Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On Blogfests

Yesterday I participated in the It's All Fun and Games blogfest and before that I participated in the A-Z blogfest and the Horror Movie Challenge.

It was fun to do them all and the numbers of hits, new followers and comments speak for themselves; they were very successful as getting The Other Side some attention.

I know these sorts of things have been derided or mocked in the various OSR/Gaming blogs before, but the impact something like this can have can't be overlooked. While I can't say that it increased the sales of Ghosts of Albion or even Chill (WitchCraft, the only other game I linked is free), I do know from clickthroughs that people looked at the games.

Not gamers mind you.  People. The Normals.  ie. The People we need to bring into the fold of this hobby if we are expected to see it survive to the next generation.

Whether it has a significant impact or not, mine is just one site and an admittedly loose focus.  I am likely to talk games as well as horror movies, comics, and anything else.  This is not a platform blog unless the platform happens to be random stuff that is no longer confined to just my brain.

Later in the month I am going to participate in the Queer Film Blogathon. I am going to explore the meme/trope of the Lesbian Vampire in horror films as the ultimate outsider and compare how she is more often portrayed as a tragic figure than that of a monster.  This can be extended to the Homosexual Vampire too (Lestat, or any of Rice's vamps) and even due to race (Blackula).   This of course will necessitate a discussion on the Evil or Dead Lesbian Cliché and whether or not even a sympathetic vampire still qualifies.

This has almost nothing to do with gaming (but I'll give it the old college try*), but it will expose my blog to a completely new audience that has no idea that we even exist or think that D&D died out sometime in the 80s.

If we want to grow our hobby we should be looking for any chance to go out there and evangelize it.

*Since I went to Southern Illinois University for both my undergrad and graduate degrees that means I'll have to have a few beers and then think about it. ;)

Monday, June 6, 2011

All Fun and Games

I am surprised I didn't see this one before hand, but there is a new Blogfest out there and I am a sucker for these things.

It's All Fun and Games hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

I guess since we all talk about our favorite games anyway this is lest of a fest and more of a "Monday".

But anyway here we go!

1. Dungeons and Dragons:  D&D is the 800-lb gorilla in the game world for a reason. It provides what is to many the ultimate experience in a table top RPG.  I started playing this game back in 1979 and I still play it today.  I enjoy all the editions, warts and all, and it is still the game I enjoy coming back too the most.
Not much more I can say about this one really.  It has kept me entertained for over 30 years now.

2. WitchCraft RPG. I was half-tempted to list "Ghosts of Albion" but I thought that might be incredibly tacky and self-serving. Instead I want to list the game that eventually got me to Ghosts.  It was the late 90s and everybody was going crazy for "Storytelling" games.  Games not about killing things and taking their stuff, but about exploring characters, that may or may not be monsters themselves, in a world of...well...darkness.  C. J. Carella's WitchCraft did this better than any other game out there in my mind.  Picking up this book filled me with the same awe as holding that Monster Manual back in '79.
WC paved the way for so many other games for me, not just in terms of playing but in writing.  If it were not for WC then we would not have had Buffy, Angel or Army of Darkness.  Conspiracy X would have remained in the it's original system. There would be no Terra Primate or All Flesh Must Be Eaten and certainly there would be no Ghosts of Albion.
The cover also is one of my all time favorite bits of artwork for a RPG cover ever.
If you have not discovered this game, then I suggest you get a copy now.
It is 100% free at http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=692&affiliate_id=10748

3. Chill.  If D&D was my first and WitchCraft is my current favorite horror game, then a special place must left in my heart for Chill.  Chill is a horror game of normal people in an abnormal world.  It's not as dark as say Kult or as dangerous as Call of Cthulhu and character never get to the levels of WitchCraft, but it was a perfect game for the time I was playing it (the early to mid 80s).
Chill, either 1st ed or 2nd ed, doesn't hold up as well in today's world where characters have as much firepower as the monster they hunt (or even are the monsters), but back in the 80s it was a huge shift in my understanding of how games could be played.  Traveller also represented such a shift for me and it almost made the #3 slot here.   I also have a big post coming up about Traveller here in the near future, so it will get some love.
You can get the 2nd Edition (Mayfair version) of Chill from DriveThruRPG:

That is my Top 3.  I have played scores of RPGs and own or owned many more I haven't played.  And that is not even talking about other games I like such as Dungeon! or even other board and card games.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Someone to Witch over me

By now many regular readers know I have been putting together a number of posts for an eventual Basic Era book for a Witch class.
Here is a link to the announcement I made back in March.

Also you may know that Jonathan Becker over at B/X Blackrazor is also doing a witch class for his "The Complete B/X Adventurer".  I personally think that is very cool, and I dig the name of the book too.

I am looking forward to seeing else JB will do with his witch.  I am sure it will be different than what I am doing and I think the Basic Retro-clone market is large and now getting diverse enough to support more than one view on the witch.

I want to talk about his ideas in a bit, but first I want to talk about my own ideas, as they are right now.

Presently this book has about 63 pages of game material and an additional 52 pages of nothing but spells.  Frankly that is WAY too much material for what is essentially just one new class.  Though I have much more than just that of course.  The spells can be used for other classes and there are some new monsters and magic items.

Here is a small sampling of what I'll be offering, though edited to fit the narrative of the book better.

Plus I am very keen on doing a witch that was likely to have been built back when the Moldvay boxed set was still new.  So I have spent a lot of time thinking about the role of witches and what they do in a game. Again, taking my cues from Tom Moldvay as detailed here, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/01/tom-moldvay-on-witches.html.  I have tried to address all these points (and then some) in my new witch.

The other issue that is important to me is that the witch must have a role that does not take away from the Cleric or the Magic-User/Wizard.  There should be overlap, that is fine, just like a fighter and thief can both use weapons to attack a monster. The cleric, magic-user and witch all use spells.  They just use them in a different way.

I have done witch books for *D&D before including one for AD&D 2nd Ed and another for D&D3/d20.  There will be some similarities of course, but I am more focused on the Basic Witch to create a book that feels like it was made in the later 1970s/early 1980s.  I am reading witch and occult material that was popular at the time.  I really want a good old-school feel, but while still taking advantage of all the research I have been doing over the last 25+ years.

Now lets go back to JB's Complete B/X Adventurer Witch.
His links are here:
Jonathan has a good idea of what he wants and I think he is going about it in a very cool way.

His Something Wicked... goes over a lot of the same ground I have gone over here, but he also points out that we get a lot of references to witches without any witches themselves.  Now he mentions he has never read the the classic Dragon Magazine articles on witches (#5, #20, #43 and most famously #114), but I think there is a lot in those articles that bear reading.  One of which is the Tom Moldvay list from my previous post.

I am looking forward to seeing how these two different, but related, interpretations are welcomed by the OSR community.

AD&D1 in Dragon #400

Just was reading through some of the new articles that will be in Dragon #400.  Current WotC employees are talking about their favorite Dragon moments.  Mike Mearls brings back Roger Moore's Jester and keeps it as 1st Edition AD&D.   Odd seeing a 1st ed character in 4e trade dress.

Anyway here it is, but you need to be a subscriber.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Review: Northlands


The Northlands is a very cool campaign setting for a Norse/Viking like area for use with Pathfinder. Not a setting by itself, it is designed to be easily inserted into your game world. Though there is nothing stopping you from just using this book all by itself.

In its 110+ pages you will find a area ready for adventure. There are new classes, skills, feats, weapons and spells. There are rules for variant races (humans and Dwarves) and new races from the bestial Trollkin to the Hyperborean. Everything is given a new look to reflect the cold lands of the north. The culture here is a very different one. It’s not just colder, the people (and thus the characters) are different.

The magic chapter is very cool, with new spells, and new types of magic such as grudge magic and runic magic.

The lands are detailed in both chapter 2 and chapter 5. So there is plenty to work from here. The chapter on monsters contains quite a nice number of creatures and they are not for the faint of heart.

The author capture not only the rules of playing in these lands but the feel as well. Author Dan Voyce obviously has a love for this setting and their real world counterparts that show through the writing. This is a well researched book.

The art is equally fantastic and even though it is spare and black and white, it adds to the overall feel of the book. The cover is one of the best I have seen in a very long time.

The legends of the Scandinavian countries are ripe for adventures and part of the very fiber that makes up the core of the FRPGs. The Northlands helps bring these tales to life.

I originally grabbed this because my local Pathfinder group is called "the Northlands Group" and I thought this might be a cool thing to have.  But once I got it and started reading it I realized I wanted to keep it all for myself! I plan to use it for the areas in my Mystoerth games, specifically the areas right around my version of Hyborea.

Now this Northlands has nothing to do with the Frog God games Northland Saga for Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry.  But they are not incompatible.

I enjoyed it and I think you all might too.

5 out of 5 stars!

...here there be dragons...

School is winding down for my little guys and that means the summer of no school, no homework and no reading right?


You can't be the kid of an educator and not expect something.  But this time it was my son that surprised me.  I was talking with him the other day and he wants to write a book, and not just any book.  He wants to write one on dragons.
Liam has been playing D&D now for years.  He loves dragons and has read dozens of books on them and of course he is the original Dragonslayer in my games.  

We talked and I talked with teacher, so this summer Liam will be writing his first book, "Here There Be Dragons".  There will be stats, histories and all sorts of goodies about dragons.  He wants to do it all for Pathfinder and maybe 4e.  I also suggested doing it for OSRIC and Basic era games too.

He wants spells, prestige classes and even has come up with some very specialized dragon hunting weapons including the dragon hunter's spear ("Because getting close enough to a dragon to use a sword is stupid.")

I will be doing the layout and editing, but all the ideas will be his.

The best part?

We are going to make the book available to everyone.

I don't know all the details yet.  But expect a book of dragons coming from us sometime later in the summer.
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