Showing posts with label CnC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CnC. Show all posts

Friday, January 26, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasures

This one is probably my fault.

So earlier this week I was organizing my notes and books for my "Secret Castles & Crusades" project (coming to you soon).  And I was working through all my monsters.  I have the hardcovers, but I also print out my PDFs to organize my material/thoughts and scribble notes on them.

Then back on Monday Troll Lords posted this.

I showed them my pictures of my binder, talked about how much I want every monster in one book and now here we are.

Ok, in truth they were planning on reprinting the book anyway, but now there is a three-ring binder option.

If you are a fan of Castles & Crusades then this is a must buy!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Demons!

I am a huge Castles & Crusades fan.  Any chance I get to play is a good one.  So when they have a Kickstarter I pay attention.

Castles & Crusades Tome of the Unclean

I am a sucker for Monser books.  If they have demons or undead in them so much the better. If they are dedicated to demons or undead then I am sold.  I have the PDF versions of this, but to get it as a physical book with add-ons would be great! 

Monday, June 19, 2017

FreeRPG Day Haul

 Really busy weekend.

Free RPG day, Father's Day, grilling, playing D&D.  It was packed.

Here are the books I got at my FLGS.

I am most excited about Runequest. I have not played it in YEARS and have been itching to do so more with it.

My hat is off to +James Raggi.  I admit I have been critical of his products and style over the years.  The truth is his style is not my style. That is not good or bad, just different tastes.
But  ALL that aside, giving out a free HARDCOVER book? Holy shit dude.
Plus his Vaginas Are Magic is actually really, really good.

It galls me, and makes me happy, that he keep proving me wrong by being good.

I might not ever play Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but damn. His production values are through the roof.  He even pulled in +Stacy Dellorfano and +Elizabeth Chaipraditkul to help him on this book.  I trust their opinions and judgment. I am going to have to dig into his book a bit more. Ok. A lot more.

So +James Raggi, it took me a while, but I think I finally "get it".  

Friday, April 7, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Castles & Crusades Players Handbook #7

The good folks over at Troll Lords have a Kickstarter up for the next printing of the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook.

They have five days left and only about $1,000 to go.

Castles & Crusades is my favorite game that I never get to play.  Well...I do get to play it, but not as much as I would like really.

This Kickstarter has a lot of really nice perks and the Troll Lords are super great guys.

Check it out!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 A Look Back

It is already 2017 in some parts of the world, but here 2016 is staying around like that last guest that just won't leave.  So let's look back on 2016 on The Other Side.

D&D 5
Without a doubt D&D 5th Edition was the biggest game this year and D&D5 posts here got the most traffic. D&D got a big push in the media this year and D&D 5 benefited from all of that.  Closer to home I played a lot of 5th edition this past year. I ran games for my kids and various cousins and my oldest son ran three different campaigns. Ok, they were all roughly the same adventures, but with three different groups.
Not everything was all 5e all the time. I managed to work in some Basic (B/X) D&D as well and even a little AD&D 1st Ed. Back in October, I reignited a Blue Rose game too and even worked in a little Castles and Crusades.
I have caught some rumors of some very interesting 5e related news I can't share yet.  But 5e is going to have just as much of a good 2017 as it did 2016.

Geek Culture
This is a wonderful time to be alive if you are geek. Really. In 2016 we got more superhero movies than I can recall (ok Civil War was a bit of a let down compared to comic), Star Trek AND Star Wars in the theatres in the same year. Doctor Strange came out, a movie I wanted since the 70s, new Ghostbusters, new Jason Bourne, a new movie in the Harry Potter universe!  And that is just the movies.
On TV we have super heroes, scratch that, DC Super Heroes every night of the week! Luke Cage on Netflix. STRANGER THINGS! So much great content that I can't even keep up.  We have an embarrassment of riches here.
Speaking of DC. The rebooted, reboot of DC's Rebirth in comics is doing fantastic. Not just in sales, but also in terms of story. While the DC movies are hit and miss (I am a fan, but I am also realistic here) and the TV shows are nailing it night after night (still a fan) the comics, especially the "New52" had been iffy. Not anymore.

My output decreased this year and it is likely to decrease more next year. More on that later, but mostly it is due to me needing more time for work, family and other projects.  I had a lot of fun with my deep dives into Victorian RPGs and Blue Rose. The stats show you liked them as well. I said goodbye to some regular features like Zatannurday and Friday Night Videos.  I have mostly retired Class Struggles and "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading", but I retain the right to post something with them in 2017.
I was nominated again for "Best Blog Ennie" for 2016. I didn't win, but I had a lot of fun going to awards show.

Things are good here at home. Family is healthy and good. My wife and I launched into a new exercise plan where I run every day and exercise in the evening.  I am healthier now in my later 40s than I was in my 30s. My weight is way down and my blood pressure (something I have had issues with since I was a teen) is also down. In fact, save for a minor respiratory bug last week 2016 has been one of my healthiest years on record.
Work is going fine. In 2017 I have a new graduate program whose curriculum I am redoing, so that will keep me busy for the next couple of years. I got a promotion (of sorts) and a raise (of sorts) and a new boss.

The Other Side Publishing
2016 saw the launch of my personal imprint The Other Side Publishing.  I am not trying to take the RPG world by storm here, I just want to put out a few books of things I want to play.  My biggest success so far has been Sisters of the Aquarian Order (currently a Copper best seller!) for White Star.
I am making enough here to keep going and I can keep myself in other people's books too.  That is a success in my mind. Actually, people buying my stuff and getting enjoyment out of it is much more of a success than the actual money, but the money does buy more art.

And Then There Was That Other Thing...
Yeah 2016 had it's fair share of suck too. More than it's fair share to be honest. The election was shit-show and the outcome was pretty much to worst of all possible outcomes.  I have mentioned before I am less of a "Social Justice Warrior" as I am a "Social Justice Veteran" or, more to the point "Social Justice Terrorist".  I was in the trenches before Facebook, before Twitter and back when letters and phone calls to Congressmen, Senators, and Judges were a common thing for me. I got back on the phone this year to my Representatives and other elected officials. 2017 might be the year that pulls me back into social activism.  In fact, I have already started to put my money where my mouth is, so I am also going to put in my time.

We had a lot of our icons die this past year. Not much I can say about that really. I am going to miss Bowie the most I think. I just liked the idea of being in a world that also had him in it.

So here is to 2016. The good, the bad and the ugly. And there was a lot of bad and ugly!
Here is to a much better 2017! Though it is really 2020 I am looking forward to the most! ;)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Castles & Crusades Adventurers Backpack

This week's Kickstarter of choice is Castles & Crusades Adventurers Backpack.

Billed as a set of options, it feels like the C&C version of Unearthed Arcana.

There are some nice exclusives like the dice pouch (to go with your C&C themed dice) and an actual backpack.

Castles & Crusades is a favorite of mine and this looks great.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Willow & Tara: Victorious

I am continuing my week-long deep dive of the Victorious game and I thought I'd go back to some familiar territory for me.   Though to be fair, the game did give me this idea.

There are a couple of things about Victorious right from the start. First, the ability to port in other classes from other SEIGE Engine games, like Castles & Crusades.  Second, the in-game plot element that there are some characters there from the 21st Century.
So what if I DID decide to bring some characters? Who should I bring over?  No real question really.
While I was working on this post the question of Savage World's Rippers was also brought up. So why not try something with that too.

So here is my premise. Sometime in 2006 (not 2016) Willow and Tara are ripped out of their time back to London of the 1890s.  Let's just say 1896.  Digging through some old games....ah yes, they were at a museum in London and they saw a daguerreotype picture of themselves in Victorian period dress with another woman.  Maybe something like this.

Willow and Tara flanking the Slayer of Victorian Age, Tara LaGrange by mqken.
The other young woman is Tara LaGrange who is featured as a "Slayer" in the Rippers book.

So. Let's try bringing in my two favorite witches using some of the spell casting rules from Castles & Crusades (I'll do something different tomorrow) and see if I can build a Slayer using these rules.

As cool as those guns are and as tempted I am to really turn the Steampunk elements up to 11 on this, I also want to do a simple spellcaster conversion first.
I have a few things I need to consider.  1. Are spells Vancian in nature?  I think I am going to say yes with the option that certain low-level spells can be cast more than once. A signature spell so to speak.
2. Can spellcasters mix in magickal powers? Again yes, but I am going to limit it to just what they get for their CHA bonus +1.

For spellcasters, they take the "Spellcaster Power" every other level.  This gives them access to the next level of spells.  So Spellcaster as levels 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17 for spell levels Cantrips and 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 respectively.  This gives them roughly half of the free Power Points of other characters. So these remainder points can be allocated as needed.  Typically I would see a spellcaster at first level taking Spellcasting, Blast (Magick) and Psycho-Kinesis.  The 1 point shortcoming is that the spells must be studied in a book of rituals.

Proper Name: Willow Danielle Rosenberg
Strength: 9 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0)
Constitution: 13 (+1)
Intelligence: 18 (+3)*
Wisdom: 16 (+2)
Charisma: 17 (+2)*
INIT: +0
Actions: 1 per round
AC: 10, +6 (Mystic)
Defensive: +9 Vision
Hit Points: 44
Level: 12
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 5
Skills: History/Legend (Intelligence), Linguist (Intelligence), Occult (Intelligence), Prime (Intelligence), Science (Intelligence)
Languages: English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew
Supernatural Powers: see Packages

Spellcaster (Arcane) 12th level.
0: Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Light, Mage Hand, Message, Prestidigitation
1: Burning Hands, Comprehend Language, Identify, Magic Missile, Shield, Shocking Grasp
2: Darkness, Knock, Levitate, Locate Object, See Invisible
3: Clairvoyance/Clairaudience, Dispel Magic, Fly, Lightning Bolt, Suggestion
4: Arcane Eye, Fear, Mnemonic Enhancer
5: Contact Other Plane, Permanency, Telepathic Bond*
6: Chain Lighting, Guards and Wards

Powers: (Spellcaster) Blast 2, Keen Senses (Sight, Magick), Psycho-Kinesis 2, Telepathy,

Shortcomings: Enemy 2 (The Beast), Enemy 1 (Dracula), Minority (Lesbian Jew in 1890s England), Notorious, Phobia (Frogs), Watched (British Home Office)

Proper Name: Tara Ann Maclay
Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 12 (0)
Constitution: 11 (+1)
Intelligence: 16 (+2)*
Wisdom: 18 (+3)*
Charisma: 16 (+2)*
INIT: +0
Actions: 1 per round
AC: 10, +6 (Mystic)
Defensive: +9 Vision
Hit Points: 42
Level: 11
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 6
Skills: Fine Arts (Charisma) History/Legend (Intelligence), Occult (Intelligence), Prime (Wisdom)
Languages: English, Latin, Greek
Supernatural Powers: see Packages

Spellcaster (Divine) 11th level.
0: Create Water, Detect Magic, Endure Elements, First Aid, Light, Purify Food & Drink
1: Animal Friendship, Calm Animals, Entangle, Faerie Fire, Obscuring Mist, Shillelagh
2: Animal Messenger, Cure Light Wounds, Hold Animal, Produce Flame, Speak with Animals
3: Call Lightning, Neutralize Poison, Protection from Elementals, Pyrotechnics, Speak with Plants
4: Cure Serious Wounds, Dispel Magic, Scrying
5: Cure Critical Wounds, Commune with Nature
6: Find the Path

Powers: (Spellcaster) Healing, Keen Senses (Sight, Magick), Psycho-Kinesis 2, Telepathy,

Shortcomings: Enemy 1 (The Beast), Enemy 1 (Dracula), Minority (Lesbian Wicca in 1890s England), Watched (British Home Office)

I like both of these. They are right out of C&C, but I feel they could go toe-to-toe with the big bads of Victorious.  I also think they compare favorably to their Amazing Adventures counterparts.

Now on to The Slayer.
Tara LaGrange appears in the Savage Worlds Rippers universe.  I converted her to Unisystem as both a normal girl and as an honest-to-goodness Vampire Slayer.
If I stick with 1896 then Miss LaGrange will be 21.

The Slayer
Proper Name: Tara LaGrange
Strength: 18 (+3) / 23 (+5)
Dexterity: 16 (+2) / 21 (+4)
Constitution: 13 (0) / 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 12 (0)
Wisdom: 12 (0)
Charisma: 16 (+2)
INIT: +12 (Intution, Lightning Speed)
Actions: 1 per round
AC: 10, +2/+4 (Dodge), +3 (Lightning Speed)
Hit Points: 50
Level: 5
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 5
Skills: Prime (Strength), Melee
Languages: English, French
Supernatural Powers: see Packages and Powers

Slayer (theme)**
- Attribute Increase: Strength
- Attribute Increase: Constitution
- Intuition
- Might
- Regeneration (heal self 1d6 per rank)
- Robust

Powers: Robust 2 (taken at level 2), Might 2 (taken at level 3), Attribute Increase (Dexterity) (taken at level 4), Robust 3 (taken at level 5)

Shortcomings: Enemy 2 (Vampires)**, Enemy 1 (Dracula), Obligation**, Watched (British Home Office)**

Powers marked with ** are part of the Slayer Package.

I might need to tweak it a bit more, but for Miss LaGrange here I think it will work rather nicely.
I am now thinking I want to run a game with these three!  Maybe do that vampire game I have been thinking about for a while now.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Reviews: Victorious Supplements

Victorious isn't just the core rulebook and some vague notions of inter-game compatibility.  There are a number of supplements already out for the game that you can grab right now.

More Disclaimers:  I bought all of these, Troll Lords did not supply any of these PDFs.

Victorious Night of the Jackals
This is a 24-page adventure from core book author Mike Stewart.
Now this is something fun.  It is an introductory adventure for 4-8 characters of 1st-3rd level. Ok, the DriveThruRPG page says 2-4, but the book says 1-3.  It follows directly from the adventure in the core book, Hyde and Seek, and involves none other than Professor James Moriarty.  I don't want to give too many details away, but if you are a fan of the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, then this will be a fun romp.
A bit of a nitpick, the DriveThruRPG text is a bit misleading. It looks like bits of it were copy-pasted from the Victorious RPG Core page. This is just the adventure.

Victorious Phantasmagoria
This is a 36-page supplement from Mike Stewart.  This supplement details a number of NPC, both good (9 total) and vile (12 total). They can be used as allies, villains, or even as Player Characters.  Not as interesting as the NPCs from the Core book, but then again how could they be! Couple of nitpicks here, some the characters are described as having children, though the ages of the kids and the heroes don't always work.  For example one heroine, Spellbinder is described as being in her late 20s and having a 12 year old son. She is also described as having a Ph.D.  Having a kid at 18 and then continuing to get a Ph.D. THEN getting sucked into the past?  It is DAMN hard to work on a Ph.D. when you have kids.  I know; so does the author of the book. So it struck me as odd. Make her "late 30s" or better yet "mid 40s".  I know the core book talks about the slow aging effects of supermankind, so say she is in her 40s but looks younger.
Also detailed is the secret organization "Sceptre"; used to fight the enemies of Queen and Country. A prison, Darkmore Prison, is given as a place to lock up all these bad guys you catch.

Victorious Hunter & Hunter Catalogue
This is a 44-page supplement from Mike Stewart.
Now this is a fun one!  Meant to be reminiscent of the old mail order catalogs of the time, this book takes its name from two of the premiere heroic NPCs of the core book.  The book is full of fantastical and mundane items characters can buy, find or engineer themselves.  And it is a full book.
Vital statistics are given including any bonuses it provides or damage it does (or can take) and the equally important availability (%) and price in British Pounds and American Dollars.
This is also a good book for any Victorian era game with a Steam-Punk lean to it.  It makes a nice companion piece to Cubicle 7's Victoriana - Faulkner's Millinery and Miscellanea.
My only complaint here is Troll Lords really missed out on the chance to make this look like a Vicotrian era catalog, complete with vintage art.  I know they were trying to maintain trade dress with the line and readability, but it would have been a lot of fun.
Buy this if you REALLY want to know how much the Nautalis would run you in Pounds Sterling.

Victorious Rules Britania, 42 pages
Victorious Manifest Destiny, 46 pages
These are "Guide" books for Great Britain and America respectively.  Both come with the same city maps of London and New York in PDFs.
Rules Britania details Great Britain in the time of Victoria and her world-wide empire. The city of London is also covered in some detail.
ifest Destiny does the same for America and New York.
Both books are really pretty system neutral with a lot of background information that is great for any Victorian-era game.
Manifest Destiny edges out Rules Britania since America is often ignored in many Victorian games. Granted England is ignored in many Civil War and Western games too.  One of the features I really enjoyed about Manifest Destiny were the inclusion of the New York gangs.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: Victorious

Victorious or Victorious: Steampunk Adventure in the Age of SuperMankind is a game that I had been waiting for sometime.  I had not been able back it in the Kickstarter so I picked it up this past Gen Con.  I was quite pleased to do so.

Victorious is not the game I thought is was.  That is not a problem of the game, but rather a problem with my expectations.  I thought this was going to be a Victorian steam-punk game closer to Leagues of Adventure.  The game I got  though is rather fun and different than other Victorian games I have played and own.  This is a very good thing.

Victorious is a game of Victorian era Steam Punk Superheroes.  Once I got that into my head then the rest was a ton of fun.

The system is the tried and true SIEGE Engine from Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures and is largely compatible with both of those games.  So adventures for one will work in the other.  In fact, I tried out an Amazing Adventures scenario I had used in the past and it worked brilliantly.

Let's look into the chapters.
First, though, full disclosures.
1. I purchased both the hardcover and the PDF versions with my own cash.  Troll Lords did not send me copies for review, nor are they expecting reviews.
2. Links in this review often link to affiliate sites where I get a small percentage of anything bought.
3. I have authored a Victorian game that could be considered competition to this game. I do not see this as such.  Victorious and Ghosts of Albion can be played in similar time periods and even tell similar stories (I am planning on running a Ghosts adventure under Victorious to test this) but the games are not in competition with each other or other Victorian era games.

The Book. The book is a sturdy hardcover with color covers, black and white interiors, 144 pages.  The form and format reminds me of the original AD&D books.  The PDF comes with two files, one is a little more print friendly than the other.  Both are bookmarked.

Introduction gives us the basics of the game, some background and some information on RPGs in general.  It should be noted the the GM in this game means "Genteel Magistrate".  Damn.  I wish I had thought of that first!

Only if we are very, very lucky...

Chapter 1 is all about Character Generation.  If you have played Amazing Adventures or Castles & Crusades (or even D&D) then you know how this works.  First, we go through the standard Attributes and modifiers.  This is followed by a simple skill system.  In fact, this skill system would make a nice important to Castles & Crusades.  Up next is the big feature of this game; the powers that the characters gain as they level up.  Again, this is the primary feature of the game.  There are quite a few powers listed here and they remind me a bit of Mutants & Masterminds.  This is not a surprise really, given the focus of the game.  One could, I imagine, add more powers from other d20-derived games.
Some hindrances and shortcomings are also discussed.  Such things as "enemy" or "fame".
This is followed with some character examples that are roughly character classes. These include the Contraptionist (gadget guy), the Hypnotist, the Inquiry Agent (Sherlock Holmes), the Magician, the Paragon (Victorian Super-men), the Radiant, the Strongman, and the Vigilante (Gaslight Batman). We end with some ideas on completing the character.
There are enough character concepts here to create any sort of character you want.  I mentally "stated up" a few characters and was able to come up a Victorious version of them.

Chapter 2 covers the rules of the game. If you know Castles and Crusades then these rules will be very familiar. The main addition here are a bunch of Victorian-era firearms and some Steam-Punk gadgets. If your C&C game has black powder then this is a great chapter to have. Unlike some Victorian games there is no lengthy list of firearms (looking at you Dracula RPG), and this is a good thing.

Chapter 3 Equipment and Encounters is kind of a catch-all chapter of money, equipment, vehicles. encounters and worldly goings on.  One nitpick, there is a section on "Cost of Living" that details various costs of goods in both British Pounds and American Dollars, but no actual cost of living.  Te second half of this chapter details various organizations active in the Victorian era.  If you play any Victorian game then this is a great chapter to have. Nearly every Victorian game has a chapter like this and I really can't get enough of it.  Many, if not all, of these can be used in any other Victorian game and the societies and groups from those games can also be used here.

Chapter 4 The Victorious Era details some of the world history from the point of view of this game.  At this point, I have one major issue with this game.  There is the assumption that there are some super powered humans that have time-travelled from the 21st Century here.  I understand why the author did this; to help players acclimate to the stranger times of Victorian England. Personally, I thought it was unneeded/unnecessary.   BUT it does fit with the game, so that is fine.  Personally I am not going to use it. If I am running a Victorian game you are going to play Victorian characters.
Ignoring that there is a bunch of information on Victorian life that is great for any game. There is a great section on criminal slang that gives us the expected British slang, but also the rarely printed American/East Coast slang.
There is a Chronolgy of the Victorious age next.  This lists all sorts of political and scientific advancements made.  Included in this are events from fiction (like Dracula and Sherlock Holmes) and events from within the game itself.

Chapter 5 is the Bestiary.  Included are a lot of animals and the expected monsters of the Gothic Tradition.  These monsters are 100% compatible with Castles & Crusades and Amazing Adventures. So if you need more monsters they can be found easy.

Chapter 6 covers Supermankind. This has some more information on the world of Victorious. This includes many of the NPCs; the good, the neutral and the bad.  There are some great characters here including John Henry, Sherlock Holmes and the Spring Heeled Jack.  Like most games (and most ficition) the bad guys are the most interesting. Listed here with full stats are Aleister Crowley, Baba Yaga, Dorain Grey, Dracula, Hyde, Moriarty, and Col. Moran.  Really a Whos-Who of Victorian Villainy.  Really the star chapter in this book.  Which is saying something because there is a good game here.  These NPCs could be used in Amazing Adventures too.

Next we get and adventure, Hyde and Seek, which is a lot of fun.
The Appendices cover the Designer Notes, which are really fun read. I have to admit reading these gave me a greater appreciation of this game. There are sections on quick combat, dice rulings, and my favorite; mob rules.
There is a section on "History vs. Fantasy" which is a great read if you have ever tried to run a pseudo-historical game.  There is a list of resources that is also a great read. It's not exhaustive and there are some really notable exclusions, but this in not *my* list but theirs.

All in all this is a really fun game and I have nearly endless uses for it.
Mix it with a bit of Castles & Crusades for more fantasy or Amazing Adventures for more pulp.  Include some ideas from Codex Celtarum to make a more fantastic faerie-themed game. Mix it even more with Tainted Lands and get something not unakin to Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death.
The game has a multitude of possibilities beyond what is presented in the two covers.

The game is full of possibilities to be honest, and I really can't wait to try some of them out.
This is certainly a game I would love to play at a Convention sometime.

Buy this game if you enjoy Victorian games, Castles & Crusades, or superhero games with a twist.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Street Faeries for Victorious/Castles & Crusades

I am going to spend some quality time with Victorious over the next week or so as I continue with my work on Castles & Crusades and then move into Victorian-era games.

I thought it might be good to bring back this little dollymop.
You can see other Street Fae here:
Ghosts of Albion and Rippers/Savage Worlds,
Victoriana 2nd Ed,
Victoria and
Swords & Wizardry.

Michael Thomas, Victorian Gothic Fairy
Street Faerie

SIZE: Small
HD: 2 (d4)
MOVE: 20 ft.,
AC: 10
ATTACKS: Spark* (
SPECIAL: Spell–Like Abilities (glamour, blink),  Twilight Vision,  takes 2x damage from cold iron
INT: Average

XP: 45+1

Sreet Faeries are fae that have chosen to live in the urban sprawl of large cities rather than the normal sylvan glades and woods that one typically associates with their kind.

A typical street faerie stands about 3' high, but can glamour themselves to be taller or shorter by 2' in either in direction.  They have peppered moth wings that they can hide when needed.  Many will live in cities and disguise themselves as children or young humans.

A Street faerie can also "Blink" as per a Blink Dog or a Dimension Door spell.

Their only attack is a Spark which is a spell-like attack (no save). They can cause a spark of electricity to shoot from their fingers causing 1d4 hp of damage.
A typical attack of a Street Fae will consist of a spark attack and then them blinking away.

Don't forget to include the hashtag #MonsterMonday on Twitter or #MonsterMonday on Google+ when you post your own monsters!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Review: The Haunted Highlands for Castles & Crusades

There is a chill in the air, leaves are turning colors and my thoughts turn to a land that is older and colder.  Thankfully for me, Troll Lords has just the thing for me.  Continuing my dive into Castles & Crusades I want to spend some time with The Haunted Highlands campaign setting.

 The Haunted Highlands goes way back in Castles & Crusades publication lore. It is a "mini" campaign setting really since it now sits inside the larger World of Aihrde.  This is not a weakness as far as I am concerned since I already have a nicely established world and I can drop this in my world (or any world) with no issues really.

The Haunted Highlands consist of two main products; The Players Guide to the Haunted Highlands and Castle Keepers Guide to the Haunted Highlands.

Review disclaimer: I paid for these on my own and was not asked to do a review.  Links are affiliate links to allow me to buy more games for more reviews.

The Players Guide to the Haunted Highlands
This book is everything the player needs to play in the HH. It is 114 pages and includes some very basic C&C rules, but you are going to want to have the full C&C Players book to really play.
The book begins with a bit of an introduction to the HH; both real world and in-world.   The in-world material is compelling and well thought out.  I certainly feel that this is a world with some history (again real world and in-world).  In the overview a number of locales and some groups are covered, all from the point of view of what the characters would know.  This covers the first couple dozen pages or so.  This flows right into the gods, demi-gods and fiends of the lands; about 10 pages.
Chapter 1 covers Character creation. This is largely a condensed version of the C&C rules.
Chapter 2 covers the Races of Karbosk. This chapter discusses the variations from the fantasy norm for the various races.   Your C&C "Value Add" here are rules to play Orcs, Goblins, and Hobgoblins.  New races, the Zvarguth (Dark Dwarves) and Meshkuri (pale humans), are also covered.
Chapter 3 details Character Classes. The traditional classes are mentioned and detailed.  More value adds are new and revised classes.  The assassin gets a remake as a cult to the goddess Shambere.  The Conjurer is a new spell casting class that has access to both cleric and wizard spells, but at a cost.  The Necromancer with spells from the Black Libram of Naratus.  There is also a witch that is very much of the "old hag" archetype and followers of the Hag Queen.  There is a monk class known as the Pammakoni, which is an interesting addition.
Chapter 4 continues the class idea with Dual Classing.   Some of this is detailed elsewhere in other C&C books. Also covered here is magic and new spells.  Witches gain the new arcane spells and select divine spells.
I will say this book is worth it for the classes and spells alone, but obviously it shines more with the Castle Keeper's Guide.

Castle Keepers Guide to the Haunted Highlands
Now this is a huge book. 400 pages and priced accordingly.
Like the Players Guide, we get an overview, real-world and in-world, of the Haunted Highlands.  This section contains a number of additions above and beyond the Players Guide.  This includes a calendar of months and days.  Along with that are some details on various astronomical features.  Now the big issue that *might* cause some concerns for adding to other worlds are this calendar and the two moons.  This can be adapted easy enough.  For my games I have three moons in my world, so one of the moons is just not detailed here.  A recap on the gods from the PG and we have the first two dozen or so pages covered.
For the next 90 or so pages we get a reprint of the modules DB1: Haunted Highland, DB2: Crater of Umeshti, and DB3: Deeper Darkness.  Now if you don't have these modules this is a nice value add, but I have them is dead-tree (and for DB1, PDF).  I didn't notice too many changes but I did not compare them side by side.  Having them in one place is nice, but I didn't really need them.  Though there is good reason for them to be there.  There are new modules/source guides, DB4: Dro Mandras, DB5: The Conquered East, DB6: Dwellers in the Darkness, DB7: The Duchy of Karbosk, DB8: Mists of Mantua, and DB9: Fanderburg.  The adventures are not "leveled" so the CK can adjust them to fit their players.
At this point, we are now 330 pages deep into this book.
This takes us to the Monsters sections.  There is a lot culled from the first three modules, but there are a lot more new ones.  40+ pages to be exact, so enough to keep me happy for a while. This is followed by 25 some odd pages of new fiends, demons and devils.
The last three or so pages are dedicated to new magic items.
This is a campaign world in the very sense of the term.  It is much more akin to Greyhawk than it is to the Forgotten Realms.  You are given some locales and locals, some gods and demons, some monsters, some factions and some background.  You are told how they all interact and then what you make of it all is what YOU make of it.  No NPC is going to overshadow the players here unless of course the CK allows that.  Which they won't.
The books are of course gorgeous in the way that all C&C books are. They really feel like something from the 1980s, only better.

In truth what would be better is a nice boxed set with both the Players book and Castle Keeper's book in softcover. Put the modules in there, all nine. Include a big fold out map and some green dice with bronze/gold color lettering.

Troll Lords is running a bundle sale on these now. Get both books for a reduced price.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Giants in the Mist

or fog as the case may be...

Since I am going to combine some Cloud Giant adventures and have a floating castle, I figure I should have at least one encounter with their land-dwelling cousins.  Fog giants first appeared (well for me anyway) in the 1st Edition Fiend Folio.

These creatures can be added to any giant-themed adventure.

D&D 5th Edition

Castles & Crusades

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1-6, 1-10*
SIZE: Large (16'-18')
HD: 14 (d12)
MOVE: 40 ft.,
AC: 24
ATTACKS: Weapons; Greatclub (5d6) or rock (3d8)
SPECIAL: Spell–Like Abilities,  Mist (Twilight) Vision, Scent
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Neutral Good (50%) or Neutral Evil (50%)
TYPE: Giant
XP: 4750 + 12

*Any group of 10 Fog Giants will include a Cloud Giant noble.

From the 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium.

Cousins to the cloud giants, these large rock-hurlers are more intelligent and stealthy than portrayed in story or song. Fog giants are huge and husky, with tree-trunk sized legs, and over-developed arms muscled by constant throwing games and exercises. They have milk-white skin which aids their natural ability to blend into fog (80% chance). Their hair is silvery white and flowing, with ample hair on the arms, legs, and chest. They grow no facial hair whatsoever. They prefer to wear no armor, counting on their high natural Armor Class.  They love massive, ornate clubs made from bleached and polished wood or bone.

Fog giants are proud of their strength and fighting skills, often playing games when on hunting forays in an attempt to best one another. Their favorite such game is called “copsi” and consists of the giants pairing off to toss larger and larger boulders to their partners until one of the pairs misses its throw.

The fog giant families live in caves, canyons, or thickets, in the most inaccessible areas of marsh, swamp, forest, or coast. The men usually hunt in groups, ranging up to a dozen miles from their homes. The groups generally are formed of giants of similar alignment.

By tradition, a young giant may not mate until he has obtained at least one large ornament of silver. Usually, the young giant joins with several others in a quest to find one (or acquire enough treasure to buy one).

Fog giants do not often mix well with other creatures or races, although they can often be persuaded to perform services for a fee, or barter goods with groups of similar alignment. Fog giants will happily barter goods and services for refined silver.

Territorial disputes sometimes flare up between groups, especially in times of bad hunting. Friendly disputes can sometimes be resolved by a game of copsi or an arm-wrestling match. Fog giants fighting amongst themselves will generally throw rocks and fist-fight, rather than use swords.

Fog giants are fond of all sorts of cooked meats, particularly hoofed creatures such as horses, cows, deer, elk, and centaur. They often cook meat by building a large fire, then impaling chunks of meat on their swords and holding them over the open flame. Fog giants prefer fruits and sweets for dessert, and will also down large quantities of spirits if available to them. They do not distill their own spirits or liquors.

They also sometimes smoke fresh milkweed pods in wooden pipes, though the taste is too bitter for humans and demihumans to enjoy.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Witch Wars and Second Campaigns

Again, no gaming for me this weekend. So when I am not working on my current 5e game my mind tends to wander a bit. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what needs to be done next.

A brief recap though.

I started playing with my kids when my son turned 5, so about 2005 or so.
That adventure was the start of what would become the Dragonslayers campaign. There was no over arching plot and we made a lot up as we went along. The rule system was a modified version of D&D 3.0 with bits of Mutants & Masterminds, BESM d20 and Star Wars thrown in for good measure. Soon my youngest son joined and there was a rotating cast of characters (sometimes joined by their friends) under the vague notion of stopping the threat of evil dragons. Eventually the party decided that they had to stop Tiamat herself. We went through many of the classic adventures and a lot that were completely made up on the day of gaming.

When D&D 4 came out we tried a couple of times to get a game going under that but to no real success. Though those failures lead to what we called the Order of the Platinum Dragon games, or what I have been calling here the Come Endless Darkness game. Like every time I have changed rule systems I usually use the children of the characters I was playing before. This time, we started using AD&D 1st Edition. We played that for a couple of levels, notably for adventures B1 and B2. When D&D 5th Ed came out we switch wholesale over to that with flashbacks using AD&D1 and D&D Basic.

Now I want to try something a little different.

The Second Campaign is (in theory) supposed to run in parallel to the Come Endless Darkness game. Different characters, but the same world and time. One of the elements of this game is that one of the characters that went missing from the CED game will show up here. That game is limited to only 12-14 levels, then for the big finale all the characters would come together in the end. BUT...that might not work so well since I didn't get the Second Campaign started when I should have. Or rather, the CED game had too much momentum and we kept going. In the CED game they are going to deal with the Lolth-Orcus threat, in TSC it will be Dagon and Demongorgon.
Since it is a "Second Campaign" I want to follow the model of the "First Campaign" or Come Endless Darkness and use classic modules. These are the ones I am considering.

N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God, levels 1-3 (novice)
U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, levels 1-3
U2 Danger at Dunwater, levels 1-4
U3 The Final Enemy, levels 3-5
I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City, levels 4-7
I3 Pharaoh, levels 5-7
I4 Oasis of the White Palm, levels 6-8
I5 Lost Tomb of Martek, levels 7-9
X4 Master of the Desert Nomads, levels 6-9
X5 Temple of Death, levels 6-10
I9 Day of Al'Akbar, level 8-10
Gary Gygax's Necropolis, levels 10+

The only one that I am 100% sold on is Necropolis.

Since these are all AD&D modules (save Necropolis) I might stick to AD&D, but it is far more likely that this will be a combination of Basic/Expert D&D, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, Adventurer Conqueror King, Basic Fantasy RPG, Labyrinth Lord and any other OSR book I have laying around. It is a mix-mash that I often refer to as "Black Box Basic".

The trouble it that it make much more sense for this game to use Castles & Crusades. Converting between C&C and D&D5 is a no brainer really. Super easy. I want to play C&C. I also want to play Black Box.

The only ones I don't have PDFs for.
The campaign after this will be my War of the Witch Queens.
That one will be run under Castles & Crusades and also use a variety of adventures.

The Stealer of Children (LL), level 1
B7 Rahasia (Basic D&D), levels 1-3
The Ruins of Ramat (S&W), levels 1-3
Return of the Warlock (S&W), levels 2-4
The Manor Issue 6 (OSR), low level (roughly 3rd)
Witch of the Tarriswoods (OSR), 3rd level
Saga of the Witch Queen (DCC), 4th level
A3 Wicked Cauldron (C&C), levels 3-5
Night of the Spirits (C&C), levels 4-6
No Salvation for Witches (LotFP), not mentioned, likely levels 5-7
Witches Court Marshes (AD&D_ish), around 7
Fane of the Witch King (3.0/d20), levels 10+
Dark Druids, AD&D1/OSRIC, levels 8-12
The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga (AD&D_2e), levels 7-20
The Witch Queen's Revenge (Pathfinder), levels 15+
The Witchwar Legacy (Pathfinder), levels 17+
Winter of the Witch (D&D4), Epic levels

One campaign has a variety of rules, but adventures that are for the same system. The other uses one set of rules, but each adventure is for a different system.

One day I'll do something easy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Class Struggles: Castles & Crusades Classes

It has been a while since I have done a Class Struggles post.  Normally with these I like to take a deep dive into a single expression of a class and talk about it in it's various forms in the various editions and offshoots of D&D.

Today though I want to instead look at the unique, or mostly unique, classes offerings from Castles & Crusades and other SIEGE Engine games.  My point of view though will remain the same; how to use these classes in your Fantasy RPG/D&D.

First up is the Knight.  The knight comes to us from the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook. So in this respect, it is a "core" class.  It is best to compare the Knight to the Cavalier. In fact if one were to look at the list of classes in the C&C PHB and compare that to AD&D1 PHB/UA or OSRIC the Knight stands out as being something of a unique class.  Like the UA cavalier the knight is a mounted, armored fighter type. They both follow codes of conduct and belong to various orders.  In most ways the knight appears exactly like the romance knights of King Arthur's Round Table with their code of chivalry and courtly romance.  Thankfully though the knight is a little bit more than that.
In Castles & Crusades there is the concept of Prime Abilities. Each class has one and they do about what you would imagine if you never read the rules.  For the Knight the prime ability is Charisma.  Not physical prowess, but charisma. This is the same for Paladins who are now taking more of the role of Holy Warrior.  The 5th Edition D&D Paladin is still closer to the C&C Paladin, but the C&C Knight is in many ways closest to the D&D4 Warlord. Both have leadership abilities and both appear to be more militarily trained fighters.

At this point, I must apologize for my selections of classes.  They are going to be based on the ones I know and the books I have.   I also mightnot focus on every class in the books I do have.

The Codex Celtarum is one of my favorite C&C books. I love the idea of playing in a Celtic universe and there is just so much fun stuff in this.  This book comes with a new class, The Woodwose, and a variation of a class, The Wolf Charmer. Both of these classes have a distinct Celtic flair to them.  The woodwose is a wildman of the woods and somewhere between a ranger and a barbarian in terms of role. Looking at their prime abilities, the Barbarian is Constitution, the Ranger is Strength and the Woodwose is Dexterity.  The wolf charmer is described as a pied piper of sorts for wolves.  They can be rogues or rangers and they gain some wolf charming abilities in favor of some the abilities they would have gotten for their own class.  A ranger-wolf charmer, in fact, resembles the concept of the Beastmaster I discussed in a Class Struggles a few months back.  In 3rd edition, we might have done this a Prestige Class.

It's sister product or cousin product, is the Codex Nordica.  Personally, I think both books should be used together for a greater effect to both. Yes their "worlds" are very different, but their interaction in our world is very linked.   This book offers us the Seiðkona, or sorceress.  Other books might call her a witch.  Indeed I used a lot of the same myths about the  Seiðkona, Vísendakona and Volur in my own witch books right down to using a distaff in place of a staff.  The Seiðkona uses Intelligence as her primeary ability and casts the same spells and magic as the Wizard does.  If she had used Charisma, I would naturally compare her to the Sorcerer of D&D3.   Though given her role, Intelligence (or maybe even Wisdom) is the proper choice here.  This is a class that is very much part of the mythology of the world she is in. She loses some of the things that make her special if she you dropped her into Greyhawk or the Realms.  There is also the Völva, which the clerical counterpart to the Seiðkona.  This class also serves the role of a priestess and uses a distaff.  As expected her primary ability is Wisdom.  Her gift is divination and prophecy.  So by means of a rough comparison, she is more similar to the Oracle class in Pathfinder.

Moving on to more C&C specific "worlds" we can first turn to the Tainted Lands. Now to be fair, I was pretty hard on this product when it came out.  I still find faults with it, but I am softening my approach some more.  I just ignore the "Psychic" and "Supernatural" attributes. The nice thing about this setting is it is easily back-adaptable to ad some darkness to your games.  The Tainted Lands also gives us four new classes.  The Witch Hunter (which I have converted to Wisdom), The Metals Master (which I honestly don't use), The Portal Keeper (I use Intelligence instead) and the Vampire (Strength).  Of these, I use the Witch Hunter the most.

The Haunted Highlands are next and have some classes that fit into the same horror or darkness tinged mode.  This includes the Players Guide, the Castle Keeper's Guide and the Black Libram of Naratus.  Now these books hit me right in my home.  Dark, scary, Celtic themed play?  Sign me up!  I will work on getting a full review out for the Haunted Highlands soon.  Case on point, the classes are a revised Assassin, a revised Monk, the Conjurer (Charisma based), the Necromancer (an Inteligence sub-class of the Wizard and which is also detailed at length in the Black Libram of Naratus), and the Witch (Wisdom based)! I could go on and on about the witch here, but it is a very approapriate adaptation of the concept for this setting.  Again. There is so much here to go through that I will have to devote a blog post or two about it.  But I would easily play one of these witches or necromancers.

To wrap-up my collection of Castles & Crusades specific books (and I know there are more out there) I want to look into the Castles & Crusades Players Guide to Aihrde.   What I really like about this book are some "race" specific classes. There is the Heisen Fodt (Dwarves), the Oraalau (High Elves), Ieragon (Eldritch Goblin), Hugrin dun (Gnome), and Felon Noch (Halfling). Essentially these are the racial classes closest to the Basic/Exper D&D expressions of the Race as Class classes.  Here though they have a strong cultural context and they really work.   I would add these to not only my Castles & Crusades game, but any OSR game or even D&D5.

Stretching now just a bit I want to talk about a few of the classes found in Amazing Adventures.  While AA is a Pulp or even modern RPG, there are some classes that would work well with just the tiniest of modifications.  Some of this is detailed in the books, but I want to share my opinions on the matter.  The Arcanist is basically a Wizard or Cleric.  The Gadgeteer though would make for an excellent Magical Artificer.  Use the rules here and in the Book of Powers to create your own artificer.  The Mentalist would add a psionic or psychic character to your game.  The  Socialite can be dropped in almost as-is for a Royal Courtier.   Now if we add in the Amazing Adventures Companion we get a whole new slate of character class options.   The Acrobat, the Archer, the Duelist, the Feral, the Pirate and the Soldier can all be used with only modifications to anything that involves firearms.  Depending on your game you could even add in the Gunslinger.
If you check out the Troll Lord's online shop you can also find the Demon Hunter class for AA, but easily compatible with C&C.

There are similar choices in Victorious, but I am not done reading that one yet.

All in all, nearly 30 classes you can add to your Castles & Crusades games.

I think the Troll Lords need to come out with a "Class Codex" now!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Review: Amazing Adventures Book of Powers

The Amazing Adventures Book of Powers for the Amazing Adventures RPG is really, really interesting book.  Interesting in that it opens up the Amazing Adventures game, and thus Castles & Crusades and Victorious RPGs into new and interesting realms of play.   It does in a sense to Castles and Crusades what the BESM d20 rules did (or could have done) to d20 rules.

Let's start with the basics and then move into specifics.

The Book of Powers (BoP) is a slim book, 48 pages. The covers are full color, the interior is black & white.  The list price is $14.99 but as of this writing, the PDF is on sale for $10.99.
We get right away to my first gripe about the book.  The cover.  I love Peter Bradley's work and this cover is gorgeous.  However, it is not really "pulp" to me at all.  Sure if this were a modern supers game (which in fact you can use this book to turn AA into) this would be a great cover, but acrobatic girl with green hair, in skin tight lycra/spandex outfit with plunging cleavage isn't my idea of the 1930s.  Sorry.  I mention only because I fear that people might not grab it.
Moving on.
The premise of this book is pretty cool.  Take AA's Gadgeteer class and turn gadgets into powers.  These powers can be used along side gadgets and other powers to make some truly heroic characters.  I did a few quick and dirty character creations this morning and I am pleased so far with what I was able to do.

Expanding on this idea Vey also presents a "Sorcerer" class, a magical power wielder that could fit in right next to the Arcanist class in AA OR even the Wizard in C&C.   For my next character I want to create an AA style sorcerer for a Castles & Crusades game to see how well it works.

Expanding on these powers even further we are given rules on how to make Vampire, Demon and Angel characters.  Now this is a REALLY cool option.  I don't often pull this card, but today I will.
Jason knows his shit here.  We worked together on WitchCraft, All Flesh Must Be Eaten and of course the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.  Jason is above and beyond qualified to give us these rules. And these rules are really fun.  So much so that one idea I had for a supers game I want to now convert over to an AA game with powers, sorcerers, vampires, angels and demons.  It's actually quite silly how well it work for me.

The book also has a host of new character options including a modified skill check system.  I *believe* is the same as the one in Victorious.  Though I am not 100% sure.  It's a nice simple system.  Though reading it I realize I almost never do skill checks in C&C/AA; just ability checks.
There is also a new advantage system or perks for each class.  Totally optional, but allows for greater customization.  Not enough here? They are similar enough to feats to allow importing from other d20 games.  Add these to Castles & Crusades and you basically have D&D5.

Speaking of which there is also a section on "Amazing Crusades!" with guidelines on how to get Amazing Adventures Peanut Butter into your Castles & Crusades Chocolate.  I would also add that you can add the sweet, sweet creamy caramel of Victorious to this.

I was going to like this book anyway since it does a lot of the things I tend to do in my games anyway.  It also has a lot of things I love adding to my games.  So how do I give an unbiased opinion?

Well, I will say this.  If you love Amazing Adventures, then you should check this out.
If you want some more flexibility with powers and even races in Castles & Crusades, you check this out.
If you want more Steam Punk gadgety goodness of Victorious then definitely buy this.

I highly recommend this.

Disclaimer 1:  I received of a copy of this book in the mail as thanks for being a playtester.  No review was ever mentioned, promised or implied.
Disclaimer 2: I was a playtester for this book.
Disclaimer 3: I am good friends with the author, Jason Vey, and we have worked on many RPG projects together over the last 16-17 years. 
Disclaimer 4: All links are affiliate links.  Your clicks support my book habit.

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