Showing posts with label AA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AA. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Classic Adventures Revisited: X1 The Isle of Dread (BECMI Edition)

When I kicked off BECMI Month I mentioned that I was going to try to do BECMI versions of some regular features.  Here is one I was really looking forward too.

With the possible exception of B2 Keep on the Borderlands, no other adventure help so many new DMs as much as the Expert Set's The Isle of Dread.  In fact it had so much appeal that the module was available to purchase separately AND it was included with both the B/X Expert Set and BECMI Expert Set.  No surprise really since the module contained so much information.

For this review and overview I am considering my original print version of X1 along with some copies I managed to pick up from somewhere, the PDF version on DriveThruRPG and the Goodman Games Original Adventures Reincarnated hardcover version which features both the B/X and BECMI versions as well as a new 5th Edition D&D version.

The Isle of Dread is notable since it is the only B/X adventure to get reprinted in the newer TSR BECMI-era trade dress.

While my focus this week is on the D&D Expert set from 1983, I am also going to talk about my experiences with this from the D&D Expert Set of 1981.  The copies of the module do differ in layout, but they are largely the same in terms of content.  In fact I have not discovered many differences at all.

Yeah. I am a fan.

X1 The Isle of Dread
For this review I am considering the print version that came with my D&D Expert set, one purchase separate of the set and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.
The Ilse of Dread by David "Zeb" Cook and Tom Moldvay.  32 pages, color covers with blue maps. B&W interior art and maps.

The adventure that was to complete the new 1981 Basic and Expert Sets was written by the two main authors of those sets, David "Zeb" Cook and Tom Moldvay.  The Basic set would include the adventure module B2 Keep on the Borderlands written by Gygax himself. But the Expert set did not have an adventure until Cook and Moldvay wrote it.  Both drew on their love of pulp fiction and it shows.  Additionally, parts of the world created by Moldvay with his then writing partner of Lawrence Schick became the starting ground for the Known World, this world would later expand more until we got Mystara, but that is a topic for another post/review.
The adventure was so well received that when the expert set was rereleased in 1983 under Frank Mentzer editing, TSR included the Isle of Dread again with a new cover.

While the adventure centers around the eponymous island, there is a lot to this book that is above and beyond the adventure itself.

Part 1: Introduction
Here we get the basics of the world we are in and what this adventure was designed for.  Don't expect complicated plots here, this is a sandbox for new DM's wanting to try out adventuring in the Wilderness.   Here we also get our first look at our world.
"Map C-1" is such an unassuming name.  Though I will argue I have never read any map in such detail as I did with this one.  I don't even pour over maps of my beloved Chicago as much. 
Each country is given a brief, I mean really brief, description. Hardly more than a paragraph. But in those scant words were the seeds of a lifetime of adventure.
The biggest criticism, of course, you have such a hodge-podge of cultures and climes in a 1,200 x 1,000 miles square.  So if I put Chicago in Glanrti then the Kingdom of Ostland would be Halifax, and the Isle of Dread is about where the Bahamas are.  That's not a lot of land really.  But hey, I've made it work for me.
Seriously we are 2.5 pages in and I can already point to about 30 years of gaming.  What is in the rest of this book?

Part 2: The Isle of Dread
Here we get our plot hook for adventuring on the Isle of Dread.  A letter from pirate captain Rory Barbarosa. It is designed to get the characters to the island.  When really all I have ever needed was "hey there are dinosaurs on that island. wanna check it out?"  And it has always worked.  Plus it's a great excuse to use all those old plastic dinosaurs.
There is the trip to the island, which in my cases always became an adventure all on its own.
Once you get to the island only the lower South East peninsula has been detailed with the Village of Tanaroa, which comes straight out of the 1930s King Kong movie.  This was also the origin of one of my favorite NPCs ever, Bone Man, a village priest, and later warlock.  I even got some original art done of him for my Warlock book from none other than Jeff Dee himself.
Outside of the giant, Kong-style walls, there is the rest of the island. Here we run into not just some of the best D&D Expert set monsters, but some of the best monsters in the history of D&D.  The Rakasta, cat people with war-claws (and the 1982 Cat People was just around the corner!), the Phanatons, flying squirel-monkeys (had more than one player want to play them as a race!), the Aranea, and most of all the Kopru!

There is a meme floating around social media around the time of this review about being an adult suck because no one ever asks you what your favorite dinosaur is.  Well, my kids love this because they know mine, and it is a total cheat since it is not really a dinosaur, but something older, the Dimetrodon.  So the Dimetrodon Peril was the encounter *I* remember the best, not the "Deranged Ankylosaurus."  An animal high on "loco weed?"  No thanks, I grew up in the Mid-west that is not adventure material, that is something everyone saw once or twice.

The 8 or so pages in the center are all dedicated to some of the best maps in D&D up to Ravenloft.

Part 3: The Central Plateau
Seriously. There is so much going on here that it always takes me a couple session to get through it all and I have NEVER had a party investigate the entire central part of the island.  The Village of Mantru always gets a good investigation though.

Part 4: Taboo Island
The base of the Kopru.  These were my first crazy fish-men and I wanted to use them in place of the Kuo-toa in the D-Series, but I later relented.  I still kind of wish I had done it though.

Part 5: New Monsters
One of the best features of the BECMI-era modules, and this is no exception, are all the new monsters.  The above-mentioned ones, plus more dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures.  Sadly, no giant ape.  I did create some Sea-dragons for this and used them.

This adventure has not only stood the test of time, it has stood the test of editions.  Much like B2 Keep on the Borderlands I think I have run this for every single edition of *D&D since 1981. Most recently for D&D 5th edition and it still works great.   Plus every time I have run it there is something new to find and there is something new that the players do.
It is really no surprise that it was used for both iterations of the Expert Set.

Maybe second only to B2 and B1 in terms of numbers of players, but The Isle of Dread lasts as one of the best Basic-era adventures out there. In today's frame of mind, the adventure is equal parts Pirates of the Caribean, King Kong, and Jurassic Park. It is a heady cauldron of tropes, ideas, and just plain crazy fun.

Other Editions of D&D
The Isle of Dread is so popular that it got routinely updated to whatever was the popular version of D&D at the time.

D&D 3.x
Paizo, back when they were publishing Dragon and Dungeon magazines published Dungeon #114 which brought the Isle to 3rd Edition D&D and the World of Greyhawk.
The adventure Torrents of Dread by Greg Vaughan is a must-have for any fan of the original Isle of Dread.
They would later feature it again in issues #139, #142 and #145.



D&D 4
Mystara or Oerth? Where is the Isle of Dread?  D&D 4th Edition Manual of the Planes lets you have it both ways!  The Isle is part of the Feywilde and it can come in and out of other realities.  It's a pretty cool idea really.


D&D 5
There are a couple of ways to play the Isle of Dread using the new D&D 5th edition rules.
There is the Classic Modules Today: X1 The Isle of Dread 5e.  This is just conversion notes and monster stats. You still need the full adventure in order to play it.

The other is the fantastic Goodman Games Original Adventures Reincarnated #2 The Isle of Dread.


The book is a massive 328 pages and retails for just under $50.  So it is a big one.  Color covers and predominantly black & white interiors.  If you have any of the other Good Games Original Adventures you will know what you are getting here.  The first 10 pages deal with the history and background of the adventure. An article and an interview from David "Zeb" Cook. An article from Lawerence Schick on his and Tom Moldvay's creation of the Known World. As well as some other retrospectives.
The next 34 pages reprint the original 1981 version from the B/X Expert boxed set.
The next 38 pages reprint the 1983 version from the BECMI Expert boxed set.
It's great to see them both side by side though if I am being 100% fair the reduction in font size for the faithful reproductions is hard on these 50+-year-old eyes.

Now the material we spent all this money on.   The 5e update.
The 5th edition conversion is a complete rewrite of the adventure and covers 246 pages.  That seems like a lot, but a lot of material has been added including 90+ monsters, new magic items, 5 new spells, 15 NPCs, player handouts, and maps.

There is also an appendix for further adventures on the island. I have mentioned above how much potential this adventure has, this only supports my claim.

Regardless of which version you have (or how many) this is one of those adventures that succeeds both as a learning tool for new DMs and as a fantastic sandbox adventure that you can go back too time and time again.

Plays Well with Others
The Isle of Dread is also one of those adventures that just lends itself so well to all sorts of games.  I mention the "King Kong" feel to it, but there is also a strong "Lost World" of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and "Pellucidar" from Edgar Rice Burroughs.  There is even a tiny bit of "Godzilla" and Monster Island here, the adventure remains very pulpy. This means that the setting can be used with a ton of different games and nothing at all about the island needs to change.

Dinosaurs? Of course! Weird fish people? The more the merrier! Pirates? Always! Strange Cults? Everyday!

I have already talked about how well you can use this adventure with two "D&D derived" games, the Pulpy exploits of Amazing Adventures.


and the equally pulpy, though the more dark fantasy of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.


Running this in either would only require the barest minimum of conversion.  In fact, using the Goodman Games version gives you a leg up for using it with Amazing Adventures since the SIEGE game (that powers AA and Castles & Crusades) is very similar to both AD&D and D&D5.

Of course, you can save your self some effort and use the brand new Amazing Adventures for 5e.


No. It is not out just yet.

But what else can you do?  Lots really.

Thanks to X1's solid pulp roots anything from around that time is also fair game.  No pun intended.


Hollow Earth Expedition and Leagues of Adventure are two Ubiquity powered RPGS.  Hollow Earth should really capture the minds and hearts of any Mystara fan since it is also a hollow world.  Leagues of Adventure is a pulpy Victorian age game.  Both though draw on the same sources that Cook and Moldvay did for the Isle of Dread.
The adventure would need to be tweaked a little to use with either of these games, but because their source materials are largely the same appropriate substitutes can be found in either game.

Editorial: Seriously Mystara fans, check out Hollow Earth Expedition. There is a ton of great ideas for Hollow World here.

But what about my own beloved Victorian Era?  I am so glad you asked!



Games like Gaslight and Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death already cleave close to the D&D rules used in the Isle of Dread.  These games just put more "dread" into them.  Both also take place in the late Victorian era so the pulpy spirit of adventure is already getting started.

Ghosts of Albion, my favorite child, takes place in the early Victorian era, and travel in the world is not as easy as it is in the 1880-1890s, but that still is not a problem. Ghosts' higher magic system is also a benefit here.

If you want to go even darker then there is the classic.


Call of Cthulhu's DNA is found deep in the introns of the Isle of Dread.  How do you convert this?  One simple change.  The Kopru used to be human.  Rory Barbarosa is not lost, he has been changed and even all these years later he is still alive as something else.
Hell. That's a good enough idea to use in any game!
While I personally think that everyone who plays any version of D&D should also play Call of Cthulhu, Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos for 5e is a great substitute.  Grab the 5e version of the Isle of Dread and no conversions are needed.

Monster Hunting
While monster hunting can be achieved with, well, every single game out there, my "Monster Naturalist" game is a little different.  You don't kill the monsters, you need to bring them back alive.
It is also not a stretch to say that my Monster Naturalist game idea got its start here with this island and its menageries.  But it found it's true form in Blue Rose.


The idea is a simple one.  The Isle of Dread is about to erupt in a huge volcano.  Not terribly original I know, in fact that is the point I am stealing from any number of pulpy-feeling movies.

The inhabitants have all been relocated to nearby islands all that is left are the dinosaurs and other strange creatures.  And that's where you, Sovereign’s Finest, come in.  Efforts to save some of these creatures are underway and it is your job to get them off the island before the volcano destroys it.  Easy enough idea and you have plenty of time. That is, as long as nothing goes wrong.

Blue Rose: The AGE RPG of Romantic Fantasy is a different game in which hunting and killing monsters is never the point.  Sure, evil monsters can be dispatched with no pause, but these are dinosaurs and the Queen feels that efforts should be made to rescue as many as can.  Of course, she does not want the lives of her Finest to be in jeopardy so great care is taken.  What the Queen and her advisors don't know about is the Kopru, are they trying to benefit from this disaster?  And the pirates, are they taking the animals (and maybe even the people) to be sold?  These will be the problems the envoys will need to solve.  Oh, and the volcano is starting to shake. A lot.

One day I need to run a campaign centered around the island and its neighbors.  I certainly have enough to keep me busy.

Links

Friday, June 14, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Amazing Adventures 5e

I have been waiting for this one for a while now. 

Amazing Adventures 5E RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/amazing-adventures-5e-rpg?ref=theotherside

I have been a fan of Amazing Adventures since my good friend Jason Vey told he was writing it one day.  Jason and I met while working for Eden Studios back in the late 90s and the early 2000s.  Since then we have playtested and given advice on each other's games. 

The original Amazing Adventures was two-fisted, high action pulpy goodness using the SIEGE Engine rules that powers the Castles & Crusades RPG.  Over the years and supplements, it has morphed into a more multi-genre system complete with powers and all sorts of magic and psionics.

Amazing Adventures 5e makes this all explicit now and does it using the same d20 system that D&D 5e uses.  Which seems only fair given how much of C&C you can find in D&D5.
Yes, you can still do pulp, but you can also do modern gaming, Victorian and futuristic Sci-Fi.

I have read and played the playtest and it is every bit as awesome as that cover promises it is.

OR use it as an add-on to your D&D 5 rules with some extra classes and work right alongside of the classics.

Seriously this one is a no-brainer.

It has blown past the stretch goals, which is great since you now get "Don't Fear the Ripper" and "The Feast of Black Annis" adventures which are great.   I am just tickled, having played with Jason's home group in the past, to see "Don't Fear the Ripper" get new life as an AA5 adventure.

Lots of great stuff here and you should check it out.



Thursday, May 23, 2019

A_MAY_zing Adventures: American Gods

This month the Troll Lords have a bunch a sales going on.  Now as many of you may know I am good friends with one of the Trolls, Jason Vey.  Jason and I worked on Buffy at Eden Studios, playtested each other's games for Eden and have worked on a lot of other titles together for a bunch of different companies.

We were talking about his game Amazing Adventures a little bit ago.  I had been reading through all of Brian Young's Mythology Codecies, also by Troll Lord, and it dawned on me that these can, and should, be used together.  Because what you get when you do is American Gods.



Amazing Adventures has been reviewed here in the past, so no real need for me to go over it all again.  I am going to consider the following books though for my American Gods game.


For the Codices, I  have only reviewed the Celtic and Classic ones, but have them all.


The idea behind American Gods is that when folks came here from the "Old Country" they brought their gods with them.    People in this world, and thus this game, are normal humans.  So no spell casters and no psychics.   I am including the Book of Powers for an odd sort every so often and to cover some of the powers of the Gods in America and some of the "normal humans".

The Codices all give us background.  While the world has moved on the Gods haven't, or at least, not all of them and not every one of them the same way.

Where American Gods is a personal story of Shadow Moon, there are other stories that can be done.  Take a page from Mage: The Ascension and have the agents of the New Gods fighting the followers of the Old Gods.  These new followers could then be spellcasters or powered characters as they criss-cross the US battling each other and other forces.  Throw in a bit of Chill or Supernatural in there for good measure.   Maybe this war is also waking up all the old creatures so werewolves, vampires and others are also on the move once again.

Actually, this sounds exactly like the games from around 1999-2001 when "millennium anxiety" was creeping in everywhere. 

The more I think about the more I like this idea of this game.  While Amazing Adventures is overtly a "Pulp Action Game" there is nothing at all stopping you from using as a low-key (Loki??) supers in a modern supernatural setting.  In fact, that is exactly what the Book of Powers is all about.

Hmmm.

Stealing another idea from Jason's blog and his Wasted Lands concepts, maybe the players could also BE the gods themselves.  Now there is a fun idea.


This is worth developing much more.  I'll need to reread the book, it's been a while, plus I should really finish Anansi Boys someday.   I think I would also use Gaiman's "Lucifer" because that would be a lot of fun.

OH. And be on the lookout for the new Amazing Adventures 5th Edition, compatible with 5th Edition D&D!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

PWWO: Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

I got my Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2nd Edition book as part of the Kickstarter, so I have had it for a while now.  In the time I have been reading through it I came up with at least three (or four depending on my mood) completely separate games/campaigns I want to do with it and only one is the Default setting.

So let's talk a little about those while I see what I also have on my shelves to use.

Since it is an "Retro Clone" of sorts and an OSR game it naturally lends itself well to mixing an matching.  I mentioned in my review yesterday that I feel it is a good blend of both B/X D&D and AD&D.  Maybe leaning towards more to the AD&D side of the equation.


B/X D&D goes to 14th level, AS&SH goes to 12th.  So any adventure written for Basic or Expert D&D is in theory (and very much in practice) going to work for AS&SH.  I mean you will need to do something about the elves, dwarves, and halflings about.  But for the most part I make them Kelts and Picts respectively.  Sometimes I even throw in the odd elf or dwarf to keep things weird.  The feel of the two games is also very, very similar.  The four Basic human classes map exactly to the four main classes of AS&SH, with sub-classes essential being role-playing notes.

But you don't need to take my word for it alone.  Eric Fabiaschi over at Swords & Stitchery has been blogging about AS&SH for years.  In fact, he has been working through many of the classic TRS-era modules for use with AS&SH, both 1st and 2nd editions.
I read a lot about other's games online most times I think "wow, that looks fun!", sometimes I think "Er. OK, you do you, but I am happy WAY over here." But with Eric's I am most often going "Damn! Why didn't I think of that first!"

Speaking of which.


I recently ran Isle of Dread for my kids under 5e. It was fantastic, really. We had a great time and I got to relive some great moments of the adventure that I had back in the early 80s.  I could not help but think how awesome X1 would be with the AS&SH rules.  Go all pulp with dinosaurs, King Kong and creepy ass cults.
As you can imagine, Eric has covered this topic well on his blog too.  So instead of me trying to tell what you can do in a paragraph, check out his pages of ideas!

So I mentioned that I see AS&SH as good combination of B/X and AD&D rules.  Essentially it is what we were playing back in the early 80s.  Where I grew up it was not uncommon to come to a game where people would have an AD&D Monster Manual, a Holmes Basic book and a Cook/Marsh Expert Book.  The rules we played by were also an equally eclectic mix.
AS&SH is like that. It favors the AD&D side more, but there are enough B/X influences that I smile to myself when I see them.




Labyrinth Lord and Basic Fantasy are both implementations of the Basic D&D rules, but expanded out.  Lots of great stuff in both systems.  Basic Fantasy, in particular, has an absolute trove of materials usuable with the core rules and easily for use in AS&SH. 
The same is true for Blueholme, the Holmes-inspired clone. 
While all three have significant overlap in monsters, there are some unique ones in each that make for a fuller picture.  In particular Blueholme has a few good choices.


I mentioned Realms of Crawling Chaos before. Both of these books cover some of the same Lovecraftian beasties, RoCC gives a little more detail on how to run a Lovecraftian-style "D&D" game.   Hyperborea is not so much about horror, it's more Howardian, but there is no reason why it can't be.  This is a good place to start.



If Crawling Chaos is good, then Call of Cthulhu is even better.  Again all these books cover the same ground and feature similar themes.  The d20 CoC book does have a section on how heroic characters (aka D&D characters) would respond to these monsters, as opposed to the normal people of the CoC proper rules.  Grabbing a copy of CoC is good for ANY gamer in my mind but for the AS&SH gamer/gamer master there are some great ideas on how to play the Lovecraftian, and Smith, side of the game more. In truth, all monsters get a boost thematically speaking with a read through of CoC.

That is great and fun, but what if I want to up the Howardian or Pulpy aspects of the game? Well for me I wanted to run a Pellucidar-like game.



Hollow Earth adventures is a pulp-style game using the Ubiquity system, so system conversion is different, but the themes are 100% compatible with AS&SH.  What about the lands UNDER Hyperborea, are their Lizard People? Snake Cults?  Dinosaurs? OF COURSE there is! 

Amazing Adventures and many of the works of Jason Vey to be honest (including his Wasted Lands house setting) work great with AS&SH.  Again, not a direct translation, though the SIEGE system is easier to convert to AS&SH, but thematic.  I actually ran a playtest of the "Red God" adventure under the AS&SH (1st Ed) rules.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is an amazingly flexible system and strikes all the notes that many games attempt.  I guess that's why the core book is 608 pages.

Mixing these I have decided that what really want to do is a Zothique game.  Based on all the Zothique tales from Clark Ashton Smith. 
There is an unofficial d20 supplement for Zothique that is good and can be easily converted to AS&SH.   Even James at Grognardia wanted to do a CAS game.

As I work on my game more with all the materials above I'll keep you all posted.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Harvesters

Troll Lords does great Kickstarters. This one is no exception.

Harvesters the Role Playing Game


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/harvesters-the-role-playing-game

From the Kickstarter:
WHAT IS HARVESTERS?

Harvesters is a complete all-in-one table top role playing game packaged in a stout box, with rules, dice, adventures and maps!

Begin an epic journey in the rugged tracks of unlikely heroes. Enter the world of Harvesters, where badgers, rabbits, squirrels, and otters launch into adventures of epic wonder. Here, the smallest of creatures take on the roles of the greatest heroes: Knights, Druids, Clerics, Rogues, Wizards, and Fighters. Together, they tackle the greatest of exploits, from rescuing the princess to finding lost treasure. You'll find no humans here, only animals. They live their daily lives and do work just like humans do in your world. You may find a rabbit as a local constable, or a squirrel as a baker or a mouse as a black smith.

Art by Jim Holloway!

Chose from one of five animals to play: rabbits/hares, squirrels, badgers, otters, and mice.
This would have been great when my kids were little.  But I still think it would be a lot of fun.

In any case, this looks like fun.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Wayward Sisters for Amazing Adventures

Ah. I have never met a windmill I couldn't joust with.

Anyway it's AMAYzine May AND it is Wayward Wednesday.  So today you can watch your favorite Supernatural episode featuring the Wayward girls on Netflix.


Amazing Adventures is a really awesome game with a lot of character development and customization built right in.  Today I want to just work from the core rulebook and figure out how to add some different quirks to some characters with similar backgrounds.

Jody and Donna are both sheriffs working in the northern part of the Midwest.
Anne/Alex and Clare are both survivors that have turned to less-legal pursuits for hunting monsters.   AA gives me the means to get a little more finesse out of these characters.


Links lead to their pages on the Supernatural Wiki.

Jody Mills
Class: Gumshoe (Police officer)
Level: 7
Lawful Good

hp: 46
AC: 12
BtH: +7

Attributes
STR: 12 (0)
*DEX: 14 (+1)
CON: 15 (+1)
INT: 15 (+1)
WIS: 16 (+2)
CHA: 15 (+1)

Class Abilities
Climb, Cat & Mouse, Hide, Move Silently, Take em Down, Precision Shot, Face in the Crowd
Adversary (Monsters)

Traits
Abrasive, Honest

Background: Law enforcement
Knowledge: Law

Donna Hanscum

Class: Gumshoe (Police officer)
Level: 7
Lawful Good

hp: 46
AC: 12
BtH: +7

Attributes
STR: 13 (+1)
*DEX: 12 (0)
CON: 12 (0)
INT: 14 (+1)
WIS: 17 (+2)
CHA: 16 (+2)

Class Abilities
Climb, Cat & Mouse, Hide, Move Silently, Take em Down, Precision Shot, Face in the Crowd
Adversary (Monsters, mostly Vampires)

Traits
Cautious, Easy going, Honest

Background: Law enforcement
Knowledge: Law

The differences between Jody an Donna are subtle in terms of stats, but they are role-played very differently.  Jody has a longer history of hunters and hunting, but Donna has made up for lost time.

Jody can be a bit abrasive with others and with her family, but that is only becuase she worries about them. Her first family were all killed.

Donnan can act all sunshine and Minnesota good cheer, but never doubt that she has already figured out the monster and knows a couple of different ways to kill it "doncha know".


Alex/Anne Jones
Class: Socialite/Hooligan (Multi-class)
Level: 1 / 3 (3)
Neutral Good

hp: 24
AC: 10
BtH: +1

Attributes
STR: 12 (0)
*DEX: 12 (0)
CON: 15 (+1)
INT: 15 (+1)
WIS: 16 (+2)
*CHA: 15 (+1)

Class Abilities
(s) Charm, Connected (Vampire clans), Exalt (Vampire clans) (no clan)
(h) Back Attack,  Case Target, Climb, Hide, Lingo (Vampire slang), Listen, Move Silently, Open Locks, Pick Pockets, Traps, Medicine (from Nurse's training)

Traits
Passionate, Focused

Background: Mean streets
Knowledge: Vampires

Anne has two classes to cover the time when she was living bait for a clan of vampires (Socialite) and when she was later hunting and acting out (Hooligan) or as Jody put it, she was not a cheerleader but the one smoking pot under the bleachers.

Clare Novak
Class: Hooligan
Level: 4
Chaotic Good

hp: 20
AC: 11
BtH: +1

Attributes
STR: 12 (0)
*DEX: 12 (0)
CON: 15 (+1)
INT: 15 (+1)
WIS: 16 (+2)
CHA: 15 (+1)

Class Abilities
Back Attack,  Case Target, Climb, Hide, Lingo (Hunter slang), Listen, Move Silently, Open Locks, Pick Pockets, Traps, Sneak Attack

Traits
Passionate, Reckless

Background: Mean Streets
Knowledge: Angels and demons

Anne and Clare would normally by the rules appear to be Hooligans.  Anne/Alex starts out as a "Socialite" since that is the closest thing in the rules to "pretty vampire bait". Though she did do all of the things a socialite did for her vampire clan.   After she was freed she became every bit the rebellous teen Hooligan that Clare is.   Using the rules to swap out powers I took out her "Traps" ability and replaced it with "Medicine" to cover her training as a Nurse.  I am thinking that for now she is an LPN, not an RN, so maybe as she gets better I might have to rule of taking out some of her other hooligan abilities that no longer fit.
I also removed her Exalt since she is not running with a vampire clan/nest anymore.

Patience Turner
Class: Mentalist
Level: 1
Lawful Good

hp: 6
AC: 10
BtH: +0

Attributes
STR: 12 (0)
DEX: 14 (+1)
CON: 12 (0)
INT: 18 (+3)
*WIS: 16 (+2)
CHA: 17 (+2)

Class Abilities
Meditation, Psionic Power, Psychic Senses

Traits
Focused

Psionic Powers
Basic: Clairvoyance w/ Pre-cognitive

Background: Student
Knowledge: School topics

Patience is the easiest one.  She is, by any definition I can think of, a 1st level character.  She has some skills (she is top student and athlete) but she only has one trick right now and that is her visions.  So she is a perfect level 1 Mentalist with very, very minimal customization.

Ok. Now, these are builds I can enjoy and get behind.  These would be some kick-ass characters to play.  Everything from Patience discovering what her own powers mean and what she can do, to Clare's unresolved anger issues and the new mother/daughter relationship to Jody (who is basically Clare in few more years).  Even Anne trying to put the horror of her life behind her to do something normal.

It would make for a great game and a great TV show.

Don't forget that Petition!
https://www.change.org/p/the-cw-save-wayward-sisters



Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Willow and Tara: Amazing Adventures, 2018 update

In many ways I still associate Tuesdays with Buffy.

Hard to believe, but five an half years ago I posted Amazing Adventures stats for Willow and Tara.  The idea then, and now, was to experiment with different types of Arcanists.  Willow is a very typical Intelligence-based spell caster while Tara was always a more Wisdom-based one. I have also done a Charisma-based Aracanist, in the form of Rachel Morgan.

As you can imagine I am trying to replicate my C&C Witch in a modern format.

The Amazing Adventures of Willow & Tara, 2018

Recently I have been using Amazing Adventures as a modern game as opposed to a pulp game.  So instead of thinking about Tommy Guns and the like I am more interested in smart phones, computers and GPS.    The shift has been an interesting one.  Thankfully Amazing Adventures is based on a core of d20 so finding extra material is very easy.

So what have my witches been up to?

Given what I have been doing with the characters for the last few years I would have to say they have been largely retired.  So taking the reunion staged by Entertainment Weekly, I would say something pulled them out of retirement.  Maybe a horrible orange monster threatening to take over the world. Or something.  Of course I do want to figure out an adventure to pull all my favorite supernatural shows together in one mega-episode crossover.

Willow Danielle Rosenberg-Maclay
Arcanist (INT) 12
Human Female, Lawful Good

Age: 37, Ht: 5'3", Hair: Red, Eyes: Green

hp: 45
MEP: 114
AC: 12 (locket of protection)/ 15 (when in physical contact with Tara)
Move: 30'

STR: 9 (0)
DEX: 11 (0)
*CON: 11 (0)
*INT: 18 (+3)
WIS: 16 (+2)
CHA: 17 (+2)

Languages: English, Latin, Hebrew, French* (extra language)
Background: Computers +4 (+2 initial, improved at 5th, 10th level), Science +2
Traits: Spellgifted (offensive), Reckless
Skill: Knowledge (Arcana)

Spells per Level 9/6/6/5/3/2/1
0: Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Ghost Sound, Light, Mage Hand, Message, Open/Close, Prestidigitation
1: Arcane Bolt, Burning Hands, Identify, Read Magic, Shocking Grasp, Sleep
2: Bullet Proof, Darkness, Enhance Attribute, Invisibility Scare, Shatter
3: Blink, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Fly, Lightning Bolt, Magic Circle
4: Confusion, Locate Creature, Scrying,
5: Telekinesis, Telepathic Bond
6: Chain Lightning

Willow's class is Arcanist, but her backgrounds are computers and science. She does have increased knowledge skill in Arcana.  It is also likely that Willow has bought off her Reckless by now.  Compared to my earlier version, I have dropped the unneeded Gadgeteer level.

Tara Ann Rosenberg-Maclay
Arcanist (WIS) 11
Human Female, Lawful Good

Age: 38, Ht: 5'5", Hair: Blonde, Eyes: Blue

hp: 42
MEP: 100
AC: 12 (locket of protection)/ 15 (when in physical contact with Willow)
Move: 30'

STR: 12 (0)
DEX: 9 (0)
CON: 12 (0)
INT: 16 (+2)
WIS: 18 (+3)
CHA: 16 (+2)

Languages: English, Latin, Gaelic, Japanese (bonus free language)
Background: Historian +4 (+2 initial, improved at 5th, 10th level), Artist +2
Traits: Spellgifted (defensive), Polite
Skill: Knowledge (myth and legend)

Spells per Level 9/6/6/5/3/2
0: Blinding Flash, Detect Evil, Detect magic, First Aid, Know Direction, Light, Purify Food & Drink, Message, Prestidigitation
1: Animal Friendship, Command, Cure Light Wounds*, Protection from Evil, Remove Fear, Shield of Faith
2: Aid, Darkness, Delay Poison, Hold Person, Lesser Restoration*, Speak with Animals
3: Cure Serious Wounds, Dispel Magic, Magic Circle against Evil, Remove curse, Spiritual Weapon
4: Dismissal, Restoration*, Wall of Force
5: Dispel Evil, Scrying

*Tara still retains her healing touch divine powers from when she was brought back from the dead.
To fit my general idea of Tara more I would like to up her MEP to the maximum amount. She might not have a lot of different spells, but she has a lot of power.

So for me it has been nearly 10 years since I used these characters in these incarnations.

What have they been doing?  Well in the Dragon and the Phoenix/Season of the Witch timeline they moved to Boston, been married for years. Willow owned a software security firm ("RedWitch") that she later sold making millions. Tara has degrees in art history and counseling. She teaches at a school for young magicians and witches (no not Hogwarts). They have two daughters Brianna 12 and Chole 9.

Reading over this I think what I really need to try is to start these characters over again at 1st level and see what it is like to run them under AA.  It makes perfect sense if you think about it.

Buffy = Demon Hunter
Xander = Hooligan
Willow = Arcanist (Int)
Tara = Arcanist (Wis)
Cordelia = Socialite
Giles = Occultist
Oz = Werewolf
Angel, Spike = Vampire

I could be a lot of fun.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Amazing Adventures for AMAYzing May!

Troll Lord games is continuing their AMAYZing May celebration with all sorts of sales but in particular their Amazing Adventures line.

I figured I would give AA another spin, but this time as a Modern, 21st Century game.

I also wanted a game where I could pull in all my favorite urban supernatural, modern horror characters under one system to see how they would all fare with each other.   I have a lot of things I want to try.

For this last week of AMAYzing May I want to link some of my past reviews and some characters that fit in my supernatural world.


Some characters for this world



And for free


Will have more this week!






Wednesday, May 23, 2018

AMAYzing May!

I have been very remiss at posting this, but Troll Lord games is having their AMAYZing May celebration with all sorts of sales but in particular their Amazing Adventures line.

All as a build up to their new 5th Edition version of Amazing Adventures, which you can get a preview of now.

5th Edition Amazing Adventures Preview

I have not read it all yet, but what I have looks like fun AND it still retains the best qualities of both 5e and Amazing Adventures.

Could this be my new modern game?

I am going to have to give it a go.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Plays Well With Others: Victorious and Victorian-era Games

Time once again for another chapter of Plays Well With Others.

Between some games there are often rivalries, heated debates, or even outright distaste.  Some games even have that between editions.
Not so for Victorian-era games.  We, the aficionados of such pastimes, fancy ourselves more genteel Lords and Ladies.  We generally get along and support each other and celebrate each other's successes.  This can be seen in the Facebook groups Victorian Gamers Association and +Jordan Bodewell's Victorian Adventure Enthusiast.

So today it will my pleasure to discuss how you can use Victorious with various other Victorian-era RPGS.

Note and Disclaimers: 1. I am making no attempt whatsoever to hide my biases here. 2. All books are mine. No book was provided for review purposes. 3. Links are affiliate links. 4. This will not be exhaustive.

Shall we begin?

Tho star with let's talk about what Victorious brings to the table that is unique. This is not just a Steampunk game or a game of Victorian daring-do. This is a game of Super-humanity from a Victorian point of view.  This is the writing of Friedrich Nietzsche writ-large with more hope, action, and steam. These are the promises of the ideas, but not the letter of, Charles Darwin.  The attitude is generally positive (which mind you can be a criticism of the game, the Victorian times were dirty, poor and generally terrible for many).
Victorious, true to it's name, is about striving for more and then seeing that goal realized.
If you go back to my review from yesterday you will see right off the cuff there are a few things that can easily be added to any Victorian game from Victorious.
1. The timeline
2. Background on the Victorian world, with various organizations.
3. The NPCs, in particular, the villains.

Many of the games I am talking about will also have these, but using them in concert makes for a better game.

Leagues of Adventure
Right off the bat Victorious has a LOT in common with Leagues of Adventure. Both games have similar motives and design goals.  Where Victorious can be summed up, though inadequately, as "Victorian Superheroes", Leagues of Adventure is summed up as "Victorian High Adventure".  Both have simlar Pre-Pulp sensibilities, and both have the point of view of Mankind will soon be much better.  I think the main difference to me is summed up by think how the characters could travel from London to New York in each game.  In Victorious the character would either fly by some sort of super-human means (in addition to other means) in LoA the characters would pilot a steam powered airship.
The timelines of both games are largely compatible and characters in one would feel right at home in the other game.


Could you imagine a team up of these characters?  I totally can.
The power levels of LoA are a little flatter than Victorious'.  Character start out and remain largely human-powered.  LoA has more skills, but Victorious' rules are a little faster on how skills are dealt with.  The GM of one game should find a lot material in the other game to give them plenty of ideas.

Victoriana
If Victorious is about super-humanity, then Victoriana is about weird-humanity and others.   Regardless of which edition you have/buy (1st Edition is pictured below), Victoriana is a little further on the "Castle Falkenstein" scale of Fantasy Victoriana than Victorious is.  It also takes place in the mid-Victorian era compared to Victorious' ever-popular late-Victorian era.


Victoriana is often described as Gaslight-Shadowrun. This is true. There are also plenty of other races like orcs, trolls, ogres, gnomes, elves (Eldren) and dwarves running around.  Victoriana is a fun game, but I sometimes wonder what it would be like under a different rule system.


Well not exactly like that...but you could fake a really cool Victoriana by mixing Victorious with Castles & Crusades. It would be a system that most of my readers would already be familiar with and still get at some similar types of game-play.  I would then advise GMs to grab some of the 3rd Edition Victoriana supplements.  Most of them are written with a minimum of game stats and all are absolutely beautiful.
While reading over Victorious I could not help but think of this picture from 1st Edition Victoriana.


This appendix in Victoriana covers very well what mixing 21st-century super-heroes with 19th-century sensibilities would be like.  It is a good read for anyone running a Victorious game.

In our hypothetical trip from London to New York, our Victoriana characters also travel by Airship, though it is not steam powered, but rather some eldritch magic.  Or they find an ancient Eldren gate.

Victoria
On the WAAAY other end of the "Castle Falkenstein Scale" is +Daniel Hodges' Victoria.  Victoria is very much set in the "real world". It is, however, a game I always suggest since it deals with the issues of the Victorian times better than pretty much every other game. Why? Because those issues are the focus of the game.   IF as a GM you really want to get a feel of the times then this is the game to use.  In fact, I have often wanted to run this game as an introduction game.  Everything is nice (well...not really nice) and normal then move on to the Fantastic game of choice once the characters learn of the "true world".


To travel to New York from London in this game you better book passage on a steamer and with some luck you will get there in about a week.

NOTE to FUTURE GAME DESIGNERS
We have now used up all versions of "Victoria" for a game!



Baker Street
On the same scale as Victoria is the Sherlock Holmes influenced Baker Street by +Bryce Whitacre.  Baker Street is set in "normal" Victorian times, albeit, one with Sherlock Holmes as a real person.  Victorious also has the world's most famous detective.  GMs should pick up a copy of Baker Street if Sherlock is going to play any part in their Victorious game.  Plus the clue-resolution system in Baker Street is fantastic and is something that can be lifted out to use in any game.
I will go as far as to say that Baker Street is one of those underrated games that should really get much more attention and many more awards.


Again. Steamer ship, arrive one week later.

Let's go to the other side of the scale into more Horror.  It is October after all.

Masque of the Red Death
Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death shares a lot of DNA with Victorious.  Either the d20/3rd edition or the original 2nd edition would work fine here.  I have already mentioned that you can mix Victorious with Tainted Lands and get something not unakin to Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death. Both games have several compliments to each other. Both have great and well-researched timelines. Both games have a great variety of NPCs and Villians. In fact, most of the material from one game can be used with the other with little fuss.  The big issues though are what does the Red Death mean in Victorious and how do super-humans work in Masque of the Red Death.  If you want to add some Gothic Horror to Victorious this is where I would start.   I for one would pick up MotRD's A Guide to Transylvania in a heartbeat to use with this.



Gaslight
Not too far away from Masque of the Red Death, but further up on the CF scale (this is a thing now) is Gaslight.  Gaslight is cut from the same cloth as Masque.  Since it is OGL/d20 it mixes with Victorious well.  I would argue that the system in Victorious/Castles & Crusades is better than d20 for this, but use some ideas from Gaslight to add a little more horror to your game.



Ghosts of Albion
In truth, Victorious and Ghosts of Albion are very, very different games.  Victorious takes place in the late Victorian era, Ghosts in the early. There are plenty of known superhuman and supernatural occurrences in Victorious. In Ghosts everything is hidden behind a veil of secrecy and magic.
But both games have a number of complimentary features.  First, if you plan to run one game in the other's time frame then both have good, detailed timelines.  Magic is a main feature of Ghosts, so if you are planning to add some more magical juice to Victorious then this is a good place to start.
I bet I could put together a "Protector" class for Victorious.  Mix in some details from Amazing Adventures and I could have a Ghost, Faerie and Vampire races for it as well.
Otherwise, the Magic quality is easily replicated by Victorious' Magicians.



One day I'll run an ultimate Victorian game with elements of these games plus Space: 1889 and Cthulhu by Gaslight.  Something truly epic.

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