Showing posts with label West Haven. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West Haven. Show all posts

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! X is for Expert.

X is for Expert.

This is not some attempt to grift the Challenge.  The Expert Set adventures were given the code X.
Of course, the most famous of these is X1, The Isle of Dread.

I got this adventure along with my Expert set back in the early 80s.  It is an obvious King Kong homage, but it is a great one.  It is another one of those adventures that people keep coming back to time and time again.
Maybe second only to B2 and B1 in terms of numbers of players, but The Isle of Dread is 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.  It was included in the original Expert set and it still had expanded maps and more creatures.  I never understood why the creatures where not just in the main book, but it did make the module special.
What was so nice about X1 over B2 is you had the feel it was more integrated into the Expert rules; it felt like a logical extension.

This is also the first published adventure I ever ran for my son.  Up to this point I had ran ones I had made up for him.  He was young (6 or 7) and adventures like "Cave of the Stinky Goblin" or "Trouble in West Haven" were more appropriate for him.  But X1 had the great big dinosaur on it and he loved dinosaurs.

We had a blast. To me, 20 some odd years later, it felt like a very different adventure.  There is a lot of untapped potential here. Enough for several adventures really.
Later on I bought my son his own copy to run sometime.  It was also the first time that my kids began to recognize Tom Moldvay's name on the covers of adventures.

X2: Castle Amber
Another one of my "holy grail" items. I managed to score a copy when I moved to Chicago.
There is so much to love about this adventure, but I have detailed it all before in these pages.
Again, this is another Tom Moldvay adventure and we all loved it.

The other X modules came out a bit later and were more tied to the newer Frank Mentzer-edited Expert Set, as opposed to the Cook-Marsh-edited set I had owned. (I guess these modules should have really been called "E" for expert then). Of these I only later owned Quagmire.  I got it cheap at a used book store in Carbondale, IL.  I completely gutted the module and only kept the tower and swamp.

X3 Curse of Xanathon
X4 Master of the Desert Nomads
X5 Temple of Death
X6 Quagmire!
X7 The War Rafts of Kron
X8: Drums on Fire Mountain
X9: The Savage Coast
X10 Red Arrow, Black Shield
X11 Saga of the Shadow Lord
X12 Skarda's Mirror

In particular, I would like to get print copies of X4 and X5 for my Second Campaign game.  Saga of the Shadow Lord also sounds like a lot of fun!

This is my problem...too many great games/adventures and so little time.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Déjà vu blogfest: Class Struggles & PWWO: The Blood Witch

Here is my post the Déjà vu blogfest for 2015.

http://www.dlhammons.com/2015/12/the-deja-vu-blogfest-2015.html


I am picking something, not from early this year, but this summer.  I am choosing Class Struggles & PWWO: The Blood Witch.  I liked this post because it was one of the first of the Class Struggles post I made which has become one of my favorite features of late and I have always loved Plays Well With Others.

Hope you all enjoy this repeat!
--
Class Struggles & PWWO: The Blood Witch

Yesterday I reviewed the newest book from +Johua De Santo New Class Options.  One of the classes in the book, the Blood Witch, struck me as familiar.  I remembered I had seen an earlier version of it in Dungeon Crawl #3.  Today I want to go into a bit more detail about this class.

Class Struggles

The class is an old archetype of a blood mage or a blood witch going all the way back to ... well forever really.  Right up into the Enlightenment people believed that there were magical properties to blood.   This is why "witches" signed contracts with the devil in their own blood.

There have been other blood witches in the past. Notablly the Blood Witch Prestige class from Relics & Rituals and from Mongoose's Ultimate Prestige Classes vol. 1. Both books have the same class.  Blood Witches used whatever spells they gained from their previous spell casting class.

The Blood Witch in New Class Options is a bit similar. It uses magic-user spells.  This is perfectly fine really, but some new spells would add some more flavor.

I was looking forward to this class the most and I still think it works well, but I have some issues with it.  Let's start at the top.

The Blood Witch uses Constitution as her main stat.  Very, very appropriate.
She needs a Con of 13 or higher. Again appropriate.  Constitution scores above 16 also grant an additional +1 to hit points.  Nice. She is going to need that.

Then we get to the next bit, quoting from the text.
Shattered Soul: Every day the Blood Witch has a 60% chance of losing herself in the song of magic. If this occurs the Witch  will be able to cast 1 level above her level, however, she cannot know what is real or delusion.
Ok. A neat bit a of flavor.  But 60% every day? That seems a bit high and then she can cast as a level higher?  Well sometimes that helps.  But who makes this roll the GM or the player?  Personally I would have it at 25% myself.  Or tie it to the phases of the moon or time of day.   THEN also a 25% where she can cast as a level lower.  I GET what is trying to be done here, but I would need to play it over a few sessions to see.

Here is the part I am not crazy about.  The Blood Witch needs to roll against her Constitution in order to cast spells.  So the high her Con score, the less of chance she has of success.  Again, from the text.
The first is that the Blood Witch must roll her constitution score + the spell level or higher in order to cast her spells. If the Blood Witch fails her spell roll the spell is swept away in the song of the magic and will not return to her for a day. The second is that for every spell cast the Blood Witch must sacrifice 1 + spell level of her health in order for the spell to be effective. If the Blood Witch refuses to make the sacrifice the spell and 1d4 other spells will be swept away in the song of magic for a two day period.
Ok. So mechanically I get what Johua is trying to do here. I also spoke with him. It is to limit the amount of spells a witch can use. Since a witch can use theoretically ANY spell once she gets to the right level.   In some ways her spell casting is more similar to the witch in +Jonathan Becker's The Complete B/X Adventurer than it is to anything else.
So a witch with a 16 Constitution could only cast spells up to 4th level, unless of course a 20 allways means a success.

I think what might work better here is limit the number of spells known.  The blood witch might be able to cast this she completely out of blood (not advised) but maybe she only knows X per level.  Like the 3rd Edition Sorcerer.  This would impose a limiting factor.
Then give her a bonus to her roll equal to her level.

So our Blood Witch with 16 Con and 5th level would need a 15 or better to cast a 4th level spell (16 + 4 -5 =15).   That seems to work well.

The experience levels for Blood Witch seem a bit high, granted this class has the potential for a lot of power.  I'd still like to play one sometime just to be sure.

Somethings you see in the the myths and stories of blood magic is sacrifice (which is covered here as personal sacrifice) and proxies.  So could this blood witch use an animal sacrifice for some spells?  I think where appropriate yes.  Proxies could be things like the animal but also proxies for blood itself, like purified water (possibly for healing spells if you use one of the witch spell lists) or even wine (blood of the vine).  Personally I would allow such proxies for some of the more benign or even mundane spells.

The Blood Witch is any interesting type of character and something that could add a air of different to a game. A Blood Witch doesn't have to be an evil character, but it not likely she is going to be trusted by a party and certainly looked down on by other casters especially proper wizards.

Plays Well With Others

The best thing about the Blood Witch is that fits a great niche in any gaming group or campaign. It also works with a number of great OSR books.  Obviously the blood witch will work mechanically with 99% of all the OSR and old-school books out there, the real question is will it work thematically.  For example, the blood witch would work fantastic with Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but thematically it might be a bit redundant since all magic-users are assumed to have some sort of dark(-ish) pact.

I already mentioned The Complete B/X Adventurer. The witch class as presented in that book works as a great base for the Blood Witch.  Combine the two classes into one works rather nicely.  The B/X Witch has spells up to 10th level which is nice, but the New Class Options Witch only goes to 7.

I mentioned that the Blood Witch is really missing some really cool spells. The Vivimancer from +Gavin Norman's Theorems & Thaumaturgy and Complete Vivimancer offer some really nice choices.   I created  a few for both my witch and the vivimancer here.  In particular I would suggest Blood Augury, Feel My Pain, Share My Pain, Stay Death's Hand, and of course Hell Hath No Fury because every witch needs that spell.

A while back I made some suggestions about witch spells for the vivimancer and vivimancer spells for the with.  The nice thing is the blood witch is perfect cross section of both classes and can use all these spells.

The blood witch also works great with +Jeff Talanian's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  The style and type of magic used by the blood witch would be very much in tune with AS&SH.  Sacrificing blood for magical effects...yeah very much in tune.  There are also plenty of great witch spells in that book as well.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my own book, The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games.  I am going to have to play a Blood Witch sometime, but I also think I want to try her out as Blood Witch "Tradition" using my own rules and see how well they work together.  Maybe twins...same level but one is a DeSanto Blood Witch while the other is a Brannan one.  Interesting idea really.

If you are in the mind to some conversions, there is a great set of blood magic rules and spells in +Owen Stephensmagnum opus Deep Magic for Pathfinder.  The blood magic system in that book could work nicely for a blood witch as well as a blood mage.

Again this passes the most basic test for a class for me.  Can I think of a character for it and would I play it.

Kimbra & Kelleigh

Kimbra and Kelleigh are twin sisters with magic deep in their blood.  They often have said to each other that it is because they have shared blood that their ties to each other and magic was so strong.
Though in their darker moments they felt their connection to magic and to blood came from the moment they were born. Kelleigh was first.  Right after her birth their mother died. Kimbra was born when the midwife noticed that there was still something in the lifeless body.  To this day Kelleigh has had a great connection to blood and Kimbra to death.  Kelleigh acts as the older sister.  The sisters only trust each other.

Luis-Salas
These are two characters I have had for a while now.  They began as modern characters for a WitchCraft RPG game and then morphed in a life-span development project I never quite finished.
Yes, the names are based on Kim and Kelley Deal. But also an homage to Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong, two of my favorite authors in the modern supernatural genre.

Kelleigh 
5th level Blood Witch, Female
Neutral

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hit Points:  24
AC: 9
Saves: 12,  +2 vs. Magic
To Hit: +1  / THAC0: 19

Spells:
Kimbra can cast the follow spell levels.  Will choose spells based on the official list.
First: all
Second: 4
Third: 6
Fourth: 3
Fifth: 6
Sixth*: 1


Kimbra
5th level Witch, Blood Witch Tradition, Female
Neutral

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hit Points:  16
AC: 7

Occult Powers
Familiar: Blood Spirit of her dead mother (treat as a ghost, neutrally aligned)

Spells 
Cantrips: (5) Analyze Fertility, Detect Poison, Inflict Minor Wounds, Object Reading, Warm
First: (2+2) Bad Luck, Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Tattoo
Second: (2+2) Agony, ESP, Fever, Hold Person
Third: (1+1)  Bestow Curse, Lifeblood

I like these two. I like that they are twins and really mostly the same but have classes that are different takes on the same thing.

I would not make these two part of the Witches' Nest.  I feel their back story is too tragic and their personalities are not one to take advantage of others.   Though they will have a place in my new WIP "West Haven", mentioned briefly here.

When I try this class out more I will let you all know.

--

ADDENDUM.  I have tried it out more and really enjoy it. I am pleased with how this witch works and I still really love Kimbra and Kelleigh. I really want to do more with these characters.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Class Struggles & PWWO: The Blood Witch

Yesterday I reviewed the newest book from +Johua De Santo New Class Options.  One of the classes in the book, the Blood Witch, struck me as familiar.  I remembered I had seen an earlier version of it in Dungeon Crawl #3.  Today I want to go into a bit more detail about this class.

Class Struggles

The class is an old archetype of a blood mage or a blood witch going all the way back to ... well forever really.  Right up into the Enlightenment people believed that there were magical properties to blood.   This is why "witches" signed contracts with the devil in their own blood.

There have been other blood witches in the past. Notablly the Blood Witch Prestige class from Relics & Rituals and from Mongoose's Ultimate Prestige Classes vol. 1. Both books have the same class.  Blood Witches used whatever spells they gained from their previous spell casting class.

The Blood Witch in New Class Options is a bit similar. It uses magic-user spells.  This is perfectly fine really, but some new spells would add some more flavor.

I was looking forward to this class the most and I still think it works well, but I have some issues with it.  Let's start at the top.

The Blood Witch uses Constitution as her main stat.  Very, very appropriate.
She needs a Con of 13 or higher. Again appropriate.  Constitution scores above 16 also grant an additional +1 to hit points.  Nice. She is going to need that.

Then we get to the next bit, quoting from the text.
Shattered Soul: Every day the Blood Witch has a 60% chance of losing herself in the song of magic. If this occurs the Witch  will be able to cast 1 level above her level, however, she cannot know what is real or delusion.
Ok. A neat bit a of flavor.  But 60% every day? That seems a bit high and then she can cast as a level higher?  Well sometimes that helps.  But who makes this roll the GM or the player?  Personally I would have it at 25% myself.  Or tie it to the phases of the moon or time of day.   THEN also a 25% where she can cast as a level lower.  I GET what is trying to be done here, but I would need to play it over a few sessions to see.

Here is the part I am not crazy about.  The Blood Witch needs to roll against her Constitution in order to cast spells.  So the high her Con score, the less of chance she has of success.  Again, from the text.
The first is that the Blood Witch must roll her constitution score + the spell level or higher in order to cast her spells. If the Blood Witch fails her spell roll the spell is swept away in the song of the magic and will not return to her for a day. The second is that for every spell cast the Blood Witch must sacrifice 1 + spell level of her health in order for the spell to be effective. If the Blood Witch refuses to make the sacrifice the spell and 1d4 other spells will be swept away in the song of magic for a two day period.
Ok. So mechanically I get what Johua is trying to do here. I also spoke with him. It is to limit the amount of spells a witch can use. Since a witch can use theoretically ANY spell once she gets to the right level.   In some ways her spell casting is more similar to the witch in +Jonathan Becker's The Complete B/X Adventurer than it is to anything else.
So a witch with a 16 Constitution could only cast spells up to 4th level, unless of course a 20 allways means a success.

I think what might work better here is limit the number of spells known.  The blood witch might be able to cast this she completely out of blood (not advised) but maybe she only knows X per level.  Like the 3rd Edition Sorcerer.  This would impose a limiting factor.
Then give her a bonus to her roll equal to her level.

So our Blood Witch with 16 Con and 5th level would need a 15 or better to cast a 4th level spell (16 + 4 -5 =15).   That seems to work well.

The experience levels for Blood Witch seem a bit high, granted this class has the potential for a lot of power.  I'd still like to play one sometime just to be sure.

Somethings you see in the the myths and stories of blood magic is sacrifice (which is covered here as personal sacrifice) and proxies.  So could this blood witch use an animal sacrifice for some spells?  I think where appropriate yes.  Proxies could be things like the animal but also proxies for blood itself, like purified water (possibly for healing spells if you use one of the witch spell lists) or even wine (blood of the vine).  Personally I would allow such proxies for some of the more benign or even mundane spells.

The Blood Witch is any interesting type of character and something that could add a air of different to a game. A Blood Witch doesn't have to be an evil character, but it not likely she is going to be trusted by a party and certainly looked down on by other casters especially proper wizards.

Plays Well With Others

The best thing about the Blood Witch is that fits a great niche in any gaming group or campaign. It also works with a number of great OSR books.  Obviously the blood witch will work mechanically with 99% of all the OSR and old-school books out there, the real question is will it work thematically.  For example, the blood witch would work fantastic with Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but thematically it might be a bit redundant since all magic-users are assumed to have some sort of dark(-ish) pact.

I already mentioned The Complete B/X Adventurer. The witch class as presented in that book works as a great base for the Blood Witch.  Combine the two classes into one works rather nicely.  The B/X Witch has spells up to 10th level which is nice, but the New Class Options Witch only goes to 7.

I mentioned that the Blood Witch is really missing some really cool spells. The Vivimancer from +Gavin Norman's Theorems & Thaumaturgy and Complete Vivimancer offer some really nice choices.   I created  a few for both my witch and the vivimancer here.  In particular I would suggest Blood Augury, Feel My Pain, Share My Pain, Stay Death's Hand, and of course Hell Hath No Fury because every witch needs that spell.

A while back I made some suggestions about witch spells for the vivimancer and vivimancer spells for the with.  The nice thing is the blood witch is perfect cross section of both classes and can use all these spells.

The blood witch also works great with +Jeff Talanian's Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  The style and type of magic used by the blood witch would be very much in tune with AS&SH.  Sacrificing blood for magical effects...yeah very much in tune.  There are also plenty of great witch spells in that book as well.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my own book, The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games.  I am going to have to play a Blood Witch sometime, but I also think I want to try her out as Blood Witch "Tradition" using my own rules and see how well they work together.  Maybe twins...same level but one is a DeSanto Blood Witch while the other is a Brannan one.  Interesting idea really.

If you are in the mind to some conversions, there is a great set of blood magic rules and spells in +Owen Stephensmagnum opus Deep Magic for Pathfinder.  The blood magic system in that book could work nicely for a blood witch as well as a blood mage.

Again this passes the most basic test for a class for me.  Can I think of a character for it and would I play it.

Kimbra & Kelleigh

Kimbra and Kelleigh are twin sisters with magic deep in their blood.  They often have said to each other that it is because they have shared blood that their ties to each other and magic was so strong.
Though in their darker moments they felt their connection to magic and to blood came from the moment they were born. Kelleigh was first.  Right after her birth their mother died. Kimbra was born when the midwife noticed that there was still someone in the lifeless body.  To this day Kelleigh has had a great connection to blood and Kimbra to death.  Kelleigh acts as the older sister.  The sisters only trust each other.

Luis-Salas
These are two characters I have had for a while now.  They began as modern characters for a WitchCraft RPG game and then morphed in a life-span development project I never quite finished.
Yes, the names are based on Kim and Kelley Deal. But also an homage to Kim Harrison and Kelley Armstrong, two of my favorite authors in the modern supernatural genre.

Kelleigh 
5th level Blood Witch, Female
Neutral

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hit Points:  24
AC: 9
Saves: 12,  +2 vs. Magic
To Hit: +1  / THAC0: 19

Spells:
Kimbra can cast the follow spell levels.  Will choose spells based on the official list.
First: all
Second: 4
Third: 6
Fourth: 3
Fifth: 6
Sixth*: 1


Kimbra
5th level Witch, Blood Witch Tradition, Female
Neutral

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hit Points:  16
AC: 7

Occult Powers
Familiar: Blood Spirit of her dead mother (treat as a ghost, neutrally aligned)

Spells 
Cantrips: (5) Analyze Fertility, Detect Poison, Inflict Minor Wounds, Object Reading, Warm
First: (2+2) Bad Luck, Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Tattoo
Second: (2+2) Agony, ESP, Fever, Hold Person
Third: (1+1)  Bestow Curse, Lifeblood

I like these two. I like that they are twins and really mostly the same but have classes that are different takes on the same thing.

I would not make these two part of the Witches' Nest.  I feel their back story is too tragic and their personalities are not one to take advantage of others.   Though they will have a place in my new WIP "West Haven", mentioned briefly here.

When I try this class out more I will let you all know.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Teach Your Kids to Game Week

It is Teach Your Kids to Game week over at DriveThruRPG.

I love these sorts of games.  Sure I way beyond "learning to game" myself and so are my kids.  But back about 10 years ago my son wanted to play with my funny sided dice.
Back then I used D&D 3.0 to teach gaming to my boys and it worked nice.  In retrospect I might of done something a little different.  Maybe something like Basic D&D (a current fave) or even a streamlined version of AD&D.

So I really love seeing games like these and there are lot to choose from.
Here are a few of my favorites.

Little Wizards
If you have a kid that loves Harry Potter or Kiki's Delivery Service then this is the game to get. Quick, Easy and Fun could be the tag line for this game.  The stats are simple really. Three traits, some powers and of course a description of your wand and familiar.   I am disappointed I have not used this game more myself. It might be a "kids" game but it packs a lot of punch and frankly is one of the most clever little games I have seen in a long time.  The Character sheet is a treat too.

Hero Kids - Fantasy RPG
I have a lot of love for this game. I was supposed to submit an adventure for it, the Cave of the Stinky Goblin, which is the very first adventure I ever ran for my own son.  A Goblin is washing his stinky clothes and garbage in the river and smelling up the town of West Haven.  This game, like many others here, use a simple d6 based mechanic. This is good since that is what most people have in their homes.  My kids were attracted to my multi-sided dice, butI see no reason why you could not just replace all the d6s in HK with d8s for example.
The rules are light and fast. There are plenty of character sheets for all four classes and blanks along with cutout minis. There are a lot of monsters too.
Calling "D&D lite" does not really do the game justice, but it is rather close.

Mermaid Adventures RPG
I don't know much about this one but I have heard nothing but very high praise for it.

Monsters and Other Childish Things: Completely Monstrous Edition
This is a game that works well as a "kids" game, but there is enough here for adults to have fun with it.  I have always wanted to use this as a "dark Pokemon" (and that is saying something) or even a very dark version of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.

Kids & Critters RPG Trilogy
An absolute steal at this price.
For under 3 bucks you get 3 complete games for kids.
Tales from the Wood where you play creatures from The Wood.  Think Watership Down.
Lashings of Ginger Beer is about playing a kid in Idyllic England, so it might actually work best for adults.  Most similar to kids adventure tales.
It's a Dog's LIfe is the best of the three where you play a Prairie Dog out on the American Plains with heavy American Indian/Native American influences.
All three games are simple to learn and easy to play.
These games require a bit more abstraction to play than some other kid games, but nothing a little kid with a great imagination couldn't handle.

Faery's Tale Deluxe
I reviewed this one a while back.

Toy War
Toy War takes very simple rules (and also teaches kids how to use a ruler) to bring their favorite toys to life. Each toy has a purpose and something it does well. In one session we brought in a baby harp seal (was cute), a toy Dalek (can shoot), a space ship and some D&D dragons. We came up with this idea to rescue some fish and we were off. The adventure is fast and fun. In the end we saved the fish, only to have them eaten by the baby seal.  The baby seal got away with it because he was cute.
Depending on your kids this could be a game of structured make believe or even an on-going saga. Or it can be a great diversion for a rain or snowy afternoon.
Worth every penny and then some.

DC ADVENTURES Hero's Handbook
For older kids to be sure.  I have reviewed this one and it's Mutant & Masterminds parents a number of times here/

Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road
Reviewed here and here.

Cavemaster RPG
Cavemaster might one of the biggest games here on my list (outside of DCA).   This is a "stonepunk" game where you play cavemen.  Some kids might love this idea, others might be turned off on it. For me I think it is an excellent concept and would work with a group generally smarter kids.  Kids that for example would understand our pre-history origins.
What makes this good for kids is that the system itself is so easy to use. In fact one of the conceits of the game is it is molded after the first RPGs played by cave men.  Well...not really...and Game Designer Jeff Dee knows this, but it is still fun.
The game is rich and detailed and really deserves a deeper look on my part.

Witch Girls Adventures: Director's Cut
Reviewed throughout my blog.
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/search/label/wga
I do wish that The Second Edition would come out.

Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod
This one IS actually D&D lite.  I reviewed it here, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2010/04/d-4-kids-monster-slayers-heroes-of.html

Mutants & Marvels
From the OSR's own Tom Doolan this game is a mix of D&D & Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP), or rather OSR games and 4C.  Streamed down into just under 45 pages it makes it a great 1st supers game for kids or an on going game for the right group of adults.

Grab one of these.
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