Showing posts with label character. Show all posts
Showing posts with label character. Show all posts

Monday, October 30, 2017

No Spell to Right This: Carmilla Week Round-up

Well...it was more than a week really.

I love doing these week-long deep dives into a character or a system. It's a great way to explore a topic in my mind. Whether it is a week-long deep dive into a game system like Blue Rose or Superbabes or investigating a set of characters like I did with Miriam and Fran it is something I really look forward to planning and doing.

Doing this for Carmilla and Laura was just as much fun.

I did a lot of stats for various horror games.
Not to mention my original Ghosts of Albion stats for "book" Carmilla.

I also watched a lot of movies.
I would like to try some more systems to be honest. Chill 3.0 comes to mind.
Anyone have any requests?

I am looking forward to doing some more of these deep dives.  Maybe next time a game system.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

We could live forever, and suffer: Laura and Carmilla for Monsterhearts

Carmilla week continues.  The movie is out tonight or tomorrow (depending on where you are) and I wanted to save this system for today.

+Avery Alder's Monsterhearts has been one of those games I that I have wanted to review and play some more ever since I first encountered the First Edition all the way back when I was introduced to it at Gen Con.

The system is an easy one, based on the Apocalypse World Engine, something else I have wanted to delve into further.   The base mechanic is simple; 2d6 + whatever mods (depending on the game), get higher than 10 for a success, or a 7-9 for something weird.

Monsterhearts is a game on what it like to play teenage monsters.  Monsters as metaphors for teenage life and feeling a little outside the norm.  I think it is something everyone can relate too I think.
While I'll get a proper review up soon the game is tailor-made for Carmilla really.

Even the game's lack of a combat mechanic works well with the very combat free scenes of the Carmilla web series.  In fact, nearly everything in this game is perfect for a Carmilla-like game. Just need a skin for the downloaded consciousness of JP 3.0 (though a Ghost might work well).

Laura and Carmilla for Monsterhearts
For these builds I used Monsterhearts 2.  I have a book of Monsterhearts 1 (and PDFs of both).  The system differences are minor. There some differences. Most of these are detailed here.  Both versions of the game are on sale now.

Given the rules where Mortals develop their characters last, I'll switch it up and do Carmilla first.

Carmilla Karnstein
Skin: Vampire
Look: Drop dead sexy.
Backstory: Mysterious stranger (Gain a Sting on Everyone)

Stats
Hot 2, Cold 1, Volatile -1, Dark -1

Darkest Self
People are your playthings.
No one messes with my Creampuff Laura!

Sex Move
Lost all Strings on Laura

Vampire Moves
Cold as Ice
Marked for the Hunt
Inescapable

Laura Hollis
Skin: The Mortal
Look: Tiny and mighty
Backstory:  Intrepid Journalism Student

Stats
Hot 2, Cold -1, Volatile -1, Dark 1

Darkest Self
Only I can figure this out, no one else can help and only I can defeat the monsters.
(borrowed from the Chosen)

Sex Move
You bring out the Darkest Self in Carmilla when you are not around.

Mortal Moves
True Love (Carmilla)
Down the Rabbit Hole
Mess With Me, Mess With Her

Oh this will be fun!
I gave them both one more move as an advancement.  I think that is fine.  In fact I could have given them more.  I think these should work well for Season 2.

Given all the skins I want to play a game where the cast is made up of characters from Carmilla, Buffy, and HƎX.  I can get some vamps, some witches, a chosen, a ghost, an infernal, and who knows what else.

Links

Monday, October 23, 2017

Love Will Be Cruel: Carmilla for Die For You

All week I am doing RPG conversions of the Web series Carmila. Today I am going to shift my focus slightly and look at a Role-Playing Game that was directly inspired by Carmilla.

Growing Up is Weird
Die For You by Rose Bailey lists Carmilla as it's primary inspiration.  Though given the name I can't imagine that HEX was also not an inspiration.
Die For You is a slim book, only 13 pages. Character creation and rules are all, understandably really simple.  Designed for 2 to 5 people, one game master and four players, I think it could be expanded.  It also has that feel of a game that could also work with rotating GMs.

This game would classify as a "Story Game" I believe, it has that feel, but I really don't know much about its genesis.

To play you start by Picking a Setting.  Since I am going to go with Carmilla as my example (and I think it sells the game best) I'll give examples from the start of Season 1.   The setting can be random (roll a 1d6) or the group's choice.   We are going for "College" here.

Next comes Creating a Character. Again this is an easier process than most games, but one that should involve everyone playing.  First thing you need to come up with is your Concept.  The examples given are good for us, with some tweaks; “Nosey Journalism Major” or “Disaffected Vampire.”  You can decide if you are some sort of monster or a normal human.
Now define your Want. This is something your characters wants.  Let's go with "Find the Missing Girls from Silas University" as an example.  When pursuing your wants you have a better chance of succeeding, but also you open yourself up more to creating complications.  Looking for the missing girls gets the attention of the Evil Dean that wants to sacrifice them to an ancient demon.   Having conflicting Wants in the group is also a good thing.
Now determine your Traits.  You have three: Feels, Weird and Real Life.  Feels and Weird are ranked 2 to 4 and combined they must equal 6.  Real Life is the same as your lowest score.
Finally, you have Trust.  Trust is another character you trust and this can change from scene to scene if needed.

While this is going on the GM comes up with the Big Bad. This is who they need to defeat to move the story to its end.  Simpler is better. "Vampire", "Nephilim" or "Evil Dean".
Then figure where the game begins and what happens.  "At the big party, a girl disappears".   "In the middle of class, you set fire to all the paper with your mind".  And so on.

Roll the Bones
Rolls come in two types, Challenges (your character is trying to do something or opposed by an NPC) and Conflicts (opposed by another PC).   In Challenges, you roll against the Trait that the GM is most affected.  Each die that is one lower than your trait is a Success.   There are ways to get more dice. You can get help from another character, pursuing your Wants, making a sacrifice, or using your Trust.

A few minutes of set up, getting characters made and you are set to go!

Playing Carmilla
The Setting: Silas University, Freshman dorms. Laura Hollis' room.
Big Bad: The Dean (revealed later)

The Cast

Left to Right: Danny, Laura, LaFontaine, Carmilla, Perry
Carmilla
Concept: Disaffected Vampire
Want: To not do the horrible things her mother makes her do anymore. (Later) I want Laura to be safe.  (Later) I want Laura.
Traits
Feels: 2
Weird: 4
Real Life: 2
Trust: No one, Laura

Laura Hollis
Concept: Nosey Journalism Student
Want: To find the missing girls and maybe date Danny. (Later) I want Carmilla to be safe. (Later) I want Carmilla.
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: Dany, Carmilla

Danny
Concept: Really tall English Lit TA
Want: I want to go out with Laura. (Later) I want Laura to be safe.
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: Laura

LaFontaine
Concept: Would-be mad scientist; brainy
Want: To get into med school and figure out all the weirdness on campus. (Later) I want to party with the Demon of Light.
Traits
Feels: 2
Weird: 4
Real Life: 2
Trust: Perry

Perry
Concept: Dorm mom, German major and neat freak.
Want: I want everyone to be normal! Just be normal!
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: LaFontaine

There. Five characters as quickly as I could write them down.  Take them and throw them into the weirdness.  The game is a lot of fun and could be a really fun experiment to try with some exsisting characters.  Plus they would all work great on a notecard.

The game is Pay What You Want, so if you want to try it, throw the author a buck or two and if you like then toss in a couple more.
You can see more about this game at http://www.fantasyheartbreaker.com.

Friday, October 20, 2017

No Sacrifice Without Blood: Carmilla and Laura for World of Darkness (nWoD)

Coming back to Carmilla

Another great system for doing anything "Vampire" is, of course, any of the Word of Darkness systems.   For these builds, I have chosen to use the World of Darkness and Vampire: The Requiem games from the early 2000s. Not the groundbreaking game that Vampire: The Masquerade game was, but a more functional and easier to use game.
Plus the World of Darkness game handles normal humans better.


So in that light, let's start with our first little Creampuff, tiny gay journalist Laura. I am setting these builds roughly in the Season 3 area.

Laura Hollis
Human

Mental
- Intelligence * * * O O
- Wits * * * O O
- Resolve * * O O O
Physical
- Strength * O O O O
- Dexterity * * * O O
- Stamina * * O O O
Social
- Presence  * * * O O
- Manipulation * * O O O
- Composure * * O O O

Skills
Mental
*Academics 2 (Research specialization)
*Computer 2 (Internest specialization)
 Crafts 1
*Investigation 3 (Crime Scene specialization)
 Medicine 1
 Occult 1
 Politics 1
 Science 1
Physical
 Athletics 1
 Larceny 2
 Stealth 1
 Survival 2
 Weaponry 1
Social
 Empathy 1
 Expression 1
 Persuasion 1
 Socialize 1

Merits
Allies (3) Silas U students (Perry, Laff, Kirsh, Dany)
Striking Looks (2)
Technophile (Video blog) (2)

Virtue: Hope
Vice: Pride

Defense: 3
Dodge: 6

Initiative: 5
Size: 5
Speed: 9
Surprise: 5

Perception: 5
Willpower: 4
Health: 7

In truth, I am really, really happy with this build.  I can see this Laura working well as a character.
Her obvious Virtue is Hope.  No one is rooting for her friends more than Laura.  Her Vice is Pride. She feels sometimes she alone can fix the problems that she alone caused. In truth, she is not alone and did not cause all these problems.
She gets the Merits of the friends at Silas, she is the one that brings everyone together.

Next is our brooding vampire hero, Carmilla, Mistress of the Snark.

Carmilla
Vampire
Clan: Daeva (Duchagne Bloodline)
Covenant: Ordo Dracul (Circle of the Crone would also work)

Mental
- Intelligence * * O O O
- Wits * * O O O
- Resolve * * O O O
Physical
- Strength * * * * O
- Dexterity * * * * O
- Stamina * * * O O
Social
- Presence  * * * O O
- Manipulation * * O O O
- Composure * * O O O

Blood Potency * O O

Skills
Mental
 Academics 1
 Investigation 1
 Occult 2
Physical
 Athletics 1
*Brawl 4 (Natural Weapons, Dirty Tricks)
 Larceny 1
 Stealth 1
 Survival 2
 Weaponry 2
Social
 Animal Ken 1
*Intimidation (Physical Threats)
 Persuasion 1
 Socialize 1

Merits
Barfly 1
Brawling Dodge 1
Fleet of Foot 1
Striking Looks (4)

Vampire Powers
Celerity 2
Majesty 1
Obfuscate 1
Protean 4 (to become a large cat)

Vitae: 10
Humanity: 5
- Derangements
 Depression (what she has done)
 Inferiority Complex (mother, sister)

Virtue: Justice
Vice: Sloth

Defense: 2
Dodge: 4

Initiative: 6
Size: 5
Speed: 14
Surprise: 4

Perception: 5
Willpower: 4

I gave her Ordo Dracul given her Victorian literary origin, though Circle of the Crone could work better given her mother and sister Mattie.
Her Virtue is Justice. She wants to stop her mother, she wants to do the right things. But her Vice (Sloth) and her Derangements (depression and feelings of inferiority to her mother and sister) keep her from doing the right things.
I also cheated here and gave her Protean 1 so she can become a large cat.

I am not sure if my numbers are right, I have not touched the game in years, but they feel right, to be honest.  They are certainly playable and if anything a touch underpowered.

They would fit in nicely with my two witches in the Word of Darkness.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Love Will Have Its Sacrifices: Carmilla and Laura for the Buffy RPG

Some pairings just work so well that it feels like the universe clicks into place.
This is one of those times.

Carmilla is a web series based on the Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu short story of the same name.  Like many (MANY) updates to Carmilla, this takes place in modern times.  We have Laura Hollis (played by super cute Elise Bauman) a 19-year-old freshman at Silas University in Styria, Austria.  Laura starts a VLog when here roommate Elizabeth Ann "Betty" Spielsdorf goes missing.  Laura, a journalism student with an over-protective father, decides to investigate and her suspicions fall squarely on her new roommate, Carmilla Karnstein (played wonderfully by Natasha Negovanlis).

Along the way, we meet Lola Perry (Annie Briggs) a German-language student, compulsive neat freak (and former below-average witch) her best friend S. LaFontaine (Kaitlyn Alexander), a non-binary cool science geek biology student, and Danny Lawrence (Sharon Belle) a 6'2" (no really, she is that freaking tall) English lit TA.

The first season, 36 episodes, covers the relationship between Laura and Carmilla as well as the mystery of all the missing girls. The next two seasons (36 episodes each) cover other issues facing the often tormented students of Silas University. Including fighting the Faerie Queen Titania, the Deep One Dagon, oh and getting in the middle of a 3 millennia-old war between Inanna and Ereshkigal.  Fun times.

The writing is witty. It is a geek-filled romp with plenty of nerdy pop cultural references. I wanted to die every time I saw Laura drink out of her TARDIS cup.  And these were not just fan-service nods these were legitimate geek moments.
The acting is great and the chemistry between the two leads is some of the best I have seen in a long, long time. They are in another series together by the same creators but as different characters.  I have to admit I am little hesitant to watch it less I ruin the good juju of them as Carmilla and Laura.

I missed the whole fandom that surrounded this show and that is my loss. The fans, the "Creampuffs", seem like a great community. The creators of the show know what the fans mean to them and it feels like a great relationship.

But that's not why YOU are here, is it?

Carmilla is pretty much in every sense of the term the spiritual successor to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  So it stands to reason then that the cast should get the Buffy RPG treatment.

I did this once before for Carmilla for the Ghosts of Albion RPG, but these stats will be based more on the characters around Season 2 or so. Plus the GoA stats are based more on the novella than this.

Yeah, I might be a little obsessed.

Carmilla

The young Mircalla Karnstein and Elle in 1872 (great for Ghosts of Albion)


Countess Mircalla Karnstein, aka "Carmilla"
Vampire

"Buckle up, creampuff."

Life Points: 63

Strength 6
Dexterity 6
Constitution 5
Intelligence 3
Perception 3
Willpower 5

Qualities
Age (3) (335 years)
Attractiveness (3)
Cloak of Beasts (Large Cat)
Fast Reaction Time (Vampire)
Hard to Kill 3 (2 from Vampire)
Natural Weapon (Vampire)
Reduced Damage 2 (Vampire)
Regeneration (6 Life Points per hour) (Vampire)
Vampire

Drawbacks
Adversary (2, mother, various vampire hunters)
Bloodlust
Love, Tragic (Elle)
Love (Laura) (2)
Emotional Problems, Emotionally Dependent (victims) (1)
Mental Problems, Covetous (Lechery) (1)
Minority (lesbian) (1)

Useful Information
Initiative +8
Actions 2/1
Observation 1d10+6
Fear +5

Height: 5'3"
Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown

Skills
Acrobatics 3
Art 2
Computers 0
Crime 2
Doctor 0
Driving 1
Gun-Fu 0
Getting Medieval 3
Influence 4
Knowledge 4
Kung Fu 2
Languages 6 (English, French, Latin, German, Romanian, Sumerian)
Mr. Fix-it 1
Notice 3
Occultism 1
Science 1
Sports 1
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +8 - Defense Action                           
Grapple +9 - Defense Action
Bite +7 6 Slash / Stab, needed for blood drain
Punch / claw +8 12 Bash / slash


Laura Hollis
White Hat

"What would Mina Harker do? Get bitten. Mina Harker would totally try and act all alluring to the bloodsucking fiend and totally get bitten. Let's not do that."

Life Points: 26

Strength 2
Dexterity 2
Constitution 2
Intelligence 4
Perception 3
Willpower 3

Qualities
Attractiveness 1
Nerd

Drawbacks
Honorable (1)
Love (Carmilla) (2)
Minority (lesbian) (1)

Height: 5'2"
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Brown

Skills
Acrobatics 2
Art 2
Computers 3
Crime 2 (Investigative Journalism)
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Gun-Fu 0
Getting Medieval 1
Influence 2
Knowledge 3
Kung Fu 2 (Krav Maga)
Languages 2 (English, German)
Mr. Fix-it 1
Notice 2
Occultism 0
Science 1
Sports 1
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry     +4 - Defense Action                           
Grapple +5 - Defense Action
Punch  +6 4 Bash

These stats represent our stars around Season 2.  So each one has a bit more points than expected of starting characters.

I think LaFontaine would

You can watch all three seasons on the KindaTV YouTube Channel.

Season 1



Season 2



Season 3




The movie is out next week!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Witches of the Last Apprentice: AS&SH 2nd Ed.

When I was reading the Last Apprentice books a couple years back I thought that they would work well with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.  The vaguely weird fantasy and human-centric worlds I felt worked well with each other.  Plus it seems to me that both works drew on the same original works.  At least that is the feeling I got.

I finished the recent book, I am Grimalkin, just about the same time my copy of  Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, 2nd Edition came in the email. It seemed to me that these two works are destined to remain together in my world.

Flipping through the new book get me into the mood to try out a few of the new classes and see what I could create.   Plus I have to admit that if you took the picture of the man on page vi with the sharpened teeth and fingers on his necklace and made it into a woman she very well could have been Grimalkin herself.

The races of AS&SH are very compelling as well and work with this world.

Alice Deane
Alice is one of the first witches we encounter in Delaney's Spook series. Though we don't know she is a witch at first (but we suspect it) nor do we know how really powerful she is and will become.  I am starting with her because she is the easiest to categorize. She is a witch.   The biggest issue with Alice is for someone so young she is already REALLY powerful. I made some compromises but am happy with this.

Alice Deane
Witch of the Dean and Malkin clans
Female Witch 5th level
Neutral

Race: Kelt
Secondary Skill: Scribe

Abilities
Strength: 10
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 15
Charisma: 14

Casting Ability: 5
Fighting Ability: 2

Hit Points:  13
AC: 9
Saving Throw: 14 (+2 Transformation, +2 Sorcery)

Powers
1st level: Brew Potions, Read Magic, Read Scrolls, Scribe Scrolls, Witch Spells, Familiar
3rd level: Brew Philtre
5th level: Dance of Beguilement, Effigy

Spells
First: (4) Alter Self, Decipher Language, Light, Scare
Second: (3) Darkness, Hold Person, Perceive Heartbeat
Third: (2) Black Cloud, Wind Wall

Grimalkin
One of the first I did when working on my Pathfinder and D&D 5 stats for Grimalkin was to think about what might be the best multiclass or dual class option to make a "Witch Assassin".  Well AS&SH doesn't do multiclass or dual-class.  Instead they rules have several subclasses that serve the same purpose. I opted to use a Warlock class for her in this case.  I also opted to cheat a little and limit her Warlock spells just to the Witch spell list.  There is a precedent for this with the Warlock taking spells from the Magician, Cryomancer, Necromancer or Pyromancer lists.

Grimalkin
Witch Assassin of the Malkin clan
Female Warlock 10th level
Chaotic Evil

Race: Kimmeri-Kelt (with some Amazon somewhere in there)
Secondary Skill: Weaponsmith

Abilities
Strength: 17
Dexterity: 18
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 17
Wisdom: 15
Charisma: 14

Casting Ability: 10
Fighting Ability: 10

Hit Points:  54
AC: 5 (Leather)
Saving Throw: 12 (+2 Transformation, +2 Sorcery)

Powers
Magic Item use, Read magic, Read scrolls, Scribe Scrolls, Sorcerery (Witch spells), Weapon Mastery, Stronghold

Spells
First: (4) Charm, Detect Magic, Scare, Sleep
Second: (4) Darkness, Find Traps, Obscure, Detect Invisible
Third: (3) Black Cloud, Delay Poison, Slow

Sword (3/2 attacks) +3 to hit, 1d8 +3 damage
Dagger (3/2 attacks) +3 to hit, 1d4 +3 damage

Thorne Malkin
Thorne is the apprentice of Grimalkin. She got the job at age 10 when she snuck up to the witch and kicked her in the shins.  Grimalkin normally would have killed the girl for her impertinence, but instead saw something in her that reminded her of herself. Thorne has been the apprentice of Grimalkin for the last five years.
For Thorne I am opting for the Legerdemainist class. This class is a subclass of the Thief with magical ability.  I figure anyone that can sneak up on the legendary Witch Assassin it would have to be a thief of some sort.

Thorne Malkin
Apprentice Witch Assassin
Female Legerdemainist 4th level
Chaotic Evil

Race: Kelt
Secondary Skill: Weaponsmith

Abilities
Strength: 15
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 15

Casting Ability: 4
Fighting Ability: 3

Hit Points:  54
AC: 5 (Leather)
Saving Throw: 14 (+2 Avoidance, +2 Sorcery)

Powers
Backstab, Agile +1 AC, Discern Noise, Hide, Manipulate Traps, Move Silently, Open Locks, Pick Pockets

Spells
First: (2) Charm, Scare
Second: (1) Darkness

Sword +1 to hit, 1d8 +1 damage
Dagger +1 to hit, 1d4 +1 damage


I think I like the Warlock better for a Witch Assassin over the Ledgerdemaist.   But in the case for Thorne I think it still works great.

Can't wait to try this system some more.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Grimalkin the Witch Assassin

"I am Grimalkin, the Witch Assassin.  I am the mother of Death. She follows behind me leaving bloody footprints in the grass."

Also known as "Spook's: I Am Grimalkin" by Joseph Delaney.

I decided to go back to the Last Apprentice/The Spook series since it had been a while since I had read the last book.  This one dealt nearly exclusively with Grimalkin, the witch assassin of the Malkin clan of witches.  We last saw her leaving Tom Ward and the Spook, John Gregory, after they had trapped and beheaded the Fiend.  Grimalkin is now on the run from her sister witches with the Fiends head in a bag.  If they capture her they will bring back the Fiend.

I rather enjoyed this one.  It was a fast read since it was full of action Also the character of Grimalkin is a fascinating one.  We learn why she hates the Fiend so much despite being a malevolent witch herself.  We learn why she became a witch-assassin too and some of her early training.

We also learn a lot more about all these witches.  For example, Grimalkin has an apprentice of her own, Thorn, a girl she is training to be the next witch assassin.  Grimalkin cares quite a lot for this girl and takes pride in her accomplishments much like a mother would.   She also cares for Alice Dean and Agnes Sowerbutts, two other witches we have seen in the past.   Even when acting evil, these witches are very, very human.  Which really puts the past books and especially John Gregory's behavior in some very dark light.  In the end, I was asking who was truly the evil one here?

The book has a great build up but the final battle at the end is over too soon in my mind.

You can find all of Joseph Delaney's Spook's series and books here: http://www.spooksbooks.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 21
Level: Crone!
Witches in this book: 4 featured, hundreds implied.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: They are supposed to be evil witches, but a lot in this made me rethink that.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Nearly any D&D game would work great.
Use in WotWQ: Grimalkin is such a great character. I would LOVE to use her or someone like her in my War of the Witch Queens game.

A while back after I finished Rage of the Fallen I worked up Grimalkin for Pathfinder. I thought it was great, it captured the character well I thought.  For this book I wanted to give her a try for the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition game.
The D&D5 game does not have witches (yet) but they do have Warlocks, and for this character that works out well to be honest.   She has a "Fiend Pact" which I felt was appropriate given her background in the books.  I went with the variant human so I could give her a dual wielding feat.
I suppose I could have made her Warlock/Ranger as some sort of hunter too, but I liked the idea of giving her the Rogue (Assassin) class.   Maybe I'll try that out with another system.

Grimalkin, the Witch/Assassin for D&D 5th Edition.



Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Eclavdra, D&D Beyond test and stats

I have a big three-ring binder FULL of stuff for my upcoming D12-3/Q1 adventures.  I have been wanting to do this for years and I am very excited.

To that end, I have been prepping on various fronts.  Here are the fruits of some of that labor.

As you might remember I signed up for D&D Beyond.  I am in for the whole deal, the books the builder all of it.  So I have been trying out different sorts of characters to get a feel for what works.

So far I find it superior to the builders I used for 3e and 4e from WotC but not quite as flexible as Hero Lab.  But for D&D 5 with all the content at my finger tips is great.  The HUGE plus for me is the ability to do it all on my Chromebook, switch to my Windows PC or laptop, switch to my phone or tablet or even use my Ubuntu Linux Frankencomputer.   For me, that is the best selling point.  I use too many different technologies that are cross compatible now, I expect that in the tech I use for fun as well.  While working on characters for this post I moved seamlessly between my Chromebook and Android phone.  I have not tried it on an iPad yet.

So far I have only used the character builder and the ability to look up material.   There is a lot here and I have to admit I get a kick anytime a bit of art from 3e and 4e pops up.

Eclavdra
I figure what better to test out this tool and to prep for my "Against the Drow" adventures is to stat up a new version of the classic Drow High Priestess Eclavdra.
Note: This is not going to be a "Power Score" like retrospective like +Sean McG does.  He does a far better job at that than I can do.



We get very little about her in the pages of G3. She is a Drow High Priestess of Lolth. She has some fighter ability and she is also serving the Elder Elemental Eye/Elder Elemental God/Tharizdûn.  +Joseph Bloch would know more and has likely talked about it a lot on his blog.
I have seen 3rd and 4th edition stats for her and I know I have 2nd ed stats for her somewhere.
I was hoping that the recent Tales from the Yawning Portal would have something more "5e-ish" for her, but other than some neat art (above) and a mention, nothing.  Not even the basic stats we got in the original G3.

Last year I talked about Eclavdra when I was getting ready to run the Giants series. I noted then that she was listed as:

Eclavdra (10th level cleric/fighter; H.P.: 60, Wisdom 17, Dexterity 18, Constitution 10, Charisma 18; Armor Class -8 = +3 shield, +5 chainmail, and +4 dexterity bonus).

So I started with that and compared it to the 4e stats I had at hand.



 I know I wanted to change her around a bit, keep her levels of Cleric but instead of Fighter, I gave her 4 levels of a Blade Pact Warlock of Tharizdûn.  I used some feats to also round out her fighting ability and I am very pleased with what I came up with.


A couple of things.  AD&D had lower ability scores but more powerful magic items.  This Eclavdra has greater Charisma and Wisdom, but she is unlikely to have a magic +5 anything.  So her 5e Armor Class of 16 seems weak compared to her AD&D AC of -8.  I might make her elven chain a little more powerful.

I am limited to the items in the software; that is until I make some more myself to use.  Good candidates here are +3 Elven Chain and her Tentacle Rod (not in the software or her sheets just yet).
But all in all I am pleased.  Like I mentioned above the ability to go back and forth on the platforms I use all the time appeals to me.  The phone version is also not too bad. I created a complete character on my phone with no difficulty.



If you want to check her out for yourself here is the PDF output the builder gives you.

Eclavdra, D&D Beyond Sheet.

It might not be perfect, but it is pretty good.

Most of the nitpicks I have with it are rule interpretations that I thought I had known.  So before I call them "bugs" I want to recheck my rulebook.

Is it worth the price tag?  Yeah, for me it is, but we are playing a lot of D&D 5 in this house these days.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Witch of Rhostshyl (Silverglass #3)

"You forget that I am a witch, Rehal." 
 - Nyctasia

Headed back to the world of witch Nyctasia r'n Edonaris brenn Rhostshyl and mercenary Corson brenn Torisk.  No longer on the run, our brave heroines are headed their separate ways for now.   Corson heads back to her lover Stefian and his tavern/inn in Chiastelm while Nyctasia remains with her cousins a bit longer.   Corson, of course, can't stand sitting around, she is too much of an adventurer, so she takes odd-jobs here and there.  One of which gets Steifann's other occasional lover, Destiver, captured and arrested as a smuggler.   While Steifann stews and Destiver waits for her likely execution, Corson decides to get out of town of a bit.
Back on the Endonaris Estates, Nyctasia is also getting restless. She translates books all day and comes down to interact with her cousins in the evening.   Eventually, she is dealing with a runaway slave and is drawn back into the civil war in Rhostshyl that she was trying to stop in Book 1.
Eventually, our heroes are reunited.  Nyctasisa takes on her rightful place as ruler of the City of Rhostshyl with Corson first as her body guard and then elevated to Lady Coirsonde.

More so than the previous books this one felt like two people writing a book separated by distance.   The story didn't pick up until the end, and only when our two leading ladies were back together again.  The bickering was gone and they have settled into a pretty solid friendship despite their differing stations.
I felt though there were some missed opportunities in this book.  There is a part where Nyc is off with a pack of traveling actors and acrobats that might have been fun.  Though we did get a lot of Corson's exploits.  We do get to meet Nyc's younger sister and mother in this, so more of the Edonaris clan.

This adventure really felt like a "Name Level" adventure in the old D&D sense.  Corson is made a Lady with all the rights and responsibilities.  Nyc stops running around and takes up her family's rulership of the city.

I am quite excited about starting the next, and sadly, the last book. No one will confuse these book with great literature, but they are a really fun and fast read.

The book is out of print and there are no digital or audio versions I have found.  They pop up every so often at Half-Price books.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 19
Level: Crone
Witches in this book: Nyctasia is very much a witch, but keeps her powers away from prying eyes.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Nyc is much better in this book.
Best RPG to Emulate it: For this book, there is a strong "Adventurer" vibe here not to mention all the things associated with hitting "name level" of old D&D.  So something D&D Basic/Expert, Adventurer Conqueror King,  or Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea would be great.
Use in WotWQ: Likely, but since I am using them as characters in the Blue Rose game I am currently playing their involvement might only be as a cameo.

Nyctasia and Corson for Basic/Expert D&D

Basic and Expert era D&D has so much going for it really. It is simple, it is easy to pick-up AND you can really pack a lot of fun in 14 levels.  I see why ACKS and AS&SH end around the same levels; ACKS, in particular, takes the B/X idea and really expands it to encompass a lot of  play-types.

Here they are for B/X era D&D at "name level".

Nyctasia r'n Edonaris brenn Rhostshyl
10th level Witch (Vahnite Tradition*)  (Family Trad)

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 15
Charisma: 18

Hit Points: 28
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 8 (leather armor, dex -1)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Greymantle (large hound)
7th level: Family Enemy

Spells
Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Ghost Sound, Object Reading, Open, Spark
First: Bewitch I, Cause Fear, Glamour, Mend Light Wounds, Sleep
Second: Agony, Calm Emotions, Rite of Remote Seeing
Third: Circle of Respite, Ghost Ward, Speak with Dead
Fourth: Divine Power, Intangible Cloak of Shadows
Fifth: Death Curse, Sending

Corson brenn Torisk, aka The Lady Corisonde Desthene li'Rhostshyl brenn Torisk
9th level Fighter

Strength: 17
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 15
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 16

Hit Points: 65
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 7 (leather)

Equipment:  Sword, armor, coins. Enchanted comb (will cast Bewitch 1/day).


Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #83

Have a look at that cover.  1984 was a good year for Chess themed things.  In October we would get the #1 hit, "One Night In Bangkok" from the Album Chess and sung by Murry Head.  In March we got this famous cover of Dragon #83 by  Denis Beauvais.  It is part of the oft mentioned Chess series that stretch to the modern day.  On the radio "Jump" by Van Halen dominates the airwaves. In the theatres we get "Against All Odds", "Police Academy" and "Romancing the Stone" as the big box office hits.  On the shelves "Dragonlance" is starting to appear and we get Issue #83 of This Old Dragon!

Letters cover the usual questions about psionics and where someone can get an article reprint.  Hang tight, you will be able to buy everything on CD-ROM in about 15 years.   There is also a letter on the longest continuous game of D&D at 100 hours.  I think the longest game I ever played was a combo Ravenloft I6/I10 game at 48 hours.

Ads for James Bond and Cities of Hârn.

Michael Lowrey is up first with The many facets of gems. Since a lot of my D&D game play is 70s and 80s fueled I always wanted to use gems as a means of storing magical energy in my games.  I never quite got it the way I wanted it to be honest (still working on it) but this article was a huge help back in the day.  It is also a pretty long article.

Ed Greenwood is back with the Ecology of the Stirge. Is it a bug? Is it a bird?  Going back and rereading these now I admire how well Ed could take even the most banal monster and turn it into something interesting.  While I used to find his "in universe" writing a little twee now I am genuinely amused by it.  I can imagine some Academy in the Forgotten Realms where monster experts debate the finer points of monster biology and killing methods, all safe in their academic halls and ivory towers.

Sign of the times.  The fiction section is not only by Margaret Weis, it is the first Dragonlance story in the pages of Dragon magazine.  Test of the Twins features the twins Caramon and Raistlin.  A lot of ink and pixels have been spilled over the effect on D&D by Dragonlance.  Whatever your point of view on this the Dragonlance era starts here and now with this issue.   The story is a pivotable one in the Dragonlance saga. So much so that I have read it, or versions of it, in other books before I saw it here.

The centerfold is the massive adventure from Roger Moore, the Dancing Hut. This was such a great adventure then that I had to rerun for my kids.  Though I combined it with bits of the 2nd Edition version that came out much later.  This one is a keeper.
Baba Yaga is such a historic figure in D&D it is no surprise there are so many adventures built around her.

Roger Moore follows this up with a simplified unarmed fighting system in How to Finish Fights Faster.  Frankly, I never used it.

There is an ad for my FLGS here, +Games Plus.  This might have been the first time I discovered them to be honest.  I used to order the hard to find stuff from Games Plus because they were the only Illinois game store that knew of that did mail orders. They were about 210 miles away from me at the time, but now they are only 8 miles. So I am very, very pleased to still be going there.

There is a Top Secret article here, but mine was cut out.

There is another ad and a long review of the James Bond 007 game.
I am a HUGE Bond fan.  My first Bond movie was Live and Let Die. It gave me a life long obsession with Bond, Voodoo and Jane Seymour.
Despite this, I have never played a James Bond game.  My loss to be sure.  I'll need to fix that someday.
My first Bond may have been the late great Roger Moore (no relation of course to the above-mentioned RM), the BEST Bond is Daniel Craig.

Ads...an order form for the Mail Order Hobby Shop to get back issues of Dragons.

In the comics section we get a rare celestial conjunction; Wormy, What's New with Phili and Dixie AND Snarf Quest all in one issue.  There is even an entry of Talanalan here.

A great issue really, if for nothing else than for the Baba Yaga adventure.

March 1984 was also a good issue of White Dwarf. Check that out on my White Dwarf Wednesday Issue #51.

Using Baba Yaga in your games
This adventure features Baba Yaga and gives her stats ala Deities and Demigods.  She is a tough one to beat too.   She has 3 attacks, 135 hp, a -1 Charisma which gives her horror like effects.  She fights like a 16HD and has the spell casting ability of a 25th level Magic-User, a 15th level Illusionist and a 14th level Druid.  Crazy.  Oh, and she has some abilities of an assassin too.

There is no doubt that she is one of, if not THE, most powerful witch in the D&D multiverse.  When she is not working with her daughter Iggwilv on Oerth she is off on Golarion dealing with the Winter Witches of Irrisen.  I would not be surprised to discover she has also been to Aglarond and Rashemen. And if she hasn't been there then her Hut has.

No one is better suited for a Basic Witch write-up to be honest.
I will use Roger Moore's stats as a guideline and use the witch rule from my The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games.

Baba Yaga, Witch Queen
36th level Queen of Witches, Daughter of Baba Yaga Tradition (She is the Tradition founder.)
Female, Chaotic (Nuetral Evil)

Strength 20 (+3 / +8)
Intelligence 25
Wisdom 23
Dexterity 18 (+3)
Constitution 21 (+6_
Charisma -1* (Baba Yaga uses her negative CHA the way other witches use positive. So +5)

Saving Throws
Death Ray/Poison 3
Magic Wands 3
Paralysis, Polymorph 3
Dragon Breath 3
Rods, Staffs, Spells 3
+5 to all saves via Ring of Protection
+ for Wisdom

Hit Points:
AC: -10
(Grandmother's Shawl +5, Bracers of Defense +3, Ring of Protection +5, Dex 18 -3)

THAC0: 4
(I know, THAC0 was not used in Basic D&D. You know what this means)

Occult Powers
Lesser: Familiar (crow)
Minor: Kitchen Witchery
Medial: Detect Bloodline
Greater: Curse
Major: Shape Change
Superior: Longevity

Spell Immunities
Baba Yaga is immune to the following spells:
Cause fear, charm person, command, friends, hypnotism, forget, hold person, ray of enfeeblement, scare, beguiling, bewitch, domination, fear, charm monster, confusion, emotion, fumble, suggestion, telempathic projection, chaos, feeblemind, hold monster, magic jar, mass domination, quest, geas, mass suggestion, rulership, antipathy/sympathy, finger of death, mass charm, Otto's irresistable dance and any spell created by one of her "Daughters" (for example Tasha's Hideous Uncontrollable Laughter).

Other Powers
Arcane Diversity: Baba Yaga may learn other arcane spells (Wizard, Necromancer, Illusionist). She can replace 1 Ritual spell per spell level with an arcane spell she has learned.  These spells must be learned like other magic-users and recorded in her Book of Shadows.

Spells
Cantrips (8): Alarm Ward, Arcane Mark, Chill, Daze, Ghost Sound, Inflict Minor Wounds, Object Reading, Summon Vermin
1st (9+4): Bad Luck, Black Fire, Cause Fear, Charm Person, Chill Touch, Darkness, Endure Elements, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Glamour, Minor Fighting Prowess, Protection from Spirits, Silver Tongue
2nd (9+3): Agony, Biting Blade, Discord, Enthrall, ESP, Evil Eye, Ghost Touch, Hold Person, Invisibility, Mind Obscure, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile
3rd (9+3): Astral Sense, Bestow Curse, Circle of Respite, Dispel Magic, Feral Spirit, Ghost Ward, Lethe's Curse, Lifeblood, Magic Circle Against Undead, Toad Mind, Witch Wail, Witch Writing
4th (9+3): Abomination, Analyze Magic, Arcane Eye, Charm Monster, Divination, Ethereal Projection, Intangible Cloak of Shadows, Phantom Lacerations, Speak with Dead, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee, Withering Touch
5th (9+2): Baleful Polymorph, Blade Dance, Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Endless Sleep, Greater Command, Hold Monster, Magic Jar, Nightmare, Teleport, Waves of Fatigue
6th (9+1): Anchoring Rite, Anti-magic Shell, Break the Spirit, Death Blade, Eye Bite, Ethereal Banishment, Mass Agony, Mislead, True Seeing, Dismissal (Ritual)
7th (9): Call the Restless Soul, Death Aura, Draw Forth the Soul, Greater Arcane Eye, Greater Blindness, Foresight, Insanity, Wave of Mutilation, Gate (Ritual)
8th (9): Antipathy/Sympathy, Astral Projection, Destroy Life, Greater Mislead, Mystic Barrier, Pit, Trap the Soul, Ensnarement (Ritual), Imprisonment (Ritual)

Magic Items
Grandmother's Shawl (Greatest), Broom of Animated Attack, Baba Yaga's Hut, Baba Yaga's mortar and pestle.

To make her closer to the version presented here in Dragon #83 I could give her the Mind Bar from +Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Xena & Gabrielle: Blue Rose 2nd Edition

It's June and I think I'll spend a good part of this month going over the new AGE version of Blue Rose.  What better choice than a couple of characters I have done in the past and ones I think will work great under Blue Rose.  Xena and Gabrielle.


I have done Xena and Gabby for Army of Darkness and Spellcraft & Swordplay in the past.  So I am basing this on those versions.  I might have some of my stats for Blue Rose a little off, I am still figuring out this game.  But I am having a great time doing it!

Why Xena?
I make no excuses of my enjoyment of Xena: Warrior Princess.  The show was silly, irreverent and always a fun time. Frankly, with it's mix of comedy, drama, memorable characters and a mish-mash of historical and mythological events, it really was the perfect D&D TV show.

There is one thing that Xena does better than any RPG.  It attracted a huge female audience and kept them.  Granted, one could argue that "Friend in Need" might have killed that, but up until then.  I think Xena works for the same reason that other successful shows do.  Great characterizations and great characters.  You know all about Xena and Gabrielle, but they are still great to watch.  Adding them to your game might just be that spice you didn't know you were missing.

Adding Xena and Gabrielle to your Game
Given their wanderings across the world it should actually be only a matter of time before the characters would run into her.  Maybe they know of her infamy as a conqueress.  Maybe they know of her turn and desire to do good to atone.  Or maybe it is just one of those things where the PCs and Xena arrive in the same place at the same time.  Fate is funny that way.

Like with my other builds I am setting these AFTER "Friend in Need". Obviously, Xena had to come back to life for some reason and now her and Gabrielle are back to doing what they do best.

Friend in Deed
"Friend in Deed" (FinD, and it is "in Deed" and not "indeed") is my let'sts go find Xena and bring her back to life because she is the Promised One" adventure/episode. Takes place after the series finale ("Friend in Need", get it?), Gabrielle is struggling to live up to Xena's legacy and struggling to continue living without Xena. While her intentions were initially good, she has been spiraling into darkness and depression. She has forgotten what she had learned as Eli's student. She has been traveling on the Path of the Warrior, trouble is she is close to leaving that and been straying onto the Path of Vengeance.

And that was about as far as I got.

I know the plot is not only to rescue Xena (she is in an in-between spiritual plane) but to rescue Gabrielle as well. I always imagined Gabrielle trying to continue Xena's journey, but feeling like she was failing and sinking deeper into depression. That is where your characters come in and help her save the day! Or something.


Xena, Warrior Princess of Amphipolis (Kern)
Level 13 Warrior


ABILITIES (FOCUSES)
4
Accuracy (Brawling)
2
Communication (Leadership, Persuasion) 
4*
Constitution (Drinking, Stamina)
4*
Dexterity (Acrobatics, Riding, Stealth)
5*
Fighting (Bludgeons) *many are part of Warrior
1
Intelligence (Cultural lore, Heraldry)
2
Perception (Tracking)
4*
Strength (Intimidation, Might)
4
Willpower (Courage)

COMBAT RATINGS
SPEED        HEALTH       DEFENSE       ARMOR RATING
   12                82                  14                           5
ATTACKS
  WEAPON           ATTACK ROLL          DAMAGE
Sword                        + 7                           1D6 + 3 (slash)
Chakram                    + 7                           1D6 + 2 (slash)
POWERS, TALENTS, AND SPECIALIZATIONS
Favored Stunts: Disarm, dual strike, lighting attack, mighty blow
Talents:  Quick Reflexes (J), Thrown Weapon (M), Armor Training (J), Single-weapon style (sword) (M)
Specializations: Champion Talent (M), Outrider (N)


Medium Armor: Studded leather

Calling: Atonement (Judgement)
Destiny/Fate: Compassionate/Despondent (Nine of Swords)
Corruption: 1 (might have paid off by now)
Goals: To atone for past misdeeds. To bring good into the world. To stop the machinations of cruel gods.

Relationships
Gabrielle (5), "Gabrielle is the best part of me. I do everything to be worthy in her eyes."
Ares (3), "Ares is everything that I hate about the gods, and in my former self."
Joxer (1), "Gabrielle's friend, useful but a pain. Still, his heart is good."
Autolycus (1), "Prince of Braggarts more like it. He is a good friend and helpful in a tight situation."

Gabrielle, The Battling Bard of Potidaea (Matriarchy of Lar'tya)
Level 12 Expert


ABILITIES (FOCUSES)
4*
Accuracy (Brawling, Light blades, Staves)
2*
Communication (Investigation, Persuasion) 
4
Constitution (Stamina)
4*
Dexterity (Calligraphy)
5
Fighting (Bludgeons, Heavy blades)
1
Intelligence (Historical lore, Natural lore, Writing)
2*
Perception (Empathy)
4
Strength ()
4
Willpower (Self-discipline)

COMBAT RATINGS
SPEED        HEALTH       DEFENSE       ARMOR RATING
   12                74                  11                            3
ATTACKS
  WEAPON           ATTACK ROLL          DAMAGE
Staff                         +5                            1D6 (bludgeon)
Sai (2)                      +5                            1D6 (bludgeon)
Grand Katana            +5                           1D6+3 (slashing)
POWERS, TALENTS, AND SPECIALIZATIONS
Favored Stunts: New friends
Talents:  Pin-point attack, Oratory (J), Performance (N), Linguistics (J), Inspire (N), Unarmed style (N), Take aim, Stunning attack, Lethality
Specializations: Bard (verse) (M), Martial Artist (N)


Light Armor: Soft leather

Calling: Explore and Discovery (The World)
Destiny/Fate: Curious/Jaded (Queen of Rods)
Corruption: 1 (might have paid off by now)
Goals: To aid in Xena's redemption by letting the world know of her good deeds. To recover Xena's soul.

Relationships
Xena (5), "Xena is everything I ever live or die for."
Joxer (2), "He loves me, but he can only be my very good friend."
Autolycus (1), "He is not as evil or as mercenary as he lets on. One day he also discover that."

--
Ok. THAT was a lot of fun.  Can't wait to try out some more!

A couple of things I am not sure about. Xena's nerve pinch "touch" and Gabby's anti-magic dragon tattoo from the last episode.

I think these numbers are good, but I will need to try some more to be sure.
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