Monday, March 31, 2014

April A to Z Challenge Starts Tomorrow

Tomorrow is April 1st.  To many that mean jokes, pranks or the sobering reminder that taxes are due in two week.

For me and many others (at least 2000) it means the start of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge.

This next month I am going to posting the A to Z of Witches.  Not a stretch for me I know, but I am planning on making it special really. I am going to go deeper into the subjects I normally talk about here.

So please join me tomorrow for the A to Z Challenge.

New Blog on the Block: Traveling Spellbook

James Michael Spahn is not a new name to the OSR scene.  His company Barrel Rider Games has been producing material for Labyrinth Lord now for a couple of years.

Well he is entering the blog arena now with Traveling Spellbook and he is doing some reviews of his favorite Labyrinth Lord/Basic Era compatible products.

In fact one of his first reviews is on my Witch book!

James is huge Tolkien fan so I am hoping to see some posts on that as well.

So go to his blog, add it to your RSS reader or watch list.
I am expecting some really great things from him.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

David Trampier

Many of you by now have heard about Dave Trampier's death.

I am really at a loss of what to say here.

So I guess instead I will leave this here as my testament to a person I never knew, but whose art had a profound impact on my life.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend!

So next week I am getting my Kickstarter for Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch and Warlock up and running again.

But there are couple of other Kickstarters I'd like to draw your attention to first.

City State of the Invincible Overlord

Judges Guild is back with the book that made them the most famous.  Ah the times I spent adventuring here in the early 80s.  It also became "the evil empire" in my AD&D games.  So looking forward to seeing this one hit the shelves.

Crone: A Tabletop Roleplaying Card Game

A new one from +Erik Bernhardt and it looks great. I mean serious how could I not love this?
There is a lot going on in this game and I really want to try it out.

Is it a bad idea to promote other people's Kickstarters and potentially take away bakers to my own?  No idea, but in truth I like these projects and I would like to see them do well.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Witch Girls Adventures: The Director's Cut

Witch Girls Adventures: The Director's Cut

A lot of what said about Witch Girls is still true from my original review. Here it is, with edits to reflect this newer version.

We now have 2, soon to be 3, versions of Witch Girls Adventures.
WGA = Witch Girls Adventures (1st ed)
WGA-DC = the Director's Cut, this version. 1.5 Edition.
WGA-BoS = Witch Girls Adventures: Book of Shadows, 2nd Edition. Out sometime in the future.

Witch Girls Adventures is a a "Drama Diaries" game, using the "Drama Dice" system from Malcolm Harris. This version, WGA-DC is using the first ed version of the Drama Dice system with some of the modifications of the upcoming 2nd Edition.

It is aimed at new players predominantly and girls in particular. The book begins with 10 pages of the Witch Girls Adventures comic to set the tone and mood of the game.

The book continues as it goes on to your typical introduction into what is a roleplaying game and is written for a young or teen girl audience ("just tell the geek (trust me; they are used to being called geeks) behind counter you need... ") cute. But too much of this would ruin the presentation of the game for me. Thankfully this is the only time, but it does establish one thing right away; this game is going for a different audience. The intro stuff continues with some terms both for the game and for RPGs.

It makes an odd left turn to give us optional rules (we haven't had any rules yet for these to be optional to) about how to run a "Harry Potter" like game with this. Eh. Nice, but this should have come last, not first. I still think this would have worked better as an appendix.

Chapter 2 gives us "Cliques" . So perfect. In another game these would be "Factions" or "Classes" or even "Traditions" or "Associations" or "Backgrounds", but given the Middle-school/High-school this is great. Cliques basically give your starting dice and what skills you are likely to have. The system is very easy. The dice system (The Drama Dice system as it is called) quickly reminds one of Cortex or Savage Worlds. Attributes are scored d2 to d12 for most types. The spread even looks the same as Cortex and Savage Worlds. Not surprisingly, afterall it is a logical progression. You have six attributes Body (which combines Strength, Agility and stamina), Mind (intelligence), Senses, Will, Social and Magic. Right away you see there is only one body type attribute but four mental ones. This is the way it should be really, WGA is not about beating people up, it is about the social aspects of the game and about magic, our last attribute. There are some secondary attributes that are derived. Rolls are made depending on the dice vs a difficulty table very similar to d20 or Unisystems' success levels. Cliques are detailed and they are your basic magical girl stereotypes (the Goth, the insider, the outsider…) . Plenty here to work with and if you are so inclined create your own (which is what the "Harry Potter" bit tries to do).

Chapter 3 moves onto skills. Each chapter has some fiction to introduce you to the Witch Girls world. It seems to be a cross between Charmed, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Buffy and the Craft mixed in with anime magical girls. Skills. Unlike Cortex or Savage Worlds, skills are given a + score like Unisystem or d20. Roll the die associated with the attribute (each skill is connected to an attribute like d20) add the bonus the skill provides, check your success, or roll greater. There are 34 mundane skills and 10 magical skills. A little too much in my book, but I am willing to see how it works out here.

Chapter 4 Traits details traits, which are like Edges or Qualities. They are broken up into Talents (which you can get later in life) and Heritages (which are inborn and never change). Heritages have both a positive and negative aspect to them. Typical ones are there like "Beautiful" and others which have to be unique to this game like "Drama Queen".

Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are all well detailed and very straight forward.

Chapter 5 is Magic. Really this is what we came here for. There is a lot more here on what magic is and what it means to a witch. There are different types of magic (necromancy, mentalism, cybermancy…) which you can spend points on to improve your rank. This can provide a lot of variance between witches. Think of it as somewhere between Harry Potter's classes and Mage's spheres. As GM (a Director in WGA) I might limit some of these to NPCs (Guest Stars) and not to PCs (Stars). Spell casting is broken down into a lot of detail. More than maybe the seasoned gamer needs, but given the audience it might be about right. Effects are broken out into Magic Type Rank (MTR) and the overall feel is like a table you might see in Mage or Mutants & Masterminds with what MTR (read as Power level) you need to achieve a certain effect. Want to cast that spell across the world? Better have an MTR of 9.
There are rules for Signature Spells, which take less Zap (read: Mana, Essence), choose only one and from the "School" with your highest MTR (which makes sense really). I like the idea of the signature spell and might try it in my other games too.
This is all followed by 20+ pages of spells and these by no means seem to be all of them. Since your cast member (Star, remember) isn't going to be buying swords, guns or anything else that characters spend money or points on then this is a good thing.

Chapter 6. Your Star gets an allowance allowing her to buy things like magical computers, flying Vespas, and more brooms than found in Home Depot. There are familiars, clothes, wings and all sorts of magical equipment here as well. You could build an adventure on just shopping for these things cause I am sure getting them is not as easy as going to the mall. Lots of neat wands and I have to say the books for young witches are pretty funny ("Samantha's Guide to Merry Mortals" yeah that made me laugh). And a bunch of mundane stuff like DVD players and skateboards. The allowance system is nice, I like it better than the Modern d20 purchase DCs and easier than keeping track of cash.

Chapter 7 is some odds and ends. A character questionnaire (nice) and a filled out character sheet (also nice). Good detail on what things mean and if you are new to games a certain boon.

Chapter 8 is for Directors, so all the rules of the game. The system, some combat rules (yes this is the FIRST game I have seen where the rules for shopping are longer than the rules for combat. ;) )
Some nice background fluff and some ideas for different types of stories, basically you can do Buffy, Good vs. Evil, Charmed, and Magic School. The experience system is "interesting" (Voodollars), but it looks like it works.

Chapter 9 is the world background. Now this one is kind of neat. I details the various races (witches are a different race) and they are not alone. Some history, some magical places (Santa's Workshop, No joke and it looks cool!) The ruling council of Witches (I am yoinking this for my Unisystem games), Spelling Bees, groups and other schools. Even how the mundane world reacts to all of this.

Chapter 10 presents some creatures. But if the art is any indication most of these are not for combat purposes, but potential dates (well there is only one witch kissing a vampire…) Nearly every kind of creature is covered from fairies to Cthulhu like horrors. But no demons. Seems a bit odd, given it all. Some NPCs (Guest Stars) of note.

Chapter 11 details the Willow Mistt School. Lands, buildings, faculty, everything you would expect to find is here. Willow Mistt is not Hogwarts, but it is easy to make the comparisons. I actually found it closer to Claremont Academy from Mutants & Masterminds.

We close with a sample Episode, some plot ideas, a lexicon, and a list of Witch names (see how many you recognize!), and some NPCs with sheets.

The Good:
Harris obviously has a love for this genre and it shows. The rules are well crafted and while there is nothing earth shaking here, they are familiar mechanics done up in a very nice way. The point of view of the work is nice. This is anti-Grim-Dark. It's not all unicorns, princesses and kittens (though it does have all that), it's a fun game. The art is not D&D 4e, but it is good and more to the point very appropriate for this game.
For new players this is a great little game. More experienced players may want more, but that is not due to the game itself, but rather expectations. Do not expect this to be "WitchCraft: The Junior High Years" (though you can do that).
This Director's Cut has been update to mostly full color interiors. Especially the art.

The Bad:
I know Harris is basically a one man operation so I am willing to cut him some slack here. But there are a large number of typos that should be fixed and some terms that might have either been mistakes or from earlier versions (the Magic attribute is called "Zap" in one spot.) I am willing to overlook those IF they are corrected in the 2nd Edition. They should have been corrected in this edition to be honest, but I am going to cut him the slack here but none in the 2nd ed WGA-BoS.

The Ugly:
Well....WGA has something of a weird rep online. I am not sure it is entirely justified to be honest. Gamers can get really weird about the oddest things. Are some of the witches depicted here anti-social monsters? Yeah. The poster child, Princess Lucinda is exactly that, but it is presented in the same vein of cartoon violence.

So. Who is Witch Girls Adventures for?
Well , that sort of depends but here is what I see.

New players and Game Master get a lot with this book. I see them having a great time.
People that enjoy the more social aspects of a game (and of gaming) rather than a bunch of combats.
Anyone that is a fan of Magical Girl Anime, Witches or even high school based games.
Anyone that has ever wished for a Harry Potter RPG.
Anyone that looks at the setting and resists the urge to make it "darker". WGA is not about being dark. You can be evil sure, and as a witch the entire world is after you, but the setting does not need the WoD feel at all.

Last Words
This is a fun game. Take it as it is, not as you want it to be, and you will have fun too. If you are an old pro, use this game to introduce younger people to the hobby. I hope that Malcolm Harris is successful and ends up getting a lot of new people, boys and girls, to our hobby.

The Director's cut adds a few more pages and most of the interior is now full color. There are some new pieces of art and some of the older b/w art is now in color. Whether or not this is worth 10 bucks is up to you. I enjoyed the 1st ed so much I wanted to get this.

I have two hopes for Witch Girls now.
1. That the final copy of 2nd edition, WGA-BoS, is out soon.
2. That Malcolm Harris gets someone to help with the editing. It is a shame to mar a great and fun game with some easily fixed typos.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

PWWO: Doctor Who, Hitchhiker's Guide and Pokémon

With the publication of Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space Limited Edition Hardcover Edition I have been wanting to do more with this game.  I have already run a classic AD&D module with it but the applications for this game seem endless.  So starting with Doctor Who here are the two mashups based on ideas from both of my kids.  So for this edition of Plays Well with Others I have two game ideas based around Doctor Who.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Doctor Who Universe
My oldest son has been reading Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and he had to do a school report on Douglas Adams.  Fans of Adams know of his long association with Doctor Who during the classic Tom Baker years. So for me this has been a great little trip to 1983 when I was doing something very similar in school.  Though unlike my kids I did not have Doctor Who on BluRay anytime I wanted it.

Well this morning I was thinking about Arthur Dent, or more specifically, Martin Freeman.  To date he has pretty much played every important English "everyman" I can think of after only one cup of coffee; Arthur Dent, Bilbo Baggins and John Watson.  The Watson connection got me thinking again about doing a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game using the Doctor Who rules.  I touched on this last year but I think I need to look into it more.

No need to worry about who plays the Time Lord since everyone, including the aliens, are just regular people.  Ok sometimes regular people with two heads and three arms, but that is the galaxy we live in.

Junior Timelord Academy
I was having a conversation with my youngest son back in the winter about how Pokéballs must be Timelord science. Afterall they are bigger on the inside.  Also Pokémon evolution looks more like Timelord regeneration.   Many others have pointed this out. Even the Pokémon character "Looker" is supposed to look like/be the 10th Doctor.  There are dozens of other examples (not to mention all the "Time" powered Pokémon) so I'll leave it as a given.

What can we do with this idea?  Simple, if in the HHGTG game there are no Timelords in an Pokémon one everyone is a Timelord, or at least they will be when they grow up.

Junior Timelord Academy then focuses on young Timelords in training, or even more generically, young Gallifreyians.  They have pets, like most kids do, except in stead of accidentally peeing on the floor these pets summon up elemental powers to do battle.  We know that in the Dark Times on Gallifrey gladiatorial fights were held in the Death Zone till Rassilon put a stop to them.  That legacy lives on in the children's games of fighting with their genetically engineered pets.

So a mix of Doctor Who, Pokémon, some ideas from WitchGirls Adventures, and a little bit of BESM: Cute and Fuzzy Seizure Monsters.  Big Eyes, Small Mouth 3rd Ed though might work better with Doctor Who in terms of system conversion.  This isn't High School drama like Smallville or Byron Falls, the target age here is pre-Teens.

So the characters move across Gallifrey battling their cute pet killing machines against each other knowing that soon they will enter the great Time Lord academies.

Also there is no reason I can't mix both.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Strange Brew Kickstarter back on!

So in February we started a Kickstarter for Strange Brew: The Ultimate Witch & Warlock.
We ended up pulling the plug on it because we wanted some more art, video and better definition of what we wanted to do.

Well we have not been sitting around this past month and in April we would like to bring it back.

We have more art now and we are working on some other details with artists as well.
Plus we are lowering our target amount and hoping to present a more streamlined book.

I still have 500+ pages written, but not sure yet how much of that will make it to the final cut.

I have seen mock-ups of the layout and it looks great. I am so excited to be part of this.

But what has the me the most psyched is the team being put together for this.
Here is something from our revised Kickstarter.
Timothy S. Brannan has been writing about witches for most of his RPG career. In 2002 he released Liber Mysterium a book on playing witches for the Dungeons & Dragons 3.0/d20 game. He has worked on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG and Ghosts of Albion RPG, where he worked side by side with Amber Benson, who played his favorite TV witch, Tara Maclay. Tim is this project's Author and Lead Designer.

Industry veteran and award-winning writer and editor, Christina Stiles, will be our Editor-in-Chief. In addition to co-authoring of the original Way of the Witch, Christina has written, edited, designed and developed scores of projects for Paizo, White Wolf, Green Ronin, Misfit Studios, Super Genius Games, Kobold Press, Rogue Genius Games and more.
She is currently finishing Freeing Nethus for Kobold Press and starting editing on Bite Me! The Gaming Guide to Lycanthropy.

Robert H. Hudson, Jr., best known for his work on Hero System’s Pulp Hero line, will be the book's developer. Robert has been both lead designer and lead developer on numerous projects for Christina Stiles' Presents.

Mike Welham, the 2012 RPG Superstar in Paizo Publishing's Pathfinder contest, will be providing additional feats, spells, archetypes--and whatever else strikes his imagination!

Team members Carlos Ovalle, Andrew Durston, and Heleen Durston will also be contributing to the project.

Morgan Boehringer and Mike Myler will provide material to the book.  Morgan has been in Kobold Quarterly #23 (Gauntlet Witch) and Wayfinder (no's 7,8 and 9 - #7 was the Bonewitch); as welll as Midgard Tales, Legends of Midgard and Journeys to the West. I also published the critically acclaimed Direlock.
Mike Myler has also authored numerous Pathfinder books including Rise of the Drow and The Clockwork Wonders of Brandlehill.

Additionally, Morgan Boehringer and Megan Robertson (a co-author on Way of the Witch) have been asked to provide stretch goal material for the project. And Jean Rabe (a co-author on Way of the Witch), best known for her Dragonlance novels, will be writing an original short story for the project. Janet Pack, the final co-author on Way of the Witch, may be joining us on this romp, as well.

Peter Bradley, Troll Lord Games' artist and layout guru created the cover art and will be doing additional art in the book.

Jacob Blackmon, an extraordinary artist who has done work for Christina's Rogue Mage RPG (Misfit Studios) and other projects, will be doing much of the interior art.
I can't wait to get this out you!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Return from the Caves of Chaos

Had the chance to play some good old-school D&D with the boys yesterday.
What was going to be a "pure" AD&D game is morphing more and more to an OSR kitchen sink game.

The boys, along with their retainers the Cinco Hermanos managed to loot the Gnoll cave.  They found the secret door to the Caves of Evil Chaos (which in Basic D&D was redundant). The had found the helm of alignment change but figured it out right away.  The attacked the evil priests and used the helm to turn one good.

I mixed in elements of "Return to the Keep on the Borderands" and made the high priest a high priestess of  Ereshkigal, who is one of the goddesses of the vampires.  This is the first clue of the oncoming plot of the world being shrouded in darkness. The paladin of the group burned all the unholy books, but the do know there are plans for the humanoids to raid the Keep and then move on to more populated lands.

While they still have part of the northern caves to cover, I am willing to call this one done. They stopped the evil cult and the monsters now will go back to fighting each other.

I have to admit it was a really fun time going through this one again.

Now there is rumor of a some slavers...

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge! Part 4

I want to thank Tomb of Tedankhamen for hosting this.

Here is part 4 of my list.  Hope you enjoy!

23 What is the most broken game that you tried and were unable to play?
The Bram Stoker's Dracula RPG.  It's just awful really.  This one is an easy choice.  But the question remains, is it broken or just bad?

24 What is the most broken game that you tried and loved to play, warts and all?
Broken is sometimes a matter of opinion.  I personally think the Skills and Powers books for 2nd Ed AD&D are broken.  The World of Synibarr is broken and bad, and yet there is something appealing about it.  It's just so crazy it went past bad right into crazy ass gonzo.  I have seen people say (and complain) that AD&D is broken.  It might be, but it is still fun.

25 Which game has the sleekest, most modern engine?
Cinematic Unisystem.  There isn't anything that it can't do well. Or maybe more to the point there isn't anything I can't do with it.  I am sure others think the same thing about GURPS, d20 and/or Savage Worlds. For me CineUnisystem is a perfect fit.

26 What RPG based on an IP did you enjoy most? Give details.
At the risk of sounding vain, Ghosts of Albion. Based on Amber Benson and Christopher Golden's novels and animations.  Written by myself. ;)  But seriously those have been some of the most fun games I have ever played.  Outside of that then the Buffy or Angel games.

27 What IP (=Intellectual Property, be it book, movie or comic) that doesn’t have an RPG deserves it? Why?
Charmed. I am dead serious.   I have been wanting to write a Charmed game for years and honestly I think I could not only do it justice but get people to play it that never watched the show.  One of the most fun times I ever had at Gen Con was playing Piper (a witch from Charmed) in a Charmed/Buffy/Supernatural crossover game.  I would love to do it as a Cinematic Unisystem game.  And it would rock.

28 What free RPG or what non-English RPG did you enjoy most? Give details.
For free I would have to say Basic Fantasy.  It really is a great game and really represents what I feel is the best ideals of the OSR.  Plus it is that sweet spot of how I was playing in the early 80s; a mix of Basic and Advanced D&D.

29 What OSR product have you enjoyed most? Explain why.
Wow. There are so many to be honest.  Nearly half of this blog is dedicated to OSR products I enjoy.  One of the things I like most about the OSR are the products that don't give me things I already have, but things I have always wanted or never knew I needed.
Here are some of my favorites.
B/X Companion - it gave me a book I have been waiting nearly 30 years for.  I had left B/X years ago, but I always felt a little longing for the Companion rules (levels 14-36) that we never got.
Labyrinth Lord - The Basic version of D&D that opened up the OSR world to me.  While in some respects I prefer Basic Fantasy, Labyrinth Lord is still one of my favorites.
Adventures Dark and Deep - Joesph Bloch's magnum opus. A "what if" book, so not a "retro-clone" really.  Something new based on history.  This book is AD&D 2nd ed if Gygax had not left TSR.  Is it "exactly" like what Gygax would have done? No. But this is the closest I think we will ever get.  Joe based this one the reading of all Gygax's letters and things he had mentioned in the pages of Dragon magazine and elsewhere.  It is also a perfectly enjoyable game in it's own right.
Spellcraft & Swordplay - Another "what if" game.  This one takes the SRD and uses the original combat mechanic found in OD&D (not the alternate d20 one we all now use).  It also streamlines a number of things and gives you a really nice, very gritty, old-school game.  One of my favorites.
Another favorite is Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea which I have talked about a lot here.

30 Which non-D&D supplemental product should everyone know about? Give details.
Chill Vampires. If you ever want to use vampires in any game then I suggest you get this book. If you can get the Pacesetter, 1st Edition version then do so, otherwise the Mayfair, 2nd Ed. version is good too, it is just missing a couple of the vampires I really found interesting.  It really is a great book on how vampires can go from being just another monster to an enemy that needs to be studied and understood before fighting.

31 What out-of-print RPG would you most like to see back in publication? Why?
Castle Falkenstein.  Not only is it a fun game, but Mike Poundsmith is one of the best game designers out there.  The premise is cool but the game design blew me away. If you have only ever played D&D or it's direct clones/offspring then you owe it to yourself to play this.  It is available in PDF but I would love to have it in print.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Zatannurday: Young Justice Girls Cameo in Scooby Doo

The DC Universe of any sort has always had an odd relationship with the Scooby-Doo one.  Going all the way back to Scooby-doo meets Batman and even recently in Batman Brave and the Bold.

Well the latest Scooby-doo entry was not where I was expecting to see another one.
Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery features cameos of the girls of Young Justice; Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandmark), Artemis, Zatanna and Miss Martian.

Somehow it makes sense that the girls like WWE.  Can't be any stranger than the fact that WWE is on the SyFy channel.

Makes my Zatanna/Hex Girls crossover seem more likely too!

Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery is out March 25, 2014.

Friday, March 21, 2014

An Interesting thing happened in the Theme Reveal

So an interesting thing happened today in the Blogging A to Z Theme Reveal.
I was clicking through some links and noticed that this one blog was doing an A to Z of Vampires, which is what I had been thinking of doing myself.  Her sister is doing A to Z of Ghosts. And another is do Supernatural creatures.

So we all have decided to get together and do a mini-hop inside the larger one of Supernatural A to Z posts.
Really we are not doing anything extra here, but helping increase the attention of like minded blogs.

So here are the links I have now. I'll add more.

Tasha's Thinkings, A to Z of Vampires
Sophie's Thoughts, A to Z of Ghosts
A Creative Mind, A to Z of Supernatural Creatures.

Here are the topics I am planning to cover in my A to Z of Witches.  Links are not live yet. They are set to be posted at 5:00am Central time.

4/1 A Aradia a-to-z-of-witches-a.html
4/2 B Baba Yaga a-to-z-of-witches-b.html
4/3 C Coven, Circe a-to-z-of-witches-c.html
4/4 D Dianna a-to-z-of-witches-d.html
4/5 E Enchantment a-to-z-of-witches-e.html
4/7 F Familiar a-to-z-of-witches-f.html
4/8 G Gris Gris a-to-z-of-witches-g.html
4/9 H Hex a-to-z-of-witches-h.html
4/10 I Incantatrix / Imbolc Mage a-to-z-of-witches-i.html
4/11 J Ju-ju a-to-z-of-witches-j.html
4/12 K Kiki / Kikimora a-to-z-of-witches-k.html
4/14 L Lilith a-to-z-of-witches-l.html
4/15 M Morgan Le Fey a-to-z-of-witches-m.html
4/16 N Nox / Nicks a-to-z-of-witches-n.html
4/17 O Obeah a-to-z-of-witches-o.html
4/18 P Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige    a-to-z-of-witches-p.html
4/19 Q Queen of Witches a-to-z-of-witches-q.html
4/21 R Rachel Morgan a-to-z-of-witches-r.html
4/22 S Shaman a-to-z-of-witches-s.html
4/23 T Tarot a-to-z-of-witches-t.html
4/24 U Underworld a-to-z-of-witches-u.html
4/25 V Voodoo a-to-z-of-witches-v.html
4/26 W Warlock a-to-z-of-witches-w.html
4/28 X Xothia a-to-z-of-witches-x.html
4/29 Y Yama-uba a-to-z-of-witches-y.html
4/30 Z Zatanna a-to-z-of-witches-z.html

Here is the Sign-up list for the Supernatural A to Z. Sign up for this only if you are already doing the A to Z Challenge.  Hope to see more!

A to Z Blog challenge Theme Reveal

I am doing the A to Z blog challenge again this year.

Last year I did the theme of Demons A to Z.  This year I thought it would be Vampires, but something happened last week that made me change my mind.  So I ran back to the drawing board (or in this case the spreed sheet in Google Drive) and checked my ideas.

I am going to do the A to Z of Witches.

There are some out there wondering how this is a stretch for me.  Or even how this is different than any other day. Well I am planning to tackle a lot of topics and subjects that I don't otherwise do. I still have tons of ideas and tons of things to say.  This is a good chance for me to do this.

I am rather looking forward to this one.  I have a lot of ideas about what sorts of things I want to write about and I hope I can make interesting for all my audiences.

BTW I am also talking about one of my favorite books, Dracula, over at The Unconventional Librarian.

Maybe I will do Vampires next year!

Today is the A to Z Blog Theme Reveal so lots of people are letting you know about their themes.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

First day of Spring...

Today is the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere.
Can't tell by looking outside.  Still a lot of ice outside.  So here are some pictures of Ice.

Ice - Justice League International - DC Comics by WhiteLemon on deviantART

Guy Gardner and Ice by JonathanDuran on deviantART

Tora by theEyZmaster on deviantART

Sailor Ice by dirk-geijsbeek on deviantART

Since today is the equinox, give equal time to Fire as well.

Ice and Fire - Justice League International - DC by WhiteLemon on deviantART

Fire and Ice by SebbyWhite on deviantART

Same Class

Random thought this morning between cups of coffee.

Have you ever been in a game where every character was the same class?
If so what class and how did it work out?

At Gen Con a couple years back I played a Castles and Crusades game where everyone played an assassin. Another time I played some 4e where everyone was a dwarf fighter.

The assassin one worked, the fighter one not as well, but A for effort.

How about you all?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ten Favorite RPG Products of All Time

This started over at Dyvers blog and has now spread to others:

Not sure if this is a thing yet or not.  And many of us have answered these questions in some form or another over the years I am sure.  But it is still fun to read and do.

In no particular order and sometimes the entries are representative of a larger collection.

10. AD&D Monster Manual
The first RPG product I ever held or read.  It grabbed my attention in such a profound way that it is still, 35 years later, to fully quantify.  It fueled a life-time of fun and adventure.
Special Mention: AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.
Nearly it's equal in effect but a superior book.  It just didn't get to my hands first.
Read more at: 1st Ed, D&D

9. Moldvay D&D Basic Set
A lot of people talk about "the Red Box". My Red Box was magenta and had Erol Otis on the cover.  For me this was the start of what became "my" D&D. Not someone else's game, but my own. I got my first set of dice in the box. I read and reread that book at least hundred times.
Special Mention: Cook/Marsh D&D Expert Set
Again, it might even superior to the Basic box just for everything it added.  But Basic comes first.
Read more at: D&D, Basic

8. Chill
Chill. I have talked about Chill so much and with good reason. This is the mid-west, monster fighting, "bumping back the things that go bump in the night", game where average Joes and Janes can stand against the darkness and walk away at the end.   While I have a special place in my heart for the Mayfair version, it is the 1st edition Pacesetter version that I think back too.
Special Mention: Chill Vampires
If I can only ever have one vampire hunting book then let it be this one.
Read more at: Chill, Vampires

7. Mage the Sorcerer's Crusade
"The Old Ways are Lost".  I love the the Renaissance; the idea of the world waking up out of darkness and ignorance to bring science and learning to all.  Ok. It didn't happen like that, but it can in a game and this if the best of the lot.  Plus it is old school magic versus new world science.  It takes what is great about Mage and makes so much more cooler.
Special Mention: Vampire the Masquerade
You can't have the Sorcerer's Crusade without Mage and you can't have Mage without Vampire the Masquerade.  VtM changed gaming in the 90s and it's effects can still seen today even far beyond gaming.
Read more at:  World of Darkness

6. Ravenloft Boxed Set
I loved the Ravenloft Module I6.  The boxed set Realms of Terror was just the thing I needed for my 2nd Ed games.  I loved horror, vampires, witches and this seemed like the perfect mix for me.  In fact I played so much Ravenloft that it is difficult for me to tease it apart from 2e.  They are the same for me really.
Special Mention:  Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death
What is the only way to improve Ravenloft?  Stick it on 19th century Earth and throw Dracula at the players.  There are many places where this game doesn't work, but I loved it all the same.
Read more at: Ravenloft, Victorian

5. Nightmares of Mine
This handy little guide is everything you need to run every sort of horror game. Straight up horror, survival horror, personal horror, comedy horror. You name it, this book covers it. It is small, but not cheap.
Special Mention: GURPS Horror
I have often complained that GURPS, as a game, has no soul, but the supplements can't be beat.  GURPS Horror is one of my favorites. Like Nightmares of Mine it covers how to play a number of different types of horror games.
Read more at: Horror

4. Call of Cthulhu
THE horror game.  I have always enjoyed the works of Lovecraft and in many ways CoC is not just the first horror game but also the first RPG based on a property.  The system itself, the Basic-Roleplaying System, also gave such fun games as RuneQuest and Elric/Stormbringer.
Special Mention: Cthulhu by Gaslight
As much as I love the cosmic horror of Lovecraft, Gothic horror is one of my first loves.  This is a great mix of both.
Read more at: Call of Cthulhu, BRP, Lovecraft

3. Role-Aids Witches
How could I not put this one up?  I have always rather liked Mayfair and their Role-Aids books.  The quality varies with some being quite bad.  But this one is great.  I had already been working on my own witch for a number of years when this one came out, but seeing it on the shelves made me happy. I knew I was working on something that at least one company liked.  Witches didn't invent the idea of Traditions, but it did help define it a little bit better.  Though I am still not a fan of the Deryni Witch.  Partly because I didn't think their concept worked as a witch and mostly because I had just left an OD&D game where we played Deryni as a race.  But in any case this is still one of my favorite third-part supplements to D&D.
Special Mention: Dragon #114
Most gamers of my generation remember this as the witch issue.  There is a lot to like about it, but what keeps this one around for me is the witch class.
Read more at: Witch

2. Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea
I have gone on and on (and on) about my love of this game. To me it really is the pinnacle of what the OSR could do.  Plus it has such a great feel to it and honestly it combines every that has been on this list so far.  D&D, horror soaked lands, monsters and things from beyond. All in a red box!
Special Mention: Basic Fantasy
Basic Fantasy to me represents the best DIY spirit of OSR and the community. It also happens to be a gret set of rules and is almost exactly how we played our Basic/Advanced D&D mashups back in the 80s.
Read more at: AS&SH, OSR, Basic

1.  C.J. Carella's WitchCraft
There has only been one game ever that has come close to displacing D&D in my heart and that is C.J. Carella's WitchCraft.  For me this game has everything I wanted in a modern game with a great back story, fantastic art and a magic system that really is second to none.
Special Mention: Ghosts of Albion
I know. Totally cheesy mentioning your own game, but it is true. Ghosts of Albion is not only my favorite Victorian game, but also my 256 page love letter to WitchCraft. 
Read more at: Witch, Unisystem, Ghosts of Albion

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Building a Shared World

There are so many cool projects and products out now that fly under the loose banner of OSR.

It occurs to me that there might be enough to fill an entire campaign world.

For locations there is Dolmvay, Gamington, The Shrine of St. Aleena, Dunsmouth (and more from LotFP), Blackmarsh, Castle of the Mad Archmage, Dyson Delves I and IIThe Majestic WilderlandsVerloren, and  Vornheim,

For monsters (important to give the world a nice unique feel) we have, The Big book of SpidersThe Cartographer's Guide to the Creatures of EiraRealms of Crawling Chaos, Teratic Tome,

There are even campaign worlds with built in rules (visa-versa) like Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea and Adventurer Conqueror King System.

Plus all the material from James Mishler Games and others.

This is just the stuff I know about.  What else is out there?
Has there been enough published "OSR" material to populate an entire campaign guide ala the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk?

Has anyone tried fitting it all together?

Monday, March 17, 2014

I had wings once...

They were strong

But they were stolen from me.

Yeah I am a geek.  Get off my cloud man.

Fighting Fire the Ernie Gygax Benefit Adventure

Recently Ernie Gygax lost a number of personal items due to a fire in his home.
To make matters worse Ernie was laid up with CHF.

While insurance can replace some items, others were irreplaceable and frankly the shock of loss is a lot.

To help out the gaming community has offered something, this time a system neutral adventure "Fighting Fire".
The idea is simple, a third of the money goes to helping out Ernie.

The adventure itself is 32 pages (minus cover and title pages) with some NPCs.  It is edition agnostic (neutral in their words).  While they could have used something simple like Swords & Wizardry to give it some crunch, there isn't anything here an experienced gamer could run in about hour of prep time.   In fact while typing this I have gone from wanting to run this at as an "Old-school" adventure with something like Basic D&D to maybe running it under 3rd ed. instead.

The adventure is a simple, if tongue in cheek, one.  Defeat the evil fire wizard.
There is a lot of self-referential material here.  So knowing a little bit about the gaming industry and some of the people involved over the years will help you see some of the inside jokes.  But if not the adventure does not suffer for it.

It is described as a fairly simple adventure and it doesn't disappoint on the that regard.  Easily dropped into any game and any campaign.  

A lot of the art and maps come from various sources. I personally think it is kind of cool.  Everyone contributed something to this. 

While I can be accused (and rightly so) of waxing too nostalgic at times, I like the idea of the town of Gamington.  I also like the idea of adding it to my own world as a place where old adventurers go to retire.  They bring their treasure hoards and retire in style.  

In any case, this is a good cause and worth the money spent.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge! Part 3

I want to thank Tomb of Tedankhamen for hosting this.

Here is part 3 of my list.  Hope you enjoy!

16 Which RPG besides D&D has the best magic system? Give details.
Ghosts of Albion. Which is a total cheat on my part since I wrote it.  But seriously. I love the magic system in it.  I might never top that in my writing but I am sure as heck gonna try.  The system is flexible enough to cover D&D like spells, Mage like powers and even the innate magic of supernatural creatures.
Outside of Ghosts my favorite magic system is the one from Eden's WitchCraft RPG.

17 Which RPG has the best high tech rules? Why?
Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space.  Mostly because it hand waves the tech rules.  Games run the risk of looking very, very dated when it comes to tech.  Look at Traveller, ShadowRun or even Kult.  Doctor Who plays it simple and therefore it works so much better.

18 What is the crunchiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
Maybe GURPS or even D&D itself.  I like most games to be honest so to me enjoyment is more a factor of the playing rather than the rules.

19 What is the fluffiest RPG you have played? Was it enjoyable?
Monsterhearts. It is quite fun, but not for every audience.  Also Monster of the Week is in there; similar mechanics.

20 Which setting have you enjoyed most? Why?
Anything in the Victorian age. I love the time period and it is great for all sorts of conflict. You can play class vs. class, modern vs. old world or even magic/supernatural vs. science.  The world was new to explore and people had the means to do it. It was an exciting time for nearly anything you would want in an adventure game.

21 What is the narrowest genre RPG you have ever played? How was it?
70s Black exploration.  The games that suited it best were Solid! and Damnation Decade. I played a hippie witch from Berkeley. Interestingly enough this was an extension of my Chill game from the 80s.  I normally am not a fan of the 70s, but these games were great.

22 What is the most gonzo kitchen sink RPG you ever played? How was it?
Back in the early d20 days I was playing with my son.  We used D&D 3.0, Mutants and Masterminds, BESM d20, Star Wars, Silver Age Sentinels and anything that wasn't nailed down. We had a blast.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Video: Satanism Unmasked Dungeons & Dragons

I am obsessed with the 80s Satanic Panic.  Here is another little turd from that time.

Christians talking about how morally deficient and evil D&D is.


Why is that these people get their facts so wrong?
Not just the really wrong shit of satanism in a game, but they can't even get the basic facts right.

...Satanism is not part of Witchcraft and visa versa.
...Those are not the words from "Shout at the Devil"
...NecroNOMicon, not Necro"NOME"icon. suicides due to D&D.
...what the hell is a "training 'prim-er'"?
...interviewing prisoners. Always a good source of "credible" information.

I could go on. But what is the point.  Here is a great podcast from "The Thinking Atheist".


And this gem,

Ok. How about this.

Shield of Faith
(Basic Era/Labyrinth Lord/Basic Fantasy/S&W)
Level: Cleric 1 to 7
Range: 5' in front of the Cleric
Duration: 1 round per level
By means of this spell the cleric focuses their faith into a tangible shield that will protect them from harm from creatures the cleric can consider "Evil".  Typically this is a creature of Chaotic alignment (or Lawful for a Chaotic cleric) and an "outsider" or supernatural creature. This includes (but not limited to) undead, djinn, effrit, demons, devils and any type of spirit. Sometimes even faerie creatures.
The spell reduces the attacks of these creatures at a number of hp per the spell level.  So a 5th level cleric using a 2nd level Shield of Faith would be able reduce 2 points per attack for 5 rounds.
The cleric must present their holy symbol when casting and they cannot attack.
Material Components: The clerics holy symbol.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

A to Z Blogging Chat

I am taking part in today's Blogging A to Z chat.

A to Z Chats are going to be scheduled on Thursdays from 1 PM to 2 PM Eastern U.S. Time and from 8 PM to 9 PM Eastern Time U.S.

Yeah, I know some people are tired of blog hops, challenges, circle jerks, whatever.
But that is not why (or who) I do these for.  Last year I had people outside of our own corner of the web post or email me and had no idea that RPGs, let alone D&D was still "a thing".  One woman even ended up with S&S, Basic Fantasy and some other books on my recommendation for her husband who had played in the 80s but no more.

So join me on Twitter, @timsbrannan with hashtag #AZchat.

Today I am contemplating a theme change for the challenge.
Something that I think will work better for everyone here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

White Dwarf Wednesday Index

Here it is. A link index to every White Dwarf Wednesday I have done.

Issues #1-#100
White Dwarf #1
White Dwarf #2
White Dwarf #3
White Dwarf #4
White Dwarf #5
White Dwarf #6
White Dwarf #7
White Dwarf #8
White Dwarf #9
White Dwarf #10
White Dwarf #11
White Dwarf #12
White Dwarf #13
White Dwarf #14
White Dwarf #15
White Dwarf #16
White Dwarf #17
White Dwarf #18
White Dwarf #19
White Dwarf #20
White Dwarf #21
White Dwarf #24
White Dwarf #22
White Dwarf #23
White Dwarf #25
White Dwarf #26
White Dwarf #27
White Dwarf #28
White Dwarf #29
White Dwarf #30
White Dwarf #31
White Dwarf #32
White Dwarf #33
White Dwarf #34
White Dwarf #35
White Dwarf #36
White Dwarf #37
White Dwarf #38
White Dwarf #39
White Dwarf #40
White Dwarf #41
White Dwarf #42
White Dwarf #43
White Dwarf #44
White Dwarf #45
White Dwarf #46
White Dwarf #47
White Dwarf #48
White Dwarf #49
White Dwarf #50
White Dwarf #51
White Dwarf #52
White Dwarf #53
White Dwarf #54
White Dwarf #55
White Dwarf #56
White Dwarf #57
White Dwarf #58
White Dwarf #59
White Dwarf #60
White Dwarf #61
White Dwarf #62
White Dwarf #63
White Dwarf #64
White Dwarf #65
White Dwarf #66
White Dwarf #67
White Dwarf #68
White Dwarf #69
White Dwarf #70
White Dwarf #71
White Dwarf #72
White Dwarf #73
White Dwarf #74
White Dwarf #75
White Dwarf #76
White Dwarf #77
White Dwarf #78
White Dwarf #79
White Dwarf #80
White Dwarf #81
White Dwarf #82
White Dwarf #83
White Dwarf #84
White Dwarf #85
White Dwarf #86
White Dwarf #87
White Dwarf #88
White Dwarf #89
White Dwarf #90
White Dwarf #91
White Dwarf #92
White Dwarf #93
White Dwarf #94
White Dwarf #95
White Dwarf #96
White Dwarf #97
White Dwarf #98
White Dwarf #99
White Dwarf #100

Two years, two months and 100 issues.  Quite a ride!