmo from T1.  He was going to show up in the Abyss when the Order got there (at Gen Con), but the players never really engaged with the guy.  HOWEVER they did engage a lot with this random elf woman that had been following them since the A Series.    They again decided she had to be important even if originally each of those encounters were with different elves.  My players decided she was the same person each time and figured she knew something.  A few quick jots in my notebook and Evelyn, the Princess Escalla was born!  She was an Elven Ranger/Enchanter and was key to the Elven resistance movement in the Underdark.

It has been a glorious set of mysteries and neither the characters nor the players have figured out the ultimate mystery.  That Tharizd├╗n, through Asmodeus, is manipulating the demons to get what he wants; his resurrection and freedom from his cage.

It's going to be great.



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