Showing posts with label PWWO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PWWO. Show all posts

Monday, March 4, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Snakes. Why did it have to be Snakes?

A little something different today for MM.  I want to talk about snake people.


Snake people, serpent folk, Ophidians, Yuan-ti whatever you want to call them they have been a staple of fiction and D&D since ... well likely forever.

They were common enough in the pages in the Conan that even as a casual reader of the pulps I had heard about them.  They have had a prominent focus in AD&D with the Yuan-ti; so much so that there are one of the very, very few monsters that are IP and Closed to the OGL.
So yeah, they come with some history.

I think it is also that snakes seem so loathsome to humans.  There is just something "evil" about them in our collective subconscious.   That makes them a great old-school threat.

Review: Serpentine - Oldskull Serpent Folk

Serpentine - Oldskull Serpent Folk from Oldskull, aka Kent David Kelly is a nice RPG for adding and using Serpent Folk, known as Serpentine here, in any old-school like game. The book is 41 pages with cover and OGL statement. Everything is 100% open minus the usual trade dress and some names.  The book is full color, but mostly public domain black and white art.
The purpose of this book is to bring together various mythos and stories together to present a cohesive whole narrative of a primordial race of serpent people.  In this respect, it works rather well.
History and Pre-History of the Serpent Folk. Drawing on the works of Dunsany, Lovecraft, Howard, and Smith Kelley weaves a history (or Hisssstory!) that combines the Hyborian Mythos and the Cthulhu Mythos, with other myths of the world added for good measure.  While overtly for the Oldskull world it can be added and modified as any game master needs.  One of the reasons it works so well here is that Kelley draws on some primordial myths and legends.  The same that influenced the authors of the stories being used.   Quotes from those authors are found throughout this book.
Up next we get a Serpent Folk Truename Generator.  A useful tool to help you name all those NPCs (or even PCs) you plan on using.  This is followed by Description or what your serpent folk looks like.  A section on Ability Minimums, Maximums and Modifiers is next. After that are sections on Behavior, XP modifiers, and views on Alignment.
There is a list of serpent folk deities from other myths.  It is a good list, but I have a few issues with some of the gods on it; for example Brigid. But the vast majority I see why they are there.  Mostly Serpent Folk are going to worship Yig and/or Tsathogga, though Set is a close runner up.
We get into a section now on Class Options for Serpent Folk. Most are going to fall into the various fighter classes and thief-related classes.  Also presented here is the new Soul Slaver class, which combines Cleric, Shaman, and Necromancer all in one serpent-related class.  It's a good class and it adds a lot of flavor to the Serpent Folk.  I might tweak it to be less Necromancer and more Shaman myself, but that is only personal bias, not a shortcoming of the class.  Basically, the class draws on the souls of the deceased to perform magical feats. There are spell lists, mostly from the classical B/X and Advanced sources.    They advance as Magic-Users, but have their own spell progression and, in a nice old-school touch, level titles.
There is also a section on Racial Powers serpent folk get and what kinds of snakes they are likely to summon.  This also included specail attacks and special limitations.
There is a nice section on how Serpent folk get along with Dragons (spoiler, they don't) that really sealed the deal for me.  I have been using various serpent-like races (Yuan-ti, Naga) as the ancient ancestral enemies of the Dragonfolk (Dragonborn) for years.
We end with a recomended reading list.
So for just $3 and a little over 40 pages this book packs a lot in.  There are so many cool ideas it is hard to figure out where I want to start with it.  I think that since Kelley tapped into some primal myths here that all gamers have an idea of these creatures, he just put it down in writing for us.

PWWO: Serpentine in Other Old-School Games

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea has been my obsession over the last few weeks. Given the background of both AS&SH and Serpentine, it should really be no surprise then that I see the two of them working quite well together.  With the addition of Serpentine you can really "punch up" the stats for Sanke People in AS&SH. Already an interesting monster, now with this addition Snake People go from "just another monster" in the Bestiary section to potential Big Bad material.  Growing cult activity? Serpent People. More dinosaur sightings? Serpent People.  Increased slave trade? Yup. Serpent People.   Plus AS&SH and Oldskull Serpentine draw from exactly the same sources. They just rearrange things in a different order.  Both books feature Yig and owners of one book should find it to be of positive use when used with the other book.

Serpentine features the often used Clark Ashton Smith god, Tsathoggua.  Here he is considered to be a god of the Serpent People. AS&SH has the god Xathoqqua, which is the same god.  There are some differences in how they are portrayed in each book, but gods are supposed to be mutable.  Of course, the best source for Tsathogga (yet another spelling) is from the Frog Gods themselves in their Tome of Horror Complete.  Here he is presented as a demon, but that is perfect for me really. The same book (and the Tome of Horrors 4) have the Inphidians, which are their versions of the Yuan-ti, save Open for the OGL. Speaking of the Frog Gods, in their Monstrosities book feature Ophidians, a name I have also used in the past, as snake men.

The OSR games Blueholme and Adventurer Conqueror King System both have rules within their systems to allow Serpentine player characters. All you need really is the Serpentine book.


Union of the Snake: The Second Campaign

The heroes of the Second Campaign, my D&D 5e nod to old-school gaming, have already had their first encounter with the Yuan-ti.  They have encountered other snake-like creatures and reptiles worshiping snake gods, but everything is about to go into overdrive when they hit their desert-related adventures.

While the campaign is 5e based there is a lot of old-school influences in it.  I plan to take a bunch of the material above, put it in a blender then bury it in a desert for 3,000 years and see what comes up.
For me a lot of it is leading up to the ultimate confrontation with Demogorgon.
Borrowing from Advanced Labyrinth Lord I am using Demogorgon as the cult leader behind the snakes and snake men.  This fits in with my use of the blood apes as one of the three factions the worship Demogorgon; with human cultists and Ophidians/Snake Men/Serpent Folk being the other two.  The campaign will take a solid desert/Egyptian turn here soon.  I just need to figure out the Set-Apep-Yig-Demogorgon connection.

Of course, there will be creepy ass snake-men and cultists. All part of the alchemy of my past. Yes. My influeces for this are an forgotten Dirk Benedict horror movie and Duran Duran.  My game, my weird ass childhood.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

PWWO: Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

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

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

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


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

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

Speaking of which.


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

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




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


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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Plays Well With Others: DP&D Cryptid Manual

There is just over a week to go for the Dark Places & Demogorgons Cryptid Manual and I have been enjoying the hell out of my preview copy.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s I devoured books about cryptids, monsters, and UFOs.  Honestly, when I wasn't reading books about the occult or witches, I was reading this stuff.
I guess that is one of the reasons why this book (and this game) hit such a nerve with me.

Plus I love monster books. Always have.

So naturally, I want to use this book everywhere I can.


First and foremost, the Cryptid Manual is 90% compatible with Swords & Wizardry White Box. There is not a lot of overlap in monsters, so this makes the CM a perfect monster book for S&WWB players.  Also, there are a lot of "new" monsters in S&W for the DP&D player/GM.  Who's to say that an alien life form could resemble an orc or a wyvern.

In fact, this is true for nearly every clone. The clone game provides monsters for DP&P and the Cryptid Manual provides new monsters for your clone of choice.  You just need to justify why they are there.


The tone of The Hero's Journey is different than the other Clones, but with a tiny bit of tinkering the adventure-centric tone of THJ can work with the dark conspiracy tone of DP&D.  I mean really, isn't a Bigfoot just another kind of forest spirit?  I bit like a wilder, but less evil, ogre or troll.



B/X Essentials is an interesting game and one I will delve into more on future posts.  There is essentially a B/X Essentials Monster Manual.  Either or both can be used with both or either game and all fit well.  I think the only overlapping monster is the Medusa, and they are close enough to each other as to be the same creature with local variations.
Both games have a monster Morale score.  I have not done the math to see if these morale scores are 100% compatible, but they feel that way and are based on the same Basic mechanic.
If you like either game then consider picking up the other monster book for even more monsters.




I think the claim that the Cryptid Manual is a good book for any OSR game is a solid one.
I have been wanting to add a Hodag to my games for YEARS.

Now adding this book to an OSR/Clone book is easy. The hard part is figuring out why or how Chupacabras are out running around with the likes of elves and dragons.

Something that might help is looking at other games that cover many of the same creatures and ideas.


Dark Places & Demogorgons holds the same place that is/was occupied by Chill.  I can pretty much take any Chill adventure I developed and re-run under DP&D.  The Chill Monsters book covers a lot of the same ground as the Cryptid Manual.  The advantage of picking up the Monsters book has more information on each creature and a few new ones.  The Cryptid Manual also has a few new creatures for Chill players as well.  For conversions, I would find similar creatures in the books and use that as a template.

Chill's focus is more international and more adult.  BUT a great idea I had was to play a Chill game with some investigators and do a "flashback" adventure of when they were kids using DP&D.  Players of both games should check out the other books for lots of ideas.



The same is true of Eden's Conspiracy X 2.0.

The focus is even more X-Files than Chill is.  There is also a greater focus on Extraterrestrials than in Chill.  Like Chill, there is a feeling that Con X might be the "sequel" of the DP&P game.  Again a fun idea would be to run a Con X game, but pull out DP&D for a "flashback" adventure to when the characters were all children. 

Think about it in terms of the X-Files.  You are playing Fox Mulder as an FBI Agent working on the X-Files (Con X), but the GM wants to go back and try playing Fox as a kid when his sister gets taken by Aliens (DP&D).  It could be a flashback, an alien device that makes him relive it or he is in therapy and his doctor tries memory regression.  There is a ton of different things you can do. 

The systems are not compatible, but I am pretty fluent in both systems and did some of the work already for my Sunny Valley, OH Buffy game.

So, yes the Cryptid Manual is a remarkablly useful and flexible book that I can already use for a dozen or so games, and I plan on doing so.  Hodags! Hodags in every game!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Plays Wells With Others: Dark Places & Demogorgons and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Reading over Dark Places & Demogorgons I could not help but make comparisons to another game of strange things going on with high school kids fighting monsters.   Of course, I am talking about the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.


Both games deal with fighting the unknown, both games deal high school students and both games are steeped in 80s clichés and pop-culture.  Where Buffy attempted to subvert those clichés, Dark Places & Demogorgons embraces them.

I am just throwing this out here, I have a lot of issues with Joss Whedon.  I think he is an asshole.
But I am damn proud of the work I did on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.

Reading through the core of DP&D and all the supplements it became very, very obvious what game I need to run.

Welcome to Sunny Valley, OH
"I am certain that whoever named this place Sunny Valley was having a joke on us. The winters are long, cold and dark. It rains in the spring and fall. I think they named the place in the three days of the summer we do get sun.  Not to mention the werewolves, the vampires and oh yeah the Hellmouth just outside of town.  Welcome to Sunny Valley Ohio California girl. Bet you can't wait to leave."
- Alexander "Alex" Harris to Elizabeth "Buffy" Summers.

I decided to take the entire "Buffy Package" and drop it wholesale to the Midwest and set it all in 1984.  There are some changes that need to be made.

In this new setting Elizabeth Anne "Buffy" Summers moved from sunny California to the ironically named Sunny Valley, Ohio.  As a nod to my friend and co-author on many of the Buffy books, Thom Marrion, who was going to do a series of Buffy books set in Cleveland, I wanted to do this in Ohio.  Cleveland is the "big city", but I never detail how far it is.

There is a Hellmouth, but is more indistinct.  No one is sure where it is, but they all know it's there.  There are two high schools, Sunny Valley Prep (the "good" school, where we start) and Sunny Valley Community High (the "bad" school).

Elizabeth Anne "Buffy" Summers
Class: Monster Hunter (vampires)  Level: 5
Alignment: Good
Languages: English, French
Age: 15

Attributes
STR: 18 +3
INT: 12 +0
WIS: 12 +0
DEX: 18 +3
CON: 18 +3
CHA: 16 +2
SUR: 18 +3

AC: 15     HP: 35    Attack Bonus +4 / +7 (vs. vampires)

Courage: 6 (additional +3 vs. vampires)
Critical: 5
Death: 6
Mental: 4
Poison: 5

Background
Mother is rarely at home.
Annoying little sister.

Class Abilities
+3 to hit, track, dmg to Vampires
+1 Toughness

Skills
Outdoorsmanship +4, Paranormal +5, Knowledge (Historical) +2, Brawling, Persuasion +2, Basic Athletics +3, Stealth +2

Possessions
Leather jacket, pants, stakes

Money: $30

This version of Buffy is actually named Elizabeth. She is a former California girl and now lives here with her mom and weird little sister. She is a Slayer, but she has no idea how or why.  There are no Watchers here in Sunny Valley, no Giles.  Elizabeth just knows she is strong, fast and she can sense vampires.
At the end of Series 1 she dies, but only for a little bit.  This gives us Faith Lehanne, a wild girl from Sunny Valley Community High.

Faith Lehanne
Class: Monster Hunter (vampires)  Level: 5
Alignment: Neutral
Languages: English
Age: 14

Attributes
STR: 17 +2
INT: 12 +0
WIS: 10 +0
DEX: 18 +3
CON: 18 +3
CHA: 17 +2
SUR: 18 +3

AC: 15     HP: 32    Attack Bonus +3 / +6 (vs. vampires)

Courage: 5 (additional +2 vs. Vampires)
Critical: 5
Death: 4
Mental: 3
Poison: 4

Background
Parents are dead, lives with Aunt
Dirt poor

Class Abilities
+2 to hit, track, dmg to Vampires
+1 Toughness

Skills
Outdoorsmanship +4, Paranormal +4, Knowledge (local ) +1, Brawling, Intimidation +4, Street Smarts +4, Stealth +2

Possessions
Leather jacket, pants, stakes

Money: $0

Faith shows up in Series 2 from SVCHS where she makes an impression by killing two vamps right away.  She introduces us to her friend Tara, and she and Willow start to spend a lot of time together.



Both Buffy and Faith are built using the Monster Hunter class from DP&D: Player Options & GM Guide.  In truth I could build a "Slayer" class, but I didn't really want to do that.  I wanted to try them out Rules As Written.

In general the cast would be much younger than the TV show.  Anywhere from 2 to 3 years younger. This fits perfectly with DP&D but changes the dynamic a little.   For starters, I would downplay the sexual tension to almost nothing, or at least a slow burn.  A 200+-year-old vampire prey on a 17-year-old sounds bad.  Preying on a 14-15-year-old sounds worse for some reason.  I am also going to give Faith the benefit of the doubt here.   During my Buffy game Season of the Witch, I pointed out that what the show writers had done to her essentially was so contradictory that the character was broken beyond repair.  So what if I took a potential "Bad Girl" and instead gave her a friend.  Maybe someone she saved from some bullies.  Enter Tara.  In this world Faith saved Tara from being picked on because of her poor family and the open secret that she is gay; something that was still very hard to deal with in the 80s.  Both girls help each other out till they meet the cast.

Dawn Summers
Class: Telekinetic  Level: 1
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 11

Attributes
STR: 10 +0
INT: 12 +0
WIS: 16 +2
DEX: 12 +0
CON: 14 +1
CHA: 12 +0
SUR: 16 +2

AC: 10     HP: 4    Attack Bonus +0

Courage: 3
Critical: 2
Death: 3
Mental: 4
Poison: 2

Background
Mother is rarely at home.

Class Abilities
Telekinesis, Psionic Attack, Psionic Push

Skills
Paranormal +1, Investigation +1, Knowledge (local) +1, Stealth +1, Video Games +1
Psionic Attack +1

Possessions
Bike, Backpack, Journal describing how she used her powers in secret.

Money: $10

In my games, Dawn developed psychic powers.  Maybe not Jean Grey levels, but certainly Carrie ones.  I thought it would be fun if the "Annoying Kid Sister" trope was subverted by making her Powered.  She was built with the optional Psionic classes in the Core Rule book.

I also did Cordelia Chase (basically an archetype "Princess"), Alexander "Alex" Harris (a "Geek" due to his Star Trek obsession), Oz (Metalhead turned Werewolf) and Angel (Teen Heartthrob turned Vampire).

What can DP&D Players get from Buffy?
The Buffy RPG is a great game that focuses a lot on the high school experience and how fighting monsters can be a metaphor for life in High School. Personally, I think EVERY player and GM of DP&D needs to read Chapter 7: Episodes, Seasons and Drama. It is hands down the best chapter written about running anytime of modern supernatural game or a game set around High School age kids.  The mechanics on Drama Points and their use would also be useful.
And of course all the monsters, vampires and demons the book has would be helpful to any DP&D GM.

What can Buffy Players get from DP&D?
The Buffy RPG is a mature game.  Not just in content, but shelf-life.  I know people that are still playing the game 15+ years later.   For me, DP&D has given me a breath of fresh air and has re-energized my Buffy-related experiences.  Hell, this is the first honest to goodness Buffy campaign idea since Season of the Witch and that was more than 12 years ago.
The "Back to Basics" feel of DP&D cannot be ignored or understated.  It really helped me think of this game in a different way.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Plays Well With Others: Making 5e Bloodied

Yesterday I talked about how my Nentir Vale/Demon Slayers 5e game is a reboot of my 4e game and I will be adding more 4e elements to it.

Today I spent some time with D&D 4e Essentials to see what I could glean from that.



I know a lot of people had problems with 4e.  I was not one of those people.  I liked 4e and really wanted to give it more time.

5e is so flexible that there is so much you can do to it and it won't break the system.  4e was a very tight game, so tight that pulling out one piece had some serious impacts.

I am hoping that this will not break 5e; I doubt it will.

Bloodied in 5e
When a creature or character is reduced to half their HP or less (rounding down) they are bloodied.  This can trigger a number of actions.  I want to mix as much 4e and 5e as I can here.

Characters
These are taken from Dungeons & Dragons Player Essentials: Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms.

Dragonborn
When you are bloodied you may invoke your Dragonborn Fury.  You gain a +1 racial bonus to attack rolls.

Half-Orc
When you are bloodied during an encounter you may invoke your Half-Orc Resilience.  The first time you are bloodied during an encounter you gain temporary hp equal to your Proficiency Bonus + your Constitution modifier.

Tieflings
Bloodhunt: You gain a +1 racial advantage on attack rolls against bloodied targets.

Monsters
All of these creatures (for the most part) come from Dungeons & Dragons Essentials: Monster Vault.

Aboleth Overseer
Psychic Slime (standard; recharges when first bloodied)

Angel
Angelic Presence: When not bloodied attacks against the angel are at Disadvantage.

Beholder
Death Ray (necrotic):  If the target is bloodied before or after the attack, it is also dazed (save ends).

Blood Fiend
The blood fiend gains combat advantage against any living bloodied enemy.

Bulette
When bloodied the creature burrows underground and uses it's Second Wind.

Demon, Babu
Bite: The target also takes ongoing 5 acid damage, or ongoing 10 acid damage if the babau is bloodied (save ends).

Demon, Hezrou
Noxious Stench: Any enemy that makes an attack while in the aura takes 10 poison damage, or 20 poison damage while the hezrou is bloodied.

Demon, Marilith
Weapon Dance (melee): Recharge when first bloodied. Can attack again.

Demon, Vrock
Spores of Madness: DC 20 Wisdom Save to enemies within 5'.  On a failed save 3d10+6 Poison damage and the target is dazed.  Successful save, half damage.

Demon, Balor
Flaming Body: Normally aura is 2 squares or 10 feet. When bloodied it expands to 3 squares/15 feet.  Any enemy that starts its turn in the aura takes 10 fire damage, or 20 fire damage while the balor is bloodied.

Devil, Kyton
Chains of Vengeance: The devil can attack with it's chains twice.

Dragon (all)
Bloodied Breath: When first bloodied the dragon can recharge and use it's breath weapon.
When Bloodied a Dragon can critical on 18-20.

Drake, Rage
When bloodied the rage drake has Advantage on attacks.

Eye of Flame
Fiery Burst (when first bloodied and again when the eye of flame is reduced to 0 hit points) Close burst 2; DC 20 Dexterity save; 2d8 + 6 fire damage.

Gnoll
Blood Frenzied: The gnoll adds their Proficiency bonus to damage to all melee attacks when bloodied.

Golem, Flesh
When bloodied the golem can make a slam attack at Advantage.

Hag
When bloodied make one additional claw attack.

Lizard Folk
Additional tail sweep attack (1d6) when first bloodied.

Lycanthrope, Werewolf
Attack advantage on bloodied targets.
Proficiency bonus added to damage when bloodied.

Ochre Jelly 
When bloodied the creature splits into two creatures, each with hit points equal to one-half its
current hit points. Effects on the original ochre jelly do not apply to the second one.
(this is in addition to the split described in the 5e MM).

Owlbear
Stunning Screech: When bloodied the owlbear will Screech (close blast, 15'). DC 15 Constitution save or be stunned.

Vampire
The vampire takes damage while bloodied they become insubstantial and gains fly speed 60'. The vampire cannot attack or use cloud of bats. This effect lasts for 1 hour or until the vampire ends it as a minor action.
The vampire has combat Advantage on bloodied targets.

I am not sure how all of these will work out.  In many cases, the monsters are now more deadly.  I might need to compensate with a bonus of 5 to 10 XP.

If it works well my son has offered to do more of these for me.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

PWWO: Mighty Protectors

Time again for another edition of "Plays Well With Others"!

Mighty Protectors is a new game, but it has a long history and some solid Old-School DNA.  Because of this, there is a lot of ways to tinker with the game.

It is no secret that there is D&D DNA in Villains & Vigilantes.  That DNA carries over to V&Vs offspring, Mighty Protectors.  While there are still plenty differences in these games, there are enough similarities to build on.

Mighty Protectors and Villains & Vigilantes 2.1


Total cheat really. These games are less "Mix and Match" as they are "ideas to be shared". They are basically two slightly different expressions of the same world.  Now V&V 2.1 has better, or at least, more explicit rules for magic and psionics. Plus converting between MP and V&V 2.1 is easy; there is a section in the MP book on converting V&V 2.1 over.  Using this V&V 2.1 becomes a Rosetta Stone of sorts for d20 based games.

This conversion key is really helpful for me for the next two games.

Mighty Protectors & d20 Silver Age Sentinels / BESM d20


Alas, Guardians of Order.  You were a not a well-run company, in the end, but you did have some fun games.  Two of GoO's games are of particular interest to me.  Big Eyes Small Mouth d20 (BESM d20) and Silver Age Sentinels d20 (SAS d20).  Both had great breakdowns of the d20 system (circa 2002) into Level-Based Point buy systems.  Using our V&V translation you can now have a translation of BESM/SAS d20 to V&V and MP.  In particular, the book Advanced d20 Magic for BESM d20 is a great resource for point-buy spells.   I have not worked out the mathematical translations or crunched the numbers just yet, but there are there.  My initial guess is that 1 CP (MP) = 2 Points for SAS/BESM. 
This would give me a great point-buy spell system with some well-defined familiar spells.

Another great thing about SAS (Tri-Stat or d20 versions) is the excellent history of comics and the superhero in modern culture. The Silver Age sensibility of the "how to play" sections fit Mighty Protectors to a tee.

Mighty Protectors and Mutants & Masterminds 2.0


One can't talk super-hero games and not mention Muntants and Masterminds.  While now in the third edition, it is the second edition that concerns us here and now.  M&M2 shares a lot in common with MP. I could detail it here, but this link, Converting Mutants & Masterminds 2.0 to Mighty Protectors, does a far better job.   I have gone over the list of Powers and Abilities for both games to see what one has that the other doesn't, But I can say that between these two nearly every power likely is covered.

Plus Green Ronin has an absolute ton of material for M&M.  Personally, I like to put the supers of each game into their own cities and if you go to that city that's where you will find them.

For my next round of characters, I am going to take some notes from these other games to get the characters I am really looking for.  It should be a blast.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Plays Well With Others: Blue Rose + White Box S&W

Well, I am back at today with another "Plays Well With Others".  I want to spend some quality time with Blue Rose still so today I want to talk about one that jumped out at me right away.
Blue Rose works great with Swords & Wizardry White Box rules.

Yes. In fact, there is very, very little you need to do to make Blue Rose more like White Box.


Let's start with what I am wanting to accomplish here.  White Box is OSR/D&D stripped down to the bare bones. It leaves a lot more to the imagination and the guidance of the Game Master/Referee.  There is a lot of narrative control in refs hands.   The AGE version of Blue Rose has similar DNA (more on that) but places more narrative control in the hands of the players. NOT ALL, but a little more.

Blue Rose, in its AGE or True20 editions has DNA and elements that go back to the 3rd Edition D&D rules and the OGL.  The genesis of the Swords & Wizardry rules from the OGL is more than obvious.  This gives us a common thread to look at these games, a common ancestry to compare and contrast.   It also informs us on how we can bring them together.

One of the big surprises in Blue Rose for me as that the ability scores are all rolled on a 3d6 in order.  This is closer to "Old School" than some OSR games.  But that is only one thing, not enough to build a larger set of connections on.

White Box is not just a fun set of rules (we have thousands of those now) it is also a philosophy of gaming where less is more and the people playing need to decide what to do.  That last part is 100% Blue Rose.  But how do we make Blue Rose more like White Box?

White Rose

Well for starters let's cap the levels at 10.  This is just like White Box and has the effect of negating some of the later Specializations and higher level focuses of the game. With this done the core character classes, Warrior, Expert, and Adept need to focus on the things central to their class.  Fighters and Experts should not be able to take arcane training of any sort really. Adepts should be focused on either an arcane path (magic-users) or a divine on (clerics). Want a REAL restricted game? Don't have a cleric analog. Though you will need to consider what to do about healing.

Ending the levels at 10 restricts the classes to only one specialization. This is perfect for a White Box-inspired Blue Rose.
I would limit Experts to specializations like Assassin or even Pirate. For a real White Box feel I would create a "Thief" Specialization.
For a Cleric,  have the Adept take the Healer Specialization.
Warriors have the most flexibility. They can take the Champion, Guardian, Knight, Outrider, or Slayer.
For true White Box feeling, drop the thieves completely, and let Experts take the Healer Specialization.  Then you have three class to three classes.

For your races, you can crib the races from Fantasy AGE.

The big question is, "Why even do this?".

Simple. I can use White Rose as a "gateway drug" to Blue Rose for people that play White Box or another OSR clone.   I would run it as more or less a straight up D&D-like game with only some "Blue Rose" materials until later on.

I would try this out with some well-known Swords & Wizardry adventures. I am thinking something like Frog God Games' Razor Coast or any Swords & Wizardry adventure by Creation's Edge Games.
I have to admit, their Blue Crystal Mine has appeal to me as a gateway S&W/Blue Rose adventure, and how can I say no to an adventure called Curse of the Web Witch?  I might replace his monster with my own Web Witch.  I should convert it to AGE.

Looking forward to trying this out.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Red, White and Blue Rose

June may have been "Blue Rose month" but I have so much more to say and do!

I am going to have a couple of upcoming "Plays Well With Others" coming up.  More details later, but here are some teasers.

First, something that was inspired by my old "Black Rose" game (Blue Rose + Ravenloft) and something that came to me in a flash on a recent run.  Something I am calling "Blood Red Rose".


Blue Rose + Vampire the Masquerade (2nd Edition).

Next is less of a Plays Well With Others and more of a "Campaign Model".
I give you my "White Rose"


Blue Rose + Swords & Wizardry White Box.

This is going to be great.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Plays Well With Others: Blue Rose and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This June I am on a big Blue Rose kick gearing up for my review of the game.  I felt for this review I should play the game more and kick the tires a bit more.  Today, given that it is Tuesday, I want to talk about another progressive game and how well it works with Blue Rose; the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.
I am extremely proud of the work I did on Ghosts of Albion. But I never would have gotten to do that work had it not been for the success of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both the Show and RPG really. Without Buffy, there would have been no Ghosts on the BBC and without the RPG there never would have been a Ghosts of Albion RPG.



These two games share a lot of themes.  Blue Rose is more character-centric than other fantasy games and Buffy is more character-centric than other modern-supernatural games. Though most modern-supernatural games also tend to be more character focused.

Blue Rose and Buffy also share the +John Snead connection.  He worked on the original Blue Rose (and compiled a great list of must-read books of the genre). He and I also both worked on the Buffy Magic Box book.   Speaking of Snead's book recommendations, I reread The Blue Sword recently and I am struck how much of the heroine Harimad-sol reminded me of Buffy in ways. Also, my Queen Jaeliln was more than a little influenced by Buffy and SMG.

With Green Ronin now talking about Modern AGE (MAGE...snerk), I think the time to dust off my Buffy books is right.  As my old friend +Robert Black used to say, "I have a Buffy-shaped hole in my life."

By the Numbers
Normally when doing a Plays Well With Others of different systems I like to look how the stats convert.  I am less interested in that these days and instead more interested in how to convert concepts and ideas.   In this case, it's a "How would the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer work in Blue Rose?" Though I am not immune to the siren song of numbers.

Blue Rose/AGE has 9 Abilities.  Buffy/Unisystem has 6.  The mappings are pretty logical.
Just take the Unisystem ability and map it onto the AGE ability of the same name; Strength is Strength, Willpower is Willpower and so on.   The three remaining, Accuracy, Communication and Fighting, can be taken from various skills or qualities.  So Fighting is taken from Kung-fu; Communication can be derived from Charisma. Accuracy, depending on where it is used can come from Gun-Fun or Occultism.
Blue Rose/AGE abilities rank from -2 to 4. Buffy/Unisystem attributes go from 1 to 6, with some cases of 0.  Take your Unisystem score and -2.  Not perfect really, but it is really, really close.

Now at this point the numerical conversion stops.  In the Buffy RPG, the eponymous Slayer has Strength 8, Dexterity 9, and Constitution 8.  A straight conversion gives her 6, 7 and 6 respectively.  Not undoable really, but I'd have to bend the rules.  Instead, let's see how close I can get with Rules-As-Written.

I want to do starting characters, but to get her to the power level I want for a starting character I am going start her out at Level 4.  Blue Rose/AGE is fine with this as True20 was.

By the Concepts
What is a Slayer known for?  Killing Vampires naturally.  But in Blue Rose Vampires are not the threat that Darkfiends are.  Indeed, in the RPG and TV show the focus was less on Vampires and more on Demons. Unstable Shadowgates are roughly the same (plot wise) as a Hellmouth.  While magic is common, Sorcery is bad (Sounds like a 4th season episode, "Sorcery Bad!").

A lot of the same themes can be explored as well; family, relationships, sex, sexual identity, friendships and a group coming together.

Mr. (Robert) Maclay: This is insane. You people have no right to interfere with Tara's affairs. We are her blood kin! Who the hell are you?
Buffy: We're family.

So. Who is Buffy Summers in the World of Aldea?  Well, she is the Slayer. The Chosen One. She lives with her mother and sister in a suburban area of Aldis. Here she discovers a Shadowgate linked to the realm of the Darkfiends.  She has been chosen by Maurenna to destroy the darkfiends.

For my own Blue Rose games I have chosen Welsh as the language that represents Aldea, so all the names of my characters will be Welsh or Welsh-inspired.  Buffy Summers becomes Bethan Hâf, she lives with her sister Gwawr.

Bethan Hâf, the Darkfiend Slayer



Name:
Bethan Hâf
Race:
Human (Slayer)
Background:
Aldin
Class: Warrior Level: 4

ABILITY
Score Focus
ACCURACY
3 2
COMMUNICATION
1 Persuasion
CONSTITUTION
3 2
DEXTERITY
3 2
FIGHTING
4 3
INTELLIGENCE
2
PERCEPTION
2
STRENGTH
4 3 Might
WILLPOWER
3

Combat
AR 1
Health 65
Weapon Groups: Brawling, Bludgeoning, Heavy Blades, Light Blades

POWERS, TALENTS, AND SPECIALIZATIONS
Armor Training: Novice
Talents: Quick Reflexes (N), Single Weapon Style (N), Arcane Potential, Visions (N)
Specialization: Slayer of Darkfiends

Persona
Calling: The Sun, Championing the Everyday
Destiny/Fate: Six of Swords, Optimistic/Pessimistic
Goals: To Destroy the Darkfiends invading our home

Relationships
Gwawr (3). She is my little sister and maybe the only one that truly understands me. I will protect her. My wrath on anyone that means her harm.
Helyg (2). She is my best friend, the only one that has shown me kindness. I will save the world only because I have her help.
Brynn (1). She is the love of Helyg and that makes her family.

I like it.  This is a build I could work with.  Note I have not given her a significant other yet. Not sure how I want to work that in just yet. Would like to see where I would take this character first.

Next time lets spend some time with Helyg and Brynn.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Plays Well With Others: D&D 4th Edition and D&D 5th Edition

Wait...what?
Seriously though hear me out on this one.

Long time readers will know of my enjoyment of 4e when it first came out.  I felt there was a good game here, even if it was not 100% D&D-like-we-knew-it.   Well it was pretty much derided by any old school gamer and those that did like it, loved it with a passion.

Well yesterday +Thomas Denmark over at Original Edition Fantasy/Rules posted a video about how to incorporate elements of 4e into your 5e game.
https://originaleditionfantasy.blogspot.com/2017/02/dr-strange-edition-or-how-i-learned-to.html

Here is the video he shared.


It's an hour long, but the YouTuber Matthew Colville is so earnest about this that it is fun to watch.  BTW he has a lot of other D&D videos as well. The guy is obviously a gaming evangelist so his enthusiasm is contagious.  So much so that this morning before getting everyone awake I dove into my 4e monster manuals.


It seems that Colville is onto something here.

I have mentioned before that there a number of 4e innovations I would like to adopt in my games.  Among these are some of the conditions, in particular bloodied, and the minion rules.

But today I want to talk Giants.

My group is working their way through a modified and expanded version of the G series.  They finished G1, "G4" (the R.C. Pinnell Stone Giant adventure) and G2.  Next they are going to do a mish-mash Cloud/Fog/Storm Giant one before going on to G3 and the Fire Giants.  But before that they are going to do a one shot based on the old Conan story, "The Frost Giant's Daughter".  My adventure will be called "The Frost Giant Jarl's Daughter" though roughly the same plot.

I will be 100% honest here. I was never a big fan of giants for most of my D&D adventuring days.  That is until 4e helped turn them into something else.  In 4e (and possibly before, I might have missed it)  Giants became the products of Primordials and Elemental forces.  They were not just "bigger orcs" but something else.  I really liked the 4e versions of giants that included not only giants, but also titans.  So you could have a Frost Giant and a Frost Titan.  The Titans were larger and more tied to their elemental natures.

In the G4 module I did a bit of this with the main Stone Giant being replaced by a 4e style Earth Titan.

In The Frost Giant Jarl's Daughter I am going to take Colville's advice and run the giants with more of the 4e elements than I had previously.  A lot more in fact.


The adventure takes place right after G2 (I am calling it G2.5, but I guess G2.45 is a better code).  The party must cross a glacier to get to the next point in the series.   However, along the way, they will be taunted by the apparition of a beautiful girl.  Now I need to be careful here.  I have an elf woman that has been following them all the way from the A series. They think she is a thief, but in reality she is a spy from another group that wants the same things the party wants.  I don't want to run into the cliche of a beautiful woman actually being something else.


Along the way there will be three 4e crafted encounters; a group of Winter Wolves, Frost Giant Skeletons and finally her two Frost Giant brothers.  The Jarl's Daughter is a Frost Giant Ice Shaper from 4e; or maybe the Frost Titan, have not decided yet.  So she is going to have some very nasty tricks up her sleeve.

If this works well then I am planning on doing this more in the Fire Giant's adventure.


A bit of personal history.  Back in the earliest days of my gaming when I was going through these adventures myself I found a 60mm metal mini of a knight in bronze armor.  To me it looked just like the picture of the Fire Giant from the Expert set.


I wanted my DM to use it as an advanced Fire Giant Knight.  Someone that would come out to challenge the players.  Given that the art above also has a passing resemblance to Brian Blessed in his younger days (think Flash Gorden era) he would be very bombastic. Well on the day we did G3 I forgot the mini.
Somewhere over the last 35 years I lost the mini.  I remember his leg broke off and I was very disapointed that my Fire Knight never made it to battle.  Well thankfully I have the internet and I found a replacement.


That's the Fire Giant Queen and next her is the Schleich Dragon Knight Hero.  He is not perfect, but he is really, really, really close.  I can use the Fire Titan stats for him and give him all sorts of kick ass powers, like Hurl Lava and Burning Wave.

The Cloud Giant queen, who is in reality the bastard daughter of the Storm Giant King and a Cloud Giant Sorceress, will be recast as a 4e Eldritch Giant.


D&D5 has long been touted as the edition to unite all editions.  I have seen that certainly in terms of Basic and 1st through 3rd.  There are some remnants from 4rh here, but we could do with some more.  4th Edition, despite it's issues, had a lot of really cool innovations and I'd hate to see those lost.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PWWO: Blue Rose

Continuing my deep dive of Blue Rose, it's systems and world I want to see how well it Plays Well With Others.  I think for the sake of argument I refer to Blue Rose when I mean the campaign world and True20 when I mean the system.


Blue Rose and d20
I am mentioning this one just to get it out of the way.  Yes, you can mix and match Blue Rose/True20 with just about any d20 system.  I have done this in the past but I feel something unique is lost. Much like the Borg assimilating other cultures to where their individualism is lost, d20 sucks up other games and makes them a pale imitation of D&D. Or at least D&D 3rd Edition.  This is a real valuable lesson though. For something to work for my PWWO posts the uniqueness of both games, systems, books, whatever need to be retained.  The d20 conversion appendix in the back of the Blue Rose core book helps a lot and it also guides how other d20-based/derived games can be converted.  Just remember that "conversion" isn't the only thing I am looking for here.

Blue Rose and Ravenloft
Ahh.  My original Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Also what could be one of the first, in spirit, PWWO style posts I have made here.  Ravenloft was one of my favorite game worlds for 2nd Ed D&D. Heck it was my only game world for 2nd Ed.  The then new 3rd Ed Ravenloft was great, but left me underwhelmed.  Mixing in Blue Rose to the Ravenloft world gave me something new. Not totally new mind you, but new enough to highlight what made both games really shine. The darkness of Ravenloft made the brightness of Blue Rose even brighter and visa versa.
You can read more about my Black Rose exploits in these posts and here, Count Strahd Von Zarovich for Blue Rose / True20.
In this case, I want to convert everything Ravenloft to Blue Rose/True20.



Blue Rose + Ravenloft + Cults of Chaos
Ok, so what do you get when you combine Blue Roses, Black Roses, Red Roses and White Roses?  Well...a lot of thorns to be sure, but also something pretty cool.  Combining Blue Rose and Ravenloft is a given.  Since Ravenloft is, more less more "Gothic Earth" than "Gothic Greyhawk" it makes a good catalyst to add other Earth-like games. Cults of Chaos is part of +Kasimir Urbanski's Dark Albion world taking place during England's War of the Roses. Let's take my Black Rose idea and extend it to outright war between the Queen and Lord Savin.  Plus the Cults of Chaos are really not all that different that the Shadow Cults of Blue Rose. Dark Albion: Cults of Chaos goes into far more detail into the cults (naturally) which can add some more ideas for the cults in Blue Rose.  Indeed, England, the "mythical land ... of Roses" can share a lot with the World of Aldea. Aldis is, despite everything else, a mythical version of Western Europe. And let's be honest, a world where a Golden Hart can decide the ruler of one country can have a giant frog as the ruler of another.
In truth Cults of Chaos and Blue Rose have a lot in common.



Blue Rose and D&D 5
A lot of what Blue Rose/True20 did was revolutionary. A lot of D&D5 is evolutionary.  Both games though can be brought together to build something that is truly fun.
Character creation in D&D 5 is not all that different than D&D 1 when it gets right down to it.  I say keep the general rules for D&D 5 but adapt some of the Blue Rose True20 ideas. For starters, use Blue Rose's Callings to replace Backgrounds.  Sure there can still be an element of Background to this, but now these Callings of the characters are something that continues on.  A Background in D&D5 is sometimes relegated to the "oh that was what I used to be, but I am a <<insert class>> now."  Which is too bad really.  Callings can, and should influence what a character does all the time.

In this case I want to convert everything over to D&D 5 with plenty of Blue Rose material still intact.
This is going to be the basis for my "Monster Naturalists" game, but I need to figure out how to use Blue Rose's/True20's non-lethal damage track with D&D5 so the monsters can be brought in alive.
+Mark Craddock over at Cross Planes has already made some conversions of various races.
Atlantis: Second Age (OmniSystem)
Atlantis: Second Age by Morrigan Press (now +Khepera Publishing) was/is very interesting update of the old Bard Games "Atlantis" and the “Arcanum” books which were written to be used with "any fantasy role-playing game" but the obvious choice was AD&D.
This game uses the Omni System. It is a bit like True20 and this can be used with True20 with a bit of tinkering.  The differences are largely on of True20 having DCs and the OmniSystem having a table of Successes.   The author of the game mentioned online that he was a little surprised when he saw True20 but it was an obvious case of parallel development.  The natural idea is to keep True20's DCs, but use the Omni Table for Critical successes.
The book is titled “Atlantis, the Second Age” so it is Atlantis, after the Flood. A bit odd, but I’ll go with it. Plenty of information on the world and despite the name you could run it as a pre-flood/pre-sinking Atlantean empire. Tons of new races, spells and magic, all pulled from the old Bard Games books ad updated to the OmniSystem, and naturally True20. Great as a game in it’s own right or as a guide to an antediluvian time for any other game.
Now what exactly does this have to do with Blue Rose? Well the worlds are very different, but not so different that commonalities can't be found.  Atlantis (sunken or not) can most certainly lie to the west of Aldis.  Atlanteans share a certain level of egalitarianism and progressive social awareness with the folk of Aldis as well.  It could be that Atlantis was there all this time but forgotten after the Shadow Wars.  Hesparia (from Atlantis) is almost like Lar'tya (from Blue Rose) turned up to 11.
Atlantis:SA provides a larger world for Aldea and Aldis. Is it a perfect fit? By no means. But it is a fun fit. Atlantis:SA adds a number of races that are not really what Blue Rose is about (Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Hobgoblins) but others such as the Andaman (animal headed humanoids) are close enough to the the "Change Children" of the Valdemar book by Mercedes Lackey that a strong case can be made.  In A:SA they are said to be created by Atlantean Sorcerers. Ok. Or the Sorcerer Kings of BR.  Tritons (A:SA) are jsut another form of Sea Folk (BR).  Skills are largely treated the same way, I would just use Blue Rose's skills myself.  Talents in A:SA are a lot like the Feats in BR/T20.  Many of these Talents can also be used as alternate forms of Arcana.   Callings in A:SA are not exactly the same as Callings in BR. They are however very similar to the Paths introduced in the Blue Rose Companion.
Magic in A:SA is a treasure trove of ideas for any BR game.  While some could properly called Sorcery in BR, others are all together new, like Alchemy and Witchcraft.

If one wanted they could take all the OGC from Blue Rose and what little OGC from Atlantis that is open and create something that would work well with both.  Though that is a lot of work for two effectively dead systems.  Though I still enjoy this Atlantis book.  The new Atlantis book from Khepera Publishing is much more polished, but is further removed from the basic Omni System (now Omega System). Plus the book lacks some of the charm of the earlier books.

Blue Rose & Birthright
Two other games that work well together, and fit the Mercedes Lackey Valdemar feel well, is TSR's Birthright campaign setting for 2nd Ed. AD&D.  Whether you use the countries in BR or the ones in BR (err..that won't work) Birthright, the political intrigue between the rulers is now the main story telling element of the game.  Birthright also has a lot to offer players of Blue Rose in terms of inter- and intra-court affairs.  I would limit the races to Blue Rose ones; Birthright already limits races from the menagerie that was 2nd Ed AD&D.
I will say that this combination really is the ONLY time that the Golden Hart will effect what the characters could or could not do in a game.
Birthright also has that "built in maturity" factor I associate with Blue Rose. That is there is a certain audience that will enjoy playing at this level of social interaction and that audience tends to skew older.  Neither Blue Rose nor Birthright are about killing things and taking their stuff.  Unless of course, you are a king. And the things you kill are armies of other kings.
Makes me want to pull out my old Birthright materials! Have not even cracked them in years.

Consequently, I'd also throw the Basic adventures B11 King's Festival and B12 Queen's Harvest as intro adventures to this mix-up.  Just downplay the combat aspects and change the orcs to humans.
I have one other PWWO that I want to try out, but I am thinking of posting that one by itself tomorrow.

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