Friday, November 8, 2013

Magical Theorems and Dark Pacts (Print)

A while back I reviewed the PDF of Dyson Logos Magical Theorems and Dark Pacts.  Since I enjoyed it so much and can't get enough spells or spell casters I picked up a print copy from Lulu.


It is a great looking little book to be honest.


Excuse the upside down picture, but it does show that the text is crisp (it's the camera that is blurry) and the print is near offset. Lulu is getting better and this is really opening up a lot avenues for the small press publisher.


I wanted to add this to show the relative size.  I plan on using the books together anyway.


Actually it is more compatible with this book.  The wizards in MT&DP are powerful ones, so using them with any gritty game (like Spellcraft & Swordplay or Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea) isn't going to work out as nice.

I am happy I picked this up.

Non-Gaming: So Long Blockbuster

A non gaming post this morning (plus I still have a bad migraine that I can't shake).

Blockbuster has announced it is closing the last of it's 300 stores and it's mail-in Netflix-like service.



While I am sad at the passing of an era and I feel bad bad about those loosing their jobs, I do not mourn the passing of Blockbuster.

Once Blockbuster could be found in every strip mall in suburbia and a store in every town.  That was it's appeal to so many.  Not to me.  I disliked that Blockbuster came in and more or less destroyed the Mom and Pop video stores that had sprung up in the 80s.  I remember renting many old horror movies on Laser Disk (yeah I had one of those) and VHS.  When Blockbuster came to town with their far cheaper rental prices I wasn't a fan.  I had rented Hellraiser once to show a girlfriend at the time and noticed how much of it was cut out.  Yeah they had either edited it themselves (not likely, but that is what I thought at the time) or only stocked edited versions.  No thanks.

While I marked the passing of Borders with sadness of something I had lost, I have not been in a Blockbuster in I don't know how long.  Between Netflix, OnDemand and Amazon Prime streaming services I have unprecedented access to viewing options.

So goodnight Blockbuster. Be kind, please rewind.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Basic Library

Migraine today...can't really think.  Just looking through some of my PDFs.

The older I get the more I desire simpler games.  I don't think it has much to do with age as it does with experience.  I have been doing the rpg thing since the late 70s.  Scores of games and variations on the same rules.  I don't really need a lot of detailed rules; I am happy to wing it half the time.

That is one of the reasons I enjoy Basic D&D so much.
Everything I want is there, and nothing I don't want.  Though there are some things it is "missing" for me.
Thankfully I have the OSR.

Here is my Basic Library books.
These are the core of my current gaming.
Dungeons & Dragons: Basic Set
Dungeons & Dragons: Expert Set

What ever is not covered above I can get from AS&SH. Plus it has a lot of great monsters and a good feel for my games.
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

Various add-ons presents as a "Book 3" or Companion rules.
B/X Companion
Companion Expansion
Basic Arcana

And some extra spells.
The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games

And some books to add bits here and there.
Adventurer Conqueror King System
Adventurer Conqueror King System Player's Companion
Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts
Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
All sorts of classes from Barrel Rider Games

And of course a new adventure to take everyone through.
The Shrine of St. Aleena

Ok, so maybe not as simple as I thought.

Favorite Witch Contest!!

Well the contest ended last night while I was out with a migraine.
I have emailed the winners and waiting for confirmation.

But I hate waiting so here they are!

Grand Prize, winning a copy of both Eldritch Witchery and The Witch is:
Mark Craddock

Winning a copy of Eldritch Witchery is:
Justin Ryan Isaac

And a copy of The Witch is:
Chris Copeland

Thanks you everyone that participated!  I hope to some more fun things soon.

So who did you get in witches?
Willow was an early favorite, no surprise.
Medea, classic is always good.
The Sanderson Sisters
Glinda, Elphaba and other variations of them from Oz and Wicked
Helena Markos (Suspiria)
Howl (Howl's Moving Castle)
Tenkar's Sister! ;)
Baba Yaga (a fave of mine as well)
Gandalf's versions got a few nods
Julian Sand's Warlock from Warlock (which I will admit I enjoyed too)
Tara, of course!
We got a Harry Potter (but no Hermoine)
Thulsa Doom from the Conan movie.
A couple for Practical Magic (also a fave)
Krabat (have not heard of this guy)

THANK YOU everyone for participating!
I loved reading your choices.

For anyone that has already picked up Eldritch Witchery the file was updated last night to include some errata and the newer cover.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #86

February 1987 gives us White Dwarf #86.  The cover looks like it is an older style than the others.  Closer look shows it is from 1978.  Mike Brunton gives us a long editorial on how WD is made.

Open Box hits us up with The Price of Freedom from West End Games.  In my mind this was the golden age of WEG, or just when they get the Star Wars game.  The Price of Freedom is one their big games, though I never cared for it.  For starters it has the same problem that the movie "Red Dawn" had, that the idea of Soviets invading America was crazy at best.  Ashley Shepherd likes the game, but hopes it is tongue-in-cheek.  Other items include Paranoia HIL SECTOR Blues and Hawkmoon.  I have talked about Paranoia before.  Hawkmoon the game suffers the same problems that Hawkmoon the novels has. Namely, the problem is "it is not Elric".   Hawkmoon is played as a game, but it can be played as a supplement to Stormbringer. Hawkmoon, like the books, deals with more tech than magic.
For D&D we have Adventures in Blackmoor adventure DA1 and for AD&D The Book of Lairs, the revised Player Character Record Sheets and Night of the Seven Swords for Oriental Adventures.   I can honestly say I still have a number of my original sheets left over.  I never owned DA1, but I have always wanted run it.  I picked it up just recently, but have not read through it all.

Critical Mass has an interesting book among all the others.  The Vampire Lestat is reviewed and enjoyed.  About this time I also read The Vampire Lestat and I thought it was brilliant. Right here folks is the start of the Vampire the Masquerade.  Some where around this time Mark Rein·Hagen would form his first company and the RPG market would soon change forever.  Interestingly I read "Lestat" before I knew about "Interview with a Vampire" so I always had a better opinion of Lestat than my friends that had read it.
People have complained that this was the start of the "pretty boy" vampire craze.
Well. They would be wrong.
Lestat is still a monster, he kills and he relishes in being a hunter.  Eight years prior we had Frank Langella on stage and in the movies as uber-sexed Dracula, so the evolution of vampire as monster to sex object had been going on a while. Arguably since Stoker and even Carmilla.  Saying otherwise is ignoring the facts.
Now Twilight...yeah that is garbage.  But that's not Anne Rice's fault.

Curse of the Bone is a modern Call of Cthulhu adventure for 2-5 investigators. It looks fun and I like the modern twist to it.  For some reason the "used car dealer/cultist" made me laugh.  But it is also a good adventure in showing that relatively "minor" monsters can make for a great story.  "Lovecraftian" does not always mean elder gods and tentacles.

Open Box is back for some more, this time talking about all 14 of the D&D Dragonlance Modules. Dragonlance gets a bad rap among the Grognards out there. Some of it earned, but most of it is typical "get off my lawn" crap.  Yes they were rail-roady, but the were, as this article points out, epic.  Gordan Taylor does mention that classical role-playing is limited in these modules and no character development outside of what the modules dictate.  But I don't recall Grognards being that interested in character developemnt in the first place.   The modules can be played as "Strict AD&D" as the author mentions, but they are deadly and don't expect things to end well.  Maybe that is what we need (and it must be due to my 6.5 hours of meetings yesterday and my migraine today that I am even suggesting this) is a Grimmdark Dragonlance.  Instead of the Heroes of the Lance, run your typical Murder Hobos through it.  Go all out and use Dungeon Crawl Classics.   I never played these modules back in the day, but my younger brother's group did and they had a great time.  Maybe that is the selling point of these to my generation (and the generation before me) "Dragonlance, it is great for your little brother".

Illuminations is a new feature. It features the art of a particular artist.  This month is Ian Miller.  I would have loved to have seen this in earlier issues to be honest.  But with my impression of WD's art budget I am not sure they could have done this before now.

In what seems like a contradiction on the order of "Grimdark Dragonlance" Phil Gallagher gives us Warhammer Fantasy player character stats for Gnomes in Out of the Garden.

There is a new team for Blood Bowl, the Skaven Scramblers. They are the mutant by-blows of giant rats. The background information on the Skaven is actually kind of cool.  Think of a society of giant rats, like Splinter from TMNT, only warped by religion and placed into strict castes. And plenty of random mutations. So more like the twisted child of Splinter and the Rat King from The Nutcracker.  They would be fun for AD&D/OSR.

It's a Kind of Magic tries to bring magic and tech closer together in your FRPGs. Interesting the article advises against bring magic into technological games and gives a number reasons why it is a bad idea.  It is as if the designers of ShadowRun read the article, laughed and then broke all the rules.  Though this article really concerns itself with tech in a magic world.

'Eavy Metal has a number of great looking minis.  I took a look at a much newer WD recently. I am not sure if the painting of minis has gotten better or the photography is better.  I am not saying that the ones here in issue 86 are bad; far from it.  But they don't look as polished as the ones from newer issues.  I am guessing there is some Photoshop involved too.

Dogs of War covers mercenaries for AD&D (or any FRPG). The article is an interesting one because it not only instructs how to use them, but how they were used. For example you won't see mercenaries randomly killing people; that's bad for business.  I think the trouble is that what most players think of as mercenaries is more defined by fantasy novels and comic books than history.   The authors suggested reading Fredderick Forsyth's "Dogs of War" for more insight.

We get an article on time travel in Judge Dredd.  The article is mostly fluff.

Letters. Followed by Gobbledigook and then ads.

Not an inspiring issue, but set off for me with the CoC adventure and the extended product review of the Dragonlance modules.   While I expected my interest in these later magazines to drop off after issue 80, I am still finding tidbits I like and can use.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just Talkin' 'bout My Generation

Gary Greenwald and Phil Philips talk about the evils of toys from the 80s.

Just watch.



Shorter version here:


Holy crap!
I have never seen so many jumps to conclusions in my life.  Followed only by how many words they get wrong.  Or details of the toy lines.  Or anything related to reality.

Can we stop using the word "Occultic"!! "Occult" is all you need.
It's "Eternia" not "Ethernia". "Necomancy" not "Necromology". It's....oh I give up.

I love how neither one of these idiots can tell the difference between reality and cartoons.  Or how "D&D pieces" will scream when burned.

Seriously. You have to watch this. It's insane.

Makes you wonder what they would think of my book!

Don't forget, you can win a copy of my books.  Just two more days!
http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2013/11/post-2000.html

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Weekend in Hyperborea

I spent some quality time this past weekend reading and rereading the rules for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

I have to say. The more I read the more I like them.
For starters there is a real B/X feel about these rules I like. Simple, intuitive and easy to run.  Not that say AD&D or 3e are difficult rulesets, but there is more given to flow of play with these rules. Plus it goes for that same sweet spot of play that Adventurer Conqueror King goes after.

I also feel, in all honesty, that this is the best combination of "D&D" and "Cthulhu Myths" I have ever read.
It captures the nihilism of Lovecraft's world view extremely well and infuses it with the proper amount of horror.  Building on a world that is, as I have been taking to call it, "Older, Bolder and Colder".
I do have Realms of Crawling Chaos for Labyrinth Lord, and I think it is great.  This just has a better Lovecraftian vibe to it really.
What I like most of all is how it makes even "mundane" monsters seem weird and alien. I was rereading the Gelatinous Cube and thinking of it as horror beyond reality now, not just some stupid slime that cleans dungeons.

I have been wanting to use it for some time now to flesh out my own Hyperborea (for my own play, not publish!) and it is perfect.

Since I have been reading a ton of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and of course Clark Ashton Smith this is really the best rules to get after that weird, Pulp Horror.

I was looking over the rules and the classic adventures I want to run, and thought it might just be perfect.  While I would prefer to use this system, my boys are committed to AD&D proper.   I might though slip in a rule here and some monsters there.   Thankfully AS&SH is perfect for this.question for

In fact I think I know how I am going to bring this all together.
But I think that reveal might need to wait till another posting.  I am missing one key ingredient.

Though it would totally fit my need to use the older modules, bring them up to date for a post-Drizzt crowd and use my "Older, Bolder, Colder" ideas.  


Links
Unboxing
Review
Mystoerth: Hyborea / Hyperborea
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