Friday, September 14, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Castles & Crusades Boxed Sets & Digest Books

My love of Castles & Crusades is deep and well known.  It scratches that 1st Ed AD&D itch AND still has enough modern elements that I like.
It really is what 3rd Edition AD&D could have been.

Regardless of what it is or what it could emulate it is a damn fine game and Troll Lords keeps giving us quality material.

Now they are giving us quality material, digest size!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/classic-castles-and-crusades-boxed-sets-and-digest

This is being hailed as "3 Kickstarters in 1"
Here are the details.

  • C&C Classic Basic Boxed Set: This digest-sized boxed set is an "old school" presentation of the game, in a white box just like the original D&D rules, with saddle-stitched booklets containing a complete, but streamlined version of the game, with four character classes, four races, and magic to take your game all the way to level 10. Plus, a complete introductory adventure module! This box will be different than the Advanced and it will not be exclusive to the Kickstarter, it will eventually land in retail shops.

  •  C&C Classic Advanced Boxed Set: A True Collector's set, this limited, signed and numbered set will include everything from the Basic set, plus two additional books of character classes, equipment, monsters and gods; a full set of dice; character sheets; a pencil and more. This box will be different than the Basic box, sporting  a wood grain cover similar to the original OD&D box. It will be available in this Kickstarter and any left over from the very limited print run will be put in our store.

  •  C&C Complete Digest Rulebooks: These are the complete rulebooks for our seven core books: the Player's Handbook, Monsters & Treasure, Castle Keeper's Guide, Codex of Aihrde, Player's Guide to Aihrde, Adventurer's Backpack, and Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde. Each is the complete rulebook, exactly as you'd see it in full-size hardcover, but shrunk to digest size, softcover and printed in black and white. You can build your own set or buy all 7. 
The digest rules are great on their own, but the Basic and Advanced sets?  Yeah, that sounds great.



Love the idea of Digest sized books. And I love I can add as many, or as few, as I like.

In my current games, I use some digest sized Player's Handbooks at the table for players to use.  So I might not get all seven books, but instead get 5 C&C PHBs!

The Advanced set also sounds great.  A woodgrain box?  Yes, please!

Troll Lords really captured the feel of D&D/AD&D well and I really believe that may be more than anyone they are spiritual inheritors of D&D.   Oh don't get me wrong, D&D 5 is great and a ton of fun.  But ever notice that there is a lot in D&D 5 that C&C did first?

There are some nice early bird specials, jump on this while you can!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

It's a GREAT time to be a fan of Witches...

My cup overflows with witch-related TV shows.

Let's have a look.

First up is the one everyone knows about, Charmed on the CW.




Over on FX we have American Horror Story Apocalypse, which is I gather a sequel to Season 1 Murder House and Season 3 Coven, or two of my most favorite seasons.



Not to be outdone Netflix is giving not just one show, but two!

First up, and just in time for Halloween is The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina!



And later The Witcher.  Heard the drama about the Ciri casting and I really could not care less. As long as the actress is good.   I am very curious who they will get for Triss though.

Over on Sci-fi (SyFy i guess) we will get Season 4 of Magicians.  Let me tell you, this is one insane show.  Think Hogwarts with a lot of sex, a lot of drugs and ... well there is no good way to describe it. Just watch it.



Over in respectable countries we are getting A Discovery of Witches. Based on the books.  I have a number of issues with these books, but maybe the TV show can improve on it.  I will say this, the casting brilliant.



And lastly, one still looking for a home.  Titled, simply enough, Witches.



Love the look of this one!  The website is also cool. http://www.witchestvseries.com/

Things are looking good!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Hex Girls; Bizzare Love Triangle

This one time, at band camp...

Seriously. You can't have read ANY of this blog and not know that my obsessions are music and the 80s.   So for me, an obvious build is the Hex Girls for my "Sunny Valley, OH" game set in the mid-80s for the Dark Places & Demogorgons game.

So what are the Hex Girls doing here?   We know the Hex Girls live in Oakhaven, MA so maybe the band trip seems to be the best choice. The girls are in for a competition.  This is a great time for me to let Oz shine.   A romance between Oz and Thorn?  Or better yet Oz and Luna, they have a lot more in common.



If I set this Pre-Tara (which I am loathed to do, BUT...go with me on this) this could be when Willow and Oz are still dating (I am a die-hard Willow/Tara shipper, but I like Oz and I don't undervalue the relationship they had).  Oz and Willow are dating, but something is not right (Willow is really gay) and along comes Luna.  Smart, musically talented and gorgeous as hell.  Plus I like the idea of Oz, the werewolf, being attracted to a girl named Luna.

It also allows me to use this as the title of the episode.

Bizzare Love Triangle
"The Hex girls are in town and they have awakened something in Oz and Willow both!"

The setup for this one will dirt-simple.  One of the bands in the competition is using magic to cheat by raising a ghost of a dead musician.  The cast needs to find the object that is the focus of the dead musician and destroy it before the ghost is successful in summoning more ghosts in order to "Get the Band back together".  Given the year I am going to say the living band who did the summons is a Bon Jovi rip off, and the "dead" band is a KISS/Glam Rock sort of deal.  Pay homage to the Scooby Doo roots of all these sources and make them like KISS.

OR better yet, just steal this Scooby-Doo Hex Girls episode and have everyone turn into zombies!





AND this gives you an excuse to use Bloat Game sister product, Survive This! Zombies! 2nd Edition.

If this Willow-Oz-Luna thing is happening, maybe I could play with a Buffy-Angel-Thorn thing.  Angel thinks Thorn is a vampire, and Thorn thinks he is just really into the goth scene.  This conflict though is quickly resolved.

Luna is busy with her Oz and Willow issue.  Thorn is dealing with Buffy, and Dusk...Dusk is doing her thing.

The trick now is figuring out what class(es) fit the girls best.

Thorn would make a convincing White Witch. But all are Goths.  I am going to say all are Goths, but they sacrifice a level of goth for a level or two of white witch.

For this episode, I will use the Core book, the Player Options & GM Guide (for White Witches) and the Werewolf Sourcebook (for Oz).


Thorn
AKA Sally McKnight
Class: Goth 2 / White Witch 2
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 15

Attributes
STR: 10 +0
INT: 14  +1
WIS: 15 +1
DEX: 10 +0
CON: 11 +0
CHA: 16 +2
SUR: 15 +1

AC: 11    HP: 17    Attack Bonus +1

Courage: 3
Critical: 3
Death: 4
Mental: 4
Poison: 2

Class Abilities
Can see spirits and ghosts.
2 Minor spells
Healing touch

Skills
Art & Music +4, Paranormal +4, Knowledge (local "Oakhaven, MA") +1, Knowledge (magic) +2,Intimidation +2, Hide +2, Toughness +2

Possessions
Goth clothing, fake teeth, guitar

Money: $25

Luna
AKA Kim Moss
Class: Goth 2 / White Witch 1
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 15

Attributes
STR: 11 +0
INT: 14  +1
WIS: 15 +1
DEX: 11 +0
CON: 10 +0
CHA: 17 +2
SUR: 15 +1

AC: 11    HP: 15    Attack Bonus +1

Courage: 3
Critical: 2
Death: 3
Mental: 3
Poison: 3

Background: Biracial

Class Abilities
Can see spirits and ghosts.
1 Minor spell
Healing touch

Skills
Art & Music +3, Paranormal +3, Knowledge (local "Oakhaven, MA") +1, Knowledge (magic) +2, Intimidation +2, Hide +1, Toughness +1

Possessions
Goth clothing, fake teeth, keyboards and bass.

Money: $40

Dusk
AKA Muffy St. James
Class: Goth 2 / White Witch 1
Alignment: Good
Languages: English
Age: 15

Attributes
STR: 12 +0
INT: 12  +0
WIS: 13 +1
DEX: 10 +0
CON: 14 +1
CHA: 16 +2
SUR: 15 +1

AC: 11    HP: 16    Attack Bonus

Courage: 3
Critical: 2
Death: 4
Mental: 2
Poison: 2

Class Abilities
Can see spirits and ghosts.
1 Minor spell
Healing touch

Skills
Art & Music +3, Paranormal +3, Knowledge (local "Oakhaven, MA") +1, Knowledge (magic) +2, Intimidation +3, Hide +2, Toughness +3

Possessions
Goth clothing, fake teeth, drums

Money: $100 (family is stinking rich)

I will have to play these versions to see how they work.

The Hex Girls win with the version of "Bizzare Love Triangle" sung like Frente!.  Note the singer, Angie Hart of Frente!, actually wrote most of the songs from Buffy's musical episode.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Urban Adventures: The Trial

I have talked in the past about my fondness for Urban and City base adventures.  Back alleys all the way up to court intrigue have been something of a rare-privilege of mine in my games.

With WotC coming out with their new D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist adventure (which looks awesome by the way, "D&D meets Ocean's 11") I got to thinking about something I have never successfully fun.

The Courtroom Drama.

I REALLY want to do a courtroom drama in a game.  Especially a D&D game.

You know as well as I that Players and Characters will do something that will end them up on the wrong side of the law and they are going to need lawyers and a trial.

I briefly covered this in a post WAY back when in Lawyers, Guns, and Money. But that was for a modern age and a quirky bunch of characters/lawyers.

What I am looking for is a great court-room drama. Life and death stakes;  bribe, graft, witness tampering, surprise witnesses, hostile opposing counsel, mysterious deaths.  All of that.

I have yet to figure out HOW to do it.

The great thing is once I do figure it out I can drop it into any campaign.
Because like I said back then "sooner or later, your characters are going to get into trouble and they are going to need a lawyer".

Anyone ever try this? I am even willing to try the old trope of a "celestial court".

Love to hear what have all done.

Oh. You better believe that there will be someone in the whole deal that's a stand-in for Warren Zevon.  Cause that is just the way my games work.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

This (Not so) Old Dragon...

I plan to get back to regular posting, including This Old Dragon.

But in the meantime you can get your Dragon goodness from my friend Rachel Ghoul as she looks at some newer copies of Dragon Magazine.

https://the-avocado.org/2018/08/31/lets-read-dragon-april-2004/

She is just filling in, but let's hope we get to see more of this.



Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Seasons in The Abyss

A while back I talked about how my players in the Order of the Platinum Dragon are splitting off for one level (14 to 15) to do something different with each of their characters.  We have jokingly referred to as a "vision quest" but in the Mythos of my game world it would be more appropriate to call them "Secret Journies".

They are trapped in the Abyss and each one will visit a different demon world before they hook back up on the Demonweb.  I have no issues with them finding each other across the Abyss; they just will.  A random encounter with a Chaos Stone has them all linked with a minor form of telepathy.

In one case one of the Paladins and the Fighter will be visiting Liberation of the Demon Slayer. The sorcerer will be going to Têhom, the Abyssal layer that had belonged to Tiamat.  Likely he will bring her back to life.  And the others... I have no clue yet.
I know I need one that is a savage world, maybe one with Dragon-lords.

So I dove into my archive at DriveThruRPG to see what might work.

Liberation of the Demon Slayer
The adventure is six levels and 70 pages. VS suggests using 3 0-level characters per player and let everything work out, or a large party of 1st level characters. Nothing is mentioned on how many players, but I am guessing 6 to 8.

There is some background given about the world this adventure lives in. They are all optional, but it does set the mood for the rest of the book. I found the bits about Snake-men and elves to be interesting. The adventure is steeped in a lot of Lovecraftian tropes and we are introduced to some of the "Old Ones" here, albeit with different names.

If you, like me, love eldritch abominations and dark magic then this the adventure for you. The adventure itself "sounds" simple enough. Retrieve a demon-killing sword from the caves to stop the demons attack your village. Easy peasy. Trouble is that the author grew up when dungeons-as-meat-grinders were a thing and everyone was afraid the big bad devil was going to get you. This adventure though is closer in tone and danger to the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen than it is to most Lamentations of the Flame Princess products. With the right DM this could be a great and dangerous adventure where the party could live. Sure they could all easily die too. One can read this and imagine that all of the author's games are a bit like it.

I have known the author for a number of years and yeah this is exactly the kind of things I expect in his games. I think the difference here with this adventure and some of his earlier material is there is a maturity here to accept the absurd. This adventure can be played straight or with a dash of dark humor. Think of it as a horror movie, even the scariest have a touch of humor to them; it sets you up for the bigger punch later down the road.

In my own games I do have an epic weapon for killing demons. In my current world state this sword is lost and a quest is needed to recover it. Maybe this is what I need. If so then the value of this adventure just increased ten-fold for me. I am going to have to spend some quality time with it and a pencil to see if it can be recrafted into something that fits my world a little better.

Lair of the Demon Princess
38 pages. Full color.
This is an older adventure designed for D&D 3.0/d20.
Part 2 of 2 adventures it can easily be run on it's own.  The positive features of this adventure are some new monsters, and use of old monsters in interesting ways.  In fact one of the things I liked most about this was the creative use of use of a Vrock and a Succubus as the main bad guys.  This adventure reminds us that demons need to be played as an intelligent monster.  Bloodthirsty agents of rage and destruction, but intelligent.
The adventure is fine, I think it might be a bit easy for the listed levels of 8-12.  The layout of the module could use a little more work and some the art comes out as blurred or pixelated.

Against the Cult of the Bat God
A while back my players ran into the Demon Bat-God Camazotz.  He managed to get away with the what he thought was the heart of the Sun God (it was his liver).  Since then my players have been itching for a rematch against him.  This adventure might just be the thing.
While the creature here is listed as "Servant of the Bat God" a little tweaking and I could make this into a coastline being terrorized by the Bat God himself.
The characters have three days to complete their task, so it's a nice tight adventure, exactly what I want, and it weighs in at just under 60 pages.
In any case there is a lot of good stuff here to use.

B1 Journey to Hell
I bought it on a whim based solely on level and "hell". First off you get a lot of adventure for your buck. 45 pages of adventures and maps (granted it is the same adventure twice, but still). The artwork is great, coming primarily from sources like The Inferno. This is quite fitting given that the adventure itself is quite reminiscent of Dante's great tale. It does include some art from the Larry Elmore CD that was out years ago, but doesn't properly cite it in their OGL page. It is dual stated for the OSRIC and Altus Adventum Role-Playing Game, always a plus in my book, but it can be played with any number of OSR systems or their fore-bearers.

Gods, Demi-Gods, and Cults #1: Chaos Queen of Ants
After dealing with the Queen of Spiders, maybe the Queen of Ants would be fun.
This 21 page (cover, OGL, and 19 pages) book is the first of the GODS,DEMI-GODS, AND CULTS series. This one features Khraliche Karinkhamür the Chaos Queen of Ants. Presented here is plenty of detail about the cult, the sub cults and the important figures. Worshipers are detailed and discussed. We also get some new spells for both Wizards and Clerics and some new monsters.

BTL005: Brave the Labyrinth - Issue #5
An OSR Zine, but filled with more useful content than some books.
We get a new Elvish-Demon Lord, some elf-sub races and a castle to adventure in.  I immediately decided that all of these are connected and the Demon Lord, Erebus has these elves in his castle.
There are some patron saints of Good. Some magical tools and some new lycanthropes.

Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds
Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds, or GTFO (cute huh) is again a case of me getting something that is exactly what I need.  While I am not going to play it as-is, there is a tweak mentioned in the book itself that works perfectly for me.  In fact, a lot of this book works perfectly for me and my next set of adventures.  I can't believe I am saying this, but I will turn up the gore factor in this Lamentations product for my needs.
Not a real fan of the art inside but I see why it works for this.


There are plenty more.  I just need a few.   One for the cleric/paladin and fighter, one for the Dragonborn paladin, one for the Dragonborn sorcerer, one for the two elves (a thief and ranger) with maybe the half-pixie NPC (Brave the Labyrinth is looking like a good choice for them).

This is going to be a fun winter!

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sleeping Not Yet Dead

Well, nowhere near dead really and not sleeping either (no worries, I am going to doctor next week) but I can't help but use a Jefferson Starship quote.

I might not be posting as much, but be assured I am busy.
In fact here is a bit of teaser. No here are two.
Coming Halloween 2018



Coming Winter 2018

I have lost track of how many new spells, magic items, occult powers and monsters I have written for these two. 

I am hoping to open 2019 with some new fun stuff, like my love letter to 80s horror, Völlig Losgelöst and Space Truckers.
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