Friday, February 22, 2013

The Foundations of Geek: A Blog Challenge

Jason Vey over at the Wasted Lands has issued the following Blog Challenge,

The idea is a cool one honestly so I am going to participate.

My earliest memories are of horror movies.  Specifically Hammer Horror and the old Universal Monsters.
I could not have been much older than 4 and my first memories are of Dracula.  I used (and still do) love old Dracula movies.  From there things only got more interesting.
Some of my favorite TV shows growing up were Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits.  Moving into the 80s it became Tales From the Crypt, Tales From the Darkside and Monsters.

At one point in time I could claim I had owned every movie that featured Dracula.

It should be no big surprise then that my games all had a horror bent to them.

My foray into pure fantasy lit was limited to be honest.  I read, and loved, Tolkien.  But that lead to the darker fantasy of Elric and the Eternal Champion and then into horror; specifically Lovecraft.  I never turned back.

I enjoy horror, I love all the tropes and the cliches to be honest.

The difference really between fantasy and horror for me is the power levels between the villain and heroes.  If the heroes have some expectation to survive (even if they don't) then that is fantasy.  If the heroes have no expectations to survive (even if they do) that can be horror.  I do like overlap though too.

I did and still do enjoy Sci-Fi.  More in the 70s and 80s than today I think.  I grew up on Star Trek and Star Wars and for the longest time The Next Generation was my favorite show.  My biggest sci-fi love though then as now is Doctor Who.

Doctor Who has been great for me since it includes so many genres. I can get horror, sci-fi, adventure and fantasy all in one package.

Even today, I find myself going back to the well as it were.  I get to watch the old Hammer Films on DVD or Blu-Ray now and the extras are more than worth the price.

What are your Foundations?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"The new witch is adorkable"

If you have not been watching the BAMF Girls Club on Comediva then you are missing out.

The premise is that Buffy, Hermione, Katniss, Michonne, Lisbeth and Bella are all sharing a house in a reality show ala the Real World.

Episode 7 features a familiar witch!

Episode 8 though might have the best line in series.

Lisbeth: "I'll give him a special tattoo, 'I am a sparkling douche-bag.'"

I think the actresses are great.  I have to do a double take any time I see "Hermione" in that Allstate comercial. ;) My boys love the show too.

I'd love to build a game around this idea.  Players take any character from any media and throw them all together in a house and make them try to get along.

Something like Cortex+ would be the serious choice, but I am thinking something more along the lines of QAGS or Macho Women With Guns.

What game system do you all think would work the best?

Anyway.  Watch it. It is funny as hell.

Review: Teratic Tome

The Teratic Tome

The Teratic Tome is an "old school" monster book for OSRIC or any old School "Advanced" version of the game.  What do you get?  Well a lot.  Let's start with some of the things that others have not all mentioned first. This book is 100% OGC.  So if you want to use one of these horrors in one of your products go right ahead. Just abide by the OGL.  There are a lot of reasons why you might want to use these monsters too.  They are some of the most original horrors I have seen outside of indie horror games.

The layout and feel is evocative of those "monster manuals" of old. It does quite a nice job of it too.  The art though is much better than what you would have seen circa 1980.  The art varies in style, but all of it is quite good.   Now is a good time to point out that the art and the monsters they depict are not for the faint of heart.  There is a lot of "body horror" here.  The grotesque mixed with the commonplace or even the erotic.  The feeling is more Clive Barker than H.P. Lovecraft and I think that was a great direction to go.

Truthfully I would have picked this up for the demons and dragons alone, but there are 120 pages worth monsters here. Even the halflings are evil little buggers in this tome.

If you like horror and new creatures, and your players can handle it, then this is a great monster book.
If you like horror and monster books in general, then this is great to have as well.

Plus who can argue with a $6.66 price tag?

Who should not get this?  I don't know really.  I mean I am not going to use any of these creatures in my games with my kids.  So that does lessen the utility for me, but I can still use some ideas. And that is just as good.

A lot of people like to call this the "LotFP Monster Manual" but that is not being fair to this book to be honest.  It really is more than that.

You can learn more about the book at the author's website:

Or you can pick up a hardbound copy at Lulu:
If you buy the PDF first then you get a discount on the hardcover.  Not a bad deal really.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bite Me! and Doppelganger

Friend of mine, Christina Stiles, has a new Kickstarter up.

Bite Me! The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropes

It looks like it could be quite fun and so close to funding.

Misfit Studios is a good operation. They have produced a number of fine products in the past and I expect this to be no different.

The other cool one nearing an end is the Tabletop Doppelganger.  This one has farther to go, but it would be awesome to see it made.

Go forth and pledge!

White Dwarf Wednesday #53

White Dwarf #52 comes to us from May 1984.  Our cover this time is an army of orcs ready for battle; a tie-in to the Warhammer scenario coming up and a D&D article about orcs.

Ian Livingstone discusses the growing pains of the hobby.  Sure it is nice that so many people are now interested in it, and it is too bad that so many people are now interested in it!  So the exclusivity is gone.
This is the time of "Red Box D&D" (see last page).  Was this something you noticed in your games?  Many reading came to the hobby before this time, what were your thoughts then?  I grew in a small town where I knew everyone my age that gamed.  Or mostly everyone.  There was a feel of "get off my lawn" to some of the newer gamers.  Which of course is funny because there was the generation of War Gamers that looked at us the same way.  This is reflected in Livingstone's editorial.  We are now seeing the first glances of a generational effect in the Edition Wars.  Livingstone though gives some sage advice then and it is still good now, it is up to us (the older player) to help the newer player along and teach them "the old ways".

Marcus Rowland is back with Part 2 of his introduction to RPGs.  Continuing where he left off on D&D he moves to other Fantasy games for beginners starting with RuneQuest. Rowland is obviously a fan, and RQ gets the lion's share of the article (but still less than D&D).  He follows up with other games such as Tunnels & Trolls, Chivalry & Sorcery, Warhammer and Men, Myth and Magic.  Though these only get a paragraph or two each.

In our new full color section we get Minas Tirith, the Battle of Pelennor Fields for Warhammer. It's a long one, described as a Mega-Scenario. If you are a Tolkien fan then this is cool. Honestly few battles are as iconic to the Tolkien/Rings saga as this one, save for the Battle of Five Armies.

Our color pages continue into Open Box.  Up first Richard Meadows reviews Game Workshop's Caverns of the Dead.  The first in a new line of dungeon aids.  It gets a 7/10 noting that it compares less favorable to D&D modules.   We also get the 6th and 7th Fighting Fantasy books from Ian Livingstone, Deathtrap Dungeon and Island of the Lizard King. Both get an 8/10 from Marcus Rowland. Andy Slack gives us more Traveller material in the form of Book 6: Scouts. It gets an 7/10 overall, but the component ratings are all 8s and 10s with only one 7.  Not sure why it was rounded down like that.

Thurd the Barbarian is in more trouble. It looks like his biggest problem was that he was drawn by Rob Liefeld. Ok, in this context it is supposed to be funny.

We get a short (one page) Gothic tale from Chris Eliot and Richard Edwards.

Lew Pulsipher brings back Lew's Views. This time it is about demons, devils and pacts.  Something that would work well with the new lot of demon summoning and binding spells that seemed to be popular at this time (Module S4, Unearthed Arcana).  Still useful today in any game to be honest.  Don't like demons? Or you game has robots instead?  No big, the rules are really more "programmed" of any sort of guardian creature. So it could be a robot, a sphinx, a ghost, a curse or a golem.  Whatever you need.

Next up is The Naked Orc.  A new look at Orcs in D&D.  I think I have read this one before cause my own write-up of orcs is similar.  It's a good read and have some very interesting ideas.

Crash Course is our Car Wars column written by the American Steve Jackson.
Part 2 of the Castle of Lost Souls is next.  Not as long as last months.

More fawning over the changes in letters.
Starbase has some Traveller NPCs.
RuneRites has some spells based on celtic Druid myth.  These are pretty interesting to be honest.  Of course I look to them for conversion for D&D.

Tabletop Heroes has some more minis, but they don't take advantage of the color pages this time.  More is the pity to be honest.

Fiend Factory has some creatures and mini-scenario. The creatures are good for the scenario and maybe some eerie woodland area.
Treasure Chest has an odd collection of random treasures.

The News section under goes another makeover.  This time looking like a Bulletin board; a real one with tacks, not a virtual one.  Of interest is the upcoming "Dragonlance" which is listed as an RPG in the same breath that Marvel is listed as an RPG.  Was there a plan back then to have Dragonlance be a self contained game?

Color pages are next again and they are saved for the ads.  We have a few pages of those and then end with a full color ad for the new Red Box D&D Basic game.

For lack of a better word this issue feels like a "reboot" of the magazine.  No surprise that now it is available in a wider market they want to make sure it is accessible to all sorts of people.  There are still some interesting things going on, but not the same sort of things that were being printed prior to 83.  Still though, quite a fun read just nothing (other than the orcs) that jumped out at me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Original D&D Premium Edition

Well it was going to happen sooner or later, but Wizards of the Coast will be releasing a Premium Edition of the Original D&D.  But it's not just a reprint.

Volume 1: Men & Magic
Volume 2: Monsters & Treasure
Volume 3: Underworld & Wilderness Adventures
Supplement I: Greyhawk
Supplement II: Blackmoor
Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry
Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes

Comes in a wood-grain or faux-wood-grain box with dice.
New cover art, but all the original art inside.

Price?  $150.00.  Honestly, that is not a bad deal.  This is a collector's piece and I am sure some will balk at that price I think it sounds about right to be honest.
I have been wanting to play some Original D&D again.  Haven't since 1987 so this might be my excuse.

Supernatural & Smallville

One of the BEST games I have ever played at Gen Con was a Supernatural/Buffy/Charmed mash up.  Characters were characters from the various shows and the system was the Buffy Unisystem game.  There was another version of it that was run the night before using the Supernatural version of Cortex.

It was a lot of fun.

So it is kinda sad to note that Margaret Weis Productions is closing shop on two of their popular game lines, Supernatural & Smallville.

It's not a surprise really, licenses like this come and go all the time.  But you only have to the end of this month to get books from either system.

I spent a lot of time with Cortex over the last few years.  You can follow those insights (and baseless opinions) here,

Supernatural is closer to the original cortex rules and more similar to Unisystem.  So close in fact it is pretty easy to use ideas from one game in the other. Willow and Tara (and Vampire Tara) converted rather nicely I thought.

Smallville is the first of the "Cortex Plus" games.  The conversions here are more concept based than actually crunching numbers.

In both cases these are fun games and if you haven't picked them up this is your last chance.