Wednesday, May 30, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #18

It's April/May 1980.  Bon Scott has been replaced with Brian Johnson in AC/DC, Ronnie James Dio is in for Ozzy in Black Sabbath and a photo of the USS Enterprise has replaced fantasy art on the cover of White Dwarf #18.

This is issue is full of big news.  First off, though in the form of an ad, we see that TSR Hobbies has arrived and is open for business in the UK.  They open their doors on March 31, 1980.  Don Turnbull will be in charge.

The next full page ad is one for Tunnels & Trolls.  Like so much else in this OSR world this ad could run right now and still work.

Ian Livingstone asks "Why do people like playing role-playing games?"  It is interesting because now we are getting more "RPGs" and less "SF/F Games".  American influence I am thinking.

Next up we get a fairly detailed minatures game for Star Trek the Motion Picture. No idea if they got the permission to do this or not, but it is a pretty detailed game (4 pages).  You do need the minis to play, but those were new from Citadel Miniatures,  so easy to get.  The game assumes you are using these, but they also state others can be used.

We have some reviews in Open Box.  A psychic battle game based on the Darkover novels (9/10).  Swordquest from the new Task Force Games gets a 6/10. Dra'k'ne Station from Judges Guild for Traveller gets 8/10.

Albie Foire gives us a very detailed (6 pages, 3 new monsters) mini-adventure for D&D, The Halls of Tizun Thane.  Oddly enough this lists 3-6 players with 6-12 characters.  This is the only adventure I have seen where the assumption is people will be playing more than one character.

Treasure chest gives us some very useful tables on weather conditions by season.  As well as some random NPC generators.

Fiend Factory gives us four also-ran monsters; Mandrake People, Hounds of Kerenos, Phung, and the Couerl.  All have Monstermark ratings and all come from various Sf/F novels.
We also get the top 10 and bottom 5 FF monsters as chosen by the readers.

Top 10
1. Necrophidius
2. Russian Doll Monster
3. Svart
4. Needleman
5. Hook Horror
6. Githyanki
7. Imps
8. Volt
9. Urchin
10. Dahdi

Bottom 5
1. Nas Nas (the worst)
2. Dahdi (both lists)
3. Withra
4. Stinwicodech
5. Pebble Gnome

The Magic Brush is back with mini painting tips.

Finally 6 pages of classifieds and ads.  Ending with a new ad for TSR's Top Secret game.

The type seems denser and the quality of the work seems better than the last couple of issues and I think we are entering another growth period for WD.  Looking forward to the rest of 1980.

BTW here is that T&T ad.  Still works today.

Amazing Adventures

As you know I have recently been turned on to the fantastic Castles & Crusades game by my son.
It is really cool and it really does feel like 1st Ed AD&D.

But does it feel like Gangbusters?

Well my friend Jason Vey aims to find out with his new game out from Troll Lords called Amazing Adventures.

Here is the sales blurb:
Amazing Adventures
Siege Engine Game for the Pulp Era
Product Type/Format & Price: Softcover; 176 pages; $24.99
Written By: Jason Vey
Ordering Info: TLG 7601, ISBN: 978-1-936822-02-7

"Pulp: Hard-boiled detectives, fedora-wearing action heroes, and steampunk gadgeteers rocketing to battle with their jet packs against bloodthirsty Thule cultists of the Third Reich." 

That's when all Hell broke loose. The back window shattered, there was a distinct "ZING!" sound, and the front window followed suit. Kate let out a yelp and jerked the wheel, sending us into a fishtail. I grabbed the door frame and held on for dear life while drawing my Colt 1911. I looked over my shoulder, and sure enough there was that pink Model T. I couldn't see if Frenchie was behind the wheel; too much sun glare off the windows. But two goons leaned out. At first I assumed they just had pistols. I leaned out the window to draw a bead, and that's when the one goon opened up with a bloody fire-spewing hand-cannon.

I ducked back into the car. "Great," I muttered. "Just my luck. The SOB's got a Tommy Gun."

Kate snorted. "Look at the bright side. He can't aim very well on full auto."

"That's a bright side?"

Another long burst of fire went wild into the air. Tires squealed as cars bootlegged around us, and the screams of bystanders rang out.

Kate jerked the wheel left, down a narrow alley, just as I pulled up to lean out again. I nearly toppled head-first out the window into a wall. My fedora flew off my head.
This was definitely turning into a bad day.

"Geez, Doll, watch it!" I said, and squeezed off a couple shots as the goon with the Thompson tried to reload. He ducked back into the car while his buddy returned fire.

Welcome to two-fisted adventure with the SIEGE engine!

Amazing Adventures, the newest core game powered by Troll Lord Games' celebrated SIEGE engine, allows you to create any type of pulp adventure hero you want, and customize them as you like! Be it arcane scholars, mentalists, tomb-raiding archaeologists, Asian martial arts masters, or gangsters and G-Men, this game has you covered. And best of all, if you're a fan of Castles & Crusades, you can pick this game up and get playing in a matter of minutes! Inside this book you'll find:
  • Eight brand new character classes: Arcanist, Gadgeteer, Gumshoe, Hooligan, Mentalist, Pugilist, Raider, and Socialite
  • Character customization options: Generic Class Abilities, Traits, Backgrounds, Fate Points, Pulp Costumes, Sanity rules, and more!
  • A streamlined presentation of the SIEGE engine, which uses a single Challenge Base
  • Rules for vehicular combat
  • Guidelines on how to run a pulp game
  • A complete Monster section with all kinds of pulp beasties from giant apes to Lovecraftian horrors
  • A complete starting adventure for 4-6 new pulp heroes
  • And tons more!
I think I am really going to enjoy this game.  It is in pre-order now (I happen to know for a fact the game is done) and there are some sweet pre-order incentives.

I also understand that it is 95% to 100% compatible with the C&C books you own right now.  So all those monster books I bought can now roam the streets of New York OR a pulp-inspired Greyhawk.  "The dame was from Urnst. My daddy always said never trust a dame from Urnst. But I don't have to trust her, just work for her." 

So please check it out and pre-order.

White Dwarf Wednesday...

Will be a touch delayed.

Have a bunch of things at work I need to do first and the long weekend threw me off.

Mary Pickford this Friday

This Friday I am participating in the Mary Pickford blogathon hosted over at Classic Movies.
Please stop by all the bloggers participating and see what they have to say about this Hollywood Legend.

Now you might wonder what a silent screen star has to do with RPGs or Horror.  Well come back on Friday to find out how at least one of her films had a deep impact on a vast majority of my work.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Willow and Tara Digital Comics

I don't read the Buffy comics. No desire really, and the world I had created with the RPG was far more interesting to me anyway. 

But when Amber Benson and Christopher Golden team up to write a Willow & Tara based comic, well how can I possibly say no?

This month Dark Horse re-released the two (well three, two stories in three books) Willow & Tara comics.  Wanna Blessed Be and Wilderness. 

You can get them here:

I enjoyed the heck out these and went ahead and bought them again in digital format.

I ran a Ghosts of Albion adventure loosely based on these, it seemed appropriate.  The adventure still needs some work, but I do like it.  And it has a pedigree. 

So here they are.  Thought you might like to check them out.

Now if someone would make a comic of the Dragon and the Phoenix I'd be thrilled to death! 

Marvel HRP links

Quick one today.
Found some links for various builds for the Marvel Heroic Roleplaying game.

The Lost of Files of Marvel is just link after link of tons of builds.
That 70's Game also has a few, but in particular are his build builds of Zatanna, Fire and Ice from the DC world.

And only quasi-related, Tim Marchman over at the Wall Street Journal wants to know why comics aren't doing better than they are.  Actually he has a pretty good idea.

Monday, May 28, 2012

New Basic Class, The Vampire

Want to playtest something for free?

Well I want you all to have a look at my new class for Basic Era Games and their Retro Clones.

The Vampire Class
Art copyright 2012 by Jason Rainville

This is a class/race combo for the system that also had Elf, Dwarf and Halfling as a class.

From the document:
"Vampires are among the most powerful of the Undead.  But unlike other undead, the vampire can retain a bit of their own humanity. Thus a vampire can also become an adventuring class much like that of an elf or dwarf.  A vampire character still retains their original soul, trapped inside an undead body full of dark necromantic power.  Eventually even the most pure of heart will succumb to the darkness of undeath."

This is a complete class 1st to 14th level, with additional notes to 20th level for exceptional characters.
All the vampiric powers and weaknesses are detailed to allow your vampire character plenty of options to grow.

There are few things I am testing out here.  First, whether or not the word will get out about this without much fanfare.  To test Dropbox as a delivery method. Also to test my class creation algorithms.

If you can please drop me a note here (what the hell, let's call it an Open Playtest) and let me know what system you used this with and how it worked.  As my regular playtesters will attest, I don't mind it when things get broken, as long as I know why.

So. Let me know your thoughts in the replies below.

I am looking forward to seeing how this class works for everyone!

Click here to download the PDF: The Vampire Class

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Free Downloads

In the interest of providing you, the reader of the Other Side, only the finest in gaming accessories I give you a couple more more character sheets I have used in the past.
These were designed for my "Willow & Tara RPG", which was a mix of Eden's Buffy, WitchCraft and Ghosts of Albion games.

The Character sheet is a one page deal.  The Journal is nine pages to track everything for your Unisystem character.

Happy 90th Birthday Christopher Lee!

Sir Christopher Lee is 90 years old today!

Congrats on this milestone to man that was (is!) Dracula, Saurman, Count Dokku, Lord Summerilse, The Jabberwock, Sherlock Holmes, and not to mention he played Death in numerous unrealted movies and TV shows. Oh, and was Special Forces in WWII.

Chuck Norris can suck it!

Read more here:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Zatannurday: Other Days of the Week

We know you have a choice when it comes to super-heroine cheese cake and here at the Other Side are happy you have chosen Zatannurday for your DC Heroine needs.

But did you know there are other days in the week?!?

Love this picture by the way.  
It is true.  And one of the great things about being a part of the blogging community is the ability to see and share what others are doing.  So just as there are other days of the week and super girls, there are other blogs doing something similar too!

I have posted this one before from Adam Hughes.  That is because I like it.

First off I have to give a big shout out to Toyriffic. It was his posts about Harley Quinn ever "Qwednsday" that gave me the idea to do this!

Hero Press has sent me 1000s of hits over the last few years, it is always nice to send some back. Tim also has a few features.

Cal up in Calvin's Canadian Cave of Cool is an old friend to the Other Side.  His posting schedule dwarfs all of the blogs mentioned above, including my own.  In addition to being the Fortress of Solitude for some nice little witches, he loves his super girls.  Maybe none more than Batgirl herself.

By my count that leaves plenty of DC Women and Monday and Tuesday with no love.
Ones that could use (and support) their own days are Starfire, Black Canary, Raven (she fits with the theme of my blog), Vixen (though she is given a lot coverage over at Justice League Detroit), Batwoman (maybe not enough of her yet since the Kate Kane version is still pretty new), Renee (The Question) Montoya and personal favorites, Fire and Ice.

I should point out some other great blogs featuring DC women.

IF you know of any more let me know!

Friday, May 25, 2012


I am adding some Dropbox functionality to my blog so you can download items or share them with me.

You can click on the link above and get your own Dropbox account, but I am also going to open up some public folders for everyone to use.

The Other Side

Let me know what you think!

D&D Next Playtest: First Thoughts

Ok. I have the playtest docs in hand now.
Now there is lot here, and there is a lot I can't say due to the NDA.

Let me take a bit and talk about the NDA.
Every game company on the planet uses an NDA. There are exceptions of course, but those companies are exactly that. Exceptions.  Plus the two that are often mentioned, Pathfinder and Dungeon Crawl Classics, are so derivative of the SRD that there is not really much in the way of new material to protect.  Plus the "beta" of Pathfinder was much more polished than this playtest of Next/5e.  This is not kick the tires or looking for bugs, this is a real play test.

That's out of the way what did we all get?
Well.....I can say there pages of rules, a bunch of pre-gens, a descent set of monsters and an entire adventure based on B2.

My thoughts, in no particular order.
- Someone put all their favorite rules from all editions of the game in a blender and hit frappe.
- Very much like 3e, with some 4e ideas.  I have noticed things though from 1st ed and 2nd ed.
- Lawful Evil and Chaotic Good are back
- like how they are doing hit points.
- advantage and disadvantage.  neat ideas. Not sure yet on how much I'll like them.
- Monster stats can now be written in one line of text!  Just like AD&D1

Characters now have Race, Class, Background and Theme (this is all old news) but damn it is nice to see it all working on one page of a character sheet.  Heck once you have your class, race, backgroun and theme down you can put your entire sheet on a half piece of paper.

On the character sheet I see bits from 3e, 4e, 2e and a lot of Basic D&D.  I also see things that are new.  Not new-new, but certainly new to official D&D rules.

I have often asked for a rule set that combines the best features of all of D&D from the last 40 years.
Damn if D&D 5/Next doesn't come really, really close to all of that.

We are going to play it this weekend.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

D&D Next

I now have it in my hands and while I am not 100% sold yet, man it is a lot neater than I thought it would be.

I am much more excited now.

There is an Old School vibe to this game, yet it still has the things from 3x and 4e that I liked.  Did WotC hit a home run here?  No. But it is was a solid Double moving the runner to Third.

I don't even mind it took a long time to get.

Next Day

The playtest docs for D&D Next/5e come out today.

I am expecting them to be kinda raw to be honest, but who knows.

Are you planning to try it out?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

New Class

I got some word on Eldritch Witchery today, still in edits.
The Witch will be back to from the editor on June 1.

So I figure while we are all waiting, I have a new class to share with you all.

It's not done yet, and it is designed specifically for "Basic Era" games.
It will be released as 100% Open under OGL and even better, I am going to give it to you for free.

Just give me a couple of days (or less) depending on how much I get done tonight.

White Dwarf Wednesday #17

We kick off the 80s with White Dwarf #17 for Feb/March.  Again we see a noticeable jump in quality in terms of cover art.  This piece by Angus McKie has always been a favorite of mine.

Ian Livingstone talks prices of games in his editorial.

The Fiend Factory is next with the "Near Misses Monsters", the ones that did not make it the Fiend Folio.  What is  nice about this batch is we are given the reasons why they were not included.  First up we have a Night Rider, which is to humans as drow are to elves.  The Spice Worm (should be obvious), The Heat Skeleton and the Green Worm (both not included because there were already too many skeleton and worm like creatures). The Bodach (nothing at all like the Bodak) and the Goom, both of which were not really all that interesting.

Open Box gives us reveiws of Time War (8/10), Under the Storm Giant's Castle (5/10) and Dark Tower (9/10), both Playing Aides from Judges Guild. Also we have two games from Judges Guild, Operation Ogre (5/10) and Caverns of Thracia (8/10).

Lew Pulsipher gives us a classic, "My Life as a Werebear", or rules for playing Monster Characters in D&D.  The tables and the rules are very D&D while the art and monsters are AD&D.  It was an interesting time when the two rules existed side by side like this.  The rules are solid and could be reprinted today and branded OSR and sell.

A couple of pages on painting minis.
The Sable Rose Affair is a short Traveller scenario.
Letters again focus on Fiend Factory.
Treasure Chest has a couple of Artifacts, the Tablets of the Ish Than, the Skeleton of Zzkeel, The Marvellous Flask of Suethrin the Mystical, The Ring of Manfred the Sage, The Sword of Ehemakil and Gurthlin's Silver Harp.

We have the Questionnaire results next.  Most people (51%) read WD for the RPGs, with D&D (53%) being the largest percentage of that. Most readers want a questions and answer page, and only 31% want a comic.  Most readers want WD to come out monthly.  Soon...very soon.

There is a nice interview with Chaosium's Greg Stafford.

A new Ability for D&D is introduced, Perception.  Neat idea, but it never really took off.

We end in ads.

So the start of the 80s has us looking at WD that still looks 70s.  There are improvements, but not a lot so far.  The issue is really solid, but lacks a solid feature article.

For comparisons sake check to see what is going on over at Land of Nod.  He is doing the Dragon magazines one by one, with Dragon by Dragon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Another Award

I got another award this past week from K. D. Storm of "A Coffee Driven & Adventure Bound Life".

Here is the award:

To accept I have to answer 10 questions about me, 10 Random facts about me and pick 7 other bloggers to get this award.

Since I am all about building a community online I think it is a great idea.

The Ten Questions
  1. What is your fave song? So many.  I love Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven".  Whenever Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son" comes on I have to blast it.
  2. Favorite Dessert? I am not a big dessert guy. But I love lemon flavored things.
  3. What ticks you off? So much....but mostly People that waste my time.
  4. When you're upset what do you do? I talk to my wife.  She is a great person to talk to and bring me back to reality.
  5. What is your favorite pet? I am deathly allergic to animals. So no pets.
  6. Which do you prefer black or white? Black. 
  7. What is your biggest fear? Anything happening to my kids..
  8. What is your attitude? Generally optimistic. 
  9. What is perfection? An interesting concept, but nothing is ever perfect. 
  10. What is your guilty pleasure? Playing 80s music in my car turned up to 11.

Ten Random Facts
  1. My wife and I met out first week of college and were friends all throughout college.  We did not start dating till she moved 300 miles away.
  2. In high school I hated writing. Now look at me.
  3. And I was editor of my highschool news paper.
  4. I am afraid of heights.  I am not too fond of rats either.
  5. When I was younger I would sleep with my eyes open.
  6. I learned the alphabet frontwards and backwards when I was 3, I can still recite it backwards as fast as frontwards.
  7. Cottage Cheese makes me gag and I will throw up if I get too close to it.
  8. I am in a Metalica video.
  9. I am no longer allowed to play Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. 
  10. I knew at a very early age I wanted to be a father, now I am and it is great!
Now Seven bloggers.  The trouble with this one is there are so many good ones out there.  I wanted to choose ones that were good, that I thought would appreciate this award and would in turn send it out to others.  Also I want to pick out blogs that I felt could use some extra exposure.  Plus they are an ecletic bunch.

*Pixies Don't Have Wings - Writer Buffy Armstrong's site.  It has been a great resource in looking at fae creatures a different way.

The Groovy Age of Horror - Horror movies and comics from a funkier time.  I love the overall feel of this blog and I come here for inspiration on my own horror themed games.

Space 1970 - A great site dedicated to SciFi of the 70s (well till 1983 with Return of the Jedi).  I grew up in the 70s and this site is a constant trip down Memory Lane-if Memory Lane was really a Hyperspace wormhole thing.

Propnomicon - pictures and posts on the creepiest props you will ever see.  Focused on the Lovecraft mythos, everything is here.

Precious Monsters - there are a lot of Paranormal/Urban Horror review sites out there, but I like this one the best.  Very edgy and has stuff the other sites don't.

Vibrant Oxymoron - A great Doctor Who and Star Trek site focusing on the classic series.  Awesome blog.

Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm - Ever wonder where your food comes from?  Not the folks at CVSF, they grow it, raise it and eat it all on their own.  Follow the story of what happens when two suburban professionals leave the Chicago suburbs to go live off the land.  I could not do what they do, but I do find it all very interesting.

There they are!  Please enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Free Stuff!!

Hey all.

I have a bunch of stuff (pdfs, docs) I want to start unloading and I thought why not here and why not for free!

Some of it is not in shape to sell and others are just better as free.

So what I want to know is what is a good place to store files that won't give you all viruses and I can track the number of downloads.  I have, Dropbox, Google Drive, and Lulu accounts.


Castles & Crusades updates

I want to thank everyone that gave me advice on C&C recently.

Here is what I now have:

My son owns the physical copies, I bought PDFs.  Because, well, I like reading on my tablet.
We are playing a C&C game at Gen Con and I am going to be playing around a bit with the PHB.

What I like so far is the ability to use 1st ed and 3rd ed material seamlessly.  Yeah I do that now, but I do it with 3e and a lot of prep.

Not 100% what I am going to do yet.  But it will be fun to figure it all out!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gen Con Registration

Well I got into Gen con registration this morning.

I didn't end up getting all the games I wanted, but I did get a lot of good choices.

I wanted to take my kids on a "history tour" of D&D.
So far we are going to be playing 5e/Next, 4e, 3e and Castles & Crusades.  I wanted to get in an AD&D1 game and Basic game.  No luck though.

I still might run them through a Basic game on my own one of the nights.  Of course if I can find a Labyrinth Lord game, I'd love that. C&C is close to 3e and AD&D so this is a good choice.  And I wanted to play that one myself.

I am not sure if I'll have time for a Ghosts pickup game, though I love to try it at least one night.

Hope you all got your games!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Zatannurday: Dave Hoover

I normally do not pay much attention publicly to birthdays or death-days of people that have died.  I would rather remember their lives in the ways they contributed by living.  But I have to admit I was taken slightly aback to learn that while I was looking around for some Dave Hoover art for something else he had died back in September.

This week was his birthday week (May 14) and I thought a post at least was in order.
I liked Dave's art because he knew how to draw women.  Not all sticks with boobs, but curvy and, for lack of a better word, realistic.  Well.  At least within the bounds of comic book art.

He does a great Zatanna that reminds me of her Silver Age appearances.

I hope you enjoy as well.

Zatanna Sketch 6 by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Zee in Color by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Zatanna Blue 3 by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Tip O' The Hat by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Magical by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Top Hat by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Zatanna Spellcaster by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Beatifull Spellcaster Zatanna by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Zatanna Sketch by ~Tarzman on deviantART

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Eldritch Skies

Eldritch Skies is the new SF/Lovecraft/alt-history game from Battlefield Press.

A few disclaimers are in order first I think.
1. I have worked with John Snead in the past ("The Magic Box" for Buffy) and personally think he is a great guy. 2. I reviewed a playtest copy of this several months ago to "check the math" on the Unisystem rules.  3. I have a project coming up with Battlefield Press.

So what can I say about Eldritch Skies?

Let's go basic. Certainly there is the feel of Aliens here more than say Avatar.  One thing though for certain, this is not Star Trek, Star Wars or anything like that.  Though to be fair, Trek did have a story by Robert Bloch and it was very Lovecraftian in tone.   Also if that is what you want (SW or ST) then the rules will support that. This book is Lovecraft as SciFi (dark SciFi to be sure), but not so much as horror.

Chapter 1 deals with the recent history and the present day, 2030.    The history of the world here is slightly different.  Think of it as if all those Lovecraft stories were true and humanity found a way to start using some of that alien tech/magic to get to the stars.  There is a history and the changes start out subtle till we get to the 90s.  We get to the present day and now we are stepping out into the reaches of space and we find wonders and horrors.

Chapter 2 is Character Creation and Chapter 3 is Game Rules.  The game system is Cinematic Unisystem.  The same system that powers my own Ghosts of Albion and other games like Army of Darkness, Buffy and Angel.  So if you are familiar with those games then you will be familiar how this one works too.
Like other CineUnisystem games there are three "levels" of characters, Civilians, Operatives and Veterans.  Unlike other CineUnisystem this game uses the Secondary Attribute Speed, from Classic Unisystem.
For Qualities and Drawbacks there are all the expected ones, Fast Reaction Time, Nerves of Steel, etc. But there are also a lot of "Ab-Human" abilities, such as Deep One Hybrid and Sorcery (it is not the same as Buffy's) and some augmentations.
The rules are same as other Cine Unisystem games with some additions to support the game, ie lots of gear.

Chapter 4 is Arcane Secrets including the secrets of hyperspace. Not just how to travel, but the biggest issue of the hyperspace madness. This is the keystone of the game.  What separates this from other Unisystem games and it from other Mythos games.

Chapter 5 deals with the Realms of the Mythos.  These are the worlds known to humankind.  This also includes the psychic Dream Realms.  This is a very cool chapter that had to be a lot of fun to write.  Tons of new worlds ready for you to use and have adventures on.

Chapter Six: Eldritch Threats and Wonders: The monsters and creatures of the settings. Includes the mythos creatures, humans and ab-humans.  If you have any passing interest in mythos monsters or expanding your CineUnisystem games with more creatures, then this chapter is worth the price of the book alone.  Yes, you can play it as is. Or use it in your Buffy, Army of Darkness or Ghosts of Albion games.

Chapter Seven is the Director's section on how to run a game.  This includes setting the tone and what to do.

The Appendix has rules for using the Classic Unisystem  and a bunch of tables for your ease.  No character sheet though.

I think one of the troubles about playing games like D&D and even to a degree Call of Cthulhu is we have tended to categorize the mythos creatures as well, Mythos Creatures.  They often times are "Stated up" as gods or some other similar sort of being.  We tend to forget that while humans may have worshiped them in cults most were not in fact gods at all.  Powerful alien beings yes, but not so much gods.  Looking at them again as aliens is a deft move and this change of the point of view makes this book less Buffy-doing-Aliens and more Armageddon/ConspiracyX-doing-Event-Horizon.

What I really, really like about this is it treats the Mythos Creatures as aliens and magic as advanced science.  The Thing is a good example of Lovecraft as SciFi story.
Also this book remembers that Lovecraft's stories were also not all about tentacle monsters and evisceration.  Sure we have the Mi-Go, but this more about the madness that lies between the stars.   Honestly to get a better feel of what you can do here, take the Sam Rockwell movie Moon and assume there are outside alien influences on the whole thing.  We never see the aliens, except for maybe when Sam's character sees a Mi-Go with a brain tube at the very end.

I mentioned the playtest files because I'll admit I was not initially a fan of this game when I first read it.  But I was focusing on the crunch rather than the fluff.  The Unisystem parts were (and are) fine. But since it's release I have grown to like it more for both the crunch and the fluff.

Now that I have come back to it I really like it.  I Am not 100% sure I'll play the game "as-is", I might re-do it a bit and set it in 2130 so I can include some ConX or  Armageddon  background.  Or I might just take Chapters 5 and 6 and use them with my Ghosts of Albion games.
Needless to say this thing screams "Use me with All Tomorrow's Zombies" and it would be right. Using the Classic conversion guide in back makes ATZ a perfect add-on for this game.

If you like SciFi, Lovecraft, the Mythos or Unisystem, or all the above, then this is a great game to get.

New Theme

Decided it was time for a change.  Actually I had decided this months ago.  I finally took some time today during lunch to finish it up.

The old theme was called "os_drgn42" this one is "os_drgn114".  Been wanting to try this one for a while now.
What do you think?

Personally I think it is easier to read and I like the color palate.

Wayne Foundation

Tomorrow is the last day for the Wayne Foundation Charity RPG bundle at DriveThruRPG.

Please check out this worthy cause.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #16

We open the 80s with White Dwarf #16 for Dec 1979/Jan 1980.
First up we notice another step up in the cover art.

We have a few pages of ads and the editorial begins on page 7. Ian Livingstone talks about how WD was voted the best games magazine in the recent Game Day Awards.  The questionnaire they did a few months back is reprinted here (later in the magazine) and they want to get feedback.

Lew Pulsipher has 3 pages on monsters from the Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever series for AD&D. I was always one of those people who stopped reading the book after the rape of Lena so I have no idea if these are on target or not.  The monsters though look like they will work and there is quite a bit of them.

Andy Slack gives us more of the Traveller Universe with Social Class and Psionics.  These articles, while neat, are all over the place.  Maybe it is my modern sensibilities or just me in particular, but I would have enjoyed these more if there had been some organization to them.

A table of Boot Hill encounters is next from Dominic Beddow.  This is generic enough to be used in any system  dealing with the Wild West.  I might try this in Ghosts one day, I have had a desire to have an adventure in America.

Dominic continues the Boot Hill love with an 8/10 review in Open Box. Also reviewed are GDW's Imperium (9/10) and Snapshot (8/10).  The biggie is Don Turnbull's review of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.  The book is "Not Applicable" for a review since, by Turnbull's thoughts, this is a book everyone needs. So basically it got WDs first "11/10".

A mini-adventure "The Paths of the Lil" from James Ward is next.  It deals with with some new mutants from the Gamma World game, the Lil, and an area they inhabit to investigate.  It's an interesting little mix of Gamma World and D&D to be honest.  The Lil are fae like creatures.  The adventure could be used with D&D for low level character with no problems, even with kids.

The Fiend Factory is back with only two pages of monsters.  The odd "Tenser Beast" which is a monster of Tenser's Floating Disk.  The Man Scorpion, which is not the same as other creatures I have seen like it. The Ogress, the offspring of a male ogre and a female human with some disguise ability. The Wrecker, a specialized Iron Golem and the Plant Man, which is part plant and part man, natch.

Pictures from Games Day V are posted. Including White Dwarf winning the best Games Magazine.  Letters follow that.
The questionnaire is printed on page 25.  Typicall range, what do you like the best, what do you like the least. Favorite games, would you like to see a comic strip.

After that, more ads.

I certainly feel WD is lacking something at the stage that I saw in earlier editions and what I know I'll see in later ones.  It seems kind of in a rut at the moment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Talk to me about C&C

My son's group has moved from Pathfinder, to ACKs and now to Castles & Crusades.

I recall playing around with this game a little bit when it first came out.  But now I see there are a bunch of new 4th printing covers that are green.  Are they any different?

I have the Castle Keepers Guide and I have Tainted Lands.  The C&C books that came with that are all that I have.  For the record I was not thrilled with Tainted Lands.  It just never really jelled with me I guess.

So tell me about it.  What appeals to me is the 1st edition feel of it, but still taking advantage of the progress made in 3rd Edition.

This is what I have on my current "wish list", I think this could keep me set.

My son really loves it, but I have also suspected for some time that our next game is going to be either AD&D1 or a very modified version of 3.x (more modified that what I have now I guess).

So talk me.  Tell me what you like, what you hate.  If you are from Troll Lord then this is your chance to sell me and my readers on your game!

May DriveThruRPG May Sale

Here are the DriveThruRPG sales for May.
You can purchase any or all of these products for 20% off.
Please use the following code: DriveThruApril (yes, "April")

Savage Worlds Fantasy Companion [Pinnacle Entertainment]
Realms of Cthulhu [Reality Blurs]
Karma Roleplaying System Core [Bards and Sages]
FantasyCraft [Crafty Games]
Fat Dragon's Dragonshire Deluxe [Fat Dragon Games]
Paths of Power (Pathfinder System) [4 Winds Fantasy]
Spycraft: Real American [Crafty Games]
Fellowship of the White Star Campaign Book [Thenodrin Presents]
Ninja Burger RPG (2nd Edition) [aetherial FORGE]
Heavy Gear Blitz! Locked & Loaded [Dream Pod 9]
Hero's Handbook: Dragonborn [Goodman Games]
Splicers RPG [Palladium Books]
Noir Knights (Savage Worlds) [Savage Mojo]

The winner of my contest this month was picked before I even got a chance to announce it.

In honor of my Mystic Locale Halfway, I wanted to pick the follower that is Halfway to Hell, follower #333.
That is Andrea from The Enchanted Writer.  She gets a $10 gift code for DriveThruRPG!


Monday, May 14, 2012

First Loves Blogfest

Here are my first loves

First Album I loved: Thomas Dolby "The Golden Age of Wireless"

First Movie: Star Wars (I have no idea what "A New Hope" is...;) )

First Book: The Hobbit

First Person: Harder, I mean after all the first people you love are your family. So let's go with first person outside of your family. And that can only be...


Specifically, Yvonne Craig's Batgirl from the Adam West Batman TV series.
What's not to love?  She is smart and kicks ass.  Plus she rode a purple motor cycle before Prince was even born (ok, I might need to re-check that date but you get what I am trying to say  ETA: ok, Prince was only about 8-9 at the time.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Zatannurday: Sindella

Last Mother's Day weekend I mentioned a bit about Zatanna's often absent mother Sindella.

I wanted to dive a little deeper into that character this year and looks at some the lineage she and Zee share.

We know very little about the witch named Sindella.  We know she is a member of the DC universe's Homo Magi race.  We know she can claim Atlantean Lord Arion as an ancestor (as can most of the Homo Magi).  In some continuities then this makes her a somewhat distant relative to Power Girl.  She even has some similar tastes in clothes.

We know that at some point she meets Giovanni "John" Zatara in Turkey and she returns to America with him.  A year later Zatanna is born.  She later fakes her own death so the other Homi Magic don't go looking for her or Zatanna.   This could also be an "in universe" explanation for why Zee's first name sounds so much like her last name.  Sindella didn't want her daughter found through the power of her name.

Sindella and Zatanna both have a "Medulla Jewel" in their brains.  This seems to be a focus of their magical power.  Sindella is shown using magic and not needing to speak it backwards, it is assumed that Zee can do the same. One thing is known that they can use it to communicate telepathically.  So I guess Zee would know if she were still alive.

The interesting notion here is that Sindella is an Atlantean, either by birth (she could be immortal like Arion; she doesn't look old enough to have a daughter that is 30+) or by birthright.  In game then she could (if still alive) be a walking treasure trove of occult knowledge.  Maybe even enough to rival Dr. Fate.

There is precious little out there on this character. We know next to nothing about her and Zatara meet, what she was doing prior to that and, well, basically everything else about her.

I am afraid that if we see here at all in JL Dark it will be as something to torture Zee.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Are We Done with Retro Clones?

Mind you this is not a rant.

But are we done with Retro Clones?
Not playing them, but making them.

I enjoy the hell out Labyrinth Lord and Basic Fantasy.  Spellcraft & Swordplay is still a fave and there are others I want to try out more like ACKS, LL-Advanced and who knows what else.

But there is such a thing as market saturation and soon (if we are not already there or past it) we will have more games than our small market will allow.

So do we really need anyone making more clones?
Do we really need Version X of someone's house rules?

I suppose the only important answer is "yes, as long as there are people willing to pay for them."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

There is no Hell in the Blogosphere, part 2

Another has been taken.

"Angry Black Dragon Appears",
is now "Healthy Living".

Feel like I need to pour out a little bit of Mt. Dew in respectful remembrance.

There is no Hell in the Blogosphere

but there is an afterlife...

First off. Dammit. I hate the word Blogoshpere!

Secondly.  No blog is meant to last forever.  We come, we go, we leave a little bit of ourselves behind.

I am here to make a humble request of my fellow RPG bloggers out there.

When you decide to leave, first please know that you will be missed.
Secondly, for the love of all that is sane, please either leave you blog in place and turned off or at least do something about your URL.

I was very excited to see that Bree Yark! was back today.
Until I actually began to read the posts.  Nope.  Looks like one of the blogs that people use to either age links of make money.  It might be a real person there with real thoughts, but damn it reads like computer generated text.

To quote Frank Zappa:
When you pay the bill, kindly leave a little tip 
And help the next poor sucker on this one way trip.

When you leave your blog, leave a little behind for the rest of us.
Like Chgowiz did.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #15

White Dwarf Issue #15, October/November 1979.

White Dwarf #15 is an interesting one for me to do today.  First off, it is one of the first WDs I remember ever seeing in the stores (and to this day I can't look at the cover and not hear Ozzy's "Bark at the Moon").
It is also one of the issues I am missing pages of.  Page 6/7 and 26/27 have been torn out.  Honestly I didn't recall them being missing till I picked it back up to read the Editorial.

Let's jump right in shall we?
Well my issue starts with some ads and then gets into the stalwart of early game zines, an article on HP!
Roger Musson gives us what might be the first "Wounds" system based on Con.  It is certainly playable since I have seen dozens of iterations of the same idea over the last few years AND it is as current as posts in my Google Reader today.  As good as it is, I am still a "HP as abstraction" kinda guy.

Andy Slack has Part 3 of his Expanding Traveller Universe article. This one is more interesting than last weeks. Lots of cool tables on planets and alien life.  Weird, trippy, 70s sci-fi always appeals to me and Traveller encapsulates that.

In the main feature of the magazine is a new board game/mini game called Barbarian from Ian Livingstone.  The purpose of this two player game is regain a magical sword and shield of the "Old Fathers".  The game is simple (it even says so).  There is a two page board, counters and charts.  All that is missing are players and dice.  One player plays Vaarn the Barbarian, the other plays the creatures trying to stop him.  The combat advantage is given to Vaarn, but there are more than one monster to play.

Don Turnbull has an EXCELLENT article on running the "New" D series of modules.  Honestly, if I ever run these again I am going to copy this page and stick inside the modules.

Open Box has some new reviews up.  Metagaming Microgames has two offerings this month Ice War (5/10) and Black Hole (9/10). Don Turnbull felt that Ice War should have been a bigger game, but Black Hole was a near perfect mini-game.  King Arthur's Knights from The Chaosium is not as it turns out a prequel to Pendragon, but one can't help think it influenced it somehow.  This is a 16-page mini game  that received a 7/10 review from Jacek Gabrielczyk.  We are treated to a bunch of Traveller books including 3 from Judges Guild. A mixed bag of Traveller Screen 7/10, Traveller Logbook 9/10 and Starships,and Spacecraft 5/10.  We also get Animal Encounters from Game Designers' Workshop 9/10.
It was certainly a great time to be a Traveller fan in late 1979.

Treasure Chest gives us a very cool height and weight based on race and strength table.   So good in fact that I did Xerox this one!  We also get an alternate undead draining table that drains Abilities.  It is different than the one I have done, but the idea is the same.

Fiend Factory is back with an acknowledgement of all the letters it has been bringing in of late.  Don Turnbull mentions that he is keeping a eye on the quality and hopes that the feature continues to give us good monsters. Some monsters have Monster Marks, others do not.  What do we get this issue? Well...we get a metal sphere that spits fire in the form of the Heat Monster. The Dragon Dog (related to dragons and the Hell Hound) and the Tacharnid (which has no stats). Next is the weird Russian Doll monster. This thing starts as an Ogre till you do 10 points of damage to it, then the skin peels off and it's now a Bugbear, 9 points later a Gnoll, 8 points later an get the idea till we end up with a kobold of 4 hp AND then till we get to the very end, to discover it was a Leprechaun operating the monster from the inside.  They went ahead and calculated it's Monster Mark and it comes out to be as much of a challenge as a Stone Giant (OD&D).   We round up the lot with a Time Freezer, a monster that can freeze time, to at least one creature.  And the Pebble Gnome, a gnome completely immune to magic of all sorts.
This marks the 10th issue of Fiend Factory.  Coming up is the top 10 as voted on by readers.

And finally. Ads.

Next up, end of the 70s, beginning of the 80s and when yours truly discovers this cool/odd little game.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Gen Con Schedule is out

The Gen Con schedule is out now.

I do not have any Ghosts of Albion games running.  I wanted to focus on paying games with my boys.
We are going to try to get into the D&D Next games, try to get some AD&D first ed in, and hopefully some D&D Basic (a clone) would be good too.  I'll run some D&D 3.x too, so we will get the full D&D experience. I think it will be great.

I happy to see there are plenty of Victoriana games, some Buffy/Unisystem games and some others I am interested in.  I'll have to put together a schedule.

I am sorry there won't be any Ghosts of Albion games.  But I am not amiss to doing a pick up game one night.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Willow and Tara: Marvel Heroic Roleplaying

I am still playing around a bit with Marvel Heroic Roleplaying now that I have seen it out in the stores.  Saw a copy at my local Barnes & Nobel last night in fact.  I thought this might be appropriate for today.

"Willow and Tara" by David Reynolds

Willow and Tara in the Marvelverse
I have to admit, that anytime I think about the girls in a super hero universe I always think of it in terms of DC.  But the roleplaying and character development aspects of MHR are too good to ignore.
I have already done up my two DC go-to characters Zatanna and Justice with this system.  And I have stated up Willow and Tara in one other version of Cortex in the past.

For the girls in this universe I'll start with the assumptions that the events in my previous games, The Dragon and The Phoenix and Season of the Witch happened.  In fact even though this game was not part of the original plan it would work fine as part of the Generation HEX season I started and never finished.

Name: Willow
ID: Willow D. Rosenberg (public)
Age: 32 (2012)
Base of Operations: Boston, MA

Affiliations: Solo d8, Buddy d10, Team d6  (Willow in highschool was certainly more Team, but this is an older Willow)

Bad Ass Wicca
Quick to Anger

Power Sets
Sorcery d10
Magical Spells d10, Blast d10, Senses (magical) d10, Teleport d10, Telekinesis d10
Limit: Conscious Effort
SFX: Versatile
SFX: Area Attack

Anamchara d10  (Willow and Tara can combine their powers)
"I will always find you." (Telepathy) d8,  "I am you know...yours" (Combine) d10
Limit: Distance/focus
SFX: Multipower
SFX: Boost

Mystic d10
Tech d10
Cosmic d8
Science d8

1xp You uncover some plot that is magical in nature.
3xp You discover some new magical tome or artifact.
10xp You defeat the main villain without magic.

1xp When you loose your temper
3xp When someone you are helping takes trauma
10 xp When your anger threatens the world, or saves it.

Willow in "Generation HEX" is one of the most power spell casters in the world.  But her own issues surrounding her anger still plague her.  She has turned to magic as a means of not just obtaining control over her situation, but of herself.  She is slowly getting there.

Name: Tara
ID: Tara A. Maclay (public)
Age: 33 (2012)
Base of Operations: Boston, MA

Affiliations: Solo d6, Buddy d10, Team d8  (Tara does best with Willow or in a group)

Witchy Woman
"Tara hide your magic" - Tara is a deep, quiet, well of magical power, but she has been told her whole life to hide it.

Power Sets
Sorcery d10
Magical Spells d10, Blast d8, Senses (magical) d10, Telekinesis d10
Limit: Conscious Effort
SFX: Versatile
SFX: Healing

Anamchara d10  (Willow and Tara can combine their powers)
"I will always find you." (Telepathy) d8,  "I am you know...yours" (Combine) d10
Limit: Distance/focus
SFX: Multipower
SFX: Boost

Mystic d10
Psych d10
Cosmic d8
Science d8

1xp You uncover some plot that is magical in nature.
3xp You discover some new magical tome or artifact.
10xp You defeat the main villain without magic.

1xp When you or Willow are dragged into a problem together
3xp When someone uses you to get to Willow or visa-versa
10 xp When you have to work together after being apart to stop the threat

Tara is more self-actualized than Willow is.  She knows and accepts the dangers and responsibilities of her power.  What she is most afraid of is loosing Willow; either to death or darkness.   In my games the girls have seen many alternate realities, any reality without a Tara in it results in Willow turning evil and destroying things.

Willow and Tara have a lot of linked powers and milestones, as to be expected given their lives together.

To follow along with the Generation HEX plot ideas, they are living in Boston teaching at a school that has a lot of magical kids enrolled.  In my game they would of course know of Zatanna and I would still have to say they are not up to her power level on their own, combined though they could give Zee a run for her money. Not that they would mind you, Tara is a HUGE fan of Zatanna, I have this on authority.

Of course this would also be a good episode to have the girl visit the wilds of Canada and check out the Cave of Cool.

A to Z: Reflections Post

So the A to Z Blog Challenge is over for another April.  Not sure what I'll do next year, but I am sure  I am going to plan ahead for it better.

How did your journey through the alphabet go? Did you meet new bloggers with similar interests? Are there any you would like to feature and share with others?
Yes.  I joined several new-to-me blogs and found a bunch of books I wanted to read from my travels.

What were the highlights for you? (lowlights too...we want to hear it all)
Highlights for this blog was to get the word out on so man great games out to people that didn't know about them.  Lowlights...trying to do this for two blogs at the same time!

Did you enjoy posting daily? What was your biggest hurdle? What was your easiest task?
I tend to post everyday anyway.  Biggest hurdle was coming up with something appropriate for the letter in question that also fit with my theme.  Easiest part was finding games to talk about.

Was time management an issue? (I know, silly question, when isn’t time management an issue - but, it is worth reflecting on)
It did cut into my schedule quite a bit to be honest.

And what about your content - did you have a theme or did you wing it? Was it easy to come up with ideas for each letter, or were some harder? 
I had a theme and I stuck with it. But I had thought about it a lot and tried to find games ahead of time.

How about commenting - did you stumble upon lots of sites still using word verification? Did this prevent you from leaving a comment? What worked for your blog? 
I tried to visit every blog in the challenge.  Yes, I ran into a number that had Word Verification still turned on and it was annoying.   Though much worse than that were the people the had to approve my post/comment and then never did.
I keep word verification turned off. I would rather have it easier for my readers than worry about spam.

What will you do different next year? (Yes, you are doing this next year, you know you are, even if your brain is telling you to run for the hills - it appreciates the exercise)
Try to get more posts in before April!   Craft the posts in such a way to encourage more feedback.

What pearls of wisdom do you want to share with the Co-Hosts of this event? (We would love to hear from you and know what you think would make this awesome event even better)
There were a number of "dead" sites on the list and some were some that didn't link to their blog, but some other page.  You might want to get more Co-Hosts next year to help clean out the non-participants (the ones that signed up then never posted) and dead links.

So I ended up with a bunch of new followers.  50 on the Other Side and almost 20 on Freedom of Nonbelief, and very little overlap between the two.

My growth in views was not as much relative to last year.  But that is to be expected really.
I will be participating again next year.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Wayne Foundation Charity

Last year I posted about the Wayne Foundation and how they work to stop child sex trafficking.

They are having another Charity drive at DriveThruRPG/One Bookshelf.

All money goes to stopping the trafficking of children as sex slaves/merchandise.

Please consider this bundle of games, fiction and art.