Showing posts with label ghosts of albion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghosts of albion. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Plays Well With Others: Victorious and Victorian-era Games

Time once again for another chapter of Plays Well With Others.

Between some games there are often rivalries, heated debates, or even outright distaste.  Some games even have that between editions.
Not so for Victorian-era games.  We, the aficionados of such pastimes, fancy ourselves more genteel Lords and Ladies.  We generally get along and support each other and celebrate each other's successes.  This can be seen in the Facebook groups Victorian Gamers Association and +Jordan Bodewell's Victorian Adventure Enthusiast.

So today it will my pleasure to discuss how you can use Victorious with various other Victorian-era RPGS.

Note and Disclaimers: 1. I am making no attempt whatsoever to hide my biases here. 2. All books are mine. No book was provided for review purposes. 3. Links are affiliate links. 4. This will not be exhaustive.

Shall we begin?

Tho star with let's talk about what Victorious brings to the table that is unique. This is not just a Steampunk game or a game of Victorian daring-do. This is a game of Super-humanity from a Victorian point of view.  This is the writing of Friedrich Nietzsche writ-large with more hope, action, and steam. These are the promises of the ideas, but not the letter of, Charles Darwin.  The attitude is generally positive (which mind you can be a criticism of the game, the Victorian times were dirty, poor and generally terrible for many).
Victorious, true to it's name, is about striving for more and then seeing that goal realized.
If you go back to my review from yesterday you will see right off the cuff there are a few things that can easily be added to any Victorian game from Victorious.
1. The timeline
2. Background on the Victorian world, with various organizations.
3. The NPCs, in particular, the villains.

Many of the games I am talking about will also have these, but using them in concert makes for a better game.

Leagues of Adventure
Right off the bat Victorious has a LOT in common with Leagues of Adventure. Both games have similar motives and design goals.  Where Victorious can be summed up, though inadequately, as "Victorian Superheroes", Leagues of Adventure is summed up as "Victorian High Adventure".  Both have simlar Pre-Pulp sensibilities, and both have the point of view of Mankind will soon be much better.  I think the main difference to me is summed up by think how the characters could travel from London to New York in each game.  In Victorious the character would either fly by some sort of super-human means (in addition to other means) in LoA the characters would pilot a steam powered airship.
The timelines of both games are largely compatible and characters in one would feel right at home in the other game.


Could you imagine a team up of these characters?  I totally can.
The power levels of LoA are a little flatter than Victorious'.  Character start out and remain largely human-powered.  LoA has more skills, but Victorious' rules are a little faster on how skills are dealt with.  The GM of one game should find a lot material in the other game to give them plenty of ideas.

Victoriana
If Victorious is about super-humanity, then Victoriana is about weird-humanity and others.   Regardless of which edition you have/buy (1st Edition is pictured below), Victoriana is a little further on the "Castle Falkenstein" scale of Fantasy Victoriana than Victorious is.  It also takes place in the mid-Victorian era compared to Victorious' ever-popular late-Victorian era.


Victoriana is often described as Gaslight-Shadowrun. This is true. There are also plenty of other races like orcs, trolls, ogres, gnomes, elves (Eldren) and dwarves running around.  Victoriana is a fun game, but I sometimes wonder what it would be like under a different rule system.


Well not exactly like that...but you could fake a really cool Victoriana by mixing Victorious with Castles & Crusades. It would be a system that most of my readers would already be familiar with and still get at some similar types of game-play.  I would then advise GMs to grab some of the 3rd Edition Victoriana supplements.  Most of them are written with a minimum of game stats and all are absolutely beautiful.
While reading over Victorious I could not help but think of this picture from 1st Edition Victoriana.


This appendix in Victoriana covers very well what mixing 21st-century super-heroes with 19th-century sensibilities would be like.  It is a good read for anyone running a Victorious game.

In our hypothetical trip from London to New York, our Victoriana characters also travel by Airship, though it is not steam powered, but rather some eldritch magic.  Or they find an ancient Eldren gate.

Victoria
On the WAAAY other end of the "Castle Falkenstein Scale" is +Daniel Hodges' Victoria.  Victoria is very much set in the "real world". It is, however, a game I always suggest since it deals with the issues of the Victorian times better than pretty much every other game. Why? Because those issues are the focus of the game.   IF as a GM you really want to get a feel of the times then this is the game to use.  In fact, I have often wanted to run this game as an introduction game.  Everything is nice (well...not really nice) and normal then move on to the Fantastic game of choice once the characters learn of the "true world".


To travel to New York from London in this game you better book passage on a steamer and with some luck you will get there in about a week.

NOTE to FUTURE GAME DESIGNERS
We have now used up all versions of "Victoria" for a game!



Baker Street
On the same scale as Victoria is the Sherlock Holmes influenced Baker Street by +Bryce Whitacre.  Baker Street is set in "normal" Victorian times, albeit, one with Sherlock Holmes as a real person.  Victorious also has the world's most famous detective.  GMs should pick up a copy of Baker Street if Sherlock is going to play any part in their Victorious game.  Plus the clue-resolution system in Baker Street is fantastic and is something that can be lifted out to use in any game.
I will go as far as to say that Baker Street is one of those underrated games that should really get much more attention and many more awards.


Again. Steamer ship, arrive one week later.

Let's go to the other side of the scale into more Horror.  It is October after all.

Masque of the Red Death
Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death shares a lot of DNA with Victorious.  Either the d20/3rd edition or the original 2nd edition would work fine here.  I have already mentioned that you can mix Victorious with Tainted Lands and get something not unakin to Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death. Both games have several compliments to each other. Both have great and well-researched timelines. Both games have a great variety of NPCs and Villians. In fact, most of the material from one game can be used with the other with little fuss.  The big issues though are what does the Red Death mean in Victorious and how do super-humans work in Masque of the Red Death.  If you want to add some Gothic Horror to Victorious this is where I would start.   I for one would pick up MotRD's A Guide to Transylvania in a heartbeat to use with this.



Gaslight
Not too far away from Masque of the Red Death, but further up on the CF scale (this is a thing now) is Gaslight.  Gaslight is cut from the same cloth as Masque.  Since it is OGL/d20 it mixes with Victorious well.  I would argue that the system in Victorious/Castles & Crusades is better than d20 for this, but use some ideas from Gaslight to add a little more horror to your game.



Ghosts of Albion
In truth, Victorious and Ghosts of Albion are very, very different games.  Victorious takes place in the late Victorian era, Ghosts in the early. There are plenty of known superhuman and supernatural occurrences in Victorious. In Ghosts everything is hidden behind a veil of secrecy and magic.
But both games have a number of complimentary features.  First, if you plan to run one game in the other's time frame then both have good, detailed timelines.  Magic is a main feature of Ghosts, so if you are planning to add some more magical juice to Victorious then this is a good place to start.
I bet I could put together a "Protector" class for Victorious.  Mix in some details from Amazing Adventures and I could have a Ghost, Faerie and Vampire races for it as well.
Otherwise, the Magic quality is easily replicated by Victorious' Magicians.



One day I'll run an ultimate Victorian game with elements of these games plus Space: 1889 and Cthulhu by Gaslight.  Something truly epic.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Old Loves

I have been blogging here for a while.  Mostly about D&D and related clones, but some other games too.  I was reading over some rule books for games I have not played yet or haven't played in a long while and I was thinking.
I really miss the modern supernatural genre.  I have lost track of all the games I have played over the years since the early days of Chill and Call of Cthulhu. I have lost track of all the books I have read in this genre as well; has to be in the hundreds by now.  But I also enjoy the over the top heroics of D&D and supers games too.

So imagine my surprise when I saw Eden Studios was finally publishing the long, long, long, awaited Beyond Human.



Years, a life time ago it seems, I helped with this book.  I contributed quite a bit to the magic chapter.  The magic system is based on my Ghosts of Albion game, which is based in turn on C.J. Carella's own magic systems in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (another game I worked on) and on the WitchCraft game.

I really would love to get something new for these games going again.   Ideas are plentiful, time really isn't.

One day I'll return to this world.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ghosts of Albion at ValorCon 2015

I am going to running a game of Ghosts of Albion: Dinosauria! at ValorCon this Saturday at 10:00am.
http://sched.co/4V0h

Here is the blurb from the program.
New Year's Eve, 1853.

You are cordially invited to a special and most unique diner party.  You will be the guests of Richard Owen as he unveils the most exciting scientific discovery of our time.  You will behold Owen's incredible Dinosauria!

Dinosauria is an introductory adventure for the Ghosts of Albion Role-Playing Game.  Take on the role of power mages, ghosts, vampires or humans that hunt the darkness to protect the shores of England in the early Victorian Age.  Ghosts of Albion is powered by the fast and easy to learn Cinematic Unisystem game engine. The same system found in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Army of Darkness.  No knowledge of the game needed.  Game Master provides character sheets, dice and rule book.
So if you are in Chicago come on by and sit in on a game of Ghosts of Albion!




Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review and PWWO: Dark Albion: The Rose War

War is always a good backdrop to a fantasy campaign.  There is so much chaos and change and opportunity that a group of adventurers could make their way from nobodies to national heroes..or villains.  That is one of the basic conceits of +Kasimir Urbanski's aka RPGPundit's latest book Dark Albion: The Rose War. Published by DOM Publishing, the same that gave us Fantastic Heroes & Witchery. Overtly the book is for FH&W, but it can be played with any Retro-Clone or original D&D game you wish.  In fact I am going to jump ahead and say that it would work with any version of D&D you choose, including 5th Edition. But for me the game seems like it would shine under Original Edition.  But more on that later.

I am reviewing the PDF only at this point. I don't have a copy of the printed book yet.  The PDF is 277 pages; 275 of content plus cover and a hyperlink page that we also saw in FH&W. It's a nice touch.

Before I get into the meat I want to about the art and layout.  The art is predominantly woodcuts and public domain images from the period or about the period.  I want to say that for the record I LOVE this sort of art.  I really do. It captures the feel of time I think far better than most RPG art.  I love the art in the D&D/OSR books, but that is art for a game world.  For a historical one I want this.
Also the graphic design and layout is much improved in terms of technique from FH&W.  This is obvious when in the FH&W appendix it switches back to the other style. It is the same as the previous book, but still better executed.

The book is nicely organized and I am first grabbed by a sense of nostalgia. This feels like an old-school Gazetteer.  In particular the Greyhawk ones of old.  We have a two page Table of Contents and a two page index.  Both are hyperlinked.

The center of the campaign is the War of Roses. This war, between rival claimants to the throne of England, the House of York (the White Rose) and the House of Lancaster (the Red Rose). This lead, among other things, to the creation of the Tudor Dynasty (White on Red Rose) when the House of Lancaster defeated the House the York and Henry Tudor married Elizabeth York to become Henry VII of England.  This is also the milestone between what was "Dark Ages" England and the English Renaissance.  Though I personally think of the date as being later when England broke with the Church or even later still when Elizabeth I came into power.  But that is my personal bias.
(Side Note: See if RPGPundit is working on "Dark Albion: The Tudors", now there is some intrigue!)

The Introduction is a brief overview of the book, the War of Roses, and what to expect in this campaign book.  Most of what is here is detailed more in the book, but a couple of things draw our attention.  First this a "gritty" campaign.  So magic is low, character classes will be low and it is human centric.   Other differences between this and other "D&D" are given, such as very, very few demi-humans and few "monsters".  Also the differences between this world and our world are given.  The one that stands out here is the Church of the Unconquered Sun, something that readers of my blog should already be familiar with, http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2015/02/sol-invictus-unconquered-sun.html. In fact this Church is like one where Rome (Arcadia) adopted Mithra instead of Jesus.  It is an interesting idea and one I would love to see more of.

Next up, and what takes up a good chunk of the book is the Gazetteer of Albion.  For his alt-history version of England, Pundit sticks with the very archaic Albion as opposed to England or even "Angle-land".  I do not object. I used the name myself in Ghosts of Albion, though for different reasons.  This is part socio-political overview, part maps and part campaign information.   Having gone over the same territory, though 360 years later, I appreciate the attention to detail here.  The bulk of this is of course on Albion and Wales (not "Cymru"?), lands up into Scots-land ("Alba"?) only go to Hadrian's Wall, which is still intact in this world.  Lands into Ireland ("Erie"! thank you!) only go to the Pale, as appropriate.  Beyond the Pale?  Well that is where the ancient Brannans live, you don't want to go there.
Honestly, this could have been the entire book and I would have loved it.  Give me old maps and names of people and I will fill it up with ideas.  I already want to create characters and give them histories.

Next up is Kingdoms of the Continent. As you can imagine, an overview of Europe. Not as in-depth as the Albion chapter, nor should it be. There are a couple things though I want to point out.
1. Frogland. Really?  ugh. Ok, ok. I get the desire to have a non-human, chaos-based kingdom. But I really have to admit this sticks out like a sore thumb. It's really just not good. Sorry. I just don't like it, it seems to go against everything we just read about human-centric, low magic, gritty-realism.  If I were to use this in a game (and I really would want to) Frogland is going away.  I'll replace it with a Clark Ashton Smith-style Averoigne.  It really kind of mars the entire work in a way.
2. Arcadia. There is something REALLY interesting here.  I would love to see RPGPundit talk about how The Unconquered Sun grew up out Mithraism to replace Christianity in his world.  Plus this is the Renaissance.  I would imagine that Arcadia at this time in this world looks a bit more like Mage the Sorcerers Crusade than it does D&D.
3. Wallachia.  Ok, including a bad ass Dracula almost (almost but not quite) makes up for Frogland.  Having him live in a castle named "Crows Loft" is very cheeky ("Crow's Nest" might be closer, but hey, not my book).

Law & Justice in Albion is a fairly important chapter. Characters will not be able to act like the "murder-hobos" of other games. Albion, at this point, has been around as country of laws for some time.  The Magna Carta has been around for 200+ years at this point so this is not a lawless land, far from it in fact.   Frankly more campaign guides should have this as much as they do maps and people of interest.

History of Albion is just as fascinating as the Gazetteer. While I personally believe that games are about the characters, having a detailed backdrop is always nice.  Plus if your game is going to more about court intrigue and combats of words and lies rather than adventuring, then this is a must read.

Characters in Albion discuss what has been mentioned briefly already.  What characters you are likely to use in this game.  It is human centric and low magic.  Now there is an interesting twist here in that the Church of the Unconquered Sun has Priests, which are like real-world priests in the Catholic church, and Clerics which are more like D&D clerics.  In fact you can have a female cleric.  This is a handy way to have your cake and eat it too.  The reading of this chapter makes me think that Lamentation of the Flame Princes might be a good rule fit for this, but as I read more I think that Original D&D is the best choice.  Though given the changes to the world in general I would also add druids and witches to my games.

Currency & Equipment is actually quite an important chapter.  Money didn't just seperate the wealthy from everyone else, it also separates the classes, as in the upper and lower class.  In many D&D games characters tend to throw around gold like it was water.  You see that even in some of the pulp influences of D&D.  Historically though and even until past the Victorian age you would not find people throwing around a gold coin.  Copper pence/pennies were the coinage of the common man.  Maybe a silver shilling. Ok, technically the silver shilling wasn't minted until the 1500s and it was worth 12 pence (not the 10p listed). BUT this is just a change to make things easier for the game and that is fine with me.  I would still introduce a gold guinea at 21s/0p though it's introduction is still not for another 200 years or so.  I just like the idea.

The next two chapters, Noble Houses of Albion and People of Interest, deal with the people that populate this world.  I would say that if you are playing a court intrigue game then these are your important chapters.  Knowing who is controlling what and what their moves might be is a great aid for the right-minded GM.  I would say that if you are or were a fan of Pendragon or even Birthright then study these two chapters.  Heck given how Pendragon works this could be part of the same set of PCs, only their dynasties 35-40+ generations later.
Ok, so I am not taking any stars away from the overall product for this, but I will state my disappointment in the whole "Frogmen" one more time here. Craaak VII? Lraaap XI?  Come on Pundit, you can do better than this.

Sorcery and Secrets is the chapter I have been waiting for.  I will point out one discrepancy between what is said here and what is assumed.  Magic-user spells are listed to 9th level, ok that will take a pretty high level magic-user, beyond the "7th level will be really high" mentioned. Plus 9th level spells are pretty big magics.  Personally I would limit all spell casters to 6th level spells.  There are some rules in FH&W to help get around this restriction.
There are some really good demon summoning rules. I would combine these with the magic circle rules given in FH&W as well as the Ley Line rules.  In fact in might be interesting to take this chapter and Chapter 9 from FH&W and look at them as a unified whole.

Adventuring in Albion. Ok this is more like it!  Give me reasons for my characters to do things!  For me I am content with "there is a war of succession to English throne going on. You all are peasants. Figure out how make the most of it."  Thankfully there is more here than just that. Several sample adventure locations are given, including one at court.  Travel across Albion is discussed though characters are more likely to run into tolls rather than trolls, but both are still possible.
While monsters are rare in this setting a guideline for what might be possible would be good.

Three Appendices follow.
Appendix 1 detail the Knights of the Star and Secrets of the Clerical Order. Knight of the Star are an order of Knights loyal to the crown and king of Albion. These Knights could be seen as the Paladins of Albion and are given similar in-game status.
Appendix 2 is a set of house rules for rules-lite OSR clones like Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Swords & Wizardry, and Basic Fantasy RPG.
Appendix 3 is a set of rules when playing Fantastic Heroes & Witchery.  Like I mentioned before this appendix drops the Dark Albion style for the FH&W one.  Various new classes for FH&W are added including the Cleric of the Unconquered Sun, the Magister, Hedge-Witch and Cymric Bard among others.  Also classes from FH&W are discussed including which ones NOT to use in Dark Albion.  Some details about how Dark Albion's cosmology fits into the FH&W assumed cosmology.

The book ends with the OGL statement.

There is a lot crammed into 275 or so pages. While the guide is complete and there is plenty to do with it, it also opens up a lot of possibility for the world as a whole.  Dom and RPGPundit could make a career out filling up the other countries.  The time period is an interesting choice too.  Having played a ton of historical games I tend to draw a fuzzy line right around the time of the Tudors. Prior to this time I can emulate with D&D-like games, after that I use other games.  Dark Albion adheres to my own internal logic in this respect.  Though I do admit I can see myself pushing that line a bit when it comes to Elizabethan times.  I have done that time period both as a D&D-like game and as a setting for Ghosts of Albion.

I would say pick this up if you have any enjoyment for English history or if you are looking to play something different than the same old dungeon crawls.

Plays Well With Others
By virtue of it's compatibility with Fantastic Heroes & Witchery, Dark Albion has an easier time than most supplements.  Added to fact that it is presented largely rule free is a bonus.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea has been one of my favorite systems/campaign worlds since it came out. It shares a number of elements in common with Dark Albion.  First, both worlds assume a low magic, human centric world.  There are a LOT of character classes in AS&SH and not all are appropriate for Dark Albion, but there are plenty that are even above and beyond the multitude of class options that FH&W offers.    The worlds of both games are by and large the same, just separated by vast quantities (and maybe qualities) of time.  While Dark Albion focuses on Albion and parts south, AS&SH tends to focus more to the north.  Who is to say that there are not some areas of Norway that are not still like the Hyperborea of AS&SH?
Plus the power levels of both games is the same.  All characters in AS&SH and FH&W top off at that 12-14 level limit.  This naturally keeps the magic down.
AS&SH also has a number of monsters in it that would be appropriate for the Dark Albion world.  Now, AS&SH does have "Cthulhoid" monsters which would take the implied chaos of Dark Albion to a totally different level. But I can see that working.

As mentioned before another game that would mesh well with this is Lamentation of the Flame Princes.  There is a congruity to both worlds that makes the translation not only possible, but anticipated as seen in Appendix 2.

I have to admit I picked this game up not on the reputation of it's author or even publisher, but because I really wanted to see if there is anything in this book I could use with my own Ghosts of Albion.  While the two games share a number of parallels due to subject matter and connections to the real world, the underlying assumptions of both games are very different. Back when I was working on Ghosts of Albion one of my characters was a ghost of a fighter in the War of the Roses.  I guess I could now play him as a living breathing human if I wanted too.  I just have to make sure he dies while defending the King from that dastard the Duke of York!   Dark Albion actually has more in common with Cubicle 7's Victoriana. At least in terms of setting and underlying assumptions. Heck maybe when Albion splits from the Church of the Unconquered Sun (Dark Albion) it becomes the Aluminat Church (Victoriana).   In any case Dark Albion provides an interesting historical backdrop to either of those games.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention The Witch.  Dark Albion makes many references to witches and dark magic but the only game mentioned that has a proper witch is FH&W and even then that game mentions conversions for my witch.  Just follow the guidelines already in FH&W.

One thing is certain, I am going to have to play some more with this world.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 23

Day 23: Perfect Game for Me

Kind of a no brainer really. The perfect game for me is the one I wrote.

Ghosts of Albion!



Again it is everything I have ever wanted in a horror game, everything I want in a fantasy game and one I can run with zero prep time.

It's a period I love, with rules I love and characters I adore.  What else could be more perfect?



Thursday, August 20, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 20

Day 20: Favorite Horror RPG

Ah.  This now like choose amongst my children.  I love Horror RPGs, more so than fantasy or supers really.

There are a lot of great choices Chill, WitchCraft, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire, Mage...so many.

But if I am going to have to choose then I choose...myself!

Ghosts of Albion!



Not to be to blunt, but it is everything I have ever wanted in a horror game. I poured blood, sweat and tears into this game.  But that means nothing to Joe or Jane Player out there.  It is also a fun game, with a great setting, some great monsters and, in my opinion, one of the best magic rules I have ever used.

If I never publish another game or book I will be content because I wrote this one.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

PWWO: A Red & Pleasant Land + Victorian Games

The print version with ribbon.
I don't think there are many of these left.
Time for another edition of Plays Well With Others!

A while back I picked up +Zak Smith's vampire-themed Alice in Wonderland mashup (though that does not really describe it) A Red & Pleasant Land.  It is well reviewed and you can read my review here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2014/12/review-red-pleasant-land.html

What got me at the time is a.) how much I liked it and b.) how much I didn't want to play it under D&D (any version).  I started thinking about Alice, Dracula and this book   I thought that what this book really needs is not a background of fantasy, even the Grimdark of LotFP or DCC, but the prim and proper sensibilities of a more refined time. Victorian England.

Think about it.  I described the country, Voivodja, in AR&PL as Nightmare scape. Not an overt one like say the Hells, but a subtle one, and mostly a chaotic one.  What a better contrast to the streets of fog soaked Victorian London?  After all Voivodja isn't in our world, it's out there somewhere; down a rabbit hole or through the looking glass.  Through a looking glass darkly.  OR if it is, maybe it is an odd mirror.  Page 14 of AR&PL will give you ideas. The difference now is that we are all using the same world. Unless your D&D game is set in Europe of course, then you are ahead.

There are a lot of great choices for games to use this with and each offers something special I think.


Cthuhlu by Gaslight


Cthuhlu by Gaslight is one of the best Victorian era magical games out there. CbG has rules, via Call of Cthuhlu, for dealing with the Dreamlands. This is a good way to get characters from the "real world" to Voivodja.  Now Voivodja could be in our Carpathian Mountains or they could be in the analogue in the Dream lands.  Who knows.
One thing I would suggest is get a good grip on the Sanity rules and how to apply them using AR&PL.  There are things here that could be abused and drive the characters completely insane.  I say use them sparingly; instead focus on the weirdness of it all.  Not the mind bend weirdness typically one associates with the mythos.  Translations of monsters would not be hard.  Though the average CoC/CbG game is more about investigation. There is more doing in AR&PL, even if that doing isn't always combat.  Though they both have that in common.

Ghosts of Albion



I think there are plenty of good reasons to use Ghosts of Albion.  First the there is more expectation that characters will do more in GoA than in CoC.  Again monsters are easy to convert; most are in the Ghosts core book or could be found in any of the Buffy books.  Secondly let's address the elephant in the room.  Zak may not have meant Alice to come off as an ersatz Slayer, but she kind of is.  Or rather the Alice is the trope that the "Buffy" is trying to set up. All I am saying is that thematically they work well together or even as each other.  Alices are not Protectors, but they can be weaker Slayers or Chosen Ones (Army of Darkness) in any case the rules in GoA have it covered.
Alice's would get extra Drama Points (I would say 2 extra at starting).  The leveling up table would be used for every 25 XP gained.  Just allow her to take the appropriate Supernatural Qualities.

The Alice would be a 5-Point Supernatural Quality. I'd have to work out what is in it, likely bonuses to Charisma, Hard to Kill, but some drawbacks too.  Nothing major and nothing more than 5 points.
The more magic-rich world of Ghosts works well for AR&PL too.  And between Ghosts' Supernatural rules, Angel's demon rules and Buffy's vampires you could make every type of vampire in the book and then some.


Ravenloft: Masque of the Red Death


This of course might the best fit.  Ravenloft, Masque of the Red Death is set on Earth in the Victorian era.  It uses the same D&D system as AR&PL. Plus a lot of the changes that LotFP made to D&D can also be found in this book. Specialists are called Tradesmen in MotRD.  While the other two can be "easily converted" this one does not have to be converted at all.  You can even use the Alice as is.
Plus a lot of the strangeness in AR&PL can be explained by the power known as The Red Death.  I would opt for the 2nd Edition version pictured here as opposed to the 3.x update from Arthaus/SSS/White Wolf.   In fact going back through my Masque books I think this might be the one I would use for this.
You could travel the Orient Express and end up in A Red & Pleasant Land.

In any of the above cases I am much more excited to run this than under D&D or a clone.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A to Z of Vampires, Dearg-Due

For D let's travel to Ireland for the nasty Dearg-Due.  Also know as the Dearg-dul or "Red Blood Sucker" these are particularly nasty little beasts.

Presenting them here for use with the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG or the Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Dearg-Due

These ghoulish vampire sub-types were found in Ireland and parts of Great Britain before their Christian conversion. During that time, all Dearg-duls were wiped out. Some Church historians claims these are “snakes” that St. Patrick drove from Ireland’s shores. In any case, no one has seen one in nearly 1,000 years. Until today that is (aren’t you the luck one).
Dearg-dues are basically animalistic predators. They are not intelligent, but may be controlled to a slight degree by a sufficiently powerful sorcerer (Magic/Sorcery 4+). They hunt in packs of three or more. The creatures prefer the taste of fresh blood like all vampires, but they are not above raiding a tomb for food. Their eyes glow amber-red and they look like ragged, blue tinged corpses.
For the most part, Dearg-dues have the same powers and vulnerabilities as your garden variety vampires. What sets these little nasties off is that a stake to the heart (sufficient to drop them below zero Life Points) does not kill them. It stops them, but they don’t turn to dust. Their only goal at that point is to reach out feebly and remove the stake. Once that is done, they recover normally (normally for a vampires, that is) and come back for more. The only way to kill them permanently is by piling stones on top of them. Once every part of their body is covered, they are destroyed.
Dearg-dues can’t effectively make more of their own kind, but once in a while (1 on a d10) a victim drained by a Dearg-due will rise as one.

Name: Dearg-due
Motivation: Kill! Blood!
Creature Type: Vampire
Attributes: Strength 5, Dexterity 4, Constitution 4, Intelligence 1, Perception 3, Willpower 2
Ability Scores: Muscle 16, Combat 14, Brains 9
Life Points: 46
Drama Points: 1
Special Abilities: Destroyed only by stones, Vampire
Maneuvers
Name Score Damage Notes
Bite 14 18 Must Grapple first; no defense action
Dodge 14 — Defense action
Grapple 16 — Resisted by Dodge
Kick 13 15 Bash
Punch 14 13 Bash

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ghosts of Albion: Ur-hag

She came to me in a dream.  

I could tell by her voice that she was of regal bearing and intelligence, but at first I could not see her.  I was looking out over a darkend grey and cold plain.  In the far distance I saw mountains; mountains I know I had never beheld before with mortal eyes yet no less real.  In the sky above flew beasts, for that was the only world for them.  They appeared as mad paintings of Hieronymus Bosch, a mass of flying, winged semi-human creatures.  Their appearance was as women, save shamefully unclothed, though it was difficult to see this from the filth that covered them.  The smell was worse than any charnel house I could recall; the decay of death, the reek of excrement and the sour odour of unwashed sweaty bodies.   Their hair was wild. Their teeth were long, yellowed and many were broken.  This is how I knew I was still in the dream. Such details would have escaped me given their distance. In truth, I wanted to be no closer to these hideous creatures.  Their eyes burned red like coals of hellfire.

I watched as they flew and they attacked and ate other beasts in sky.  They were aware of me and my companion, but made no move towards us.

"What are they?" I asked and I turned to meet my unseen companion.  To my shock she appeared as they did, save she was not a filthy degenerate creature, but a woman of regal bearing. She had the same clawed hands, the same large bat-like wings and most horribly the same eyes.

"They are Ur-hags." she had said.  "They are my sisters."

- From the Journal of Tamara Swift.

Ur-Hag

The Urhags are found in two basic varieties, the Degenerate and the far less common Noble.

The Degenerate Ur-hag appears to be a hideously ugly humanoid woman. She appears naked, but covered in filth, with long clawed fingers, wild hair and inhumanly long feet and toes. What is the most curious feature of the ur-hag are her large bat-like wings.  One is immediately reminded of a harpy; which scholars also claim are an offspring of this creature.  The ur-hag does not speak, but only screams and shrieks.  The ur-hag can attack with a claw/claw/bite routine which is their most typical attack.  They are also surrounded by a horrible stench. Characters within 10' of the Ur-hag must make a Constitution test at at least 2 Success Levels or suffer a -2 on all attacks against the creature.
The ur-hag may also cast spells as a witch with Magic 2.  Spells that attack and due damage are preferred over all others.
Ur-hags are immune to all cold-based effects and are immune to cold and cold based spells. Dengerate ur-hags are carnivorous and their preferred  source of meat is humanoid flesh.  They are able to enter the dreams of people sleeping in their territories; usually within 300 yards.  Through this special attack the ur-hag will Charm a sleeping male into breeding with them. Once complete the ur-hag will then wake thee male to kill and eat him.  They prefer to wake their victims because they enjoy hear the sounds of their screams.  Within 3 months the ur-hag will lay a leathery egg in which a juvenile ur-hag will emerge. The new ur-hag will not expect any care or succor from her mother; in fact the mother is just as likely to eat her offspring as she did her offspring's father.

Unisystem / Ghosts of Albion
Name: Ur-hag (degenerate)
Motivation: cause chaos, despair and feed on mortals
Creature Type: Faerie
Attributes: Str 5, Dex 6, Con 5, Int 4, Per 3, Will 6
Ability Scores: Muscle 16, Combat 19, Brains 14
Life Points: 66
Drama Points: 2
Special Abilities: Attractiveness –5, Increased Life Points, Faerie, Innate Magic

Manoeuvres
Name Score Damage Notes
Bite 21 24 Must grapple first; no defence action
Claw 19 16 Two attacks per Turn
Grapple 21 — Resisted by dodge

Spellcasting 16 Varies By spell
Deflect 16 — Magic defence action; deflects spells 45º
Lesser Sensing 15 — Notice magical effects, nature, or possession

Noble Ur-Hag

The Noble ur-hag is a different creature, though no less evil.  Like the degenerate ur-hag, the noble appears to be a winged woman with long taloned hands and feet.  Noble ur-hags also have horns growing from their heads that often causes them to be mistaken for some sort succubus or other demonic creature.  While not demonic, the noble ur-hag is still quite evil.  While the degenerate ur-hag is hideous and covered in filth, the noble ur-hag is regal, attractive and clothed in only the fines wares. Her features are sharp and possibly indicate a relationship to the fae that other, more common hags, share.   The noble ur-hag can be harmed by iron in the same fashion that fae are; iron weapons cause +2 damage and +1 to hit.
The noble ur-hags can cast spells as a witch of Magic level 4.
While the degenerate ur-hag is indiscriminate about her choice of mating partners, the noble ur-hag prefers only the finest quality human males.  Also noble ur-hags do not always eat the men the lay with.  Some preferring to return to the same male time and time again as instinct drives them to reproduce.

Noble Ur-hags use the same stats as do the Degenerate Ur-Hags save they have Attractiveness +1 and Magic 4.  The Noble Ur-Hag also has the following magical manoeuvres.

Manoeuvres
Name Score Damage Notes
Spellcasting 17 Varies By spell
Deflect 17 — Magic defence action; deflects spells 45º
Lesser Sensing 16 — Notice magical effects, nature, or possession
Hold 16 — Magic defence action; delays spell
Volley 11 — Magic defence action; returns spell to caster
Dispel 14 — Magic defence action; dispels spell

Additionally the Noble Ur-Hag can choose demonic or fae powers.  Many posses Glamour and Grand Glamour.  A Noble Ur-Hag is capable of interacting in society, however her mannerisms will seem a bit aloof and more prone to violence than that of mankind.  The Degenerate Ur-Hag, even if glamoured by another, cannon interact in even the roughest society.

There is no known spell to summon these creatures and they only live in the shadowy borderlands where Dream, Shadow and Faerie are known to intersect.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bundle of Holding: Unisystem

Many  of you know about the Bundle of Holding.  Well the newest one features Unisystem powered games which are some of my favorites.

http://bundleofholding.com/index/current/name/Unisystem


Here are five games in the starter collection:

  • Conspiracy X 2.0 (retail $17.50): UFO conspiracy in the post-9/11 world. As an agent of Aegis, you're our best hope against the alien threat.
  • CJ Carella's WitchCraft (free): The magical Gifted have been persecuted for centuries. Now, join with your coven-mates to shape the modern world. WitchCraft was the first Unisystem game.
  • Armageddon: The End Times (retail price $15): The Apocalypse has arisen, but not the way anyone predicted. Play as an angel, a demon, or a mortal brave enough to challenge a god.
  • Ghosts of Albion (retail $5): Explore occult Victorian London in this complete RPG (widely regarded as the best version of the Cinematic Unisystem rules) inspired by the 2003 BBCi series co-created by Amber Benson.
  • Terra Primate: Savage adventure in a world where Man is the missing link.


I have gone on and on about my love for these games. Admittedly I am biased.

WitchCraft might just be my most favorite game of all time. In my mind WitchCraft is the perfect game, it has everything I have ever needed in a game.

Armageddon is a "sequel" to WitchCraft. It extends the myths and expands the system to include some greater supernaturals and more metaphysics.  Armageddon isn't a "post apocalyptic" game, you are in the middle of the Apocalypse right now and you have a chance to send the world in a completely new direction.

Conspiracy X 2,.0 updates 90s paranoia to a post 9/11 world. Written by Dave Chapman (of Doctor Who fame) it uses the same system as WC/Arm but presents a very different sort of world.

Terra Primate also uses the same Classic Unisystem rules as WitchCraft, Armageddon, Con X and All Flesh Must Be Eaten.  In this game though all the characters are (or can be) intelligent apes.  Think Planet of the Apes.  Really great and  underrated game.

Ghosts of Albion.  What else can I say about this game?  It's my baby, my magnum opus.  I love that they mention that is is "widely regarded as the best version of the Cinematic Unisystem rules".  If WitchCraft is my favorite game Classic Unisystem game then this is my favorite Cinematic Unisystem game.  In fact I have often said that Ghosts of Albion is my love letter to WitchCraft.

The bonus books are really, really awesome.

  • Conspiracy X Paranormal Sourcebook (retail $17.50): Alien vs. ghost -- who wins? With your luck, you'll be squaring off against them both.
  • Conspiracy X Extraterrestrials Sourcebook (retail $17.50): Planning a close encounter with alien invaders? This is the Conspiracy X sourcebook you need.
  • Mystery Codex (retail $11.50): New WitchCraft skills, powers, metaphysics, and, above all, vampires.
  • Abomination Codex (retail $8): More skills, powers, metaphysics, secret organizations, voodoo magic, and -- because the vampires weren't enough -- were-creatures.

The Con X source books will work with the WitchCraft/Arm ones and visa versa. You just have to figure out how to get the myths of both worlds to interact.
Mystery Codex and Abomination codex are also long out of print, so getting these PDFs is the only way you can get the books now.

So if you don't have these books yet now is a great time to check them out.

I give ALL of them my highest recommendations.
Plus 10% of your contribution goes to the American Cancer Society.  So there is that.

http://bundleofholding.com/index/current/name/Unisystem

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ghosts of Albion Black Friday...Week Sale

If you have ever wanted to try the game I call my "magnum opus", Ghosts of Albion, then now is your chance.

http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/56971/Ghosts-of-Albion?affiliate_id=10748

The PDF is on sale for just under $5 now.


From the book:

“There are things in this world that do not belong here - evil things. Supernatural creatures that are neither myth nor legend. They are, in fact, quite real. These Enemies of Humanity would like to claim the world for themselves. Yet, in every corner of the globe, there are those who stand in their way - mystical guardians who protect the primeval essence of the Earth. The soul of England - its mystic spirit - is called Albion. Throughout the centuries it has had many champions - brave men and women who fought to maintain our freedom. For many decades, one man kept Albion's enemies at bay. Using magic and intelligence, Ludlow Swift protected England from the encroaching darkness.But change is in the air—”
- From the Journal of Tamara Swift, Protector of Albion

Join this epic struggle of Humanity vs. the agents of darkness with the “Ghost’s of Albion Roleplaying Game” from Eden Studios.

Set in London at the dawn of the Victorian age, players join in the fight to keep the ever-present forces of evil at bay. Whether fighting a demon prince or even a band of infant stealing faeries, the battle wages on. Characters can join the fight as normal humans, ghosts, mysterious faeries or even wield the magic of the Protectors themselves. All against a backdrop of Victorian England with a dark supernatural undercurrent.

Based on Amber Benson and Christopher Golden’s wildly popular BBCi drama “Ghosts of Albion” and includes new material from the creators themselves, featuring new fiction and a complete, ready to run adventure.

The “Ghosts of Albion RPG” features the Eden “Cinematic Unisystem” game system, designed by award winning game designer C.J. Carella, and written by Timothy S. Brannan (previous work includes the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG”).

“Ghosts’” Other features include:

  • New rules designed to fit the grittier Victorian age, but still compatible with other Cinematic Unisystem games from Eden.
  • Rules for playing everything from a street-side flower salesgirl to ancient ghosts, and inhuman faeries all united for the cause of Humanity and Albion.
  • Expanded rules on playing Faerie, Ghost and Vampire characters.
  • Full character write-ups for William and Tamara Swift, their ghostly cohorts and the various vampires, ferals, ethereals and demons that stalk the night.
  • Expanded magical rules for magical combat and battles.


This game is my pride and joy.  If I never write another game as long as I live I will be happy because I wrote this one.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cinematic Unisystem: Witches of East End

It really should be no surprise that I enjoy Lifetime's Witches of East End.


Yes it is a "chick show" and yes it is soap opera-y but really I don't care.  It is a a fun show and it has witches in it.  Plus I love Mädchen Amick and was drawn in because of her.

But a few surprising things happened.  First I was not prepared to walk away saying "wow Julia Ormond was really great in that!"  I NEVER liked Julia Ormond, I never liked her work.  Yet this show made me do a complete 180.  I think she is great in this and now I am wondering if I was just underestimating her as an actress.  OR I think she needed to mature a bit more (and maybe me too) so I could appreciate how good she is.
Rachel Boston and Jenna Dewan-Tatum are both great as the younger witches Ingrid and Freya respectively.

Honestly it is like the a crossover between "Charmed" and "Practical Magic".

Of course I was bummed out when Lifetime canceled it after Season 2.
Though there maybe hope yet. There is a massive campaign to get the show back and it seems to be making a lot of head way. Even William Shatner is Tweeting that it should not have been canceled.
Checking on the #RenewWitchesOfEastEnd hashtag on Twitter it seems to be gaining more and more ground.



Witches of East End for Cinematic Unisystem

My normal mode here is to use Classic Unisystem for books and Cinematic for TV shows.  Well Witches of East End is both.  For this posting I am going to focus soley on the TV show and do Cinematic Unisystem.  This is mostly Buffy/Angel stats, but a lot of Ghosts of Albion added in since it is a better fit for the show.
The Beauchamp witches are considered to be a supernatural race so they can choose some supernatural qualities and drawbacks normally denied to humans.

Joanna Beauchamp
Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond)
Witch
Str: 2  Dex: 2 Con: 2 Int: 5 Per: 4 Wil: 7

Life Points: 39
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Age 10, Attractive 1, Contacts 2 (occult), Control Weather 5, Hard to Kill 5, Healing Touch 3, Immortal, Magic 7, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 7, Unique Kill (Argentium)

Drawbacks
Adversary 5 (various witches, warlocks and members of Asgard that support her father),  Emotional Problems (must protect her girls above all else) 1, Honorable 2, Love (Tragic), Obsession (Find a cure for her family curse), Secret (is immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 1, Computer 1, Crime 1, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, knowledge 6, Languages 4 (English, Latin, Greek, Asgardian), Notice 5, Occultism 8, Science 2, Sports 1

Spellcasting: +22
Deflect: +22

Joanna is the matriarch of the Beachamp witches.  She is sister to Wendy and mother to Ingrid and Freya.  Joanna is over 1,000 years old and has been living on earth in exile. She tries to maintain a low profile when she can in order to keep her girls safe.
She works as an art teacher in the small town of North Hampton

Wendy Beauchamp (Mädchen Amick)
Wendy Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 4 Con: 2 Int: 4 Per: 4 Wil: 5

Life Points: 54
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Acute Senses 2 (night vision, smell), Age 9, Attractive 2, Contacts 2 (occult), Control Weather 4, Hard to Kill 8, Healing Touch 2, Immortal, Magic 6, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), Supernatural Form (dual form, human and cat), TK 6, Unique Kill (kill all her nine lives)

Drawbacks
Addiction 1 (mild lechery), Adversary 4 (various witches, warlocks and members of Asgard that support her father),   Love (Tragic), Secret (is immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 3, Crime 2, Doctor 2, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 4, Gun Fu 1, Influence 4, Knowledge 6, Languages 3 (English, Latin, Asgardian), Notice 6, Occultism 8, Science 2, Sports 3

Spellcasting: +19
Deflect: +19

Wendy is Joanna's younger sister. She is flighty and free spirited, but is fiercely devoted to her sister and nieces.  Wendy and Joanna were estranged for while when Wendy accidentally killed one of Ingrid's incarnations.

Ingrid Beauchamp (Rachel Boston)
Ingrid Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 2 Con: 2 Int: 6 Per: 4 Wil: 4

Life Points: 39
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Attractive 2, Bookish, Control Weather 1, Hard to Kill 2, Healing Touch 2, Magic 3, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 3,

Drawbacks
Adversary 2 (various witches, warlocks),  Honorable 2, Love (Tragic), Secret (is a semi-immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 1, Computer 4, Crime 1, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, Knowledge 6, Languages 3 (English, Latin, Greek), Notice 5, Occultism 5, Research 4, Science 5, Sports 1

Spellcasting: +12
Deflect: +12

Ingrid is the oldest daughter. She has only discovered that she is in fact a witch.  She spent most of her life as a rational skeptic.  She has similar powers to her mother but can also write new spells.
Ingrid currently works at the local East End library. She is also working on her dissertation on witches and witchcraft.

Freya Beauchamp (Jenna Dewan-Tatum)
Freya Beauchamp
Witch
Str: 3  Dex: 2 Con: 3 Int: 4 Per: 4 Wil: 3

Life Points: 37
Drama Points: 10

Qualities
Attractive 3, Control Weather 1, Hard to Kill 1, Healing Touch 1, Magic 3, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 3 (The Grimoire), TK 3,

Drawbacks
Adversary 2 (various witches, warlocks),  Honorable 2, Love (Dash, Killian), Secret (is a semi-immortal from another world) 2

Skills
Acrobatics 2, Computer 2, Crime 2, Doctor 3, Driving 3, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun Fu 1, Influence 3, Knowledge 5, Languages 1 (English), Notice 4, Occultism 4, Research 3, Science 2, Sports 2, Wild Card (Making Potions) 3

Spellcasting: +10
Deflect: +10

Frey is the youngest and usually the first to fall in love.  She is not as strong in her magic as her sister or mother, but has a special affinity for making potions.  She is also the daughter that gets along the best with Aunt Wendy.
Freya has calmed down a lot since her "wild child" days (which also makes her Wendy's favorite) to get married to a man named Dash. Though she falls in love with his brother, Killian.  Both brothers are warlocks though.   Freya currently works as a bartender.

Personally I think they would work great in any Cinematic Unisystem game.

I'd love to see more of this show (and so would the rest of the fans).

If you feel so inclined, send a Tweet to @Lifetime with the hashtag #RenewWitchesOfEastEnd.
I would consider is a personal favor.

Also if you are so inclined then please check out this petition.
http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/renew-witches-of-east-end

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Black Sabbath (1963)

I got the idea to re-watch this one from of the images used in the Krell Labs  banners.  But it has also been years since I have seen it and I have been wanting to watch it again.

Black Sabbath is one of the landmark films of the horror genre. Also known as "I tre volti della paura" or the "Three Faces of Fear". It is a collection of three short stories with introductions by Boris Karloff.  It was Boris Karloff that really scared me the most watching this a kid.  In fact I think this is the movie that my dad showed me to introduce me to Boris Karloff.
It also set the stage for other horror vignettes like Creepshow  nearly 20 years later.

 To this day in fact that old woman in "The Drop of Water" still kinda freaks out.  I also like the idea of treasure, in this case a ring, passing on a curse of fear to anyone that steals it.  That will add some nasty excitement to your character's lives!

"The Telephone" is also the one I remember the least.  Though you can see the origins of many other movies, including Scream here.  Everyday objects can sometimes be the most terrifying.

"The Wurdalak" is one of the ones I remember the best.   The sets for this one remind of the ones used in the Vampire Lovers, but not likely to be the same.

Wurdalak
For Ghosts of Albion
Motivation: Feed and dominate the ones they once loved
Creature Type: Vampire
Attributes: Str 9, Dex 9, Con 8, Int 5, Per 5, Will 8
Ability Scores: Muscle 24, Combat 23, Brains 21
Life Points: 149
Drama Points: 2-4
Special Abilities: Age 6, Hard to Kill 8 (2 levels part of Vampire Quality), Increased Life Points 5,  Mesmerism, Restricted Diet (blood of loved ones), Unattractiveness -1, Unique Kill (family heirloom dagger), Vampire

Combat
Name Score Damage Notes
Bite 25 34 Must grapple first; no defense action
Grapple 25 Resisted by dodge
Punch 23 24 Bash
Sword 23 42 Slash
Deflect 24 Magic defense action; deflects spells 45º

The Wurdalak can cast shadows and reflect in mirrors.  They are not active at sundown like other types of vampires, but wait till 10:00pm exactly.  To kill the wurdalak one must use a dagger that has been in the monster's family for at least three generations.


--
Tally so far:  16 Total Watched / 11 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.


Monday, August 25, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 25, Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

#RPGaDAY Day 25, Favourite RPG no one else wants to play

At home it is Ghosts of Albion.  Yeah, I can't even get my own kids to play my game!

Outside of that no one seems interested in any of the World of Darkness games.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 21, Favourite Licensed RPG

#RPGaDAY Day 21, Favourite Licensed RPG

Is this even a question? ;)


Ghosts of Albion is my baby. I will write other games, I might even write batter ones, but Ghosts was like nothing else.

I also enjoy Buffy, Elric, Call of Cthlhu (that is sorta licensed), the various DC Comics RPGs and more.
I'll also admit that d20 Star Wars is my favorite version of that game, but I like all versions of Star Trek.

Monday, August 18, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 18, Favourite Game System

#RPGaDAY Day 18, Favourite Game System

Oh, so many I really love.

But when it comes right down to it my favorite is still Cinematic Unisystem.


I am also fairly partial to the various versions of "Basic" D&D out there.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mary Poppins: Witch or Time Lord?

Mary Poppins is an interesting character.

She is both serious and fanciful. Strict and stern, yet kind and lovable. Old and wise and still young and innocent.  A witch and a Time Lord.

Wait.
What was that last one again?

Certainly Mary has a number of traits that could be considered magical and even witch like.  But there are other times her crazy world could be explained easier if she were in fact a Time Lord.  Both seem as likely as the other to be honest.

Mary as a Witch



Mary has a number of qualities that make her seem more like witch or some sort of magic user.
Indeed a lot of what she does is called magic.  It could be that is just what she is calling it to help explain it to the locals.

Mary Poppins
20th Level Witch Eclectic Tradition
From  The Witch

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 15
Constitution: 14
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 18
Charisma: 18

Saves
Death Ray or Poison: 5
Magic Wands: 6
Paralysis: 5
Dragon Breath: 8
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 7

To Hit AC 0: 14

Hit Points: 50
Alignment: Lawful
AC: 7 (coat equal to leather)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Jackdaw
7th level:  Speak to Plants and Animals
13th level: Permanent Magic
19th level: Witch’s Blessing

Spells 
Cantrips: Alarm Ward, Animate Tool, Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, Object Reading, Warm
First: Comprehend Languages, Everlasting Candle, Fey Sight, Light, Magic Circle Against Evil, Consecration Ritual (Ritual)
Second: Augury, Detect Thoughts, Guard Watch, Mind Obscure, Rite of Remote Seeing, Calling the Quarters (Ritual)
Third: Astral Sense,  Dispel Magic, Scry, Spirit of Albion (Avalon), Imbue Witch Ball (Ritual)
Fourth: Analyze Magic, Divine Power, Ethereal Projection, Remove Curse, Drawing Down the Moon (Ritual)
Fifth: Calm Weather, Dream, Greater Command, Seeming
Sixth: Anchoring Rite, Greater Scry, True Seeing, Legend Lore (Ritual)
Seventh:  Ball of Sunshine, Greater Arcane Eye, Binding Ritual (Ritual)
Eighth: Astral Projection, Discern Location, Mystic Barrier

Magic Items:  Umbrella (works as a Witch's Staff), Bag of Holding (Greater).

Mary Poppins
Very Experienced Master
From Ghosts of Albion

Life Points 44
Drama Points 10

Attributes
Strength 3
Dexterity 4
Constitution 4
Intelligence 5
Perception 5
Willpower 6

Qualities
Attractive 1
Charisma
Contacts (Underground) 3
Contacts (Supernatural) 6
Good Luck 2
Hard to Kill 2
Magic 8
Magical Family
Nerves of Steel
Occult Library (Amazing)
Resources 8
Situational Awareness
Supernatural Senses (the Sight)
Status 4

Drawbacks
Adversaries (Lots) 5
Honorable (Minimal)
Metal Problems (Cruel, mild)
Metal Problems (Intolerance, mild)
Obligation (To the family she serves)
Rivals 2

Useful Information
Initiative +2
Actions 1/2
Observation 1d10 + 11
Lesser Sensing +19
Fear +12

Skills
Armed Mayhem 2
Art 5
Athletics 2
Crime 2
Drive / Ride 2
Engineering 3
Fisticuffs 1
Influence 6
Knowledge 7 (Science, Mathematics, Astronomy)
Languages 7 (English, Italian, Latin, Greek, French, Animals)
Marksmanship 1
Notice 6
Occultism 9
Physician 4
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry    +2 - Defense Action
Grapple +2 - Defense Action
Punch +2 4 Bash
Magic +23 per spell Usually graphs a horoscope first
- Counterspell +20 Special Magic defense action; dispels spell
- Deflect +23 Special Deflects spell 45 degrees
- Hold +22 Special Magic defense action; delays spell SL turns
- Deflect +16 Special Magic defense action; returns spell to caster

These builds assume that Mary is one of the more powerful witches in your game.  Of course to deal with children she would not need to be this powerful.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Magical Tattoos for Unisystem

Note: This is something I did a while back and have been meaning to redo for old-school D&D.  But this works well enough on it's own and I never could get it to jell just right for D&D games.

Magical Tattoos
One of the oldest forms of art is decorating the human body. Consequently one of the earliest forms of magic was decorating the human body to achieve supernatural effects. Whether to aid in battle or to connect more closely with the natural or supernatural world, body art and modification was amongst the first magics performed.

Inscribing a Tattoo
A sorcerer, witch or magician usually learns their magic from learned masters, ancient tomes or some other supernatural agent. Magical tattoos are not that much different, but the ways of inscribing the magic is very different. Often words are not used as most magical tattoos pre-date written language; instead the secret language of symbols, shapes and often color is needed.
Learning to inscribe a tattoo is a dying art. While once used the world over now only a handful the world over know the art. Directors then can rules that the Cast do not have access to the knowledge to learn how to make these and must seek out a Master.

To inscribe a magical tattoo is much like casting a spell. To learn how to do it the Master must match or exceed in Success the power level of the tattoo to be learned. This is usually a Perception + Art + Occultism (not Magic) roll. To cast or inscribe the tattoo is a Willpower + Art + Magic roll.

Like spells some tattoos have durations and some may be of limited use. Other may require a sacrifice of life force (Quality Points) or even Magic Levels to be able to use.
Unlike spells magical tattoos are never quick-cast. Typically it takes 1 to 2 hours per Power Level to inscribe. Any interruptions render the tattoo useless.

Anti-Magic Tattoo
Power Level: 2 to 5
Requirements: recipient looses 1 level of Magic per level of Tattoo
Inscribing Time: 1 hour per PL
Effects: This powerful and rare tattoo is one of the most sought after all of magical tattoos. The application renders the recipient immune to magic. They are immune to any offensive spell below the Power Level of the tattoo (ie. a PL 3 tattoo protects against PL 1 or 2 spells). It can also negate up to PLx10 Life Point in damage per supernatural attack (say the fire breath of a demon).
If the Ghosts of Albion magical combat rules are used then the PL of the tattoo is treated as the defenders level in Magic. They may not however attack back.
The cost for this protection is high. The recipient also cannot be effected by any magic including healing from a spell or other beneficial supernatural effects (such as rapid healing). The recipient must also sacrifice 1 level of Magic (Sorcery) per PL of the Tattoo in order to gain its protection. The recipient of the tattoo can no longer cast magic themselves.
Example: Eric the Witchhunter gets an anti-magic tattoo. He has 3 levels of Magic and finds a master that will give him a PL 3 Anti-Magic tattoo. He looses his 3 levels and nearly six hours later he has his tattoo. If he wishes to get a PL 4 Anti-Magic tattoo then he must first earn another level of Magic before he can do so. While he is doing so he can not of course even use them due to his own tattoo negating them.

Celtic Battle Tattoo
Power Level: 1 to 5
Requirements: Special woad paint from the British Isles
Inscribing Time: 1 hour per PL
Effects: This special tattoo requires special woad paint found only in the British Isles and a master at applying the tattoos. Once inscribed the tattoo provides an armor value equal to the PL of the tattoo +1. The tattoo must be exposed and visible in order to provide this protection. Once active the tattoo is treated like thick hide or leather. Weapons, even bullets, seem to bounce off the user. They still suffer from environmental exposure however. A naked painted blue Celt might have enough protection to be bullet-proof, but will still freeze to death.
A user may have multiple tattoos, but the protections are from the most powerful one (highest PL) only. Each additional tattoo regardless of PL provides only an extra +1 to the armor value. The tattoos, as the name implies, are permanent and only come into their magical effect when the user enters battle.
The maximum protection in any combination is +6.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ghosts of Albion: Carcosa

"Every good story begins with a death." - Amber Benson

So I have had this terrible, terrible idea.

I want to run a Ghosts of Albion adventure set in the Reconstruction-era South. I am going to borrow heavily from sources like "True Detective", "Salem" and of all things "Little House on the Prairie" (trust me here).

So the basic plot is that the characters leave their typical English environs for America at the behest of a friend.  A girl has been ritually murdered in an otherwise quiet, hard working American town.  Upon investigation they discover a wide ranging cult of some of the town's most powerful men and the ritual that will take them to place known as Carcosa.

Following in the footsteps of TD I am not sure yet if Carcosa will be a real place or not. It doesn't have to be. There is plenty horror here without the need of things beyond the stars.  But given that this is a Ghosts of Albion game there will be some supernatural elements.

If it works out half as nice as I think it will I could really run it under any Victorian system. From the stark hyper-realism of Victoria to magic in the shadows of Cthulhu by Gaslight to the steam/magic-punk world of Victoriana.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Ghosts of Albion Review

RPG Reviewer extraordinaire Dan Davenport took some time to review my baby, Ghosts of Albion.

Please read his review here:  http://gmshoe.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/review-ghosts-of-albion/

As I posted on Facebook, I am stunned and completely speechless with the praise he gives me and my book.

Here are some of my favorite bits.

From the Magic Chapter (Chapter 4)
Given the focus on magicians, you’d probably expect this game to this game to have more extensive magic rules than those found in Buffy. You’d be right. What you might not expect is to find a magic system so refined and slick that it sings.
From the History Chapter (Chapter 5)
This could have been a horrifically dry chapter. Instead, I daresay it’s the best chapter of its sort I’ve read in an RPG.
From Monsters (Chapter 6)
Every entry drips with flavor, and many creatures have access to nasty powers unavailable to PCs. As a bonus, the chapter discusses both the realm of the dead and of the faeries, both Seelie and Unseelie, in broad but fascinating terms.
Style
Extensive use of period artwork and text that sounds vaguely archaic while maintaining total clarity makes this game positively drip with verisimilitude, while the format will be instantly familiar to fans of previous Cinematic Unisystem games. I saw no obvious errors.
And, as is true with all good RPG texts, it includes an index.
Conclusion
This game not only masterfully emulates the source material, but also could serve as the solid basis for a magic- and/or monster-heavy Cinematic Unisystem game set at any time from the 19th century and earlier. Given the excellent refinements to the magic system and the vast flexibility of the supernatural powers, I’m happy to declare this the finest incarnation of Cinematic Unisystem to date.

I am blown away by this. Really. I have had a lot of people come up and tell me how much they loved the game and it always surprises me.  I am humbled and incredibly honored by this.

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