Showing posts with label dragon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dragon. Show all posts

Thursday, September 7, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #74

It's June 1983.  I had just turned 14 so I took about two dozen friends to the movie to see "Octopussy" in the theatres on my birthday (remember when I said I was a huge Bond fan?) and it was great.  In the stores the new covers for the AD&D core books are out and yes I had to buy them.  Bond is in the theatres, new covers on the shelves, Naked Eyes on the radio and There's Always Something There to Remind Me in This Old Dragon Issue #74!

First up this issue is in REALLY good shape given the issues near it (CORRECTION, I have two of these. One is in good shape, the other with the Combat Computer is in terrible shape).  Yes, the combat computer (more on that later) is still there and still intact.  But let's talk about this cover first.   Nothing is more iconic D&D than a group of adventurers fighting a dragon. This cover is one of the more memorable ones.  I did not buy this issue when it was new, but people I gamed with had it and it was well used and well passed around.

The editorial also covers birthdays.  This is the seventh anniversary of Dragon.  Last week I covered the 9th anniversary and like that issue, this one has some dragons in it.  They mark the date in a very subdued fashion. That will change.

Gary is up first with an entry of From the Sorcerer's Scroll in Warhorses and Barding.  Exactly what it says. One might be tempted to pass up this article and flip on past the big James Bond ad, and ignore the second half.  That would be a mistake.  Gary lets us know that a line of official D&D 25mm miniatures are on the way.   We also learn of a script for the Dungeons and Dragons movie that "... is a remarkable piece of work, one which could well lead to a film as successful as STAR WARS or E.T. It will do a world of good for our hobby . . ."  Thankfully Jeremy Irons is really busy during this time and Thora Birch is only 1 year old.   Also on tap is something Gary and Marvel Productions are calling "THE DUNGEONS & DRAGONS CHILDRENS SHOW".  So reading in 1983 which one of these sounds like the better bet?  Yeah, I was wrong too.

In another long standing feature, Lenard Lakofka with Brad Nystul are both up in Leomund's Tiny Hut. This issue features the Bureaucrat class with the Politician sub-class.  I am not kidding.   It does read like a misplaced April Fools article, but there is too much seriousness in it.  Ok, now I am 100% certain that someone out there reading this now used these classes back in the AD&D1 days.  But come on, really??  Next time someone tells me how much better everything in the old Dragons used to be I will agree, but I will also show them this article.   Not every old is good and not every new is bad.

Ah, now this is the stuff I remember and wanted.  Ronald Hall is up with the Land Dragons.  I loved this article. It was original and it felt like a great addition to the game.  I can remember laying in bed reading this article. It was a great stuff.  With these and the new dragons in the Fiend Folio and the MMII I wanted to over run my world with all sorts of different dragons.

Not to be outdone, The Electrum Dragon by Ed Greenwood is next.  This one I didn't like as much.  Oh sure I liked having more dragons, but this seemed forced since electrum was (in theory for me at the time) electroplated silver with gold.  Later I opted to keep Electrum Dragons in the Realms and Steel Dragons in Greyhawk.

Ah, now here is a memory! Ed comes back with Elminster in tow for Seven Swords: Blades of the Realms.  Now this is a proper article for magical swords.  They have names and they have histories.  And Elminster is looking into them, tracking them down.  This is also great stuff.  Back then I was totally into just what were enough details to convince my DM to put them into our games.  Today I am much more interested in their tales.  Well done Ed. It took me long enough to get your point, but I finally got it.

The Ecology of the Bulette by Chris Elliott and Richard Edwards also does exactly what it is supposed to do.  It makes the "land shark" interesting.

Arlen P. Walker is up with an article I ignored then but am giddy over now.  I was also a fan of the Man from U.N.C.L.E., it was a great mix of James Bond (and even had Ian Flemming's fingerprints on it) and Sherlock Holmes.  Tracing THRUSH's nest. The place: London The time: 1894 is a GREAT article that I will steal for a Victorian game.  I love the idea of THRUSH being tied to Moriarty and Moran of the Holmes stories. This article expands on that.  The companion article, In trouble? Say UNCLE The date: New York City The time: now, is also fun.

Arlen P. Walker is up with a 3rd article with Spying on the spies, which details the research that went into the previous two articles and their sources.

Lewis Pulsipher is next with The Vicarious Participator which is some role-playing advice on how to mange the two predominant styles of role-playing at the time, the full immersion actor sort and the man-behind-the-curtain sort.  One IS their character, the other only tells what the character does in a 3rd person sort of way.

Here we go with the centerfold.  The (infamous) Combat Computer!
Over the years I have heard tales of love and tales of hate for this thing.  One thing you never hear though is that it was designed by Tracy and Laura Hickman.
I personally liked it, but by the time we started using it we had already started homebrewing stuff.  The first version of my Healer class was in play (and soon out of play, it didn't work) and my witch class was on the way.
Plus we had bigger plans back then...



(there is also a big Gen Con XVI program here. Yes you could fit it all inside Dragon)

D&D Beyond,
1985 Color Computer version
(transferred to 3.5 from 5.25 disks)
Which brings us to
Q: What do you get when you cross a Dungeon Master with a computer?
A: Programmed character creation without human hesitation!

This article and program by Joseph C. Spann was not a revolution for my group.  It was a factor, but by 1983 everyone I knew who played D&D was also in the Jr. High Computer club and computer classes together.  We all wrote bits of software to emulate various parts of D&D.  We had pages and pages of BASIC code for the good old TRS-80.  I had other friends that were just as active on their Apple II's and Commodores. My DM and I finally created a really perfect bit of software for the TRS-80 Color Computer.  It could store 10 characters (more on disk once we upgraded to that) and we put in every monster in the books.    This article captures that time really well.  The software itself though takes away the visceral joy of rolling characters, but we did not care.  In the 80s D&D and Computers were going to come together and soon.  Maybe even before the D&D movie.

So when I hear arguments or complaints of "we never used characters builders back in my day" I say BULLSHIT.  Not only did we use them, we wrote them.  We spent hours learning how to code to do exactly that.  Like the article says:
"It cannot be simply coincidental that there are so many roleplaying game enthusiasts among our nation's rapidly growing number of computer hackers. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say so many computer hackers among the ranks of RPG players, as evidenced by the presence of computer-oriented columns and information in gaming magazines like this one."
So maybe YOU didn't try out a character builder of your own but everyone I have ever gamed with from 1979 on has.

The trouble with code is it takes up a lot space. And let me tell you, typing all that in and getting an error. I am so glad I don't have to do that anymore.

Not many articles from this time get quoted or talked about much these days, A Player Character
and his Money by Lew Pulsipher is a notable exception.  I always found his discussion on moving to the silver standard very interesting.  I have often wanted to adopt it, but felt the hassle to correct the books and math constantly to make it not worth it.

Let's see, some listings of Sci-Fi conventions.

Tony Watson is up with The SF "universe" An in-depth examination of the STAR FRONTIERS game.  Something of an ad, something of an overview/preview and editorial.  It's long too. I really, really enjoyed Star Frontiers back in the day.  Two percentile dice, crazy races, giant-ass battery packs on your back to power your lasers. Though give me a gyrojet gun any day.

Off the Shelf has some books. No kidding right. Well, it has one book in particular. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. I have a long and complicated relationship with this book. More than I care to unpack now.  Sometimes nostalgia is about looking back and remembering something fondly. Sometimes it isn't.  I really loved this book back then and read it a few times.  I have some issues with it and the author now.

Ads..lots of them.

What's New does spies. Wormy does...what ever it is Wormy was doing.

Near the end an ad for the previously mentioned AD&D minis.

Landmark issue to be sure.  Full of nostalgia for the actual articles and less for the ads.

What are your memories? Did you use the Combat Computer? Write your D&D software?

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf from the same time?  Come back to the City of Irilian and check out White Dwarf Wednesday for Issue #42.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #98

June 1985. Later this month I'll turn 16, but due to the fact I need new glasses, I won't get my license for a few more weeks.   Rambo First Blood is in the theatres and Tears for Fears is on the radio.  On the shelves, the new covers for the AD&D hardbacks and you can buy This Old Dragon issue #98.

The cover features a dragon horde filled with modern day items.  This is also the 9th Anniversary issue.  As far as I can recall all the anniversary issues featured dragons on the cover.  This cover though does not strike any memories with me. It's a cool cover.

We get to the main feature of the issue, all about Dragons.
Up first is Tailor-made Treasure from Roger E. Moore.  This is a new system for figuring out a dragon's treasure hoard.  It has some great quotes from various works of literature. Reading it over it could work well with pretty much every version of the game.

The Magic of Dragon Teeth by Gregg Chamberlain covers the various effects of burying dragon teeth. Each color of dragon will produce a different sort of warrior ala Jason and the Argonauts.
Most gamers of a certain age remember the old movie featuring the Harryhausen skeletons.


There are some neat ideas here.  To be honest I never felt the need to codify this.  Through the dragon teeth on ground and skeleton pop up.  Cause weird shit like that happens in a magical world.
Though more recently I have been using Dragon Tooth Talismans.  These provide protection from the that dragons' type of breath weapon.

Need music from the Ancient Empires for your game?  Well, you can get it in STEREO from Ramal LaMarr!  (I am sure that is 100% his real palindrome name too).


I have to admit I loved these ads.  So corny and over the top.  You can find his music online still.



You keep doing you Ramal!

Leonard Carpenter gives us a nice brief one in Dragon Damage Revised.  A great add for AD&D 1 but something you see now in most newer editions of D&D.

Roger Moore is back again with some background on The Dragons of Krynn.  In this, we learn that Takhisis and Paladine are similar to (but not the same as) Tiamat and Bahamut.    We get some Krynn history that is familiar to all of us now, but here it was all new.   A lot of Dragonlance has migrated back into D&D proper since the 3.0 days and I think that is largely a good thing.  Back in the 80s we used to talk about how the dragons of Krynn were larger and somewhat more "dragon" than the ones you found in Greyhawk.  I know that there are plenty of old-school fans that are aghast with this, but hey. They focused more on dragons in Krynn than Oerth.

Nice big ad for the Dragonlance Chronicles book 2, Dragons of Winter Night.

Ken Hughes gives us an entry with Creative Magic Items.  I want to talk less about this specific article and more about the type of article it is.  There were always a lot of articles in Dragon that I call "You are not bound by books!" articles.  I get that many people want to play RAW, but we were always doing things not in the books. Creating new monsters, new magic items, spells, classes.  Everyone I had gamed with had the books memorized back in Junior High, there was no way to surprise them unless you were willing to go out side of the books. Most of these articles elicited a "no shit, doesn't everyone do this?" but after a while I came to the conclusion that no, not everyone.

Detailing a Fantasy World is from Jim Dutton, whom I feel I should know but don't (flipping further I see his company runs the AD&D PBM game). Now this has some great advice on how to build your fantasy world from the ground up, or at least detail enough areas to keep your players busy.  At only three pages it feels too short to deal with the advice given, but it is short and succinct and should give any budding world builder a place to start and the seasoned ones some new ideas.

I am usually cautious of reviews of TSR products in Dragon. Such is the case of this reveiw of the first two Dragonlance novels by John C. Bunnell in It's a Neat Idea, but ... NOT just a Gimmick. I think we can be adults here and talk about the fact that the Dragonlance novels have some shortcomings. That being said these are fun books and they did represent a sea change in *D&D as a game and as a product.

A surprisingly long article from Dave Rosene discusses what PCs are likely to find in local shops in Knowing What's In Store.   We live in a world today where everything is available at our finger tips. In the 80s even we had malls (lots of malls) but historical medieval lands did not. Fantasy worlds need to tread this line carefully.

The Forum is next.

An ad for Traveller races. At this time and now these books make me want to play Traveller. I want to know more about the Aslan, Vargr and K'kree.  Maybe someone has ported them over to White Star or Starfinder already.

Some coming attractions for TSR products. Highlights include the D&D Masters Rules and the AD&D Unearthed Arcana.

Ad for Chill.  Still love that game.

Our centerfold is the first Gamma World Mutant Manual.  I am very pleased that it is still in this magazine too. Some would make for great additions to an OSR D&D game or a Mutant Future game.

Merle and Jackie Rasmussen have their Part II of Authentic Agencies for Top Secret.  A great find for the pre-internet world, but also real world agencies spelled out in Top Secret format.

The Ares section is next.
The Volturnus Connection is first by Stephen Bonario.  I have to admit, if I ever run a Starfinder game I'd consider a "Return to Volturnus" like game. I had a lot of fun with Star Frontiers.

When History Goes Awry by Mark Acres deals with parallel and alternate timelines for the Timemaster game.  Degree in History not required but certainly helpful.

Big index of all the heroes published for the Marvel Super Hero game in Marvel-Phile.

Huge list of conventions for June to October 1985.

Gamer's Guide has a lot of cool ads including one for the new Super Endless Quest books. These included a simple character sheet/bookmark.

Comics include Wormy and Snarf Quest.  Snarf is long, Wormy is down to a page.

A fun issue really and one I'll go back to for more information on dragons.

Want to see what I was saying about White Dwarf magazine for June of 1985?  Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #66.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

This Old Dragon

I have a bad habit of buying whole collections from people when I find them on Craigslist, Facebook or even at local flea markets.   Typically I find one or two items I really want, a dozen or so I can sell in the local game auction twice a year and then there are the leftovers.

Sometimes the leftovers are items that are so damaged they won't sell or are not even gaming related.  Recently though my "leftovers" have been old Dragon magazines.





I picked up a box of Dragons recently that are mildewy, dusty, and the vast majority are missing their covers.  Others are just water damaged. I stick them all into a box under my desk. Well, now they all have to go.

While I could just dump into the recycling (they are in really piss poor shape) I thought maybe I should go through them all first.

So that is what I am I going to do.

Introducing "This Old Dragon"!

This feature should be  (have not decided on the day yet) and I will grab a mildewy issue and read through it.  This will be a review feature like my White Dwarf Wednesdays, but there will be some notable differences.

1. I am not going to go in order.  I am grabbing a magazine out as I see fit and then I'll review it.   If there is an issue you want me to cover, we will both have to be surprised.  I am not even sure what issues I have.  I think the lowest is #54 and the highest is #160, but I can't be sure.  I am going to grab an issue in the morning, pop it open on my treadmill and go for a run.

2. I am not going to cover everything in the magazine.  This is in part out of choice and part out of necessity.  Some of the magazines are missing pages, others have pages too damaged to read.  Plus I only want to devote my attention to articles I like or would like to revisit.  In this case, it means I am likely to ignore the comics, but maybe focus more on the fiction I never read.

3. I have no idea what I have. Like I said I have a vague idea. I know I have duplicates and in one case triplicates of some issues.  There are many I don't have.

I am also not going to try to step on any toes of people reviewing Dragons now. If I see someone reviewing or have reviewed the same issue, I'll post a link.  Likewise, if you have something you want to say about an issue posted then post away!

I'll do this for a while and see how it goes over.  What do you think?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wizards of the Coast Print On Demand: The Results, Part 3

Today is Tuesday so that means new releases.  Wizards of the Coast has some new classic D&D books up for POD today.  Be sure to check them out.

Today I want to compare the POD 3e Draconomicon to the one I bought my son when it first came out.
A bit of background.  The Draconomicon is a watershed book for the Brannan family.  I got it for my son because he loved dragons. Still does really.  Well he carried this book with him everywhere for years.  Needless to say it is in pretty bad shape.  I have wanted to get him a new one for years and I have seen many at Half-Price books and of course at my FLGS, but none have jumped out at me saying "buy me".  We I opted to spend some of the money from the sales of my own books on the POD version.  I splurged and got the "Premium Heavyweight" paper.

In the pictures the original print in on the left side of your screen, the POD on the right.


Side by side it is hard to know which is which.  The art on the POD version seems a little bigger.  You will notice there is a spot on the bottom where the cover doesn't quite make it to the bottom.  I have seen this before on other books.  Sometimes it prints like this other times it doesn't.


The Heavyweight POD is noticeably thicker than the original print.



The POD does not have the dragon art printed on the inside cover.  The images are repeated in the original printing but only one of each in the POD.  The POD actually looks more interesting.



Inside the books are remarkably identical.


My son was 6 when I got this for him.   He carried it to school for two years straight.


This is the LightningSource/OneBookShelf page added to all the books.   So no chance someone will mistake these for originals if they know to look for this.


Equally, the original features an ISBN barcode.  The the POD has a different one that is not an ISBN.


The spines are also very different. This of course is by necessity to accommodate the varying thickness of the paper choices.

In all I am happy with it.  It doesn't look like my original, but that is fine with me.  It makes it more of a "new" book in some respects.  Yes, just like the original I am giving this to my son for Christmas. Don't tell him.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Dungeons.. AND Dragons.

So week end wrap up.

Wow. What a busy week really.

Tonight is 2nd Ed. AD&D, a continuation of our Basic game from two-weeks ago. But I am dead tired.

So here is a size comparison of some Dragons.  Happy Friday!



Saturday, February 22, 2014

D&D40 Bloghop: Day 22

Day 22: First D&D-based novel you ever read (Dragonlance Trilogy, Realms novels, etc.)

I have to admit I don't read a lot of game-based fiction.  I did. But not anymore.

So like most people my age the first D&D book I ever read was Dragons of Autumn Twilight.


I remember being rather excited about it when it came out.  I read it and it was ok.  I liked the Twins Trilogy better, but lets be 100% honest here. These are not great works of literature.  They are fun.

I recently set out to reread the Annotated Dragonlance Chronicles recently.  I have not gotten very far.  There is a surprising lack of violence in these books.  Plus they commit one of the cardinal rules of fiction in my mind, things happen to the characters rather than characters doing things.

My son is reading this now.  He will enjoy it since he is the same age now I was then.

I will admit to reading all the Gord the Rogue books and all of the Ravenloft ones.
To be fair with the Ravenloft books though there are some "names" in those early books, Laurell K. Hamilton, P.N. Elrod, Christie Golden, and Elaine Bergstrom.

I have never read any Forgotten Realms books or anything for any other game line.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Return of the Dragon

So I got this in the mail the other day.



I had this poster when it first came out.  I honestly have no memory of how I got it except that it was something I had to send off for.
I had it till college and had it hanging on my wall in typical college fashion.  That is till my idiot roommate got mad at me one day and ripped it down.

Ever since then I have wanted one.  Well thanks to magic that is eBay I finally got another one.
I am not going to tell you what I paid, save it was more than most people would have been willing to part with, but enough that I am happy. It was still rolled up in the original tube in fact!  

The poster is actually in very, very good shape for being 30 years old.

The timing is great since the Dragonslayers (my kids group) need something from a "rainbow dragon" to finish their quest.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

30 Day D&D Challenge, Day 21: Favorite Dragon (Color/Type)

Day 21: Favorite Dragon (Color/Type)

Another interesting one.
I always liked the Silver Dragons, felt they were custom made for AD&D Paladins.  One of the things that was great moving from "Basic" D&D to AD&D were the "good" dragons. I also liked the black and blue dragons. I liked that they had acid and lighting weapons, which I thought were pretty cool.

My favorite unique Dragon comes from my son.  The dragon is Aži Dahāka. Here he is for both Pathfinder and Basic stats.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Gygax Magazine?

Gygaz Magazine was released to much pomp and circumstance this past winter.  The idea was to capture the feeling and joy of the Dragon magazines of old and it did this. For one issue.

I was/am a yearly subscriber but yet I have no idea really when Issue #2 will arrive.  This is despite the communications on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

The main trouble here is trying to release a new print magazine in this day and age.  Most print magazines are failing and some, like Newsweek and Dragon, have gone over to all digital format.

Gamers can be be obstinate to the point of pig-headedness (and old school gamers even more so) when it comes to print, but sometimes economic reality is, well, reality.

It's not as if the content of the magazine doesn't have value, sales of the print and pdf versions can attest to that.  Is the value worth more than the cost to print, sell and ship.  One issue I have heard coming up is the rise of shipping costs which I am sure is the killer for most magazines.

I hope things get worked out for Gygax.  I'd like to see it succeed.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Reviews: Dragon Island and Magic

A few new products I picked up at the GM's Day Sale at DriveThruRPG.

My boys are getting ready for their huge campaign finale.  The giant battle against Tiamat on the Island of the Dragon Empire.  Back in the dawn of time the Dragon and their Dragonfolk surrogates ruled the world from the Dragon Island.  Those days are gone and the Dragon Empire has fallen.  But the Island remains and that is where the characters will make their stand.

Fantastic Maps - Iconic Island
I am gearing up for the BIG finale of my years long 3e game.  The final battle where the forces of good battle the forces of evil happens on an Iceland-like island in my world.  I could have drawn anything, I could have even taken an older module and altered the island in Photoshop.  With this product I didn't have too.  It even looks almost EXACTLY like what I wanted.  The ZIP file contains maps of the island. Non-marked, marked and hexed variants. Plus a BW version.  There is no text or fluff to go with this, which is great, I have my own.  This is my new Dragon Isle!  I would love to see more products like this one.

My new island is going to need people too.

Archetypes of the Jade Oath (PFRPG)
I got this product for the new witch hexes but the rest of it is great as well.  There is a cool Eastern Flavor to this and I want to see if there is more in this series.  While I have a lot of cultures on my game world the one thing that has been getting the short end of my attentions are Dragonfolk/Dragonborn.  This book, while not explicitly designed for that, is perfect for my needs (and the cover kinda helps with that).
So what do we get? 20 pages (with cover, credits page, OGL statement and 2 pages of "Ads").  While there is an Eastern "flavor" to this, it is presented mostly context free.
The Barbarian is based on totem animals, which is a really awesome variant.  I normally don't play barbarians, but I would try one of these.  The Cavaliers are the Order of the Ancestors and Order of the Creed.  Monks, a natural fit, are presented as Kensai (one of my favorite classes back in the day). Imagine the typical unarmed monk, now armed.  And finally, the Witch, with a bunch of new and exciting hexes based on Elemental magics or Dragon magic (see it is a perfect fit!!). In fact these are some of the best Dragon Witches I have ever seen.  So this is worth the price of the book alone to me.
We also get plenty of new feats.  This was a nice surprise and I am very happy with this.

Midgard: Player's Guide to the Dragon Empire
I own a few of the Midgard products, but this one really called to me.  This Dragon Empire is very similar to the one I was crafting for my own game world, so this saves me some heavy lifting.
The 30 pages of this book is jam-packed.  What did I like in this?
Well I love the castes.  Dragons seem very arrogant and a caste system makes sense. I liked how the castes were set up as well.  Lots of great role-playing potential in these.  We get a bunch of new Traits and Feats.
Classes get a bit of an update as to be expected.  There is a Cavalier archetype, the Order of the Firedrake (which is a PERFECT with my world's own White Drakes). The Druids have the Elemental Exarch. Fighters get Edjet Warriors, and the Magus has the Dragon Magus.  We get a couple new monks, Monk of the Fiery Fist and Monk of the Wind Palm. There is also the Mystery of the Void, Greyscale and Void Elemeentalist for the Oracle, Rouge and Elementalists respectively.  There is also the Dragon Emir prestige class which I am sure my son would love. The book end with new spells, exotic goods and magic items, including magic the magic carpet.  Cool stuff.  I am going to have to look for more books in this series.

Midgard Bestiary for Pathfinder RPG
We always need more monsters. Over a 100 new monsters for Pathfinder.  Lots of really interesting ones too.  I loved the Shadow Fae, Ice Maiden and Red Hag and have hooks already for all of them.  The new dragon types are also very interesting and I can't wait to use a Mithril Dragon or Baby Yaga's Horsemen. In fact there are two completely separate campaigns I want to use this book in, a Dragon based one and a Witch-centric one.  Both need unique monsters that the players have never seen before, and there are a number of monsters here that are perfect for one or the other or both!
Also available for 4e and AGE.

Lineage Draconis
This 28 page (27 + cover) pdf features 6 dragon crossbreads including the oft stated Orange and Yellow Dragons. But you also get the Blade, Steel, Rust and Gray Dragons.  These dragons are pretty interesting and for the game I have coming up I need a lot of interesting dragons.  The book also includes the Dragon Blooded "class" though it is also sort of a race.  They are humanoid dragons.  Plenty of things you can do with this class as well as alternate versions depending one where the blood came from.
In a neat little feature you also get the art from the book in a seperate file.  So now you can show your players exactly what a Yellow Dragon looks like.

The Modern Spellcaster Basic Class
This book is for the d20 Modern Game, Pathfinder and a few other d20 based games.   It presents a generic form of a spellcaster that isn't a wizard, cleric, witch or druid.  In a sense it is a throwback to the older "Magic User" class.  The basic premise here is to provide full powered (up to spell level 9) spellcasters from D&D like games to your Modern Games.  I am not sure how this works out in play, but the concept on it's own is interesting enough.  There are new feats and a fun "arcane death" table.  Frankly I would like to see that expanded into an "Arcane CSI" to be used in any modern game with magical elements.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Natural History of Dragons

Just saw this over at one of my favorite blogs All Things Urban Fantasy.



A Natural History of Dragons. With some kick ass art by Todd Lockwood and written by Marie Brennan.

I need to get this for my son!

I have been following the books of Marie Brennan for a bit.  I have some, but have not read them yet.
I am looking forward to this.

And they are also giving away 3 copies.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Dragonborn Books

My son loves Dragonborn.  He plays Skyrim because there is a "dragonborn" in that.  He wanted to get all the Doctor Who episodes on DVD that feature the Draconians, and in every game we play that is the character race he wants.

Well...not every game has them.  But there are a lot of great third-party publishers that feel the same way.

Good thing for me I know about Goodman Games.
They have two products out, The Complete Guide to Dragonkin (for 3rd ed) and Hero's Hanbook Dragonborn (for 4th ed).

The Complete Guide to Dragonkin
This book is the older of the two, so let's do it first.
76 pages, covers, OGL.  Pretty packed really.  A brief intro and some background on dragon-kin and how they are all connected to each other (an interesting touch).  This assumes that a lot of different races inter-bred with dragons like humans, orcs, goblins and of course kobolds. So we have a variety of bloodlines; half-dragons, dragon-touched and "wyrm-bred".
The Half-Dragon Racial Template is presented and the associated powers.  If you are playing 3.x/Pathfinder and want to play a "Dragonborn" character then this is a great book.  It predates the Dragonborn in 4e and the Dragon bloodline sorcerer in Pathfinder, so a Pathfinder update would be nice to have, but still this is a solid book.
There is a lot in this book. It even covers how these races view, and sometimes worship, the dragons they are related to.  There is a chapter on Dragon magic which includes new spells and "dragon egg sculpting".
There is not much in the way of news monsters, but I think that is fine.  There is a Dragon/Kobold crossbreed that works well as an antagonist. Especially if your players tend to laugh when you throw kobolds after them.
I compare this book rather favorably to their Complete Guide to Fey.  It was because I owned that book that I felt comfortable picking up this one.  I was not disappointed.

Hero's Hanbook Dragonborn 
99 pages, GSL, covers. There is a quite a lot in this book.  While Goodman Games could have used a lot from their previous book (The Complete Guide to Dragonkin) this one has a completely different approach.  Dragonborn are well established in D&D4, so none of that material is repeated here. Instead the book covers different clans and variations of Dragonborn.  There is also a lot of crunch to go with the fluff.  Frankly Dragonborn need a lot more "fluff". Unlike all the other fantasy races, Dragonborn/Dragonkin are really a creation of D&D.  Sure there have been other types in the past, but even in the early days of the game their origin is purely a D&D one. That gives this book a lot of room to run.
There is also a nice collection of items to help give this race a sense of history. Plenty of powers for Dragonborn characters, options and magic items.  If you are like my son and love to play Dragonborn in 4e then this is a great book to have.

This book though suffers from the fate all 3rd party GSL books suffer and that is the material is not in the character builder.

In the process of reading these books I became aware of other ones, not by Goodman Games though.

One of the first is from Barrel Rider Games, The Dragon and it is only a dollar.
Again, I don't expect a lot for a buck.  Barrel Rider Games though gives you a whole class for a buck.

This one is a bout Dragons as a class/race.  Not Dragonborn or Dragonfolk, but full blown dragons.
Now my first thought is these characters could be unwieldy in a group of adventurers or even overpowered.  That is best left to the Labyrinth Lord to decide really.
The book is five pages: Cover, 2 pages for the class, and 2 pages for the OGL and the Labyrinth Lord compatibility notice.
There seems to be a bit missing though. I would have liked have seen a little on how to play this character class and what motivates them to adventure.

Fehr's Ethnology: Dragonblood is another one for Pathfinder by Purple Duck Games, a name I have grown to like.
This one is pretty good really. Nice art, clear easy to read text and 7 pages of content (1 full page art, 1.5 of OGL and ads for 10 total pages).  Simple race rules with not a lot of fluff, but a lot of crunch. There are some alternate racial characteristics and some feats.  There are class suggestions and suggestions on play.  For 10 pages it is really packed full. My son has been using this in our 3.x game now for a bit and we like it the most out of the many free options we have also found.  At $1.25 it is an absolute steal.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dragonfolk for the Advanced Era

Like his dad, my oldest son enjoys all versions of D&D.  He plays a 3e game with me and his brother, a 4e game with some friends and a Pathfinder game with some other friends.   He has also had the chance to play Castles & Crusades, ACKS and Basic Era D&D.  But so far his favorite has to be 1st Ed AD&D.

He also loves dragons.  Always has.  So it was a natural then that he would want to make his own dragon book and have some going back and forth we decided that an OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord Advanced compatible book would be the best.

Of course in what can only be called a bit of Generational Rebellion, according to my son there are no know Dragonfolk witches. 

So for your enjoyment here is a new player character race he has been working on for some time. 
The Dragonfolk.

All text below is considered OPEN for the Open Gaming License. It is copyright 2012 Liam and Timothy Brannan.

Dragonfolk
It is well known that dragons can often take the guise of humans, elves or other humanoid species.  It has been through this magic that the dragons have come into direct contact and congress with these younger species.  For years these various dragon-blooded and half-dragons roamed the world often ignorant of their own heritages.  It was not till the great hero Marduk, himself rumored to be the spawn of a human mother and Ea the Dawn Dragon, gathered all the dragon blooded to one one land now known as the Dragon Isles. He then became their first King.

Thousands of years later the Dragon Empires have waned, but the Dragonfolk have survived as a species in their own right.  They rarely leave their Dragon Isles and are thus rare or even legend in other parts of the world.

There are two type of Dragonfolk recognized, Imperial and non-Imperial.  Imperial Dragonfolk hale from the Isles of the Dragon Empire.  The Empire has waned in the 700+ generations since Marduk first united the Dragonfolk into a single people, but the Imperial Dragonfolk are still just as proud as they ever were.

Non-Imperial Dragonfolk are born from the union of a humanoid (typically human, elf or dwarf) and a dragon.  They are of the same general sort of their humanoid parent with the scales, coloration and temperament of their dragon parent.  Non-Imperial Dragonfolk are often shunned in human committees. Any non-Imperial Dragonfolk can claim to be an Imperial Dragonfolk only if they make a pilgrimage to the Temple of Dragons on the Dragon Isle and there renounce their ties to their humanoid relatives.

Description
Dragonfolk appear as dragonlike humanoids.  They share qualities with both of their parent stock.  They stand taller than humans typically 6 to 7 feet in height with males and females being roughly the same height.  They are warm blooded despite their reptilian appearance, though they are not as comfortable in extreme climates as are humans.   Dragonfolk lay eggs like dragons, but also produce milk like a mammal.  Typically only 1 to 2 eggs are laid in a clutch.  The eggs develop partially inside the female and then are kept warm by the male and female once laid.  Twins resulting from one egg is considered an ill omen.

Imperial Dragonfolk can claim human, elf, dwarf as well as a variety of draconic parentage.  Imperial Dragonfolk are only fertile with other Dragonfolk. Non-Imperial are fertile with other Dragon-folk and their members of their humanoid parent's race (and races cross fertile with them such as orcs, trolls, goblins).

Dragonfolk can come from any combination of dragon and humanoid parentage.  For Imperial Dragonfolk, ones that live or come from the Dragon Isles, this is not determination of potential alignment or powers. For non-Imperial Dragonfolk parentage can have an affect on coloration, powers and potential alignment.  
Dragonfolk only recognize the difference between Imperial and non-Imperial Dragonfolk, with Imperial Dragonfolk claiming superiority to the non-Imperial individuals.  Non-Imperial Dragonfolk can produce offspring with strong Dragonfolk traits. These straits remain strong even through many generations.

There is some questionable scholarly work claiming that Kobolds are non-Imperial crosses with gnomes or halflings.  While is this largely dismissed even the most conservative scholars do believe that Kobolds may be the result of non-Imperial pairings of dragons and goblins.

Dragonfolk develop from egg to hatchling in 6 months and are weaned after 6 months. They reach maturity at 13 years.  Imperial Dragonfolk are considered Citizens at 21 years of age.  Their average lifespan is 250 years.  A mated pair will usually mate first between 14 and 21 years old and they will stay together for life, though they may not not necessarily live with each other.

Honor and Caste
Dargonfolk have a strict code of honor. This and the Dragonfolk caste system will be detailed in the future.

Requirements: CON 9
Ability Modifiers: STR +1, CHA +1, DEX -1
Ability Min/Max: STR 4/19, DEX 2/17, CON 9/18, INT 3/18, WIS 3/18, CHA 4/19

Languages: Dragonfolk learn Draconic as their primary Language and can learn the common tongue and alignment language.  They may learn additional languages to these based on their Intelligence score. If Kobolds have a unique language then Dragonfolk will also know this language. 

Infravision: 30 ft
Low-light vision: 120ft

Naturally Dragonfolk are a highly magical race. They gain a +2 to all saves from Spells and Spell like devices.  The gain a +4 vs Dragon Breath saves.  

They can see Invisible creatures and items on a 1 on a 1d6.  They can find secret doors on a 1-2 on a 1d6 as well. 

Dragonfolk are naturally resistant to weapons due to their tough, scaly hides. They gain an additional -1 to their Armor Class. 

Permitted class options: Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Magic-User*, Thief, Cleric/Fighter, Cleric/Paladin,  Fighter/Magic-User, Fighter/Thief.

Level Limits
Cleric: 9th 
Fighter: Unlimited
Paladin: 17th
Magic-User*: 11th
Thief: 8th

Dragonfolk have their own type of magic-user known as Dragon Mages.  These will detailed later.

Dragonfolk Thief Skill Adjustments
Pick Locks -5%
Find and Remove Traps +5%
Climb Walls -15%

Movement Rate: 120 ft

Breath Weapon
A holdover from their draconic heritage, Dragonfolk have a limited breath weapon.  Regardless of their coloration or alignment the individual Dragonfolk can choose among Acid, Cold, Gas, Electricity,  or Fire.  
Once per day a Dragonfolk can emit a powerful breath weapon attack.  This attack does 1d6 + 1hp/level damage. The damage type is chosen at character creation and can't be changed short of a Wish spell.

Dragonfolk and Kobolds
Dragonfolk and Kobolds share a relationship similar to that of Humans and Halflings or Dwarves and Gnomes. In areas where Dragonfolk are more common Kobolds will live on the outskirts of the Dragonfolk communities.  Kobolds will adjust their normal behaviors and alignments to suit that of their Dragonfolk cousins.  Indeed small communities of kobolds near good aligned Dragonfolk areas have been known to be good aligned as well.  

Religion
Dragonfolk follow a form of Ancestor worship where they honor the spirits of fallen warriors, kings and dragons.  They claim that many of the dragon "gods" that cultures around the world worship were in fact personages in their history.  Many times these gods were non-Imperial Dragonfolk that rose to great power and honor.   Such dragons and Dragonfolk are Aži Dahāka (The Destroyer), Druk (thunder dragon), Ea (Dawn Dragon), Jawzahr (Moon Dragon), Karkeu (Diamond Dragon), Marduk (Dragonfolk Hero and Emperor), Quetzalcoatl (Dragonfolk Lord of the Sky), Tiamat (Mother of Monsters), Yam (Son of Ea and Tiamat, dragon god of the Sea), Zirnitra (Dragon God of Sorcerery), and Zmey Gorynych (Darkness).


Section 15.
OSRIC. Copyright 2008 Stuart Marshall.
Advanced Edition Companion, Copyright 2009-2010, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.

"Dragonfolk for the Advanced Era" Copyright 2012, Timothy & Liam Brannan.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Here There Be Dragons updates

With The Witch out and EW in the hands of the publisher it is time to move on to other projects.

I want to talk about "Here There Be Dragons" for a bit.  We paused on this last year to give my son time to concentrate on his school work.  Over the summer things were just way too busy and then I needed to finish the Witch.

Be we are back.  One of the things we want to do is come up with a good dragon statblock that covers the Old School feel we wanted but also includes all the information we want to get out about dragons.  I also want to retain as much good information from the SRD as we can.

In the 1st Advanced Era dragons had 8 age categories.  In the 3rd Edition/SRD era there are 12.
The age categories are also significantly different.  In earlier editions of the game the differences were not great.  In the newer versions there is quite a bit of difference between a Wyrmling and a Great Wyrm.
This can be seen in the SRD here for Blue Dragons.

There are plenty of good and open under the OGL stat blocks for dragons. OSRIC has one, Labyrinth Lord Advanced Companion is another and slightly different. The stat blocks in Castles & Crusades are also open and try to merge the best of 1.x and 3.x in their own way as well. In fact they even fit 12 age categories into 8 rather well.

Additionally Dragons should have more spells as the age, have more treasure and be more powerful, not just harder to hit or kill.

So here is a rough draft of a dragon stat block for a Blue Dragon.

Blue Dragon
Frequency: Rare
No. Appearing: 1d4
Size:  See below
Move: 90' fly 240' (AA: level II)
Hit Dice: typically 8 to 10
Armor Class: typically 2
Attacks:  1 bite, 2 claws or magic
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 3d8
Special Attacks: Breath Weapon, Dragon Fear, Magic Use
Special Defenses:
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Very
Alignment: Lawful Evil
Treasure: ????
Chance of:
- Speaking: 40% + 5%/Age
- Magic-use: 20% + 5%/Age
- Sleeping: 10% + 5%/Age
- In Lair: 20% + 5%/Age
Level/XP: See Below

Breath Weapon: Lighting Bolt, 100' long, 5' wide, line
Spells: As Wizard of level equal to HD

Age
Size (length)
HD (hp)
AC
Breath Damage
Breath Range
Level/XP
1
4'
4 (18)
5 (15)
4d8
40'
4/
2
8'
6 (27)
4 (16)
6d8
60'
6/
3
12'
8 (36)
3 (17)
8d8
80'
8/
4
20'
10 (45)
2 (18)
10d8
100'
10/
5
25'
12 (54)
1 (19)
12d8
120'
12/
6
32'
14 (63)
0 (20)
14d8
140'
14/
7
48'
16 (72)
-1 (21)
16d8
160'
16/
8
60'
18 (81)
-2 (22)
18d8
180'
18/









Age Category

Age Years
1
Wyrmling
0-10
2
Young
11-25
3
Juvenile
26-50
4
Young Adult
51-100
5
Adult
101-250
6
Old
251-500
7
Very Old
501-1,000
8
Ancient
1,000+


These tables will be tweaked as we go along.

Not sure if this is the final version, it is though a working one.
I put in the the average hp on a d8 per HD since I also had the idea that HD could stay the same (say 10) and a dragon gets it's age category in hp.  So Wyrmling would have had 10 hp and an Ancient dragon 80 hp.  It works for the Blue here, not sure about the rest; I think it might.

Did not calculate the XP yet.
Still have no idea how I want to do treasure.  Should I use LL Hoard Classes or list out like in OSRIC?


Credit where credit is due.

Section 15 of the OGL.

System Reference Document copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

OSRIC copyright 2006-08 by Stuart Marshall, adapting material prepared by Matthew J. Finch, based on the System Reference Document, inspired by the works of E. Gary Gygax, Dave Arneson, and many others.


Advanced Edition Companion, Copyright 2009-2010, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.



Hypertext SRD, 2005 Jans Carton.


Castles & Crusades: Monsters & Treasure, Copyright 2005, Troll Lord Games; Authors Robert Doyel and Stephen Chenault.

Blue Dragon: Here There Be Dragons, Copyright 2012, Liam and Timothy Brannan.

All material is open under the OGL.

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