Monday, May 6, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Review Monsters of Mayhem #1

This has been sitting on my desk forever begging me to review.  Today seems like a good day for it.

Review: Monsters of Mayhem #1
Monsters of Mayhem #1 is the latest monster tome from the Mad Wizard himself, Mark Taormino.  Mark has made a good name for himself in the Old School D&D scene producing some top rated gonzo adventures.  So it should only seem natural that he would turn his attention to making an equally gonzo and fun monster book.  Which is exactly what he did.
Monsters of Mayhem is 36 pages of monsters for old school games using OSRIC, coughAD&Dcough.
I am reviewing both the physical book and the PDF.
The book is black & white with color covers and "blue map" inside covers.  There are 48 monsters here, most illustrated.
The monsters themselves are all fun and all of them are very deadly, or at least they could be in the hands of a sadist DM.
Many have appeared in his adventures, but there are some new faces here as well.  Also many will invoke a feeling of nostalgia for anyone that played AD&D back int he 80s.  Some are fun, like "The Little Green Bastards" (aliens), some are nostalgic like the "Astral Drifter" and "Star Spawn", and others are just plain disgusting (in a great way) like the "Block of Hungry Flesh".  Others still are very deadly like the infamous "Vampire Lich".
Our cover girl is a Demonia Gigantica which was one of the very first monsters I used from this book.



The style reminds you of the old school, early 80s, style of books.  Save for how over the top everything is it could pass for an 80s book. Well, that and the production values are top-notch.

I high recommend this book.

There is a lot packed into 36 pages here.
For $10.00 you get a lot and will really spice up your game a little.

If you want to pick up a dead-tree version then check out Mark's newest Kickstarter, Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #6: Moving Maze of the Mad Master.


Friday, May 3, 2019

Kickstart Your Weekend: Afterlife: Wandering Souls

Elizabeth Chaipraditkul makes some great games. When I heard she was working on a new one and the Kickstarter was coming up I knew I had to find out more.  Let me say I am not disappointed.

Afterlife: Wandering Souls


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1568822309/afterlife-wandering-souls?ref=theotherside

I love the premise. You are dead, but something went wrong, now you wander the endless wastes of Tenebris. You have no memories of your previous life so now you recover them and explore this strange new world you find yourself in.

From the Kickstarter page,

Afterlife: Wandering Souls is a macabre fantasy game set in surreal plane known as the Tenebris. You take on the role of a Wanderer—someone who died, but didn’t end up in Heaven, Hell, or any other traditional afterlife. Devoid of any memories of your life on earth, you find yourself in an endless desert filled with gateways. Search different planes of existence for clues of your former life - or a semblance of one. Along the way you'll encounter strange inhabitants, alien cultures, and other humans who’ve lost all hope and are bent on destroying you.

Afterlife is Alice in Wonderland meets What Dreams May Come set in a world inspired by the works of Guillermo del Torro, Hayao Miyazaki, and surrealist artists.

Find lost memories, come to terms with how you died, and discover who you truly are.
Sounds interesting as hell, pardon the pun.

It is by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul, who gave us WITCH: Fated Souls, so you know it will be good and look great.  A quick peek at the KS page tells me this will be one gorgeous game with a LOT of playability.

There is a Quickstart guide out now for your testing.  It is free and gives a solid feel for the game, Afterlife: Wandering Souls Quickstart.  I will try to get a review of it up next week if I can.
I can't wait to try this out. 

I have often wanted to run a Multi-life game where if characters die in one game they travel through the afterlife to the next game.  Say die in D&D but resurrect in WitchCraft or Buffy.
This game looks like it would be the PERFECT centerpiece to this campaign idea.

I can't wait to see more of this!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Featured Artist: Ben Honeycutt

Ben Honeycutt is an illustrator I found on Facebook.  I love his style and his characters always look like a lot of fun.

Here is Ben in his own words:
Ben Honeycutt is a freelance comic artist and character illustrator from the US. His primary project is working on Dead Gentlemen's Demon Hunters comic and roleplaying games. He also dabbles in pewter miniature casting and private character commissions.
Here is some of his art.

Up first a couple of commissions he did for me.




And more!










Love this vampire!




You can find Ben on the web at:

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Melisandre. Priestess or Witch?

"The Night is dark and full of terrors."
- Melisandre

Melisandre of Asshai - by John Picacio
Game of Thrones is in its final season and so far it has not disappointed me.  Well...there was that "whole new world" scene with Dany, Jon, and the dragons.
This past week we got to see the Red Woman, Melisandre again during the battle at Winterfell against the Night King and his army of the dead.  It was so fantastic, to be honest.   Loved the battle, loved how the episode ended.  Everything.

But I am not here today to talk about the battle.

I want to talk about Melisandre.
In particular is she a Priestess, read Cleric, or is she as many will claim, a Witch?

I thought a firey red priestess/witch would be good for Beltane today.

Let's look at what we know.  I am going to focus nearly exclusively on the TV show on HBO.  I'll grab from the books when needed to smooth out some details or get answers to questions.

In many ways, I am going to follow the spirit of my other series, One Man's God and Class Struggles.

What is Known
Or Me nem nesa as the Dothraki say.

We know that Melisandre calls herself a priestess of the god R'hllor, known as the Red God, The Lord of Light or the One True God.  In Westeros this sets her apart from most people as they tend to worship the Seven, or the New Gods. The ones that don't worship the "Old Gods".
Melisandre claims that all the other gods are false gods.  Most people have no issues with the Old or New Gods, so this also sets her apart.

She has seen to have powers of divination, cursing, breeding shadow spawn, summoning fire and the greatest, bringing people back from the dead.  She able to cast glamours and her red-gold choker seems to keep her young or at least appear young.
We know she is very, very old. She was a slave named "Melony" who was sold to the Red Temple in Asshai.

Looking at her through the lens of classes in D&D, and in particular B/X version, has many limitations.  It is still a fruitful exercise though.  For starters, it shows the flexibility of the B/X flavor of classes. It also helps me see how well my own witch classes can emulate various media representations of witches.  My philosophy in game and class design has always been "if a player wants to do to something my rules should tell them how they CAN do it, not how they CAN'T." (I hear grognards, OSR purists and other screaming in rage now. That's fine, let them scream.)

So let's pull out my D&D Expert book and give Melisandre a go.

Melisandre is a Priestess
This is the easiest of course. She refers to herself as a priestess as do others.  Her religion is widely accepted in Essos and treated as such.  The biggest clue, of course, is her ability to raise the dead, a power she claims is not hers, but that of the Lord of Light.  Her spells and powers seem closest to a cleric.
If we take "Raise Dead" as the peak of her powers then that puts her level at a minimum of 7th level for B/X D&D. I would not say she is much past 9th level, but I am willing to accept 9th.

Melisandre, Priestess of R'hllor


7th level female Cleric

Strength: 9
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 12
Charisma: 17

AC: 9
HP: 33

Magic items: Necklace of Protection Against Aging

Spells
First: Cure Light Wounds, Light, Remove Fear
Second: Hold Person, Resist Fire, Silence 15' radius
Third: Continual Light, Remove Curse, Striking
Fourth: Cure Serious Wounds, Protection/Evil 10' radius
Fifth: Commune, Raise Dead

Close...but missing some of her abilities she is really known for, starting fires and giving birth to shadow monsters.  Plus by the rules Melisandre the Cleric can Turn Undead.  That skill would have been helpful in the Battle of Winterfell.

Taking a peek at my 5th Edition D&D books it looks like a Cleric and not a Warlock or Druid would be the best choice.

Let's see how she works as a witch.

Melisandre is a Witch
Of course, for that, I would also need to decide on a tradition for her.  Something like Lord of Light Tradition.  Witches, in general, do not get the spell Raise Dead.  So I am thinking that should be an occult power.  Something they gain at 7th level.
Also, there is her lesser explored power of alchemy/herbalism.  Something all witches get.

Melisandre, Witch of R'hllor


9th level female Witch, Lord of Light Tradition

Strength: 9
Intelligence: 16
Wisdom: 17
Dexterity: 10
Constitution: 12
Charisma: 17

AC: 9
HP: 26

Magic items: Necklace of Protection Against Aging

Occult Powers
Familiar: Spirit of fire
Herb Use
Raise Dead

Spells
First: Bewitch I, Burning Hands, Glamour
Second: Augury, Dark Whispers, Hypnotize
Third: Bestow Curse, Brave the Flames
Fourth: Divination, Intangible Cloak of Shadows
Fifth: Summon Shadow

So I had to raise her level to 9th to get the Summon Shadow spell.  In general, I like her spell choices as a witch better.  BUT that could be my biases since I have written so many (900+ so far!) and I have many to fit an exact situation.

She doesn't really have a familiar, so I am saying her "familiar" is her ability to look into flames.
I also did not give her any "bonus" spells since I wanted a pure B/X experience here.

I should point out that Green Ronin produces a very fine game based, not on the TV show, but the books in A Song of Ice and Fire.


It's Beltane! A time for witches to celebrate.  Start your own celebrations with my new witch book: Daughters of Darkness, The Mara Witch Tradition

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch Tradition

Tonight, evil witches gather on the Brocken to celebrate Walpurgis Night.
Tomorrow, good witches gather to celebrate the new spring with bonfires of Beltane.

But now you can join the celebrations with the Daughters of Darkness and the Mara Witch Tradition for Labyrinth Lord and other Basic Era Games.

The Daughters of Darkness for Basic Era Games


https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/274429/Daughters-of-Darkness-The-Mara-Witch-for-Basic-Era-Games?affiliate_id=10748

Hail Lilith!

“Humanity has forsaken their Dark Mother.
 We will remind them.”

Lilith. 
 First Woman. First Witch. Mother of Demons.
 Now Her Daughters of Darkness are ready to take what is theirs.

Introducing the Mara Tradition, witches dedicated to the Dark Mother.
 - The Daughters of Darkness coven
 - 175 Spells and Rituals for witch characters
 - 39 Monsters to challenge or be allies
 - 3 Non-player characters to challenge the mightiest characters

Fully compatible with Labyrinth LordTM and other Basic-Era games.
Fully compatible with other witch books from The Other Side.

Part 1 of my "Back to Basics" series!

April TTRPG Maker, Day 30

Day 30: If you were in charge of the TTRPG Industry what would you change?

Ok.

First off I think it is a misconception that there is a single RPG industry.  There are many.  The OSR crowd doesn't follow the Storygamers.  The DIY and Indie gamers try to avoid the big publishers and everyone is off doing their own thing.

This doesn't even take in consideration the related markets and products like Actual Play podcast/videos or even something as simple as selling dice.

I don't think I would change it, to be honest.

There are things I would like though.

More Market Data
Seriously how have we gone this long and not even know who we are selling too?  I know companies have their own, but a lot of it is still guesswork.

People Need to Be Better to Each Other
Look we are all here to have fun really.  So let people have fun.  Don't like their game? Fine. Don't play it.  But maybe you are missing out on something.  That guy over there is being a dick?  Ok, call him on it.  Find ways to get him to stop. 

Look not everyone is going to like everything and RPGs have boomed since 1974.  The average player...doesn't exist.  There are so many people in this hobby with so many different points of view.  I think this 30 Day Challenge has shown that.

I think I would like to have more Cons closer to me.  Yeah I know I am spoiled, but still, you asked and I answered.

I hope you all had as much fun as me with this!
Thank you Kira Magrann for getting this going.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Monstrous Monday: The Elusive Nauga Beast!

I had something else planned for today, but better for next week.  This post was inspired by a post by Bruce Heard and frankly, it is silly enough to run with!

Nauga Beast
Armor Class:  5
Hit Dice (HD): 7d8 (31 hp)
No. of Attacks: ram
Damage: 2d8
Special Attacks & Defenses: Fear
Move: 210’ (70’)
No. Appearing: 1 (1)
Save As: Fighter 8
Morale: 5
Treasure Type:  See Below
Alignment: Neutral
The extremely rare and extremely valued Nauga Beast is not one encountered often by adventurers but very sought after.  The nauga beast looks like an abdominal cross between a boar, dog, crow, and a large  cow.  Some sages believe that the same horrible experiments that gave us the owlbear spawned the nauga.   To call the nauga beast "ugly" is generous.  It is horrific.  Creatures below 2 HD have to make a Saving Throw vs. Paralysis or run away in fear.  Creatures with greater HD are still repulsed by this creature. 
Their only attack is their ability to run very fast and ram into creatures.  Typically though it will run away. 
There are very few nauga to be found in Known World.  They suffer from the dual problems of being "too ugly and too stupid to breed" according to celebrated Glantri naturalist sage Phygora.
So ugly in fact that the nauga is frightened of each other. Even it's own reflection will cause it to run away as per the cause fear spell.
The nauga has no natural predators or enemies. Indeed the meat of the nauga has been described by goblins, the only creatures known to have tried to eat one, as "rat floating in an open sewer for a week."  The beast would be happily ignored if not for its hide.  While unsuitable for armor, the hide is often used in other clothing or in covering.  It is flexible, waterproof and unlike leather seems to last forever.
The hide of a nauga beast will be worth anywhere from 300 to 800 gp in value (1d6+2), but requires an expert in dealing with the hide.
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