Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ghosts of Albion: Sold Out!

I just heard from Eden Studios yesterday that the first print run of Ghosts of Albion has completely sold out!

Of course I am thrilled to death about this.  But then there is sad fact that it is not in stores for new people to buy.

So the great thing is DriveThruRPG and RPGNow has you covered.  Their Print-on-Demand service produces the same books you get in the stores.
So stop by and buy!

I am hoping to take one of my Ghosts adventures from Gen Con and put it up here.  Failing that, maybe a conversion sheet on how to play Ghosts of Ablion: Ravenloft!

Jean Wells 1955-2012

Jean Wells, one of the early pioneers of gaming and long time TSR developer has passed.

Here are some of the links that can better explain her contributions than I can.

Among her other contributions to the game and to the hobby she was also famous, or even infamous, for her original B3 Palace of the Silver Princess module.

B3 was one of the first adventures I bought to run as a DM and read and reread that adventure 100s of times.
A sad day in gaming indeed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blogging A to Z here I come!

Ok I am going to do this again this year.

Right now I have no plan and no idea what I am going to do, but I am going to do it.

Here are our hosts for the event, each one a great blogger in their own right.

And they are doing that Facebook thing too. http://www.facebook.com/atozchallenge

I think this a great way to get to a wider audience, and I encourage any and all to give it a try.
Here who is entered so far. Please join us!

Post 1000!

This marks my 1000th post here at the Other Side.

That's a lot of text. ;)

I hope you all have been enjoying this as much as I have.

This has been a great ride and more emotionally satisfying than I would have thought it could have been.  So here is to my next 1000 posts!  I hope they are every bit as fun to do and I hope you enjoy them as much.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Dragonslayers vs. The Lost Caverns of the Tsojcanth, Finale

Last night the Dragonslayers (aka my kids) finished up the Greater Caverns to discover Iggwilv's greatest treasure and fight Drelnza.  I was considering to bring her back, but she was so completely destroyed that I just can't imagine how she would do it.

The boys did great really, I am very pleased how they played.  I was amazed how well my youngest did.  He figured out the secret of the central doors really fast and had a really good sense of direction.  We used minis of course, but not for the entire dungeon, just the battles.  They got the Lanthorn, the Prison, and all her books of magic.  Everyone leveled up one level.

Of course the boys had a  great time and we even got to play past bedtime. They woke up today and wanted to get right back into it.  That is the sign of a good adventure.

Now I need to figure out what the guys are going to do next.  I'd love to move on to the Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, but I am anxious to get them to the big battle against Tiamat.

For that I am considering using the old H4 Throne of Bloodstone, but not sure yet.

Here are the previous posts in this series.

Tomorrow. Something special!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Drive by posting

Can't spend a lot of time here I have kids that willing got off the Xbox and Skyrim because they want to play some D&D with their Dad!

But I wanted to point a blog today that has absolutely NOTHING to do with writing, games or horror or anything like that.
My friends Jody and Beth used to be suburbanites with my wife and I till they decided to pack it all up and go live off the land.  Please have a look at their blog, http://cdrvalleyfarm.blogspot.com/.

While my experience with farm life is a vague idea that is where my food comes from, my wife grew up with Jody and Beth, so I get what they are trying to do out there.

So stop by for something different and leave a comment or two to encourage them to post more.

Zatannurday: Year One

I was not feeling so well last week and totally missed out on my one year anniversary of Zatannurday!  Though I guess this one year since it became a regular posting here at The Other Side.

So what can we say one year later?  Well we saw one Zatanna comic wrap-up (her self-titled series) and another come up (Justice League Dark).  Her TV portrayals were limited to cartoons (though she was mentioned in the last season of Smallville) with here Silver Age counterpart appearing in  "Batman The Brave in the Bold" and a younger version in "Young Justice".

My most popular post was the one on Adam Hughes, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/03/zatannurday-adam-hughes.html  but I think that is entirely due to the art on the page and image searches.

My most linked to post was the one where I mentioned she was going to be in Young Justice, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/10/zatannurday-its-in-cards.html

The most commented one was the posting of Christie Zulo art, http://timbrannan.blogspot.com/2011/04/zatannurday-z-is-for-zatanna-and-zullo.html
This was also the last posting I did for the A to Z challenge and the one that convinced me that the A to Z challenge was worth doing. The first post actually got more comments, but those were comments about the whole idea and less about post itself.

I am very pleased with how all these posts turned out.  Plus it has given me something to look forward to each week and give people something new on Saturdays, a day that had been pretty dead on the ole Other Side.

So here is to another year and plenty of magical Zatannurday posts!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Willow & Tara: World of Darkness (old)

I have been going over a ton of my old books and looking at what I want to keep, what I want to give to my kids and what I want to get rid of.  I cam across some old World of Darkness stuff the other day and I am not 100% sure what I am going to do with it yet.  Most likely sell it all in my local game auctions.  But considering that I have wanted to do some posting on my girls, I thought this would be a good choice.

I never really got into the original World of Darkness.  I did have Vampire the Masquerade and I recognized why and how it was good, but at the time I had also just discovered WitchCraft, so that was the game I had chosen to scratch my Modern-Supernatural itches.

Though I did really like Mage. A lot. I really like Sorcerer's Crusade, I thought it was a really cool idea and much more interesting than Mage the Ascension.  That lead me to Sorcerer: The Hedge Wizard's Handbook, which is not part of Sorcerer's Crusade, but part of modern Mage.  But I am glad I made that mistake, since I really liked this book and it made me look again at the World of Darkness.

For Willow's and Tara's stats in the old World of Darkness I am opting to use Sorcerer: The Hedge Wizard's Handbook instead of Mage proper for a couple of reasons.

First, it is obvious that in the first five seasons of the show Willow learned magic from books and self study. Tara learned from her grandmother and mother.  Plus, Season Sux (what I have been calling it that for years) aside, neither Tara nor Willow achieve the power levels in Mage. Sorcerer handles everything nicely. I also happen to like Sorcerer a little bit better than Mage anyway.  Now of course in my own games, especially in "Season of the Witch" the girls do achieve Mage like power levels.  I'll detail that on a future posting when I talk about new WoD.

What works nice with this version is that it mirrors my WitchCraft/early Buffy stats, and then once I got the characters on my own I took them to Ghosts of Albion, and even the "new" Mage..

Of course I never did use these versions.  I did use the Mage: The Awakening versions in one game way back when it first came out, but that is about it.

Willow Rosenberg

Nature: Sage Society: None
Demeanor: Mentor: None
Concept: Wicca

Strength: 1  Charisma: 2  Perception: 2
Dexterity: 2      Manipulation: 2    Intelligence: 5
Stamina: 3  Appearance: 3  Wits: 3

Talents Skills Knowledge
Alertness 1 Leadership 2    Computer 5
Instruction 2        Research 5 Enigmas 2
Intimidation 1 Survival 1 Investigation 2

Medicine 1
Occult 3
Science 4

Conjuration: 3   Arcane: 1
Enchantment: 2         Library: 5
Ephemera: 1   Relic: 1 (Doll’s Eye Crystal)
Hellfire: 3   Status: 2
Herbalism: 2


Tara Maclay

Nature: Sage Society: None
Demeanor: Mentor: None
Concept: Wicca

Strength: 2 Charisma: 3 Perception: 3
Dexterity: 1      Manipulation: 1     Intelligence: 3
Stamina: 3 Appearance: 3 Wits: 4


Talents Skills Knowledge
Alertness 1 Animal Ken 2      Cosmology 3
Expression 1     Research 4 Enigmas 2
Instruction 2 Survival 2 Investigation 2

Linguistics 2
Lore 1
Occult 2

Paths Backgrounds
Conjuration: 3 Arcane: 2
Enchantment: 2 Library: 5
Healing: 2 Status: 4
Herbalism: 3


Thursday, January 26, 2012

DriveThru Reviews

These are more like "Drive By" reviews since I am posting rather fast today.  Also a mixed bag of stuff.

Power Pics Heroes 1 -Female Speedster
Great concept really. Provide the art and a paper mini for the games and let the imagination flow. You don't even really need or want stats with this since the purpose is fit the character to your game. I found that most of these can be used in every supers game and even some pure sci-fi ones. Well worth the price.
5 out of 5 stars

OSRIC Book of Assassins
What you get: A 26-page book on Assassins and subclasses for OSRIC and compatible games. The sub classes are interesting enough to keep my attention (I liked the Ninja and the Bounty Hunter).
What struck me as odd though was how it was written. I am not 100% sure English was the first language of the author. There were some very awkward word choices and sentences through out. It also uses a 3rd party skill system that I didn't have. With the OGL the best to do would be include it.
The layout is clean but uninspired (a single column of text) and there is no art at all.
The concept is good, the execution of it though is poor.
2 out of 5 stars

Baba Yaga: Queen of the Wicked Fens
Good little Baba Yaga workup for any level/tier of play. Lots of attention to the myths of Baba Yaga were paid attention to, but their could have been more. The art is only ok, and I would have liked to have seen more of the magic items and stories surrounding her.
This plus a quick web search though will produce a lot of any game.
3 out of 5 stars

Mutants & Masterminds Threat Report #39: Eris
My favorite Threat Report so far for M&M3.
All of these Threat Reports present a fully detailed NPC for your use in your game and all the stats you need. PLUS a .POR file if you are using Hero Lab. Import the file in and alter as needed.
At 99 cents this is a steal.
5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Clarification on 5e

Just a reminder.

I don't recall ever seeing anywhere that D&D 5e would be compatible with AD&D only that you could play the same style as you did with AD&D 1.

I can just see a lot of people throwing fits about this.  To my knowledge we are still looking at ascending armor classes (easily converted if you passed 3rd grade math) and 3e style saves or 4e style defenses.

I am sure we will all know more in the next few days, but the things I have been hearing lately are in my mind good (and good for my group of players) but certainly not going to make everyone happy.

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 3

Welcome back to White Dwarf Wednesday.

Issue 3 takes us into Oct/Nov 1977.
The editorial opens up with a bit on whether or not the British SF/F game market was large enough to support a magazine like this.  They decide that it is and begin looking for opinions on how they should cover items, namely D&D.
The Editorial ends, amusingly enough, with a "May the Force Be With You".  It was 1977 after all.

Digging in we have an article on how to play D&D and Empire of the Petal throne as Solo games.  Not a bad read really, I might try it out sometime to see if it works.
More on Fred Hemmings Competitive D&D. The interesting thing about this article that it really shows the roots of D&D in war-gaming and tournament play.  It is not something I would try on my own, and I am not sure it would work so well with modern games.  But a cool read all the same.

The News section talks about the smash new movie "Star Wars" and how Gen Con had attendance over 2,000 every day, out selling Origins. There is a new movie in the works with Marlon Brando named "Superman".

We delve deeper into the Monstermark system.  By this point in my original readings I was loosing interest in it.  It was such a convoluted system, but I appreciated it determination to keep on going.  Though no new monsters in this issue.

In Open Box we get an overview of a number of D&D aids from Judges Guild including D&D Reference Sheets, a Judge's Screen and Dave Arneson's First Campaign book. They also cover what I believe is the first product to support the "City State of the Invisible Overlord", a place that was near legend when I would be playing a mere 2-3 years later.
Reviews of Citadel from FGU, Fourth Dimesion from J.A. Ball and Co. and The Battle of Five Armies (yeah that one) from TSR.  The new reveiws list good points as well as bad ones and the overall score.  I can't recall if this was something they kept, so I'll wait till I re-read issue 4.

The next installment of Lewis Pulsipher's "D&D Campaigns" is next. The main issue here is realism of the game and how PCs, NPCs and monsters should behave. There is also a bit about how rules should be handled.  Interesting to read in a near-Pre DMG day.

Some details on painting minis comes up after that. A write up on the Assassin character class (with halflings still being referred to as Hobbits). A couple of magic rooms as "Treasure".

The letters section opens with a letter from Paul Jaquays, Editor of the Dungeoneer about the Monstermark system and a gripe about Competitive D&D. More letters follow on the Monstermark system.

The back cover is a cool looking faerie woman.

An interesting, but not landmark, issue.  The layout seems a bit cleaner and they certainly know what they are doing now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Here There Be Dragons...Year of the Dragon

"I love it when a plan comes together." - Hannibal Smith

Liam and I (well, mostly Liam) have been working really hard on "Here There Be Dragons..."

Early this year we sat down and went through every monster book I own and what Liam liked the best was the classic Monster Manual from 1st Ed AD&D.  Can't blame him, that book is what got me hooked.
We decided after gaming one day that HTBD should be stated out for OSRIC to capture that same feel.

Well here is the part where I take my own advice.

April 17, 2012 WotC will as you all know by now re-release the classic hardcover AD&D books.
April 23 is St. George's Day, the patron saint of England and of Dragon Slayers (ok that last bit I made up).

So given that this is the Year of the Dragon, I think it makes sense for Liam and I to double down and get this thing done.

I know I have other projects in the works and they are moving along.

There is a ton to do on it.  We have a few score new dragons lined up, some art.  Maybe some spells.
It is not going to be a big book.  No cover art as of yet. No publisher either.
But this is pure old-school DIY.  My son loves dragons and wants to see more of them in his game.

I hope we can make the deadline and get you "Here There Be Dragons..." in time for the 1st Edition releases.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Quintessential D&D for D&D.Next

Remember my idea back from the late Summer, the one I was calling Quintessential D&D where there are five linked adventures that used all the rules of all D&D?

Here are the links to bring you all back up to speed.

With me?  Ok good.
It dawns on me that with what I am hearing about D&D5/D&D.Next that this is the perfect segue into the new rules.

So the characters play through the worlds, they collect the Three Great Books of Gax, fight the dragon guardians and reset the universe.  Reset it to what though?  Easy, reset it to 5th edition.

With the new change in the rules I am not 100% sure I am going to finish up my 4e game.  Or if I do, it will be largely altered to fit into the kinda game I want to run (I still want Drama Points in D&D.)

Stepping away from this for a bit it occurs to me that this would also make a great play-test platform for D&D5.

In the mean time here is an interesting retrospective bit on "Could WotC Support ALL D&D".  What a difference seven months can make.

Year of the Dragon

Today is the start of the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dragon.  And what a year it is turning out to be so far.

"May you live in interesting times." goes the old saying (which may or may not actually be Chinese in origin).

We are certainly living in interesting times now.  Never has there been such unprecedented access to games of any generation.  So of course I have indulged, maybe even over-indulged.

There has been an interesting side effect to this. The editions war have hit home.  In February  we are ging to playing: D&D4, Pathfinder, Basic D&D, and we want to try out some 1st Ed AD&D as well.  This is not even taking into consideration our semi-regular D&D 3.x game. And everyone here has an opinon on what works and what doesn't.

I have talked to some of the new D&D5 playtesters and so far 5e/D&D.Next does not appear to be what most people think it is going to be.  Well, I say "most" people, I guess I really should be saying "loud" people.
I do have renewed hope for the next version of D&D.

I fear no matter what both the 4e and the OSR crowds are not going to like it; each thinking this new game looks too little like their own and too much like the other.

While there are plenty of doom-and-gloomers out there, I want D&D to succeed. I would love to see a new Golden Age in fact.  We have everything we need really, we just need to get the world to see D&D (and by extension all RPGS) as a good low cost alternative to MMORPGS/Computer games that the whole family can enjoy. (see this bit here)

Get the families.
That is where the money and future is.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Adventure crowd sourcing

Afternoon all.

I am looking for good 1st level adventure for about 5 characters that can be run in a little more than an hour.

I have some ideas, but want to know what my options are.

Any version of D&D is fine since I want to try it out on a few different versions.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Zatannurday: More Scarlet Witch

To follow up on last week's post, here are few more pics of Zatanna and the Scarlet Witch.

First up, one that was posted midweek and pointed out to me by Martin R. Thomas.  http://braveandboldlost.blogspot.com/2012/01/zatanna-and-scarlet-witch.html

A color version of one of last weeks.

And some Deviant Art pics

SCARLET WITCH - ZATANNA by *J-Estacado on deviantART

Magical Time by *petercotton on deviantART

Zatanna Vs. Scarlet Witch by ~DarthTerry on deviantART

Fishnets and Hexes by ~mrfuzzynutz on deviantART

And Hermoine showing how it is done.

hermione scarlet witch and zatanna csbg by ~stejam13 on deviantART

Friday, January 20, 2012

If I were an OSR publisher...

Then I would be looking at my upcoming catalog and seeing what I have that is remotely AD&D like and get it out in time for the reprints.

Think of the ads you could use.  You never have to claim compatibility except where the OGL is concerned.
"Love the new reprints of the Classic game?  Well you will also love..."

I have had the chance to talk to some younger generation gamers and many (but not all) are of the mind to get these, just to see what they are all about.

This could be one of the biggest PR opportunities to come in a very long time.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

GM Questionnaire

Notice: I am not taking down this post because I feel it is more important to leave it up, but also update everyone on what is happeing now as February 11, 2019. Please see this newer post first. http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/02/i-am-going-to-talk-about-zak-today-and.html

Zak posted this GM questionnaire.  Here are my answers.

1. If you had to pick a single invention in a game you were most proud of what would it be?
Depends I guess.  The magic system in Ghosts of Albion is my pride.  The revised horror/fear and insanity system for True 20 that might never see the light of day (NDAs) was also really nice.

2. When was the last time you GMed?
Last weekend, Sunday Jan 15.  D&D 3.x

3. When was the last time you played?
Wow. Been maybe 6 months. Pathfinder.

4. Give us a one-sentence pitch for an adventure you haven't run but would like to.
Ghosts of Albion: Visit to Castle Dracula

5. What do you do while you wait for players to do things?
If it is truly "free time" I prep for the next adventure/encounter.

6. What, if anything, do you eat while you play?
Maybe chips, trying to cut back on snacks at the game table.

7. Do you find GMing physically exhausting?
No.  Sometimes mentally, but I GM little kids.

8. What was the last interesting (to you, anyway) thing you remember a PC you were running doing?
My son figured out a way to immobilize a bunch of monsters and keep them from attacking the party without  killing them.  He played a great Lawful Good Paladin.

9. Do your players take your serious setting and make it unserious? Vice versa? Neither?
Sometimes.  I allow jokes to lighten the mood as needed.

10. What do you do with goblins?
Goblins are one of my my most useful races.

11. What was the last non-RPG thing you saw that you converted into game material (background, setting, trap, etc.)?
Hammer Glamour. I have the best NPCs.

12. What's the funniest table moment you can remember right now?
It happened to me.  We were playtesting some new auto-combat software and the black dragon kept attacking my assassin.  The trouble was the software didn't recognize the fact that my assassin was already dead and at -40 hp.  It knew how to deal with 0 to -10, but beyond that, not so much.  The dragon kept attacking my poor dead character over and over.

13. What was the last game book you looked at--aside from things you referenced in a game--why were you looking at it?
4e Book of Vile Darkness.  I looked at for a game, but opted not to use it.  I guess purely non-research was the Dresden Files game.

14. Who's your idea of the perfect RPG illustrator?
Wow. No idea to be honest.  I am kind of art blind really.  I can name dozens of designers and scores of authors, but maybe 2-3 artists.  Sorry.

15. Does your game ever make your players genuinely afraid?
Yes.  I can scare anybody and never resort to any blood and gore.

16. What was the best time you ever had running an adventure you didn't write? (If ever)
Running the Gygax classics with my boys.

17. What would be the ideal physical set up to run a game in?
In my game room.  It is very-nearly perfect, I just need a fridge for sodas.

18. If you had to think of the two most disparate games or game products that you like what would they be?
D&D4 and Spellcraft & Swordplay.  I enjoy them both and their common points make them seem even more different.

19. If you had to think of the most disparate influences overall on your game, what would they be?
Led Zeppelin albums, Hammer movies, Shakespeare, "Man and his Symbols" by C.J. Jung, comics and Clark Ashton Smith.

20. As a GM, what kind of player do you want at your table?
Enthusiastic.  I can deal will all sorts of play-styles, but i want people to really want to be there.

21. What's a real life experience you've translated into game terms?
The entire campaign of The Dragon and the Phoenix was inspired by real-life events.  The birth of my children revitalized my desire to play older games.

22. Is there an RPG product that you wish existed but doesn't?
Hmmm.  Not really, everytime I think there is something that needs to be written I find it online somewhere.

23. Is there anyone you know who you talk about RPGs with who doesn't play? How do those conversations go?
My wife tends to humor me.  People at work think I mean computer games.  People I went high school and college with I think scratch their heads.
Addendum: Why doesn't my wife play?  She has tried on many occasions in the nearly 2 decades we have been married.  It's just not her thing. She goes to Gen Con with us every year and she has fun, but RPGs just don't click with her, much like card games don't click with me.

WotC to do Old School

Woke up this morning from a crappy night's sleep to find this.

"Wizards of the Coast to produce First Edition Premium AD&D books"

So not only is WotC re-releasing the the original Gygax trinity of books for sale, they are doing to raise money for the Gygax memorial fund. There will be new covers on these books and they will be limited editions.
I might have to pick up two sets (one for me, one for my kids).

Of course despite all of this I am sure people will complain about what percent will actually be going to the Gygax fund. Or about the price of the books.

The PHB product page is here, http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Product.aspx?x=dnd/products/dndacc/02410000

So basically WotC out-OSRed the OSR.

Better reserve your copies now.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

And I am back

Little black out is over.

Of course I shouldn't have to mention what SOPA and PIPA could have potentially done to the OSR.  So I'll leave it at that.

White Dwarf Wednesday is back next week.

Going Black

Instead of turning off my blog today in protest of SOPA I am instead posting this message and not doing my normal posting today.

Until then read this for more details.

See you Thursday.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Dragonslayers and the Books of Vile Darkness

The Dragonslayers are currently wandering around the Greater Caverns of Iggwilv's lair (The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth).

They have been sent to recover the rumored "Golden Treasure of Iggwilv" which of course is Drelzna.  I am of course keeping all the treasure (Demonomicon, the 6 books, Prison and Lanthorn) but I am also throwing in a copy of the Book of Vile Drakness.

I have been using the 3.0 version to expand the monster choices in the dungeon, figuring Iggwilv would have bound some demonic creatures to her lair.  Plus, the original S4 introduced a lot of new demons to the 1st Ed Game and the BoVD added more to the 3rd ed game.

So I picked up the 4th Ed Book of Vile Darkness over the weekend to help buff up what would be in the game world version.

I have to admit, the 4e one does not compare to either the 3.0 version OR the 4e Demonomicon.
The 4e version is fine, don't get me wrong, but it lacks the gravitas the 3.0 version had.

It's not that the 3.0 is more graphic (graphic is not the same thing as useful or good) but it suffers from the basic fact that all the ideas that should be in have already appeared somewhere else.

I'll use the props that came with the 4e version, and I'll expand the 3.0 version to include the 4e (And really converting between the two systems is not that hard).  I'll use the monsters in the lower levels, espcially if I plan to add on the Thaizdun bits.

Plus the Dragonslayers need the book because it has a ritual to summon Tiamat.  They are all god characters, and the ritual requires the sacrifice of a "Rainbow Dragon" which at the moment they think is a Chaotic good faerie dragon.  Have not decided about that one yet.  They are just kids afterall.

Did I get my money's worth for the 4e book?  Yeah, I feel that I did. There are some very neat ideas and some cool things for a 4e game.  Not as much as I would have hoped for though.

Of course if I use the book in 3e, should I turn around and have it reappear in 4e or 5e?  No idea yet.  Let me get done with 3e first.

Oh. And my oldest son wants to go back to Mentzer Basic.  It figures really, I have tried to push Moldvay/Cook Basic D&D on him for so long that naturally he would only be interested in the one box I never really pull out.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Modular D&D? Tell me more Mr. Cook.

Monte Cook has posted a little bit about the latest incarnation of D&D on WotC's site.


It seems, so far, that they are going to take a modular approach to the game system.  As a game designer and former computer programmer I find this a very interesting take and I am looking forward to more.

Extrapolating on this I can see the following set up:
D&D5 Basic - A basic box with all the rules you need to play. Basic classes, races and magic.
D&D5 Expert/Advanced - an addition to these rules that take the game into all sorts of directions. Added races, classes, prestige classes and the like.  Think of all the cool things from D&D Expert and the AD&D 1st ed DMG.
D&D5 Tactics - a miniature focused set of rules for players/DMs that want more definition in their combats.  Sure it makes the combats take longer, but that is the trade off.

Then splats similar to the current Heroes of the Feywild or Heroes of Shadow that expand certain "campaign free" areas of the world.

While reading the "lists of demands" in the 5e boards left feeling nothing but despair for the next edition, the official word from the actual designers is leaving me with more optimism.

What I Don't Want

I do not want 5e to be like an older edition or a retro-clone.

I own and have played every edition of D&D ever published.  I have (nearly) every retro- and near- clone there is.

5e can support older editions, it can even emulate some of the features of older games, but it should be be it's own game.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Janurary PDF items from DriveThruRPG

Here are the Janurary PDF items from DriveThruRPG.

Leverage Roleplaying Game [Margaret Weis Productions] cool example of Cortex+ in action
The Complete Book of Denizens (d20/OGL) [Inner Circle] more new monsters for your d20 games
Kashindan Main Rules [Lupus Games]
Random Encounters Remastered [Purple Duck Games] for Pathfinder, but it looks like it would work for any D&D-like game.
Legacy: Basic Edition [Battlefield Press] Play an immortal.  New version of the Legacy game from the 90s.
Mistborn Adventure Game Digital Edition [Crafty Games] based on the novels. From Crafty Games.

To get 20% off the items above just use the code: HotJanuary2012


Saturday, January 14, 2012

One thing I don't Get

Reading the 5e boards.

How can someone say "I am an Old Timer" and "I started with 2nd Ed" in the same breath?

Ghosts of Albion: Print on Demand

Tim Knight over at "I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters" featured Ghosts of Albion on his Fleamarket Friday post.
BTW glad to see you back up Tim!

He pointed out something I have not seen yet.
Ghosts of Albion is also available as a Print on Demand book.

I will pick up a copy and see how it looks.
I'll keep you all posted.

Zatannurday: Special Guests White Witch and Scarlet Witch

It is expected that I would be a big fan of Marvel's Scarlet Witch, but surprisingly  I am not.  I mean after all there is the whole witch thing, but she just never quite grabbed me the same way Z or even Doctor Strange did.  Just an FYI Strange is still one of my favorite Marvel characters.

Though this cosplayer might make me change my mind.

In the Marvel-DC Amalgam Comics Zee and Scarlet Witch are merged into one character Wanda Zatara, The White Witch. She sounds like an interesting character, but I have not read the issues she has been in.  I guess her father was a combination of John Zatara (DC) and Doctor Druid (Marvel).

"Skulk" there is like the Hulk, except think John Constantine getting angry and becoming Solomon Grundy. Frankie Rayner is Jade, Kyle Raynor and Fire all in one.

Since this is an RPG blog, here is a link to her stats for the Marvel SAGA system, http://www.chopshoptoys.com/Games/WhiteWitchsht.jpg

Trouble is, in truth, the things that irritate me about Scarlet Witch will also happen to Zatanna; ie making her too powerful, then not powerful enough, never know what to do with her powers.  I feel that the latest round of authors, starting with Paul Dini, have made Zee better.  Scarlet Witch is just dead in the Ultimate Universe as far as I know.

Any way here are some pics of Zee and Scarlet Witch teaming up.

Edited to add:

Scarlet Witch / Zatanna team up over at the Brave and the Bold/Super Team Family.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

April A to Z Challenge

Blogging A to Z

The official A to Z blogging challenge site has reposted my blog post about this year's challenge.
You can see that here, http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Again, let me restate that if we want to get our messages out there we need to move beyond the collection of blogs we all read now.  I spend a lot of time on writer's blogs (who love the A to Z) and horror blogs.  Most have never heard of us or what we do.  That's fine, but it is a reminder that while we are loud in the echo chamber of our own blogs, outside of us we are barely a whisper.  And by "we" I mean RPG hobbyists in general, not just old-school, new-school or no-school.

So what I am going to do?

I have considered going back to one of my first loves, Vampires, and doing vampires A to Z as a rough draft for a monster book on vamps.  I figured the change would be nice and it is popular enough to keep the conversation going.  Don't know yet really.

Let me extend the challenge again to my fellow RPG bloggers to try this out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Vampire the Masquerade 20th - Print

The game that redefined games in the 90s and beyond is back in a new print version.

Vampire the Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition

This is for the Print-on-demand product, and it is not cheap.
Granted it is also not a small book.  Nor is it just any book.

Very, very, very few games have had the impact on the public awareness as much as V:tM.  D&D being one, and maybe (just maybe) Call of Cthulhu.  But really it is just D&D and V:tM.

I think one of the reason the OSR has not latched on to VtM is that there seems to be a pretty clear divide between D&D players and WoD players.  Too bad really.  Both games are a lot of fun.

White Dwarf Wednesday Issue 2

Welcome back to White Dwarf Wednesday.  Today I will talk about Issue #2 from Aug/Sep 1977.

This is an interesting issue if for one reason alone (though there are more), the editorial.  Ian Livingstone talks about the superior attitude being taken by the old guard war gamers against this "New" hobby of RPGs, though called throughout the editorial as SF/F gamers.
It is interesting reading this piece where D&D is the new kid on the block and defending itself against, well, the Grognards.
It is also interesting since none of the arguments have changed in 35 years. Substitute the names of the games and you have the same post you will see on any blog or message board.

Following that we have more details on Competitive D&D. A review on Asgard Miniatures by Ian Livingstone. Lewis Pulsipher gives us a three page review/article on The Green Planet Trilogy game by Richard Jordison. He doesn't particularly like the games and invites the author to write White Dwarf to clarify some rules.

An interesting tid bit is an article by Hartley Patterson called "Before the Flood" where he describes a game called "Midgard" that according to him, had many resemblances to D&D. He contends that there was no way that Gygax and Co. could have seen these rule beforehand.  The original manuscript had been written in 1972 by Will Haven and then rewritten by himself. I have never heard of it.

The regular Open Box feature gives us reviews of new games such as "OGRE", a new craze called a "micro-game", TSR's "Lankhmar", and a game called "War of the Star Slavers".  OGRE got an 8 total, Lankhmar got a 6 and Star Slavers a 3 due to the poor rules and counters.  There is also a review for a D&D enspired or rip-off game called Tunnels & Trolls (eek!), but no numerical rank is given.
We continue with the Monstermark system with a look at dragons, other fire breathing monsters and other "nasties". From what I can tell nearly every monster  from OD&D is listed here.

The Treasure Box feature gives us new crunch. We get a new magic item, a needle that can be anything it needs to be, and a new class the Scientist.  The Scientist is just plain weird. It is actually two classes, the Scientist (with level titles like Ph.D. and Polymath) and the Anti-Scientist (with level titles like Luddite, Jehovah's Witness and Football Supporter).  I can't tell if they are trying to be funny with it or not.

Finally we get to some crunch we can actually use, five new monsters: the frog-like Spinescale, a constructed bottle creature, The Ning, a Giant Caterpillars, the Blood Hawk, and the Dune Stalker which survived nearly unchanged save updated to AD&D from the OD&D here in the Fiend Folio.  None of the new monsters have a Monstermark score themselves just yet.

The issue ends with part two of "How to Improve D&D" and a letters section with people already writing in and telling them how do things different.  Gamers have never changed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kids Games: Biting off more than I can chew

I just got an email a bit ago saying that the Kid's Games I am running at my kids' elementary school were the most popular choices and I am at capacity.

Now I have to craft an adventure for all these kids.

This also begs the obvious questions.

1. Do I keep doing this 4e thing with 5e on the horizon?
2. If I do, am I obligated to mention 5e?  If it were a game at a con I think I might be.
3. Should I just do all Pathfinder?

Here is the plan as it is right now:
Session 1 (two weeks): Play 4e
Session 2 (two weeks): Play the same adventure in Pathfinder

Its a good plan.  It means more work for me, but that is fine.

I guess once I see the sign up tonight I'll know more.

New Year, New Game

The recent announcement of 5th Edition D&D is now out, but the game itself will take a bit longer.

DrivethruRPG is though running a sale on 20 games for 2012 for $12 a game.
Depending on which book you get that can be an absolute steal.

Here is the list, along with my thoughts.

Arcanis: the Roleplaying Game
Artesia: Adventures in the Known World - awesome looking game. Very, very cool
Ashen Stars
Blue Rose - The Roleplaying Game of Romantic Fantasy - big fan of this one. Gave us True20.
Buffy RPG Revised Corebook - I think you all know my thoughts on this one.
Burning Empires
Chthonian Stars Core Setting - Cthulhu is SPAAAACE! Well, not exactly (well. yes.) For Traveller.
Conspiracy X 2.0 - fantastic game of modern conspiracy.
Dark Ages: Vampire - loved the DA line of Vampire. Great stuff. POD versions too!
Fantasy Craft Second Printing - would have liked to try this one more.
Icons - great, fun game.
Legend of the Five Rings 4th Edition
Legends of Anglerre - new one to me, but looks cool.
Macabre Tales rulebook
Mouse Guard Roleplaying Game
Mutant City Blues
Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook - 3rd edition of the World's Most Popular Super-hero game. And tons of fun.
Outbreak: Undead
Requiem for Rome
Spycraft 2.0 Rulebook - Second Printing
Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies
The Laundry RPG - more Cthulhu inspired goodness.
The Savage World of Solomon Kane - at 12 bucks this is more than a steal.
Traveller Main Rulebook - update of the classic SciFi RPG.
Werewolf The Wild West - never quite got this game, but werewolves in the Wild West? Yeah lets do it!
Wild Talents 2nd Edition - a steal at 12 bucks.
Witch Hunter: the Invisible World - I have had my issues with this game, but it is damn attractive and still fun.

There are 1000s of games out there.  Use this new year to try out a new game!

Monday, January 9, 2012

So...what would we like to talk about?

Well.  It seems that there is something out there.


Lots of opinions. Lots of guessing.
I signed up for the playtest of course.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

The worst kept secret in the RPG biz is now out.

Players Roll the Dice for Dungeons & Dragons Remake

I'll have some thoughts on this in a bit.  But I am interested in how they are going to get the player input.

Here is the press release from WotC.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Here There Be Dragons...update

Working with my son right now on his dragon book.  He has a lot of cool ideas and I like how the book is shaping up.

After going around a couple times on the system we wanted to use, we decided today that the book will be stated up for 1st Edition Advanced rules.

We felt there are a ton of books out there for 3e.  We were not really interested in doing it for 4e though either.  Basic was my original choice since it can be translated well.  We even very, very briefly considered Savage Worlds (his new favorite).

I need to read over the OSRIC license IF I want to indicate compatibility with OSRIC (no idea if I want too or not yet).  Of course there is the Labyrinth Lord "Advanced Edition Companion" and that is also a good candidate.  They both represent the same era of play and are largely compatible with each other.

I think this is a good way to go to be honest.  His ideas are very much n the mindset of the earliest days of the hobby; when everything was permitted and no one said you couldn't have a blue dragon that had ice cold fire as a breath weapon.  HTBD will be a new point of view on these creatures, something I think we could all use after nearly 40 years.

Not sure on the deadline or when it will be out.  But the author is working on it when it is his turn to use the homework computer.

Zatannurday: Cedric Poulat

I discovered Cedric Poulat in a Deviant Art search for pictures of Ice for the first day of winter.  Turns out he is just about as crazy about Zee as I am.  So I figured I'd start out the New Year's Zatannurday with the artist I ended the old year with.

His Deviant Art page is here, http://j-estacado.deviantart.com/
And his Zatanna gallery is here, http://j-estacado.deviantart.com/gallery/11873463  here are some of my favorites.

Z by *J-Estacado on deviantART

Z A T A N N A - markers by *J-Estacado on deviantART

Zatanna 2 by *J-Estacado on deviantART

Zatanna- A R T N O U V E A U by *J-Estacado on deviantART

Z A T A N N A - burlesque by *J-Estacado on deviantART

So, go to his page and check out all his cool art.

Friday, January 6, 2012

La Befana The Christmas Witch

La Befana at Disney World
Every year I try to remember to say something about La Befana, the Italian Christmas witch.
This year I remembered, but had set the date wrong.  Oh well.

You can read more about her here, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Befana

The most common tale is she directed the Three Wise Men to the new baby Jesus, but declined to go with them till her housework was done.

Like St. Nick/Santa, she gives out gifts to Children on Epiphany Eve.  Befana, like many other Christianized myths has her origin in an older story of the Goddess Strenua.  So she is seen a protector figure in myth.

Given that she is such a complex character it would be difficult to do her justice in a write-up.

But I can talk about her broom.
Her Broom seems to be perfect as a powerful witch artifact that you can drop into your games.

The following is released as Open per the OGL.

La Befana’s Broom
La Befana was a great and powerful witch. Legend says that she once helped three great and powerful Magic-Users find their way when they were lost, search for a young king. They had asked La Befana to go with them, but she declined telling them she had cleaning to do. In reality she did not want to go because she had lost her own baby and seeing this new one would have made her sad.
 The Magic-Users on their return brought La Befana a gift, a magical broom that would clean her home for her if she uttered the proper word. It would also render her invisible and allow her to enter the home of anyone unnoticed as long as her intentions were good and pure. La Befana used this magic to go into people’s homes on the eve of the Magic-Users' return to her each year to clean the homes of the good people in her village and leave a small present, usually a bit of candy for the good children or a bit coal for the bad ones.
She has let the broom go now so it may continue to do good in the world where she can’t go.
In the hands of a Good witch this broom will manifest the following powers:

  • Act as a Broom of Flying 
  • Act as a Broom of Protection, Threshold 
  • When held it will render the witch Invisible 
  • When used to knock on a door the door will open as if a Knock spell was cast on it. Inhabitants will not be able to hear the knock.

Neutral witches can also use these powers, but only if their intent is pure and good. If they attempt to do anything that is considered harmful or against those pure intentions then the Broom treats them as if they were Evil.
Evil witches cannot use the Broom at all. Once they touch it it becomes a Broom of Animated Attack. The broom will attack for 1 round (it gets the initiative due to surprise) then it disappears.
Typically the Broom will remain with any given witch only for one year then it will disappear to find another worthy witch.

Blogging A to Z?

Last year I proudly participated in the Blogging A to Z challenge in April.

I felt it was not only a good way to stretch my creative abilities but work on my writing and do a bit a cross blog-genre promotion.  My hits went up, and stayed up, drastically during and after April and I got my greatest surge of followers.

Well they are doing it again this year.

Though I am not sure I am going to do it this year yet or not.
Last year it worked out on many levels for me.  I recall thinking about the posts I had queued up and how they would fit the challenge.  When "Z" fell on a Saturday it clinched it for me.

Part of the purpose of the blogfest is to post every day.  I do that now anyway.

Keep in mind I am NOT saying participation is a bad idea, far from it in fact.
I actually suggest that we get MORE OSR/RPG bloggers participating to get our message out there.
The one thing we all talk about is getting more people involved in our hobby, we can't do that if the only people we talk to are already in our hobby.
Plus if you are selling a product you should participate just to more attention to you and your book.

If I do it this year then I need to do a theme or something, make it more challenging than last year.

Are you going to participate?  Why or why not?