Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Monday, November 6, 2017

Stranger Things: Zoomer Archetype for D&D 5

"See. Zoomer."
- Maxine "Mad Max" Mayfield

Stranger Things 2 is out and many of you may have binge watched it all by now. We just finished this past weekend and thought it was just as good as season 1.  The newest character introduced is Maxine "Mad Max" Mayfield a new girl from California.  When the boys digress into D&D talk, she makes the statement that she could be a "Zoomer", which gets the predictable results from a bunch of middle schoolers in 1984.

Well, I thought that a Zoomer could totally be a thing.

So here is a Zoomer Rogue Archetype for D&D 5.


Windrunner by Stanley "Artgerm" Lau
In this world, you have learned there are two types; the quick and the dead.  You prefer not to be among the dead. So speed is not just what you do, it is what you are. Get in fast, attack fast and get out fast. Live another day.

Starting at 3rd level, you can use the bonus action granted by your Cunning Action to make an extra attack. Strength bonuses do not apply since you are compromising power for speed.

When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you gain the ability to move faster than normal; Your base speed increases by 50%. So characters that move at 30 ft can now move at 45 ft.  Terrain that slows down other characters will still affect you, but based on your new movement rate.

At 9th level, you may add +5 to your initiative rolls.

Starting at 13th level, you move at twice your base speed.  Sneak attacks must still be made at normal movement speed; which is half speed for you.

When you reach 17th level, you can attack three times per round.  These extra attacks ignore any bonuses due to strength.

Obviously, I have not playtested this, but I think it could work out nicely.
What do you think Max?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I might be a little obsessed.


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

Countess Mircalla Karnstein, aka "Carmilla"

"Buckle up, creampuff."

Life Points: 63

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura Hollis
White Hat

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

Life Points: 26

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

Attractiveness 1

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

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

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

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

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

I think LaFontaine would

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

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

The movie is out next week!

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Excuse me, can you repeat that in Olde Arcane?"

On Friday's I have been watching and enjoying more, more the new series on NBC "Emerald City".  It is yet another re-telling of the Wizard of Oz story.  As you can imagine I am a HUGE fan of Mistress West aka The Wicked Witch of the West played by Ana Ularu.

Mistress of the Western Fields, Vessel of Truth and Solace, Wicked Witch of the West
(though one wonders if Fairuza Balk was unavailable)
What I have been really enjoying is the conlang, Inha, the language spoken by all the witches in Oz.
You can read more about that here and check out the website of the creator David J. Peterson who also created Dothraki.

All witches in Oz are born knowing this language. There are for variants (fire-south, wind-east, stone-north, water-west)  but all witches understand it naturally.

I love this idea.  In my own games I never quite took it this far, but I have always played it that all witches can recognize another witch instantly.

This got me thinking about magical languages in RPGs.
In the real world the written word of magic was always held by the scholars and the clergy. So predominantly in Latin.  Most of the books in the Western tradition of magic were in Latin with some other in Arabic and Hebrew.    In D&D the obvious choices for magical languages are Draconic and Elvish.    In my own games, I have used Irish Gaelic as the language of "faerie magic".

Witches though would not have a learned language like these. All their writings, when written at all, would be in their own native languages.  But the idea of a language they are all born knowing is a very, very compelling on to me.
Personally, I like to think that witches have more in common with each other regardless of alignment than say a witch and a wizard of the same alignment.  This could be my biases showing. Very likely it is.  What really unites a people is language.

While in game design terms I could justify a "Witch language", after all Druids and Theives have their own languages, I don't think I will.  If I did I would also give all wizards the draconic language for free.  In fact there is MORE reason to do that. Hmm.  Ok. From now on all Wizards get "Auld High Wyrmish" (can you tell I have been reading a lot of old Dragons lately) for free.  This gives them a chance to speak Draconic.

Now one thing I can justify is giving the Sisters of the Aquarian Order their own language.
They start to train girls at a very young age, they have their own planet and history. A history that goes back thousands of years or more.

Speaking of which.

The Sisters of the Aquarian Order is on sale again for GM's Day.  Pick up a copy and let me know.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 A Look Back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


*The Incredibly Awesome (and Not At All Made-Up) Adventures of Booster Gold and Blue Beetle!

While watching the big "Heroes vs Aliens" crossover event last night on the Flash my boys and I were commenting that this latest batch of DC shows have really, really been great. Even their down moments are better than anything I had growing up as a DC fan.
I love Supergirl, Flash, Arrow and yes, Legends too.  BUT we have other DC shows on too.  Preacher, Lucifer, Gotham, Vixen, and even I Zombie.

How cool would it be to play a mini-series game where you can interact with all these shows?  Maybe even throw in Supernatural.  Hell, given that super-Producer Greg Berlanti also does Blindspot I might work that in as well.  Jane Doe is kinda like a super hero.

I have knocked this idea around for a while; a short run series using DC Adventures (M&M) or DC Universe (d6).  I wanted to do something where the heroes went up against a foe so powerful that it took them all.  I was thinking something like Dracula.  Yeah I can make that work.
But that would be a grim-dark setting. Fine for Arrow but would not fit the Supergirl feel.

We were all talking and decided that if these shows can make "Vibe" look cool then they should be able to do the same for Booster Gold!

So here is the idea we came up with this morning.
Do a tour of the DC-TV universe, each adventure would be a different show.

The boys would play the characters of Booster Gold (and Skeets) and the Ted Kord Blue Beetle.

I also have to admit I do see Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk as Ted (Beetle) and Mike (Booster) respectively.  (And I HATED, HATED Firefly!!)

The premise is simple Ted and Booster are travelling around the country looking to be (good gods help me...) "big damn heroes" and maybe make a buck or two while doing it.

Their misadventures land them in each super city where something is going on.  They help out the main cast.  I am thinking of taking episodes from the shows (out of order is fine) and retelling them as if Booster and Beetle were there. What we saw on TV was not the "true" story since Booster and Beetle were "edited" out; thus the "and Not At All Made-Up" part.  The feel I want is the JLU show "The Greatest Story Never Told".

I would start with the Big Four; Supergirl, Flash, Arrow and Legends.  IF it went well include Lucifer, I Zombie and Gotham.   So 4 to 7 adventures with a "Season Finale" at the end.  I would also HAVE to include Fire and Ice.  Just because.

Interestingly enough, Michele Hurd (above) who played Fire in the aborted 90's Justice League series, plays Jane Doe's adopted Mother on "Blindspot".

The notes I wrote for the Buffy RPG on how to do a "Sweeps Week" set of episodes would work great here too.

Dracula would not be good for this, but maybe something else.  Not Vandal Savage...been there. Hell no to Reverse Flash. Darkseid is too...Darkseid.  Comedy is important here.  These are light-hearted episodes.  Not undeadly, but not grim either.  More 4-color.

Given my source material I think the natural choice is Maxwell Lord.  But he doesn't inspire a lot of fear does he.  Unless his plan is to discredit supers everywhere to have his own group to come in.  We have seen that plot though many times.

Still. Sounds like it will be a lot of fun.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monstrous Mondays: Stranger Things

If you play D&D or ever played it and read this blog chances are really good that you have already heard of (or have watched) Netflix's Stranger Things.

It is the biggest hit of the summer and made huge stars not just of the great young cast, but also D&D. In fact it is being credited with helping D&D sales.

Beyond all that it is just great story telling and a fantastic tale.

Plus it has a cool monster.

The Monster, called "Demogorgon" after our favorite two-headed demon prince, is a true monster.  It is hard to see, hunts and kills people and can smell blood anywhere.  I am not going to spoil it if you have not seen it, but sufice to say it is a great monster.

Great enough in fact for AD&D.  Here it is, with some artistic liberties taken.

The Monster
AKA: The Demogorgon
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1 (believed unique)
Size: Large 7" (L)
Armor Class: 5 [14]1
 Basic: 180' (60')
 Advanced: 18"/27"
 3e: 45ft
Hit Dice: 8d8+4 (40 hp)
% in Lair: 50% (hunting at night, hiding in the Border Ethereal)
Treasure Type: None
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
Damage: 1d6+4/1d6+4/1d6
Special Attacks: Scream (as fear spell)
Special Defenses: Ethereal Projection; Immune to all gaze attacks, blindness; regeneration
Save As: Witch 102
Magic Resistance: none
Morale: 103
Alignment: Chaotic evil (animal)
Level/XP: 8/4,250 + 12/hp

STR: 19 INT: 10 WIS: 8 DEX: 16 CON: 20  CHA: 6

1 Descending and [Ascending] Armor classes are given.
2 This is used for Basic games, and S&W. Also for monsters that I think need to save a little differently than others.
3 Morale is "Basic" Morale and based on a 1-12 scale. Multiply by 1.6667 for 1-20 scale.

The Monster, known by locals as "the Demogorgon" is not a demon, or even related to demons.  It is a native of the Border Ethereal known as "the Upside-Down" and really not much more than an animal.  It is a rather terrifying animal with hunting abilities similar to that of a shark.  It has no eyes, it's entire head opens up to a large mouth, it can smell and even taste blood on the air like a snake or shark would.

The Monster is a nocturnal hunter, not because of fear of light, but it is when it has advantage over it's prey.  It seeks out it's prey, large warm blooded creatures, and drags it back to it's lair in the Border Ethereal.  There it can feed at it's leisure.

The Monster can heal itself at the rate of 2 hp per round.

Don't forget to include the hashtag #MonsterMonday on Twitter or #MonsterMonday on Google+ when you post your own monsters!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

It's A Great Time to be a Geek!

If I could send one page of my blog back in time to my younger self, it would be one where I list the dates all the major tech companies had their IPO...but  the second page I would send would be this one.  Two DC movies, four DC TV shows (more if you count Lucifer, Gotham, I Zombie and Preacher), Doctor Strange and a new Blair Witch movie.  Was Comic Con going on or something? ;)

Here are all the goodies...tip o' the hat to Tim Knight at Hero Press for most of these.

This is so good! And Etta Candy!

Aquaman looks like a bad-ass, plus a double dose of Wonder Woman?  Yes please!


Justice Society!

Not a fan of the ship design, but if it is pre-Kirk then I can live with it.

Been waiting for this one for YEARS!

Not to mention great things already out like Stranger Things, Star Trek and the new Ghostbusters.

Monday, February 29, 2016

I Want to Believe

I know I am late (by a week) to the game here, but I just watched the last episode of the new Season 10 of X-Files.  I want to start off by saying how phenomenally pleased I was with the entire season.

Now I was a huge X-Files fan back in the day. This was my favorite show.  I was just moving up to Chicago. Had a new apartment in the heart of the Near West side after living in nothing but small Southern Illinois towns (under 20k people).  I was working on my Ph.D., engaged and X-Files was my Friday night (later Sunday night).  I loved the Myth-arc, the monster of the week episodes and getting on the internet on Monday to talk about it on  No world had pulled me in so hard since Star Trek or Doctor Who.

Like Trek and Who, X-Files came back.  But I was worried that so much of what had made it awesome was gone.   Clinton wasn't in the White House anymore. The nascent internet is now ubiquitous. The paranoia of the 90s has turned into the .... whatever the hell this is we have now.

I was surprised and very, very pleased how the new X-Files picked right up.
Not only picked up, but made the intervening years part of the larger story.  I was excited to see Mulder and Scully back in action. I loved the subtle changes made to their dynamic and even the addition of Miller and Einstien. I laughed out loud during Mulder's "Shroom" trip and the "blink and you'll miss them" cameo of the Lone Gunmen.  X-Files was back and hitting all the notes in my book.

I'm not a geek. Not at all...

At first I thought 6 episodes were plenty, but very soon I wanted more.  A lot more.
Maybe we will get more, Chris Carter certainly thinks so, but time will tell.

In the meantime I am now wanting to dust off all my Conspiracy X books.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Zatannurday: Legends of Tomorrow

The newest trailer for DC's Legends of Tomorrow is now out.

It looks fantastic!

Rip Hunter, the Atom, Firstorm, Hawkgirl, White Canary?  Yeah sign me the hell up!
Damn even Captain Cold is great in this.

How cool would it be to see 1940s Zatara and 1960s Zatanna?

Here is a longer one.

Seriously sweet time to be a DC fan.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Zatannurday: The Return of Constantine!

It's Halloween!

What better way to celebrate than the return of John Constantine.

Well he is back on Arrow, and it looks like not a moment too soon.

I am contractually obligated to say "I hope this also means we get Zatanna soon!" ;)

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Zatannurday: Constantine is Back!

Sort of.

Here is Constantine star actor Matt Ryan explaining.

Constantine is coming to the CW's Arrow, which for season 4 I have heard will be called "Green Arrow".

Here is another link,

I am mostly avoiding spoilers, but this looks like it will be awesome and it is something that Stephen Amell, Oliver Queen himself, has wanted for a while now.   Adding John to the mix, even for one episode, changes or rather broadens Arrow's world.  We got super-science in season 2 and some magic in season 3.  Looks like season 4 might embrace the wakiness that is the DC Universe's magical realms.

Of course I have to ask...When will Zatanna be on?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Supernatural Collection

So my family and I binge watched Supernatural this past summer.  And by binge watched I mean just that. Nine Season on DVD/Blu-Ray all summer long.

I watched the show when it first came out but it freaked my wife out.  I kept up with it on my own for a bit, but that is hard to sustain really.  I followed the fandom more than the show itself after that. Had the RPG, sold it for something like $100 later on. Wish I had kept it though.

So my sister is really into the show and she let us borrow her season DVDs.  Well the rest was history.  My youngest loves it. Around Season 3 my wife REALLY got into it. Around Season 5 my oldest did too.  IT became our Summer Friday nights really.  Order pizza, watch Supernatural till past 11.  We only stopped for Gen Con.

Of course one of the best features of Supernatural is not just the good writing and characters that are likable and relatable, but also the music.

Sam: ...I swear man; you gotta update your cassette tape collection.
Dean: Why?
Sam: Well for one they are cassette tapes, and two— (Pulls out a few cassette tapes) Black Sabbath? Motorhead? Metallica? It’s the greatest hits of mullet rock.
Dean: (Grabs a cassette from Sam and pops it in the player) House rules, Sammy. Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cake hole.

I can totally relate. Growing up on a steady diet of metal and classic rock it was what growing up in the midwest meant.  I know my wife and kids don't get that part like I do, but that is fine.  Besides my kids love the music.

The best thing?  The music of Supernatural already plays like my "Greatest Hits" anyway!

If I ever get around running Chill again each adventure/episode is going to be named for a different classic rock song and I'll play it before we play.  Cheesy? Maybe. But I like cheese.

AC/DC are pretty much the go-to band when one mentions classic rock, Supernatural and even gaming.  Back in the 80s when D&D was getting a bad rap, AC/DC was right there with us.
"Back in Black" was featured in the pilot episode and is appropriate for the storyline.  From the album of the same name it debuted in 1980 and was the first to feature new lead singer Brian Johnson.  In fact can usually tell the age of an AC/DC fan by whether or not they still refer to Brian Johnson as "new".

Rush has enough street cred with gamers that there is little need anymore for me to give my reasons for posting this.  But "Fly By Night" also from an album of the same name, has a little bit more than average.  It was featured in the Episode 2 of Season 1 of Supernatural. Ok. It was featured in episode 2 of the Dead Alewives skit on D&D with an elf singing "Fly by Night" while carrying Mt. Dew.
Flyby Night was also the song I was listening too in the weekend I had my very first overnight D&D session in 8th grade.  I also listened to it when I wrote the very first draft of the witch.

Another group that barely need justification is Blue Öyster Cult.  Many songs from BÖC have been a part of Supernatural, my gaming and geekdom in general.  I could go on and on about the level of importance that "Veteran of the Psychic Wars" has had to my games, but that song has not been in the show yet.  One song though stands out both in terms of Supernatural and in my gaming life.
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" was one of the first songs I ever heard from BÖC and band I associated with D&D from the earliest days.  It was also featured in Supernatural as a "theme" song for the Reapers, Angels of Death and psychopomps for souls.

CCR might not come to mind right away when thinking about RPGs or D&D but they are a staple of classic rock.  "Bad Moon Rising" has been used by me in any game that has a werewolf in it and I am certain I am not alone.  This song bridged Season 1 to Season 2.

"Hammer of the Gods...Valhalla I am coming..."  Was there ever a more D&D song than this?  Well...maybe "No Quarter", but either way it is Led Zeppelin. "Immigrant Song" has been played here before, buy like I said, just like the original Friday Night Videos, there will be repeats.

There are a lot of reason why Def Leppard needs to be included in this rather august group.  First, "Rock of Ages" was played in a very pivotal scene in Season 5 (and also in season 1).  Also Def Leppard was ALWAYS on MTV back in the days where we played D&D with MTV on in the background, hopping to get that one Iron Maiden song.  But also, and lets be honest.  Watch the video.  It's obvious they had no clue what the hell they were doing but who cares. Big swords. Big hair. Filmed in dungeon. Hooded cultists. A maiden playing chess with death.  This might not be the most 80s video out there.  But it is up there.

I don't recall if a Motörhead song actually appeared in the show or not.  I know Dean (or maybe Sam) used the alias of "Lemmy Kilmister"  but fuck it. Here is "Ace Of Spades".

"Carry on Wayward Son".  This song has been with me for so long.  I mentioned before I first heard it when I saw the movie Heroes, the Henry Winkler and Sally Field one.  Supernatural has really made this song their own.  This will feature in the season finale of what ever supernatural-like game I run.

Have not seen Season 10 yet.  Waiting for the Blu-Rays.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Zatannurday: Hello New DCTVU!

Last week we lost Constantine.

This week we got previews and extended previews of the newest DC Television Universe shows, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.

Supergirl I showed you, but it is worth another look.

But the big excitement now is Legends of Tomorrow.

I have to admit. The 10-12 year old me is excited as all hell.  Firestorm, Atom, Hawkgirl, Canary?  All my favorite heroes.  It is just a Batgirl and Zatanna short of being perfect.

Plus we still have Arrow, The Flash and Gotham.

Great time to be a DC fan!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Not a bird. Not a plane.

I am inordinately fond of Supergirl.

This looks so awesome.

And I am going on record that Calista Flockhart is going rock as Cat.

Marvel may have the theaters, but DC owns TV.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Living Dead Girl

Fast one today.
Normally I don't care for zombie shows or movies.  Not really into the Walking Dead and I only get moderate enjoyment out of the movies.  But I am really enjoying this new show "iZOMBIE".

The show deals with Liv Moore (ugh...reallly? ok I'll let that slide) and she is a zombie. She used to be a doctor but now she is a medical examiner and she eats the brains of murder victims.  This gives her the memories of the victims and helps her solve the crimes.

Kind of a cool idea. The TV show is based on the comic of the same name and developed by Rob Thomas.  So calling this Undead Veronica Mars is pretty close to the mark.

Looking forward to seeing more of this.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Zatannurday: The Fate of Constantine

Zatanna's sometimes love interest John Constantine's fate is still up in the air.

As of this week (ending 2/7) we still have not heard if the NBC show "Constantine" has been renewed or not.

Next week is the 13th and last episode of the season.  So I didn't get my wish to see and John and Zatanna moment on the show.

Another show that came close was Smallville, though they did manage it in the pages of the Smallville comic, Harbinger.

Not only that it also has John and Zee's first meeting in the Smallville universe.

Not exactly the same as the Justice League Dark meeting.

The story is spread out over 4 issues and has a lot of what makes John and Zee so great together.

It even features the introduction of Rachel Roth, aka Raven to the Smallville universe.
She is the girl that John and Zee rescue from Brother Blood.
So Zatanna, Constantine and Raven?  All in one comic at the same time?  Sounds great to me!

Might be the closest we get.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Have had a few colds or upper respiratory tract infections running through the house the last few days.  Not a big deal, but my efforts have been more focused on taking care of others rather than gaming.  But I did manage to get something fun in.
My wife, my youngest son and I have all been binge watching Grimm.  We burned through Season 1 and are not 3/4 ths of the way through Season 2.

It's great fun and my youngest (much like me at that age) loves all sorts of spooky, mystical stuff.

I was, as I typically do, working on some projects while watching.  I was also spending more time with my D&D 5 DMG.  It got me thinking about what sort of system would be the best for Grimm.

Typically if it is mystical or is modern monster hunting, then I first look to Unisystem; and Cinematic Unisystem at that.  After all, it is TV and I quickly figured out several Qualities and Drawbacks that the star Nick Burkhardt could have as a Grimm (Enhanced Senses, Honor, Increased Strength, Hard to Kill...and so on). It's not a difficult exercise.  But CineUnisystem, as much as I love it, is not really a perfect fit.
Despite some potions and some odd powers, there really is nothing along the lines (well yet) as magic as I defined it Ghosts of Albion or as was defined in Buffy/Angel.  Sure, Army Darkness might work but still not just right.

So I was thinking Chill and it's more modern cousins, Majus and Cryptworld.  I even know already there is a zombie episode coming up, so Rotworld is also in.
Why these games vs. the Unisystem line?  Well I believe that system strikes a tone with how you play.  Which is also why I ruled out Call of Cthulhu (despite how much I enjoy it).  People in the Grimm world are, well, regular people.   There are some monsters, some Wessen. But Cryptworld can deal with that. If I would opt to have Wessen as PCs then I can use some cues from Majus.

I thought about looking into the Fantasy Flight Games RPG "Grimm",  and it looks like it could work a little too.  But I don't own it and only know it through reputation.  Other than that there does not seem to be a Grimm tie in RPG.    I did a search and seems like most people would use Buffy/Angel/Ghosts of Albion, which does give me a bit of professional pride, even if I am not agreeing with them.

Does anyone watch the show? NO Spoilers please!  If so, what system would you use? What do you think about Chill vs. Unisystem.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Zatannurday: Zatanna and Constantine

Last night was the return of Constantine to the small screen.  We still have no clear idea yet if it will be renewed for a 2nd season, but I am not getting my hopes up.
This certainly means we won't see John and Zee together on the screen anytime soon.

So here they are on the smaller screen.

Bleedin' Las Vegas by conjob1989 on DeviantArt

Zatanna and Constantine by m0nstersInside on DeviantArt

Constantine And Zatanna That old Black magic... by samayoa on DeviantArt

Surprise by armadillo-CDQ on DeviantArt

Justice League Dark Combo by elena-casagrande on DeviantArt

Commission - Deadman, Constantine, Zatanna by tyrannus on DeviantArt

Zatanna and John Constantine by montrosity on DeviantArt

Hope we get to see more!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: Colonial Gothic

Last night was the Fall Finale of the TV show "Sleepy Hollow".  It is a fun show and has a great premise and lots of great monster. But the joy of the show is Tom Mison's fish-out-of-water Ichabod Crane and Nicole Baharie's no-nonsense cop Lt. Abbie Mills.  It is a great mix of action, horror, humor and cop procedural formulas.  There are also some great supporting roles from Katia Winter as witch Katrina Crane (nee Van Tassel), John Nobel as Harry Parish aka Jeremy Crane and Lyndie Greenwood as Jenny Mills, Abbie's sister.

Watching the show has got me psyched for my "Spirit of '76" game for Chill. It has also sent me back to an old favorite of mine, Colonial Gothic.

I was introduced to Colonial Gothic at Gen Con a few years back by the authors at Rogue Games.  They were easily the friendliest people I talked to that day and their enthusiasm for their game was infectious.  I know every game company loves their own games, but these guys were over the moon with Colonial Gothic.  I can totally understand why too.  It is, too my knowledge, a fairly unique time period to be gaming in.  Maybe I am reading too much into it since I am a fan of the time period, but it was still great to talk to them.

They have great web support for their games and a ton (ok, a little more than a dozen) of pdfs for sale.  Honestly it is a game I wish I played more of.  Which is a shame since +Richard Iorio II actually lives fairly close to me.

Colonial Gothic Rulebook 2nd Edition
The best thing about this book right out of the gate is it compatible with the older, and out of print, Colonial Gothic Rulebook.  So all the books I have from Gen Con are still good.
CG uses the same d12 based (I remember the guys at the Rogue Games booth going on with glee on how they used the often neglected d12!) system that you find in Shadow, Sword & Spell (I am not 100% sure, but both games look like they are completely compatible with each other).
The core book comes in at 282 pages, plus covers. The second thing I noticed that this book is much better looking than the first core book. No slight against that book, but this one is a gem.  The first book had a nice hip "indie" feel about it. This book manages to pull off "indie" and "big time professional" between it's two covers.  I like that.
But what is Colonial Gothic? From the book:
Colonial Gothic is a supernatural historical roleplaying game inspired by the history and setting of the American colonial period, from the founding of Roanoke in 1568 to the end of the War of 1812 at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
Pretty cool if you ask me.  For me Colonial Gothic continues the story that Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade began and Ghosts of Albion continued to the industrial age; science and reason over superstition and magic in a world filled with horrors.  But CG is more than just that.  In this game the "Americans" are on new soil, but it is only new to them.  There are horrors native to this land and their are the horrors they brought with them.

The game mechanics are rather simple, which is a good thing, most often it is 2d12 +/- mods vs. a Target Number.  It is called the 12° System. Often the Target Number is your Ability + Skill and rolled under.  In other cases, such as an Ability test, you roll 1d12 and roll under the ability. Opposed Tests include things like combat. There are also Critical Success (double "1"s) and Critical Failures (double "12"s).  Also the degrees of success (or failure) are important.  In combat for example your degree of success is a multiplier to the damage.  So is you need a 15 and roll a modified 10 you have 5 degrees of success.  Simple.
Chapter One covers all the basic rules from Abilities and Skills, to combat, to movement and even common ailments (and uncommon ones) to fear and sanity.
Chapter Two is Character Creation.  You get 45 points to divide out to your abilities (7 is human average).  You can then choose a background ("class" for you class and level types; archetypes for everyone else) and then you get 45 points for your skills.  These point totals can also be shifted up or down depending on the nature of the game.  40 for more grit, 50 for more action-adventure types.
The new aspect is the choice of 5 character hooks.  These provide your character with more detail and background and help explain why your character is an adventurer and not just a common Joe or Jane.
Chapter Three goes into more detail about Skills and Hooks.
Chapter Four covers magic, the magical arts and common spells and Alchemy.  Magic has a price in CG and not everyone is cut out for it.  Witches presented here are mostly evil, but there is some wiggle room.
Chapter Five covers weapons, currency, equipment and trade. This is actually quite an important chapter since goods or the availability of them is not just part of the real Colonial history, but makes a great plot point.
Chapter Six is a guide to the Colonies. It is a nice mix of history, geography and the occult conceits of the game.  If you know some of the history of this time then you have an edge up, but there is a lot of great information here.  Obviously some liberties have been taken, but it is less alt-history than I feared.
Chapter Seven covers enemies and monsters. Both mundane and magical.  At this time even a mundane bear is a threat.
Chapter Eight covers advice for the game master and campaign ideas.

Colonial Gothic: The Player Companion
This is the newest book (as of this writing) to the Colonial Gothic line. Mostly though this is related to the cover.  As the title suggests this is a set of options for players of the Colonial Gothic game.
We get a list of new skills and some additions to old skills.  Normally I prefer it when a game reuses old skills in new ways, esp. point buy games where the budget per skill is not likely to change. After all Character A created with the Core has the same 45 points as Character B created with this book.  In this case though it works both thematically and systematically.
Chapter Two covers Advantages and Disadvantages. Characters are given 4 points to buy advantages and can also take disadvantages.  Works pretty much like other systems in that respect, save there are not pages and pages of them (like for example GURPS).   Most in fact are story related and can be used in conjunction with the character's Background.
Chapter Three covers family and social status.  A must have really for playing in this age.
Chapter Four has a bunch of character templates.  So if you want to play a Native Shaman or emulate your Assassin's Creed character then this is a great place to start.
Chapter Five details more combat options and how to use them.  Think of these as advanced combat skills.
Chapter Six has more magic including Counter-Spelling and more Common and Arcane Spells.
Chapter Seven has more equipment.
All in all worthy, but not really required additions to the game. It is one of the books that if you don't know about it, you won't miss it, but if you do then you will wonder how you got on with out it.
If there is a 3rd Edition of Colonial Gothic then a lot of these rules should be folded into the main core rules.

Colonial Gothic: Gazetteer
This book calls itself a Gazetteer, but "Campaign Sourcebook" might be more appropriate. Written for the 1st Edition of Colonial Gothic it works just fine under 2nd Edition.
Chapter 1 covers the history of the colonies from early English and Dutch colonization right on up to 1775.  Principle wars are discussed and colonial growth covered.
Chapters 2 through 14 cover the original 13 colonies in detail including basic demographics and major towns.  Points of interest are also featured in each chapter as well as anything out of the ordinary.
Chapter 15 is devoted to the Native American people.  An overview of their history and cultures is given, but by necessity it is short.  In truth an entire Colonial Gothic book could be done just on the various Native american tribes and nations.
Te last chapter is a ready to run adventure, "A Surprise for General Gage".
There are two Appendices. First a Glossary and then a Bibliography.  I want to take a moment to point out that all of the Colonial Gothic books always feature a very robust (for a game book) bibliography.   This one is no exception to that rule.  This one includes books, game books and even some online resources.  Certainly worth your time to investigate a few of these.

Colonial Gothic Bestiary
I have said it many times. You can never have too many monsters.  The Colonial Gothic Bestiary satisfies that craving and then some.  At 110 pages it is full of monsters and many are illustrated.  The artwork varies.  Personally I am a fan of the older wood cut images, but I know those are are difficult to find perfect representations of various beasts.  The monsters themselves are a varied lot; some local monsters like the Jersey Devil and some "from back home" like the Gargoyle and Gorgon.
I think this is a good mix, but I am more fond of the local fauna than something I can find in any book.  I do have one nitpick (ok maybe two), first there is no Piasa Bird.  A local legend from here in Illinois that I am surprised didn't make the cut. Supposedly the first mention of it is in 1673 (or the 1920s),  Sure Illinois is way away from the Colonies. Though it was a very nearly a full state (1818) by the end point of the game, The War of 1812.  The other was that the Chupacabra was included. The Chupa, for all it's fun, is squarely a 20th century invention.  But these are only nitpicks, not criticisms.  There are plenty of American Indian monsters too that could have been included. Some like a naaldlooshii would be good too (I know, Navajo and not near the Colonies...). Maybe A Bestiary 2 is in the works.
The indexes in back are quite useful since they also include creatures from the core rule books.
Lots of great creatures here and fully worth the price.

Colonial Gothic: The Grimoire
This is an expanded and updated version of the older Colonial Gothic: Witchcraft book and the Colonial Gothic: Secrets book. Both of which are out of print. It also has plenty of new material as well.
Chapter 1 covers new spells, Common and Arcane. The advantage of adding new spells to this game is one can easily say that the knowledge was just rediscovered.  Some new book sent from overseas, an old book in the collection of a wealthy man or any other contrivance.  There are quite a few new spells here to be honest.
Chapter 2 follows with a discussion on spell books. Their uses and how to get them. A few sample books are also included.
Chapter 3 introduces magical talismans to the game. Sort of Spell storing or keeping magical power. Not a lot here, but plenty of ideas.
Chapter 4 covers the related chapter of relics, items that have magical ability to them due to divine providence or some other happenstance.
Chapter 5 is dedicated to Witchcraft. Like the book it replaces, there are no rules for playing "good" witches.  Fitting with the times all witches are assumed to be evil.  Personally I would like to see a good witch, but I can make due.
Likewise Chapter 6 deals with occult items such as cold iron and holy water.
Finally Chapter 7 deals with new magical creatures.  There is quite a Lovecraftian feel to this one.  Not generic "Lovecraft" but actual monsters from his mythos.
There is an appendix with the Create Talisman and Witchcraft skills.
There is also a combined magical index of spells between this book and the Colonial Gothic core.

Colonial Gothic: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
This is a great little book to be honest.  The first half is the story of Sleepy Hollow and the second half is how to use it in your Colonial Gothic Game. The geography of Sleepy Hollow, the Hudson and the Tapan Zee are discussed as well as Sleepy Hollow's role in history.  It reads like a small campaign guide.
This book is not very big, nor does it cost very much, but it is certainly punching above it's weight class in terms of content.

Colonial Gothic True20 Version
The world of Colonial Gothic using the True20 system instead of it's normal house system. Typically when a product is converted to a "generic" system some of the style and feel is lost. Though I will say that CG survived with much more of it's soul intact. The system is normally a very easy one to learn so the conversion here does not sacrifice complexity. The game is still same, one of a supernatural New World as it becomes a new country, America.
The conversion does highlight many of the pluses of the game including it's atmosphere and style of play. It also allows you know to bring other True20 that might be helpful. In some ways I prefer this to the original, but the original is still very, very fun.

Colonia Gothic is really just a fun, great game. There is just so much potential here that I want to pull it out and just run a few games with it.

If you are into American History, Horror, or even just the thrill of exploring something that is both well known and completely unknown  then this is the game for you.
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