Showing posts with label dracula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dracula. Show all posts

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Quincey P. Morris

Quincey Morris is the odd man out here in the Dracula tale. He is a rich American, friends with Holmwood and Seward, and like Van Helsing he has had dealings with blood-suckers, in this case, vampire bats, before.  He is also the character that gets left out of most other media more times than not.

It is Quincey, or rather his Bowie knife, that is instrumental in bringing down Dracula so Harker and Holmwood can kill him.

Had he survived the attack by Dracula he would have been a great character to become a vampire hunter.  Other authors have picked up this challenge and have told stories of a survived Quincey, a vampire Quincey and even Quincey's younger brother (called "Cole" in at least one story).  Quincey lives on in John and Mina's son, Quincy Harker.

Again, one of the best portrayals was Billy Campbell in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992) which was also one of the most book accurate portrayals.  Another good one is Ethan Chandler in Penny Dreadful

Here he is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Quincey P. Morris
4th level Veteran
Archetype: Rich Texan

Strength: 13 (+1) S
Dexterity: 17 (+2) P
Constitution: 16 (+2) S
Intelligence: 11 (0) 
Wisdom: 13 (0) 
Charisma: 15 (+2)

HP: 24
Alignment: Chaotic Good
AC: 8
Attack: +2 

Fate Points: 1d6

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+0
Melee bonus: +1 Ranged bonus: +2
Saves:  +2 to all saves. 

Powers:  Combat Expertise, Improved damage, improved defense, Supernatural Attack, tracking

Skills:** 
Beast Whisperer, Steady Hands, Notice, Wilderness Survival

** Skills are optional in NIGHT SHIFT, but for Seward, Holmwood, and Morris I feel they are what set the characters apart and above and beyond their class abilities. 

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You can see why Arthur and Quincey are often combined in movies where they work better in a book. Here their stats are not very different, they are both even 4th level Veterans.  I did that on purpose to show that with the optional skills rules you can provide more customization with the characters.  They are also played quite differently. 

Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog and the #CharacterCreationChallenge on Twitter for more! 

Character Creation Challenge

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Arthur Holmwood Lord Godalming

In the book Arthur Holmwood, later the Lord Godalming, is the other suitor for the hand of Lucy and the one she ultimately chooses.  One of the plot threads in the books and made more clear in the 1992 movie, was that Holmwood, Seward, and Morris were all friends and even had a few adventures together.

I recall at the time of the 1992 movie that there were rumors of a possible prequel involving the "Victorian Young Guns" and their fights with the supernatural before Dracula.  Neat idea, but all three were fairly incredulous at the idea of the supernatural when Van Helsing brings up the topic.

Still, Holmwood is pretty important to the tale because not only is he Lucy's suitor, he provides the money and the title to get the heroes all the things they need.  Holmwood is also the one that drives the stake into Dracula's heart in the novel.

Cary Elwes provides one of the best performances, but I am also rather partial to Michael Gough in Hammer's 1958 Dracula and Simon Ward in 1973's Dracula which questionably featured Jack Palance as Dracula.

Here he is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Arthur Holmwood
4th level Veteran
Archetype: Victorian Lord

Strength: 12 (0) 
Dexterity: 15 (+1) P
Constitution: 13 (+1) S
Intelligence: 12 (0) 
Wisdom: 11 (0) 
Charisma: 16 (+3) S 

HP: 22
Alignment: Neutral Good
AC: 8
Attack: +2 

Fate Points: 1d6

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+0
Melee bonus: 0 Ranged bonus: +1
Saves:  +2 to all saves. 

Powers:  Combat Expertise, Improved damage, improved defense, Supernatural Attack, tracking

Skills:** 
History, Convince, Literature, Wilderness Survival

** Skills are optional in NIGHT SHIFT, but for Seward, Holmwood, and Morris I feel they are what set the characters apart and above and beyond their class abilities. 

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Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog and the #CharacterCreationChallenge on Twitter for more! 

Character Creation Challenge


Friday, January 7, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Dr. John "Jack" Seward

My next three characters are the ones that get forgotten the most.  While Mina and Lucy will have their names changed/swapped, the next three are either reduced to one or two characters or forgotten about altogether.

Today I want to do one close to my heart, Dr. Jack Seward.  Seward was a psychiatrist and I spent a number of years as a psychologist.  Plus my one and only time on stage was playing Seward in my High School version of Dracula.  Yeah, I am not going to dump my academic career for a life in the limelight, but it was fun.

My favorite performance of Seward was from Bram Stoker's Dracula from 1992 played by Richard E. Grant, though Donald Pleasence also gave a great performance in 1979's Dracula.

Seward's role in the novel is to first be a suitor to Lucy, but he also brings in Van Helsing. His friends Arthur Holmwood and Quincy Morris are also instrumental in the battle against Dracula.

Here he is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Your Humble Author in High School as Jack Seward
Yeah, me with a full beard in High School as Seward
Dr. Jack Seward
3rd level Sage
Archetype: Would-be suitor, doctor

Strength: 11 (0) 
Dexterity: 12 (0) S
Constitution: 13 (+1) 
Intelligence: 16 (+2) P
Wisdom: 12 (0) S
Charisma: 15 (+2) 

HP: 14
Alignment: Lawful Good
AC: 9
Attack: +1 

Fate Points: 1d6

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+1/+0
Melee bonus: 0 Ranged bonus: 0
Saves:  +3 to saves against spells and magical effects. 

Powers:  Mesmerize Others (used on Renfield and Mina), Suggestion, Survivor Skills (level 1), Languages (16), Arcane Dabbler

Survivor Skills
  • Open Locks: 15%
  • Bypass Traps: 10%
  • Sleight of Hand: 20%
  • Move Silently: 20%
  • Hide in Shadows: 10%
Spells*
Level One: Charm Person, Detect Evil

*In this case "Spells" will be just bits of lore and learning he is able to use. 

Skills:** 
History, Knowledge (Psychiatry), Medicine, Science

** Skills are optional in NIGHT SHIFT, but for Seward, Holmwood, and Morris I feel they are what set the characters apart and above and beyond their class abilities. 

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Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog and the #CharacterCreationChallenge on Twitter for more! 

Character Creation Challenge


Thursday, January 6, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Lucy Westenra

Yesterday I featured Mina Murray Harker, the hero of the Dracula novel.  The archetypical victim though belongs to her friend Lucy Westenra.  I have compared Lucy and Mina a few times. Showing where Mina is the "Modern Woman," Lucy is the "Old World Woman."  She does a lot to make herself more attractive to Dracula.  She is looking for a man to define her life, she is a member of the "idle rich," she has bouts of sleep-walking, her innocence, and more.  Where Mina is proactive, Lucy is largely reactive.  

It is hard really not to feel bad for her.

After she is turned by Dracula all of that gets inverted.  The sweet, coquettish girl becomes the dangerous "bloofer lady" that preys on children. 

My favorite portrayal of her comes from Sadie Frost in 1992's Bram Stoker's Dracula, but I also rather liked how Jan Francis looked as the vampire Lucy (or rather "Mina" in this version) in 1979's Dracula, though she looks nothing like the "bloofer lady."   Though the most accurate physical portrayal was by Katie McGrath in the short run NBC series Dracula.

Here she is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Lucy Westenra
2nd level Survivor (Supernatural, Vampire)
Archetype: Vampire Victim

Strength: 11 (0) 
Dexterity: 12 (0) 
Constitution: 8 (-1) 
Intelligence: 11 (0) S
Wisdom: 10 (0) S
Charisma: 17 (+3) P

HP: 4
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 9
Attack: +1 

Fate Points: 1d6

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +2/+1/+0
Melee bonus: 0 Ranged bonus: 0
Saves: +3 to all Wisdom saving throws, +3 to death saves. +1 to all others.

Powers:  Vampire Powers, Stealth skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-2), Sneak Attack x2

Vampire Powers
  • Ability Bonuses (+2 to Strength, +2 Dexterity)
  • Damage Immunity
  • Feed on Life (Con drain)
  • Vampire Regeneration
  • Vampire Vulnerabilities

Stealth Skills

  • Open Locks: 25%
  • Bypass Traps: 20%
  • Sleight of Hand: 30%
  • Move Silently: 30%
  • Hide in Shadows: 10%
  • Perception: 45%

--

Dracula, and Lucy for that matter, drains Constitution, not "Levels," which is as it should be for "Dracula."  There was no way Lucy could survive three attacks of draining 2 levels when she is always described as frail and weak before Dracula even shows up.  Not only that the children Lucy later preys one are certainly 2nd level, they are barely 0 level.

Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog and the #CharacterCreationChallenge on Twitter for more! 

Character Creation Challenge

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Mina Murray Harker

Longtime readers here will know of my love of Mina Murray Harker, the true hero of the Dracula novel.  I have talked about her here a few times, but in short, she is the one that puts all the pieces together, she is the one that has the forethought to transcribe everyone's notes.  She is the one that really has the tools to go hunting for Dracula.  She is also the prototype of the "Final Girl" a trope that will only grow for the next 120+ years.

One thing I have never cared for though was the whole reincarnated lover of Dracula.  Mina is interesting enough without needing to add anything else to her character.  That being said, I did not mind Alan Moore making her into a vampire.  But that is not what I am going with her.  This is Mina from the book and most of the movies.

Here she is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Mina Murray Harker
3rd level Survivor (Human)
Archetype: Survivor

Strength: 10 (0) 
Dexterity: 12 (0) 
Constitution: 15 (+1) S
Intelligence: 16 (+2) P
Wisdom: 12 (0) 
Charisma: 16 (+2) S

HP: 11
Alignment: Light
AC: 8
Attack: +1 

Fate Points: 1d8

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+1/+0
Melee bonus: 0 Ranged bonus: 0
Saves: +3 to death saves. +1 to all others.

Powers:  Stealth skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-3), Sneak Attack x2, Read Languages, 

Stealth Skills

  • Open Locks: 35%
  • Bypass Traps: 30%
  • Sleight of Hand: 40%
  • Move Silently: 40%
  • Hide in Shadows: 30%
  • Perception: 50%

--

Mina is a vampire attack survivor, more so that she survived an attack by Dracula.  That has to count for something. 

Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog and the #CharacterCreationChallenge on Twitter for more! 

Character Creation Challenge


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Jonathan Harker

Harker is the first character we meet in the novel Dracula. You would think this would make him the most important character, but that role will be discussed tomorrow.  Harker is a means to end, both to the novel Dracula and the character Dracula.  He provides the Victorian England point of view of the story.  

He is not a particularly useful character, either in the novels or many of the movies. Though he gets more limelight in the 1979 John Badham, Frank Langella staring Dracula and in the 1992 Bram Stoker's Dracula from Francis Ford Coppola.  I do remember at the time really ripping into Keanu Reeves' portrayal, but looking back over others and re-reading the book, Harker is kinda weak. 

He does get to fair a little better in the "Alternate" Dracula, Powers of Darkness, and in the RPG Rippers.

Here he is for Night Shift. NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

Jonathan Harker
3rd level Survivor (Human)
Archetype: Survivor

Strength: 11 (0) 
Dexterity: 12 (0) 
Constitution: 16 (+2) S
Intelligence: 14 (+1) P
Wisdom: 12 (0) 
Charisma: 15 (+1) S

HP: 14
Alignment: Light
AC: 8
Attack: +1 

Fate Points: 1d8

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+1/+0
Melee bonus: 0 Ranged bonus: 0
Saves: +3 to death saves. +1 to all others.

Powers:  Stealth skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-3), Sneak Attack x2, Read Languages, 

Stealth Skills

  • Open Locks: 35%
  • Bypass Traps: 30%
  • Sleight of Hand: 40%
  • Move Silently: 40%
  • Hide in Shadows: 30%
  • Perception: 50%

--

Harker is pretty much the archetypical vampire-attack survivor.  

Want to see more of the #CharacterCreationChallenge? Stop by Tardis Captain's Blog for more! 

Character Creation Challenge


Monday, January 3, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: R. M. Renfield

One of the more interesting characters in the Dracula novel and movies is "zoophagous maniac" R. M. Renfield.  He is one of Dracula's first victims, though we never see the attack, we know that he is under Dracula's thrall. 

We first meet Renfield in Dr. Seward's sanitorium where we learn he is very excitable and very strong.  His defining features are his diet of bugs (though he hopes for a cat) and his deference to his "Master."

Given all of this, I thought with the new NIGHT SHIFT Night Companion going out to backers today, I'd give Renfield a try as a Ghoul.

Here he is for Night Shift.

Alexander Granach as Renfield/Knock in Nosferatu
R. M. Renfield

5th level Survivor (Supernatural, Ghoul)
Archetype: Thrall

Strength: 16 (+1) P
Dexterity: 16 (+1) S
Constitution: 15 (+1) S
Intelligence: 11 (0) 
Wisdom: 8 (-1) 
Charisma: 8 (-1) 

HP: 20
Alignment: Dark
AC: 8
Attack: +2

Fate Points: 1d8

Feed: Live flesh, prefers insects

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +1  Ranged bonus: +1
Saves: +3 to all Constitution-based saves and are immune to poison. +3 to death saves.

Powers
Rake attack, paralysis, Stealth skills, Climbing, Danger Sense (1-3), Sneak Attack x3

Stealth Skills

  • Open Locks: 55%
  • Bypass Traps: 50%
  • Sleight of Hand: 60%
  • Move Silently: 60%
  • Hide in Shadows: 50%
  • Perception: 60%

--

A few things here.  First I think this works great as Renfield. He works great as a Survivor, especially with his sneak attacks and his ability to escape.  He also works great as a Ghoul.  His bug-eating is covered well by his "Feed", a new rule feature in the Night Companion for Supernatural characters.  

Additionally, his alignment is listed as "Dark" another new feature of the Night Companion.  He is evil, but not irredeemable. Though in truth he never gets the chance. 

 

Character Creation Challenge

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: Prof. Van Helsing

In many ways, it was Van Helsing who was my true gateway to D&D.  

While I will wax poetically about the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, it was really Hammer Horror that fueled my desire for adventure games.  And while Christopher Lee's Dracula was the unchallenged star of many of the films of my youth it was Peter Cushing's portrayal of "doctor, professor, and meta-physician" Abraham Van Helsing that was the obvious model my first character took.

Here is the good professor for Night Shift.

Professor Abraham Van Helsing
5th level Theosophist/5th level Sage (Human)
Archetype: Vampire Hunter

Strength: 11 (0)
Dexterity: 13 (+1) 
Constitution: 13 (+1)
Intelligence: 18 (+3) P
Wisdom: 18 (+3) S
Charisma: 15 (+1) S

HP: 45
Alignment: Lawful Good
AC: 8
Attack: +2

Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +5/+3/+2
Melee bonus: +0  Ranged bonus: +1
Saves: +3 (+6 total) to Spells and magical effects, +3 to all saves

Powers
See dead people, Turn Undead, Summon the Dead, Channel the Dead, Protection from the Dead, Sage abilities, Survivor skills, Lore,  Read Languages, Suggestion

Languages: English, Latin, Greek, German, Dutch, Flemish, French, Hebrew, Romanian, Russian, Arabic, Middle English

Spells
First Level: Bless, Detect Evil
Second Level: Find Traps, Knock

--

Van Helsing, MD, D.Ph., D.Litt., etc., combines the powers of a sage and a theosophist.  The sage is easy to see, but the theosophist is a little different.  His powers are not those of a "necromancer" but rather own that studies the undead and wants to fight them. 

The balance of powers each class gives is important to give the character the right feel.  The Sage gives him his languages and survivor skills.  The theosophist gives him some undead fighting ability.   Though you never see him casting spells, save for rituals that would help him fight Dracula. 

Character Creation Challenge

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Character Creation Challenge: NIGHT SHIFT

NIGHT SHIFT
Welcome to 2022!  Last year I participated in TardisCaptain's Blog of Holding's Character Creation Challenge. It was a lot of fun and I got to do a lot of really cool witches.

This year I am going to do something a little different.  This year I want to explore just one game, but show how versatile the system is and what I can do with it.   That game is obviously going to be my own NIGHT SHIFT.

The Game: NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars

NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars is a modern supernatural monster hunting game written by Jason Vey and myself.  We took all of the work we have collectively done with Old-School RPGs along with all the experiences we had while working on Buffy, Angel, Army of Darkness, Ghosts of Albion, and All Flesh Must Be Eaten and poured it into this new game.  My personal goals here were to make a game that I could play any type of witch I wanted and to fill the Buffy-shaped hole in my life.  I feel I succeeded in both.  

NIGHT SHIFT is available from the Elf Lair Games website (hardcover) and from DriveThruRPG (PDF).

For this challenge, I am going to focus on characters you can use in any sort of campaign.  I am going to draw from a couple of different campaigns I have been playing around with for a few years.  The first is a Dracula-focused one I have picked at for a number of years decades. Dracula is always fun and I have a blast using him in an adventure.  

The others will be NPCs from my Spirit of '76 game, set obviously in 1976.  I'll also include some modern ones.   In all cases, I want to show off how well NIGHT SHIFT can do these characters and even show off some of the features of the new Nights Companion for NIGHT SHIFT. Coming Soon. 

Dracula
16th level Veteran (Supernatural, Vampire)
Archetype: Master Vampire

Strength: 22 (+5) P
Dexterity: 18 (+3) S
Constitution: 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 13 (+1)
Wisdom: 14 (+1)
Charisma: 22 (+5) S

HP: 120
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 5

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +7/+5/+3
Melee bonus: +12  Ranged bonus: +8
Saves: +5 to all

Powers
Vampire Powers
Veteran Abilities

 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema / October Horror Movie Challenge: Vlad the Impaler (2018)

Vlad the Impaler aka Deliler (2018)
Found a good movie for double duty today, though it is a bit light on the Sorcery and Horror.

Vlad the Impaler aka Deliler (2018) 

This is a Turkish movie detailing the battle between the Turks and Prince Vlad of Wallachia in the 15th century.  It is pretty obvious from the start that this movie is very pro-Turkish and paints Vlad as not just evil, but the embodiment of evil.

The Deliler of the Turkish title refers to the band of elite warriors of the Sultan Mehmed sent to stop Vlad. A bit like the 15th-century SAS.  There is seven total, and they are all portrayed as bad-asses, but bad -asses in the service of the side of good. They are also kind to widows, small children, and babies. They are featured on the cover (the top three anyway, Gökkurt is the one with the wings) and Vlad on the lower right is the obvious bad guy.

Vlad is seen killing his own people, working with an alchemist to devise weaponized rats, and even having his men kill the beggars that help them collect the rats.   All the while claiming to be the Son of God.

They are not going for subtlety here. 

Despite what the American covers of the movie might have you think, this movie is about the Deliler, not so much about Vlad. Throughout the movie, the Deliler seem to have a sort of supernatural connection to each other and their Sultan.  Not to mention their near-supernatural fighting ability. 

It takes a while but we finally get to the big battle at the end.  Six Deliler against all of Vlad's army.  How do you think it will go?  Well more of the Sultan's men show up just in time. 

A lot of reviews online claim this movie is nothing more than a propaganda piece by the Turks. Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know enough about Turkish politics to be able to say for sure.  The movie is very obviously pro-Turk and anti...anti bad guy? I am not sure what it is against.  I suppose it must be like seeing an American movie with a Rambo like figure, or seven of them, fighting some Commie, or Nazi, or whomever we are mad at today.  I guess this is "Team America: World Police."

--

Game content.  Well, it would not be bad to get a good feel for how you could run Barovia with a more 15th-century feel as opposed to the Hammer-Horror filter of the 15th to 19th Century.  How about this. A group of elite, obviously Good, warriors (fighters, barbarians, bards, a ranger, and paladin) whose only purpose is to destroy vampires and Strahd in particular.  Maybe something like the Order of St. Johan

Are there better, more historically accurate tales? Of course. But this is a place to start for some D&D background. 

2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 54
First Time Views: 41

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.



Thursday, October 22, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: La Fille de Dracula (1972)

While watching Vampire Ecstacy I recalled there were a lot of similarities to this movie.  I ordered it then and thanks to Prime got it this morning.   

I watched this one back in 2013 but the copy I had was a really terrible VHS to DVD transfer.  

There is no comparison between the two.  After watching the BluRay I might pop in my DVD just to see if there are a lot of differences.   This one is in French with English subtitles. 

One thing I didn't cover with my last watching was the Karlstein/Karnstein issue.  The castle is called Castle Karlstein but given the time when it was filmed, I can't imagine they didn't mean Karnstien as in Carmilla. 

The story fits the Karnsteins better than the Draculas any way.

Britt Nichols plays Luisa Karlstein and Anne Libert plays Karine, Luisa's cousin, and lover.  And of course, Franco appears playing a creepy dude.  I mean if you are going to cast yourself in a role you should get your choice right?  

Throughout the movie women are attacked and drained of blood.

Luisa returns home to her dying mother and learns the family secret. Their ancestor, Count Karlstein, was a vampire and mom has been keeping him in the crypt.  Luisa goes to the crypt wakes up great-granddad.  Next time we see her she has fangs and begins to seduce her cousin Karine.  Though from the looks of it, Karine is a willing convert. 

There are some issues with this movie.  Luisa and Karine in their first scene act like they have just met, but later on, Karine tells Luisa about how she always loved her and they were "best friends" growing up.  They even relate a scene where Luisa plucked the eyes out of a bird and Karine cried in her arms. 

And the movie goes downhill, or rather, nowhere from there.  In fact the Luisa/Karine story seems completely disconnected from the Vampire killing plot.  If you assume that it was Luisa doing it then she was a vampire before she encountered the count (and it was the actress, if not the character). If it is the count doing the killings then what exactly is Luisa doing in the movie? Other than to lay in bed with Karine all day.

I learned while doing some preliminary research on this before tonight that this movie is part of a loose trilogy from Franco.  Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972) features Howard Vernon as Dracula, the same role he is playing in Daughter of Dracula.   It occurs before this movie.  Daughter is followed by The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein (1973).  This movie also has  Britt Nichols and Anne Libert, though in different roles than in this one. The Erotic Rites of Frankenstein is also the film debut of frequent Franco star Lina Romay. She would go on to appear in 100 of his movies and they eventually married in 2008, four years before her death. They had been a couple though for 40 years. I forget which DVD commentary it was on, but Franco, in his 80s, still spoke of her very warmly and lovingly.  He would later go on to die a year after.

I think at this point I am a little burned out on Franco. I have another one for the weekend, also with Britt Nichols and Anne Libert, playing sisters this time instead of cousins.  I might save them for another year, but likely not. 

My original, bad VHS to DVD edit, ran 78 mins, the BluRay is 82 mins. The BluRay also has an edited "clean" version.

Watched: 39
New: 26

NIGHT SHIFT and Old-School Content
How about this. I have seen a few movies about Dracula's family and a few more about the Karnsteins and their family.  I have done some work on witch families. What about two warring families who patriarch/matriarchs are both ancient and powerful vampires. The descendants can be living, but living under a curse that when they die they become the undead.  The two family leaders have some sort of relation; say like cousins or half-siblings.  A good example would be the historical Dracula and Bathory clans. They shared a relationship by blood and other ties. Or the literary one of Dracula and the Karnsteins; we know that Stoker was a fan of Le Fanu's work and in the Hammer Karnsteins, Dracula is often in the background.

The war between rival families of vampires might sound a little World of Darkness, but it is something that could work well for both an Old-School game and Night Shift. 


Friday, October 16, 2020

Kickstart Your Weekend: C&C and Weird War II

A couple of fun Kickstarters today.

Castles & Crusades Roads to Adventure


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ckg/castles-and-crusades-roads-to-adventure?ref=theotherside

The Troll Lords always put out a quality Kickstarter.  While I don't need a new printing of the Player's Handbook, a collection of all the spells has me intrigued. The Player's Archive also sounds fantastic.  So yeah there is a lot going for this Kickstarter.  You can customize your pledges in many ways. So say you only want the Spellbook and Archive? You can do that. Want all three? Yup. Want one book and some of the great add-ons? You can do that too.  Now that they have hit the stretch goals of the Spellbook in hardcover this is a no-brainer for me.

Castles & Crusades is still one of my favorite alternatives to D&D.  

Speaking of D&D, modern designers are doing a lot with the current version.

Nazi Dracula Must Die! Campaign Setting for DnD 5E


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nazidracula/nazi-dracula-must-die-campaign-setting-for-dnd-5e?ref=theotherside

It's occult World War II!  Sure we have seen this particular Alt-History a lot in the RPG world, but this one has something cool about it.  Plus it is for D&D 5th Edition so there is that.

Frankly, I might get it as an addition to my D&D games.  It just looks like a lot of fun!

Besides any time I can fireball a bunch of Nazis is great.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

5 x 5: End of the Year Top Fives. Novels

Another Top 5 list.  Today, Novels.

Bram Stoker Dracula



JRR Tolkien Lord of the Rings



Douglas Addams Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy



Anne Rice The Vampire Lestat 



Umberto Eco Foucault's Pendulum



Tuesday, October 15, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)

Total "attack of opportunity" tonight.  Bram Stoker's Dracula was on BBCAmerica and I honestly could not say no.

I have seen this movie a few dozen times I am sure.  It is still a great cinematic marvel.  Gary Oldman chews up scenery like no one.  Wynona Ryder and Sadie Frost are so young in this.   Keanu Reeves is not even Keanu Reeves yet in this.  Anthony Hopkins, of course, is great.

The story stills cleaves closer to the Stoker novel than any other outing and it is still a very fun flick.
SAdly the BBCAmerica version is still bit edited and chopped up.

Looking back on it now you can see how much movies after it borrow from it much in the same way it borrowed from Nosferatu.   Pretty much every vampire TV show and movie since.




Watched: 20
New: 14



Thursday, October 10, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Saga of the Draculas (1973)

This is quite a bizarre movie but I enjoyed it.  I remember watching it on VHS back when I was in college and it became part of my own Dracula mythology for my AD&D 2nd Ed games.  I guess this was back in the very early 90s.

I never saw any reference to it in the various books on Dracula-related movies and it seemed to have been largely forgotten.   I did see a DVD of it at a Half-Price Books a few years ago for $350.00.
I went back to check on it and someone actually had bought it.  I recently found it again on Amazon Prime Video and knew I had to watch it again.

The movie itself is odd, but not bad.  It is dated feeling and the pace is slow.  But the tale holds up nearly 50 years later.

Berta de Tepes the now pregnant granddaughter of the current Count Dracula (not his famous ancestor) has returned home to her family's ancestral castle with her new husband.  Here she expects to meet with her Grandfather and her cousins only discover graves of all her family and the household staff.  She is a little surprised when they all ask her to dinner later that night.

Dracula's new wife seduces Berta's new husband Hans (with Dracula's approval) and then his two nieces take a turn with Hans as well.   Berta suspects something but is soon rendered helpless by her imagination and pregnancy.

We get some random murders, vampires gotta eat.  And then there is Dracula's inbred heir, Valerio, a one-eyed monster boy that likes to eat gypsy girls.

The story, interestingly enough, is close to the first few chapters of Dracula with Berta in the Harker role.

Berta eventually gives birth, but the baby appears to be still-born.  Berta then goes through the castle killing everyone.  She gets back into her bed and dies herself.  The baby, now alive, feeds on the blood of his mother.

The voice-over at the end implies that the spirit of the old Dracula entered into the new baby to live again.

The movie held up rather well, to be honest.  While it was never a cinematic masterpiece it was a good a Dracula flick.   Narciso Ibáñez Menta will not be remember as one of the great Draculas, which is kind of a shame because he put in a good performance here.

Cristina Suriani, who played Dracula's granddaughter Irinia looks a lot like Abigail Cowen who plays Dorcas on Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.




Watched: 10
New: 5



Thursday, August 29, 2019

#RPGaDAY2019: Evolve

Today's topic is Evolve.

I think most gamers would agree that their play style will evolve over the years.  How have their games evolved?


I have had the pleasure and the privilege to have run many games over many years. Decades really.

The way I played in the late 70s and early 80s is very different than what I was doing in the late 90s and early 2000s and those are both very different than today.

I think if I had to describe my growth or change (who knows if a change is better until you test it) it is not Evolution but rather Assimilation

Even in the very beginning, I was taking ideas from other games and making them part of my own game.

I have talked at length about my love of the RPG Chill.  I have also talked at great length of my love for story and character of Dracula.   I always wanted a vampire like Dracula in my games. But more than just the stats in the Monster Manual or the D&D Expert book.  A real, un-breathing, un-living character to go after the characters. Or, more to the point, the character to go after.

Enter Chill Vampires.



This book and the Vampyre mini-game from TSR gave me something D&D was not. A playable Dracula (and Elizabeth Bathory and Jackson Dela Croix and more) with Dracula's castle.  I worked it in and came up with a 13 HD version of Dracula and a brief adventure stolen from the pages of Marvel Comics version of Dracula.
Then in 1983 the Hickmans did it all several orders of magnitude better with Ravenloft.  So yeah I grabbed that and all vampires in my games became named NPCs.  There was no such thing as a random vampire, lich or spectre in my games after that.

I suppose then it is no surprise I ended up working on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.

In a way, Ghosts of Albion is that assimilation in reverse. Starting with my then pinnacle of achievements (the Buffy line) and adding in elements from my past (Chill, D&D, and WitchCraft).

Even today I grab what I want from other games and mix as I need.  It is one of the reasons I have a Plays Well With Others feature here.  I have a new one coming up too that is a subset of that.  Can't wait to debut it.

This is also the reason I don't understand the attitude of "One True Wayism"  even if I didn't take material from other games in my playing I would still change over the years, so I know there is no one true way.  I have also worked on too many different games to believe that.

When I hear someone say "I only play D&D." or "I will never try game X." my first thought is "wow, how sad for you."  There are so many great games out there and even if I never play them all (and I couldn't possibly) that does not diminish their worth. Who knows, maybe the next love of my life is out there now sitting on someone's computer waiting to be published.  I might get to play it, but I will certainly adapt it for games.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Holy Grail Item: Vampyre Mini Game from TSR

So to recap a long and sad story, I lost a lot of my old school D&D books in one of my moves between college and grad-school.  The only thing I had from my "early days" were my core 2nd Ed AD&D books and a few modules.    Fast forward a few years and the sweet combination of a great job and an understanding wife I have been able to replace all that I had lost and then some.

But there are still a few items that have remained ever elusive.
Today I can cross one more item off that list.

Thanks to an estate sale on eBay I was able to pick up a copy of the Vampyre: Game of the Hunt for Dracula for much less than it normally goes for.



The game is, as far as I can tell, complete if already punched.  The maps are in great shape, the book less so.






The book has highlighter all over it, which sucks, but hey I can't expect a perfect copy and I am sure mine had highlighter all over it too.

As big fan of the novel Dracula, I loved this game.  I remember enjoying the wilderness portion more than the castle. 

Very nostalgic seeing the same Souvenir/Soutane font and Erol Otus art as the B/X sets. I tried many times to run a Castle Dracula like game with Basic/Expert.  Maybe now is that time!

Anyway happy to have this.  Only a couple more items on my list.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #126

October 1987.  I am a Freshman in University and about to hit my first big Halloween bash at a school notorious for it's 50,000+ people Halloween party.  But that is at night. Durning the day I pick up a copy of Dragon magazine that is destined to be one of my top three Dragons of all time.
So "Here I Go Again" with October 1987 and issue #126 of This Old Dragon!

Let's first talk about that cover.  It is easily one of my all-time favorite covers. Daniel R. Horne's "Saving the Best for Last" is an epic in a picture.  An old enemy back from the dead to exact his revenge and a ranger down to her last magic arrow.  Only one is going to walk away here.  To this day if I ever use a frost giant against a group of characters you can best believe that at least one of them is coming back as an undead to try to avenge.  That's some powerful shit there to still affect my gaming 30 years later.

Letters come from people looking for PBM games. I didn't have a mainframe account yet, but I knew even then that LISTSERVs were going to be the future of gaming, at least anyway for the next few years.  We also learn that Star Frontiers will no longer be published. More on that in a bit.

The Forum covers two letters concerning setting up a BBS (Bulletin Board System) for accessing older Dragon articles via modem.  Oh the can of worms that must have raised in the offices then.  This is the dawn of the age that TSR clamped down on ANYTHING on the Internet that was D&D related.  Heck in the 90s I seriously doubt I could have even done an article like this without hear from their lawyers.  Look, I am all about nostalgia here of the "Golden Age" of our hobby, but let's not forget what a bunch of assholes TSR had back in the late 80s and early 90s.  You could barely talk about anything online.  When it comes to doing anything online with D&D give me WotC over TSR any day of the week.  Sorry if that makes me loose my old-school street cred, but it is also the truth.

Ken Rolston is up first with his Copyright 1987 Role-Playing Reviews (No snark, I only point that out because it is one of the reasons why the BBS would not have worked and the CD-ROM didn't).  Covered this month is Role-Aids Undead.  I enjoyed the Role-Aids products even if they never had much, or any, traction in my groups back then.  Everyone was all "only TSR!". But Undead is a fun book an a fun adventure.  It had some great alternate lich ideas and some cool undead.  It even had a clan of disgraced dwarves.

Sage Advice runs the gambit.  One player asks if his LG Paladin could marry a CE Magic-User. It must have made a sub-conscious impact on me cause I'd spend the next few years having my Paladins fall in love with Witches.  Or maybe they are both my favorite classes.
We learn also there will be no more Star Frontiers (less details than promised) and no more D&D Cartoon.

We come up to our October feature! The Dead of Night.

To start off with a home run we have THE Tom Moldvay talking about a bunch of different vampires in Hearts of Darkness.  He gives us stats not only for the vrykolakas, Baobhan sith, and the ch'ing shih but also for Dracula himself. I had been working on the stats for Dracula for every game I knew at that point.  I even had Star Frontiers stats for him.  Seeing this was like a bolt from the blue.  I knew I was doing something right.  I still continue to this day.

Dead on Target by David Howery is a great article on using the right weapon against the right undead.  If you go with the idea that clerics can't use swords, then this article makes a lot of sense in explaining that.  Swords are not that effective against skeletons, zombies or ghouls. Sorry Michonne.  A lot of these ideas have been used in other games before or since, but here they were new and fresh and really, really bugged the crap out of my players. Especially since I Was about to go All Ravenloft, All the Time.

Vince Garcia is no stranger to the Other Side.  His article on A Touch of Evil:  Breathing life into the world of the dead was another one of those articles that were common sense in retrospect but seemed revolutionary at the time.  The article covers how to make undead scarier and more unique.  It flows well from Dead on Target to really, really make for a bad day.

And now the scariest article of all....Steve Winter is up with The Game Wizards Second Edition: An Editors Viewpoint.  Yes, 2nd edition is going to be here in about a year.  It is an overview of what the Player's Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide will contain.  I remember a few years back comparing this list to my PHB and DMG and found minor differences, but nothing that stood out.  I can't recall if I was excited then or not. I DO know what I did think eventually.  It is the same cycle I go through with ever edition change.  1. "I am not going to upgrade, I am happy with what I have." 2. "Ok, I'll have a look and see, but I am not really going to play." 3. "Wow this is awesome! I love what they did!" 4. "Abandon everything, this is now the only edition I will ever play!" 5. Repeat.  The notable exception was 3.0 and I was ready for that one the moment I knew it was coming.

Dan Salas is next with a world changing article for me. Well, game world changing.  The Ecology of the Shade gives us a look into the Shade (from MM2).  AS an alternate to the Lich this was a viable option for characters looking for immortality and not exactly Good.  Some of this would come back from the dead in 4e as the Revenant.

Bazaar of the Bizarre covers Treasures of the Orient. Neat, but I would have rather seen more spooky stuff.

Dean Shomshak is back with some spells for Call of Cthulhu in A Ghastly Grimoire.  I adapted some to AD&D.

Letters and Forum have their overflow pages.

The Dragon's Bestiary covers mutants for Gamma World.  Yes, I converted some of these as well. Especially the Giggle Bugs.

New contact system for Top Secret.

The Marvel Phile is next and it is another home run.
One of my FAVORITE Marvel Comics was The Tomb of Dracula.  Loved it. Was introduced to such great characters as Drake, Blade and of course Doctor Strange.
The Marvel Phile has stats for Dracula and bringing his "history" up to date.
I spent HOURS pouring over various books and movies and comics to come up with the most detailed history of Dracula.  I had him doing something every year from the time he was born till 1987.  Obsessive much? Yes. But you should expect that by now.
I added his Marvel stats to my collection as well.

HUGE ad for something I never thought I would see in 1987.  A Star Wars RPG.






Role of Computers covers the state of the art for PC games at the time.  One game it covered was Rogue by Epyx, Inc.  It reviewed the PC and Mac versions, but not the one I was playing at the time, the Tandy Color Computer 3.  I was most disappointed.

Small ads.
Convention Calendar
Snarf Quest and Dragon Mirth.
A double shot of Wormy in the form of a Hex-Word puzzle and the normal comic.
Fun stuff.




All in all a crazy great issue and one I still use.

Want to know what I thought of White Dwarf from the same month? Spoiler, it doesn't measure up. But check out White Dwarf Wednesday #94.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: My Last Sunrise

This one started out with a limited amount of time and we are already near the end!

My Last Sunrise - Gothic Horror 28mm Miniatures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1512506318/my-last-sunrise-gothic-horror-28mm-miniatures

If it didn't have me at "Gothic Miniatures" or at a Dracula mini it had me at their witch mini.

Yeah, I am predictable.  But that also means that when these things hit the internet I will share them with you.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Powers of Darkness and the Dracula Myth

I do not consider myself a Dracula scholar. I have a number of rare Dracula related texts, read many more and pretty much seen every movie or stage play featuring the eponymous vampire count. My last (as in last ever) acting performance was as, appropriately enough, Dr. Seward in the Hamilton Deane play.  I try to reread the book every three or fours years or so.
I also once had a great conversation with a former Black Panther turned Educational reformist oh how horror in general, and Dracula in particular, was great insight on what people's fears are at the time.  We discussed how things he was doing and feeling as a young revolutionary in the 60s was being written about in the fiction of the time.  Great stuff.  Wish I had taken better notes.

So is it safe to say I am a fan who knows what scholarship is out there and I have read some of it.

So imagine my joy when I discover that there was/is another translation of Dracula out there.  One that was created nearly around the same time as the original, but with enough distance to be something new and old at the same time.

Over at Literary Hub they discussed the Icelandic translation of Dracula known as Makt Myrkranna, or the Powers of Darkness.

The book originally includes a forward by Bram Stoker, but it takes a number of interesting turns from Stoker's text.  The author, Valdimar Ásmundsson, includes mentions of the Ripper muders and a tantalizing preface that eludes that all the events in this book are true.
To the best of my belief, there is no doubt whatsoever that the events related here really took place, however unbelievable and incomprehensible they may appear in light of common experience.

[. . .]

I emphasize again that the mysterious tragedy described here is completely true as far as the events as such are concerned, although in certain points, of course, I have reached a different conclusion than the people involved. But the events as such are irrefutable, and so many people are aware of them that they will not be denied.
This is a long-held conceit in many post-Stoker works on Dracula.  We can't say it started here, it started with Stoker's novel itself, but there is something very seductive about this.

Scholars have long been under the belief that the Ásmundsson translation was merely a translation and an abridgment of Stoker's novel.  

Hans de Roos, the author of both the LitHub article and new re-translation, gives us some interesting insights to this lost translation, which ends up being more than expected.  There are the expected name changes; Johnathon is now Thomas, Mina is Wilma and Lucy is Lucia, but there is more to it that just that.

Mina/Wilma now accompanies Harker to Transylvania. Renfield is gone. And Dracula himself plays a much larger role.  That is one of the biggest things people who have not read Dracula don't know; how little Dracula is actually in the book.  It also seems that there are more sections that seem to be drawn from Stoker's own notes and incomplete manuscripts.  

Flipping through this book that is at the same time familiar and new*.
*Side Note:  I call situations like this a "Modula 2" moment. Back in college, I was a pretty proficient Pascal programmer. I later picked up other languages like C, C++ and Modula 2.  Modula 2 is so like and yet unlike Pascal it is like learning the same thing over again from an entirely new perspective.  If I ever mention Modula 2 here, this is what I mean. 

While I can't wait to jump feet first into this tale, it has gotten me more excited for my modern supernatural/supers game with Dracula as my big bad.

I am not anywhere close to getting this adventure together; either what the characters will do or what Dracula wants to do. I don't even have a system picked yet.

Maybe after this book, I'll have all that figured out.

Dracula-based Products I have Reviewed in the Past


And some I need to review