Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gen Con Countdown

Going to Gen Con!  YEAAHHH!
I so need this vacation.

I'f you want to come by and say hi, here are the games I am running.  I like to get to the table early to set up.

RPG1120388 Obsession (Revised) Thu @ 7:00 PM 4 hrs
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Grand Central Blrm D :: 8 Cost: $4

RPG1120389 Dinosauria! Fri @ 1:00 PM 4 hrs
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Grand Central Blrm D :: 6 Cost: $4

RPG1120390 Dinosauria! Fri @ 7:00 PM 4 hrs
Location: Crowne Plaza :: Grand Central Blrm C :: 3 Cost: $4

Dinosauria! is completely new with new characters designed to get people up and going fast.  The 1:00 pm will be "kid friendly" and the 7:00pm one will be more older kids and adults.

Obsession is revised version of the adventure I ran last year.  If you played last year then this one is not very different except for some details and the starting of the adventure.

I am also running S4 with my boys in our hotel Saturday night.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Zatannurday: Secret Seven

Zatanna is one of the characters of the Secret Seven.
What is cool is she gets to share some page time with another one of my faves, Raven.

But what is going on with Zee's outfit??
Preview of Flashpoint: Secret Seven

Thanks to DC Women Kicking Ass.
This is not from the reboot but rather the alternate timekine/world of Flashpoint, so maybe we will be spared this one again.  I mean I know that Zee is no prude, but this looks like she was shopping over at Marvel. ;)

And I don't have the vaguest idea what this one is about.

This one though, one of the covers is kinda cool.

Zee has this whole Fairuza Balk thing going on.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ghosts of Albion at Cyphan Con

I am at the Cyphan Con here in Chicago (ok, at Rosemont).

I am in the Gatwick Room of the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont.

  • Friday 7/29, 1:00 to 5:00 for Ghosts of Ablion: Obsession
  • Saturday 7/30, Noon to 4:00 for Ghosts of Albion: Dinosauria!

Come by and see me!
If you tell me you saw it on my blog then I'll give you something special.  No idea what that will be to be honest, but I'll find something!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dinosauria! Characters: Walter Edwards

Players of "Obsession" will see a familiar face here.

Chief Constable Walter Edwards
Life Points 43
Drama Points 20

Strength 3 (+1 Peeler)
Dexterity 3
Constitution 3
Intelligence 2
Perception 3
Willpower 2

Acute Sense (Vision) (2)
Contacts (supernatural)
Hard to Kill 3 (3)
Peeler (5)
Nerves of Steel (3)
Situational Awareness (2)

Obligation (Important) (Peeler)
Recurring Nightmares (1)

Armed Mayhem 4 (+1 Peeler)
Art 0
Athletics 4
Crime 3 (+1 Peeler)
Driving/Riding 1 (+1 Peeler)
Engineering 0
Fisticuffs 4
Influence 2
Knowledge 3
Languages 1 (English)
Marksmanship 2
Notice 5
Occultism 2
Physician 1
Science 2
Wild Card 0

Useful Information
Observation: 1d10 +8
Initiative: +4
Armor: 0
Actions: 1 Mental /1 Physical

Manoeuvre Bonus Base Damage Notes
Dodge +6 — Defence
Grapple +8 — Resisted by Dodge
Punch +7 6 Bash
Pistol, small +6 9 Bullet
Truncheon +7 9 Bash

Chief Constable Walter Edwards is no stranger to the occult nature of his city. While he was a regular Peeler he saw something that very humans ever witnessed. He saw a large man trying to rough up a working girl. Edwards, believing he was stopping a potential beating of a dolly-mop rushed in, truncheon ready. What he saw when he got there was not to be believed. The “man” was over 7ft tall and had horns growing from his head and had fire for eyes. The creature laughed a horrible, inhuman laugh, and it ran and jumped over a 12ft. wall. The papers were soon calling the creature the “Spring Heeled Jack”, but you know he was something like the Devil.
He met up with others then, some who had similar stories, other who seemed as strange as the creature, but he learned of a new world that day.
Edwards was given a gift, a special pair of glasses that allow him to see the supernatural world. Ghosts, lines of power, faerie creatures and worse walked the streets of London.
Edwards has starred into the Abyss and it starred back at him. Though unlike so many others he had the courage to take the next step, and the next and the next. Monsters or humans, he represents law and order in this city and law and order he will have!

Heartbreak & Heroines: Dead

I got this email a couple of days ago to let me know that the game Heartbreak & Heroines was no longer going to be funded, and presumably not made.

I talked about this game in this post, and I mentioned then I was excited about it.
Almost immediately the controversy started.
There were many posts and threads on RPG.Net including a number of banings, one of which was the author.
Then even more controversy started.  
I wont get into the details, but here are some links.

I don't pretend to know what happened really. The allegations are ugly.

The only thing I do know for certain is now this game is not going to be funded. That likely means it won't get made.

This is a shame really.

There seemed to be some very interesting game design elements and I liked the idea of a game.
This game, and other games that try to do something different like Blue Rose, are needed in this biz.
If anything the various RPG.Net threads, and the speed in which it made it's goal in donation, demonstrate that a game like this is needed and desired by many.

Hopefully someone else will pick up the challenge.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More procrastination

I KNEW rereading the Gord the Rogue books would come in handy one day.
That and all the hours I spent editing the D&D related Wikipedia articles.

Tim took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 100%!

You are a Gary Gygax Dungeon Master. You are a world expert on Gary Gygax. My guess is you are either a former TSR employee or an extremely obsessive fan. You can be proud of your in-depth knowledge - few are so expert in any subject! Also, I would like to be in your D&D group.

Paladin Code: You completed this quiz without using Google.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Here there Be Dragons: Aži Dahāka

We have the first monster we want to show off for Liam's book "Here There Be Dragons". This one has roots in ancient myths, and also something we have wanted to use for a while.

BTW we are not 100% set on what version of the game system we want to use.  I opted for Basic tonight since I have been in a Basic mood.  Liam wants 3.5.

I am releasing the following text as Open under the Open Gaming License.
Aži Dahāka, the Demon Dragon is copyright 2011, Liam Brannan

Aži Dahāka
Armor Class: -5 [24]
Hit Dice: 22d8+21** (120 hp)
No. of Attacks: 3 bites or Breath Weapon or Claws
Damage: 3d6 / 3d6 / 3d6
Special: Claw Attack, Breath weapons, Poison
Movement: 60 ft. / Fly 120 ft.
No. Appearing: 1 (Unique)
Saves As: Fighter 24
Morale: 11
Treasure: Fx3
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 10,000

Aži Dahāka is believed to be the offspring of the Mother of All Dragons and the Prince of Demons. Certainly his heritage is evident in his form. He has three dragon heads, each of red, blue and black dragons. He has a long black, serpent like body with two tails and four wings.

Aži Dahāka is a unique creature and has been worshiped as a god in the past. He has divine parentage but is wholly a mortal beast and can be slain, though with difficulty.

Aži Dahāka is not the smartest of dragon- or even demon-kind, he is however a very clever combatant and knows how to take advantage of many situations. If he is out numbered he will attempt to reduce the opposition with his breath weapons.

Bite: The primary attack of Aži Dahāka is his massive bite. He may attack with all three heads per round on separate targets. On a roll of a natural 20 Aži Dahāka bites the victim whole and swallows.
Aži Dahāka has a second set of teeth in his throat that can automatically do 1d8 points of damage per round unless the victim is freed.

The bite of Aži Dahāka also includes a very deadly poison. Each successful hit that causes at least 1 point of damage will require the victim to make a saving through vs. Poison.

Breath Weapons: Aži Dahāka as appropriate has a breath weapon for each head. Though the chaotic nature of his birth has gifted the black head emits an electrical blast, the blue head breathes fire and the red one spits acid. Each head will do 2d10 (2-20) hitpoints of damage per attack. Aži Dahāka may attack with two heads simultaneously per round.

Claw Attack: Aži Dahāka can rear up on his hind legs to make a claw based attack. This is the only attack he can make in that round. He can rise up and attack with both claws. The attacks do 1d10 points of damage each and can hit creatures normally immune to normal attacks, i.e. requiring magic to hit.

Aži Dahāka is a strong fighter, but knows the value of retreat if the combat is going against him. If forced to retreat, he can alter his skin color like that of a octopus and blend into the background. This gives him 95% invisibility. Since this is a natural effect, See Invisible or Detect Magic will not locate him.

Diana Warrior Princess (aka getting sidetracked)

Ok. So. I am supposed to be doing some research.  I have Ghosts of Albion games to run.  Need to come up with stats for the first batch of dragons my son has written for his book and then there is my Witch book that needs to be completed.

So of course I am distracted by a game.

This game is very distracting cause I have not quite figured out what to do with it.

So in lieu of real work and postings, here is a review.

Diana: Warrior Princess

Diana: Warrior Princess is a game that is so out there it is hard to quantify it.
Lets start with the easy part first, the game system. The game is very cinematic and focuses largely on characters can do that is cool, amazing or fun. So no stats for cooking here, unless of course one of your characters is a notorious Iron Chef (which would totally work with this game).

Now the premise. Take our world, but go many thousand of years in the future. Now make a TV show of our times, but give it the same historical accuracy (and sense of over the top cinema and fun) as Xena: Warrior Princess. That is D: WP, except you are playing in that world and it is all real to you. So tons of characters make appearances that we know of today. England is a land ruled by Queens Victoria and Elizabeth II with the undead Thatcher in control. Just tons of over the top things like that. Adding stuff is easy. There might be this new Robber-Baron from the USA that uses technology to suck the lives out of people into his magical book that keeps a representation of their face. This dreaded artifact of the ancient 21st century was known as "The Facebook"! Just like that. Hard to say what being Googled will mean!

Don't take this game too seriously and you will have a lot of fun.
If you are the type though that looks for internal consistency in your worlds and retcon is a dirty word, then maybe don't get this.

But everyone will have a really fun time.
4 out of 5 stars

DriveThru RPG Xmas in July

DriveThruRPG is doing their Christmas in July sale again.
Ton of products at 25% off.

Stop by and have a look.

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Dinosauria Characters

Lady Fionna
Faerie Lady
Drama Points 10
Life Points 38

Strength 3
Dexterity 4
Constitution 4
Intelligence 5
Perception 4
Willpower 5

Age (+100 years) (2)
Attractiveness +4 (Court Faerie)
Artist (Court Faerie)
Contact (Supernatural—Seelie Court) 2 (Court Faerie)
Court Faerie (Unseelie Court)
Glamour (Court Faerie)
Innate Magic (Court Faerie)
Regeneration (4 Life Points per hour) (Court Faerie)
Resources (Gentry)
Mesmerise (Hear Me) (Court Faerie)
Seeming (Court Faerie)

Adversary (Seelie Court) 1 (Age)
Archaic (Primitive) (Court Faerie)
Mental Problems (Deranged Faerie Arrogance) (Court Faerie)
Mental Problems (Severe Intolerance) (Court Faerie)
Mental Problem (Severe Obsession—Defend her territory) (2)
Minority (Woman) (2)
Natural Barrier (Cannot enter a church or church yard) (3)
Obligation (Total—Unseelie Court) (Court Faerie)
Vulnerability (Minor—Iron) (Court Faerie)

Armed Mayhem 6
Art 2 (+1 Artist)
Athletics 3
Crime 0
Driving/Riding 2
Engineering 0
Fisticuffs 3
Influence 3
Knowledge 4
Languages 3 (English, Faerie, Latin)
Marksmanship 3
Notice 1
Occultism 4 (+2 Court Faerie)
Physician 0
Science 0
Wild Card 0

Useful Information
Observation: 1d10 +5
Initiative: +4
Armor: +1 (Glamoured Armor)
Fear: +5
Actions: 2 Mental /1 Physical

Manoeuvre Bonus Base Damage Notes
Rapier +10 12 Slash/stab (Faerie steel)
Dodge +10 — Defence
Grapple +10 — Resisted by dodge

Deflect +12 — Deflects spells 45º
Lesser Sensing +8 — Active magical perception
Mending +12 — Healing or repair
Mesmerise (Hear Me) +8 — Resisted by Willpower (doubled)

Xian “Jane”
House Girl / Tong Assassin
Drama Points 20
Life Points 36

Strength 2
Dexterity 3
Constitution 3
Intelligence 3
Perception 4
Willpower 3

Attractiveness +2
Charisma 1
Contact (Supernatural) 2
Hard to Kill 2
Nerves of Steel

Honourable (Serious) (2)
Minority (Chinese Woman) (2)
Secret (Former Tong Assassin) (3)

Armed Mayhem 5
Art 1
Athletics 4 (+2 Athlete)
Crime 1
Driving/Riding 0
Engineering 0
Fisticuffs 5
Influence 0
Knowledge 2
Languages 2 (Chinese, English)
Marksmanship 0
Notice 3
Occultism 2
Physician 1
Science 0
Wild Card (Housekeeping) 1

Useful Information
Observation: 1d10 +7
Initiative: +4
Armor: +1 (leather waistcoat worn under clothes)
Actions: 1 Mental /1 Physical

Manoeuvre Bonus Base Damage Notes
Sword +8 6 Slash/Stab
Dodge +8 — Defence
Grapple +6 — Resisted by dodge
Punch (kung-fu) +4 4 Bash
Kick +6 6
- Flying Spin +5 8
- Roundhouse +6 6

If there is an odder pair found on the streets of Victorian London, then this chronicler does not know about them. Lady Fiona Seelis comes from old, old money though most do not know how old. Her guise is that of a wealthy widow whose family owns many lands in Wales and north of London. She has a bit of an accent that she claims she got due living in France for a number of years after her husband’s death. No one seems to recall ever meeting her husband, but after a few moments with the lovely Lady they know they must have met the poor devil before his untimely death. Accident it was, at least that is what you heard someone say.

Lady Fiona though has never been married, indeed she is no human either. She is in fact a lesser noble of the Unseelie Court. Her Mistress, Queen Mab herself, has sent Fiona into exile to study the humans. She is supposed to report back on them in a number of years.

The girl known only as “Jane” (Xian in her own country) is a young girl from China. At first she was like any number of the thousands of immigrants to England’s shores till the night she tried to kill Lady Fiona. To be fair Lady Fiona had been stalking the streets of London looking trouble of her own. Her Faerie nature driving her to defend her territory from intruding monsters, not out of altruism or care for the humans, but because this territory was hers.

Jane had secrets of her own. She was a young Tong assassin in training. Her job was supposed to be a simple one of killing a rival. But the rival gang learned of this and kill all in Jane’s group. All, including Jane were suspected dead. Her Tong never search for her since she was only a girl. Fiona saved her that night and the two now hunt the streets of London together.

Neither woman is what you call “good”, they are very apt at playing the roles they have created for themselves. Fiona will appear as the rich widow with more money than sense and Jane will play the role of the quiet maid servant of the east. Fiona, due to her wealth, beauty and more than a little faerie magic is given unprecedented access to places where no other woman is allowed. Jane is constantly near her and Fiona will claim that Jane must always be there to attend to her. In reality Jane is on constant vigil for Lady Fiona’s enemies and she carries her mistress and her own swords.

Fiona has been invited to the New Year’s Eve party in thanks for her generous financial contributions over the years.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Turning off Anonymous Posts for a while

I am turning off anonymous comments for a bit.

I have too much spam and too many people wanting to use my blog as a place to snipe at others from behind a veil.

I do not like to or want to delete comments. But I also don't have much of a choice here.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Zatannurday: Ryan Sook

To followup on last weeks Justice League Dark, here are some Zatanna images by artist Ryan Sook.
You can find his website here,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Dinosauria! Characters

I have been promising to get some characters up for Dinosauria.  Here is the first.  John is not just the first one to be posted but he was the first character to be created for Dinosauria proper.  He is actually the idea of my good friend Steven Todd and this character is actually registered with the Screen Writers Guild in Hollywood since he was to appear in one of the movies Steven worked on.  So it is a really treat that I am getting to work on him here and use him in my adventure.

John Mulgrew
Frmr. U.S. Marshall
Drama Points: 10
Life Points: 47

Attributes (20)
Strength: 3
Dexterity: 5
Constitution: 4
Intelligence: 3
Perception: 3
Willpower: 2

Qualities (20)
Acute Sense (Vision) (2)
Hard to Kill 3 (3)
Ex-Soldier (5) (Ex-Marshall)
Nerves of Steel (3)
Renown/Reputation (Known/Good) (3)
Resources Moderate (2)
Special: Magical Sight (2)

Drawbacks (up to 10)
Addiction (minor, smoking, drinking) (1)
Honourable (1)
Mental Problems (Severe Obsession – Avenge Dead Family) (2)
Obligation (1)
Recurring Nightmares (1)
Secret (deals with supernatural) (2)

Skills (25) (+8 from Drawbacks)
Armed Mayhem 4
Art 1
Athletics 2
Crime 2
Drive / Ride 3
Engineering 0
Fisticuffs 4
Influence 1
Knowledge 2
Languages 1
Marksmanship 5
Notice 5
Occultism 2
Science 1
Wild Card

Useful Information
Observation: 1d10 +8
Initiative: +5
Armor: +1 (leather duster)
Fear: +5
Actions: 1 Mental /2 Physical

Name Bonus Damage Notes
Punch +9 6 Bash
Rifle +10 20 Bullet
Pistols +10 12 Bullet* John has two Colts, one with regular rounds, the other with his special gold rounds. Once empty a Pistol needs 1 round to reload.

John Mulgrew is a former U.S. Marshall. Back in the days when was a Marshall he and his family lived in the new state of Texas where his job was to make sure that the local population was “controlled”. This meant he hunted down American Indians that had broken the law.

After a particularly long a bloody battle, John came home to find his wife and two children killed. Not just murdered, but ripped apart. Insane with grief he ran off to find out who did this. He was discharged from the Marshalls, but he didn’t care he only wanted to find who killed his family. He was convinced it was an Indian and had tracked the culprit to the Dakotas.

One night he made his camp near a cross roads only to be awoken by a strange man dressed as a gentleman cooking a foul smelling diner over his campfire. John raised his gun to the man, but the man only asked John to give him his gun. John, without thinking, handed it him. The man unloaded John’s revolver, a .44 Colt Dragoon, and reloaded it with cartridges made of pure gold. He loaded in six and handed John a seventh. He then told John that he knew what he was hunting and this gun will give him the ability to kill it. If he didn’t want the gun, just leave on the ground, but if he took it up then he only had seven shots to kill seven monsters and then John’s soul would be his.

John woke up the next morning with no sight that the man had been there, but his gun was still loaded with the gold bullets. Tucking it deep in his saddle bag, John rode on.

John had followed a trail of destruction all the way to the Dakotas. There he found an Indian. The two men tried to kill each other till they were stopped by a beast with long claws and blood stained white fur. It stood as a man, but thin and nearly 9 feet tall. The creature attacked them both. The Indian seemed to be using some sort of magic to attack the creature which harmed it, even while John’s shots from his normal gun were ignored. John recalled the gun with the gold bullets and he shot the creature which killed it instantly.

John and Indian, who he learned was named Husun, tended their wounds. Husun told John that the creature was a Wendigo and it had killed everyone in his camp. It was also the creature that had killed John’s family and all the families between here and Texas. He told John his gun was an evil thing, but now that he had used it he could not be rid of it.

John and Husun, whom the locals called “Blackfoot”, traveled together for a while investigating the paranormal. John tends to drink a little too much, but it is the only way he can sleep at night without the nightmares of the Wendigo killing his family.

John and Husun have come to England as Guests of the wealthy Lord Dyus Paton. Lord Paton has been unable to attend tonight’s diner at the Crystal Palace due to illness, but has sent along John and Husun in his stead, knowing the august crowd would enjoy seeing a real live American Cowboy and Indian.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heartbreak & Heroines

Today I stumbled on this new RPG on Google+ and was lead to it's page over at Kickstarter.  It has me very intrigued.

The game is called Heartbreak & Heroines and you can find it's Kickstarter page here,

Now my first reaction to this game was one of excitement.  This sounds like a great game and it fills a needed place in the RPG community.    My later reaction, after reading some of the other hype about this game, was we couldn't get this game fast enough.

Here is something about the game from the site.
Heartbreak & Heroines is a fantasy roleplaying game about adventurous women who go and have awesome adventures -- saving the world, falling in love, building community, defeating evil. It's a game about relationships and romance, about fairy tales and feminism.

You play a fantasy heroine (or hero, if you prefer) whose heart has been broken. She's experienced some loss so great that she's taken up her sword, her tome, her staff, or her wand and walked away from her place in society -- by becoming one of its defenders, fighting back the darkness that endangers everyone.

Heartbreak & Heroines is first and foremost a fantasy adventure game. It's not preachy and it isn't a textbook about feminism, but it's written from a feminist point of view. It challenges some of our assumptions about the role of gender in gaming but at the heart of H&H, it's about being a heroine (or hero) and finding your way to happiness in a dangerous world. I hope to produce something that Dwayne (McDuffie) would have enjoyed reading.

And the art looks good too. Here is a sample of the cover.

I have to admit it reminded me of this:

The author, Caoimhe Ora Snow, is unknown to me, but she has a blog or two or three, and a couple of threads over at RPG.Net one of system notes and another that is a FAQ.  This of course has lead to the predictable thread denouncing the game (a game none of the posters have read mind you) on RPG.Net as well.   Though the one thing, the one fact really, that stands out is this game made it's goal and then some in 48 hours.  I have known some Kickstarter games that can't do the same in 48 DAYS.

The system is the same as found in Wandering Monster High School, which is here,  and may just a little related thematically to another game the author has done, Awesome Women Kicking Ass,

It is also beginning to make some noise on the various blogs.  But it should not surprise anyone that these are generally more positive.

I think the idea is an interesting one and I am glad to throw some support behind it.

These Dwarves...

Look freaking awesome.

I am glad they don't look like D&D dwarves or Rankin/Bass dwarves or even the ones I pictured in my head when I read the Hobbit the first time.

I am so looking forward to this movie and I have every faith in Peter Jackson's vision.

Alas, Borders

I have waxed on about Borders and it's previous incarnation Waldenbooks before.

Sad to report that Borders is now facing it's final doom.

I will miss Borders, even if I rarely if even buy gaming material there anymore.

The trouble I think is the same reason why you don't see that many old-school record stores anymore.  The digital media revolution came and Borders did not change fast enough.  Yes there was also that revolving door of CEOs, and I have heard others complain about how the quality of the stores just went down hill.

I feel bad for the employees; this is a hard time to be out of work.  I still feel bad for the company too, they seemed to have been doomed really since the start of the 2000s.  And I also can't help but feel a tinge of guilt.  Sure there was nothing *I* could have done.  But I did choose to buy from Amazon and my FLGS instead, though my involvement one way or the otehr would not have helped Borders.  It will help my FLGS though.

I hate to see this happen all the same.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pipes of the Susurrus: Sleeping not yet dead...

"I watched as the faerie woman produced a long flute that appeared to be carved from the leg bone of some animal.  At least I hoped it was animal.  She began to play the horrific looking instrument and despite her effort the music, if indeed it could be called that, never rose above the level of a whisper.  The small army of undead soldiers chasing us suddenly stopped and began to sway to her phantasmagorical playing.  She paused briefly and took the flute from her lips.
'Come now.' She said, winded from her playing. 'The dead do not sleep long under the susurrus.'"

- From the Journal of Larina Nix

In many role-playing games that feature vampires, zombies, and other forms of the walking dead, one feature is fairly constant.  The Undead are immune to sleep, charm, and other mind-affecting magic.  In Ghosts of Albion for example the dead do not sleep, in most fantasy RPGs you also can't charm them or use some form of mind-affecting magic to get them to do your bidding unless you are the necromancer that summoned them.

Given that undead are frequently encountered (even outside of horror games) and used as adversaries then it should stand to reason that someone would have found a way around this.  Well in my games it is the fae or maybe the elves in yours.

The following text is released as Open Text under the OGL.  No other part of this post or art is released under the OGL.

Pipes of the Susurrus
Pipes of the Susurrus or Susurrus Pipes appear as a variety of different woodwind instruments.  The most common is that of a flute, but pan pipes are also common enough.  Rumor persists of a greater Pipes of the Susurrus in the form of a set of bagpipes and created by the Queen of the Seelie Court herself.

In all cases, the pipes are made of bone.

In order to use the pipes, the wielder must have the appropriate skill (Perform, Music, Instruments, or what is acceptable in your system) and spend time practicing the unique music that comes from the pipes.
Once done then they may use the pipes to induce a sleep-like state in all undead that can hear the music.  The stupor remains with them for the duration of the playing and for half that time again.  If the undead are attacked then the spell is broken.

Alternately a spellcaster can spend some time with the pipes and use it as a new material component when casting spells that would normally be ineffectual against the undead.  This extends to sleep, charm, and hold spells, but not to ESP or other mind-reading spells.

Pipes of the Susurrus are very rare. The secret of their manufacture are not known to many and the ones that have been made are often destroyed. Intelligent undead (Vampires, Liches, Ghosts) know them on sight and will make all attempts to destroy them.  The undead fears the pipes since they induce not a sleep-like state for them, but a death-like state, and most undead fear death more than mortals do.

Section 15
"Pipes of the Sururrus" Copyright 2011, Timothy S. Brannan

Monster Mash Movie Blogathon

I am joining the ranks of the Monster Movie Blogathon over at Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear.

For my participation I'll be watching the 1958 classic "The Screaming Skull".  It's for research.  I promise.

Monday, July 18, 2011

ENnies Voting

The 2011 ENnies Voting has begun.

Please go now and vote for your favorite product or company.

For me I am voting a fairly straight ticket of Dresden Files and D&D like products.

I'd also like to put out a plug for Kurt Wiegel from Game Geeks as a 2012 judge.
He is a huge RPG evangelist and he gets to try out a lot of games.  I think his honesty (and frankly his exposure to all sorts of games) makes him a great potential judge for 2012.

So please. Make your voices heard.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zatannurday: Justice League Dark

I have not talked about the big DC Reboot coming up in September.
For the most part I am looking forward to it, but I am not happy about loosing Oracle.   But today is Saturday and that means we are talking about Zatanna.

Here is the cover for the new title Justice League Dark.

The title deals with all the DC magical heroes dealing with all things dark and dangerous.  So Zee, John, Madame Xanadu.  I am hoping to see some Raven there too.

Here is JLD #1.

Looks like they are going after Enchantress.  This should be fun.
More information is here,

This might be one of the first comics I buy on a regular basis. Hope it is good.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mini D&D books

Yesterday some of you asked me about the mini-D&D books I had on my shelves.  They are really cool and I picked them about 10-12 years ago (it was before my kids were born I know that).

They were made by WotC and some Italian game company.
The info I have, from the box, is 21st Century Games, S.r.l. and they are located in Italy.  I cna't find anything about them. Every so often you see them on Ebay and generally not too expensive.

They are small and really hard to read, but I really like them.

The three boxed sets  I own.  There was a Dragonlance one and a Realms one, but I did not get those.  I think my FLGS still has the Realms one.

It is blury, but you can see the sets are complete, minus dice and the "Gateway to Adventure" catalog.

For an idea of scale here are my two Expert Sets.

And the expert books.

Even the backs are detailed.  Even though they were made by (or at least for) WotC, all the info is TSR.

The Greyhawk boxed set is the coolest since the maps are portable.

Here are the books I got.  I have heard there were more, but I have never been able to confirm that.

Compared to their "big brothers".

Anyone else have these?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My collection is now complete!

So what is this I got in the mail today?  A box? Addressed to me?

What could be inside? Let's open it up!

It's an Original Edition Dungeons and Dragons!
What's inside that box?

All the LBBs and supplements.  I already had an Eldritch Wizardry, but this one is much better shape.  Actually all the books are in good shape.  Well the Blackmoor book has some black tape on it, but the LBBs are all in fantastic shape.

I even have the reference sheets.

Looks pretty good with my set of old-school Basic books.

and next to my favorite Original D&D "clone"

and on my shelf!

I am told this is the "5.5" edition.  6th Edition/Printing books in a 5th Edition box.  I am not sure about the other books, but I am not collecting this as a "purist" I have always wanted a copy of this.

I have the PDFs, one of the first set of PDFs I bought when WotC had them fore sale, but holding these books is a really a different thing all together.

Original D&D has the distinction of the only version of D&D I only played once.  Even then it was 1987 and I am sure my point of view was skewed from years of AD&D.  That all being said, OD&D is one of those games that time and experience has only improved to me.  The game is not for beginners really, which is kind of funny.  Reading it gives me better appreciation for the Basic sets of Holmes and Moldvay.

I am not sure if I'll ever play it.  Maybe one day when the kids are older I might pull it out.  I can run the old Wee Warriors Palace of the Vampire Queen "kit" with it.

I can't help but think who was the first owner of this game and where he got it.  I bought it from a private collector who was not the original owner.

So now my collection is complete.  Till I find something else I need to obsess about!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

New Witch Magic items, Protection items

In most games witches and wizards seriously lack anything like melee skills and protection.  This actually does not make much sense.  I see the logic in not allowing them to wear armor; there is the training needed to wear it properly and the interference with movements, but if you are going into a situation where arrows, claws and swords are all around you and often pointing at you then I think you would come up with some ways to better protect yourself.

Well the witches in my books typically do.  They create a variety of magic items that look like regular bits of clothing that can provide protection of one form or another. I have taken a lot of these from fairytales, legends and other places.

I am releasing these under the OGL, but they should be fine for any version of the "world's oldest fantasy role-playing game".  All content is open and is copyright 2011 Timothy S. Brannan.  Art copyrights are retained by their owners and are used here by permission (the broom) or public domain (hand of glory).

Broom of Protection: This broom appears to be an ordinary witch’s besom or other mundane broom. It’s magic is revealed when the witch uses it to sweep.
This broom provided protection as a Sanctuary spell when the witch sweeps a clockwise circle around herself and others. The effects last five rounds and may be repeated 3d6 times.

Broom of Protection, Threshold: This broom also appears as a normal broom. It’s magic is evident when placed across a door as a bar or propped up against a door to hold it closed. Once so placed the door cannot be opened save via magic. If placed across a threshold where there is no door then no one can pass through also save via magic or by making a save vs. Rods, Staves and Wands (or a Will save).

Charm Bracelet: This silver chain is worn on the wrist and has a number of metal charms attached. The number of charms, 1 to 4, indicates the level of protection the bracelet will provide. So 1 charm is +1 to AC and Saves, 2 charms are +2 to AC and Saves and so on.

Charm Bracelet, Luck: This silver chain appears to be a charm bracelet, but instead of providing protection directly it provides a +1 to any one roll. The number of times it can be used in a day is indicated by the number of charms, 1d6. The luck bonus must be announced before the roll is made. It may only provide a single +1 bonus per use.

Cingulum: This nine-foot long cord in often wrapped many times around the waist as a belt. Magical varieties confer +1 to +5 bonuses to AC. The material to make this cord maybe anything the witch has on hand (leather, hemp rope, cotton, silk) but the manufacture must be of high quality. The cingulum typically has a number of knots equal to its bonuses. The magic does not become active till it is wrapped around the waist and knotted.

Garters are bits of clothing, usually cloth or leather, but can be made of more exotic materials such as snake skin, used to hold up a pair of stockings or socks. Some garters are also worn without supporting any other item of clothing or on the arm. Only one garter may be worn per appendage.

Garter of Protection, Red: This garter is almost always red. It confers a natural armor protection of +1 to +5. Normally worn on the upper arm this garter is made of the finest leather available.

Garter, Snakeskin: This garter is made of the recently shed skin of a large snake (less than 24 hours old). The skin is treated and infused with the witch’s magic. The end product is a bright snakeskin garter that allows the wear to escape any bonds as if they had escape of the snake cast on them.

Hand of Glory: This was a right hand of a murderer that was severed while the corpse was still hanging from the gallows. This mummified human hand hangs by a leather cord around a character’s neck (taking up space as a magic necklace would). When the hand was ready, candles were fitted on it between the fingers. These were called the “dead man’s candles” were made from another murderer’s fat, with the wick being made from his hair. Another method of curing the severed and dried hand was to dip it in wax. After this process the fingers themselves could be lit. If a magic ring is placed on one of the fingers of the hand, the wearer benefits from the ring as if wearing it him or herself, and it does not count against the wearer’s two-ring limit. The hand can wear only one ring at a time.
Even without a ring, lighting the hand itself allows its wearer to use daylight and see invisibility each once per day.
The following phrase is spoken to invoke the hand:

“Let those who rest, more deeply sleep;
Let those awake their vigils keep.
Oh, Hand of Glory, shed thy light
And guide us to our spoil tonight.”

Mantel of Protection: This leather mantle can be worn over cloaks, coats or armor. It provides +1 protection to AC and a -1 bonus to saving throws.

Oil of Death Armor: This oil is rubbed onto the user’s body. Anyone touching the user with bare skin must save vs. Death or take 2d4 points of damage (save negates). This spell lasts a number of rounds equal to 2d6. Many Patrons could consider use of this potion evil.

Sky Clad Oil: This oil is rubbed on the body to protect the user from the elements while sky-clad (nude). The oil is only effective on bare skin. The user can survive temperatures of -60 degrees to +200 degrees Fahrenheit, but only when uncovered. Any part of her body covered by clothes will not receive the magical protection.
Any other class can use this oil, but witches are very secretive about its nature (reflected in the price). This oil can also be safely used with any other type of body potion or oil, in particular Flying Ointment.
The oil’s effects last 6 hours, typically midnight till dawn.

Talismans are small items that can have any spell of third level or lower. The talisman can be made of paper, wood, clay or even metal. Often they are worn and kept till evoked. To evoke a talisman takes only an instant and the effects are instant. The command word or gesture to evoke the talisman is often inscribed on the talisman itself.
Unless otherwise noted a talisman can only be used once.

Hand of Fatima: A small brass talisman in the shape of a hand. Provides protection against any evil spell or spell like effect directed at the wearer, in particular the evil eye. These talismans may only be used once per day.

Isis’ Talisman of Protection: This talisman confers a +1 protection bonus to saves and AC. Effects last as per level of creator. This talisman is usually in the form of a fine crafted gold ahnk. These talismans may only be used once per day.

Talisman of Good Luck: This talisman is one of the most often found. This minor magic item provides +1 to any single roll. The talisman must be invoked before the action is taken (before the roll is made).
Typically luck talismans are in the form of a four-leaf clover, a rabbit’s foot, a horseshoe or a copper coin. Any other small item maybe use. The item is not consumed in the invocation, but it useless after the first use.

Talisman of Protection Against Conception: Even in historical times there were means of birth control practiced, this is one of the magical ones. Worn by tantric witches during their worship practices, witches during the rites of Beltane or any woman that wishes to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
The talisman provides protection for one full lunar month (one moon phase to the next) then it becomes inert. This is if the talisman is used or not.
Mundane (non magical) pregnancies are completely blocked and magical ones (via a fertility spell) give a +1 to any saves.
Since they only last one month regardless of if it is used or not the materials are often not the highest quality. Also an owner can return to the witch to have the talisman “recharged” at the same price.
Note: A lot of these talismans are sold that are completely useless. Only the witch’s reputation, or the ability to detect magic, can one be sure. In places where witchcraft. is outlawed possession of these talismans is also considered a crime.

"Witch Protection Items", Copyright 2011 Timothy S. Brannan

DriveThru RPG July Codes

It is that time again.

Here are the products you can get from DriveThru RPG for 20% off.

The coupon code to get 20% off all these products (or just some if you prefer) is CoolJulySave2011.

And for one lucky person you can get a free copy of Smallville.

The contest for that will be simple.  Tell me your favorite super hero and how you would like to play them in a "Smallville" like game.  If you need some hints/help then look over the DTRPG site reviews and my own coverage on Smallville.
The post does not need to be long, but it should tell me why you want to play that character.
I'll choose the winner on based on what you post here.  Make sure I have a way to email you.
Deadline is Midnight Central Time, Friday July 15.  I'll pick a winner on Friday.

Good luck!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

But....I am not done yet!

Very busy day.  Everyone has crashed early.  I am taking some time to sit down a look over the campaign material for the next few adventures comparing it with all the material I want to use and something dawned on me.

I am not quite ready to give up 3.x just yet.

Don't get me wrong, I love my 4e game and my Pathfinder playing helps fill some of that need.  But as a DM there is still so much ground to cover, so much I can still do.

Maybe it is just the lack of caffeine or just having a huge investment of 3.x books looking back at me.

I am sure I'll find something to do with it all.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Best Blog You Are Not Reading

Time for another installment of "The Best Blog You Are Not Reading".

This time I want to focus on a writer's blog that helps you figure out what your characters are all about.
The Blog That Helps You Diagnose Your Characters

So if you are not into role-playing and see your character only as a collection of numbers and no name, then this is probably not for you.

The author, Joshua D. Hoyt, is a writer and also has a Master's Degree in Counselling Psychology and working on another on in School Psychology. I have a Masters and Ph.D. (ABD) in Educational Psychology myself and working on a Ph.D. in Curriculum Instruction myself, so I appreciate what he is writing here.

Now most people reading my blog are not writers (though some are) and most are gamers.  But we all deal with characters of some sort.  Players might want some sort of insight as to why things are done and GMs in particular (who don't have time to RP a character from tabula rasa) will gain some help in making their NPCs more life-like.

Some of the work is rather simple stuff, his run on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs was good, but his Schema and Traits discussion was very interesting.

My favorite so far though has been his working through the Erikson stages of Development.  I liked this since I have been working on a character life-span development idea now for sometime.

I like this blog since it allows me to use both my gamer and academic backgrounds.  And besides that it is kinda fun.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Strigoi: A New witch monster for Basic-era games

A long time ago, back in the far off time of 2000, the OGL was released.  Back on the OGL and OGF list there were many discussions over what is and what couldn't be considered PI (Product Identity).
What was intended was it a way for publishers to protect their IP (Intellectual Property) while still releasing other material into the OGC pool.  Among the "top tier" publishers this worked out well.  Sword and Sorcerery Studios, Mongoose, Necromancer and so on all played nice and thing more or less worked out.  Typically they protected "fluff" and text writeups while stat blocks were open.

Occasionally you would get someone that would try to claim some material they scraped off the net as PI (say the names of devils and demons) or the history of some historical figure, but for the most parts these were ignored when they were frowned apon.  The telling thing I think is the ones that did it well are still here to tell us about it.

Well...some people still don't quite have a grasp on this yet.

Check out this post from Kobold Quarterly,  on the Strigoi.

It is a good write-up for Pathfinder and I detect a bit of "4th Edition Envy" in some of the text.

What I don't like is the little bit at the end of each page where it says "(This post is Product Identity.)"

Hmmm...Ok....I guess.
I don't think that is very neighborly of them, and others tend to agree.

In truth they can't make "strigoi" PI anymore than they could make it copyrighted.  The post can certainly be PI. Their unique expression of a strigoi in Pathfinder can be PI.  The name cannot.
Plus, and not to put too fine a point on it, they can't make a claim of PI without the rest of the license as stated in the license itself.
Obviously the author wants to keep his creation for appearing in other publications and that is cool, I respect that.  There are better ways to go about it and his PI declaration doesn't quite pass the "reasonable person test".

In any case here is my contribution.  I am declaring the following monster stat-block, write-up and all text below and including the name of the monster to be Open Content.
My OGL documentation is here, and this post is copyright Copyright © 2011 Timothy S. Brannan.

Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5d8+4** (28 hp)
No. of Attacks: 2 claws, 1bite
Damage: 1d6+2, 1d6+2 / 1d4+1
Special: Blood drain, transform into a large bird, undead
Movement:: 40 ft., Fly 60 ft
No. Appearing: 1
Saves As: Fighter 7
Morale: 10
Treasure: none
Alignment: Chaotic
XP: 660

The much feared Strigoi is an undead form of a particularly evil witch. They are most common among the witches of the Classical and Family (Gypsy) traditions and many are part of the Mara covens. They ways to become a Strigoi are varied, but it is believed to be part of a curse. The Strigoi loses her ability to cast spells, but it is offset with her increased strength and speed (treat as 18 in both strength and dexterity).
The Strigoi leaves her grave at night, usually an unhallowed one, to feed on blood much in the same manner as a vampire. She can transform into a large, evil looking bird; something akin to a giant crow with sharp teeth in her beak.
In human form the Strigoi can appear much as she did in life. Most Strigoi have red hair and blue eyes, though scholars debate on whether there traits were present before the witch was cursed. Most Strigoi do not attempt to hide what they are and retain the palor and look of death. Grave dirt clings to their clothes and their faces are smeared with gore.
Strigoi are predisposed to return to their loved ones in an attempt to reenter their lives. This often leads to the Strigoi destroying her former family.

Weaknesses of the Strigoi
The Strigoi cannot enter a home unless invited in first. A Stigoi also cannot pass a line of grain or salt laid out in front of them. Garlic is also effective, as is silver, but mirrors are not.
Strigoi can only be hit with silver or magical items.
Like all undead Strigoi take damage from holy water and avoid holy items. They do not care for light (or Light spells), but they are not destroyed by the sun as are vampires.
To permanently kill a Strigoi one must hammer an iron stake or nail through their head into their coffin. Their heart and blood sac (a new organ that looks like a second heart but is more akin to a stomach) must be cut out and burned.
Strigoi are turned as are Wraiths.

Living Strigoi
A type of witch known as a Strigoaică or a Strigoi Viu is a type of living Strigoi. She appears as a normal human witch with red hair and blue eyes. They are immune to the attacks of other undead, but will become a Strigoi on their own deaths. It is rumored that these Strigoi retain their spellcasting abilities after their transformation.

"Strigoi" Copyright © 2011 Timothy S. Brannan
Released under the OGL as Open Gaming Content

Conventions and other maddness

Been a slow blogging week here at the Other Side.  
I am really busy at work and I have been re-working both Ghosts of Albion adventures I'll be running.

Speaking of which, I will be at a local Convention, Cyphan, at the end of July.

I will be running both of the same adventures I'll be running at Gen Con, "Obsession" and "Dinosauria!" on Friday and Saturday respectively.
You can see the schedule here:
Cyphan has a more Steampunk feel to it than Gen Con, so maybe I'll make a mad-scientist like character to fit into that mix.  He/She would be perfect for "Dinosauria!" really.

I have also been active in paying some more attention to my other (co-owned) blogs, Red Sonja: She Devil with a Sword and Amazon Princess.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

PDF reviews at DriveThru RPG

Blazing headache today.
I was holding on to this post for a rainy day, but today is good.

Some more DriveThru RPG reviews.  No theme today. Just a bunch of random pdfs that caught my attention.
I am trying out a new database to keep track of my reviews now too.

Action! System Core Rules (Free Version)
Good game for action/adventure RPGs.
It is designed to focus on "realism", so no super science or magic, but perfect for say a spy, detective, cop or any other type of action game.
4 out of 5 stars

Bardic Lore: Riastradh
Very cool for any Celtic flavored game and cool for any game to be honest.
The warp-spasm of Cú Chulainn is something that has been in the stories of the Ulster cycle, but never really implemented well in a game. This is a pretty good way to do it.

If you are running a Celtic game, then this is a good product to have. Great price as well.
5 out of 5 stars

Out for Blood
If there was anything you ever wanted to know about vampires or those that hunt them then this is your book.
In the 200+ pages there are 18 new prestige classes, new uses for skills, feats, and of course tons of vampires. There are a handful of new spells and campaign ideas for using or hunting vampires in your game.
What I liked best about this book though was the Fist of Light Prestige Class. It was exactly what I was looking for in one of my games and I was happy to see someone else had done all the work for me.
The layout is very clean and clear and easy enough to read onscreen. The art varies, but most it is rather good.
5 out of 5 stars

Paths of Power
Ideas and options for alternate magic systems in d20. Lots of great ideas here and can be used as a tool kit, options or just a way to give characters a different feel.
5 out of 5 stars

Teenage Demon Slayers
I do not own or ever have played a Pocket Universe game, but I was working on a "magical high school" campaign for my players and I saw this. I saw Jeff Dee's name and picked up a copy.
It makes for a good resource and translating the ideas to other games or systems is fairly easy.
It can't comment on the playability of the material, the readability was fine.
4 out of 5 stars

Campaign Builders: Modern High
Campaign Builders are quick books to help you get started with a campaign mode. In this case a modern high school (and two popular variations, the Horror High and Ninja School).
I grabbed this for ideas to help with a anime/supers/magic flavored high school game I Was working on at the time and it was a great help. The coolest feature here (and since used in other games) is the "Allowance" mechanic. This might not be the first place it has been used like this, but what they do have here is very good.

It is a great product for the price. I might have liked to see more school types and paid a little more, but all in all I am very happy with it.

4 out of 5 stars

Venture 4th: Pact of Ghosts
An interesting addition to the 4th edition game. I liked many of the powers and did not feel they were too overpowered or underpowered. I also liked the different flavor they gave to the Warlock class.
3rd party publishers of D&D4 material are at a severe disadvantage. They can't add their material to the DDi and that makes them less attractive. But if you can get past that this is a very good class build and one I plan on using in my games.
4 out of 5 stars

Silver Age Sentinels D20: Stingy Gamer Edition
Silver Age Sentinels is a fantastic d20 based supers game. It has the problem of being "that other d20 Supers game" and never got the foothold in the market it would have.

This version includes all the rules but is missing some of the text that I felt made SAS worth buying.

4 out of 5 stars

Villains for 2.0
You get 10 detailed NPCs/concepts/archetypes to use either as heroes or as villains for Mutants and Masterminds 2nd ed.
The art is comic book fare, but that is actually to it's benefit here. The archetypes are not particularly original, but they are afterall archetypes.
If you need a bad guy quickly then this is good product. I bought it for just one of the archetypes and was happy with the rest.
4 out of 5 stars

Character Builder Complete: Celtic
A 36 page, form-fillable character folio with a celtic theme. "Builder" is a bit of a mis-nomer, there is nothing here that contains rules, but nearly everything is here to build a character of any class. For d20/OGL 3.x.
4 out of 5 stars

Librum Equitis - Volume 2
Twenty new prestige classes and some new spells.
The book is good if you are looking for some more prestige classes, but I found I never used any of them myself.

I did like the new spells.
4 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, Part 2

I have been re-reading the original S4, the original tournament module it was based on and the update Iggwilv's Legacy and something occurred to me.  For a module centered around Iggwilv and her interest in demons, there are surprisingly few demons in this adventure.

Since I need to up the ante anyway I am thinking that I am going to replace some of the monsters with demons.  It will be one of the last times I'll use demons in a 3.x adventure and I have tons of books on them.  So stirges for example would be replaced by chasme (fly demons), the dao in the greater caverns (the "ante-chamber of the garden of 1001 delights") will be replaced by incubi and succubi.

I won't go overboard, but I think I have a few good places where I can do this and it will work out well.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy 4th of July

Posting will be light this weekend (you may have noticed).

Celebrating the July 4th Weekend.

Saturday, July 2, 2011