Thursday, October 16, 2014

Working Here...What is your Favorite OSR adventure?


So between working on Strange Brew, the Horror Movie Challenge and oh yeah the Day Job, I kinda feel like I have been phoning it in lately.

Well today is no different!!

Actually though there is something you all can do to REALLY help out.  I will post the reasoning tomorrow as part of a larger post.

But what I would like to know today is this.

What is your favorite OSR adventure module?

By this I mean a new adventure, published say since 2007 (I am flexible on that date), by a third party publisher for use with one of the OSR* rulesets or the Original Rules (OD&D, BD&D, AD&D).

(*I guess unless that is a tautology above I am saying that the "R" in OSR does not mean "Rules".  That's about as close as a definition as you are going to get around here.)

I would prefer stand alone adventures, but a trilogy is also fine.

Tell me what it is and why you like it.

Myself I am rather fond of some of the Dragonsfoot Adventures, but mostly I like the ones from Troll Lords' Castles & Crusades line.

Post in the comments below or on Google+.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Vampire Diary (2006)

Not to be confused with the teen soap on the WB, this movie is a 2006 "found footage" movie about vampires. But don't go into it expecting "Blair Witch" or "Paranormal Activity".

The star of the movie is Holly and she is making a documentary on "weekend vampires" or people that dress up as vampires to go to clubs.  In the process she finds Vicki (a pre-Hellboy Anna Walton) recording her and she is recording the crowd.  Vicki tries to seduce Holly, but Holly instead just lets her sleep on the couch.  Eventually Vicki worms her way into Holly's life. And that is when the bodies start showing up.

Vicki and Holly eventually do have sex and we discover that Vicki is a "real" vampire.  She has been feeding on people close to Holly and the club scene.  We learn that Vicki had been raped by a male vampire and left to die. Now she was pregnant and needs to feed more and more.

The interesting facet of this movie is guessing whether or not Vicki is in fact a vampire or just insane. She uses a bolt gun, like what you use to kill animals for slaughter, and you never see fangs.  Holly is dragged right on down with her and you are left guessing till the end.

The "found footage" aspect is very interesting. Giving it a good solid indie feel but also a very intimate one.  You really can see Vicki and Holly's downward spiral into madness and depravity.

There are some notes missing, but the acting is top notch and the direction is great.

I won't spoil the ending for you since I feel this one I would recommend.  

Tally so far:  19 Total Watched / 13 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #14 March 1976

Today we head back to March of 1976.

In what is a first for me, and for O&W, a variant set of rules are presented for Diplomacy.  It covers the entire first page.  (Click over there for larger).

The Editorial deals with the falling value of the Pound vs. the American Dollar and the effect it will have on buying some games from the US.  Bottom line here is that GW will try to stock more D&D so people can buy it without having to pay for the shipping.

I became very interested in American and British economies in the 80s.  There was always "perception" that the recession in Great Britain was Thatcher's fault. But this points to the seeds of that time starting right here.

Page 3 has something of a milestone of several sorts. First it is the introduction of Don Turnbull as a new fan of the D&D game. Also covered is the first set up of what would later be know as Play By Mail games.

Page 5 is the first article of the D&D Society News.   Several people send in their addresses, but no phone numbers.  Ian Livingstone plays to make this a regular feature.

Four longer reviews follow, one for "Feds 'N' Heads", "Bust", a railway game "1869" and "Fast Carriers".   It seems that the reviews are picking up some now.  I hope this is a trend that continues since it was one of my favorite parts of White Dwarf.

We end with the usual batch of games for sale from "T.S.R."

Could it be that the "D&D High" at O&W is over and they are getting back to board games?  Maybe, but history teaches us something different.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Billy the Kid vs Dracula (1966)

Well I am going to start out by saying that this movie was no where near as bad as I remembered it.
Ok.  The bat is still crappy. And the "night" scenes are more like afternoon scenes.

Let's start with some of the good points.
The timing is about right really.  Dracula could have left England to visit America.  And John Carradine does a good Dracula.
I could see Billy the Kid/William Bonny deciding to play it legit too.  It makes as much sense as a vampire really.

All in all it is pretty much a typical Dracula plot.  Dracula sees a pretty girl, decides he wants her, goes after her, killing dozens along the way.  Hero protects girl.

I do like the change of the typical Victorian England or even the "Hammer Hamlet" to the American West.
There are plenty of differences in setting a horror film in the American west rather than say Victorian era Europe. For starters everyone (well not really...) has a gun. And the Americans generally don't believe the old superstitions.  This was something I always felt was done well in George Hamilton's "Love at First Bite".

If anything there are a lot of wasted potential here, but I can't say if that is just my take on it looking at nearly 50 years later or if it is an actual defect of the movie.

Tally so far:  18 Total Watched / 12 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Of Dreams and Magics RPG

Recently a new Kickstarter/Company was brought to my attention and I decided to look into them a bit more.

The games is Of Dreams and Magics RPG and it looks very, very intriguing to me.  The publishing company, ODAM Publishing, also looks good.   I recently spoke with the guys behind ODAM, John and Matt and this is what they had to say.

Tim Brannan/The Other Side:  Let’s start at the beginning,  who are you and what is ODAM Publishing?

Matt: I’m Matt

John: And I’m John, and we are founders of ODAM Publishing.

Matt: ODAM Publishing seeks to make a full line of high-quality RPG products and other tabletop games. Having been lifelong gamers and fans of the hobby in general, we decided to marry our passion with our experience in business in order to provide outstanding games for anyone to enjoy.

TB: How did you get into gaming?

Matt: I’ll always remember picking up the Vampire 3rd Edition book and being fascinated with it. I had a close friend who played Vampire with a group, which John was the storyteller for, and from that moment on I was hooked.

John: I had a friend in school who knew I Ioved to write. One day he just flat out asked me if I had ever heard of a roleplaying game and insisted I’d love the concept if I gave it a shot.  He was correct, and a lifetime of fond memories followed.

TB: What are some of your favorite games? Why?

Matt: As I mentioned, Vampire the Masquerade was a book that I would read over and over again before ever even playing it or knowing what an RPG was. More than anything, I hope that our books will make someone feel the same way I felt when I first saw that book. My other favorite game would have to be Shadowrun, going back to the 3rd edition. It’s my favorite setting - I only wish I had more chances to play it with my regular group, as I think the 3rd edition book was a bit harder to get into. The short Shadowrun stories I did get to tell do remain my favorites to this day, though.

John: Some of my fav’s are AD&D 2nd and 3d editions, white wolfs Vampire the Masquerade, and Star wars by West End Games.  I have a very wide range of tastes so I’d get my fantasy kicks from D&D, my horror from white wolf, and my sci fi from Star Wars.  There were many others along the way but those probably got the most play out of me.

TB: I can certainly relate to those, though I am a bigger Unisystem fan. Now the good stuff.  What is “Of Dreams and Magic?”

John:  It’s an RPG about being a dreamer who can affect our world by carrying the magic of their dreams into reality.  Honestly being an RPG fan is a lot like being a character from “Of Dreams and Magic”.  Every gamer has these great stories and experiences they live through with their playgroup but to the rest of the world its just a dream.  The concept of the game is that an omnipresent force called the Doubt causes people to not believe in “magic” or anything extraordinary.  These few dreamers learn the truth and are forced to face the Doubt, their nightmares, and a host of other antagonists.  Fortunately for them they can summon the power of their favorite dreamself to face their enemies.  Just imagine if you learned that at a moments notice you could really do some of the things your characters could in the many games you’ve played - then you’d have an idea what this game is all about.

TB: You describe ODAM as Modern Fantasy? Elaborate a bit on that.

Matt: Not only does ODAM take place in the here and now in the literal sense, I think it’s a game ABOUT the here and now. A lot of people are facing hard times and dream of a better life, which seems to be out of reach. When I think of someone creating magic, I think of ordinary people who are out there doing things they’ve been told they can’t. While they may not be able to summon a cybernetic handgun to their hand, they’re definitely battling the Doubt.

John: There’s definitely a bit of allegory here.  Of Dreams and Magic is designed to peel back the veil separating a gamer from their game.  The players themselves were always the lynchpin that tied all of their gaming experiences together.  Now we’ve written a game where that player can be one character in the modern world and tie all of his many game experiences together - all within a single system.  The modern fantasy description pertains to that real world character now playing in not only his many dream settings, but then also playing in the real world with what he gained from them.

TB: It sounds a bit similar to Mage, but in a different direction. What is here in ODAM to set it off from other Modern Fantasy games.

John:  Hopefully lots of things!  As I mentioned we created a unique setting where playgroups can tell any kind of story and have all those experiences link back to a single character who dreamed them.  Then they can play a sidelining adventure telling stories about what that dreamer does with those experiences.  People have found it rewarding both emotionally and technically.  In theory a group could have as many campaigns in as many settings as they want without ever truly “starting over” as all of those experiences help build and develop the dreamer character they are tied to.  Additionally we developed a new rule system that allows players to be as detailed or as minimalistic as they like.  We felt if a player asked themselves “I wonder if I could do this” with our game in mind they should always find the answer to be yes - and they won’t have to rewrite the mechanics to do so.

TB: What was the reasoning for going with it’s own system?

Matt: We wanted to use our own system because we wanted all aspects of the game to have their systems built around them, rather than having to mold our ideas to a separate system. We think the rules should serve the setting and actual roleplaying rather than the other way around, and the best way to do that was to design our own rules.

John: I’ve never felt the true greatness of playing rpg’s revolved around their rules.  Nobody thinks back 10 years on the cool rule they used in a favorite story.  Great systems help you tell the stories you are passionate about without making you feel like they are getting in your way or only make sense some of the time.  We recognized all gamers have different tastes when it comes to the complexity of their rules, so we decided to start from scratch and build a system that could please anyone who used it, regardless of what side of the spectrum they came from.  We all know the feeling of a great scene occurring and then staring in wonder at how limiting the rules are when it comes to actually playing it.

TB:  What sort of games/stories do you expect that people will use this for?

Matt: The exciting thing about ODAM, in my mind, is that in time people will be able to use it to tell any kind of story they want. The core story focuses on the modern day, but by traveling through dreams a play group will be able to tell a fantasy session after watching The Hobbit, tell a horror session on Halloween, and then settle into some sci-fi when summer comes back around. All of this while having these separate stories and characters serve each other rather than be disruptive.  More than anything, though, I hope that people will tell stories that inspire them and that make them believe in their own dreams.

John: Any!  That’s one of my favorite parts of what we’ve created.  I’m really excited to hear how people tell their own stories maybe emphasizing the horror of a character’s nightmare, or the action adventure of being in starfighter battle.  I guess I’m as interested in other peoples “dreams” as I am in my own.

TB: What are your future plans for this game?

Matt:  Since a large aspect of the game deals with different genres and blending them together, we’re really excited to eventually produce books that focus on those specific genres. John will be able to share the fantasy world he’s GMed in for decades with the rest of the gaming world, and I’ll be able to display a cyberpunk setting that features my favorite parts of the concept.

John:  The plan is to release supplemental publications to help give gamers more tools to enjoy their stories. Primarily I hope to produce setting books, each embodying a different genre, to give playgroups detailed worlds to be used either as material for their characters dreams, or to be played and enjoyed as completely independant game using the very same rule system.

Matt:  In the short term, we’re focusing on releasing the core rulebook and supplemental material related to it, but in the long term, we really hope to provide books that everyone can enjoy regardless of their favorite genre.

TB: Ok last question and this is for my own benefit. Who is your favorite wizard, witch or magic-user?

Matt: This may come off as a strange answer, but Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. My first exposure to the character was through my favorite game of all time, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Father. The game offered up a ton of information about historical voodoo practice in New Orleans, and I was so intrigued by it that I became interested in the subject beyond just the game.

John: Strange as this may sounds, I’d have to choose Willow. The main character of the motion picture bearing the same name holds the title in my mind because his magic powers were so understated.  His genius resided in his determination to do the right thing - whatever the cost.  I have rarely been so amused by a wizard’s personal quest as I have watching Willow learn to believe in himself even if no one else did.


Looking forward to seeing what they do!

Monday, October 13, 2014

October Movie Challenge: Blood + Roses (2010)

Not to be confused with Blood and Roses, this movie focuses on the transformation of a human victim to a vampire.

Jane is some sort of depression and she her husband are going to country to get a away for a bit.  All the while she is dreaming of being raped and of vampire Seth.
We later find out that Jane was raped and that is the cause of her depression.  Of course she finds out because Seth has bitten her and she is transforming into a vampire.

Overtly that is what the movie is about, Jane's transformation.  It could have been more horrific, but I think the cast was doing the best they could (which admittedly wasn't much) with the material they had.  The script is not great and neither are the production values, but the story kept my attention.

Still. It was interesting to see the transformation from the "last girl's" point of view.  The ending was not typical for a vampire movie.

In has the feel of an indie movie or even a student movie which I liked, but there was still something off.  The acting is not great and there is no real passion.  Even when Jane discovers she was drugged and raped by her husband's best friend for money she still doesn't react like you might think.  Plus the husband in this is a huge asshole.  So it was difficult to buy into the characters at all really.

Tally so far:  17 Total Watched / 12 New

What do you find scary?
October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.

Great Weekend!

What a great weekend that was!  I can't even feel bad for it being Monday cause I am still riding the high.

I got to watch some cool horror movies with my family. Got our Halloween decorations up (well, most of them) and We played some more Castle Amber Sunday night.

Had a moment of serious Deja Vu when running it too.  In the "White Room" in the East Wing there is a D&D Expert set monster hiding out, a Frost Salamander.  Now back in the day (much like today) we mixed and matched our D&D rules as we needed.  Well back when I was a player and we went through this room I didn't have my D&D Expert book on me. I had just bought the PHB and we were running it as "pure" AD&D.  Well AD&D doesn't have a Frost Salamander.  Neither does D&D 5.
So in both cases we substituted a Remorhaz for it.

I know not a big deal. But for a bit I was transported back in time to when I was my son's age and doing what he was doing.  It was very cool to me.

If you have not had a chance yet, head on over to Tenkar's Tavern to see exactly how not to act when someone is reviewing your kickstarter:

Very good example of what not to do.

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