Friday, January 6, 2012

Blogging A to Z?

Last year I proudly participated in the Blogging A to Z challenge in April.

I felt it was not only a good way to stretch my creative abilities but work on my writing and do a bit a cross blog-genre promotion.  My hits went up, and stayed up, drastically during and after April and I got my greatest surge of followers.

Well they are doing it again this year.


Though I am not sure I am going to do it this year yet or not.
Last year it worked out on many levels for me.  I recall thinking about the posts I had queued up and how they would fit the challenge.  When "Z" fell on a Saturday it clinched it for me.

Part of the purpose of the blogfest is to post every day.  I do that now anyway.

Keep in mind I am NOT saying participation is a bad idea, far from it in fact.
I actually suggest that we get MORE OSR/RPG bloggers participating to get our message out there.
The one thing we all talk about is getting more people involved in our hobby, we can't do that if the only people we talk to are already in our hobby.
Plus if you are selling a product you should participate just to more attention to you and your book.

If I do it this year then I need to do a theme or something, make it more challenging than last year.

Are you going to participate?  Why or why not?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Skylanders Hex for Pathfinder

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

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

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


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

DEFENSE

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

OFFENSE

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

STATISTICS

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

SPECIAL ABILITIES

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

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 1

Welcome to my first White Dwarf Wednesday!
Today we are going to look into Issue 1 published in June of 1977.
But first lets talk about what White Dwarf meant to me and why it later captured my attention in the OSR days.

Back in the early days of my gaming I was well aware of Dragon Magazine.  My first issue was Dragon #80 and it was awesome to see that this new game I enjoyed so much was enjoyed by others.  Imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that there was not just one, but TWO magazines dedicated to this hobby.
Back in the 80s I was in love with all thing British.  My favorite shows were "Doctor Who", "Monty Python" and "Benny Hill". My favorite bands were "The Who", "Led Zeppelin" and "The Police".   To my teenaged mind there was nothing better than something from the UK.  White Dwarf did not prove that wrong to me.
The writing style was different than what I saw in Dragon.  It was grittier, it was more dangerous.  I reminded me a lot of Heavy Metal magazine to be honest.  Plus the ads in White Dwarf were not "edited" or dare I say, "censored" as they were in Dragon. And really who could forget those early Gamma World ads?
My first issue of White Dwarf was issue 44.  I picked up some here and there over the years, and about 4-5 years ago I was able to buy issues 1 through 89.  I worked on getting all the way 100, but only have a few between 89 and 96.

I used White Dwarf in the Great D&D Article Purge on Wikipedia a few years back.  Since WD was a 3rd party publication it could support many of the D&D articles that needed extra references.  In the process I got to read through all of them many times over and it was a great blast from the past.  I am now in my 3rd wave of White Dwarf affection thanks to the OSR.  You can't get much more Old School than this.

So without further ado, lets jump right on in.

White Dwarf #1
June/July 1977

The magazine contains the sub-title of "The Science Fiction and Fantasy Games Magazine", certainly that was true enough.  Counting covers we have a mere 24 pages worth of content.
The editorial from Ian Livingstone discussed the emergence of just 2 short years of a new kind of wargaming brought over by two Americans, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.   He mentions how there are now over 50 games in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre and over 10 companies providing these games and how White Dwarf hopes to cater to them.
We have a two and a half page review/pre-view of the newest Sci-Fi game, Metamorphisis Alpha.
We are treated to a few ads about a local game store and the British Fantasy Society.
Next up is something very unique and very interesting for a number of reasons.  It is Don Turnbull's Monstermark System.  The Monstermark system was used by White Dwarf to assign a "level of malignity" to every monster.  An early attempt at what would be the Challenge Rating.  The Monstermark is based on the number of rounds it would take to defeat a monster and the aggressiveness of a monster.
The explanation is full of wonderful equations; enough to make your high school math teacher happy and there are tables with examples.  What else could be more old school really?  I am bit suprised no one has tried to revive this and republish it for the OSR (or something like it).  What struck me as interesting too was that this was based on something the author had published previously in Owl & Weasel. How often did you see something like that?  The Monstermark system would be used in White Dwarf for many issues to rate the various monsters they created including some of the future Fiend Folio ones.
The Open Box feature column reviewed games.  Games were ranked 1-10 on Complexity, Skill, Atmosphere, Originality, Presentation and an Overall score. This issue SPI's Sorcerer (overall score 7) and Avaon Hill's Starship Troopers (Overall, 9).
A piece on competitive D&D. Part 1 of Lewis Pulsipher's D&D Campaign breakdown. IS D&D a war game or something else? An article on the wargame "The Warlord" by Steve Jackson (the English one)
Near the end we are introduced to a section called "Treasure Chest", which is basically a way for readers to send their contributions to the D&D rules.  We have a magic item, the Helm of Vision, and a bit talking about how D&D combat and magic is all wrong and a proposed fix (and it's only Issue #1!).  We have a new class (The Pervert) and some information about Poison.
We end up with some classified ads, and a "caption this" style cartoon.

All in a good start. It does not compete with Dragon from the same time yet, but it will get there soon.



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year, New Look

I am going to be working on the look of the Other Side here for a bit.  New Year and all.

If you are reading this in a reader, can you please stop by and let me know what you think.
This gives me readability feedback AND helps me check to make sure I put the Google Analytics codes in right.

Thanks!

Magical Near Talents in Ghosts of Albion

The child looked at me in obvious fear and trepidation. I tried to win the young lad over with my most winninest smile. "Its ok dear. I am not going to hurt you." I said, but he shook his head.
"Beggin' your pardons Mum, its not you I'm worried about, but that ghost lady behind you."


-From The Journal of Tamara Swift

Not everyone in the Ghosts of Albion game is a ghost, powerful Protector or vampire.  In fact the vast, vast majority of people in the world are not only ignorant of the supernatural, but so far removed from it that it has no impact on their lives whatsoever.  Generally speaking this line is easily demarcated with the possession of either the Magic quality (in humans) or the Innate Magic quality (in supernaturals).  If you have one or the other then the world of the supernatural is open to you and you to it.
There are some that have no magical talent to speak of, yet the world of the supernatural is open to them, in a limited state.  They see ghosts, hear strange creaking where others hear nothing and sometimes even are able to cast a spell.

These folk are known as Near Talents and they are have a zero (0) level of Magic.

Magic 0
3 points or Special
Prerequisite: Must be human
Characters with 0 levels of Magic have a small bit of magical talent.  They can cast a spell (typically they know only one) of PL 1 (and no higher).  They cannot quick cast any spells and will always cast their spell at the end of their round.
Characters with Magic 0 are treated as if they have Lesser Sensing, but they typically need a Perception + Notice roll in order to see any magic or magical creature.  The Director can make exceptions to this, typically making it easier to see some things like a familiar ghost.
Characters can "upgrade" to a full level of Magic with the Director's approval only.  Directors are encouraged to find an "in story" reason for this manifestation of the character's full potential and either grant them Magic 1 or allow them to buy it for 1 or 2 points (never more than 2).
Spellcasting is treated the same, except the Magic modifier is 0.  Characters with Magic 0 have no magical defenses, they need to be Magic 1 at least for that.

Uses of Near Talents
Near Talents can be used to provide a nice middle ground.  Ordinary humans with one toe in the supernatural world. The obvious choices are NPC and Guest Stars, but Cast Members can also benefit from this quality.  In particular Magic 0 also acts like a low level magic sensitivity that can be given to otherwise normal humans so they can be part of the adventuring world.  If this is the case then the director is encouraged to give these Cast Members Magic 0 for free, but not give them a spell to use.  If they later find one that can be up to the Director.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My new game Sky..(mumble)...

So I got a new game over Christmas.  It is very popular and has may RPG elements in it and you get to fight monsters and explore an expanding world and I am already 3rd level and addicted to it.  It is called Skylanders.

Were you expecting a different "Sky" named game?

Well Skylanders is cool all the same.  We have been playing it on the Wii and there are all these little figures you can collect and use in the game in addition to magic items, new lands and all sorts of things.

My boys have had the game for a while, but since they know I love witches they got me the figure Hex for Christmas. She is Drow Dark Sorceress whose "element" is "undead".  The game play is fast and really fun.  Simple enough for the young kids to figure it out, yet enough detail to keep me entertained.  In fact I was killed at one point because I was paying too much attention to the details of the game.

Here is my character, Hex, done up as a 3rd level D&D4 Witch.
I decided she is a Drow. Not the best choice for a witch, but it works well for the story.  She has lower than average Dexterity to reflect her lower than average Agility.  She has a floating skull familiar (like in the pictures) and I figured she was cultist. Her Charisma is lower than one would expect for a Drow due to all the evil undead stuff about her.


====== Created Using Wizards of the Coast D&D Character Builder ======

Hex (witch), level 3
Drow, Wizard (Witch)
Moon Coven Option: Dark Moon Coven
Dark Apprenticeship (+2 to Bluff)
Theme: Cultist

STARTING ABILITY SCORES
STR 10
CON 10
DEX 9
INT 18
WIS 13
CHA 12

AC: 16 Fort: 12 Ref: 16 Will: 16
HP: 28 Surges: 6 Surge Value: 7

TRAINED SKILLS
Arcana +12, Dungeoneering +8, Insight +8, Intimidate +11, Religion +10

UNTRAINED SKILLS
Acrobatics +1, Athletics +1, Bluff +4, Diplomacy +2, Endurance +1, Heal +3, History +5, Nature +3, Perception +3, Stealth +3, Streetwise +2, Thievery +1

POWERS
Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack
Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack
Cultist Attack: Master's Eye
Drow Racial Power: Cloud of Darkness
Wizard Utility: Augury
Wizard Utility: Ghost Sound
Wizard Utility: Spook
Wizard Utility: Mage Hand
Wizard Attack 1: Dread Presence
Wizard Attack 1: Phantasmal Assault
Wizard Attack 1: Witch Bolt
Wizard Attack 1: Ray of Fatigue
Wizard Utility 2: Shield
Wizard Attack 3: Grim Shadow

FEATS
Arcane Familiar (Floating Skull)
Level 1: Shield of Shadows
Level 2: Disciple of Death

ITEMS
Battle Staff +1 x1
Delver's Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing) +1 x1
Cloak of Resistance +1 x1
Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing)
Adventurer's Kit
Staff Implement x1
====== End ======

Pretty good fit I think.  I might have her show up as an NPC sometime.  My boys would get a kick out of that.



Oh. And we got Skyrim too.  Just what I need, more distractions.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 by the Numbers

In my corner of the world it is now 2012.  Which means it is 2012 where you are too. But before I move on to 2012 and the all things new, here is a run down of the numbers here at the Other Side.

511 total posts in 2011.

According to Google Analytics here are some visitor stats.
92,225 people visited this site
127,168 Visits
92,225 Unique Visitors
191,473 Pageviews
1.51 Pages/Visit
00:01:07 Avg. Time on Site
71.16% Bounce Rate
71.65% % New Visits

The top 5 countries were
USA 67,909 visits
UK 9,104 visits
Canada 7,760 visits
Australia 3,538 visits
Germany 3,506

Not counting my root page, my most visited pages in 2011 were:
Xena and Gabrielle  31,114 views
Elzabeth Bathory 10,756 views
Zatnnurday, Adam Hughes 2,845 views
Hex Girls, 2,839 views
T is for Trogdor, 2,797 views
Willow & Tara, Macho Women with Guns, 2,198 views
More races of Mystoerth Goblins, 2,135 views
New Hex Girls, 1,827 views
Willow and Tara Page, 1,642 views
Demons Run, when chased by Madame Vastra and Jenny, 1,571 views

Top 10 search words to get to my site:
Xena
Trogdor
Dracula
Hex Girls
Elizabeth Bathory
Zatanna Young Justice
Adam Hughes
Goblins
Witch Hunter Robin
Wikipwdia (note the typo.  That stupid typo gave me 317 extra hits last year)

Top 10 Sources of page hits (not counting search engines)
RPGBloggers
The Underdark Gazette (may it rest in peace. forget that, just update the link)
Risus Monkey
Hero Press/I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters
RPG.Net Forums
The Hex Girls coven
Our Valued Customers (make one pot joke and the hits go through the roof)
Eternal Keep
Grognardia
Destination Unknown

My most visited period was between July 24 and October 31 where I was averaging 200 unique visitors a day. Lately I have dropped to about 100. Don't know why yet.

My most commented pages were:
Defending the indefensible, 36 comments
All Fun and Games, 31 comments
More OSRIC Player's Guide woes, 28 comments
But, shouldn't we aspire to be the  Hero?, 27 comments
There goes my last shred of OSR-ness, 18 comments
Worst Movies Ever, 17 comments
Should WotC support ALL D&D?, 17 comments
Question for my Readers, 16 comments
Skills in D&D, 15 comments
Product Changes at WotC: no more Minis, 14 comments
My collection is now complete, 12 comments

What did 2011 give us?
Well we saw more OSR products than ever and finally something more than just another retro-clone.
Back in Gen Con 2010 people kept telling me about the death of 4e in 2011, it never happened, but it also didn't sell enough compared to Pathfinder.
Ghosts of Albion saw print! I also got paid for my first official D&D writing gig.  Though I didn't get "The Witch" out when I wanted.
My Zatannurday posts were a huge success in my mind (and according to the stats) so I am hoping for more this year.
My number of followers nearly doubled, most of them were from outside of the RPG and OSR circles, so that is nice.
I joined a bunch of blogfests which was fun and got me a bunch of hits and new followers and exposed the Other Side to a much wider audience.  I would suggest that other OSR blogs do the same, we tend to get into a rut to be honest.

Now. On to 2012!!