Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Basic Set at 40

Gamers of a Certain Age all know about their first Basic Set.  For some, it was light maroon with a red book.  For many it was a red box with red books.  But some of us had a different experience.  The box was blue(ish) and had a dragon on the cover, the book was blue and it changed gaming forever.



On July 22, 1977 the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set was shown at Origins Game Fair and it changed the face of RPGs.  Prior to this people learned to play from others that had been playing.  The John Eric Holmes edited Basic Set gave brand new players with no prior experience in either RPGs (which really meant D&D) or in wargames.  It gave us the Moldvay Basic set and the  Frank Mentzer Basic set. But more importantly, it opened the world of D&D to others.

Dr. Holmes took on the massive task of collecting what was then OD&D, edited it and reorganized it into a game that made sense to new players.  There is some debate as to whether this was designed as a stand alone game line (which it would become) or as an introduction to Advanced D&D (which it reads like).

A lot of blogs will talk about the history of the Holmes Basic Edition. A great post can be found over at +Wayne Rossi's Semper Initiativus Unum, Basic D&D at 40  and pretty much the entire Zenopus Archive blog by +Zach H.

My experiences with Holmes though are a little different.



My gaming began in 1979, before the Moldvay set, but after Holmes.  I had read the Monster Manual and I had a copy, badly xeroxed, of the Holmes Basic set.   Like many, my "first" D&D was a combination of Basic and Advanced. Still today that is the same experience I look for in D&D.



I will be honest, it took me a while to get the game down.  With Holmes D&D I always felt like there was something I was missing. I only learned later of the "Little Brown Books" and how "Basic" actually came about.  I also did not have a full copy.

I would later get my hands on a copy of Holmes to read in full.  It was an eye opening experience to be sure. I had been playing Moldvay Basic for a while and moving over to AD&D proper.  Holmes felt like a Rosetta Stone to me.  A product that could crossover between these two games.
When I got a hold of a copy of my own much later I would use it for 1st level characters with my adventure of choice, B1 In Search of the Unknown, before moving over to AD&D.

I became a fan of J. Eric Holmes work and even stumbled on vague references for a Witch class!


I had found some alternate evolution of D&D, one where Basic lead to Advanced and not to Expert. Where you played a magic-user in one and a wizard, illusionist or witch in the other.
It should come as no surprise then that my own witch class is heavily influenced by my time playing using the Holmes and Moldvay rule sets.

Re-reading my Holmes set over the weekend made me think about how much fun a box set really is.  The next time I start up an AD&D game, I'll be starting with Holmes.

I also feel the need to mention that along with Holmes the Traveller "Little Black Books" also celebrated 40 years.


Safe journeys to you Free Trader Beowulf. Hope you found help.



Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #160

August of 1990 was my Senior year in college. I moved into an apartment in a very notorious neighborhood of my college town.  I was helping my roommate (one of four guys living in this place) put together this huge entertainment center. He sent me out to get a case of beer for the job. We lived next door to a liquor store.  I was back with the case (likely Keystone) in hand.  He didn't even know I had left.  We got so drunk that we named the entertainment center "The Ferderko" (after Bernie Ferderko). That was how the 90s began for me.  They ended with me three degrees later, married, living 300 miles away from that liquor store and the Ferderko, with a new baby son.  So yeah, I saw some changes.
Dragon, D&D and especially TSR saw a lot of changes in the 90s too.  But that was not obvious to us in August of 1990 when issue #160 came out.  So let's turn on some Star Trek TNG Season 4, fire up the 386SX and let's get going on Issue #160 of This Old Dragon.

The cover looks like it should be part of a Halloween issue, but it is actually for the special topic section of Urban adventures.  I was quite excited to see this, to be honest.  During the last couple of years of my High School AD&D game we focused largely on urban adventures.  My then DM and I even wrote up our own "Urban Survival Guide".  Kinda wish I still had that, would be cool to polish it up and use it.  At this point I should note that this particular Dragon, while not my original from then, is in surprisingly great shape.  The covers are still on it and it doesn't reek of mildew.

Inside we get an ad that would shape my entire 2nd Ed AD&D experience.  The first ad for the Ravenloft campaign world.  I bought everything for Ravenloft back then, when I could afford it, from the newly opened Castle Perilous Games in Carbondale, IL.  Ravenloft was my world.

First up is The Enemy at the Gates by James R. Collier.  This details some of the magical defenses a city must have to survive in the *D&D game worlds.  It's a good read, to be honest, and anyone with solid knowledge of the D&D spells or monster could likely come up with even more ways to attack a city.  Examples of +1 swords to Ents/Treants are given.  I also once destroyed a keep full of vampires with a charmed blue dragon in a game.  Likely right around this same time to be honest.  The article is good in describing all sorts of attacks, but not much in the way of defending against those attacks save for "fight dragons with dragons!".  The material though is still good after all these years and it can be used with just about any FRPG.  The article is also quite a long one.

The Last Call Inn by Willie Walsh is a sample inn and tavern with maps that can be used in any AD&D game.  Again, while it says AD&D on the tin, it could be used with any FRPG.  The article is more than just a map and room descriptions. It covers running the inn, prices, costs and setting up shop.   The economy is very AD&D 1st ed, though I think it was trying for AD&D 2nd ed.  Stats for NPCs are 2nd Ed.

Matthew J. Iden is next with a thieves' guild in The Touch of the Black Hand.  By this time we have seen a lot of Dragon articles on thieves' guilds and assassin guilds.    This one is good but doesn't expand much on the articles from the earliest days of the Dragon.  Maybe I should collect them all and have a look at them in that perspective.  I bet then I could find something unique and useful in each one.

Sage Advice covers some questions on Krynn and Greyhawk.

A big, garish, advertisement for Chill 2nd Edition.  The 90s were going to be about horror. I didn't know that then, but the writing is there on the walls as if it had been written there in blood by Anne Rice or Poppy Z. Brite.  I started the 90s with Ravenloft, ended it with WitchCraft. Had Chill and Vampire in-between.

The Forum handles the various "Is D&D Satanic" questions.  I guess the 80s are not quite over just yet...

+Bruce Heard is up with Up, Away, And Beyond: Space Travel in D&D a topic he is well versed in.  I'll even go as far to say as one of the two or three experts in it.  There are a couple of things in this article right away.  This is for D&D. Not AD&D.  So we are talking BECMI here.  There is even a bit on how the D&D and AD&D worlds are not linked. So you can't use space travel to get to one from the other.  Well, I tend to disagree, but that is the beauty of these games right.
There is a lot here really. Heard talks about different shaped worlds, odd gravity and how to work Spelljammer into all of this.  Fascinating read really.  A lot of this can also all still be used today, whether or not you use Spelljamer or Bruce's own Calidar setting.
Naturally, this is followed up by an episode of Voyage of the Princess Ark.

The Role of Computers is up next.  I could not help but notice it was Copyright 1990 by the authors.  Not too uncommon really, but will cause some problems for WotC when they try to re-publish these in ten years.

Nigel D. Findley is up with The Ecology of the Gibbering Mouther.  Did you know that creatures killed and eaten by the Mouther can not be raised, resurrected or reincarnated?  I don't think I did. Yes, this thing actually eats your soul too.

In the middle of the magazine, and still intact are some of the then new AD&D Trading Cards.
I really don't know much about these, to be honest.  I was never a collectible card guy. Are they worth anything?


Inside is also a poster for Dungeon magazine.

The fiction piece, Thief On  A String, features a scene that Mission: Impossible will steal in 6 years.

More ads...The Convention Calendar reminds us to get our tickets for Gen Con early. They had 10,000 people now two years running!

Another article that could see new life today is one from Mark E. Smith on There Are No Generic Black Belts: Defend yourself with a variety in TOP SECRETS/S.I.™ games.  I am not sure if the rules will match up with the new Top Secret coming out, but the advice is solid.   Several styles are covered here.  Interestingly enough, the one that I was studying at this time and into grad school, Isshinryu, is listed here.  I don't see it mentioned much.

Novel Ideas is more of an ad than it is an article. J. Eric Severson covers the Buck Rogers novels from TSR.

Also, more of an advertisement than an article is the Game Wizards detailing the new Ravenloft campaign setting.  I was very, very excited to see this.

We get a lot of ads and the comics.
And since I actually have one this time, the back cover features the Hollow World.


This is a nostalgic issue for me if only for the time it represents and not really for the content inside. Soon I would stop buying Dragon and eventually even D&D stuff completely.  Grad School makes for some difficult times for gaming.

I suppose it is good then that I don't have many issues past this one. I have no real insights to them having not read them when they were new and not even playing for much of the late 90s.  Still, it is fun to look back on these.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast

I spent some time over the long weekend reading through Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition. I have the previous editions and this one captures the same feel of the pulp-era adventures.  It is a fun game in it's own right but in truth, I am not at a point anymore where I want to learn a bunch of systems.  
I am very, very happy with my world of OSR and B/X so I set out to convert BoL over to B/X D&D.   I also quickly discovered that a one to one conversion is not always the best idea.

Barbarians of Lemuria: Mythic Edition is a low-magic, and dare I even say, low-powered game.  Even the main antagonist would not really convert to very high level given most of the advice I have seen online.

I went into Barbarians of Lemuria with two goals.  First, I want to get some more information on Lemuria for my own games and add this feel to my current "Second Campaign" game.   Secondly, I want to convert the main antagonist, Methyn Sarr, into something I can use for my "War of the Witch Queens" game.   I'll detail the first as it happens, but I can talk about the second now.

Barbarian's of Lemuria, along with Crypts & Things, share an ethos and a feel with another favorite game of mine, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  In my mind all three can be combined to make a Pulp-fanstastic, old-school D&D like-game worthy of any mighty thewed barbarian or crafty sorcerer. Mix in a little DCC or Lamentations of the Flame Princess and you have a heady brew.   There is a lot to love here, I just wish I had the time to do all of these games the justice they deserve.

Of course, the antagonist, Methyn Sarr, caught my eye.  She is described as "the Witch Queen of the Fire Coast" and the devoted agent of Zaggath, Lord of Fire.  She is fierce, cruel, beautiful and deadly. Everything I love about an evil witch.  A direct conversion didn't feel right.  No one is afraid of a 3rd level witch*.  (*the suggestion that 1 HD = 5 LB has been thrown out on the internet.  So her 12 LB would be 2.4 HD).

Instead, I looked at her Arcane Power (16) and her careers.   She can cast Third Magnitude spells which I figure are about 6th-8th level for witches.  Since I was looking at AS&SH that puts her 11th level (or 12th).  I wanted something a little more impressive, so I also looked at my own Witch stats for 13th level.

Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast


Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast
Female Witch 11th level (Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, +Jeff Talanian)
Chaotic Evil

Race: Human
Secondary Skill: Torturer

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 17

Casting Ability: 11
Fighting Ability: 5

Hit Points:  24
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 5 (battle harness)

Powers
1st level: Brew Potions, Familiar
3rd level: Brew Philtre
5th level: Dance of Beguilement, Effigy
7th level: Animate Broom
9th level: Witch's Apprentice

Spells (due to her connection to Zaggath she may also cast Pyromancer spells)
First: (5) Burning Hands, Charm Person, Influence Normal Fires, Shocking Grasp, Sleep
Second: (5) Cause Blindness, Flame Blade, Flaming Sphere, Infernal Tongues, Ray of Enfeeblement
Third: (4) Black Cloud, Explosive Runes, Fireball, Witch Fire
Fourth: (3) Fire Shield, Mirror Mirror, Transfer Wounds
Fifth: (2) Magic Jar, Produce Bonfire
Sixth: (1) Disintegrate

Magic Items
Battle Harness (provides AC 5)
Blood Dagger of Zaggath (adds +1d6 damage due to dripping fire blood)


Methyn Sarr, Witch Queen of the Fire Coast
Female Witch, Malefic Tradition 13th level (The Witch)
Chaotic

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 29
AC: 5 (battle harness)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Raven
7th level:  Evil's Touch
13th level: Devil's Tongue

Spells 
Cantrips: Black Flame, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Palm
First: Cause Fear, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Increase Sex Appeal, Sleep
Second: Agony, Blast Shield, Death Armor, Evil Eye
Third: Feral Spirit, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Tongues
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting
Sixth: Death Blade, Mass Agony
Seventh:  Wave of Mutilation

Magic Items
Battle Harness (provides AC 5)
Blood Dagger of Zaggath (adds +1d6 damage due to dripping fire blood)

So not exact conversions by any stretch, but certainly workable ones.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Classic Modules Today: Death's Ride

I have been a fan of the "Classic Modules Today" group for a bit now.
The premise is to use the leeway of the DMSGuild to produce 5e conversions of classic TSR modules.
Well you know I am all about that!  So I have been buying as many as I can for the various campaigns I have been running. They are great. All the basic information I need in one place.

Could I have done these on my own? Sure.  But for the price of my triple grande latte, I can grab 2-3 of these pdfs and be good to go.

Since I also believe in giving back I made my own for an adventure I have coming up.

Here is the Classic Modules today conversion of one of my favorites, CM2 Death's Ride.


You can get the conversion here on the DMSGuild and the original module too.
You will need the original, these are conversion notes, not the full product.



You can find these and all the Classic Modules Today conversions (and the original adventures) at the DMSguild.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Into the Nentir Vale (was BECMI/4e Conversion)

Yesterday's post on my BECMI/4e conversions really took off and it seems there is a ton of interest in it.  So I am going to explore the idea further.
Now I have been conversions since, well since forever really. Converting fluff, converting plots. That is easy. Can do it on the fly.  Converting the monsters is also no great task, but it does require some care.  Since I am already doing the work of 4e to BECMI I might as well through 5e into this too.
Why not.

Crazy Delicious
When I convert say between 5e and TSR D&D (1st, 2nd, Basic) I just swap out the monsters. It works nice.  When I add 3e into the mix then I want to look over the monster for any feats or powers it might have and make sure those get preserved somehow.  4e is a bit trickier.

4e, more so than either 3e or 5e, has a strict XP budget. You are expected to level up at certain points in the game.  This might not be true of EVERY 4e game, but it is of HPE adventures.
The other factor working against me is the 30 levels of advancement in 4e vs. the 20 in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.  BECMI helps me out here with a nice range of 36 levels.
I want characters to progress through these adventures AND still stay within their target levels.

So I am building a spreadsheet (I am a numbers guy afterall) to help me calculate the XPs given per adventure.  This will help me find the appropriate monster replacement for each game, help me balance the XP so the levels come out right and give me the exercise of going through each adventure and understanding each encounter.



Open in new tab/window.

I am opening up my spreadsheet so everyone can have a look and comment.  I am not opening it up to contributors yet since I also want the exercise of going through every monster in every adventure.
I added the data from yesterday's conversion and added a 5e column as well.  The 5e data has the advantage of using a VLOOKUP to allow me just to put in a CR and it spits out the XP.  I could do this with the 4e and BECMI ones as well, just have not done it yet.  I could also easily add Swords & Wizardry to the mix if people are interested.

If you scroll to the right (Col "O" to "R") you will see I have summed up the XP per adventure and then figured out how much per character based on the default (4e) party of 5 or a party of 6.  My feeling is that to make the levels work out with 5e I am going to have to assume that 6 characters are going through.  This should also make the combats faster.  I have not figured out what the optimal number of characters is for BECMI yet.

I will also have to convert the treasure.  There are some wildly different assumptions on what treasure needs to be in different versions of the game.  You get lots in 4e, not a lot in 5e, and in BECMI (or at least Basic) Treasure also gives you XP.

THEN I need to figure out what this all means for my Come Endless Darkness game.  If I run this set of adventures the party goes up against Orcus. In CED I also wanted them to fight Orcus.  Have to figure it out later I guess.

Other posts related to this:


Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

BECMI/4e Conversion, Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens

Last week I talked about RPGs and Sunk Costs.  This lead to a discussion of me converting my 4e collection into something else.  As is my wont, I opted for the most difficult conversion I could do and still be D&D; converting 4e to BECMI.

Since this is a test run I want something simple and something that others can look over to see what they think.  So for this trial, I am converting the free low-level adventure Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens. I am also using the D&D Rules Cyclopedia for ease of conversion here.



Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens is the 2nd adventure for a single player coming off of the D&D 4e Starter set.  The one that looks like the BECMI Basic Set.  Given this the character you are playing should be about 2nd level.   Now when I run this for real I am going to likely use it with a party and scale up the encounters.  But for now I want to see what a quick conversion looks like.
I am taking a lot of cues from the Classic Modules Today folks and just providing the monster conversions. I am not attempting to balance anything at this point.

Special Note: IF (and that is a big IF) I do these conversions I am going to all use the "Prince of Undeath" conversions for the HPE modules that were done by Myrhdraak a few years back.  This conversion makes it more of an Adventure Path style campaign that we now see from Paizo and WotC.  Plus it makes the Orcus plot more interesting.
Details are here:


Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens Conversion

Skill checks: Use the appropriate ability score. Perception is normally Wisdom, but use Intelligence where applicable.
Skill Challenges: Use as skill checks, but only provide XP if properly role-played.

Poison Dart and Poison Gas traps are Save vs. Poison or die.
Psychic Staircase trap is Save vs. Paralysis or take 5 hp of damage.

Sareth is a 1st level Elf with 7hp and 1 first level spell: Shield

Kobold Quickblade is a kobold chieftain (RC p. 187) with 9 hp (10 xp)  [100 xp]
Kobold Tunnelers (4) are normal kobolds  (RC p. 187) with 1 hp (5 xp each) [25 xp each]

Decrepit Skeletons (2) are normal skeletons (RC p. 204) with 1 hp (5 xp each) [25 xp each]
Grasping Zombie is a normal zombie (RC p. 213) with 13 hp (20 xp) [100 xp]

Skeletal Blackguard is a skeleton with 2HD (RC p. 204, 214-215) with 18 hp (25 xp) [250 xp]
Tomb Rats (5) are giant rats (RC p. 201) with 1 hp each (5 xp) [25 xp]

XP values in parentheses () are for BECMI D&D.  For comparison the D&D4 XP values are in brackets [].

In 4e a player would get a total of 725 XP from combat.  In BECMI/RC this becomes 110 xp.
So progression will be slower for RC.

I could follow this up with  The Dungeon of the Ghost Tower the next adventure.

Also, I can tell already that the combats for the BECMI version is going to be a hell of a lot faster.  This might not be such an insane idea after all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

RPGS and the Sunk Costs

Often you will hear people exclaim that they don't need to buy any more/new RPGs because they have more than they will ever play in their lifetime OR they have found the only one they ever need.
I can certainly appreciate both of these claims.  I DO have more than I'll ever play AND I have the game (or really 3 games) I could play forever and never need a new one.

Yet.  I still buy games.

I am fortunate really. I can make my hobby pay for itself. I can buy the books I want, when I want.
Thankfully my needs are also small and specific, so I also tend to write the material I want more out need of the material than out of a cost saving feature.
Sometimes though I buy something and I never use it, or, I never use as I wanted to use it.

Take for example D&D 4e.


I have a lot of 4e books.  Many I bought REALLY cheap, but some I got new. In any case it represents a sunk cost for me. Even if I unload them all at my FLGS auction, I am not likely to make anything at all back from it.

I'd love to do something with it someday, but am I playing into a Sunk Cost Fallacy?
That is I'll never make my money (time, resources) back by put more money/time/resources int it.

I would love to the run the HPE adventures that are centered around Orcus and the Raven Queen.  I have read through them many times and started them and think it would be fun.

There are three scenarios I am considering.

1. Run them under 5e.  This one is more of a thought experiment for me really.  I'd try to run it as a 4e/5e hybrid to scale 4e's 30 levels down too 5e's 20.   I like this idea since it would make for an interesting experiment and test my knowledge on both systems.  Converting 4e to 5e is easier than say converting 4e to something else.

2. Convert 4e to Something else.  I am honestly thinking of doing this under BECMI. Using the honest to goodness Red Boxes and everything.  This idea appeals to me on a lot of levels. BECMI's 1-36 levels map nicely onto 4e's 1-30.  Both end in characters being immortals.  Naturally this is the hardest to do and appeals to me the most, though I have done it before.  The level differences and system differences would allow me to start H1 Keep on the Shadowfell at BECMI level 4 or 5 and give me 1-3 for other adventures.  Maybe even the Aleena adventure in the Red Box and the Witchlight Fens adventure in the...Red Box.


The more I think about this the more I like it really.   I would need to decided on Class and Race (like AD&D) or Race as Class (as BECMI).  In truth it would not be difficult.  The 4e races all have a class they seem to prefer.  Dragonborn would all be Paladins, Tieflings all are Warlocks, Half-Orcs are all Barbarians and so on.  Plus there is a lot I still like about BECMI that I want to do.
This is something I think needs delving into further.

3. Run the adventures under 4e.  The simplest solution, naturally, has no appeal to me.

Am I sinking more resources into a fruitless endeavor?  Should I cut my losses and run?

No idea yet.  But I think I can invest a *little* more resources with out (too much) loss.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Releases Tuesday: Black Box BECMI Supplements

The mid 90s were an odd time of gaming for me. I started out very excited about the new AD&D 2nd Edition game, moved completely over to Ravenloft and in the end had left D&D completely in favor of games like WitchCraft and Mage.   Consequently, I started the 90s as a college kid and ended the 90s a house, a wife, a kid and ABD on my first Ph.D. so I saw a lot of change.

What that all adds up to is that there were a ton of D&D-related releases that I not only didn't experience or play but also never even heard of till much later.   "Black-box BECMI" was one of those.  Again, as I mentioned, I was into AD&D2 pretty hard and then left D&D, so BECMI was not something I paid attention too.  Fast forward to the mid-late 2000s I started to discover these boxed sets.  In some ways they seem so retro; a boxed set with board-game like pieces in a world edging towards glossy (and thick) hardcovers.

At a +Games Plus auction I was able to pick up these,



They are a ridiculous amount of nostalgia and I REALLY want to use them some time as the start of a pure BECMI campaign.

Well today we got two new releases in this line on DriveThruRPG, The Dragon's Den and The Goblin's Lair.

I have no idea how the scans are. The box interiors have quite a lot of pieces.


So it will be interesting to see how they scanned all of this.  At $5 a piece, that is not too bad of a deal really.   The "Black Box" is not available on DriveThru yet, so you will need to use the Rules Cyclopedia for these.

I don't have a campaign in mind for this at all, outside of knowing I want to use Quest for the Silver Sword as the next adventure after these.  I am always a sucker for a haunted house adventure.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 A Look Back

It is already 2017 in some parts of the world, but here 2016 is staying around like that last guest that just won't leave.  So let's look back on 2016 on The Other Side.

D&D 5
Without a doubt D&D 5th Edition was the biggest game this year and D&D5 posts here got the most traffic. D&D got a big push in the media this year and D&D 5 benefited from all of that.  Closer to home I played a lot of 5th edition this past year. I ran games for my kids and various cousins and my oldest son ran three different campaigns. Ok, they were all roughly the same adventures, but with three different groups.
Not everything was all 5e all the time. I managed to work in some Basic (B/X) D&D as well and even a little AD&D 1st Ed. Back in October, I reignited a Blue Rose game too and even worked in a little Castles and Crusades.
I have caught some rumors of some very interesting 5e related news I can't share yet.  But 5e is going to have just as much of a good 2017 as it did 2016.

Geek Culture
This is a wonderful time to be alive if you are geek. Really. In 2016 we got more superhero movies than I can recall (ok Civil War was a bit of a let down compared to comic), Star Trek AND Star Wars in the theatres in the same year. Doctor Strange came out, a movie I wanted since the 70s, new Ghostbusters, new Jason Bourne, a new movie in the Harry Potter universe!  And that is just the movies.
On TV we have super heroes, scratch that, DC Super Heroes every night of the week! Luke Cage on Netflix. STRANGER THINGS! So much great content that I can't even keep up.  We have an embarrassment of riches here.
Speaking of DC. The rebooted, reboot of DC's Rebirth in comics is doing fantastic. Not just in sales, but also in terms of story. While the DC movies are hit and miss (I am a fan, but I am also realistic here) and the TV shows are nailing it night after night (still a fan) the comics, especially the "New52" had been iffy. Not anymore.



Bloggin'
My output decreased this year and it is likely to decrease more next year. More on that later, but mostly it is due to me needing more time for work, family and other projects.  I had a lot of fun with my deep dives into Victorian RPGs and Blue Rose. The stats show you liked them as well. I said goodbye to some regular features like Zatannurday and Friday Night Videos.  I have mostly retired Class Struggles and "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading", but I retain the right to post something with them in 2017.
I was nominated again for "Best Blog Ennie" for 2016. I didn't win, but I had a lot of fun going to awards show.



Personal
Things are good here at home. Family is healthy and good. My wife and I launched into a new exercise plan where I run every day and exercise in the evening.  I am healthier now in my later 40s than I was in my 30s. My weight is way down and my blood pressure (something I have had issues with since I was a teen) is also down. In fact, save for a minor respiratory bug last week 2016 has been one of my healthiest years on record.
Work is going fine. In 2017 I have a new graduate program whose curriculum I am redoing, so that will keep me busy for the next couple of years. I got a promotion (of sorts) and a raise (of sorts) and a new boss.

The Other Side Publishing
2016 saw the launch of my personal imprint The Other Side Publishing.  I am not trying to take the RPG world by storm here, I just want to put out a few books of things I want to play.  My biggest success so far has been Sisters of the Aquarian Order (currently a Copper best seller!) for White Star.
I am making enough here to keep going and I can keep myself in other people's books too.  That is a success in my mind. Actually, people buying my stuff and getting enjoyment out of it is much more of a success than the actual money, but the money does buy more art.



And Then There Was That Other Thing...
Yeah 2016 had it's fair share of suck too. More than it's fair share to be honest. The election was shit-show and the outcome was pretty much to worst of all possible outcomes.  I have mentioned before I am less of a "Social Justice Warrior" as I am a "Social Justice Veteran" or, more to the point "Social Justice Terrorist".  I was in the trenches before Facebook, before Twitter and back when letters and phone calls to Congressmen, Senators, and Judges were a common thing for me. I got back on the phone this year to my Representatives and other elected officials. 2017 might be the year that pulls me back into social activism.  In fact, I have already started to put my money where my mouth is, so I am also going to put in my time.



We had a lot of our icons die this past year. Not much I can say about that really. I am going to miss Bowie the most I think. I just liked the idea of being in a world that also had him in it.

So here is to 2016. The good, the bad and the ugly. And there was a lot of bad and ugly!
Here is to a much better 2017! Though it is really 2020 I am looking forward to the most! ;)

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Post Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrate it or whatever your holiday.
We had a great one here. Lots of gifts, family, food, and plenty of my aged Egg Nog.

Boxed Set Day
+James Spahn  over at Halfling's Luck came up with a great idea and one I hope catches on. Make December 26th, Boxed Set Day!


So I plan to celebrate this in the future EXACTLY like I have been doing it for the last two years.  Last year I gave my nephews on my wife's side of the family a D&D 5 boxed set.  This year I gave my sister's son a Pathfinder Beginner Box.  Well in truth he paid for half of it himself and I gave him some minis.

A photo posted by Jessica (@zigada75) on

Next year I'll get a D&D 5 box.  Or maybe a Castles & Crusades one.  But this will be my new tradition, getting someone a boxed set of some game.  Boxed set with dice.

This is a good thing.
How many of you got your start with a D&D boxed set on Christmas?  Too many to know for sure I know that.

Now what to buy and who to buy it for? I have a little less than a year to figure it out.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Krampus for your OSR/5e Games

It's Christmas eve so you know what you need?  More demons!

Here are a couple PWYW products for your Christmas games.










Have a great Christmas, Holiday, Yule and New Year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Wizards of the Coast Print On Demand: The Results

Yesterday I got a surprise in the mail from DriveThruRPG/OneBookshelf/LightningSource.


My copy of the Shady Dragon Inn came in.  It looks fantastic.
I don't have an original one to compare it too, but inside it looks great.




The maps are part of the book, not detachable, but that is fine really.



They are set to 1" = 5', so D&D 3, 4 & 5 standard.
They do not print out to 1" exactly, but when you buy the pdf you get the maps as files to print on your own.

The characters inside can be converted to 5e easily enough.
Ignore the saving throws, and recalculate the base to hit as 20 - THAC0.  I find that 22 or 23 -THAC0 actually works out a little bit better for 5e.

Plus $8 is better than the $30 or so it can go for on eBay.

I do kind of wish now I had grabbed something that I have an original of just to compare.

The quality is very good; what you would expect from a high quality print of a high quality PDF source.  Though the source of that PDF is a scan of the original that has been seriously cleaned up.
The results are something fantastic for the table or reading, but no collector will be convinced it is an orignal.  That's perfect for me really.  I am a collector, but a pragmatic one and a "playing" one.  I like to have these books, but their value to me is not on my shelf, but my game table.

 DriveThru has promised us new Wizards of the Coast Print on Demand updates each week.  So check back on every Tuesday to see what is new.  In fact they have new items up today.

Bookmark this link to check back on what's new each week.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Dungeons & Dragons in Toy Hall of Fame

The big news in the RPG world is of course, the introduction of Dungeons & Dragons into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

You can read what they said about D&D here:
http://www.toyhalloffame.org/toys/dungeons-dragons

Some people are commenting, and maybe rightly so, that the pictures show the wrong box.  But I disagree in one respect.

Moldvay Basic, a game I have very fond memories of, was D&D for many gamers my age.  Yes, we all love White Box even with all it's weird idiosyncracies, Moldvay Basic (and Expert) really opened the rules up to so many; many that did not have that wargaming background.  This was the edition that was made for D&D players first.  Ok...so what Holmes (which I also love) this was something new.

My wife says it was included in the Toy Hall of Fame this year in part due to Stranger Things.  I agree, but D&D also has had a pretty successful couple of years.  D&D 5 is doing great, the 40th anniversary was a huge success, and gamers of the 80s are now the successful adults of today. So there is that.



So congrats D&D!  Well earned.

Here is another interesting thought.  How many of you that started with Moldvay Basic/Cook & Marsh Expert ALSO had that Fisher Price Little People Barnyard toy as a kid?  I think every kid in the 70s was issued one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Witch Thomasin

File under: "You knew this was coming so you really can't act surprised."

Black Philip: Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?

Warning: Spoilers ahead for The Witch.

The Witch is a fantastic movie, not just due to it's script and amazing attention to historical deatils but for the breakout performances of it's young cast including, and especially, Ayna Taylor-Joy as the good girl turned witch, Thomasin.

With all the reviews I was doing last month I could not but help think f her in terms of some of the games.



Some reviews claimed that The Witch does not have a "Happily Ever After" I say, of course not! Chapter 1's never do!
Thomasin is by any stretch of the imagination a starting character.  The Witch is her origin story.

This makes things really easy in terms of character creation. Just follow the book.
We only see her indulging in one act of magic so we are going to need to make some assumptions based on what we have seen already.

There are three games in particular that I think are good choices for Thomasin.  WITCH: Fated Souls, C.J. Carrella's WitchCraft, and my own The Witch.



Basic Information
Age: 16
Height: 5'2"
Weight 120#
Hair Blond
Eyes: Blue

I figure this is right after the end of the movie.  I used the character pre-creation information in WITCH: Fated Souls to help guide me as to what Thomasin might be like.  I also decided that the "Devil" made good on his promise and gave Thomasin some resources.  She now lives alone on her family farm now, she has some riches but is still bound to a life of toil.  She is also now part of the local witch coven.  As the youngest, they will likely find a way to get her pregnant so they can sacrifice the baby to the devil.  Yeah, I am going with the stereotypical witches here.

The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games
Thomasin is very much a 1st level character.  She might know a cantrip and a 1st level spell, but that is about it.  Since witches in my book gain a familiar at first level we can also cover Black Philip.

Thomasin
1st level Witch, Malefic Tradition

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 15

Saves
Death Ray or Poison:  13
Magic wand or devices: 14
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 13
Dragon Breath: 16
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 15

Hit Points: 5
Alignment: Chaotic
AC: 9 (none)

Dagger

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Goat/Imp "Black Philip"

Spells
Cantrips: (4) Black Flame, Chill, Clean, Close
First: (1) Cause Fear

WITCH: Fated Souls
+Elizabeth Chaipraditkul's Witch was one of the first games I thought of when I was watching this movie.  Also this movie was what I was thinking of when I working on my review for her game.  It all works out really.  Thomasin really fits this game well.  If you are a fan of the movie, check this game out. If you are a fan of this game then watch the movie.  She is a really good fit.

Character: Thomasin
Fate: Heks
Familiar: Black Philip

Intelligence: 2
Wisdom: 2
Perception: 3
Charisma: 2
Manipulation: 3
Dexterity: 2
Strength: 1
Stamina: 3

Athletics 1, Brawl 2, Craft 2, Deception 2, Dodge 2, Empathy 1, Expression 1, Intimidation 1, Perform 2, Spot 1, Stealth 1, Survival 2, Thievery 1, Wits 1

Hit Points
Hurt: 14, Injured 14, Mauled 8, Unconcious 5
Soak: 0

CD to Hit: 13

Pursuits: Property 3, Contacts 1, Funds 1

Spell Level: 1

Talents: Casting 2, Potions 1, Occult 1

Spells: Telekinesis
Cantrips, Canto I, II
Bonus: Use TK cantrip to fly

Spells: Curse
Cantrips

CJ Carrella's WitchCraft
WitchCraft is such a fantastic game I feel I can use it for anything and everything.  The Witch is no exception.  I did go back and forth on whether or not to make Thomasin a Gifted or Lesser Gifted; arguments can be made for either one.  In the end, I went with Gifted.
I also stuck with the WitchCraft core book for her.

Thomasin
Gifted
Wicce
Concept: Forsaken
Life Points: 26
Essence: 19

Strength: 1
Dexterity: 2
Constitution: 3
Intelligence: 2
Perception: 3
Willpower: 3

Endurance: 26
Speed: 10

Qualities
Attractive 2, Gifted, Essence Channeling, Increased Essence Pool,

Drawbacks
Covetous, Cruel

Skills
Craft 1, First Aid 1, Myth & Legend 1, Occult Knoweldge 2, Riding (horse) 2, Rituals (Wicce) 1, Survival 2

Metaphysics
Affect the Psyche
- Influence Emotions
- Aura of Confidence

Communion
- One with the Land

Warding
- Create Ward

All three work very well in my mind.  Obviously I needed to take some liberties and some guess work. I should try these three with a more powerful character to see how they work with that.

What do you think Thomasin?



Oh in case anyone is annyed by the "VVitch" I give you this.


Could this be about Thomasin or her coven?
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