Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 24 July Mina Murray's Journal & Log of the Demeter

 Mina and Lucy have an odd encounter with an old fisherman. The Demeter continues on. 

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals

Mina Murray's Journal

24 July Whitby.—Lucy met me at the station, looking sweeter and lovelier than ever, and we drove up to the house at the Crescent in which they have rooms. This is a lovely place. The little river, the Esk, runs through a deep valley, which broadens out as it comes near the harbour. A great viaduct runs across, with high piers, through which the view seems somehow further away than it really is. The valley is beautifully green, and it is so steep that when you are on the high land on either side you look right across it, unless you are near enough to see down. The houses of the old town—the side away from us—are all red-roofed, and seem piled up one over the other anyhow, like the pictures we see of Nuremberg. Right over the town is the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which is the scene of part of “Marmion,” where the girl was built up in the wall. It is a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits; there is a legend that a white lady is seen in one of the windows. Between it and the town there is another church, the parish one, round which is a big graveyard, all full of tombstones. This is to my mind the nicest spot in Whitby, for it lies right over the town, and has a full view of the harbour and all up the bay to where the headland called Kettleness stretches out into the sea. It descends so steeply over the harbour that part of the bank has fallen away, and some of the graves have been destroyed. In one place part of the stonework of the graves stretches out over the sandy pathway far below. There are walks, with seats beside them, through the churchyard; and people go and sit there all day long looking at the beautiful view and enjoying the breeze. I shall come and sit here very often myself and work. Indeed, I am writing now, with my book on my knee, and listening to the talk of three old men who are sitting beside me. They seem to do nothing all day but sit up here and talk.

The harbour lies below me, with, on the far side, one long granite wall stretching out into the sea, with a curve outwards at the end of it, in the middle of which is a lighthouse. A heavy sea-wall runs along outside of it. On the near side, the sea-wall makes an elbow crooked inversely, and its end too has a lighthouse. Between the two piers there is a narrow opening into the harbour, which then suddenly widens.

It is nice at high water; but when the tide is out it shoals away to nothing, and there is merely the stream of the Esk, running between banks of sand, with rocks here and there. Outside the harbour on this side there rises for about half a mile a great reef, the sharp edge of which runs straight out from behind the south lighthouse. At the end of it is a buoy with a bell, which swings in bad weather, and sends in a mournful sound on the wind. They have a legend here that when a ship is lost bells are heard out at sea. I must ask the old man about this; he is coming this way....

He is a funny old man. He must be awfully old, for his face is all gnarled and twisted like the bark of a tree. He tells me that he is nearly a hundred, and that he was a sailor in the Greenland fishing fleet when Waterloo was fought. He is, I am afraid, a very sceptical person, for when I asked him about the bells at sea and the White Lady at the abbey he said very brusquely:—

“I wouldn’t fash masel’ about them, miss. Them things be all wore out. Mind, I don’t say that they never was, but I do say that they wasn’t in my time. They be all very well for comers and trippers, an’ the like, but not for a nice young lady like you. Them feet-folks from York and Leeds that be always eatin’ cured herrin’s an’ drinkin’ tea an’ lookin’ out to buy cheap jet would creed aught. I wonder masel’ who’d be bothered tellin’ lies to them—even the newspapers, which is full of fool-talk.” I thought he would be a good person to learn interesting things from, so I asked him if he would mind telling me something about the whale-fishing in the old days. He was just settling himself to begin when the clock struck six, whereupon he laboured to get up, and said:—

“I must gang ageeanwards home now, miss. My grand-daughter doesn’t like to be kept waitin’ when the tea is ready, for it takes me time to crammle aboon the grees, for there be a many of ’em; an’, miss, I lack belly-timber sairly by the clock.”

He hobbled away, and I could see him hurrying, as well as he could, down the steps. The steps are a great feature on the place. They lead from the town up to the church, there are hundreds of them—I do not know how many—and they wind up in a delicate curve; the slope is so gentle that a horse could easily walk up and down them. I think they must originally have had something to do with the abbey. I shall go home too. Lucy went out visiting with her mother, and as they were only duty calls, I did not go. They will be home by this.

Log of the Demeter

24 July.—There seems some doom over this ship. Already a hand short, and entering on the Bay of Biscay with wild weather ahead, and yet last night another man lost—disappeared. Like the first, he came off his watch and was not seen again. Men all in a panic of fear; sent a round robin, asking to have double watch, as they fear to be alone. Mate angry. Fear there will be some trouble, as either he or the men will do some violence.


Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

We are treated to picturesque Whitby on the North Sea.

So who is this guy? We will learn later he is named "Swales." A version of this character appears in the 1979 John Badham "Dracula" played by the late Teddy Turner. He does make an appearance in the 1977 BBC mini-series closer to the character here. 

He is nearly 100 years old by his tale, and claims to have been at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. So if he was in his late teens or younger 20s then he would be close to 100 now in (my suggested) 1892. 

His language, supposedly a Doric dialect, almost needs a translation guide. 

"I wouldn’t fash masel’ about them, miss." = "I would not trouble myself about them, miss."

"Feet Folks" = "Tourists"

"I must gang ageeanwards home now." = "I must be getting home now."

"for it takes me time to crammle aboon the grees, for there be a many of ’em" = "it takes me time to hobble (move) about the graves because there are so many of them."

"I lack belly-timber sairly by the clock." = "I am very hungry according to the clock" = "It's dinner time."

For the steps? There are 200 of them, according to many Dracula scholars.

Meanwhile the Demeter makes it slow and inventible way to where Mina now sits. 

Adventure Week: The Mosidian Temple

The Mosidian Temple
 Here is another one I have been waiting for for a bit. The Mosidian Temple is from David Flor of Darklight Interactive. With this you actually get three products. There is the The Mosidian Temple, OSRIC version, the "Developer's Cut", and the original 1983 version.

The Mosidian Temple

by David Flor, 50 pages, color covers, black & white interior art.  Art and maps from David Flor, Dean Spencer, and Dyson Logos.

So, there is a lot to love about this adventure. First, I LOVE that it is an update of something David wrote in 1983. I wish I had saved some of my adventures from then. 

You don't need all three to run the adventures, but the original and the developer's cut are so much fun. 

The adventure is a dungeon crawl, pure and simple. Don't go looking for deep plots or characters; that is a "feature" and not a "bug."  There is a background here that is reminiscent of B1 In Search of the Unknown and T1 Villiage of Hommlet. An ancient temple, set up by some former adventurers, falls into ruins. A Macguffin hunt. Evil cults. There is nothing *new* here but that is fine, in fact that is great.  

Like all good adventures of the 1980s, this one features new monsters, new magic, and plenty of interesting locales. 

Monsters are given brief stats with notes to their page numbers in the Monster Manual. Not 100% sure that is fine with the OGL, but that is just me nickpicking. There are a LOT of monsters here too. This adventure will challenge the characters. It is listed for character levels 6 to 10, and I believe it. 

Half the fun of this adventure is reading the original version and the developer notes. 

The regular and developer editions are currently $5.99, and the Original 1983 edition is PWYW. So the price is quite good really.

How I Plan to Use This

Not quite sure just yet. It has a lot of potential but mostly it is just a fun adventure. No plot, no over arching narrative, just rolling dice like it is 1983. And honestly, what more do you need?

Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Adventure Week: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

The Temple of the Serpent Queen
 Today's adventure is the eagerly anticipated adventure from The Danger Forge. If you have been on Facebook in any of the old-school groups, you have seen postings from The Danger Forge. I don't know much about them personally, but they seem to have a genuine love for all sorts of old-school style play.  And it seems, they have done their homework.

TQ1: The Temple of the Serpent Queen

This is their first adventure and you can get four different versions of it. I bought all four because I wanted to see the differences and how much work they put into making them different for the specific rules.

All four are largely the same and have only minor differences based on their OSR rules set of choice. All four are available as PDF and POD options.

It doesn't really matter which one you grab. Get the one for the rule system you are most comfortable with. 

While this is a great way to give people what they want, it also splits their sales among four different titles, making it harder for them to get a "Best Seller" medal. However, it will tell them which ruleset sells better for them.  

I am going to review all four as one. 

This adventure centers around the reawakening of Khaliassa, the ancient Serpent Queen of lost Samarra. She is a compelling NPC/Foe so building the adventure around was a good start.


The adventure is 56 pages with maps (in proper Old-School blue), License declarations, and covers. The covers are full color, and the interior art is black & white. Designed for 4 to 6 characters of 5th to 7th level.

The adventure is divided into four chapters, roughly a chapter for each major location. There is some background, largely background on Khaliassa and her realm. Other than that, this adventure can be dropped into just about any campaign that has a rainforest-like environment. 

This adventure also includes plenty of new monsters, new magic, some NPCs to add to the adventure, and pre-generated characters.

The adventure itself is a simple affair. Someone has awakened an angry demi-goddess, and now she wants to rise to power again. There is even a neat little mechanic for much more powerful she gets as time goes on.

This one hits all the nostalgia buttons. 

The art is good, but the layout and presentation are excellent. The Danger Forge knows when to invoke nostalgia and when not to be a slave to it. 

Khaliassa reminds me of Shahmaran from Turkish myth, and I think I see some subtle hints that this is what The Danger Forge was going for, albeit an evil version. 

The adventure is fun and can be run in a couple of longer sessions, to be honest. If this is their first then The Danger Forge is off to a great start.

How I Plan to Use This

I have to admit when I first saw I thought I might be able to slot it in as a potential adventure for War of the Witch Queens, but the more I read it I had other ideas.

Deserts of Desolation & Death

My Deserts of Desolation & Death, the second act of the Second Campaign, is one I have been thinking about a lot lately. This would fit in perfectly between I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City and I3 Pharaoh. Maybe as a companion adventure to I2 Tomb of the Lizard King. I can see the Lizard King and the Serpent Queen in a centuries long war. 

Considering how I am converting my "Second Campaign" over to Castles & Crusades, this would fit in just fine.

Now. Do I print it out to put in my Second Campaign binder, or do I buy a POD?

Monday, July 22, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 22 July Log of the Demeter (Cont)

 More log of the ill-fated Demeter.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals

22 July.—Rough weather last three days, and all hands busy with sails—no time to be frightened. Men seem to have forgotten their dread. Mate cheerful again, and all on good terms. Praised men for work in bad weather. Passed Gibralter and out through Straits. All well.



Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Calm before the storm?

Adventure Week: Faerie Tales (Quest of the Ancients)

Quest of the Ancients: Faerie Tales
I wrapped up two big projects last week and turned in my final draft of my materials for Thirteen Parsecs. So my schedule is back to being open. This week I am going to focus on a few adventures I have recently acquired and how I might use them.  Today is a rather special one.

Quest of the Ancients: Faerie Tales

Today's adventure was a bit of a surprise. I have been playing around with Quest of the Ancients recently, I was talking with QotA creator Vince Garcia and I bought a new core rules book from him for my son to use. I also picked up one of the last pieces for my collection, the adventure anthology Faerie Tales

I have to admit I had not had any plans for it until I began to read through it. Now I am really happy to have it.

The anthology consists of three small adventures and three longer ones.

Black Shuck (1st to 3rd level) is a "pocket" adventure featuring the black dog of English folklore and myth. It is a smaller adventure and one that can easily be dropped in anywhere. The PCs must get across a swamp (or a wet moor as I plan to use it) and avoid the demonic hound.

Dreamspinner's Art Gallery (Any level) introduces the party to one Islay's (the realm of QotA) powerful witches. She is a 15th level artistic witch and the adventure has a lot of flexibility to use as the starting point for plenty of other adventures. 

Hot Sands (3rd to 5th level) is our last pocket adventure and takes place in a desert. 

The Witch's Tower (1st to 4th level) deals with the return of witch that had been bound to her tower. The first of the three longer adventures.

The Star Splinter (4th to 5th level) is the second of the three longer adventures dealing with an ancient meteor. 

Belshazzar's Music Show (Any level) deals with a travelling music show that is more than meets the eye.

Every adventure comes with detailed NPCs and new monsters.  There is even a three-page writer's guideline in the back for people who want to write for QotA.

The adventures are not Earth-shaking, but they are fun and I am happy to have them. Converting them to say OSR-style D&D is such a non-issue that at one point, I forgot I was reading something designed for a different game. There are charts in back to help with this.

Quest of the Ancients

How I Plan to Use These

I have been thinking a lot about adventures lately. I have a few I want to get done for various projects/publishers, and a few I want to run.

War of the Witch Queens

A lot of these are perfect for my War of the Witch Queens. I feel like I need to include something from Vince in that campaign. I did a little with DL15 Mists of Krynn, but these are a better fit. In particualr I want to include Dreamspinner's Art Gallery and The Witch's Tower as a single adventure arc.  Black Shuck could fit in there are well. 

Deserts of Desolation & Death

My Deserts of Desolation & Death, the second act of the Second Campaign, is one I have been thinking about a lot lately. Hot Sands helps me fill in some gaps.

I am sure I can find homes for the other adventures as well. 

Saturday, July 20, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 20 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient. Has he made a new discovery?

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals

20 July.—Visited Renfield very early, before the attendant went his rounds. Found him up and humming a tune. He was spreading out his sugar, which he had saved, in the window, and was manifestly beginning his fly-catching again; and beginning it cheerfully and with a good grace. I looked around for his birds, and not seeing them, asked him where they were. He replied, without turning round, that they had all flown away. There were a few feathers about the room and on his pillow a drop of blood. I said nothing, but went and told the keeper to report to me if there were anything odd about him during the day.


11 a. m.—The attendant has just been to me to say that Renfield has been very sick and has disgorged a whole lot of feathers. “My belief is, doctor,” he said, “that he has eaten his birds, and that he just took and ate them raw!”


11 p. m.—I gave Renfield a strong opiate to-night, enough to make even him sleep, and took away his pocket-book to look at it. The thought that has been buzzing about my brain lately is complete, and the theory proved. My homicidal maniac is of a peculiar kind. I shall have to invent a new classification for him, and call him a zoöphagous (life-eating) maniac; what he desires is to absorb as many lives as he can, and he has laid himself out to achieve it in a cumulative way. He gave many flies to one spider and many spiders to one bird, and then wanted a cat to eat the many birds. What would have been his later steps? It would almost be worth while to complete the experiment. It might be done if there were only a sufficient cause. Men sneered at vivisection, and yet look at its results to-day! Why not advance science in its most difficult and vital aspect—the knowledge of the brain? Had I even the secret of one such mind—did I hold the key to the fancy of even one lunatic—I might advance my own branch of science to a pitch compared with which Burdon-Sanderson’s physiology or Ferrier’s brain-knowledge would be as nothing. If only there were a sufficient cause! I must not think too much of this, or I may be tempted; a good cause might turn the scale with me, for may not I too be of an exceptional brain, congenitally?

How well the man reasoned; lunatics always do within their own scope. I wonder at how many lives he values a man, or if at only one. He has closed the account most accurately, and to-day begun a new record. How many of us begin a new record with each day of our lives?

To me it seems only yesterday that my whole life ended with my new hope, and that truly I began a new record. So it will be until the Great Recorder sums me up and closes my ledger account with a balance to profit or loss. Oh, Lucy, Lucy, I cannot be angry with you, nor can I be angry with my friend whose happiness is yours; but I must only wait on hopeless and work. Work! work!

If I only could have as strong a cause as my poor mad friend there—a good, unselfish cause to make me work—that would be indeed happiness.


Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Seward is getting a little ahead of himself here, but that is understandable. Every doctor, at one time or another, thinks they have a case that will blow apart our understanding of medical or brain science. 

In the movies, Bram Stoker's Dracula in particular, this is also explained by the fact that Seward was also taking opiates. An almost unnecessary addition, really. You spend enough time working with, and around the mentally ill you begin to lose track of what is normal. 

In any case, Renfield's own experiments seem to be at an impasse. He can eat flies and spiders, but birds make him sick. That means there is at least one Little Old Lady that is better at this than he is.  Now, there is a chilling thought.

Friday, July 19, 2024

Dracula, The Hunters' Journals: 19 July Dr. Seward's Diary (kept on phonograph)

Dr. Seward keeps us apprised of his patient and things are getting more dangerous.

Dracula - The Hunters' Journals

19 July.—We are progressing. My friend has now a whole colony of sparrows, and his flies and spiders are almost obliterated. When I came in he ran to me and said he wanted to ask me a great favour—a very, very great favour; and as he spoke he fawned on me like a dog. I asked him what it was, and he said, with a sort of rapture in his voice and bearing:—

“A kitten, a nice little, sleek playful kitten, that I can play with, and teach, and feed—and feed—and feed!” I was not unprepared for this request, for I had noticed how his pets went on increasing in size and vivacity, but I did not care that his pretty family of tame sparrows should be wiped out in the same manner as the flies and the spiders; so I said I would see about it, and asked him if he would not rather have a cat than a kitten. His eagerness betrayed him as he answered:—

“Oh, yes, I would like a cat! I only asked for a kitten lest you should refuse me a cat. No one would refuse me a kitten, would they?” I shook my head, and said that at present I feared it would not be possible, but that I would see about it. His face fell, and I could see a warning of danger in it, for there was a sudden fierce, sidelong look which meant killing. The man is an undeveloped homicidal maniac. I shall test him with his present craving and see how it will work out; then I shall know more.


10 p. m.—I have visited him again and found him sitting in a corner brooding. When I came in he threw himself on his knees before me and implored me to let him have a cat; that his salvation depended upon it. I was firm, however, and told him that he could not have it, whereupon he went without a word, and sat down, gnawing his fingers, in the corner where I had found him. I shall see him in the morning early.



Moon Phase: Waning Crescent

Renfield is progressing to larger and "higher" life-forms. Seward sees this as a progression towards homicidal mania, and he is not too far off, both in terms of the story and real-world psychology.

We know that many serial killers progress from harming animals to later humans. Not that all who harm animals will be serial killers, some are just assholes, but most serial killers start out this way.