Showing posts with label video. Show all posts
Showing posts with label video. Show all posts

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Ginny Di: Backstories don't have to be tragic to be interesting

Ginny Di
Let's take a quick break from Ravenloft to talk about something that will send many DM's screaming for the hills in horror.

Character backstories

Now, most old-school players will argue that 1st level characters don't need a backstory.  That would be fine and all, but I remember playing in the 80s. I have lost count of how many "disgraced princes," "lost royalty," or "tragic orphans" I ran into in games.  I get it, it was fantasy and a way to play out various ideas, concepts, whatever.  D&D was cheaper than therapy. I get it. I do.  And it is fine you don't want to do them now.

But don't pretend it didn't happen.

I have no issues with backstories.  In most of the RPGs I play a backstory is an excuse for the GM (me) to torture your character some more.  Have the Love quality/drawback in the Buffy RPG?  Yeah. Might want to rethink that one.  But I don't always have to do that.   

Our two primary modern examples of "The Hero with a Thousand Faces" by Joesph Campbell are Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter. By all accounts, they are 1st level characters.  Luke is a farm kid. Harry is an abused 11-year-old.  BOTH have great backstories.  "Yer a wizard Harry!" "My name is Luke." "Yer a Jedi Luke!"  But, yes, both are tragic backstories.  Take Campbell's own example of the Monomyth, Gilgamesh.  Gilgamesh is already the King when the story starts.  That's a backstory no one would accept!

Let's just say that there is going to be some sort of backstory.  How should you do it?

Well once again let's turn to Ginny Di.  

She might be new at D&D but her enthusiasm is greater and more infectious than a room full of Grogs blogging about it. Your humble author included.

Her recent video is overtly about one topic, but she actually makes two very good points here that pretty much everyone should agree with.

So her two major points are:

  1. Backstories don't need to be tragic or even dark
  2. Leave it open enough for your DM to work it into the campaign

That's solid advice. One I would like to hope that most Old-Schoolers follow already.

My oldest son has already instituted a "maximum" limit on what a backstory in his games are.  Right now I think it is a page, but he has talked about a paragraph.  Me? I don't care, make as long as you like just keep it in reason.

Ginny points out that characters, and this is true for every version of the game, are not normal people. A level 1 character is still better than a 0 level Normal Human.  They have more hp, are better at fighting or even have magic.  Even in Van Righten's Guide to Ravenloft, the Survivors are slightly better than normal humans.  Luke already was Force-sensitive, Harry could still do some minor magic and talk to snakes.  

Also, no normal person is going to live a life to go out adventuring.  So find those reasons.  Even if that reason is "I just want a pile of treasure." 

Taking Ginny's Advice

At the end of the video, she asks us two questions.  

Have you ever had a character with a happy backstory?
What kind of problems do you run into when writing character backstories?

These are good questions to ask.  

Happy Backstory?

Yes. My wizard Phygora, like his namesake and idol Phygor, came from a well to do, happy prosperous family in Glantri.  He was well-liked, no issues with school, loves, or friends. Just one day he decided, like Phygor before, him to travel the world to learn all the magic he could.  While this could have been tragic, it was symbolic of my own desires to learn all sorts of things.

I have had fighters and thieves that have "only it for the money" or as the kids say "the lolz."

Backstory Problems?

Sadly I do find the tragic backstory easier to write.  Larina's family died in their apothecary shop while she was away studying.  Though I recently brought her mother and father back. Johan's twin brother was killed by ghouls, then he died to become another's character's back story.  I have the usual suspects of orphans, outcasts and other murder hobos.  They far outweigh the happy stories.

Over the years though I have been looking at other ways to generate characters and backstories.

It occurred to me years (ok. decades) ago when sitting in my History of Psychology course.  We were going over Freud's theories of self and were contrasting them with later theorists. Now I have always preferred Jung over Freud.  I guess I am just Jung at heart! (sorry. That joke is mandated by my university, if I don't use it they take away my degrees.)

I am planning to expand on this, but I came to see many of my characters as representations of various Freudian and Jungian concepts.

The easiest one to show is Larina, she is a manifestation of my Jungian Anima/Shadow Self.  Phygora is my Freudian Super-Ego, Johan is my Ego and my assassin character represents my Id.  

I have always been curious if others have done this.

You can find Ginny Di online at:

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Morelia the Wood Witch for Basic Era D&D (BX/OSE)

I make no excuses for it, I like Ginny Di. She is great and is having more fun with D&D than a roomful of dudes my age.  She often has content I enjoy but this week she has given her viewers three more NPCs to adopt or adapt and I just couldn't say no.

So with her (implied) permission here is Morelia the Wood Witch.  She has accidentally overdid it on a love potion and now the whole village is madly in love with her.  She is very happy to see any new PCs, especially ones not from the village.  She will work out a deal with them. If they can bring back enough Pixie's Tongue (it's actually a type of plant) then she can brew up the antidote for everyone.  But you better hurry! Two fights for Morelia's hand have already broken out and things promise to get worse soon!


Morelia the Wood Witch

Ginny Di as Morelia the Wood Witch
8th Level Green Witch*, Elf, Lawful (Good)

Abilities
Strength: 12
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom:  13
Dexterity: 17
Constitution: 16
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Death or poison: 10
Wands: 12
Paralysis: 11
Breath Weapons: 14
Spells: 13

AC: 9
HP: 45
Age: 216
Gender: Female

Occult Powers

Familiar: Cremini, a white cat with shocking gold eyes.
3rd: Herbal Healing
7th: Speak to Plants and Animals

Spells
1st Level: Color Spray, Salving Rest. Consecrate Focus Item (Ritual)
2nd Level: Burning Gaze, Glitterdust, Bonds of Hospitality (Ritual)
3rd Level: Dance of Frogs, Summon Guardian of the Green (Ritual)
4th Level: Dryad's Door, Venus Glass

*The Green Witch Tradition from my Swords & Wizardry Green Witch book is perfect for her, but I also want this character to have access to some Pagan spells. Plus I want to use her as an NPC for BX/OSE, so she is a Pagan Green Witch.  Combine books and mix and match spells.  And given that hair I can't help but think there is a little Pumpkin Spice Witch in her as well!

Helping Morelia now in the adventure will pay off later.  Morelia knows about the Tredecium and what is going on with the Witch Queens.  She will be an invaluable source of information. That is if she can fix her love potion mishap.

ETA: Ginny has added some more about this lovely character on her World Anvil site

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Tasha Cosplay (Start of Tasha's Week of Everything)

You know I love my theme-Weeks.  On Tuesday we get the new "Tasha's Cauldron of Everything" from Wizards of the Coast featuring Tasha, aka Natasha the Dark aka Iggwilv.

So far we have learned that this book will be focusing on the younger Tasha. The girl who was adopted by Baba Yaga.  While I have always thought that Eva Green would make a fantastic Iggwilv, here is cosplayer, D&D streamer, and all-around cool gal Ginny Di cosplaying AS Tasha in a WotC sponsored shoot.

Her Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/p/CHdiPg0FUgb/ 

View this post on Instagram

"Tasha, in her brilliant curiosity, is untroubled by the various moral variations in the planes of existence." ⁠⠀ — Jeremy Crawford, Lead Rules Designer of "Tasha's Cauldron of Everything"⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ I couldn't resist my own little attempt at recreating the cover of the new @dndwizards sourcebook!! Mine has a completely different vibe, but I still love it. 💛⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ By the way, thank you to everyone congratulating me on the partnership with Wizards!! I couldn't believe it when they emailed me saying they wanted to sponsor a costume, and it has been such an incredible experience working with them on this project and seeing all these names I recognize complimenting the cosplay on Twitter 🙈 I'm so grateful for how the tabletop community has welcomed me over the last few years, and I can't wait for what the next few years hold!!⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ ✨ Tasha is from Dungeons & Dragons⁠⠀ ✨ Costume made & modeled by me⁠⠀ ✨ Watch the whole build on YouTube (link in bio!)⁠⠀ #TashasCoE #sponsored #tashascauldronofeverything #tashathewitch #tashacosplay #dnd #dungeonsanddragons #dndwizards #dndcosplay #dndcostume #witch #witchyvibes

A post shared by Ginny Di 📆 #Natural2021 (@itsginnydi) on


And her YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySRmaMYaV6I


This is just another example of what I love about the new gamers to D&D, they bring so much love and energy to their creations in and out of the game.

Let's hope the book lives up to all this hype. But even if it doesn't this has all still been great fun!

Friday, September 25, 2020

Shadow Week: Shadowfell and the Plane of Shadow (Videos)

Had some more I wanted to do today with the Shadowfell, the Plane of Shadow and Ravenloft.  BUT.  I have a bunch of exams to write today.  So going to phone this one in with some videos.  But there is a lot of good material in these, so worth sharing I think.


Take each of these with a grain of salt. While these are their interpretations of the topics they are not always the interpretations I have made.   For example, the jury is out on whether or not I consider Ravenloft to be part of my Shadowfell. Certainly, I can see the realm of Nightmares here.  








And if you want some ambient mood music here is this one.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

#RPGaDAY 2020: Day 29 Ride

Lost our Internet yesterday do to a neighborhood outage.

When it came back on finally I had day job stuff to finish.  So I am "phoning it in" today with my Ride post.  Though I am still doing the topic I wanted.

Today's post is "Why Do Witches Ride Brooms?"


Here a couple of videos to answer that question.

First up one that talks about in terms of the practice of witches and witchcraft.


Second, we have Greg Owens from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Utah, College of Science.


Maybe one day I'll work up an in-game reason for witches and brooms. 

Here is a bit of an episode of Charmed to help explain why the Warren Witches are depicted on brooms.  It is a little silly, but fun.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Friday Night Videos: Summer of 1985

I will remember to this one right!

So continuing with the music of the time when the BECMI sets were new here is some music from 1985!

I created this playlist last year to celebrate the start of Stranger Things Season 3. Which, truth be told, has done a lot to get people back into D&D.

So here are the songs from then.


Friday, June 5, 2020

Friday Night Videos: BECMI Special, Chart Action 83!

So June is BECMI Month and I am going to be doing some BECMI-flavored versions of regular features.

Since the Basic Set of BECMI came out in 1983 I thought it might be fun to pull out a play-list from 83.

But not just any play-list.
No, this one follows the line up of a cassette tape I bought back in 83, likely at the K-Mart.  I remember getting it because it was the only tape I could find with my then favorite song "Shock the Monkey" by Peter Gabriel.

Of course, I can only mean K-Tel's "Chart Action '83!"


Does it have anything at all to do with D&D or BECMI?
Not at all!  But it is what I was listening to then.

Here is the full cassette version playlist below.



What were you listening to in 83?

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Zatannurday: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

New Direct to Video DC Movie is hitting the "shelves" next week.
Of course, it has my attention.


Justice League Dark: Apokolips War deals with the Justice League deciding they need to stop Darkseid once and for all.


Among others, we are getting John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan again), Raven (Taissa Farmiga of AHS fame), Rosario Dawson as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, and Camilla Luddington as Zatanna Zatara (reprising her JLDark role) and more.

Yeah I guess Superman and Batman are in it too.

The big news though that this is supposedly the final film in the DCAU, or DC Animated Universe.
Did it fall prey to Crisis too?

I'll let you know next week.  I got my pre-order in.


IMDB, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11079148/
Amazon, https://smile.amazon.com/Justice-League-Dark-Apokolips-War/dp/B085DY6GY6

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

BlackStar: The Ambassador Class Heavy Cruiser

It's "shelter in place" time here in Illinois.  So I am spending my time playing D&D and CoC with my kids and doing research for my BlackStar game.


To that end, I am pouring over my Trek books, both sourcebooks, and RPGs, to find a nice mix.

Plus I am doing research on my favorite class of starship, The Ambassador Class.

https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/USS_Enterprise_(NCC-1701-C)
https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Ambassador_class

Up first a few "history of" and "technical specifications of" the Ambassador Class ship










This is a "walk through" but I think they got the size of the bridge wrong.




Star Trek Online takes the same "space" as Starfleet Battles for me.  Similar, but a separate timeline where there is more war.   Here is a player taking his Ambassador class "Support Ship" through some paces.



Enjoy the videos.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Zatannurday: DC All Star Games

Now here is something truly unexpected!

DC Universe wants to get in on the "Critical Role" action and do a live-action unscripted 5-part special with actors playing the 1980s DC Adventures RPG.



Here is the information for DC.
DC UNIVERSE Announces Original Unscripted Gaming Mini-Series
'DC UNIVERSE All Star Games'

Clare Grant, Vanessa Marshall, Sam Witwer and WWE’s Xavier Woods Join Freddie Prinze Jr. For Five-Part Role-Playing Game Adventure Set in The Classic 1980s Game DC HEROES

DC UNIVERSE has announced its first original unscripted gaming mini-series, DC UNIVERSE All Star Games. This new anthology series brings famous DC fans together to play a variety of games in the increasingly popular gaming show genre. Season One features a nostalgic role-playing adventure, The Breakfast League, from Executive Producers Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Sam Witwer. The first episode of the five-part series will premiere exclusively on the DC UNIVERSE digital subscription service on Friday, February 28.

DC HEROES, the famous post-crisis role-playing game, sets the stage for the first season in which Vanessa Marshall, Clare Grant and WWE superstar Xavier Woods also join as players. Set in the same 80s era as when the game was first published, the five participants role-play as a group of high schoolers stuck in Saturday detention. As they improv their way through a variety of situations familiar to fans of beloved movies from that time period, they soon discover their destinies as the world’s greatest super-heroes.

“DC Heroes was the first RPG I ever played as a kid. It was also my introduction to the DC Universe, its Heroes and, most importantly, its rich pool of villains.” said Prinze. “ I had a blast making this series and I hope all of you love it as much as I do.”

Directed by Jon Lee Brody and produced by Telepictures, “DC UNIVERSE All Star Games” is the first unscripted addition to DC UNIVERSE’s expanding original programming slate which includes “DCYou Unscripted” and “DC Daily.” New episodes will go live exclusively on DC UNIVERSE every Friday after the series premiere on February 28.

For more information on DC UNIVERSE and “DCU All Star Games” please visit dcuniverse.com and follow DC UNIVERSE on Facebook and Twitter.




This could be a lot of fun.

Join Freddie Prinze Jr (Buffy's Husband), Clare Grant (Oz's wife), Sam Witwer (multiple DC shows), and more. I am looking forward to this!


Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday Night Video: Crisis on Infinite Earths

Not music videos tonight but the trailers for The CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths five hour crossover that begins on Sunday.



It is no lie or exaggeration that Crisis. the comic. had a HUGE impact on me and my games.  We did our own Crisis of Infinite Oerths back in 1986-87 to bring all our various worlds into alignment.  I am doing something like it again with my Come Endless Darkness campaigns for 5e.

But this is a big one.

So what do we have?

Lots.








Even the fan-made videos look great!







I have been waiting for this since I was 16.

Friday, November 22, 2019

BlackStar: Trek Videos

Been pretty busy with work and various projects.  But I am looking forward to doing some Trek gaming sometime soon.
To prep for this, I am watching a LOT of Star Trek videos made by fans for ideas.

Here is one that has a lot of ideas for me.
Since my Mystic Class is an NX or experimental ship, I figure it would be good to see some other failed Trek experiments.




And since the Mystic class also has the potential to be the fastest ship in Trek, but maybe not the deadliest, this one caught my eye.




For years I have been fascinated with the idea of Star Trek Phase II.  I am seriously considering having Xon show up in my game in some way.



I also wanted to learn everything I could about the Ambassador Class starship and the Enterprise-C




Saturday, August 10, 2019

Zatannurday: Superhero Girls Ad Blockers

Lauren Faust's DC Super Hero Girls continues to entertain.

So when a new one comes out with Zatanna, well you know I am paying attention.

Zee and Oliver Queen have shows at different theaters the same night.  Yeah, that can't be good.


So I know I am not the target audience here, but I don't care. Lauren Faust is fantastic. This show is fun and I get a huge kick out of it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Hand Her A Sword

I just watched the best panel discussion on instilling confidence in girls through RPGs.  I was at PAX Unplugged here just recently and featured Satine Phoenix, BJ Hensley, Kate Welch, Dr. Megan Connell and moderated by Ethan Schoonover.

I could describe it, but it's just better to watch it.



I found many, many parallels in what they are talking about here and playing D&D with children with varying stages of Learning Disabilities.  As some of you may recall I was running games for a while at my kids' schools.  Pathfinder, D&D4 and D&D5.  My sons also have a couple groups they run.
So I have seen children on different levels of the autistic spectrum, children with full on ADHD and auditory processing disorders.  I have seen D&D help them focus, learn coping skills, time management skills and higher order organizational skills.

I keep thinking I really should apply my education and those Ph.D.s I worked on to this issue. But in truth I just love to see the kids play and learn.  I can leave this in the more than capable hands of Dr. Connell.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mighty MAGIC Protectors

 Magic in superhero comics is often a problematic issue. Magic in superhero RPGs is no less of one.
Often, most games solve this by saying magic replicates any power or that the power you have comes from magic instead of a mutation or accident or not having parents.

Mighty Protectors by +Jeff Dee and +Jack Herman uses the approach that magic can be used to replicate a power and you can use the Arsenal ability to bundle a bunch of powers together as a spell.

I mentioned this before using the examples of my own characters Witch Queen and Teen Witch as well as my versions of Willow and Tara.

+bk adams is a YouTuber that has been doing a number of videos about Mighty Protectors.  They are great to watch if you are new to the system and need some "real world" examples.

Here is his two-part series on the Arsenal ability and how to use it as a spell book.





He has even put up his Spell Book spreadsheet for you to use.

I wanted to post something similar here, but frankly, he does such a good job there is no need for me to go over it more.   I do have a Spellbook I am working on that will also let me build spells from abilities.  I will combine some ideas from his as well.

This puts me in the mood to run some more Supers games in 2018!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Uncle Matt's D&D Studio, Part 2 Adventure Design

Whole family was sick over the weekend so no gaming.
But part 2 of my interview with +Matt Finch is up over at Uncle Matt's D&D Studio.

In this one we discuss adventure design.  I talk about my three different D&D games, developing adventures for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Ghosts of Albion and where do I get ideas.



Enjoy and don't forget to subscribe to his Youtube channel!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Zatannurday: Zatanna in Justice League Dark

Zatannurday? Twice in a row?
What sort of magic is this?

Last week (but not in time for last Zatannurday) I watched the new Justice League Dark movie.

Here's a somewhat spoilery clip of just how much of a bad-ass Zatanna really is.



You almost feel bad for Felix Faust....almost.

No. I have not played this backwards yet to see what she is saying.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Zatannurday: Justice League Dark Animated

Justice League Dark is coming to video!

Matt Ryan as Constantine. Zatanna, Swamp Thing, Deadman, The Demon and ... Batman? Ok.  That is still cool.

Check out the video sneak peak.





SO looking forward to this one!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Zatannurday: Justice League Movie

In case you have been living in a bunker in Mojave, here is the trailer for the newest movie in the DC Cinematic Universe.

I think it looks great.  First up the sneak peek.



I am going to say....dream sequence or Bruce worrying about a future where Superman has gone rogue, but not something that actually happens.

Now the trailer.  There is more than just a little bit of fan service in this.


So I am going to call it. Ben Affleck is going to rock as Batman.  He already seems to have Bruce Wayne down and his voice is not Christian Bale's gargling with battery acid and gravel voice.

But seriously.  Let's take a moment and marvel how FREAKING AWESOME Gal Gadot is looking as Wonder Woman.   I am even enjoying Jesse Eisenberg as Lex.  I LOVE Bruce's reaction when he says "Lex"...he has nothing but contempt for him.

And....Doomsday.

Yeah.

Is it 2016 yet?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Tales from the Floating Vagabond...sorta

Back in the early 90s "Tales from the Floating Vagabond" was the game that people most wanted to play in my neck of the woods.  I knew a guy who had playtested it and could ramble of adventure ideas with the best of them.

This is not a post about that game.

This is a post about a place very, very, very much like the Floating Vagabond.

I present, "Hell's Club".



Think of it as Rifts: Disco.