Showing posts with label Ubiquity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ubiquity. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. I am a fan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


No. It is not out just yet.

But what else can you do?  Lots really.

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


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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Links

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Vampire Willow & Vampire Tara: Ubiquity / Leagues of Gothic Horror

I love Ubiquity.  It's a great system that has the cinematic feel of Unisystem and the grit of Savage Worlds.

Leagues of AdventureLeagues of Gothic Horror and Leagues of Cthulhu are Ubiquity powered games from Triple Ace Games.  The Hollow Earth Expedition RPG is a Ubiquity powered adventure game from Exile Game Studios.  All these games are compatible and together give us a world full of adventure and horror.

There is a new Kickstarter for Leagues of Gothic Horror RPG Expansions from Triple Ace Games.  It looks like a bunch of fun (as all the LoGH books are).

So today though I wanted to come back to some characters near and dear to my heart.
The Vampire versions of Willow & Tara.  In of particular use to us here is Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Vampires and Guide to Black Magic.

Of course, everyone knows who Vampire Willow is. Vampire Tara appeared in the video game Chaos Bleeds and the related stories, all by Christopher Golden.  They also appear in the Wish-verse comic One Soul.

I have also used Vampire Willow and Tara in my adventure Through a Glass Darkly. I stated up Vampire Tara for both Cortex and Unisystem.  I always meant to do Vampire Willow, but never got around to it.  Well, in truth Vamp Willow for Unisystem appears in one of the books (forget which one, I remember writing the stats) and I don't play Cortex anymore.


Here they are for Leagues of Gothic Horror, though for a modern age game.

Vampire Willow
Vampire Willow
Willow Danielle Rosenberg
Female Vampire Witch

Patron 3
Archetype: Vampire
Motivation: Mayhem, Protect Tara

Style: 5
Health 11*

Primary Attributes
Body 5, Dexterity 6, Strength 5, Charisma 6, Intelligence 6, Willpower 5

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 11, Perception 11, Initiative 12, Defense 11, Stun 5*

Skills
Academics: Computers 7, Religion 3, Athletics 6, Brawl 6, Con 5, Diplomacy 4, Intimidation 7, Linguistics 5, Science 4, Survival 3

Talents
Attractive +3, Fearsome, Fearsome Attack, Magical Aptitude, Tough, Unarmed Parry (can block melee weapons), Well Educated

Resources
Contacts 2

Rituals
Empower, Fear, Greater Hex, Harm,

Flaw
Thirst for Blood (+1 Style point when her unholy appetite reveals its true nature), Lustful

Weapons
Bite 9L**, Punch 9N

Vampire Willow has less experience as a witch than her human counterpart.  This is not a problem as Willow prefers to use her vampire powers to scare and intimidate.



Vampire Tara
Vampire Tara
Tara Ann Maclay
Female Vampire Witch

Patron 2
Archetype: Vampire
Motivation: Stay with Willow

Style: 5
Health 11*

Primary Attributes
Body 6, Dexterity 5, Strength 5, Charisma 6, Intelligence 4, Willpower 6

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 10, Perception 10, Initiative 9, Defense 11, Stun 6*

Skills
Academics: Art 4, Religion 1, Animal Handling: Horses 4, Athletics 3, Brawl 5, Diplomacy 5, Empathy 4, Intimidation 7, Linguistics 4, Performance 3, Survival 3

Talents
Animal Affinity, Attractive +2, Danger Sense, Fearsome Attack, Magical Aptitude, Tough, Unarmed Parry (can block melee weapons),

Resources
Contacts 2

Rituals
Empower, Fear, Greater Hex, Harm, Lesser Hexr, Spirit Binding, Summon Animal

Flaw
Thirst for Blood (+1 Style point when her unholy appetite reveals its true nature), Danger Magnet

Weapons
Bite 9L**, Punch 9N

Tara was essentially the same witch she was in Season 4 prior to becoming a vampire.

* Vampires are immune to lethal and nonlethal damage except fire or holy objects.
** If Vampire Willow or Tara scores 3+ successes on her bite attack, she has latched onto her victim’s neck. Until she ceases feeding voluntarily or is forcibly removed (as per ending a grapple), the victim takes automatic damage equal to her Strength rating each round.

Decapitation/Piercing the Heart: This requires a Called Shot against a vital area. If the damage exceeds the Vampire’s Body rating, she is instantly killed, otherwise, the attack has no effect.

All in all good builds I think.
Make sure you check out the Kickstarter for Leagues of Gothic Horror Expansions.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Monstrous Mondays: Lady Midday

One of my favorite games is Leagues of Adventure along with the Leagues of Gothic Horror setting.   It is a Ubiquity power game and it gives me the same feeling I get from Cinematic Unisystem.  So I was quite pleased to see three more books are coming out for it;  Guides to Faeries, Hags, and Walking Dead.

I'll post more about this later in the week, but today I wanted to update a monster I have used in the past, but have not featured here before.  Since I am on a Basic-era kick, let's do stats for Basic D&D (esp. as presented by Blumeholme and B/X Essentials) and Ubiquity.

Poludnitsa, Lady Midday


The Poludnitsa or Poludnica, also known as Lady Miday, is a relative of the more common Hag races. She is a creature of faerie (like all hags).  Unlike the more common hags, Lady Midday is very beautiful, unearthly so, and is only encountered on midday on hot summer days (thus her name). She appears as a very tall, beautiful pale woman with long white hair wearing a long white dress. Though it is said her true form is that a sundried corpse.

She will often appear in the middle of fields of wheat, barley or rye carrying a large set of antique looking shears or a scythe.  She will stop to ask anyone working in the field a question. If they fail to answer to it or answer incorrectly she will cut off their heads with the shears.
She is also known to kidnap girls under the age of 12 to take them back to her lair where she teaches them witchcraft if she doesn't eat them first.
Those she doesn't kill she can curse with madness or the "Heat Sickness".  Those that are not treated will die.

Poludnitsa lives in vast underground complexes, filled with ovens and roaring fires. Her captured slaves fulfill her wishes, roasting sheep and baking bread for her, all day long. Poludnitsa exits her underground lair only during sunlight hours. She usually perches in the immediate vicinity of her lair, waiting for unwary travelers to pass.

She is not commonly encountered, but parents of children commonly warn about her. Any child that wanders off, especially into fields of rye, run the risk of being captured by Poludnitsa. Parents will often warn “Don’t go to the rye, Poludnitsa will eat you!” or “Poludnitsa will burn you up!”

It is unknown if she is a unique creature or if there are many such creatures, but very, very rare.

Poludnica’s Sheep
The sheep Poludnitsa keeps are anything but ordinary. Each is a Large sized monstrosity, with wool the color of fresh blood.

Poludnitsa Basic-era stats
AC: 5
HD: 6d8 + 12hp
Move: 30'
Attacks: 1 weapon + Heat Madness
Damage: 1d8* (beheading on a natural 20) + Special
Alignment: CE
Treasure: none
XP:  1,280
Abilities: Strength +1, Intelligence +1, Charisma +2

Poludnitsa can only appear during the hour before and the hour after midday.  During the Sumer Solstice though she can appear during all hours of daylight. 
She may only attack those that refuse her questions or answer them incorrectly.  Once that has happened she will attack with her shears or scythe.  They are treated as "vorpal" weapons in her hands (treated as normal weapons in anyone else's).

Once per day, usually at the height of noon or moment of greatest temperature, she can curse one humanoid creature with heat madness.  They must make a saving throw vs. Death or be strickened.  A successful save means the creature is dazed and cannot attack for two round.  If the save is failed then the victim suffers the full effect of the heat madness. They are treated as if they had a combination of Slow and Feeblemind spells cast on them. Failing the first save means they will need to make another Death save in one full day or die.  Failing the first save and making the second means the victim is bedridden for four (4) days, minus their Con adjustment.  A Bless, Heal or Remove Curse spell will remove the heat madness.

Poludnitsa is immune to all heat and fire based attacks. She takes double damage from any cold-based attack.

A witch or cleric can "turn" (but not destroy) Poludnitsa as a Vampire if they present a Moonstone.

Poludnitsa Ubiquity Stats
Patron 1
Archetype: Hag
Motivation: Survival
Style: 1
Primary Attributes:
Body 3, Dexterity 3, Strength 3, Charisma 2, Intelligence 2, Willpower 3

Secondary Attributes:
Size 0, Move 6, Perception 4 (8), Initiative 4, Defense 6, Stun 3, Health 8, Horror n/a (human form) or 4 (corpse visage form)

Skills: Athletics 5, Brawl 5 (Grapple 6), Intimidation 8, Stealth 5 (Hiding 6)
Talents: Fearsome 2 (Can temporarily frighten foes)
Resources: None
Powers: Madness, Immune to Fire and Heat based attacks.
Weaknesses: Cold vulnerability (She takes x2 damage from any cold-based attack.)
Flaws: Thirst for Flesh (+1 Style point when its unholy appetite reveals its true nature)
Weapons: Shears 7L


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Die As One, Together As Lovers: Carmilla and Laura for Ubiquity

It's going to be Carmilla week here at the Other Side!  Up next is Laura and Carmilla for the Ubiquity System.

The Ubiquity system is one of my favorite systems.  For me it is a grittier, pulpier system than Unisystem.  Leagues of AdventureLeagues of Gothic Horror and the new Leagues of Cthulhu are Ubiquity powered games from Triple Ace Games.  The Hollow Earth Expedition RPG is a Ubiquity powered adventure game from Exile Game Studios.  All these games are compatible and together give us a world full of adventure and horror. 

A world that one could easily find a surly vampire and a tiny gay journalist.  The Ubiquity system compares well to the Unisystem game system.  So if the Buffy RPG versions work well enough, then these should work well too.



I am going with end of Season 1, start of Season 2 versions here.

Laura Hollis
Archetype: Reporter
Motivation: Duty

Style: 3
Health 5

Primary Attributes
Body 2, Dexterity 2, Strength 2, Charisma 4, Intelligence 4, Willpower 3

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 4, Perception 8, Initiative 6, Defense 4, Stun 2

Skills
Academics: Journalism 5, Art: Writing 5, Brawl: Krav Maga 4, Con: Bluff 5, Craft 5, Diplomacy 6, Investigation: Research 6,

Talents
Attractive +2, Head Strong, Inspire

Resources
Ally 3

Flaw
Code of Conduct, Honest, Loyal

Weapon
Punch 0N

For Laura, she is slightly better than an archetype or starting character, but I think this works out fine.

Carmilla
Patron 4
Archetype: Vampire
Motivation: Vengange (sister)

Style: 5
 Health 11*

Primary Attributes
Body 5, Dexterity 6, Strength 5, Charisma 6, Intelligence 4, Willpower 6

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 11, Perception 10, Initiative 10, Defense 11, Stun 5*

Skills
Academics: History 7, Religion 5, Athletics 7, Brawl 6, Con 8, Diplomacy 6, Empathy 4, Intimidation 8, Linguistics 6, Performance 6, Stealth 7

Talents
Attractive +3, Fearsome Attack, Iron Jaw (+1 Stun)*, Unarmed Parry (can block melee weapons), Well Educated

Resources
Refuge: Size 1 (smaller apartments across Eastern Europe, but owned by her mother), Status 1 (Former foreign noblewoman; +2 Social bonus)

Flaw
Thirst for Blood (+1 Style point when her unholy appetite reveals its true nature, she prefers young women)

Weapons
Bite 9L**, Punch 9N

* Carmilla is immune to lethal and nonlethal damage except fire or holy objects.
** If Carmilla scores 3+ successes on her bite attack, she has latched onto her victim’s neck. Until she ceases feeding voluntarily or is forcibly removed (as per ending a grapple), the victim takes automatic damage equal to her Strength rating each round.

Decapitation/Piercing the Heart: This requires a Called Shot against a vital area. If the damage exceeds Carmilla’s Body rating, she is instantly killed, otherwise, the attack has no effect.

Shape Change, Lesser: Carmilla can transform into a large cat. This requires two complete rounds and a Willpower roll. While in animal form, she retains her own statistics but cannot speak, use tools, or use any of her other abilities. Reversion to her true form is a reflexive action.

Using Carmilla and Laura in your Games

Depending on when you grab them Carmilla and Larua could either be a fun addition to your games, or potentially a fun plot point.

One thing that would REALLY be fun happens at the end of Season 3 but before the movie:
[Spoilers]Carmilla is a human again after battling the Goddess Innana. That will certainly bring some interest to monster hunters around the world.[/Spoilers].  I am sure that would be a lot of fun.  Plus Laura's role as journalist is an excuse to find trouble.

Just four more days till the movie!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Reviews: Leagues of Gothic Horror Guides (and a Kickstarter)

Yesterday I went on (and on) about my love for the Triple Ace Games' Ubiquity-powered Leagues of Gothic Horror.   Today I want to focus on a few of the supplements from the Kickstarter.

In all cases, I am reviewing the dead tree and PDF versions of the books. I purchased these via the Kickstarter they had a while back.   All links are affiliate links. No review was solicited or expected outside of me emailing the author to say "hey,  I am reviewing your books" a couple of days ago.


Leagues of Adventure - Globetrotters' Guide to London
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 78 pages.
A great sourcebook for the Leagues of Adventure game this covers the City (and County) of London in the 1890s.  The bulk of the book is devoted to a "tour" around London pointing out places of interest.  There are also sections on the police force, entertainment, and transportation.  The book is largely fluff free (ie not much in the way of games stats) so it immediately has utility for a wide variety of games. Even the adventure hooks for London are game-stats free. Most of the game-related material comes in the form of detailing various NPCs and archetypes, but there is enough flavor test to still make them usable in other games too.
This is a well-researched guide and extremely useful.  If you are playing a London-based Leagues of Adventure, Leagues of Gothic Horror or Leagues of Cthulhu game then I say pick this up.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Black Magic
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers Black Magic and "Wickedness".  This book is fairly setting specific, so it has more game stats than some of the other guides.  I still found it to be a fantastic read and can't wait to try some of this out in my next Ubquity game.  The book covers a brief history of "black magic" practices around the world.  Later (Chapter 2) we move into why someone might take up this sort of power.  Fiendish lairs are also discussed since in the tried and true traditions of both Gothic and Pulp fiction every bad guy needs a lair.
The next three chapters I found the most interesting, they are respectively, Power, Demons and Evil NPCs.  So much great stuff here that I really could spend dozens of sessions working through all the ideas this has given me.  In particular, I have a Ghosts of Albion adventure that would work so much better with some of the ideas here. I am going to have to re-run now under Ubiquity to see.
For a small book it packs a lot of punch.

Leagues of Gothic Horror: Guide to Apparitions
(currently on sale at DriveThru RPG)
Softcover book. Full-color cover, black & white interior art. 64 pages.
Set up in a similar fashion to all of TAG's "Guide to" books, this covers ghosts and the damned.  Again, this is fairly setting specific but a lot of the material here is drawn from myths and legends from around the world, so first of there should be something in this book that everyone recognizes. Secondly there is plenty in this book that everyone can use.
The first third of the book covers why ghosts happen and their nature. This is followed by the means of disposing of these pests and some of the powers that they have.  The last third (more like half) covers new monsters and some very specific ghosts.  Frankly it is worth the cover price for the ghost of Lady Macbeth alone.
I once said in a game at Gen Con that are more ghosts in London than living people.  This book helps prove my point rather nicely.
Another really solid buy.



Also don't forget about TAG's newest Kickstarter, Leagues of Cthulhu.  Yeah the name is awkward, but it does tell you exactly what this is about.  My youngest son, who is turning into quite a Lovecraft fan, really wants this game.
You add on any other "Leagues of..." book you like.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Review: Leagues of Gothic Horror

A while back I spent some quality time with the Ubiquity system reviewing a number of games including Leagues of Adventure one of my favorites.

Today I want to have a look at Leagues of Gothic Horror, the gothic horror (naturally) supplement to Leagues of Adventure.

Leagues of Gothic Horror (LoGH) is not an independent game but rather a "thick" campaign supplement with a lot of rule additions.  In it is designed to be used with Leagues of Adventure, but it could also be used with any Ubiquity game with a little work.  Actually with a little more work it could be used with any Victorian era game.   It is light on crunch really and full of flavor.

I am reviewing my hardcover and PDF from my Kickstarter backing.  The book is 158 pages, color covers with black and white interiors.  Again for my money black and white interiors are the way to go for both Victorian and Horror.

I am just going to come right out and say this.  This book is damn near perfect.
This really has everything I enjoy in one volume. Gothic horror, the Victorian era, black magic, science, horror, it's all here.

Chapter 1 covers new Archetypes for the LoA game.  These include some of my favorites of gothic and Victorian lore such as the mystic, the mentalist and an old favorite, the alienist.   There is even a subsection on how to play Ghost characters!  If I didn't love this book so much I might feel threatened that it was encroaching on Ghosts of Albion's territory!
There are also new talents, skills, and flaws for your character.  These are of course designed with LoA in mind so no idea how they might overlap with say, Hollow Earth (HEX) or other Ubiquity games. There are also new Leagues.  These are usable in any game.  In particular, I was thinking of Victorious the whole time.
Chapter 2 details horror and sanity mechanics.  Again this is expected. The sanity system is mostly relegated to phobias.  This is fine for me since this game deals more with heroic actions of daring-do.
This chapter also deals with more magic including black magic, pagan magic, ceremonial magic and ritual magic.  There is a great sidebar here on various Solar and Lunar eclipses during the late Victorian era.  Really handy to have.
The large section of magical texts, their translations and uses is also really great. Not just to use, but to read.  Many are based on real-world books too.  Along with that are new magics and magical/occult artifacts.
Chapter 3 is another great addition with new monsters. All the usual suspects are here; vampires, golems, werewolves, demons, even evil witches and a couple of different types of necromancers.  We get a section on major villains too, Dracula, Count Orlock, Brain in a Jar, Lord Ruthven, Varney the Vampire, even Rasputin.  Pretty much any Gothic-age or Victorian-age bad guy is here. Like the leagues presented in Chapter 1 there are some new sinister cults.
Chapter 4 takes us on tour to the Dark Places of the world. Great addition to LoA.  Reminds me a bit of the old AD&D Gazetteer to Gothic Earth.  Specific locales are given and more generic ones for use anywhere in the world.
Chapter 5 covers advice for the gamemaster and Chapter 6 has ideas for running games using this book. There is a great "Gothic History" timeline and list of "Who's Who" in the real world.  The last page has a nice list of references of Gothic literature, audio, movies and television.  I'll admit I had fun trying to guess the references from the material in the book.  I did pretty well if I say so myself.

I have already gushed over this book, doing so more will only make me look foolish, but I can't help it.  It is that much fun.  I call it a "must have" if you are playing Leagues of Adventure.

If you are playing other Victorian era games and want to add more Gothicness (as opposed to "Gothiness") then please consider this book.

This is going to be a lot of fun when Leagues of Cthulhu is released.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Leagues of Gothic Horror: Shapeshifters & Vampires

Triple Ace is back with more books in their Leagues of Gothic Horror line.  This time featuring Shapeshifters & Vampires.



I rather enjoy the Ubiquity System. It scratches that itch for me that I think others get from Savage Worlds. Leagues of Adventure and Leagues of Gothic Horror also sit in that sweet spot between Victorian adventure, Steam-punk, near-Pulp action and Gothic horror.   Plus I like the rule system. It's like a mix of Savage Worlds and Unisystem in some respects.

I could really get into this game.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

League of Extraordinary Ladies: The Huntress

Have not done one of these in a while.  So to celebrate the Kickstarter for Leagues of Gothic Horror: Shapeshifters & Vampires, here is a hunter...or rather a Huntress!
Plus I was reading through some of my Ubiquity books this morning and thought it would be nice to do this again.

The Huntress
Health: 8
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 4
Dexterity 5
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intelligence 5
Willpower 4

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 8
Perception: 9
Initiative: 10
Defense: 9
Stun: 4

Skills (levels only)
Archery 6
Athletics 7
Drive 2
Firearms 6 (hand-held crossbow)
Investigation 6
Larceny 6
Linguistics 4 (English, Italian, French, Spanish)
Medicine 3
Melee 6
Performance 1
Ride 2
Stealth 7
Streetwise 7

Talents
Attractive
Danger Sense
Headstrong
Well Connected

Resources
Ally 3 (the Bat-Man)
Contacts (the Justice League) 3
Contacts (Criminal) 5
Wealth 5

Flaws
Obsession (prevent crime, hunt criminals)

This is Helena Bertinelli, not Wayne.  I have nothing against that version of the character, this is just Miss Bertinelli.  I set her Larceny, Streetwise, Contacts and Wealth accordingly.

Again with these I am not sweating the points. I want them to feel like their comic book counterparts.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Raven

It's draft clean up week!  I have a bunch of drafts and half started posts.  So time to get them out of my queue.

I have posted some of these pics last month, but I have a few left over.
If you can, please stop by Michael Dooney's Deviant Art page for more.
http://michaeldooney.deviantart.com/gallery/33431300

Perfect for Mysteries of the Hollow Earth or Leagues of Adventure.

Raven

The young woman known as Raven is bit of mystery to other members of the League.  Lady Zatanna does not trust her.  Her command of magic is not as great as Zatanna's, but what she does know she commands with brutal efficiency.

Raven guards her secrets well.  While she does wish to aid in the fight against evil she has more at stake than the others.  For she is the daughter of the Devil himself.

Health 9
Style 5

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 4
Strength 2
Charisma 4
Intelligence 4
Willpower 6

Secondary Attributes
Size 0
Move 7
Perception 10
Initiative 8
Defense 7
Stun 4

Skills (levels only)
Academics, Religion 3
Animal Handling 2
Archery 1
Athletics 2
Con 2
Drive 2
Firearms 1
Investigation 5
Larceny 2
Linguistics 6 (English, Italian, Latin, Greek, Egyptian, Enochian)
Medicine 2
Melee 2
Performance 6
Ride 2
Stealth 4
Streetwise 4
Sorcery (half-demon) 9 

Talents
Attractive
Danger Sense
Headstrong
Magical Aptitude (half-demon)
Psychic Ability (ESP, precognition, TK/Umbrakinesis)
Well Connected

Resources
Ally 3 (Teen titans)
Contacts (the Justice League) 2
Contacts (Supernatural) 3

Flaws
Mental (emotionally flat)
Obsession (protect the world from her father)
Weirdness Magnet

Monday, August 3, 2015

Gen Con Haul

The BEST thing about taking my wife and kids with me to Gen Con other than having their company and dedicated gaming time is that I pretty much get to buy what I want under the guise of "it's for the family gaming nights!"  Well. It also happens to be true.

So here is this year's haul.



This is a cheat since I had already backed the Kickstarter.  But I got my book, dice and Martian princess figure.


Got these half-off because a Beyond the Supernatural game I was in was cancled.


My BIG buys.  Notice a theme?  Occult Adventures looks fun. Victoriana 3rd Edition is one I have been wanting for a while.  But the big win?  CHILL 3.0!!  OMG people this is such a cool book.



Mayfair D&D.  All of this for about 10 bucks.


Still loving Castles & Crusades.


AND an autographed print from Jacob Blackmon of my iconic witch Larina for "Strange Brew".

And last, but not least...although I didn't buy it at Gen Con, it came in the mail today.

My "Death Wand" from Magical Miscellany.  The newest endeavour by my friend Kim Pauley.
http://www.kimberlypauley.com/etsy-creations/




It is a real work of art!  I am going to need to stat this up!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Red Sonja

Another great character that made the conversion to a great Steampunk title is Red Sonja.   Dynamite's latest Red Sonja comic, Legenderry Red Sonja takes the She-Devil With a Sword and transports her to Victorian times.
I am not caught up, but so far it is a fun read.

Red Sonja
Archetype: Warrior
Motivation:

Health: 6
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 5
Strength 3
Charisma 2
Intelligence 3
Willpower 3

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 8
Perception: 6
Initiative: 8
Defense: 8
Stun: 3

Skills (levels only)
Athletics 6
Brawl 6
Firearms 2
Intimidation 2
Investigation 5
Medicine 3
Melee 7
- Sword 8
Ride 5
Stealth 4
Survival 5

Talents
Alertness
Attractive
Danger Sense
Keen Senses

Resources
Contacts (the Justice League) 3

Flaws
Obsession (to defeat any man in battle)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Wonder Woman Wednesday

It's Wednesday so that means Wonder Woman!
I have to admit when I first read Mysteries of the Hollow Earth I wanted to try out an Amazonian character.  Specifically a Themysciran style Amazon.

Wonder Woman here is going to be ridiculously powerful.  Maybe even to the point of breaking the system, but she is worth it. I am largely basing this on the Amazonia version of Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman

Archetype: Warrior
Motivation: Justice

Health: 20
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 12
Dexterity 10
Strength 12
Charisma 8
Intelligence 6
Willpower 8

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 22
Perception: 14
Initiative:  16
Defense: 22
Stun: 12

Skills (levels only)
Archery 15
Athletics 10
Brawl 12
Investigation 5
Medicine 4
Melee 12
 - Sword
 - Lasso
Stealth 7
Streetwise 4
Survival 4
Warfare 6

Talents
Agile
Attractive
Danger Sense
Keen Senses
Strong

Resources
Contacts (the Justice League) 5

Flaws
Obsession (justice)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Hawkgirl

One of the great thing about Mysteries of the Hollow Earth are the Hawkmen of the Hollow Earth. Hawkmen have a nice long history in Sci-Fi. From the Hawkmen in Flash Gordon to the Thanigarians of DC Comics.

Shiera Saunders was a student of archeology when she discovered her true calling.  While investigating a tomb in Egypt she discovered the tomb of Egyptian Princess Chay-Ara.  Shiera learned that she was the reincarnation of Chay-Ara and she needed to find the reincarnation of her soul-mate Khufu, now taking the form of Carter Hall.  Shiera now looks for her lost love and helps others as the flying Hawkgirl.

Hawkgirl

Health: 5
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 5
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intelligence 3
Willpower 2

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 8
Perception: 5*
Initiative: 8
Defense: 8
Stun: 3

Skills (levels only)
Academics, Archeology 5
Archery 5
Athletics 6
Brawl 6
Investigation 5
Medicine 3
Melee 7
- Mace
Stealth 7
Streetwise 6

Talents
Attractive
Danger Sense
Keen Senses

Resources
Contacts (the Justice League) 3

Flaws
Obsession (find her soul mate)

Monday, July 27, 2015

League of Extraordinary Ladies: Cat Women

Some more Ubiquity stats today.  Keeping in line with my posts for Batgirl and Zatanna, these women represent a league in 1887 for use with for Leagues of Adventure or Space: 1889.

All are based on Michael Dooney's 1887 art.  His Deviant Art page is at:
http://michaeldooney.deviantart.com/gallery/33431300

Black Cat
Felicia Hardy is a notorious burglar known for her flamboyant costume and her penchant for jewels has made her well known to police.  Due to the number of accidents that seem fall on any who pursue her she has been given the nickname "Black Cat".
Despite all her heart is usually in the right place.

Motivation: Escape/Revenge
Health: 7
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 3
Dexterity 6
Strength 3
Charisma 3
Intelligence 4
Willpower 4

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 9
Perception*: 8
Initiative: 10
Defense: 9
Stun: 3

*Due some magical trinkets she can see as well in the dark as a cat.

Skills (levels only)
Academics, Criminology 2
Archery 2
Athletics 7
Brawl 4
Con 5
Drive 2
Firearms 6
Investigation 4
Larceny 8
Linguistics 3 (English, Latin, French)
Medicine 2
Melee 6
Performance 5
Ride 2
Spying 4
Stealth 7
Streetwise 6

Talents
Agile
Attractive
Blind Fight
Danger Sense
Headstrong
Keen Sense
Lucky

Resources
Ally 3 (The Spider-man)
Contacts (Criminal) 5

Flaws
Obsession (protect Spider-man)



Catwoman (Selina Kyle)
Selina Kyle comes from the opposite end of the social spectrum than her rival Black Cat.  Selina has clawed her way to the top of social circles despite of her humble beginnings.   Selina has amassed a collection of the who's who of nobility and well to do.  All the better for the Catwoman to relieve them of their priceless treasures.

Motivation: Greed/Duty
Health: 8
Style: 2

Primary Attributes
Body 4
Dexterity 6
Strength 3
Charisma 4
Intelligence 4
Willpower 4

Secondary Attributes
Size: 0
Move: 9
Perception: 8
Initiative: 10
Defense: 10
Stun: 4

Skills (levels only)
Archery 2
Animal Handling 6 (specifically cats of all types)
Athletics 8
Brawl 6
Con 5
Connoisseur (Jewelry) 5
Drive 2
Firearms 4
Intimidation 3
Investigation 2
Larceny 8
Linguistics 2 (English, French)
Medicine 3
Melee 6
- whip 7
Performance 5
Ride 2
Spying 3
Stealth 7
Streetwise 7

Talents
Agile
Animal Affinity
Attractive
Bold Attack
Headstrong
Quick Reflexes
Well Connected

Resources
Ally 3 (The Bat-man)
Contacts (Criminal) 5

Flaws
Obsession (steal cat-themed items of great value)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Kickstart Your Weekend: Round-up Edition

Nothing special to share with you today, just some repeats that I really enjoy and a couple of new ones with familiar names.  Getting ready for Gen Con.

Reaper Miniatures Bones 3: The Search for Mr. Bones!
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1513061270/reaper-miniatures-bones-3-the-search-for-mr-bones
Man I wish I could paint minis.  But I am really, really terrible at it.  I can't see the detail and my hand shakes too much thanks to all the caffeine I drink.  Still this looks awesome.

Leagues of Gothic Horror
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1588759266/leagues-of-gothic-horror
I mentioned this one before, but it looks really, really fun.   I am really looking forward to it.

Castles & Crusades Mythos
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-mythos
Not one, but three new book from Brian N. Young who brought us the Codex Celtarum and the Codex Nordica.   This time we have books for German, Slavic and Classical Greek myths.  Sure to be excellent.

Star Trek: Axanar
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/star-trek-axanar#/story
I LOVE Star Trek and this to me is "real" Star Trek.  It just looks so good. There is so much love, care and attention put into this I can't wait to see it.   Plus pledging for the blu-ray is still cheaper than a night out at the movies with the kids.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Ubiquity Month: A Tale of Multiple Mars'

One of the reasons I was so keen on doing an in depth review of the Ubiquity system was to look at both Revelations of Mars and Space: 1889 in depth.  In particular I wanted to look at both versions of their Mars.

Both have some very fun and very interesting ideas for their Mars.  I think if I were to merge these into one game, say my "1901: An Æther Space Odyssey" game, I would have to make some choices.

For starters I might jettison BOTH sets of Martians in favor of something more Barsoomian.  Why?  Well a couple of reasons.  I really enjoyed the John Carter novels and liked the Martians in those books.  The Revelations of Mars book is the closest to that. Don't me wrong, I like the Space 1889 stuff too, but even back in the GDW days it didn't grab me.  Now the Space 1889 Venus, that is something I can get behind.

As interesting as I find the Space: 1889 Martians, the Revelations of Mars Martians seem to fit the idea of "Barsoom" better.

Martian Princesses

Also the other reason is that I have ALWAYS wanted to play a pure Sword and Planet game on Barsoom using either OD&D or Spellcraft & Swordplay.  It would be nice to fully develop one Mars than to do two half-developed ones.  I have toyed with the idea of playing one using Castles & Crusades too, mixing in bits of Amazing Adventures, but I think I owe it to myself to play it under OD&D.

I would also love to figure out a way to get "War of the Worlds" mixed up in this.  The Martians of that book are very, very different than any of the above.   I could take a page from Mars: The Home Front on how to mix them.  Though I like the idea of the Therns using the Sarmaks (the creatures from H.G. Wells Mars) as advance troops for the conquest of Jasoom (Earth).
I also like the idea that the dwarf planet Ceres is somehow involved.

In some ways I like Space: 1889's solar system better and RoM's Mars better. I have not gone over the histories of both with a fine tooth comb, but I can say that mechanically they will work with each other rather nicely. There is more to the solar system than just Venus, Earth and Mars.

I think I would also want to have a Moon more similar to H.G. Well's moon than to  Edgar Rice Burroughs' Hollow Moon from the Moon Maid.  Though it would be the natural choice given the parallels to ERB's other works (Pellucidar and Barsoom).  Heck, I could almost lift Space:1889 Martians off the planet and replant them on Venus/Amtor.  That would work for me.

I have not given much thought to the other planets yet.  The four large Jovian moons are a good place to start, as is Titan.  I think I am contractually obligated to use Pluto and make it into Yuggoth.

It's nice to have so many options really.