Thursday, October 31, 2013

Unboxing: Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

Every Halloween I buy myself a new game or game supplement.  Usually something with a horror theme.
I got mine 2013 one last night.

Nice big box from Noble Knight Games.  What's inside?

OOOO  a Game in a Red Box!

Nice thick spiral bound books and dice that I have to color in!  No crayon though.

The Witch class looks awesome.

Lots of character sheets!

And a big hex map of the lands beyond the North Wind.

Cool back of the box.

Looks great with my other boxed games.

And I saved some space for it on my OSR/Clone shelf.

So far I am far, far more pleased with this game than I have a right to be!  In fact I like it even more than the when I reviewed the PDF back in March.   I think it is because I have been spending most of my summer and fall reading the Pulp/Appendix N classics.  I was always a fan of Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, but I have been reading Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter,Pellucidar) and Robert E. Howard.
This game is called "Weird Tales: The RPG" in the Forward, I think that is very, very apt.  And since Weird Tales is my new current favorite thing to read, I really enjoy this.

I talked before about wanting to add a Hyborea/Hyperboria to my own world/playing and this might is exactly the sort of thing I wanted to do.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea covers a lot of the same ground as Adventurer, Conquer, King. But the ground in AS&SH is older, colder and has the foot prints of unnamed horrors.

Among other things this game is one of the best I have seen that mix the Lovecraftian Horrors and classic "AD&D" demons together into a believable whole.

Expect me to be going on (and on and on) about this game in the future.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Movie: Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995)

Halloween just isn't complete without a Godzilla movie. Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) was on recently. I had been thinking about it, so I popped the DVD in.
Watched this one, but have seen it many times before.  Typical Godzilla logic at play here.
Godzilla goes critical, hit him with a big weapon, side effect that some new scary monster comes up.

There is no plot, but then again why should there be.  This is about monsters beating the crap out of each other.

Destoroyah might actually be one of the scarier Godzilla monsters too. Very demonic looking.  So much so that I have used a Destoroyah toy in my own games.

Works great!

In fact here is Destoroyah's demonic type as an Eldritch Witchery Calabim demon.

Gargantua (Calabim demon)
#App: 1
SZ: I (50+ feet)
AC: 8 -4
Move: 180' / Fly: 240'
HD: 30 (125)
Attacks: Claw/Claw/ (2 two-handed sword), tail-swipe, breath weapon (6d6 lightning bolt)
Special: Fly 240', Magic Resistance (fire) 90%, Immune to mundane weapons
Treasure: Nil
XP: 20,000

These horrors are destruction incarnate. These demons stand over 50 feet tall and are vaguely humanoid.  Each one is unique, but all have characteristics in common.  They are typically humanoid in shape, but could be covered in scales, leathery skin, fur, chitin, or any combination of these. Their intellect is below that of animals and they exist only to destroy.  Powerful Balor or even Arch Fiends can control them, but it is difficult to do.  Mostly they are sent somewhere where everything must be destroyed or eaten.  Gargantua will even fight and kill other demons.  All gargantua have massive claw and bite attacks.  Any roll of box cars (double sixes) on a bite indicates the victim has been swallowed whole.  Every gargantuan also has a breath weapon attack. Typically fire, but lighting and wind are also common.
Human wizards have been known to try to summon these creatures but the destruction they cause usually outweigh any perceived benefits they may offer.  The spells to do so are carefully guarded.

Tally: Watched 35,  New 30

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Halloween Sales and Freebies at DriveThruRPG

It's nearly Halloween so that means DriveThruRPG/RPGNow has their annual Halloween sales going on.

They also have their annual Trick or Treat.  Find the seven jack-o-lanterns to get a treat or a trick!
So far I have found two and gotten Savage Worlds Horror book and the Guide to Transylvania for Ravenloft Masque of the Red  Death.  I had both already of course, but still, very nice to have all the same!

So stop by, get a spooky treat for Halloween and maybe even find something free!

White Dwarf Wednesday #85

White Dwarf #85 takes us to start of 1987 and a new editor.  Mike Brunton, the new editor, talks about the scope of the each issue. How if they dedicate too much space to a particular game some people will love it, others will feel left out.  This issue in particular is a RuneQuest focused one.
The cover art is interesting. Not the Heavy Metal fare we have been getting, but something that looks like a RuneQuest cover (it might be for all I know).

Briefly in Open Box we get Bloodbowl, a game I always thought was interesting looking but never tried, and some D&D books.   The D&D books covered are the Wilderness Survival Guide, the D&D BECMI Creature Catalogue (sic) and the first mega-module GDQ1-7 which combines the previous Giants, Drow and Queen of the Demonweb Pits adventures into one and looses something in the translation. The WSG is enjoyed by Carl Sargent. He claims that any FRPG could use it. I think he is correct, I remember that most of the tables were straight percentages. The Creature Catalog is also enjoyed by Tim Brinsley with special note given to Frank Mentzer's guide to balancing encounters.  It is worth it for that alone I think. Note this is the AC9 version and not the DRM 2 version, though I would not be able to tell you the differences except for publication date.
We also get a brief review of the Bard Games supplements, The Arcanum, The Lexicon and The Bestiary. These were the must have books back when I was in college and had discovered college town used books stores.

20-20 Vision covers some movies. Perennial gamer favorite, Labyrinth is reviewed. Though Colin Greenwood says that Bowie looks too much like his 1973 version, but lacks the style of Ziggy Stardust. I rewatched this a while back. While I get a nostalgic joy from it, and the songs are still maddeningly catchy, the story is weak.  Though it was not till someone pointed out that "Requiem for a Dream" works as a sequel to this, continuing the story of Sarah and her guilt for the loss of her brother Toby, that I got some new joy from it.

Critical Mass covers some then new books.  Though I don't recall reading any of these save for the reprint of the Chronicles of Corum.  This was the time I was leaving fantasy, having already left sci-fi, and had moved on to horror.  By the end of 87 I wasn't reading anything at all unless it was somehow tied to the Cthulhu mythos.

Allan Miles gives us Only Skin Deep which talks about the human-centric view in AD&D and how the various demi-human races get short changed on a number things.  For starters he says, and I agree, that there should be no level limits on many of the classes. In particular fighters.  Honestly while this is interesting for the time today we live in a post 3.x world where every race can advance in any class.  Level limits on demi-humans are now imposed in OSR games purely out of nostalgia and not really for a game-balancing mechanic.  Back in the day we never bothered with level limits. We kept class restrictions though.  Still, the article is a fun read since it is not as dogmatic about the rules of the game and instead tries to find good reasons to do the things it does. Often the answer is "that reason doesn't make sense".

A brief bit on playing the FASA Star Trek game.

A Tale to Tell is a RuneQuest III adventure and the main feature of this issue.  At 16 or so pages it is the largest adventure I can recall to date.  It's a big adventure.  I have a hard time though judging if it is any good. It reads fine and it is the sort of adventure I have come to associate with RQ as opposed to the dungeon crawls of D&D.

The color pages are saved for some ads and 'Eavy Metal. Dragons this issue.

Swords of Pendragon is not for the Pendragon game, but rather a system agnostic bit of fluff about the various swords that have appeared in the King Arthur tales.  No stats, just some background info.

An ad disguised as an article, "Illuminations" covers fantasy art. This time all from the new Warhammer Fantasy game.  It is good art though.

Letters is next.

Fracas covers the last parts of the Reader Poll.
Some of the polls that are of interest to me today are the one about computer use in games. 65% said they have one and use it in gaming. By this point I was using a combat simulator that sped up combats for my AD&D game. It was written for the old TRS-80/Tandy Color Computer and yes I still have it. Just no CoCo to run it on.
The vast majority, 4,121 respondents vs 1,177 say they use miniatures in their games.  Granted there is a larger proportion of Warhammer readers here than say the national or even worldwide average.  Still this goes a bit against the idea that the use of computers and minis are somehow something new to gaming.
Men outnumber women in this poll 86 to 1.
The top four RPGs according to the poll are MERP, AD&D, CoC and Warhammer.
The average age of the responder is 16 and has been playing 3.8 years.

So what does this issue give us?  Well there is obviously a change in the air at WD.  We have gone through more editors in the last few issues than the 60 issues prior.  The focus is shifting, though unless you know the future you really can't say what. Yes there are clues, but this seems to indicate that we will see more MERP as well.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October Movie: All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (2006, 2013)

Another one on my list to watch, this was the newest one to make the list.
I'll admit. I like watching Amber Heard.  She is not a terrible actress and maybe one day she will even be good.  But until then there are films like this.

Ok so what is this movie?  Er well. it's Friday the 13th with a twist.  No seriously.
We have been over this ground many times. I suppose there is the twist of Mandy herself, but I was spoiled early on and did not see it as big surprise.

Still though. Good fun teenage slasher flick.

Tally: Watched 34,  New 30

What are you watching?

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Review: The Shrine of St. Aleena

Once upon a time there was a boy and a girl.

The boy was just getting started out in his new life as an "adventurer". He didn't know much, and the girl even asked him if knew about clerics at all.  But theirs was not a story to fill long epics or sagas. Her story ended then when she was murdered.

The Shrine of St. Aleena is an adventure in the lands where that boy who never forgot that girl would later become a man, settle down, raise some kids and erect a 20 ft tall statue in honor of the saint she became and the girl she was.

The adventure "The Shrine of St. Aleena" is another act of devotion.  Maybe by a similar boy, now 30 years later a man. Sorry, I don't know Peter C. Spahn personally.  The adventure is designed for beginning level characters, levels 1-3, around the the eponymous shrine.  Just like the old days there is a dungeon crawl and the surrounding environs where monsters can be fought and sometimes even NPCs can be befriended.

The central plot is that the minions of "The Infamous One", the wizard that killed that poor girl, are attempting to defile this most holy of places.  It is up to this generation of heroes to once again stop his plans.

This could have come off as a ham fist attempt at nostalgia, but there is an earnestness about it and honesty that instead it comes off as loving tribute.  The art, descriptions and some situations all have thinly-veiled references to things going on in the 80s in gaming that if you are the right age then you will find them very amusing.  But if not, no worries, they still work in the adventure.

The plot is thin at best, but it's still more plot than most of the old-school adventures from the time when the Saint herself was still alive.  So really, that is feature not a bug.

There is a great table of rumors (d12 though not a d20), plenty of random wilderness encounters (yeah a d20 table!) and of course that awesome site of the 20 ft statue of the saint.    In true old-school fashion there are a lot of save or die encounters here, so you are warned.

The objective is easily defined, but there is a lot here to keep the party busy.  A dedicated party could complete in one (longish) session.  Most parties though will take more.

The only thing I think missing in this is some information on what the shrine is like after the defeat of the Spawn.  Personally I think drinking from the pool grants a Cure Light Wounds once in a character's life time or maybe even a Bless enchantment.  Another random table! d6 for random benefit!

d6 Roll Benefit (only once per character)
1 No effect!
2 Cure Light Wonds
3 Bless +1 on next d20 roll
4 Remove Poison
5 Remove Paralysis
6 Reverse Turn to Stone

In the end I really enjoyed this and plan on inserting it into my regular game as a "Side trek".  That's pretty serious for me. I was limiting all my adventures to modules made in the 80s only.

Well worth the money paid.

Emirikol the Chaotic for Eldrtich Witchery

A while back I did stats for Emirikol the Chaotic for 4e.  Though lets be honest. Emirikol is an old-school bad guy.  The oldest.  Even before Bargel became Public Enemy #1 in the hearts and minds of D&D players, Emirikol was blasting people in the streets just because he could.

Here he is as a bad ass Eldritch Witchery Warlock.

Emirikol the Chaotic, Weaver of Chance, Harbinger of Doom
Human, 19th Level warlock (The Goetic Lodge)

Strength: 12
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 15
Intelligence: 19
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 17

Hit Points:  66
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral (evil) (yeah I know, not a proper S&S alignment)
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Occult Powers
Arcane Blast: 1-3 hp, 19x per day
Familiar: Fire Elemental Horse
7th level: Summon Lesser Elemental (Chaotic)
13th level: Summon Demon (Type I or II)
19th level: Summon Greater Demon (Type III, IV or V)

First: Black Flames, Chil Ray, Detect Spirits, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Minor Fighting Prowess, Silver Togue, Sleep, Spirit Dart
Second: Agony, Broca's Curse of Bable, Death Armor, Discord, Ghost Touch, Levitate, Mind Obscure, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile
Third: Astral Sense, Cause Fear, Fly, Ghost Ward, Haste, Lesser Strengthening Rite, Liar's Curse, Protection from Normal Missiles, Speak with Dead
Fourth: Charm Monster, Confusion, Dance Macabre, Instant Karma, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee
Fifth: Bad Luck, Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Feeblemind, Teleport, Wave of Mutilation
Sixth: Anti-magic Shell, Death Blade, Disintegrate, Mass Agony, Primal Scream

While it could be argued that he is a Wizard or Warlock, I think this works well for him.

October Movie: Mama (2012)

I had to wait till everyone went to bed for this one.  Glad I did cause this is one creepy ass flick.
This was another Must See on my list for this year.

There is no new ground covered here, the fear of loosing a parent or a child too soon is so visceral, so deeply implanted into our DNA that any portrayal is going to touch a nerve.  Maybe more so because I am a parent. This was no exception and it happens to be a very scary movie.

This movie works on all the primal fears. Husband loosing it and killing the family. Mother dead. The Thing in the woods. The girls left alone and of course the fear of inescapable fate.

I am not going to say too much about this one.  Chances are I'll be up in a few hours anyway!
But I also don't want to spoil any of it.  If you have not seen this, please do.

This movie has Guillermo del Toro's name on it, but he acted as Executive Producer.  The director is Andrés Muschietti and I am expecting some big things from him in the future.

Tally: Watched 33,  New 29

What are you watching?

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Monday, October 28, 2013

What is Spellcraft & Swordplay?

One of the questions I have been getting a lot this week is "How does Spellcraft & Swordplay play" followed by "What is Spellcraft & Swordplay".

Spellcraft & Swordplay is Jason Vey's old school game based on the Original edition of Dungeons & Dragons.  It is a retro-clone, or more precisely a "near clone".

The feel of S&S is extremely old-school and when I played it with my son when it first came out it reminded me so much of OD&D that I wanted to make it my old-old-school game of choice.
You can read my original review here if you like. But there some things about it that I would like amend.
Just like you can't judge a game by reading it, you get a totally different perspective when you write something for it.  Somethings I now like more than I did then.

Here are some quick tips to help you learn about S&S.
- Saving throws are based abilities. So you can make a Dexterity save to avoid getting hit with something, or a Constitution save to avoid the effects of a poison.  Keep in mind S&S did this YEARS before it became the newest feature of D&D Next.
- The die mechanics are based on a 2d6, not a d20.  Need an 18 to hit something? Better hope you have pluses because you can only roll a natural 12 at best!  This makes everything grittier.  The 2d6 produces a near normal curve (ok a pyramid) so it means you will roll a lot of 7s and almost no 2s (snake eyes) or 12s (box cars).  This by the way was the original mechanic used in D&D, the d20 is the alternate method.

While there some differences S&S is one of those systems that become systemless after a while.  The focus is less on rolling dice and more on adventure and roll playing.  For that reason I find anything written for OD&D, Swords & Wizardry or Basic D&D can be translated and used in a snap.
In fact, as much as I enjoy Swords & Wizardry I find Spellcraft & Swordplay closer to OD&D in terms of game play and feel.

If you want to try out Spellcraft & Swordplay for free, there is a "Basic Set" available and a free character sheet.
If you like that then the Spellcraft & Swordplay rules can be had for cheap.

I even have some character write-ups if you like:
Asa Vajda
Elizabeth Bathory (monster stats)
Hex (from Skylanders)
Red Sonja
Sir Gannon and Del The Necromancer
Xena & Gabrielle
Hope you enjoy this game as much as I do.

October Movie Challenge: Weekend round up

Bunch of movies under my belt this weekend.  Though all disappointed me or fell short.

The Witching (1993)
This one gets my vote as the worst movie I have seen this entire challenge.  And I was on a Jean Rollin kick.
Awful.  Going after the acting in this one is a cheap shot...but I am doing it anyway. The actors where not just terrible I have seen better work from High School plays.
The plot such as it is concerns a 300 year old witch locked away in Limbo with demons and her pet demon dog-rat "Scully".  The gate to Limbo opens up in this guy's refrigerator.   Some one really liked Ghostbusters.  It is listed as Comedy/Horror. It's neither.

R.I.P.D. (2013)
Another gate opening and dead things coming back.  This time it's sorta-cooked, but all dead cop played by Ryan Reynolds and even more dead "law man" played by Jeff Bridges.  Cliches all over the place. Kevin Bacon (who should know better).   The only performance I liked was from Mary Louise Parker.
If you have seen Men in Black then you have seen this one.

The Countess (2009)
This on the other hand was a very good film. Julie Delpy wrote, directed, starred and produced this bio-drama about Countess Erzsébet Báthory.  Everything about this movie was good, save for my expectations of it.  There was little to no blood, and no horror save for the psychological kind. The film even makes a credible case that all the stories of the "Blood Countess" were nothing more than rumor and political power plays.  Which could be true.  Or not.  The film still retains the infamous scene where a maid pulls Erzsébet's hair and the Countess strikes her so hard that she is covered in blood.  The countess proceeds to bleed her for her precious virgin blood.
There is no vampirism. No allusions to Dracula. This is a historical piece and frankly a nice change of pace.

Interestingly enough Julie Delpy was 39 when she made this movie.  Delphine Seyrig was also 39 when she played Báthory in Daughters of Darkness (Ingrid Pitt was 34 when she was in Countess Dracula).

I kind of hoped to finish up this weekend, but I feel I need to see a few more, just to make sure I saw enough real horror.

Tally: Watched 32,  New 28

What are you watching?

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lazy Sunday

This is really more of Twitter post than a real blog posting.

Checking out blog posts from around the gaming blogs.

So much cool stuff going on!  Just great fun stuff.

More thoughts later, making more more coffee and reading more.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October Movie: The Coven (2002)

So I watched The no wait. I watched a crappy little ripoff called The Coven last night.
Like The Craft it has four witches, one good, one bad and one shy and the other scarred.
The good witch is also the new girl and her arrival finishes the coven.

I could go on from there, but the movie was largely derivative, even more so than Little Witches.

Also not The Craft
Even bits taken from Charmed.  But to be fair Charmed was on for 8 years and they did a little bit of everything.

There are some interesting scenes (no not the extended sex scenes), and liked the character of Spence. She was one of the more interesting characters even if she didn't really contribute much to the plot other than to die. Spoilers? yeah not like you were going to watch this one.

The whole Christians vs. Witches thing was more funny than anything.  Imagine every stereotype and it is there somewhere.  So much so I almost have believe that that the writers knew what they were doing.

The special effects, such as they are, are terrible.  I could write it off as a student film and get some enjoyment there, but it was filmed in 3D, so there is some money in this just not in the right places.

The outtakes at the end were funny.

Still though. Bad movie.

Tally: Watched 29,  New 25

What are you watching?

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Friday, October 25, 2013

My RPG Person Profile

This was cooked up by +Zak Smith over at his blog Playing D&D With Porn Stars.
It's a pretty cool idea really. I have seen a few others (linked below) so I figure I throw in my 2cents.

I'm currently running (at home):  D&D 3.5 Epic level game and AD&D 1st Ed start up

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (at home) include: See above.

I'm currently running (online): nothing

Tabletop RPGs I'm currently playing (online) include: Pathfinder

I would especially like to play/run: Basic D&D, WitchCraft, Mutants & Masterminds, Monster Hearts, Vampire the Masquerade, any version of Mage, Call of Cthulhu (any ed), Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space.

...but would also try: Feng Shui, Victoria, Victoriana 3rd Ed.

I live in: The NW Burbs of Chicago

2 or 3 well-known RPG products other people made that I like:  AD&D 1st Ed, WitchCraft, Chill

2 or 3 novels I like: Dracula, Lord of the Rings, most horror

2 or 3 movies I like:  Too many to name.  Most all horror, especially horror from the 70s.

Best place to find me on-line: Everywhere. Facebook, email, my blog Google+

I will read almost anything on tabletop RPGs if it's: Horror or Victorian

I really do not want to hear about: Nothing. I am pretty much open to everything.

I think dead orc babies are ( circle one: funny / problematic / ....well, ok, it's complicated because....): Depends on the game. In D&D they are usually collateral damage, in ShadowRun they are a plot point, in Orkworld they are a campaign about taking their souls back to wherever John Wick thinks Ork souls come from.

Game I'm in are like (link to something): Little guy or Anti-hero taking back the world from the grips of evil.  Plenty of monsters and over the top action, metal music and roots deep in the 80s  Or Trippy weird, gothy magical stuff or Sword & Sorcery with a bit of tongue in cheek humor, also with roots deep in the 80s.

Free RPG Content I made for OSR and Unisystem are available here on my Downloads page.
Also the Ghosts of Albion Quick Start Rules.

You can buy RPG stuff I made at DriveThruRPG, Amazon or at your FLGS
If you know anything about Dragons it'd help me with a project I'm working on

I talk about RPGs on mostly my blog and Facebook under the name Timothy S. Brannan or Tim Brannan. You  can find me on some forums ( and going back to the Usenet under the name Web Warlock.

I've Been Blitzed!

My recent post on the release of Eldritch Witchery is getting Blized by the Blog Blitz Team!

I have participated in all the Blog Blitzes before and it has been a great way to visit new blogs that I might not otherwise know about.  Many thanks to DL Hammons for setting this up.

I plan to visit everyone's blog that leaves a post, so please also leave a link back to your own blogs.

October Movie: Black Sunday (1960)

This is another one has been on my list to see for years.  Love Amazon Prime!

I first learned of this movie from scenes in the Queen video for "Under Pressure" which used a ton of old movie clips.  Some that they didn't have permission to use and had to redo it.

The movie is so iconic I wonder how I was able to go this long without seeing it.  Barbara Steele plays the witch Asa Vajda who is found cavorting with the Devil and in particular a vampire named Javuto.  She is sentenced to death by her own brother.  Before she is burned at the stake she curses her brother's family.  However before she is burned to ash a storm is raised and puts out the fires.  She dies, but is buried in unhallowed ground.

Fast forward to 200 years later and two doctors arrive in the village and find the grave. They remove the coffin lid They proceed to the nearest inn to stay the night.  With the spirit of Asa now free she begins to get revenge on her brother's family which is now a man and his two children, including a daughter that looks just like Asa.

For 1960 it is a fairly violent movie. And like I mentioned there are few very iconic scenes that I have seen in later movies.  Heck, the entire music video (not movie) of "Lords of Salem" and even to an extent "The American Witch" by Rob Zombie are homages to this movie.  I am kicking myself for not seeing this one sooner.

I like the idea of the witch coming back every 100 years.  We saw something similar in the Robert E. Howard tale "A Witch Shall be Born".

Here is Asa Vajda as an Eldritch Witchery witch.

Asa Vajda, 10th Level Witch (Demonic)
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 18

Hit Points:  25
Alignment: Evil
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Imp
7th level: Witches Curse

First: Black Flames, Bewitch I, Direct Gaze, Shattering the Hourglass, Sleep
Second: Burning Gaze, Discord, Fever, Youthful
Third: Bestow Curse, Cause Fear, Life Bond, Toad Mind
Fourth: Mind over Body, Withering Touch
Fifth: Control Weather

Tally: Watched 28,  New 24

What are you watching?

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spellcraft & Swordplay Character Sheet

Need a character sheet for your new witch character?

Here you go!
Spellcraft & Swordplay Character Sheet

Eldritch Witchery: Hex from Skylanders

It is no secret that I am a fan of the game Skylanders.  I even got caught up in all of the hype about collecting the figures and everything.  I am embarrassed (a little) to discuss the lengths I went too to get some of these figures.  There were other parents right there next to me, so I figured I was in good company.

Well just when we all though the madness was dying down, Activision released the new Skylanders Swapforce.  New game, new figures, and your old figures still work on it.  Here we go again.

I don’t think it is a stretch to  guess that my favorite character in the game is Hex, the dark elf witch of the “undead” element.  So given there is another new Skylanders game AND Eldritch Witchery is out I thought I would stat her up once again.

Here she is as an Eldritch Witchery warlock.

Hex, 13th Level warlock (Fraternity of Bones)

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 12

Hit Points:  30
Alignment: Unaligned Neutral
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Floating Skull (Spirit)
7th level: Necromantic Spell use, Hex can use Necromancer Spells
13th level: Summon Spirit (summons a skull spirit, 9HD Ghost)

First: Black Flames, Detect Spirits, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Minor Fighting Prowess, Sleep, Spirit Dart
Second: Agony, Death Armor, Discord, Ghost Touch, Levitate, Phantasmal Spirit
Third: Astral Sense, Cause Fear, Fly, Ghost Ward, Lesser Strengthening Rite, Speak with Dead
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Teleport
Sixth: Death Blade, Wall of Bones

Originally posted here:
This one takes advantage of new rules written since then.

Other stats:

October Movie: The Asphyx (1973)

This one has been on my list to see for years. With the Redemption Blu-Ray out now (they really should be paying me at this point!) I finally got to see it.

Worth the wait!

Great Victorian setting and like any good Victorian tale it mixes science with the supernatural.  In fact see if you can spot the portrait of Mary Shelly.
The story deals with a scientist that finds a way to photograph the moment of death.  On his plates he sees a shadow and believes he has captured the soul leaving the body.  On a happenstance he is filming his son and wife to be with his new moving pictures camera. His son loose control of his boat and dies.  On developing the film he sees the dark smudge rushing towards his son, not away.
Some experiments with a man being publicly executed our scientist, Hugo Cunningham, concludes he has found the fabled Asphyx or spirit of death.  Each living thing has it's own Asphyx so Cunningham devises a way to capture an asphyx and thus render someone immortal.  The try it on a Guinea Pig and it works.  Later Cunningham tries it on himself it works as well.

I don't want to give away more than that to be honest. The movie is a touch slow to get going, but you can tell it must have scared the crap out of people in the theatres back then.

I am glad I finally got to see this one.

Tally: Watched 27,  New 23

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #84

December 1986 issue of White Dwarf seems a little smaller that I thought it was supposed to be.
That is is explained by the new editor Mike Brunton.  The 8 new pages are being held till later and Paul Cockburn seems to be out.
The cover art by the way can best be described as Lovecraft's Night Before Christmas.  "Sanity Clause" by Ian Miller.  Cute.

Again we have 4 pages of Open Box.  Of note to me: the Children of the Atom for Marvel Super Heroes and the Advanced set is up.  This is about the time I was getting out of Marvel, both the game and the comic.  I still have some of the books and might revisit it one day.  I said that a WDWs back, but I haven't got around to it yet so I am not thinking I will any time soon.   Likewise DC Heroes, a game I wanted to like but never got into, has The King of Crime and Internity Inc.  Pete Tamblyn reviews all four books and enjoys them.  Graeme Davis doesn't care for the new Immortals module for D&D, Immortal Storm.  I can't say I disagree with him.  Though my experience with it comes much later and through the eyes of nostalgia.

Simon Nicholson has an interesting article on how to get messages across to or from player characters (and players) to other parts of the world in "Don't Call Us".  We tend to forget that the instant communication that we enjoy today is not the way it has been for the vast majority of human civilization.  I remember going to Epcot once at Disney World and going on their World of Tomorrow ride or something.  They showed us a world where communication was instant. My son, who must have been 6 or 7 at the time told me "Dad, we can do all this stuff now."  One of the things I think Ebberon does well that other campaign settings don't is show how magic is used in place of technology.  Communication is just another facet of that.

Shadow Magic is an adventure for AD&D for 8th to 9th level characters by Carl Sargent. It features some dragons in a domestic fight and some of the newer demons from MMII.  It is short and can work well as one of those "on the road" sort of adventures.

There is a trivia game made up to look like a Miskatonic U exam booklet.  Cute.

Wolves of the Sea is a bit more ambitious. It covers sea going adventure for role-playing games. Again there must have been something in the aether then since there seemed to be a lot of sea going adventures in magazines and the few groups I knew.  It is an interesting read and adaptable to most Fantasy RPGS.

A Paranoia Adventure. These all look the same to me.

Couple pages of letters...
Finally in Fracas we get the results of the Reader's Poll.
Gobildegook and Thrud are the most popular, 2020 Vision is the least.  I had the exact opposite opinion.
Best Cover was 79, the one I disliked.
Most people replying approve of the choice to do away with the departments.  If you recall I lamented that.
Most people liked Multisystem scenarios/adventures.  At least we agree!

I question my biases on continuing reading WD at this point!

I have to admit this issue seemed rushed.  Like they had a bunch of odds and ends at the end of the year and needed to use them.

October Movie: Little Witches (1996)

Another one on my list of movies to see.

I think I expected this one to be a little bit like The Craft. Yeah...not so much.
It is fairly derivative of other movies I have seen.  Though one is tempted to compare this to the TV version of Buffy, it did come out before Buffy hit the airwaves.
School girls, underground temple, ancient evil cult.  Though there are a couple of highlights.
First it is the acting debut of Clea Duvall.  Zelda Rubinstein is in it.  Sheeri Rappaport is not bad in it. And it was only filmed in two weeks.

There is a kernel of a good movie here, buried under cliches and mediocre acting, again Clea Duvall and Sheeri Rappaport are the exception here.   The demon at the end was neat, kinda like a poor man's Demogorgon.

Not much I could find in this to extract for a game that I haven't seen elsewhere.  Even though, a good take on this kind of story would be nice.  Though it would make for a rather thin plot for a Hellcats and Hockeysticks.

I was hoping for something more to be honest.

(not Fairuza Balk)

Tally: Watched 26,  New 22

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

October Movie: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013)

Of course I had to see this one.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters is a problematic movie.  For starters it really can't make up it's mind on what kind of movie it wants to be. Horror, action, comedy, camp.  It has it all, but unlike say Army of Darkness the mix here isn't quite right.
Hansel & Gretel are brother and sister like the Grimm Fairy tale, but they are now all grown up and hunting witches.  The seem to be immune to powers of witches, but not the power of candy.  Hansel is diabetic.

The film mixes a historical setting (never quite sure when it is supposed to be taking place) and modern sensibilities. The guns seem bigger for the time for example.

The story though itself is kind of neat.  A gathering of witches of various types is cool.  Two former victims immune to witch magic has a TON of potential.  Even mixing a couple of good witches and troll for good measure is nice.  So all the elements are there, but they never quite jell for me.  Though I won't lie, I had a lot of fun with this one.

Tally: Watched 25,  New 21

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The Art of Eldritch Witchery

One of the things that I love about working on RPG books is looking for art.  Sure there are other aspects I enjoy, but once I am done I love looking for art. It's like a treasure hunt for me.  But for Eldritch Witchery I knew EXACTLY what I wanted before I began.

Back when I was younger and wrote what would become by first ever witch I loved books on witchcraft, demonology and the occult.  I still do in fact. I love all the great artwork from these books, whether medieval woodcuts, drawings on pamphlets denouncing witchcraft on up to the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

One of the more influential books on my writing was Rossell Hope Robbins's "Encyclopedia of Witchcraft of Demonology".

For me it was not just a great book of ideas for my class in particular and D&D in general, it was also a manual of style.

It features fantastic works of art that I just knew I wanted to include in a book of my own.
Since Eldritch Witchery is my ode to Original D&D, I didn't want to include anything really new.

I also enjoyed adding art about fairy tale witches; an equally important aspect of my witch as the mytho-historical one.

While some of these (or similar ones) appeared in The Witch, for Eldritch Witchery I wanted just these sort of images.

I hope you enjoy this art as much as I do.  For me it really is like picking up a copy of The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology or even a copy of Eldritch Wizardry.

Eldritch Witchery is available now at DriveThruRPG!