Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Half-Baked Idea: Old-School Compatibility Logos

I had this idea for a replacement for the venerable, but retired OSR logo.
Half an idea really.

The idea is to have a logo I could use on my various works to indicate compatible content with a style of play, but not calling out any rule system in particular.

I came up with some logos over lunch, but I'd imagine that I would need to have some sort of sheet attached to them at the very least.   You know along the lines of "Basic-era Compatible" includes, but is not limited to 1. Race as Class. 2. Monsters with Morale scores and other salient features.

I need to give it more thought. A lot more thought to be honest.  But first I guess is there and interest in anything like this? Is there even a need for anything like this?

Share your thoughts below.  I designed them to be simple and easy to read.






Yeah I included 3rd and 5th eds here.  I still do stuff for those games.

I also included a compatible with The Witch one.  I have had a few people ask for some of my OGC, which I provided for free.  I figure if I pack up a couple dozen spells for something a link back is not too much of an ask.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Monstrous Monday: Cù Sìth and Monster book Progress

Last week I spent some time going over my proposed monster book.  Presently I have about 240 monsters and sitting at 170 pages without art.  Respectable but I am certain to make some cuts.   I have gone through all my Witch books and the majority of Monstrous Mondays.

The biggest issue at the moment is that I have done Monstrous Mondays for so long there are at least five OSR systems I have used, not to mention original monsters I created for other systems.  I can use those monsters, but just like the OSR ones I need to convert everything to a single system.

For a while, I was working on the notion that I should do this as an "Advanced" era book.  Trouble is I really don't see a lot of Advanced era books for sale on DriveThru.  It is pretty much dominated by Labyrinth Lord and Swords & Wizardry.  I want to make the book I want, but if I want to pay for art it also needs to be a book people will buy.

Advanced Labyrinth Lord seems like the best compromise, but even then it is missing a couple things I want. Well. That is where Monstrous Mondays come back in!

I think I'll use this space to workshop a few monster stat blocks that work with what I want.
In particular, I want to have something similar to what I was doing in the early 80s; the free mixing of "Basic" and "Advanced" eras.

Something that plays like this.



I could start with a standard Labyrinth Lord stat block, add-in ability scores or ability score adjustments like Blueholme does.  Maybe include some of the OGC elements I like best from Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary and OSRIC.

To be honest, I have not quite made up my mind just yet.
But let's try something out.

Here is a good test. I'll convert a Ghosts of Albion creature to this new format.  A good choice is one that was inspired by a 1st creature that was in turn inspired by the mythical fairy creature.
So here is my Monstrous Monday version of the Cù Sìth.

Cù Sìth
Cu Sith by NyssaShaw
Faerie Animal
Frequency: Very Rare
No. Enc.: 1 (1), Pack 1d4 (1d6+1)
Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)
Movement: 150' (50') [15"], Run 210' (70') [21"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)
Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+5
Special: Blink, Detect Magic, Hide (5 in 6), takes 2x damage from cold iron
Size: Large
Save: Monster 4
Morale: 12
Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP: (working on this, see below)

The Celts were well known for their love of dogs. But the Cù Sìth (“coo shee”) or “Fairy Hound” has a special place in Celtic lore. Often described as a large hound that is either all green or all white with red ears. They have been alternately seen as bad omens, horrible stealers of children, or a fierce and loyal protector, the Cù Sìth features in many tales.

Tales feature the Cù Sìth as a spectral hound, one that forebodes doom like the Barghest, though those hounds are more often black in color and their malevolence is more universal than that of the Cù Sìth. Also, the Cù Sìth is more commonly associated with the Faerie and sometimes valiant, but tragic, warriors and the Barghest is more closely associated with witchcraft.

The Cù Sìth can be found most often near or around fairy mounds. A good sign that a mound is, in fact, a faerie mound is the proximity of a Cù Sìth to it.

Cù Sìth can also interbreed with other dogs which will typically produce one Cù Sìth per liter; sometimes more, sometimes less. Odd are the ways of the faerie folk.

Cù Sìth pups are rarely if ever tamed. If one wishes to remain with a non-faerie then it is of their own choosing.

--
OK.  Let's talk through this stat block.

Creature Type: Faerie Animal

I am going to include a creature type. This will be a short-hand for a few things.  Faerie in this case means can speak elven and sylvan, takes double damage from iron and *maybe* need silver or magic weapons to hit.

Frequency: Very Rare

I like frequency.  One of my favorite Advance era stats that we don't see in Basic era.

No. Enc.: 1 (1), Pack 1d4 (1d6+1)

Fairly self-explanatory.

Alignment: Lawful (Chaotic Good)

I want to include the Good-Evil axis along with the Law-Chaos one.  Both will be listed.

Movement: 150' (50') [15"], Run 210' (70') [21"]

Movement is listed for Basic era Turns and (Rounds) and [Advanced era].  Special moves will be spelled out.  So no //# /# to confuse anyone.

Armor Class: 7 [12]

Armor Class is listed with both Descending and [Ascending] types.

Hit Dice: 4d8+4 (22 hp)

For HD I am going to include the die type, any extra hp and hp (the average of the die type).

Attacks: 1 (bite)
Damage: 1d6+5

Attacks and Damage are split up.  Though I could easily put these on one line.

Special: Blink, Detect Magic, Hide (5 in 6), takes 2x damage from cold iron

Special attacks, moves, and defenses are here.  This is vaguely Basic era, but also from other games I have used.

Size: Large

I like including size here. Also, I am considering using size to change HD type as it does in newer games.

Size HD Type Space Examples
Tiny d4 2½ by 2 ½ ft. Imp, sprite
Small d6 5 by 5 ft. Giant rat, goblin
Medium d8 5 by 5 ft. Orc, werewolf
Large d10 10 by 10 ft. Hippogriff, ogre
Huge d12 15 by 15 ft. Fire giant, treant
Gargantuan d20 20 by 20 ft. or larger Kraken, purple worm

Save: Monster 4

Most often monsters save as monsters, but sometimes a class might be used for special cases.

Morale: 12

I really enjoy Basic era style morale.

Treasure Hoard Class: Nil
XP:

These two are trickier since they rely a lot more on the game they are emulating AND the specific rules.  For the book I might create my own Treasure Type but I am also considering just going with the LL Horde Class and repeating the table in an appendix.

XP will really vary from system to system.  I have a Google Sheet that calculates for different games based on HD, special abilities, and the like.

Here is the output for the Cù Sìth for various games.

Base+hp*/ SA1**/ SA2***/SA3Total
Basic75123070187
Advanced75783070253
LL802405555430
BF24004040320
OSRIC75783070253
SW1200120120360
SS4010420300194
OSE755050175
289mean
253median
253mode

Not at all the same is it.

I might forgo putting in XP and letting Game Masters calculate it themselves based on their game of choice.  Mind you there might even be some error in my sheet above.  I built it years ago and have added to it but I have not back-checked my math in a while.

How often do you all use the XP line?

So I have ways to go just yet.

Friday, May 8, 2020

No Way for You to Hide: Carmilla and Laura for Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition

It's been a while since I did one of these, but I just discovered that the entire seasons of Carmilla have now been collected into single videos, so I thought it might be a good time to revisit some old friends.

Outfits based on this picture.
Characters created with ePic Character Generator

I think for these versions I am going to set it a little after the Carmilla movie and long after the end of Season 3. So I guess three years now.  Wow.

In a Mutants & Masterminds game, Laura is now a world-renown reporter in the Lois Lane mold, with a knack of uncovering supernatural goings-on.  Carm is still living on a fortune that has also collected 340+ years of compound interest. And of course, helping Laura, because she knows that in true Lois Lane fashion, Laura is going to get herself into trouble.

Given the number of adaptations of Carmilla over the years I might even riff on that with one of her less than savory relatives show up.  Maybe an older brother. Someone who is evil, threatens her fortune and whom Carmilla would hesitate to kill outright at first.  That is till he puts the moves on Laura.

For these builds, I am going to rely heavily on the Mutants & Masterminds Deluxe Hero's Handbook,
Power Profiles, and of course the Supernatural Handbook.

I figure that Laura is a bit higher in PL than your average reporter.  She has saved the world and she knows Krav Maga.   Carmilla is a very, very old vampire (340 years old!) and she has seen a lot in her years.  She was alive for a while thanks to a "gift" from Inanna and is a vampire again.

Laura Hollis
Creampuff

Strength 1, Stamina 2, Agility 2, Dexterity 1, Fighting 1, Intellect 3, Awareness 1, Presence 1

Advantages
Krav Maga (Accurate Attack, Agile Feint, All-out Attack,  Close Attack, Contacts, Defensive Attack, Improved Disarm, Inspire,  Power Attack, Precise Attack (Close, Concealment), Prone Fighting)
Attractive, Languages 2, Skill Mastery: Expertise: Journalism

Skills
Acrobatics 1 (+3), Athletics 5 (+6), Close Combat: Unarmed 6 (+7), Deception 1 (+2), Expertise: Journalism 5 (+8), Insight 5 (+6), Investigation 5 (+8), Perception 5 (+6), Persuasion 1 (+2), Stealth 1 (+3)

Offense
Initiative +2
Grab, +2 (DC Spec 11)
Throw, +1 (DC 16)
Unarmed, +7 (DC 16)

Complications
Obsession: Find the truth!
Relationship: Carmilla

Languages
English, French, German

Defense
Dodge 3, Parry 2, Fortitude 3, Toughness 2, Will 1

Power Points
Abilities 24 + Powers 0 + Advantages 15 + Skills 18 (35 ranks) + Defenses 3 = 60

Validation: Unarmed: Attack Bonus exceeds Power Level limit by 1

Height: 5'2"
Weight: 119 lbs
Hair Color: Brown/Blonde
Eye Color: Brown
Age: 25

Carmilla, aka Mircalla, Countess Karnstein
Useless Vampire

Abilities
Strength 5, Stamina -, Agility 2, Dexterity 3, Fighting 5, Intellect 2, Awareness 2, Presence 4

Advantages
All-out Attack, Animal Empathy, Attractive, Fascinate (Deception), Improved Critical 3: Vampire Bite: Weaken 9, Improved Hold, Improved Initiative 3, Languages 4, Power Attack

Skills
Acrobatics 2 (+4), Athletics 2 (+7), Close Combat: Unarmed 3 (+8), Deception 5 (+9), Expertise: Languages 6 (+8), Insight 6 (+8), Intimidation 4 (+8), Investigation 1 (+3), Perception 8 (+10), Persuasion 2 (+6), Ranged Combat: ???? 3 (+6), Stealth 10 (+12)

Powers
Alternate Form (Moonlight) (Activation: Move Action)
   Flight: Flight 1 (Speed: 4 miles/hour, 60 feet/round)
   Immunity: Immunity 0
   Insubstantial: Insubstantial 2 (light, Gaseous; Absent Strength)
Cat form: Variable Attack 2 (animal, DC 12, Advantages: All-out Attack; Action: move, Attack: Dodge)
Spider-Climb: Movement 1 (Wall-crawling 1: -1 speed rank)
Undead Invulnerability
   Immortality: Immortality 5 (Return after 1 day; Limited: Not when staked or beheaded [0 ranks only])
   Immunity: Immunity 30 (undead, Fortitude Effects)
   Regeneration: Regeneration 8 (undead, Every 1.25 rounds)
   Vampiric Protection: Protection 9 (+9 Toughness; Limited 2: Not against Holy or Magic)
Vampire Bite: Weaken 9 (undead, Affects: Weaken Stamina, Resisted by: Will, DC 19)
Vampiric Senses: Senses 3 (Acute (Type): smell, Detect: smell (blood) 1)

Offense
Initiative +14
Grab, +5 (DC Spec 15)
Throw, +3 (DC 20)
Unarmed, +8 (DC 20)
Vampire Bite: Weaken 9, +5 (DC Will 19)

Complications
Blood Dependence: Needs blood to live
Relationship: Laura
Weakness: Can't use vampire powers in sunlight.

Languages
Ancient Sumerian, English, French, Hungarian, Latin, Romanian

Defense
Dodge 2, Parry 5, Fortitude None, Toughness 0, Will 2

Power Points
Abilities 36 + Powers 74 + Advantages 15 + Skills 26 (52 ranks) + Defenses 0 = 151

Height: 5'3"
Weight: 121 lbs
Hair Color: Black
Eye Color: Brown (red when enraged or feeding)
Age: 340

Links


Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Which Warlock is Which? OSE Edition.

Doesn't quite roll off the tongue like "Which Witch is Which?" does it.

My new Warlock book is out for Old-School Essentials and it is natural to want to know what is in the book.  More to the point do you need this book if you already own my The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry OR The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition for OSE.

Very valid questions.

Let's go over the Warlocks first.



The classes are the same XP, HP progression wise save for where B/X and S&W differ.
  • There are few overlapping spells, but I wanted to go with new spells for the book.
  • There are few overlapping Invocations, again plenty of new and a couple revised ones here.  For example, both books have an Arcane Blast, the bread-and-butter attack of all warlocks.
  • There are no overlapping Patrons or Pacts. If you play OSE and use this Warlock book, but want a demon pact you can import it from the S&W book with no changes needed.  Same if you play S&W and want a Dragon pact.
  • There are no overlapping lodges.  I wanted to include the Masters of the Invisible College warlocks from S&W for the OSE book, but space ran out.  Instead, I am going to the Masters here at a later date with the text that was going into the book on how you play them with OSE and these Pacts. The Masters also take Cosmic Warlocks.
I wanted both books to complement each other.  I am very keen on people not thinking "hey, I already bought this book two years ago!"

For the two Old-School Essentials books, the biggest potential overlap was the spells.


I mention in the Warlock book that witches can take warlock spells and the other way around.  That is depending on your Referee. There is the subtle notion that the witches of the Pagan Tradition are at odds with warlocks.  Granted this idea works best with the demonic pacts, but it is there for players to use.  This can limit access to spells the others might "steal".

In both books, I also add new spells for Clerics, Druids, Magic-users, and Illusionists.  How they get those spells is of course up to the Referees.

I have made all the spell names and levels available for you to see in this Google Sheet.
Spell names in Red are from the OSE Warlock.  Blue links take you the book the spells appear in.



You can also link to it here:  Old-School Essentials Spells.
This sheet has ALL the Old-School Essentials spells, not just mine.

I guess the question of "why is there any overlap at all?"  Well, some spells are so ubiquitous to witches that not including them would be strange. A good example is Bestow Curse, which interestingly enough is not in these two books.

So here is a break down of all 1,078 spells I have used and 229 monsters.  Again spell names in Red are brand new to the OSE Warlock book. This sheet helps you see the spell overlap.

Witch Books - Google Sheets



My goal is always to give you something new with each book while making it playable.
So any book can be your "first" witch book and it will work AND be 100% compatible with your "second" or "third" book.

I am currently drafting my next book which will be all monsters.  After that, the plan is to do what I am now calling my last witch book, the High Secret Order Tradition.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Featured Artist: Pamela Colman Smith

Looking to do something a little different this time for my Featured Artist post.

Pamela Colman Smith, aka "Pixie", might the most recognized artist you have never heard of.  Recognized in the sense that you know her work, even if you don't know it belongs to her and she certainly was not recognized in her time for it.

Born February 16, 1878, and died September 18, 1951, at the age of 73 Pixie spent her time among all sorts of artists, Bohemians, Suffragettes, and occultists including members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which she would later join.

She produced art for William Butler Yeats and Bram Stoker.

It was while she was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn she would meet Arthur Edward Waite.  He commissioned her to produce art for a Tarot deck.   Not just the Major Arcana, but all the Lesser Arcana cards as well.

This deck became known as the Rider-Waite Tarot deck after the publisher and the A.E. White.

Pixie's name was never associated with it, until very recently, and she was only paid a flat fee for her work.


In fact, these days many Tarot aficionados who like Pixie's art will opt for the Smith-Waite Tarot deck instead.

Much of her art reflects the esoteric lifestyle she lived. All of it feels like an Art Noveau fever dream from an Authrurian age, or Pagan age, mixed with what Middle Earth must have looked like in Tolkien's minds eye.






She would often do her art while listening to music, allowing her to create without other outside distractions.






And she did covers for Bram Stoker.



Links
The Divine Mystery of Pamela Colman Smith
Reviving a Forgotten Artist of the Occult

Monday, May 4, 2020

Upcoming Projects from The Other Side: Warlocks, Monsters, More Basic, and the LAST Witch Book

Well. April was kind of crazy.

I thought I take a moment to catch my breath and discuss some future projects here at the Other Side.

The Warlock
First up, I want to get the POD version of The Warlock out to you all. I am going to try for softcover and hardcover options. That way they can fit into whatever collection you like.
The printing is a little slow at DriveThru at the moment, so as soon as I get the proofs I'll get them up to you all.

Once I get that done I am going to release another Warlock book, this time for 5th Edition D&D.  No set date on that right now, but optimistically this Summer.

BECMI Month
Another big project I am starting now but won't start to roll out till June is my month-long overview of the ONLY D&D I never really played; BECMI.  I am going to spend roughly a week on each boxed set. Doing detailed reviews, overviews, and related topics. It should be fairly enlightening for me and I hope you all enjoy it.  I am looking forward to learning something new about this system.


If you know of anything BECMI related you think I should cover, let me know!

Monsters
Another project with no specific date in mind yet is the book-form of my Monstrous Mondays' posts.
The posts have been in a variety of formats and systems over the years, so I think I am going to opt to do this book to be compatible with "Advanced era" gaming, or some Basic/Advance hybrid.  So not really OSRIC compatible and not really Advanced Labyrinth Lord compatible, but something of an OGC combination of the two.  Much like how my Basic Witch is not designed for any single system, but an amalgam of Basic-era OGC.

So this would not be a simple "copy and paste" deal, I would want to rework all the monsters to fit the Advanced play better.  My goal is to have a book that would sit next to my Monster Manuals and Fiend Folio and play just like them.


Still workshoping names, but I think my own OCD requires that the name be an alliteration.

In truth, I am looking forward to trying out a "new" system for a change.

The High Secret Order: The Book of High Witchcraft
Ah. Now this one is a big one for me.  Why? Well. I am going to use this to get back to the witch class I was playing circa 1986, the dawn of my fully realized witch.  But more importantly, this will very likely be my last of the Old-School Witch books.
While I wanted this book to be the last of my Back to Basic books, this one might also need to be an Advanced Era book. Or some mix. I am not sure yet.

No date on this one either.  But this one will include the High Secret Order Witches, the Academic Warlock (with expanded Secret Masters of the Invisible College Lodge),  Hermetic Wizards and more.
I am also going to finally get my spell creation rules into one place, the same ones I have been using for years since the goals of the High Secret Order and the Invisible College is to create more magic.

This book, along with the monster book above, will represent my transition period from Basic-era to Advanced-era.   I think it is going to be a lot of fun.

The Books of the D_____
This is a brand new project. 100% Advanced-era with maybe parallel versions for 5th Edition.  Don't want to say to much about these just yet but they represent a new direction in my writing and I can't wait to get started on them.

So. I have enough to keep me busy for some time to come now.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Zatannurday: Justice League Dark: Apokolips War

New Direct to Video DC Movie is hitting the "shelves" next week.
Of course, it has my attention.


Justice League Dark: Apokolips War deals with the Justice League deciding they need to stop Darkseid once and for all.


Among others, we are getting John Constantine (voiced by Matt Ryan again), Raven (Taissa Farmiga of AHS fame), Rosario Dawson as Diana Prince / Wonder Woman, and Camilla Luddington as Zatanna Zatara (reprising her JLDark role) and more.

Yeah I guess Superman and Batman are in it too.

The big news though that this is supposedly the final film in the DCAU, or DC Animated Universe.
Did it fall prey to Crisis too?

I'll let you know next week.  I got my pre-order in.


IMDB, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11079148/
Amazon, https://smile.amazon.com/Justice-League-Dark-Apokolips-War/dp/B085DY6GY6

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