Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday!

Today is the traditional "we ate like starving pigs, lets go out and spend an obscene amount of money on gifts" day.

But I like to use today (and tomorrow) to show my support to game companies.

This year I am throwing some cash at Kickstarter.  In particular Dungeon Module: The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.

It just looks so much fun!

It also has a Facebook page.

Return to the Keep, part 2

Brief one this late post Thanksgiving night.

The 1st Edition group was back at to the Keep on the Borderlands for supplies and reinforcements.  Spent a while haggling with merchants and buying more equipment.  Never quite got back to the caves yet, but it was more than I expected we would do.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are in the USA then I hope you are enjoying some time with your families.

Rest of the world. I hope you are enjoying your Thursday.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday, No White Dwarf, but something you can do

I am getting ready to go see my in-laws.
So no White Dwarf Wednesday today.

But you can do something. DriveThru has another bundle up to help the victims of the terrible storms we had over the last few weeks.
The third bundle is up and among other things you can get a copy of The Witch.  You pay 20 bucks, the money goes to charity and you get a bunch of great products donated from people like me.

After the Storm III [BUNDLE]

The second bundle is still up and worth a look.

After the Storm II [BUNDLE]

Go. And do good.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Books of Magic

I have been going over all the materials I have written over the years.

I have binders full of classes, spells, magic items.  For tons of different systems.

That "Ghosts of Albion" folder includes all my original notes from the play tests of Ghosts.  It has tons of spells on its own.  I wanted to hold on to them for a possible Ghosts update, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.  It seems like a shame to let them all go to waste.

So I am thinking of gathering up all this stuff and getting it out to you all.  More spells, magic items, maybe a class or two. The classes would not be as detailed as the witch.

I would aim to have it compatible with any an all old-school games.

Monday, November 25, 2013

New post over at Elf Lair Games

New post discussing Eldritch Witchery over at my publisher's site.

I have to say I am floored by the response EW has been getting.
It is has been selling great, far better than expectations, and the feedback is equally as positive.

Jason and I had a long conversation about the future of ELG and we are convinced that there is a little life in S&S and ELG after all!

Not sure what we want to do yet.  I have tons of material on my hard-drive.  But hopefully we will get some more things out to you soon.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tomb of Horrors

Today the Dragonslayers ventured into the most fabled of all dungeons, the infamous Tomb of Acereak himself. The Tomb of Horrors!

I am running the 3e version of this module with ideas stolen from the 4e version and the 2nd ed Return to the Tomb of Horrors.  Additionally we are using this map set to help us along the way.

So far so good.  My youngest loves the traps and he very meticulous on checking each one.  It was even his idea to use a 10' pole on the Green Devil Face to check for traps and he found the Sphere of Annihilation. He loves the puzzles and really has a brain for them.  My oldest prefers good old fashioned combat.  They both were able to guess the correct sequence of the Yellow/Blue/Orange gems right away.  Sure a couple of characters have been hit with some poison, but the brought plenty vials of healing, curing and cure poison.   Though they have taken quite a bit of hitpoint damage.

So far it has been a great followup to S4/WG4.
The Dragonslayers have now finished S4, S2 and now working on S1.  I wasn't going to do S3 (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks) but now I think I might.  It would be a lot of fun.

We played for 6 hours (or more) today and I think we can knock this one out fairly quickly.

Stevie Nicks on American Horror Story Coven

The writers for American Horror Story: Coven continue to pick ideas out of my head and will be featuring Stevie Nicks on an upcoming episode.

Seriously, it is like they read this blog! (Ok, I know they don't)

New Orleans? Check and check
Witchcraft Traditions? check
Stevie Nicks? Check
Witch Queens? Check.

Ok all of that is to be expected really.  But it has still been a really fun ride!

In other TV-Witch news, "Witches of East End" has been picked up for Season 2.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Zatannurday: Bloodspell updates

The oft delayed Bloodspell has gotten some updates recently.
Posts by Paul Dini and DC Women Kicking Ass.

Here is the Amazon link,

DC Women Kicking Ass reported these images:

Other updates have been posted here:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Skylla: Dragon Magazine #20 (and #5)

The first witch class that many people remember the best is the very good Dragon Mag #114 version.
It was the first one I remember seeing and using.

It was not long though before I discovered that there were other versions. In fact the 114 article mentions this.  I tracked down issue #43 (and 42, it had demons) and spent...well a lot on it.  That's how bad I wanted that issue.  It was worth it in my mind but I know I over paid.

The Witch in Dragon magazine has a nice long history.  The first version appeared as early as issue #5 (March '77).  It was basically an expanded NPC/Monster entry, but it introduced ideas adopted by every other witch class to appear afterwards; differences between good and evil witches, a mixing of clerical and magic-user powers and spells, and the High Secret Order.   I will go into these all in the detail they deserve in this and future posts.

The witch in Dragon #5 is an odd one for another reason. The editors claim that it was sent to them 18 months prior to publication.  So October 75.  There was no Dragon magazine then, just the Strategic Review which began in Spring of 75.  There is also no name on it. The claim is that it was sent to them anonymously.  It is possible I guess, though I also think it is likely that the authorship is known.   It had a number of new spells and magic items, but no advancement tables. This class/npc later appeared in the Best of The Dragon Vol 1.

Right now though I want to concentrate on the witch from Dragon #20 from November 1978.
For starters it is a complete class so that makes it ideal for comparing to my other classes.  It also marks one of the first of the Halloween themed issues.
This class was expanded by Ronald Pehr and based on the witch that appeared in issue #5.  This could also be one of the first examples of power creep in the game.  The witch gets a lot of powers (more so that other versions) and more XP per level than the Magic-user.
This witch gets spells up to 8th level. A split between the cleric's 7th level max and the magic-user's 9th level max.  The same thing I did for the Basic Witch.
The author says that the Witch has the same relationship to Druids as the Magic-User has to Clerics.
Witches in this variant are Neutral, but individuals can be good or evil.  Witches need a 13 in both Intelligence and Wisdom (I adjusted Skylla stats accordingly), they also need to have a minimum Charisma of 9.

Skylla from Dragon #20
Again I am making her 7th level, though 6th would have been just fine really.  If I had to name a Tradition for her it might the High Secret Order or even the Dragon Witch Tradition.

Not exactly Skylla, but really close
Skylla, 7th Level Witch "Enchantress" (Dragon #20)
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 14*
Wisdom: 13*
Charisma: 12

Hit Points:  20
Alignment: Neutral Evil
AC: 4 (Ring of Protection +1)

1st level: Brew poisons, narcotics, hallucinogens
2nd level: Make a Bag of Holding
3rd level: Brew Love Potions
4th level: Dance of Seduction
5th level: Add Plus 1 to Charisma
6th level: Brew Truth Drug
7th level: Read Magic, Druid, Illusionist scrolls

First: Give Wounds, Cure Wounds, Detect Magic
Second: Detect Invisible, Locate Object, ESP
Third: Charm, Phantasmal Forces

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Staff of Enchantment, Skull of Death**

Skull of Death (from Dragon #5): A huge charred bejewelled dragon skull to be worn like a helmet.
The wearer may mentally command any undead characters (up to three dice in number) at any range. Other powers imbued in the wearer are “The Finger of Death” and “Animate Dead”, and these two powers may be used repeatedly. The wearer will regenerate from combat damage at the rate of 5 points/turn, even if killed (unless beheaded).

A LOT more powers, but a smaller and very different selection of spells.
I also gave her the Skull of Death from Dragon #5 since that is what it looks like she is wearing anyway.

Other Skylla writeups

BAMF Girls Club Special Guest. You will never guess Who!

Sorry couldn't help it.  Either with the bad pun or posting this.

The next episode of the BAMF Girls Club is up.

Are you ready for the 50th?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Across The Sea of Years

A dual stated adventure across Time and Space for.... well that is what I don't know yet.

I have always toyed with the idea of running a game at a con, say like Gen Con where I have multiple days, where it is the same group of characters, or their reincarnations or their children, across time and different systems.   My systems of choice would be Unisystem and some flavor of D&D.  Likely Basic.

I have done similar ideas in Season of the Witch, where I took in ideas from different games to get a different feel.  Generation HEX was conceived as using a different system each game, but that never worked out.

This idea though is two plan a game that takes place in the past, present and maybe future.  Each game is seperate unto itself, but builds a bigger story.

One idea I had was a adventure named "Synchronicity" where characters from Ghosts of Albion meet up with their counterparts from Buffy.  But that is only one, albeit long, game. Plus the system for Ghosts and Buffy is the same.

Another game I have played before is Blight for Ghosts of Albion.  It takes place in 1847 and is an unofficial sequel to my Dark Druid for Buffy (that takes place in an alternate 2001). There is a third adventure in the mix, All Souls Night, which was always designed to go with my Eire game.
I would retool Blight just a bit.  But the Dark Druid is designed for new characters, so the big bad introduced is not all that big and bad.  It works though if I run them in something like a past life regression.

The other idea I had was an adventure around the rise and fall of Elizabeth Bathory.
D&D for when she was alive and you have to stop her (though to be 100% fair, an adventure like that screams LotFP), Ghosts of Albion when she is prowling the streets of Victorian London, and something else (Call of Cthulhu maybe) for later.

I have also over the years toyed with the idea of Doctor Who, Star Frontiers, and Alternity (yeah I have been thinking about this one for a while) for the future.  I think the idea came to me when I wanted to run a hunt Jack the Ripper and I thought back to the old Star Trek episode "A Wolf in the Fold" and to the movie "Time After Time".  Jack the Ripper is still an interesting idea. A time traveling serial killer/entity could make a fun opponent.

Lots of ideas really, but nothing has really jelled yet for me.  Once I have the right story idea and roll for the characters then the system will be easier to decide on.

Anyone done anything like this before?  What did you do and what did you use?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #88

April 1987 brings us White Dwarf #88 and thankfully very little of the silliness that plagued Dragon mag in the month of April.  Mike Brunton even parodies this (a little unsuccessfully) in the editorial page.  But before that let's get to the cover.  I like it.  It is named "Dragonlady" by David Gallagher.  I can't see a date on the cover, but it looks older than 87.  Love the whole punk rock look of the Dragonlady.

So there is a fallacy in many gaming circles that "older" = "better" for some games.  That is certainly not true with this issue.  There are a some stylistic changes that bring it closer to the modern WDs, but time wise it is still closer to the WD of the late 70s early 80s than it is with the ones of today.

Briefly in things that interested me:

Open Box covers H2 The Mines of Bloodstone module.  I have the H series. And I desperately wanted to make them work, but they really don't.  Everything that is disliked in the adventure is magnified in the last of the series, H4.  I went through H4 and I might run it again someday with some the information from the previous modules (H1, 2 and 3), but I wont use this module for many of the reasons listed here (time wasting encounters, killer funhouse style dungeon, ill-planned Battle System tie-in, way too much treasure).

Some reviews on various books for the big tie-in Supers games, DC Heroes and Marvel Super Heroes.  This was a golden age for Supers games in my mind.  I wish I had played them more, but at this point I was wrapping an epic AD&D game and working all the time for extra money for college.

The Paddington Horror is a scenario for Call of Cthulhu by Marcus Roland.  It doesn't seem bad and I do seem to remember this one begin planned when I checked out the SIU Strategic Games Society.  I remembered because it was an example of an adventure I knew I could get my hands on.  Plus I always thought it would be funny if the cover had that kids  book Paddington Bear only with tentacles.

Hm..some Judge Dredd stuff.  Miss the days when the ads were all at the end of the magazine.

Fate Points in Warhammer.

New cards for Chainsaw Warrior (also reviewed in Open Box) my issue does not have the cards.

A RuneQuest III adventure.  Not dual or multi-stated.

There are some pages about assassins for AD&D.  Not too different than things I have read elsewhere.  Must have been something in the water back then.  My favorite character at the time was an assassin.

A little on Blood Bowl. A game that looked really stupid to me in the past, but now I kinda want to play.

Ending with Letters and ads.

Ok so. Not a great issue by any means.  It's only saving grace in my mind was it did not fall into the stupidity that Dragon did every April.  But I'd take Nogard over boring any day.

Pathfinder: Advanced Class Guide Playtest

The newest public beta test for Pathfinder is now up. The Advanced Class Guide Playtest.

This new book introduces new classes that are a combination of two other classes.
Very similar to what WotC was doing with "hybrid" classes back in the 4e days.

I liked the idea of hybrid classes to be honest, take a little from two classes and combine them into one class.

The 4e approach made it feel like each character was unique, the Pathfinder approach makes it feel like it is a new class.

I am sure there are things in this that people could adopt for their old-school or osr game, but for me I am more interested in how to use it my Pathfinder game.  True, I am running near the end of my 3.x game, but I am currently playing Pathfinder.

Yes. There is a "hybrid" of their witch class in here. The Shaman combine the witch with an oracle.
Neat idea, but not what I would have done.  If you are going to combine a witch and an oracle then I am thinking "Sybil" is a better name. Though given that it focuses on spirits, "shaman" is not really that far off.

I am going to read over it more but this might give me the framework to try out a class I have been wanting to play for a while; The Green Witch.  A Green Witch combines the best of the witch and druid classes into a potent divine spellcaster.   Back in the early 3.0 days I had it as a multi-class path.  Later I tried to make a Prestige class for it, but I didn't like how it worked.  Not sure what to do with the Druid's Wild Shape ability just yet, but I think I have an idea or two.

The druid Nature Bond and the witch Patron would get rolled up into one concept.
Likewise an Animal Companion and Familiar become one.

I am thinking something very Miyazaki influenced. With a dash of neo-paganism (maybe even Eco-Pagan) and animism.  Though I would like a different name.  "Green Witch" is great, but not evocative enough of it's druidic background.  Yeah, yeah I am introducing "Tree Hugers" to D&D, but a tree huger that will kill you if you mess with their forests.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Clone, but is this the Rosetta Stone?

There is another retro-clone game out on the market.  Fantastic Heroes & Witchery.

Now, while I enjoy clones I am not sure we need yet another one.  So I took a look at this.



First it is really attractive has some great layout and some very cool old-school art.

Plus once I started reading through it I recognized the art and finally the name of the author/artist.
It was made by an old friend Dominique Crouzet.
Dom had helped me back in 2000 on the original Netbook of Witches and Warlocks.  We had also submitted a game world (Shadow Earth) together to WotC.  They went with this other world, Eberron.
(Some of what was to be Shadow Earth lived on in Eire and in Eldritch Witchery).

What I think is best about this game is in how it tries to be the middle ground between the pure old school games of Basic and 1st/2nd eds, but also the newer 3.x games and the OSR games.
Critics will say there is nothing at all new here. Sure, but that misses the point I think.

What we have here is a game framework that can either be played as a game (and it looks like it is a fun one) OR used as a Rosetta Stone when translating other game products.

Dom put a lot of work into this.  This isn't some "cheap copy and paste job on Lulu". It is a fully playable game with ideas that are very familiar and some new ones as well.

The current PDF is free and there are print versions on Lulu.
And it is pretty much 100% compatible with The Witch.  Just use the Wizard advancement table and replace "Signature Spell" with "Ritual Spell".

EDITED TO ADD: Dom actually uses The Witch as an example on page 393.  He says:

Lets take for example the witch class from The Witch by Tim Brannan (this is a PDF ebook available on In this case you could distribute its special abilities as follows: “Least, Herb Use” at 1st level; “Lesser” at 3rd level; “Minor” at 5th level; “Medial” at 7th level; “Major” at 9th level; and “Superior” at 11th level.

I completely concur!

I wish Dom nothing but the best on this!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Winter is...well not here just yet

I tried. I did. And I failed.

I tried watching Game of Thrones and didn't make it past the first 4 episodes.  I might try again.
I just tried reading the book and only got about half-way through it before putting it down in favor of picking up the Hobbit again.

This weekend in Illinois was a good metaphor for this. Winter had been coming then it was in the 60s (with tornadoes) all weekend.

Recently I had been a big Conan kick thanks to +Jason Vey and I was impressed on how good they were now reading as an adult than when I tried reading them as a kid.  I had hoped that GoT was going to be similar in that respect (better than I remembered).  No such luck.

Though I love the imagery of a long winter coming after a period of long summer, I would have thought the people of the world would have been more anxious about it's coming.  Maybe in later books.  Still though I could not help but think this was the same planet from the 4th Doctor's Key to Time episode, The Ribos Operation.  Something I am planning on using in my current AD&D game.

Maybe I should try to reread Jack Vance now.  I actually enjoyed what little I read of the Dying Earth books.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Return to the Keep

We got a chance to get back to the Keep on the Borderlands and the Cave of Chaos today.  They cleared out one cave system and high-tailed it back to the keep to report on the growing threat.  The characters took some time to heal, regroup and restock.

The NPCs that had been travelling with them will come back, the Cinco Hermanos (the Keep is modeled in my game after Spanish missons and castles, so everyone in the Keep speaks Spanish).  They have also picked up a couple of other characters. An assassin pretending to be a thief, a healer (NPC) and a Forester (or maybe an Unseen).  The Healer and the Unseen are classes from Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts.  The wizard of the group is going to drift more towards Pyromancy so I am going to let my son use the Pyromancer spells from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.   This will work out well since I am gong to start drifting towards my "older, bolder, colder" world that AS&SH supports.

They have not run into Dr. Zabaza yet, but I'll keep you all posted!

This group doesn't have a name yet.  I'll need to figure something out.

Spamming Hyperborea

So I was going back over some AS&SH posts in prep for today's game and I saw this as a comment:
I am Alan from Finland and I have always look forward for this day to tell the world about the the great powers of Dr.Zabaza. This great man called Dr.Zabaza was able to bring back my lover who left me, And within the space of 48 hours Dr.Zabaza brought my lover back and since then my love life have been more lovely and peaceful than i ever had. You can also strengthen your relationship or get your lover back by contacting Dr.Zabaza on or call him on +XXXXXXXXXXXXX and i assure you that you will get a better relationship after the help of Dr.Zabaza

You can read the original here:

I think Dr. Logan Zabaza needs to become my next evil NPC.  Obviously some sort of evil wizard. Given that "Alan" is from Finland maybe some LotFP influences should be added!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Zatannurday: Injustice Videos

I'll admit I have not been keeping up on Injustice: Gods Among Us.
But I figure with everyone so excited about the release of the PS4 (I am not getting one yet) I'd see if this is something I still want to put on my Christmas list.

In my research I found these great videos of Zatanna and some Zatanna game play.

Here is a long one, Zee vs. other magic using characters. The bit vs. Raven was neat.
The players don't know much about the character...but that is fine.

Still though. I want this game.

This one is a walk through of Zatanna's ladder to defeat Superman.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Skylla: Spellcraft & Swordplay: Eldritch Witchery

For my first conversion of Skylla I wanted to start as far back as I could while still using a proper "Witch" class.  Plus I want to do something that is more similar to a "wizard" class.  For those reasons I am choosing to use Spellcraft & Swordplay (since it is very much like OD&D) and the warlock class from Eldritch Witchery.

A few conceits.
- While the original Skylla was 6th level, I am going to stat all my versions as 7th level.  The reasoning is that a lot of my witch classes gain a power at 7th level and many others have at lease one power by that point.
- I am also working under the assumption that Skylla began as a good character, either as a good witch or a good magic-user/wizard and then soon became evil.  By 6th level she is unrepentant chaotic evil.  So her initial options as a character would be the ones a good character might choose.
- I am keeping her same stats, but I am going to rearrange them so her Prime Attribute always has the highest value (in this case 15).
- I am going to try to give her the same or similar spells from her original stats.

Skylla from Eldritch Witchery
I choose the Warlock class since it seems to fit my narrative of her. Warlocks are "betrayers" and evil typically, but they don't have to be.  You can use Eldritch Witchery to make a good Warlock.  Evil just happens to be easier.  Also Warlocks are an advanced class of Wizards (Magic-Users) so it fits.

She belongs to the Goetic Lodge. Figured that it was the best choice to fit a character that wanted to seek out more magic.

Skylla, 7th Level warlock (Goetic)
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 15*
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 11

Hit Points:  25
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 3 (Ring of Protection +1)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Elemental Sprit
7th level: Summon 6HD Elemental to do her bidding (typically she likes fire and air)

First: Charm Person, Light, Read Magic, Spirit Dart
Second: Detect Invisible, Knock, Levitate
Third: Bestow Curse, Slow, Wizard Lock
Fourth: Elemental Armor

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Staff of Enchantment, demon helm (+1 saves vs. demons and charming magic, +1 AC)

Some rearrangement of spells but still comes close.  There is no Staff of Commanding in S&S, but there is the Staff of Enchantment which fills the same niche.

Eldritch Witchery in Print

You can now get Eldritch Witchery in softcover print format.

Makes for a great Christmas gift!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Doctor Who: Night of the Doctor

In case you have been sleeping this came out today.

I think it is great that Paul McGann is getting his due screen-time.  And long time readers here know of my enjoyment of the Sisterhood of Karn.

Cubicle 7 also plans to release a hardcover of their Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space.

I think I am going to celebrate a little and run some Doctor Who this weekend instead of the AD&D 1st ed game we planned.  Though I think I might run Ghost Tower of Inverness, IL.
Should be great.

Skylla, Evil Magic User

I reviewed Module XL1 Quest for the Heartstone recently and among other things it had the stats for a character I knew very little about.

Skylla was an evil magic-user for the LJN/AD&D toy figure line.
She never made it to the larger "Action figure" as far as I can tell, but instead was one of the smaller "collectible" figures, abut 2" tall.

She comes up every so often on eBay, and she never appeared in the D&D cartoon to my knowledge.

Here is what is said on her card:

"while wizards are the most powerful of magic users, the female must be considered even more special. In a world where every hand is turned against her she has risen in a field that is difficult indeed. Able to cast magical spells of awesome power, she will go to any lengths to win her private battles. Often this type of person can be counted on to use magical devices of great power. Glowing slaves. Rings, and amulets are constantly found in the possession of such a person much to the horror of her enemies." was 1983.

While I want to say I never saw her before and I honestly don't remember the character, there are some similarities with this character and a witch I made around the same time.  I pulled up her stats from Quest of the Heartstone.

Yeah. That is Larry Elmore doing the Skylla art.
A couple other things jump out at me. She is 6th level so her "name level" is "Warlock", or in old D&D Expert, a "Witch".   Plus the Italian version of the character refers to her as "La Strega" which also means, the witch.

She also appeared in The Shady Dragon Inn supplement.

SKYLLA™ Evil Magic-User
S 9; I12; W 8; C 9; D 11; CH 11; AL C;
LV 6; AC 8; hp 22; P/D 11; MW 12;
S/P 11; DB 14; SP/MS 13; THACO 17
[16 using dagger +1]
Spells: 1st Level: light, magic missile.
2nd Level: detect invisible, levitate.
3rd Level: hold person, lightning bolt.
Wears ring of protection +1; carries dagger
+1, staff of commanding (10 charges).

SKYLLA™ Evil Magic-User has silvery dark hair, stands 5'10", weighs 131 lbs., and has flashing dark eyes. She favors gray clothing, although she always wears her golden demon headress and her golden demon girdle. SKYLLA carries a magical staff, a staff of commanding. Once she was a student of RINGLERUN's, but when she was exposed to the Heartstone, she began to seek out the evil, harmful side of magic.
Her lust for power grew until she broke away from the good magician, seeking personal gain and power. Because the Heartstone did not affect RINGLERUN, she has grown to hate him for what she feels is his "soft and stupid" use of magic.

Her stats are quite similar to a witch character I had been using (and still use) at the time.
Also her concept, a magic-user that uses a lot of magic items, is not unique (there was one in the Myth Adventures books) was also something I had done for my witch.

This is all a rather fortunate find for me really!

I needed a new adversary to work with that had a history with one of my witch characters.  I was going to go with Iggwilv, but she is way too big.  Skylla here is perfect.
Also, I wanted a witch character I could use to compare the various witch books I have.  I wanted someone around 6-7th level. I needed someone with "normal" stats and someone that would not take me hours to stat up.  I was going to go with my own witch character (again), but none of you have the connection to her that I do.  So the reading might be a little dull.

Skylla is perfect for all of this.
I can develop the character as I stat her up to compare systems.  Win all around.
Besides. Playing around with a chaotic evil witch will be fun.  I plan on using her (in some way) in my kids 1st Ed game this weekend.  They are still working through the Cave of Chaos.

In the meantime I'll also keep looking for more information on her.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I am not afraid: Disney's Maleficent Official Teaser Trailer

The new Teaser Trailer for Maleficent is now up.

Many thanks to +Joseph Bloch for getting this link to me!  We both will need to stat her up with our respective witch classes.

It looks fantastic.

White Dwarf Wednesday #87

White Dwarf Wednesday takes us to issue number 87 from March 1987.
Again we are graced with another rather "Heavy Metal"-esque style cover. It is another Frank Brunner cover, this time from 1982.

Mike Brunton tells us that there are more changes coming to WD in the future. Including a 16 page adventure format that was introduced previously with the RuneQuest adventure.

Open Box covers the new and cheaper RuneQuest rules. The rules do not have a "proper" GM section according to the reviewer Peter Green.  The change would be regarded as a "money grab" in today's circles. But other games seemed to be immune to the edition wars that plague D&D and it's clones.  
Green and Pleasant Land is the long awaited British source book for England and Great Britain.  
The other interesting tidbit here are the reviews for the AD&D adventure modules "Day of Al'Akbar" and "Ravenloft: House on Gryphon Hill" two adventures I went through then and have run since.  The reviewer, Carl Sargent, makes note of Jeff Easley's cover of DaAA, calling sexploitation and "soft core". er. ok. Frankly my biggest issue with the image was would harem girls have 80s hair?  He also thinks Gryphon Hill is a worth successor to the original Ravenloft.  It is fun, but not quite up to the same quality in my mind.

Open Box X-tra goes into detail on Warhammer Fantasy.  Similar to what they did last time with the Dragonlance modules.  The article would have been more interesting if it hadn't been full of "this is the way D&D does it and its wrong! we do it like this!"  Yeah, ok, it is not as bad as that and comparisons are inevitable, but the game should stand on it's own.

The comics are next, the new acquisition, Derek the Troll and Thrud the Barbarian.

The highlight for me is the treatise on Zombies in Call of Cthulhu.  A bunch of different zombie types are covered including the common one found in D&D, the "voodoo" zombie and parasitic infection.  We are still few years out yet from GURPS Voodoo or Eden's "All Flesh Must Be Eaten" but this works very well.

We get three adventures up next.
Night of Blood for Warhammer Fantasy, Taurefanto for MERP and Happiness is Laser Shaped for Paranoia.  All in all a lot of pages devoted to adventures.

We wrap it all up with letters, ads and some coming attractions in the various Warhammer lines.

The Call of Cthulhu bit on Zombies is neat and there are still a number of games still be supported, but the issue itself leaves me feeling a bit flat to be honest.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

You know I am going to see this...

It's been a good time for witches on TV lately, movies look like they are not too far behind.

Review: XL1 Quest for the Heartstone (D&D Expert Set)

Module XL1 Quest for the Heartstone is an adventure for the D&D Expert set, Mentzer/BECMI version.

Let's be honest and upfront right away.  This is not a great module.   The adventure is widely described as being akin to everyone's first module.  The adventure is your basic "retrieve an item at the end of a dungeon crawl" fare.

The real reason behind this module are the toys.  Specifically the LJN/AD&D toy line.

In fact you can pretty find an entry for every monster in the toy line, save for Tiamat herself.

Now I am not sure if the module was designed to sell toys (not likely since the markets seemed different to me) or rather as way to bridge the lines.  There are references in the module n which toy to use for the encounter and to tell you the truth, it sounds kind of fun.

Reviewing the module again in this light, as an excuse to use the toy line, it actually dawns on me that it would be a blast with the right group.

It should also be said that this module includes the stats for many of the favorite npcs/figures such as Warduke, Kalek and Strongheart, plus a few I didn't even know about.

So viewing the module in this light, is could be quite fun despite it's short comings.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Link roundup

I have a bunch of links for you all today.

Cartoon Action Hour 3 is out.
Click here to buy it with a Veteran's Day Discount (this link will add it directly to your cart)

A couple of Vampire-realted Kickstarters to talk about.

First is an adventure for old-school gaming.
AD&D 1e Module: The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen
It looks fun and I am sure I will put in some cash for it.
I have been working on my own "Vampire Queen" adventure.  I am just not very good at making publishing quality maps.

The other is Vampire-like game
Feed, the Vampire Mythos RPG
Don't know about this one yet.  Again I have a ton of games. Heck I have a ton of "vampire" games. So I have no need for this one, but if it looks cool I might pick it up.
I will give the creator Kris Newton an "A" for effort.  Thew PDF will be free and released under the Creative Commons License. He also has videos up about designing the game.  That is more original content on one page than in the entire line of some other vampire games.

Gavin Norman over at The City of Iron is looking for some crowd sourced ideas for his Vivimancer class supplement.  The Vivimancer made his appearance in his Theorems & Thaumaturgy book, another fun old-school style magic users book.
Check out what he is doing and contribute something.

The  Original Edition Dungeons & Dragons reprint is out and Jason Vey has a review up.

DriveThruRPG is starting up their Teach Your Kids to Game week.
All sorts of sales on kid-friendly games.

Swords & Wizardry Complete

Frog God Games has announced that it is giving away Swords & Wizardry Complete.
Not a no-art version or even limited version, but the entire game free of charge.

You can go to their website and grab a free PDF (print still costs you).
or you can also get it here (from my downloads).

You can also get copies of their other rule sets based on it for free as well.

While not my go-to game, it is a lot of fun and great set of rules for old-school gaming.

Though I do have to admit that Erol Otis cover is rather cool.

If you have The Witch or Eldritch Witchery then you can download my S&W conversion guide to play a Swords & Wizardry Witch.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Review: Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3

I just got my pdf of Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 thanks to pledging in their Kickstarter.

This one was a no-brainer for me.  I loved CAH:S2 and have really enjoyed all of Spectrum Games products to date.

How does CAH:S3 stack up?  In an 80's word, Awesome!

CAH:S3 takes us back to the 80s Saturday morning (and week day afternoon) cartoons AND the toys that were so linked to them.   But I am getting ahead of myself.

And while I am still ahead of myself this game has the most awesome character sheet EVER!

Cartoon Action Hour: Season 3 (CAH:S3) is a game about cartoon and toy emulation. Specially 80s cartoons and toy emulation.  So there are some things that a given out of the box.  You won't see any deaths. Violence happens in terms of gun fire, explosions and maybe a fist fight, but you won't see people getting hurt.  There is a moral or message to every "episode"  and the bad guy is going to get away in the end only to be back next time like nothing happened.

The book, like Season 2, is divided into "Channels".  Channel 1 is the intro material, Channel 2 is the game system, Channel 3 is series creation (potentially more important than the characters themselves), Channel 4 is all about the Players, Channel 5 is the Game Master's section and finally we have an Appendix.

Channel 1 is the simple introductory material, but more over there is a great overview of how these cartoons (and this game) worked. There is a logic at work here in these and to get the most out of this game it is one you should follow.  The best feature of this Channel is of course the overview of the 80s cartoons.  It's not a laundry list of every toon, but a selective "bibliography" and must see TV.  

Channel 2 covers the game system itself.  In many games this is the Character creation chapter, but since character creation and series creation are so closely tied together we will discuss the system first.   The game is made up of a Series (the game), Seasons (a campaign), Episodes and Scenes.  Characters are PCs and GMC (Game Master Characters).  A Season for example is made up of 6 Episodes.  I might stick with my more familiar 12 and allow a mid-season break.  Why is this important? At season breaks is when you can improve your character or change it all together.

Characters are made up of Traits and Qualities.  Traits are something definitive about the character like "Strongest Man in World" or "Sneaky Thief" or "Leader of the Decipti-bots".  Stuff like that.  Qualities are more quantifiable and are measured based on how powerful your series is.  Characters can also be ranked in terms of their Star Power.  Stars (and PCs) have the highest at 3, your nameless, faceless goon has 1.  If there is only one star, then they are Star Power 4.

Oomph is the power-, hero- or drama point mechanic.  Collect "Proofs of Purchase" to get more Oomph!
It is equal to your Star Power but changes through out the game.

The basic mechanic of the game is the Check.
Traits and Qualities (and Oomph) add to the dice rolls on a Check.

Characters may not die, but they can loose an important scene.  For that there are Setback Tokens.  These Crucial Checks are usually the ones right before a commercial break or even worse, the ones at the end of an episode and continued next time (granted there were not a lot of those, but GI Joe first season comes to mind).  Gain more Setbacks than your Star Power and you are out of the scene.

Season 3 has something new in it, or at least something I don't recall from Season 2. Gestalts.  This allows you to combine powers, bodies or whatever into something greater.  Think Voltron or some Transformers.

I think one of the rules I like the most here is "The Movie" which allows you, within the game, to throw out some of conceits of the game.  So in this characters can die! Bad guys hit their targets!  Mechanically you get more Oomph and damage and Setback tokens are not removed as often (no commercials after all) the risks are higher but characters that make it out gain experience and can be changed.  Think "The Transformers Movie" from 1986.

Channel 3 covers Series Creation. Wait, where is Character creation you ask? Well it's here too.  Series and Characters are created together.  You can't have GI Joe without the Joes or Transformers without the Autobots.  First this is create a Series guideline.  First figure out what your series in named and it's tagline.  So the example I used last time was The Hex Girls with the tagline "We'll put a spell on you!".   Next up figure out the details of the series. Tech level, twists, genre.  What is your elevator pitch on this.  "Modern Earth, magic is real, but no one believes in it. Characters are supernaturals and try to lead normal lives." Something like that, only more detail.   The newest feature of the series creation is the Dial. Dials tell you the levels of the game.  How comedic is it? How realistic? What's the violence?

Now we get into character creation.
Characters are ranked as either human, superhuman or cosmic.  The GM will decide, based on the series, on what traits can't be used, or limits on the traits and other details before the characters are made.   So as an example a series about wizard kids must all have a trait "Wizard" at 3 or better, but no technology-based traits.
After that character creation is a breeze.
There are some special abilities and then we discuss GMC (Game Master Characters). They are created much the same way, only less details.  Some templates such as goons and Master Villains are presented.
Playsets are where the action takes place and they are created in a similar way.
How cool is this sheet?
Character advancement is handled next.  Among the obvious places for advancement you can also put in points to the playset to upgrade your base.  So something like in Season 2 getting a new super smart computer in the base or a new book of spells.

We end with 8 series ideas.

Channel 4 covers advice to the Players.  A game like CAH requires a lot of buy in from the players.  You can't go into it like you do other games.  This is not "Dungeons & Dragons" this is the "Dungeons & Dragons cartoon".  So the players have to go in with the right frame of mind.  You want your game to be like the first season of G.I. Joe where everyone worked together, not the seasons that featured (and were dominated by) Sgt. Slaughter.

Channel 5 has similar advice for the Game Master.  Again emphasis here is placed on cartoon logic, and creating a fun series and episode. Don't forget the "And Now You Know" messages at the end! That's not a bug, it's a feature of the game.

In the end what we have is a crazy fun game again.  If you were a kid in the 80s and watched any cartoons then there is something here for you.  It is also a great change of pace from all the other games I play. This game focuses on having fun as well as being fun.

There are no conversions for CAH:S2 here.  But the conversions look simple to be honest.  Enough that I feel fine moving characters from one to the next with little to no effort.

Character Creation is much improved in this edition and much more streamlined.  Series creation is about the same, but it was just right in the last version.

Looking forward to doing a lot more with this one!


Zatannurday: Cartoon Action Hour Season 3

With the release of Cartoon Action Hour Season 3 I thought it might be fun to do Zatanna's stats as if she were a guest star on the Super Friends show!

Of course Zatanna was never on the Super Friends, which is too bad.  I would have loved her even then.
Here she is!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Magical Theorems and Dark Pacts (Print)

A while back I reviewed the PDF of Dyson Logos Magical Theorems and Dark Pacts.  Since I enjoyed it so much and can't get enough spells or spell casters I picked up a print copy from Lulu.

It is a great looking little book to be honest.

Excuse the upside down picture, but it does show that the text is crisp (it's the camera that is blurry) and the print is near offset. Lulu is getting better and this is really opening up a lot avenues for the small press publisher.

I wanted to add this to show the relative size.  I plan on using the books together anyway.

Actually it is more compatible with this book.  The wizards in MT&DP are powerful ones, so using them with any gritty game (like Spellcraft & Swordplay or Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea) isn't going to work out as nice.

I am happy I picked this up.

Non-Gaming: So Long Blockbuster

A non gaming post this morning (plus I still have a bad migraine that I can't shake).

Blockbuster has announced it is closing the last of it's 300 stores and it's mail-in Netflix-like service.

While I am sad at the passing of an era and I feel bad bad about those loosing their jobs, I do not mourn the passing of Blockbuster.

Once Blockbuster could be found in every strip mall in suburbia and a store in every town.  That was it's appeal to so many.  Not to me.  I disliked that Blockbuster came in and more or less destroyed the Mom and Pop video stores that had sprung up in the 80s.  I remember renting many old horror movies on Laser Disk (yeah I had one of those) and VHS.  When Blockbuster came to town with their far cheaper rental prices I wasn't a fan.  I had rented Hellraiser once to show a girlfriend at the time and noticed how much of it was cut out.  Yeah they had either edited it themselves (not likely, but that is what I thought at the time) or only stocked edited versions.  No thanks.

While I marked the passing of Borders with sadness of something I had lost, I have not been in a Blockbuster in I don't know how long.  Between Netflix, OnDemand and Amazon Prime streaming services I have unprecedented access to viewing options.

So goodnight Blockbuster. Be kind, please rewind.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Basic Library

Migraine today...can't really think.  Just looking through some of my PDFs.

The older I get the more I desire simpler games.  I don't think it has much to do with age as it does with experience.  I have been doing the rpg thing since the late 70s.  Scores of games and variations on the same rules.  I don't really need a lot of detailed rules; I am happy to wing it half the time.

That is one of the reasons I enjoy Basic D&D so much.
Everything I want is there, and nothing I don't want.  Though there are some things it is "missing" for me.
Thankfully I have the OSR.

Here is my Basic Library books.
These are the core of my current gaming.
Dungeons & Dragons: Basic Set
Dungeons & Dragons: Expert Set

What ever is not covered above I can get from AS&SH. Plus it has a lot of great monsters and a good feel for my games.
Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

Various add-ons presents as a "Book 3" or Companion rules.
B/X Companion
Companion Expansion
Basic Arcana

And some extra spells.
The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games

And some books to add bits here and there.
Adventurer Conqueror King System
Adventurer Conqueror King System Player's Companion
Magical Theorems & Dark Pacts
Adventures Dark and Deep Bestiary
All sorts of classes from Barrel Rider Games

And of course a new adventure to take everyone through.
The Shrine of St. Aleena

Ok, so maybe not as simple as I thought.

Favorite Witch Contest!!

Well the contest ended last night while I was out with a migraine.
I have emailed the winners and waiting for confirmation.

But I hate waiting so here they are!

Grand Prize, winning a copy of both Eldritch Witchery and The Witch is:
Mark Craddock

Winning a copy of Eldritch Witchery is:
Justin Ryan Isaac

And a copy of The Witch is:
Chris Copeland

Thanks you everyone that participated!  I hope to some more fun things soon.

So who did you get in witches?
Willow was an early favorite, no surprise.
Medea, classic is always good.
The Sanderson Sisters
Glinda, Elphaba and other variations of them from Oz and Wicked
Helena Markos (Suspiria)
Howl (Howl's Moving Castle)
Tenkar's Sister! ;)
Baba Yaga (a fave of mine as well)
Gandalf's versions got a few nods
Julian Sand's Warlock from Warlock (which I will admit I enjoyed too)
Tara, of course!
We got a Harry Potter (but no Hermoine)
Thulsa Doom from the Conan movie.
A couple for Practical Magic (also a fave)
Krabat (have not heard of this guy)

THANK YOU everyone for participating!
I loved reading your choices.

For anyone that has already picked up Eldritch Witchery the file was updated last night to include some errata and the newer cover.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #86

February 1987 gives us White Dwarf #86.  The cover looks like it is an older style than the others.  Closer look shows it is from 1978.  Mike Brunton gives us a long editorial on how WD is made.

Open Box hits us up with The Price of Freedom from West End Games.  In my mind this was the golden age of WEG, or just when they get the Star Wars game.  The Price of Freedom is one their big games, though I never cared for it.  For starters it has the same problem that the movie "Red Dawn" had, that the idea of Soviets invading America was crazy at best.  Ashley Shepherd likes the game, but hopes it is tongue-in-cheek.  Other items include Paranoia HIL SECTOR Blues and Hawkmoon.  I have talked about Paranoia before.  Hawkmoon the game suffers the same problems that Hawkmoon the novels has. Namely, the problem is "it is not Elric".   Hawkmoon is played as a game, but it can be played as a supplement to Stormbringer. Hawkmoon, like the books, deals with more tech than magic.
For D&D we have Adventures in Blackmoor adventure DA1 and for AD&D The Book of Lairs, the revised Player Character Record Sheets and Night of the Seven Swords for Oriental Adventures.   I can honestly say I still have a number of my original sheets left over.  I never owned DA1, but I have always wanted run it.  I picked it up just recently, but have not read through it all.

Critical Mass has an interesting book among all the others.  The Vampire Lestat is reviewed and enjoyed.  About this time I also read The Vampire Lestat and I thought it was brilliant. Right here folks is the start of the Vampire the Masquerade.  Some where around this time Mark Rein·Hagen would form his first company and the RPG market would soon change forever.  Interestingly I read "Lestat" before I knew about "Interview with a Vampire" so I always had a better opinion of Lestat than my friends that had read it.
People have complained that this was the start of the "pretty boy" vampire craze.
Well. They would be wrong.
Lestat is still a monster, he kills and he relishes in being a hunter.  Eight years prior we had Frank Langella on stage and in the movies as uber-sexed Dracula, so the evolution of vampire as monster to sex object had been going on a while. Arguably since Stoker and even Carmilla.  Saying otherwise is ignoring the facts.
Now Twilight...yeah that is garbage.  But that's not Anne Rice's fault.

Curse of the Bone is a modern Call of Cthulhu adventure for 2-5 investigators. It looks fun and I like the modern twist to it.  For some reason the "used car dealer/cultist" made me laugh.  But it is also a good adventure in showing that relatively "minor" monsters can make for a great story.  "Lovecraftian" does not always mean elder gods and tentacles.

Open Box is back for some more, this time talking about all 14 of the D&D Dragonlance Modules. Dragonlance gets a bad rap among the Grognards out there. Some of it earned, but most of it is typical "get off my lawn" crap.  Yes they were rail-roady, but the were, as this article points out, epic.  Gordan Taylor does mention that classical role-playing is limited in these modules and no character development outside of what the modules dictate.  But I don't recall Grognards being that interested in character developemnt in the first place.   The modules can be played as "Strict AD&D" as the author mentions, but they are deadly and don't expect things to end well.  Maybe that is what we need (and it must be due to my 6.5 hours of meetings yesterday and my migraine today that I am even suggesting this) is a Grimmdark Dragonlance.  Instead of the Heroes of the Lance, run your typical Murder Hobos through it.  Go all out and use Dungeon Crawl Classics.   I never played these modules back in the day, but my younger brother's group did and they had a great time.  Maybe that is the selling point of these to my generation (and the generation before me) "Dragonlance, it is great for your little brother".

Illuminations is a new feature. It features the art of a particular artist.  This month is Ian Miller.  I would have loved to have seen this in earlier issues to be honest.  But with my impression of WD's art budget I am not sure they could have done this before now.

In what seems like a contradiction on the order of "Grimdark Dragonlance" Phil Gallagher gives us Warhammer Fantasy player character stats for Gnomes in Out of the Garden.

There is a new team for Blood Bowl, the Skaven Scramblers. They are the mutant by-blows of giant rats. The background information on the Skaven is actually kind of cool.  Think of a society of giant rats, like Splinter from TMNT, only warped by religion and placed into strict castes. And plenty of random mutations. So more like the twisted child of Splinter and the Rat King from The Nutcracker.  They would be fun for AD&D/OSR.

It's a Kind of Magic tries to bring magic and tech closer together in your FRPGs. Interesting the article advises against bring magic into technological games and gives a number reasons why it is a bad idea.  It is as if the designers of ShadowRun read the article, laughed and then broke all the rules.  Though this article really concerns itself with tech in a magic world.

'Eavy Metal has a number of great looking minis.  I took a look at a much newer WD recently. I am not sure if the painting of minis has gotten better or the photography is better.  I am not saying that the ones here in issue 86 are bad; far from it.  But they don't look as polished as the ones from newer issues.  I am guessing there is some Photoshop involved too.

Dogs of War covers mercenaries for AD&D (or any FRPG). The article is an interesting one because it not only instructs how to use them, but how they were used. For example you won't see mercenaries randomly killing people; that's bad for business.  I think the trouble is that what most players think of as mercenaries is more defined by fantasy novels and comic books than history.   The authors suggested reading Fredderick Forsyth's "Dogs of War" for more insight.

We get an article on time travel in Judge Dredd.  The article is mostly fluff.

Letters. Followed by Gobbledigook and then ads.

Not an inspiring issue, but set off for me with the CoC adventure and the extended product review of the Dragonlance modules.   While I expected my interest in these later magazines to drop off after issue 80, I am still finding tidbits I like and can use.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Just Talkin' 'bout My Generation

Gary Greenwald and Phil Philips talk about the evils of toys from the 80s.

Just watch.

Shorter version here:

Holy crap!
I have never seen so many jumps to conclusions in my life.  Followed only by how many words they get wrong.  Or details of the toy lines.  Or anything related to reality.

Can we stop using the word "Occultic"!! "Occult" is all you need.
It's "Eternia" not "Ethernia". "Necomancy" not "Necromology". It's....oh I give up.

I love how neither one of these idiots can tell the difference between reality and cartoons.  Or how "D&D pieces" will scream when burned.

Seriously. You have to watch this. It's insane.

Makes you wonder what they would think of my book!

Don't forget, you can win a copy of my books.  Just two more days!

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Weekend in Hyperborea

I spent some quality time this past weekend reading and rereading the rules for Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea.

I have to say. The more I read the more I like them.
For starters there is a real B/X feel about these rules I like. Simple, intuitive and easy to run.  Not that say AD&D or 3e are difficult rulesets, but there is more given to flow of play with these rules. Plus it goes for that same sweet spot of play that Adventurer Conqueror King goes after.

I also feel, in all honesty, that this is the best combination of "D&D" and "Cthulhu Myths" I have ever read.
It captures the nihilism of Lovecraft's world view extremely well and infuses it with the proper amount of horror.  Building on a world that is, as I have been taking to call it, "Older, Bolder and Colder".
I do have Realms of Crawling Chaos for Labyrinth Lord, and I think it is great.  This just has a better Lovecraftian vibe to it really.
What I like most of all is how it makes even "mundane" monsters seem weird and alien. I was rereading the Gelatinous Cube and thinking of it as horror beyond reality now, not just some stupid slime that cleans dungeons.

I have been wanting to use it for some time now to flesh out my own Hyperborea (for my own play, not publish!) and it is perfect.

Since I have been reading a ton of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs and of course Clark Ashton Smith this is really the best rules to get after that weird, Pulp Horror.

I was looking over the rules and the classic adventures I want to run, and thought it might just be perfect.  While I would prefer to use this system, my boys are committed to AD&D proper.   I might though slip in a rule here and some monsters there.   Thankfully AS&SH is perfect for this.question for

In fact I think I know how I am going to bring this all together.
But I think that reveal might need to wait till another posting.  I am missing one key ingredient.

Though it would totally fit my need to use the older modules, bring them up to date for a post-Drizzt crowd and use my "Older, Bolder, Colder" ideas.  

Mystoerth: Hyborea / Hyperborea