Showing posts with label Larina. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Larina. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Featured Artist: Jonathan F

Welcome back to Featured Artist!  This time I have an artist who is making a name for himself doing custom characters sheets.  That is not all he does, but these are so much fun I had to share.

Jonathan F, aka Jonathan Fountain, aka Farstride, has been making art for a while.  I first noticed him in the Facebook D&D Fantasy Art Group.

He did a couple sheets so I contacted him to see if he would be willing to do one of my iconic witch Larina.  Here are the results.



I am happy to report that my sheet for Larina has gone on to be his most viewed sheet of all time!

And a colorized version by Rueben Mcfadden.

Dragonborn Druid





He does more than just character sheets too.



Check out his Facebook page and request a character sheet for your favorite character.

Links
Facebook "Jonathan F did an Art" https://www.facebook.com/Farstride/
Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/farstride7/
DeviantArt (not updated as often), https://www.deviantart.com/farstride

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Featured Artist: Claudio Pozas

I got the chance to meet today's Featured Artist when he put out a notice for commissions.  Once I answered him and I got the details over to him I remembered where I had seen his work before.
Claudio Pozas has done some great work for Wizards of the Coast for both 4e and 5e.



Getting a commission of my witch Larina gives her a certain air of authenticity in the D&D 5 art style.

Here is Claudio in his own words,
Claudio is a fantasy illustrator from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A gamer since 1987, Claudio worked in Advertising before switching careers to pursue his art, which he has been doing for almost 20 years. He did art and design for D&D 4th edition, and has been illustrating D&D 5th Edition since its launch in 2013.
He has done some really excellent work.







You can find Claudio Pozas on the internet here:

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Happy Birthday Larina!

Sort of.  I actually rolled the character up in July of 86 but I put her birthday down as October 25. It was one of those character quirks I gave her. She was born on the 25th but told everyone that her birthday was the 31st.  Yeah, a weird thing. We used real-world dates since we could never really liked the World of Greyhawk ones.

So for 32 years, she has been one of my favorite characters and my iconic witch for my books. She is also one of my favorite characters to get art of.   The most recent one comes from artist Hassly.

I discovered Hassly from his Patreon site with his Alice Kyteler, the "First" Irish Witch post.
My post was here and his is here.  I loved it.  She looked like, to me, that she could have been one of Larina's ancestors. I had to get a commission from him for my witch.

He posted his version of my witch today.
https://www.patreon.com/posts/larina-22225140


I love it. I wanted something that showed off her back tattoo and I am not disappointed.

So check out his Patreon, he has a bunch of other great pin-up style art.

I absolutely love getting art of my characters and love how every artist gives me something new. I have something REALLY special coming up next month.  Can't wait to share it with you all.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Arts and Crafts Weekend, Part 1

I am on Spring Break!  So we spent the first part of my vacation working on various arts and crafts.  My wife painted a bunch of minis. I'll share what I did in the next post.


First up is a little Piasa Bird.



She did a Tiefling Necromancer and a gold skinned demoness.


She also worked on my witch Larina!




She looks great with other versions of her!




Larina and her daughter Taryn.






She also did Iggwilv for me!



Art imitates art!

Been a great time.  Love these little witches!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #65

Dragon Magazine #65 from September 1982 might, in fact, be the very first Dragon I had ever laid eyes on.  It is, without a doubt in my mind, one of the more pivotable issues in my gaming career.  Given that it is a perfect "first issue" of a NEW collection of Dragons sent to me by Eric Harshbarger. Eric contacted me a few weeks back to ask about some extras and gaps in my collection.  I mentioned that most of the Dragons I have are collected from larger lots of game materials I buy and most times they are in pretty sad shape. So he offered to send me some.  There are some duplicates with my collection, but these are in much better shape.  So if you can pop on over to his website.  Thanks, Eric! Now it is time for your contribution to This Old Dragon!

Ok. Where to start with this one? First, of course, is that cover.  It is great to see it here next to me instead of having to go to my CD-ROM to get the PDF (which is good since the PDF scan is not as good).  It is a wonderful, and surprisingly thigh-less, effort by Clyde Caldwell.   I always loved Caldwell's work and this cover is no exception. I love that Dragon sneaking down on the cross-eyed fighter.  Ok, he isn't cross-eyed, but it always looks like he is when I first look at it!  At least the dwarf sees it.  But my attention is focused on the witch in the background.  Is she a witch?  Well to me she is and she was one of the subconscious elements I would later use for my own witch character Larina.

Witch by Clyde Caldwell, Larina by Jacob Blackmon
So the red hair, purple dress with cloak and hood, the necklace (though different), the bangles on the wrists. Pretty archetypical image items really. But that image stuck with me.  I'd say it was Larina's mother, but I always pictured her as a blonde!  Maybe my little witch is having adventures I don't know about!  So this is what I can say when I have a cover to actually look at!

We are not quite at that "golden age" of Dragon that I think everyone is nostalgic about.  OR maybe we are.  When I say "Golden Age" maybe you all have a different picture in mind. Anyway.  This is the time before I started buying Dragon.  I have no doubt however that this is the first one I ever saw.

Out on a Limb covers some letters on Ed Greenwood's article on Firearms a few issues back. Everytime I pick up an older Dragon my mental timeline of Ed's involvement gets pushed back a little bit more.  I REALLY did not give this guy enough credit.

Gary is up next with his Guest Editorial. Ok...what to say about this.  It is basically a 3-page rant against GAMA and Origins.   I am happy to say that things are better between GenCon and Origins, and in about a decade from this original publication Gen Con and Origins will host a co-Con, but for now Gary is really irritated.  I don't know what is going on behind the scenes at this point. Back then I would have read this and been firmly on Gary's side, but today it seems like an old man yelling at clouds (and to be 100% fair here, Gary at this point is younger than I am right now!)  Ok. Moving on.

Blastoff! gives us all the information we need to know about the brand new Star Frontiers game.  We get to see that iconic Larry Elmore cover for what I think is the first time. We learn the about the new races (Vrusk, Yazirians, and Dralasites), a bit on the new character creation system and some of the in-universe background.  We also get some background on the game itself.  Design work began in 1979 by Dave Cook and  Lawerence Schick and spent the next two years in design, development and playtesting.  I guess there was a more "hard core" version of the game at one point.

Gary is back and this time with a classic.  From the Sorceror's Scroll covers Character Classes to Consider.  We learn that there will be an expansion volume to AD&D.  This book will eventually become Unearthered Arcana but until then he gives us a sneak peak.  We know now that all of these classes did not make it to that book.  Some would later go on to be rumored for the 2nd Edition of the AD&D game; or rather the 2nd Edition as penned by Gygax himself.  This is one of the main articles that +Joseph Bloch would later use to build his "what-if" version of a Gygax 2nd Edition in Adventures Dark and Deep.

Rob Kuntz is next with another installment of Greyhawk's World.  This covers Events of the Eastern and Southern Flanaess. I always enjoyed these articles. It made me feel like the World of Greyhawk was a living place, even though at this point I was still very much entrenched in the Known World of the D&D Basic and Expert sets.

Feel like I am dropping names left and right here, but after that we have Len Lakofka's Leomund's Tiny Hut.  This issue Len is focused on Keep(ing) Track of Quality.  Or how the quality of the goods affect the price, time to make and how that can play out for the player character.  This article covers mostly sheilds, armor, and some weapons.  A bit of converting for AC and you have a good article you can still use today.

Almost the counterpoint to weapon quality is character quality.  Christopher M. Townsend presents a new proficiency system for use in AD&D in Weapons Wear Out, Not Skills. This system is neither as complicated as the ones will later get nor as crunchy.  In fact, this system is light on the crunch and heavy on the role-playing aspects.  Or at least insofar as training in general in AD&D was a roleplaying aspect.  Now your training has some other purposes and can take longer.   Rereading it now I can see using this as a guideline in my D&D 3.x and D&D 5 games.

Gary is back again with some new creatures. These Featured Creatures are considered to be official AD&DTM monsters, so that takes care of that argument (but opens it up for the next batch!).  We get two good-aligned monsters, the Baku and the Phoenix.  Both of these monsters will appear in the Monster Manual II due out soon.  But that is not what grabbed me about them.  Flipping the page something burrowed deep, deep into my psyche.


To me, the Phoenix was a god-like creature.  They were the natural enemies of darkness and chaos.  The mere look of one could destroy a vampire.  They were not some giant bird to be hunted for their feathers and beaks, they were divine agents of rightous wrath.  In many ways they were the opposite of the Dragons.  Yes, we have good Dragons, but the Phoenix (capitalization is mine and for emphasis) opposed the evil Dragons more.  I remember reading this issue from friends (sometimes many, many times) and at one point I wrote down "It was a time of great chaos. It was the time of the Dragon and the Phoenix."  Yes, yes I know there is a Chinese dish of the same name, trust me, growing up in the deep mid-west in the 70s and 80s the only Chinese I ever saw was "Chop Suey".  I would only later the myths and stories behind it.  The Dragon and the Phoenix became something BIG in my games.  So big in fact that I would later take some of those ideas and adapt to my Buffy the Vampire Slayer game and run a campaign I called The Dragon and the Phoenix.  Those games would later be the basis of my Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Ok, speaking of those dragons.  Richard Alan Lloyd gives us The Missing Dragons. Based on the "color wheel theory" he decides that there must be more dragons, the Yellow, Orange, and Purple.  Now few articles were as controversial in my early days as this one!  There were people that hated the idea of more dragons. There were people that hated the idea of these colors for dragons (this group though usually let the Purples in) and there were those that liked them but would not include them since they were not "official" AD&D monsters.  And of courses there those that liked them and used them.  Myself, I liked the idea. I thought the logic was faulty. I mean are there Draconic Evolutionary theorists of the RGB sort versus the CMYK ones?  I did use the Purple dragons once or twice.  I used an orange one once and I said the yellow had all died out.  The biggest issue with this article is Tiamat.  She has five heads, not eight. If we limit it to five, then the green head needs to become yellow.  Now there are many, many (MANY) other dragons in D&D now and Tiamat is still just five-headed.  So maybe I need to bring these back to my games.

An ad for the RPGA.

Dropping more names Lew Pulsipher is next with a new NPC character class, Timelords. These are not your two-heart, regenerating Time Lords.  These are more like Time Protectors or Time Guardians.   They are fighters with some basic time manipulation magic that gets more powerful as they go up in level. When I first read it I hated it.  I also used to have a pretty hard core rule in my D&D games of "No Time Travel!"  I have loosened up a bit on that over the years.

Next is Monsters of the Midway, BUT I don't have it in my copy.  So the rules state I must move on.

Ah, here is something else that wormed it's way into my psyche.  Robin Emrys Atkinson presents the Tuatha De Danaan, A revised Celtic Mythos.  With amateur drunk day Saint Patrick's Day in a couple of days, this is another reason why this is a good choice. This is designed to replace and add to the section on Celtic myths in the Deities and Demigods book. And it is much better.  It was here that I went into a HUGE Celtic myths kick that I never really got out of.

And the hits keep comming!  Ed Greenwood (I feel like I am the MC of a Night of Thousand Stars) is next with Law of the Land. A six page article on the legal system and political systems of the AD&D world.  Or as I like to think of it, the PCs do not live in a vacuum. Also a great system-free article and something to help curb the influx of Murder-Hoboism in your games.

Lew Pulsipher is back again (!) and takes a D&D (not AD&D) perspective on War! and how it can give the characters reason to "live".  Again this is a very system free sort of article and covers the types of wars that PCs might find themselves in.  Very usuful stuff.

Some Top Secret information from James "Pong" Thompson. It covers recon and assassinations.

An editiorial of sorts from Lew Pulsipher in Up on a Soapbox. In this, he discusses the difference between the Classical Role-player and the Romantic.  Lew is coming from a solid Wargamer point of view here.  I don't get the feeling that either of these types are bad, just they have certain ways of playing.  More the point in a Wargame if you can identify their style you will know how to defeat them since you know what risks they are likely to take.

The Dragon's Augury has some reviews including one of the first Computer games I can recall being reviewed.  WIZARDRY costs a then princely sum of $49.95 and you will need an Apple II computer with 48k and DOS 3.3. 
Tom Watson reviews some books for Traveller while Gary Gygax himself reviews Empire Builder by Mayfair games (he loves it).

Comics are next.
Phil and Dixie talk about how much Fantasy and SciFi are alike.
Wormy is only one page.

An ad for Chaosium's Trollpak takes half of Dragon mirth's page.  I always wanted that. It looked cool. 

Back cover has an ad for Grenadier Models and flip over for Gang Busters.

Wow. What a packed issue.  Not just name after name of the whos who of the early RPG scenes, but great content as well.

Want to know what I thought of White Dwarf from the same time? Check out White Dwarf Wednesday #33.  It was also a good issue.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mighty Protectors: We Can Be Heroes

There are two central features of Villains & Vigilantes and Mighty Protectors that I have always enjoyed.  First, the conceit that you play yourself with superpowers in the game. And secondly, that characters of all sorts of power level can play next to each other in the same adventure.


Back in the day though that is not exactly what we did.

In the early 80s I went over to my buddy Jon Cook's house to play some Basic-era D&D.  We stopped by one of other friends, Dave, who was younger but had been playing longer than I had.  He had, at the advanced age of 10-11, already moved on from D&D and was playing V&V.  It had only been out for a while but he loved it.  I really wanted to play some D&D though, so we compromised.  I used my D&D character.  Dave did all the behind the scenes rolls and math, or he just made stuff up I don't really know or cared at the time.  But back then this was something you could do with D&D and V&V pretty easy.  I took a healing power and the ability to turn undead; one of the reasons I was playing a cleric in the first place. And we had a great time.  I know while I was doing it I was struggling with the rules, but I had fun.

So when I got my nice new copy of Mighty Protectors one of the first things I did was try to convert some "D&D" style characters.   I wanted to do this for nostalgia reasons but also to try out some different levels of play that correspond to Standard (150 CP), High (200 CP), and Low (100 CP).

For my choices, I went with my iconic witch Larina ("Witch Queen"), an amalgam of many of the clerics, paladins and cavaliers I have played ("Paladin"), and a new character that has seen play in Pathfinder, D&D 5, M&M, Superbabes and Marvel Super Heroes ("Teen Witch").

For these, and most of the characters I'll be posting, I did all the character generation by hand and checked that against the Excel Character sheet pack.  Click on images for full res PDFs.

Paladin
Standard 150 CP Build

Paladin is based on a number of paladins, clerics, and cavaliers I have played over the years. He is also based on the first character I played in D&D and then took over to V&V.  I used the standard array of BCs and picked powers as they worked with an eye to keep my number right around 150 CPs.


I like it. I gave him the ability to turn undead with the repulsion blast.  My thought is that he goes out to hunt undead and demons with the magical sword Demonbane.  Given the tenor of most of my supers games he will have a lot of work to do!

Teen Witch
Low 100 CP Build

Teen Witch, aka Taryn Nichols is the daughter of my iconic witch Larina.  In D&D she is half-elf but I say she is more half faerie since her birth was during a time my witch was in the D&D 3.5 Feywild.  She was a Pathfinder witch and a D&D 4 Warlock.  I played a game of Marvel Super Heroes with her powers were manifested while she was in school. Here first power was flight.


The goal here was to keep her under 100 CPs and I did...with some weaknesses.  But that is fine really, they are also part of her backstory.  Basically, Larina was pregnant and trapped in the world of the Faerie.  In order to leave she had to give up her daughter.  Long story short, she found a way to keep Taryn and leave, but Taryn is indebted to her Elven father.  I did not put that on yet since this is starting Taryn. That drama comes up later! ;)


Witch Queen
High 200 CP

Witch Queen is, of course, my iconic witch Larina. I have played this character in nearly every game I have ever played. So I know her well.  Which was the point of all of this really, to take characters I know well and convert them easily.  Larina is also always my experimental character.  Here I am experimenting with the Arsenal Ability (think Batman's utility belt or Green Arrow's arrows) to build a spell book.  I REALLY like it worked out.   I also used the Inventing Ability to simulate Ritual Spells. Ones that take longer but have a bigger effect.  I will explore this concept some more in other builds.


There she is. My girl.  Now there are hundreds of ways I could do magic powers and spells, but this is an experiment.  So I can move numbers around later.

I like how all of these worked out to be honest.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Spell Research

It's August and the theme of this month's RPG Blog Carnival hosted by Kobold Press is all about Magic!

Today I want to talk about something I am very much involved in right now. Spell Research.

One of the more nebulous rulings in *D&D covers research new spells.  Across all versions of the game there are spells named after various wizards and magic-users.  Some have real world significance such as Otiluke, Rary, Mordenkainen, and Melf.   Others represent historical or mythical figures.  But all have the implication that this spell was created by or named for these spell-casters.  So someone had to write them.

There are thousands of D&D spells. I think my 2nd Ed database (in Microsoft Access 97) has 3000+ spells.  I know the 3rd edition has to be more; there are about 2000 attributed to Pathfinder alone.  A project I am working on now tells me that my own OSR witch books have 700+ unique spells.

Someone had to write all of these.
Someone that is other the authors of these games and books.  Someone in the game itself. (But both are true).

So what are the hows and whys of Spell Research?

Why Should a PC Spell Caster Research a Spell?
This one is the easier of our two questions.  Why? Lots of reasons. The PC might want some new effect or magic not listed in PHB.  Say they want to cast "Frost Ball" instead of "Fire Ball" because they are more fond of cold based attacks and not fire ones.  Maybe the new spell comes about as part of other magical research. Maybe it was a total accident while casting a spell and not having the material components on hand or even a poorly memorized spell.
There are a number of in-game reasons.  In Ghosts of Albion, spells are cast based on Success Levels.  If a character casts a spell and gets really high successes on it then sometimes something new can happen.  I would give the same sort of ruling to D&D sorcerers and bards, they do something strange and a crazy new spell effect happens.  But that is an accident, what about doing that on purpose.

The most compelling reason, of course, is need.

Take a look at my witch (not important that it is a witch just yet) spell "Moonstone".  This spell stores moonlight.
Moonstone
Level: Witch 1
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 day per witch level
The witch can store moonlight in a small stone. The stones must be enchanted and then exposed to moonlight. Each stone will last 1 day per caster level unless discharged. Once invoked, the moonstone will shed soft light, equal to torchlight, and give off no heat. The moonstone does not affect low-light vision and does not cause damage to creatures that would normally be affected by light.
Note: Despite the wich's level, no Moonstone can last past the full cycleof the moon. So if moonlight is stored during a full moon then it will only last till the first night of the next full moon. If the witch's level is less than the number of days to the next full phase then the spell ends then.
Material Components: A bit of moonstone and the light of the moon.
(Special thanks to +Paolo Greco for pointing out some errors on this spell.)
Why do I need this spell?  I mean it's only first level, but a torch is cheaper.  Also, it is actually LESS effective than the first level spell Light.  You can't cast it into someone's eyes to blind them.
The reason here is need.  Moonstone is a fine spell all on it's own. But it's true value comes when paired with other spells.
Spells like Moon’s Heart (finding the time and direction, 1st level), Witch Writing (writing that can only be read by moonlight, 3rd level) Moonlit Way (finding the safe path, 4th level), and Moonbow (create a weapon out of moonlight, 6th level) all need moonlight to work.  Not something that can happen easily underground OR during the daylight hours.  Unless, of course, you have a fully charged Moonstone.

Another need is maybe less defined.  Back in the 3e days, I created a Prestige Class that had as a part of their requirements the applicant had to submit a new spell for the use of the other members of the Class.

Plus there is always the challenge and joy of discovery. Spells like Wave of Mutilation and Brigit's Flame Sheet were created just for the sheer joy of it.

I think this holds true for any sort of Arcane spellcaster.  What about clerics? druids? Heck, even witches!

Clerics & Druids
In the 3.5 SRD is says that Divine Casters can research a spell much like Arcane Spellcasters can.   But that section only says "A wizard also can research a spell independently, duplicating an existing spell or creating an entirely new one."
That's not really a lot to go on.
More to the point why would they do it?  I mean aren't clerics supposed to be given their spells by their gods?  Does it make sense that a cleric would tell his god "hey, look I know you are busy, but instead of light can you give me a spell that casts moonlight instead?"

It does if you think of clerical spells like a liturgy or even a sermon.  Think of modern day priests, preachers and other people of the cloth.  They have their holy books. They have some sermons and prayers they have always done (common book of prayer for example), some hymns that have been used since the middle ages and so on.  But they also write a sermon, sometimes a new one, each week.  The purpose is to take divine inspiration, common language, and new ideas to make something new.
Now. Truth be told Clerics (and Druids) should get a set amount of "spell levels" of power to work with an then they can perform their miracles as needed.  That might be a little too much like Mage for most D&D players' taste (but it would be fun to try it!).  From this perspective, even a tradition bound "old" class like the druid could invent new spells.   In theory, an all knowing god should know which spells to give when.  For this reason, I do allow clerics and druids to swap out spells on the fly.  Much like how D&D 3 introduced the idea of spontaneous healing magic.

But what about witches?

Witches
This is an 8th level Ritual Spell for witches.
Depending on my mood and the book in question witches can either be Divine or Arcane spellcasters. Typically I think of them as Witches.  The magic they use is Witchcraft. It has both Divine and Arcane aspects.  They learn their magic from their Patron, via a familiar, but record the spell formula in a spell book.   The underlined terms can have various meanings.  Take the girls from Charmed (why, you will see later).  Their Patrons are the past witches in their family line.  Each one learning more and more than and from the witches that came before. Their familiar in this case is their Book of Shadows.  Their spellbook is also their book of shadows.   In my Pathfinder Warlock book I have rules for a Book of Shadows that is spellbook AND familiar.

At one point in the show Charmed, the witches learn that they can also create new spells rather than just relie on the ones in their Book of Shadows.  It actually becomes a feature of the show where Phoebe (Alyssa Milano) is the sister with the best ability to come up with new spells. It is this ability they have that allows them to tap into greater and greater sources of their power.  One such spell summons the power of all their family witches to destroy what is essentially the Devil (Source of All Evil. But not without cost.)

Given this would I allow "10th level" spells?  That's a good question.  Most spells of significantly high level do a lot. A spell that powerful would need to be limited in other ways.

So that's the why, what about the how?

That depends on the edition.

1st Edition starts with some advice on page 115 of the DMG.  The hardest part of this is determining the level of the spell in question.  This is done only by comparing the spell to be created to others in the Player's Handbook.  +Bruce Heard expands on this in Dragon magazine #82 (more on that tomorrow!), but it does cover somethings not in the DMG that are important. Namely to properly stock your occult/arcane library.

An occult library.
For the moment let's assume that your character has the tools and books needed.  The time needed for research and materials is 200 gp per level per week.

2nd Edition covers much of the same ground, but with less information to be honest.  Even the amount spent is now only given as a range of gp.

3rd Edition and 5th Edition have similar advice on pages 95 and 283 (respectively). So similar in fact that it felt like I was reading the same text. Though they both give good advice on setting levels based on the amount of damage caused.  The numbers differ, but the logic is the same.

I could not find any Spell Creation or Spell Research rules in BECMI or 4th Edition.

So really. The level of the spell is largely a matter of guesswork and tradition.  I spend a lot of time, maybe too much time, trying to figure these things out.

Yeah. A lot.

Creating a Spell

I wonder if we can use what we know already to create a new spell.  This is one I am actually working on right now.  As I type these words the spell is not written, but it will be by the end of this post.

The spell is one I have thought about for a while. It allows a caster to make a perfect copy of another spell into a specially prepared spellbook.  I have decided that the spell needs the following.
A specially prepared but blank spell book. This will be 200 gp per the level of the spell copied. Following the rules above.  The quill used to scribe the spell has to come from the rare Giant Mimid Bird (or Dire Mockingbird if you prefer) and the ink is a rarer distillation of the ink of an octopus (not a squid).

The spell makes a duplicate so it is beyond Mirror Image or even Minor Creation since the creation is magical (in a sense).  It is less than Wish.  It is permanent, but more so than Permanent Image.
It can reduce the time needed to copy a spell down to hours from weeks, that is pretty powerful.
8th Level feels right, but I could go as low as 6th and maybe, just maybe up to 9th.

It's a new spell, so let's give it a name. My iconic witch is named Larina. I always imagined this was her spell.  Since it deals with the copying of spellbooks some form of Liber should be used. After all, aren't all spell books written in Latin?   Liberum works and that is a call back to my d20 Witch book.  Since the words are being set free then Libre is also good.  Alliterations are always fun.
So let's go with Larina's Liberum Libre.

Larina is a witch, but this would be good for wizards too.
Let's try it in Basic-Era/S&W/OSR format.

Larina's Liberum Libre
Level: Witch 8, Wizard 8
Range: 1 Spellbook
Duration: Permanent; see below
This spell was named for the first witch to successfully use it to make a copy of another spellbook.  The spell requires a book of the same size, shape and page numbers of the spell book to be copied. The base cost for this book is 200gp per spell level copied.  Also needed are a special quill of a Giant Mimid Bird and distilled ink of an octopus. Both may be purchased, base cost of 100 gp, or prepared by the caster ahead of time.  The ink is used up in the spell casting, the quill can be used for 1d6+6 uses.
The blank book, quill, ink and the spell book to be copied are placed on a specially prepared cloth (not rare, just clean and white). The spell is cast and the cloth covers both books.  The spell will take 1 hour per spell level to copy.  Once complete the spell will create a perfect copy of the book in question.  If the spell is interrupted during this time; the cloth removed or either book opened, then the spell is canceled and the new book, ink, and quill are destroyed.
Note: Normal non-magical books may be copied as well, but only require normal ink and a regular book with the same number of pages.

Ok. So I like the spell, might tweak it a bit before publication. Still not happy with the guesswork involved with the levels.
I would love to develop a system like I did for Ghosts of Albion but that would take a time and the return might not really be worth it.

How do you go about researching spells? Both in game and in real life?



Thursday, May 4, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #114

It is not an exaggeration to say that Dragon #114 was a watershed issue for me.  But before I get into all of that I want to quickly restate what I am doing here since I have gotten a few new readers.
So the background here is I had purchased a couple of large gaming collections over the last couple of years. My brother also gave me a box of Dragons in really bad shape.  After combining, keeping some, selling off others and tossing (yeah, had too) ones that were in terrible shape I was left with about 100 or so Dragons that were in pretty bad shape.  Most were missing covers, many are missing pages and maybe one or two are fully intact.  In This Old Dragon, I am grabbing issue out at random and reviewing them.  I can only review what I have, so if it is missing I won't talk about it.  The only exception I make is the covers.  If I feel too much is missing or something important is missing I'll check my Dragon-Magazine CD-ROM.  Cool?

So,  Let's get into this issue!
Speaking of covers let's have a look at this rather infamous cover from David Martin. In future letters sections, there were plenty of complaints of the "Playboy" like cover. It is also one of the few covers I would love to have an art-print of in my game room.  I loved it then and I still do. I have never seen an art print of it though. A little more than a year later the cover was reused (with permission as I understand) for the cover of Angel Dust's "To Dust You Will Decay" album.

The Letters section covers questions about spending more than $100 on the next version of AD&D (2nd Edition).  Some things never change I guess. Some letters on Psionic in combat too.

Editor Roger Moore talks about someone impersonating him at Gen Con 19.  Don't know if the guy was ever caught.

Ok.  Let's jump in.
The Witch is the main feature of this issue.  And by main I mean I don't think I ever read anything else in the issue for many years.  I think it was 1990 before I ever looked at the Ecology article.  This article dominated the issue and the minds of many.  I know many of you reading this either knew of this article, read it or had a witch from it.   Chances are if you ran into someone playing a witch anytime after 1986 then they were using this class.  Interesting that it was designed as an NPC class.
It was another update to the venerable witch from Dragon Mags #5, #20 and #43.  While issue #43 had a great deal of information, Dragon #114 is known for the art. There was the controversial cover and also the use of Larry Elmore art as one of the witches.   It was this issue that set the desire in my mind to have Elmore art in one of my books one day.  I had made a witch class prior to this, back in July of 86.  But I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first made a character using this witch.  It was in study hall, October 25, 1986.  I was a senior in High school. I was in the larger study hall because the teacher I normally had study hall with had just died. I was set to play Dr. Seward in my High School's production of Dracula.  I pulled out a sheet and rolled up my first witch.


Yes. That is my iconic witch Larina.  That binder is full of different versions of her for different games, but this is the first.

Moving into the article and class.  This witch is WAY overpowered.  It is easy to see that now, but back then I didn't care. Bonus spells, powers at nearly every level, High Secret Order Spells? Yikes. But yet I do love this witch so.  10 pages, lots of new spells.  That Elmore art.  Totally fell in love.  Limiting the witch to 8th level spells seems like a natural thing to me now.  Back then I never gave much thought.  These days I give WAY too much thought.  I have a huge Excel file filled with spells and levels to some up with the optimal levels of every spell and placement. It has informed all my writing for years.  8th level feels right.


I see the seeds of nearly every witch I have played in these pages.  Certainly, my own Witch class has been inspired by it.

After that everything else in the magazine is a little weak.  It's isn't, but it sure feels like it.

Grave Encounters is full of great random tables for monsters.  I made a copy of it and stuck into my Ravenloft boxed set.

Not to be outdone by Bill Muhlhausen, Chris Booth is up with The Elven Cavalier. In my mind, I always thought that there is someone out there that read this article and got the same joy out of it that I got from the Witch article.  It is a good article and when I finally sat down to read it in earnest I became convinced that this was someone's favorite article and class.  So much so that it later affected things I did with Larina.  At one point she became romantically involved with an elven cavalier and thus my other iconic witch Taryn, the half-elf was born.
I created a group of Elven Cavaliers called the "Moon Knights" (it was the 80s. I am allowed).

Were you that person out there that loved the Elven Cavalier?  I'd love to hear about it.

The Ecology of the Remorhaz took me till 1990 or so before I read it.  Not that it is a bad article, far from it, it always got eclipsed by the witch.

Robert Kelk is up with Combined Generation or another attempt to put all the tables needed for character generation in one place.  It's a good article in theory. In practice I can't say.  At the time I never needed it, by 86 I had been playing for 7 years and pretty much knew where everything was without thinking about it. Today, rereading it, I can't say since I am too far removed from those days.  I can say that if I ever play 1st ed again I will have these handy.

Class Struggles (yup, but let's be honest an obvious name) from Mark Kraatz details things characters can do between leveling up times.   Some good ideas here that can be easily ported over to any version of *D&D or OSR.

The next article was part of a rash of articles and products to "better define" D&D.  It's a hit-but where? by Alex Curylo is another hit-location article. There are lots of example creatures, including the Flumph, on random hit locations.  It's a level of detail I never cared for and when it came up in game we usually either hand waved it or decided where the hit must be depending on the damage caused.

Moving on to more modern games and sci-fi we have an article from Russell Droullard on creating adventures for Top Secret; A Recipe for Espionage.  I am sure it would for other spy games as well like James Bond.  Thomas Kane follows up with the legal process in Top Secret in Guilty as Charged.

The Marvel-Phile deals with some details that didn't quite make it into the Advanced version of the game and a DS al Coda of the Moon articles from Ares. The only hero I recognize here is Medusa.

Neat, full color ad for the Immortals set.

Role of Computers covers the game Wizard's Crown for the Apple II, Commodore 64 and Atari XL.  The screen shots look like the Atari version. It looks fun, in a retro sort of way.  I know by this time I Was feeling a left out on my little 16k Color Computer 2.  But no fear the 128k Color Computer 3 was coming out and I was going to be rocking!

Ad for the Palladium Fantasy RPG.  Really wanted to play that back in the day.

High-Tech Hijinks by Randal S, Doering covers adding technology to your FRPG and AD&D in particular.  I will be honest. I never read it. I don't mix tech and magic in my games. It's a thing.  Though rereading it now, I am sure I at least glanced at it. A lot of it feels familiar.

We end with Wormy (which was getting stranger all the time to me), Dragonmirth and SnarfQuest (which was totally about tech in D&D).

It is very difficult to classify this issue for me.  The Witch article drowns out everything else in my mind to the point that I think only of it.  Yet there is a lot of othr good things in this issue.
It is easily one of my top 5 issues. Maybe even my most favorite.

I know for a fact that while I would have done the witch class, I would not have been able to do it as well had it not been for this.  If nothing else it gave me ideas to use, ideas to avoid and something to playtest against to see how it all works.  The roots of my own game design are right here.

The fruits of 30 years:

The Witch: For Basic-era games The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry


Which one is next?



If this was a watershed issue of Dragon, White Dwarf was doing the samething in October of 1986.  Check out what I said about Issue #82 in White Dwarf Wednesday.
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