Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thanks to Stuffer Shack!

With the end of August nigh (gods, I used"nigh") I'll no longer be the site of the month over at Stuffer Shack!

It has been great fun and I am looking forward to seeing which site is the site of the month for September.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Oh Hell!

There are some new posts over at The Land of Nod about Hell:
Going to #&!!
Ruminations on the Netherworld

I like what he has so far.
I have been going on a similar path myself:
Going (Up) to Hell? Cosmology
Post 666

Let's be honest here.  Hell is interesting.  It is the ultimate mega dungeon  Everything there can be killed and not only that, it is a good thing to do!

What I have been struggling with though is cosmology.
IF there is a multiverse in my game (and there is) then does each world have it's own Hell?  Or do all Hells connect to each other.
Obviously one answer is that in the core of my world there is my Hell and in the core of the Land of Nod there is another Hell and so on...  Another is they are all the same place, just different points of view and different access points.

The other issue I still have is how to get Hell and the Abyss to work together.  Sur eI could make the same place and have the demons be the thralls of the devils, but that robs them of some of their chaotic power.

I should figure this out soon.  The Dragonslayers are about to get a copy of the Demonomicon and I want to do an whole arc where they fight Orcus.

Could the Antechamber of Hell/Limbo also be the Abyss?  Is it big enough to support all the demons I need? The Earth currently is home to almost 7 billion people.  How many demons then are there?   According to many of the myths of the time there is anywhere from 6,666 to 133 million demons, with up to 72 demonic leaders.

According to the 4th ed Manual of the Planes Hell is a planet that is 7,000 in diameter. If my world is roughly the same size as Earth then Hell can be inside the Earth with 460 some odd miles between the the two surfaces.   The deepest part of the Earth is under 7 miles deep and I recall reading somewhere that the deepest we have ever dug is 2 miles.  So plenty of room for demons, devils and all sorts of beasties.
Even if the Underdark is 10 miles deep that is still a lot of room.

So I think I have enough room.  Now where to put them all.

Other useful links:

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Ed AD&D

Been in the mood for some 1st ed AD&D.  Maybe play a druid.

Now to find a game.

Elmore love

So there have some posts recently about people's love (or general like) of Larry Elmore's art:

I even posted about it last year:

I know there are some of the "old guard"  that don't like Elmore's art or associate it with a change at TSR and in D&D they are/were not happy with.  Well to quote my youngest "Balderdash and Poppycock!" (he heard me say that in a game and now he uses whenever he can).

Elmore art can be cheesecake, but it is also quite a step up from the art we had up to that point.  Nothing against those old-school artists, but Elmore had a vision of the D&D world and it was a vision I liked.

But let's be 100% honest.
I love his witches.

This witch appeared in the famous Dragon #114 version of the witch class and she was the "face" of my witch character ever since.

Later when I was looking for some new art I found this one:
I liked it so much that last Gen Con I bought the mini from Dark Sword and a signed print from Larry himself.

Of course those are not the only witches he has done. (linking instead of adding the pics of these) (have another mini of this one)

He explains it a bit in an interview he did in 2010 with Casey Philips:

CP: You've illustrated so many different things over the years. Do you have a favorite character you've depicted?

LE: No, not really. I've sort of been plagued with the image of a dark-haired, woodsy kind of woman - a witchy woman. She's always been on my mind, starting when I was about 22 or something. That's why I do a lot of witchy looking women, especially in drawings, but I don't have many paintings of it. It's funny, I just laid out a painting of a voodoo woman I'll be doing for myself.

The biggest thing when you're making a living as an illustrator, which I've done for my whole life, is that you don't get to do what you want to do. You're always illustrating a book or a game or somebody's image of a creation. Finally, after 25-30 years of it, I just got tired of it. Now, I'm doing more private contracts and my own work. I like to paint people and landscapes. With people, I like to paint women more than men, of course. I'm a red-blooded man. (Laughs.) This witchy woman thing still plagues me - this mysterious, dark-haired woman.

I totally get that.  Maybe he can join the Witch Lovers Anonymous I am planning to start with Paul Dini.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pathfinder now

Playing some Pathfinder now in the Dragonlance world.

New DM and I am playing a dwarf fighter.  I am going to try to avoid doing a Scottish accent.
Been a long time since I played in Krynn.

Should be fun.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Zatannurday: Even More Cosplay

Is the best thing about cons are the cosplay? Well, maybe not, but these Zatanna hopefuls certainly are giving it their all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Heartbreaker your time has come, can't take your evil way

I have talked before about the Fantasy Heartbreaker.
Fantasy games that attempt to "improve on" D&D but in the end break your heart.

Here is the Ron Edwards/The Forge standard definition. (circa 2002-3)
characterized by (1) the basic, imaginative content is "fantasy" using gaming, specifically D&D, as the inspirational text; (2) independently published as a labor of love, essentially competing directly with D&D in the marketplace; (3) the rules are similar to the majority of pre-1990s RPGs.
And some links:
Fantasy Heartbreakers
More Fantasy Heartbreakers

reviewed a couple in the past and made a number of posts about one of my favorite ones, Quests of the Ancients.

I was going through my stacks of books (and PDFs) to figure what I had and what I should look to buy at the most recent Gen Con and came on a bunch of what could be called Fantasy Heartbreakers.

I have no idea why these games fascinate me so much.
I *could* claim it is an academic interest that the design of these game reflects either the personal psychic of the designer or the inherent zeitgeist of the times.  But in truth, I don't care enough about the first and the later can be better observed in better more popular games. (Thesis topic: Is the change from oWoD to nWod a direct reflection of the post 9/11 world or merely an attempt to make more money? Another post perhaps.)

I *could* claim that each one is a fascinating game evolutionary cul-de-sac, but that is often giving them too much credit.

I think I like them because each one is insight to someone else's process of writing a game.  A flawed process from a flawed premise.  The flawed premise is "I can make a better D&D than D&D" rather than "I can make a better FPRG than D&D".  I say it is flawed because D&D is the best D&D there is.  There are great FRPGs that are not D&D and they do a wonderful job.But the FHB does not try to be a fantasy game, it tries to be D&D.

There is one thing I always find interesting in FHB's, their "Appendix N" or list of books to read.
Sometimes, rare times, there are good tidbits here.  Most of the time it is a bunch of pretentious posturing of "ooo look what I have read! You read it now to or you are stupid!"
I get putting in Lovecraft (if you have actually read his stuff and not just the bits with Cthulhu), Howard and Poe.  But "Walden", really???  How is transcendental thought going to help me in my game of mass murder and theft (killing things and taking their stuff).  I am going to put list John Dewey (a major figure in my academic life) in one of my books one day JUST so someone will call me on my shit.
Seriously.  The one-up-manship in these is crazy sometimes. In others I am convinced they never actually read the books they mention since the bulk of their game so antithetical to the writings of the author they listed.

But I digress...

Before I go on too much more let's get to today's post.

What are your favorite (or least favorite) Fantasy Heartbreakers?


What is the state or role of the FHB in this post OGL, retro-cloned world?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dinosauria Character Illustrations

My last game at Gen Con was Dinosauria!
This was a new one I had started on a while back designed to be an intro adventure for Ghosts of Albion.

I have mentioned here a few times and even posted the characters.  One of my players that night decided to do illustrations (with anime style "chibis") of the new characters.  I was floored!  I loved them.  I asked her permission to post them here and she agreed.  So without further ado, here are the stars of Ghosts of Albion: Dinosauria!

Lady Valerie Beaumont

Chief Constable Walter Edwards

Lady Fionna

and Xian “Jane”

and our cowboy, John Mulgrew

I thought these were awesome and I very happy to have them in my Dinosauria! collection.
Click to make bigger.  Sorry about the quality of the scans, was playing around to see if I could make her light pencil sketches show up a little better.

And thank you Audrey for being in my game and doing these great character portraits!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Here there Be Dragons: Turquoise Dragon

Here is one of the first dragons that Liam came up with.

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

Turquoise Dragon
Armor Class: 0 [19]
Hit Dice: 10d8+5** (50 hp)
No. of Attacks: Claw (x2), Bite
Damage: 1d6 / 1d6 / 5d6
Special: Breath weapons, special
Movement: 90' (30') / Fly 180' (60').
No. Appearing: 1 or mated pair (2)
Saves As: Fighter 10
Morale: 9
Treasure: As a Blue Dragon
Alignment: Neutral
XP: 3,500

Turquoise dragons are a very old breed of dragon and many are no longer seen these days. Due to their coloration they are often confused at a distance with blue dragons. Though the turquoise dragon is not evil and sometimes found in the company of a gold dragon, whom they consider friends.

Turquoise dragons coloration begins as a pale green as a wrymling, deepening in blues till it's ancient adulthood. They have long serpent like bodies with great fan like wings. Their tails are spiked and they have overly large incisors. The female turquoise dragon fangs can produce poison when she protecting her young. The poison causes weakness and sleep (failed save). Unless magical means are used the victim suffers a burning fever that last a number of days equal to 20 minus their CON score. The females have smaller teeth.

The breath weapon of the turquoise dragon is a bright spark they “cough” up. The spark flies forward towards their target and on contact explodes. The damage of blast is similar to that of a fireball at 10d6 points of damage, save vs Breath Weapon for half. The spark may travel up to 90' in a straight line.

They find their homes on great plains and other area where plant life and plant eating herd animals are plenty. They will sometimes swoop down on cattle and carry one off to eat. Turquoise are not malicious, merely hungry. If they know certain cattle belong to humans or demi-humans then they will leave that cattle alone.

Despite this farmers enjoy having a turquoise dragon around since the scare away other predators and the action of their wings flapping is rumored to cause storms.

Turquoise Dragons may cast the following levels of Wizard (Magic-user) spells, 5 (1st level), 4 (2nd level) and 4 (3rd level).

Witch Guardian for Cinematic Unisystem

Witch Guardian

The Witch Guardian is a concept I have had for a number of years. When I worked on my d20 book of witches I contacted Greyorm (who did the art above) to see if I could use his Witch Knight in my book which was a similar concept. His is more knight and mine is more armed and armored protector, but the ideas mesh well.

I later updated it from 3.0 to 3.5/Pathfinder and 4e.

Here it is for Cinematic Unisystem using the Ghosts of Albion rules (though Buffy would work too).

Witch Guardian
7-Point Quality
Prerequisite: 1 level of Magic/Sorcerery, must belong to a coven or magical group

Witch Guardians are those witches that protect the faithful not just through magic, but also by the sword.  All witch guardians must train for their new role within the coven.  In traditional coven this also means the witch guardian stands outside the circle.  She is still a member, but can no longer take the roles of the Maiden or High Priestess.
For her devotion and training the witch guardian gets the following boons.
  • Contacts (Supernatural) +1 - the witch guardian gains an additional level of supernatural contacts as she is now a person of interest in the supernatural world.
  • Fast Reaction Time - the combat reflexes are heightened
  • Hard to Kill (4) - witch guardians are protected by their training and magic
  • Natural Toughness - the witch guardian learns how to cloak herself in mystical armor
  • Nerves of Steel - witch guardians are expected to go up against the things that the coven can't handle on their own.
She also gains the following disadvantages.
  • Adversary (1) - the enemies of the coven are the personal enemies of the witch guardian.
  • Honorable +1 - the personal honor of the witch guardian increases by one level.
  • Obligation (Total) - most witch guardians have at least 1 level of obligation to their coven or faith, the dedication to their cause makes this obligation absolute.
  • Tradition Bound - the witch guardian is bound to the traditions of the coven more so than other witches.  So many eschew modern convinces in favor of magical ones.
In addition the witch guardian may choose a supernatural quality (reserved for demons, vampires, faeries or ghosts) when she has the points to do so and with permission from the Director.

Witch guardians typically take on a new name when they join the guard.

Special Note: A witch guardian can not also already have the Guardian of the Watchtowers quality.  A character can be a Witch Guardian and then choose to be a Guardian of the Watchtower later. But they can't be a Guardian of the Watchtower then become a witch guardian.

Using Witch Guardians in Your Game
A witch guardian makes a perfect adversary, ally or foil for many game groups.
As an adversary the witch guardian is protecting a coven of witches that the cast need to get too.  While they may be expecting spells and magical attacks, a sword wielding AND spell using threat is some thing different all together.
As an ally the witch guardian brings the same magical and melee combat expertise, but she is also learned in the occult and connected to the supernatural world in a way other witches are not.

I have used witch guardians in my games over the years and they are some of my favorite characters.  Angelik was an immortal witch guardian protecting the hand of Yoln in The Dragon and the Phoenix.  Brigh and Cerwedden were witch guardians charged with protecting Tara and Willow in Season of the Witch.
I have also used Scáthach in my Ghosts of Albion games.

Monday, August 22, 2011

GM Merit Badges

Strange Magic has a very interesting post about GM styles and icons (he calls them Merit Badges) you can use to ID your GM style.

So here are mine.

 My games can sometimes have disturbing elements.

 I focus on drama and character development

 Characters in my games are destined for greatness, not random death.  Characters not destined for greatness are in someone else's game.

 I am in charge. Rule 0 is always in effect.

 You will need to investigate and solve mysteries.

My games are scary.

 My games will tell a story.  

Cool stuff.

Where are you at?
Here are some of the people I read.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quintessential D&D (Half-baked ideas), Part 2

So building off of my "Half-Baked Adventure" and my sorta-update here is a plan.

Here is what I have at the moment.

Basic:  B1 In Search of the Unknown
AD&D 1st Ed: C2 Ghost Tower of Inverness
AD&D 2nd Ed: RM4 House of Strahd. Total cheat I know, but I'd run it as if it were in Ravenloft.
D&D 3rd Ed: Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk
D&D 4th Ed: The updated Tomb of Horrors

So some remakes and updates.  But all with classic roots.
Now to buy a copy of Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Zatannurday: New Looks

So few weeks back I posted Zee's "new" look for the Flashpoint series. It was fairly universal that most people hated it.

Well Zee is getting updated AND retro at the same time in two different incarnations.

For the upcoming nDCU we have the team of Justice League Dark.  The group that deals with threats that frankly scare the crap out of the rest of the league.  Here is some of the art for that.

Sorry, could not find a larger pic.
It has Constantine, which is cool and Enchantress and Madame Xanadu, two characters I have wanted to know more about.  Zee is in the middle looking a little Goth really.  I kinda dig the costume to be honest.
In truth JLD is missing Raven.  But that is fine. I am not a big fan of Dead Man, but I can get over that.
The concept is so neat that I might become a digital subscriber to this one.

Also Zee might be a new member of the Young Justice TV show.  Here is some art for that too.
 I't a bit dark (shading, not tone) I know.

I am looking forward to seeing both versions of Zee this September.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lack of brain

There were a lot of things I wanted to post over the last week or so, but my brain is mush.

To top everything of I worked 14 hours today to get ready for the Fall term that starts next week.
I am still not done.

So what do I know?

Well DriveThru is celebrating H. P. Lovecraft's birthday with some sales on Lovecraft inspired games.

Not sure if I am going to get to play Pathfinder next week cause of all the work I still have to do.

I did the math the other day and the DragonSlayers don't have enough gear, spells or HP to take on Tiamat yet.  Especially if I play her right.

I have about 12 started, but unfinished posts.  I hope to get some of them out to you all soon.

Spellcraft & Swordplay on DriveThruRPG

My friend Jason Vey has put up his stellar game Spellcraft & Swordplay on DrivethruRPG.

Spellcraft & Swordplay is not a retro-clone.  It is old-school to be sure.
Jason likes to call it a "retro game", I like to think of it more of an alternate reality, divergent evolution sort of game.  It is if OD&D continued on it's path without the "alternate combat system", you know the one where you roll a d20.

Spellcraft & Swordplay only needs two d6s. So you have almost everything you need when you download it and I am sure most people have d6s at home.

I prefer S&S over Swords and Wizardry because I feel S&S captures the feel of OD&D better than SW does. SW has a number of 3rd ed/d20 influences that have filtered in.  Not there is a problem with that, it is still a very fine game.  It I just like S&S more.  Of course I vastly prefer it to LotFP in terms of pure fun and use.

So please.  Go to DriveThruRPG and get yourself a copy of this game.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tome of Horrors Complete...Completer...more Complete

I could not help it.

I got the the S&W version of Tome of Horrors.

The brief monster hooks are fantastic and I would have loved to see them in the Pathfinder version too.

Mystic Locales: Halfway

A while back I came up with this idea to post small write-ups on mystic and magical places you could put into your games.
Halfway was one of my first ones and still one of my favorites.

Type: Supernatural Tavern
Location: American Southwest

Located in the middle of the Arizona desert on a lonesome stretch of forgotten highways lies one of the strangest sights, one that the characters might not see again in their life. It is a bar, in the middle of nowhere. The parking lot is often full of motorcycles and semi tractor trailer trucks. Its bright, but broken neon sign proclaims this place is called Halfway.

Inside the clientele are of all shapes and sizes. In addition to humans, demons, vampires, Bast, even were-creatures and an angel or two can be seen inside. The curious thing is no one is fighting. Not that the place is quiet or sedate, it is quite loud and the occasional argument does break out. Anytime it looks like an argument might escalate to a physical or magical fight glances are haltingly directed to a man sitting in back playing cards. The man, only known as The Dealer, never acknowledges these glances, in fact he never sees them, but the fight looses steam as soon as it almost started.

The Dealer continues his game. The cards he uses are old and appear to be about a hundred years old. They appear to be playing cards, but also look like an old set of Tarot cards written in Spanish. When playing he keeps the Major Arcana tucked away, but that is not why people come here. People come here because this blind man can see the future.

The rumor is that the Dealer made a deal with Fate hundreds of years ago. To gain his ability to see the future his eyes were burned out of his head. He now wears dark sunglasses to cover his injury. He came to this bar and challenged the then demonic owner to a game of cards. The demon, seeing the burned out eyes of an otherwise normal human, took that bet. That is when Fate played Her hand. Within hours the Dealer, as he was now calling himself owned the bar, the former demon owner, and much of the money of the other players at the table.

Since then people come the world over for the contacts that only Halfway has, but mostly they are here to get insight to their own futures.

There is also quite a bit of speculation what the name Halfway means. Most assume it is because it is half-way between Las Vegas, NV and Santa Fe, NM. Though most of the clientele say it is half-way between our world and Hell. The Dealer, when he comments about it at all will say that it is halfway between where you were and where you need to go.

The Dealer
Human agent of Fate

The Dealer has no stats. He does not enter into combat of any sort not does he seem to need to sleep. Attacks on him always fail do to some random occurrence. For example if a character pulls out a gun to shoot him the gun will jam, or as the bullet is fired someone from the upper level falls over the railing and connects with the bullet. Spells deflect and physical attacks fail. Whenever the characters come to Halfway he is sitting at the back table playing cards. He is typically found with a 9ft tall demon with deep red skin, black horns and wings who spits fire when he laughs and an angelic humanoid of indeterminate gender. Typically al three will be playing cards, usually poker, with a fourth. When the characters arrive he will address them, not so much by name, but by their recent deeds and actions. For example if the characters just finished off a group of demons, the Dealer will work that into conversation. He will deal the cards to whomever wishes to have their fortunes read. This is not a gypsy-style fortune telling, and he will say a much. He will refer to sacred geometries of chance or the ebb and flow of probabilities. He will only deal three cards representing the characters past, present and future respectively. In cases where the future card is especially dire he allows the character to keep the card.
Directors need to work hard in preparing for the Casts visit to the Dealer and Halfway. If they are there for information, it is likely that they will get it, for a price. For a fortune read (and never ask the Dealer to read your fortunes he will only reply, what makes you so sure you are going to be fortunate?)

The Dealer is played by Viggo Mortensen.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

DriveThru RPG August PDF sales

It is about that time again. DriveThruRPG's blog support program where I reward you the loyal reader with savings found no where else! That is till the other bloggers also post this list!

Anyway some cool things for you all this month and the code to get 20% off of any or all the products here.

Vampire Hunter$ Modern OGL [Team Frog]
SAWS+ Character Sheet for Pathfinder [Dire Giraffe]
Field Guide to Superheroes Vol. 3 (ICONS) [Vigilance Press] *Read me review of this one on the product page*
Plastic Ships and Fuzzy Men [Inner City Games Designs]
The Genius Guide to Another 110 Spell Variants (Pathfinder) [Super Genius Games]
Iron Dynasty: Way of the Ronin [Reality Blurs] *for Savage Worlds*

Your discount code is: AfterGenConGlow2011

And for one lucky reader a FREE copy of Iron Dynasty: Way of the Ronin if they can answer this Other Side trivia question:
In "The Dragon and the Phoenix", Tara learns to speak fluent Japanese.  How did this happen?

The first correct answer posted below (and some means of me emailing you the free code) will win a PDF copy!

Good luck!

Back and a new Blog-a-thon-a-fest thing

Back from campus.  I'll have a post quasi-related to that and some much needed attention to my "off the radar but not forgotten" project "Eldritch Witchery".

Many of you may well know I am a big fan of bad movies.  Sometime I get more enjoyment out of a 1-star stinker than an Oscar filled tour-de-force.  So I have joined another blog-fest. Alex J. Cavanaugh, who sponsored the Fun and Games blogfest and co-sponsored the A to Z posting challenge is giving us the "Worst Movies Ever" Blogfest.

I like doing these things.  It gives me something to look forward to and hopefully stretch out my creative endeavors.
Plus it gives me an excuse to watch some really bad movies!  How am I ever going to limit this to just 10 though!

Monday, August 15, 2011

On campus...

Going to be on campus for the next few days.  Posting will be sparse.
Those courses don't write themselves...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Zatannurday: Gen Con Zatanna

For the post Gen Con weekend here are some cosplay pics of Zatanna at Gen Con over the years.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quintessential D&D (Half-baked ideas)

So building off of my "Half-Baked Adventure" a couple of days of ago I have decided that I want to choose good dungeon crawl 1-shots from each system.

So here is what I have at the moment.

AD&D 1st Ed:
AD&D 2nd Ed:
AD&D 3rd Ed:
D&D 4th Ed:

Not much.
Basic might be the easiest.  B1 In Search of the Unknown is my go to adventure of choice and totally sandbox.  I can fit it to anything really. Plus it is simple enough to get through in a session or two.
AD&D 1 I am aiming at 4-7 level ranges, so that is not so bad either.  Ghost Tower of Inverness might be good.
AD&D 2 would be above "name level", so above 10th level to 14th or so.  Something from the Forgotten Realms might be good.
D&D3 would need to be above that but not yet 20th.  The 3.5 update to Tomb of Horrors fits here.
D&D4 would be above 20th level. The 4e update to Tomb would also work here.

Using the updates might sound cheesy, but I want it to be an epic adventure and I want it to tour the history of the game.

Still planning!

What is the Secret Fire?

I have seen a lot of posts on the Secret Fire (formerly Legends and Labyrinths) RPG.

I saw the ads, and my first thought was "oh another Fantasy Heartbreaker".
But I have seen a lot more recently and I'll admit I am curious.  The character sheet looks cool, but a part of me still thinks "fantasy heartbreaker", but I am willing to have a look.

BUT....since I blew past my RPG budget for August. And September...and October at Gen Con, I am not going to pick it up just yet.

Anyone pick it up yet? Play it?

I don't need another game, or even another game to distract me.  But there it is. Out there. Taunting me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tome of Horrors Complete

I know I said I was done getting RPG products for a while. But I had to pick up the new Tome of Horrors Complete, Pathfinder version.

I have all the Tome of Horrors. 1, 1 revised, 2 and 3.

But this one is just freaking awesome.  All the monsters, updated for Pathfinder, in order.
Very, very awesome.

So awesome in fact I want to get the S&W version too and I don't even play that game.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Gen Con 2011 - Recap, D&D games

Every year I look forward to playing D&D at Gen Con.  Whether it is with friends, my kids or at the RPGA room. To me it is what Gen Con is about.  Of course I got that chance.  But...not all D&D is created equal.

Legend of Drizzt - D&D Board Game
Thursday I played the D&D Board Game The Legend of Drizzt.  I signed up for this because I wanted to get a better feel for the game and I thought it would be a fun game to get my wife to play with us.
Well our "GM" (and to be fair the game does not need one, but they had people playing that role to show us how to play) was so busy doing other things that she never could really focus her attention on us.  We didn't get started till 30 minutes after the start time and the pieces were never really set up for us.  Like D&D4 characters get daily, utility and at-will powers.  We had played Ravenloft before so we knew to expect that.  We got our power cards, but it was never explained what they were or how they should be used, or even that we were not to use all the ones we were given.  Later we discovered that many of the powers for our characters were left in the box including a trap disabling power that could have saved two of the characters.
The GM was very unclear on the rules and went back and forth on what constituted a "tile", and was rarely available to answer our questions leaving my wife and I and the other player going through the rules on our own.
All in all, a very disappointing experience.  If WotC was trying to sell me a game didn't quite do it.  I wanted to pick up Wrath of Ashardalon, but now I want to wait till I play some more Ravenloft first.

D&D 4 - Living Divine
Ok this game ran much better. The DM knew her rules, had a great grasp on the concepts and introduced a new interesting concept.
However.  I have some issues with the adventure and the Living Divine play-ability.
First, the concept of Living Divine is pretty cool.  I like the idea and I like what they are trying to do.  It just was not a good idea for a con game where we can't invest in the character and enjoy in their divine growth.
Secondly, and most importantly, I didn't like the adventure itself.  Basically the point of the entire adventure was to kill a bunch of scared villagers so we take a baby from her parents to give to a demon.
I'll give my son credit, he didn't want to do any killing.  He was more than happy to attack the demon, but killing people that were basically afraid of us was not something he was cool with it.
My issue with it was simply we had no effect on the outcome or overall plot.  We had no real chance of killing the demon or altering the effect of what will happen with the baby.  Honestly in that situation my character would have taken the baby to raise, but that wasn't really an option.  The DM was passionate about her creation to be sure, but we had only a small part in her world.

For me, I like run games at Cons where the players feel like they are the most important people in the world.  They are the ones between the innocent and the darkness AND I want to be sure when we are playing I know my rules upside down, backwards and forwards and if the players have a question then I need to be able to answer it.  I am not just representing the game I am running, but myself and the company I am running for. I want people to leave my table saying they will buy that game or tell me they are going to play my games next year.

Sorry WotC, I am a HUGE fan, but I can't say that about these games.

Special Mention.  LEGO - Heroica
We also played a demo game of LEGO Heroica.  This experience was everything the others were not.  The guy demoing the games took the time to explain everything to us including all the rules our goals and how we needed to do everything.  He lots of other tables, but he didn't leave till we told him we were good.  He also came back many times to check in on us.  The game we played was sold we bought 3 others.  That's how much fun we had.

Quick post: OSR games

Quick one while I get the garbage outside.

List of OSR/Retro-clone Games.

Some are even new to me, but guess that should not be a surprise really.  Been so busy the last month or three.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Half Baked Adventure idea

So while driving home from Gen Con I had this idea about running a multi-adventure mini series using all editions of D&D.  The plot hook is that the Great Librarian has died and the walls between realities have weakened (which one causes which? have to play to find out!) the character need to collect the Three Great Books and return them to Library or all reality is lost!

Part 1 where the characters are summoned and tested would be played using Basic/Original D&D.
Part 2 where the characters find the first Great Book would be played using AD&D 1st ed.
Part 3 the characters must seek out the second Great Book and would be run using AD&D 2nd ed.
Part 4 a new threat is found, but the characters also gain the support of a mysterious cabal of Wizards located in their rain soaked tower on the Coast.  They must find the third great Book and is played with D&D 3rd ed.
Part 5 the characters, now powerful indeed must return the books to the Library, but the dangers would be great.  This would be played with D&D 4th ed.

I would like to use the basic archetypes for this, a cleric, a thief (maybe a halfling here), a fighter, a wizard and an elf fighter/magic-user and feature something that highlights the benefits of each rule-set.

Could be great fun for a Gen Con based game where everyone plays every night.  Maybe even with the right crowd each person could rotate GM duties and pass their characters around.

Like I said.  Only a half-baked thought at the moment.

EDITED TO ADD: My son says that in each part the characters need to fight one of the five chromatic dragons.  So a white first and ending with a huge, ancient red.

Monday, August 8, 2011

RPGNow/DriveThruRPG and Operation Backpack

I want to interrupt my Gen Con posting for something a little more charitable.

RPG Now / DriveThruRPG are hosting another charity even to help Operation Backpack.
Operation Backpack provides school supplies for needy children.
Getting a quality education cannot be understated.  But one thing that we shouldn't forget is how much kids actually need in way of school supplies.  Paper, pencils, rulers, calculators.  It all adds up really fast.

I am very happy that DriveThruRPG / RPGNow are participating in this, and I am very happy I can let you know about it.

Here is a link to the collection of eBooks they are selling.  Proceeds go to Operation Backpack.

Please join me in helping them out.

Gen Con 2011 Haul

I picked up:

OSRIC hardcover from the OSR booth.  Figured I should support the cause and I didn't have an OSRIC book anymore.

Call of Cthulhu 30th Anniversary Ed

DC Adventures Heroes and Villains

A bunch of the old Mayfair Role-Aids "Demons" books.  Four books and two boxed sets for 15 bucks. All still in their shrink wrap.
It's for 2nd Ed AD&D, but there are a lot of stats on the sheet (including ability scores) that all they are missing are skills and feats for 3.x.

And the Mage Knight Apocalypse Dragon to stand in for Tiamat when the Dragon Slayers battle her in the final battle of their campaign.
I spent more on this than I should have and more than my wife wanted me to, but I figure it is for the kids' last D&D 3 game so it should be worth it.

Shown here with Aspect of Tiamat and Orcus.  AoT takes up 3x3 squares, Orcus 4x4.  The Apocalypse Dragon, or in our game it will be the full manifestation of Tiamat, takes up 7x7.
It will be brutal.

The swag bag this year had magic cards, some True Dungeon tokens and a coupon for the Gen Con d6.  Though out of 4 bags we only got one coupon.

Game reviews later.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Gen Con 2011 Last Day

Well another Gen Con is over.

Got to play some games, buys some games and see some people I have not seen in a year.

I did not get to play any Victoriana, but I did have some Cubicle 7 people in my Ghosts of Albion game so that was good.

Dinosauria went great!  Much better than I thought it might.  The game came in at just a little over 3 and a quarter hours, so not too bad really.
Obsession went really well with the "revised" version and I had what might be the best Byron player ever.

I have had a request to run Blight again, so I'll see about that.

I have been itching to do something with a train or even the Orient Express itself.  Just have to find the right story.

More later.  Have not even unpacked yet.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Zatannurday: Paul Dini

Tomorrow is Paul Dini's birthday and no discussion of Zatanna can occur unless someone brings up Paul Dini.  Paul Dini loves Zatanna.
How much?
Well I personally can't recall a single Zatanna episode of Batman the Animated Series, Justice League or Batman the Brave and the Bold that he did not write.

He has been the writer for the Zatanna comic since it's debut . Oh and his wife, real life stage magician Misty Lee, is a dead ringer for Zatanna.

One thing though is certain; Paul Dini loves his magic girls.
His own creation is "Jingle Belle" the teen-age daughter of Santa Claus.
He wrote the famous Evil-Lyn episode of Masters of the Universe, The Witch and the Warrior.

So happy birthday Paul Dini!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Gen Con 2011, Day 1 Over

Day One of Gen Con is done.

Ghosts of Albion: Obsession ran great!
Quote of the night from Byron "Does it burn like fire or burn like syphilis?"

We played "The Legend of Drizzt" yesterday, but the woman running the game was a bit of a flake so we had to kind of muddle forward on our own. Oh and she didn't get us started till a half hour after we were supposed to.

Today is Dinosauria.
More on that later!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gen Con 2011

We are here at Gen Con 2011.

So far there seems to be a LOT more people here this time.

Ready to run some games!
If anyone in OSR land is running an old school game then I'd love to join ya.

I am going to be running my boys through S4.

Best thing I have heard so far: A little girl, not more than 5 was with her family walking to "Will Call" where she proudly exclaimed "I am a real gamer now!"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dinosauria! Characters: Lady Valerie Beaumont

Another character for Dinosauria.  The immortal Lady Beaumont.
Valerie has the distinction of being the first character ever created for Obsession.  Looking forward to seeing how she gets played in the new game.

Valerie Beaumont
Lady Valerie Beaumont

Life Points 47
Drama Points 10

Strength 3
Dexterity 5
Constitution 4
Intelligence 6
Perception 4
Willpower 5

Gender Female
Height 5’7”
Weight 130 lb
Hair Auburn
Eyes Light-Green
Actions, 2 mental, 2 physical

Age 2
Attractiveness +3
Fast Reaction Time
Hard to Kill 3
Magic 2
Nerves of Steel
Occult Library (Impressive)
Resources, Gentry

Adversary: (Various) +4 (from Age)
Love: Tragic +4
Minority: Woman +2
Secret (immortal)

Armed Mayhem: 5
Art 1
Athletics: 2
Crime: 2
Drive/Ride: 2
Fisticuffs: 2
Influence: 4
Knowledge: 5
Languages: 5 (English, French, Latin, Greek, Algonquin)
Marksmanship: 1
Notice: 4
Occultism: 4
Physician: 1
Science: 1
Wild Card (American History) 6 (she remembers most of it)

Manoeuvre Bonus Base Damage Notes
Sword +10 12 Slash/stab
Parry (sword) +10 — Defence action

Punch +7 6 Bash
Dodge +10 — Defence action
Grapple +9 — Resisted by Dodge

Magic +11 — By Spell

Defensive Magics Bonus = Willpower+Occultism+Magic+Mod
- Deflect (0) +11 Deflects spells 45º

Known History:
Widow from Lord Charles Beaumont who died some 5 years previous, she has spent the last year becomming familiar with society again. Her husband was a known traveler and adventurer who had a nose for the strange and unusual, and some even say that this may have rubbed off on her.

Lady Beaumont will be making her first appearance in a beautiful blue dress, that is at the height of fashion with a delicate white/pearl colored shawl. Her evening hat is the same color of her dress, with just a bit of mesh weave along the front.

She does carry a small cane to help her walk, she seems to lean on it more for support than actually needing it to walk.

Lady Beaumont is just over five feet tall and she has the most alluring green eyes.

Secret History:
Lady Beaumont was born in 1569 and is immortal.
She was a young English girl that made her way to the new world in the year 1585.  She came to the new world and settled in the Roanoke Colony where she lived for a couple of years.  Then something happened.  She was caring for the young Virginia Dare and then woke up several days later and several miles from home.  When she had managed to return to the colony, everyone was gone.  She also discovered that she was immortal and was certain that the two were somehow linked.
Valerie spent the next few years roaming the new world.  She learned magic from some of the few true witches in Salem and more from the Indigenous Americans.

She has since returned to England but now considers herself an American.

She is acquainted with the Protectors of Albion and has worked with Walter Edwards before.  She is also very good friends with the American Statesmen Benjamin Franklin and considers him a dear friend.  All of these people do know her secret.

She has a ring on her right little finger that manages a glamour that "ages" her.  A gift from a former lover. Currently, she appears to be in her mid-40s.  Without the glamour, she appears as she did when she discovered her immortality a young woman of 18.  Her mind though is as someone approaching 300.
She walks with a cane, but that is a mere affectation.  The cane houses a sword of fae steel (very rare indeed as the faerie are loathed to work steel).  She is quite adept at its use (having practiced for centuries) and in her hands, it becomes a deadly, formidable weapon.

Valerie is given more freedoms in Victorian society than would normally be due to a woman.  She has status, money and is widowed, all which contribute to her status, and she is an American so society often looks the other way for her.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monster Mash Blogathon: The Screaming Skull

The 50's Monster Mash at Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear.

You have to love any movie where the producers take the time to warn you away from their film at the beginning and guarantee you a free coffin if you happen to die of fright while watching the movie.  It is the kind of kitchy thing I associate with the 50s; horror before what would be the heyday of Hammer films.

The Screaming Skull is one such movie.  Though I can imagine the fine print on that "guarantee" does not cover dying of boredom.

I watching this film because a.) I was doing research on Screaming Skulls and b.) I had it on DVD with a collection of other Horror films.  Turns out the DVDs I have won't play in my computer so I ended up watching it on You Tube.  I guess the copyright has lapsed.

Newly married couple Eric (John Hudson) and Jenni (Peggy Weber) have come home to Eric's house.  Well it is not really his house. It is his late wife's.  Seems she had all the money and then died when she slipped and hit her head.    There are not a lot characters in this drama (which might actually make a descent high school play); the reverend and his wife and the creepy gardener Mickey.
Jenni almost immediately begins to fret when she discovers a painting of Eric's first wife.
There are many scenes of walking.  Walking to the pond. Walking to the house. Walking all over the place.
We finally get to something when Jenni discovers an old human skull.  She freaks out and tosses it out the window.  Later no one can find the skull and we learn that Jenni spent time in an asylum for hearing voices.
The skull pops up again and Jenni screams. We hear other screaming too, but Eric is quick to point out the peacocks outside.  Eric blames the somewhat mentally challenged gardener on all of this, Jenni thinks she is going crazy.  They decide to burn the painting and when it is reduced to ash there is the skull again.  Jenni screams and Eric claims he can't see it.  After she faints Eric hides the skull back in the pond.  Case closed right? Eric is trying to drive her crazy.  Well now the skull is after Eric, it flies up and attacks him, he runs, it manifests as a ghost and he throws a chair at it.  He tries to strangle Jenni, but in the end he drowned in the pool where he had been hiding the skull.  Leaving us to wonder was it a ghost or did Eric snap as well.
In the end we see the gardener talking to the skull telling it everyone is gone and everything will be fine now.

Again, I watched this for the Forgotten Classics blog, but this doesn't really qualify as a classic.  It was not bad, it just wasn't good or interesting enough.  Yes the central mystery of the skull was interesting on paper but the I am not sure the movie did such a great job of selling it to me. We should be able to watch Jenni's descent into madness more.  Eric's duplicity and Mickey's...well he was creepy in a way, but he only really just took up space. Coming back to Eric, the problem is we suspect him right away.  His first rich wife is dead and now his new rich wife might be going crazy.  The only mystery here is why can't the rest of the cast see it?

Of course there is not much here to connect to the myths of the screaming skulls unless you tie it in with the house more.  Marion, Eric's first wife and owner of the house, is like a screaming skull in that she wants everyone out of the house, but if she is in fact a ghost her desire is to murder Eric.

I would like to say more about this film, but there really isn't much to say.  Delete the scenes of people walking and tighten up other fluff you might an hour long movie.   I think a remake has the potential to be very scary.  Husband trying to drive his new wife crazy so he can get her money too and a potential real ghost in the mix, has the elements of a suspenseful movie, this one just isn't.  It's not good enough to give it a strong review and it is not bad enough to make fun of.  The acting is not bad and this group of actors went on to do other things. I suppose I should point out that Alex Nicol was both Mickey and the Director, but even that is not really enough.  Unlike some of the other choices for today it is not a classic either in a good sense or a bad one.

In the end you might have more fun with the MST3k version, but it was fun to watch this film for the the Blogathon.