Monday, February 11, 2013

Unearthed Arcana

Was going to play some 1st Ed AD&D yesterday.  Didn't quite get around to it, but I did get to my FLGS and pick up a copy of the new limited reprint of Unearthed Arcana.

As with the first reprints, these are very similar.  Though these new ones are supposed to include all the errata.  I have not looked closely enough to be able to tell.

The only main difference outside of the covers and errata is the copyright page.

It fits in well with my other reprints.
Unlike the PHB, DMG and MM there isn't a page for the Gygax memorial.  I don't think and have not heard if any money from this is being donated.

In any case this is a nice book to have.  Unlike others of the old school mindset I don't hate UA. In fact I rather liked it. I loved all the new spells and class options.  The cover is not quite as iconic as the others, but it looks fine here.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Useful Links

Good morning all.  Lazy Sunday here at the Other Side today.

Might get some 1st Ed AD&D today.  Might not.  No idea yet.

But here are some links for you to enjoy.

First is AnyDice.
I have seen this on a few blog posts.  But you can use it to figure out any dice distribution.
Here are the AnyDice calcs for my own "Chicago Way" of running Unisystem games.
As a stats geek (actually former stats professor) I like this site and can appreciate the work that went to it.
I you can, take the time to send them a dollar or two.

Another is Pulp-O-Mizer.
This comes to me courtesy of Rebecca's Dystopia.
Create your own Pulp magazine cover.  I saw this and immediately thought of Call of Cthulhu and Amazing Adventures.
In my mind adventures for pulp games should look like pulp magazines.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Natural History of Dragons

Just saw this over at one of my favorite blogs All Things Urban Fantasy.

A Natural History of Dragons. With some kick ass art by Todd Lockwood and written by Marie Brennan.

I need to get this for my son!

I have been following the books of Marie Brennan for a bit.  I have some, but have not read them yet.
I am looking forward to this.

And they are also giving away 3 copies.

Zatannurday: World's Finest

This image is floating around the various game blogs this week.
It comes from Kyle Latino and it is pretty cool.

All my favorite DC characters playing a game of D&D.  And to further make this more about me (!!) I also worked at Pizza Hut in college.  The Mt. Dews are a nice touch.

Kyle has a lot of cool stuff on his Deviant Art page and his own webcomic.

So what characters do you think everyone is playing?
I'd like to think Zee would try out something like a Barbarian like Dresden did when he played "D&D" in the books.  Batgirl plays the cleric, Black Canary plays the Wizard (to irritate Zee) and Hawkgirl plays the thief, but she is not enjoying it as much as she might like.

He also a cute retro Zatanna.

Zatanna by ~kylelatino on deviantART

Stop by his DeviantArt page and comic and have a look!

Friday, February 8, 2013


Why didn't you people tell me about this?

Staring Angelina Jolie, produced by Disney (they own everything we just need to get used to it) and written by Paul Dini???

I swear it's like I don't know any of you anymore. Or you all me.

EDITED: Adding another image.

"Fate"ful Friday

One system that I have been wanting to do more with is Fate.

I didn't pledge on the recent Fate Kickstarter mostly because it slipped my mind and I am not actively playing Fate right now.  My loss really.

This week I discovered two very EXCELLENT reasons for me to start looking into Fate more.

First are the Thematic Fate Dice.

Honestly these things are awesome looking and that Pentagram and Rose die would be perfect for a WitchCraft game even if I never used it for Fate. If you like Fate or Fudge, then there is certainly something there for you.

The other is part of the Fate Core Kickstarter that I am kicking myself for not paying better attention to is a campaign setting, "White Picket Witches".  If you know anything at all about me then honestly it is like this game was custom made for me.  Modern horror with a slight Cinematic bent featuring an unique location with families of witches?  How can I possibly say no?

Here are some sites that I have been able to find that talk a bit about it.
Fate of the Drowning Woods blog is running playtests/demos, and it sounds very interesting.
This lead me to

From here I was able to find the author, Filamena Young and the company she works for, Machine Age Productions.  I was able to talk with Filamena for a bit and she sent me a prelim draft of WPW.
Yeah. It is something I would play in a heartbeat.

I am not 100% clear on all the Fate rules yet.  But this setting of five families on "Moon Island" grabs my attention.  I have waxed on (and on and on) about WitchCraft and Witch Girls Adventures, this is of the same ilk, though it covers completely new ground.  The name is appropriate.  In WitchCraft the world is your stage, in Witch Girls you are at a school.  Here the campaign is your backyard, your office, your school, or neighbor's house.

There is a solid "TV" feel to this and frankly this could easily be a "teen drama" on the CW or a more adult one on ABC, or a lot more adult one on HBO/Showtime.  If this gives you ideas for things you could do, then this could be your new game.

I love the ideas in this game. Even if I never play it in Fate (which I do think would be a crime if I didn't) I would love to try it in WitchCraft, Witch Girls or even Ghosts of Albion.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review: ACKS Player's Companion

So the long awaited Adventurer Conqueror King System Player's Companion is now out in PDF.  I don't know know if it is out in stores yet at all or if people that supported it on Kickstarter have their physical  copies, but it is up on DriveThruRPG.

I have talked about ACKS in the past:

Those are the main ones, but I have been talking about it for a bit.

Now full disclosure time.  I did provide some support for the witch class.  I was able to look at an early copy of the witch and provide some feedback since it had been based on some work I had done for d20.  I shared a copy of my spells research notes and some material that would be part of my own Witch Book.
Neither group was looking for cross-compatibility except int he broadest terms.  We did though develop from similar source materials and there is a bit of cohesion between the two classes.  To be clear though, I didn't actually write anything for this.  The authors had their ideas in a pretty solid form when they talked to me.

That being said let me proceed.  ACKS Player's Companion reads like an "Unearthed Arcana" or even a Player's Handbook 2 for the ACKS set.  In many ways it is very similar to the Complete B/X Adventurer.
There are a number of authors that were brought to together to author the various sections.  Sometime you can tell, other times no.  This is not a big deal to me except for maybe there are some redundancies in various classes.

Chapter 2 covers all the new classes.  We get: Anti-Paladin, Barbarian, Dwarven Delver, Dwarven Fury, Dwarven Machinist, Elven Courtier, Elven Enchanter, Elven Ranger, Gnomish Trickster, Mystic, Nobiran Wonderworker, Paladin, Priestess, Shaman, Thrassian Gladiator, Venturer, Warlock, Witch, and Zaharan Ruinguard.  Not a bad list at all.  That takes up about 44 pages of the book's 160.
The classes vary a bit.  I liked most of them to be honest. The new feature of ACK:PC are the templates (Chapter 3), so all the new classes also have these templates.  They define starting proficiencies and equipment.

At first I expected to hate the new racial classes but they provide a nice bit of background that goes beyond just crunch and fluff.  In particular the Elven Enchanter and Elven Ranger add something interesting to the game.  Sure, you could do this in AD&D in 1978, but here it has a bit of different feel.  In fact I reminded of the old Dragon article back in the mid  80s about the Elven Cavalier.  Sure it was something you could do on your own, but the article and this book give you something a bit more.  The Gnomish Trickster could be reskinned if you are like me and miss the Halflings.  The Mystic is a suitable Monk replacement in the vein of the old D&D Rules Cyclopedia.   There are few ACKS unique race-classes too.  We also get a Priestess, Warlock and Witch.  Those I'll deal with later.

Chapter 3 introduces Templates.  These are part roleplaying tips and part mechanical. If you remember the old 2nd Ed Kits these remind me of those, or the Backgrounds in newer games.  Several are presented for all classes, new and old.  Each character gets Proficiencies and Starting Equipment.  It's a really fun idea.

Chapter 4 is an interesting one.  It is a custom class creation tool.  I have not seen how it compares with similar systems I have seen on the net or in Dragon.  I know that the classes in this book were "Verified" with it, so it at least has ACKS internal consistency.

Chapter 5 is Spells.  There is a section on magic experimentation and mishaps.  Really fun stuff to be honest. Also a section on creating new spells. This is from the same school of thought on the Class Creation.  in theory you should be able to check on any spell in the book and get the same numbers.
This followed by the Spell lists.  Spells are listed by type and level  then the descriptions are alphabetical by name. There is about 38 pages of spells here.

Chapter 6 covers Supplemental Rules.  Things like Aging and various equipment.
There is a hyperlinked index and two more for spells and powers.

Utility for other Old School Games
Well the classes can be ported over outright for the most part.  The Proficiencies and Templates are a nice addition to any game even if you ignore the mechanics and use them only as role-playing guides.
I am not sure if the Class Creation guidelines will work outside of ACKS or not.  My feeling is that they will with some tweaking.  Same with the Spells sections.  Chapter 6 should be fine for any game.

Witches, Warlocks & Priestesses
There are three (four if we throw in the shaman) classes that fit the witch archetype.  The Priestess is a female cleric dedicated to what we normally call Mystery Religions.  They honor a Goddess for example.  Now in other games this would just be another type of cleric, or a cleric with role-playing notes. To me it actually seems weaker than the regular cleric.   The Warlock is stereotypical "Evil" warlock and that works well here really. But the real utility for me is when you compare the Warlock to the Witch.
The Warlock is an arcane caster and the Witch is a divine one.  So depending on what sort of archetype you want to build you can choose a witch or a warlock.   This is a dichotomy that I have also used in the past and it works out well.  You can even rule in your games that witches and warlocks were once one class that split or two classes with similar methods or not even related at all.
Witches are most similar to my own.  Witches in ACKS:PC also have Traditions as I have talked about briefly before.  The Traditions here are Antiquarian (a classic witch), Chthonic (dedicated to dark gods), Sylvan (woodland and faerie) and Voudon (voodoo or even Shaman-like).  You can adapt these traditions to work with my book or my trads to work with ACKS.  I should post a conversion guide between the traditions sometime.
Spells of course a completely cross compatible.

The Book Itself
The layout is top notch and this is a good looking book.  It will be attractive as all heck in dead tree format, but the PDF is no lesser product.  The index is hyperlinked to pages and it is fully bookmarked.
The art is great and I especially enjoyed the "character" art of Chapter 2.  The art changes by Chapter 5 to some commercially available art, which is not a bad thing, but the style is different for the later half of the book.

Who Should Buy this Book?
For the first audience, players and game masters of ACKS, this is a no-brainer, you should get this.  There is enough here to make this purchase worthwhile even if you only use parts of it.
If you are a fan of B/X clones and top your games off at level 14 then this is also a good buy.  Also the class creation and spell creation engines are worth the price if you like to experiment with your games.
If you play other retro-clones or other versions of the Grand Old Game, then there are still some things here you will find useful.
At 10 bucks for the PDF this is a pretty good deal.