Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Review: FantasyAGE and FantasyAGE Bestiary

Continuing my massive deep dive into all things Blue Rose and AGE I want to talk about +Green Ronin Publishing's Fantasy AGE RPG and it's supplement the Fantasy AGE Bestiary.


I am reviewing both the PDFs and the Hardcover books.

A note.  These books "feel" right.  They are roughly the size of the original AD&D hardcovers (144 pages each).  All is needed now is a Game Master book that has a bunch of options for various Fantasy campaigns and you would have a nice three-volume set that is only a slip-case away of being 150% more fantastic.

I don't say the following lightly.
Fantasy AGE could give Castles & Crusades a run for my 2nd Favorite set of Fantasy Rules.  (D&D and it's variants are #1).
Yes. It is that much fun.

It is better than Pathfinder, 13th Age and pretty much everything else.

Fantasy AGE
Hardcover, full color, 144 pages. $29.95 for hardcover, $15.95 for PDF.
The book is full color, the PDF is bookmarked with a hyperlinked index.

Fantasy AGE is the "generic" Fantasy game based on the ruled that appear in both Blue Rose and DragonAge.  While there are some repetitions, the tones of all three games are sufficiently different enough to make each book worthwhile.

Chapter 1 gives us the basics of Character creation. The Usual Suspects are here; Elf, Dwarf, Human, Halfling, and Orcs.   You get your Backgrounds with some basic ideas. And our three AGE classes; Mage, Rogue,  and Warrior.  Too bad the classes are not Adept, Guardian, and Expert.
Also included here is the experience for level advancement table.

Chapter 2 discusses the AGE system.  I am not sure if the AGE system will ever "fall into the background" the same way d20 or Unisystem do for me, but it could get really, really close.  The system itself is very easy to grasp.  In AGE you really only need three six-sided dice.  Two of which should be the same color.  The off one is called the Drama Die.  We will get to all those in a bit.  The rolls of 3d6 + Ability +/- mods vs. Test Difficulty are simple enough.  Test Difficulties start at 7 (Routine) and increase by 2 for each level. So 9 is Easy.  The feel is the same as d20's Target Numbers or even Unisystem's Success Levels.  Like most systems, an "opposed" test will be one set of rolls vs another set of rolls.

Chapter 3 details Focuses, Talents and Specializations.  Every Ability has multiple focuses. The Fighting Ability has a focus on Axes and another, Polearms for example.  You can gain a new focus for everytime you go up a level.  Talents are something else. These are only granted under special circumstances.  They might be restricted by class and many have prereqs.  These include abilities like Animal Training, Dual Weapon Fighting, or Psychic.
Specializations can almost be thought of as "Sub Classes", these include Assassin, Elementalist, and the like.

Chapter 4 gives us basic equipment. Pretty self-explanatory.

Chapter 5 covers Magic and the magical arts.  While anyone can have arcane ability, only Mages can master them.   There are 12 Arcana here with various magical powers.

Chapter 6 details Stunts. These are the life, and soul of the AGE system really.
If you get doubles on any roll of the dice you may perform a Stunt on that roll.  So if the roll was a combat situation then you can perform a Combat Stunt.  The roll you get on your Drama Die (the off color one) is a number of Stunt Points you get.  You have to use them right away.  So if you get a 4 you have 4 SP and can buy any of the stunts listed for 4 or under.  These are things like "Knock Prone" or "Lethal Blow". As characters go up in level they gain access to more stunts and can buy others for less SP.  There are also non-combat Exploration and Role-playing Stunts as well. There are even Arcane Stunts that can be used in either.

Chapter 7 is the GM's Section. This covers running adventures and adjudicating the rules. There is a good section on adventure planning that is good for most games.

Chapter 8 is about Mastering the Rules and dealing with ability tests and combat.

Chapter 9 covers Adversaries and Monsters.  All the regulars are here.

Chapter 10 is all about rewards. Which includes, but is not limited to, treasure. 

Chapter 11 gives us our hook to Freeport, GR long-running setting and Chapter 12 is an adventure.

Fantasy AGE is a solid fantasy game that keeps from being a Heartbreaker and carves out new territory of it's own.

Fantasy AGE Bestiary
I have said it hundreds of time, but you can never have too many monster books.

Fantasy AGE Bestiary is one of my favorites.  This is not a rehashed monster manual. This 144-page book is stocked full of really cool, really interesting and often unique monsters.  Sure some are familiar, but that is not the point, the point is that this book is full and it will be a long time before I run out of ideas for them all.
The art is fantastic and that is a great thing in a monster book.

Each monster is listed with stats, picture, background information and plot hook ideas.
The book is so good in fact if makes me want Green Ronin to publish it with D&D 5e stats as well.

If you are a fan of Fantasy AGE or Blue Rose or DragonAge then this is a must have book.


Can't wait to do more with these books!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another Library Sale Haul

Working on a few things this week but I want wanted to share a recent local library sale haul I found.

12 Endless Quest/Choose Your Own Adventure books for a Quarter each.





I remember reading "Dungeon of Dread" and "Circus of Fear" back when they were new.

I also found a copy of "Quag Keep" for 25 cents.
Not too bad for just over 3 bucks.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Medieval Demon Miniatures

Spend anytime here or reading my books you know I LOVE old woodcuts of witches and demons from the Middle Ages.   They were the Monster Manuals of the day.

Well much to my happiness Antediluvian Miniatures is coming out with a line of 28mm miniatures of these old wood cut demons, and yes some flying witches!

Medieval Demon Miniatures


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1565070206/medieval-demon-miniatures

They look awesome to tell you the truth.

All the figures will be in metal too, not plastic.


It's like Pokemon, I want to collect them all!
Besides you can never have too many demons.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1565070206/medieval-demon-miniatures

Thursday, July 6, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #58

Today is the birthday of one my first AD&D DMs.  Jon and I started playing way back in Junior High. So for him, I thought a nice deep cut into my D&D archive would be appropriate.  In February of 1982 I was in 7th grade and 12 years old.  I had been playing D&D, Moldvay flavored for a while, and prior to that a mishmash of Holmes with an AD&D Monster Manual.  The early 80s were considered by many to be the Golden Age of RPGs and D&D in particular. That was certainly my own opinion, but we are doing pretty nice today too.
So put on some J. Geils Band as we head back to February of 1982 for issue #58 of This Old Dragon!

The first thing I notice is that paper of this magazine feels thicker than some of the newer ones. The makes the magazine feel thicker with fewer pages, this one weighs in at 80 pages, sans covers.  Could it be this is one of the reasons these older magazines "feel" more important to us? Well, one of many I know.

My copy, of course, is missing the cover, which is a shame because we get another great Clyde "I'll Have the Thigh" Caldwell cover.   On the back side is an ad for the TSR min-games. I had a copy of Vampyre for the longest time. I never got to play it more than once or twice, but I loved the idea.   I am quite sure I bought it because of this ad or one just like it.

First up is an offering of Leomund's Tiny Hut from Len Lakofka.  Titled Beefing up the Cleric it includes an intro from Gary Gygax himself.  Pause a moment to appreciate these names being tossed around casually.  I am not talking cult of personality here, but the fact the some of the luminaries of the game are writing a page 5 article.   The past truly is a foreign country.
Anyway enough of that, let's talk about the article at hand.   This article includes a number of new cleric spells. Many of these will later appear in the Unearthed Arcana.

The Dragon's Bestiary is next with some weird-ass monsters from Ed Greenwood.  Of these, the one that jumps out me is the Sull.  These things are like a giant floating mushroom caps with teeth on their underside.   They remind me of this bizarre bit of cryptozoology and ufology that I remember reading about years and years ago about "Giant Sky Critters". The name stuck with me.  I am sure that Ed got these from a similar source. Roger Moore contributes with "Magenta's Cat" named for the wizardess that tried to breed psionic familiars.   This one could be fun to use as well.



Michael Parkinson gives us The Blood of The Medusa, an article on all the monsters in Greek Myth produced by the Medusa.  I had just gotten out of a HUGE Greek Myth stage at this point so I really loved this article.  It's a fun read and has some great stats to boot. One day I'd love to run a game set in the Classical Period. Greeks, Romans, Etruscans, Phoenicians, Persians, Egyptians and the whole lot.



This is followed up by Four Myths for Greece, featuring four unique NPCs from Greek Myth.  This includes Atalanta, Daedalus, The Sybil of Cumae, and Chiron.

We come next to the big feature of this issue, A Special Section: Dwarves.  We know now that a lot of this will be re-edited and put into the Unearthed Arcana, but then this was great stuff. Well, great if you are into dwarves.  The last Dwarf I played as a character was Fjalar Snowcrest a dwarf thief back during the end of AD&D1.
Up first is The Dwarven Point of View by Roger Moore. Which talks about how dwarves see the world around them.
Bazaar of the Bizarre has two dwarven magic items; the High Anvil of the Dwarves (helps dwarves make items better and faster) and the Helm of Subterranean Sagacity (helps with a dwarf's natual abilities to detect stoneworks).

Sage Advice covers a lot of Dwarf related questions.
Roger Moore is back with The Gods of the Dwarves. Most of these gods are now common enough names in D&D, but here is where they got started.  It includes a monster called a "Rapper" which is an undead Dwarf.  Personally, I would rather use the term "Knocker" since it has some supernatural connotations already.

John Eric Holmes gives us some fiction with In the Bag.

The Centerfold (see what I did there) are the Spell Minders, a playing aid for cleric and magic-user spells.  I'd love to talk about them, they sound cool, but my copy does not have them.  Nor do I remember them well enough.  This leads me to think that my original copy of this issue, the one I remember reading in 82 actually belonged to someone else.

Up next are a couple of articles on archery in D&D and looking for more realistic ranges.  Personally, I prefer game ranges that are more easy to use and "realistic enough".

Not to be forgotton or left out we get an article from David Nalle on Swords, Slicing into a Sharp Topic.  It's a nice overview and history of swords, sword making and how to apply this to your game.

Glenn Rahman has a review/article on the Knights of Camelot game. It covers the game to a small degree but it is more about playing a "Bad" or less virtuous, Knight.

Traveller gets some love from Jon Mattson is Anything but Human. Which is basically a randomized alien physique system.

The Dragon's Augury cover a new aid for Runequest, Griffin Mountain (Bill Fawcett likes it), Star Patrol (also reviewed and enjoyed by Bill Fawcett). Tony Watson covers Traveller Adventures 5 from GDW and Scouts and Assassins from Paranoia Press for Traveller.

Off the Shelf hits the books. Chris Henderson reviews C.J. Cherryh's The Pride of the Chanur which is declared as a great book.  The last John Norman Gor book gets an "At least it is over".

We end with a two-page Valentine's day special What's New with Phil and Dixie and a one-page Wormy.

Maybe the older the issues are better? It is really hard to judge. This one has a bunch of nostalgia for me and some useful material but does that make it better than say one that was made in 90s or 2000s?  All I know for sure is I'll have fun trying to find out!

What are your memories of this issue?

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf magazine during the same month? Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #26.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Plays Well With Others: Blue Rose + White Box S&W

Well, I am back at today with another "Plays Well With Others".  I want to spend some quality time with Blue Rose still so today I want to talk about one that jumped out at me right away.
Blue Rose works great with Swords & Wizardry White Box rules.

Yes. In fact, there is very, very little you need to do to make Blue Rose more like White Box.


Let's start with what I am wanting to accomplish here.  White Box is OSR/D&D stripped down to the bare bones. It leaves a lot more to the imagination and the guidance of the Game Master/Referee.  There is a lot of narrative control in refs hands.   The AGE version of Blue Rose has similar DNA (more on that) but places more narrative control in the hands of the players. NOT ALL, but a little more.

Blue Rose, in its AGE or True20 editions has DNA and elements that go back to the 3rd Edition D&D rules and the OGL.  The genesis of the Swords & Wizardry rules from the OGL is more than obvious.  This gives us a common thread to look at these games, a common ancestry to compare and contrast.   It also informs us on how we can bring them together.

One of the big surprises in Blue Rose for me as that the ability scores are all rolled on a 3d6 in order.  This is closer to "Old School" than some OSR games.  But that is only one thing, not enough to build a larger set of connections on.

White Box is not just a fun set of rules (we have thousands of those now) it is also a philosophy of gaming where less is more and the people playing need to decide what to do.  That last part is 100% Blue Rose.  But how do we make Blue Rose more like White Box?

White Rose

Well for starters let's cap the levels at 10.  This is just like White Box and has the effect of negating some of the later Specializations and higher level focuses of the game. With this done the core character classes, Warrior, Expert, and Adept need to focus on the things central to their class.  Fighters and Experts should not be able to take arcane training of any sort really. Adepts should be focused on either an arcane path (magic-users) or a divine on (clerics). Want a REAL restricted game? Don't have a cleric analog. Though you will need to consider what to do about healing.

Ending the levels at 10 restricts the classes to only one specialization. This is perfect for a White Box-inspired Blue Rose.
I would limit Experts to specializations like Assassin or even Pirate. For a real White Box feel I would create a "Thief" Specialization.
For a Cleric,  have the Adept take the Healer Specialization.
Warriors have the most flexibility. They can take the Champion, Guardian, Knight, Outrider, or Slayer.
For true White Box feeling, drop the thieves completely, and let Experts take the Healer Specialization.  Then you have three class to three classes.

For your races, you can crib the races from Fantasy AGE.

The big question is, "Why even do this?".

Simple. I can use White Rose as a "gateway drug" to Blue Rose for people that play White Box or another OSR clone.   I would run it as more or less a straight up D&D-like game with only some "Blue Rose" materials until later on.

I would try this out with some well-known Swords & Wizardry adventures. I am thinking something like Frog God Games' Razor Coast or any Swords & Wizardry adventure by Creation's Edge Games.
I have to admit, their Blue Crystal Mine has appeal to me as a gateway S&W/Blue Rose adventure, and how can I say no to an adventure called Curse of the Web Witch?  I might replace his monster with my own Web Witch.  I should convert it to AGE.

Looking forward to trying this out.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Red, White and Blue Rose

June may have been "Blue Rose month" but I have so much more to say and do!

I am going to have a couple of upcoming "Plays Well With Others" coming up.  More details later, but here are some teasers.

First, something that was inspired by my old "Black Rose" game (Blue Rose + Ravenloft) and something that came to me in a flash on a recent run.  Something I am calling "Blood Red Rose".


Blue Rose + Vampire the Masquerade (2nd Edition).

Next is less of a Plays Well With Others and more of a "Campaign Model".
I give you my "White Rose"


Blue Rose + Swords & Wizardry White Box.

This is going to be great.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Monstrous Monday: The Drumpf

EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to attribute Scott Woodard for his original version of Drumpf for D&D 5e.  He had the art below commissioned.  Scott, please accept my sincere apologies for this oversite.
The Drumpf below is not a conversion, but it would not be here without Scott's original post.

Have not done one of these in a while.  Been saving this one for a special occasion too.

I just wrapped up my big review of Blue Rose and will be moving over to Fantasy AGE as well., figure I can try my hand as a nasty little beastie.

The Drumpf
Art by Trash Mobs

Abilities (Focuses)
1 Accuracy (Brawling)
1 Communication (Deception, Persuasion)
1 Constitution
3 Dexterity
1 Fighting
-2 Intelligence
1 Perception (Touching)
1 Strength
1 Willpower

Speed 14
Health 14
Defense 10
Armor Rating 0 (Thin skin)

Weapon Attack Roll Damage
Club +2 1d6+2

Special Qualities
Favored Stunts: Skirmish
Pack Tactics: If a drumpf is attacking with at least three other drumpf, they may perform stunts for 1 less SP than normal.
Equipment: club, red hat

Threat: Minor

Drumpfs are related to goblins but claim they are a new and superior race.  They are often loud and very obnoxious, but not much of a threat when encountered alone.  In groups, they bolster each other's morale and can be a threat.  Many warriors have underestimated them to their cost.  The battle cry of the Drumpf, "Maga! Maga!" can be heard for miles.

Drumpfs have a difficult time telling lies from facts. This is most evident when you hear them talk about their own conquests, homes and/or accomplishments.   Their homes are always "the best, the hugest", their accomplishments are "the greatest, no one is better".  Many even claim to have the most beautiful nymphs as wives.   As a consequence drumpfs are far more susceptible to illusion arcana.  They receive a -2 on all tests.  Any failed test will cause the drumpf to claim the illusion they are seeing is not only real, but evidence to the contrary is itself an illusion.

As with many goblins, drumpfs are obsessed with gold. When possible drumpfs will cover any surface they can with gold.  They are also fond of self-portraits that feature themselves as great warriors and leaders.
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