Thursday, March 23, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #68

Going back just a touch further in time to an issue I do remember fondly and one I still have the cover for!  I always liked this cover and to me it represents a "border" issue. That is I know all of the issues after it very, very well, but many of the ones before it I only read much later.  This one is not my original. I got this one in a different set of Dragons than most of the ones I am reviewing.

Having the cover also means having the full-color ads.  In particular is the one on the back inside cover for the MPC Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Action Scenes.  Swords & Dorkery has a write-up on them and the ad that featured in this issue and in issue #67.  Worth checking out!  I built a lot of MPC models back then. Lots of corvettes, space-ships and at least two R2-D2s. I was never very good but I loved doing it.

This issue takes us to December 1982.  I would have been in 8th grade at this point and Basic/Expert D&D ruled my world.

This issue also has more "punch per page count" than many of the other issue I have looked over recently.  Lots of material I used or will use later. Even, material I can still use today.

What do we have in this one...
Well if you like weird monsters (who doesn't really!) we have a collection of fungus monster in this month's Featured Creatures by Gary Gygax.  These monsters later would appear in the Monster Manual II.

There is a set of improved rules on two-weapon fighting by Roger Moore.  Great artifact of it's time, but have even better rules now.

Arthur Collins gives a really interesting article on playing during the Ice Age. I like the idea and there are some great bits of advice here too.  I think there should have been much more restrictions on the classes to be honest.  Humans are still unlimited in every class. I don't have a huge issue with that, but there should be far less choice.  I don't think there should be magic-users, illusionists, or really bards and assassins.  The article does suggest using shamans, witch-doctors and witches but no indication on which ones.   Great ideas for a start.

Sorceror's Scroll gives us a second Gygax article. This one covers a bunch of new spells that will later show up in both S4 and Unearthed Arcana.  Wording is a little different that what appears in the UA, but all are here.

Len Lakofa also makes an appearance with a Leomund's Tiny Hut article on the Cloistered Cleric. This is a non-adventuring cleric class. It has some interesting ideas of what to do with other clerics. In addition to this there are a lot of new Cleric spells.  I had a couple Cloistered Clerics as part of the religious order I was building in my world back then. Nice to see this again.

I always loved this ad.


We get to the "center fold" of this magazine, the huge article on Weather in the World of Greyhawk. It is very interesting and helpful, but maybe a little overkill.  There is a lot helpful tables; wind chill, temperature variations, wind speed. But 9 times out of 10 the weather that is happening is the weather I want to happen.  If it is raining, it is becuase I want it to rain for plot reasons.  Sure if I were doing a pure hex crawl then there is a lot of use to this.  In any case the cardboard "DM's Screen" is still intact so that is nice.

In the THIRD Gygax article we get more Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk.
Included are Celestian, Fharlanghn, Ehlonna, Pholtus, and Trithereon.

Katherine Kerr also has an article on using ability scores as percentage system.  Reminds me of what we all used to do after playing CoC and then coming back to D&D.  Times your ability score by 5% to get a percentage chance of success on something.

Article on a module design contest.  The entry form has been removed. Guess I can't send my idea in.



All in all, this is a good issue. Lots of great material and lots of useful material. I know it was a big hit for me back in 82.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Reviews: Battleaxes & Beasties and the Witches of Hagswallow

I have been wanting to get some more reviews in and I am woefully behind schedule. So along with my deep dive into the Forgotten Realms, I am also investigating more games and products built around Swords & Wizardry.

First up is Battleaxes & Beasties by +Anthony Hunter.


Battleaxes & Beasties is a core rule book from Sleeping Griffon Productions. It is based on Swords & Wizardry, but has some interesting quirks of it's own.   The book is 175 pages, black & white interior with color covers.   There are hardcover and softcover options, I am reviewing the PDF.
We spend a couple of pages going over the basic "what is roleplaying" and "what are these funny dice".  We have all seen this a 1000 times, but it does make it work well for a new player.  Indeed the whole book is great for anyone that has never played before.
Since this is based on S&W we have the same basic six Attributes and modifiers.
It is not till we get to the classes that we some changes.  Now B&B can act as a standalone game, there are enough classes here, but it can also act as a supplement to and other S&W-based game.  I could not help but feel there was a certain level of, well, camaraderie between this game and The Hero's Journey.  Both fall closer together on the "Heroic vs Muder Hobo" scale than say Dungeon Crawl Classics.  The classes include a Beguiler (which is like a Bard, but instead of songs he masters lies), the Faithful (like the cleric), Hunter (something like a Ranger), Scout ( Ranger-y Rogues), Totemist (Druid-Shaman cross),  Warrior and the Wizard.  All the classes advance to 10th level, so this is solid White Box territory.  After the human classes, we get race-specific classes.  Now, these are a lot of fun really. There is the Dwarven Guardian, Dwarven Paladin, Elf Ranger, and the Halfling Outcast.  Seriously fun stuff. We are 20 pages in and the book has paid for itself in my eyes.
There is a section on careers, which other games might call backgrounds.
Spells come next and are sorted by class and level.  There are some new ones here too, not just a rehash of the same old spells.  Additionally, magic is divided into Arcane, Miracles and Fey magics. An interesting touch if you ask me. It doesn't have a lot of game play effects, save on how Rangers learn spells, but it does provide a nice bit of flavor.
Next, we get to the default setting for this game, the Borderlands of Zarteth.  It starts with a "Z" so you know it is going to be a dangerous or at least strange place!
The setting is very D&D; that is neither good or bad, just what it is.  I got the feel reading it that was Clark Ashton Smith plus Robert E. Howard, without the extra helping of doom and despair. It's not 4e Points of Light, nor is it Hero's Journey's "Let's go on an adventure" nor is it the Grimdark of DCC.  It is in between.
The rest of the book is the Referee's Section. I say "rest" but it is really half the book. Everything you expect is here.
The gem here is the Monster section. The monsters are divided up by type first then alphabetically.  There are some nice new monsters here too, again making the book rather worthwhile.
To go with those monsters are some great magical treasures.
There is also an included adventure, reference sheets and a nice character sheet.
Battleaxes & Beasties does not break any new ground, but covers the same ground in interesting ways. Interesting enough to make it easily worth 10 bucks for the PDF.
I am caught between 4 or 5 stars out of 5 here. I'll give it a 5 to adjust the review average.

Witches of Hagswallow Adventure is an adventure for Battleaxes & Beasties.
It is 47 pages, color covers, Black & White interior. Designed fro 3-6 characters of 2-3 level. It can be run directly after the included adventure in the corebook and gives more background on the setting of the Borderlands of Zarteth.
It is a great example on how even the simpleist monsters can be used to great effect.  The "witches" are not witches of course, they are harpies.  But for all practical purposes, the might as well be.  After all these are 2nd level characters; most have just learned which end of the sword is the dangerous one!
There are a lot of great maps, a bunch of new monsters and it expands the world a little bit more for the players.
The adventure also comes with pre-generated characters.
Everything comes in the PDF, but separate files are also included.

All in all this is a very fun system.  Familar, but with a enough new materials to make it completely worthwhile.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Gary Con 2017

In a last minute change of plans it looks like I will be going to Gary Con this year!
But I will only be there on Saturday.



If anyone wants to look me up while I am there that would be great.
I  am bringing my family and we hope to get a game or two in while we are there.



We don't have any games scheduled at all, nor do we have tickets. But that is fine really we can wing it.  I will not have copies of any books to sell though.  Waiting on the printer still for the Hedgewitch.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Releases: Hedge Witches and Prestige Witches

Today is the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as Ostara.
To celebrate this time I have not just one, but two new releases today.

First up:

The Witch: Hedgewitch for the Hero's Journey RPG


Presenting the Hedgewitch for The Hero's Journey Fantasy Roleplaying game. Can be used with HJ or Swords & Wizardry Whitebox or Complete.

Included in these 66 pages are:

  • New Race: The Gnome
  • New Professions
  • The Witch class and Hedge Witch tradition
  • 80 spells new to The Hero's Journey
  • 15 new monsters

Fully compatible with The Witch, Eldritch WitcheryThe Witch for Swords & Wizardry Light and The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry.  In fact, all are designed to work together as a complete whole.  Getting these various witches to work together in your is another matter entirely.

A softcover print version is in the process of heading to the printer.  I am just waiting on OneBookShelf on this, they are taking longer than expected.

Also released is the next book in the Strange Brew series for Pathfinder.

Strange Brew: Mystical Paths & Prestige Classes


From the book:

Witches and warlocks come in all shapes, sizes, genders, philosophies, alignments, and focuses. Many of these concepts are expressed through archetypes, but some concepts require a bit ... more ... to fully be expressed.

Here are 23 Prestige Classes for your witch or warlock, allowing them to focus on specific aspects of being a witch or warlock, or a specific type of witch or warlock with more control than an archetype gives you. With them, your witch isn’t "just" a witch, she’s a Tempestarii Storm Raiser, or he isn’t "merely" a witch, but an Occult Scholar.

Help find the true destiny of your witch or warlock!

Also included are some of my favorites, the Imbolc Mage and the Queen of Witches.

Regardless of what game you prefer, I have a class for you.  Time to make some magic!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

It's a Liminal Time, A Time of Hedgewitches

Tomorrow is the Vernal Equinox also known as Ostara.
Tomorrow we will have equal amounts of light and dark.
Half-way between the start of winter and the start of summer.

It is a time for in-betweens, for liminals, for things not one thing or another.
A time for Hedgewitches.

Tomorrow you can join them.




Friday, March 17, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Fionn, Defence of Ráth Bládhma

"'I am An Cailleach Dhubh,' Bodhmhall replied cynically 'No secret is unknown to me.'"
- Bodhmhall, Bandroai of Ráth Bládhma

Fionn: Defence of Ráth Bládhma: The Fionn mac Cumhaill Series: Book One by Brian O'Sullivan

In this Part 1 of the story of Fionn mac Cumhaill, also known as Finn MacCool, the titular character barely makes an appearance.  He is there, yes, and all the events of the story are centered around him and his mother, but he is not the hero of this tale.
The heroes are the Bandroai (or Ban Drui or Druid) Bodhmhall and her protector and lover Liath Luachra.  When pregnant Muirne Muncháem shows up at Ráth Bládhma, Bodhmhall is duty bound to give her shelter even though she knows that this woman is being pursued by an army who want her and her unborn son dead.  There is also something else in the wood, something darker and evil.
Soon the siege of Ráth Bládhma is on and others are seeking protection and it is all one outcast druid and her warrior woman anamchara can do to protect Muirne and her son.

Since this is a part one there are a lot of characters to get introduced and the whole issue of the oncoming siege and the dark power in the woods.

Ultimately this book is a tale of survival. I hesitate to call it a book about war, there is war yes, but it is more about the survival of the clan and what others will do to survive.

What attracted me to this story was course it was about Fionn mac Cumhaill as well as well as Liath and Bodhmal.  I have read many of the tales about Fionn and most of the modern novelizations.  Fionn was also a central character in my own Buffy the Vampire Slayer games.  So imagine my surprise and pleasure when I discovered this tale was really more about Liath and Bodhmal!

Very little has been said about Fionn's fosterers in the tales and little more has been mentioned in the novels.   For this book to be all bout Liath and Bodhmal was more than I could have asked more.
While reading I found myself connecting to things O'Sulivan had written; we obviously have drawn from the same sources.  So I found his work to be familiar and yet completely new.  When I had read a quarter of the book I had to stop myself from saying "Liath wouldn't do that" or "That's not what Bodhmal would say." At about half way I was so completely enjoying the book that I forgot all that.  Before I finished I had already bought every book Brian O'Sullivan had written.  There are more parts to this story as well as one with Liath and her time with the warrior band Na Cineáltaí or "The Kindly Ones".

The book is largely self contained. That is you can read it and not be left on a cliff hanger if you know the tales of Fionn. I am planning to queue up the next books in the series right away to be honest.  The tale is timeless and one that can be retold many ways.

Liath & Bodhmal
I feel I should address this subject, especially if you have ever read my blog.  Many know my long time love affair with Liath and Bodhmal.  They have appeared in many of my games and have worked their way into the histories of not only the witches I write about, but my characters too.  I have spent a long time with these two. I have very definite opinions on who these characters are and what they should be doing in any given situation.  While my interpretations are different than O'Sullivan's we both agreed on some very important key points. Liath is a peerless warrior. Bodhmal was a druid with a past and not a great past at that. We also agreed on a very key point, that Liath and Bodhmal were lovers.  It's not something I had seen in other tales before. Morgan Llywelyn hinted at it, or maybe I read into it, but Brian O'Sullivan also saw that and his tale is worthy of these two.  Sure I have to get over the first meeting in my mind of Liath and Bodhmal (Liath sparing with her two brothers with a staff and keeping them both on the defense) but this is a really great book.
I can't wait to read more.


2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 9
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Bodhmhall is called a "Bandraoi" but she is a witch in my book.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Very good.
Best RPG to Emulate it: A better question is what RPG have I NOT used to emulate it!  Again, this Liath and Bodhmhall are not my Liath and Bodhmal exactly, but they are closer than any other set I have seen.  To date I have used Castles & CrusadesLabyrinth Lord, D&D 4th Edition,  and of course Unisystem.
Use in WotWQ: What do you think?  But seriously though, in the mythology of my games Bodhmal was not the first witch, but she was one of the first. The Daughters of the Flame coven come from here and in some ways so does the Aiséiligh Tradition.

You can find more of Brian O'Sullivan's books at http://irishimbasbooks.com/.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #72

Another one I have multiple copies of. Sadly none of them have the cover or the File 13 game.

Dragon Magazine Issue #72 takes us back to April 1983. Let's see...I would have been in 8th grade then.  So for me that was the start of my AD&D 1st ed years and the waning of my B/X years.

Now I have a confession. I HATE the annual April Fools issues of magazines. Maybe hate is too strong of a word. But I admit that even the small (very small) amount of humor I find in some of the issues is off-set by the loss of what could have been good material.  Last week though reminded me that even when they had a full magazine to devote that not all the material was good.

This issue is an exception. There is one other coming up (if I even have it), but the humor here is mild and the other material makes up for it.

Let's start with this wonderful Clyde Caldwell cover.  We have two excellent cavaliers fighting a cool looking dragon.  Ties in nicely with the Cavalier class.  I am also surprised that there is no bare thigh in sight!

Kim Mohan's editorial really typifies why I hate the April Fool's issues. You are actually better off not reading it. You can save time and get to the exact same issue by reading the Letters.
The Letters section is full of bemoaning of how the magazine is getting too big (80-88 pages) or too expensive ($3.00).  Here I am in 2017, nearly 35 years later thinking that we don't have enough Dragon these days.

There is an ad for the Science Fiction Book Club. I had joined a couple of different time over the course of my years.  I wonder if they are still around? (https://sfbc.com/Yes they are!) I am pleased to see I had read a good number of the books advertised, but there are few more I'd love to get my hands on again.

The big article of this issue is the Cavalier.  I always had a soft spot in my heart for the Cavalier. I liked the idea of a knight in shining armor, but who wasn't a Paladin.  There is a lot to like here and a great example of the long-form article that I really enjoyed from Dragon.  This is of course from Gary himself.  I also love that art from Keith Parkinson.  Too bad that playing a female elf cavalier riding a unicorn is WAY beyond the scope of the rules they are with!



Following this is, believe it or not, one of my favorite Ecology articles.  The Ecology of the Piercer. Seriously. Though the article has less content that I recalled (or I could be missing more pages) we decided that Piercers are a delicacy in my world, much like escargots are  in this world.  People collect young piercers for food and are worth a lot of money.  The older the piercer the less fresh they taste, so only the young are prized.  Piercers fed a steady diet of deer, elk or other game they would not normally get are even more prized.  Piercer farming has not worked out well, but adventurers are set on the task of collecting the little ones, all while avoiding the big ones!



The article on Gems is interesting, but I would rather have gone to a science book.

The Katherine Kerr article on The Real Barbarians is not one I read a lot of back then, but find very interesting now.  Easily one that should be paired with the Barbarian class that either will show up soon or just did.  Worth reading again to be sure.

Something that is an artifact of it's time is The PBM scene.  Playing by mail is a concept that I think most gamers would never think about these days. Oh I am sure if you look around you might find one or two still going.  Likely a Diplomacy, Tunnels & Trolls or a Traveler one.  It is a long ass article too.  I am not sure if I know anyone that ever did a Play By Mail game.  I considered it, back in the day, but never got around to it. Plus I could not bring myself to pay a buck every turn.

I get to the "behind the scenes" of File 13. Which made me realize I don't have a copy of the actual game.

Ugh... we get to the April Fools section.  I'll make this one fast. Valley Elf song? pass. I have the Frank Zappa album that Valley Girl came on and I got more D&D ideas from that then I do this song.
The Jock. Pass. More Sex in D&D humor.

I am jumping ahead to the book reviews.  Ok. Lots of really cool things here. In particular, I am drawn to Philip K Dick's "We Can Build You".   I remember the book since I was then and now something an armchair Lincoln scholar (what? I can layers.) but what strikes me the most these days is how much the fiction of Philip K. Dick shaped the world we live in now.  I think that is something worthy of a post on it's own someday.

The comics feature Phil n' Dixie doing their normal shtick.  Wormy is interesting though.  The wizard creating the portal is some of the best "portal" art I had seen up to that point.



The ads were good, lots of cool memories. Nothing really in the way of computer games yet.
Nice nostalifgic issue.  Not a lot I can use today except maybe the barbarian article, but still fun.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Class Struggles: The Mystic, Part 2

It's been a while since I have done one of these, but today seems to be a good day for it.
The very first Class Struggles I did way back in August of 2015 was about the Mystic class.
This week Wizards of the Coast just released a new mystic class to their Unearthed Arcana feature.
You can get it for free for your D&D 5th edition games.



The new mystic is partially like a monk, but more in tune with the Psionic classes of 4th edition.  In truth, there is a lot here that people should be able to see previous edition origins. But that is getting ahead of myself.

The mystics are Psionic characters. Not the first if you consider Monks still to be Psionic, but the first fully Psionic class complete with Psionic Strength Points/Psi Points.
Mystics are given certain "quirks" or taboos. These are odd personality traits that they must obey as part of their solitary training.  I am reminded (and not for the last time) of the Wu Jen from 1st edition  Oriental Adventures or the Mystics from the D&D Rules Cyclopedia.

Powers are split up into Talents (which use no points) and Disciplines (which use points). Talents are open to all mystics, but Disciplines are usually focused by Orders.  In many ways these have a familiar feel to them. On first glance, they are most similar to the Psionics used by +Richard LeBlanc in the Psionics Handbook Mystic.

Orders are "flavor" but like many of the "subclasses" (1st ed terms) or "kits" (2nd ed terms). I have to say I REALLY like these.  Again, this is where D&D 5 plays like "D&D's greatest hits".
We get Orders of the Avatar (emotions), Awakened (mental), Immortal (body), Nomads (like the Akashic Brotherhood), Soul Knife (combat, 4e return), and Wu Jen (Elementalist).  So lots and lots of potential here.

The one thing they need is a more esoteric sort of mystics like the ones found in +Alexander Macris'  Adventure Conquer King Player's Companion Mystic or even the Mystic from +Joseph Bloch's A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore or Adventures Dark and Deep.  Or even the mystics in the Dragonlance 3.5 setting, though those were more of godless clerics.

One could easily do an Esoteric Order that also gets some cleric spells like the Wu Jen get "arcane dabbling".

There is a lot in this class I find fascinating to be honest.  Can't wait to try it out.  Not just in terms of the class, but how Mystic Orders fit into my game world.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

To A2Z or Not To A2Z

So we are coming up on April.  Insane I know.

This is the time of year I start going into blogging overdrive to get posts together for the annual Blogging from A to Z blogfest.

I have participated every year since 2011.  It is a lot of work and ultimately enjoyable.
But it is a lot of work.

In addition to posting something A to Z I have been part of a team that helps other bloggers do their A to Z, I visit scores of sites every day to post on others blogs and try to squeeze in a post or two above and beyond normal.

This year I am just not feeling it.

I have a lot of projects that need to get done that need my attention.
I have other work I have been doing that also is making demands on my time.

Plus I am not blind to my traffic numbers. I see I get a bump from outside my normal postings, but the engagement isn't there.  I feel like with the A to Z I am ignoring my regular reader in favor of new readers that really don't stay on.  I could be wrong about that, but I am basing it on posting behavior and my Google Analytics data.

My plan this year had been Free (or Cheap) RPGs. Knowing what I know about my audiences I wanted to try to get people that are not gamers into playing with a low barrier to entry.    I like being an ambassador of gaming, but I also know I can get more people to play if I just sat up shop a couple weekends a year at my FLGS and ran demos.

I don't know.
What do you think?

Are you going to miss me doing the A to Z this year?

Monday, March 13, 2017

More Weekend Gaming in the Second Campaign

It was my youngest son's birthday last week so we spent the weekend having kids over and gaming.
I decided to run another session of my so-called "Second Campaign".
We had a variety of kids playing including some that have played before and some who never had played.  I stuck with Under Illefarn since there other adventures in the book that would work.

Also, I had 7 kids between the ages of 13-14 so I needed something to keep them all busy.
So I ran the "Rescue Mission" mini-adventure.  The conceit of having all the characters be part of the city guard is great and it worked out well for this group of mixed new and old characters. Plus we had three paladins, so that worked out well.


It took us three hours to play that adventure.

Overly caffeinated and sugar-dosed kids (birthday cake, ice cream) makes for some difficult times in focusing.  Plus I was tired, having worked on my son's computer all week and weekend to get it running (I failed, but that is a different tale for a different day).

I will give the kids credit, they caught up with the Baron that had kidnapped the Duke's sister and instead of fighting him made a VERY convincing plea to the Baron that why kidnapping is not a good way to profess your undying love to someone.  They managed to do such a good job that the Baron agreed to go back with them to the Duke and plead his case for the hand of Bronwyn (the Sister) to the Duke himself.  By the end of the adventure, they Baron and Duke were already discussing wedding plans in front of an aghast Bronwyn.  I know, not very forward thinking of me, but it was a time when people were married off for political alliances all the time.

Of course on the way they managed to fight some ghouls and rescue a band of pixies.  One of the pixies is now part of the city guard.   We had about an hour left so my oldest joined us and I had them take out a nest of ghouls.  The nest of ghouls was added by me, it was something that I have used in the past to great effect.

I have decided that I am going to spend more time on the personalities populating the Realms than my usual games.  I am still fairly sure that many of the "Big Names" won't be making an appearance, but it would be a shame if I didn't at least name-drop them.

One thing I am thinking of doing is have Demogorgon make an appearance or be a "thing" in this game.  Orcus has what, 30,000 adventures out there, Lolth has at least as many. But no one ever does anything with the Prince of Demons.

It will be this campaign that I introduce the multi-verse to the players and characters.

One character, in fact, is coming over from our Come Endless Darkness game.  Cynder is the daughter of one of the wizards of my 3rd Edition game. She made a brief appearance in the Come Endless Darkness game during one of the flashback adventures. The other characters had forgotten about her but when the flashback was done they remembered and began to wonder what happened to her.

She is going to wake up in the Realms and it will soon be discovered that she can wield Spellfire.  Why not. It is an homage to first ever Realms novel I ever read and I love that cover art from Clyde Caldwell.  How she got there is not as important as to why she got there.  Spellfire could have changed the tide of the war brewing in Come Endless Darkness.



This is going to be a great time.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Zatannurday: Zatanna by Paul Dini

Not often I get to talk about a new Zatanna specific release in the DC world, but this week had one.




Collected from Paul Dini's run of Zatanna.  A run that many of us fans consider the definitive run.

Out this week.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Awesome Returns and More Passion!

It's the weekend folks!  Or very nearly anyway.  What does Kickstarter have for us?

+Venger Satanis is back with another Kickstarter of Awesome.

Trinity of Awesome Returns!


Venger is back with, huh, a vengeance to give us more gonzo adventures.
He has hit his target funding but more money means more awesome right?  Well, he has a "blank" stretch goal at $2,000 so it will be interesting to see what people come up with if he hits that.

VS has done a great job with his Kickstarters so far; he delivers what he promises and usually gets things to people before the deadline.  I think I ended up with Alpha Blue 3-4 weeks before the promised date if I remember right.

Bottom line you know what to expect here; gonzo D&D of the Heavy Metal magazine meets Weird Tales variety and it getting done on time.

Couple weeks back I mentioned the Book of Passion from Misfit Studios.


Well, the project has been funded and they are headed to the stretch goals.

They do have a few add-ons already.

From their Facebook page:
Because of your support you've unlocked the 200 backers level which means all $20+ level backers will receive an exclusive Impassioned version of the Talented Bard.
Also we're now less than $500 away from our next big stretch goal! Tell your friends and share this project, because if we can reach our $13,600 goal then that means you'll get SIX additional class options (Anti-paladin, Gunslinger, Magus, Ninja, Samurai, & Vigilante).
There is also a free preview up on DriveThruRPG if you want to check it out.

Personally, I am enjoying the new "Love" oath for Paladins and the material on Agrat bat Mahlat.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #97

Grabbing the next issue on the pile is a very mildewy Dragon #97 from May 1985.  When this was published I would have been slightly older than my youngest son is now.  This issue either pre-dates or was published around the same time as Unearthed Arcana.  There are some letters and Forum comments on his article on demi-humans limits from issue #95.   Personally I never got the logic behind level limits for demihumans and never used them myself.

Gary is still publishing articles in Dragon at this point, though we know now that it is not going to last.  His article in this issue is about clerics and their gods.  We had a run of articles on playing clerics closer to their gods; it seemed to be a big deal in the pages, but something we, or at least I, always did.  I see now that it was not as universal as I thought.

There is an ad for the Pendragon game.  I so wanted to play this back then but never saw it stores and never knew anyone that was playing it.

Another ad for the "Dragonfire" software for DMs.  I should see if I can find a copy of this somewhere. I was always curious about it. There is a Wikipedia page for it and the manual is here. There are some interviews and other links, but I can't find the software itself.

An interesting article on improvised weapons.  Personally I wouldn't use this. The article is good and details a lot weapons like chairs, frames and other things.  But there are more improvised weapons that can be covered.  I read it then for ideas and I am sure I never used it.  These days I am more likely to use a 1d4+Strength or 1d6+Strength for any weapon.

Ecology of the Gorgon is interesting to me only because it was written by Ed Greenwood and I focusing on these things now.  I noticed that the article never mentions a Medusa at all.  As a fan of classical mythology I always though it was very odd that a Gorgon was a bull like creature. I am not sure if there was a mythological or literature-based reason for this. That is other than you can get "gored" by a bull.

Speaking of Ed, one of my favorite features is next.  Pages from the Mages is back for round four.  I collected a lot these over the years.  Some of the spells were cool, others were odd.  I loved the idea of spellbooks as treasure, and loved making my own unique spellbooks.  Wish I knew where that document got off to.   I know the Pages form the Mages book collected and edited these all, so I will ahve to add that to my list of Realms books to read over.

Game design icon Lew Pulsipher is back with an article on how to deal with captives in The Only Good Captive.

The Ares section covers some Traveller material and some Canadian supers for the Marvel Superhero game.

The trouble with nostalgia is there is the desire to look at everything old as being good. This is a case in point of how this is not the case at all.  Not that this is a bad issue. It's not. It's also not full of any insights or secrets into playing the game we all enjoy.
While I am sure that there are people that will read the improvised weapons articles and shout for joy that it is the exact thing they have been looking for, others (like me) will find it overkill.
I found more interest in the ads.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: Silverfall, Stories of the Seven Sisters

Syluné: Hail Witch-Queen of Aglarond!
The Simbul: Hail yourself Witch of Shadowdale. 
...
Syluné: Others of (our) sisters have vigor, and low contacts across Faerûn, and a love for danger. I have something rarer: patience.
The Simbul: While I have a hunger to kill Red Wizards.

I picked up this book based on recommendations by others.  I asked if there were any books that dealt with the Seven Sisters and The Simbul in particular.  This book was mentioned, but with a caveat that many people didn't like it.
I went into the book with an open mind.  I think I had it better than many becuase I have not really read a lot of Forgotten Realms books yet so I really had nothing to compare it too.  I really enjoyed the idea of the basic structure; seven short stories featuring each sister in an over-arching plot.   It is certainly a good idea, but how was it executed? Well...I'll get to that in a bit.

First up though, who are the Seven Sisters?  Well to people like me who are new to the Realms even I have heard of these women.  They are sisters (in the biological and mystical senses of the word) and daughters of the Goddess of Magic Mystra.  They had a human father and mother as well, but they are Mystra's.  "Chosen" in the book (though there are other Chosen).  They all share some basic traits, they are immortal, immune to some magics, unearthly beautiful (natch) and all have long silver hair.
They are (in order of their stories in the book):

Dove Falconhand, a renowned Knight of Myth Drannor.
Qilué Veladorn, a drow (her parent were human) and high priestess of he good drow goddess Eilistraee.
Laeral Silverhand, the Lady Mage of Waterdeep.
Alustriel, Lady of Silverymoon.
Syluné, Witch of Shadowdale and a ghost.
The Simbul, the Witch-Queen of Aglarond and maybe the most powerful.
Storm Silverhand, Harper, sorceress and Bard of Shadowdale.

One thing is obvious from the start. Greenwood loves these characters. They are very well defined in his mind and each has a unique voice. He makes you want to love them as well.  Sadly that makes some of the issues with the book more pronounced.
The overall story is an interesting one. There is a conspiracy of drow masquerading as humans, slavers, the involvement of various sell-swords, Red Wizards and Priestesses of Shar.  How are all of these various factions related? Why are they working together? What is their aim?
Each story follows a formula. The Sisters discovers the activity of some group with nefarious ends. The Sister goes in magics a-blazin' (more or less) and takes out all the mooks, some other big-badder guy comes in and beats the sister to a bloody pulp (sometimes magically, sometimes physically), she has to tag in the next sister.  Again there is nothing wrong with a formula, and if it is done well it can be a satisfying build up to a conclusion.
Sadly that is not what we get really.  The conclusion never lives up to the build up.  The troubles the sisters have never really justify the eventual revealed plot.

I had some other issues as well.  Each sister has some reason to take off her clothes and move around naked.  Even the ghost.  Granted for some, like Qilué, this is needed.  She is a High Priestess of Eilistraee so it is part of her religion.  Also there is an awful lot of the sisters kissing others "passionately" even people they just met or people they by no logical means should be kissing.  I guess this is all "fan service" really.
There is a bigger issue though.  The Sisters go in to each conflict over-confident and underestimating their enemy.  I get they are super-powerful and there needs be conflict worthy of their skills.  But sometimes they make really dumb choices to get to that point.  Not ones that powerful, intelligent, immortal magic wielding women should make.   Compare their actions to those of another powerful witch Rachel Morgan.  Rachel makes mistakes, but Rachel is in her mid-20s for most of her series and still learning.  The mistakes she make makes in her first books would not be repeated in later books.
They need to act a little more intelligent and a little less "Chaotic Bimbo".

To be fair, everyone told me this was a problem with this book.  I did enjoy it.
I was just hoping for more.


2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 8
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Certainly The Simbul and Syluné. Maybe even Qilué.  Myra the Dark is described as a cleric, but is very much a witch of Shar.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Mostly good, Myra is obviously evil.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Again, any edition of D&D would work, but this one is 3rd Edition. It does allow for better multiclassing. Most of the material though is based on the 2nd Edition versions I think.
Use in WotWQ: Hell yes! Like with Spellfire, this book is filled with ideas. I will certainly use these characters in my games. Now that I am playing in the Realms maybe the "Witch Queen" that is killed to start the War of the Witch Queens is The Simbul? I would hate to do that, but it would be a seismic shift in the game.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Second Campaign has Begun: Enter the Forgotten Realms

Another huge weekend of gaming this past weekend.  My son ran a game Saturday night with his group and on Sunday we started our new Forgotten Realms game.

We were having some old friends over on Sunday, people my wife went to high school with.  These are the people that traded high-tech jobs here in the suburbs to go out to the country and start a sustainable farm.  Not my life, I love my city-born conveniences too much, but they have turned it into something really cool.  Anyway, two of their three kids were coming over plus a friend and playing video games all day was not going to keep their attention.  All the kids expressed an interest in playing so I had about 12 hours to figure out what to do.

Of course the answer was right in front of me.  I pulled out my adventures for the Second Campaign and looked over some of the material I have been reading about the Forgotten Realms.  I had been thinking for a bit now that the best way to learn about the Realms is to jump in feet first. Sure I can read books, but what I really need to play in it using the books people used then.   After that everything clicked into place.  I was going to start the Second Campaign in the Forgotten Realms!  I know a lot of the adventures in my Second Campaign are very Greyhawk focused, but that is not a big deal really.  Not like I have not swapped out worlds before.  

A quick run to DriveThruRPG for a copy of N5 Under Illefarn and then print it out and I had my ready to go adventure.  I liked the module because A.) it had a bunch of mini-adventures for 1st level characters. B.) It gave them a base of operations in Daggerford. and C.) it was the first published Forgotten Realms labeled adventure so many people got their start right here.


Originally the Second Campaign was going to stick with AD&D1 rules, but since I had three new players I wanted to run something that might know and can easily pick up if they want to play themselves.   So after some debate with my oldest we settled on 5th Edition D&D.


I am going to run it though like an AD&D game. So no tieflings or dragonborn. More gnomes though, never have enough of those.

We ran through the "lizard man" portion of the adventure and it went over great. I have created a new gamers.

The charters will be a revolving cast by necessity; I need to make it flexible for people to be able to come in and out of the game whenever. Or if my kids have friends over and they want me to run something.  Starting in Daggerford gives me a nice locale and is still small enough scale that I don't need to worry about the world at large just yet.


I am going to follow the same basic plot/outline of the Second Campaign and add Realms lore in as it comes up.  Not sure yet how many of the famous characters of the Realms will show up, but that is a decision for a later day.

There are some things I need figure out.
1. What year, by Dale Reckoning, is it?  I started with Under Illefarn which is the beginning of the Realms in 1st Ed AD&D.  I am also using the Sword Coast book above for 5th Ed.  If I remember right there are a few hundred years between the two.  Now this may or may not matter.  But I at least want to get my NPC stories straight.

2. I need some good Spellfire 5th edition stats.  Cynder, who was lost in the Come Endless Darkness game, will show up here.  She is, more so than anyone, a perfect candidate for Spellfire.

3. Is this a different world in the same universe (evidence of that), a different universe OR even jsut the same world in the same universe, just another part of it.  The fact that it is 5th edition leads me to want to make it the same universe at least.

None of these questions need to be figure out today.  But I am going to want a direction to run here soon. That is where my reading will take me.

Here I am. In the Realms.  Just 30 years later than everyone else.
I gotta say, I really enjoying it so far.

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Excuse me, can you repeat that in Olde Arcane?"

On Friday's I have been watching and enjoying more, more the new series on NBC "Emerald City".  It is yet another re-telling of the Wizard of Oz story.  As you can imagine I am a HUGE fan of Mistress West aka The Wicked Witch of the West played by Ana Ularu.

Mistress of the Western Fields, Vessel of Truth and Solace, Wicked Witch of the West
(though one wonders if Fairuza Balk was unavailable)
What I have been really enjoying is the conlang, Inha, the language spoken by all the witches in Oz.
You can read more about that here and check out the website of the creator David J. Peterson who also created Dothraki.

All witches in Oz are born knowing this language. There are for variants (fire-south, wind-east, stone-north, water-west)  but all witches understand it naturally.


I love this idea.  In my own games I never quite took it this far, but I have always played it that all witches can recognize another witch instantly.

This got me thinking about magical languages in RPGs.
In the real world the written word of magic was always held by the scholars and the clergy. So predominantly in Latin.  Most of the books in the Western tradition of magic were in Latin with some other in Arabic and Hebrew.    In D&D the obvious choices for magical languages are Draconic and Elvish.    In my own games, I have used Irish Gaelic as the language of "faerie magic".

Witches though would not have a learned language like these. All their writings, when written at all, would be in their own native languages.  But the idea of a language they are all born knowing is a very, very compelling on to me.
Personally, I like to think that witches have more in common with each other regardless of alignment than say a witch and a wizard of the same alignment.  This could be my biases showing. Very likely it is.  What really unites a people is language.

While in game design terms I could justify a "Witch language", after all Druids and Theives have their own languages, I don't think I will.  If I did I would also give all wizards the draconic language for free.  In fact there is MORE reason to do that. Hmm.  Ok. From now on all Wizards get "Auld High Wyrmish" (can you tell I have been reading a lot of old Dragons lately) for free.  This gives them a chance to speak Draconic.

Now one thing I can justify is giving the Sisters of the Aquarian Order their own language.
They start to train girls at a very young age, they have their own planet and history. A history that goes back thousands of years or more.

Speaking of which.

The Sisters of the Aquarian Order is on sale again for GM's Day.  Pick up a copy and let me know.



Thursday, March 2, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #86

Let's start of This Old Dragon with one of the first Dragons I ever owned, Dragon #86. I am also picking this issue because I have three copies of it and maybe between the three I have enough left to have one full issue.

This issue is dated June 1984.  I would have just finished my freshman year in High school and was going to be a sophomore.  So slightly older than my youngest son and younger than my oldest son is now.

This issue features one (I think it is the second) Chess cover by Denis Beauvais.   This is also one of my favorites of the series. I just kinda like the skull face in the background.  Plus I always thought that this is what a battle between a Paladin and an Anti-Paladin should be like.

Starting in the middle is the "Great Stoney Castle".  I am fortunate enough to have two complete "kits" here between the three issues that if I ever get the desire to build it again I can.  I remember building this back in the summer of 84.  I liked the safety pins to make little flags on top of the towers. Thought it was pretty clever.   The castle became "Castle Glantri" in my game world and I even created dungeons underneath.  In my world's history Castle Glantri was destroyed in the "Shadow Wars" aka me going to college and thinking I would not get a chance to play anymore. I kept that through out the years and even into my current game.  I think with the discovery of these magazines I will say the castle has finally been rebuilt.

Great Stoney was so popular in fact that the Wizards of the Coast digital incarnation of Dragon, known as Dragon+ recently reprinted Great Stoney for everyone. For free!
http://dnd.wizards.com/dragonplus/issue11  and
http://www.dragonmag.com/5.0/#!/article/113120/102960505  and
http://media.wizards.com/2016/dnd/downloads/DRA_11_GreatStoney_DRA97.pdf



Ecology of the Slithering Tracker was also a literal game changer for me.  I always thought of the Slithering Tracker as kind of a useless monster.  But this article made me see it completely different.  From here on out I started thinking about all my monsters as from the point of view of a normal human or a 1st level character.  The Slithering Tracker is a deadly to these folks and a real monster.  It helped me focus on building more interesting monsters and making the ones I had more interesting.  Yeah, that's all "no shit" stuff today, but to a 14-year-old, that was something ground breaking.



I really, really wanted to like the article on new Familiars. There was a lot to like about it in theory, but in execution...maybe not so much.  It is no small claim to say this article did change how I did familiars, if nothing else so I didn't do it like this article.  No slight on the article. It just did not resonate with me like I wanted it too.
I re-re-read it this morning before posting and it was better than I recalled.  I think I might give some of them a try.

The New Magic items were interesting, but I am not sure I ever used one of them or not.  I recall other magic items from the pages of Dragon, but not these.  Again, this is the problem looking at these magazines 33 years later. I don't measure the value of the article on its own merits, but on how it related to me then and how I remember it now.

Another great article, for me anyway, was the start of the Gods of the Suel Pantheon.  I was always fascinated with the Suel Empire in Greyhawk and wanted to learn more. Still do in fact. I also enjoyed reading about these gods.  If I was ambitious I'd collect these all (see if I have all first) and then put them together to discuss.   Sure, I have the Dragon Magazine Archive that has them all, but that's not quite the same thing is it.
Following up on that article is one on the Dragon and their Deities.  I will have to share this one with my oldest son.  Basically it is about dragon clerics. Something we would take for granted today but a very new idea then.

This might have been the first issue where I saw an ad for Bard Games and HAD to have the Complete Spellcaster.  Yes, even then I was all about the witches.

The comics had the usual fare of Wormy, Snarf Quest and Dragon's Mirth. There was also a comic here called "Talanalan" which I had assumed meant "Tal an' Alan".  It struck me as a comic I would have read in "Boy's Life" that is fairly tame and only sometimes funny.  In the nostalgia fueled OSR and Middle Age I never hear of this one mentioned.


What are your memories of this issue?  I am curious to learn if anyone else used the Great Stoney Castle?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is, February 2017

Here are the February sales for The Witch: Aiséiligh Tradition for Swords & Wizardry.


Might need to click to make it bigger.

Comes to a total of $62.97 in Earnings.  I'll round it up to $65.00.

As I promised when I posted about this at the start of February I am donating all earnings to the ACLU.



 and



I would love to donate more next month!


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

I have been wanting to stat up some of the classic witches of the D&D game and one of the ones I had forgotten about was Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens, from Return to White Plume Mountain for 2nd ed and Outside the Moutain for 3rd ed.

For 2nd ed she is depicted as a 12 HD hag.  For 3rd Ed she is a CR 12 green hag wizard.

But we all know what class she should be.

I want to try out her out using my Basic Witch class, but I also think I really need to also stat her out as one of +Jonathan Becker 's The Complete B/X Adventurer Witches (his blog IS B/X Blackrazor afterall) and Sage of Greyhawk, +Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep Darker Paths Witch class.

All will do a good job in representing this sort of witch.

According to the 2nd Edition "Return to White Plume Mountain" she is:

Thingizzard
AC -2 (natural hide and Dex bonus); Mv 12, swim 12; HD 12; hp 80; THACO 9 (3 with Wave and Str bonus); #AT 3/2 (Wave); Dmg ld10+9; MR 25%; SZ M (5’ tall); ML fanatic (17); Str 18/00, Dex 17, Con 19, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 12; AL NE; XP 7,000.

Special Abilities: full movement rate through quicksand and swamp; brew any potion.
Spell-like Abilities (at 12th level): l/day-animate dead, call lightning, control weather, curse, dream, forcecage, mind blank, polymorph other, polymorph self, veil, vision.
Special Equipment: five potions of extra-healing, potion of gaseous form, potion of super-heroism.

These stats also assume she has Wave.

I think for the sake of building and good comparison, I am going to make her a 13th level witch in all cases.  Also in each case I am going to swap what her highest ability should be. So for my witch it will be Charisma.  Wisdom for the Darker Paths Witch. Intelligence and Wisdom are the primes for the Complete B/X Adventurer Witch, but I think I'll give her the higher Intelligence here to balance it out.

Of course in the original, she is a hag.  So in these versions I will keep that by keeping her really high physical stats.

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

Basic Era Witch
13th Level Hag (Faerie) Tradition

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 12
Charisma 15

hp: 63
THAC0: 16

Death Ray: 9
Magic Wands: 10
Paralysis, Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs, Spells: 11

Occult Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Potions
Lesser: Speak with Animals/Plants
Minor: Fey Shape

Spells
Cantrips: (4) Alarm Ward, False Glamour, Mote of Light, Object Reading
First: (4+2) Blight Growth, Burning Hands, Detect Invisible, Endure Elements, Hold Winds, Sour Stomach
Second: (4+1) Discord, Evil Eye, Fever, Nausea, Scare
Third: (3) Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Toad Mind
Forth: (3) Confusion, Polymorph, Vomit
Fifth: (2) Animate Dead, Dream
Sixth: (2) Control Weather, True Seeing
Seventh: (1) Greater Arcane Eye

Darker Paths 2: The Witch by +Joseph Bloch
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 15
Charisma 12

hp: 72
THAC0: 12

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons
Bell, Book and Candle
Create Magic Items

Spells
First: (5) Charm Person, Predict Weather, Taunt, Witch Shot, Wither
Second: (5) Blight Field, Change Self, Charm Monster, Misfortune, Precipitation
Third: (4) Bestow Curse, Control Winds, Fear, Insect Swarm
Forth: (4) Jealousy, Polymorph Self, Prophecy, Sleep
Fifth: (4) Breath Poison, Control Weather, Polymorph Other, Season of the Witch
Sixth: (3) Blink, Cackle, Magic Cauldron
Seventh*: (3) Call Lightning, Death Curse, Great Rite

*Ok, she should not get seventh level spells due to her wisdom, but hey, my character.

The Complete B/X Adventurer by +Jonathan Becker
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 14
Charisma 12

hp: 65
THAC0:

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons and magical Potions
Bind Wounds
Book of Shadows

Spells
First: Hex, Light, Resist Elements, Speak with Animals
Second: Dreams, Fog, Locate Object
Third: Call Animals, Hoodoo, Object Reading, Quagmire
Forth: Mind Jab, Polymorph Others, Polymorph Self, Tarantella
Fifth: Control Weather, Greater Hoodoo, Insect Plague, Visions

I am hard pressed to say which witch I like better for her.  All three have something essentially "Thingizzard" about her.  Each witch has some spells that are particularly nice for her.

I will have to come back to this and see about doing 5e version once Tales from the Yawning Portal is released next month.

Bonus Question: How do you pronounce her name? I am partial to "Thing-iz-zard" myself, but "Thin Gizzard" also has a nice swampy feel to it.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Weekend Gaming: New Blood and Would-be Queens

Huge gaming weekend this past weekend.

Friday night my youngest son ran his game of D&D ever for three of his friends.  It went great and the kids sounded like they had a great time.  One even showed up with a homemade character sheet with his character ready to go.  I guess his dad had helped him put it all together.

Sunday we played an extra long session of our 5e game.  The boys had just finished the Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl and were headed to their next adventure when they saw a girl, potentially a snow elf, running across the tundra chased by Winter Wolves.  This was the start of the first mini-adventure "The Frost Giant Jarl's Daughter".

The adventure is obviously based on the Conan story, The Frost Giant's Daughter.  But there were other influences as well.   The first encounter was with the wolves.  Winter wolves are actually pretty tough in D&D5.  Next I had them run into the skeletons of long dead Frost Giants.  I didn't have minis for that, but I do have my collection of old AD&D toys.


They worked out well.  I included them as my homage to this famous Dragon magazine cover.



They chased the girl to a cave where they found her behind a wall of ice.  They were attacked by the brothers of the Frost Giant's Daughter then.

For this part I adopted a little bit of 4e as mentioned in this post.  This made the frost giants a little tougher and gave them some interesting and unique powers.


Finally, after defeating the brothers, the girl reveals herself to be the Frost Giant Jarl's daughter, and now the new ruler of the Frost Giants. I guess she was a Countess.


The adventure takes place right after G2 (I am calling it G2.5, but I guess G2.45 is a better code).  The party must cross a glacier to get to the next point in the series.

I went to 4e for help on crafting the encounters; a group of Winter Wolves, Frost Giant Skeletons and finally her two four Frost Giant brothers.  The Jarl's Daughter is a Frost Giant Ice Shaper from 4e.  She has/had ice powers and was the one that crafted the ice wall.


The adventure could end in two ways (well three if you count the PCs getting killed, but that was not a design goal). Either the brothers are all killed and the daughter entreats with the PCs to come to a truce or the PCs kill everyone.  The Daughter is quite powerful and I'd prefer the PCs not having to fight her.

I am thinking of working up the adventure for downloading.  The idea is to "be playable after any adventure dealing with Frost Giants but before moving on to Fire Giants".  This works with G2 and G3 and the Storm King's Thunder adventures.

After we did that the Order of the Platinum Dragon moved on to discover a Cloud Giant Castle full of Mountain, Fog, and Firbolg giants.  Basically all the AD&D Monster Manual II and Fiend Folio Giants.

Here the bastard daughter of the Storm Giant King and a Cloud Giant witch has taken control of a cloud giant castle and is dealing with the drow.  I based her on the 4e Eldritch Giant and made her a Cloud Giant warlock with a Primordial pact.  Her pact is with the Elder Elemental Eye.

For this adventure, I combined a number of "Cloud Giant" related adventures.


Again, both of these mini-adventures come from my misreading of "Storm King's Thunder" as "Storm King's Daughter".

Going through the Storm King's Thunder, Saga of the Giants, and Curse of the Cloud Giant Queen. I noticed a lot of similarities. Not that this is a big deal really; all the adventures are drawing on the same source materials. Namely the classic G series and the mythology in D&D about Cloud Giants.

The adventure in the Storm King's Thunder is nice and tight and I loved the masks.  The Curse of the Cloud Giant Queen has a great dungeon and some ideas as well. The Saga of the Giants' Cloud Giant Castle is also a nice adventure.



Reading them all over I got the idea of a floating castle in the clouds, ruled by a Cloud Giant Queen. I have always, always wanted to do a floating castle! She is supplying materials to the Frost and Fire Giants below.  Plus the Drow getting the Cloud and Storm Giants would be a huge coup.

The PCs were able to get in and defeat the imposter Cloud Giant Queen and free the Storm Giant King.  The Fog Giants gained control of the Castle again to get it back into the hands of Cloud Giants.  I decided that not all giants chafe under the yoke of larger giants; fog giants are happy to serve the cloud giants.

Given that so much of this cloud giant adventure was really a mis-mash of other people's work, I won't work that one up into anything to be used by others.

So now the Order has defeated Hill, Stone, Frost and Cloud giant enemies. They have faced Storm, Mountain, Fog, Firbolg, Ettin and Cyclops giants.  All that is left are Fire.

Next time we meet at the table it is G3 Halls of the Fire Giant King!

Will the Frost Giant Queen or even the Cloud Giant Queen return in my War of the Witch Queens? They were a witch and a warlock respectively.  Who knows.
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