Monday, October 31, 2011

Spellcraft & Swordplay: The Necromancer

The Necromancer

One of the most oft created sub class, new class or alternate class is the Necromancer.
Gamers in good campaigns look to them as the penultimate foe. Gamers in evil campaigns dream of controlling scores of undead.

The Monstrous Mayhem book for Spellcraft & Swordplay introduced the Necromancer Elite Path.  He is also featured in the Deluxe Core Rule book.

The Necromancer
Level 8
HD: 6+4 (36 hp)
Attacks: 5+3 (Staff, spells)
S: 10 D: 12: Con: 13 Int: 18 Wis: 16 Cha: 13
Bane of the Dead, Enhanced Undead, Skeletal Minion, Undead Apotheosis: +3
First Level: Bane, Chill Ray, Detect Evil, Inflict Light Wounds
Second Level: Cause Fear, Death Knell, Hold Person, Protection from Good
Third Level: Curse, Speak with Dead, Unholy Blight
Fourth Level: Death Ward, Vampiric Killer
Fifth Level: Shadow Armor

The Necromancer prowls the night looking for crypts to raid or fresh corpses to use in his unholy experiments of the dead.

He is armed with a Skull Staff that gives him a +1 on his spellcasting rolls.

October Challenge: Spielberg Film Fest

Steven Spielberg is one of the best, if not the best director of the modern age. Say what you like about some of his movies, there is no doubt that he can do horror and suspense. I decided to end my October Horror Challenge with some really, really good movies. So this weekend I did some ones I have seen before.
There is different kind of horror here, and I'll go as far as to say was invented by Spielberg; the Suburban Horror film.  Look at his movies, Close Encounters, Poltergeist, and ET. He took something so innocuous and innocent made it the stage for aliens and ghosts.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
The movie that made Spielberg a household name.  If you ever read "The Demon Haunted World" by Carl Sagan he points out that while reports of ghosts, demons and angels have declined, reports of of alien abductions have risen.  Close Encounters captures this like no other film.  Here the aliens end up being benevolent there is no indication in the film till the end that this has to be the case.

Richard Dreyfus' descent into madness is key to this movie; the fear, uncertainty and doubt. We even have a final girl, in the form of Dreyfus.
I chose this movie because I had just picked it up on Blu-Ray and it holds up really, really well.  Even the bits that are dated seem fine and there is not a lot of those.  This movie could be released today and have just as much impact.
Though I wonder if these days the aliens might appear different, or if the inside of the spaceship might change.  Between this movie and now there is a whole lot of "Alien" culture that has happened.

Tally, 28 movies, 24 new

Poltergeist (1982)
While watching all the haunted house movies at the start of this challenge I kept thinking back to Poltergeist as the best haunted house movie ever. So I re-watched it over the weekend.  Man does it hold up really, really well. The pacing of the movie is perfect, the characters are interesting and the scares are top notch.  It is everything promised in CEot3K and more.  The family setting is perfect really, better than that of Close Encounters. While the events in CE destroy the family, the events in Poltergeist bring them together. One of the iconic scenes is Jobeth Williams kissing Craig T. Nelson in front of the closet before she goes in.  It works so well because Speilberg wrote the screenplay and he got a horror director, Tobe Hooper, to do the directing.  Everything you would want in a horror movie is here, save for gore and nudity.  But hey, the suspense and atmosphere of this film more than makes up for any perceived lacking.  In fact I'll set any scene of buckets of blood up against Carol Anne talking to the "TV People" and having a conversation with them where she tells them all sorts of things like her age. The movie really is a masterpiece.

And let us not forget the "Poltergeist Curse".

Tally, 29 movies, 24 new

Jaws (1975)
There are only a handful of movies that have ever scared me a on a deep, primal level.  The Exorcist is one and Jaws is another.  I am not alone in this.  Jaws has so deeply influenced our pop culture that people will regularly throw out "We'er gonna need a bigger boat.", watch "Shark week" on Discovery Channel and then there is the music.  The score of Jaws competes with the score of the Exorcist as the most easily recognized horror movie score.  Even the mere start of the "duh-dum, duh-dum, dum, dum oh wee-ooo!" and people know it.  Even if they have never seen the movie.  Again we take something familiar and safe, a day out on the beach, and turn it into a literal blood bath.
Like the first two this film is very nearly perfect in every respect.  Ok, so, some the things the shark does are a bit much, but it is still a shark and not a ghost or alien.
Roy Scheider, like Craig T. Nelson and Dreyfus of a later film, has tyified the role of the "Speilberg Dad". A role, oddly enough, missing from his Magnum Opus, E.T.  The Speilberg Dad though is strong, loves his family and is ready to do battle with the monsters, even if he has no idea what he is doing at all.  Dreyfus in CE is the dad that fails, but Scheider here and Nelson in Poltergeist are cut from the same cloth.
Like Poltergeist lets pretend the sequels don't exist ok?

Tally, 30 movies, 24 new

Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park combines everything from the previous movies into a new experience.  This is an age old tale of science and man's hubris gone wrong. Filled with the cutting edge tech of the day and all the right buzz words and pop-cultural refs, Jurassic Park could have been a much lesser movie in the hands of anyone else.  But instead we get Micheal Crichton's book as viewed through the eyes of Speilberg.   I mean even look at that movie poster, very subtle in the same ways that the Jaws one is.

In this movie we treated to breath taking views and wonders. Then the "screaming and blood" starts.
So much of this movie is right that it is easy to ignore what it gets wrong (those are Velociraptors, it should be called Cretaceous Park...), but none of that matters when there is a T-Rex chasing after you.

I can remember back in college my wife (then my girlfriend) had just finished reading this book and she was going on and on about how great of a movie it would make.  She was right.

Tally 31 movies, 24 new.

That is the final review for this Challenge!
I watched more new movies this year than last year and that was my personal goal.

More Spellcraft & Swordplay love

A couple more good posts on Spellcraft and Swordplay this fine Halloween morning.

A new post at newer blog (for me anyway), Adventures and Shopping.

And a mini-review from Tenkar's Tavern,

Looking forward to seeing more.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Going back to School with Spellcraft & Swordplay

I was over at my regular DM's house this weekend helping get his new router up and running.  He mentioned that he wants a new fantasy game to run at the high school.  He is a high school football coach and he runs the D&D group.

I had just gotten a couple of copies of the Spellcraft & Swordplay core rules from Drivethru's Print on Demand service and I gave him a copy to try out.  Well he came back to me says he going to give it a try with his group.

You can read his blog here,, and check on his group's progress.

I am glad to see this game getting some more love!

OSR Publisher's List, Graphical Guide

There is a rather impressive list of many of the Old School products over at Dargon's Foot.

I suggest having a look!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October Challenge: Alone in the Dark (2005)

I really, really should know better. But I saw some names, and thought maybe, just maybe.
But no.  I got Boll'ed again.

Alone in the Dark (2005)
Well it had Christian Slater as a poor man's Nick Cage.  And some cool looking monsters, but I am thinking they are more from the video game than the mind of Boll.
The movie starts out good enough.  Ancient Native American artifacts.  Monsters that come from a world of darkness.  Shadowy government agency.  All the things you need for a cool movie.
The build up of combining the artifacts and half-human sleeper agents is also very cool.
In right up to the final battle at the gold mine everything was ok.  Slow, but ok.
Then the story just falls apart.  Christian Slater's rogue, neer-do-well character is brought back into the fold of the Government organization and then it all goes to crap.
We never learn why the bad guy was doing what he wanted to do, why some of the creatures were out but not all of them.  Why Slater's character's implant was "dead".  Why Tara Reid still gets work when she can't act for a damn.
These are questions that Uwe Boll will never answer for us.

The monsters were really cool though and that is something.

Tally 27 movies, 24 new.

Game ideas:  I should stat up the xenos (hate that name) but maybe I'll just take some of their powers for an advanced Displacer Beast like monster.

Zatannurday: Halloween

Is it any surprise I love Halloween?  How about when Halloween and witch costumes get together?  Or Zatanna ones?  Well that is better than Christmas in my mind.

Here is a great Zatanna Halloween costume.

She is just missing a hat!  Found anyplace that sells costumes.

And another one found here,

Happy Halloween everyone!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Elizabeth Bathory: Spellcraft & Swordplay

A while back I posted a bunch of character write-ups on Elizabeth Bathory.
I thought, given the season and to celebrate Spellcraft & Swordplay in physical print copies I'd bring them both together.  Based on my Dracula stats from early today, Bathory also has the advantage of being a coven witch.
This build is based on my earlier ones, as well as the material from Eldritch Witchery, which is coming out soon.

Elizabeth Bathory
Vampire / Witch (Demonic Tradition)

AC: 5
Move: 90'
HD: 15 (48 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws (short sword), 1 bite OR Spells as a 6th level coven Witch
Special: Climb 40', Blood Drain, Animal Empathy (Improved; Rats, bats, wolves), Dominate, Spawn (Blood or Energy drain), Energy Drain (bite), Alternate Form (wolf, incorporeal gas, improved), Resist electricity, Immune mundane weapons, Vulnerable sun, fire, holy water (treat as 2d6 acid), witch abilities
Treasure: 8
XP: 2100
S: 21 D: 16 C: 18 I: 14 W: 16 Ch: 19

Bathory can not change into a bat as other vampires.  She can also only summon wolves. Unlike Dracula, Elizabeth is damaged by the sun.
In addition to being a vampire, Elizabeth Bathory is also a coven witch of the 6th level.  She is not the highest level witch, but she is the coven leader.
Her familiar is demonic black coated wolf with red eyes.  When she is done draining her victims she feeds the remains to this monster.

She may cast the following spells
First level: Charm, Ghostly Slashing, Increase Sex Appeal
Second level: Ecstasy, Rite of Remote Seeing, Virgin Innocence
Third level: Dance Macabre, Toad Mind
Fourth level: Masque

These spells, the Demonic tradition, and what a coven witch is will all be detailed in Eldritch Witchery.

Dracula: Spellcraft & Swordplay

I think it would be awesome to run a total old school dungeon crawl in Castle Dracula.  Not Castle Ravenloft, with it's puzzles and puns.  Castle Dracula.  It would be a blast.
And what better system to do it with than Spellcaft and Swordplay?

Anytime I stat up a character for S&S I have to ask myself the question, could this guy go toe to toe with Conan?  Sort of like what I did with Red Sonja.

Vlad Dracula
Warrior Vampire Lord

AC: 4
Move: 90'
HD: 15 (54 hp)
Attacks: 2 claws (short sword), 1 bite OR 1 weapon as a 15th level warrior (8 + 6)
Special: Fly 40', Climb 40', Blood Drain, Animal Empathy (Improved; Rats, bats, wolves), Dominate, Spawn (Blood or Energy drain), Energy Drain (bite), Alternate Form (bat, wolf, incorporeal gas, improved), Resist electricity, Immune mundane weapons, Vulnerable sun, fire, holy water (treat as 2d6 acid), +2 to all Con based saves.
Treasure: 9
XP: 2400
S: 24 D: 18 C: 18 I: 15 W: 15 Ch: 17

This incarnation of Dracula is the Transylvanian warlord with vampire powers to make him far more brutal than he ever was in life.  He will be surrounded by an army completely loyal to him, though only human, not vampire.

As per the Vampire, Dracula is immune to sleep, charm and hold spells. He may summon 10-100 rats (5-20 giant rats), 10-100 bats (3-18 giant bats) or 3-18 wolves (2-8 dire wolves). Dracula may shapechange into a large bat or wolf, but his hit points remain unchanged. Dracula may also regenerate 5 hit points per round as long as he has fed.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

October Challenge: Legion (2009)

What happens if you take the line "Every Angel is terrifying" and make it into an entire movie?  You might get something like Legion.

Legion (2009)

I really enjoy the good War in Heaven movies.  It shows that The Plan isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Plus demons, as scary as they can be, are so over done.  "oh look, another one of hell's rejects, I wonder what it might do?"  But a rogue Angel?  Or a rogue Angel with a shotgun?  Yeah that sounds cool.
The story is really though nothing new.  Angel "falls" to Earth and cuts off his wings (and his symbolic link to the Master Plan) and then heads out to the desert.  Here he finds a pregnant woman and we learn that her baby has a huge destiny in front of him as mankind's next savior.
The angel in this case though is the Arch Angel Micheal.  And the woman and her unborn are not being hunted by demons, but other angels.   They make a stand off in the diner in the middle of the desert with Denis Quaid and Charles S. Dutton (two actors that are always really fantastic in what they do).
The baby comes and so do the trumpets.  Micheal's BBF Gabriel is here and the action turns up a bit.
Long story short, mother, baby and new boyfriend that always loved her from afar drive a new town with a car full of guns.  Not exactly a Christmas story, but hey.

I liked how the angels looked, there was an alieness about them that we only normally see in demons or Lovecraftian horrors.  These are not fat, nekkid babies with little wings.  These warriors that are willing to commit genocide in their Creator's name AND with the knowledge that what they are doing is right.
Plus they can posses people.  Why should demons have all the fun.

Now this movie got some pretty bad reviews.  Some of those are deserved.  The plot is thin at best, but this is a fun movie.  There are some good scares in it and really it combines many different horror tropes together rather nicely.
I liked it and thought it was fun.

Tally 26 movies, 23 new.

Game Ideas: This is an Armageddon or WitchCraft game blended with All Flesh Must Be Eaten.
In fact it has been done already,  I have to admit I really, really like Thom's take on the Arch Angels.

Dracula: Lord of the Vampires, Threat Report

Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #43: Dracula

I really like these M&M Threat Reports.  They are a quick and easy way to add a villain to your game in a second.
What I like about these is they remind me so much of the old Chill supplements and the Con X ones.  Not that I Am saying they are copies, far from it! But rather all three games went to the same well and each came back with something a little different, and each one was very cool for their own game.

So of course I had to get this one on my favorite villain of all time, Dracula.

The vampire lord is presented with stats for M&M3, as well as some plot hooks for adding him to your game.  Included is his "classical" history and personality profile.  His powers are also discussed, which is nice since the new M&M3 book does not have a Vampire Lord like the old 2nd ed book did.

My only complaint about this one.  Dracula in the books was immune to the effects of sunlight.  He should be unique in this regard.

I would have given him the complication Powerless during the day.  It would have added some nice flavor AND been a big surprise to the players. I have used Dracula in every game I have played and the look on player's faces when he walks out into the sunlight and then grabs them by throat is PRICELESS.

I like the Plot Hooks and the "Power in the Blood" is a great idea.  You could use it with Dracula or even some new vampire upstart.

Since M&M3 is the same system as DC Adventures then this is also perfect for that.

Also they should edit the boiler-plate credits and licensee page for this one. Dracula can't be Product Identity.  His history in the M&M universe is, but his "real world" history can't be.

But all in all a great product.

You can see my M&M 2nd Ed version here:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Challenge: Morgane et ses Nymphes

Ok this one is hard to properly classify.  It has many elements that make it horror.  Old castles, villagers warning the heroes away from the dark forest, an immortal witch and her slaves, torture and death.  It is also soft-core Euro-cinema and while there is nothing out and out scary about it, there is the nagging feeling that something not right is going on.

Morgane et ses Nymphes (1971)

Also known as the "Girl Slaves of Morgan le Fay" this is a very sureal movie.  It starts out with best friends Anna and Françoise, travelling the countryside. Both women are young a quite attractive.  They are warned to stay away from dark country side, which they ignore. They spend the next few hours driving on and on so they decide to sleep in a barn they find once it gets dark.  After a figurative and literal roll in the hay.  Françoise wakes up to find Anna gone.  Françoise eventually finds a boat and lead to island full of beautiful women and their leader Morganne.  Eventually Anna is found here and she and Françoise spend time enjoying the company of the other women of the island.  Sure there is this creepy dwarf Gurth and the bit about giving up their souls to Morganne so they can live forever.
The biggest problem comes in the form of Yael, who does not want Françoise to become Morganne's new favorite. She and the other favorites, Sarah and Sylviane work to get Françoise out of the picture.  Françoise tries to escape, only to learn she does not have the magic to summon the boat, but Gurth does.
During the final scene where Anna and Françoise are to give their souls to Morganne, Françoise decides to seduce Yael.  Afterwards Gurth gets lowered into the pit for having the girls perform on each other for his own amusement.  There is some twisted irony in there.
Françoise gets his ring to summon the boat and then a horse. But it doesn't matter because once Françoise sees an old woman and a dead one she realizes she would rather be young and beautiful forever.  She calls out to Morganne who comes to get her.  They walk back to the boat but stop by the farm house where Anna and she had spent the night.  Inside still sleeping she sees Anna and Yael (at least I think it is Yael) sleeping in each other's arms, happy.  Françoise smiles.

Ok so. Is this horror?
Again there are plenty of elements of horror even if the movie is not scary.  Françoise does give up her soul to stay immortal and live with Morganne forever.  Judging by the number of women here it seems she is not lacking in volunteers.  Morganne is not an unkind witch, she does let Anna and Yael go off to live their own "happily ever after".
The girls though are still victims of Morganne, or are they all co-dependent on each other. Morganne needs them to live and they need her so they can remain forever young; trapped even in a moment in time. In the end that might make more horrific than any number of monsters or slashers.

Many have commented on the surrealistic nature of this film, and that is true.   It is like Françoise has passed over into a mytic land.  Sort like Mist of Avalon, if Morganne had been a lesbian.

Tally 25 movies, 22 new.

Game ideas: Obviously Morgane Le Fey is still alive and living on the Isle of Avalon.  I would fix this with Mists of Avalon and even a bit of my own Daughters of the Flame to get some interesting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

October Challenge: Shower of Blood

I like cheesy horror movies, but they are very much a hit or miss affair.  I like little independent movies too.  They generally have more heart than budget and that will show in the enthusiasm of the actors.
but other times you get this.

Shower of Blood (2004)
I think the most telling bit here is that none of the actors have every gone on to do anything else, with a minor exception. The director also never went on to anything else.

So what do we have here?  Well five college kids are going on a weekend trip.  Lisa has an Uncle Marty she has not seen in 10 years and figures she can just pop in with her drunk and horny friends to spend the night.  Of course we are also supposed to buy that Lisa and Heather are virgins.  Casting tip: Girls with breast implants do not make convincing virgins. Trouble is Uncle Marty is a vampire and he wants Heather to be his new bride.

Well what is good about this movie?  The basic plot is not bad. The special effects are surprisingly well done. And there is plenty of flesh for all.

The bad points are, well pretty bad.  The acting is sub high school play, in fact I think many of the "actors" were purposely trying to be bad.  The sound editing is beyond terrible and into the amateur.  Adding burbs and farts to the actresses moving around is either stupid, mean spirited or both. While the basic plot is not bad, the execution of said plot is terrible.  Beyond it really.

Honest this is not the worse movie I have seen this challenge, but it is really, really close.

What I can't understand is how a sequel was made.  I might have to watch that one too.

Tally 24 movies, 21 new.

Wizard's Witch

Wizards of the Coast put up their preview of the new Witch class, er sub-class, for their Heroes of the Feywild.

So far I like what I see.  The witch uses Intelligence and Wisdom as her primary abilities with high scores in Charisma and Constitution being favorable.  There seems quite a bit of overlap in the role (small r) of the witch and the warlock, but that only gives me a lot of ideas.
Witches do not gain the Ritual Caster as do Wizards, but given the way Essentials has downplayed the rituals I think that it might be fine.

There are some loosely defined covens (Dark Moon and Full Moon) which act mechanically like the Warlock Pacts, but thematically are different.

When the witch is out I want to start comparing it to the warlock and to my own witches.

I think the 4e witch is positioned to more of a direct competitor to the Pathfinder witch.

What I dislike about it is that the Witch is just a sub-class of the Wizard.  But I guess I shouldn't complain.  We are getting a witch afterall.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lolth Love

I have always rather liked the Demon Queen of Spiders.  Sure she is totally the bad girl cliche, but I am only human.

Others share my love it seems and have also played on the Lolth/Lilith connection some.

Mythopoeic Ramblings has some good material on the Spider Queen,

Lawful Indifferent also give us their take,


October Challenge: Sleepy Hollow

Looking for a change of pace I stumbled on this little gem last night. I think Tim Burton is fantastic.

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

The story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman is one of the great American Horror stories.  The film versions though have to compete with the Disney classic version. This one is a worthy version.  Yes it takes a number of liberties with the story.  Yes it is exits in some weird Tim Burton alternate reality where all the leading men are played by Johnny Depp and all leading women are played by Helena Bonham Carter-er I mean Christina Ricci.
Ok so Depp's Ichabod is a detective for the NYPD in 1799.  He is sent to the village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate a murder.  His Ichabod is still a bit of coward and has a weak stomach, which I am glad they preserved, but is quite smart.  And apparently his mother was some sort of witch.
Christina Ricci is here and I'll be honest.  I think she is great, I love her in just about everything she does, but all her characters sound exactly the same.  Granted, I have not seen a lot of "Monster" but nearly everything else.
We get cameos and co-stars of some of the highest quality and number are (or will be) Burton alums.
I was particularly pleased to see Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Martin Landau, and Michael Gambon.  Of course the award for biggest surprise casting goes to Christopher Waken as the Headless Horseman.
The actors are first rate and script is good too.
The effects looked a bit dated in some cases, even though it is only 10 years old, but still good enough.

I enjoyed the story in all it's supernatural spookiness. I think I was thinking that it was going to be a more mundane killer than a supernatural one, but instead we got both and that was kind of cool.

Tally 23 movies, 20 new.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More OSRIC Player's Guide woes

EDITED TO ADD:  I am getting a lot of links to this.  To be clear: WotC is NOT going after OSR blogs or books.  They asked 1 author to remove 1 product that had some clear violations of the OGL.

A while back I posted the tales of the OSRIC Player's Guides/References.

The first one I detailed here,
It was just a copy-paste job of the OSRIC rules and some stolen cover art.  The author claimed he did not know, which is fine, but then he turned around and did it AGAIN with Holmes Basic producing something called "Mazes & Perils", detailed here, and

Frankly that guy has lost all benefit of the doubt from me.

But that is not the tragedy today.

Today I want to mention the OSRIC Player's Guide, the one detailed here and here

This one was done by the same guy that ran the blog BreeYark!.  Unlike the first, this one had been in the works since Jan/Feb of 2011.  Unlike the first this one also was full of original art.  But like the first one, this one has also been taken down from OneBookShelf and the BreeYark! blog is now gone.

I am not going to speculate as to why.  There was a C&D order issued and you can read some more at the K&KA forum,
I just think it is too bad really that all the work that went into it was lost.

I guess the learning point here is if you are going to publish something and put it up on DriveThru/RPGNow/OBS then you better be sure you know what you are doing.  Make sure you understand the OGL (if you are using it), know where your art is coming from.  Though I'll admit I thought the OSRIC Player's Guide was fine as far as copyrights/trademarks are concerned.  Just goes to show you can't know everything.

I am reminded of something though Clark Peterson of Necromancer Games once said about OSRIC.  I won't detail it here, but I am wondering if the eye of Hasbro/WotC is becoming more focused on the OSR.  I know they read these blogs, they are gamers afterall.  And I am sure that the sales of legit products are nothing compared to what a multi-billion dollar company like Hasbro makes.  But all the same we have had some pretty spectacular screw-ups and it might not be long for that attention is on all of us.

I do hope the BreeYark! blog comes back tough.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October Challenge: The Amityville Horror (1979)

Amityville Horror is one of those classic horror films. Tons of sequels, a remake, and a sub-genre of haunted house movies.  But how does the original stand up?

The Amityville Horror (1979)
It has been years and years since I have seen this movie.  So long in fact that I had forgotten most of it. Watching it now with more modern eyes the film seems a bit slow and even a bit anti-climatic.
So what do we have.  There is a great build up here to a creepy story. The actors are great, and this is back when Margot Kidder was still really good. Rod Steiger of course was fantastic and Josh Brolin's descent into madness is great.  The haunting itself is a bit lame.  The flies are kinda cool, the red room is neat and the house still looks creepy as all heck.

Though watching this makes really want to see Poltergeist again.

Tally 22 movies, 19 new (but I kind of forgot it...)

Zatannurday: Young Justice

The newest episode of Young Justice aired (for me) last night and featured a young Zatanna.  I thought I would share my thoughts about the episode today.


The Young Justice team is still getting backtogether after their betrayal by Red Tornado when there new "baby sitter" Giovanni Zatara and his teen daughter Zatanna.   The team "kidnaps" her (her idea) to go after Red Tornado.

There is some good natured flirting between her and Robin; I think they are supposed to be about the same age.  Zee shows off some cool magic and even a couple of quick costume changes.  The team grills her on her powers and she mentions that she is no where near her Dad's powers.  I thought it was great that she has a "sneak out of the house" spell.

She wears a variation of her classic outfit, modeled after her dad's.  May she picks up her penchant for fish-net from Black Canary.

The episode is cool, though not really as Zee-centric as I had hoped. Plus despite being grounded for life at the end it looks like's she might be joining the team.  Or at least I can hope.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween Gift ideas

Need a Halloween gift idea?
What do you mean you don't send gifts for Halloween, of course you need to send gifts for Halloween!

I always buy a new Horror themed RPG for Halloween.  Here are two that qualify.

Conspiracy X,
ConX is a modern horror game of UFOs, aliens and world wide conspiracies.  Like X-Files, Dark Skies and shows like that?  Then this is a great choice!


Spellcraft and Swordplay,
While not a horror game per se, it is a great D&D-like game and is cinematic enough to emulate any Dark Fantasy genre you like.  The game itself grew out of Jason Vey's own Hyborean Age game.

October Challenge: Dracula's Curse (2002)

Last year I did a big run of Dracula movies, but obviously I missed a few.

Dracula's Curse (2002)
This one was an Italian TV movie.
The story is fairly close to the book with some odd bits.  It takes place in modern times in Budapest.  All the characters are there, but some of the nationalities are switched around, but everyone is recognizable.
The is an odd bit where we see young Dracula before old Dracula and then young Dracula again. Other than that it is again really close to the book.
So close in fact that it makes it difficult judge this one.  The trouble with this one it is a bit boring.  You don't get the same dynamic between Lucy and Mina or even what makes Mina so important to the Dracula story.  In truth too the horror is missing to make this really one of the most, uhm..., anemic Dracula's I have ever seen.  They lost all of the depth and essence of what made Dracula, the book, so special.  Mina and Lucy were both very shallow and lacked anything that made them special.
I did like the Renfield character, interesting twist.
The actors were fine and the actor for Dracula looks like what you would expect from the description in the book and he is not a bad actor either.
The ending is different than the book.

Tally 21 movies, 19 new.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Rachel and Ivy goodness

Yes. I am big fan of Kim Harrion's Hollows series.  I really enjoy the books and the characters.
In addition to the new books coming out, there are some reissues of the first books coming to the shelves in the UK and the cover art is fantastic.  I like it because you can really see Rachel and Ivy's faces now.


Very cool.  Might have to pick these up.
Now if we could only get a TV show that would be great.  Better yet, HBO.

October Challenge: Succubus Hell Bent

I like succubi. But you might all know that by now. [1][2] And I love movies of succubi and Lilith.  So this was one I was really looking forward too.  Man, am striking out everywhere.

Succubus: Hell Bent (2007)
So simple story here.  Stupid rich kid with stupid best friend go on spring break to hook up with some girls. The rich kid, Adam (see what they did there?) meets a really hot woman, Lilith, and they go back to his hotel for sex.  She demands to be on top and then claws him up during sex. Then there is the whole gowing eyes deal.  It was kind of like watching a metal video from the 80s.
Anyway stupid rich boy goes back to LA.  And Lilith tracks him down.  She then goes about screwing him and killing all his friends.
We get a Lamas cameo and even Gary Busey makes a brief appearance as Sentinel  the Demon Hunter for Hire (who should get his own movie where he does nothing but talk to his sword).
Stupid kid finally manages to kill Lilith and then goes to jail for her murder.

I really wanted to like this one.  But the the plot is to weak and the editing was done by a blind guy I think.  There is a certain charm about this flick though.  Natalie Sperl is good as Lilith and plays the role with enough creepy-stalkerness and humor to make you root for her instead of stupid kid.  Plus she is easy on the eyes, which is never a bad thing.
The special effects are not too bad really.  I did like Lilith's demonic form.
Though we all know Lilith is a red head.

Here are a couple of links with longer reviews.  Both are good sites.

Still searching for a really good succubus movie.

Tally 20 movies, 18 new.

Game content:  Gary MOTHEREFFING Busey as a demonhunter for hire?  Hell yes!

Trouble is we get so little of him that it is hard to know what any of his stats should be.  He is older, maybe washed up.  Has connections to the church and has a magical sword named Lucille.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October Challenge: Red Riding Hood

I'll admit it. I am a sucker for dark fairy tales.  I mean fair tales in their original, un-Disney form are pretty freaking dark.  But any time you can bring one of those back and put them on the screen then that is aces in my book.  If you can do it and get Gary Oldman in to be in the cast then even better.

But despite all of that good stuff we get something like Red Riding Hood.

Red Riding Hood (2011)
I was very excited for this one when it came out.  Then all the bad reviews came in and well I truthfully kind of forgot about it. Since a few others were also covering this one for the Challenge I figured I give it a go.
To begin with, RRH is not a bad movie, it is just not a good one either.  Amanda Seyfried is very attractive, but dull in the titular role.  I didn't get the sense that she was ever afraid or actually in love with this guy she was supposed to be in love with.  Or anything really.
Gary Oldman though was at his scene chewing best as the creepy Father Solomon. Honestly the man can play anything.

Of course there is a werwolf in this one; seems to be the thing to do these days, make the "big bad wolf" into a werewolf.  Makes me wonder what they would do with the "Three Little Pigs"?  I know.  A movie about three cops, one played by Harvey Keitel and maybe the other by Omar Epps. That are chasing a perp when the moon rises and now the cops are being chased by the Big Bad Werewolf. Have not worked out how the houses of Straw, Sticks or Bricks work into it yet.  I know!  That is their last names.  Keitel is Lt. Brickson, Epps is Det. Sticks (or something).  Hey. It is not the dumbest thing I have come up with this week. We need a comic relief guy for Straw.  Maybe James Franco.  Anyway.......

So in the movie they actually made in Hollywood. We do get get a hunt, an old witch (maybe) and creepy father/daughter relationship.  Again, there was a lot of potential here. I can't say wasted, just never fully realized.

It could be I was expecting something like Tanith Lee's "Red as Blood", a book that I always thought about when seeing the poster for this movie.

As expected the Tanith Lee story is much better.

Tally: 19 movies, 17 new.

Game Material: In a classic D&D adventure the PCs come a small village on the edge of a "haunted" forest. They are constantly attacked by wolves, till the PCs show up, and then the deaths start.  Will they discover to true wolf before they are burned at the stake.  Afterall it can't be the kind little girl or her old weak grandmother.

Spellcraft and Swordplay in Print

Many of you know I am partnering with Elf Lair Games to publish my two witch books.  "Eldritch Witchery" in fact has been designed to be used with "Spellcraft and Swordplay" in particular.

So I am pleased to announce that the S&S books are now in print.

You can not get Print on Demand copies of this really fun game.  Plus you will ant them anyway so you can use "Eldritch Witchery" with them!

You can read reviews for the core book at Grognardia and RPGNet.

Now if you are new to all of this you might ask, why should I play Spellcraft & Swordplay if I have <>.  Well it is going to depend on your style of course, but here is why I like it and why the core book is sitting on my dinning room table so I can flip through it anytime I want.

1. S&S is like Cinematic D&D.  The action in S&S is supposed to fast.  This is no surprise given that Jason and I both spent a lot of time working on Buffy's Cinematic Unisystem together.  To me S&S has a much more pulpy feel to it than some of the other clones, near clones and nostalgia games.

2. S&S is a great "What If" game.  Not many people know this anymore, but rolling a d20 for combat is "new school" when talking about OD&D.  It was actually the "Alternate Combat Method" and it assumed that gamers would be using the Chainmail 2d6 method.  S&S preserves the combat system of Chainmail.  Now imagine that OD&D continued on it's path and retained the Chainmail roots more.  The next "Basic" game might have looked a lot like this.

3. The underlying system is simple and powerful.  The system running the show for S&S, known as O.R.C.S.,  is a simple one that takes advantage of modern game design sensibilities   In fact it is so flexible that a lot of game ideas I have considered for Unisystem or True20 I am working on moving them over to S&S/O.R.C.S.

So please do you self a favor and pick up a copy or at least try out the free "Basic Game" PDF.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Sorry for the quiet this week.  Start of the Fall 2 term around here.

I also sent a bunch of submissions to some publishers to see if they are interested.  Nothing big.
The nice thing is if they don't want them then they are yours for free! Or for the price of reading my blog.

October Challenge: The Naked Witch (1961)

**If you are here looking for Naked Witches then please go here.**

Well, this one was out there...taunting me.

The Naked Witch (1961)

This thing makes Manos look like Citizen Kane.  The first 10 or so minutes is an overview of witchcraft as told by an insane Sunday School teacher.  Then we get a narration about this German area of Texas (Luchenbach, Waylon, Willie and the boys are no where to be seen) and a montage of images that look like they stolen form some tourism board film or a demented version of Sound of Music.

Aside:: This might be the most mind numbing movie I have seen this entire challenge.
Aside2: It is a universal truth.  Being evil makes you hotter.

Now in reviews they tell you the college student digs up the witch and she comes back to life.  Well that doesn't happen till half way through the movie.
So yeah there is a witch and she is naked, sort of, but frankly I would have been better off watching an episode of "Charmed" or "The Secret Circle".  The acting and the script would have been a hell of a lot better that's for sure.
Honestly if you want a story about a witch coming back from the dead and walking around naked the whole time then watch Rob Zombie's American Witch.

My wife nearly banned me from the TV because of this one.

Tally 18 movies, 16 new

Monday, October 17, 2011

October Challenge: Teeth

There are plenty of horrors out there in the land of myth of legend. Some are more popular than others. The Vampire and werewolf obviously take the lion's share of stories, there are others.  Some of these are so unique that when a movie about them comes along I have to check them out.

Teeth (2007)
Teeth is fun little movie.  The premise is simple really.  Dawn is a high school student and a bit naive.  She is a member of a teen abstinence group and is generally afraid of sex.  This is a good thing really since Dawn has an odd "adaptation".  Maybe it has something to do with living near a nuclear power plant her whole life. Dawn has a problem.  She has an extra set of teeth in her vagina. This turns out to be very useful when she is sexually assaulted by a fellow student from her group.
Dawn tries to find out what is wrong with her.  She  goes to see a gynecologist to discover what is wrong.  When he gets a bit improper with her she reacts by biting off four of his fingers.
Distraught, she heads home only to find her mother collapsed on the floor while her brother ignores her cries.
Dawn discovers that the police are looking for the first boy she was with and she decides to turn herself in.
She ends up at another guy's place who liked her.
Distraught and newly loaded with sleeping pills she ends up having sex.  Everything seems to be going fine, she even has sex again, till she discovers that she was part of a bet.  One quick chomp and she leaves.
Her mother died the night before so Dawn returns home to take her revenge on her step-brother.  She goes to his room to have sex with him, something he has wanted for a long time, and she puts the bite on him.
She tosses out the left overs and his dog promptly eats it.
Dawn, hitchhiking is picked up by an old man that tries to make advances at her.  She refuses at first and then gets a grin on her face and turns to the old perv.

The interesting thing about this flick is that is does take an old myth, one not many people may be familiar with, and turns it into a "monster" movie.  Dawn is a sympathetic monster to be sure, but she kills at least one guy and maims three, potentially four, others.  Still though it is hard to blame her for what she does.

Some images from movies are iconic.  Bela Lugosi descending those stairs, Count Orlock standing in the doorway for some of the older ones, Freddie with his razor blade gloves.
The iconic image here though is not what you think it might be.  It is Dawn's home, an idyllic single story ranch with the nuclear power plant cooling towers in the background.

If you get a chance, please check it out.  It is a fun one.

Tally: 17 movies, 15 new.

Game Uses
Well, I can think of dozens really.  But are they good for a game??
For an adult game (or more to the point an older adolescent game) this could be a good "fix" to that One Guy that always is looking to score with whatever female humanoid he sees.
I am tempted though to say this is the way the various Hag races are.  Like Dawn they can control it so the can get what they want (offspring) and then when done they bite off the male's penis (great way to do a lot of HP in damage).
Defiantly hags and not say Succubi since the Hag is supposed to be a perversion of the female ideal.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kickstarter Conspiracy X

Eden studios, producers of such fine games as Ghosts of Albion and WitchCraft is launching a kickstarter to get their book printed.

The Extraterrestrials Sourcebook is the agnet's guide to the ETs of the ConX world: The Greys, the Atlanteans and the Saurians.
Written by Dave Chapman who gave us Conspiracy X 2.0 AND the Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space RPG.  So you know he knows his stuff.

If you want to check out the PDF version then that has been up for a while.

But the print version will help get other products funded.

Check it out. Pledge some cash and get a book.  Books are good.

October Challenge: Let The Right One In (2008)

The other day I reviewed "Let Me In", today I want to talk about the "original" movie version, based on the book.  And let me say this.  Movies like this give me hope for the vampire movie.

Let The Right One In (2008)
A lot about what I said for Let Me In holds true for this movie. Oskar seems less bullied than Owen was and there is certainly something more "off" about Eli than Abby (this is made clearer in the book).
I felt the gore was less and there were next to no "vampire" effects.  But the story is still fantastic and I think more that any other vampire movie in years (maybe even decades) the really shows the horror of these creatures and the loneliness.

Oddly enough this movie is "brighter" in terms of cinematography.  The 2010 Hammer version was very dark in terms of lighting.  I think that is part of the reason why, despite nearly an identical script, that Owen comes off as more fragile than Oskar.  Owen and Oskar are both "damaged goods" but Owen is more victim here, Oskar seems more like a killer in training.

The performances are fantastic though.  It would be unfair of me to compare the actors to each other.  I don't understand Swedish to be able to truly compare them.

I have to admit while watching this I kept thinking back to two other Scandinavian imports I have seen recently, Trollhunter and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Girl in particular since it is also due for a big American remake.

In the end both movies are great and like my friend Jason Vey says they are everything Twilight is not.  Abby/Eli does not sparkle.  Nor though is she a rabid killer.  She kills because she has too, because she has forgotten everything else.

Tally: 16 movies, 14 new.

Game stats.  Since I did Abby for Ghosts of Albion, I thought maybe Eli would work well in Witch Girls Adventures.

Witch Girls Adventures
Eli, Vampire
Rank: 3

Body: d6 Mind: d6 Senses: d6
Will: d6 Social: d6 Magic: d8

Life Points: 14 Reflex: 9
Resist Magic: 11 Zap Points: 16

Skills: Athletics +4, Basics +1, Fighting +3, Games (Puzzles) +5, Hear +2, Hiding +2, Look +1, Mundane Etiquette +3, Mysticism +1, Mythology +2, Scare +1, Streetwise +3, Urchin +4

Abilities: Devious, Tough
Heritage: Vampire
Common Vampire Abilities

Saturday, October 15, 2011

October Challenge: House on Haunted Hill

Been on a Haunted House kick lately.  So I figured I'd watch this one as well.  I had seen it years ago and I was always confusing this one with other movies.  This one is the unique one of the bunch since all the "ghosts" were fake in the movie.

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

What do you need to know about this film?  Well it is wonderfully campy.  It almost plays as a parody of haunted house movies.  Vincent Price is campy, creepy and suave all at the same time.  There are lines of dialogue that frankly I just can't  anyone else pulling off.  He managed to be scary and funny in the same breath.
The elements here are familiar,  people come to a haunted house to stay, if they survive they get money.  Only this time it is a "game of murder" and that game is Price's character vs his 5th wife.  They are trying to off each other and hopefully use the guests as patsies/witnesses/alabi's.

The plot doesn't really work so well, but it is grand fun in almost a Scooby Doo way.  I half expected Velma to come out and demonstrate how the walking skeleton worked with Scooby dancing with it.

Of course I have seen this one before, but given the fun with Hell House and the Haunting, I could not resist it.

Tally: 15 movies, 12 new.