Showing posts with label vampire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vampire. Show all posts

Monday, October 30, 2017

No Spell to Right This: Carmilla Week Round-up

Well...it was more than a week really.

I love doing these week-long deep dives into a character or a system. It's a great way to explore a topic in my mind. Whether it is a week-long deep dive into a game system like Blue Rose or Superbabes or investigating a set of characters like I did with Miriam and Fran it is something I really look forward to planning and doing.

Doing this for Carmilla and Laura was just as much fun.

I did a lot of stats for various horror games.
Not to mention my original Ghosts of Albion stats for "book" Carmilla.

I also watched a lot of movies.
I would like to try some more systems to be honest. Chill 3.0 comes to mind.
Anyone have any requests?

I am looking forward to doing some more of these deep dives.  Maybe next time a game system.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Weekend Gaming: Halloween Gaming, Return of the Vampire Queen

It was our weekend of Halloween gaming.  It's was also my oldest son's birthday weekend.
He ran games all night long and while he slept today I ran  "Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen" again, this time for my younger son and his group.



It was 2014 when I first ran this adventure for my oldest son, so I wanted to run it again this year for my youngest since they would have been the same ages.  Very different experiences!

I picked up this adventure back when +Mark Taormino kickstarted a few years back and it is one of my favorites. It's just so much fun.  I also combine it a lot with the classic Palace of the Vampire Queen and the sequels made by Bill Barsh at Pacesetter.

Combined they really make for a great full palace, dungeons, and vampire pits.

Today's group got much further.  I made some changes based on previous runnings and some advice from Mark.

Sin, the Queen on her throne, Diabolica, and the Queen ready to attack
Combined with mins from three different companies this represents one of the things I love the best about this hobby; everyone coming together to provide something new and exciting.
Standing Lady Neeblack is the Vampire from Reaper Minis.


Ok and a bunch of tombstones and coffins from Michaels.



Oh and an old D&D action figure Umber Hulk to represent a giant Umber Hulk.  Yeah, they were scared about that.



They managed to survive long enough to face the Succubi Sin and Diabolica and finally Lady Neeblack the Vampire Queen herself.

I can't say enough good things about these adventures.  It would not be Halloween without them.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: Styria (2014)

I wanted to go back and rewatch this one after spending a lot time with Carmilla.  I remember that this one had been pretty good and I wanted to go back and see if it held up.

I am happy to admit it does.

There must have been some sort of cinematic vibe in the air because rewatching this one now reminded me a lot of The Only Lovers Left Alive.  The soundtrack is still awesome and the chemistry I saw between the two actresses, Eleanor Tomlinson (Lara) and Julia Pietrucha (Carmilla), is still there, even if it is not the same as the newer Carmilla movie.  Not sure if I can grok a blonde Carmilla though.  Stephen Rhea is fantastic as usual playing Lara's father only as he can.  He always looks like he is one bad bender away from falling apart.

As my want, I watched this as if it was a sequel to "Daughters of Darkness" and a prequel to the "Carmilla" web series.  It doesn't...but it would fit the backstory well enough with some edits.

It is a very worthy entry into the collective mytho-storytelling of Carmilla.



This Old Dragon: Issue #126

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letters and Forum have their overflow pages.

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

New contact system for Top Secret.

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

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






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

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




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

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

We could live forever, and suffer: Laura and Carmilla for Monsterhearts

Carmilla week continues.  The movie is out tonight or tomorrow (depending on where you are) and I wanted to save this system for today.

+Avery Alder's Monsterhearts has been one of those games I that I have wanted to review and play some more ever since I first encountered the First Edition all the way back when I was introduced to it at Gen Con.

The system is an easy one, based on the Apocalypse World Engine, something else I have wanted to delve into further.   The base mechanic is simple; 2d6 + whatever mods (depending on the game), get higher than 10 for a success, or a 7-9 for something weird.

Monsterhearts is a game on what it like to play teenage monsters.  Monsters as metaphors for teenage life and feeling a little outside the norm.  I think it is something everyone can relate too I think.
While I'll get a proper review up soon the game is tailor-made for Carmilla really.

Even the game's lack of a combat mechanic works well with the very combat free scenes of the Carmilla web series.  In fact, nearly everything in this game is perfect for a Carmilla-like game. Just need a skin for the downloaded consciousness of JP 3.0 (though a Ghost might work well).

Laura and Carmilla for Monsterhearts
For these builds I used Monsterhearts 2.  I have a book of Monsterhearts 1 (and PDFs of both).  The system differences are minor. There some differences. Most of these are detailed here.  Both versions of the game are on sale now.

Given the rules where Mortals develop their characters last, I'll switch it up and do Carmilla first.

Carmilla Karnstein
Skin: Vampire
Look: Drop dead sexy.
Backstory: Mysterious stranger (Gain a Sting on Everyone)

Stats
Hot 2, Cold 1, Volatile -1, Dark -1

Darkest Self
People are your playthings.
No one messes with my Creampuff Laura!

Sex Move
Lost all Strings on Laura

Vampire Moves
Cold as Ice
Marked for the Hunt
Inescapable

Laura Hollis
Skin: The Mortal
Look: Tiny and mighty
Backstory:  Intrepid Journalism Student

Stats
Hot 2, Cold -1, Volatile -1, Dark 1

Darkest Self
Only I can figure this out, no one else can help and only I can defeat the monsters.
(borrowed from the Chosen)

Sex Move
You bring out the Darkest Self in Carmilla when you are not around.

Mortal Moves
True Love (Carmilla)
Down the Rabbit Hole
Mess With Me, Mess With Her

Oh this will be fun!
I gave them both one more move as an advancement.  I think that is fine.  In fact I could have given them more.  I think these should work well for Season 2.

Given all the skins I want to play a game where the cast is made up of characters from Carmilla, Buffy, and HƎX.  I can get some vamps, some witches, a chosen, a ghost, an infernal, and who knows what else.

Links

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Blood Spattered Bride (1972, 1974)

Another loose retelling of Carmilla, this time from Spain. The retelling is a bit loose and set in modern times, well, the 70s anyway.

Our victim this time is Susan.  Carmilla, of course, shows up (buried in the sand no less) and begins in on Susan and her husband.  Eventually, Carmilla, Susan, and some other girl (because fuck it right) are all killed by the husband.

The movie is not bad, but a confusing mess really.  The movie could very easily work as a sequel to the Vampire Lovers or any other Carmilla movie.

Alexandra Bastedo makes for good Carmilla, though a blonde one.  Which is odd of course, but she makes up for it.







Monday, October 23, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

For Carmilla Week I thought I go back to a the very deep well of the Vampire Lovers.  It also is one of my video tapes (along with some other movies this week) so really it works out well.

I did this one all the way back in 2012 and some observations I made then still hold true today.

Carmilla/Mircalla of The Vampire Lovers is a killer.  She is a murderess to be sure but to quote They Might Be Giants she was "the nicest of the damned".

Comparing Ingrid Pitt to Natasha Negovanlis may strike some as blasphemy, but I think it is entirely fair.  After all no one will remember Julia Pietrucha as Carmilla (Syria) or Christen Orr (The Unwanted) but these two will always be remembered.

Each is also perfect for her respective portrayal of the troubled vampire.

The movie is actually fairly close to the book.  Enough that if you read the book and see the movie you will notice more of similarities rather than the differences.

Now here there is no doubt that Carmilla is supposed to be evil.  She casually uses and tosses away Mdme. Perrodot (Kate O'Mara) and she did kill Laura (Pippa Steele) but yet to me there is something underneath all of this.  Carmilla is still a tragic figure.  She was damned, but maybe the least of the damned.  Not as much as in the novella, but it is there.  We see this more and more as the adaptations become more modern. 

Could this movie work as a prequel to the series? Sure.  In the movie just have Carmilla fall in love with Elle at the end and let the events of season 1 unfold.  OR do as I do, enjoy them separately for their own merits.

Connor didn't watch this one with me.  He is burned out on my 70s Hammer films.

Love Will Be Cruel: Carmilla for Die For You

All week I am doing RPG conversions of the Web series Carmila. Today I am going to shift my focus slightly and look at a Role-Playing Game that was directly inspired by Carmilla.

Growing Up is Weird
Die For You by Rose Bailey lists Carmilla as it's primary inspiration.  Though given the name I can't imagine that HEX was also not an inspiration.
Die For You is a slim book, only 13 pages. Character creation and rules are all, understandably really simple.  Designed for 2 to 5 people, one game master and four players, I think it could be expanded.  It also has that feel of a game that could also work with rotating GMs.

This game would classify as a "Story Game" I believe, it has that feel, but I really don't know much about its genesis.

To play you start by Picking a Setting.  Since I am going to go with Carmilla as my example (and I think it sells the game best) I'll give examples from the start of Season 1.   The setting can be random (roll a 1d6) or the group's choice.   We are going for "College" here.

Next comes Creating a Character. Again this is an easier process than most games, but one that should involve everyone playing.  First thing you need to come up with is your Concept.  The examples given are good for us, with some tweaks; “Nosey Journalism Major” or “Disaffected Vampire.”  You can decide if you are some sort of monster or a normal human.
Now define your Want. This is something your characters wants.  Let's go with "Find the Missing Girls from Silas University" as an example.  When pursuing your wants you have a better chance of succeeding, but also you open yourself up more to creating complications.  Looking for the missing girls gets the attention of the Evil Dean that wants to sacrifice them to an ancient demon.   Having conflicting Wants in the group is also a good thing.
Now determine your Traits.  You have three: Feels, Weird and Real Life.  Feels and Weird are ranked 2 to 4 and combined they must equal 6.  Real Life is the same as your lowest score.
Finally, you have Trust.  Trust is another character you trust and this can change from scene to scene if needed.

While this is going on the GM comes up with the Big Bad. This is who they need to defeat to move the story to its end.  Simpler is better. "Vampire", "Nephilim" or "Evil Dean".
Then figure where the game begins and what happens.  "At the big party, a girl disappears".   "In the middle of class, you set fire to all the paper with your mind".  And so on.

Roll the Bones
Rolls come in two types, Challenges (your character is trying to do something or opposed by an NPC) and Conflicts (opposed by another PC).   In Challenges, you roll against the Trait that the GM is most affected.  Each die that is one lower than your trait is a Success.   There are ways to get more dice. You can get help from another character, pursuing your Wants, making a sacrifice, or using your Trust.

A few minutes of set up, getting characters made and you are set to go!

Playing Carmilla
The Setting: Silas University, Freshman dorms. Laura Hollis' room.
Big Bad: The Dean (revealed later)

The Cast

Left to Right: Danny, Laura, LaFontaine, Carmilla, Perry
Carmilla
Concept: Disaffected Vampire
Want: To not do the horrible things her mother makes her do anymore. (Later) I want Laura to be safe.  (Later) I want Laura.
Traits
Feels: 2
Weird: 4
Real Life: 2
Trust: No one, Laura

Laura Hollis
Concept: Nosey Journalism Student
Want: To find the missing girls and maybe date Danny. (Later) I want Carmilla to be safe. (Later) I want Carmilla.
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: Dany, Carmilla

Danny
Concept: Really tall English Lit TA
Want: I want to go out with Laura. (Later) I want Laura to be safe.
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: Laura

LaFontaine
Concept: Would-be mad scientist; brainy
Want: To get into med school and figure out all the weirdness on campus. (Later) I want to party with the Demon of Light.
Traits
Feels: 2
Weird: 4
Real Life: 2
Trust: Perry

Perry
Concept: Dorm mom, German major and neat freak.
Want: I want everyone to be normal! Just be normal!
Traits
Feels: 4
Weird: 2
Real Life: 2
Trust: LaFontaine

There. Five characters as quickly as I could write them down.  Take them and throw them into the weirdness.  The game is a lot of fun and could be a really fun experiment to try with some exsisting characters.  Plus they would all work great on a notecard.

The game is Pay What You Want, so if you want to try it, throw the author a buck or two and if you like then toss in a couple more.
You can see more about this game at http://www.fantasyheartbreaker.com.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Die As One, Together As Lovers: Carmilla and Laura for Ubiquity

It's going to be Carmilla week here at the Other Side!  Up next is Laura and Carmilla for the Ubiquity System.

The Ubiquity system is one of my favorite systems.  For me it is a grittier, pulpier system than Unisystem.  Leagues of AdventureLeagues of Gothic Horror and the new Leagues of Cthulhu are Ubiquity powered games from Triple Ace Games.  The Hollow Earth Expedition RPG is a Ubiquity powered adventure game from Exile Game Studios.  All these games are compatible and together give us a world full of adventure and horror. 

A world that one could easily find a surly vampire and a tiny gay journalist.  The Ubiquity system compares well to the Unisystem game system.  So if the Buffy RPG versions work well enough, then these should work well too.



I am going with end of Season 1, start of Season 2 versions here.

Laura Hollis
Archetype: Reporter
Motivation: Duty

Style: 3
Health 5

Primary Attributes
Body 2, Dexterity 2, Strength 2, Charisma 4, Intelligence 4, Willpower 3

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 4, Perception 8, Initiative 6, Defense 4, Stun 2

Skills
Academics: Journalism 5, Art: Writing 5, Brawl: Krav Maga 4, Con: Bluff 5, Craft 5, Diplomacy 6, Investigation: Research 6,

Talents
Attractive +2, Head Strong, Inspire

Resources
Ally 3

Flaw
Code of Conduct, Honest, Loyal

Weapon
Punch 0N

For Laura, she is slightly better than an archetype or starting character, but I think this works out fine.

Carmilla
Patron 4
Archetype: Vampire
Motivation: Vengange (sister)

Style: 5
 Health 11*

Primary Attributes
Body 5, Dexterity 6, Strength 5, Charisma 6, Intelligence 4, Willpower 6

Secondary Attributes
Size 0, Move 11, Perception 10, Initiative 10, Defense 11, Stun 5*

Skills
Academics: History 7, Religion 5, Athletics 7, Brawl 6, Con 8, Diplomacy 6, Empathy 4, Intimidation 8, Linguistics 6, Performance 6, Stealth 7

Talents
Attractive +3, Fearsome Attack, Iron Jaw (+1 Stun)*, Unarmed Parry (can block melee weapons), Well Educated

Resources
Refuge: Size 1 (smaller apartments across Eastern Europe, but owned by her mother), Status 1 (Former foreign noblewoman; +2 Social bonus)

Flaw
Thirst for Blood (+1 Style point when her unholy appetite reveals its true nature, she prefers young women)

Weapons
Bite 9L**, Punch 9N

* Carmilla is immune to lethal and nonlethal damage except fire or holy objects.
** If Carmilla scores 3+ successes on her bite attack, she has latched onto her victim’s neck. Until she ceases feeding voluntarily or is forcibly removed (as per ending a grapple), the victim takes automatic damage equal to her Strength rating each round.

Decapitation/Piercing the Heart: This requires a Called Shot against a vital area. If the damage exceeds Carmilla’s Body rating, she is instantly killed, otherwise, the attack has no effect.

Shape Change, Lesser: Carmilla can transform into a large cat. This requires two complete rounds and a Willpower roll. While in animal form, she retains her own statistics but cannot speak, use tools, or use any of her other abilities. Reversion to her true form is a reflexive action.

Using Carmilla and Laura in your Games

Depending on when you grab them Carmilla and Larua could either be a fun addition to your games, or potentially a fun plot point.

One thing that would REALLY be fun happens at the end of Season 3 but before the movie:
[Spoilers]Carmilla is a human again after battling the Goddess Innana. That will certainly bring some interest to monster hunters around the world.[/Spoilers].  I am sure that would be a lot of fun.  Plus Laura's role as journalist is an excuse to find trouble.

Just four more days till the movie!

October Horror Movie Challenge: Lifeforce (1985)

I am so far behind on these.

Up next on a my Vampire tape is Tobe Hooper's 1985 Lifeorce.  Loosely based on on Colin Wilson's "Space Vampires".  The movie has the aforementioned space vampires but they differ from the book.
One thing that struck me while watching this was the fact that 19-year old French Actress Mathlida May pretty much spends the entire movie walking around completely naked.  I am not sure a horror movie outside of the exploitation types could do this anymore (see the "I Spit on Your Grave" remakes).

The movie is still fun.  In addition to May it features a Pre-Star Trek Patrick Stewart and a pre-X-Files Steve Railsback.

Of course I immediately adopted the Space Vampires (the Lovecraftian "Ubbo-Sathla" in the book) to my AD&D games.
The stats I wrote then became the basis for the Space Vampire I did a few years ago.

Connor did not watch this one with me.  I'll admit I avoided telling him about it.  Weird I know. I was 16 when saw it the theaters and he is 14 now.


Saturday, October 21, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Sooner or later someone was going to cast Tilda Swinton as a vampire.
Thankfully it was sooner.

The Only Lovers Left Alive is the tale of two vampire lovers, centuries, maybe even millennia old, that periodically spend time apart.  Tilda Swinton's Eve stays in Tangier while Tom Hiddleston's Adam lives in Detroit. 
The movie is arty and actually full of existential dread; what would you do to keep away the crushing sense of thousands and thousands of endless nights?

The cast is fantastic really. We also get Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, and John Hurt. 
Though the best really are Swinton and Hiddleston who were born to play vampires.  I would want more movies with these characters, but I think we have seen everything we can of them; their curse is to remain the same for all time while the world around them burns.

This one had been one of my early picks for the challenge this year even though it was not on any of my old videotapes (naturally). But one I really wanted to see.

This might one of the best vampire movies I have seen in a very long time. 

Note: Backdating this to the night I watched it. I am woefully behind schedule in posting.


Friday, October 20, 2017

No Sacrifice Without Blood: Carmilla and Laura for World of Darkness (nWoD)

Coming back to Carmilla

Another great system for doing anything "Vampire" is, of course, any of the Word of Darkness systems.   For these builds, I have chosen to use the World of Darkness and Vampire: The Requiem games from the early 2000s. Not the groundbreaking game that Vampire: The Masquerade game was, but a more functional and easier to use game.
Plus the World of Darkness game handles normal humans better.


So in that light, let's start with our first little Creampuff, tiny gay journalist Laura. I am setting these builds roughly in the Season 3 area.

Laura Hollis
Human

Mental
- Intelligence * * * O O
- Wits * * * O O
- Resolve * * O O O
Physical
- Strength * O O O O
- Dexterity * * * O O
- Stamina * * O O O
Social
- Presence  * * * O O
- Manipulation * * O O O
- Composure * * O O O

Skills
Mental
*Academics 2 (Research specialization)
*Computer 2 (Internest specialization)
 Crafts 1
*Investigation 3 (Crime Scene specialization)
 Medicine 1
 Occult 1
 Politics 1
 Science 1
Physical
 Athletics 1
 Larceny 2
 Stealth 1
 Survival 2
 Weaponry 1
Social
 Empathy 1
 Expression 1
 Persuasion 1
 Socialize 1

Merits
Allies (3) Silas U students (Perry, Laff, Kirsh, Dany)
Striking Looks (2)
Technophile (Video blog) (2)

Virtue: Hope
Vice: Pride

Defense: 3
Dodge: 6

Initiative: 5
Size: 5
Speed: 9
Surprise: 5

Perception: 5
Willpower: 4
Health: 7

In truth, I am really, really happy with this build.  I can see this Laura working well as a character.
Her obvious Virtue is Hope.  No one is rooting for her friends more than Laura.  Her Vice is Pride. She feels sometimes she alone can fix the problems that she alone caused. In truth, she is not alone and did not cause all these problems.
She gets the Merits of the friends at Silas, she is the one that brings everyone together.

Next is our brooding vampire hero, Carmilla, Mistress of the Snark.

Carmilla
Vampire
Clan: Daeva (Duchagne Bloodline)
Covenant: Ordo Dracul (Circle of the Crone would also work)

Mental
- Intelligence * * O O O
- Wits * * O O O
- Resolve * * O O O
Physical
- Strength * * * * O
- Dexterity * * * * O
- Stamina * * * O O
Social
- Presence  * * * O O
- Manipulation * * O O O
- Composure * * O O O

Blood Potency * O O

Skills
Mental
 Academics 1
 Investigation 1
 Occult 2
Physical
 Athletics 1
*Brawl 4 (Natural Weapons, Dirty Tricks)
 Larceny 1
 Stealth 1
 Survival 2
 Weaponry 2
Social
 Animal Ken 1
*Intimidation (Physical Threats)
 Persuasion 1
 Socialize 1

Merits
Barfly 1
Brawling Dodge 1
Fleet of Foot 1
Striking Looks (4)

Vampire Powers
Celerity 2
Majesty 1
Obfuscate 1
Protean 4 (to become a large cat)

Vitae: 10
Humanity: 5
- Derangements
 Depression (what she has done)
 Inferiority Complex (mother, sister)

Virtue: Justice
Vice: Sloth

Defense: 2
Dodge: 4

Initiative: 6
Size: 5
Speed: 14
Surprise: 4

Perception: 5
Willpower: 4

I gave her Ordo Dracul given her Victorian literary origin, though Circle of the Crone could work better given her mother and sister Mattie.
Her Virtue is Justice. She wants to stop her mother, she wants to do the right things. But her Vice (Sloth) and her Derangements (depression and feelings of inferiority to her mother and sister) keep her from doing the right things.
I also cheated here and gave her Protean 1 so she can become a large cat.

I am not sure if my numbers are right, I have not touched the game in years, but they feel right, to be honest.  They are certainly playable and if anything a touch underpowered.

They would fit in nicely with my two witches in the Word of Darkness.

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.

Carmilla

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


Countess Mircalla Karnstein, aka "Carmilla"
Vampire

"Buckle up, creampuff."

Life Points: 63

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

Qualities
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)
Vampire

Drawbacks
Adversary (2, mother, various vampire hunters)
Bloodlust
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

Skills
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

Combat
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

Qualities
Attractiveness 1
Nerd

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

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

Skills
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

Combat
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!

Monday, October 16, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: Underworld: Blood Wars (2016)

I have now seen so many of these movies I am forgetting what is going on.  They are all beginning to bleed into the other.   Kate Beckinsale is back as Selene, hunter of both vampires and lycans.

The vampires are nearly wiped out and the lycans want Celene for her blood.
It is all a World of Darkness game gone WAY out of control.  But it is still fun and the special effects are still cool. 

There is a coven of Nordic pacifist Vampires (not sure how that happened) and plenty of actors filling in their off time from Game of Thrones.

I snark, but the film is fun. I gave up on the plot a few movies back.

To be honest, I really should do a marathon of all these films one year and watch them all with the same dedication I do Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings and see if I can't rediscover some of the excitement I once felt for them.

Note: I am way behind on posting these, so I am backdating to the nights I watched them.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Devil's Wedding Night (1973)

This was supposed to autopost. I am reposting it now.

The Devil's Wedding Night is an Italian horror film that combines Dracula, Satan, Elizabeth Báthory and the Ring of the Nibelungen all in a gothic mess.

Actually, the movie was entertaining. The idea of the Ring of Dracula = Ring of the Nibelungen is bit off, but the concept of Dracula's ring with a bit of his life essence has some merit.  I am sure we saw that in some Hammer film.  It certainly worked for the Master in Doctor Who and Sauron.

Again the poster has events not in the movie, but that is pretty common.

My RPG take-away from this is to give my next master vampire (Dracula, Strahd, Mal Havoc) a phylactery-like ring to bring them back.  My kids already have encountered Strahd so maybe that is a good one to go to.

This movie is also called "Full Moon of the Virgins". These do not appear till then of the movie in an elaborate sacrifice.

Note the trailer below is NSFW. But the worst part is the narration.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: Dracula 2000 (2000)

Not one of my favorite Draculas to be sure, but it is satisfying that I also got to finish a tape.

It's an interesting tale. Bringing Dracula into the modern age, trouble is that we have seen this story many times and many times it has been better.  The twist here is that "Dracula" is actually Judas.
The movie starts out ok, I like the idea of a quasi-immortal Van Helsing dealing in ancient arms.

Somewhere along the way through the movie falls apart for me.



Friday, October 6, 2017

October Horror Movie Challenge: Lair of the White Worm (1988)

On to my vampire tapes now.  I am not going to review all of these since I had done so many of these in past Challenges. But there are few that stand out.

Lair of the White Worm (1988) is one of those movies.  Rather infamous at the time and a lot of the same visuals from director Ken Russell that made Tommy (1975) so good.

The star of this is a deliciously sexy-evil Amanda Donohoe as the snake-vampire thing Lady Sylvia Marsh.  I read that the role had been offered to Tilda Swinton. Could you have imagined that? I think it would have been awesome. Of course watching it now it is a very young looking Peter Capaldi with a thick northern accent as archaeology student Angus Flint.

I know this is based on a Bram Stoker novella, but it's not a very good novella really.  I read it, gods, back in my university days.  Connor wanted to know why worms, dragons, snakes, and vampires were all getting blended together in this.  It's a good question really.





Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New Ritual: Reunification of Life

It's almost October and naturally, my thoughts turn to vampires.



A while back, many years now, I had a player who played a ranger (back in 2nd ed).  This ranger was later killed and turned into a vampire by no less than Strahd von Zarovich himself.  I thought that was the end of the character (the player had left school by then).   Years later I brought the character in as an NPC vampire. I wanted a vampire that had a backstory and some history as a human first.
At some point though near the end of my 3rd Edition game, I thought about bringing back this character as a recurring NPC.  Then something interesting happened. I got in contact with the original player via the then new thing called Facebook and I changed my mind.  I want to bring her back as a human now.

This got me started on an idea for a MacGuffin to bring a vampire back to full life.  We have seen things like this before in media. I know it happened on "Angel" and I am pretty sure it happened on "True Blood" and in other shows.  The one thing though they have all had in common is that to make it happen requires something really, really special.  Yes at this point someone will say "but what about 'Near Dark'?" well, I liked Near Dark, but that was the biggest problem I had with the movie.  It turned vampirism into a blood disease, and not even a very powerful one.  Plus don't you think if a blood transfusion could have fixed it then others would have done it already?

Also at this point, someone might bring up the spells "Raise Dead" or "True Resurrection".  We always ruled that these spells would kill any undead creature.  Clerics are known for two things in most editions of D&D; healing and turning undead.  Both are power investitures by divine agents.  So the ultimate expression of that power, the ability to bring the dead back to life, would follow the same logic and cause harm to the undead.   Plus in my games, we house ruled that it could not bring the dead back from undeath.  Vampirism is also a curse.

Now depending on your point of view the victim of vampirism has either lost their soul (the "Buffy" vampires) or their soul is trapped in their vampire bodies (the "Dracula" or "White Wolf" vampires).  Either way, the soul of the person is in peril.   (Consequently, this is also why I don't let Elves become vampires in my game; they have spirits, but not souls. Dark elves have connections to demons that allow them to become vampires.)

For this spell, I knew I wanted it to be difficult. So only the highest level spellcasters could cast it. I wanted it to be the magical equivalent of brain surgery.  So like surgery, it is not performed alone.

I also knew I wanted "three" to be a part of it.  Three is a magic number. Mind, Body, and Soul. Three types of magic; Arcane, Divine, and Occult/Witchcraft. And in many of my games three principal types of spellcasters.

Also known as "The Glorious Ritual of Reunification of Life, Soul, and Body by means Divine, Arcane, and Occult", but more commonly known as "Reunification of Life".

Reunification of Life
Level: Witch Ritual 8 (Magic-User 9, Cleric 7)
Ritual Requirements: At least 3 spellcasters; A witch, wizard, and cleric.
Range: One Vampire
Duration: Permanent
This ritual is a rare one, not just in terms of its availability, but also in its nature. The ritual is known to be part of the Malificus Necrologium (aka "The Book of Dead Witches ('dead witch names')").  Included in the ritual are the invocations needed to be made a witch, the evocations needed by a wizard and the prayers required of the cleric.  The ritual only details the means to restore a willing vampire to life, not an unwilling one.
As part of the ritual, the vampire must not partake in blood for three days prior to the ritual. This begins during the last nights of the new moon. In many cases, this will make the vampire difficult to control.  On the first night of the waxing crescent, the vampire must take a ritual bath in purified (but not sanctified) water.  Preferably this is from a natural spring. If the water is warmed from the earth, this is better.
On that night at Midnight, the ritual begins.
The vampire, wearing only a simple white linen robe lays on a simple wooden altar within a Thaumaturgic Triangle.  The points of the triangle face east, south and west in a deosil or sunwise orientation.  The cleric must stand at the East and begin their prayer.  The wizard must stand at the south and begin their casting. The witch stands at the west and begins her spell.
During the course of the night (6 hours of constant casting) the casters will respectively summon up Air to represent the Soul, Fire to represent the Life, and Earth to represent the renewal of Body.

During the night agents of evil will attempt to stop the ritual as the loss of a vampire is a great blow to the forces of the night.  For this reason, the ritual also suggests an outer circle of non-casters (referred to as "Cowans") to keep the evil at bay so the casting can continue uninterrupted.

If all goes well the spell end right before dawn as the light of a new day shines on the former vampire for the first time.

Many witches have noted that the optimal time for this spell is during the waxing crescent moon on the Summer solstice.

Alterations to ritual have been recorded.
At least one attempt was made on a mummy, but the spell failed. It was speculated that this was due to lack of internal organs, or due to the different relationship, the mummy has with the negative material plane or even the age of the mummy.
A spectre was successfully returned to life, but only after a Remove Curse had been cast on it.
The spell has not been tried on a lich since no lich has volunteered to be returned to life of their own free will.

In other cases, a druid was used instead of a cleric and a necromancer instead of a wizard.  Both times met with success, though some sages doubt these are accurate claims. 
Most of these claims are difficult to ascertain due to most copies of this ritual are currently missing.

This ritual should not be something that the PCs have easy access to. Nor should it be something they hear a rumor about and then pop over to a forgotten library to get.  There should be an epic quest to retrive the book (or books! maybe it was split into three by the forces of evil). This needs to be epic quest, "season finale" stuff.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Red, White and Blue Rose

June may have been "Blue Rose month" but I have so much more to say and do!

I am going to have a couple of upcoming "Plays Well With Others" coming up.  More details later, but here are some teasers.

First, something that was inspired by my old "Black Rose" game (Blue Rose + Ravenloft) and something that came to me in a flash on a recent run.  Something I am calling "Blood Red Rose".


Blue Rose + Vampire the Masquerade (2nd Edition).

Next is less of a Plays Well With Others and more of a "Campaign Model".
I give you my "White Rose"


Blue Rose + Swords & Wizardry White Box.

This is going to be great.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #150

Moving more forward in time to October 1989 and to one of my most favorite issues of all time, Dragon #150.  This issue was during the prime of the "themed issues" of Dragon magazine, where each month/issue had a theme.  October was always horror and always my favorite.  Plus this issue also features one of my all-time favorite bits of Larry Elmore cover art.
This issue had one of the articles that honestly had such far-reaching effects that I am STILL using ideas from it.   Issue #150 came out in 1989, and I am sure I picked it up right away. I would have been a Junior in university at that time.  I wasn't playing much since I was busy studying all the time, but I do know that I had at least a draft copy of the witch in text format on a floppy disk.

The Dragon's Bestiary is up first with a bunch of new mind-flayer related monsters from Stephen Inniss.   I remember reading this one over and over.  I really wanted to use these guys in my games and I still do.  I noticed while re-reading this recently that the monster stats are for 1st Edition, but the other parts of the magazine are fully 2nd edition.  This was the dawn of 2e and the magazine has a strong post-Gygax vibe about it.  This article though feels older, though there is also a pre-Dark Sun feel to it as well.  The article introduces the Illithidae, or natives of the same world of the Mind Flayers.  If we stick with the mythology they could have easily come in the starship from Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.  The monsters include the pack hunting Cessirids, the lone hunter and slow moving Embrac, the large Kigrids and the near-Illithid Saltors.  These monsters would later be updated to the Illithidae monsters for 3.5 in the Lords of Madness book.

Stephen Inniss follows this up with an article that is heavy on fluff, light on crunch and one that has stuck with me for years. The Sunset World deals with the world of the Mind Flayers.  The article is a long one and presented in the style of an academic symposium, which is likely what attracted me to it.
This article was the start of the idea of block out the sun as a plot device in my games.  I used it in the Dragon and the Phoenix for Buffy and currently in the Come Endless Darkness campaign for D&D 5.

Speaking of vampires and vampire slayers.  Fangs Alot! has the updated/corrected version of the Vampire listing for the 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium.  If you recall the vampire had the same material printed on both sides of the page, the difference only being the "western" and "eastern" vampire pictures.  This version has the proper second page in place.

The Well-Rounded Monster Hunter details some skills every investigator should have in Call of Cthulhu.  I always read these articles with great interest, looking for things I could port over to my then-current (but sadly dying) Ravenloft game.

The Role of Computers covers some video games. The late 80s were an interesting time for computers, I felt he had hit something of a golden age; computers were getting more powerful and cheap and yet there was still enough of a hacker mentality that kept these machines (mostly) in the hands of nerds adn geeks like me.  In many ways if you were a teen playing D&D in the 80s you grew up to be one of the people playing around with computers in the 90s and part of the Dot.Com boom in the late 90s.  It is interesting now, rereading this, to see all the variety of computers software was made for then.  I know in my own case back then I desperately wanted to see more games fro my own Tandy Color Computer 3.  Mock it if you like, but that little computer got me through my undergrad degree in psychology.  I would need the help of an "IBM PC-clone" to finish up my grad school degrees.  Still, it is neat seeing some of these games.  I bet many would run well  on my phone with an emulator.

I still love looking at all these ads.  I actual had sent off a SASE once upon a time to get my own character art. Never sent it back with my payment; never had the money to spare. I always wanted one though. Maybe that is one of the reasons I love getting art now.

John J. Terra has a great article for the FASA Trek RPG, A Final Frontier of Your Own.  Rereading now I am impressed how much of it still applies for LUG Trek and new Trek playtests.  Sitting at my kitchen table re-reading this I sketched out an idea for a game.  I want to run a Star Trek game called the "Daughters of Kahless".  It would be a group of dishonored Klingon Women in a broken down D6 cruiser trying to regain their honor and for the greater glory of the Klingon Empire.  I remember at the time I wanted to do the adventures of a ship propelled to the far ends of the Universe.  I guess that why I have such a love/hate relationship with Voyager. Love the idea, hated the exicution.

In another article by Dean Shomshak we have another CoC article, Unspeakable Secrets Made Easy. This details a number of magical texts.   No spells are listed, but plenty of background information.

More ads follow including the ads for the then new Monstrous Compendiums.  Vol. 1 was out (I picked mine up at a game store in Harrisburg, PA while on vacation) and Vol. 2 was on the way.  The ad though looks different than the binder I picked up and I always wondered if it was because I picked mine up from a different part of the country than I typically bought my Dragons.  Turns out nothing so interesting, just a mock-up for the ad.


It's hard to see, but there is a red border behind the images of the monsters.

Again, this was a great issue that brought back a lot of great memories.
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