Wednesday, August 4, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 4 Weapon

RPGaDAY2021 Day 4

Excalibur, Stormbringer, Mjölnir, the Sun Sword, Blackrazor, Narsil/Andúril, the Bessy Mauler, the Sword of Kas, Needle, Elbe the Heartbow.  All worlds, whether ours or fantasy have fantastic legendary weapons.  

Quasi-artifacts to quest for or be granted to those that are worthy. 

Day 4 Weapon

Like all good game worlds, I have a number of unique and special weapons.

Demonbane

Demonbane is a bastard sword from The Treasure Trove found in Issue #91 of Dragon Magazine.  The sword is described as "a great, many-hued blade of which the origin has been forgotten, but which was wielded by the great paladin Nord in his single-handed destruction of the Citadel of Conjurers."  Created by Ed Greenwood it would later go on to be called Dornavver in the Forgotten Realms.   In my games, though it became one of the weapons of my paladin Johan II and used to defeat Orcus in module H4.  IT was lost in the Astral Sea and it has been the focus of all my paladins for the last four generations to recover. 

I always thought it might look a little like this sword.  

rainbow sword

The "forgotten origin" has been changed to a drow savant, Sharis Val, that created it along with his adoptive father a dwarf cleric of Moradin. The multi-hues come from the variety of metals used in its construction.

Ebonblade, the Sword of Black Flames

Ebonblade's history is tied up in that of Demonbane's.  The story of Demonbane's construction is not as forgotten as reported.  Among blacksmiths, the tale of the swords construction and its use to defeat the Citadel of Conjurers is a tale told by masters to apprentices all over the world.  One such apprentice found where the Demonbane was made and used the leftover materials to make a sword to avenge the death of his killed master.  The materials used in making Demonbane responded to Sharis Val's desire to rid the world of evil and in particular demons.  Ebonblade responded to the hate and desire to kill others and thus became an evil weapon.

The Star Sword

This weapon was made from bit of a "star" the fell to the Earth. Longer than a bastard sword, but not quite as long as a two-handed sword. This sword focuses the magic energies of the wielder into the blade to add extra damage.  

The Mace of St. Werper

Admittedly not all that different than the Mace of St. Cuthbert, in my defense I made mine before I ever read about it in the DMG.  This one though was specific to my first cleric.

The Death Staff

This weapon is the very first Staff of the Warlock used by my character Magnus. It can blast a humanoid with its necrotic power and turn them into a zombie under the wielder's control. 

 What weapons populate your world?


RPGaDAY2021

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 3 Tactic

RPGaDAY2021 Day 3

Interesting one today. The alternate words are just as appealing to me as the main one.

Day 3 Tactic

I am currently in the different stages of a few very interesting and fun projects.  A couple I hope to get you all soon and others I hope their respective publishers get to you.

Presently I am also rereading some texts from my grad-school days and one, in particular, is about course design.  Now while books are course do not serve the same purposes they do have some similar design ideals.  It should be noted in my day of writing course curriculum I run into peers and colleagues who also are professional game designers. At one point I worked with several fellow designers that were also game designers (or had been) for WotC, White Wolf, and Mayfair.  The skills are similar.   But I digress.

The tactics I use to design a course or even design a bit of game work are also similar.

Whenever I have an idea for something. I usually start with what I call a vision document or a notes document. This lays out some ideas and key elements I want for the book/project. Let's take an example for a project I recently opted to put aside for now.  The project on my working projects drive was called "Demon City Tokyo: 2074" and it was going to be an anime-action "Night World" for Night Shift.  The idea came to me last October and grew out of a few other ideas I had "on paper" at the time.  It was going to be expanded on from these core ideas.  So I took that all and placed it in my vision document with some broad ideas; New type of super-collider, Tokyo of the future, some ideas on mixing a lot a Japanese and English for words.  I also linked in a bunch of maps, pages on the internet.  Help pages to refresh my Japanese after not speaking any in nearly 30 years (I can still count though!) and more.

My next phase or tactic in this process is to create the "thick outline."  This is exactly like outlining, save that I am allowed to include paragraphs and other details.  This allows me to start seeing the material in order and allows me to move material around a little easier.  I find doing the vision doc first gives me free-thinking room and then the thick outline focuses these ideas into a form I like.

Up next is detailed writing.  This is where I am on the Basic Bestiary series and where Demon City died.  Not because I did not have the details, but because Dyskami Publishing was coming out with their own Demon City that was WAY too close to mine.  NOW please be aware I am not suggesting anything here other than we both had a common idea.  Theirs is in Kickstarter now and it is likely to be very good.  I felt the world did not need TWO Demon Cities.  Plus as I was working on my detailed thick outline my lack of knowledge of Tokyo was becoming more and more obvious. At one point I even moved the whole thing to my more familiar Chicago, but it didn't have quite the same feel.

Basic Bestiary on the other hand moved forward to the detailed writing stages.   Here my tactic has been to pull any and all material I already had and use it here.  Demon City Tokyo lives on in Basic Bestiary III since a lot of the demons I researched for it are still fantastic demons.  While I write a ton of material here, not all it sees the light of publication or blog posts, and some not in the way they were originally envisioned. 

After that comes playtesting, editing, revisions, layout...but those are all tales for another post I think.


RPGaDAY2021

Monday, August 2, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 2 Map

RPGaDAY2021 Day 2
One of the nice things about #RPGaDAY for 2021 is we also get a set of alternate words we can use.  Today is Day #2 and that is Map, but the other words are "Senses," "Plan," and "Voice."   But I am going to go with Map.

Day 2 Map

I adore maps. I knew very few role-players that are not fans of maps.

I talked about this in the past. A lot.

Speaking of Mysoerth, here is a new color map that fellow Mystoerth fan Matthew Fenn had made.
 
Mystoerth map

It is still a really fun map. If you look I have elements of not just Mystara and Oerth, but a little bit of Al-Qadim and even Gary's Necropolis.  Let's me have all my cake and eat it too.    A couple of things I would love to work into this map are Hyperborea (I already have a Boria) and maybe even a lost continent.  I might need to make my world a bit bigger to fit it all in though.  I have been playing with the idea that it is Ansalon there in the far south of the Far End Ocean.   It would mean redoing large sections of Krynn to fit my world and it might not really even be possible.  But then again my Zakhara does not look anything like the Zakhara from the Forgotten Realms.

I am still using Blackmoor as a common point of both worlds. I am also still wanting to make Hyperborea the land beyond the Black Ice.   I am guessing it is about the size of Antarctica.

Not sure if I can cram everything in there.

Another map that I have been having some fun with is this Flat Earth map known as "The World Beyond the Ice Wall."

Flat Earth The World Beyond the Ice Wall

I have no idea who made it but I get the sinking feeling that Flat Earthers actually take this one seriously.  I did find out who made it. It was made for a fictional sort of world, but it seems the Flat Earthers have adopted it as truth. 

It does however reflect how I would do Hyperborea.  A land beyond a wall of ice. 


RPGaDAY2021


Sunday, August 1, 2021

#RPGaDAY2021 Day 1 Scenario

RPGaDAY2021 Day 1
It is August and that means time for another #RPGaDAY from David Chapman and Autocratik. I look forward to this every year. Always some great writing prompts and I enjoy seeing what others come up with.

Day 1 Scenario

I had something planned for this, but I started writing it, and explaining it all was taking way too long. Even then I wasn't getting to my point so I scrapped it.

One question I get asked every so often is why do I like to use published Scenarios, aka Modules.

Simple. Sometimes I like to use something where a little bit of the heavy lifting (map, NPCs, monsters) has already been done. But that is only the lazy reason.  The reason I am doing it for campaigns like Come Endless Darkness and The Second Campaign is to give my players the full D&D Experience. For something like War of the Witch Queens it is more can I take everyone else's witch-based adventures and fit them to a campaign arc of my needs.

Mind you I am not opposed to my own scenarios or adventures. I did The Dragon and the Phoenix and The Season of the Witch campaigns for my Buffy games. 

I enjoy reading other scenarios and I enjoy coming up with them. 

Here's to a great #RPGaDAY2021 month!


RPGaDAY2021


Friday, July 30, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: Necropolis

Dangerous Journeys Necropolis
Gary Gygax's Necropolis is an odd bit of my personal RPG history. About 25 or more years ago, before I had kids I was working downtown Chicago, this gave me access to the transit rail system and dozens of libraries.  While Wizards of the Coast was scanning and putting up old AD&D modules for free on their website the number of scanned PDFs was non-existent.   So I did what anyone with my resources would do. I checked out all the RPGs books I could from various libraries.  I was young, just married, working on my Ph.D., and had no money.  

In my searches, mostly for books written by Gary Gygax, I found Dangerous Journeys. While the game system was terrible (sorry, it is) I loved the background fluff.  So much so that I add his Ægypt to my own world. I read the Dangerous Journeys and Mythus version of Necropolis many times over. I even finally got my own copy (which I frustratingly can't find right now!!).

It became a central part of my desert region, the Deserts of Desolation and Death, and merging it with bits of Dark Sun is has become the capstone adventure for my Second Campaign.  Though instead of using the DJ version I am using the d20 version from Necromancer Games, published some 20 years ago.   I should note that The Mystical Trashheap blog has a nice conversion of the DJ version to AD&D.

So imagine my excitement when Fog God launched their newest Kickstarter!

Necropolis: An Epic Adventure in the Desert Sands

Frog God Necropolis

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/necromancergames/necropolis-an-adventure-in-the-desert-sands-for-5e-and-sw?ref=theotherside

So this is for 5e and S&W.  While both are nice, it is the 5e version that I am going to use the most since the Second Campaign is a 5e game.  Since it is the capstone I am going to have to make it a bit deadlier.  I am just not sure if I need the hardcover version since I want to print it out to write notes on.  BUT I also don't want that wear and tear on my printer.

Delivery is scheduled for the end of the year, so that works fine for me, even if it is a little late. 

I just need to figure out which level to pledge at.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

One Man's God: Japanese Mythos

D&DG Japanese Mythos
It's been a while I figure today is a good day for another One Man's God. A brief review of the purpose and "rules" here.

The purpose of One Man's God is to see how I can take the creatures of the various mythos as they appear in the Deities and Demigods and see how they could have been represented as AD&D demons. NOT Abrahamic religion demons, or even esoteric or occult demons, but AD&D demons as they appeared in and defined by the Monster Manual, Fiend Folio, and Monster Manual II.  

That is my first rule.  So no need to come at me saying "X culture did not have demons."  Not only are demons in D&D not real, no demons are real, so by that logic no culture has demons, but all cultures have stories of demons and stories can be retold.

Also, this is NOT a criticism of the research methods of the original authors and researchers of the Deities and Demigods.  It is easy for me to criticize sitting here in my office chair in 2021 with access to pretty every written book, scholarly article, and more in any language at my fingertips.   They had the local library.  So another rule is I can't criticize the material based on what I can research now.  I can use research from now to help inform my opinions, but that is all.

I can look a little beyond my sources here (D&DG, MM, FF, and MM2) to see what could fit into these based on the rules above.  But I am not going to add to much more beyond that. That's what Monstrous Monday is for.

Ok? Cool?  Great! 

Today I want to hit one that was HUGE back in the 80s. Japanese Mythos

Growing up in the 80s you could not help be nearly overwhelmed with references to or from Japanese culture.  Well...not real Japanese culture, a weird American version of it for mass consumption.  Ninjas, karate, Richard Chamberlain running around in a kimono on TV in Shōgun, and more than I can remember.  I even got caught up in it all and found some Japanese myths to read, in particular the tales of Momotarō (the Peach Boy). 

It was odd that almost none* of what I read connected back to the myths in the D&DG.  Now I see that their myths are too widely varied, complex, and even some had not been translated to an easily consumable English version.  Some concepts in Japanese do not have good English equivalents. My first year in grad school I took Japanese as an extra elective, I found it extremely fascinating and remarkably difficult.  The Deities & Demigods even touches on this with the concept of Kami.  We would use the word like "god" or "spirit,"  even in the Goddess Amaterasu we get the word "Omikami" or more appropriately, Ōmikami.  

*I will talk about what did connect.

The Gods and Goddesses

Despite how interesting these myths are and how much they were likely used, there are only five pages of them in D&DG and only 13 entries.  There are heroes, which is really important for the tales, most of the stories of Japan are about the exploits of the heroes. Of these, I only recall reading about Yamamoto Date.  But that has far more to do with Me not reading everything on Japanese myths.

Of the Gods the best known are the trinity of Amaterasu (the Sun Goddess, "the great august deity"), Tsukiyomi (the Moon God), and Susanoo (the God of Storms and Seas).  Now, these are the stories I know well.  I am remarkably pleased that the depictions and stats match up well with my personal ideas of what these gods are.  Amaterasu is easily the most powerful god in this book, thankfully for the mortals, she is Lawful Good.  In my games, there was no greater foe of the undead than her. And let me just say I am so pleased the authors did not take the easy way out and make Susanowo Chaotic Evil and went with the more appropriate Chaotic Neutral.

A couple of Goddesses that I remember reading about didn't make it in.  I mean I easily see why, but still, it would have been nice to see them.

Ame-no-Uzume

Ame-no-Uzume is the Goddess of the Dawn and for her role in the story of Amaterasu and the Cave she is the Goddess of Revelry.  In many ways the "darker" versions of Amaterasu and Ame-no-Uzume can be found in my "Nox" and "Syla" the goddess of the Dusk and Near Dark.

But back to Uzume.  I am not the first to point this one out and many others more read than me have done a better job.  But if you want to bring Ame-no-Uzume all you need to do is turn a few pages back to the Indian myths and bring over the similarity named Ushas, the Goddess of the Dawn. Her stats are pretty much perfect as is.  

Isshin-ryū Mizo-Game
Mizo-Game

Oh, Mizu Game. How you have vexed me over the years.

So WAY back in the day I decided to take karate lessons, their was a local place that was offering Isshin-ryū Karate and I decided to join.  I spent a couple years doing it. I was good, not great, but I felt like it achieved my then goal of getting some extra exercise.  The important part for today is the Isshin-ryū patch.  I was told that the half-woman/half-dragon goddess on the patch was Mizo-Game a Sea Goddess.  So naturally, I wanted a character that worshipped her.  But outside of Isshin-ryū I could not find out anything about her.  And you know what?  I STILL can't.  Every so often I get the idea to search for her again and I have only limited success.

Now with this post, it's going to mess with my search algorithms even more! 

I had hoped to find a goddess I could borrow from other myths, like I do for Uaume, but nothing came up.  She would be a Lawful Neutral demigoddess of the sea.  She related to dragons and to the other gods.

Mizo Game in Isshin-ryū

Demons

While this is all fantastic. There are no monsters here, let alone any demons. 

A while back I talked about the Yaoguai or Chinese demons.   The name means something like "strange ghost" or "strange devil."  In Japan, similar creatures are called Yōkai. Which also means "strange apparition."

In my games, Yaoguai and Yōkai are both different lineages of demons that are related.   There are no creatures listed in the D&DG that would count.  The closest we get is the Ogre Mage, also called the "Japanese Ogre" in the Monster Manual.  BUT that creature is obviously based on the Oni. 

Are Oni demons or yōkai?  I am going to say no. The tales of Momotarō, also known as the Peach Boy, feature many Oni, and while they are powerful and even a little supernatural, but they are not really demons.  Sadly even branching out into the Oriental Adventures does not help here.  Though there are also Ushi-oni that are very much yōkai and Oni are said to have come from the "demon gate/"

For demons and yōkai it would seem I am on my own and I have a lot more research and reading to do.

No Yōkai here.

Expect to see some Yōkai in future Monstrous Mondays. Will I reclassify Oni as demons?  No idea yet.

It's too bad that with all the material out there on Yōkai that so little to almost none made it into AD&D.

There is only one more set of myths left in this series and I am hoping it will be a big one!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Review: DragonRaid

The DragonRaid RPG
I have been planning this review for a bit now, but upon hearing of the death of the creator, Dick Wulf, I am opting to move it up a bit. 

Full Disclosure: There is no way I can give this a complete review because I don't know enough about the source material.  I mean I know it, but not enough to for the level of play this learning game would require of me.

I have mentioned before that I have known about DragonRaid since at least the mid-80s. I was both amused and fascinated by it then.  When I learned more about it I was a little more impressed.

The Game

DragonRaid got a lot of grief in the gaming communities I was a part of.  I had some Christian gamer friends that thought it was a cheap attempt to capitalize on their faith and some even did not want to mix their D&D and belief.  As an Atheist, then and now, I thought it was interesting. As someone who was interested in psychology then and someone with degrees in it now I also thought it was an interesting way to learn something, in this case, Bible verses.  I always wanted to see the game for myself.   

One thing I have to keep in mind that this "game" is not really an RPG, but a teaching tool in the form of a role-playing game. 

The game's author and designer was Dick Wulf, MSW, LCSW, who is, as his degrees indicate, a licensed Social Worker and holds a Master's Degree in Social Work.  He had done a lot of work in psychotherapy and ministry. He also played D&D and Traveller. So it seems he actually likes and knows RPGs better than the guys who gave us Fantasy Wargaming!

Plus I have to admit the ads in Dragon Magazine always looked really interesting.  I mean seriously, that is an evil-looking dragon and should be stopped and those look like the brave warriors to do it. Even if they need some more armor*.  (*that is actually a point in the game! more later)

Ad for The DragonRaid RPG

A while back my oldest son and I saw this game at my FLGS and I told him all about it. He is also an Atheist (as everyone in my family is) and he wanted to get it so we could play the other, evil, side.  He wanted to do something with the dragons in the game (he loves dragons) and I of course wanted to bring witches into it (cause that is my raison d'être).   Plus this copy still had the cassette tape in it.  I mean that is just beyond cool really.  So yeah I grabbed it with every intention of having a bit of a laugh with it.

I might be a witch-obsessed Athiest, but I am also an educator and not really an asshole.

The truth of the matter is spending this past week with the game I just can't take a piss on it.  The author is just too earnest in his presentation of this game.  There is love here, and scholarship, and frankly good pedagogy behind the design.   I don't normally mix my professional education background with my game design work.  Yes, they can and they do mix.  But when I am writing a book on the Pagan witches for Old-School Essentials I am not trying to write a historical treatise on the pagan religions of Western Europe during the time of the Roman Empire.  I'll try to keep my facts in line, but I can't serve two masters. I have to write what is best for a game.

DragonRaid also doesn't serve two masters. It serves one and makes that work for both pedagogical reasons (to help young people understand Christianity and their Bible better) and game design reasons (to have a fun roleplaying experience). 

For this DragonRaid succeeds in a lot of ways.  For this, I simply can't do anything else but admire this game and its design.  So no playing dragons here, or me coming up with a witch class to fight the characters.  I might do that at home, but I am not going to be a jerk about it.

Besides look at everything, you get in this box! I mean seriously, this is some value.

The DragonRaid RPG Box contents 1

The DragonRaid RPG Box contents 2, Lightraider sheets

The DragonRaid RPG Box contents 3, so many books!

The DragonRaid RPG Box contents 4, counters

The DragonRaid RPG Box contents 5 documentation

I even got the cassette tape! I don't have anything to play it on though.

The DragonRaid RPG Box contents 6, and honest to goodness cassette tape!

What do you get?

New Player Briefing
Red cover, letter-sized. 16 pages.
This is the first book all players need to read over.  This includes the LightRaiders (player characters) and the AdventureMaster (GM).  The background is really kind of fun.  The world of EdenAgain is like an idealized Earth meets Narnia.  There are humans, regular (OnceBorn), and the TwiceBorn. The TwiceBorn are the ones that follow the Maker and Overlord (thinly veiled versions of "God" and "Jesus").  There is a lot cool details on how Abaddon and Kakia, both described as dragons here, have tempted the world to evil.  

I rather like the idea of this book.  A brief 16 page (large font) booklet to get new players into the game.  It is something that is usually handled by the "What is an RPG?" and "Introduction" sections of other games.  There is cool parallelism between this book and some of the intro to playing material found in Red Box/Mentzer Basic D&D.  Makes a lot of sense since both red books cover similar ground and have the same goals.

The World depicted here is a bit simplistic, but that is also by design.  The players are supposed to explore it all together.

DragonRaid World


Rulebook
Blue cover, letter-sized, 24 pages

The Rule book covers the Basic rules for all players. 
It covers character creations (thankfully we also have the worksheet for that), how to use the StarLot and ShadowStones, Ability checks, and the various forms of combat and armor.  I can't help but feel there was also a bit of a wargamer in Dick Wulf.  

The division of the books into Red and Blue does give me solid B/X and BE Basic vibes.  I am sure that Dick Wulf was familiar with those and chose to emulate their feel even if "Basic" and "Expert" are not really a good way to describe his books.  More like "Novice" and "Basic."  But the idea still holds.

The Light Raider Test 
Orange cover, letter-sized, 44 pages
This is the first of our adventures for the LightRaiders and it is in fact set up as a first mission. It is introduced in the New Player Briefing/Red Book.  Here it is a full-blown adventure complete with player handouts and cue cards for verses. 
Players have to rescue a LightRaider, fight a giant (or drink him under the table), and fight some goblins.  It is noted that any LightRaider that dies goes to Paradise. 
This adventure is fairly straightforward to the point of almost being a railroad.  Well...not quite. I mean the player's options are limited and a lot relies on random rolls.  I suppose as a new LightRaider and AdventureMaster this makes things a little easier.  There is another reason for this. The adventures have certain academic goals or learning outcomes.  These are usually met via the design of the game and altering these would mean the designer could not really tell if the learning goals were being met. Great for a curriculum, not ideal for an adventure. 

Rescue of the Sacred Scrolls
Light Green, letter-sized, 78 pages with 28-page insert.
This is the second adventure and it is much more expansive. Here the LightRaiders must brave the castle of the dragon Thuella and rescue the captive LightRaider Zekion and recover the two parts of the Sacred Scrolls.  Along the way, they can meet a unicorn (a type of angel here) and battle orcs and cave spiders. 

These adventures, minus the quoting of scripture, would make ok D&D-style adventures. There is not much in the way of treasure and the goals really are very different.  DragonRaid players learn through these the power their LightRaiders have via faith (and therefore themselves).  

At this point though it is very, very obvious who this game is marketed to.  All of the art is whiter than the Sound of Music. You would think that there would at least be a little color.  Note: There is one darker-skinned character figure in the cardboard character cutouts.  Still though. Pretty much mayo sandwiches on white bread with milk here.

DragonRaid Book covers


Adventure Master Manual
Green cover, letter-sized, three-hole-punched for binder, 124 pages

Pretty much what it says on the cover. This is Adventure Master's book. Unlike all the other books, this one is looseleaf and three-hole-punched.  This is likely because a.) the designer wanted the Adventure Master to have a place to insert their own notes (a good idea) and b.) a lot of educational materials in the late 70s and early 80s were produced this way.  Also, there is the notion that a lot of Bible study material came published like this.  How do I know?  Back when I was working my way through college I was a night janitor at a Southern Baptist church.  If I had not already been an Atheist then those people would have convinced me.   Sadly the box, while large and sturdy, is not big enough to put a three-ring binder inside.  

Some material is by necessity repeated here.  We get more background on the OnceBorn and the other creatures populating this world that are not LightRaiders.  The OnceBorn are slaves to the DragonLords.  They might live like kings but they are slaves according to the rules.  They may seem happy but they are not we are told.  Of course no matter how evil an OnceBorn might be we have to remember that they deserve redemption; so killing them is out of the question.  

This book also includes another adventure, "Adventure as the Castle of the Falls." This is to give the Adventure Master some practice having players using the WordRunes.  Like all good Game Master books this has a section on becoming a better Adventure Master.  Nothing gamers have not seen before, but good advice all the same for the starting Adventure Master.It is good the box comes with so many adventures since there is not really much in the way of guidance on how to create adventures.  The caveat I will toss out is there are a lot of adventures that can be bought from their publisher.  Another caveat is that this is still more adventures than I am ever likely to run or play with this game. 

There are some Difficulty level charts that are keyed to the various abilities the LightRaiders have. Nice, but not portable to other games really. There are some good ideas on various dragon attacks, but again they central to the mythos and mechanics of this game.  Doing anything else with them would require a lot of work. 

Lightraider Handbook
Yellow cover, spiral-bound, digest-sized, 140 pages.

Now this one is a very neat product.  It has all the rules and even some basics on the creatures encountered, but it is designed for the players to use at the table. It is spiral-bound so it lays flat at the table.  I know the costs are prohibitive, but I do wish more companies would do this.  OSRIC would be a fine choice for this to be honest.  In fact I made my own spiral-bound copy of OSE a while back for this exact same reason.

Spiral bound player's books


This book also contains all of the Word Runes the players will need.   The creature backgrounds (but no stats) are also a nice touch.  I guess that any D&D player, even if new, is going to come to the table with ideas of what a dragon, goblin, troll or orc are.  DragonRaid has slightly different versions of these.  Shorthand if it is not human or a normal (or talking) animal, it is evil.  Tieflings? No way! Elves are even evil here. Well. Maybe not evil, but certainly surrounded by evil beings, and to reclusive to do anything about the evil around them. 

DragonRaid Player's Guide


Audio Cassette Tape
Thankfully you can go to the official Lightraider Academy website to get the audio files from the tape. 

Two Dice
D10 (StarLot)  and a d8 (Shadow Stone).
I kinda like that they give each die a bit of character.  The clear d10 is your StarLot and it is the one you will use for most rolls.  The darker d8, the Shadow Stone< is the one the forces you are fighting will use.  There is an obvious bias here towards the forces of good. 

History of the StarLots


Additionally, the box contains:
  • Character Sheets
  • Character worksheets (I used a spreadsheet for mine)  
  • A Correction sheet
  • Letter from Dick Wulf, MSW
  • Registration Letter
  • Counters (Heroes, Dark Creatures, NPCs)
  • Battle Grid (x2)
  • Ad for “Spiritual Warfare Posters”

This company is all in on this game and I have to admit I totally admire them for it. 

Final Thoughts

As I discussed back in the Character Creation challenge, a lot of the very random rolls you make can really help define who your character is. That is great, but it also confines your character in certain ways.  There are ways to increase abilities you want over ones you don't want, but this game like many others, has you play to your strengths.  Sure in the early 80s people were fine to have a character only defined by the numbers on the sheet; today?  Not so much.  

I will admit that I never felt "talked down to" as a gamer while reading this.  Yes, it is designed for someone with far less experience than myself or my readers, but all the same, the advice in the game always came across as helpful and never condescending. 

Also, I never felt "called out" as an Atheist here.  Sure by the game's standards I am one of the DragonSlaves and even though I consider my life to be good, great even, it is not truly so.   Ok. Whatever.  I am also not as attractive as an elf, strong as an orc, or interesting like a tiefling.   Though my lack of experience with Bible verses and my complete lack of desire to ever memorize any will limit my involvement with this game.  Likely to just this review.

Fighting a Dragon in DragonRaid
The quality of the materials is top-notch.  I am not sure which "printing" I have, but no dates are past 1984 on my books and it still has the cassette tape.   I did notice when doing some research that my box did not have a copy of the purple cover "The Moon Bridge Raid" nor did it have the stickers.  Maybe because I didn't buy it directly from the publisher? Looks like that the Moon Bridge Raid is in later editions/printings and these also included a CD.  So I am really rocking it old-school!

Note: A little digging online tells me there was a newer printing with 1998 and 1999 dates on the books.  Likely this is the printing that had the CD.

Digging deeper EdenAgain seems to be a planet that humans crash-landed on.  Looking at the art one assumes it was only white people on the ship. They had a copy of the Bible on their spaceship.   So is this one a post-apocalypse game?  Could characters from my Star Trek: BlackStar or Star Trek: Mercy games find their way to EdenAgain?  I mean that is not to different than the Star Trek Discovery Season 2 episode "New Eden."  Except the people of New Eden, aka Terralysium, combined all of Earth's faiths including Christianity, Hindu, Judaism, Bahá'í, and Wicca into one.   Not very much in line with what DragonRaid would have wanted.  Discovery Season 2 was fairly heavy with religious symbolism. 

One thing implicit in the game is that all other creatures except for humans do not have souls and can't be saved.  I did not get a clear read on animals and talking ones in particular though I know the rules are in there somewhere.  So ALL creatures would be considered evil; in fact the manifestation of sins.  That giant destroying a village? Evil. Kill it! That dragon eating all the maidens in the country? Evil. Kill it!  That orc sitting on a rock picking his nose? Evil. Kill it! Sleeping baby troll? Evil. Kill it! Get the idea?  There are no shades of grey here.  A human OnceBorn in charge of a child slavery ring is not to be killed.  The goblin that did nothing else but let you know about it so it can be stopped has to be killed.   That goblin isn't a real living creature but sin-made flesh.  Which is kind of cool if you think about it, but also a little too conservative for my tastes.   Combat is physical and is lethal. Combat can also be spiritual.  

One facet of this game that can't be ignored is the production value.  While the art has not aged as well it is still objectively good.  The layout is clean and easy to read.  The material is grouped together well.  The redundant text isn't really redundant at all since this is designed to teach.  The box is sturdy as hell, and mine is still in fantastic shape.  No idea about the cassette tape, but everything else in the box is top-notch.  A spiral rules guide for the game table is something that makes so much sense other companies should have been doing it (I know...cost).   

While character creation can be a chore, the core rules are pretty simple.  Percentile rolls vs some cross-referenced charts based on abilities.  Roll high.  With players using the d10s, sorry, StarLots and the bad guys using the ShadowStones (d8) advantage always goes to the LightRaiders. 

In the end, I am glad I purchased this game even if it took me forever to do anything with it.  I am never likely to play it or run it, and while there are some great ideas here I am also not likely to mine it for any.  I have to give the late Dick Wulf major credit.  He had a vision and a love for this game and it shows on every page.

Links

Here are some collected links if you want to learn more about this game.