Showing posts sorted by relevance for query blight. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query blight. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

New Spells for the Deathwitch and Mara Witch Tradition

The Little Book of Adventuring Classes Vol. 1 was just released by Jason Paul McCartan.  It is for Swords & Wizardry but can be easily adapted to other games.  I will get a review out on it soon, but I want to wait on reading it since it has a class and race very similar to something my son and I have been working on and I don't want any undue influence.
(spoiler, what I have read is great and worth every penny!)

But the one class I did read was the Deathwitch. She also appears to be the cover girl of this book, so it has my attention. Also, the book was released on Walpurgis Night so many kudos to Jason for planning ahead.   

The deathwitch fills the same niche as my Mara witch Tradition.  They share enough similarities that ideas can used for one or the other almost equally, but both still retain their uniqueness. 

Both witches have very strong associations to death and the undead.  The deathwitch maybe a little more so.

I was already working on a big spell-related project and as it turns out necromancy spells really don't fit in well to it.   They do however fit in well here.

So here are some spells for both the Deathwitch and the Mara.  All are 100% open content.
(email me for a full section 15 if you want to reuse any.)

"Witch" refers to both the deathwitch, the Mara tradition of my witch class or a warlock
Note: Mara Witches, and other witches from The Witch, require material components. Deathwitch and warlocks do not.

Black Fire
Level: Witch 1
Range: 15’
Duration: 1 hour + 10 minutes per level
This spell allows the witch to create an immobile source of heat with black fire, emitting no light but providing warmth equivalent to a small campfire in a 10-ft. radius.  The fire is a diffuse source of heat that is not sufficiently focused to ignite combustible materials.  It can be used to slowly cook meals or boil water, although doing so always requires double the amount of time required with a normal campfire.  The flames are uncomfortable to the touch, but they will not cause any burn damage.  They can be extinguished in the same manner as a normal fire. 
Material Components: A piece of lampblack and a 1-lb lump of coal. 

Blight Growth
Level: Witch 1
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 week
This spell can be used in three ways.
Blight Garden - Growth is decreased by 20% during the duration of the spell When used on a natural garden, it will produce 20% less food.  This can be used to affect gardens up to 10 square feet per caster level. 
Blight Body - If cast on a living creature, they will recover one less hit point for each full night of rest.  
Blight Mother - This spell can also be used to decrease the chances of a woman getting pregnant, though it’s up to the GM to decide exactly how it’s affected.
Material Components: A drop of fetid water.

Bone Cage
Level: Witch 4
Range: Any 25' radius the witch can see and is within 100'
Duration: 1 round per level 
This spell is favored by evil witches, warlocks, and necromancers.  Upon uttering the command a cage of bones will erupt from the ground and trap up to 5 man-sized creatures in a 25’ radius.
The material component for this spell is a bone of a man that died in captivity.

Command Undead
Level: Witch Ritual 1, Deathwitch 2
Range: Undead within Sight
Duration: Instant
This spells summons the divine power of the Witch’s patron and gives her the ability to affect undead as if she were a cleric one level lower. This special ritual requires only one witch, but she must use a specially consecrated altar item such as her athamé or pentacle. 
If she is joined in the spell by another witch or a like-minded cleric then she can add one effective level for each additional participant.
Material Components: A concencrated athamé or pentacle.

Death Armor
Level:  Witch 2
Range: Self
Duration: 1 round per level
This spell causes the witch’s skin to become highly acidic.  Anyone touching the witch’s skin, via an unarmed attack or otherwise, receives 2d6 points of Acid damage (save for half).  The witch can make a touch attack with this spell.
Material Components: 100 gp worth of special creams, which must be rubbed over the witch’s arms.

Feel My Pain
Level: Witch 1
Range: 50’
Duration: Instantaneous
The witch transfers pain and damage to another target in line of sight.  She invokes the spell and either cuts herself or causes damage in some way, such as putting her hand in a torch fire.  She takes 1 hp of damage (regardless of how much would have been dealt normally) and she turns and magnifies that on her target causing 1d6 points of damage.
Material Components: The material components for this spell are the witch's boline or dagger or whatever she uses to cause herself pain.

Ghostly Slashing
Level: Witch 1
Range: 25’ + 5’ per 2 levels
Duration: Instantaneous
This spell creates what seems like a ghostly attacker that attacks the target.  In fact, the spell only causes an open wound on a person.  This spell deals 1d4 slashing damage +1 per level (max +20).  The placement of the wound is random.  This spell has no effect on the Undead or construct creatures like golems.
Material Components: A small flake of any kind of metal.

Hecate’s Spiritual Dog
Level: Witch 1
Range: 10’ per level
Duration: Special
This spell summons the spirit of a dead dog to act as the necromancer wishes for the duration of the spell.  The dog has one Hit Die for every odd level the caster has (1 HD for levels 1 and 2, 2 HD for levels 3 and 4, etc.) to a maximum of 5 HD. 
A non-combative dog is useful mostly for warning and will vanish after one warning or 1d4 hours + 10 minutes per level, whichever comes first.  A combative dog fights as a dog with Hit Dice as generated by the summoning and lasts until killed or 1d4 rounds + 1 round per level.  Both have an Armor Class in inverse proportion to caster level up to level 10 (level 1, AC 9. level 2, AC 9, … level 10, AC 0).  Past level 10, the dogs have AC 0. 
Material Components: The witch’s Athamé, dog fur (for a non-combative dog) or a dog tooth (for a combative dog).

Mimic
Level: Witch 2
Range: the Witch herself
Duration: 1 hour
The witch uses this spell to mimic any voice she has heard.  She can’t use any of the languages spoken by the voice unless she knows them as well, but can mimic the voice perfectly.  A saving throw (modified by Wisdom bonus) allows a victim to notice the truth.
Material Components: The witch brings her hands to her mouth.

Shadow Monsters
Level: Witch 4
Range: 30’
Duration: 1 round/level
The witch may create phantasmal pseudo-real monsters in an area of 20’. The monster or monsters created cannot exceed the witch’s level in HD. Monsters created in this fashion must all be the same type. They have 2 HP per the creature’s normal HD. Victims are allowed a Wisdom check to realize the creatures are only partly real. The phantasmal monsters are able to attack and deal damage as per a normal creature of their type to any being that fails this check. If the check succeeds, the phantasmal monsters damage is halved. 
Material Components: The witch makes a shadow of a monster with her hands while casting the spell.

Skull Guard
Level: Witch 3
Range: One Skull
Duration: Until sunrise (8 hours)
The witch casts this spell on a normal skull and sets it out to guard at night. Any creature that approaches the skull causes it to glow. If a creature moves past it closer to the witch it will begin to cackle, howl or otherwise make a noise to awaken the witch.  The noise is magical and will always wake the witch. The witch can enchant one skull for every 2 levels.
Material Components: A skull, preferably of a hanged man.  If the witch plans on casting for multiple skulls then she will need those skulls as well.  The skulls are not consumed in the casting. 

Tears of the Banshee
Level: Witch 4
Range: 100’ + 10’ per level)
Duration: 1 minute + 1 minute per level
This spell calls a thick green mist to roll forth from the earth, completely obscuring darkvision/infravision and reducing regular vision up to 5 feet.  All those within the mist are shielded and are at a -5 to hit. Furthermore, those within the area of effect must make a saving throw (fear-based) or be scared by the eerie qualities of the fog, as strange sounds such as wailing, laughter and screaming persist for the duration of the spell.  Affected creatures suffer a –2 to all attacks and saves, but do not have to flee as if they were panicked.
Material Components: Water from a bog where a childless woman has killed herself.

Waves of Fatigue
Level: Witch 5
Range: 30’
Duration: Instantaneous
The witch sweeps her arms in a long arc and a wave of negative energy renders all living creatures in the spell’s area fatigued.  Fatigued characters can’t run and they take a -2 penalty on any Strength and Dexterity rolls (including attacks and damage).  Fatigued characters require 8 hours of rest.
This spell has no effect on a creature that is already fatigued. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Ghosts of Albion at GenCon Indy

Ghosts of Albion: Blight and Obsession



My games have been accepted for GenCon Indy and I will soon give you all dates and times for the Ghosts of Albion games I will be running. I am running "Blight" and "Obsession". I ran Blight at GenCon last year to a couple of small crowds and it went great. So if you played it last year, then this the same adventure. Obsession is one I ran at a mini-Unisystem con I did in Chicago a couple of years ago. I ran that for one group.
Blight is good if you love Irish myth. Obsession is a bit more adult in themes.

More details when I have them myself.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Dark Druid

Something different today for the YAM Magazine LBGT Blogathon.  Today, not a character so much as characters  and an adventure.  I wanted to repost a link to the first ever Buffy adventure I ever wrote; updated to feature Willow & Tara more prominently.  Also updated with a new download link.
Originally posted here in 2010.


The Dark Druid: The Director's Cut



A bit of history.  Back in 2002 Eden was getting ready to release their newest game, The Buffy the Vampire Slayer game.  As you may know, I had already been playing a Willow/Tara focused WitchCraft game for about a year, so I was pretty excited by this.  Well I got asked by Eden to write the first Buffy adventure that would appear in "Games Unplugged" along with an interview with C.J. Carella talking about the game.

I took an idea I had been working on for my other game (tentatively called "All Soul's Night") and thus the Dark Druid was born.

I had been reading a ton of Irish myths then.  Among those were the stories of Fionn MacCumhaill ("Finn MacCool") and his foster mothers Bodhmal and Liath.  It occurred to me that Liath and Bodhmal were lovers, and to tie it more directly to my work in Buffy, they were reincarnated later on into the form of Willow and Tara.   Since that time anytime I read a story about Fionn MacCumhaill I can't help but read Bodhmal and Liath as lovers.

The original featured, rather prominently, Willow and Tara, as to be expected.  I had to make some changes to make it playable for others and to make it an "intro" or season opener type episode.  The plot dealt with an enemy from the Cast's past as a portent to greater evil in the future.  It was designed to be a opening episode of the season, but one that may or may not be directly related to the seasonal arc.  We were going to use this i n part of the great "Djinn" story, but that never happened.

Fast forward a few years and I was finishing up work on Ghosts of Albion and another adventure that sprang from "All Soul's Night" called "Blight" (which I have played at Gen Con before).  I felt it was time to bring back the Dark Druid and restore it to the mythology that I had created in my games.  Now you can have it too.  So it became a Prequel or an Episode 0 for my huge Willow & Tara series, The Dragon and the Phoenix.  This adventure and the Dragon adventures were designed to feature Willow and Tara.  My players were extremely pissed off at Tara being killed, so this was our way of getting our own way.

I updated it not only to fit better with my world-myths, and with some of the work I did on Ghosts of Albion and the adventure Blight.  In fact you can run Blight and The Dark Druid as co-adventures, separated by time.

The story is rather direct and linear.  This was partly due to the nature of the story and what is was supposed to do (introduce new players to the game) and part of just me writing for the Buffy game for the first time.  I have opted not to change that here, despite nearly 10 years of Cinematic Unisystem adventure writing since then.  It is supposed to be a quick, fun little adventure dealing with past lives.

The episode was well received and even has a bit on Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffyverse_role-playing_games#Adventures

It was the first. The start of a series of adventures that led me personally down a crazy path.  It's hard to gauge the effect it has had, it was so fundamental.  From this point my writing increased maybe a 100 or 500 fold.  Hard to say really.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Dragon and the Phoenix: The Dark Druid

A Gen Con treat for those of you who can't make it to the "Best Four Days in Gaming".

The Dark Druid: The Director's Cut




A bit of history.  Back in 2002 Eden was getting ready to release their newest game, The Buffy the Vampire Slayer game.  As you know, I had already been playing a Willow/Tara focused WitchCraft game for about a year, so I was pretty excited by this.  Well I got asked by Eden to write the first Buffy adventure that would appear in "Games Unplugged" along with an interview with C.J. Carella talking about the game.
I took an idea I had been working on for my other game (tentatively called "All Soul's Night") and thus the Dark Druid was born.

The original featured, rather prominently, Willow and Tara, as to be expected.  I had to make some changes to make it playable for others and to make it an "intro" or season opener type episode.  The plot dealt with an enemy from the Cast's past as a portent to greater evil in the future.  It was designed to be a opening episode of the season, but one that may or may not be directly related to the seasonal arc.  We were going to use this i n part of the great "Djinn" story, but that never happened.

Fast forward a few years and I was finishing up work on Ghosts of Albion and another adventure that sprang from "All Soul's Night" called "Blight" (which I have played at Gen Con before).  I felt it was time to bring back the Dark Druid and restore it to the mythology that I had created in my games.  Now you can have it too.

I updated it not only to fit better with my world-myths, and with some of the work I did on Ghosts of Albion and the adventure Blight.  In fact you can run Blight and The Dark Druid as co-adventures, separated by time.

The story is rather direct and linear.  This was partly due to the nature of the story and what is was supposed to do (introduce new players to the game) and part of just me writing for the Buffy game for the first time.  I have opted not to change that here, despite nearly 8 years of Cinematic Unisystem adventure writing since then.  It is supposed to be a quick, fun little adventure dealing with past lives.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

I have been wanting to stat up some of the classic witches of the D&D game and one of the ones I had forgotten about was Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens, from Return to White Plume Mountain for 2nd ed and Outside the Moutain for 3rd ed.

For 2nd ed she is depicted as a 12 HD hag.  For 3rd Ed she is a CR 12 green hag wizard.

But we all know what class she should be.

I want to try out her out using my Basic Witch class, but I also think I really need to also stat her out as one of +Jonathan Becker 's The Complete B/X Adventurer Witches (his blog IS B/X Blackrazor afterall) and Sage of Greyhawk, +Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep Darker Paths Witch class.

All will do a good job in representing this sort of witch.

According to the 2nd Edition "Return to White Plume Mountain" she is:

Thingizzard
AC -2 (natural hide and Dex bonus); Mv 12, swim 12; HD 12; hp 80; THACO 9 (3 with Wave and Str bonus); #AT 3/2 (Wave); Dmg ld10+9; MR 25%; SZ M (5’ tall); ML fanatic (17); Str 18/00, Dex 17, Con 19, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 12; AL NE; XP 7,000.

Special Abilities: full movement rate through quicksand and swamp; brew any potion.
Spell-like Abilities (at 12th level): l/day-animate dead, call lightning, control weather, curse, dream, forcecage, mind blank, polymorph other, polymorph self, veil, vision.
Special Equipment: five potions of extra-healing, potion of gaseous form, potion of super-heroism.

These stats also assume she has Wave.

I think for the sake of building and good comparison, I am going to make her a 13th level witch in all cases.  Also in each case I am going to swap what her highest ability should be. So for my witch it will be Charisma.  Wisdom for the Darker Paths Witch. Intelligence and Wisdom are the primes for the Complete B/X Adventurer Witch, but I think I'll give her the higher Intelligence here to balance it out.

Of course in the original, she is a hag.  So in these versions I will keep that by keeping her really high physical stats.

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

Basic Era Witch
13th Level Hag (Faerie) Tradition

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 12
Charisma 15

hp: 63
THAC0: 16

Death Ray: 9
Magic Wands: 10
Paralysis, Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs, Spells: 11

Occult Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Potions
Lesser: Speak with Animals/Plants
Minor: Fey Shape

Spells
Cantrips: (4) Alarm Ward, False Glamour, Mote of Light, Object Reading
First: (4+2) Blight Growth, Burning Hands, Detect Invisible, Endure Elements, Hold Winds, Sour Stomach
Second: (4+1) Discord, Evil Eye, Fever, Nausea, Scare
Third: (3) Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Toad Mind
Forth: (3) Confusion, Polymorph, Vomit
Fifth: (2) Animate Dead, Dream
Sixth: (2) Control Weather, True Seeing
Seventh: (1) Greater Arcane Eye

Darker Paths 2: The Witch by +Joseph Bloch
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 15
Charisma 12

hp: 72
THAC0: 12

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons
Bell, Book and Candle
Create Magic Items

Spells
First: (5) Charm Person, Predict Weather, Taunt, Witch Shot, Wither
Second: (5) Blight Field, Change Self, Charm Monster, Misfortune, Precipitation
Third: (4) Bestow Curse, Control Winds, Fear, Insect Swarm
Forth: (4) Jealousy, Polymorph Self, Prophecy, Sleep
Fifth: (4) Breath Poison, Control Weather, Polymorph Other, Season of the Witch
Sixth: (3) Blink, Cackle, Magic Cauldron
Seventh*: (3) Call Lightning, Death Curse, Great Rite

*Ok, she should not get seventh level spells due to her wisdom, but hey, my character.

The Complete B/X Adventurer by +Jonathan Becker
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 14
Charisma 12

hp: 65
THAC0:

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons and magical Potions
Bind Wounds
Book of Shadows

Spells
First: Hex, Light, Resist Elements, Speak with Animals
Second: Dreams, Fog, Locate Object
Third: Call Animals, Hoodoo, Object Reading, Quagmire
Forth: Mind Jab, Polymorph Others, Polymorph Self, Tarantella
Fifth: Control Weather, Greater Hoodoo, Insect Plague, Visions

I am hard pressed to say which witch I like better for her.  All three have something essentially "Thingizzard" about her.  Each witch has some spells that are particularly nice for her.

I will have to come back to this and see about doing 5e version once Tales from the Yawning Portal is released next month.

Bonus Question: How do you pronounce her name? I am partial to "Thing-iz-zard" myself, but "Thin Gizzard" also has a nice swampy feel to it.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Haunted House

I have always had this reoccurring nightmare of haunted house.
I love horror of course but this dream was quite the horror story.

Over the years I come to call it my "Very Haunted House".

Of course I had to turn it into adventure.  So I am running it for the first time tomorrow!

Here are some musical inspiration for the adventure.  No. I am not going to play Ghostbusters or Thriller.

I have mentioned many times about how much I enjoy the music of Eric Burdon and the Animals.  "House of the Rising Sun" is top of my list of not just Animals songs, but all songs.  I have featured it many times in many adventures.




Back in High School and College Genesis was a big deal.  Not the Peter Gabriel version, but the later pop friendly Phil Collins version.  "Home By the Sea" is about a house full of ghosts.  It maid it's way into "Ghosts of Albion: Blight" and now in my new adventure too.




Growing up in the midwest in the 80s it was not possible to turn on the radio and not hear the Eagles.  "Hotel California" is not their best song. It's not even a great song. But it is ubiquitous and it is evocative of Hell.  Thus it always stuck with me.




Too Much Joy was the ultimate College band when I was in Grad School.  They are fun, they sing about things that college guys like, namely drinking, girls, drugs and girls.  "Sort of Haunted House" is not a song about a real haunted house. It's about a breakup, but when I was having this nightmare this was the song that was always on.  BTW I am sure the nightmare was stress related due to defending my thesis, breaking up with my crazy ex girl friend, moving up with my new girlfriend.  So in a way it fits.  Plus like my haunted house this one has a "ghost in every room".  One of many great hits of the critically ignored Munity.




I don't have a lot to say about Rockwell.  His "Somebody's Watching Me" makes for a crazy paranoid one hit wonder.  Notable because Michael Jackson sang backup on the track.  But the video is properly creepy and that's a plus.




"Shadows of the Night" by Pat Benatar from her wildly popular Get Nervous album is not about ghosts.  But don't tell that to my 12 year old self listening to it while rereading the Cook/Marsh Expert book.  Shadows of the night were real shadows, as in the monster that could be turned in AD&D but not in D&D.  For years I have always wanted to use this song.  So this adventure reintroduces a similar monster, the Memento Mori.




Another song that featured prominently in Ghosts of Albion: Blight is the ethereal voice of Loreena McKennitt.  "The Old Ways" features a woman and her evening spent with a ghost, or maybe it was an old druid.  Either way a gulf of time separates them.  From the haunting The Visit.




Happy Hauntings.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Across The Sea of Years

A dual stated adventure across Time and Space for.... well that is what I don't know yet.

I have always toyed with the idea of running a game at a con, say like Gen Con where I have multiple days, where it is the same group of characters, or their reincarnations or their children, across time and different systems.   My systems of choice would be Unisystem and some flavor of D&D.  Likely Basic.

I have done similar ideas in Season of the Witch, where I took in ideas from different games to get a different feel.  Generation HEX was conceived as using a different system each game, but that never worked out.

This idea though is two plan a game that takes place in the past, present and maybe future.  Each game is seperate unto itself, but builds a bigger story.

One idea I had was a adventure named "Synchronicity" where characters from Ghosts of Albion meet up with their counterparts from Buffy.  But that is only one, albeit long, game. Plus the system for Ghosts and Buffy is the same.

Another game I have played before is Blight for Ghosts of Albion.  It takes place in 1847 and is an unofficial sequel to my Dark Druid for Buffy (that takes place in an alternate 2001). There is a third adventure in the mix, All Souls Night, which was always designed to go with my Eire game.
I would retool Blight just a bit.  But the Dark Druid is designed for new characters, so the big bad introduced is not all that big and bad.  It works though if I run them in something like a past life regression.

The other idea I had was an adventure around the rise and fall of Elizabeth Bathory.
D&D for when she was alive and you have to stop her (though to be 100% fair, an adventure like that screams LotFP), Ghosts of Albion when she is prowling the streets of Victorian London, and something else (Call of Cthulhu maybe) for later.

I have also over the years toyed with the idea of Doctor Who, Star Frontiers, and Alternity (yeah I have been thinking about this one for a while) for the future.  I think the idea came to me when I wanted to run a hunt Jack the Ripper and I thought back to the old Star Trek episode "A Wolf in the Fold" and to the movie "Time After Time".  Jack the Ripper is still an interesting idea. A time traveling serial killer/entity could make a fun opponent.

Lots of ideas really, but nothing has really jelled yet for me.  Once I have the right story idea and roll for the characters then the system will be easier to decide on.

Anyone done anything like this before?  What did you do and what did you use?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Game Day and Blight

Game Day Chicago went fantastic yesterday!
I had a good group to play Blight and I thought it went really well.

Today is D&D4 and then it is 1 month till Gen Con!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Various reminders

Spent all day in 104+ weather outside.  My brain is cooked.

Here are some things I want you all to remind me about later cause they were in my clipboard so they must be important.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_%26_Dragons_simulacrums
Need some more information on Swords & Wizardry.  Anyone have some details I can use?

http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/325572-chicago-gameday-32-july-14th-sign-up-play.html
I'd love to have some more people sign up for this.  It's the last time I am running Blight.

http://elflairgames.blogspot.com/2012/07/contemplating-kickstarter.html
Jason has a poll up.  Give it a look-see.

Next weekend I run Ghosts of Albion: Blight om Saturday and Part two of Keep on the Shadowfell on Sunday.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tales of Woe

It is a sad day here at The Other Side.

My hard drive died a couple weeks ago.  Normally this is a cause for panic, but I didn't because having been doing this for a while I thought I had everything backed up.  Well.  I didn't.

I didn't lose any of my PDFs save for maybe the most recent ones I bought since May, but I can always go back to DriveThruRPG and re-download those.  My current OSR/Old-School books were in the hands of editors, so they were saved.

I did though loose all my documents for my Ghosts of Albion adventures Blight, Obsession, Wilderness and Synchronicity.  I have printout of Blight and Obsession, so that isn't too bad.  And I lost all my personal emails from 2011-2012.

Figuring it was the circuit board (given the errors I was getting) I worked with a company that specialized in this brand of hard drive (Seagate Barracuda) called PCB Solution.

I worked with Kevin to find a new board for this drive and in truth my hopes were high, even if he felt (and he did tell all this upfront) that my drive might be further gone that I thought it was.  Undaunted I picked up their repair kit and got it in a couple of days.  It easy easy to do as long as you have no fear of cranking open your computer or drives.  I got it in installed and slapped it into a new external drive enclosure and ... nothing.

I worked on a few other tricks I have picked over the years.  Back in the day I ran the official usenet alt.sys.pc-clone.gatewat2000 FAQ, so I consider myself a bit smarter than the average bear in this respect.  But if there is one thing I have learned, there is always someone smarter.  And it will take someone smarter than me to fix this one.

Here is what I have learned (and should known already):

1. It doesn't matter how much you back up.  Back up more.
2. Stop buying Seagate drives.  Every single one has died on me and took much valued data with it.

So that is what I know.

I do want to publicly thank Kevin at PCB Solution.  He really went above and beyond the call of duty to help me.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

EN World Game Day Chicago 32

Once again I am going to be running a game at EN World Game Day Chicago!

I'll be running Ghosts of Albion: Blight. I have had requests to run this one, so here it is for what might be the last time.  Working on some new adventures.

Here is the blurb for the game:

Ghosts of Albion: Blight
Ireland is dying. 
Her Protector has been murdered and you are the primary suspects. Can you clear your name, regain your magic and stop whatever necromancies befoul the land? Time is short, yours and one million lives hang in the balance. Set in 1847 this is an adventure for the Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Game System: Cinematic Unisystem
Rules Edition: Ghosts of Albion
Players: Minimum 5-6, Max 8.
Minimum Age: Teen (13+) (PG for some violence, and problem solving)
Experience Required: None (never played before), some knowledge of "Ghosts of Albion" is helpful.
Materials Provided: Yes, materials are provided for this game. You do not need to bring your own.  One d10 is needed.

There is a sign-up thread over at EN World, http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/324478-chicago-gameday-32-event-planning.html

I have an afternoon slot 3:30pm to 8:30pm on Saturday, July 14 at Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL.
You can read more about Chicago Game Day here, http://gameday.buzzmo.com/faq/

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 12, 2012

EN World Game Day Chicago

I am going to be running a game at EN World Game Day Chicago!

I'll be running Ghosts of Albion: Blight. Seems appropriate given that Game Day this year in March 17.

Here is the blurb for the game:


Ghosts of Albion: Blight
Ireland is dying. 
Her Protector has been murdered and you are the primary suspects. Can you clear your name, regain your magic and stop whatever necromancies befoul the land? Time is short, yours and one million lives hang in the balance. Set in 1847 this is an adventure for the Ghosts of Albion RPG.

Game System: Cinematic Unisystem
Rules Edition: Ghosts of Albion
Players: Minimum 5, Max 8.
Minimum Age: Teen (13+) (PG for some violence, and problem solving)
Experience Required: None (never played before), some knowledge of "Ghosts of Albion" is helpful.
Materials Provided: Yes, materials are provided for this game. You do not need to bring your own.  One d10 is needed.

There is a sign-up thread over at EN World, http://www.enworld.org/forum/general-rpg-discussion/319338-chicago-gameday-31-3-17-sign-up-play.html

I have an afternoon slot 3:30pm to 8:30pm on Saturday, March 17 at Games Plus in Mount Prospect, IL.

Hope to see you there.
If you let me know that you found out about this by reading my blog then your character will get a free drama point!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Skylanders Hex for Pathfinder

So we have been playing Skylanders a lot recently.  My little witch Hex is now 5th level.  Not to bad really.
To celebrate here she is in her Pathfinder Witch version.

You can read the background and see my 4e stats of her here.

I don't have my books with me, so I took some artistic license with how she is presented here.  So instead of the floating skull familiar I gave her a bat.  I am just going to say it is a skull with wings.


Hex HEX    CR 4
Female Drow Witch 5
CN Medium Humanoid (Elf)
Init -1; Senses Darkvision (120 feet), Low-Light Vision; Perception +7

DEFENSE

AC 9, touch 9, flat-footed 9   (-1 Dex)
hp 23 (5d6)
Fort +1, Ref +0, Will +5
Immune sleep; Resist Elven Immunities; SR 11
Weakness Light Blindness

OFFENSE

Spd 30 ft.
Melee Unarmed Strike +2 (1d3/20/x2)
Special Attacks Blight (DC 16), Misfortune (DC 16)
Spell-Like Abilities Dancing Lights (1/day), Darkness (1/day), Faerie Fire (1/day)
Witch Spells Known (CL 5, 2 melee touch, 1 ranged touch):
3 (2/day) Bestow Curse (DC 17), Pain Strike (DC 17)
2 (3/day) Scare (DC 16), Death Knell (DC 16), Glide (DC 16)
1 (4/day) Chill Touch (DC 15), Cause Fear (DC 15), Mage Armor (DC 15), Ray of Enfeeblement (DC 15)
0 (at will) Touch of Fatigue (DC 14), Dancing Lights, Daze (DC 14), Bleed (DC 14)

STATISTICS

Str 10, Dex 9, Con 10, Int 19, Wis 13, Cha 12
Base Atk +2; CMB +2; CMD 11
Feats Alertness, Arcane Talent: Daze (3/day), Ectoplasmic Spell
Traits Focused Mind, Scholar of the Great Beyond: Knowledge (History)
Skills Bluff +2, Diplomacy +2, Fly +3, Heal +6, Intimidate +9, Knowledge (Arcana) +12, Knowledge (Dungeoneering) +9, Knowledge (History) +11, Perception +7, Sense Motive +4, Spellcraft +12, Stealth +1, Survival +2
Languages Abyssal, Common, Draconic, Drow Sign Language, Elven, Undercommon
SQ +3 to Fly checks, Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar (Su), Empathic Link with Familiar (Su), Poison Use (Ex), Share Spells with Familiar, Speak With Familiar (Ex), Ward +2 (Su)
Other Gear Staff of Necromancy

SPECIAL ABILITIES

+3 to Fly checks You gain the Alertness feat while your familiar is within arm's reach.
Arcane Talent: Daze (3/day) You gain a chosen spell as a spell-like ability, 3/day.
Blight (DC 16) (Su) Curse animals, plants, or land
Dancing Lights (1/day) (Sp) Cast Dancing Lights once per day.
Darkness (1/day) (Sp) Cast Darkness once per day.
Darkvision (120 feet) You can see in the dark (black and white vision only).
Deliver Touch Spells Through Familiar (Su) Your familiar can deliver touch spells for you.
Drow Immunities - Sleep You are immune to Sleep effects.
Ectoplasmic Spell You can cast a spell that has full effect against incorporeal or ethereal creatures.
Elven Immunities +2 save bonus vs Enchantments.
Empathic Link with Familiar (Su) You have an empathic link with your Arcane Familiar.
Faerie Fire (1/day) (Sp) Cast Faerie Fire once per day.
Focused Mind +2 to Concentration checks
Light Blindness (Ex) Blinded for 1r in bright light, dazzled as long as they remain in it.
Low-Light Vision See twice as far as a human in low light, distinguishing color and detail.
Misfortune (1 round(s)) (DC 16) (Su) Target must take the lower of 2d20 for rolls.
Poison Use (Ex) You do not risk poisoning yourself accidentally while poisoning a weapon.
Share Spells with Familiar The wizard may cast a spell with a target of "You" on his familiar (as a touch spell) instead of on himself. A wizard may cast spells on his familiar even if the spells do not normally affect creatures of the familiar's type (magical beast).
Speak With Familiar (Ex) You can communicate verbally with your familiar.
Spell Resistance (11) You have Spell Resistance.
Ward +2 (Su) Target receives +2 AC and save bonus until they are hit or fail a saving throw.

Hero Lab® and the Hero Lab logo are Registered Trademarks of LWD Technology, Inc. Free download at http://www.wolflair.com Pathfinder® and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC®, and are used under license.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Adventures with Venger As'Nas Satanis

Somewhere in the depths of Hell...or the Midwest, hard to tell these days, +Venger Satanis is plugging away putting out material for his own style of Old School gaming.  I thought it might be fun to check in on some of his newest books.

I like Venger's stuff. It is the right amount of nostalgia, old-school charm, sleaze and high production values and often tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Full Disclaimer: Venger sent me copies of His Flesh Becomes My Key, High-Stakes Q'uay-Q'uar, and Stairway of V'dreen for review.  I already had purchased Stairway of V'dreen and I bought Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss a few days ago.

His Flesh Becomes My Key
18 pages, $3.00, PDF
A cool horror/noir murder investigation. While overtly made for The Outer Presence RPG it is mostly crunch free. So it could be used with 1930s Call of Cthulhu, 1970s Chill or even in the 2010s with any game.  Frankly I would like to try it with Witch: Fated Souls or even Majus.  It is that flexible.
Now putting this right out there, this one is less tongue in check sleaze and more gritty urban horror.
I will not spoil the ending, but it is part of what makes this adventure interesting and good to use with nearly any horror game.
Personally, I think it is great fun and would love to try it out under different systems with different groups just to get a different feel each time.  Come to think of it, there is something in the adventure where I COULD run it multiple times, with the same players and characters under different systems.
This adventure is Eldritch Pulp meets the ugly streets of New York or Chicago or San Francisco of modern day.  It is has a nice "old school" vibe to it.  It is H.P. Lovecraft meets Clive Barker.  I hope to see more like this.

High-Stakes Q'uay-Q'uar
18 pages, $5.00, PDF + image file of game
I think most of Venger's adventures revolve around finding a dead body.  That's how this Alpha Blue adventure begins.  I am inordinately fond of Alpha Blue, so a new adventure is always welcome.
The adventure revolves around the game of Q'uay Q'uar.  It is a big deal in this area of space.  There was a Doctor Who episode, "The Wedding of River Song" that features something like this with Chess.  Now imagine that, only with purple and yellow pieces and none other than David "Space" Pumpkins as your host. Then you have an idea what is happening here.
There is alot going here with a lot of characters.  The PCs can compete in the Q'uay Q'uar challenge or they can be observers. There is a smuggling ring to stop (or join up with), a mercenary and a ton of other things to do here.
Included in the adventure is a PDF on how to play Q'uay Q'uar and an image file of a board.
I would be utterly disappointed to hear that Venger does not have his own Q'uay Q'uary game set up to play at home. I did something similar for Ghosts of Albion: Blight with a game of Fidchell. I did make a Fidchell board (well, really a Tafl board).
Like all of Venger's products, this one is heavy on substance and style, and light on crunch.  I could see this played under White StarStarships & Spacemen, or even the new Star Trek game.
I am going to use it in my Star Trek/Cthulhu-mythos mash-up for certain!

Stairway of V'dreen
19 pages, $4.00, PDF
This adventure for Crimson Dragon Slayer (or any OSR/Fantasy game really) starts In media res with the PCs needing to find shelter. Here they meet Doctor Ebzub and his almost completed experiment.  What happens next is ... well ... ok the PCs end up in V'dreen. But is V'dreen is left to some questions.  It feels like some in-between world where PCs encounter the remnants of gods that were, or could be.  V'dreen is a dying world. Not in the Jack Vance sense but in the "it is rotting right before your eyes" sense.  The PCs must either save it or euthanize it.
There is a fair bit of meta to this adventure and a lot more that can be added by any group.  This is the type of adventure that works best with a group that has been playing together a long time, but maybe the first time with these particular characters. The adventure can be played for bizarre laughs or as deadly serious.
Either way it will be a lot of fun.

Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss
14 pages, $3.00, PDF
Have you ever wanted to make your own adventures? Do you want to be like Venger and write them like a fucking boss?  Well, this is the book for you then.  Overtly the book is focused on people writing their own adventures for the first time, but the advice given is so solid that even old veterans like me kind find it useful.  Some of the advice is common sense, but never underestimate the value of stating something plainly.   There are no groundbreaking revelations here, no paradigm shifts and no occult insights. And that is perfectly fine by me.  Adventure writing is not supposed to be Shakespeare, it's supposed to be Poe.  The advice given though is rock solid, and it provides easily repeatable to create fun, entertaining adventures that don't feel like a railroad.
Honestly, I would package this up with his How To Game Master Like a Fucking Boss to give GMs a full toolbox of advice and tricks to help any adventure; whether they wrote it themselves or grab one off the shelf.   Venger really should bundle this with the Character book and call it the "Be A Fucking Boss Bundle".
I have a Trek game coming up. I know what I want to do with it, but I am going to run my ideas through this book and give them a test.  So far all the advice has panned out well and I believe that this will be a better adventure because of it.

Play Your Character Like A Fucking Boss
13 pages, $3.00, PDF
I picked this up based 100% on my reading of Adventure Writing Like A Fucking Boss.  In fact I did not even own this book when I started this review.  This book is great. Plenty of advice on how to play your character to get the most enjoyment out of it.  A lot of this I already do and have done for years.  In fact, I think playing in horror games made me a better player as well as a GM. I see a lot of that advice here too, but with a different focus.
I stand by my idea of the "Be A Fucking Boss Bundle".  Using all this advice will make you a better player and a better GM.

I started this review a couple of days ago, since that time OneBookShelf started their Christmas in July sale.  So ALL these titles are on sale now.  Grab them, now. Make them yours.  Your Players will thank you.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #119

While today's choice is sort of a cheat, it is a very timely one.  I grabbed it because it features one of my favorite covers of all Dragons.  The recent Doctor Who episode "The Eaters of Light" featured a story about the fate of the Ninth Legion of the Imperial Roman army in Scotland.  My first thought was "well, we know it was Kostchtchie!" from Daniel Horne's fantastic cover.

But once I grabbed it I also noticed how it was a really nice companion to my own Green Witch that was published yesterday.  So nice in fact I put the magazine down until today!  I didn't want anything in it unduly influencing me.  Though in re-re-reading it now I can see there were some things there in 1987 that did stick with me over the years, including some more Doctor Who references.
So set your TARDIS back to March 1987, put on U2's With Or Without You, and get ready for This Old Dragon Issue #119.

Letters cover a guy just discovering the Chainmail rules. Interesting to read, to be honest. We forget that in this day and age nearly every shred of information is literally at our fingertips.  I just got another copy of Chainmail for my birthday from my old Jr. High DM.  It is different than the one I had by a couple of pages. I am going to need to investigate that.



The big feature of this issue is the section on Druids.  I can't help but see the "Spinal Tap" Stonehenge every time I see the standing stones and lintel that works as the header for these articles.

That aside this was one of my favorite series. I had by this time already written my first copy of the witch class. It was though lacking in some historical oomph. This series gave me a lot of inspiration on what can be done with the class AND what not to do.  Not in terms of things being bad in these articles (far from it) but in terms of making my witches different from the druids.  In fact I put these articles as "Must Reads" for anyone wanting to play a druid.

Carl Sargent is up first with Underestimating Druids (is a bad practice). It's a look into the strengths of the class and giving them their due. Several tips and bits of advice are given for using the Druid in and out of the dungeon setting, but most telling (and also the most interesting to me) was a break-down of the XP per level and the amount of spell-power all the AD&D1 spell-casting classes had.  The Druid comes out looking the best. Plus let's be honest, Flame Strike is a MUCH cooler spell than Fireball.

Up next is an article covering the Druid in his role as a healer. We are warned that  John Warren's "Is There a Doctor In the Forest?" is unofficial material.  It is also closer to what we think we know about druids in real life; that they were the healers of their society. There is a ton of great ideas here for herbal and natural healing in AD&D. Unofficial or not there is a lot great rules here.  The crunch is the same level as AD&D, so more than I want for an OSR or even a 5e game, but worth looking into the next time I play AD&D1 proper.

On cue another ad for the Time-Life Enchanted World books!

Next up is an article I had re-read a lot back in the Summer of 1987. From by William Volkart and Robin Jenkins we get On Becoming The Great Druid.  It dealt with that little remembered now artifact of the Druid class that at higher levels you needed to defeat the druid whose level you wanted to take.   I have to admit that at the time I was not fond of the idea, though now I see as a great plot and role-playing device.  I was trying to come up with a way to add this all to my then current game.  I never really did to be honest since I figured I needed to come up with my world-wide Druid religion.  Of course, nothing in the history of the Druids supports the idea that would or even could do this (I was also reading some Margaret Murry, so I am excusing myself) but I got fixated on the idea I needed to figure out their complete religious structure first.  I made some head-way and a lot of that was actually added to my Witch class with the "Court of Witches".  I just replaced Great Druid with Witch Queen.  The Grand Coven of the Earth Mother in The Green Witch also comes from those notes way back then.

Rick Reid is up and has Cantrips for Druids - Naturally. Makes me REALLY glad I kept this to the side while working on the Green Witch and that I didn't put cantrips in that book. They will appear in the "The White Witch" later this summer.

Ah. Now here is an old friend. Ed Greenwood (who's early Dragon writing I am really enjoying again) has the Beastmaster NPC class.  It is such an overkill class.  Hell, I would not be surprised to discover that Drizzt didn't start out as a beastmaster. Though to be 100% fair it is described as an NPC only class...yup. Just like the witch was. ;)
I talked about a lot of Beastmaster classes in an early version of Class Struggles. At that time I had forgotten all about this one though in re-reading it now I see that my DM's homebrew Beastmaster was based on this one.

While not a part of the official Druid feature, Calle Lindstrand has the write up for The Uldra a new character race.  The article is the type of "anything worth doing is worth doing to excess" type that I really love. We get a new race, a monster entry, and some gods. The Uldra themselves seem to be a cross between a gnome and a dwarf.  I really hope that wherever Calle Lindstrand is that Uldras as written here are still part of their game. There is too much, well, love here to ignore.  Uldras would later go on to be upgraded to a full offical D&D race.

It is also one of the reasons while I like to include a new race in a book overtly about a class. The Green Witch, for example, has another take on Gnomes for Swords & Wizardry.

Ed is back with Ecology of the Korred.  Given that it follows right behind the article on the Uldra I often conflated the two into one race. Not really fair to either to be honest.  My then DM really enjoyed this article and it was the inspiration to the only "Dance off in D&D" I have ever done.  I later stole his idea and had another Dance Off in Ghosts of Albion: Blight. Only this time it was against the Sidhe.  This article also gives us a new god.

Dragon's Bestiary features some sylvan monsters for your game. Again, not exactly part of the Druid feature, but close enough that it fits really well.

We get some fairly interesting creatures too. The Wild Halflings are great and I think I detect a bit of what would later develop in Dark Sun.  The Luposphinx is a winged wolf/lion hybrid that doesn't seem out of place at all. The Leshy is based on some older fairy tales. There is another take on the Wendigo (none have every truly been "right" as far as I am concerned). The Wood Giant, which has since been promoted to the ranks of "official D&D monster". There is a Wood Golem here too. A bit about that. This wood golem never really stuck a cord with me. It was neat and all, but wood? Through flaming oil at it.  It was not till I read the Doctor Who story Lungbarrow and their "Drudges" that gave me the idea for something new.  I remember reading a story about an old witch that used to always say "If I'd had my druthers, I have my wooden druthers too."  The Wooden Druther became my new Wood Golem.  Wood Golems have also been promoted, but they will always take a back seat to my Druthers.

Not bad. Half the magazine and all of it quality or really, really fun materials.

In fact, if I had stopped here, 50 some odd pages in (minus ads) I would have considered it money well spent.  I suppose it is also no surprise then that I like to include a lot of these same things in my own books; a class, races, alternate classes, monsters, and spells.  1987 was a turning point year for me really.

Charles Olsen is back with an article about NPCs; Henchmen and Hirelings. Five pages of material that looks liek it should work with any version of the game.

Jeff Grub has Dinner With Elminster.  The article is a bit silly to be honest but I tend to forget that 1987 was the year of the Forgotten Realms. While everyone else was falling in love with that my years-long game was about to hit its final Act.   How long does it take to roleplay a massive war? Two years, give or take.

Let's see what's left here... Some fiction...

Some Sage Advice...

The Gamma World article has some cryptic alliances in Politics Amid the Rubble. Just another reminder to me that I REALLY need to a Gamma World game going again some day.

The Marvel-Phile (actually in this issue!) has Psylocke in her pink outfit.  Just as an FYI Oliva Munn, the future movie Psylocke is only 6-years old at the publication of this issue.

TSR Previews covers the new and hot items of April and May 1987.  Make sure you get your copy of the Lazer TagTM rules. I did!


In May we get the first of GAZ series for Mystara and the Known World, GAZ1 The Grand Duchy of Karameikos.

Lots of Cons advertised and some small ads. Finally, we get Snarf Quest and Wormy.
Little did I know that Trampier and I would be heading to the same town to live more or less around the same time.

Really a great issue.

I see the seeds of ideas here that later germinated in games I played then and later in college and now in the stuff, I put up here.

What are your memories of this issue?

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf magazine during the same month? Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #87.

--
The Green Witch is now out!



Pick up a copy today for Swords & Wizardry.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: Army of Darkness RPG

I don't know...something about today reminded me that there is fun to be had is fighting mindless hordes of things that are dead inside.  Wait, I think I mean Deadites.  Deadites. Zombies. Alt-Right Douchebags. Same things really.

This is an older review but never posted here.

Army of Darkness RPG

Disclaimer: I have been a freelancer for Eden studios for years and have worked on a lot of their books. I have been an author or co-author on some and a playtester on many. But in this case, I had nothing to do with “Army of Darkness” other than purchase the book like everyone else.

Time to kick some Ash.

If nothing else the Army of Darkness RPG from Eden Studios (AoD RPG) will give your game group hours of puns like these or spontaneously shooting off quotes from the movie, if they don’t already do that now.

The AoD RPG is the latest offering from Eden using the Cinematic Unisystem rules. Cinematic Unisystem is a stripped down to basics rule set to foster fast play in a cinematic style game. That is not to say the rules are non-existent, just non-obtrusive. Cinematic Unisystem plays similar to its big brother Classic Unisystem, which powers such games as All Flesh Must Be Eaten, WitchCraft and Armageddon. If you want to use this game with those, no problem, not only is it very easy, but there is a great Appendix in the back to handle the details. AoD shares Cinematic Unisystem with Eden’s Origin’s winning Angel RPG, Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG and Ghosts of Albion RPG. Here taking characters from one game to next is easy and no conversions are needed. In fact one could conceivably play one game consisting of all four game books in one big, really bad world.

Rough parallels can be drawn between Cinematic games and Classic one. Buffy is built like a cinematic version of WitchCraft, Angel invokes the same feel as Armageddon, and likewise AoD takes on a lot of it’s feel from it’s older brother All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

If you like the movie Army of Darkness (or any of the Evil Dead movies) or any of Eden’s other games then you should pick this up. If you are not sure if the AoD RPG is for you then let’s get into the details.

Chapter 1 is the introduction with some Army of Darkness style fiction added in. It’s nice, but you will only read it once in your life. The rest of the chapter is pretty straight forward and reads exactly like every other Chapter 1 in any Eden book. This is both good and bad. Bad in the fact I have now bought this chapter at least 10 times now. It’s good because it also means that I can pick up any of those books and know immediately what to expect. There is a new part here though, one on the cosmology of the game. It’s not bad, but I am not sure if I will use it or not. Like most roleplayers I have a varied and complex mythos surrounding my games where the machinations of powerful beings 5,000 years ago shape my world today. Then again this is supposed to fast and loose and for crying out loud the movie depicted England with a desert, so heck with all that, what I really want to do is stomp on some deadites. I don’t care if they were sent by “The Old Ones”, Satan or Santa.

Chapter 2 is the meat for the normal gamer; how to create characters and give them some cool stuff. Again, some of this is ported right over from “Angel”, but that is not really that bad since it is really the best stuff with more added. Plus I want my games to be compatible, so I do want my “white hats” and my “mundanes” to be able to hang with the “primitive screw heads” and not bicker over which version of “Hard to Kill” to buy. There are some new qualities and a lot of new drawbacks to choose from. Plus the focus shifts from the magically empowered supernaturals of Buffy/Angel to the regular guys and gals doing what’s right of Army of Darkness. If you enjoy playing “normal” characters then this is the book for you. The skills are unchanged from Angel/Buffy in keeping with the Cinematic scope, but they are a little more defined. Let’s face it, Ash did more with his car in two hours than Buffy/Angel did in 12 collective seasons, so a little more attention is paid to what you can do. The archetypes are great and if you are familiar with the archetypes from Buffy or Angel you will recognize the style and art here. In general the archetypes reflect the focus of the game, normal guy or gal, way weird circumstances. I found them a tad hard to read with the colored background, but that could be my PDF. Loved the archaeolbogist (though her portrait has Appearance of at least +2 even if she doesn’t in the sheet) loved the Zorro guy, gunslinger, night stalker dude, and the roller baller. Adding the game designer might have been a little too cheesy, but hey I don’t blame them one bit and for this game it works. It also includes the original cast, but Ash is the main guy. For anyone that has ever wanted to know “who would win in a fight, Ash or ____?” well here is where you can find the answers.

Chapter 3 is also the same as many of Eden’s chapter 3s. It has the rules. Since the rules are not significantly modified from other games, some can skip this all together. But if you do you will be missing some good bits. First off Eden has learned from Buffy and Angel and this chapter is laid out a lot clearer. There is also the whole new set of rules covering land vehicles; a really nice addition to the Cinematic game universe.

Chapter 4 is really nice. Every Eden book has it’s true gem, the one thing that makes that book worthwhile. WitchCraft has it’s magic system, Angel has it’s demon creation rules, and Army of Darkness has it’s Battle System. This is mass combat system for Cinematic Unisystem but on reading it, it would certainly work for any Unisystem game. It keeping with the cinematic tone the rules are fast and free flowing, but like all of Cinematic Unisystem they are designed to maximize the fun and playability.

Chapter 5 is the information for the Directors out there. Not too different, and in this case that is not the best thing. I was reading it over and the whole time I keep feeling I was reading a chapter out of Buffy or Angel, with the talk of “episodes” and “Seasons”. Yes, "episode" is still a fine name and great workable game mechanic. But “Army of Darkness” is not a TV show, it is a movie. I would have liked to see how to set up a big epic battle or mimic the feel of a movie with some plot elements compressed. Like Ash said to Shelia “first you want to kill me now you want to kiss me”, things like love have to happen pretty fast, faster than TV. So what I would have liked then is to see the sidebar on “Other Ways to Do It” expanded into a full chapter with “The TV Show” set up as just one option. Granted, for those Directors planning huge AoD/Buffy/AFMBE/WitchCraft epic crossover campaigns, this chapter works to your advantage.

Chapter 6 sets up the who, what and where elements. All needed for this game where being sucked into a portal and waking up in England in the Middle Ages is normal. It is nice the see that one other movie is Eden’s most watched list outside of Army of Darkness and that is The Holy Grail. Or at least that is how I felt after reading this chapter because I sure as hell can run that Holy Grail RPG now with this book. It is a bit odd that some characters, Arthur in particular, got a full character sheet in Chapter 2 and a quick sheet here as well. Reason? Don’t know, see the disclaimer above. But I do know that it was spaced used that could have been dedicated to something else. No big. Moving on. I have to admit the title “Graveyard…of the Dead” made me laugh. The creatures are neat and there are a lot of ideas here for an AoD game or even adding them to your Buffy/Angel game. OR better yet expand these little nasties with the Angel demon creation rules.

Chapter 7, coughWorlds of Darknesscough is actually really cool. It is your typical “here's how you set up adventures”, but the examples given are more fleshed out that some other entire game worlds. There is an ancient Sumerian style adventure where you need to prevent the writing of the Necronomicon (you have to love any game that refers to Ereshkigal as a Goth Chick); a pulp-era stop the Nazi’s from getting occult artifacts adventure and future setting hinted at in the Director’s Cut of Army of Darkness. All are complete with more really cool monsters and vehicle rules.

Chapter 8 is a full blown adventure, I won’t talk about it too much here so as not to ruin it for potential players.

There is an Appendix of Unisystem conversion notes if you want to switch between this and Classic Unisystem. I nice detailed list on Character Creation, all the tables from the text including a comprehensive list of qualities and drawbacks from the book. Tables and charts for combat and weapons. The book ends with a solid index (the weakest part of ‘Angel’, not repeated here) and a nice character sheet. Sure you can use your “Buffy” sheet or even the Buffy or Angel character Journals, but this is a nice clean sheet. Since I have the PDF I printed one out on a B&W laser printer and it looked great.

What's Good: Overall the book is fantastic, a completely playable game based on Eden’s Origins award winning Cinematic Unisystem rules (Angel, Best New RPG 2003). Plus it captures the feel and the fun of the original movie quite well.

What's Bad: I have to admit I got tired of the informal tone of the book, but that could be just me. And let’s be honest, it is a perfect choice to go with the movie.

What's Missing: No magic rules. But they do acknowledge this and there wasn’t really any magic in movie that wasn’t used “off stage” or by the minions of evil. Want magic in your AoD game? Buy a copy “The Magic Box Sourcebook” for the Buffy RPG or get a copy of Ghosts of Albion.

UPDATED: Since I have written this review I have used AoD in a lot of my Cinematic Unisystem games. In particular for an army of undead fighting the Protectors of Éire in Ghosts of Albion: Blight.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Happy Birthday Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner

Today marks the 64th birthday of Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, better known to the world as Sting.

Growing up (and still now) I was a HUGE fan of the Police.  In fact my first folder I kept my character sheets in had the symbols from Ghost in the Machine scribbled on them.

When Synchronicity came out it was such a shift in my thinking that I can barley quantify it.  From this I read Jung, which would lead to degrees in psychology (undergrad and graduate). I read Lolita (thanks to "Don't Stand So Close to Me") which lead me to read other literary greats.
(Seriously. Read Lolita. It's dark, messed up, and brilliant.)
When I got married the song playing "for me" was Sting's "Fields of Gold".

So yeah. I am a fan.
Plus he went to St Cuthbert's Grammar School, so how could I *not* associate him with D&D?

But there are a lot of good songs I associate with gaming.

Back when I was working on the Buffy RPG we were working on a series of linked adventures about a Djinn.  The first few appeared the core books and my adventure "The Dark Druid" was supposed to be Episode 1.  It never quite came together for the reasons these things don't but I wrote a lot for it.  Some of those adventures later became part of "The Dragon and the Phoenix" and "Season of the Witch".

"Desert Rose" from Mercury Falling was one of many songs I listened to then to get me in the mood.  This video represents that crossover.  In both the Djinn arc and Season of the Witch the characters have to find their answers in the desert in the adventure Desert Rose.  Plus I love the bits from Algerian Raï singer Cheb Mami.  Sounds so cool.   Plus is that the same driver from the Duran Duran video "The Chauffeur"? (no I know it's not...but I imprinted in the 80s).




Often with me music will inspire some idea, plot or character.  Sting's "Shape of my Heart" from Ten Summoner's Tales is not his most upbeat song.  I remember listening to it and thinking of a man who was a gambler decided to deal with fate. He became the instrument of fate, loosing his eyes in the process and everyone he loved.  He knows that the fortunes he deals for others are just as much about him and one day he will find what he lost.  That character became The Dealer and he can be found in Halfway.




The Soul Cages might be Stings best sounding album from a audiophile perspective, though I also like the vinyl version of Dream of the Blue Turtles.  It is also (naturally) a dark album.  Lots to do with death and transitions and how fathers die and sons become fathers in turn.  Nothing lays the pathos bare better than the song of the same name, "The Soul Cages".  I always considered this a "Ravenloft" album.




What do Zenyatta Mondatta, Dream of the Blue Turtles and Bring on the Night all have in common?  All have a slightly different version of Sting's own "Shadows in the Rain".  The later, jazzy versions don't share the darker edge of the 1980 Police version, but all are still good.  This song also was the inspiration for a rather pivotal episode in both the Buffy Djinn arc and later in the Dragon and the Phoenix.





Anytime I want to get in the mood for some Celtic-themed gaming you can do worse than listening to the Chieftains.  The Chieftains and Sting together is something rather special.  Having them sing "Mo Ghile Mear" is fantastic.  I swear I can hear Éire herself singing.




Speaking of hearing Éire.   Going back to Ghost in the Machine for a bit, the Police's "Invisible Sun" has haunted me for years.  I have wanted to use the imagery from this song for years.  It was one of the many influences on my Ghosts of Albion adventure Blight.  It is a main part of my current D&D 5 game, Come Endless Darkness.   I like the Ghost version best, but here is an extremely gratuitous version with Sting and Bono.  No one chews up a stage like Bono.


Happy Birthday Sting!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Class Struggles: The Dark Druid

I am have a great time here planning out my "War of the Witch Queens" adventures.  My 5th Ed game is running like a well oiled machine and there is nothing I need to plan for it for many more months (I need a high level adventure to cap it off).

This week I finally got a copy of an adventure I have been wanting forever; Dark Druids by Robert J. Kuntz.  It is a real treat and worth the wait and money I paid for it.

I had been researching Irish myths and legends and read about how Liath, Bodhmall, and Finn defeated an enemy known as the Dark Druid. It was quite a fascinating tale and I loved the idea of an evil druid.
I want to talk today about the Dark Druid class, but first a little background.
Many years ago I wrote an adventure for the Buffy RPG called The Dark Druid. Actually it was the first ever published Buffy adventure.   The adventure was a Willow and Tara focused adventure dealing with their past lives, Liath and Bodhmall, Finn MacCool and the Dark Druid "Fer Dorich".

The idea was compelling enough that Irish author Brian O'Sullivan took the same characters and same myths and put his own spin on them in his books the Fionn MacCumhail series.   Like I did he has Liath and Bodhmall as lovers and he even has a Dark Druid, a "Tainted One".  I bring this up because HIS Dark Druid is much cooler than mine.  Mine is simply evil.  His is a perversion of nature.  In gamer circles we might want to describe this in terms of undeath or even Cthulhoid like nastiness.   O'Sullivan is better than that.  His Tainted One radiates a level of "wrongness" that it is noticed my Ban-drui Bodhmall from miles away and even puts fear into the legendarily fearless Liath.
(BTW get his books. They are great!)

Back to my Dark Druid for a bit. The adventure was designed to be a modern tale (thus the Buffy) system.  Part 2 took place in Victorian times as Ghosts of Albion: Blight.  The main enemy was an unnamed necromancer that is imprisoned in a faerie ring.  In publishing it was the necromancer, Lord of Dragons from Ghosts of Albion: Embers.  In my personal games it was the same Dark Druid.
Part 3 was supposed to take place back in Mythic Éire and deal with Liath, Bodhmall, and Finn defeating the Dark Druid for the first time.  Three parts separated by time.   Part 3 was going to be called "All Souls Night" (after the Loreena McKennitt song).   It would have been for *D&D-ish and included the new classes the Dark Druid and the Green Knight.  I did write bits of of it for 3.0 and the Dark Druid and Green Knight live on as Prestige Classes (but I am not going to talk about those today).
I was going to release it, but now I don't have too.
Brian Young gave us the wonderful Codex Celtarum and the adventure Night of the Spirits for Castles & Crusades.  Night of the Spirits does pretty EVERYTHING I wanted to do with All Souls Night.  It even has a Dark Druid.

Dark Druids is a similar adventure. I am not reviewing the adventure yet, but I do want to talk about the class it offers; The Dark Druid.

The class is like the Druid of AD&D source; only this time OSRIC.  It can be any evil alignment or Chaotic Neutral.  This has some logic to it.  The book includes the Dark Druid class and two different sects of Dark Druids.  Dark Druids eschew hierarchies  so there are no "high priests" but many that might claim that title. There are "Dread Hierophants", but that really can be more about power than actual religious hierarchies.   Advancement wise they are like Druids. The only thing I didn't care for was that the Dark Druids are controlled by a demon.  I would think that they are controlled by something older and more evil.  An Eodemon or Urdemon or even some other horror from beyond; something outside of reality.  The book also comes with 42 new spells.  I did not see an OGL statement with any of this.
Given all this The Dark Druid would also make for a great class in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

I would avoid giving the Dark Druid too many necromantic spells. Sure he can have some, but that is not their role.  Some of the vivimancer spells from the Complete Vivimancer are a good choice.  Obviously there are some good witch spells as well.

There is a lot of potential for a class concept like this.
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