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

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Mail Call: Chris Perkins' "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition"

Been a busy time at work, so just a fast one today.

Some time ago I grabbed something called "Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition" from the web.  It has been sitting in my "to be sorted" folder for ages.  I was in the process of digging up some other material for a project when I happened upon them.   The layout was nice and clean and the covers were nearly print-ready.  So I spent some time a few nights ago tweaking it and slapped the whole thing on Lulu.

Here is what I got.

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed.

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. PHB

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. MM

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. MM

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. DMG

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. DMG

Chris Perkins' Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Ed. Covers

Frankly, I am pretty happy with it. 

I went a re-looked up what this game was/is and it turns out it was done by Chris Perkins.  The game is a very nice blend of AD&D 1st and 2nd Editions with mechanics from D&D 3rd Edition and inspiration from Castles & Crusades.  The overall effect is not unlike D&D 5th Edition, but more of a 1st Edition feel.

The art is all copied from published classic D&D sources, so there is no way this thing is legal to sell. I am sure if cleaned up it could be released under the OGL, but it is so close to Castles & Crusades and D&D 5th edition there is no need to do so save as an entertaining experiment.

Perkins used to have a website for it, http://www.adnd3egame.com/cnc.htm but it is long since gone. There are details about it at RPG Geek and Boardgame GeekI have no idea where it is hosted anymore.  I found a new site for it here: https://scruffygrognard.wordpress.com/2010/02/02/add-3rd-edition/Note: Perkins is now working on a BX3e.

It is a completely playable game and has a lot of nice features.  It reads like a D&D "Greatest hits" album.  It is just missing some "kits" or "subclasses" to make it more like 5e.  

The question of course is why play this when I have all the other versions of *D&D?  Well, the simple answer is that it looks like fun.  IT might be neat to play this "what if" version.  It is also interesting to see which design choices Perkins went with. Like why 20th century D&D style saving throws and not say 3rd/4th Edition ones or 5th Edition/Castles & Crusades ones?  How does the skill system work (feels like a mix of AD&D 1st ed and D&D 3rd ed)?  There are Bard and Monk classes, how do they compare to their 1st and 3rd ed counterparts?  Plus there is a section on Psionics. So there is a lot to explore here.

Besides the books are damn attractive.  The layout like I said is clean and simple, but it appeals to me.

Now that I found his site again I am curious to see if there will be more updates on it. His BX3e project also looks very interesting.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Happy Anniversary WotC D&D

Yesterday, April 10, was the 24th Anniversary of Wizards of the Coast purchasing TSR and of course, D&D.

Wizards of the Coast D&D

Wizards of the Coast bought the failing TSR for $25 Million.  Today Wizards of the Coast is worth nearly $1 Billion

This means that Wizards of the Coast has been publishing D&D longer than TSR.

TSR D&D 1974 to 1997, 23 years 
WotC D&D 1997 to 2021 (so far), 24 years.

2024, just 3 more years, D&D will celebrate its 50th Anniversary.   IF I was WotC and looking to a new Edition that would either be when I announce it or release it. 

I am not about to speculate what will be in D&D 6 any more than I am willing to speculate when there will be a D&D 6.  I am sure we will see something more akin to D&D 5 though than the radical departures that 3 was from 2, 4 from 3, and 5 from 4. 

No idea if I will upgrade or not.  I have plenty of books and games to keep me happy till I die, to be honest.  But in any case, happy 24th birthday WotC D&D.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dungeons & Dragons, 3rd Edition

D&D Player's Handbook 3rd Edition
The year is 2000. We don't have flying cars or stations on the moon, but we do get a new edition of the Dungeons & Dragons game.  Wizards of the Coast, known for Pokemon and Magic the Gathering, buy the cash strapped and deeply in debt TSR.  Soon TSR is folded into WotC and when D&D 3rd edition is announced, TSR is merely a memory.  Though WotC would go on to produce a hot new game that will still be played 20 years later AND set off a revolution in small press and fan publishing.

The Game: Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition

D&D 3rd Edition was by all accounts a revolutionary game.  It produced two (or three) direct descendants; D&D 3.5, Pathfinder, and Pathfinder 2nd Edition. It was the foundation for d20 Modern and the Star Wars RPGs from Wizards of the Coast. There was a Call of Cthulhu edition, a World of Darkness edition and not to mention thousands of games that used the d20 license and the Open Gaming License, and SRD.  The OGL and the SRD made so many other games possible including 90% of all the OSR releases on the market today.  D&D 3.x is also still widely played some 20 years later.

D&D retook the "Dungeons & Dragons" name, dropping the Advanced, to give D&D a single variant moving forward.  Basic and Advanced were no more. 

Of course, we also got the crowd of "never WotC D&D" forgetting that WotC gave out the SRD and OGL for free. Filled their website with free downloads and also created a very robust fan creation guideline that became the heart of the DMsGuild today, while TSR spent a lot of its early days on the Internet harassing BBSes, website owners, and AOL file areas as well sending C&D letters for anyone hosting Netbooks or fan-made D&D materials. 

The Character: Rowan McGowan

For this witch for D&D 3.5, I am going to use the sample custom witch class from the Dungeon Master's Guide.

The DMG witch class is a bit anemic really, it is just a reskinned Sorcerer with a new spell list.  But the goal for it was not to develop a full-blown witch class as I have done, but rather show how the classes can be altered for your own needs.   

Rowan continues my Celtic-themed named witches.  In 2000 I would have likely gone with Rowena, but I have a witch here already with that name.  She is "McGowan" instead of "nic Goibniu" because I want to represent her as being a little more "modern" than the previous witches.  Modern in the sense of rules updates.

Witches of the Coast
Liliana Vess by Dopaprime, CC License

Rowan McGowan

Female Human Witch, Level 1 (DMG Witch)
Lawful Neutral

Abilities
Strength: 10 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0) 
Constitution: 12 (+1)
Intelligence: 11 (0)
Wisdom: 12 (+1)
Charisma: 16 (+3)

Saving Throws
Fortitude: +1
Reflex: +0
Will: +3

AC: 13
HP: 8
BAB: +0
Initiative: +0
Speed: 30

Skills
Bluff +3, Climb 0, Concentration +5, Diplomacy +4, Disguise +3, Gather Information +3, Heal +1, Intimidate +3, Jump 0, Listen +1, Move silently +0, Ride +0, Search +1, Sense Motive +1, Spellcraft +5, Spot +1, Survival +1, Swim +0, Use rope +0

Feats
Scribe Scroll, Toughness

Special Abilities - Familiar
Familiar - Cat (level 1, 11 HP, 15 AC Attack +5)
Deliver Touch spells through familiar
Empathic Link (Su)
Share spells

Spells
Spell DC 13 + Spell level
Cantrips: Arcane Mark, Daze, Detect Magic, Mending
1st level: Burning Hands, Disguise Self

Not too bad, if a little light on options. 

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 4 Vision

"I was raised by witches boy, I see with more than eyes and you know that."
- Frigga to Thor in 2013, Avengers Endgame

Call me biased, but I have always liked the idea that witches see things that other character types don't.  Not just in terms of "infravision" or "dark vision" but in just "other vision."

A couple of house rules that I always use are witches can see ghosts, spirits, and other sorts of magical creatures that are typically invisible to others.  They can see magical auras which they can tell something about the person they are looking at.  Most importantly they can recognize other witches on sight.

Mechanically it really doesn't add much to D&D.  I argue the kinds of ghosts and things the witch can see are harmless to everyone.  But if you can see them, then they can see you.  So they are not always harmless to the witch herself.

In Ghosts of Albion, this type of vision is known as "Lesser Sensing" and it is something all magical creatures, including magicians and witches, have.   

Witches and Warlocks in NIGHT SHIFT do this as part of their class.

I have extended it to my fantasy games where it is just called "The Sight."

In D&D3-5 or Pathfinder1-2, it could easily be a Feat.  For my Basic-era witches an Occult Power.

The Sight
Using the Sight requires a moment of concentration but then the witch can See.  She can see magical auras that will give her some basic information on what she is looking at.
She can See:
- magical effects such as active spells, charms, curses or compulsions on a person
- magical lines of force (ley lines)
- whether or not a person is a spell-caster* (she can always detect another witch)
- undead

With more concentration (1 round) she can See:
- Invisible creatures
- alignment 
- polymorphed, shape-changed or lycanthropes

The subject of the witch's Sight knows they are being Seen. They get an uncomfortable feeling and know it is coming from the witch, even if they do not know what it means.

That's the rough version, it would need to be tweaked for the respective games.  For example it would work with D&D 5's perception skill. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Witch of Loch-Durnan

One of the things I love about GenCon are the booths selling cheap games.  There are lots books from the dismal 90s and a ton from the dawn of the d20 boom.

The Witch of Loch-Durnan was from the d20 dawn published by Mystic Eye Games who had a lot of cool books back then, some I still use.

This book though has vexed me.
First look at that Jhoneil Centeno art.  I can't recall seeing his work before or since.

Then I could never find it online at a decent price and there is no PDF to be had for money or love.

The 72-page adventure was written by Andrew Thomson. It is for four characters 5th to 7th level for the 3.0 flavor of the d20 system. There are some new monsters or more to the point a system of generating new mutations of monsters like scorpion dogs and goat men.

Then there is the eponymous witch herself.


Mellie, is the witch of Loch-Durnan.  She is also the central figure of this adventure.   Reading this makes me realize that this might in fact be the missing piece of my War of the Witch Queens adventures.  She certainly is worthy to join their ranks.

Mellie - The Witch of Loch-Durnan
for The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games

Female Half-elf
Witch 4th-level, Chaotic Neutral
White Witch* Tradition
Flock of the Moon Sisters Coven

Abilities
Strength: 14
Dexterity: 14
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Death Ray: 13
Magic Wands: 14
Paralysis or Turn to Stone: 13
Dragon Breath: 16
Spells: 15

+2 to magic based saves

Hit Points: 12
AC: 8
To hit AC 0: 19

Occult Powers
Familiar:

Spells 
Cantrips (5): Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Ghost Sounds, Mend Minor Wounds, Message
First (2+2): Charm Person, Mend Light Wounds, Protection from Spirits, Speak with Animals
Second (2+2): Augury, Evil Eye, Knock, Mind Obscure

*The White Witch is a type of witch featured int he Hunt the Rise of Evil campaign from Mystic Eye Games.  It is pretty much what you think a white witch is. Non-evil, focused on healing, protection, and divination magic.

Pretty close to her d20 counterpart.  I like it! Can't wait to use her as a Witch Queen!




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

OMG: Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian, Part 3

I want to wrap up this edition of OMG with some of the missing gods and demons from the Babylonian, Sumerian and Akkadian myths in the Deities & Demigods.

Let's mention an OBVIOUS miss here.
Where is Ereshkigal?  The world's first goth-girl and she isn't here?  That's a freaking crime in my book.  Well, let's fix that.  If you want to classify her she belongs to the Sumerian Myths, her cult has been taken over by her husband Nergal by the time of the Babylonian myths.

Burney Relief
Ereshkigal
ARMOR CLASS: -4
MOVE: 12"
HIT POINTS: 250
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: See below
SPECIAL ATTACKS:  See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Immune to poisons, disease, and death causing magic
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 75%
SIZE: M (6')
ALIGNMENT: Neutral Evil
WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All alignments
SYMBOL: Female with four wings and clawed feet
PLANE: Kur (section of Hades)
CLERIC/DRUID: 15th level cleric
FIGHTER: Nil
MAGIC-USER/ILLUSIONIST/WITCH: 25th level witch
THIEF/ASSASSIN: 15th level assassin
MONK/BARD: Nil
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
S:25 ( + 7, + 14) 1: 20 W: 15 D: 20 C: 23 CH: 25

Animal: Owl
Color: Black
Day of Worship: Friday

Ereshkigal is Queen of the Underworld. Here she keeps the dead and not even the gods can sway her.  She has made exceptions, in particular to her sister Innana/Ishtar, but to none other.

Ereshkigal knows all the spells granted by the Sumerian gods, since all secrets come to her.  She also knows all the spells of witchcraft, which are of her design.  She can cast two spells per round at separate targets if she chooses.

Her rivalry with her sister Innana/Ishtar is legendary.
Ereshkigal would later be syncretized with the Greek Hecate and some of her aspects would also form the story of Lilith.  Indeed in my own research time, the Burney Relief has gone from a representation of Lilith (which was tenuous at best) to a representation of Ereshkigal.

She is mentioned in Return to the Keep on the Borderlands and I swear there were other mentions of her in other D&D books, but so far I found nothing.


Pazuzu
Also not present in the D&DG, but certainly a demon of note (and notoriety) is Pazuzu.   Good old Pazuzu was the king of the demons of the wind and the bringer of storms, famine, and drought. He was the demon of the southwestern wind.  He was not a god, though he was the son of the god Hanbi/Hanbu.
Pazuzu, of course, rose to fame and popularity thanks in large part to the Exorcist movies.  I consider the Exorcist to be one of the scariest movies ever made and having Pazuzu as the "big bad" only helps that.  A demon as old as civilization itself?  Yeah, that's some scary shit.  He makes his AD&D debut in the Monster Manual II.

He seems to have a long history even in myth.  He is likely an Assyrian import, maybe even from the Levant.  So that is quite a demonic pedigree to be the demon of so many different cultures. In my games, Pazuzu is an Eodemon, a demonic race that appeared before all the others.

One thing not considered in Monster Manual II version of him is his battles to stop another demon Lamashtu.  Pazuzu effectively guards human from her evils.

Lamashtu
Now in truth, I see why she was not included.  I mean if no Pazuzu then no need to have her too.  According to some texts, she was a demoness or a goddess.  She is also associated with witchcraft and the murder or newborns and infants. She has many features that would later be syncretized by or with Lilith and other female night demons.  She is currently a god in the Pathfinder setting.

I posted a demon Lamashtu a while back.  Here are some stats.

FREQUENCY:  Uncommon
NO.  APPEARING:  1  or  1-3
ARMOR  CLASS:  -1
MOVE:  9"/12"
HIT  DICE:  10
%  IN  LAIR:  25%
TREASURE  TYPE:  F
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  3
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1-6/1-6/2-8
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  bonus  of  +2  to  hit;  also  see  below  (Con drain)
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +  1  or  better  weapons  to  hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  65%
INTELLIGENCE:  Very
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  evil
SIZE:  L  (9'+  tall)
PSlONlC  ABILITY:  150
  Attack/Defense  Modes:  A,  C,  D/F,  G,  H

Lamashtu are powerful demons, close only to the Lilitu themselves.  Believed to be the offspring of Lilth and the various Eodemons. These demons are old even by demonic terms.  Their natural form is a horrid hybrid of a linoness’ head, donkey ears, and teeth, a hairy human female body, with the hindquarters of a pig.  They are commonly holding a large snake.  In their “human” form they prefer to disguise themselves as old women or nursemaids.  This gives them access to their preferred prey, newborn babies.  Once she has gained access to a new-born babe she will carry it off till she can find a safe place to eat it.  Lamashtu are not tempters, they hunger and only flesh will satisfy them.  They can be held at bay if a witch prepares a special talisman.    Her song drains Constitution to all who hear it, 2 points per night.  Anyone so drained must make a Constitution based save or fall asleep.
Lamashtu may cast spells as a 7th level witch.



Dagon
Dagon is an improt to this mythology.
Here is another problem.  Dagon is a god. Dagon is a demon. Dagon is some sort of Lovecraftian Old One. Or he is all of those things.

I think my favorite take on him was in the 3.5 edition Hordes of the Abyss and the 4th edition Monster Manual 2. Where he is just this really ancient thing. For me that makes him an Eodemon.
Somehow I'd like to capture all aspects of this creature in one whole.

I think it is time to leave the Fertile Crescent. Should I move forward alphabetically or chronologically? 

You can read Part 1 here.
You can read Part 2 here.

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.