Monday, September 1, 2014

Amazing Adventures Week!

I love doing posts where I take a deep dive into a particular book or system.

This week I want to cover Amazing Adventures by Jason Vey and produced by Troll Lord games.
They are currently working on a 2nd Edition (which will still be compatible with the 1st) and have a Kickstarter up to support it.

I have covered AA in the past.  My review of it can be found here.

One of the best things about AA is it is built around the streamlined Castles & Crusades rules.  So if you play 3.x or an OSR game then you can jump into this right away.

Not only that, if you play Castles & Crusades, an OSR game or something similar to old-school D&D then AA has a great psionics system you can use.

I am going to spend some quality time with this book all week.  I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 31st, Favourite RPG of all time

#RPGaDAY Day 31st, Favourite RPG of all time

Here we are. At the end of another blog-fest.  It has been a lot of fun and I have really enjoyed reading everyone's posts.  I want to thank +Dave Chapman for doing this it's been a lot of fun.

Favorite RPG of all time?
How can you even choose such a thing?

D&D has been there the longest, but I am partial to Ghosts of Albion and WitchCraft too.  All three are my "favorites".

If I am allowed to pick myself then Ghosts of Albion.  If not, then Dungeons & Dragons.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Zatannurday: Nerdee Lennox

Nerdee Lennox is a model and cosplayer from right here in Chicago! She loves cosplay and works with Cosplay Deviants.
She was at Gen Con and I got a pic of her, but here are some more.

You can find her on the web here:

Note: Not all links are SFW.
my original

Nerdee Lennox

by Robert Johnston Jr.
Cosplay Deviants

And because I love the tattoo,

Tattoo by InnocentlyNerdee on deviantART

#RPGaDAY Day 30, Rarest RPG Owned

#RPGaDAY Day 30, Rarest RPG Owned

I honestly don't know.

I do have a copy of the original White Box rules of D&D, 3rd Printing.  But I think they had made a lot of those.  I also have a limited edition 1st Spellcraft & Swordplay which was not as expensive but far less were made.

I have Dracula RPG based on the 90s movie which is rare only because it is so bad.

But I collect things I like because I like them, not so much because they rare.  And all my games get played and/or used.  Even Dracula. It might be bad, but it has a great collection of Victorian era fire-arms.

Looking forward to seeing what gems everyone else has for this one.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: Gor RPG & Interview

So on pretty much to polar opposite end of last weeks Kickstarter I present to you +James Desborough's Chronicles of Gor RPG.

I will be up up front. I am not a huge fan of James' earlier work.  I thought "The Slayer's Guide to Female Gamers" was juvenile and moronic.  BUT I loved "Machinations of the Space Princess" and "Agents of S.W.I.N.G."  Given the time between the projects I am more inclined to look at MotSP as his model.

The system will be D6.

My introduction to Gor was not as paperback but something I had read years and years ago in Penthouse.  It was about consensual BDSM and how this woman was looking forward to getting a Kef brand.

Gor is one of those problematic topics.  A deep rich publication history and an example of fantasy and planetary "Swords & Planets" sci-fi.  But it also involves a lot of subjugation of women and paints a fairly narrow view of sex and gender roles.  It is fantasy, however. It actually has less connection to reality than 50 Shades of Grey and it's tamer sire Twilight and those sold millions primarily to women and teenage girls.

BUT there are issues.

A lot of issues really.

So instead of just getting opinions from people on the internet, I opted to go right to James and get his side of it all.

The Other Side: Let's start with the easiest.  What is Gor for those that don't know?

James Desborough: Gor is the 'counter earth', an idea espoused in some ancient Greek philosophy. John Norman, the author, is a pretty big classics fan which comes across in his lionisation of the Greco-Roman dominant cultures on this world he has created. Gor spins in an orbit exactly opposite ours, shielded from our detection by the sun and the advanced technology of the mysterious Priest Kings. These beings, akin to feared gods, have transplanted various historical human - and non-human - cultures and animals onto their world and have kept them in what they seem to consider a state of nature. Low technology (in some areas), warring city states and a might makes right culture virtually across the entire land. It's harsh, savage, slavery - especially gendered slavery - is integral to the cultures there and it's very, very different to things on Earth.

TOS: Why Gor?  More importantly what attracted you to this property?

JD:  I genuinely am a fan of the books. I was gifted the first 24 or so books around the age of 15 and was very much taken by them. At the time I was an incredibly voracious reader going through several books a day on weekends and to be given 20+ books in one go was a huge deal. I was already a fan of ERB's Barsoom stories, Howard's Conan and had chewed my way through the entire SF&F sections of the local libraries so this was an amazing gift. The appeal of nubile slave girls depicted by Jim Burns, Chris Achilleos and the rest on the covers was obvious, but beneath all that there were interesting societies, strange cities, alien and inhuman beings behind it all and tarns! Who doesn't like gigantic flying birds? In the days before the internet, the BDSM elements, though tame by the standards of today, were also a revelation to a teenager struggling to understand themselves and feeling rather alone. It might be hard for people to understand that today.

So, I've long been a fan, it has personal meaning to me and I think it's a fascinating blend of planetary romance, ancient aliens, skullduggery, intrigue, interplanetary plots and well realised cultures. It's just something... different.

TOS: What is the involvement of (the creator) John Norman?

JD:  Mr Norman is not directly involved, but we're allowed to refer to ourselves as 'authorised'. Involvement comes via his agent and his current publisher who have had access to the completed game manuscripts - though I need to make a few more tweaks due to feedback not from them, but from critics, fans, readers and playtesters.

TOS: Let's take the next issue head on.  Gor has some issues with it's treatment of women, namely most women in the tales are slaves and sex slaves at that.  How do you plan on approaching this topic?

JD:  It's true that most women in the stories are slaves, and indeed, sex slaves, but the lead character Tarl Cabot is not the most reliable of narrators and though he spends the first few books trying to reconcile his Earth and Gorean heritages bad things that happen to him push him to a ruthlessly Gorean mode of thought. Most women in the stories are slaves because a lot of time is spent with personal slaves or in paga taverns where they're over-represented. In one of the books the percentage of women that are slaves is put at something like 2%, one in fifty so while it's present a great deal in the stories, it's not quite as domineering from a world-building point of view as you might imagine.

I have tried to simply present the Gorean world as it is written, to make some suggestions on how to play with or around these topics and to leave room for the players to make their own judgements. It should be noted however that in many, many incarnations of fan-created Gor roleplay online, it's this very feature of Gor that makes it so popular with women. It seems to tap into a common set of fantasies for people which, coupled with a fantastical world, has great appeal to many.

TOS: Related. What will be the role of the female character in Gor?

JD:  Part of what drew me to this project, which I've been sat on for about eighteen months getting it cleared, written and ready, is that it is 180 degrees from current trends in world design. Being inclusive of players is one thing, but being inclusive and tolerant of characters is quite another. The Gorean world is a genuinely patriarchal, slaveholding culture. It isn't tolerant or inclusive. Slavery is integral. They kill cripples and the deformed at birth - most of the time. If you look at it purely in our terms, from our perspective it's pretty monstrous in a huge number of ways but that's the very thing that makes it so interesting and appealing from a storytelling and roleplaying point of view and - from the Gorean point of view, these things aren't horrible or monstrous, they're natural.

There are plenty of competent, deadly and powerful female characters in the books and examples, not only the deadly Panther Girls but the Tatrix of Tharna, bandit queens, conspirators, Ubaras, free companions. While women are subject to a lot of social expectations, that can work in the favour of female characters much as it can in authentically themed Victorian historical settings or others where women are assumed to be a certain way or are accorded certain social privileges.

TOS: Outside of these issues you have described Gor as Planetary Romance.  What does Gor offer the gamer that say a Barsoom/Mars game might not?

JD:  Barsoom's strength is in its wild fantasy, Gor, for all its strange elements is much more believable and gritty, less juvenile in my opinion - not that there's anything wrong with that. Gorean societies feel like real, functioning societies at all levels and where the elements all fit together and work. It has an air of plausibility to it and much more opportunity to bring in Earth-based characters. The scope is also bigger, especially once you include the Priest Kings and the Kur. I think the other draw is that the cultures are fairly complex and well developed and none of them are 'evil', so you have a degree of nuance and tested loyalty that you're not so much going to get in other planetary romances. It's also more grown up and sexual, whereas the only real sense you get of that in Barsoom is from Whelan's book covers.

TOS: You have chosen the D6 system for Gor.  Tell us why you chose that and what you expect it will give to Gor?

JD:   I wanted to use a system that had some pedigree with working with new players. It's my hope that Gor will bring in some new gamers from the online RP scene and from amongst the fans of the series. Doing something super-radical and indie wasn't really going to work as some basic roleplaying concepts are hard enough to get across to people - the lack of a board for example. Some familiar structure is useful. D6 also has templates, which fit the Gorean caste system extremely well and allows for quick and easy, off-the-peg character creation. D6 was, of course, used for Star Wars up until 1999 and many people have fond memories of it and found it a good system for this kind of swashbuckling sci-fantasy adventure, so I think it's a safe bet to work well with Gor.

TOS: Tell us about the two books.  Gorean Roleplaying & World Book.

JD:  The Gorean roleplaying book is a primer for the Gorean world and contains all the rules, Games Master advice, help with adventures, a sample adventure, creatures, NPCs and so on. It doesn't, however go into a huge amount of world detail, just the basics.

The world book contains no mechanics and is more of an encyclopaedia, A-Z, with observations from a supposed scribe, taken from Earth, giving his reactions to things on Gor.

For the roleplayer both books together provide a complete game and background.

For the non-gamer, the world book provides a reference to the world of Gor, its inhabitants, creatures, cities and so on. It should make a good reading companion, or a resource for those writing fan-fiction or RPing in chatrooms or on Second Life.

TOS: After this gets produced what is next? Gor adventures or related books?

JD:  We've got the license for a good few years, with options for an extension. Obviously whatever further material we produce beyond the core two books won't be canonical but I'd like to try and do something beyond the normal adventure books. I've never really liked adventure books as they're not great value for money in and of themselves. If you can combine them with a travelogue, details, parts that can be re-used by the Games Master then they become much more useful. I'd quite like to trace Tarl's steps with a series of adventures adding and fleshing things out - non-canonically - filling in some of the gaps. I also want to make the Panther Girls closer to the self-scarifying badasses they're initially described as, I think that should appeal to some people.


I am very interested in seeing what James can produce here. If anyone can do it I think he can.
James answers more questions here,

#RPGaDAY Day 29, Most memorable encounter

#RPGaDAY Day 29, Most memorable encounter

That would have to be the very first time I encountered a Lich back in the AD&D1 days. I am thinking it was the summer of 82 or so.

The DM read the monster description and she decided that because it was a former high-level magic-user that it had all these new spells. She played the monster as would have today, but back then that was kind of a new thing.

Needless to say it kicked our 6th to 7th level asses.

While I was annoyed, I later looked back on it and thought about how well she had done it all.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

More From Barrel Rider Games

I won't lie. I love Barrel Rider Games.
A full Basic-era class for a $1. Not a bad deal really.

Here are a bunch of my recent purchases.

In nearly all cases the books are 5 to 6 or so pages with a cover, some art and the OGL and Labyrinth Lord licenses in back.

What is says on the tin. The Angel class is something like a more powerful flying Paladin.  It works and if you like playing divine messengers or celestial ass-kickers of evil then this might be a good class for you.
Limited to 9th level the Angel has such special powers as Heal Touch, Holy Aura, Wings and Flaming Sword.
What I like the most about this class is that it could be used as something akin to a Prestige Class for Basic-era Paladins. That is if your GM allows multi- or dual- classing.

The Bard is a full 20 level class for Labyrinth Lord. Like the Bards in other games they have the ability to perform with musical instruments and they have some thief abilities as well.  These bards though do not have magical abilities. I would like to see some spell casting with Bards, even if it is limited to just 5th or 6th level spells.

The Beserker class takes us back to some of the earliest days of D&D and The Dragon magazine.  The Berserker presented here is different but the feel is the same.  This class is a full 20 levels for Labyrinth Lord and gives the beserker such powers as Terror of the North and Form of the Bear. One can almost hear The Immigrant Song playing in background.  There is a decidedly Norse flavor to this one (as opposed to say a Celtic one) but it works great.

Commanders feel like they are on the opposite end of the fighting spectrum than beserkers.  They are cool efficient battle strategists.   The Commander is like a Basic-era Fighter, but his "powers" are his abilities to command and bolster others.  For example at higher levels those under his command are immune to fear.
It is an interesting class and has some nice features.

Death Knight
This class is something of a cross of warlock and an anti-paladin.  The Death Knight are not undead per se but do have their life force changed to undead or demonic power. It is a full 20th level class and in addition to fighting prowess the Death Knight has powers and spells.  The class is very comparable to a Paladin only Chaotic of course.  Like some of the alternate classes that used to appear in Dragon magazine the Death Knight works great, and maybe better, as an NPC class.

This might be the consummate PC Class.  It focuses on adventuring and that thrill of discovery.  It mixes a bit of thief and fighter with some sage-y abilities (id magical items, read magic) and cast some spells.   If you are missing a class or two in your group the Explore might help feel the missing bits.  Worth it for a look.

FULL DISCLOSURE: The genesis of the class was based on discussion I had the James Spahn on what sort of class my youngest son Connor likes to play.  All the material in this book is James' own original work, I am just rather fond of it.
The Forester is basically and elven Ranger with thief and hunting abilities thrown in.  It is a 10 level class.  The forester gets a lot of interesting abilities to help it in it's role as a protector of the forests including the abilities to hide in shadows and better fighting abilities when wielding a bow.  The coolest though is the ability to get an animal sidekick in the form of an Elven dog.
Since this was built more or less for my son he has been using the class in our Old-School game.  It plays like a Ranger with a few extra tricks up his sleeve.

Friars are holy men, like clerics, but are a wandering sort.  They do not get spells but instead a new special ability at each level.  Additionally since they can't wear armor they have a Divine Protection power that keeps them from harm.  in fact the highest level friars can have an AC as low as -6 if they reach 20th level and have a high dexterity.   For those that want a different take on the cleric this is a good choice.

Who doesn't love goblins?  Well now you can play one!  This might be BRG's smallest book but there is enough her to play 8 levels of goblin fun.  8th level goblins don't get a special title, but they do get a dire wolf of their own. Which you have to admit is pretty sweet.

The Greensinger is something akin to an elvish Bard/Druid.  Greensingers get some special abilities and can cast spells like that of a cleric/druid.  The idea is a rather cool one and frankly I wanted more.  The forests of Barrel Rider Games seem to be full of all sorts of strange and magical creatures.

Kassai Rider
The Kassai Rider is a mounted warrior similar to the Mongol hoards.  The class is a full 20 levels and has a number of special abilities based on combat on their horses.  Lightly armored and using bows for the most part these warriors are superior on horseback, but I wonder how well they might function in the dungeon.

Again, exactly what it says it is.  An interesting class with some thief like abilities the best part is the "Sea Stories" power which gives the PC information in the form of rumor and hearsay that might be beneficial to the Pirate.   The idea that pirates hear a lot of strange tales out at see.

Sword Master
This class might be called a duelist in other systems, but basically the idea is the same; a master of the sword.  The most interesting twist to this class is the inclusion of the Mastery Points.  Each level the Ps hass a certain number of these point they may use to increase their dice rolls. It is a neat mechanic and helps the Sword Master to score hits when he really needs too. There is an appendix for applying this to other fighter like classes as well.

War Chanter
What the Bard is to humans and the Greensinger is to Elves the War Chanter is to Dwarves.  In addition to being fighters the war chanter also has some powers "Songs" that they can use to aid others.  If you are playing a Basic-era game and have more than one player that wants to play a dwarf, have one choose this. It is a pretty interesting class and one that would make good use out a larger group of characters.

Wild Wizard
The Wild Wizard is akin to the old Wild Mage.  It is a Magic-User, but it has a Magical Flux. Magical Flux is summarized as an 1d20 affect table.  It is is an interesting idea, but I think it needs something a bit more.

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