Friday, May 4, 2012

One Solstice Night

So I enjoy reading lots of different types of books and the one thing the advent of the eBook has given me is access to authors I might not other know about and access to their books.  So I stepped outside my normal range of books and found this new-to-me author Elroa Bishop.

One Solstice Night

Take equal parts of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “Kiki’s Delivery Service” and give them a solid twist and make it a love story then you might have something close to One Solstice Night.  But you should read the book anyway just to be sure.

OSN is a new novella by Elora Bishop,

A self described “Author of magical lesbian love stories” I had read her previous work, “The Witch Sea” and enjoyed it.  I got a copy of OSN and instead of completing my curriculum redesign I read it.  I am glad I did.

The book is rather short (one of the downsides) but very entertaining.  The book focuses on Isabella Fox (a very mediocre witch) and her talking familiar Alice.  Isabella has just been run out of her last town and she needs a new job.  As a witch for hire, especially one that is only so-so, she doesn’t have a lot of options.   So she ends up with the town of Benevolence (which is part of a series I guess).  Benevolence is quiet to be boring and she only has one spell to cast every year (and she is not even convinced it’s needed) and it would be the perfect gig.  Except for the Outcast.

There are a lot of cool locales that I hope we get to see in other books.  The Hag Bar in the World’s Largest Swamp was a really cool idea. It was very easy to see all these witches, holding brooms and their drinks walking around, drinking, chatting.  I wish I had thought of it.     Benevolence is an interesting town.  I enjoyed the causal magic people were using and Bishop did a great job of detailing the inhabitants.

What I liked about this tale is there is a certain timelessness about it.  No indication is given on when it takes place or even where, leaving it all up to your imagination.  I think this is a good thing to be honest.

We get witches as a given but we also get “Changers” which are people that can change into animals.  Not like werewolves, one minute they an animal the next they are human.  I liked it to be honest.

The love story part of this is between Isabella and another woman (natch) and it is very well handled.  There is nothing here that would be above a PG-13 level really.  The relationship builds over the course of the book and when it happens you believe it.

The climax of the book is something Isabella didn’t expect (nor did I) and frankly the action parts really pushed this book in my opinion.   I will not spoil the end, but I will say I can’t wait to read more about Isabella.

My only issue with the book.  It was not very long.  It is described as a novella, but it is on the short side of that I think.  I like short stories and this is closer in size to that (maybe longer) though the plotting is more novel like.  In truth though to make this story longer would have been unnatural.  There is a well defined begging, middle and end here and to make longer would have seemed odd.

In the end, girl finds girl and they live happily ever after.  At least till next year when she has to do the spell again. ;)
I would love to read more about Isabella’s future adventures.

What strikes me the most about this book is how much it would work as a Witch Girls Adventures setting. and

The Hag Bar would be right at home with everything else in Witch Girls.  I can also practically stat up Isabella Fox, Emily Deer, Mrs. Cat, Mrs. Goose and Alice in my head now.

It does make me want to read some of Bishop’s work.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

WIP it Out

I was digging through my hard drive the other day.  Just looking through files after files of things I have written spanning 3 decades, 6 different computers, 8 different OSes and countless game systems.

I have a huge desire to get these out of my hands and into yours.  Either as free, purchase or whatever books.

So here are the statuses of my various "Works in Progress", or in this case "Witches in Progress".

The Witch (for Basic Era Games) is off to an editor for final edits.  Art has been purchased and then I can wrap-up the layout.

Eldritch Witchery for Spellcraft & Swordplay is off to a different editor.  Art has been purchased for that one as well.  That one will need some tweaks according to my editor, but that is expected to be honest.

The Complete Book of Witches & Warlocks (working title) is a Pathfinder update to my Liber Mysterium book.  It is a collection of everything I have done for d20/OGL witches.  Significant edits and rewrites to bring my witches in line with the Pathfinder one.

Here There Be Dragons... my son's old school (OSRIC/LL Advanced) book on various new dragons.  Written, needs edits and stat revisions.

On other fronts I have:

The Vampire Queen adventure.  Needs maps.  For Spellcraft & Swordplay.

Darwin's Guide. A collection of monsters for Gaslight.  Writing.

And some Ghosts of Albion adventures: (various stages of completion)

GoA: Obsession - who keeps killing singer Miriam White?
GoA: Blight - the Protector of Ireland is dead and you are prime suspect.
GoA: Wilderness - the Industrial Revolution is on hold when the Wood fights back.
GoA: Dinosauria! - You are invited to a most unusual New Year's Eve party.
GoA: Angst - strange goings on at a local school for girls.  Ran once. needs edits.
GoA: Underground - The new London underground train has unearthed something horrible.
GoA: Pygmalion  - an artist  is surround by death.
GoA: Synchronicity - what threat is so horrible that it takes the combined casts of Ghosts of Albion and Buffy the Vampire Slayer to stop?

Some of these would work for other systems.

Anyway. Lots of stuff. I'll need more time to sort it out, but no sense is letting it languish any more.

I get these moods every so often.  The desire to clean house. Normally it takes the shape of me packing up a bunch of my books and games and unloading them at the local game auction.  But the last time I did that I so regretted it that I vowed never to do it again.  So this time I'll create new books to unload.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #14

We continue our trek through time and space back to England of the late 1970s with White Dwarf #14 from Aug/Sept 1979.

How do you know you are reading White Dwarf and not The Dragon?  The ads have topless women in them. This was not the first time I noticed this, but 6 pages into the issue and already I have seen 4 topless females.  Mind you I am not complaining, but I am pointing out how different the attitudes were between the American game circles and the overseas ones.  This is the same theme (differences between the two groups, not nudity) of the editorial.  Ian Livingstone discusses the differences between British conventions and American ones.  Ian mentions his recent trip to America and we get more of that later.

Andy Slack is back with more expansions to the Traveller Universe. White Dwarf was the reason I picked up Traveller in the first place.  I never quite wrapped my head around it to be honest.   I would love to try it again someday.

Don Turnbull is also back with the fiends of the Fiend Factory.  This seems to be the also-rans of the bunch since non of these made it to the Fiend Folio.  We get a demonic elphant (the Gurgotch), the group entity Mindweb,  an Energy Cyclone, the Gazer (a weird beholder-like creature made of 1000s of eyes) and a frozen naked girl, the Ice Maiden.  But there is something else to note here.  Along with last issue alignments are now presented in AD&D format, so Chaotic Evil, Neutral Good.  But this issue the Monstermark scores are gone.  We knew it was coming, but they are now gone.   Another interesting bit, a note added later (but before publication) mentions "The Folio" for the first time.

Open Box we have reviews of Traveller book 4 (Mercenary) and 1001 Characters.  They get a 9 and 6 respectively from Don Turnbull.    Some Judges Guild books, The Dragon Crown and Of Skulls and Scrapfaggot Green. Both of these were used as Convention adventures but they were not particularly well liked by Don Turnbull giving them only a 5 and 7 respectively.  Mostly due to spelling and print errors but alos for some odd rule interpretations.

We are treated to a Runequest adventure "Lair of the White Wyrm" by John Bethell which would work for D&D with some tweaks.  But I want to try it with CoC to be honest.

Treasure Chest gives us a one-page dungeon (see, there is nothing new under the sun), The Bath-House of the Pharaoh. Well it's one page, front and back.
The letters page concerns itself with various attacks and defenses of the Monstermark and Fiend Factory.

The big feature of the issue is an interview with Gary Gygax.
A lot of this is stuff we now know and take for granted.  Highlights:  At the time of the interview TSR had 20-25 employees and expected that to grow to over 30 or 40 by August of 1980.  He does credit Dave Arneson's campaign and Dave Megarry's Dungeon board game as influences.  At the time WD estimates there are 30,000 D&D players in the UK and GG estimates that there are 250,000 to 300,000 in the US and Canada.  When asked what extent have other games (RPGs) have had on D&D Gary says "None to speak of."   The World of Greyhawk is planned for the summer of 1980.

We end the magazine with the few pages of ads.

Certainly more ads this time around, but not as strong of issue as the last one was.

Pop o-Matic d20 Kickstarter. Only 12 hours!!

Remember a bit ago when I posted this:

Well I got one and it is great!  It is perfect for that critical roll and there is always a lot of drama around popping a 20!

Now the guy who makes them is running a Kickstarter and there is only 12 hours to go!

What I like most about this is that he is giving the option for you to donate a Pop-able die to a Veteran's gaming group or to a disabled gamer.

Please have a look at this and support if you can.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Oh the Places You'll Go!

I love maps. Old maps, new maps, maps that never were.

Here are few that catch my fancies, and fantasies.

I'd love to plan a game sometime for the far future of Earth.  Maybe something along the lines of Dying Earth or Clark Ashton Smith's Zothique cycle.

(image from here,

Given my love for the roots of D&D, Victorian adventure and weird SciFi I have also had a desire to play on a Mars that Never Was, a Mars with oceans.

Likely using some of the Warriors of Mars ideas from Jason Vey's site.

The Places I Could Go, indeed.

What a Fiasco

Lots of things to discuss this fine day in May.

But lets start with this one.

Has anyone out there played Fiasco?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zombie

"Zombies are the new Vampires." - True Blood

Funny quote and mostly true.  Thanks to the various "Dead" and "Resident Evil" movies, not to mention new TV shows, Zombies have never been more popular.

Actually I have never cared for Zombies.  Sure I enjoy them as much as the next horror guy, but I'd rather read about ghosts, vampires or almost anything else really.

Same is true for games.  But I have to admit that one of my favorite games is All Flesh Must Be Eaten.

WotC may have D&D and White Wolf has the vampires, but when it comes to wipping out hordes of the walking dead then you need this book and Eden has it.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten (AFMBE) is THE premire Zombie roleplaying game. Everything you need to know is here and it uses the fantastic Unisystem game system so beginners can play it fast and pros still enjoy it. Plus it is 100% compatible with all of Eden's games like "WitchCraft", "Armageddon", "Ghosts of Albion" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". With the d20 conversion guide in back, it is also compatible with tons of d20 games.
I enjoy it because it is so flexible.  The power rating can be altered to suit your mood. So street level normals armed with baseball bats to gods walking the earth again.

What makes AFMBE so nice is the collection of Dead Worlds that Eden publishes for it.  And like the core book, these are also compatible with other Eden games.

All Tomorrow's Zombies takes AFMBE and makes it Zombies...IN SPACE!! And in Cyberspace and all sorts of "SF" tropes with zombies thrown in. An excellent "Zombie World" book from Jason Vey and Eden. If you like AFMBE and are a fan of Sci-Fi then this is a must buy.  Even if you don't then there are plenty of high tech devices to use in other games, such as Conspiracy X.

Pulp Zombies is a collection of Pulp Era Deadworlds. 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.

Enter the Zombie is Kung Fu action theatre at's its best.  Emulate the action from Enter to Dragon to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon to the latest John Wu film to Big Trouble in Little China.  There is more though too.  Expanded Chi powers, role-playing in mytho-historical Japan and China or the streets of Hong Kong and San Francisco.  Plenty of options for characters, players and Zombie Masters.

Fistful o' Zombies where the Quick and the Dead are often the same thing.  Plenty of new character archetypes for a wild west game. Whether the wild west of Clint Eastwood or Gene Autry. New qualities and drawbacks and plenty of weapons from the time.  I use this along with other Victorian era games.  The gem though in this one is the conversion notes between the original Deadlands game and AFMBE.

Zombie Smackdown. I was not sure what to think about this one.  But I am glad I got it.  I am not a fan of Professional Wrestling, but the mix of wrestling and zombies is too cool to pass up.  Plus there are plenty of good rules for matches and even Luchador wrestlers. You can do your Santo-inspired character justice.

Dungeons and Zombies brings D&D to the Classic Unisystem fold.  There are rules for using more WitchCraft like magic in your AFMBE game.  This book covers all the tropes including many new races such as elves, dwarves, halflings and orcs.  High Fantast, Low Fantasy. King Arthur and Lord of the Rings-style play.  Combine it with WitchCraft to get a full range of magical abilities.  Combine with Terra Primate for tons of new adventure ideas and races.  And of course use the AFMBE-Revised appendix to converst any d20 information you need.  Far more flexible than most d20 based fantasy games.  Really well written and one of my favorite Dead World books from Eden.

ARRGH! Thar Be Zombies! I'll admit I am not a fan of pirates.  I enjoy the recent round of pirate movies, but that is the exception rather than the rule.  What makes this book so good is that pirates and zombie just seem to go together well.  And while I may not be a fan of pirates I am a fan of ghost ships crewed by zombies.  So I use this in a modern WitchCraft game instead.  The ship to ship battle rules are great and provide an extra layer when using them with All Tomorrow's Zombies.  The voodoo in this book is a short hand version of the Vodun from WitchCraft, but still nice to have.

One of the Living is something akin to a "Players Handbook" for AFMBE.  The focus is more on new skills, qualities and drawbacks for the characters; not so much for the zombies.  Though there is plenty of Zombie Master only information.  In particular is how to run long campaigns instead of the one shots that AFMBE are really good at.

Worlds of the Dead: A Collection of Deadworlds is a collection of smaller "Dead Worlds" that don't have enough material for their own books.  Great for a starting idea, fleshing out an game of your own or adding to one of the other Dead Worlds from the other books.  Since it is also 100% compatible with Eden's other games, they can be added to those as well.

Atlas of the Walking Dead. Part Monster Manual, part scholarly overview of the myths of the world.  Full of creatures including some I had never heard of (and that is saying something!)   A must have for any of the Dead Worlds or any of Eden's other games.  If you are a Zombie Master then you need this book.  If you play horror games then is one of the best works on various zombies you can buy.

Book of Archetypes, Book 1 and Book 2.  Pre-generated archetypes for AFMBE, but usable in any Eden Unisystem game.  Players can use these as starting points for characters.  Zombie/Game Masters can use them as pre-gens, NPCs or anything they set their mind too.  Over 30 archetypes in each book plus new qualities and drawbacks.

With these you will be ready for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse.
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