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

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Castles & Crusades Monstrous Compendium

Busy day.  I have been running kids around all day to get them registered for classes, for volunteer work and oh and I have three courses I need to write before Gen Con!

But I am not going to let that stop me from sharing my latest mail call from Troll Lord Games and Castles & Crusades.

If I have said it once, I have said it a 1000 times. I love monster books.  The more monsters the better in my mind!  I have also said, though only slightly less, I love Castles & Crusades.  I wish I played more of it to be honest.

So imagine my pleasure when I got THIS in the mail last night.


What? A three-ring binder full of monsters?  Yes!


It is the combined Monster book from Troll Lords for Castles & Crusades.





The new binder and book are the same, each with about 380 pages worth of monsters and treasure.  And just tons and tons of monsters.

Personally I thought it was appropriate for Troll Lords to have this out 30 years to the month (maybe even the week) that the AD&D 2nd Ed Monstrous Compendium came out.



I will also fully take credit for this idea! ;)

I was organizing my C&C monster printouts into a single binder and bugged the Trolls online about getting a product like this. I posted pictures, hit them up and next thing I knew there was a Kickstarter for it!




I hope to have some reviews up soon.  They sent me a lot of stuff!


Monday, July 1, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Mystical Companions (5e)

Over the weekend I was thinking about my Magic School game and what I want to add to it.  One thing became instantly obvious to me was I needed to have familiars. Nearly every 5e game I have run the players have wanted pets, animal companions and familiars.   Thankfully for me, I already own the perfect book.


The Troll Lord's Mystical Companions is the update to their fantastic Book of Familiars.   It comes in two flavors, A Castles & Crusades version, and a D&D 5th Edition version.   I have both in digital and PDF formats, but today I am going to focus solely on the 5th Edition version.  Yes, they are in fact different enough that two separate reviews are really needed.

I was always going to use this book in my Magic School games, whether that game used an Old-School ruleset (like Castles & Crusades or BECMI D&D) or (now) D&D 5th Edition.  I think that highly of it.

Mystical Companions for 5th Edition Role Playing
208 pages. Full-color covers and interior art. PDF and Hardcover.
For this review, I am reading primarily from the digital PDF version, but it applies to the hardcover as well.  I purchased both the 5e and C&C versions at Gary Con and received my PDFs via Kickstarter.
Spend any time reading my blog or reviews and one thing is obvious. I love my spellcasters and familiars.  I have often felt the rules for familiars are quite under-developed in many games and familiars, or animal companions of any sort, are often an under-utilized or a forgotten aspect of the game and lives of the characters.
So far every 5th Edition game I have run the players have wanted an animal companion of some sort.  While the rules in the game are fine enough, there is plenty of room for improvement.  Thankfully, the Troll Lords believe the same thing.
I have mentioned that this book is an update and replacement to their Book of Familiars, it is, and it is more than that.

A quick look over the table of contents reveals that we are getting an animal companion for every class.  I feel that this appropriate and looking forward to reading the details.
Now before I go on I do want to point out that unlike some third-party books this one is NOT "plug and play".  You must make plans to add these animal companions from the start.  In one game I tried to tack on these rules in an on-going game and ran into some issues.  In another game, I used this from the start and everything went much more smoothly.  I guess think about it as getting a real-life pet.  You are going to do a little work and thought beforehand.  Once I did this THEN adding these to an ongoing game was much easier.  This is NOT like adding a new spell or magic item to your game, this is a new, but highly compatible sub-system.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Here the purpose of the book is laid out and how the authors made certain decisions on how to incorporate this new material into the game.  There is a section here that bares repeating since I have heard this complaint online.
A WORD OF EXPLANATION: This book requires that you have access to the three core rulebooks for the 5th edition rules, or at very least to the Basic Rules document that is freely available online. Throughout this book, we have used the terms ‘CK,’ and “Castle Keeper” to indicate the game master or person running the game, and ‘player character’ or ‘PC’ to refer to the characters created for the game. In addition, when you see terms like, “Game Master’s Guide” or “5th Edition Monster Tome,” these refer to the Core Rulebooks for the 5th Edition fantasy rules set.
So if you see "CK" or "Castle Keeper" in this book, it's not shoddy editing, but a design choice.  Hey, they like CK better than GM.  And since they can't say DM then CK is just as good as anything else.
There are rules to what an OGL publisher can and can't say, so I can't fault them here.

Here the other sub-systems are described.
Advantages.  Advantages are Feats. They are gained the same way and used, mostly, in the same way.  The difference in wording here (at least for me) helps differentiate the "feats" from this book from all the other feats you can get in the Core rules or other publishers.  In play, this has been a boon since I know immediately that an Advantage on a sheet means something from this book and not another book on my shelf. 
Paths. Time has been kind to Troll Lords here.  When this book first came out in 2017 not a lot of 3P publishers were doing paths yet and there was some confusion about what these were.  Now everyone has a new path (read: sub-class, kit, path, option) for the 12 core classes.   These CAN slot right into a game like anything else from any 3PP.
Tricks. Things your animal companion can do.
Rituals. How you can get your animal companion.  I mean there has to be some magic right?
New Familiars and Animals.  Kinda what it says on the tin to be honest.

Animal Companion vs. Familiar.  While rules in the book cover book and treat them somewhat interchangeably an Animal Companion is more like a loyal pet or friend.  A Familiar is a creature summoned to work with the PC.  Animal Companions are free willed, familiars are not.

Chapter 1 also covers the basics of familiars. A point. A familiar/Animal companion "character" sheet would be GREAT here, but there isn't one.  Ah well, can have everything I guess.

The list of Advantages (again, these are just like Feats) are presented.  There are more here and some might complain about giving up a Feat or Ability advancement for a Familiar, but these are all quite balanced in my experience.  You give up one "power" (feat, advancement) for another.   Quite implicit in 5th Edition's design really.  Not only that it is actually quite elegant once you use it.

The best part about this?  You can take the Summon Familiar Advantage/Feat multiple times (Wizards get it for free at first level) so you can have multiple familiars.  I don't do multiple familiars often, but when I do, I really want to do it.  Though my son runs a game with this book and he describes the group of PCs and their companions as a "traveling zoo".   One girl even has a sheep as an animal companion.  Why? No idea. But this book supports it.

Another great piece of advice from Chapter 1 bears repeating (coping) here.
Give yourself a visual reminder of your familiar’s presence. Write “REMEMBER THE FAMILIAR” to a Post-It note and stick it to the table in front of you. Or make it a point to buy and use a miniature for your familiar.
Good advice. I am a fan of the Wardlings minis from WizKids.


or getting a custom mini with a familiar from Hero Forge.


Chapters 2 through 13 all work in a similar fashion.
Each core class is covered with attention given to special Animal Companions, Familiars or Mounts as appropriate.  Different animals are discussed and a new Path is given that focuses on having an animal companion.

For example, the Barbarian (the last class you might think needs a familiar) has the Nature Fetish Path and the Horseman Path (Dothraki anyone?) The Barbarian chapter is quite good really in that it really shows that animals really do need to be a bigger part of a barbarians' (and all characters) lives.   Reading this chapter has made me want to play a barbarian for the first time EVER since they became an option to me in 1985-1986 or so.  No content just to talk about familiars and paths, the barbarian chapter also covers special mounts.

The other chapters are as equally robust.  There are sections on the Paladin's mount and Ranger's companions but also familiars for rogues and clerics and others that you might not think need animal companions.  I particularly like the Rogue's path, the Shadow Pact.  How's that work?  Well, Rogues can take creatures of shadow as familiars!  Tell me that is not cool.

As expected the familiars of the Sorcerer, Warlock and Wizard are ALL very, very different from each other and really reflect what the classes do now.  Back in the 3e days Wizards and Sorcerer wre 100% interchangeable in terms of role.  The differences were largely fluff.  Since 4e this is less true and now in 5e they are very different sorts of classes.  In 4e Sorcerers and Warlocks filled similar roles.  Again in 5e they are very different. This book reflects the new 5e differences.
Naturally there can be overlap.  The chapter on Wizards talks about how the Wizard rituals can be used by sorcerers for example. 

Appendix A: Familiars and Companions. This covers the familiars and "normal" animals in 5e Stat blocks.
Appendix B: New Monsters. New monsters.
Appendix C: New Spells. New spells, as expected.
Likewise, Appendix D: New Magic Items and Artifacts.

Appendix E though is something different.  This covers Dragon Riders.  While many of the same rules are used here as for familiars this takes them to a new place and should be considered optional.
This is the Appendix/Chapter that my son grabbed this book from me for, BUT he opted not use their Dragon Riders but kept the book anyway for everything else.

A Dragon Rider is a Path that can be added to any class, but some have more use for it than others.  If the idea of PC Dragon Riders concerns you, then keep in mind it is being sold as "optional".  And also Dragon Riders of some form or another have been around since the dawn of the game.  If it is something you want, then there is plenty here for you to use.
If I ever ran a Magic School game with this then Dragon Riders would be included.

We end with a robust index and the OGL section.

A note about art. There is not as much in this book as other Troll Lord books, but what is here is from the fabulous Peter Bradley and Jason Walton, who also gives us the cover art.

Your results may vary, but this book has quickly gone from a neat oddity to one of our must-have books for my 5e games. My son uses it in the games he has run so much that I have not seen the book in months since it is now in with all of his books.

Do you need this book?  I say yes, but only if you are adding animals of any sort to your game, be they pets, familiars, mounts, companions or all the way up to Dragon Riders.
This is one of my 3PP books for 5e. One of the best really.

I should also point out that this book is a stretch goal for the Amazing Adventures 5E RPG Kickstarter.  Pledge at the $55 level and you can get a copy of this book.  Which is fantastic if you ask me.

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!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Review: Castles & Crusades Codex Classicum

The Castles & Crusades Codecies series are great books to add some flavor and history to your game.  While overtly for the Castles & Crusades game they can be used by nearly any game.  I reviewed the Codex Celtarum a while back and I loved it. So I picked up all the others.
Since I am currently on a big Greek Mythology kick, let's have a look at Castles & Crusades Codex Classicum.

Castles & Crusades Codex Classicum
For this book, I am reviewing the PDF only since that is what I have at hand at the moment.
The PDF is 146 pages with color covers and black & white interiors.  The art is up to the high standards you should expect from Troll Lords with plenty of evocative art from Peter Bradley.   Like the other books in this series, this one was written by Brian Young, who has the educational background to tackle these books.
Brian introduces us to the material with an apology that this book could have been twice as large and not cover everything.  Indeed, the book's scope is ambitious with what we normally consider Classical Mythology; the stories of the Greeks and the Romans with some Etruscans thrown in for good measure.  Ambitious indeed.

Note: There are a couple of errors in the hyperlinked table of contents in the PDF, but nothing that keeps anyone from enjoying the book.

Chapter 1 covers the actual history of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans...or as much as can be done in 20 or so pages.  There are actual history and mythical histories.  The myth in this section and book takes heavily, as can be expected, from Hesiod's Theogony.  It's like being back in Freshman Classics all over again!  The section, for its brevity, is well thought out and hits on the big pictures and themes.  I suppose if you want more you can always read Theogony yourself.  In fact, do that, anyone that is a gamer should have a basic understanding of the Classical Myths.

Chapter 2 details the all-important geography of the area.  Why "all-important"? Because the Greeks and the later Romans were products of their environments; their history, religions and myths were influenced by their geography to an extreme extent.  From the Greek city-states of early antiquity, to rise of the power Athens and Macedonia and in the literal center of it all, the Mediterranean Sea.
Again, this chapter is a quick overview, but a better one than I have seen in other game books.
This chapter also covers mythical locations (but not the mythical worlds just yet).  Remember to the Greeks these places were places just as real as everything else.  One could, if they so desired, walk to the underworld. That is if they knew the way.
This chapter also introduces the Explorer/Adventurer class.  Something that feels right at home in the world of the Greeks or the worlds of Gygax.  Some should convert this to another system and see how it plays out.

Chapter 3 features the monsters and beasts of the Classical World.  There are a lot of old favorites here and well as new representations of other favorites.  Of course, this is one of my favorite chapters.  Greek myth got me into D&D via the Monster Manual and there are a lot of monsters here that get right in the 1979 nostalgia.  My only disappointment here is that is no art of any of the monsters. I know we all know what most of these creatures look like, but I still feel a little cheated in not getting enough Peter Bradley art.

Chapter 4 is my favorite.  Monsters got me into D&D and RPGs, but it was magic that kept me coming back. Chapter 4 features Greek and Roman sorcery and magic including necromancy and prophecy.   Even the most casual reader of the classic myths should know how important Oracles are to the tale.  From Jason to Perseus to the tragedy of Oedipus, Oracles move the story forward. Here we get our next class, the Oracle (with notes on how these mouthpieces of the gods work in the other Codies).  Unlike the Pathfinder Oracle, this one is not a spellcaster but a reader of omens. It also requires a fairly experienced player to play to make proper use of it.
Also featured here is the Nekuomantis, or the classical Greek necromancer.  In many ways, this is the true necromancer before RPGs got ahold of the archetype.  These characters speak to the dead to learn secrets and the future.

Chapter 5 deals with the Gods and Titans and other immortal creatures.  It is fairly comprehensive compared to all other game books and very helpful in populating the ranks of the Immortals.

Chapter 6 focuses more on the humans and mortals of the world.  The heroes and their issues.  The basics of the Greek and Roman armies are also covered.  This chapter also introduces the Gladiator class.

All in all a great overview but also leaving me with the desire for some more.  Still I rather enjoyed it and can see a lot of uses for it.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Codex Egyptium

The next book in the Castles & Crusades Mythos Series is now being Kickstarted.

Castles & Crusades Codex Egyptium


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-codex-aegyptus?ref=theotherside

If this book is half as researched as the others in the line then it will still be awesome.

Brian Young is a solid scholar in the true sense of the word but also a solid gamer. This will not be a dry treatise on 3,000 years of Egyptian history, but a living breathing game supplement to add the realm that pretty much gave birth to our modern ideas of magic.

Among the other options is a chance to get the book that started it all, Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum.  I love this book and think it is something every C&C fan should have.

Some much great stuff for this one.

Still heading to the finishing line is Justin's Cade's Big Book o' Booze.

Cade's Big Book o' Booze
An alcohol-related zine for use with 5th edition fantasy.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1988380379/cades-big-book-o-booze?ref=theotherside

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

TBBYANR: The Wasted Lands

Whoa. A Best Blog You Are Not Reading post? 
Yes!  This is a feature I wanted to bring back for 2019 to give a shout out to some lesser know, lesser read blogs or at least ones people may not talk about much.

Today I want to feature a blog that has been around forever, out there doing his own thing.

Jason Vey runs the Wasted Lands blog


Now I have known Jason for years.  We worked at Eden together, worked on the Buffy RPG at the same time.  He playtested my Ghosts of Albion for Eden I playtested his All Flesh Must Be Eaten books for Eden.  I playtested his Spellcraft & Swordplay retro-game and many other games.
So we have been working together for nearly 20 years really.

Among other things Jason also is the author/designer of the Amazing Adventures game from Troll Lords and did a lot of work on various Castles & Crusades projects.  So he has a solid game design reputation and CV.

The Wasted Lands is his deep dive, scholarly work into older editions of D&D, in particular, OD&D and AD&D first edition

He covers a lot of OD&D topics.  In fact I bought my white box OD&D 5th printing off of him because he had an extra.
He covers AD&D First Edition, he is now up to Part 45 of his read through of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.
And more recently he did a long series of posts on Psionics in the OD&D and AD&D games.

And today, much closer to our shared roots, he posted stats for the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for OD&D.

Jason is also something a legitimate Robert E. Howard and Conan scholar.

So do yourself a favor and check out his blog. Start with what I have linked above and don't ignore his Star Wars posts.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Castles & Crusades Boxed Sets & Digest Books

My love of Castles & Crusades is deep and well known.  It scratches that 1st Ed AD&D itch AND still has enough modern elements that I like.
It really is what 3rd Edition AD&D could have been.

Regardless of what it is or what it could emulate it is a damn fine game and Troll Lords keeps giving us quality material.

Now they are giving us quality material, digest size!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/classic-castles-and-crusades-boxed-sets-and-digest

This is being hailed as "3 Kickstarters in 1"
Here are the details.

  • C&C Classic Basic Boxed Set: This digest-sized boxed set is an "old school" presentation of the game, in a white box just like the original D&D rules, with saddle-stitched booklets containing a complete, but streamlined version of the game, with four character classes, four races, and magic to take your game all the way to level 10. Plus, a complete introductory adventure module! This box will be different than the Advanced and it will not be exclusive to the Kickstarter, it will eventually land in retail shops.

  •  C&C Classic Advanced Boxed Set: A True Collector's set, this limited, signed and numbered set will include everything from the Basic set, plus two additional books of character classes, equipment, monsters and gods; a full set of dice; character sheets; a pencil and more. This box will be different than the Basic box, sporting  a wood grain cover similar to the original OD&D box. It will be available in this Kickstarter and any left over from the very limited print run will be put in our store.

  •  C&C Complete Digest Rulebooks: These are the complete rulebooks for our seven core books: the Player's Handbook, Monsters & Treasure, Castle Keeper's Guide, Codex of Aihrde, Player's Guide to Aihrde, Adventurer's Backpack, and Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde. Each is the complete rulebook, exactly as you'd see it in full-size hardcover, but shrunk to digest size, softcover and printed in black and white. You can build your own set or buy all 7. 
The digest rules are great on their own, but the Basic and Advanced sets?  Yeah, that sounds great.



Love the idea of Digest sized books. And I love I can add as many, or as few, as I like.

In my current games, I use some digest sized Player's Handbooks at the table for players to use.  So I might not get all seven books, but instead get 5 C&C PHBs!

The Advanced set also sounds great.  A woodgrain box?  Yes, please!

Troll Lords really captured the feel of D&D/AD&D well and I really believe that may be more than anyone they are spiritual inheritors of D&D.   Oh don't get me wrong, D&D 5 is great and a ton of fun.  But ever notice that there is a lot in D&D 5 that C&C did first?

There are some nice early bird specials, jump on this while you can!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: 5th Edition Players Guide to Aihrde

I want to feature this one again because it just looks like so much fun.

5th Edition Players Guide to Aihrde


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/5th-edition-players-guide-to-aihrde?ref=otherside

I LOVE Castles & Crusades.  I Love 5th Edition. But right now all I can get people to play is 5e.  So this feels like a good compromise.

Plus there are still plenty of stretch goals to unlock!

Friday, July 27, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: The World of Aihrde and TROGDOR!!

A couple of Kickstarters near and dear to me.

First up, 5th Edition Players Guide to Aihrde.



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/5th-edition-players-guide-to-aihrde

This is near and dear to me because I love both 5th Ed and Castles & Crusades.  The book brings them together, in a manner of speaking.   In any case, all the new Troll Lords material for 5e has been great.

Trogdor!! The Board Game



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1999933720/trogdor-the-board-game

For 15 years Trogdor has been burninating the Internet. Now all his majesty can burninate your game room.  The only question about this kickstarter is will it clear a $1 Million?  10 days in it is 80% in.


These both promise to be a lot of fun. 
I think we need 5e and C&C stats for Trogdor!

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.

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.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-monsters-and-treasures?ref=creator_nav

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


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/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.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-players-handbook-7


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.



Bloggin'
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.



Personal
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.



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-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.

Willow
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

Packages:
Spellcaster (Arcane) 12th level.
Spells
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)

Tara
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

Packages:
Spellcaster (Divine) 11th level.
Spells
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)
Defensive:
Hit Points: 50
Level: 5
Alignment: Good
Victory Points: 5
Skills: Prime (Strength), Melee
Languages: English, French
Supernatural Powers: see Packages and Powers

Packages:
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.
Man
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.

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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