Wednesday, April 12, 2017

RPGS and the Sunk Costs

Often you will hear people exclaim that they don't need to buy any more/new RPGs because they have more than they will ever play in their lifetime OR they have found the only one they ever need.
I can certainly appreciate both of these claims.  I DO have more than I'll ever play AND I have the game (or really 3 games) I could play forever and never need a new one.

Yet.  I still buy games.

I am fortunate really. I can make my hobby pay for itself. I can buy the books I want, when I want.
Thankfully my needs are also small and specific, so I also tend to write the material I want more out need of the material than out of a cost saving feature.
Sometimes though I buy something and I never use it, or, I never use as I wanted to use it.

Take for example D&D 4e.


I have a lot of 4e books.  Many I bought REALLY cheap, but some I got new. In any case it represents a sunk cost for me. Even if I unload them all at my FLGS auction, I am not likely to make anything at all back from it.

I'd love to do something with it someday, but am I playing into a Sunk Cost Fallacy?
That is I'll never make my money (time, resources) back by put more money/time/resources int it.

I would love to the run the HPE adventures that are centered around Orcus and the Raven Queen.  I have read through them many times and started them and think it would be fun.

There are three scenarios I am considering.

1. Run them under 5e.  This one is more of a thought experiment for me really.  I'd try to run it as a 4e/5e hybrid to scale 4e's 30 levels down too 5e's 20.   I like this idea since it would make for an interesting experiment and test my knowledge on both systems.  Converting 4e to 5e is easier than say converting 4e to something else.

2. Convert 4e to Something else.  I am honestly thinking of doing this under BECMI. Using the honest to goodness Red Boxes and everything.  This idea appeals to me on a lot of levels. BECMI's 1-36 levels map nicely onto 4e's 1-30.  Both end in characters being immortals.  Naturally this is the hardest to do and appeals to me the most, though I have done it before.  The level differences and system differences would allow me to start H1 Keep on the Shadowfell at BECMI level 4 or 5 and give me 1-3 for other adventures.  Maybe even the Aleena adventure in the Red Box and the Witchlight Fens adventure in the...Red Box.


The more I think about this the more I like it really.   I would need to decided on Class and Race (like AD&D) or Race as Class (as BECMI).  In truth it would not be difficult.  The 4e races all have a class they seem to prefer.  Dragonborn would all be Paladins, Tieflings all are Warlocks, Half-Orcs are all Barbarians and so on.  Plus there is a lot I still like about BECMI that I want to do.
This is something I think needs delving into further.

3. Run the adventures under 4e.  The simplest solution, naturally, has no appeal to me.

Am I sinking more resources into a fruitless endeavor?  Should I cut my losses and run?

No idea yet.  But I think I can invest a *little* more resources with out (too much) loss.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Video Game Question

So. I had a posting for today (and yesterday) but I have opted to delete it.

Instead, I want to talk about something else.

My son bought himself a gaming computer a while back and recently upgraded the video card.
I got the old video card and suddenly I have a whole new world of video games open to me.

I have played a little Skyrim and DragonAge on the Xbox, but generally, I don't have much time for video games.

I *would* play some more, but I want to know what are the better choices out there.
In particular, I am looking to you, my readers, to help me out here.

I am looking for something as close to D&D as I can find.  Yes, I know there are D&D video games out there. If you like those let me know!  But I Am also looking at other versions of DragonAge and the Witcher looks really good.

Don't tell me what you think sucks. Tell me what you think is good!

I love RPGs, magic, combating monsters. I enjoy character customization options.  But mostly I want to hear about what you all think is good.

Bonus. What D&D video games have you enjoyed?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Castles & Crusades Players Handbook #7

The good folks over at Troll Lords have a Kickstarter up for the next printing of the Castles & Crusades Player's Handbook.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/castles-and-crusades-players-handbook-7


They have five days left and only about $1,000 to go.

Castles & Crusades is my favorite game that I never get to play.  Well...I do get to play it, but not as much as I would like really.

This Kickstarter has a lot of really nice perks and the Troll Lords are super great guys.

Check it out!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #150

Moving more forward in time to October 1989 and to one of my most favorite issues of all time, Dragon #150.  This issue was during the prime of the "themed issues" of Dragon magazine, where each month/issue had a theme.  October was always horror and always my favorite.  Plus this issue also features one of my all-time favorite bits of Larry Elmore cover art.
This issue had one of the articles that honestly had such far-reaching effects that I am STILL using ideas from it.   Issue #150 came out in 1989, and I am sure I picked it up right away. I would have been a Junior in university at that time.  I wasn't playing much since I was busy studying all the time, but I do know that I had at least a draft copy of the witch in text format on a floppy disk.

The Dragon's Bestiary is up first with a bunch of new mind-flayer related monsters from Stephen Inniss.   I remember reading this one over and over.  I really wanted to use these guys in my games and I still do.  I noticed while re-reading this recently that the monster stats are for 1st Edition, but the other parts of the magazine are fully 2nd edition.  This was the dawn of 2e and the magazine has a strong post-Gygax vibe about it.  This article though feels older, though there is also a pre-Dark Sun feel to it as well.  The article introduces the Illithidae, or natives of the same world of the Mind Flayers.  If we stick with the mythology they could have easily come in the starship from Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.  The monsters include the pack hunting Cessirids, the lone hunter and slow moving Embrac, the large Kigrids and the near-Illithid Saltors.  These monsters would later be updated to the Illithidae monsters for 3.5 in the Lords of Madness book.

Stephen Inniss follows this up with an article that is heavy on fluff, light on crunch and one that has stuck with me for years. The Sunset World deals with the world of the Mind Flayers.  The article is a long one and presented in the style of an academic symposium, which is likely what attracted me to it.
This article was the start of the idea of block out the sun as a plot device in my games.  I used it in the Dragon and the Phoenix for Buffy and currently in the Come Endless Darkness campaign for D&D 5.

Speaking of vampires and vampire slayers.  Fangs Alot! has the updated/corrected version of the Vampire listing for the 2nd Edition Monstrous Compendium.  If you recall the vampire had the same material printed on both sides of the page, the difference only being the "western" and "eastern" vampire pictures.  This version has the proper second page in place.

The Well-Rounded Monster Hunter details some skills every investigator should have in Call of Cthulhu.  I always read these articles with great interest, looking for things I could port over to my then-current (but sadly dying) Ravenloft game.

The Role of Computers covers some video games. The late 80s were an interesting time for computers, I felt he had hit something of a golden age; computers were getting more powerful and cheap and yet there was still enough of a hacker mentality that kept these machines (mostly) in the hands of nerds adn geeks like me.  In many ways if you were a teen playing D&D in the 80s you grew up to be one of the people playing around with computers in the 90s and part of the Dot.Com boom in the late 90s.  It is interesting now, rereading this, to see all the variety of computers software was made for then.  I know in my own case back then I desperately wanted to see more games fro my own Tandy Color Computer 3.  Mock it if you like, but that little computer got me through my undergrad degree in psychology.  I would need the help of an "IBM PC-clone" to finish up my grad school degrees.  Still, it is neat seeing some of these games.  I bet many would run well  on my phone with an emulator.

I still love looking at all these ads.  I actual had sent off a SASE once upon a time to get my own character art. Never sent it back with my payment; never had the money to spare. I always wanted one though. Maybe that is one of the reasons I love getting art now.

John J. Terra has a great article for the FASA Trek RPG, A Final Frontier of Your Own.  Rereading now I am impressed how much of it still applies for LUG Trek and new Trek playtests.  Sitting at my kitchen table re-reading this I sketched out an idea for a game.  I want to run a Star Trek game called the "Daughters of Kahless".  It would be a group of dishonored Klingon Women in a broken down D6 cruiser trying to regain their honor and for the greater glory of the Klingon Empire.  I remember at the time I wanted to do the adventures of a ship propelled to the far ends of the Universe.  I guess that why I have such a love/hate relationship with Voyager. Love the idea, hated the exicution.

In another article by Dean Shomshak we have another CoC article, Unspeakable Secrets Made Easy. This details a number of magical texts.   No spells are listed, but plenty of background information.

More ads follow including the ads for the then new Monstrous Compendiums.  Vol. 1 was out (I picked mine up at a game store in Harrisburg, PA while on vacation) and Vol. 2 was on the way.  The ad though looks different than the binder I picked up and I always wondered if it was because I picked mine up from a different part of the country than I typically bought my Dragons.  Turns out nothing so interesting, just a mock-up for the ad.


It's hard to see, but there is a red border behind the images of the monsters.

Again, this was a great issue that brought back a lot of great memories.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: To Kill a Kettle Witch

"Blessed fire in the night
Show me what is in the sight
Show me what brings fight or flight
Blessed fire in the night."

To Kill a Kettle Witch: A Novel of the Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee.

Back when I did the Witches & Witchcraft Challenge in 2015 I read the first three books of Barb Hendee's "The Mist-Torn Witches". It worked out great since the third book was new and I quickly read all three books. I didn't participate in 2016 because I was doing a deep dive into the history of England, so I also missed reading this book when it was out. I picked it up on release day and it has sat on my device.

I really enjoyed the tale of new Mist-torn witches Céline and Amelie Fawe. Céline can see visions of the future and is a knowledgeable apothecary.   Amelie is the younger sister and sees images of the past and is just as handy with a sword or dagger. We got to see them grow in power and in confidence over the course of the three books and it was a lot of fun.

While overtly fantasy novels, and more overtly Hendee's own brand of good people in a dark fantasy world, the books are less about the supernatural and more detective stories. Céline and Amelie just have supernatural means of uncovering clues. While the other books dealt with the murders of nobles or people close to them, this time the mystery is the death of a forest and in the center of it all are Céline and Amelie's own people, the Móndyalítko, the gypsy-like "children of the world". It also involves the mysterious Helga the chief servant at Castle Sèone.   We learn right away she is also a Móndyalítko and she has her own share of secrets that are soon revealed and have bearing on the present problem.
We also get more of the backstory of Lt. Jaromir and learn of his connection to Helga.

I don't want to get into too many spoilers here. The book moves fast and thus feels very short. I will say this one is a slight departure from the first three in that there is no clear-cut "bad guy" unless you want to count the price of magic itself.

The book feels like a turning point in the series. Two characters finally get together. Other characters get their stories advanced and two major characters get their histories filled out.  I have mentioned this before, but if this were a movie it would pass both the Bechdel test AND the Mako Mori test.  The was less interaction with the two sisters than in previous books, but I took that as a sign of growth; they are both comfortable in what their roles are now and trust each other to do it.  Or in other words, they are no longer children, but capable strong women.

While I have said before that Amelie (the woman on the cover) is my favorite of the two sisters, I wanted more Céline in this book.  I feel her story is unfinished. Interesting, since she is the sister that can see into the future, it is her future we know the least about.

I hope that Céline and Amelie will also show up in Barb and J.C. Hendee's other books.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 10
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Half-a-dozen or so, counting the sisters and the titular "Kettle Witch".
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Good, but some make some bad choices.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Castles & Crusades feels the best for me here, but also D&D 5 would work nicely.  If I were to use Pathfinder I might make them Oracles.  If I were using my own Witch book, then the obvious choice would be to make a Mist-Torn Tradition and their powers to see into the future and the past would be occult powers.
Use in WotWQ: I would love to have a cameo of the sisters in my game someday.   They would certainly be the witches to call on when investigating a murder.

You can find more of Barb Hendee's books at her author page and at http://www.nobledead.org/.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Back on Track! Minis and more!

Just got off of Spring Break with my kids. Had a great time, but now I am back in the grove of work (or at least that is what I keep telling myself as I weep into my coffee).

Got a ton of stuff done on various projects including my next Swords & Wizardry one.

But more important to me is what my wife has been doing.  Last week we started off our Spring Break by going to Gary Con and to Adepticon.  It was great and my wife picked up this miniatures painting starter kit from Reaper.  Well, a week later we are at our FLGS +Games Plus during their 35 Anniversary celebration to buy more minis, more brushes, and more paint.

Here are the fruits of her efforts this past week.



I have found my "Lolth" character.  The blonde witch in the red robes is Tanith, one of my newest characters.



This Vrock is my favorite.
I had to mount it so it would stand up right.



She is still working on learning different techniques and getting better, but this is going to save me hundreds of bucks!

This is going to be a lot of fun.  Plus while the boys and I play D&D she can sit there and paint with us. Which, truth be told, she enjoys more.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Willow & Tara: Armageddon, the End Times

This post has been a long time coming.

Back in 2001 I started a project to stat out two of my favorite witches for every RPG I have ever played.  You can see the fruits of those efforts here.  I printed out hundreds of character sheets, filled them out, even used a few in games.  Deep diving into two characters and seeing how they work across different systems and different worlds. It has been a great time.



One set of sheets I started in 2006 and thought, oh I'll get to these when I run my "Generation HEX" game.  Well...I never got around to those sheets.  I was in the habit putting the date of the game on the top of the sheet. That way I could keep the overall campaign straight in my head.

This week was the 20th anniversary of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a milestone I was going to leave unremarked.  But I pulled out those sheets and noticed the date on them.   The game was also one I wanted to revisit this year given ...all sorts of reasons.

The year was 2017 and the game was Armageddon: The End Times.



There are so many reasons that Armageddon is the most perfect choice for Willow and Tara in 2017.

Armageddon is the sequel to the WitchCraft RPG much in the same sense that the Buffy RPG is; just a different evolutionary path. Armageddon features much more powerful characters in a post-apocalyptic world. In fact, there is a lot about the game world of 2017 that we can relate too in the real world of 2017.

I described Armageddon as:
The ultimate expression of the Classic Unisystem game line. Use it as a future for your WitchCraft games, or as source material for WitchCraft and All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Far improved over the poorly edited 1st Edition, this could be C.J. Carella's finest work and that is saying something.
It should then stand to reason that my versions of Willow and Tara should also be represented in their ultimate expression.

Willow & Tara in 2017



Given what I have been doing with the characters for the last few years I would have to say they have been largely retired.  Given the reunion staged by Entertainment Weekly, I would say something pulled them out of retirement.  Maybe a horrible orange monster threatening to take over the world. Or something.

On my sheets, I gave them both 200 extra character points. One of the first things I did was buy off many of their drawbacks. Most of that stuff dealt with youth and being young.  I am also going with the fan-favorite theory that they have two daughters by this time.

I didn't buy up their attributes much save for maybe ones that would be expected to improve due to better diet and exercise.

Willow Rosenberg-Maclay
Wicce Seeker of Knowledge
Gifted Master

Age: 36, Ht: 5'3", Hair: Red, Eyes: Green

Attributes: Str 2 Dex 3 Con 3 Int 5 Per 5 Wil 6
Life Points 36
Endurance 38
Speed 12
Essence 65

Channeling Level: 8

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (25), Increased Essence Pool (+20), Adversary (Assorted, 2), Ambidexterity, Anamchara, Attractiveness (+2), Hard to Kill (+2), Honorable (-1), Minority, Lesbian (-1), Nerves of Steel (3), Old Soul (2), Resources (3, wealthy)

Skills: Acrobatics (4), Brawling (3), Bureaucracy (5), Computers (9), Computer Hacking (9), Computer Programming (9), Craft (5), Dodge (6), Electronics (5), Engineering, Robotics (5), Humanities, Psychology (1), Languages (English, French, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Russian), Magic Theory (5), Instruction (1), Medicine, General (2), Occult Knowledge (9), Research (4), Rituals, Wicce (7), Trance (1).

Powers: Absob Power, Aura of Confidence, Create Ward, Essence Shield, Farsee, Flame, Float, Mindtalk strength and art (7), Mindhands strength and art (5), Lightning Bolt, Mindfire strength (5) art (4), Mindtalk strength and art (5), Physical Shield, Search Person (4)* (8 if that person is Tara, Brianna or Chole), Sending, Soulfire Blast, Visual Illusion.


Tara Rosenberg-Maclay
Wicce Weird One
Gifted Master

Age: 37, Ht: 5'5", Hair: Blonde, Eyes: Blue


Attributes: Str 3 Dex 2 Con 3 Int 5 Per 6 Wil 6
Life Points 36
Endurance 38
Speed 10
Essence 70

Channeling Level: 8

Qualities & Drawbacks: Gifted (+5), Essence Channeling (25), Increased Essence Pool (+20), Artistic Talent (7), Hard to Kill (+1), Honorable (-1), Minority, Lesbian (-1),  Nerves of Steel (3), Old Soul (2), Resources (3, wealthy)

Skills: Cooking (5), Craft, Candle Making (2), Craft, Simple Crafts (4), Humanities, Art History (6), Humanities, Psychology (7), Languages (English, French, Gaelic [Irish], Greek, Japanese, Latin), Magic Bolt (4), Magic Theory (5), Instruction (5), Medicine, General (2), Myth and Legend, Folk Magic (7), Occult Knowledge (9), Research (4), Rituals, Wicce (7), Singing (2), Survival, Urban (2), Trance (2), Dancing (3)

Powers: Blessing of Protection, Create Ward, Essence Sheild, Flame, Float, Influence Emotional State, Lesser Healing (Heal Wounds, Cure Disease), Mindfire strength and art (4), Mindtalk strength and art (5), One with the Land, Perceive True Nature, Physical Shield, Search Person (4)* (8 if that person is Willow, Brianna or Chole), Sending, Touch of Healing*, Visual Illusion

*Tara still retains her healing touch divine powers from when she was brought back from the dead.

Not sure if I spent all my points correctly, but that is fine. I had a lot of fun doing this.

So for me it has been nearly 10 years since I used these characters in these incarnations.
What have they been doing?  Well in the Dragon and the Phoenix/Season of the Witch timeline they moved to Boston, been married for years. Willow owned a software security firm ("RedWitch") that she later sold making millions. Tara has degrees in art history and counseling. She teaches at a school for young magicians and witches (no not Hogwarts). They have two daughters Brianna 12 and Chole 9.

If you want to see a "timeline" of their development then here you go. These are in world-chronological order, not the order I wrote them.

Pre-2000, BESM
2000-1, WitchCraft
2001, d20 Modern
2002, BESM-d20
2003, BESM 3rd Ed
2004, World of Darkness
2005, Chill
2006, Cartoon Action Hour Season 3
2006-7, Doctor Who
2007, Savage Worlds
2007, DC Heroes
2008, Cortext
2008, World of Darkness (new)
2009, Mutants and Masterminds 2nd ed
2010, OVA
2011, Mutants and Masterminds 3rd ed
2012, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying
2013, Superbabes

There are more, but you get the idea here.

This was great. Like meeting up with old friends again and seeing that they are getting along wonderfully. Been wanting to do this for a while now and it did not disapoint.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...