Friday, September 30, 2011

Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Ed

It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since Vampire the Masquerade had been released.

The effect of this game on the gaming industry (and on the whole "Vampire subculture") should not be understated.
I know at the time I dismissed this game and I didn't even bother to look at a copy till 2nd edition was out and I still didn't buy it till 2nd Ed revised hit the stores.

It came at a great time.  AD&D 2nd Ed was lagging, TSR was all but dead to be honest and games had gotten a little too safe because of the 80's backlash.  Still it was not just that V:tM filled a void.  It created it's own niche and genre of games that is still felt today.

White Wolf may not be as big as it once was and Mark Rein Hagen is out of the gaming industry all together.  But this game remains, and this "new" book take you back to a time when the nights were ruled by such things as Ravnos, Brujah and people spoke of Gehenna.

There will be a print version out sometime.  But for those who can't wait, the PDF is up at DriveThruRPG now.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

DriveThruRPG Fall 2011 sale

It is fall and here are the products that DriveThruRPG has made available to loyal blog readers.

The code is DiceInTheFall and tt's good for 20% off for all of the following products.

* Games I own or have played.

Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion [Pinnacle Entertainment]  *Like SW and D&D? then this is great buy.  I use this with other systems too.
Realms of Cthulhu [Reality Blurs]  *SW and CoC! Very cool book
Karma Roleplaying System Core [Bards and Sages] *A deconstruction and reconstruction of d20 system into something new.  I like it.
FantasyCraft [Crafty Games]* another cool de/re construction of the d20 system for gritty play.
Fat Dragon's Dragonshire Deluxe [Fat Dragon Games] *Print and build cities.  My boys get excited anytime they see a Fat Dragon product on my desk because they know it is going to be fun.
Ninja Burger RPG (2nd Edition) [aetherial FORGE]
Heavy Gear Blitz! Locked & Loaded [Dream Pod 9]
Hero's Handbook: Dragonborn [Goodman Games] *Great stuff for your 4e Dragonborn character.
Splicers RPG [Palladium Books]
Caladon Falls [Savage Mojo]
Legend of the Five Rings (4th Edition) [AEG] *Epic role-playing with all the excitement of the far East.  Spent some time as part of D&D, and as it's own game, but this is the ultimate edition.
Fuzzy Heroes (2nd Edition) [Inner City Games]  *If you have kids then they have stuffed animals.  Here is the game you can bring them to life with.  Great fun and a great way to introduce the younger set to RPGS.
Ave Molech (2nd Edition) [Morbidgames] *Interesting genre mashup.  I need to play this one more.
Book of Alignment (OGL/Pathfinder) [Emerald Press] *164 pages of detail on the alignments.
Horrific Universe: 12 Months of Horror [Bailey Records] (audio product)
Directors Cut Survival Horror [Crispy Zombie Productions]  (interestingly enough I don't own this one.  Fight have to get it with a 20% discount!)
Friar's Almanac (Complete) [Dark Spire]
Distant Vistas [Draken Games]
Stories in the Ether, Issue 1 (Bundle) [Nevermet Press]
d-Infinity Volume #3: Children of the Night (Gen Con Special Edition) [Skirmisher Publishing]

That's a huge list.  I sure there is something there for everyone.

OSRIC Player's Guides: Do we need one?

After yesterday's little drama (and it is good to have these every so often to keeps things lively) I have a couple of random thoughts.

- First it looks like Vince made an honest mistake with the cover art.
This is obviously not a James Shipman deal.  But I'll counter with that if you are going to go through the effort of putting a product together, make sure that what you are doing is 100% legit.  Don't assume anything.  Unless you know 100%, don't use it.  Even then verify.  Even if you buy the art make sure the person you are buying it from actually has the rights to sell it.
Right now I think I am in about as deep as I can get with art for my witch books.  Depending on how these books are priced (I want them to be inexpensive) I might break even with the money I have spent on it so far.  That's not a complaint mind you, I like the art a lot and has a nice 70s-80s vibe to it.

- Secondly does the OSRIC community need a Players Guide?  
Given that this product got so much attention that even I noticed it (and I am far outside the OSRIC community) and there is another project of similar scope on the way.  I would guess so.  Personally I would think you could just print up the OSRIC book's first few chapters and be done with it.

I guess that is part of my confusion.  Is OSRIC a guide or compendium or is it a game in and of itself?
I am not involved enough with OSRIC to really know.  I like the idea of one.  I liked the idea of the one just recently out, but not as a guide or as a book itself but as something that extended the OSRIC concept and potentially raised the bar in terms of production; till it didn't.

Does anyone here play it?  Do you play it as straight OSRIC or are you playing 1st ED AD&D with OSRIC as guide book?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

OSRIC Player's Reference - RETRACTION

EDITED TO ADD:  Looks like editor/creator of this project did not know the art was not PD and has taken down the copies.  I guess the lesson here is unless you know for sure, err on the side of caution.

So this morning I posted my endorsement of the new OSRIC Players Reference.

Only after did I learn of the drama behind it (which I am not getting into here, but you can read about it on your own here, here and here).

What really struck me was the cover art.
How cool it was and much better it was than anything else produced by the OSR (yes, present company included).  Soon I discovered why.  I wasn't produced by the OSR at all, but an old AD&D 2nd ed cover.

Well the painting is by Bruce Eagle and was owned at one point by Pat Wilshire.
The interior cover of the OPG book claims that the cover is public domain.  That, and the fact that cover is very pixilated made me curious.  So I contacted Pat Wilshire.

Turns out that the art is definitely not in the Public Domain at all. Pat is still friends with Bruce and contacted him about it.  It looks every bit like this art was stolen for use of this book.

This is exactly why companies pay for art. They say don't judge a book by it's cover, but on the net that is often all we have and this cover looked awesome, so I got the book.  Turns out the Editior, Vincent Florio didn't even pay to use this cover.

The more digging I did the less I like this product.  All of it is copied right out of OSRIC.  Which in and of itself is not a huge deal.  But it is tacky.

Here are the pages that detail it.  Click to enlarge.

The page on the left is the OSRIC Players Reference. The right is OSRIC (2.2) version.
The page has been copied with the new information added in, in a different font no less.

The thing that sticks out of course is the "Cover/Back artwork is Public Domain".
Well not according to the owner of the art in question.

I wanted to like this product.  But I can not in good conscious recommend it.

Please instead download OSRIC proper and just use the pages you need.

Next time I'll put a little more research into a product before letting you all know.

OSRIC Player's Reference

EDITED TO ADD: Please read an update here,

Original Post:

The new OSRIC Player's Guide (don't call it a Handbook) is out now for a price that can't be beat.
It's free!

If you are looking to get started in OSRIC then this is a good place to start.
If you want to learn the basics and the thought of picking up the massive OSRIC tome is too much, then this is also a good place to start.

While there is nothing really new here (nor should there be) the cover art is fantastic.

Edited: Seems the cover art is copied from this book.

Not sure what the deal is there.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Witch and Eldritch Witchery

I am working hard on putting the final touches on my next two books.  The Witch and Eldritch Witchery.

They are not quite ready for full on press releases or product announcements yet,  but I am very, very excited about them.

The Witch

"The Witch" is designed to be used with "Basic Era" games.  Games that were released in the late 70s and early 80s and whose legacy is being continued with games like Labyrinth Lord and Basic Fantasy RPG.

The Witch will feature a new character class, the witch, and witchcraft Traditions so you can play any type of witch from fantasy, pulp or faerie tale.  In addition there are going to be new monsters associated with the witch as well as tons of new spells and magic items.  Many of which I have playtested over the last 12 years and some even dating back to my original notes I had written on the witch back in 1985.
Also included are appendices for extending the "Magic-User" class into a proper Wizard and Demi-human witches, something I had never considered doing in '85.

Eldritch Witchery

Eldritch Witchery is a bit different.  First it is for the Spellcraft & Swordplay game specifically.  Though it should be compatible with nearly any "old school" game or clone.

Many of the ideas that were used in "The Witch" found a home here as well, though in a different way that makes this a very different sort of class.  Actually it makes it two different sort of classes since Eldritch Witchery includes a witch and a warlock class.  As to be expected there are magic items and spells for both classes included.  This book also extends the magic of wizards, clerics and necromancers found in the S&S core rules and Monstrous Mayhem.

This book will also introduce demons to the S&S game and a new demonic hierarchy.  Make sure you know your stuff before you go into battle against the demons, a Baalseraph will have different abilities than the Calabim who are different still from the Lilim.

Which Book should You Get?
I am hoping both!  There is some overlap (I can only say "an athame is a ritual knife..." so many ways) but I am taking great pains to make sure each book has their own feel and unique material.  You could in fact get both and have three different takes on the witch, each one doing their magic a bit differently.  The traditions and lodges are not repeated between the books (save for one at present, but it makes sense to do so). Eldritch Witchery has demons, but the Witch goes into greater detail with everything.   I would say that either can be played with any version of the World's Greatest Fantasy RPG circa 1975 to 1985 and any clone based on it.

Stay tuned, I'll be posting some characters created with both books and we can see how they fare.

The planned release date is right around Halloween.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Limited Posting

Hey all.

Posting is going to be fairly limited over the next few weeks.
My wife needs to go in for surgery and at present has very little mobility.  So now and till after she heals I am both mommy and daddy at the house.

I'll keep you all updated.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Zatannurday: Justice League Dark Preview

Here is a new pic and preview video for Justice League Dark.
Thanks to DC Women Kicking Ass.

If I had any doubts before, they are gone now.

This could be very, very awesome.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Nicholas Cage, Vampire

So it's not really a big secret that I am fan of Nick Cage's movies, even when they disappoint me.

But this is too much to NOT to do something with.

Of course Vampire Nick Cage has spent the last 130 years fighting his immortal enemy, Keanu Reeves.

Why not.
Now I just need Ghosts of Albion stats for both of them.

Amazon Princess: Wonder Woman #1

Read my post about the new Wonder Woman #1 over at Amazon Princess.

Amazon Princess: Wonder Woman #1: Wonder Woman #1 of the new DCU 52 was released today. The story so far is good. Dealing with the sort of things that are good for a WW...

Introducing my other blog

I have started up another blog.

This one has more to do with my academic and work-related interests than anything to do with gaming.
Sometime they might cross paths, but nothing at the moment is coming to mind.

The URL is an easy one:
It is called, originally enough, Tim Brannan's Education Blog.

I am hoping it will grow and be as successful as I deem this blog to be.

I am not slowing down my posting here though.  My Education blog is going to be low bandwidth for a while.  But every so often I get something I want to post and it is not really appropriate to post here.

Stop by and have a look every so often!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And sometimes it breaks...

If you have never appreciated the job playtesters do for you then wait till you give them a brilliant bit text you have written and watch them break it.

My playtesters for Ghosts of Albion were some of the best. In my own group I was arrogant enough to think I had the Cinematic Unisystem game wired so tight nothing could happen. So I tried out a few new things. One of which was an updated combat system and another was an alternate magic system.

Well no sooner than when the words "break it" came out of my mouth did my players do exactly that. Rather gleefully too I might add.
The combat system was just slow and had too much rolling.
The magic system, that I loved, didn't work at all. It was in fact a complete bust.

So the magic system in GoA now was born out of those ashes. But it goes to show you that what looks and reads great on paper doesn't always play great on the table.

And it never really changes.

Just recently I worked out a new magical combat system for my Basic-era book "The Witch".

I thought it was great. So I tried it out. It was not as great as I hoped. Not bad mind you, but nothing like the one in GoA.

So I tweaked it, and polished it and tweaked, and tweaked. And sooner or later I ended up with a system that was more complex than anything else in the game which was the opposite of my design philosophy.

At present the magic combat system of Wizard vs. Wizard (or Witch vs. Witch, or Witch vs. Wizard) is on hold.

The trouble is now The Witch is off to the proofreaders (sans magical combat system) and I am still at a loss on how to do it so it works well and works fast.

Back to the drawing board I guess.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Worst Movies Ever

I am participating in the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest.

Here is my list of the worst movies I have ever seen.
Now strictly speaking I like bad movies, but some are "so bad they are good" and others (this list) are "so bad and they are still bad". Generally I judge a bad movie by how much a headache it gives me.

Savannah Smiles (1982)
I don't know why I hate this movie, I just do.  Syrupy sweet, silly plot and dialog.  I saw it in the theater and was so bored I snuck out to play Space Invaders.  I guess the little girl in the movie later died of an overdose when she was 22.

Monster-a-Go Go (1965)
Not even MST3k could save this brainless movie.  Not only was it bad, the ending sucked and just pissed you off.

The Dunwich Horror (2009)
Pity poor H.P. Lovecraft.  Nearly every one of his stories put on the big screen sucked or was so far removed from the source material as to be unrecognizable.  This one is both.  Also pity poor Dean Stockwell as this was his second try at this movie and they both sucked.
This is LINO (Lovecraft in name only) and a made for Sci-Fi movie.  So the plot was weak and the story had the same names of thing Lovecraft talked about, but no where near what readers would recognize.

Gryphon (2007)
Sometimes a movie comes along that makes you reevaluate your devotion to fandom.  Gryphon is that film.  I love sowrds and sorcery movies, but this one is a chore to watch.  Bad CGI, no real plot and characters that I can't care about.   Yes it has Amber Benson in it and I am still a fan of hers, but even she called this movie "a paycheck".  I am also still fan of Sarah Douglas in this and even she couldn't save it for me.

Moscow Zero (2006)
I once had a roommate that claimed that if he ever saw Vincent Gallo on the street he would punch him in the face.  After this movie I am inclined to agree.  I watched this one a dare.  My father-in-law said it was the worst movie he ever saw and thought it would measure up to my regular fare.  It is pretty bad.  Not the worst mind you, but it is in my top 10 obviously.  Boring and most of it was in Russian.  In the end I hoped that it was the opening to Hell just so SOMETHING would happen.

Antichrist (2009)
Putting this movie on my list seems a bit like a cheat.  It's an indie film and sometimes indie films have to be judged on a different scale than other films.  Antichrist gets no fucking break from me though.  It is hard to actually sum up what I dislike more about this.  Is it the plot that seems to go nowhere? Is it the fact that I can't care even a little about these characters? Is it the implied long term child abuse and the fact that the mother let her child die? Is it that the big reveal at the end is "all women are evil!"? Hey if I am spoiling this for you, thank me, I wish some one had cared enough about me to tell me not to watch this. This movie is one of the few on this list that actually pisses me off.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964)
Again this one might a cheat since it is so bad it is infamous.  Plus I get a certain kick out of this movie since my dad and I watched it to make fun of all the problems.  But really there are no two ways about this, this is a horrible movie and frankly I am sure stopped more than one family from celebrating Christmas in protest.

The Wicker Man (2006)
Not the creepy original, but the newer Nick Cage version.  This movie is so bad that I can't even begin to know where to start. Exactly how many women will Cage punch?  Hard to say, I have tried to get the memory of this one removed.
This is an example of the "tortured by his past" Nick Cage character, he only has so many he can do, so this is the same guy from "The Happening" (which also sucks, but not enough to make this list).

The Last Airbender (2010)
This might also be a cheat since it is so new and it is not bad so much as how much potential was waster.  The Nick cartoon Avatar The Last Airbender was by far one of the best American animation productions ever.  It had heart, comedy, plot and characters you got know and like and see grow.  The movie lacked all of that; traded for some tacked on crappy CGI and 3D.  Who can we blame for this?  Easy. M. Night Shyamalan. Also a study in wasted potential. "The Sixth Sense" was brilliant. "Signs" was...ok.  "The Girl in the Water" was a much worse movie than TLA, but I expected nothing from that movie and that is what I got it.  The Last Airbender had so far to fall and it managed to fall the entire way.  Fans of the series (like my wife and kids who got me into it) will understand when I say that the Ember Island Players would have done a better job here.

Alien: Resurrection (1997)
This movie is here because A.) it is bad, the script is just stupid, and B.) it shows how far a great series can fall.  Sure the later Superman movies of the 80s fell just as a bad, the stories were still Superman stories; that is they are stories you could have found in the comics (and they would have worked there).  A:R just sucks.   When I watched this movie it kept me from watching all the other Alien movies for years.  It even made me dislike Wynona Ryder, and have watched a steady stream of movies with her in the 90s so that was a feat.
This movie is just bad really and I feel bad for the actors having to be in it.

There are many more of course, but these are the ones most on my mind.

Edited to add: Seems the Linky script is broken.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Secret Circle

I watched the new WB witch show "The Secret Circle".

So far it is not so bad, not great, but it has a lot of potential I think.
I'll be checking it out next week I am sure.

Zatannurday: Celebrating Monday

It might be Zatannurday here today, but we can also celebrate Monday!
In this case cosplayer Jettie Monday!

Visit her on her Facebook fan page here,

And here is some of her recent appearances as Zee.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pathfinder Witch

I am reading through a bunch of playtest notes and it has occurred to me that I have never played much beyond 1 session of the Pathfinder version of the witch.

That is quite disappointing really.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Charity at DriveThruRPG

I can't even begin to fathom this one.

There is new a charity set up at DriveThruRPG.  They do this every so often, RPG publishers bundle some items together and you get them at a reduced price and the money goes to the charity.  It is really a win all the way around.  You get a bunch of new PDFs, the charity gets money and the publishers and DTRPG get the benefit of the good karma.  I know I have bought things from publishers because of their past involvement in these.

But this one just leaves me speechless.

For $15  you get a lot of really good PDFs.  But more importantly The Wayne Foundation gets $15 to stop child sex trafficking.  That's right. Children being sold as sex slaves.  And you get to stop it.

Frankly I would have given them the money and not cared what was in the bundle.  This is so beyond my experience and thought process that my first reaction is that this can't be true.  But I am old enough and bitter enough at humanity to know it is true.

So please. Help out this charity.

Here is the link for the PDF bundle.

Click on it to at least see what they are offering.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

DCnU the new 52: Batwoman

Picked up the new #1 for Batwoman today.
First time I have bough a comic on the day it has come out in a really long time.

It is really good.

I like the team up of Kate and Bette. I like that Kate and her Dad still have issues.
I like the banter between Kate and Maggie.

The Top Bat makes an appearance at the end, but it obvious that this is not his story.

I think I'll continue to get this one.

My only gripe is Kate is WAY too damn pale.
I know that is part of her character identity, but it looks like she has been colored in properly.

Even when she and Bette were training it looked weird.

Speaking of that scene, this is my favorite part:
Bette: Uh Kate, where's my Flamebird costume?
Kate: I burned it.

Hope JL Dark is as good.

Modern Systems, Part 2


I am burned out on Unisystem.  There are a few very good reasons that I just don't want to get into now, but the bottom line is the same.  I am burned out on it and what to try something else.

Not just play or run, but write about. Maybe even publish somethings for it.

I have had in my mind now for a while the idea that I want a game that would simulate modern supernatural/urban horror, and there are a lot of systems that can do this well, Unisystem at the top of the list really.  But I want to be able to do more with it and have something that I could if I choose, publish stuff for it.  So that rules out many of the systems that would otherwise be fine.
Also I want the focus of the game to change from "killing things and taking their stuff" or even "we are saving the world again, it must be Tuesday".

I am looking for something where people can play supernaturals or normal humans side by side with out too much of an issue.  A goal would be to have it be able to emulate any modern supernatural TV show or book you can think of.  Well, not Harry Potter, that is a different animal completely.

Here are my choices so far.

True20 - I am inordinately fond of this system.  It is easy. It is simple and it gets out of the way while playing.  I am not thrilled with levels, but I have an idea about that.  I have already done a lot of work with True20, both here and in some unpublished material that I can now use.  While it's support is also next to nothing and the fan base is thin, the rules are solid and I can use them thanks to the OGL.  Though one of the issues with True20 is that humans basically start at 1st level and a vampire or werewolf is much higher.  Plus there is no system of Drawback or Complications in True20 (though I have written one).

Fate/Fudge - Another open system with a lot of support.  I am just not overwhelmed with it.  I suppose I could go the route Icons did and use numbers.

ORCS - Jason Vey's system in Spellcraft & Swordplay. Flexible and has many advantages.  I would though end up making it look more like True20 in the end, which is why I put True20 on the list.

Mutants & Masterminds - Now this is an interesting choice.  Nearly everything I need is here.  The system is open and with Superlink I can even do more.  I would need to redo the magic systems a bit to be honest.  4Color/superhero magic and urban fantasy are not really the same.  It has the things I like in True20 and Orcs, plus it has a ton of support.

Savage Worlds - Not a fan of this system, even though it is good and has a ton of support as well.  Again, I'd need to redo the magic system to get it to my liking.

"Power of Three" - you have not heard of this one.  It is a system that I have been poking around with for a couple of years.  The name comes from the three basic abilities all the characters have, Body, Mind and Spirit.   Yeah similar to Tri-Stat, but the mechanics are different.  It is also based on the Charmed game I'd like to write one day.  Of course the system is perfect for what I want to do except for the little problem that it is not done.  It's not even in a playtestable shape yet. So much for that.

The one thing all these games have though is the means to support a lot of mini-campaigns or min-campaign worlds.
Here is what I have in mind. This is not all of them, nor are these even set in stone.

Generation HEX - the most developed of the three mini-worlds. Lower powered, kids in a magic high-school

Ordinary World - Supernatural creatures trying to live in modern suburbia and trying to blend in.  That doesn't always work so well.

Power of Three - My "Charmed/Witches of Eastwick/Rachel Morgan" homage.  Witches saving the world.

Daughters of Death - The children of the old gods are walking the earth again and not all of them have humanities interests in mind.  This includes the stats for the eponymous daughters.

Each world then would have additional rules to support their respective views.  So Gen HEX would need to scaled for magic school high jinks (Jinx High?), Ordinary World would need rules for hiding powers and suggestions for stories to tell.

One thing though, I am going to avoid using Lovecraft/Cthulhu type stories or monsters.  The exact thing that he was trying to do the werewolves, vampires and ghosts of a past age have now been done to his creations.

I'll keep thinking about this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Modern Systems

Just a quick one.  What system do you all like for modern games?

I am getting burned out on my current system.

This is not a good sign

I wanted to start a new blog over on WordPress to cover the Education work I do.  For my job, classes (taking and teaching) and working on my second Ph.D. program.

The trouble is that WordPress keeps eating my posts.

Might be sticking with Blogger.  Even if I am not a fan of the new interface.

Juxtaposition Blogathon: Mina Harker

For my participation in the Juxtaposition Blogathon at Pussy Goes GRRR I though I would take a look at the various Dracula movies over the years.  But since I had gone over them in detail last year, I figure I'll focus on the heroine of our tale, Mina Murray Harker.

Now to be clear, so we are talking about the same character.  Mina is the character in the novel Dracula that married Johnathon Harker and is bit by Dracula, but does not die.

In many ways Mina is prototypical "Last Girl" of horror films, she could even be considered the first.  While she is still wrapped int he tropes of the female needing saving of the Gothic horror tradition, her growth in Dracula sets her apart.  Mina in the novel is a modern woman.  In the films...well let's have a look.

Nosferatu (1922)
We meet screen-Mina for the first time here, but her name is Ellen.  Mina/Ellen is very much the victim here.  In fact despite having just seen this movie the only scene I can recall with her in it is when Orlock (Dracula) is feeding on her bedroom.   She does hold the old vampire in the sunlight and kills him, but she dies herself.
Now Nosferatu had to deviate quite a bit from the source material in order to get made (and even that was iffy), but Lucy went from a integral part of the story to the roll of the victim, and purely the victim here.

Dracula (1931)
This is famous Bela Lugosi version and this movie is full of Hollywood glam.  Mina and Lucy (Lucy is now brought into picture) are depicted in their Hollywood finest.  Not too bad for a secretary and her idle rich friend.  Again, as with Ellen above, Mina is more victim here.  While this movie is closer to the stage play than the novel we do get to see some of Mina's character.  Now another change here is Mina is the daughter of Dr. Seward, a bit of an odd choice, but one that comes up again (and again, due to the stage play).   As in the book it is Mina that gives our would be vampire hunters the insight they need.  Also interestingly enough this is the genesis of the "Mina loves Dracula" sub-plot that we get in later movies, but is absent in the book entirely.  In the end we end up with Mina back with Johnathon and Lucy dead.

Dracula (1958)
The first of the Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing Dracula films for Hammer.  The roll of Mina/Lucy and the other women is reduced even more than the 1931 outing. The focus here is the Dracula/Van Helsing relationship.   This time Harker is engaged to "Lucy" and Holmwood is married to Mina.  Lucy is killed and Mina is now the focus of the count's obsessions. Again, Mina here is a victim, but she is a "preferred victim" now.  We see the attachment of Mina to Dracula that was hinted in the Lugosi version and made more manifest here.  Dracula is not just a predator, he is after our wives!  Mina displays some of the cool intelligence we see in the book, but this character is not really the same woman.

Dracula (1979)
The famous John Badham film with Frank Langella oozed atmosphere and sensuality.  Here "Lucy" is a wholly modern woman.  She has her own opinions on things and is at the heart closer to Mina in the books than the other portrayals.     Here is the fiancee of Harker, but is also the daughter of Dr. Seward.   "Mina" plays the Lucy role and is Van Helsing's daughter.  Odd changes, but again these are due to the stage play (which gave both Lugosi and Langella their careers.)
Lucy in this movie is viewed as Dracula's equal, or at least a partner he would elevate above the others.  Again there is the "love story" between the two that did not exist in the book.
Lucy is less of a victim here in the sense of the victim's role.  She at times is a co-conspirator of Dracula and even in the end when all seems well, Johnathon turns away from her and she watches Dracula's cloak like she expects him to come back to her.

Dracula (1992)
The last on screen outing of Dracula and Mina is movie that was supposed to be the best adaptation of the book.  In many ways FFC's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" does get it right.  Mina is strong, courageous and a modern woman.  This contrasted with the "weaker" Lucy who is still very much part of the past.   This is the closest to the Novel Mina we have gotten.  And yet we still get the "Love Never Dies" story line inserted.   Mina is Dracula's equal here and this is shown in the movie with her delivering the killing blow (as opposed to Johnathon and Holmwwod doing it in the book). In this Mina is less the victim and even less the co-conspirator of Dracula, though she does sometimes forget herself.

In both the 1958 version and this one Mina is burned on the forehead with a holy item.  The ways in which these scenes play out I think is telling in how the director of each movie viewed Mina.  The 58 Hammer film the burn is nearly gratuitous.  A big burned on cross on the actress' face.  In the 92 FFC movie the burn is a partial circle from the host, it looks like a bad blister is all.  In both scenes we get the same message, Mina has been tainted by Dracula's evil, but in one she is disfigured and the other simply marked.

Mina is a reflection of the Modern Woman in the novel while Lucy is more the reflection of the Woman of the Past.  Mina is the one that finds everything and uses the latest technologies (typewriter and even Seward's phonograph).  I find it interesting that Mina in the novel is more forward thinking and modern than the movies that came after the fact. In fact it would be another 100 years till we ended up with a Mina, in the form of Winona Ryder, that came close to the book.  Sure Kate Nelligan is great and very modern, but she comes up a little short.  Or rather, the director and script do not allow her character to reach it's fullest potential.

Last Girl
Does Mina qualify as the "Last Girl". Yes. In book she is the prototype of the Last Girl, she confronts the evil and lives to tell the tale.  In fact it is Mina that discovers all the connections in the various tales of the other characters.  In the movies, well she survives, most of the times, but she also confronts the evil of Dracula.

Want to read more movie Juxtapostions?  Head on over to Pussy Goes GRRR!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Half-Price Book find: Complete Book of Necromancers

In the waning days of 2nd ed and before 3rd ed was out there was a golden time of ebay sales of older books.
Golden that is if you were a seller.

One such book that went for outrageous prices was the 2nd Ed, Complete Book of Necromancers.  

I had bought this book back in 1995 or so for the cover price.  I held on to it and really enjoyed having it.  Nothing makes for a great arch-villain like a necromancer.  In early 2000 I sold it, along with a ton of my AD&D 2nd Ed. Material on eBay.   I got $83 for that book alone.  Not a bad deal really.

Since that time I have not really thought about that book much other than to gloat on making $65 profit on it.  Sure there were times I wanted to flip through it again, but I had new 3rd Edition material to keep me busy.

Well yesterday at Half-Price books I found another copy.  It was in very good condition and despite the name of the store it was going for $14.00.  Sure they are not fetching much more than 40 on ebay these days either.

Well I own a copy again and happy to have it.  
Reading through it I was caught up in the world of WP and NWP and THAC0 all over again, but the fluff is still great.  Not sure I'll ever actually use it, but it is there now next to my 3e and 4e books of similar nature.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering 9/11

I have not talked much about this date in the past really.  I also don't see that changing anytime in the future.

I remember everything about that day is sharp detail and it was an exceptionally bad day, though my day was nothing compared to those who lost their lives to the acts of infant-brain cowards.

I may be a godless atheist, but I am a godless atheist that loves his country.

This has also been a fairly stressful week and I am really out of sorts at the moment.

Regular posting to resume tomorrow.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Zatannurday: And Still More Cosplay

Women dressing up as super heroes just never really gets old.

More Zatannas. These are from last year's HeroesCon 2010.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Here there Be Dragons: Aži Dahāka, 3.5/Pathfinder

Here is a stab at Liam's big dragon, Aži Dahāka.  I used a couple of different tools and then manually tweaked them.

More details on his monster here soon.  Right now I want to know how these stats look to you.

Aži Dahāka
Dragon, Great Wyrm Fiendish
CR 28 XP 3,100,000
Chaotic evil Colossal Dragon
Init +4; Senses Blindsense, Darkvision 60; Listen +53; Spot +53

AC 41, Touch 2, flat footed 41 (+ No Armour, + Shield, none)
(+39 Natural, -8 size)
hp 660 (40d12+400);
Fort +32, Ref +22, Will +32
Damage reduction 20/magic, Immunity to fire, Spell Resistance 32, Resistance to cold and fire 10

Speed 40, fly 200ft.
Single Attack Bite +50 (4d8+17)
Full Attack
Bite +50 (4d8+17)
2 Claw +47 (4d6+8)
Crush +47 (4d8+8)
Tail +47 (4d6+8)
2 Wing Slap +47 (2d8+8)
Space 30ft.; Reach 20ft.
Special Attacks
Breath Weapon DC(40) 24d10 Fire 60ft cone, Frightful Presence DC(38) , Sorcerer 19,
Spell-like Abilities Sorcerer level 19,
Smite good 1 per day add extra damage = to HD total

Spell-like Abilities
Spell-like Abilities (CHR) 3rd DC(21) Locate object 11/day
Spell-like Abilities (CHR) 3rd DC(21) Suggestion 3/day
Spell-like Abilities (CHR) 6th DC(24) Find the path 1/day
Spell-like Abilities (CHR) 8th DC(26) Discern location 1/day

Spells Known:

Spells  (will choose these later)
Level 0 (6) DC 18
Level 1 (8) DC 19
Level 2 (8) DC 20
Level 3 (8) DC 21
Level 4 (8) DC 22
Level 5 (7) DC 23
Level 6 (7) DC 24
Level 7 (7) DC 25
Level 8 (7) DC 26
Level 9 (4) DC 27

Str 45, Dex 10, Con 31, Int 26, Wis 27, Chr 26
Base Attack 40 Grapple 73
Alertness: +2 listen +2 spot,
Blind-fight: Re-roll miss chance for concealment,
Cleave: Get extra attack if kill monster,
Flyby Attack: Can make standard action during move,
Great Cleave: Can make extra attacks if kill opponent ,
Hover: Can Hover,
Improved Initiative: +4 Initiative checks,
Iron Will: +2 on will saves,
Multiattack: Secondary Attacks are at -2 instead of -5,
Power Attack: Subtract from to hit add to damage,
Snatch: Snatch prey in mouth or claw,
Weapon Focus: +1 to attack rolls,
Widen Spell,
Wingover: Can change directions quickly while flying
Skills Appraise 28, Bluff 44, Concentration 46, Diplomacy 51, Hide 14, Intimidate 49, Know Arcana 41, Know Geography 41, Know History 41, Know Local 41, Know Nobility 47, Knowledge (any one) 41, Listen 53, Move Silently 39, Search 51, Spot 53, Swim 47
Languages Abyssal, Aquan, Common, Draconic, Infernal, Undercommon

Environment Deserts
Organization Unique
Treasure Standard x 3

Pathfinder Resources

So fast one today. I have a lot going on.

I am looking for some good Pathfinder resources.  In particular monster construction.

I have been pushing to do "Here there be Dragons" in Basic era format for the likes of Labyrinth Lord, Basic Fantasy and Swords & Wizardry.  Liam, the author, wants to do it for Pathfinder.  We might do both.

I am very out of practice in writing monster stats for 3.5/Pathfinder.  
Are their any good guides or online resources where I can "check my work"?

The big issue of course is skill and feat calculations.

Anything is good!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Vacation in Vancouver

All this talk of NC-17 and R rated blogs has reminded me of one of the few purely adult games I have played.

While all my games can be considered to have "Adult themes", after all the main characters of "The Dragon and the Phoenix" and "Season of the Witch" were two lesbians, I generally try to run a game that is enjoyable on many levels.  So my Tara player could stand up against the patriarchy and fight for her right to love another woman and my Robert character could concentrate on killing monsters.

Ghosts of Albion: Obsession  deals with a serial rapists/killer that is trying to find a perfect match for the woman he really desires but can't have.  So yeah, not all my games are kid-friendly.

But lately I have been wanting to get back to another game I was playing online using WitchCraft.  The game was called "Vacation in Vancouver" and the hook was that members of Vancouver's supernatural community were going missing.  Long story short there was this entire underground where vampyres, demons and witches were getting together and engaging in all sorts of lewd sexual acts in exchange for essence.  After a while even open acts of magic were considered acceptable.
The game though was not really about sex or even depravity (there was a lot of sexual slavery going on and it was hard to know who was using who), but about addiction and loosing yourself.
A couple of characters had to be literally pulled back from the edge.

As a role-playing experience it was intense.  There was not much combat to be honest.  Part of that was out of choice (the characters were investigators, not thugs) and part out of necessity (combats online can be dull, even in Unisystem).

The game ended like so many others, not with a big finale, but a gradual dying off.
The mystery of where all the supernaturals were going was solved, but not the one of the demonic sex trafficking. The demons never actually killed anyone, in fact they seemed to be concerned for the wellfare of the Gifted and Lesser Gifted in their "care".  And there were plenty of volunteers for the demons too since the exchange of Essence was pleasurable for both (but only humans can 'regenerate' Essence).

I'd like to revisit that world someday.  But the alchemy of the players and the right situations is gone.  I *know* for a fact that if I went in with a another group it would be of the "kill demons and ask questions later" sort.

It was one of those rare RPG moments were the bad guys might have won and there was nothing the PCs/Cast could do about it.  While the game was fun and provided some of the best pure Horror roleplaying I have run in a long time, I am just not sure how it could even be revisited.

I guess there is the feeling of it not being finished and too many questions left unanswered. The big questions of course were who was in charge of the trafficking and if it could even be stopped, how?  And then there was "Kim". That was the character's name.  She willing sold herself to a demon for the pleasure it provided. I wonder what happened to her.

So. I guess I don't kill characters, but having their minds tore apart by Essence overload and sold into deviant sexual slavery for a bunch of demons is not exactly beyond me.

*Picture unrealted. I thought it looked cool.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This doesn't really make sense

Everyone else was doing it, thought it might be fun.

But this is what I got:

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Site

I mean, I don't try to be NC-17 or even R-rated really. I would have been perfectly happy with PG-13. I like to keep my content fairly open.

I guess there are some key-words that were tagged.

Oh well.

I re-did it after this post and must have pushed some content down.

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Dating Sites

Go figure.

Practical Magic: Spells

Not the book or movie, I already did that.

I have been working on finishing up all the new spells for my witch books, and I am taking what might be an unpopular point of view.

D&D, in any version, is a game about combat and being able to protect yourself and others from damage and cause damage.  The spells of the cleric and magic-users reflect this.

What isn't in most D&D books are the day-today magics, the workhorse magics or even the practical magic.

For the witch I wanted to give her her own magical niche in which to operate.  I figure that most of the witches in a game world are not of the adventuring type, so they have spells that linked more to what they need to do and not cause damage per se.   So charms, minor curses and hexes, but also finding things and protection.

I have also looked into the gaps of the spell lists.  Quick question, what spells go into making a creature like an owlbear?  Where would you start?  Well I have those spells too.  Good low level witches will often act as a mid-wife in many villages, so the same spells that are used to protect the mother and newborn (and to ensure conception to begin with) can be altered to other means.  Not always evil or insane means.  In my game "Batlings" are a magical crossbreed that are not aberrations, but a new race born of magic.

I have given long thought to how each spell can be used in an adventure like setting.  I have also thought about how each spell would be useful to that NPC witch, either the local herb woman or the evil Witch Queen that the PCs must defeat.  There are still going to be some though that are useful to the witch, but maybe not a useful in combat situations.

I am still following Tom Moldvay's advice on witches.  Even though this is a "retro era inspired" game, modern audiences have expectations.  Years of Charmed, Buffy, and Harry Potter have given us new ideas on witches.  I want to retain that late 70s, early 80s feel, but sell it to a post 2010 audience.

Whatever your expectations are I hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Chicago School of Magic

So yesterday I worked with my boys to start up a new Witch Girls Adventures game.  I am calling it "Magick Kids" for them.  They are boys and 8 and 11 at that and would not be open yet to a game with "Girls" in the title.
I am using some ideas from WGA, from the Claremont game I was playing some years back and even some characters (or character ideas) as NPCs from Magic Chicks, Eerie Cuties and School Bites.

I am centering everything around the Chicago School of Magic.

Here is some of the background on the school.  I leaving some of it vague so I can come up with it in-game.

The Chicago School began in appropriately enough in Chicago.  Some like minded witches and wizards gathered together to create a wholly new school to support what they felt was the "working-class" magical student.  They gathered in Chicago's Haymarket and drew up their charter.  Like the general populace of the city at that time, the wizards were a pragmatic sort and many came from a number of different countries and traditions.  They agreed that a new school, with a new vision was needed and opted not to name it after any one wizard or school from the "old countries".    So in 1869 The Chicago School of Magic was founded.

Over the last 140 years the CSM has produced a number of fine wizards.  Many have gone on to great careers in magic, but a fair number have also gone in politics.  Many even suspect that the infamous Chicago Machine is somehow driven by magic. They have had their infamous moments as well.  The Great Fire of Chicago burned down their original school building (and current rumor is that is was a student in Evocations working on "extra-credit").   The famous curse on the Chicago Cubs was done by a graduate that was not allowed to bring his familiar, a goat, to a game.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Return to Witch Girls Adventures

My kids have been playing a lot of Wizard 101 over the weekend.  Of course like a good dad I investigated the game first.  It has really gotten me in the mood to run some Witch Girls Adventures with them.
I would let them play their characters in the computer game but I'd need to alter some things.  There are a bunch of schools in W101 that would need moved over to WGA, but that is easy.

I think it will be fun.
Updates soon.

Friday, September 2, 2011

How many spells is "too much"

I working hard on getting "The Witch" and "Eldritch Witchery" to "press" now.  I am working on the spells for both books and I am wondering something.

How many spells is too many spells?

Potentially I could have 720+ new spells to add to these books.  All culled from nearly 20 years of playing witches in FRPGs.  Not all are equally useful, but all are very witchy.

But is that too many?  More than half the book would be spells, and I am under the opinion that less is more when it comes to old school play.

There is certain market advantage by saying "Over 700 new spells!" which is just a good way of saying "A lot of new spells!" is 700 fine? How about 100? or 200?  Where do I need to stop.

What does the market want?
What do you want?

In the end I think I won't be putting in all 700.  Some of them are a touch redundant (is Beguile all that different in game terms from Charm?)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tarot Witch of the Black Rose for Unisystem

In celebration of Holly G.'s birthday today here is a Tarot post!

I'll admit it.  I like Tarot. Yes, yes there are some gratuitous images that puts most fan-service to shame, there is also a story here that I like.  That battle between the mundane and magical worlds and those that try to protect both sides.    In a way, Tarot is a bit like Tamara Swift or Buffy Summers, except that while Tamara and Buffy are more explicitly protecting humans and the mundane world, Tarot has the more difficult job of protecting mundanes and magicals from each other.

The exploits of Tarot are also the perfect kind of story you could tell with any Cinematic Unisystem game.  Though the attention paid to real world pagan beliefs and world view make it closer in tone really to WitchCraft RPG, a game I still love.

It is easy to see Tarot (Rowan) as a Buffy-style witch (using Magic) or even a WitchCraft Gifted.  My general rule of thumb is WitchCraft for books and some movies and Cinematic Unisystem for everything else.

Given some of the comic book action, I think Cinematic Unisystem (Buffy and Ghosts of Albion) is the way to go.

Again, Tarot really amounts to what is a Witch Guardian in my games.  A little magic, some combat ability and a desire to protect others.  Everything else aside that is what Tarot (the character) is all about.

So here is the Tarot for Unisystem. And happy birthday Holly!

Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose (Rowan)
Str: 3 Dex: 3 Con: 3 Int: 4 Per: 4 Wil: 5

Life Points: 46 Drama Points: 10

Attractive 3, Contacts 3 (supernatural), Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill 4, Heightened Senses 1, Magic 4, Magical Philosophy (Witchcraft), Natural Toughness, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 4, Witch Guardian, Visions

Adversary 3 (her sister, dragon witches,other evil supernaturals), Honorable 2, Love 4 (Jon "Skeleton Man" Webb (romantic), Boo Cat (romantic), Mother (platonic)), Obligation 3 (her coven), Reputation 3, Tradition Bound

Acrobatics 4, Computer 1, Crime 1, Doctor 4, Driving 1, Engineering 1, Getting Medieval 6, Gun Fu 2, Influence 4, Knowledge 4, Kung Fu 4, Languages 2 (English, Latin), Notice 4, Occultism 6, Science 1, Sports 2

Maneuver Bonus Base Damage Notes
Sword of the Goddess* +11 16/20 (two handed) Slash/stab
Punch +8 Bash
Dodge +10 Defense action
Parry +10 Defense action

Spell +15, special
 - Deflect +15
 - Hold +14
 - Dispel +12
 - Lesser Sensing +12

The Sword of the Goddess is a unique weapon, but not an uncommon concept. Using Tarot's own magic the weapon gains a +1 bonus in combat and adds to her strength by +1.

I have not detailed the Witchcraft magical philosophy yet, though i have a good intuitive idea of what I want and need for it.  Witches get a +1 to their Doctor/Physician skills for herbal healing,  and +1 to their Occult Library.