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

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: This House Possessed (1981)

I can't honestly recall if I have ever seen this movie or not.  I am still trying to track down my elusive TV horror movie and I pretty much knew this one was not it.  BUT, it has all the hallmarks of what would have gotten my attention back then, creepy house, weird state of the art technology, and Lisa Eilbacher who I thought was good looking back then (spoiler alert, she was and still is!)
It also featured early 80s TV mainstay Parker Stevenson and Slim Pickens playing...well, the same character he usually played.

The premise is solid. A house doesn't want anyone to live in it but it's beloved Margaret who moved away at age 7.  But before we get to that we get the REAL HORROR of this movie! Singing by Parker Stevenson!!  I give him grief; I like Parker Stevenson, I thought he was a good actor and his shows the Hardy Boys and Probe were a lot of fun.  So he plays a "rock star" who has a nervous breakdown and needs a living nurse, Lisa Eilbacher as  Sheila, to help him.  They find this old house and strange murders begin to happen.

I realized this was not the movie I was looking for very soon, but I was hooked into the story. I know.

I want to say I have seen this to be honest. Like I said it hits all my interests as an 11-year-old, but I watched it without really any sense of recognition.   I was half-tempted to mark it down as "watched" but I am going with "first-time view" on this one.

The search continues.

Watched: 21
New: 15



Saturday, October 12, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Made for TV Movies

Yesterday's Midnight Offerings made me want to search a little more a movie that has been "haunting" me forever.  This movie is about witches and the occult; satanism in particular.  It was on TV on Halloween night. It had to be between 1977 and 1982, I know a huge time frame. I think it was a made for TV movie. The movie had a girl with psychic powers or witchcraft; they were often synonymous in the late 70s.  There is a scene near the end of the movie of a girl (not sure if it is the same one) lying on an altar.  Either she about to be sacrificed OR this is supposed to give her powers.  All I can remember was there a long progression of cultists going up a circular staircase up in a tower and each one put a drop of blood on the girl's forehead.  That is the clearest thing I remember.

For the life of me, I can't figure out what the movie was.  But I have been trying.

So I spent the day searching and here are the fruits of my labors.

Spectre (1977)
First up is Robert Culp, John Hurt, and Majel Barrett in Spectre a great little tale of Asmodeus and Lilith in modern times. Culp plays a criminologist who now studies the occult.  Gig Young play Dr. Hamliton; Watson to Culp's Holmes.  He gets attack by a succubus, whom Culp manages to send back to hell. This leads to an investigations of the Cyon family in England where we get to see a young John Hurt.  Turns out the family are cultists and they are playing to sacrifice the daughter, whom the succubus had taken the form of, to Asmodeus.
We do get a scene of cultists and a woman being sacrificed.  But that is about as close as we got.
The movie comes to us from Gene "Star Trek" Roddenberry. I guess it was supposed to be a pilot movie for a new series.  It might have been fun to be honest.  The story is good and the acting fine but somehow it just doesn't come together right.  Ah well.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for.

Stranger in Our House / Summer of Fear (1978)
Our next choice is a Linda Blair starring TV movie Stranger in Our House, based on the book Summer of Fear.  A housekeeper, inhabiting the body of a suspected dead cousin (Lee Purcell) is taken in by Rachel's (Blair) family and strange things begin to happen.  How do we know Julia is a witch?  Her penchant for black flimsy dresses and her white and red eyes.
This was Linda Blair's next movie after the critically panned Exorcist II.  This one in truth is not much better, but I have soft spot in my heart for Blair.  Still we get a decent enough Wes Craven film here.  I had forgotten how much cars exploded all the time in the 70s. Actually, this is something my dad and I always watched for when we would watch these terrible movies together.   Near the end of the movie Julia's car explodes before it is even half-way down the mountain.  The whole thing has a serious Stephen J. Cannell vibe about it.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for. The fact that it premiered on Halloween night 1978 on NBC I was sure this was the movie.

Moving on.

Alison's Birthday (1981)
On paper, this sounds like it is it.  Girls playing with an Ouija board and discover that a strange fate meets Alison on her 19th birthday.  It even has an evil coven of witches.  I had high hopes for this one but a couple of things let me know right away that this was not it.  First, the movie is Australian. I am not sure about a lot of things when it comes to this vague memory but I think I would have remembered that.  Plus I am also sure this was not a made-for-TV movie.
Now there is a scene at the end with cultists, but no girl with psychic powers to speak of.

Verdict: Nope. Not the movie I was looking for. Some of the elements are right, but not enough of them.

Invitation to Hell (1984)
Let's see.  It's 1984 and I need an attractive TV actress to paly a hell-spawn.  That's right! It's All My Children's Erica Kane, aka Susan Lucci playing Jessica Jones (!!) in Wes Craven's next made for TV film, Invitation to Hell.   It starred Robert Urich (one of those actors you never heard a bad word about) and Joanna Cassidy as a couple moving into a new town. Here they join a new Country Club but discover it is actually a doorway to Hell.  Which makes it like most Country Clubs I have dealt with.

Soon Matt's (Urich) wife and son become posessed and he has to put on a space suit to get them from Hell.  You read that right.  This also features Soleil Moon Frye, aka Punk Brewster, as the daughter.

Anyway, the movie is kinda all over the place and fairly forgettable.  I'll admit to nodding off a couple of times to rewind it.  But Urich saves his family in the end.  No one was going to win any Emmys for this one though...oh sorry Susan.

Verdict: Not the movie I was looking for. But I also suspected it wasn't.  It's a little outside of the time frame I was thinking it should be in and this movie is solidly 80s.  Hell, it looks like it was filmed in the same suburb as Poltergeist.

While I am thanking my Roku for all these gems. I am getting blind here staring at my TV screen.  Plus these are all beginning to blur in my memory now even as I write this.

Maybe I will continue my search next week.   Maybe I can also find some good witches for a change.

I think with these four though I have some good ideas for the Cult of Asmodeus I was working on.

Watched: 15
New: 10






Friday, October 11, 2019

October Horror Movie Challenge: Midnight Offerings (1981)

A made for TV movie about early 80s witchcraft?  Sign me up!  I am a little shocked I have never seen this one.  Maybe I did, hard to say, but I certainly don't remember it.

The move features a who's who of early 80s TV stars.  We have Melissa Sue Anderson (Little House on the Prairie) as evil witch Vivian, Mary Beth McDonough (The Waltons) as good witch Robin. Cathryn Damon (Soap) played Vivan's mom and Gordon Jump (WKRP in Cincinnati) played her dad. And everyone's favorite mom Marion Ross played the older witch Emily.

The plot is simple, even a little weak, but still a lot of fun. Writer Juanita Bartlett tried to use everything popular about witchcraft in this tale and it works really.  I mean I have seen better, but I have also seen much worse.  It was a fun bit of 80s TV horror.

Also, I do believe that this is where we get the "Noctila" from the AD&D 1st ed Monster Manual II. The timing is just about perfect really. Yews, yes the word existed before this, but I am talking about her particular inclusion in the Monster Manual as a Lady of Hell.

In any case, this was a fun little trip.

Watched: 11
New: 6



Friday, May 24, 2019

Caverna do Dragão / Cave of the Dragon

Like many gamers my age I have had a "complicated" relationship with the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon of the 80s.  At the time I thought it was stupid. But as I got older I came to appreciate it for what it really was.  My kids LOVED it, especially my youngest son.  I bought the boxed set that came out with the D&D 3.0 stats and it was a great blast.

So the whole Internet has been abuzz when these pictures start coming out.


A cosplay group?  A new movie!? A Netflix series??
Nope. It's a Brazilian car commercial for the new Renault Outsider!




I have to admit. Tiamat looks freaking awesome here, and they really captured the feel of the characters.  I swear that Eric and Diana looked like they walked right out of the cartoon and into this commercial. 

My orginal DM just said on Facebook that they must have had a bigger budget for this 1 minute 45 second TV spot than the first D&D movie.  I am inclined to believe that.

AND now thanks to Renault we know how the story ends.

Now maybe Paizo can team up with Nissan for a Pathfinder commercial?

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Batwoman: New Trailer and Vigilante City

Super busy at work today, but something cool came up on my feed. The new First Look trailer is out for the CW's Batwoman.


I have been a solid fan of the character since the 52 mini-series and her own series.  I still consider Batwoman: Elegy one of the best comics ever written.

Given the grittier street feel of the CW Arrowverse, Vigilante City is a great choice to stat her up.
Since the series has not appeared yet, let's try her out at Level 1.

Batwoman
True ID: Katherine "Kate" Kane

Class: Dark Avenger
Level: 1
Alignment: Law

STR: 17
INT: 16
WIS: 15
DEX:18
CON: 17
CHA: 16
SUR: 19

Courage: 16
Critical: 14
Death: 10
Magic: 10
Mental: 14
Poison: 12

HP: 9
AC: 5 (Batsuit)
Initiative Bonus: +3
Attack Bonuses.  Melee: +2  Ranged: +3

Move: 12
Vigilante Points: 1
Kits: Batsuit and gear, utility belt

Skills
Combat, Fighting (Martial Arts), Interrogation (+2 bonus), Intimidation (+1 bonus), Steet Smarts, Computer Skills 1, Parkour 1

Height: 5'7"
Weight: 135 lbs
Age: 26
Hair: Black / Red
Eyes: Light Green
Sex: F

Will alter some details this Fall!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Must Be the Season of the Witch: Movies and TV

Now, this is working WITH me!

A new movie and new TV series created just for my entertainment. Though I am sure you all can watch too.

First up, Angelina Jolie is back as Maleficent: Mistress of Evil.





And over on Disney's FreeForm, who is currently KILLING IT with Marvel's Cloak & Dagger, we are getting a Witches-as-Warriors in a modern-day supernatural show, Motherland: Fort Salem.


I mean seriously, has someone been peeking at my birthday wish list?
Can't wait for these!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Melisandre. Priestess or Witch?

"The Night is dark and full of terrors."
- Melisandre

Melisandre of Asshai - by John Picacio
Game of Thrones is in its final season and so far it has not disappointed me.  Well...there was that "whole new world" scene with Dany, Jon, and the dragons.
This past week we got to see the Red Woman, Melisandre again during the battle at Winterfell against the Night King and his army of the dead.  It was so fantastic, to be honest.   Loved the battle, loved how the episode ended.  Everything.

But I am not here today to talk about the battle.

I want to talk about Melisandre.
In particular is she a Priestess, read Cleric, or is she as many will claim, a Witch?

I thought a firey red priestess/witch would be good for Beltane today.

Let's look at what we know.  I am going to focus nearly exclusively on the TV show on HBO.  I'll grab from the books when needed to smooth out some details or get answers to questions.

In many ways, I am going to follow the spirit of my other series, One Man's God and Class Struggles.

What is Known
Or Me nem nesa as the Dothraki say.

We know that Melisandre calls herself a priestess of the god R'hllor, known as the Red God, The Lord of Light or the One True God.  In Westeros this sets her apart from most people as they tend to worship the Seven, or the New Gods. The ones that don't worship the "Old Gods".
Melisandre claims that all the other gods are false gods.  Most people have no issues with the Old or New Gods, so this also sets her apart.

She has seen to have powers of divination, cursing, breeding shadow spawn, summoning fire and the greatest, bringing people back from the dead.  She able to cast glamours and her red-gold choker seems to keep her young or at least appear young.
We know she is very, very old. She was a slave named "Melony" who was sold to the Red Temple in Asshai.

Looking at her through the lens of classes in D&D, and in particular B/X version, has many limitations.  It is still a fruitful exercise though.  For starters, it shows the flexibility of the B/X flavor of classes. It also helps me see how well my own witch classes can emulate various media representations of witches.  My philosophy in game and class design has always been "if a player wants to do to something my rules should tell them how they CAN do it, not how they CAN'T." (I hear grognards, OSR purists and other screaming in rage now. That's fine, let them scream.)

So let's pull out my D&D Expert book and give Melisandre a go.

Melisandre is a Priestess
This is the easiest of course. She refers to herself as a priestess as do others.  Her religion is widely accepted in Essos and treated as such.  The biggest clue, of course, is her ability to raise the dead, a power she claims is not hers, but that of the Lord of Light.  Her spells and powers seem closest to a cleric.
If we take "Raise Dead" as the peak of her powers then that puts her level at a minimum of 7th level for B/X D&D. I would not say she is much past 9th level, but I am willing to accept 9th.

Melisandre, Priestess of R'hllor


7th level female Cleric

Strength: 9
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 12
Charisma: 17

AC: 9
HP: 33

Magic items: Necklace of Protection Against Aging

Spells
First: Cure Light Wounds, Light, Remove Fear
Second: Hold Person, Resist Fire, Silence 15' radius
Third: Continual Light, Remove Curse, Striking
Fourth: Cure Serious Wounds, Protection/Evil 10' radius
Fifth: Commune, Raise Dead

Close...but missing some of her abilities she is really known for, starting fires and giving birth to shadow monsters.  Plus by the rules Melisandre the Cleric can Turn Undead.  That skill would have been helpful in the Battle of Winterfell.

Taking a peek at my 5th Edition D&D books it looks like a Cleric and not a Warlock or Druid would be the best choice.

Let's see how she works as a witch.

Melisandre is a Witch
Of course, for that, I would also need to decide on a tradition for her.  Something like Lord of Light Tradition.  Witches, in general, do not get the spell Raise Dead.  So I am thinking that should be an occult power.  Something they gain at 7th level.
Also, there is her lesser explored power of alchemy/herbalism.  Something all witches get.

Melisandre, Witch of R'hllor


9th level female Witch, Lord of Light Tradition

Strength: 9
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 12
Charisma: 17

AC: 9
HP: 26

Magic items: Necklace of Protection Against Aging

Occult Powers
Familiar: Spirit of fire
Herb Use
Raise Dead

Spells
First: Bewitch I, Burning Hands, Glamour
Second: Augury, Dark Whispers, Hypnotize
Third: Bestow Curse, Brave the Flames
Fourth: Divination, Intangible Cloak of Shadows
Fifth: Summon Shadow

So I had to raise her level to 9th to get the Summon Shadow spell.  In general, I like her spell choices as a witch better.  BUT that could be my biases since I have written so many (900+ so far!) and I have many to fit an exact situation.

She doesn't really have a familiar, so I am saying her "familiar" is her ability to look into flames.
I also did not give her any "bonus" spells since I wanted a pure B/X experience here.

I should point out that Green Ronin produces a very fine game based, not on the TV show, but the books in A Song of Ice and Fire.


It's Beltane! A time for witches to celebrate.  Start your own celebrations with my new witch book: Daughters of Darkness, The Mara Witch Tradition

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Dungeons & Dragons Stranger Things Starter Set

There is no doubt that Stanger Things gave D&D a boost.
D&D 5th ed was already doing great and was on its way to being the best selling version of D&D ever before it became a major feature of the highly popular Netflix show Stranger Things.  When Season 1 premiered I had adults my age (who would have been the same ages as the kids in ST at the time) coming to me and asking how they could get a D&D game for their kids.

Well, I wish I had had this boxed set at the time.


The new Dungeons & Dragons Stranger Things Starter Set is making it's way to retailers now.
I picked up a copy on Amazon (to donate to my son's D&D club at High School...yeah they have now) and getting another one from my FLGS.

Truth be told I don't *need* it, but it sure is fantastic!

Done up like everyone's favorite red box D&D this is a starter set for D&D 5th Edition.  And it is PERFECT for anyone that is a fan of the show and wants to learn how to play D&D.
It does have the Wizards of the Coast logo on it, but also the "Hasbro Gaming" logo which is new.  Also since this is being sold not only in game stores and Amazon it is being released to Game Stops (the video game store) and other markets.   Hasbro is serious about backing D&D and I think it is going to be a huge win for them.

The box set includes a basic rule book similar to what we got in the first D&D 5e Starter set.  We also get an adventure "Written by Mike Wheeler", character sheets, a set of dice (mine are exactly like the ones I got in the Starter Set) and two "Demogorgon" minis; one painted the other plain.




Starter Set Rulebook
This book gives all the basics of D&D in 44 concise, full-color pages.  Everything is here to get you started. How to play, the basics of combat and adventuring, a chapter on spell casting and a subset of magic items and monsters.  Pretty much what you expect in a "Basic" set.
Instead of art we get some screen grabs from the ST show.
There are stats for the Demogorgon monster (not the demon).

Hunt for the Thessalhydra
Ok, truth time, I LOVE this. I want more adventures like this.
The sample adventure is done up to like a notebook written by Mike from the show.  Complete with wide ruled notebook paper background and Jr. High style art (only much better).  D&D artist Stan! is behind this one and I could not be happier about that.


The adventure is as old-school as summer 1983. You have a quest, a knight a monster to defeat, a table of rumors. Troglodytes! (art takes it inspiration from the Monster Manual) and random encounters.
The adventure is not ground-breaking, but it is not supposed to be.  BUT it does take place in the "Upside Down", so that is cool. They describe it a bit like the Shadowfell, but no attempt is made to make it part of the larger D&D 5 cosmology and that is perfectly great by me.  There is even a sword from the Upside Down.
And no Refrigerator Aleena in this one, there is a Proud Princess that will aid the characters but they can't even harm her if they try.  She is obviously the Eleven stand in.

Character Sheets
These are all stand-ins for the kids on the show, more or less, We get all the major races; elf, dwarf, human, half-elf, and half-orc. No halfling though. And a good subset of classes; bard, cleric, paladin, ranger, wizard. But no straight up fighter or rogue.  A halfling rogue (or maybe a zoomer!) would have been a nice touch.  No names or genders on the sheets as it should be.

Dice and Demogorgons
The dice a pretty standard, same set I got with the other starter set.  There are only six (as were in old-school sets) so no d%, there is a standard d10 (and d4, d6, d8, d12 and d20).
The Demogorgon minis are the weakest part of this set.  The minis are the right scale but the plastic is really flimsy. The "painted" one only has a little bit of orange on it. These are not the Wiz Kids minis we get at game stores, these are made by Hasbro and appear to be made cheaply so they can make tons of them.

But really, this box hits all the nostalgia boxes AND is still a solid introduction to the D&D 5 game.





Saturday, February 23, 2019

Zatannurday: New DC Super Hero Girls Series

WHAT? A Zatannurday post??
Yes, it is and there is something cool coming.

Years ago we used to get an animated short, Super Best Friends Forever featuring Supergirl, Batgirl, and Wondergirl in crazy little adventures.  It was created by Lauren Faust, the same creative genius behind PowerPuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Creatures.

A little bit later a new multimedia merchandising line came out, DC Super Hero Girls. It featured books, toys and some animated shorts as well featuring a lot of DC's most famous superhero women, such as Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, as well as Poison Ivy, Killer Frost, and Harley Quinn.

Well now DC has combined the two and Lauren Faust is once again in charge.
So premiering next month is the New DC Super Hero Girls Series.
The visual cues are DC Super Hero Girls, but the execution is Super Best Friends Forever.

Why am I posting this here, now and bringing Zatannurday out of retirement?  Well, take a guess.



Like I mentioned, the style is a nice mix of SBBF and Super Hero Girls.





You can get more information here:



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Dungeons & Dragons: Stranger Things Edition

I woke up and saw this on my newsfeed this morning.




So far I have only seen this at Entertainment Earth and Amazon.
https://www.entertainmentearth.com/product/stranger-things-dungeons-dragons-roleplaying-game-starter-set/hse3702

https://www.amazon.com/Hasbro-Stranger-Dungeons-Dragons-Roleplaying/dp/B07G5X6N5P

https://comicbook.com/gaming/2019/02/13/stranger-things-dungeons-dragons-starter-set/

But I hope my FLGS will have it.

I think it looks great, and if it can get some more people into our hobby then fantastic.
Think of all those people watching Stranger Things and wanting to get into or back into D&D.

It is for 5th edition, but that is the current edition and the one they are most likely to find things for.

This will be a good chance to try out my Zoomer archetype in a perfect setting!

NOW I have already heard cries of "selling out" may I remind you of these:








D&D has been "selling out" since the early 80s and no one was more aggressive in the pursuit of licensing agreements than Gygax himself.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Bionic Bigfoot

The Kickstarter for the Dark Places & Demogorgons Cryptid Manual is doing well.

Justin Isaac is also a huge fan of DP&D and has been creating some great material for it on his blog Halls of the Nephilim. He just recently gave us another version of Bigfoot to go with the ones found in the Cryptid Manual; the BMX Bigfoot.  It's fun and really works well with DP&D to be honest.

He then challenged me to do my own and suggested I do the Bigfoot from the Six Million Dollar Man.  So I said yes in a heartbeat! I mean how could I not?

I grew up watching the 6M$M fairly religiously. So yeah I had to jump on this.

Bigfoot in the 6M$M was not just a Bigfoot, but he was also bionic! And an alien! And played by none other than Andre the Giant in the first Bigfoot episodes and then Ted "Lurch" Cassidy.  I mean really? Could anything be more 70s than this?

The Bionic Bigfoot would fit in perfectly into any DP&P game.  Bionic, alien, either with his memory intact or still erased he would make for a fun ally or enemy.

Bionic Bigfoot
Armor Class: 14
Hit Dice: 5+4
Move: On Foot - 18 (ignore rough terrain)
Actions: 2
Morale: 9
Terror: 12
HDE: 7

Attack Damage: Fist (d8), Slam (d8), Rock Throw (d6)

Special: Bionic creature, 20 STR, Toughness +4, Immune to Cold, can run x4 Move

Bonuses: +5 to Melee attacks, +5 to Melee damage, +8 to Spot (bionic eye), +6 to Listen, +8 to Stealth, +2 to Initiative, +4 to Track.

Hug Attack: In combat, if he attacks with his fists and both hit, he will deliver a bone-crushing hug attack for an additional 2d6+4 hp damage.  A successful DEX check by the target will grant half-damage.

The Bionic Bigfoot is not a natural creature, but one created by an alien race as their protector.  The creature is unnaturally strong, even more so than other Bigfoot creatures due to it's bionics.  If the creature is discovered in it's normal state it will be intelligent and generally passive,  though it will lead anyone away from the aliens he protects.  If he is discovered in a damaged state (75% of the time) he will think and act like a normal sasquatch.




Tuesday, January 22, 2019

True Detective: The Forests of Leng

If you have been here for a while you will know that I am a fan of the murder mystery show "True Detective".  Of course, I loved the first season and really disliked the second season (hate is too strong of a word).   Well the third Season started last week, we got three episodes so far and I am completely hooked.

I am not going to give out too much of the story but it revolves around Detective Wayne Hays, played by the amazing Mahershala Ali and the kidnapping and murder of two children (so far).  While investigating the room of 10-year-old Will (one of the missing children) we get to see this:


Yup. That's an AD&D book "The Forests of Leng".  A book we all know does not exist.

There are a few problems of course.  This book uses the trade dress of the 2nd printing of the AD&D 1st ed books featuring covers by Jeff Easley, but this scene takes place on November 7-8, 1980.

We can't see the cover very well, but there appears to be a tentacled monster on it.


Film Goblin does a fantastic break down of the cover and the Leng-Carcosa connections in both Season 1 and Season 3 of True Detective.  Go there for the Lovecraft and G.R.R. Martin connections as well.

I will not retread that ground here.
I do however want to speculate what a Forests of Leng book might be.

So we know that in 1980 the idea of a mega-module, ala T1-4 was still some ways off.  But I look at this and think that this would be a good mega-module...but that is not really enough is it.

No the closest thing I think this could be is a campaign world book like Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms or World of Greyhawk books.

It should have new classes, spells, monsters and of course locales include the titular Forests of Leng and the dread city of Carcosa.

Back when TD Season 1 was out I thought how fun it would be to run a Southern Gothic adventure with Ghosts of Albion.  I even called Ghosts of Albion: Carcosa.

I should come up with something.

EDITED TO ADD:


These mockups appeared on Juan Moore's Instagram accountHe designed these props for the True Detective show.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Charmed Season 1, Episode 4 "Exorcise Your Demons"

Exorcisms seem to be a popular topic on witch shows of late. We start the fourth episode of the season with the Charmed One still harboring the Harbinger demon stuck in the body of their friend Angela.  We learn that six month back that Marisol (their now dead mother) was working with Angela to press sexual harassment charges against a male professor (the same from episode 1).
She gets depressed and tries to OD and ends up in a coma.   Here she is easy pickings for the Harbinger demon.


This is also when the Charmed Ones meet their first Elder.  Now Elders in the Original Series were powerful Whitelighters.  In this series, we meet Charity who seems to be a living witch.  She is the CEO of a non-profit organization to help women in developing countries.  Yes, Charmed is still wearing their politics on their sleeve.   But saying this is far more than just "fan service" it established two essential plot points. 1. Elders are living witches, not powerful Whitelighters and 2. that this is someone the girls would trust.  We also learn through Charity that Marisol was an Elder or Senior Witch; "the same thing" according to Harry.
Charity's plan is to kill the demon and thus Angela.  This doesn't sit well with Mel, who pushed Angela to press the charges; she feels responsible.   Eventually, Mel discovers that Angela is alive and trapped in her own body.
Mel convinces Maggie, Macy and eventually even Harry that Angela can be saved.  They discover a new spell, one that had been hidden but only revealed till all three girls agreed to try, in the Book of Shadows.   It is a witch exorcism spell based, according to Harry, on Santariea. All I know is that Mel sounds great speaking Spanish.
Again, I won't be spoilery with the ending, but not everyone makes it out alive.

What is New for this Series?
The Book of Shadows has a "search feature" not sure if I like this or not.
Elders are living, senior witches, and someone/thing is killing them
Demons look cooler.
Marisol was an Elder.

Elders in Your Game
Last week I gave you all Exorcism and Vanquishing spells so no need to go over that again.
But I do want to investigate this idea of Elders in the game.  Now if this were 3rd Edition/Pathfinder we were talking about then an Elder would be a Prestige Class for a witch. Much like my Imbolc Mage Prestige Class.

For OSR style games I would just make some sort of social structure.  Something like the Witenagemot of 7th century England.  This "Council of the Wise" in many ways typifies what I think the Elders should be about.  J.K. Rowling used this idea for her "Wizengamot" of her world.
In my world, I supposed I could call it a "Wiccegemot" or "Council of Witches (Wicce)".
What would they do? What powers would they have?  I would like to think that representatives of the major covens and traditions would be here.  Maybe this is the council that my Witch Queens are on that meet once every seven years. Or thirteen years, can't remember right now.  Looked it up, it's 13 years.

I would say there are special ritual spells that only can be cast by the Wiccegemot.  Powerful spells. Earth, or even Plane, altering spells.
I am also likely to give them access to secret spells of lower levels, just ones they don't widely share.

Right though, I'll just keep them mysterious and unknown.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Charmed Season 1, Episode 3 "Sweet Tooth" (and Battle of the Network Witches)

It's a Charmed Halloween and we get a few more bits of Charmed lore.  First Maggie needs to win big with her sorority so she throws a party in the Vera Manor (which looks really big on the inside) and uses a Glamour spell to make the Halloween decorations extra special.  We learn from Harry that such uses of magic have consequences.   In the original series, the Charmed Ones could not use magic for personal gain as well, but the consequences were usually more immediate and pronounced.  in the new series Maggie has her magic spaz out on her.

Mel really wants to tell her girlfriend she is a witch.  We learn that Mel was always accepted as gay by her mother so she was never "in the closet" now having to hide that she is a witch is killing her.  She has also mastered some sort of spell akin to Eldritch Blast or Fireball that is dangerous to everyone around her when she casts.

Macy has to reveal a secret of her own. The demon of the week, the Harbinger, feeds on virgin blood.  So far she has eaten a Nun, a girl in charge of the "Purity Patrol", and a right-wing podcasting incel (ok, so two human and a community service kill).   While trying to cast a protection circle around the house they discover the demon is inside.  So to lure it out they need virgin blood.  Macy steps up as a potential source (we have seen Maggie and Mel already have sex). Macy claims she never got around to it.

The Elders still seem to be about as useless as always, but we learn that Harry had another witch he was protecting but she told someone she was a witch and ended up in a mental asylum.  He feels it is an honor to be able to serve the Charmed Ones.

The title comes from the notion that this demon can't digest sugar.  More of Macy's "there is science in this magic stuff."

I love how both Maggie and Macy commented on their mother's collection of hebs and candles and say how could the girls not known she was a witch?

--
Over on Netflix (though it has a solid CW feel thanks to having  Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Greg Berlanti as producers) we are getting The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina which is soooo good.  I am not going to get into it that much right now (have a post for later in the week) but I do want to comment on the Charmed connection.


In Episode 6 Sabrina wants to hold an exorcism of another's character's uncle (yes I am trying to avoid spoilers).  The episode is very, very reminiscent of The Exorcist, what was completely intentional.  We learn through that witches (at least these witches) can't and are not allowed to perform exorcisms.   Indeed even going through my own database of spells I don't have exorcism on the list.  As it turns out Sabrina's father had worked one out that does not rely on the power of the Catholic Church or the Christian God.
And it sounds really, really, really similar in tone to the Vanquishing ritual the Charmed Ones used to destroy the Source of All Evil and later Cole.






In every instance (I could not find a video for Sabrina) the witches gather and call upon the power of other witches to aid to defeat an evil.  In Charmed it is the witches of their family starting with Pru, their mother, grams and working backward.  In Sabrina, they invoke the names of Lilith, Aradia, Diana, Marie Laveau among many others.  I'll go back and rewatch it for all the names, it's like a witch's who's who.



How would this work in your games?
The spell has similar features to the Clerical/Divine Exoricsm and the Arcane Banish.

Banishment
Level: Cleric 6
Range: Creatures within visual range
Duration: Instantaneous
A banishment spell is a more powerful version of the dismissal spell. It enables the cleric to force extraplanar creatures out of their home plane. As many as 2 Hit Dice of creatures per caster level can be banished. The cleric can improve the spell's chance of success by presenting at least one object or substance that the target hates, fears, or otherwise opposes. For each such object or substance, the cleric gains a +2 bonus vs the creature’s saving throws. Note: a holy symbol is always assumed and does not add to the saving throw adjustment. For example, if the creature’s save is 13 and the cleric presents the appropriate symbols, say such a bell or candle then the creature’s save is now 15. Spell resistance (if applicable) is reduced by 5% per item.
Certain rare items might work twice as well as a normal item for the purpose of the bonuses each providing a +10% bonus against Spell Resistance and increasing the save by 3 or 4 depending on the Game Master.  Such rare items could be the relic of a Saint that opposed these creatures, an ancient weapon forged to destroy them or even a special time of day.
Any creature failing to save is sent back to the realms from which they came.
Material Components: At minimum a holy symbol and prayer book. Other items can be added.

Vanquish
Level: Witch Ritual 8
Range: One Creature within visual range
Duration: Instantaneous
This ritual doesn’t just banish an extra-planar creature, it destroys it. However, to use this spell requires three or more witches to cast and even more witches to power.   Three or more witches will cast the spell focusing all their attention on the creature to be vanquished. The gathered witches now must call upon their ancestors, past witches of their coven or the names of powerful patrons to lend support to vanquishing of this creature.
Each witch beyond three adds a +2 bonus to the spell vs. a Saving throw (and +5% against any roll to overcome magic resistance, if used).
Certain rare items might work twice as well as a normal item for the purpose of the bonuses each providing a +10% bonus against Spell Resistance and increasing the save by 3 or 4 depending on the Game Master.  Such rare items could be the relic of a witch that opposed these creatures, an ancient weapon forged to destroy them or even a special time of day or place.
If the creature fails the save they are dead and no resurrection can bring them back.
Any creature failing to save is sent back to the realms from which they came.
Material Components: At the minimum the witch’s ritual tool and the names of the witches they are calling upon for power. Other items can be added.

Tonight we also get NBC's "A Very Wicked Halloween" for more Witchy Goodness.



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Don't forget the Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box is now out! Featuring the White Witch Tradition.  It is 100% compatible with my other Swords & Wizardry witch books.  Each one with a new tradition, occult powers, magic items, spells, and rituals.  Many even include new monsters.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Charmed Season 1, Episode 2 "Let This Mother Out"

Last night's Charmed episode felt like a "proper" Charmed episode in tone, but not one we would have ever seen on the Original Series. 


The girls, still grieving for their lost mother are also dealing with new sister issues.  While in the original series it took Piper a while to really accept Paige as her sister, since her and Prue were so close, here we see Mel as the one more reluctant to "replace" her mother with Macy.  Maggie, the empath, is the one that acts as the bridge much the same way Phoebe did.

Of course Original Charmed would not have used Grams or Patty in the same way they used Marisol here.  And in the case of Prue they really couldn't have done it nor I think would they have tried.  In this way, the New Charmed ups their horror game a little.  These are demons and they will play dirty; no one is off limits.

We also get some very-Charmed like shenanigans of the truth potion getting mixed up and Maggie hearing every thought whether she wants too or not.

Also, the plot here of not trusting the Whitelighter is something you not have seen in Charmed before.  Leo was immediately trustable. Plus I don't see Harry falling in love with any of the Charmed ones anytime soon.

I would call this one a step up from last week, though last week was still a good showing.  Last week's was Macy's spotlight (though all the girls shined) and this week was Maggie. 

Next week look downright scary!

RPG Applications
I figure if I am going to do Charmed reviews each week I might find something in every episode to use in my games. Here are a few things I was working on.

Veritas (Truth Spell)
Level: Witch 1
Range: Touch*
Duration: 1 hour per level
By means of this spell anyone touched by the witch will be forced to speak nothing but the truth for the duration of the spell.
Material Components: The south facing bark of a willow tree, the pin feathers of a migratory bird, and the moss from the north side of a stone.

Spirit Boards
These boards, sometimes known as spirit boards, witch borads, or even Yes/No or Yes/Yes boards, are used to contact the spirits of those departed. Using one a witch or other spellcaster gains a 5% or +1 to any roll that may be required or -1 or -5% on any roll used to oppose the contact.
There is always a chance that a trickster demon known as an Imposter will answer the call instead.

Trickster Demon, Imposter
Hit Dice: 3
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Attacks: 2 claw (2x1d4)
Saving Throw: 15
Special: unique kill, +1 better to hit.
Move: 12
Alignment: Chaos
Number Encountered: 1
Challenge Level/XP: 5/240
Trickster demons are notoriously chaotic and never appear the same way twice.  Imposters though are Tricksters that appear as a recently passed loved one.  Despite how they may look they are not undead. These demons usually find ways into our world via spirit boards.  (Trickster Demons that attach themselves to spirits coming through are known as Travellers.)
These demons are immune to all non-magical weapons.  The only way to permanently destroy these demons is to reduce them to 0 hp and then show them their own reflection.

--

Don't forget the Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box is now out! Featuring the White Witch Tradition.  It is 100% compatible with my other Swords & Wizardry witch books.  Each one with a new tradition, occult powers, magic items, spells, and rituals.  Many even include new monsters.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October Horror Movie Challenge: Don't Go to Sleep (1982)

Rhoda and McCloud have a murderous daughter in this 1982 made for TV Aaron Spelling movie that surprisingly holds up well.

The late 70s and early 80s were a great time for some really spooky made for TV movies. At least that is my memory of things.  Well if you grew up in the 80s and had brothers or sisters then this movie most certainly freaked you out.

Phillip and Laura just lost their daughter Jennifer and have moved to LA (because that is where Spelling is) with their remaining children Mary and Kevin.  Mary keeps hearing her dead sister but no one believes her.  That is till the killings start.

Now I watched this back in the day and at the time I loved the fact that the mystery could go one of two ways.  Either really a ghost or everything was a product of Mary's psychosis.  As a teen just discovering psychology I thought that was great.

Of course, now, the punch is a little less. Not just due to seeing it before but also time.  Though I was surprised by how well the movie holds up to now.  Re-film this in modern LA and not change a bit of dialog...ok there are some changes that would have to be done...but otherwise it would still work.


Watched: 10
New: 5


Monday, October 15, 2018

Charmed Season 1, Episode 1 "Pilot"

Last night the new Charmed appeared on our screens here in America (not sure when you are getting it overseas) and I thought it might be nice to talk about it.  So let's get to it!

Fair Warning 1:  This review/overview will contain some spoilers.  If you don't want to be spoiled, avoid this post.
Fair Warning 2:  If you thought Supergirl wore their politics on their sleeve...buckle up buttercup because Charmed wears their politics like a battle armor.
Fair Warning 3: I loved Charmed (1998). It is one of my favorite all-time shows and I will fight anyone in my claim it was better than Buffy.  So that is the point of view I come from.  So any show named Charmed has to fight that uphill battle for me.

The new Charmed takes place in Hilltowne (aka "Helltown") a college town in Michigan.  Ok, I like the move to the Mid-west already.  Also setting it in a college town gives them access to a wide variety of plots.  Already all the women of the new Charmed are associated with the College.

The show begins with sisters Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie Vera (Sarah Jeffery) living with their mother Marisol (Valerie Cruz).  Now Mel and Maggie look and act every bit like sisters, so kudos on the casting there.  Marisol is a professor of Women's Studies at Hilltowne College and currently leading the charge in a sexual harassment case against another professor.

With the girls out, Marisol begins to feel a strange presence and goes to her attic.  Here she begins casting a spell, but is attacked by crows/ravens.   Both girls get texts to come home right away.  When they get there they discover their mother has fallen from their attic to them patio beneath and is dead.

Three months later the girls are still no-where closer to learning about their mother's death.  Mel is angry all the time and Maggie just wants to be a college freshman and join the local sorority.

We are introduced next to Macy Vaughan, Ph.D. She is new to Hilltowne having received a grant and a job offer to work in Hilltowne College's lab.  She walks by the Vera Manor and gets a weird feeling.  Back in her lab she looks up the house and reads about Marisol's recent death.  She visits the sisters that night and shows them an old photograph of Marisol in front of the manor hold a baby. The baby is Macy.   Once the girls are in the same house their powers begin to awaken.

What we get next is almost a Cliffe Notes version of the Charmed universe.  We meet Harry their Whitelighter who is more Giles than Leo.  We encounter a demon dog (like it) and a possessed human with a Supernatural like demon (also a nice touch).  The big demon, who I supposed should be obvious, but I'll still keep quiet on, was very cool looking in a White-Walker sort of way.
Loved the Power of Three spell in the end to defeat him (need to go back a try to translate more of their pseudo-Latin later).

The episode ends with the girls all living under the same roof and getting along (I do hope there is a little more tension in the future) and a warning on their Ouija board not to trust Harry.

OK a lot to go over here.

The Vera Book of Shadows looks similar to the Halliwell book for the few seconds we see it.  What we do see is a picture of Melinda Warren in the first few pages.


The picture is of the same Melinda Warren of the Original Series.


So are the Vera witches of the same Warren bloodline as the Halliwell witches?  Could be.  I think it is likely.  There are anywhere from 11 to 15 generations of witches since Melinda (oh please let it be 13!).

There are a couple of other lines talking about why these witches are now the Charmed Ones.
The first had me dying, basically, Trump being president is a sign of the Apocalypse! Another sign though has me both concerned and intrigued.

The other sign is the death of many powerful witches.  Could the Halliwells all be dead?  I would hate to think so and the fans will revolt. BUT...think of the storytelling opportunities here. Think about it. What can be killing the most powerful witches in the world? (The Winchesters?) I have been considering something similar in my War of the Witch Queens.

The prophecy ends with the return of The Source of All Evil.  Now Charmed fans know, the Source isn't just a Big Bad. He is the Biggest Big Bad there is or has ever been. He killed Prue! He was only stopped by the Charmed ones, one of his chief lieutenants and his own demonic oracle.  Yeah, he is bad news.

So what if this is what is going on here?  The Halliwells, or at least most of the most powerful good witches are all dead and now the Vera line must take up the battle?  Maybe the Warren line of witches split into what would become the Halliwell lines and the Vera lines of witches?  They are cousins in a matter of speaking but have forgotten about each other.  Maybe twin witches born to Prudence Warren.  One set up the Halliwell line and the other the Vera line.  I can see this.

I also would like to point out that the fictional witches of the new Charmed would feel like good allies to the real actors of the old Charmed.  I think Mel has quoted Allysa Milano verbatim!  Well maybe not, but the feeling is there.

The Verdict?

How do I feel about the new Charmed?

Well for starters I like it.  I want to know more about what is going on in this world. Is this the same as the Halliwell's world? If so are they still in it?  What is the new Source going to be like? What other NEW things will we see?

For the sisters.  Right now Macy is my favorite.  I am not just saying that because she has a Ph.D. but because I think she a lot of potential.  I could see an episode (and maybe this is because I am a geek) of Macy working on something in her lab and "accidentally" using her powers to move an experiment along and suddenly she is in the spotlight and can't replicate the effects.  Now this one would have to be done with a humorous side to it.

All three lead actors are very good.  I need to see more of them to form a better opinion, but so far I like all three and think they will grow into their roles nicely.

Harry is interesting, but I am not 100% sold on him yet.  Leo I liked right away. Maybe that is the point. Harry is not Leo.  Also.  He is a Whitelighter, but where are his Orbs?  Ah well.  Minor thing really.

I am also not blind to the problems.  Look I LOVE the politics they have shown so far and if the snark like this keeps up then I am here every week!  But I see that it can also be a turn-off for some.

Also, this show hits on all the strengths that made the first Charmed so great.  All that is except for one.  The Original Charmed knew when to take themselves serious and more important they new when not too.   This show needs to make sure it does the same.

Looking back over the "Pilot" and comparing it to "Something Wicca This Way Comes" I see good and bad in both.  SWTWC was so raw and the actors were still grabbing on to their parts.  But all three were also very seasoned actors (hell, even in her early 20s Allyssa Milano has seen more work than most of her peers combined) so they had an edge.  The script to SWTWC was weaker but had elements that pulled you right in.  The Pilot for Charmed (2018)  knows more about their world, in large part due to the groundwork laid by SWTWC and the next 177 episodes, but also has the advantage of a more stable future than Charmed (1998) did its first season.

The bottom line for me is this: Encounter at Far Point.  You can't judge a show by its first episode.  Encounter at Far Point for Star Trek the Next Generation was not a good episode.  In fact, much of the first season was not good.  BUT the groundwork for later, much much better episodes was established here.  You can't get a "Best of Both Worlds", "Darmok" unless you wade through "Encounter at Far Point".

I want to see the girls struggle as sisters, as witches, and as college people. But I also want to see them come together.  Just like Marisol says "You're better together. Your differences are your strengths and nothing is stronger than your sisterhood."  Well said mom.

Also. For the love of broomsticks and pointy hats can we please get more Valerie Cruz on the show? Even as a ghost?

Next week does look fun.


Did you watch? What do you think?
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