Friday, November 30, 2012

TBBYANR: Two "new" blogs

Well they are new to me.

D20 Dark Ages

D20 Dark Ages is run by Stelios a writer and historian.  The blog mostly focuses on his one gaming exploits from the time period of 1989 to now.  There is a strong old-school vibe to his blog and details on what really were the Dark Ages in my mind as well, the period of the death of TSR but before 3.0.

Interesting site and I hope to see a lot more.


Coniccritique was turned on to me by an old friend.  It's not an RPG blog, but as the name suggests, a comic review blog.  There is quite a bit of good critical insight.  It is a work in progress, but the writing is good.
I enjoyed his reviews of Batwoman and Justice League Dark and honestly he reminded me why I was reading two of the best New52 comics.

So go out read them, follow them.  I am expecting them both to get bigger and better.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kickstarter Pros and Cons

If you have not read it yet please go over to Tenkar's Tavern and read his posts on Kickstarter.

If you are considering supporting one you should read it.  If you are considering starting one then you certainly need to read it.

Here is the point I am getting in all of this.  Unless your game is close to being done I am not likely to suport the Kickstarter.   I gladly supported Eden Studios on their ConX and AFMBE kickstarters because I knew where they were on things.  I was a play tester, I had seen the doc files, I had even seen some concept art.  I knew they were well on the way.

This is also why I am confident in backing Adventures Dark & Deep.

Joe has a lot of the work done. He has said on the page things are written and he is looking for some art.  That is cool with me.  Art is expensive.  I am certain that a Hardbound copy of AD&D will be on my shelves in the future.

I am not going to support projects though that still need to be written or developed.  To much of a risk.
By my count I am still owed about $150 worth of RPG products that I might never see. So my next $5 is going to come a lot slower.

Playing with Earth

One of the things I love to do in gaming is also learn something.  One of the things I like to learn is geography.  While knowing the ins and outs the City of Greyhawk or Glantri is fun, it rarely has a use in real life.  Walking the streets of London in my games though has some out-side-of-the-game utility.

But sometimes I like something for the pure fantasy sake. So I like to use maps of the Earth in different times.

Long time gamers already know of the Paleomap Map project of Earth History.  It has many maps of the different stages of Earth history and potential future maps.  I will admit when I first saw maps of the really old Earth it was disquieting to me.  I love maps and throughout all of human history the Earth has been the same. Not so throughout ALL history and prehistory.

If you ever played in the Known World of Mystara you know this map:

Did you also know about this one?

(image from here,

That is the Late Jurasic of the Earth, 150+ Million Years Ago.

I was on the site and I also noticed this one:
(image from here,

That is the Earth in 150 Million Years.  Take a look at Africa-Eurasia.  Remind you of anything?  It did me.  How about if I rotate it about 40 degrees.

Now compare that with this:

Not perfect, but a good fit for Robert E. Howards Hyboria.  Yes, I know. The Hyborian Age was in the mythical past.  And my "North" is really more North East.  Well...uh..pole shift!  Worked for Mystara!

Going even further into the future we have this little gem.

(image from here,

Earth in 250 Million years.  The new continent is called "Pangea Ultima".  I call it "Zothique".

Also not quite-perfect, but they are the same thing.  Pangea Ultima is the future when all the continents have merged back to one.  Zothique is more or less the same thing.  If the Hyborian age is some post-post apocalyptic world, then Zothique is the Dying Earth of Jack Vance, Clark Ashton Smith and others.  Scientists are equally grim on the chance of life on Pangea Ultima.

There are other maps of the ancient Earth there.  The Permian looks like it would be fun to use sometime too, or even the Eocene for something that is similar but yet alien.

Jason Vey has been tinkering on his home campaign of "The Wasted Lands" for a number of years.  Here is a maps of the Paelocene and the Eocene,

Here is Jason's map

Not exactly the same, but very close.  I like how it is a nice blend of REH's Hyboria and HPL's work.  Plus it has Atlantic, Mu and Lemuria which I really like.

There is so much that can be done with the world we already have.  So much adventure.
I know there were no humans around in the Eocene, but doesn't this look exciting? I mean even the name of the time is exciting; Eocene, the Dawn Epoch.  

Maps speak to me. They always have. That one freaking sings.  More than that, it is a Rock Opera.  It's The Wall meets Tommy meets Operation Mindcrime and maybe just a little bit of Kilroy Was Here to keep the masses happy.

What maps get you excited?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #41

May 1983 may very have been the beginning of the end of the so called "Golden Era" of RPGs, but it was also part of the era that would see a dramatic rise in the popularity in the public consciousness of RPGs.  It could be retrospect, rose-colored glasses or even bad memory, but Issue #41 seems to reflect this.
The stylistic changes that began that the end of 82 have hit their peak now.  Issue 41 is like picking up an old Judas Priest tape.  Not album. Not CD. Not any freaking 8-Track.  Those were the artifacts of different eras.  Judas Priest on Cassette and White Dwarf #41.

What do we have in this one?  Well lets admire that cover for a bit. Lone spaceship. Betcha that also means lone spaceship pilot. Flying over some distant planet.One man vs. the Universe.  Man that image is a freaking metaphor of the 80s.  I am sure he is listing to Judas Priest on a cassette in that thing.  No CDs or MP3s or data-tapes for that guy.  I am equally sure it is a "he" too.  Moving on.

The editorial is an interesting one.  Ian Livingstone can only be describing the beginning of the end!  Or at least as it might have looked back then.  He talks about some companies going out of business and the first great RPG boom is over.  Now I have read some reports that this boom was bigger than the d20 one nearly 17 years later, but I don't remember this time as being anything else but a boom time, but not one that was all consuming.  The warning though is clear.  No more mediocre games.

First up is Battleplan for Dungeon Master General.  This covers non-human armies such as dwarves, elves, kobolds and orcs. It is an interesting read.  The Dwarves and Elves are pretty much what you would expect. The kobolds are more aggressive and war like here, using numbers to make up for their size.  While in this post Tucker's Kobolds age we tend to see Kolbods more a little skirmishers that hit fast and run for cover.  The picture of the orcs tends to be more bleaker, that the orcs are basically cowardly, lazy bullies.  Since then we have had Orkworld and the Lord of the Rrngs movies where orcs look more like an organized, fearless military.

Critical Mass covers the British SF Association awards for 1982 and the Nebula Awards for the US for 82. Next month they will announce the winners. If you can wait you can go here to see the winners and nominees of the SF award and the Nebula.

Open Box has an interesting mix in Traveller Supplement 10: The Solomani Rim by GDW.  Andy Slack, Traveller savant in residence, gives it a rather mixed review saying it is great for novices but terrible for experts (9/10 and 2/10 respectively).  He does mention that this is how Spinward Marches should have been done.  I have not read either supplement in over 20 years, but I tend to agree.
One game I was always curious about, but never got my hands on was Man, Myth & Magic by Yaquinto.  Three products are reviewed here, Man, Myth & Magic RPG, Adventure 1, Episode 5 - Death to Setanta and Adventure 1, Episode 6 - The Kingdom of the Sidhe. Marcus Rowland did not care for how the game was set up feeling it was too hard to find the material you needed thanks to the design of the game.  You read the rule book and adventure as you learn.  This game was never popular around my area and I didn't even know about it really till I was researching the old Man, Myth and Magic encyclopedia.  I am not sure if they are related or not. Anyway Rowland gives the RPG and adventures 5/10, 4/10 and 6/10 respectively.
Finally Star Explorer boardgame by FGU was reviewed by Alan E. Paull.  He gives it 9/10.

"A Tasty Morsel" is a bit of RuneQuest fiction featuring Griselda.  I am no judge of gaming fiction really.  So I have no idea if this is a good RuneQuest tale or not.

Phil Hine has a bit on Sorcerous Symbols, or how to use sigils in AD&D.  Interesting little article that I don't recall reading in the past.

Don Turnbull is back in the Letters section defending his point of view in the whole Necromancer affair. Oddly enough he is being coy about knowing about the Anti-Paladin.  Maybe I am giving him too much credit or overstating the effect of Dragon Mag, but I thought for sure that everyone had seen the Anti-Paladin article by 83.

Andy Slack is back with a Traveller short Scenario, the Snowbird Mystery. I do remember this one. In fact I think it might even was the last Traveller Adventure that I was ever going to go through.  I didn't, part of my odd relationship with Traveller, but I knew that this was the one that was going to be used.  We played AD&D instead.

RuneRites has Unarmed combat for RuneQuest. Or rather part II to the article that appeared all the way back in WD 30.

Up next is something very interesting, a mini-Scenario for Car Wars!  It looks fun, but I never played Car Wars to be a good judge of this.

Fiend Factory has more Inhuman Gods, Deities for Non-Human Races: Part III.   Kraada (Frostmen), Zrunta Mountainheart (Mountain Giants), Carratriatuh (Greenmen from WD 27), Klagg (Grimlocks) and for the  Lava Children, two gods Halnass (Fire-Father) and Quorggg (Stone-Mother).   They are all in Deities and Demigods format. Of the lot, I think I would like to use Klagg, and given my association of Grimlocks with Charmed, I would make him a demon.

Starbase is back for it's bi-monthly publication of readers' ideas for Traveller.  This time it is Andy Slack (his name might be familiar) covering the same Covert Survey Bureau that was featured in the Snowbird adventure.

Treasure Chest has all sorts of discs as weapons.  Hmmm. When was Tron out again?   They include the Vorpal Disc, Disc of Shock, Torus, Crystal Disc, Disc of Eyes, Disc of Dismissal, Anti-Magic Disc and the Sonic Disc.  Between this and the Man, Myth and Magic RPG you could do Xena!  I will admit I had a character that used the Vorpal Disc.  I remember it well too, he had to get it from a greater Air Elemental.  Played it one day in Jr. High.

We end with some ads.

All in all I think this was a great issue.  Nothing jumps out at me and screams "use me" but everything was quality and I enjoyed reading it again.

Grognardia Book Shelf Meme, Part 2

Part of James's meme is not just book porn (it is that as well) but what books do you go back to for reading, playing and writing.

Well the truth is I buy a lot of PDFs.  I will go as far as to say I was an early adopter of the whole RPG books on PDF.  I love being able to access all my books anywhere thanks to PDFs or carry them aroung on a flash drive or my laptop or tablet.

So here is my "other" set of shelves.

Being a long time playtester and reviewer has it's advantages.  Yes those are batch files in the folder too, and yes the 'Palm' folder was for my old Palm Pilot.  I pretty much wrote Ghosts of Albion on my Handspring Visor.

And yes. I have multiple backups.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grognardia Book Shelf Meme

James over at Grognardia wants to start a bookshelf meme.  What the hell.  Here are the books in my shelves that I go to most often.

Victorian Age games.

One of my D&D shelves; core rules from 0e to 4e, plus Pathfinder. Circa July, 2012.
Below are binders of characters, bottom right is my son's shelf.

More Character sheets.  Though the tabbed binder in backwards contains various OSR PDFs that I printed.

Various horror anthologies with witch minis.

Another view of the horror short stories, you can also see various d20 horror games I am reading currently below.  The White Box is the special Edition of Spellcraft and Swordplay.

Current research books for The Witch.  4e below that and various demon and devil minis above.

Another organization of my upper D&D shelves.

And of course...

My Eden/Horror shelves.  I have other horror games, but these are the ones I am playing/reading now.

And my witches meeting up in the Charmed Ones' attic in San Fran.  Zatanna is showing off by floating.

The large red book came from an AD&D Action figure, I thought it had belonged to Kelek, but I can't seem to find it online.

I don't have any pictures of my Sci-Fi/Doctor Who/Star Trek shelves.  You might recall from this post that all my superhero games have been sent to the lower shelves along with BESM, White Wolf games and other modern and non-horror games.

Well I did it after all (and other updates)

I picked up a copy of Dungeon Crawl Classics.

I picked it up because I am a fan of Goodman Games and they have always had a quality product in the past.  It is also on sale now at DriveThruRPG.

I seriously doubt I will play this game and if I do it won't be with d7s or anything like that.
But I am enjoying the read so far and maybe there is something in this for my AD&D1 game.

There is a lot to get through.

In other news...
I picked up my Kickstarter Supporter PDF copy of the Adventurer Conqueror King System Player's Companion.

There is a lot of great stuff in this book as well.  I am going to hold off on a proper review till it is released on DriveThruRPG as well.  But I will say this, I am pleased with the Witch and Warlock classes (so expect to hear some more about those) and the Class Construction rules look very interesting.

I finished reading through the Swords and Wizardry Complete Rulebook from Frog God Games.  Again, some neat ideas, but I am not sure if I'll every play it or run it.  But it is a great toolbox for a near Editionless D&D.  More on it and my third in-depth dive into Lamentations of the Flame Princess in another post.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Edition Neutral? Curiouser and curiouser...

There is another new product that appeared on Amazon's list of upcoming products for D&D.
Called "Storm Over Baldur's Gate" it is being touted by some as "Edition Neutral".

I don't see it in the list of upcoming products over at WotC's site,, so it is hard to know what it is just yet.

If so this is another interesting shift in the future of WotC's handling of the D&D brand.

Dragonfolk for the Advanced Era

Like his dad, my oldest son enjoys all versions of D&D.  He plays a 3e game with me and his brother, a 4e game with some friends and a Pathfinder game with some other friends.   He has also had the chance to play Castles & Crusades, ACKS and Basic Era D&D.  But so far his favorite has to be 1st Ed AD&D.

He also loves dragons.  Always has.  So it was a natural then that he would want to make his own dragon book and have some going back and forth we decided that an OSRIC or Labyrinth Lord Advanced compatible book would be the best.

Of course in what can only be called a bit of Generational Rebellion, according to my son there are no know Dragonfolk witches. 

So for your enjoyment here is a new player character race he has been working on for some time. 
The Dragonfolk.

All text below is considered OPEN for the Open Gaming License. It is copyright 2012 Liam and Timothy Brannan.

It is well known that dragons can often take the guise of humans, elves or other humanoid species.  It has been through this magic that the dragons have come into direct contact and congress with these younger species.  For years these various dragon-blooded and half-dragons roamed the world often ignorant of their own heritages.  It was not till the great hero Marduk, himself rumored to be the spawn of a human mother and Ea the Dawn Dragon, gathered all the dragon blooded to one one land now known as the Dragon Isles. He then became their first King.

Thousands of years later the Dragon Empires have waned, but the Dragonfolk have survived as a species in their own right.  They rarely leave their Dragon Isles and are thus rare or even legend in other parts of the world.

There are two type of Dragonfolk recognized, Imperial and non-Imperial.  Imperial Dragonfolk hale from the Isles of the Dragon Empire.  The Empire has waned in the 700+ generations since Marduk first united the Dragonfolk into a single people, but the Imperial Dragonfolk are still just as proud as they ever were.

Non-Imperial Dragonfolk are born from the union of a humanoid (typically human, elf or dwarf) and a dragon.  They are of the same general sort of their humanoid parent with the scales, coloration and temperament of their dragon parent.  Non-Imperial Dragonfolk are often shunned in human committees. Any non-Imperial Dragonfolk can claim to be an Imperial Dragonfolk only if they make a pilgrimage to the Temple of Dragons on the Dragon Isle and there renounce their ties to their humanoid relatives.

Dragonfolk appear as dragonlike humanoids.  They share qualities with both of their parent stock.  They stand taller than humans typically 6 to 7 feet in height with males and females being roughly the same height.  They are warm blooded despite their reptilian appearance, though they are not as comfortable in extreme climates as are humans.   Dragonfolk lay eggs like dragons, but also produce milk like a mammal.  Typically only 1 to 2 eggs are laid in a clutch.  The eggs develop partially inside the female and then are kept warm by the male and female once laid.  Twins resulting from one egg is considered an ill omen.

Imperial Dragonfolk can claim human, elf, dwarf as well as a variety of draconic parentage.  Imperial Dragonfolk are only fertile with other Dragonfolk. Non-Imperial are fertile with other Dragon-folk and their members of their humanoid parent's race (and races cross fertile with them such as orcs, trolls, goblins).

Dragonfolk can come from any combination of dragon and humanoid parentage.  For Imperial Dragonfolk, ones that live or come from the Dragon Isles, this is not determination of potential alignment or powers. For non-Imperial Dragonfolk parentage can have an affect on coloration, powers and potential alignment.  
Dragonfolk only recognize the difference between Imperial and non-Imperial Dragonfolk, with Imperial Dragonfolk claiming superiority to the non-Imperial individuals.  Non-Imperial Dragonfolk can produce offspring with strong Dragonfolk traits. These straits remain strong even through many generations.

There is some questionable scholarly work claiming that Kobolds are non-Imperial crosses with gnomes or halflings.  While is this largely dismissed even the most conservative scholars do believe that Kobolds may be the result of non-Imperial pairings of dragons and goblins.

Dragonfolk develop from egg to hatchling in 6 months and are weaned after 6 months. They reach maturity at 13 years.  Imperial Dragonfolk are considered Citizens at 21 years of age.  Their average lifespan is 250 years.  A mated pair will usually mate first between 14 and 21 years old and they will stay together for life, though they may not not necessarily live with each other.

Honor and Caste
Dargonfolk have a strict code of honor. This and the Dragonfolk caste system will be detailed in the future.

Requirements: CON 9
Ability Modifiers: STR +1, CHA +1, DEX -1
Ability Min/Max: STR 4/19, DEX 2/17, CON 9/18, INT 3/18, WIS 3/18, CHA 4/19

Languages: Dragonfolk learn Draconic as their primary Language and can learn the common tongue and alignment language.  They may learn additional languages to these based on their Intelligence score. If Kobolds have a unique language then Dragonfolk will also know this language. 

Infravision: 30 ft
Low-light vision: 120ft

Naturally Dragonfolk are a highly magical race. They gain a +2 to all saves from Spells and Spell like devices.  The gain a +4 vs Dragon Breath saves.  

They can see Invisible creatures and items on a 1 on a 1d6.  They can find secret doors on a 1-2 on a 1d6 as well. 

Dragonfolk are naturally resistant to weapons due to their tough, scaly hides. They gain an additional -1 to their Armor Class. 

Permitted class options: Cleric, Fighter, Paladin, Magic-User*, Thief, Cleric/Fighter, Cleric/Paladin,  Fighter/Magic-User, Fighter/Thief.

Level Limits
Cleric: 9th 
Fighter: Unlimited
Paladin: 17th
Magic-User*: 11th
Thief: 8th

Dragonfolk have their own type of magic-user known as Dragon Mages.  These will detailed later.

Dragonfolk Thief Skill Adjustments
Pick Locks -5%
Find and Remove Traps +5%
Climb Walls -15%

Movement Rate: 120 ft

Breath Weapon
A holdover from their draconic heritage, Dragonfolk have a limited breath weapon.  Regardless of their coloration or alignment the individual Dragonfolk can choose among Acid, Cold, Gas, Electricity,  or Fire.  
Once per day a Dragonfolk can emit a powerful breath weapon attack.  This attack does 1d6 + 1hp/level damage. The damage type is chosen at character creation and can't be changed short of a Wish spell.

Dragonfolk and Kobolds
Dragonfolk and Kobolds share a relationship similar to that of Humans and Halflings or Dwarves and Gnomes. In areas where Dragonfolk are more common Kobolds will live on the outskirts of the Dragonfolk communities.  Kobolds will adjust their normal behaviors and alignments to suit that of their Dragonfolk cousins.  Indeed small communities of kobolds near good aligned Dragonfolk areas have been known to be good aligned as well.  

Dragonfolk follow a form of Ancestor worship where they honor the spirits of fallen warriors, kings and dragons.  They claim that many of the dragon "gods" that cultures around the world worship were in fact personages in their history.  Many times these gods were non-Imperial Dragonfolk that rose to great power and honor.   Such dragons and Dragonfolk are Aži Dahāka (The Destroyer), Druk (thunder dragon), Ea (Dawn Dragon), Jawzahr (Moon Dragon), Karkeu (Diamond Dragon), Marduk (Dragonfolk Hero and Emperor), Quetzalcoatl (Dragonfolk Lord of the Sky), Tiamat (Mother of Monsters), Yam (Son of Ea and Tiamat, dragon god of the Sea), Zirnitra (Dragon God of Sorcerery), and Zmey Gorynych (Darkness).

Section 15.
OSRIC. Copyright 2008 Stuart Marshall.
Advanced Edition Companion, Copyright 2009-2010, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.

"Dragonfolk for the Advanced Era" Copyright 2012, Timothy & Liam Brannan.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Second Chance Weekend

Thanksgiving at my parents was great.  Got a chance to talk to the guy who was my fist AD&D DM.    I knew I was going to run into him so I took a copy of my Witch book.

I also grabbed my copies of Sword & Wizardry and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.
These are two games I gave passes on.  S&W because I was into Labyrinth Lord and Spell craft &Swordplay, and LotFP because, well frankly, I didn't see the point of it.

I am rereading them both now and getting slightly different points of view than before.

I'll keep you all posted.

Zatannuday: More Cosplay

In this Thanksgiving week I want to give thanks to the Cosplayers.

Thank you once again for raising the over social standing and average good looks of all comic book fan! ;)

Zatanna DC comics by ~KaitoEinsam on deviantART

Shine bright Zee by ~tommyish on deviantART

Dloc dniw wolb! by ~tommyish on deviantART

Go Go Homo Magi by ~tommyish on deviantART

Zatanna Cosplay 2 by *HoodedWoman on deviantART

Zatanna Mistress of Magic by *The-Cosplay-Scion on deviantART

Zatanna 1 by *neko-tin on deviantART

Zatanna by ~Itill-Sennen-Joo on deviantART

Zatanna Cosplay 3 by *HoodedWoman on deviantART

Zatanna by ~nadyasonika on deviantART

My name is Zatanna Zatara by *The-Cosplay-Scion on deviantART

Zatanna Cosplay by ~Panda-Valentine on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara 5 by *Insane-Pencil on deviantART

DC band by *Ryoko-demon on deviantART

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Witch Appendix N

I have used many books in researching this class and all of it's related topics. Here are some of those books that I have found most helpful. I have used these books to get more at the witch of myth and history, rather than the modern witch of today.

Keep in mind that these books have nothing to do with RPGs, they are books of belief. Witchcraft is a real religion and people take their religious beliefs seriously and personally.

These books have been helpful for a variety of reasons. If for nothing else to get me to think about witches differently than other game authors have.

Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Russell Hope Robbins 
This book has been long out of print, and I got mine at a used book store, but it is the indespensible work on witches, the witch craze and demonology. The book takes a very pro-witch point of view as it frankly discusses the murder of women, children and even men in the name of god. Not to be missed, this book has been THE source for most of my writings. Several editions are out there, mine is the 1959 edition. I have seen them on Ebay as well.

The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
It would be unfair to compare this book to the work above it, because this book is very good. More a modern spin, it still deals with a variety of topics that are of interest to the witch or occult scholar. I used this book a lot when writing Eldritch Witchery. This book also has the advantage of being much newer and still available. All around a good mix of topics, witch myth is mixed in with modern Wicca, making difficult for the unlearned to know what is what. But for those who know a bosom from a common broom, then you will enjoy this book. If you have your own Bosom, then you might even find this book a little simple, but I found things there I did not know about, so I enjoyed it!

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism by Raymond Buckland
Another encyclopedia  This one though covers less but goes deeper on it's topics.  I like Buckland's writing style more than some of the others listed here.  Gave me a lot of insight on various witch traditions.

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi
Another encyclopedia of all things witchy. This one focuses on more modern practices, has a very large list of contacts, email and websites. Some overlap with Guiley's book. If you are interested in the nature of the religion of witches today, then this is your book. Or at least it is a good place to start.

Covencraft : Witchcraft for Three or More by Amber K
A nice a well written book for witches and lay-people (cowans) to understand what a coven is and does. This is not a primer to witches, witchcraft or wicca, this book assumes you know what you need to know and works on what you may not know. It is concise and intelligent and a good read, even for non-witches. Maybe especially for non-witches, so that others can finally learn what witches do. From Llewellyn Publications.

Witchcraft, Sorcery and Superstition by Jules Michelet, A. R. Allinson (Translator)
A good book that deals with the wicth craze of the middle ages. Discussion range from early "faerie stories" to pagan religions, to the church sanctioned murder of thousands. Sometime muddled, the book has a few rare gems. Plus it delves into the socilogy of fear, why these people did what they did. Gets as far as the Salem witch trials. Very little to do with modern witchcraft.

Cassell Dictionary of Witchcraft by David Pickering
Another in a series of encyclopedia/dictionaries about witchcraft. A very good beginners guide.

Witches by Erica Jong
More of a coffee table book than an indepth treatsie on witches or witchcraft. Heavy on the feminist side, but not man-bashing (it is an Eric "Fear of Flying" Jong book) it is visually stunning. An oversized book, so if you look for it in the library you might have to check the oversized selves. My local library cut out some of the more risque pages. So I bought my own copy.

The Modern Witch's Spellbook, Book II by Sarah Lyddon Morrison
I read this, along with Book I, years ago, towards the first drafts of my witch class. It has spells that can supposedly really cast. Never tried. But it is a good insight on how some witches view or can view magic. A picture of me reading this over the top of my glasses (Thomas Dolby style, there THAT's long ago it was!) made my High School newspaper!.

Man and His Symbols by Carl Gustav Jung
I alway's liked Jung. His psychoanalytic theory always sat better with me than Freud's. This book deals with many of the archetypes we deal thing at an uncounscious level, the witch is one of many type of female, or anima, archetypes. Jung is one of the greatest thinkers of the modern era, and this is one of his masterpieces (along with Synchronicity).

Drawing Down the Moon : Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshipers, and Other Pagans in America Today by Margot Adler
This is the book on modern pagan practices. Since it deals with a real world religion i only used it as inspiration to the Witches Netbook I wrote. But if you want to know what is going on in the world of paganism today, then this is your first stop. It is very telling for the foresightedness of this book when you consider that it was first published in 1979!

To Ride a Silver Broomstick : New Generation Witchcraft by Silver Ravenwolf
Similar in nature to Adler's book above, this book deal with modern wicca and witchcraft. Ravenwolf is very much a witchcraft supporter and her point of view shows through in this book, for good and ill. A good place to start and then return to when you know a little more.  Generally speaking I am not a huge fan of Silver Ravenwolf, but at the same time I am not really her target audience, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.
She has similar fare in her other books, To Stir a Magick Cauldron and To Light a Sacred Flame.

The Penguin Book of Witches & Warlocks : Tales of Black Magic, Old & New editied by Marvin Kaye

I have enjoyed the anthologies of Marvin Kaye for years. Ghosts, Vampires, Demons & Devils, and now witches. I found this in the library and had to get a copy from Ebay. It is a collection of short stories about witches, warlocks and witchcraft. The quality varies, but gems are true gems.

I will post more soon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving!

And to the rest of the world, Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #40

Around Issue 40 is where I really began to get into White Dwarf.  At this point, I was the only one in my gaming circle reading it regularly and I felt it gave me an edge on those "just reading Dragon".  Of course I had not experienced Imagine yet (though this issue had a big ad for Issue #1)  and it would still be a couple more years before I got my hands on Dungeoneer mag.

Let's get into Issue 40, April 1983. First off I consider this one of the more iconic covers of WD.  These odd aliens screamed SciFi/Fantasy Book Club to me, but I was 100% cool with that.  Still am.  I have no idea who these guys are, but my next SciFi game will have them as a race.  The cover artist is listed as "Emmanuel".

Ian Livingstone's Editorial discusses a very good question.  Why are Fantasy and Sci-Fi lumped together?  This is a question that a younger, 12-year-old, Otherworlds Card-carrying self would have asked. Ian mentions he prefers SciFi films over fantasy, but fantasy games over Sci-fi ones.  That fitted me to a tee. I loved Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who (83 was a HUGE year for me and the good Doctor) and I played AD&D far more than Traveller or Star Frontiers.

Dave Morris is up first with Zen and the Art of Gaming for RuneQuest.  It is some setting material for a feudal Japan-like country for RuneQuest.  Anything Japanese was all the rage in time period 82  to 85 or so. I recall reading this and thinking how cool it would be to try this out in AD&D, but never got around to it.

Alan E. Paul has an article on large scale massive battles for D&D, "Dungeon Master General".   It is three pages long and I never read it back in the day.  I never did massive battles till about 1987 and even then we used the "BattleSystem" rules.  These rules seem easy to use, but still more complicated than I like.  I would be a terrible Wargamer.

Critical Mass reviews some interesting books.  First we have everyone knows about, White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson. I am one of those people that put down the Thomas Covenant book after the rape scene.  I saw no point to reading the rest.  Only occasionally I regret that, but reading this review sets me more at easy.  I am a fan of Lovecraft and of Moorcock so I like dark fantasy.  That rape scene frankly left a bad taste in my mouth for the entire series.   There is another book, Chekhov's Journey which is sci-fi but not about the Star Trek character.  No this book is really best described as an early cyberpunk book.  I will check it out based on that alone.  They also cover Robert Lynn Asprin's Myth Directions, which I loved and they didn't.

Open Box is up with some more classics from TSR.  Jim Bambra reviews C1, C2, S2, and I1.  Giving them 8/10, 8/10. 8/10 and 5/10 respectively.  He says that I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City is rather mundane, though his own scores on the module should really put it more in the 6/10 or 7/10 region.  Phil Masters reviews Steve Jackson Game's classic Illuminati.  He praises the skill needed and the tone of the game. He says in the same breathe that the game "lacks elegance" and "Should do well in America".  I will try not to take that personally. ;)  It gets 7/10.  We also get reviews for Starstone: A Mediaeval FRP Campaign by Northern Sages (9/10) and Soloquest 2: Scorpion Hall for RuneQuest by Chaosium (8/10).   I am completely unfamiliar with those two.

Letters covers some Traveller, D&D and RuneQuest issues.  No fighting this time.  Some light critism on the Moria article a few issues back.

Marcus Rowland is back with an AD&D adventure for 1st to 3rd level characters, The Eagle Hunt. At 6-pages it is one of the larger of the adventures that WD has published to date.

RuneRites deals with Trading as a skill in RuneQuest.

Andy Slack has a new Explorer class scout ship for Traveller.

Fiend Factory is up and Phil Masters has more Inhuman Gods.  We get the gods of the Firenewts, Flymen, Flinds (sorta) and Frogfolk. Also mentioned are Dire Raiders and Dire Corbies.

In what was always pure gold for me back then was Microview.  This time we have a BASIC program for RuneQuest. Despite the fact I never played RuneQuest I typed this up.  I made some tweaks to it and then would later write my own AD&D program for characters.

Treasure Chest is looking more and more "professional"  The layout is sharp and clean and the magic items are also really good.  The items are, Arrow of the Inner Planes, Druid's Flask, Cloth of the Wind Horse, Shaft of the Spider, Wand of Locking, and Wizard's Wand.  I never used any of these to my knowledge.

We end with the Classifieds and some ads.

While there is nothing in this issue that stands out as stellar to me, the whole issue has the feel of more professionalism than previous issues.  For me this is when White Dwarf came into it's own.  The next 50-60 issues were great times.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

This is the story of how we died.

When Gary and Dave sat down and designed Dungeons & Dragons they certainly had one thing in mind.  That it should be a social game.  It should be a time when friends got together and talked and had a good time.  Then after the game they could talk about the game they had or share in other games.  The cirlces were small back then in the Dawn Age; everyone knew everyone or were at least separated only by a person or two.

My degree of separation between me and Gygax is 1. The cousin of my regular DM ran us through an OD&D game one summer in 87.  He (whose name was also Gary) had played some games with Gary Gygax back in the day.   He told us we were playing "just like Gary did".   Outside of some email communication with Gary Gygax in the late 90s and meeting him once at what would be his last Gen Con, that is the closest I ever got.  

I am a member of what I like to call the Second Generation of Gamers.  I began in 1979 but did not really get into it until 1980-81.  I didn't learn at the feet of Masters.  I learned mostly on my own and with other kids who had done the same.  We may have known someone that knew someone that had gamed with Gygax or Arneson, but none of us had.

For argument sake I call the First Generation those that were the Masters or learned directly from them.  The first gen gets fuzzy when dealing with people that learned from people that learned from the Masters.  These are not static categories in my mind.

Presently I am commenting of one of James' latest posts on learning to DM/GM from the pre-made modules.  (for the record I give James the benefit of the doubt of being First Gen even if he is the same age as me, started about the same time and is by his own admission more of my Second Generation ).   He dislikes   (maybe too strong of a word) the older modules as DM/GM tools.  I love them.

I love my home-brew adventures as much as the next guy/gal loves his/her own.  Though there is one thing that was never discussed back then that is fairly evident now.  Running or playing those old adventures has given us all shared community.  My readers/players or you and your player or people I run into at Cons more than likely did not play at my game table back in 83.  But we can all talk about heading to the Cave of Chaos or the Barrier Peaks. We can all share stories of how we died in the Tomb of Horrors or the Forgotten Temples or Cities or even Realms.  Is has been those shared experiences that have helped shape the culture of the game we all play.  

It is an extension of the social circle that guys named Gary or Dave probably never thought of.

We can all share common stories thanks to these old modules. Share what we did, how we did it.  How the characters achieved greatness and how they died.  When I mention the Owlbear in the cave at the Caves of Chaos in B2 I could get dozens of stories from you all.  I can ask did  anyone ever shout "Bree Yark!" at the goblins?  I can ask did you ever defeat Strahd.

When I was at Gen Con this past August I ran my boys through Module B1 using a mix (of course!) of D&D Basic and AD&D rules.  We played for about 4 hours each night.  I would say only about 2.5 hours were actual play time.  The other 1.5 was devoted to people walking by to tell my kids how much fun they were going to have and how awesome the adventure was.  I didn't mind. Quite the opposite in fact, I loved it.  They loved it.  They had the feeling they were about to experience something special, something that others had gone through when they were kids.  I even joked with them in the adventure  that the place had looked like it had seen hundreds of people go through the corridors over the last 30 years.

One day, maybe very soon, they will be at Gen Con or Gary Con or something else and they will say "You know I almost died in the Caves of Chaos" and someone, of same age between 100 and 10 will say "yeah! Me too!".

Monday, November 19, 2012

Adventures Dark & Deep Kickstarter

Adventures Dark & Deep is a new RPG that attempts to take the World's First and Biggest Fantasy RPG back to its early days. It takes the bones of the 1st edition game and imagines what it would have been like if Gary Gygax had stayed with TSR and released the 2nd edition of the game.

You can read more about it here: and here:

You can see some of this in Joseph Bloch's other products  that are part of the Adventures Dark & Deep line.
A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore
Darker Paths 1: The Necromancer
Darker Paths 2: The Witch

I had mentioned a while back that 2nd Ed might be the next wave of the OSR.  Looks like we are finally seeing some of that.

Go to the Kickstarter page and watch the video.  Joe looks like what a I always thought Mordenkainen looked like, so that is worth a pledge from me for that alone!

The levels are good and well priced in my mind.
Good art and professional editing is not cheap. So I am thinking his goal is reasonable.

I don't need another retro-clone, near-clone or even alternate-reality clone (that is what I consider this and Spellcraft and Swrodplay).  BUT I do like to support my fellow gamers.

So I putting in for a hard cover edition.

Return to the Dungeon!

So last month I picked up the newest version of the classic Dungeon! broad game.  Now like many of the gamers my age I also had one of the earlier versions of Dungeon.  The one I had is not depicted below.

How does the new one measure up?

Well quite well to be honest.  The older character "classes" of Elf, Hero, Super Hero and Wizard are now gone.  Replaced with Rogue, Cleric, Fighter and Wizard.

The rules really have not changed.  So any house rules or mods you did back then will still work today.

The board really has changed much.  It is smaller than the "1st Edition" or "3rd Edition" versions depicted above.  This puts it closer to the overall feel of the "2nd Edition" version (that I originally owned, but don't have anymore) with the "RIP" cards.

So in this version you don't lay the cards on the map, you instead keep them in a stack and when a room is empty you put a little RIP marker on it.

In the older versions you could use your D&D minis on them.  The newer board is slightly smaller so it makes using the D&D minis harder.   There are no plastic pawns or small monochrome plastic minis, this version has heavy card stock.

It's not any closer to D&D than it ever was. The board is the same. The rules are the same and we still had a blast.

If you never played Dungeon! then you can still play it now.  If you have a younger child in your family or extended family then this is a great game.  And maybe just maybe it is also a good introduction to D&D.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Review for the Witch!

Stelios over at d20 Dark Ages has a very good review up for my latest book The Witch!

He gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars, so that is great!

He did mention that a bibliography would have been nice and I agree.  Part of my "d20 upbringing" was being very active on the old OGL and OGF email lists and there was much discussion on whether or not a bib could be part of an OGL product.  Well eventually I think it came down on the said of yes it was ok, but I err on the side of caution when it comes to these things.

That all being said I think I will post a quasi-annotated bibliography.  I'll just need to put it all together.

So thank you Stelios!  I am very please you liked my book.

I talked to the publisher today and the files for the print version have been sent in so we should know once the proofs come back.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Zatannurday: For the Cosplayers!

Not sure how tuned in to geek/nerd subculture you all are.
I consider myself fairly knowledgeble and yet something still pops up that I either didn't know about or leaves me scratching my head.

This one though just irritates me.
Here are some links, you can read them.  Long story short comic book illustrator Tony Harris doesn't like cosplayers.
and one from Other Side favorite Strikes Twice,

I am not going to have this conversation. Again.  If there is someone in fandom and you don't like them or think they don't belong there then the trouble might be with you, and not them.

Today has been declared as Cosplay Appreciation Day!

So I am going to celebrate the cosplayer today.
Thank you. To all the cosplayers out there that take the time, the money and the interest to share our fandom. Whether you are dressing up as a comic book character, game character or someone from a movie you have helped improve the total social standing of geeks and nerds (of which I am a proud member) everywhere.

Completed Zatanna by ~Strawberry-Photo on deviantART

Zatanna by ~Lola-Gainsborough on deviantART

Lady Z by ~Lola-Gainsborough on deviantART

Zatanna by ~Riddle1 on deviantART

My Zatanna Zatara Cosplay by *MissLola-art on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara by *MissLola-art on deviantART

Steampunk Zatanna by ~sphingosine on deviantART

Steampunk Zatanna Cosplay by Sphingosine by ~SNTP on deviantART

Zatanna Cosplay 5 by ~Refugeewolf on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara (YJ) by ~TrineMeincke on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara - Otakon 2012 by ~mariegreycosplay on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara - Otakon 2012 by ~mariegreycosplay on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara teaser 2 by *ParLitphotography on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara Is Here To Stay by ~AmeZaRain on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara Cosplay by *MissLola-art on deviantART

Zatanna Zatara Cosplay by *MissLola-art on deviantART

annataZ by ~Cujo-Escariot on deviantART

They all look fantastic!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Bathory for M&M3

As many of you all know I am huge fan of the Erzsébet Báthory story/mthyos.  Well, fan is an od word for a woman that mostly likely killed hundreds of young girls.  But you know what I mean.

Anyway there is a new product out now adding her to the Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition game and you all also know what a fan I am of that!

Bathory - AoV Solo (M&M3e) from Xion Studios is now out.

Here is my review:
Vampires have an odd role to play in a supers game, something this book recognizes.
This takes one of the most iconic vampires in myth and one of the most notorious real-life killer and adds her to the Mutants & Masterminds 3.0 game.
The author gives us an  interesting back story that should be familiar to most anyone with an interest in vampires.  There is a new, more up-to-date backstory of her activities from 2001 and on.

The crunch part, her stats and powers are good and they look "right" to me.
There is also a template for a Bathory-lineage vampire, which is a good one to use in a game.  Her PL is only 9, which makes her a good threat against normal humans or PL5 young supers.

Her PL is 12. That puts her at the same level I would expect.

I am not 100% sold on her being in a Goth Metal Band myself, but it certainly looks like it works here.

6 pages: cover art, condensed OGL statement and a lot of stuff to use in your game.  You are getting a lot for your buck here.

So yeah I am going to give this one a go.   I have stated up Elizabeth many times including Mutants & Masterminds 2nd ed, so if I use her again I might stick with my own backstory.  I DO like the idea of a vampire fronted goth band.  Maybe I will save that for another vampire.

For your enjoyment here are the stats for Erzsébet Báthory other games.  Mine are a little higher, but that is ok.

Witch Traditions

With print copy of the Witch on the way and the ebook/print version of Eldritch Witchery also coming along I thought I'd spend some time talking about Witch Traditions.

What is a Tradition for the Witch class?

Historically Tradition is like a style or even a denomination of Witchcraft.  In my books Traditions are styles of witchcraft too, but it is also a bit more.

On the roleplaying side a Tradition helps define what sort of witch they are.  Their background, how they learned to be a witch and how they get their Powers and Spells. It also help define what their familiar is like.  For example a witch might roll and get "Toad", but for a Faerie witch this toad could be a nature spirit, for a Maleficia it is a small demon.  In both cases it just happens to look and act like a toad.
On the crunch side it tells you what sort Occult Powers you gain

Each book has a different set of Traditions so if you do get them both then there is something new in each one (there are more difference than just this, but this is what I am talking about today).  The Traditions are roughly set up the same way and have particulars according to their supported rules, but translation is easy.

Halfling Herb Woman - Daniel Brannan
The Witch

Xothia (Dwarf)
Kuruni (Elf)
Good Walker (Gnome)
Bogglebos (Half-orc, orc, goblinoid)
Herb Woman (Halfling)

Eldritch Witchery
Witches (Traditions)
Craft of the Wise
Tradition of the Magna Mater (Great Mother)

Warlocks (Lodges)
Goetic Scholar
Hermetic Brother
Scholar of the Scholomance
Secret Masters of the Invisible College

There are even new Traditions in the upcoming Player's Companion for the Adventurer Conqueror King System.  I had some input on how the new ACKS Witch works (not a lot but some) and some of it was based on some of my earlier work.  Bottom line for you. The ACKS witch is very compatible with the witch from "The Witch" and "Eldritch Witchery".  There are also Shaman and Warlock classes in ACK-PC that would mix in great with any game that has a witch in it.

ACKS though is based on 14 levels, Eldritch Witchery on 20 levels and The Witch on the classic B/X 36 levels.  So you will need to move the powers across the levels some.

The ACKS-PC witch gains special powers by Tradition at 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th level.
The Witch gets occult powers at 1st, 7th, 13th, 19th, 26th and 31st levels.
In Eldritch Witchery the witch gains her Occult powers at 1st, 7th, 13th and 19th level.
For my witches the 1st level power is a familiar.  The Witch and EW can be played just as easily with 14 or 20 levels. Well...13 and 20 actually works better in my mind (make the 21st level witch the Queen of Witches).

I am not going to mention the traditions in the ACKS Player's Companion.  I will wait till it comes out.  Sufice it to say there are two that are roughly the same (and this gives a base to compare) and the others that are new.  All of them are given the ACKS-world twist.
Charles Myers, a contibutor to the ACKS Witch class has even put up some new Traditions on his own blog.

I have not tried to convert these yet, but my rough eyeballing of them tells me they should work fine.

If you picked up Joesph Bloch's wonderful Adventures Dark and Deep Witch or Jonathan Becker's Witch from the Complete B/X Adventurer then you can also use this with them and visa versa by implementing the Tradition idea.

Joesph Bloch's presents a deliciously evil witch I really want to run under B/X rules.  I would probably call her a Malevolent Witch (Malefic was already taken).  This witch is limited to 13th level so she is a good fir with ACKS-PC.  Or use this witch in place of my Malefic one.  Joe makes a lot of great points in his book on how to play an evil witch.

Jonathan Becker's witch is harder to fit in, though I do love how it works.  In this case choose one or the other witch and then take the things you like from the other books.

Daniel Proctor put together a "Diabolic Witch" for OSRIC that would also port over nicely.

One thing that ALL the books have that will thrill the witch player is spells.  Lots and lots of spells

These are not the only Traditions you can use (but it is a lot!).  You are certainly free to make up your own.