Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Victorian Games

I have gotten a bunch of "new" Victorian Games in the mail here recently.



I don't have a lot to say yet, but you can follow the discussion with myself and some of the authors of these games.
We are talking over at the Victorian Gamers Association (on Facebook).

Come on by.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Could this be my next Ghost of Albion idea?

New trailer out today for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".
As an Illinoisan, I approve.



Sure it might better suited for Rippers, but hey this is fun stuff.

Caves of Chaos in HiRes

How awesome is this?

http://www.theweem.com/2012/02/01/caves-of-chaos-reimagined-by-weem/

HiRes, and otherwise just plain cool maps of the Caves of Chaos.

I am planning on printing these out as soon as I can cause you jest never know when you are going to get that itch to go back to the Keep.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

With Extra Pulp

One genre I enjoy, but never really play much with, is the Pulp era.  Now I love the horror that comes from this time, and I watched a lot of movies filmed in and about this time.  So I do have a fondness for it.  But if I am going to pick up a historical game it will be either the Dark Ages, or the Victorian Age.  I tend to overlook the pulps.

I am much the lesser for it I think.

There is something about the pulp era that screams (yes screams is the right word) Adventure! Suspense! Action! Thrills! all with exclamation points too.

Here are some games I have been exploring over the last few years.  I have more, but this is a good batch.

THRILLING TALES: Omnibus Edition
I will admit that the Pulp Era is not one I seek out to either read or play games in.  I see the appeal and every interaction I have had with the material has been a positive one.  Thrilling Tales then is no exception, except for the fact I might actually seek out to play this one more often.
Physically this book is very nice. The layout is clean and easy to read.  The art is very evocative of the time and my first thought was the old Universal movies from the same time frame (and movie still from the serials was really nice).  That is a very good thing in my mind.
I loved the time line of the 30s.
The game is designed with d20 Modern in mind and I think it is a very good fit.  I love the minor changes like renaming the core classes to something more "Pulpy" and addition of the Seduction skill, something I pushed for in other games.
There are a bunch of new advanced classes appropriate to the era. If you have ever seen a movie, serial or read a book from this era then the cast will look very familiar.
The section on weapons and gear is great, and perfect for any pulp-era game, not just a TT one or even just a d20 one.  What I liked most about it is it is full photos and illustrations.
This is followed by sections on how to run a Pulp game and a wonderful section on Villains.  Again the villains section is great for any game in this era or even a supers game in any era.  Besides any game with a Nazi Vampire cult leader as a villain is an instant win in my book!
Speaking of which, all of chapter 8 is devoted to the only human enemy everyone can openly hate and kill without moral repercussions; the Nazis.  Not so much a history of the Nazi, but a a history of the Nazi-as-a-boogeyman; the all-Enemy.
The Thugee likewise get a chapter, but I am sure this is due 100% to Temple of Doom.

The book ends with a Random Adventure generator.  Which is 100% appropriate to this sort of adventure era.  Watch the old serials, it sometimes looks like they were rolling on a similar table while writing the scripts.   A bit of tweaking and this could work for any era.  Replace Nazi with "Drow" or "Soviets" or "Dark Cabal" and you get the idea.

All in all this is a great game and one that makes me want to play some two fisted pulp adventures!
5 out of 5 stars

Forbidden Kingdoms is one of the first d20 Pulp games I ever owned.  In many ways it is the yardstick I compare other pulp games to.  Sure I had Call of Cthulhu, which is sorta a pulp game, but it is more "Call of Cthulhu" and it's own thing than it is a pulp anymore. Forbidden Kingdoms (either version) is actually one of my more favorite Pulp era games. It is also the game that helped me see the value of D20 Modern.

Forbidden Kingdoms: Babbage Edition
FK is a great pulp-era game based around d20. It was very different than anything else out at the time and just a really fun read. The art is great and the game rules are a solid re-working of the d20 system to fit that Golden Era after Victoria and before WWII.
5 out of 5 stars


Forbidden Kingdoms: Modern
Forbidden Kingdoms: Modern is a slimmer version of the full FK book. This one uses the D20 Modern rules to cover the heavy lifting and leaves the rest of the book to focus on what is just Forbidden Kingdoms.
The Pulp Era is not one I spend a lot of time playing in, but it certainly tailor made for adventures. You have many of the advantages of a modern society and still have large areas of land that mysterious, unknown and ready for imagination.
The background information covers the end of the Victorian age till WWII and has a great overview of history. Not perfect of course, but perfect for a game.
If you like the Pulp era or any of the books that came out then, then this is a great game to have. I am using it for the history sections and the adventure hooks alone.
4 out of 5 stars

Weird Adventures
Weird adventures is, in my mind, a mix of things that usually do not work with me.  Pulp era heroics with Fantasy adventure and a sorta-semi-Earth like world.  Usually this is enough to turn me off of a game.  But here it seems to work well.  Very well.

So WA is a Pulp era game. Though not really OUR pulp era, but one on a world very similar to our own.  Not WoD similar-but-darker or even D&D world like but not alike.  This is our world with some odd distortions.  Sorta like the world of a pulp era comic.
We know that the creators of D&D and FRPGs were heavily influenced by the pulps.  What if that influence was more heavily felt than say the fantasy ones or the the Tolkien ones.  We might end up with some similar to Weird Adventures.

Now this book is designed as a fantasy campaign world. So it is not by itself a playable game, you need other rules in order to play it.  The book is written as system neutral, but obviously the prime influence here is older D&D.  Both Ascending and Descending ACs are given in the handful of monsters.

What I like about the book is that these different elements mix and merge so well.   Fantasy Adventure and Pulp Adventure seem to be two sides of the same coin.  I love the layout and look of this book too.  They made to remind the reader of a pulp era magazine and it works well.

The art is fantastic really.  The piece with the adventurers in a tomb with a beholder is fantastic.
The monsters were all great. I loved the Hill-billy Giant.

There are somethings though I didn't care for.
While I can see why they did it, I don't like some near-Earths.  This is not a deal breaker.  I like it for example in most Supers games.  I think I would have rather have used it with a real earth.
While it is designed for any game, I would have liked some more crunch.  At the very least give me some rules for guns.

I think it would a solid addition to any older D&D or the clones, and even a solid addition to any Pulp Era game.
4 out of 5 stars

Pulp Zombies

A "Zombie world" for the All Flesh Must Be Eaten game.  This one focuses on the two-fisted action adventures of the 1930s.
A special emphasis is given on the mystical side of the pulps and of course Nazi Zombies.

Even if you are not a fan of this era, there is a lot of good crunch that you can add to your AFMBE, WitchCraft, Armageddon or Conspiracy X game.

4 out of 5 stars


What do we know about D&D5 so far?


Here are a couple of links.

http://critical-hits.com/2012/02/03/initial-impressions-of-the-new-dd/

and this massive overview from ENWorld.
http://www.enworld.org/index.php?page=dnd5e

Again they are looking more for a "style" of play rather than out and out compatibility.
I am expecting it all to built on a 3.x base, in a presentation similar to that of the 4e Essentials line.
The core races and classes, with lots of add-ons to get more classes, monsters and skirmish battles.

I do expect skills and feats in the first sets of core books, but as kinda optional rules (like 2nd ed had for skills).

Otherwise the progress is moving along as I'd expect it too.
I am hoping to see some play-test games at Gen Con.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Zatannurday: Steampunk Zatanna

Long time readers know I Am a fan of the Victorian era and in particular Victorian horror. I am not though a Steampunk fan per se. It is cool. I get the appeal, but if I am wearing my Victorian costume I am going to carry a cane, not a nerf gun I spray painted.

That all being said I am a huge fan of the these Gaslight Justice League figures over at Sillof's website.
http://sillof.com/C-Gaslight.htm.  I was a big fan of "Gotham by Gaslight" and Wonder Woman: Amazonia and would loved to have seen more.  I felt his figures were a great look for the Victorian Justice League.

If you have never seen his custom figures then you need too. Now.  Especially his re-imaged Star Wars as an old Japanese Samurai movie.

But you notice something missing?  Yup!  Where is Zatanna?!
Well she was hanging out on Deviant Art!


I love how she looks.  Very classy, like you would expect the daughter of a world renowned magician be.  Of course her secret is she really know magic.

Given the high weirdness of both the Victorian age and mixing the JL, I thought it was only proper to stat her up for Ghosts of Albion.  Given her power level in the comics Zatanna (in any reality) should be one of the more powerful magicians in the game.

Zatanna (1887)
Zatanna Zatara is the daughter of the late Giovanni Zatara, renowned illusionist, prestidigitator and expert on all subjects occult.  Having spent her entire life in her father's show it was natural that Miss Zatanna would continue that occupation after her father's untimely demise.
What is not generally well known is that Zatanna also inherited her father's magic and mantle to protect the world from magical beings that would attempt to do humanity harm.

Zatanna Zatara
Very Experienced Master
http://my.deviantart.com/messages/#/d3hsevs

Life Points 50
Drama Points 10

Attributes
Strength 2
Dexterity 4
Constitution 3
Intelligence 4
Perception 5
Willpower 6

Qualities
Attractiveness +3
Charisma
Contacts (the Justice League) 4
Contacts (Supernatural) 5
Hard to Kill 2
Fast Reaction Time
Magic 10  (Homo Magi race)
Magical Family
Nerves of Steel
Occult Library (Amazing)
Resources 8
Situational Awareness
Supernatural Senses (the Sight)
Status 3 (lowered due to profession and gender)

Drawbacks
Adversaries (Lots) 5
Honorable (Minimal)
Mental Problems (Fear of Commitment)
Minority (Woman)
Obligation (mundane humans, Important)
Secret 1 (really uses magic)

Useful Information
Initiative +
Actions 1/2
Observation 1d10 + 11
Fear +

Skills
Armed Mayhem 1
Art 6 (stage performance)
Athletics 2
Crime 1
Drive / Ride 1
Engineering 2
Fisticuffs 2
Influence 6
Knowledge 7
Languages 6 (English, Italian, Latin, Greek, Egyptian, Backwards talk)
Marksmanship 3
Notice 5
Occultism 9
Physician 2
Wild Card

Combat
Maneuver Bonus  Damage  Notes
Dodge / Parry    +6 - Defense Action
Grapple +6 - Defense Action
Punch +6 4 Bash
Magic +25 per spell Must speak backwards
- Deflect +25 Special Deflects spell 45 degrees

You can see more of his Victorian super ladies here: http://doonboy.deviantart.com/gallery/33431300

Can't wait to have her run across Madame Vastra and Jenny!

Friday, February 10, 2012

ACKS B/XC Or How I commit heresy with Adventurer Conqueror King

I just picked up Adventurer Conqueror King last night and sat down to read it just a bit ago.

I like it.  It is a solid Retro-clone, near-clone and actually does a better job than some of the other "core rules" clones on the market now.  I will get a proper review out later.

One of the things that people are drawing attention to is the fact that this is an "End Game" system.  Characters grow, mature and then move out of the dungeon into rulerships of their own.  It is not unique in that respect, it is in fact often compared to Mentzer BECMI but the comparison can also be made of it and D&D4.  All three have end games and all three have rules for how those end games can play out.

ACKS though caps most progress at 14th level.

This of course got me thinking.  At a hard stop of 14th level...it makes B/X Companion a perfect "expansion" kit!  Yeah, yeah I know, I am totally violating the spirit and intent of the game.  Won't be the first time or the last time.

I did some quick checks and while things don't line up perfectly, they are damn close. Obviously pulling from the same source material.

Both rulesets deal with the idea of creating a life outside of the dungeon, the oft-sited "now you can play like Conan!"  Well Conan can retire, I have characters and a multi-plane universe to explore!

Others though have mentioned that it meshes nicely with Labyrinth Lord.  I have not checked that out for myself yet.

Is ACKS worth it at $10?  I don't know yet.  It is nice. The art is great. AND this might be the most important one, of all the clones out right now (S&W, LL, BFRPG, DD, LotFP, S&S) this is the only one I feel is good for a new player; one that has never played an RPG before.  The rest assume some level of knowledge.  No surprise, they were written by gamers for gamers.  ACKS I feel was written by gamers for non-gamers or even near-gamers.  Gamers too, but I think we have demonstrated that we will buy anything.

So who is up for an ACKS + B/X Companion campaign?
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