Showing posts with label 3e. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3e. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: Pathfinder Occult & Horror Adventures

I don't review a lot of Pathfinder material here.  Mostly because I have been writing a lot of Pathfinder material and I don't want to read much of it so as not to unduly influence myself.  Well, those manuscripts are off (more or less) so I picked these up for a review.  

The Pathfinder Occult Adventures and Pathfinder Horror Adventures are the two most recent books I have picked up.  Like all Pathfinder books these books are compatible with D&D 3.5 and still fairly compatible with D&D 5 and other OSR games.  How compatible depends on how much work you want to put into it.

Given that most people reading this are likely not Pathfinder gamers, I am also going to talk about how to port these over to your own games.

Pathfinder Occult Adventures
Hardcover 272 pages, full color cover and interior.
This book is essentially the psychic powers book for Pathfinder.  It uses the same 3.x spell system that Pathfinder has always used only now there is Divine, Arcane, and Psychic magic.  This makes porting over to other systems a lot easier, but it certainly lacks some of the flavor of some other psychic books.
Chapter 1: covers Occult Classes.  The classes are the elemental Kineticist (which has powers and not spells), the Medium (powers and spells), the Mesmerist, the Occultist (which is a rather cool class), the Psychic (the star of the book really), and the Spiritualist.  Some racial options are also given for the classes.  Of all these, the psychic could be ported over the easiest. They are, essentially, magic-users with a unique spell list.
Chapter 2: Archetypes give an "occult" or psychic bend to the Pathfinder classes (of which I think there are about 135 by now).  We start out with the classes in the book, lots of different ideas to swap out powers and feats for other types of characters.  The more interesting one is the Tome Eater Occultist; this archetype actually eats books and scrolls to gain their magical powers.   We get to archetypes for the previously published classes.   Cavalier + Spiritualist, for example, gives us a Ghost Rider.  Which is actually really cool.  Occult Witches are known as Ley Line Guardians.  There is a lot if interesting ideas here.
Chapter 3 Feats details all the new feats.  Now either you love feats or you hate them.  I am hitting a little bit of feat fatigue myself.
Chapter 4 is all about the Psychic Spells. Now the advantage of using the existing spell system for a new class is that other class spells can be used for the new classes and the new spells can be used for the older classes.  So everyone gets something new. At 46 pages this is one of the larger sections in the book.
Chapter 4 covers Occult Rules. This covers a wide variety of rules and rulings for an occult game.  In particular rituals, possessions, and auras.
Chapter 5 gives advice for running an Occult game. This includes planes of existence and other locales for adventuring.
Finally, Chapter 6 covers Occult Rewards or magic items.
The book is a lot of fun and has a lot of material that I have seen elsewhere in different games over the last 35+ years, this just has them all in one place with the same system.

Pathfinder Horror Adventures
Hardcover 260 pages, full color cover and interior.
Playing a good horror game is not easy. It takes work on the part of the DM and the players. But for me I find it one of the more rewarding types of games.  Playing "Horror in D&D", even if that D&D is Pathfinder, is a bit trickier.  Horror relies on a certain sense of powerless and unknown.  D&D characters are largely powerful.  The difference is the same as a horror movie versus and action movie.
Chapter 1 covers some horror rules.  The usual suspects are here; Fear, Corruption, and Sanity.   I am as a rule pretty particular about using Sanity in my games.  I spent years as a Qualified Mental Health professional only see some game rules that were beyond embarrassing.  These rules work well enough due to their simplicity. Though I question the actual use of sanity in heroic fantasy.  In gothic fantasy, sure. But here it feels, well, perfunctory.  Corruption is interesting since your character can now slowly become the monster they hunt.
Chapter 2 covers the various archetypes for all the Pathfinder classes (453 at last count).  There are some neat ones here too. Alchemist + Horror gives you a Mad Scientist. Cleric + Horror gives us a Elder Mythos Cultist.  Various types of hunters, slayers, killers, and collectors are also given.
Chapter 3 is Feats.
Chapter 4 gives us horror themed Spells and Rituals. The rituals use the same rules as does the Occult Adventures book.
Chapter 5 details various Horror Rules. This chapter also has a section on curses and diseases and how to use them in a horror game. Different environments and their effects on the characters are also detailed.  One of these changes includes Madness.  Again, I am generally very critical here but nothing jumped out at me save that I am not sure I need another set of sanity rules at this point.  There is also a great section on horror domains. So yes you can add some Ravenloft-like areas to Pathfinder, but also Dreamlands, Far Realms and more.
Next we get the main focus of this book, Chapter 6 Running Horror Adventures.
There is some good stuff here. In particular ideas on running a D&D-style horror game. Now there is a section on "Consent".  Sorry Paizo, but I have been running horror games for decades.  So have others.  Consent is given by sitting down at the table.  I hate to sound like a jerk here, but seriously. Pick up a copy Vampire the Masquerade, Call of Cthulhu or Chill to see how this can be done.
The various horror sub-genres are covered here.  Not all of them, but enough and some ideas on how to run a game using those sub-genres.
Chapter 7 lists our Horror Gear and Magic Items.  Yes, there is something similar to the Lament Configuration.
Chapter 8 Bestiary, was an unexpected surprise. There are not a lot of creatures here but there are some interesting ones.
The book ends with a list of horror inspirations in print and film.

Both books are fun, but they are viewed through the lens, naturally, of the Pathfinder game.
Either book has something to offer the Pathfinder GM/DM but also the D&D/OSR DM willing to do a little work and little tweaking.  Classes and Archetypes can be converted as can spells and magic items.  Advice on running the games is good for any sort of game system really.
They are good guides, not the best, but still pretty good.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! F is for The Forgotten Realms

F is for The Forgotten Realms.

I will admit I was never into the Forgotten Realms.  The setting just didn't appeal to me at all in the beginning.  That dislike turned into actual hate when it began to displace my beloved Greyhawk setting.  The popularity of Drizzt Do'Urden didn't help matters.  This persisted for many, many years.

I remember reading about the Realms in Dragon Mag and I was never impressed. The increased fetishization of the Drow and Drizzt worship turned me off as well. I can't tell you how much I despised "Lloth", it's LOLTH goddamn it. Any way. I saw the Realms as an upstart to Greyhawk and not even a good one to be honest. This oddly enough was right around the same time I played my first game of OD&D set in Greyhawk. To me Realms fans were snotty little kids with delusions of adequacy.

I began to change my attitude when I wanted to fill some gaps in my own game world.  Turns out that the Realms had some of the things I wanted.  Three of those products I'll go into detail in a bit.
The big one came with the 3.0 Forgotten Realms Campaign guide. Honestly I thought it was a damn near perfect 3.0 book.

When 4th edition came along I had changed my mind about the Realms and decided to set my 4e games in that world for a change of pace.
It was a great idea...for a while anyway.  In some ways for me the Realms and 4th edition remained tied together.   I am sure that this will irritate some of the old school Realms fans, but really it is their own fault. ;)


I went back and got the rest of the campaign setting books and boxed set.

The Adventures and Settings

FRC2 Curse of the Azure Bonds was the first Realms adventure I ever paid any attention too.  It was interesting to me for a few reasons. First it prominently featured a female protagonist; something we didn't see a lot of back then in the Pre-Xena days.  It also was a "Crossover" adventure in a couple senses of the word.  First, and what interested me, was that was usable for either 1st or 2nd Edition AD&D.  I liked this idea quite a bit to be honest.  It was also an adventure module, novel and computer game.  So there were many ways to experience it.  On the down side it always read as a bit rail-roady to me.  No surprise since it started out as a novel.  Also one of the main NPCs of the novel was a Lizard Man, a race you could not even play in 1st or 2nd ed AD&D.

FR9 The Bloodstone Lands covers the eponymous lands of Bloodstone.  I will talk more about Bloodstone on "H" day. But this is a good set of background materials.

FR2 Moonshae, I have a love/hate relationship with the product. I like the celtic influences, HATE some of the weird ass spellings of things. "Ffolk", really??  Still. If I ever do the Realms, then I Will use this.

Spellbound. Ok I will admit this is one of my favorites. Not just favorite Realms product, but favorite country setting.  Two magic using countries, one of wizards and the other of "witches". Lots to love her.

Castle Spulzeer and The Forgotten Terror.  A great set of crossover adventures for the Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft.


I might do more with the Realms some day.  But until then I have enough here to keep me busy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Review: Ravenloft 3.0

The 3.0 era was on us.  I had just come back to D&D from a long hiatus and to my surprise we were getting a new Ravenloft setting and it was going to be penned by Swords & Sorcery Studios/Arthaus/White Wolf.  Say what you like about WW, they do know vampires.

Ravenloft 3.0 was one of those books I bought in the new 3.x era and I loved how it looked.  I splurged and grabbed the limited edition version from my favorite local game store.


I thought the art was fantastic and loved how well it adapted itself to the 3.0 rules.  But I had already had some experiences with 3.0 and even had pictured up some Swords & Sorcery Studios books and enjoyed those as well. The races were a nice treat to be honest. For the first time I really felt like I could run a Ravenloft game with the likes of gnomes, halflings and especially half-orcs, now rebranded as Calibans and the new Giogoto.



I think though I was expecting more at the time.  SSS was part of White Wolf like I mentioned and I was hoping for some of what made Vampire: The Masquerade so good to be here.  In re-reading it now, so many years later, I find I had unrealistic expectations.  In truth this book is a much better organized and updated version of the 2e Domains of Dread book. The nice thing about Ravenloft (and many of the D&D worlds) is that the plot kept moving along despite edition changes.  Though there is also a nice timeline included so DMs can do what they want.

This book has a black and white interior when most others were going full color.  To me this is a feature, not a bug.  Ravenloft is world of shades of grey and the art here is helps convey this.   The book is a basic campaign guide including the people, the lands and most important for Ravenloft, the horrors of the lands.  There are some new feats and skills. No new spells, but suggestions on how magic will be altered by the Mists.  There is even a section on the Gods of  Ravenloft.

Since most of this book covers the lands, their inhabitants and the Cultural Level of each, there is not a lot of crunch.  Translation: You can use this with any other version of D&D you like.  Even the feats look like they would work well with 5e still.  Even the section on "Fear, Horror and Madness" would work well.

It lacks large foldout maps of the 2e days, but it is a surprisingly good resource to me these days.
Well worth picking up.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Class Struggles: Psionics, Part 2

Last week I went over the various Psionic systems that have appeared in print or digital for the D&D game.  This week I want to look at the classes.

One thing that you first discover that psionics were always something that was added on to the game later.  Often there are powers, but no classes to speak of really.  This is certainly true for AD&D1st ed and OD&D.  Interestingly enough (compared to my discussion last week) that in Eldritch Wizardry it is stated rather plainly that Monks (and Druids) can not be psychic.

1991 was a good year for psionics.  We saw the release of the official Complete Psionics Handbook from TSR for 2nd ed and the unofficial Psionics from Mayfair Games Role Aids line.
Both books changed psionics from it's added on system and made something that seemed to fit into the game a little better.  They sacrificed a little of what made the psionics system so alien and different for playability.
The Complete Psionics Handbook introduces the Psionist class.  This class has access to all the powers in the book.  Psionic powers are divided into six groups with major powers, called sciences, and minor powers, called devotions.  Just like AD&D1, but now they are sorted and there are more powers.   The attack and defense powers, for example, are now part of Telepathy.  The system works well and while the psionists has less overall powers than say a wizard has spells the psionist is not limited to how many times they can use their powers, save by PSPs.

Mayfair's Psionics takes a slightly different approach.  In this there is a Psionist class with five different traditions or schools of psionics, Sonimancers, Telepaths, Telekineticists, Pyromancers, and Empaths. So...every Stephen King psychic ever. The psionist usually stays in that tradition.  Powers are categorized by school and then divided by power level, similar to spell level. There are six levels of powers.  Largely it plays the same as the TSR book, but this one feels more like a spell system.  Getting these two books to work together would be a feat to be honest.  There are so many differences between the levels of the powers, the assumptions of the psionist class and even the PSP vs MP power point costs.  Best to choose one system and adapt the other as needed.

I want to give brief mention to the Deryni in Mayfair's Witch book.  While presented as a witch class the are obviously better suited for Psionic use.  Converting them to Mayfair's psionic system would be easier than converting TSR Psionic to Mayfair's.

3e and the OGL comes around and we get a ton of new psionics options including three new classes (and a spell like system).  This in turn gives birth to Pathfinder and the OSR.  One of the first 3rd party books to support psionics was The Quintessential Psychic Warrior from Mongoose. But like most of Mongoose's products from this time it's not very good.
Pretty much everything for 3.x era psionics can be found in the d20 SRD.  Pathfinder, as a system, had not used psionics or psychic powers till this year with the release of the Occult Adventures book.  I am still going throuhg my copy from Gen Con.  Other companies though built off of the SRD and came up with their own books.
Ultimate Psionics is by far the largest at 450+ pages.  This takes the three basic psionic classes from the SRD and expands it to 10 (7 new).  Not to mention pages and pages of powers. I am hard pressed to think of a more complete book.

But sometimes you don't want a 500 page tome.  Sometimes you just want a couple of pages.  Well if the OSR is about nothing else it is about "less is more".  These books are designed for your old school games and are much smaller.

If you are playing Castles & Crusades then the Mentalist class from Amazing Adventures! would port over with hardly an issue at all.  In fact I have done it before and it works so good that Troll Lords should really consider doing it offically.

White Box Options: Psychic Talents [Swords & Wizardry]
At 10 pages this book really exemplifies what people love about S&W.  Quick and easy rules that slot in nicely with the game they are playing.  This is more of a psychic wild talent add on. Feels similar to the wild talent powers in AD&D1 or even OD&D.  Random table of powers and descriptions of all the powers. Not a bad deal for just under 2 bucks.

Old-School Psionics
Designed to be a new psionics system for OSRIC this book introduces the Mentalist class.  Powers are divided out among disciplines going to 7th level.  Powers are treated mostly like spells, but that works well for adding into OSRIC.  Also some psionic monsters are detailed including my favorite (and worth the price of the book) the Doppleganger as a proper psionic monster.  22 pages including cover and OGL.  Very nicely done.

OSRIC Psionic Combat
This book has a lot of charm. A quick look at the author, artist and contributors leads me to believe this was something a whole family put together and then played.  I can relate and honestly the book gets an extra star just for that.  The books covers a very simple psionic combat system and a psionist class.  Nothing more really.  But that is all it set out to do, so great.  I might not play as written, but the detail here is great and would convert nicely to any of the other systems I have used.

Crypts & Creatures Psionics Handbook
At 12 pages for 50 cents this looks like a deal.  But what we have here is a stripped down version of the psionic classes from the d20 SRD for the OSR crowd.  I would have liked to see some more to be honest.  There are classes and powers listed, but not really detailed.  Now for someone this will be just perfect, but most people I think will want some more.

Psionics
This book is designed for the White Star game.Though it can be ported over to Swords & Wizardry with no issues. The psionist is introduced and powers are detailed.  The psionist chooses a focus power area and sticks with that in the game. A nice, simple system with some useful powers.  11 pages with cover and OGL.

There is a psionic system in Realms of Crawling Chaos as well, but I well detail that one on a later date.

And of course the Basic Psionics Handbook.

So if you love psionics and psionic classes there are plenty of choices out there.

Monday, August 17, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 17

Day 17: Favorite Fantasy RPG

No question.  Dungeons and Dragons.


 








 









Hail to the King baby.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Halfway, Fortunes of Ravenloft and the Foreshadowing

Got in a lot of gaming this weekend!

Saturday the Order of the Platinum Dragon found themselves still stuck in the mists.  They stumbled on to Halfway.  Here they met the Dealer and had the Fortunes of Ravenloft read.  We are not going to play Ravenloft till Gen Con, but I have 5 nights to run it.



I used Tarot cards for the Fortunes (because why not).  I have done that in the past, but I also found this AD&D1st Ed to D&D5 conversion of Ravenloft that also used Tarot cards.
With the PDF out I can print both of these out and run it from those.

Sunday we went "back in time" to the Dragonslayers.  They finished up their exploration of the Barrier Peaks.  Here they encountered, for the very first time, the Illithids.  Something that was not lost on my kids.

The "Order of the Platinum Dragon" characters are all the children or grand children of the "Dragonslayers".   So I am setting up the Mind Flayer threat a generation early.

I know what I have in store for the Order, I just need to figure out what is next for the Dragonslayers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time

Been kinda of obsessed with lists lately.  But this one does have a point for me.  A while back (2004 in fact) the Pazio run of Dungeon Magazine listed their top 30 adventures of all time.

I have been going through what I call the "Classical Canon" of D&D.  Not just so I have the experience of running them all, but so my kids can also enjoy these great adventures.  I also am looking for what makes a truly great D&D adventure; something that people still talk about years later.

Anyway here is the list with my thoughts.

30. The Ghost Tower of Inverness, 1980 (C2)
This is great one, but an odd one to run with a party in an ongoing campaign.  So I used it in my Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space playtest and ran it as "The Ghost Tower of Inverness, Illinois".  I used this as the location of the "Ghost Tower" which is actually a malfunctioning Time Beacon.

29. The Assassin’s Knot, 1983 (L2)
Personally I prefer L1, Secret of Bone Hill, but this is a great sequel and I can see why many people like it more than Bone Hill.  Assassin's Knot works well as a murder mystery, but not great if your players are wanting to go in a bust skulls.

28. The Lost City, 1982 (B4)
I played this one in 8th Grade when it was new and had a blast.  I ran it again for my kids a few years back and still had a blast.  There were so many things in it I had forgotten and I spent most of the module smiling to myself in memory.  It is a Moldvay classic really and really has the feel of early 80s Basic D&D.

27. The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, 1981 (U1)
This was one I played back in the day but I have yet to run.  I have it all ready to go with my 3rd Ed. conversion notes.  Of course at the time I thought this was great because I was deep into my Anglophilia and I thought ANYTHING from England was perfect. Given that it was written (in part) by Don Turnbull then it was bound to be good.  If I remember right I played this one after Lost City.  I loved the tenor and mood of the module. It inspired an adventure I wrote in 88 called "Home by the Sea".  Parts of that adventure were then later used in my Ghosts of Albion adventure Blight, which took place in Ireland.  So it all came full circle.

26. City of Skulls, 1993 (WGR6)
This is an odd one. I never played it, never ran it and never really heard anything about it.  This was near the end of my Ravenloft games and very, very close to the time where I took a huge break from D&D.  I will check it out sometime, but doubt if I'll ever run it.

25. Dragons of Despair, 1984 (DL1)
I never played or ran any of the Dragonlance modules.  I enjoyed the books when they came out and I liked the idea that everyone playing was going through it all at the same time.  Hey, maybe someone should revive this for the next D&D Encounters!  I loved the idea and I loved the new design of the modules, but even then it felt a little railroady to me.  Plus I wanted to use my own characters.

24. City of the Spider Queen, 2002
I am not a good judge of this one. I don't like Drizzt. I don't like R.A. Salvatore. I never really cared for the Forgotten Realms till about 4th Edition.  I don't really know anything about this module. I suspect it was added to the list because there was a dearth of "modern" adventures and most of the others were "Greyhawk" related.

23. The Forgotten Temple of Tharzidun, 1982 (WG4)
Now this adventure...This one I can get behind.  I never played this one, but I have run it twice. It's a death dealer and a peak into what might have been coming as a narrative arc if Gygax had been into such things.  This module is one of out first peeks into the horror that is Tharzidun, a god that is part Cthulhu and part Satan in my game.  I am weaving material from this module into my larger campaign.

22. The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, 1982 (S4)
The same is true for this module. I remember buying it as soon as it came out and I begged my DM to run me through it.  I have run it myself twice since, the most recent time with my Dragonslayers group.  This is one of my most favorite modules. It has a vampire, Iggwilv, tons of new demons (many that later became part of the Monster Manual II) and just enough puzzles to keep the players on their toes. Running it this last time was a lot of fun.

21. Dark Tower, 1979 from Judge’s Guild (JG 0088)
While I would argue that this is an obligatory JG entry, this one is actually a lot of fun.  I never played it myself and it is so rare on eBay that it has been cost prohibative.  Thankfully we have PDFs of the Original and of the 3.5 update.

20. Scourge of the Slave Lords, 1986 (A1-4)
Another classic getting the reprint treatment.  I remember playing this one in 8th grade as well.  My DM at the time folded the Lost City into the A series to make a campaign out of them. Also he had a copy of Grimtooth's Traps which made everything deadlier. Or as he said "better".  I still have a thief stuck somewhere in a pit trap.

19. Against the Cult of the Reptile God, 1982 (N1)
I have never played or run this one.   I have though always wanted to use it as a start of a "Second" campaign,  After running the Classical Canon, I would start with a new campaign focusing on reptiles as the enemy.  Work in some modern "Reptoids" and have a go at it.  Maybe someday I will still do this.  But this is a fun adventure to read.

18. The Hidden Shrine of Tamochan, 1980 (C1)
Another great old module I never played, but read many times.  Like N1 I always hoped that I could use this one as part of a second campaign.  Though given some of the elements I would not be amiss using it in my "Come Endless Darkness" campaign.  I already have too many modules/adventures for the 5-7 level range.

17. Ruins of Undermountain, 1991
Ah. This is one that I have always known about but never really bothered with.  It was Forgotten Realms so I never gave it much thought.  Though I always thought this was more of a campaign expansion, ie part of the the whole Underdark deal so I never considered it an adventure.

16. Isle of Dread, 1980 (X1)
Oh the hours I spent pouring over this map.  This was Tom Moldvay's love letter to the pulp era and to such classic horror movies as King Kong. This also included the first full map of the Known World.  I ran it many times as a kid and it was one of the first modules I ran for my son.  He wanted to go an island of monsters, "like in Godzilla".  This did not disappoint him or me.  More so than any other adventure, the Dragonslayers were born here.

15. Castle Amber, 1981 (X2)
Another great. Again Moldvay's pulp horror influences are showing here, in particular his love for the works of Clark Ashton Smith. This time we enter an old house full of crazy characters and plenty of dangers.  This could have come off as a "fun house" dungeon, but something in the presentation is different.  Maybe it is the undertones of horror and dread.   My players in our 5e game are going through this one now. I have dropped the first hints of the "coming darkness" to them here.
This is one of my personal favorites. Certainly part of my top 5.

14. Dead Gods, 1997
Dead Gods is not an adventure I have ever run or been in, but it is one I have used quite a bit.  There are a number of elements in it that I use for my "Rise of Orcus" plot. Especially back in the 4e days and the rise of Orcus adventures.  Honestly there are enough adventures out there that you could build a universe (and edition) spanning mega campaign on nothing more than stopping the machinations of Orcus.  One day I should give that a try.

13. Dwellers of the Forbidden City, 1981 (I1)
This is a great adventure and part of my "Second Campaign" (AGGHHH too many adventures to play!) it is also at the 4th-7th level sweet spot.  This one is a key part of that idea since it introduced the Yuan-ti, a monster I have used repeatedly; often calling them Ophidians.   It has elements that would fit in nicely with my 5th edition group, but I have too many adventures for this level.

12. The Forge of Fury, 2000
So this is our obligatory 3e adventure I think.  I never played it or ran it, thought I have read it.  Personally I think The Sunless Citadel was better and should have been on this list.  It was the first and introduced a generation to Meepo.  Sure he was no Aleena, but you could also say that Aleena was no Meepo!

11. The Gates of Firestorm Peak, 1996
Ugh.  Sorry, but there is a lot about this module I just don't like.  I don't care for the shoehorn plot for starters and I hated the Skills & Powers books. Som much that it threw me off of D&D till 3e came out.  It was "Lovecraftian" and I did like that.  I suspect that is why it is on this list to be honest. Though many of the ideas in this module came into sharper focus during the 3e years.

10. Return to the Tomb of Horrors, 1998
You have to admit. This is a total cheat.  I have it, I enjoyed it and I like the idea that the Tomb is something that people can keep going back too (whatever the edition).  As a sequel there is a lot to like. As a stand alone and on it's own merits though it might be passable.

9. White Plume Mountain, 1979 (S2)
I am inordinately fond of the S series of modules.  This one is no different.  It of course makes 0 sense, but works great as an epic D&D adventure. Plus it gave us Wave, Whelm and Blackrazor.

8. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, 2001
In many ways I like this one better than the original. I like the idea of returning to the Temple I also like the idea of talking in game about adventures that came before.  Gives me a sense of continuity.   This is one of my favorite 3.x era modules to be honest.

7. The Keep on the Borderlands, 1979 (B1)
What can I honestly say about this one?  The Cave of Chaos were as well traveled as a local Mall in the 1980s.   When I think "Classic Canon" this is the first thing that comes to mind.

6. The Desert of Desolation, 1987 (I3-5)
Another total cheat this "super" module is made up of Pharoah (I3), Oasis of the White Palm (I4) and Lost Tomb of Martek (I5).   Though to be totally fair they are linked together. Another really great set of adventures I would LOVE to play or run (read them many times) but not likely to.  Maybe if I do my "Second Campaign".  There is a lot in these I have used elsewhere though.

5. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, 1980 (S3)
"You know what AD&D needs?  Freaking laser guns! Lasers and killer robots!"  Seriously. Has there ever been a module to encapsulate everything the late 70s and early 80s was all about more than this one?  It even has a karate instructor robot.  I am going to add in a break-dancing robot that moves to a funky Herbie Hancock beat when I run this next.  Which should be soon. I am going totally gonzo with it too. I am grabbing bits of Gamma World and Metamorphosis Alpha too.   In fact since the characters are higher level than the module requires I am doing a sort of "Return to the Barrier Peaks" spin on it. I am going to add some material from The Illithiad as well.

4. The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985 (T1-4)
Another of the classic canon. If you didn't start your adventure in the keep, then chances are you started it here.  I have always wanted to run this one and never have.  I have used pieces of it before.
I suppose if I do my "second campaign" I will start with this and change the temple a bit.

3. Tomb of Horrors, 1978 (S1)
We just finished this one and it was every bit the meat grinder it was rumored to be.  I had gone through back in the day, but running it was a completely different experience.  Now I might be branded as a heretic here but it is not really that good of an adventure.  Really it isn't. There are lot things in the adventure that don't make sense except in a D&D world.  That being said it is a rite of passage and everyone should try it at least once under their favorite edition or at least once under 1st ed as Gary intended it to be.

2. Ravenloft, 1983 (I6)
Here we go. This is my favorite module on the list. I just love it; warts and all.  Yeah there are some real leaps in logic in this one and there are plenty of reasons NOT to like it, but I don't care. I think it is great. It's a Hammer Horror film in D&D form right down to the small "Hammer Hamlet" village with terrified peasants.  There are vampires, gypsies, werewolves, really strong zombies, gargoyles. Even a huge pipe organ played by the vampire.  You can almost hear Toccata and Fugue in D minor while running it. I have played through this once and I have ran it three or four times.  I would love to try it sometime under the Ghosts of Albion rules.  I am going to take my 5e group through it when they complete Castle Amber.

1. Queen of Spiders, 1986 (G1-3, D1-3, Q1)
The first AD&D campaign arc.  We talk alot about being "plot free" in our adventures but when it get right down to it we love a good story arc and the GDQ was that.  I am not 100% sure that Q1 lived up the promise of the G and D series, but damn was it fun.
This super module was made up of:


Back in the day EVERYONE was going through this. It was the D&D Encounters of it's time.  The only problem was no one was doing it at exactly the same time or way.  So I know dozens of stories about how these turned out. I have dozens of my own.  Plus that Bill Willingham cover of the Giants is one of the most iconic covers of the age I think.

There you are. The 30 greatest adventures as ranked by Dungeon Magazine.
Do you agree or disagree?  What is missing?

Here are my honorable mentions.

In Search of the Unknown, 1978 (B1)
Every adventure starts somewhere. Mine usually start here.  This is my go to module for a quick a easy sandbox style dungeon crawl.  I have run it half a dozen times or more with new groups and it is always a thrill.

Palace of the Silver Princess, 1981 (B3)
Yes it is a rather silly adventure, but I really enjoy it.  Plus the backstory on it makes it a lot more fun.

Palace of the Vampire Queen, 1976 from WeeWarriors (V2)
The first ever published adventure or "DM's Kit" as it was called then.  What it lacks detail it makes up for in style.  I have ran this one twice now under various systems.  It works with everything to be honest; it is that sandboxy.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

D&D40 Bloghop: Day 16

Day 16: What was your first Edition War? Did you win?

I honestly can't recall my first Edition War. I personally find edition wars in general to be pretty stupid.

 I do recall a lot of complaining when 3e first came out.

I have participated in Edition Wars in the past, to be honest I have gone in with the intention of defending what ever edition seems to be getting the wrong end of the majority.  Lately that has usually meant 4th ed.

There is no "winning" in edition wars.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tomb of Horrors

Today the Dragonslayers ventured into the most fabled of all dungeons, the infamous Tomb of Acereak himself. The Tomb of Horrors!

I am running the 3e version of this module with ideas stolen from the 4e version and the 2nd ed Return to the Tomb of Horrors.  Additionally we are using this map set to help us along the way.



So far so good.  My youngest loves the traps and he very meticulous on checking each one.  It was even his idea to use a 10' pole on the Green Devil Face to check for traps and he found the Sphere of Annihilation. He loves the puzzles and really has a brain for them.  My oldest prefers good old fashioned combat.  They both were able to guess the correct sequence of the Yellow/Blue/Orange gems right away.  Sure a couple of characters have been hit with some poison, but the brought plenty vials of healing, curing and cure poison.   Though they have taken quite a bit of hitpoint damage.

So far it has been a great followup to S4/WG4.
The Dragonslayers have now finished S4, S2 and now working on S1.  I wasn't going to do S3 (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks) but now I think I might.  It would be a lot of fun.

We played for 6 hours (or more) today and I think we can knock this one out fairly quickly.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What D&D Character Am I?

Latest internet toy. http://easydamus.com/character.html
I Am A: Neutral Good Human Wizard (6th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength-13
Dexterity-10
Constitution-13
Intelligence-19
Wisdom-13
Charisma-12

Alignment:
Neutral Good A neutral good character does the best that a good person can do. He is devoted to helping others. He works with kings and magistrates but does not feel beholden to them. Neutral good is the best alignment you can be because it means doing what is good without bias for or against order. However, neutral good can be a dangerous alignment when it advances mediocrity by limiting the actions of the truly capable.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

NG? Ok. I guess I am more socially-aware than I thought. Wizard of course makes total sense. Not sure how they got to 6th level, but that is fine. Human. Sure. I'll take that.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

History of The Witch

The Witch is my latest book of rules to play the Witch character class for a version of the World's Largest and First Fantasy Roleplaying game.

It is not my first book.  Or even my second.  To date this is my third book on witches.


My first was a "netbook" called "The Complete Netbook of Witches and Warlocks" for the 2nd Edition version of the game.  It was totally a fan-driven work and most of it had been written for the 1st Edition version of the rules.  Back then the file on my computer was called "thewitch.doc".

This original "thewitch.doc" was never really meant to be seen by anyone but my gaming group. Indeed, I figured I'd be the only one to ever play a witch character.  I took a Magic-User character I had rolled up with the idea of playing her like a witch and then stopped her MU advancement and started her out as a 1st level witch.  Occult Powers were spells back then and all I had was a list of spells from the Cleric and MU lists that I felt were "witchy".   That document grew to become the "The Complete Witch" and then finally  "The Complete Netbook of Witches and Warlocks".

The CNoWaW was in my mind a great sucsess. I released it between October 28th and October  31st of 1999.  In fact I remember sitting in the hospital room right after my first son was born posting it on a laptop while my wife and new baby slept.  Well that baby turned 13 over this past weekend!  Kinda nice that my newest Witch book  was released 13 years later.

After that in 2002 released  "Liber Mysterium: The Netbook of Witches and Warlocks".  This one was far more polished and I considered a "real" release.  It used the OGL and the d20 logo.  I worked with what was then called the FANCC, or the Fantasy Community Council.  Their goal was to make and release quality netbooks that adhered to the OGL.  Many of the members would later go on to do other things.  I went on to Eden to work a number of their books including WitchCraft, Buffy and Ghosts of Albion.


In the case of all my books I would go back to my ever evolving research notes.  Pictured above and below is just one of maybe 4 binders of information I have collected over the years.  One of the print outs has a date scrawled in red pen (former teacher here!) of March of 1997.  I know I have some materials even older than that. Lots and lots of notes.


 


In every case and especially when starting a new project I like to go back to my notes.  Revisit old ideas, question why I rejected some and kept others.

The Witch is different from the CNoWnW or LM.  While in each book the witches have "Occult Powers" their mechanisms are different.  Each witch can for example cast "Wave of Mutilation", but how it works is slightly different.  Complete Netbook witches are akin to that  edition's Priests.  Liber witches are more like Wizards.  The witches in The Witch are something new.  Older versions of my witch needed high Wisdom as their primary stat.  Witches in The Witch need a high Charisma.

It is a ritual for me to go back even further when I start a new project to go not just to my notes, but my primary sources.  For the Witch I really wanted that feel of a game supplement from the late 70s early 80s.


 

So I went back to my books.  I re-read not just game books and the latest retro-clones, I also hit books about witches and witchcraft from the 60s and 70s.  The things the first and second generation of gamers would have read if they were making a witch class.  I watched the old movies like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Initiation of Sarah".  In fact, look over my lists of movies from the October Challenge of the last couple of years.  That will give you an indication of my "Research".

You can still find my older books online, I don't link them here really for a couple of reasons.  First they were done a LONG time ago and I would like to think my writing has improved significantly since then.  Also, at least in the case of CNoWaW, they are predominantly fan works and written under that assumption.  Those assumptions are not the same that The Witch (well and Liber) was written under.  While I don't explicitly state any compatibility I did do a lot of playtesting to make sure that The Witch works with what ever version of the Basic Era game you are using, be it the original games or the newest Retro-clones.

You can read more developments notes under the Basic and Witch tags (there are a lot though).
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