Monday, April 4, 2011

C is for Charmed

I am not ashamed of this, but all things considered I vastly prefer Charmed to Buffy. I don't even consider myself a Buffy fan to be honest, more of a Willow & Tara fan. But I am an unapologetic Charmed fan.

There is the whole witch thing to be sure.  And the Charmed Ones are rather easy on the eyes.  But I think my friend and former TV writer Robert Black said it best,  Charmed never forgot who their audience was and never forgot they were a TV show.

You can see his post from an archive of the Original Other Side here,

I am at a really good place in my gaming life.  I get to game all the time now with various groups. I get to talk to the people that make this hobby happen and they are really cool.  And I get to write the stuff I like.

But I'd kill to be able to write a Charmed RPG.

While I know the demographics of the show and your average gamer are not exactly the same, I think with the amount of "modern supernatural" fiction being published today that a Charmed game would be fantastic.  Buffy sold well, Dresden Files is doing nicely.  Granted those are properties with significant geek/gamer buy-in and at the time of their games the properties are still active.

I would like to point out that with all the stuff I have written about witches and magic in the things I have published that this game would be a natural for me. ;)

The world of Charmed is richer and it is a drama about sisters that happen to be witches and living in a supernatural world. Not one about witches that happen to be sisters.  The differences sound subtle but have huge potential differences on how a story can be told.  Charmed featured, not just witches and demons (the typical fare in my book) but all sorts of other races, creatures and groups with agendas of their own; and just because two groups were working for the same side they didn't always get along.  For example the Charmed Ones and the Elders or even the Valkyries.

I think there are better stories one can tell in the Charmed universe, actually I know so.  One of the premises of Season of the Witch was to take two Buffy characters and put them into a more Charmed like universe and tell a story.  It worked. It worked really well in fact.

Of course my system of choice for this would be Unisystem, but I can also see doing it in something like Mutants & Masterminds or even Cortex..    Maybe I need to chase down the company that owns the game rights (I know, or rather knew, who they are) and see if they want to hire me cheap.  If Eden were to do it and publish it I'd even consider doing it for free.

There are a couple of versions of Charmed on the web.
Andrew Peregrine, author of Victoriana 2nd ed and Hellcats and Hockeysticks did one way back when.  You can still find it here,

Jeff Slick also did one years ago, but all his copies seem to be gone.  I did find thins one though,

I like both, but there are things I'd do different in each one.

At the end of the day though I think a Charmed RPG may never be.  More is the pity too.  I think I could really rock on writing it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Special: C is for Companion

Yes I know. No A-to-Z posting on Sunday and C is Monday's letter.  But I do have a C for Monday.

The Companion Edition of D&D was one of the near mythical books for me growing up.  As I mentioned yesterday that I began my game playing with the Basic/Expert, known today as B/X, sets from the early 80s.  The expert took the game from 3rd to 14th level and the Companion book was then going to take the game from 14th to 36th level.  Even though I knew of AD&D at the time, I thought that the Companion book was going to be the way to go. So I waited for it.
And waited.

And waited some more.

Finally I gave up waiting and dove into AD&D instead, leaving Basic D&D behind.  Eventually a Companion Rules Set did come out.  But it was for the new Mentzer-edited Basic set (now called BECMI) and I no longer had any interest in it having discovered the world could also have Assassins, half-orcs and 9 alignments.

I did manage to read it once.  I was in college and it was at Castle Perilous Games in Carbondale. Of course now AD&D 2nd Ed was the new hotness and I had no desire to look backwards.   What I saw though at the time did now impress me.  I think the entire Mentzer set at the time (AT THE TIME mind you) made me think of it as D&D for little kids (now I see it differently).

Fast forward to the Old School Revolution/Renaissance/Resurgence/Recycled and I have re-discovered the Basic sets (all of them) in their imperfect glories.  And I am not the only one that must have felt a little gipped by not getting a Companion book for B/X.
JB over at B/X Blackrazor designed his own Companion rules.
If it is not exactly what the companion was going to be, it is really, really close.

I have gushed on and on (and on) about how much I love this book here and elsewhere.  If I went on anymore then Jonathan owes me advertising. ;)

But I have to add this. B/X Companion I think is the best embodiment of the what is the spirit of the OSR, not to diminish the to efforts of others (hardly at all), but the B/X Companion gives us something new, something that we didn't have before.  Something, for me at least, that I have been waiting years for.

I only have two issues with the book.  First I want a PDF of it.  It is  my only old school book that I can't cart around with me everywhere. Though now according to JB the pdf is on the way! Second I wish he had used the OGL so others could expand on it, make modules for it.  But no big deal, I am just thrilled to have it.

Speaking of which, I did get a chance back in the day to get my Companion fix in.  My DM ran the module CM2 Death's Ride under AD&D and it nearly killed us all.  In a perfect world I'd run Death's Ride again using the B/X Companion.  Maybe one day I will.

In general I like the idea of the Companion rules, either of them. They take the rules into a different place; a place that the Basic or Advanced rules had not previously done well.  The idea of running a kingdom or even traveling the planes.  Great stuff.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

B is for Basic D&D

Ok that was silly yesterday, but now lets get down to the serious business of serious blog posting.  Seriously.

I am fairly well known in these circles for my enjoyment of the new 4th ed D&D game.  It's fun. Really what else should it be?  If I want to play something that feels like an older edition of D&D then I have older editions of D&D still on my shelves.   Which is interesting because lately my current favorite edition of D&D is the Moldvay/Cook versions of Basic and Expert.

Like so many other gamers my age I had been exposed to the AD&D 1st ed books and LOVED the Monster Manual.  And like so many others I asked for D&D for Christmas.  I didn't get this:

I got this:

Of course I was not sure what the difference was.  I had been using a really piss-poor scan of someones Holmes Basic book that was I was sure was blue.  This one was red in a purple box.  But it said D&D on the cover and that made it official D&D to me (funny how that hasn't changed much in the past 30 years).

I played this edition and then eventually got a hold of the Expert Set too.  We played AD&D, but I still used these books.  OR maybe we played D&D and used the Advanced books too.  It was a good time in any case.

With the release of such cool products like Basic FantasyLabyrinth Lord and the B/X Companion (more on that tomorrow!) I have been able to get my Basic D&D fix all over again.

The rules are light, to the point and very, very fun.
I have gone back now and re-bought both the Moldvay Basic and Cook Expert sets (my originals were long since lost), the Holmes Basic and even the Mentzer Basic set and Rules Compendium.  But it is this version is the one I consider "mine".  When people say Red Box, this is what I think of first.  Sure there are some "odd" things about it.  I got really used to the alignment system in AD&D and races as classes seemed odd to me then and they still do.  But these books are just such good fun that I can overlook all of that.

Zatannurday: I get by with a little help from my friends...

I like the Hellblazer series of comics.  I like their darker tone and of course I love the magic.  I also love them because of Zatanna, of course.

In one of the odder comics (Hellblazer #63, 1993) it is John Constantine's 40th birthday and his friends throw him a surprise party. Chantinelle "Ellie" (a succubus), Zatanna and Swamp Thing are invited as well.  Swampy then proceeds to grow a bunch of pot for everyone at the party.   Which leads to Zee becoming to my knowledge the only standing member of the Justice League to get high in the comics.  So here is John, Zee and Elle getting high.

There is a commentary about this issue here:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Season of the Witch: Episode 12

Episode 12: Torn

May/June, 2005
Heatherfield, WA

Willow and Tara spend more than a month with the Daughters of the Flame. They begin to feel a pull to the north, something summoning them.

They prepare to travel but Tara mentions being sick. Cordy scans her, but finds nothing wrong with her. She admits though as she is mage now her magic is different.

They arrive is a small town in Washington State called Heatherfield. Here they meet up with five young women fighting a giant dragon. Before they can help they are able to send through a portal. The women identify themselves as “The Guardians” and they have been protecting Earth from threats from the magical worlds for almost 10 years. They are younger than Willow and Tara, but act much older. When they are finally able to talk to them (they are not interested in what Willow and Tara have to say) they learn that the Veil is thinnest here and it is getting thinner by the minute.

There are some battles with various monsters that come through and Willow and Tara prove their worth to the five Guardians. Tara notes that in Tamara’s Journal she talked about creating the Veil to protect the lands of Faerie from humans and visa versa. The spell is in the book, but it is a very complicated one and it will take all seven of them to cast it. They debate, the five guardians are anything but united in their plans, but finally they decide to give it a try.

The ritual is cast. During this time the Witches’ Committee shows up to try to stop them but they are stopped themselves by S.A.V.E. The ritual hits a tumult and the veil is erected anew, but Willow is trapped on the other side and they can’t take it down now.

Notes: This one was going to be bigger but my group was falling apart at this point. The Guardians obviously are a take on the Guardians of Kandrakar from the comic book W.I.T.C.H., but also designed to be any type of elemental-based magic-girl. I wanted to explore why the universe would choose five teenage girls as the ultimate protectors. I figured it had something to do with innocence or something, but I never got the chance to really get too deep into it.
I wanted this episode to have a real anime feel to it. So there were a lot of magical battles. I let Willow and Tara fire bolts of magical energy that were cast like spells and did SL x3 + Willpower x2 amounts of damage. It made for an interesting time.

I wanted to play up how the Guardian girls were no longer connected to what they were and that had something to do with the weakening of the veil, but I don’t think I quite got it.

I did the cliffhanger ending here of Willow being on the other side of the veil when it went up. Yeah I know, separating the girls to cause angst was quickly becoming a cliché in this game, but this was the last time.

The Witches Committee and S.A.V.E. were back to provide some more antagonists/distractions.

Next up. There must be some kind of way out of here…

A is for "Lipra Loof!"

It's the start of the A to Z blogging challenge and I Am already breaking the rules, or rather bending them a bit.
It is also April 1st and that mean April Fools Day.    So my first post is about the great April issues of the old Dragon magazine.

Back in the 80's Dragon would send out their April issue and it would have various bits of "off" content.  While every May there would be "serious gamers" complaining about it I thought it was great.

I came to enjoy them as much as I did the annual Halloween/Undead/Horror issues in October.

In fact the "Adventure" Nogard from Dragon #96 (it's Dragon spelled backwards! Funny!) became a serious thing in our game.  A dimensionless plane with no exits.  It is timeless, so you can't die of old age or even hunger (but you still get hungry) became an awful place to get stuck in for our high school games.

I'd later use the exact same place in my series "The Dragon and the Phoenix" as the demonic waste-land in the finale "No Other Troy".

Of course some of the articles were just silly.  I remember them now only fondly.  Plenty of allusions to Phil and Dixie's "Sex and D&D" and lots of pointless character classes.

More recently WotC did an April Fools web site that featured older Basic and 1st Ed books as "New" and an equally useless cass, Witchalok (that got my attention) with powers like "Slow Dramatic Clap" and "Turn into Dinosaur".  Some of the older gamers were "offended" I thought it was funny as hell myself.   So in the vein of humor I present a new Witch Spell for Basic D&D.  Convert to any version of D&D you like.  But not to Original D&D, because really, who plays that any more?  BTW this is the spell I got paid for the new 5th Edition D&D that will be announced at Gen Con 2011.

Slow Dramatic Clap
Level: Witch 8
Range: 25'
Duration: 3 rounds
This spell is one the greater compulsion spells the witch has access too.  It can only be cast after someone in the witch's party does something that can be described as truly epic.  Defeating the ogre king with only a broken table leg, getting the cursed gem into a bag, or scoring the winning basket with only seconds left on the clock.  The witch stands and begins to clap very slowly.  Any creature that fails their save vs. Awesomness (or Spells, whatever is on your sheet) will stand (if sitting), drop their weapons and clap too.  Everytime someone falls victim to the spell, others will take a -1 to their save rolls.  So if 4 people fail their save before you then you are at a -4 to save yourself.  Eventually all will be clapping.  If any 80's rock anthem is playing then everyone takes and additional -5.
The witch must be able to stand and speak the command words "Well done. Well. Done."

Of course WotC is doing it all again this year too!

A to Z blog challenge, Let it begin!

Hello! Welcome to the Other Side!

This blog is the "reincarnation" of my old The Other Side website from the dawn of the Web.  I like to write about role-playing games, particularly old-school ones, D&D and horror games.  I post a lot of character write-ups, I love witches and magic.

I am participating in this blogging challenge for the same reasons I am blogging to begin with; to help improve my ability as a writer. Challenges like these help stretch those creative muscles and hopefully get me to write about stuff I might not normally do.

I am not alone in this challenge.  I am going to be following all these blogs, some of which I only know about because of this challenge.  Please join me in watch and reading these blogs.

Ands a few new blogs to me that are also participating.
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