Friday, January 11, 2013

Dragonborn Books

My son loves Dragonborn.  He plays Skyrim because there is a "dragonborn" in that.  He wanted to get all the Doctor Who episodes on DVD that feature the Draconians, and in every game we play that is the character race he wants.

Well...not every game has them.  But there are a lot of great third-party publishers that feel the same way.

Good thing for me I know about Goodman Games.
They have two products out, The Complete Guide to Dragonkin (for 3rd ed) and Hero's Hanbook Dragonborn (for 4th ed).

The Complete Guide to Dragonkin
This book is the older of the two, so let's do it first.
76 pages, covers, OGL.  Pretty packed really.  A brief intro and some background on dragon-kin and how they are all connected to each other (an interesting touch).  This assumes that a lot of different races inter-bred with dragons like humans, orcs, goblins and of course kobolds. So we have a variety of bloodlines; half-dragons, dragon-touched and "wyrm-bred".
The Half-Dragon Racial Template is presented and the associated powers.  If you are playing 3.x/Pathfinder and want to play a "Dragonborn" character then this is a great book.  It predates the Dragonborn in 4e and the Dragon bloodline sorcerer in Pathfinder, so a Pathfinder update would be nice to have, but still this is a solid book.
There is a lot in this book. It even covers how these races view, and sometimes worship, the dragons they are related to.  There is a chapter on Dragon magic which includes new spells and "dragon egg sculpting".
There is not much in the way of news monsters, but I think that is fine.  There is a Dragon/Kobold crossbreed that works well as an antagonist. Especially if your players tend to laugh when you throw kobolds after them.
I compare this book rather favorably to their Complete Guide to Fey.  It was because I owned that book that I felt comfortable picking up this one.  I was not disappointed.

Hero's Hanbook Dragonborn 
99 pages, GSL, covers. There is a quite a lot in this book.  While Goodman Games could have used a lot from their previous book (The Complete Guide to Dragonkin) this one has a completely different approach.  Dragonborn are well established in D&D4, so none of that material is repeated here. Instead the book covers different clans and variations of Dragonborn.  There is also a lot of crunch to go with the fluff.  Frankly Dragonborn need a lot more "fluff". Unlike all the other fantasy races, Dragonborn/Dragonkin are really a creation of D&D.  Sure there have been other types in the past, but even in the early days of the game their origin is purely a D&D one. That gives this book a lot of room to run.
There is also a nice collection of items to help give this race a sense of history. Plenty of powers for Dragonborn characters, options and magic items.  If you are like my son and love to play Dragonborn in 4e then this is a great book to have.

This book though suffers from the fate all 3rd party GSL books suffer and that is the material is not in the character builder.

In the process of reading these books I became aware of other ones, not by Goodman Games though.

One of the first is from Barrel Rider Games, The Dragon and it is only a dollar.
Again, I don't expect a lot for a buck.  Barrel Rider Games though gives you a whole class for a buck.

This one is a bout Dragons as a class/race.  Not Dragonborn or Dragonfolk, but full blown dragons.
Now my first thought is these characters could be unwieldy in a group of adventurers or even overpowered.  That is best left to the Labyrinth Lord to decide really.
The book is five pages: Cover, 2 pages for the class, and 2 pages for the OGL and the Labyrinth Lord compatibility notice.
There seems to be a bit missing though. I would have liked have seen a little on how to play this character class and what motivates them to adventure.

Fehr's Ethnology: Dragonblood is another one for Pathfinder by Purple Duck Games, a name I have grown to like.
This one is pretty good really. Nice art, clear easy to read text and 7 pages of content (1 full page art, 1.5 of OGL and ads for 10 total pages).  Simple race rules with not a lot of fluff, but a lot of crunch. There are some alternate racial characteristics and some feats.  There are class suggestions and suggestions on play.  For 10 pages it is really packed full. My son has been using this in our 3.x game now for a bit and we like it the most out of the many free options we have also found.  At $1.25 it is an absolute steal.


So I have a few works in progress right now, but nothing I have worked on yet this new year.

I am trying to get organized and find some things I can get out to you all fairly quickly.
Some smaller things, things less involved than the witch.

Among these smaller things are a Houri Prestige Class for 3.x/Pathfinder.  But it hasn't quite jelled.
A few D&D4 items that may or may not see the light of day.
And some others.

Gotta get better organized this year.  My hard drive death a few months back really killed me.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

More Kickstarters. And I can't believe this first one

Couple more Kickstarters.  This first one has to be seen to be believed.

That's right! Synnibarr is BACK!  If you don't know what Synnibarr is then maybe you are not as Old School as you thought you were. ;)
In case you don't then here is the review that is almost as famous as the game itself.

But I have to hand it to Raven c.s. McCracken. He keeps right going and his love for his magnum opus is apparent. Enough that he is currently $3,000 over the goal.  
Read the Kickstarter page. Everything you need to know about how this game will turn out is there.

In other news.

There is also a new Castles & Crusades book coming out, Castles & Crusades Codex Celtarum.

I have some mixed feelings about this one.

On one hand it looks fantastic. It reads like it will be a ton of fun and I know it will be a top notch book.  I also love Celtic myth and I have wanted to have an old schoolish style D&D Celtic game for years.

Which brings me to the other hand.  That was what I was going for in my game Éire.

Éire was going to be produced by Elf Lair Games, but Jason (rightfully so) does not want to make any product that might compete with Troll Lord.  I get that. I have things I could do myself that I don't because I don't want to step of the toes of other designers I am friends with or companies I have relationships with.

One of those companies is Cubicle 7.  While I have never worked for the company, I have worked with most of their employees on one game or another over the years.  They are also producing their own Celtic themed game.

I like both Troll Lords and C7 I know they will make great games and I look forward to them.  There is of course room for all these games in the market, including mine, but desire to get it out there is less.

My goal when putting out something isn't very market driven, it is "me" driven.  I put out the stuff I want to play. I think others will like it too, but that isn't what fuels my fires.  Codex Celtarum is very, very likely to scratch the D&D-as-a-Celt-Game itch I have.

I have known about this one for a while really.  Some of Éire made it into The Witch and Eldritch Witchery in fact.  So if I do choose to resurrect  Éire it might take a different form.  But who knows.

In any case I am looking forward to Codex Celtarum and plan on supporting Troll Lords in this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #47

NOTE: Looking for the Beginnings Blogfest Post? Go here.

White Dwarf Wednesday today takes us all the way back to Issue #47 from November 1983. The first thing we should notice is this combination Bushido/Iron Maiden cover.  That's pretty much 1983 in a nutshell right there.  We also get our first add for Talisman, a game I never played.

Ian Livingstone talks about analysing the reader feedback given in the Reader Strikes Back.  He also praises Alan Craddock for the cover of WD 44 stating it is the most popular cover so far. Wonder why.

Up first is the Demonist class for D&D by Phil Masters. This class, a sub-class of the Cleric summons up demons to do it's will.  The class in not bad and there are some new spells.  While the class is neat, I doubt I'll use it.

Open Box has four books this week. FGU's Privateers  and Gentlemen gets a respectable 9/10 from Ian Waddelow. He enjoys how it can be played as a pure RPG or a pure War Game or some combination of the two.  The Asylum and Other Tales for CoC from Chaosium is next.  Jon Sutherland is also not cheap with the praise, saying not to be put off by the price (£7.95) and gives it a 9/10 as well.  I talked a little about Star Fleet Battles last week, well this week (and in 1983) the topic is Fighters and Shuttles from Task Force Games for SFB.  Jim Sizer gives it a 7/10 liking the increased numbers of ships and the 5 scenarios, but not liking that some combat is not made easier.  Chaosium is up again with The Big Rubble about the ruins of Pavis for RuneQuest. Oliver Dickinson likes it and gives the best parts 10/10, most of the areas 8-9/10 and some only 5-6/10.

Critical Mass details some more books including masters Asimov and Clarke.  I find this article harder to review.  There are a couple of reasons. One, the books are dated.  I mean anything I review here has been reviewed hundreds of times in the last 30 years.  Also the article itself, the layout, makes it look like one huge paragraph.  Maybe my eyes are getting old.

Zine Scene is next and it is described as an occasional article dedicated to the "street level" news of going ons in RPG and fandom.  I am sure this has a lot to do with adding Mike Lewis to the set of editors.
Interestingly enough there is some news in here about other Zines opening up. I guess WD didn't consider them as competition at all.  They shouldn't, but I am not sure I ever recall seeing such "openness" in Dragon.

There is a two page article about Goblins in RuneQuest.  It's an interesting read.  Interesting because is sounded very familiar to me.  I am sure I had read this one back in the day and my goblins of today can trace their lineage back to this.

Letters is next with general praise and asking for clarifications.

Starbase is up with a bunch of Aliens for Traveller.  Anyone use these in a Traveller based "Bug hunt"?

The last part of Irilian is posted with a big map and brief adventure.  I am not sure if any updates were ever made to this city or not.  But there really should have been.  What I would like now is too take all six parts and do a retrospective on them.  Maybe later.

RuneRites has Morale. Neat, but nothing I could use back then.

Kwaidan is next and it is a big deal.  Big because for the first time have an adventure for Bushido.  The RuneQuest/D&D/Traveller lock is broken!  Ok yeah we have had some others, but to me this is a bigger deal.

Treasure Chest goes Dorian Grey on us and gives us a great painting for the Necromancer character that everyone hated. Well. I liked it, but it raised a fuss.

Fiend Factory gives us some mini-monsters for D&D. The Diabolo is kinda neat if you think of it as a devil-kobold cross breed.  The Trollkin, is a combination of brownie and troll and one I used a couple of times. The others, the Trist, Krowks (demonic crows) and Gromits (Wallace no where to be seen).  I took this article an ran with it creating my own "Trobbits"  which were a cross between a troll and a, um, er, halfling.  I should post those sometime.

Pitbits is another news column. With "Demogorgon" as editor and "Orcus" as Advertisement Manager.  :rolleyes:

We get some Thrud and some Travellers. Gobbledigook was up there somewhere; head butting an orc.

Ending up with the small ads.  There seems to be more items for sale in this one.  People unloading their collections.  The first wave of gamers moving on?  Who knows.
Ads for the James Bond 007 game, Battlecars and Knight Hawks.
There is an ad for a "Truly British" Victorian Adventure game to appear at Games Day 83.  Anyone know what that was for?

We have been fluctuating between 44 and 48 pages (counting covers) for a bit now, but we seem squarely stuck on 48 now.

In 1983 I don't know it yet, but we are leaving the Golden Age behind. Maybe those gamers in the small ads knew this and sold off their copies of RuneQuest, Traveller and White Box D&D knowing that the hobby was about to change again.  Nah. They didn't know anymore than I did really.  I was clueless, sitting there waiting for the next supplement or module, listing to my cassette copy of Chart Action '83 from K-Tel.  I had no reason to know either.  My 13/14 year old self doesn't care what my 43/44 year old self has to say.

Beginnings Blogfest

I am participating in the Beginnings Blogfest hosted by L.G. Keltner over at Writing Off the Edge.

The theme of this blogfest is to talk about why you started blogging in the first place.

I actually have two reasons, but the first was to start out as a design blog/journal for my work on Eldritch Witchery and The Witch.  I was going to talk about what I was doing, the playtests and the writing process.
I did do all of that, though not to the level I thought I was going to do.  Instead reason number 2 took over.

I used to be very active in online message boards. I spent a lot of time on Planet AD&DEden's Boards and various boards for other systems. I was also involved a lot in and the Kitten Board forever.  Boards are fun, but rules over what you can post vary.  D&D boards don't want to hear about my Unisystem stuff, and visa versa.  Some boards have very strict mods while others don't.

With blogging I got to post what I wanted, the way I wanted to post it.
If I wanted to spend a week on vampire movies or anime or stats for various witches in various game systems, I can.

Getting to know other bloggers was just a really nice and totally unexpected benefit.

I hope that doing this has improved my own writing and opened up a new avenue of social networking for me.

Note:  White Dwarf Wednesday will appear later today.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Meanwhile at Hero Press...

What the hell is this thing???

I have no idea. Neither does Tim over at Hero Press.  But if you do it could be worth something.
Worth a copy of Icons or "'With Great Power...' The Stan Lee Story".

He is sponsoring a contest to name and flesh out this monster as part of his 6th anniversary of blogging.

So go over there and ... dare I say it...give him a hand!

Monday, January 7, 2013

DriveThruRPG Sale

We have not had one of these in a while, but DriveThruRPG is holding a January sale.
Their "New Year, New Game" promotion with select games at 40% off.

Among the games listed here are a just a few of my favorites:

There are plenty more.

AND if you use this code:


You gain an additional 15% off.
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