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

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.

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).

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. 

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.


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,

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.

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!

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?

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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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,

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!

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,

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,

Hope to see you there!

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


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


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)


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


+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 Pathfinder® and associated marks and logos are trademarks of Paizo Publishing, LLC®, and are used under license.

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.

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.
Need some more information on Swords & Wizardry.  Anyone have some details I can use?
I'd love to have some more people sign up for this.  It's the last time I am running Blight.
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, April 25, 2014

Review and PWWO: The Complete Vivimancer

I recently downloaded The Complete Vivimancer the new book from Necrotic Gnome Productions, the same folks that gave us Theorems & Thaumaturgy.

+Gavin Norman, of the City of Iron blog, gives us a new(ish) class, the Vivimancer.  The book is 88 pages and advertised as Labyrinth Lord compatible with both Basic and Advanced stats (more on that in a bit).
The class was introduced in Theorems & Thaumaturgy.  The basic class is a type of Wizard/Magic-User and detailed on two pages.  The experience per level, saves, spells, and attacks are not too different from the Magic-user normal.
For the Advanced option elves and half-elves can also be vivimancers.  Interestingly enough elves can advance to 11th level and half-elves to 10th.  I would have expected it to be the other way around.

The next substantial chapter is on Spells and Laboratory procedures.
The biggest expense in gold and time for the vivimancer is his laboratory.  The vivimancer according to the rules needs to spend 6 hours per day in his lab.  I wonder how much time this leaves for adventuring, eating and sleeping. Update:  This is only when a magical procedure is underway, so not something the vivimancer does everyday. Upkeep costs is 10 gp per spell level, so about 1980gp per month at 20th level. Not unreasonable really.

The next 65 pages detail spells levels 1 to 9.  Like most Labyrinth Lord compatible products the spells are compatible across a wide variety of products.  You could use these with any old school product wizard, magic-user and yes witch.  Though to do so I think robs the class of some it's charm and power.
The spells are a varied sort.  There are some very useful, some are variations on a theme and others will have limited utility to the adventuring vivimancer.  But all have a lot of style.  If you prefer your games a little more G-rated then this isn't a book for you.  While not as over the top as Carcosa or Lamentations of the Flame Princess, there are a lot of cutting things up and putting them back together.

The chapter on magic items is nice varied lot as well, with attention paid to things the vivimancer needs to perform his craft.

We also get Appendices on Psionic Powers and Mutations.  Both are fine and work but in use I might swap out the same rules in the Labyrinth Lord compatible Mutant Future.

Overall I really liked it.  Like the book said why let Necromancers have all the fun.  There is a lot here that can be used in any game really even if you never use them as a class.  Personally I wonder what a bad guy team of a Vivimancer and Necromancer might produce.   Heck with the Advanced rules, a Vivimancer/Cleric.

There are couple of places where Insanity is mentioned but not a lot of details on how insanity would work in a game.

The art is somewhat sparse, but it is all original and unique to this book (ok maybe 1 or 2 are in T&T).  So that gives it a sum positive in my mind.

The book is 88 pages, as mentioned above, and lists at $10.00 for the PDFs.  Maybe a bit higher $/page ratio, but I'll be honest I am not sure where to price these things. I think $7.50 would have been best, but I am not judging.

I have to admit I was set to like this book.  "The Complete Vivimancer" reminds me of the old Bard Games "The Compleat Spellcaster" and "The Compleat Alchemist".  Not just in terms of title and feel, but in terms of content.  This is the sort of thing I enjoy from the OSR/Old School publishing realms.  I like something I can drop into my games with no issues.  Plug and Play gaming.

I would like to recommend this book.  I particularly recommend it as a change of pace from the evil Necromancer NPC.

There is a lot to love about this book.

Plays Well With Others: The Witch and The Vivimancer

Since The Complete Vivimancer is designed for Labyrinth Lord overtly and Basic Era game in general it should theoretically drop into any Old-School D&D game.  Well as it turns out, it does and it does so rather nicely.  Limit the spell levels to a max of 6 and you have a great new class for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and one that fits right in really.  It is also a nice compliment to Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts.   It also plays really nice with my own Witch class.

There are several spells that both Witches & Vivimancers can use from their respective books.  These are just my ideas, your GM would have to choose their own and it is possible that Vivimancer author +Gavin Norman might have some different ideas.

Vivimancer Spells for the Witch
First Level: Entangle, Hormone Control
Second Level: Arcane Sight, Insect Messenger, Pair Bonding, Bleeding Wounds (reverse of Staunch Blood Flow)
Third Level: Accelerated Reproduction, Anthropomorphism (perfect witch spell), Paralysis
Fourth Level: Immunity to Disease, Insanity
Fifth Level: Nature's Secrets, Psionic Awakening (for Aquarians only), Transfer Pregnancy (as a Witch Ritual)
Sixth Level: Impregnate
Seventh Level: none
Eighth Level: none
Ninth Level: witches can't cast ninth level spells.

Witch Spells for the Vivimancer
*Cantrips: Analyze Fertility, Daze, Detect Curse, Detect Poison, Detect Pregnancy, Flavor, Freshen, Inflict Minor Wounds, Irritate, Quick Sleeping, Sobriety, Summon Vermin
First Level: Analgesia, Bless Growth, Blight Growth, Block the Seed, Drowsy, Endure Elements, Far Sight, Fey Sight, Sickly, Silver Tongue, Sour Stomach, Vertigo
Second Level: Agony, Broca's Curse of Babel, Delay Poison, Fever, Mind Obscure, Weaken Poison, Youthful
Third Level: Aphasia, Body of Eyes, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, Lesser Strengthening Rite, Remove Blindness/Deafness, Toad Mind
Fourth Level: Abomination, Confusion, Elemental Armor, Narcolepsy, Neutralize Poison, Polymorph, Vomit, Bount/Strength to the Unborn (Ritual)*
Fifth Level: Baleful Polymorph, Dreadful Bloodletting, Gnawing Pain, Steal Youth, Control Outcome of Birth (Ritual)*
Sixth Level: Evaporate Fluids, False Memory, Mass Agony, Repulsion, Crossbreed (Ritual)
Seventh Level: Insanity**, Magickal Conception (Parthenogenesis),  Wave of Mutilation
Eighth Level: Mind Blank
Ninth Level: There are no 9th level witch spells.

*Ritual spells should be cast by a lone Vivimancer at one level higher.
**(Called Greater Insanity to differentiate it from the 3rd level Vivimancer spell)

In both cases I am just listing the level of the spell as it appears in it's respective book.  Some spells might need to be shifted up or down a level depending on the GM.  Also there is some overlap in the spell effects but the casting and mechanics might be different

New Spell: Magickal Creation (Thaumatogenesis)

This new spell is usuable by either Witches or Vivimancers.

Magickal Creation 
Latin: Thaumatogenesis
Level: Vivimancer 9, Witch 8
Casting Time: 2 hours
Range: Touch

By means of this spell a new life form can be created purely from magic.  Unlike Magickal Conception, which takes exsiting life force and shapes into a new life, Magickal Creation uses only magic.
This spell maybe used to impregnate a female or even a male subject. Typically a female subject is used since is most cases (95% of the time) the impregnated male dies in the birth process.

The casting of this spell takes two hours, during which time the caster must be not interrupted. The casting witch must be able to see the target of the spell, either directly or by scrying.  The target, if willing, gains no saving throw, but an unwilling target if aware of the spell can make a save vs. Spells.  A target unaware of the casting must become aware of the situation before they can save.  Many charlatans play on the paranoid nature of many and sell talismans that protect against this spell.

Since this is using the stuff of magic to produce a life, the spell always works and produces a living life form.  What sort of life form produced is indicated by the table below.

d20 Outcome of birth
1-5 The child is born with only the mother’s traits.
6-10 The child is born with both the traits of the mother and the caster
11-12 The child is born a Chaotic outsider, with both the mothers and casters traits.
13-14 The child is born a Chaotic outsider, with only the mothers traits.
15-16 The child is born a Lawful outsider, with both the mother and casters traits.    
17-18 The child is born a Lawful outsider, with only the mothers traits.
19 The child is born as a half fiend, with only the mothers traits.
20 The child is born as a half-celestial, with only the mothers traits.

Gestation depends on the species of the mother, but time in months is often reduced to time in hours.  So if the mother is human then nine months of pregnancy is reduced to nine hours.  The minimum gestation time in any case is two hours. The Caster may also impregnate themselves in this manner producing a clone.

Material Components
Vivimancer: A tissue sample from either the gestating mother or the caster. The tissue is placed in a vat where it is boiled with Agaric, Basil, Figs and Mandrake root till forming a loose, liquid ooze. This ooze is placed onto the gestating mother (or caster).
Witch: Root Agaric, Basil, Figs and Mandrake root (harvested only by the new moon) are combined into a paste, dried and burned.  An athame and a cup, symbolizing male and female powers to direct the spell are required as the focuses. 

Section 15: Magickal Creation (Thaumatogenesis) Copyright 2014 Timothy S. Brannan.
All text of this spell is considered Open for terms of the OGL.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Ghosts of Ablion at Gen Con

I am running three Gen Con events this year for Ghosts of Albion.

These are the official times and places from Gen Con. Registration is closed now, so you can register for these at the con or use the generic tickets.

I will repost this when I have more information

Here are the details.

Ghosts of Albion: Blight

RPG0906270 - 08/13/2009 07:00:00 PM (Thursday) Crowne Plaza, Grand Central Ballroom B, Table 3

RPG0906268 - 08/14/2009 07:00:00 PM (Friday) Crowne Plaza, Grand Central Ballroom B, Table 3

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.

Ghosts of Albion: Obsession

RPG0906269 - 08/15/2009 07:00:00 PM (Saturday) Crowne Plaza, Grand Central Ballroom B, Table 3

There is trouble at the Plough Street Theatre. The Times reports that authorities have found the strangled body of prominent actress and performer, Miriam White. However Miss White has herself commented to The Times that she is in fact alive and well and has been seen not only on stage, but having lunch with her manager just outside the theatre. You are requested by James V. Harold, esq., owner of the Plough Street Theatre to discreetly investigate this matter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L is for Little Fears

Fairy Tales don't teach children that monsters are real, all children know that. 
Fairy tales teach children that monsters can be defeated.

Not exactly the quote from G. K. Chesterton, but close enough for today's letter.

Little Fears has the distinction of being one of only five games my FLGS will not carry.  I didn't press them why or ask to order it (they said they would order it for me, they just don't stock it), they are my FLGS for a reason and I have many other means of getting the books I need.
I had the original edition from some time ago and picked up the nightmare edition, promising the author Jason Blair I'd have a review up.  I still don't.  But I hope to fix that now.

LF is a game of Childhood Horrors.  Simple enough.  As a father I have been up many nights sleepily fighting one bogeyman or another.  Thankfully most bogeymen are terrified of my "huh? go back to sleep" speech cause I have never seen them.  But maybe once apon a time I did.  I am reminded of a Charmed episode where a little girl was being attack by little bogey like creatures and the Charmed Ones, being adults, could not see them.  They had to cast a spell to be more childlike (with accompanied wackiness) to see the threat.  That was the hook I was going to use to get my group to play LF one day.  Turn their characters into kids and to keep them off guard I was going to take their Unisystem sheets and give them Little Fears sheets instead and then not tell them all the rules.  The Little Fears book makes a big issue about kids living in an adult world and not knowing or understanding the rules.  Frankly I thought it was brilliant, but it never happened.

Little Fears plays like that.  Only more so.  Monsters are defined by the character's fear but also by their belief.  In some ways playing LF with adults is a bit like playing D&D with really young kids.  They want to be the player AND the DM.  In LF the characters and players can change the nature of the game in overt or subtle ways.

The rules are very simple really.  The system is a d6 dicepool based on abilities or qualities.  Monsters are built similar to characters though are tougher generally speaking.  The damage system reminds me of Mutants and Masterminds a bit and is also pretty simple.   Emphasis though in this game is not how many monster you can kill, but how well you role-play the monster you nearly escaped from and lived to tell your friends about (because they have seen the same monster, but have been too afraid to tell you).  Little Fears is one of the most role-play heavy games I have read in a very long time.  If you only like to hit things with pointy metal sticks or throw fireballs, then this might not be your game.  If the idea of playing something that is akin to "Kult Jr." or "C.J. Carella's WitchCraft Babies" then this is the game for you.

There is an over-arching malaise though over Little Fears.  I get depressed reading it I have to admit.  Maybe it is because I am a father and I know how those little kids feel to be afraid and alone and powerless.  I guess the counter argument is they are not powerless or alone really.

Given the mythology of Little Fears, I could easily adapt a couple of my Bogeys to use in the game.

Buttons the Bear
Buttons is either a Monster (but a good one) or a Hand Me Down (p 114).

Buttons the Bear began just like another childhood toy. He was a handmade stuffed bear given to a now forgotten child one Christmas morning in the early 1800's. As his child grew older Buttons (and this was not yet his name) was discarded for newer playthings. That is till he ended up as a donation to an orphanage. By this time Buttons had seen a fair amount of use, in particular his glass eyes were gone. The matron of the house, a young Irish nun sewed two buttons on his face for eyes; one green the other red. She gave him to a small child who had nothing and had never received a Christmas present before. It was there that Buttons felt the first tinges of Awakening, the love of this young child stirred up the spark of divinity that is in everything; even in a stuffed bear with mis-matched buttons for eyes.

An orphanage, especially one in what was now the mid Victorian era, was ripe for all sorts of bogeys. Generally these were the pestering kind, but every so often something more dangerous would prey on the unfortunates. Buttons (as he was now known) went from merely scaring them off to actively hunting them down at night. For many years Buttons protected the children here and in return he knew he had their love.
Things changed shortly after the Blight. Taking advantage of the suffering and death many demons moved into Ireland, one chose to use the orphanage as a staging area. He would hide in wait, corrupting the adults and torturing the children. It was not though till the demon had fully manifested itself and prepared to kill a child did Buttons attack. Though he was no longer a child's stuffed plaything; instead he had manifested into a towering black bear with razor sharp claws and a mouthful of teeth. He attacked the demon full on.

The demon, while still very powerful, was only expecting some starving children, not seven feet, 1,200 pounds of fur, claws, and fangs. Within a few seconds the demon was not only on the defense, but nearly ripped to shreds.

On the demon's home plane a portal opened. The demons there were awaiting their Lord's return to bring them the bounty from the orphanage. Instead the bloodied corpse of their lord was flung through followed by a huge bear with a fire red ruby for one eye and a burning emerald for the other. It let out a deafening roar; a clear warning to the demons. Since that time Buttons has killed no fewer than 17 demon lords and wounded many others. The orphanage suffered no more attacks as long as there was one child holding a tattered old bear with buttons for eyes.

Mrs. Cully Mully and her Pink Dog
Mrs. Cully Mully is one of the Good People (p 111)

No one is really sure who, or what, Mrs. Cully Mully is. Was she a human witch that became more imaginary over time. Or an imaginary friend that became more like a real human? No one knows for sure. Mrs. Cully Mully appears to be a woman in her 70's wearing a pinkish frock coat, horned rimmed glasses, and carring a small handbag purse.

She is known to walk the areas between Dream and Reality, between this world and the next one, and between childhood and the end of innocence. Always between worlds, but never in any one world properly. She will say thing to make you believe she was once human, like "when I taught kindergarten…" and things to make you think she is imaginary, or at least question her sanity; "…of course the sky was pink then and we had three moons."

She walks the "in betweens" helping those who are lost, or of need information. In her bag she almost anything the Cast could need, almost. She has no (and no use for) weapons. If the Cast is hungry then she might have their second-favorite sandwich (she is always out of their first favorite) or some magical bauble that may not seem to be useful now but will be priceless later on. She will of course claim she is just walking her dog.

Her dog, who is completely pink, will bark constantly in it's small yippish barks. It is only when it stops barking is there reason to fear. That usually means bogeys, spirits or demons are near.

She will try to hastily retreat, pulling the Cast in-tow. If she has to fight then her true nature (or is it?) is revealed. She has never been known to get into a fight, but in one case an occult scholar (who has since retired to working on a small farm) was lost in the in-betweens when he encountered Mrs. Cully Mully. He described her as pleasant, if seemingly addled. She agreed to walk the man home, since it was "on her way" when the object of the scholar's search appeared, the Great Demon Abraxas (so he claimed). Abraxas demanded the scholar's soul and threatened to kill everyone else. Mrs. Cully Mully, he then claimed, walked right up to the demon lord and called him by his true name (also, so the scholar claims) and proceeded to scold him like a schoolboy. She was stern, but never once raised her voice. The demon, angered beyond rage, roared and disappeared in a pillar of flame. She took the man's hand and told him that were taking a short cut, walked two or three steps and were in front of the man's home. She told him to give up this life, get a real job and find himself a nice quiet girl to marry.

Some say she is a good natured aspect of the Crone, Goddess of the Witches. Others say she is really the Goddess Ceriweden. And still others say she is a retired kindergarten teacher out walking her dog.

She does not engage in combat. She does have a handbag and small pink, yippy dog.

Using Little Fears
Little Fears works fine on it's own and you can do a lot with it.  But for me there are other great advantages to using this game.

1. Character Building Device
Want to know more about your character's history?  Then stat them in LF and maybe even run a session or two with them as young kids.   Imagine a supers game where you play Bruce at age 9. He is not the Batman yet, he doesn't even know that is coming, he is just Bruce a scared, lost and hurting little boy and these are the moments that define him and make the Batman.  This type of episode I call the Crucible Episodes, where the impurities of their character are burned off leaving only the hero you know will be.

2. The "Special Episode"
In my long running Willow and Tara game I was going to have a Season 3 that had an episode called "Hell is for Children" were the cast had to go into the Closetland of LF to find a monster preying on magical children.  To do this they needed to become kids themselves.

I think it behooves anyone playing any modern supernatural game to give Little Fears a shot using 6-12 year old versions of your characters.  It would be a fantastic experience.

Plus like I said, I want to run a Buffy/Little Fears crossover episode one day based on this image alone.

Little Fears might also be one of the most effective horror games I have ever played.  Chill, Kult, WoD, CoC, WitchCraft are all great and I love them all, but Little Fears is different and the power structure between what you can do and what you need to do is such that it is a scary, scary game.

Buy it. Play it. And even if you don't like it you will never look a butterflies the same way again.

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.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Recycled Adventures

So it is well known that I love the old D&D adventures from the early 80's.  I think they are well done and a lot of fun to play.  I have been playing them with my kids but I have not been able to fit in all the ones I have wanted into our 3.x game.

But I have lots of games.

So here are some of the recycled adventures I have done using other systems and the classic adventures.

Ash vs The Keep on the Borderlands
System: Army of Darkness and Dungeons & Zombies
Module: B2 Keep on the Borderlands

The character get sent back in time to the Keep and need to clean out the Caves of Chaos with a shotgun.

I designed this as a way to play-test Dungeons & Zombies under the Cinematic Unisystem Rules.

Never got to play it all, but the bits I did were a blast.  Characters I created for the game were Xena and Gabrielle (seemed appropriate) and used a version of Indiana Jones I found online.

One day I should run this at a convention.  I think it will be a blast.

The Ghost Tower of Inverness, Illinois
Systems: Doctor Who and Angel.
Module: C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness

From the intro:
"No one has ever asked why there is a lighthouse between Palatine and Inverness, Illinois.  The closest large body of water is Lake Michigan, over 20 miles away. But it has always been there, quiet.

Till the day the Time Beacon went crazy."

The Ghost Tower of Inverness, IL was an adventure that I had converted for my playtest of Doctor Who.  Outside my town there is a water tower that is painted like a light house.  I thought it would be cool if it were a real lighthouse, but not for ships at sea, but ships in the time stream.  On top was a beacon to warn passer-bys "warning, primitive culture ahead!" Well one day the time beacon goes nuts and start pulling in people from out of their times (an excuse to convert a bunch of Unisystem characters from Ghosts and Angel).  The characters have to go through the tower and shut down the beacon.  Each level of the tower is a different time stream, so I had dinos, Victorian, post-apocalyptic and all sorts of terrible things.  At the top was the control center and the time beacon.  So I converted the original Ghost Tower module and replace the Soul Gem with the Time Beacon.  Part Doctor Who, part Angel, part Ghosts of Albion, part D&D and a dash of Primeval and Torchwood.  It was going to be the first adventure in a new campaign, but I never got it going.  Too bad really.

Ghosts of Albion: Ravenloft
System: Ghosts of Albion
Module: I6 Ravenloft

Ravenloft might be my favorite classic module ever.  Ghosts of Albion is of course my game.  It was natural to me to bring them together.  Ravenloft has that great Gothic feel.  Ghosts of Albion deals with all sorts of magical weirdness, and while it is hard for us today to really understand this, to the Victorians the world was a wild and scary unknown.  Unknown lands were meant to be explored and conquered.  What can be more unknown than Barovia?  Who is to say it is not on the map somewhere in 1840?  Plus you might have noticed that  Ghosts of Albion movies and books all have one word titles, "Legacy", "Astray", "Witchery" and my adventures have followed suit, "Obsession", "Blight", and "Synchronicity".  So "Ghosts of Albion: Ravenloft" also works.
The idea is simple.  The characters are travelling by rail to the east.  Their train suffers some malfunction, and I start the Ravenloft adventure by the book.  I include the mists and Madame Eva and everything.  And that map of Castle Ravenloft is still one of the coolest maps ever made.  One day I'll build a 1" = 5' miniature of it for play.  That would be very awesome.
For this I have bits I am using from the Ravenloft world, WitchCraft RPG and the Expedition to Castle Ravenloft module for 3.x.

I still have more games and more adventures.  I'd like to try some other pairing in the future.

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.