Thursday, December 5, 2013

AS&SH and Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts: Plays Well With Others

I often buy games together. Recently my two purchases were Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts. While not explicitly designed for each other, they share a common DNA in terms of Basic D&D via the d20 SRD.

AS&SH has a number of new classes, in particular magic-using  ones.  MT&DP is nothing but new classes and spells. AS&SH is a grittier, almost primitive, experience. MT&DP is straight up Basic/Expert/LL with spells that go up to level 10.   So where does the commonalty lie?

Ok take the MT&DP classes and limit them to 12 levels only.  Typically not an issue. And in some cases also reduce the spells to just 6th level.  Use the Magician as the base class. As far as the powers each class gets, well I would deal with them on a class by class basis.  Maybe give them some of the spells as powers.

Let's take the classes in detail.

Cleric and Wizard 
These classes are pretty much the standard archetypes, use the classes in AS&SH instead and swap out spells as desired.

Elven Swordmage and Elven Warder
These classes can't be used, no elves, but you could make a Swordmage or Warder and split their Casting Ability and Fighting Ability evenly.

Similar to the other Sub-classes"

This class has so much potential in AS&SH.  Given the horror elements in the game (and even the mythos elements) this classes takes on a more malevolent tone.

A subclass of the cleric. I would reduce the fighting ability, so "0" for levels 1, 2, 3; "1" for 4, 5, 6 and so on for a maximum of of 4.

Inquisitor, Merchant Prince, Unseen
I think these guys would work a little like the warlocks.  The warlock is a bit of a fighter and mage, so these classes are all a bit like thieves and mages.

AS&SH has a necromancer. Just use these spells.

This is closer to the concept of the Warlock

These guys are neat ideas.  They are close to what would be a cultist in AS&SH. Spellcasters learning from long lost liturgical texts.

So a lot of really good choices.   Honestly there plenty of class choices in AS&SH already, but these can give your game an interesting twist.  Plus they feel right together.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Red Sonja: Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

My exploration of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea continues with one of the more iconic Barbarian characters ever.

Red Sonja: Queen of the Frozen Wastes by BelleChere
Red Sonja of course comes with a Hyperborean pedigree. Though maybe not as much as say Conan, but Conan isn't a red head rocking a scalemail bikini either.

I went back to look over her builds for both Spellcraft & Swordplay as well as Barbarians of Lemuria.  The intersection of both games could be best described as Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

I thought also that given the level maximums I'd raise her to 10th level.

Red Sonja of Hyrkania
Barbarian (Fighter): 10th Level
Race: Hyrkanian (similar to the Vikings)
Secondary Skill: Hunter/Trapper

Strength: 18*
Dexterity: 16*
Constitution: 17*
Intelligence: 12
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 18

Casting Ability: 0
Fighting Ability: 10

Hit Points: 76
Alignment: Chaotic Good
AC: 4 (special scale mail)
Weapon Mastery: Sword, Battle Axe (2 attacks per round)

+2 bonus to all saves

I think it is a good build to be honest.  A lot of the Barbarian powers/abilities work well with the concept as to be expected.  I didn't list them all here; they are in the book.

Looking forward to seeing what else I can do with this game.

White Dwarf Wednesday #89

It's the end of the 80s for White Dwarf. Not the 1980s, but the issues.  White Dwarf 89 takes us to May, 1987.  Our cover art is another Chris Achilleos one. But unlike the past ones that invoked a strong Heavy Metal feel this one is pure Warhammer to me.  Of course this is tied in with their big Citadel Miniatures give away.

Mike Brunton discusses the give-away in the editorial.  They giving out £2,000 worth of minis, a grand prize of £1,000 and four £250 prizes.  The details are in the center pages, more on that when we get there.  In other editorial news WD will celebrate it's 10th anniversary (they say birthday) and they are raising the price to £1.25! Ok to be fair there has not been a price increase in a while and we are just under 70 pages. They are promising an extra 16 pages of articles. We are already at a lot more cool than the previous few issues.
There is also an apology to West End Games for the tone and content of their remarks made in WD87 about "The Price of Freedom".

Open Box covers a few of the "home team" games like the Rogue Trooper board game and supplement for Judge Dredd ("Slaughter Margin").  The one that interested me then and I'll admit now, it the slick new Traveller 2300 game.  I remember playing this one in college a bit my freshman year. I remember a lot of talk about merging it with Twilight 2000, but I never saw it happen.  In their token D&D review Graeme Davis takes on module X11 Saga of the Shadow Lord.  He was disapointed by it, claiming it was just like the like the adventures they were doing 5 years ago (1982) which I guess would make it a big seller now.  I also didn't care for it, but for different reasons.  My reasons were it wasn't what I thought it could be; a nice tie-in with Death's Ride.  Again it would not be for another year or so till I got my hands on this one.

Awesome Lies, the news/gossip column (if I can call it that) is next. But there are some tidbits here of interest. The mention West End Games grabbing the Star Wars licence. A note about the post-TSR career path of EGG at New Infinities with Frank Mentzer and Kim Mohan.

Critical Mass covers some of then new books. Fredick Pohl's The Coming of the Quantum Cats is reviewed and I ate that book up. Wow. It was one of those books that went right into my game playing.  My then DM and I, already big on the idea of the multiverse, went all out gonzo on it.  In fact a lot of what makes up my Mystoerth world had its beginnings here and with this book.  It's funny how even sitting here now more than 25 years later how much of the book is coming back to me.  Though this review seems rather down on all the titles.

Thrud battles the Ramones from Space. Or something. Can't tell and don't care.

Be Afraid Be Very Afraid covers phobias in Call of Cthulhu. It is a laundry list from the DSM.  Hell maybe even from the same DSMIII-R I still own.  Generally speaking I don't like how most games handle insanity, madness and mental disorders.  I was a QMHP for years working in a center for schizophrenics. Most games get it so horriblly wrong as to be laughable. Call of Cthulhu is a notable exception even if it is simplistic and hand-waves a lot of the details; it works for the game.  This article is neat reading, but not much in the way of good game content.  By that I mean that one gaming group might use 2, maybe 3 of these, ever.

Next is a Paranoia scenario, Do Troubleshooters Dream of Electric Sheep.  Is it me or do all of these look the same? I think it must be me.

On Ealden Bergen is an "Adventure" or is is a supplement from Iron Crown Enterprises about Robin Hood. It is designed to be a "system-less" system but obviously based on Rolemaster. It reminds me in many ways of the their later Nightmares of Mine horror book.   It could be adapted and used with other systems, but a working knowledge of MERP or Rolemaster is really needed.  So much for "Systemless".

No we get to the middle and the contest, Ravening Hordes.  Simple, write a Warhammer Battle scenario and send it in by August 3, 1987.  I'll update when the winners are announced.

Friends in High Places is a generic fantasy RPG article about deception and intrigue in your games.  It is a pretty good read really. It discusses who the npcs are, what are their motivations and then what are their means of getting to them. Heavy on court intrigue, I think it is a good thing to try out.  Granted, Vampire will come along in a few years and take this to the Nth degree, but this is a cool look at the state of FRPGs in a post AD&D world.

An ad for the Snarf Quest book. Which is interesting given that Larry Elmore is just now starting a Kickstarter for a new Snarf Quest book.

'Eavy Metal covers painter Phil Lewis. I know a couple of the guys that are big into painting these days and they have their own "stars" and "rogues" just like all sorts of other fandoms.  Me. I am lucky if I can draw a straight line with a ruler and laser guide.

Character advancement in Warhammer Fantasy.  I can't but help think that many of the topics that were covered for D&D 8 years ago, RuneQuest 6 years ago and Rolemaster 4 years ago are now being recycled for Warhammer now.  Still. If you are using secondary skills in your flavor of D&D today then there is some ideas here.

Three pages of Unearthed Arcana errata is next.  I am of the mind that if I didn't read it and my players never read it then the errata didn't matter.  Sure it made for some weird ass rules, but often we would house rule them away anyway.  The bits about Method V is a laugh though. It's like reading some grognard blog posts today about D&D4/Next.  More proof that gamers never really change.  If the pages were falling out I'd consider sticking them into my UA, but they are still in there.   Did any of you ever care about the errata for UA?

Letters are next. Do you  remember the old Monty Python skit where they read letters that were supposedly sent into the show? I recall one from Richard Nixon...that is the feeling I get here.  I think at this point people where writing in just to get their name published; the 1987 version of "First!".

Small ads and then more ads.  There is a great Citadel miniatures ad for Daleks and Cybermen.  I have a few of the Daleks still myself.

A big issue, but not really full of anything I found interesting for gaming, just nostalgia.  We will see where the next 10-11 issues take us.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Skylla: Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

My love affair with Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea continues. Please don't tell my other games.

Given that I was thinking about an AS&SH witch yesterday and in light of their sale that it might be a good idea to give Skylla a try.  Also I would like to compare this Skylla to the Dragon Magazine and Eldritch Witchery versions since I think thematically they will be the closest.

In many ways the Witch from AS&SH really captures the concept I have of Skyll very, very well.  Not just in terms of being a witch, but as something half forgotten out of a misty past.  AS&SH Skylla might be the most dangerous one yet.

Skylla in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea 
As with the other write-ups I am going with 7th level.  I will try to find similar spells, but when the option arises to take a "witchier" spell, I'll take that.

If I had to name a Tradition for her it might be something like a Cthonic or even a Hyperborean one.
Abilities with an asterisk are her prime abilities. In this case, Intelligence and Charisma.

Skylla, 7th Level Witch (AS&SH)
Race: Common (but could be Atlantean or Hyperborean)
Secondary Skill: Scribe

Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 15*
Wisdom: 11
Charisma: 12*

Casting Ability: 7
Fighting Ability: 3

Hit Points:  20
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection +1)

1st level: Brew Potions (x3), Read Magic, Scribe Scroll, Familiar (small demon - raven)
3rd level: Brew Love Philtre
5th level: Dance of Beguilement, Effigy
7th level: Animate Broom

First: Charm Person, Detect Magic, Light, Sleep, Shocking Grasp
Second: Detect Invisibility, Levitate, Locate Object, Ray of Enfeeblement
Third: Phantasm, Witch Fire
Fourth: Shock Wave

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Broom

More powers and a wider variety of spells. Plus in these rules she gains bonus 1st and 2nd level spells due to her high intelligence.  The powers are most similar to the Dragon #20 witch which is no surprise; we are all pulling from the same sources.  I honestly was not expecting huge differences here.

Looking over the spells and some of the magic items I can see how you can get a whole lot of play out of just 12 levels in this game.

Other Skylla writeups

Monday, December 2, 2013

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea: Witch

I know I want to play a witch character from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea some time.  And I want to play it as the rules are written, not adding in anything from my own books.  I think that would be a lot of fun.

I am not sure when I am going to do this, or where, or what the character will be like, but I know what the witch will look like:

Witch (finished) by *bloodyman88 on deviantART

Witch by *bloodyman88 on deviantART

I love the colored version, but it was the B/W one that caught my eye first.

It might not really be pulpy enough for AS&SH, but I really think it is cool.
What do you think is this AS&SH or is it more Pathfinder?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea on Sale now

From now till Dec 4 you can get the amazing Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea in pdf for only $7.50!

That is an absolute steal!
Get this now while you can. This is my current favorite Old-School game.

Elf Lair Games on Google+

Just a quick note today before gaming.

Elf Lair Games has a new Community on G+.

Come by to discuss Spellcraft & Swordplay, The Witch or Eldritch Witchery.  Or hear about new products they are working on.

It should be fun and they would love to hear from you.

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