Friday, May 31, 2019

New Feature: The Other Side Rewind

Tomorrow, June 1st starts a new feature for the Other Side.
Note I say "for" and not "at".

The new feature is The Other Side Rewind.
If you come here to read my blog or via an RSS reader then you will not notice any differences or anything new.

If you engage with me over at Facebook or Twitter then you will see a lot more.
On my Facebook and Twitter pages, I will be reposting some of my posts from the early days of this blog.  I have gained a lot of followers on both platforms in recent years and wanted to share some of the posts from the past with them.

It should be fun to see what sort of responses a different audience might get on some of my older posts.

So join the conversation over on Facebook or Twitter.  If you don't follow me in either place yet now is a great time!

Facebook, The Other Side Group: https://www.facebook.com/OtherSideblog/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/timsbrannan
and for fun, MeWe: https://mewe.com/group/5c598927dc9a663c488557e9

Hope to see you all there!

Kickstart Your Weekend: Ultramodern5, a 5E universal sci-fi sourcebook

I have really been enjoying my time with D&D 5th Edition.   So when a new game comes out (and this one of two on my radar) using the 5e mechanics, it gets my attention.

Ultramodern5, a 5E universal sci-fi sourcebook


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/diasexmachina/ultramodern5-a-5e-universal-sci-fi-sourcebook?ref=theotherside

This book is an update to their earlier Ultramodern5 book which did rather well.

It looks like it can cover a lot of the same ground that the Modern d20 did from WotC and that is something we are really lacking at the moment.

The new art for this book looks fantastic and I am getting a solid "Savage Worlds" vibe from this in a very good way. Some of the new mechanics might also be worth exploring in a regular 5e game.

So yeah there is a lot here to explore and I am looking forward to seeing more of it.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Holy Grail Item: Vampyre Mini Game from TSR

So to recap a long and sad story, I lost a lot of my old school D&D books in one of my moves between college and grad-school.  The only thing I had from my "early days" were my core 2nd Ed AD&D books and a few modules.    Fast forward a few years and the sweet combination of a great job and an understanding wife I have been able to replace all that I had lost and then some.

But there are still a few items that have remained ever elusive.
Today I can cross one more item off that list.

Thanks to an estate sale on eBay I was able to pick up a copy of the Vampyre: Game of the Hunt for Dracula for much less than it normally goes for.



The game is, as far as I can tell, complete if already punched.  The maps are in great shape, the book less so.






The book has highlighter all over it, which sucks, but hey I can't expect a perfect copy and I am sure mine had highlighter all over it too.

As big fan of the novel Dracula, I loved this game.  I remember enjoying the wilderness portion more than the castle. 

Very nostalgic seeing the same Souvenir/Soutane font and Erol Otus art as the B/X sets. I tried many times to run a Castle Dracula like game with Basic/Expert.  Maybe now is that time!

Anyway happy to have this.  Only a couple more items on my list.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

OMG: Greek (and maybe Roman) Mythos, Part 3 Hecate

Hecate is getting her own post.

There is no way I am going to say everything about this Goddess; either for D&D or in general.  So keeping that in mind, let's go.

Hecate, or sometimes, Hekate, is the Goddess of Witches, Ghosts and the Crossroads OR she is a Titan. OR she is something different. 

Like some of the Olympian Gods, she is of the third or fourth generation.  Her Great grandparents are namely Gaia (Earth) and Ouranos (Sky), same as Zeus' own grandparents.  Their offspring was Crius, whom the D&DG gives as the Greater Titan of Gravity.  Gaia (Earth) and Pontos (Sea) gave birth to Eurybia (Winds and Constellations; things that seemingly comes from the sea). Crius and Eurybia give birth to Perses (Titan of Destruction). He joins with the Titaness Asteria the Titan of stars and nighttime oracles.  She herself was the daughter of Phoebe and Coeus, making her a half-sister to Leto the mother of Apollo and Artemis.   Though there are other claims to her parentage.  Some also claim she the daughter of Leto, which would make her Apollo and Artemis' half-sister.

Hecate then is the daughter of Peres and Asteria and of the same generation of Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, and Dionysus.  While she is their generation she is often considered to be a Titan.

Like many of the Greek and later Roman Gods, Hecate has more than one, in what D&D came to call Portfolio.  She is the Goddess of Nighttime as opposed to Nox the Personification of Night. She is the Goddess of Oracular power based on stars (as opposed to her semi-cousin Apollo who is the God of Oracles), one of the Goddess of the Moon.  Her torches light the night.  She is the goddess of the Crossroads. With her three faces, she can see the past, present, and future.  And most notably, she is the Goddess of Witchcraft, Creatures of the Night and Ghosts.
Due to her rather complicated lineage, she also has dominion over Earth, Sky, and Sea.

She has been associated with the Goddess Demeter having been mentioned int he Homeric Hymns to Demeter.  She is believed to have lit the way to Hades for Demeter to find Persephone. While Persephone is in the underworld she and Hecate are companions.  She helps Persephone on her trip to and from the underworld.  This gives us one of our first triple-goddesses, with Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate as the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

As a Goddess, she is often seen in the company of large dogs from the Underworld, the Hellhounds and common house cats.

She is depicted in the D&DG as being Lawful Evil.  I am not buying it.  Lawful I can live with, but so much of what she does is both good and evil that Lawful Neutral is the much better choice.

Hecate is one of the few gods that retains her name in both the Greek and Roman versions.  Though there is the Roman Goddess Trivia that also takes on some of what makes Hecate.

Goddess of Witchcraft
We know that many tablets and surviving scrolls have her mentioned in many curses and spells of protection against creatures of the night.  According to Hesiod, "Hecate whom Zeus the son of Cronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods."

Interestingly enough her domain over witchcraft relates to her being worshipped by Circe and Medea. Medea, in fact, is called a Priestess of Hecate. Medea is almost always described as a witch.

Hecate also appears in Shakespeare's Macbeth and mentioned in Hamlet. Each time due to her association with witches.

Lampad the Nymphae Avernales
The lampads are described as Underworld Nymphs.  They were the constant companions to Hecate as a reward for Hecate taking part in the war against the Titans.  Sometimes described as the Daughters of Nyx or of Daimones, they share a similar relationship to Hecate as the forest nymphs do with Artemis.

Lampads appear in the Pathfinder game, in Bestiary 4.  Here is my interpretation.

Lampad (Nymph)
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 3d8 +16 (30)
Attacks: 0 (see below)
Damage: None
Special Attacks & Defenses: Cause feeblemindedness, malaise and death
Movement: 120’ (40’)
No. Appearing: 0 (1d4)
Save: Witch 3
Morale: 8
Hoard Class: IX, XI x 10
Alignment: Neutral (Chaotic)
XP: 100
Nymphs are stunningly beautiful female fey creatures that closely resemble elven women. The lampad are nymphs of the underworld and desolate places.  They appear similar to drow (dark elves), with grey ashen skin and long white hair.  Anyone that sees a lampad must make a save vs. spells or become feebleminded as per the spell.  If more than one lampad is present the victim is instantly killed on a failed save.
Lampads have the spell-casting abilities of a 6th level witch. They have their own language and speak common and the languages of the infernal realms.

Tears of the Lampad:  These tears are extremely magical if a tear touches a mortal (not an elf though) they must make a save vs. poison at -4 or enter into a depression so deep they are unwilling to move or do anything.  A victim will starve to death before they will attempt to bring themselves out of this malaise. Only a remove curse spell will allow them to return to their normal life.

The Empusa
I have used the Empusa many times in a lot of games.  I have often categorized them as Lilim, or the Daughters of Lilith (who also shares a lot with Hecate) but in ancient myth they are the daughters, or at least the offspring, of Hecate.

Empusa (Lilim)
Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 8d8+4** (40 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws and 1 bite or 1 weapon
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 1d6 or 1d10
Special Attacks & Defenses:  Magic resistance (25%), Lilim abilities, magical abilities, +1 magic weapons to hit, Intelligence drain
Movement: 120' (40')
   Flying: 240’ (80’)
No. Appearing: 1d4
Save As: Witch 9
Morale: 8
Horde Class: X, XI
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
XP:  2,380
These are believed to be the daughters of Lilith or Hecate and the various proto-demons. They are the most “demonic” of all of the Lilim. The Empusae (or “forcers-in”), like all Lilim, can appear as a stunningly beautiful woman or as a demon. The demonic form of the Empusa is one of the most hideous of all of the Lilim. The body remains mostly humanoid and female but covered in fine scales. Its legs become like those of a horse or ass and end in hooves that are made of brass or bronze. Its back supports a set of large leathery bat-like wings, similar to that of a succubus. It is its head that features its most horrible transformation. The creature’s long flowing tresses are replaced with a mass of snakes similar to that of a medusa. Its facial features are blocked by an area of complete darkness, only it’s glowing eyes are visible. It is said among sages that face of the Empusa is not shrouded in darkness, but it is so horrible that our minds block the vision from us. It is also said that other demons can actually see the Empusa’s face and run in fear from it. Its former delicate hands now end in razor-tipped claws. A long reptilian tail completes the picture.
An Empusa can appear as human, or it can also shapeshift into a large dire wolf (statistics as per Dire Wolf).
Unlike the combat avoidant Succubus, Empusae live for battle. They can either use their natural claw/claw/bite routine or use a flaming sword that strikes for 2d6 points of damage plus 1d6 of flame damage. Empusa gain to hit and damage bonuses due to their high strength as well.
The touch of an Empusa drains the Intelligence of the victim at 1 point per barehanded, not weaponed, attack.



Hecate / Heka Connections
The Greeks and the Egyptians had a long and complicated relationship.  Greeks scholars used to say that everything they know came from the Egyptians.  Back when I was doing the research for OMG: Egyptian Mythos I came across this saying all the time.  This lead me to the Egyptian God of magic Heka.  Like many before I noticed some similarities with Hecate and Heka.  Both are their respective gods of magic. Both are heralded as "gifts" to the human race by their respective heads of their pantheon.  Despite the similar portfolios and similarity in names there is no linguistic connection between the two.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Your Time is Gonna Come: More Character Life (and Death) Span Development

Working on a project (more on that in a couple of days) and I came across my original post on Character Life Span Development.

The idea is that I would run a game, or rather a mega-game where the different parts of a character's life would be handled by different games.   My game choices have changed since that first post, but the ideas have not.

My witch Larina at various ages
For Pre-Teen and Teen, I want to use Dark Places & Demogorgons.  I have spilled a lot of virtual ink on DP&D, so you can read all of that here.  I also happen to think it is a great game and really grabs what I want to do.  The question remains is how well will it mix with something like Little Fears for the ages before?

I still want Unisystem for adult years and maybe one of the Worlds of Darkness games for later adulthood.  But it is the afterlife that has me interested now.  Or maybe even the before life.

Elizabeth Chaipraditkul writes a good game.  Her writing and style is quite evocative and I can't help be pulled into her games.  Her latest, Afterlife: Wandering Souls is in it's last few days of Kickstarter and it looks like it will be great.

She does have a Quick Start of it out now, and it is giving me ideas.  Actually, it is making me want to use it in many of my games

How about this.  I am going to have my group (hypothetical at this point since all my groups are really busy with our current games) make some basic character concepts that will work in any age or game.  Well, any age or game that magic is real. 

Run them through a D&D adventure where everyone dies. Pick up the next game with Afterlife: Wandering Souls.  These would be the now dead characters that no longer remember who they were.

Play through a couple of games of Afterlife till they are reincarnated into the next games.

So maybe my Life-Death-Rebirth character development can be something like this:

D&D ­čá║ After Life ­čá║ Little Fears ­čá║ Dark Places & Demogorgons ­čá║ Unisystem/WitchCraft ­čá║ Mage ­čá║ Kult

Seven games, figure two "Adventrures" per game, for 14 games. 

I think the lynchpin of this will be whatever the characters (and the players) discover about themselves in Afterlife. The logical endpoint then for me at least is Kult.

I could also do a "Past Lives" or "Alternate Lives" development with very different kinds of worlds too. Maybe something like Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion.
I did something like this back in 2010 when I was running parallel Pathfinder and D&D 4 games with the same characters.   If that is the case I would want to throw in some Ghosts of Albion, Call of Cthulhu and maybe even some Exalted.

I have already done this with many characters including Willow and Tara. It would take a lot of prep and planning and players willing to work out some details ahead of time, but it could be very rewarding. 

Of course, this idea is ambitious, so I might try out little pieces of it in other games and see how it works.   I have used Basic D&D as a "flashback" for one of my D&D 5 games, so I know the idea has merit.

Busy Weekend!

Sorry for the lack of a Monstrous Monday post yesterday, it was Memorial Day in the US and I was busy doing gardening with my wife.  But that's not all I did.


My kids got in a bunch of D&D 5 over the weekend their groups.  Looks like this summer we will be hosting 3-4 WEEKLY D&D games here. Pretty nice.

Went to my FLGS over the weekend.  Picked up the new Saltmarsh book, but have not looked it over yet. Saw the new "Wardlings" series of kid minis and they now have a little witch out.


She is perfect as a younger version of my iconic witch Larina!



All the Wardlings come with a pet, but I am swapping out the cat that came with this one for the winged cat that came with the little mage character.



Went to another game store just down the road.  This one is more Warhammer centric but they were holding a "garage sale".  You can bring in items to sell and pay the store for them.
We picked up this set of Dwarven Forge dungeon walls for cheap.


While the kids enjoyed the new dungeons I was helping my wife plant over 112 pepper plants and 70 tomato plants.


I also spent my Monday building her two 8'x4' and two double deep 4'x2' raised bed boxes.






So really, quite the satisfying weekend.  Got a lot of stuff done for both my and my wife's hobbies!

Plus I built those boxes even though my wife had made off with my sawhorses for her plants! 

Kids have another D&D game tonight. Yeah, school is out for both of them. My oldest finished his first year of college and my youngest finished high school finals.  I'd like for them to get some jobs, BUT truth be told I am also happy they are home all the time.  They have the rest of their lives to work.

Back to regular posting soon!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Great Things Come in FOURS

So about 24 hours ago this happened,


Yes, I hit 4,000,000 page views!
Thanks to everyone that keeps coming here to read my posts and ramblings.

I am also hitting my 40th year of playing D&D.  I have played several scores of other games since then and have written professionally for a dozen or so professionally, I keep coming back to D&D.

Also sometime next month I'll hit 4,000 posts.  That's a lot of text.

It's been a great time here at the Other Side.  I started the first Other Side as a website as a means to teach myself HTML while working on my first Ph.D. 
My degrees might have gotten me my job(s) but it was learning HTML that got me here.

I have lots more planned here, so stick with me for the next 4,000 posts and next 4,000,000 hits!
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