Friday, October 16, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Frankenstein Night

Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965)

I talked about this movie back in 2015 when I watched War of the Gargantuas. I mentioned then I need to see this movie. Finally got around to it.  

The premise is cool. In 1945 Nazi doctors find the heart of Frankenstein's Monster.  The SS comes and takes the heart and sends it to Japan. They are about ready to study it when the atomic bomb is dropped.

Fast forward 20 years and there are strange things going on. Stranger than the radiation sickness still affecting people.  An odd boy is running through the streets eating dogs and other animals.   The boy seems to be impervious to pain and can heal.  After a bit of back and forth with capturing the child he is discovered not only to be European, but Frankenstein's monster regenerated whole from just the heart.  
Ok, that is cool enough on its own.  Also, the boy is growing bigger all the time.

The movie soon becomes a standard Toho Kaiju movie with giant Frankenstein battling Baragon. Oh yeah, Baragon is in this too, because Japan is just overrun with monsters. This gives us the English title, Frankenstein vs. Baragon.

Lady Frankenstein (1971)

Some more Italian fare tonight.  This one was a total stab in the dark. I wanted another Frankenstein film and this one meets all my other criteria in a movie, especially since I have been on an Italian horror kick this year.  So let's see how it is. It is described as Hammer Films meets Italian Giallo horror.

This is a surprisingly forward-thinking movie for 1971.  Tania Frankenstein wants to be treated as an equal Doctor and Surgeon in her father's eyes.  Sadly though the movie is about as predictable as you think.  The Hammer parts come in with sketchy looking assistants to get the body parts, a monster on the loose, an angry mob,  and lots of death.  The Italian Giallo parts are random nudity and the monster always seeming to catch people having sex.

Tania manages to up her father one by creating a creature that is both strong and intelligent. So both monsters have to fight it out. 

The angry mob comes to burn down the castle (Hammer) while Tania Frankenstein and her monster have sex while it burns (Giallo).  Well. That is not something you see in every Frankenstein movie that is for sure.

Watched: 29
New: 18

NIGHT SHIFT content

Frankenstein's story is a fantastic one and one that we can go back too time and again.  I think if I ever were to use the Frankenstein story in a game it would have to borrow elements from "Young Frankenstein" and the bits on Frankenstein from Supernatural.  The current heir of the family name has found his ancestor's old notes and has begun his own experiments.   Meanwhile the original creature, still "alive" is out there and is drawn to this new Frankenstein to destroy him and his works. 

OR better yet make this Dr. Frankenstein a young woman to honor Frankenstein's original author Mary Shelly.  Yeah. "Lady Frankenstein Conquers the World."


DMSGuild Witch Project: Near Witches and Witch-related

A bit of a different batch today.  These PDFs came up in my searches and suggested products, so I thought I should check them out.  Most of these are not Witches in the sense I have been using the term, but close enough.  Since this past week has all been about other classes as witches I thought I'd end the week with these.

Again, I am going to try to stick to my own rules and guidelines for these reviews. 

The Witch Born (Half Hag)

Ok, this one caught my eye because it uses the same art as my "The Witch for Basic-era Games" and it offers up a new race; something I have not done a lot of myself. 
The PDF is 3 pages (1 cover, 2 pages of content) and is PWYW with a suggestion of $0.50. 
The layout is nice and the internal artwork also good.  The pdf presents a playable race, a sort of half-hag known as a Witch-born.  The material is good and the race seems playable.  Only a couple of nitpicks. The race is often described as cursed, but there is little in the way of mechanics behind that. All the traits seem positive and there seems little reason not to play this over a normal human.  There is the fact that hags hate them, but hags hate everyone.   It's hard to complain about 50 cents, but something to make them stick out a bit might have been nice. 

Class: The Witch Doctor

NOTE: Between my review and today this PDF changed it's name to The Shaman.

This one is a 9 page PDF (7 pages content) with a PWYW price suggested at $1.00.  So right there near the 10 cents per page guideline I am looking at.  My issue with this one is it conflates "Witch Doctor" and "Voodoo" together. Granted, so has Hollywood and western culture for years. In the 7 pages, the class is presented with three different "Occult Practices." The class seems playable, but if this is to replace the various tribal shamans or tribal priests I would have gone a different direction myself. 

The layout is good, but the color background will drain your ink. The art is good. The pieces I recognize are from the DMSGuild collection, the ones I don't do not have a credit attached. 

I would like to see a Voodoo-like class done right someday. 

The Witch Knight

Witch-knight is one of my favorite concepts for witches. An armored knight that is sworn to protect and defend witch covens.  I have done it many times as Cowans, Witch Guardians, and Wardens.  But this one is a witch knight proper.

This PDF is 14 pages (13 pages content) and is PWYW with a suggestion of $5.00.  A bit more than my 10 cents per page guide, but lets see what is inside.  The art and layout is great. It looks like a 5e book. The art and layout are all given proper credit, so that is a mark above many titles in the DMSGuild.  

The Witch Knight is a full martial class of 20 levels with some limited spell-casting ability.  The powers the witch-knight gets look good on the surface. It feels like a good playable class. The sub-classes of the Witch Knight are known as Disciplines and there are five of them.  The Spellblade and the Eldritch Guardian are my two favorites and fit best with my own concepts of a Witch Knight.

There is a spell list and even a section on brand new spells.  So that is a nice bonus.

All in all the class looks like a lot of fun, but I am left wondering (and not just for this one but for my own and others like it) what does this class do that an Eldritch Knight can't already do?  The obvious answers are in the powers, but couldn't this just be a way to role-play an Eldritch Knight?  However you decide to do it, this PDF has some great ideas. 

Kickstart Your Weekend: C&C and Weird War II

A couple of fun Kickstarters today.

Castles & Crusades Roads to Adventure


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ckg/castles-and-crusades-roads-to-adventure?ref=theotherside

The Troll Lords always put out a quality Kickstarter.  While I don't need a new printing of the Player's Handbook, a collection of all the spells has me intrigued. The Player's Archive also sounds fantastic.  So yeah there is a lot going for this Kickstarter.  You can customize your pledges in many ways. So say you only want the Spellbook and Archive? You can do that. Want all three? Yup. Want one book and some of the great add-ons? You can do that too.  Now that they have hit the stretch goals of the Spellbook in hardcover this is a no-brainer for me.

Castles & Crusades is still one of my favorite alternatives to D&D.  

Speaking of D&D, modern designers are doing a lot with the current version.

Nazi Dracula Must Die! Campaign Setting for DnD 5E


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/nazidracula/nazi-dracula-must-die-campaign-setting-for-dnd-5e?ref=theotherside

It's occult World War II!  Sure we have seen this particular Alt-History a lot in the RPG world, but this one has something cool about it.  Plus it is for D&D 5th Edition so there is that.

Frankly, I might get it as an addition to my D&D games.  It just looks like a lot of fun!

Besides any time I can fireball a bunch of Nazis is great.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Night of the Devils (1972) and Vamps (2017)

I swear with all the Italian horror Giallo movies from the 70s I have seen I should be able to speak Italian. 

Night of the Devils (1972)
A man stumbles and faints in the countryside.
Next, see him hooked up to a bunch of machines in a hospital setting. We assume the images we see of torture and murder are all going on in his mind.  The doctor working on him makes the claim that the patient has no memory of his previous days and no ID.

A woman claiming to know him shows up, but this only sends him into a panic. We later see in flashback what happened.  

Nicola (the man) crashes his car while avoiding hitting a woman (Sdenka, from above) but when he looks she is nowhere to be seen.  We see some locals burying a body (later we learn it was the old man's brother). They are acting like the person needed to be killed. Nicola finds the home of the locals along with Sdenka (played by the lovely Agostina Belli) and they reluctantly take him in for the night. The locals are very rustic, Sdenka even mentions she has never seen a television. 

We soon discover that the family is under a witch's curse. They will become undead after they die.  Said witch is later seen running in the dark and digs up the idol from the dead brother's grave. 

The movie is actually fairly good. Tension is built, there is a lot of mystery with this creepy family. The vampire decay is also pretty cool for 1972.  

Like "Black Sabbath" this movie is based on the Tolstoy novella, The Family of the Vourdalak. Doing a little reading led me to my next film.

Vamps (2017)
Also, known as "Ghouls," but more importantly, "Vurdalaki"

The copy I had access too (Amazon Prime) was originally in Russian and then dubbed and subtitled.  It looked slick but I kept feeling that the voice actors were not doing their characters justice really.

This one deals with the Moyori, or a race of half-human/half-vampires and the six clans of vampires. So a little of Dracula meets Vampire the Masquerade or Vampire Dark Ages. 

Like the original, this one has vampires coming back from the dead to haunt their own families and draw them out for feeding.

Our story focuses around Milena (played by Aglaya Shilovskaya) she is target of affection by both our hero Andrey (Konstantin Kryukov who looks like a young Lindsey Buckingham) and our Vampire Lord who needs her Moyori blood to become a day walking vampire. 

The movie's biggest issue though is the pacing. It is just so slow in places. But it is a good looking movie all the same. 

Watched: 27
New: 17

NIGHT SHIFT content
I did the Vourdalak, or rather, Wurdalak a while back as a vampire that is formed under a witch's curse. I made stats for both OSR games and Ghosts of Albion.  So one for NIGHT SHIFT is certainly in order.

Vourdalak
The Vourdalak or Wurdalak is created by a family curse.  Typically one laid down by a powerful witch on an entire line. When a member dies they will return as a vourdalak to feed on members of their own family.  Sometimes a vourdalak will also spontaneously arise when a member of the family disgraces their family name or when a member (typically a daughter) goes against the wishes of a recently deceased member (such as her father or uncle).

Vourdalak, Master
No. Appearing: 1
AC: 2
Move: 40ft.
Hit Dice: 9
Special: 4 attacks (claw, bite, 2 weapon), vampire abilities (Feed on Blood, Immune to Normal Damage, Mind Control, Regenerate, Repulsed by Holy Items, Spawn, Strong and Fast), Vampire Vulnerabilities (Stake Throw the Heart, Holy Water, Cannot Polymorph)
XP VALUE: 1,400

This is usually the one cursed by the witch and the one that will turn all the other family members.

Vourdalak, Spawn
No. Appearing: 1-6
AC: 6
Move: 30ft.
Hit Dice: 5
Special: 2 attacks (claws, bite), Cannot mind control. Cannot Polymorph. Cannot create new vampires.
XP VALUE: 200 

These are the other family members. Unlike the Vampire Spawn, these creatures are Strong and Fast.

No Vourdalak can polymorph into animals.

 


Supernatural: Charlie Bradbury for NIGHT SHIFT

It's Thursday and that means Supernatural day (well it is also Star Trek Discovery day, but that will wait till Fridays).  

I thought another NIGHT SHIFT character write-up was in order, and one with some solid geek cred. Charlie Bradbury played by geek icon Felicia Day.

Charlie Bradbury
(supernaturalwikisupernatural.fandom)

Charlie, real name Celeste Middleton, was a techie and hacker turned Hunter and "Woman of Letters." She met up with Sam and Dean during the Leviathan outbreaks (Season 7, "The Girl with the Dungeons & Dragons Tattoo") where she quickly proves her worth to the hunter's cause. She is smart, quirky, so steeped in Geek culture, and really quite a delight.  We also learn that she is one of the very few in the world that can't be copied by the Leviathans (her and Bruce Springsteen).  She becomes a hunter, but really shines when becomes an honorary Woman of Letters. Well...I guess a real one since there were no more Men of Letters in the US save for Sam and Dean.

She picks up a little magic here and there. Picks up a couple of women, including a faerie princess and notorious witch hunter Dorothy Baum/Gale

Sadly Charlie, like pretty much everyone in the Winchesters' life, was killed. She was murdered by the Styne's, the modern descendants of Dr. Frankenstien.  While her death didn't raise the ire that say Tara's or Lexa's did, it did raise concerns because she was such a beloved character. 

Charlie Bradbury

7th level Sage, Human

Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 13 (+1) s
Constitution: 14 (+1)
Intelligence: 18 (+3) P
Wisdom: 17 (+2) s
Charisma: 18 (+3)

HP: 33 (7d6)
AC: 9
Fate Points: 1d8

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +4/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +0 (+1)  Ranged bonus: +0 (+1)
Saves: +3 to spells and magical effect

Special Abilities: Open locks 35%, Bypass traps 30%, Sleight of Hand 40%, Move Silently 40%, Hide in Shadows 30%, Climb 75%, Danger Sense 50%, Perceptive 80%, Mesmerize 70%, Lore 88% (special bouns +15% for computers, +5 for magic)

Skills: Forgery (Dex), Computers (Int) x2, Knowledge (Int), Research (Int)

Languages: English, Elvish, Dothraki, Greek, Latin

Spells
1: Detect Magic, Bane, Sleep
2: Locate Object, Suggestion
3: Remove curse

Notes: Charlie became the adopted younger sister of the Winchesters. While I was never happy with her death, the show treated her well both before and after and there was a strong sense of loss and mourning on the show.  Besides. Dean, at great risk to his own soul, kills every single member of the Styne family in retaliation. 


"Later Bitches!" - Charlie

Charlie Bradbury, Apocalypse World
(supernaturalwikisupernatural.fandom)

When the Nephilim Jack began to open portals one opened to a world where the Winchesters were never born. This world had been overrun with demons so bad that the Angels came to Earth to eradicate them. And then they kept on going and started killing humans.  A resistance front grew and one of their commanders was Charlie Bradbury.

Charlie, along with alternate version Bobby and others came to the Winchester's world to escape. Charlie became a hunter in this world too.  She was the same person, but only more hardened and serious. 


Charlie Bradbury

3rd level Survivor/4th level Veteran, Human

Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 13 (+1) s
Constitution: 14 (+1)
Intelligence: 18 (+3) P
Wisdom: 17 (+2) s
Charisma: 18 (+3)

HP: 33 (3d4, 4d8)
AC: 9
Fate Points: 1d8

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +4/+2/+!
Melee bonus: +0 (+1)  Ranged bonus: +3 (+4)
Saves: +3 to death attacks & area saves

Special Abilities: Open locks 35%, Bypass traps 30%, Sleight of Hand 40%, Move Silently 40%, Hide in Shadows 30%, Climb 75%, Danger Sense 50%, Perceptive 50%, Read Languages 80%, Tracking 70%, Supernatural Attacks.

Skills: Forgery (Dex), Computers (Int), Knowledge (Int), Research (Int), Survival (Wis)

Languages: English, Greek, Latin

Notes: This Charlie at first wanted to have nothing to do with the other Charlie's life and that included a friendship with Sam and Dean. Time in this world has mellowed her out a little.  She even expressed curiosity about finding her and Charlie's former girl-friend. Charlie broke up with her in this world, but she was killed in Apocalpyse World. 

Charlie spends some time with the witch Rowena as well.  Regular world Charlie was a bit afraid of her, but Apocalpyse World Charlie is not so easily shaken.

Bobby: Rowena and Charlie are road tripping it through the Southwest.
Mary: That's trouble.
Bobby: Ginger trouble -- the worst kind. 

13.23 Let the Good Times Roll


Ginger Trouble

So I really have to hand it to Felicia Day.  Over the course of her tenure on Supernatural, she played three different (well four I guess) versions of Charlie and each one felt different. Regular Charlie, Good and Evil Charlies (split by the Wizard of Oz) and Apocalpyse World Charlie. 

In truth, I was not a fan of Felicia Day until I saw her on Supernatural. Then I was like, "oh! so that is what all the fuss is about. I get it now."

Charlie would make a fantastic guest star on Wayward Sisters. The cast pulling her in when they need some magical help, since Rowena is unavailable. I can see Charlie eventually calming down and going more the sage route like her alternate did.  Hell. I think it would be cool if Apoc Charlie came across a stash of journals and notes from her alternate from this world, maybe even taking a page from Star Trek III (because Charlie would have) and figured out a way to store part of her own katra onto the Internet before Styne killed her.

Lots of ways I could go with this character to be honest.

DMSGuild Witch Project: 5e Wizards as Witches

And our last look at D&D 5e Base classes as witches.  Today I will work with Wizards.

Again, I am using these rules/guidelines for my reviews.

School of Witchcraft

This pdf is only two pages (no cover). It is listed as PWYW with a suggested price of $1.00.

It is a pretty straight-forward Arcane Tradition (Wizard sub-class) to add a witchy feel to a wizard. IT does offer a stat block for a witch, which is nice, but some new spells would have been nicer or even a list of spells the witch can access outside of the wizard's list.  The Warlock's Witch Bolt and the divine/Cleric Cure Wounds would have been good choices. 

I had hoped for more.


The Coven Guide to Witchcraft (5e Bundle)

This pdf is 39 pages and is priced at $5.99. So also a bit more than my ¢10 per page rule of thumb.  This one combines four of the author's previous works into one pdf with a witchcraft theme.  As themes, they work and I can see where the author is coming from but there is one rather big issue.

There is no witch class within these pages.  I am sure that the four different crafts could be layered over the top of other classes, say like the druid or wizard, there is no advice on how to do so.  This is a supplement where I don't have the book it is a supplement too. 

There plenty of neat ideas here and 20 some odd new spells as well as recipes and poisons. 

The author has close to 150 titles on DMSGuild, but this one looks like an early attempt. I searched to make sure there wasn't a book of classes that this might be referring too.  

Which is too bad for the size and the price I was hoping for a bit more.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Space Vampires of 1980

Bit of a cheat tonight. But I always want to do a Doctor Who episode.

Doctor Who, State of Decay (1980)

I picked up the Tom Baker Doctor Who, Season 18 Blu-Ray a while back and I wanted to re-watch the episode State of Decay.   It has been a few years since I had seen it, but it was and still is one of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who.

The idea of the race of great Vampires as the ancient enemies of the Time Lords is, in my mind a great addition to the vampire lore.  Something that I even added to my games at the time, though obviously from a more fantasy and horror elements.

The episode is 100% Hammer Horror.  I would not have been surprised to hear that the crew stole items from sets of the various BBC horror films and TV shows, in particular, the late 70s Dracula.  We get everything though here. The "Hammer Hamlet" with the scared villagers, the castle with the evil Lords (and Lady), even the warnings "not to go to the castle".

Of course, watching the special effects 40 years later have not aged well, but it is Doctor Who and you can't expect a lot. 

The great vampire reminds me a bit of the Beast from the 10th Doctor's "The Satan Pit" so that is nice bit of continuity.  The Great Vampires come from the "early times" from "even when Rassilon was young."  Easy to see a connection.

The horror elements are light, but still good for Doctor Who episode.

The behind the scenes features of the Blu-Ray are also great.  I guess at the time it caused quite a stir.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Space Vampire (1980)

The year is 2491 and Capt. William "Buck" Rogers is back at Earth from 1987, battling a...well...space vampire.  Ok, so I watched this one when it was new and enjoyed it. But I was 10.  BTW did you know all the episodes of Buck Rogers are free to watch?  The plot is thin really. Buck and Col. Dearing are going on vacation and they stop off at a space station to get Twiki repaired. I do like the idea of a vampire on a space station sadly the vampire here leaves a little to be desired. 
The story borrows heavily from Dracula, with the ship crashing into the station named "Demeter" and one of the passengers is named "Helson" as opposed to "Helsing".
One of the things that bugged about BR:25C is how Col. Dearing went from being a strong character in the pilot movie to such a weak one in later episodes. 
The vampire going after Wilma makes a lot of sense really, even if it is also a little clichéd.  Though it did give Erin Gray a chance to stretch her acting muscles a bit, which is good.

Watching both of these from the same time period is interesting.  BR:25C had better effects, but the story in Doctor Who was better.  I will even go on a limb here and say the acting was better in Who as well.

The real question is not who did the better vampires (Doctor Who) but which sidekick was more annoying, Adric or Twiki?

Watched: 25
New: 15

NIGHT SHIFT and BlackStar Content.
Ever since Doctor Who, Buck Rogers, and Lifeforce I have wanted to do a "Space Vampire."
Even in a later Doctor Who novel they had a vampire couple leave the earth by hitching a ride on a satellite bound for deep space. So I guess it is possible to have any half-crazed idea work.
Not 100% sure how I would do a Space Vampire in NIGHT SHIFT, but I think I owe it to my 10-year-old self to give it a try in BlackStar.




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