Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Plays Well With Others: Blue Rose and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

This June I am on a big Blue Rose kick gearing up for my review of the game.  I felt for this review I should play the game more and kick the tires a bit more.  Today, given that it is Tuesday, I want to talk about another progressive game and how well it works with Blue Rose; the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG.
I am extremely proud of the work I did on Ghosts of Albion. But I never would have gotten to do that work had it not been for the success of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Both the Show and RPG really. Without Buffy, there would have been no Ghosts on the BBC and without the RPG there never would have been a Ghosts of Albion RPG.

These two games share a lot of themes.  Blue Rose is more character-centric than other fantasy games and Buffy is more character-centric than other modern-supernatural games. Though most modern-supernatural games also tend to be more character focused.

Blue Rose and Buffy also share the +John Snead connection.  He worked on the original Blue Rose (and compiled a great list of must-read books of the genre). He and I also both worked on the Buffy Magic Box book.   Speaking of Snead's book recommendations, I reread The Blue Sword recently and I am struck how much of the heroine Harimad-sol reminded me of Buffy in ways. Also, my Queen Jaeliln was more than a little influenced by Buffy and SMG.

With Green Ronin now talking about Modern AGE (MAGE...snerk), I think the time to dust off my Buffy books is right.  As my old friend +Robert Black used to say, "I have a Buffy-shaped hole in my life."

By the Numbers
Normally when doing a Plays Well With Others of different systems I like to look how the stats convert.  I am less interested in that these days and instead more interested in how to convert concepts and ideas.   In this case, it's a "How would the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer work in Blue Rose?" Though I am not immune to the siren song of numbers.

Blue Rose/AGE has 9 Abilities.  Buffy/Unisystem has 6.  The mappings are pretty logical.
Just take the Unisystem ability and map it onto the AGE ability of the same name; Strength is Strength, Willpower is Willpower and so on.   The three remaining, Accuracy, Communication and Fighting, can be taken from various skills or qualities.  So Fighting is taken from Kung-fu; Communication can be derived from Charisma. Accuracy, depending on where it is used can come from Gun-Fun or Occultism.
Blue Rose/AGE abilities rank from -2 to 4. Buffy/Unisystem attributes go from 1 to 6, with some cases of 0.  Take your Unisystem score and -2.  Not perfect really, but it is really, really close.

Now at this point the numerical conversion stops.  In the Buffy RPG, the eponymous Slayer has Strength 8, Dexterity 9, and Constitution 8.  A straight conversion gives her 6, 7 and 6 respectively.  Not undoable really, but I'd have to bend the rules.  Instead, let's see how close I can get with Rules-As-Written.

I want to do starting characters, but to get her to the power level I want for a starting character I am going start her out at Level 4.  Blue Rose/AGE is fine with this as True20 was.

By the Concepts
What is a Slayer known for?  Killing Vampires naturally.  But in Blue Rose Vampires are not the threat that Darkfiends are.  Indeed, in the RPG and TV show the focus was less on Vampires and more on Demons. Unstable Shadowgates are roughly the same (plot wise) as a Hellmouth.  While magic is common, Sorcery is bad (Sounds like a 4th season episode, "Sorcery Bad!").

A lot of the same themes can be explored as well; family, relationships, sex, sexual identity, friendships and a group coming together.

Mr. (Robert) Maclay: This is insane. You people have no right to interfere with Tara's affairs. We are her blood kin! Who the hell are you?
Buffy: We're family.

So. Who is Buffy Summers in the World of Aldea?  Well, she is the Slayer. The Chosen One. She lives with her mother and sister in a suburban area of Aldis. Here she discovers a Shadowgate linked to the realm of the Darkfiends.  She has been chosen by Maurenna to destroy the darkfiends.

For my own Blue Rose games I have chosen Welsh as the language that represents Aldea, so all the names of my characters will be Welsh or Welsh-inspired.  Buffy Summers becomes Bethan Hâf, she lives with her sister Gwawr.

Bethan Hâf, the Darkfiend Slayer

Bethan Hâf
Human (Slayer)
Class: Warrior Level: 4

Score Focus
3 2
1 Persuasion
3 2
3 2
4 3
4 3 Might

AR 1
Health 65
Weapon Groups: Brawling, Bludgeoning, Heavy Blades, Light Blades

Armor Training: Novice
Talents: Quick Reflexes (N), Single Weapon Style (N), Arcane Potential, Visions (N)
Specialization: Slayer of Darkfiends

Calling: The Sun, Championing the Everyday
Destiny/Fate: Six of Swords, Optimistic/Pessimistic
Goals: To Destroy the Darkfiends invading our home

Gwawr (3). She is my little sister and maybe the only one that truly understands me. I will protect her. My wrath on anyone that means her harm.
Helyg (2). She is my best friend, the only one that has shown me kindness. I will save the world only because I have her help.
Brynn (1). She is the love of Helyg and that makes her family.

I like it.  This is a build I could work with.  Note I have not given her a significant other yet. Not sure how I want to work that in just yet. Would like to see where I would take this character first.

Next time lets spend some time with Helyg and Brynn.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Gretel: A Fairytale Retold

"It takes more that a little fire to kill a witch," Maeve whispered to Gretel.

I love retellings of classic fairy tales. I do.  I ESPECIALLY love ones where the witch is not the monster, but the hero of the tale.

I get such a tale from Niamh Murphy in her retelling of "Gretel: A Fairytale Retold".  In this, we have an older version of Hansel and Gretel. Here they are in the woods, hungry and chased by wolves.
That is till the Witch shows up to scare way the wolves and take Hans and Gretel back to her home.
The tropes are all here. She fattens them up, she lives alone. But that is where the similarities end.
The "witch", Maeve, lives alone because she dared to love someone her village did not approve of.
While Hans does not trust her, Gretel is taken with her charm, her intellect, and her independent nature.  Maeve knows the secrets of the forest and in her own words she was not exiled but set free.
Maeve is easy to like.
I thought the relationship between Maeve and Gretel felt natural. Afterall, Gretel knew she was missing something, she just didn't know it was this.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, in Hans' reaction. I had hoped for more, but it does set up the final act.

The story is a quick read, but a lot of fun and you can grab it for free from her website.  I lament that the story was too short, to be honest, but it is a fairy tale retold, so it can't be too long.
Of course there is a happily ever after, it's a fairytale still.  OR as we used to say to my kids when reading fairytales to them "they all went home and had tea."

She has other stories too, I just grabbed one that is longer.

Niamh Murphy can be found on the web at her website, http://www.authorniamh.com/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNiamh/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 15
Level: Mother
Witches in this book: Maeve. She might not be a "real" spell-casting witch, but I choose to think she is.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Good!
Best RPG to Emulate it: Blue Rose is a good choice.  Maeve lives inside the  Pavin Weald.  She very much fits with my idea of a Green Witch.  I would use my new Witchcraft Specialization for her.  I'd make about a 4th level witch.
Use in WotWQ: I plan on using all sort of fairy tales in my War of the Witch Queens.  A Fairytale re-told is also good material if that re-telling is good.  This is a good retelling.

Something like this would also make for a good Blue Rose adventure.
Much like the Frog Princess is a retelling, this would make a great adventure.  Hans and Gretl can be part of an adventuring party sent to investigate the so-called Witch of the Woods and determine her true intent.   But it turns out she is not evil, but the nearby village is making it look like she is.  She does control the wolves, but not magically, they just treat her as their Alpha.
Gretel, or some other female character, ends up falling in love with Maeve.

And they all go home and have tea.

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Warlock goes Copper!

I just logged onto and noticed that just at six weeks that The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry has gone Copper Best Seller at RPGNow!

I am so pleased!

The Warlock joins such worthies as The Witch (Silver on DriveThru), Eldritch Witchery (Copper), Sisters of the Aquarian Order (Copper), and Ghosts of Albion (Gold on DriveThru and Silver on RPGNow).

Thank you all for supporting me over the years.

I hope my next book, The Green Witch, is just as welcome.

Kickstart Your Weekend: Lion-tiger-bears and Apocalypses Oh My!

A couple of brand new Kickstarters for you today.

First up is +Andreas Walters and Atlas Animalia - A book of monster variants for Pathfinder and 5th edition Role-Playing.


Metal Weave games is bringing together an all-star cast of writers, artists, and editors to bring us monsters from any clime and local to drop into your game. The hardcover book reminds me of the old Dragon "Ecology of..." articles. There will be PDFs of monsters stats in Pathfinder and 5e format.  It looks really awesome, to be honest.

The Apocalypse happened.
It sucked and now 70 years later the nations are dead and only The Lost Citadel remains.


The Lost Citadel — Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Roleplaying is for 5th edition RPGS, but will be offering "System Hacks" for other systems including AGE.
Funded in a matter of hours I think it is now well on to stretch goals.

It looks like a lot of fun to be honest and I might just pick it up to have some 5e/AGE translation notes.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Blue Rose Accessories

Had to stop by my FLGS tonight to grab some D&D books for a gift and saw they had the new Blue Rose GM's Screen and Dice in.  Well...you know I had to get that!

My collection so far.  Printed PDF, with extra material from Fantasy AGE, my core book, the GM Screen, Dice and my Shadowscapes Tarot deck.

Opening up the GM Screen gave me a surprise. Laminated cards. Two with stunts, two with moves, and a combat tracker. I tried a dry erase overhead marker on them and they wipe right off.

The booklet has some ready to run character or NPCs. Plus a lot of easy to access information.

The screen is heavy duty and loaded with useful information.

The dice are nice too. They are d6s from Q-Workshop.  I note with some amusement they are the same color as the first set of D&D dice I ever owned.

Now I need some great adventures.  Maybe I'll have to write some.

How about it +Green Ronin Publishing! Can I write some adventures for you all?

This Old Dragon: Issue #161

Jumping ahead a bit more. I thought I had grabbed the newest (relatively speaking) Dragon in my box, but this one came up.  Granted, I cheated a bit and this was actually the third one I had grabbed for this week.  It had some things I want to go over and fit in with some my Blue Rose posts.   This one dates to September 1990. I was living in my own apartment at this time and working my butt off to get into grad school.   I was not playing all that much because of this, but I was still enjoying reading the 2nd Ed books and playing or running the occasional game.  The issue is #161 and this is This Old Dragon!

No cover here.  I looked it up and it is what I consider to be the typical Jim Holloway fare.  Now don't get me wrong, I like Holloway. His art in Chill 1st edition was one of the things that made that edition iconic to me. But there is a "silliness" about his style that bugs me.  Maybe it was because of the Paranoia art or Castle Greyhawk.  I don't know. It's just not art I seek out anymore.

Missing a few pages. First up is the table of contents then the letters.  A letter from Jessie Lin wants a reprint of all the NPC classes. Yeah, me too. But Dragon can't do that, so instead, they list all the classes and the issue they were in. Some going all the way back to issue #3.  These sorts of things are easy to find now, but back then it was much, much harder.

Roger Moore has an editorial bit about a romance between two characters; Ursula and Black Bart. The story is a fun one about these two characters and their interactions.  The point though is that there is so much story-telling and adventures NOT being used because D&D gamers shy away from romance.  Something I think we see more of today in games for sure. It is something I have always used in games myself.  More on that in a bit.

The Feature of this issue is Why is the DM Smiling and it is really only a loose collection of DM advice rather than a proper theme.  It's a good advice for the most part.

The first article from David Flin is Inside Information, dealing with how characters get information and knowledge in their games.  Again, good, but anyone playing Chill or Call of Cthulhu was already doing this. Heck, sometimes going to the library WAS the adventure.  This is why I always advocate playing other games. It's great to have a favorite and a go-to game, but you can gain a lot of insight from playing other games too.

Tom Schlosser is next with Romance and Adventure. He describes romance as "the most overlooked aspect of any fantasy role-playing game."  I tend to agree. Though there were elements of it in Pendragon. Of course we are coming into the 90s and "Story games" are about to become a thing.  The article is good, and has plenty of good advice. Though for my money you can't beat the Bard when it comes to seeing how to use Romance as an adventure point.  Think of "Mid-Summer's Night Dream" or "Love's Labour Lost", they center around the ideas of love and romance and the hazards (albeit comical ones) of such undertakings.  I'll mention "Romeo and Juliet" but anyone that has actually read it knows it is not a romance, but a tragedy.
Again, you see this more in modern games. I think we wrote pages and pages on it for Buffy and it is more or less the entire focus of Monsterhearts and many Anime RPGs.

It's sort of like a wand... by Gary Coppa covers mystery in your games and keeping players in the dark. By the mid and late 80s there was no mystery left in D&D.  I say this in general terms, but I know at the time I knew the HD and weakness of every monster in the MM, FF and MM2. Knew every spell and 90% of the prices of all the items in the PHB, UA and both Survival Guides.  But also many of the magic items were known and the ones that weren't well we knew how to take of that as well.  Second Ed helped some of this, but still, the advice in this article is sound.  Plus nearly all of it stands true today.  Now I think nearly all DMs/GMs are fine playing a little more loose with the rules as written these days than back in the "If you change this you are no longer playing AD&D®!" The article is written from a first ed point of view I noticed.

We get a full two page spread ad for the Franklin Mint's Fantasy Collector doll of Queen Galadriel.  She doesn't look much like an elf to be honest. Or even like Cate Blanchett.
Though for the price of $295.00 in five easy payments she can be yours.  Or you can wait about 30 years and pick her up on eBay.

Marc Newman beats me to the punch by two decades with his The Classics Campaign.  This short article discusses how to use the classic AD&D adventures with newer rules.  It seems weird to read an article published in 1990 go on about "nostalgic AD&D", though I guess that the *D&D game was 15 years old at this point.

Jim Bambra in Role-Playing Reviews covers the Dragonlance Time of the Dragon and The Glorantha book for RuneQuest. He likes both and says they are great choices regardless of the world or system you use.

Ads for the Hunt for Red October game and Dungeon Magazine follow.

+Bruce Heard has Part 8 of Voyage of the Princess Ark.  Going to collect these all so I can read them in order.

The Role of Computers is getting more interesting.  This was the heart of the Windows PC boom and just before the world discovered the Internet.  DragonStrike is a "Dragon flight simulator" similar in many ways to the very popular stealth fighter simulators that were out then.  There is a martial arts game, Budokan, but sadly no Cheap Trick references.  There is also a section on tips and tricks for players of other games; mostly D&D related PC games.

Marvel Phile is actually in this issue!  But I see why it was not cut out.  There was a huge 1990 character update book out recently and these are the characters that did not make that cut. WE have Daktoa North and Stick. Stick at least has gotten some screen time thanks to the Elektra movie and the Daredevil Netflix series.

Next pages are water damaged. Looks like the Role of Books .and some ads.

An oddly placed Scout NPC class shows up after the Marvel material.  It is a thief variant and it is also for 1st Edition.  It is an interesting take. Something I think can be done with the current "Rogue" versions of the thief a bit easier these days.

The Con Calendar covers games for the last quarter of 1990.

Sage Advice covers various Forgotten Realms topics.

Another long "keeper" article is the Ecology of the Griffon. I always liked these are articles and the griffon seems like an excellent choice for a big long article.  This article is a good companion piece to the entry in the Monstrous Compendium.  I actually had hoped back then that the Ecology articles would have greater playability in 2nd ed.  It seemed obvious to me that a logical choice would be to cut out the articles and put them in your binder. I did that for a few, but nowhere near enough, to be honest.

We end with the normal slate of ads and comics. This time joined by articles continued from other pages.

Not a bad issue and certainly one with some ideas that can be used today.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Blue Rose: Witchcraft Specialization

Blue Rose is the new game on my table these days.  I am planning a full on review, but before I do that I want to actually try something out. Push the system a little and see what makes it tick, what makes it break.

This is something I toyed around with under the True20 version of Blue Rose.  I think I like this version much better.


You have been initiated into the secret arts of Witchcraft and are now considered a "Witch".  Witchcraft is very much misunderstood in many parts of Aldea and many confuse it with Sorcery, though it is a separate practice.  Witches are most common among the Rezean people. It has been known in Lar'tya, Roamer and Aldean lands, though not as common.  Witches are hunted in both Kern and Jarzon and for similar reasons; they threaten those in power.

Witches do not typically announce their membership to others, save for maybe in Rezea, but witches seem to instinctively know each other.

CLASS: Adept (or Mage in Fantasy AGE)
REQUIREMENTS: You must have Willpower 2 or higher, the Inteligence (Healing) focus, and the two of the three talents at Novice or higher: Animism, Healing, or Psychic. Visionary is also a welcome talent, but not required.

You become part of the larger community of witches. You will gain mastery of the Witchcraft Arcana: Animism, Healing, and Psychic arcana.

Novice: You gain a Familiar (p. 148).  Arcana that list a range or target of Self may instead use the familiar as the source. The witch can target a line of sight effect through the eyes of her familiar. The Scrying Arcana can be taken as a Psychic talent instead of Visionary.

Journeyman: You gain a +2 bonus to fatigue tests when using Animism, Healing, or Psychic arcana. Also, pick one arcane stunt. You may use it with arcana from those three for –1 SP.

Master: You add 2 to the Outcome of any successful use of the "Witchcraft Arcana". You may also pick another arcane stunt to use at –1 SP with these arcana.

A witch who learns Sorcerous Arcana is known as a "Warlock".
Many witches worship Selene, whom they believe taught the first witches.

I'll have to give this a try.  It needs something to make it feel "witchier", but not sure what that is just yet.  Sure there are plenty of role-playing ways to do this, but I am still messing around with the mechanics of the game.
Something with potions maybe.