Tuesday, September 30, 2014

October is coming...

Starting at Midnight tonight October is here.

I have all my vampire movies queued up on Amazon and DVD.  Though a DVD I bought back in the summer to watch now is missing.  I am sure I will find it. Can't even remember what was on it to be honest.

My youngest wants to join in with me, so I am going to be watching some vampire movies that are good for him to watch as well.  Maybe some I have already seen. Lost Boys is on the list now.

It is also my oldest birthday coming up and he has requested a midnight D&D game.
It has to be scary (his request) and have vampires (mine).  I am thinking it will either be the original Ravenloft module or the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.

I am leaning towards the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen.

The module is so gonzo. Plus this is a group of 14-15 year old boys.  So yeah.
I have run this group before and I have taken them through the Pacsetter Vampire Queen modules (here and here).

I am also planning on getting some more reviews done in October/November.

Busy month ahead!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Old Games

Contrary to some belief I am not an obsessive collector of games.  I have things I like and genres I follow and I usually stick to that.  Outside of those I am pretty much open.

This week the Games Plus Fall auction begins and I still have some time to get some of my books in.
I am planning on selling of some of my more recent Tunnels & Trolls purchases as well as the last of the True20 material I still have laying around.

I figure anything I have not played in 5 years is good to go and anything I am not likely to play in the next 3 is also good to go.  

Do ever pare down your collection?
If so, how do you decide what to sell and what to keep?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend - Gamer Pins

So I have a confession to make.  I love pins. I know, it's not big as far as confessions go.

Since I was in High School I would put pins on my book bags, backpacks or what ever.  I stopped when I started taking my laptop bag to work (save for a pink Breast Cancer Awareness one) but my gamer bag is almost covered in them.


Which means I have room for some more!

The Sloping Companion Gamers Series Pin 1.0

This Kickstarter, now in it's final hours, have some great looking metal pins.
Frankly I love the d20 and d10 ones.  They even have the oft-neglected d12.

So please do them a favor, they are so close to making it and these look really, really nice.

Don't forget the Amazing Adventures RPG kickstarter is also in their final hours too.
Support them both!


Doggerland = Middle Earth?

I saw this map on the internet last night.

It is Great Britain and North West Europe circa 15,000 BCE.

Tell that doesn't just fill you with all sorts of ideas.  This was during the Upper Paleolithic era, or late Stone Age.

NOW.  compare that to this map we all all know and love.

I don't know about you all, but my head is full of ideas!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Amazing Adventures of Rachel Morgan

Wow. What a great week.  I finally got copy of "The Witch With No Name" and I have been doing a lot of stuff with Amazing Adventures.   I have also been going through all my material for the Castles & Crusades witch class.  

So I am seeing a lot of convergence here.

Amazing Adventures works well as a fully modern game as well as a Pulp era one.

I am toying with the idea that WIS is for casting Earth Magic, INT is good for Ley Line magic and CHA for Demonic and Elf magic.  Though I also really need for Rachel to be able to cast Astral Projection, she is 18th level.  True, the only real Astral plane is the Ever After so it should be a lower level spell.  But Rachel in WWNN is pretty damn powerful.

Camille as Rachel Morgan

Rachel Morgan
18th Level Witch (Amazing Adventures/C&C) (Arcanist)
Eclectic Tradition* (I have not worked out any traditions yet)
Race: Witch, now uncursed Demon

Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 11 (0)
Constitution: 12 (0)
Intelligence: 15 (+1) P
Wisdom: 13 (+1) P
Charisma: 18 (+3) P

Hit Points:  70
Alignment: Chaotic Good
AC: 13 (Rachel likes leather)
BtH: +4
MEP: 114

Languages: English, Latin, Elven (native language is English)
Background: Runner (Law Enforcment) +4,
Traits: Spellgifted (demon curses)
Skill: Knowledge (Arcana)

Familiar: Bis the Gargoyle (ok Bis is not really her familiar, but close in this world).
Herb Use
Ritual Magic

Cantrips: (9) Arcane Mark, Dancing Lights, Detect Illusion, Detect Magic, Light, Magical Aura, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, Stun
First: (5+1) Change Self, Command, Daze, Identify, Shield, Sleep
Second: (5+1) Blur, Burning Hands, Hold Person, Knock, Pyrotechnics, Scare
Third: (4+1) Aid, Fear, Heat Metal, Nondetection, Remove Curse
Fourth: (4) Dispel Magic, Fear, Polymorph Self/Other, Seeming
Fifth: (4) Contact Other Plane, Magic Jar, Projection, True Seeing
Sixth: (3) Guards and Wards, Mislead, Veil
Seventh: (3) Power Word Stun, Teleport without Error, Word of Recall
Eighth: (2)  Symbol, Trap the Soul
Ninth: (1) Astral Projection

Magic Items
Splat-ball gun* (a paint ball gun with sleep potions in the paint balls).
Various charms, pain amulets, charmed handcuffs.

I like her!  I might need to fiddle with her stats just a bit to get the right feel, but I like what I have here.
Plus this will give a chance to try that Hollows/Dresden Files crossover I have been dying to do.

Don't forget the Amazing Adventures Kickstarter. Last Days!

BTW Witch With No Name is Awesome! Love it.

Strange Brew Updates

You may have noticed a drop in posts here over the last month and half or so.

That is because I am working diligently on Strange Brew.

So far the spells, feats and skills are all done.  I should finish hexes in the next day or so.
I have completely re-worked my idea for witch traditions to play nicer with Pathfinder and I really like them a lot.

The Warlock class is done and we getting feedback from the backers now.

Still to do:
- Rework the base witch class just a little. Mostly some minor edits.
- Get the chapters on traditions, covens and patrons done.

When that is all done I will move on to the Castles & Crusades version.   I am so excited about that one.  I have so much I want to do with that.  The trick now is to edit things down to our promised page count.  Right now I am at 230% OVER page count.

I have other games on other burners too.  Lots of new Victorian stuff for at least 3, maybe three, different systems.

It's good to be busy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #11 December 1975

Today's look into the Owl & Weasel takes us all the way back to December 1975.  What do we have this month?  Well O&W has increased in size to 20 pages.  True the cover is now a proper cover and there are a lot more ads, oh and one page is for "notes" but still there is more content.

The biggest feature of this issue is the Game Day guide.  I love how intimate these old cons used to be.  Whether true or not it seems like everyone knew about everyone else.  The only thing I can relate it too was back in the 80s meeting up with various computer user groups; small, intimate and while not a lot to see, all of it very exciting.

Steve Jackson talks a bit on the changing nature of the British Gaming Scene and the "Adult Gaming Scene" in general.  His discussion links Monopoly to Diplomacy and to various "Com-Sim" games (Combat Simulation) and bookcase games (see Avalon Hill).  He discusses the growth of game magazines from 1974 on as well.  Of course he squarely puts the future of games on Dungeons & Dragons and Empire of the Petal Throne.  Though he also mistakenly states that games could give television a run for it's money.  Maybe not such a crazy idea in mid-70s Britain, but crazy by American standards (though TV here in the 70s was fairly dreadful).

Letters section is the first full page devoted to Empire of the Petal Throne.  A reader expresses his enjoyment of the game and Ian Livingstone gives us some more details about the game.   It's obvious that most fantasy is very Tolkien inspired at this point so EotPT must have felt like something so new and exciting.  Actually I still get that reading articles like this and only learning about the game much later in my gaming career.

There is another set of Chess variants mentioned.  Some ads. Actually, a lot of ads.
The "centerfold" covers Game Day events and a map.

The last page (ok page 18) is the Dungeons & Dragons page. It discusses hirelings and, interestingly enough, the release of the Strategic Review 4.  I guess at this point O&W and SR did not see themselves as competition to each other.  A nice change from how magazines today often work or act.  Even in the early days of White Dwarf and The Dragon there was more of a give and take between the two, at least until Imagine came on the scene.

I think what I am getting most out of these, as opposed to my overviews of White Dwarf, was the origins of the gaming culture.  Sure this is a very particular viewpoint based on a particular set of ethos.  The picture painted here is one were Wargamers and Role-Players (even if that word wasn't used just yet) got along in harmony or at the very lease stayed out of each other's way.  Given some of the posts on other gaming blogs, particularly Grognardia, that this was not always the case.
That being said there is a certain "yes we can do this!" attitude that is infectious and one I think would be good to adopt.  A time before edition wars.  I am not trying to glorify the "good old days" at all .  But the feeling of it is rather nice.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Feiya, Pathfinder Iconic Witch

I have been thinking and working a lot in Pathfinder for the last few weeks.  Gearing up for the release of Strange Brew.  I have been reading over all their witch material and that includes material on their iconic witch Feiya.

She certainly has an interesting background and one tailored to the Pathfinder/Golarian world.  But I have wondered, on a few occasions, on how she would fare in one of my worlds where witches have, how shall I say it,  a bit more freedom of expression.

So here is the Pathfinder Iconic Feiya as a Basic Witch.

In Pathfinder we have stats for her at 1st level, 7th level and 12th level.  Since I typically like to do stats at 1st, 7th and 13th level for witches this sounds good to me.

I am going to start with her 1st level stats and move out from there.  In the Basic Era abilities did not improve over time so they are locked in at 1st level.  I am going to swap her Intelligence and Charisma to reflect the different spell casting abilities.

Also given her background of being taught by Hags I am giving her the Faerie Tradition.

Witch stats for the Witch for Basic Era Games
1st level Witch, Faerie (Hag) Tradition

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 14
Constitution: 12
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 10
Charisma: 18

Death Ray or Poison:  13
Magic wand or devices: 14
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 13
Dragon Breath: 16
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 15

Hit Points: 3
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 7 (Leather Armor)

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Fox (+1 to Intelligence and Wisdom checks) "Daji"

Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Sound
First: Sickly

To hit AC 0: 20
Weapons: Dagger, Quaterstaff

7th level Witch, Faerie (Hag) Tradition

Death Ray or Poison:  11
Magic wand or devices: 12
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 11
Dragon Breath: 14
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 13

Hit Points: 19
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 6 (Leather Armor, Ring of Protection +1)

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Fox (+1 to Intelligence and Wisdom checks) "Daji"
Herb use
Lesser: Speak to Plants/Animals

Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Sound
First: Cause Fear, Charm Person, Sickly
Second: Levitate, Rose Garden
Third: Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic
Fourth: Emotion

To hit AC 0: 18

13th level Witch, Faerie (Hag) Tradition

Death Ray or Poison:  9
Magic wand or devices: 10
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 11

Hit Points: 33
Alignment: Neutral
AC: 4 (Leather Armor, Ring of Protection +1, Bracers of defense +2 )

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Fox (+1 to Intelligence and Wisdom checks) "Daji"
Herb use
Lesser: Speak to Plants/Animals
Minor: Fae Shape (Hag)

Cantrips: Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading, Open, Sound
First: Cause Fear, Charm Person, Chill Touch, Sickly
Second: Agony, Evil Eye, Levitate, Rose Garden
Third: Bestow Curse, Bewitch III, Dispel Magic
Fourth: Animal Growth, Emotion, Withering Touch
Fifth: Baleful Polymorph, Bull of Heaven
Sixth: Eye Bite, True Seeing
Seventh:Wave of Mutilation

To hit AC 0: 16

All in all similar powers but overall not as powerful.   But that is also part of the power growth between the Basic Era games and Pathfinder/3rd Era games.

But I really liked how she turned out.  I would love to use this character in a game someday.

Girls on Games

One of the things I will be forever thankful for from White Wolf is that it showed that gaming is for everyone.  Men, Women, diverse gender fluidity and sexual identities.

Yes D&D opened with Women in Gaming years before, but the approach was well...70s and 80s at best.  D&D is doing better these days, but if watching the battles our younger cousins over in video gaming are having then we still have a way to go yet.

To that end we have a new Kickstarter with just 3 days to go.

Girls on Games: A Look at the Fairer Side of the Industry

It doesn't matter to me what your gender politics or your position on feminism is.
ANYTHING that make our hobby more inviting and inclusive is a good thing.

Plus, and here is the important bit, women still make the household buy choices in nearly all families (anywhere from 70% to 90%, Google it) and getting women into games gets the next generation into games.

So check out this Kickstarter and through some cash their way.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Advice for the Lapsed Gamer

+Erik Tenkar  over at his eponymous Tavern is starting a series on "OSR for the Lapsed Gamer" which is basically advice for people that have left the game and are now coming back.


This is a great thing.  I was just helping out someone this past weekend that wasn't really lapsed, but had no idea what to do with the OSR.

Looking forward to seeing what all he does with this.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another Great 5e Weekend

It is the the first weekend of Fall (more or less) and that means a lot of yard work for me including cleaning up my wife's garden.  I don't mind. I love getting all the fresh veggies.

But this weekend was also a great 5th Edition D&D weekend.

Began our time picking up a couple copies of the newest Monster Manual.

The new Monster Manual is a damn attractive book.  Like so much of D&D5 it reads like a "greatest hits" of D&D.  Yest there is still plenty of room for more books especially a Fiend Folio.

Tonight the family explored the temple in Castle Amber.  They might more of the crazy Ambers and manged to get one character turned to stone.  Fortunately for the paladin, the sorcerer still had a wand of negation that could undo one magical effect.  So our paladin was back.

But the dice were cold tonight and we stopped after a couple of hours.  Still, more fun to be had at Castle Amber.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: Amazing Adventures (again!)

It looks like it is going to be a great weekend!  Kids are doing good. The Monster Manual is out at my FLGS today. The weather will be nice.  I am sure I will be spending my weekend doing fall yard clean up; but even that is ok.

Let's talk Kickstarters.

Or more to the point let me draw your attention back to a Kickstarter I featured a couple weeks back.

Amazing Adventures RPG

If you like Castles & Crusades then get this.
If you like Pulp adventures, then get this.

IF you ever wanted to play an OSR-style game in a modern setting then this is a must have.

Normally I HATE level-based modern games, but this game really changed my mind.

They are trying to reach $20,000 which gives you a lot of nice perks. I'd love to see this game do well.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tools of the Trade

None gaming post today.  I have been clearing out a bunch of old computers and software to either get rid of or sell on eBay.

Often times when we write about writing in general and blogging in particular we talk a lot about where ideas come from, how to get more readers or even how much writing everyday is important.  This is all true, and important, but that is not the type of tools I mean today.


Look down.  There. See it, it's your keyboard.  What is your relationship with your keyboard?

I blog every day.  I write in addition to that and there is that day job too.  I spend a lot of time with my fingers on my keyboard.  My favorite keyboard is the one I have at home, the Microsoft Wireless Laser Desktop 6000. It is the silver one and long, long out of stock.  I wrote Ghosts of Albion on it and it is by far the most comfortable keyboard I have ever used.  I never expected to find a replacement for my old beatup Gateway 2000 124 key programmable keyboard, but this one is fantastic.

Here is my main computer, Frankencomputer (I built it from spare parts).  It's not much more than a web-machine and word processor which is what I want when I am writing.  It run Ubuntu Linux and I use Google Drive for all my work. The keyboard is actually worth more to me than the rest of the computer.  If I am going to sit and pound away on a keyboard then it needs to be comfortable to me.

This is my second 6000 keyboard in truth.  I bought this one off of eBay for an ungodly price and still consider it money well spent.  It has the right curve for my hands and can elevate to the right height so I don't get fatigue while typing. Plus it is the same keyboard Weird Al has in his song "White & Nerdy".  A song that is not about me at all. Really. Honest.


I was reading the other week that George R. R. Martin, when he is not plotting to kill every character you love, sits in front of his old DOS machine and types his books into WordStar 4.0.  Piers Anthony once mentioned that back in the day he paid a programmer to reverse engineer his favorite word processor from CP/M to MS-DOS. Laurel K. Hamilton did her first writing on a manual typewriter and still thinks of things in terms of page counts and not word counts.  I am sure there are many more examples, but the point is clear. We get used to something for our writing and we like to stick with it.   Myself, I am an Microsoft Word fan.  I have been using it for years, since version 1.1 and Office 4.3.  I have gotten very comfortable with it and have lost count of the number of hours I have spent in it.

So then am I switching over to Google Drive?
Well while I still use Word one of the things it promised and never really delivered on was real time collaboration.   With the Google Drive word processor I can work with others and see their edits real time. We can chat and discuss what it is we are doing and why.  Plus I have lost count of the number of docs I have lost carting them from one computer to another, either on floppy disk or flash drive. And then when I manage to get it to another computer (say from work to home) I have to deal with whether or not the computer can read the file format and version control.  The only thing worse than loosing a document is to spend hours adding to a draft that is already 3 revisions old.

So how about you?
What are your writing needs? Special keyboard? Software? Maybe it is your best comfy chair.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Building a 5e Warlock

I have been playing around a little (very little really) with the Warlocks in 5e.  My son has made one and I have two that I started but have not gotten back too.

Though I like what I have played with so far.  The 5e Warlock is a nice mix of the 4e Warlock and even a little bit of the 4e Witch.

Concept wise I can build a number of "witch like" characters and can build a number of other sorts of warlocks and witches.  Again, the class is so nicely set-up that their is no real need for me to build a witch for 5e.

I have a couple more experiments with the 5e warlock to try out, but so far so good.

This video came up in my feeds as something that I would like and you know what, I did.
It is too simple for anyone reading this blog, but still a nice walk through.

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #10 November 1975

Owl & Weasel #10 represents a shift in O&W.  The biggest shift is a slight change in layout and font that makes it look more like a magazine than a newsletter that a couple guys rolled off in their spare time. That's not a jab at it, that is exactly what it was/is and that is fine.  But now it is looking better doing it.

First up are some house rules for Diplomacy.  Again this is a game I have heard about forever but never played.  I think it is one of those games that really is the dividing line between the hard core board gamers and the the first RPG gamers that were solely RPGers.

Page 5 gives us something interesting and fairly unique.  An obituary column for "dead" games.   Obviously in today's market such a thing is self-defeating with so many games coming back.  But still it is kind of interesting.  The game in question is Pokol; which is described as a Scrabble-like game that uses cards instead of tiles.

A couple of chess variants are introduced such as "Random Chess" where the "Court" piece are drawn from a hat placed randomly on their row.  "The Maharajah and the Sepoys" which one side is set up as normal, but the other only has a King (the Maharajah) and he can move like any piece on the board including a knight.  Sounds interesting to be honest.

The second biggest shift is the inclusion of new D&D content.  In this case O&W republishes the Ranger class that had appeared in the pages of the Strategic Review #2 from the Summer of 75.  There is no mention of having permission to so that I can find, but I have not heard otherwise to be honest. There is a mention of "Joe Fischer © TSR" who was the author of the original.

Obviously D&D is still of interest to the guys at O&W but it is still relegated to the back of the zine.  Though keep in mind, this is still just 1975.  The Strategic Review is only 2-3 issues in and D&D is only a little more than a year old.  We are also only 2/5ths through the O&W zines.  It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

October is coming

Well it is getting down in temperature here and my thoughts are turning to October.

October is usually a busy time around here. both here at home and at The Other Side.

This October I am planning to participate in two blogfests.

Horror Movie Challenge
As normal I am going to participate in the October Horror Movie Challenge hosted by Krell Laboratories.
To add a little extra challenge to my challenge I am only watching vampire themed movies this year.

Witches in Fiction
I am also participating in Magaly Guerrero's Witches in Fiction blogfest.

This is an opportunity to complete some bit of witch related fiction that has been languishing on my hard drive or brain.   The challenge here is what NOT to do!  I have so much to choose from.

I am looking forward to both of these.

Still Alive

I am still here.

Have had a couple of sick kids (must be the start of the school year) so my "free" time has been reduced to nothing.  Plus we didn't do our planned gaming this weekend.

I am sure it is only a matter of time before I get what they got.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Zatannurday: Darwyn Cooke Alternate Covers

If any artist captures what I feel should be the soul of DC comics it is Darwyn Cooke.

Well Darwyn is doing alternate covers for the various issues #37 out in December and they look awesome.


The cover for JLDark looks great.

Though I would have wanted to see more Zatanna and John.

You can see all the covers here too.

And to celebrate here are some more of his Zatannas!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: That 70s Kickstarter

Today I have three new(ish) Kickstarters that all have their roots in the late 70s.  Either in tone, feel or in gaming.

Maximum Mayhem Dungeon #2: Secret Machines of the Star Spawn
Brought to us by the same group that gave us "The Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen".  Only this time it is more of a tribute to Expedition to the Barrier Peaks.  Only more gonzo. And 100% more Chocolate Thunder.  If you liked "Hanging Coffins" (and I did) then this should be fun.
Some of the things that could have ended up looking gimmicky, like the 3D glasses, seem to work here.  It is funded but there are a lot of nice add-ons.

I was part of the Hanging Coffins Kickstarter and outside of the product Mark's communication was great.  There was a slight delay, but he let everyone know and still got the books out under his modestly revised schedule.  I can't complain at all.

Spirit of 77 - a Funky 1970's Tabletop Role-Playing Game
Another one that looks awesome is Spirit of 77.  I have talked about 70s-era role-playing before.  This game looks ridiculously fun.  For me the entire game was sold on this image,

Luchadore vs. Bigfoot?  Sign me the hell up!  The only thing that would have been more awesome would have been fat Elvis vs. Bigfoot.

This one is also funded.  I would love to get this, but use it as background material for my own Spirit of '76 game I want to run under Chill.

Time of the Dying Stars: Book One
Another one that takes it's cues from the 70s, but is really more of an early 80s homage is Time of the Dying Stars.  A collection of short stories set in the City of Dolmvay.
I love the idea of Dolmvay and am happy to see more support for it.

Plus it includes some classes designed by Barrel Rider Games as a Kickstarter bonus.

This one just started so it is not yet funded. But it is very, very close.

So put on some Parliament or Earth, Wind and Fire and check them all out and see what you can do to give them a hand!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #9 October 1975

October 1975 is on the dial for the wayback machine today.  O&W seems to off of their D&D high for now and getting back into other games.  One of which is a new American game call Organized Crime. It is a board game, but sounds like a prototype for a cool crime related RPG.

Ian Livingstone has a bit on the local Monopoly championships and how he won't be going to the European or World rounds.

For D&D people are submitting house rules.
First is some advice for the novice player (which at this point is most people) and an alternative to dying and healing that offers more math than game rules.  Basically your death is a function of your HP and Con.  Nothing simple like negative Con or -10.

Not really a lot in this issue that interested me to be honest.  It is a good issue to show how the game industry was evolving.  Not every uncovered treasure is as significant as a "Lucy".

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Witch With No Name

Today the last Rachel Morgan book "The Witch With No Name" is released.

Rachel is one of my all time favorite witches. For the last few years I have enjoyed all 12 books (now 13) in the series. I have watched Rachel, Ivy, Jenks, Trent and even the demon Algaliarept grow into interesting characters.  It will be sad to see this at an end, but I am glad she is ending on the top of her game.
The Rachel Morgan/Hollows books are very much like another urban supernatural series I enjoyed and just ended on it's 13th book, the Women of the Underworld series by Kelley Armstrong. Both feature strong world building and great strong characters, male and female.   But Rachel as a character grabbed me more than Savannah, Eve, Elena or Hope ever did.  Armstrong's Savannah Levine might be the more powerful witch, but Rachel can think better on her feet.

My copy has not come yet.  I listened to the audio books while driving to Gen Con by myself one year and fell in love with Marguerite Gavin's portrayal of the characters.  So I have stuck with the audio books ever since.

Rachel Morgan for Classic Unisystem (WitchCraft/Armageddon)
I had done Rachel a while back for Cinematic Unisystem (Buffy/Ghosts of Albion) but in the later books she really becomes more and more a "WitchCraft" style witch. Even if there is really nothing like "Essence" in the books.
The Turn is, game wise at least, similar enough to the Reckoning discussed in WitchCraft and Armageddon to let me use the Armageddon book.  There are no gods per se, but there are some beings of great power like the Goddess of the Elves and of course the Demons.

Camille as Rachel Morgan

Rachel Morgan
Greater Gifted
Life Points: 39
Essence: 50

Strength: 3
Dexterity: 3
Constitution: 2
Intelligence: 4
Perception: 5
Willpower: 5

Endurance: 35
Speed: 10 mph / 5 yrds/sec

Acute Senses (taste, smell) (Witches in the world are more sensitive), Attractive 2, Contacts 3 (Weres, Demons, Witches, FIB), Gifted, Hard to Kill 3,  1, Increased Essence Pool 4, Nerves of Steel, Occult Library 2

Adversary 4 (nearly everyone hates her wants her dead),  Honorable 2, Obsession (Help Ivy), Status -2 (she is a day walking demon)

Acrobatics 4, Craft (earth witch potions) 5, Guns (paint ball "splat" gun) 4, Humanities 3, Intimidation 3, Martial Arts 4, Occult Knowledge 8, Research 4, Riding (horse) 3, Rituals, Earth magic 3, Rituals, Ley Line magic 3, Rituals, Demon magic 5, Rituals, elf wild magic 1, Stealth  3, Streetwise 4

Elemental (Earth Magic)
Lightning Bolt, Earth Tremor, Flame,

Find Person (Ley Line)

Shielding (Ley Line)
Essence Shield, Physical Shield,

Spirit Mastery  (Ley Line, Demonic)
Summoning, Dismiss, Compact

Spirit Travel (Ley Line)

Earth magic charms, Red Splat gun with Sleepy-time potion ammo, cell-phone, knife

Camille *IS* Rachel Morgan
Can't wait to see what Rachel has in store for her last adventure and whether or not it will truly be her last.

Until you get your book check out Camille's Deviant Art Page for all her great Rachel Morgan cosplays.  One of the best, if not the best one I have seen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Castle Amber by Candle Light

Running behind on posting (and reading).  We got slammed by a freak storm in Chicago and we were without power from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.

Friday we went out in the hope that the power would be back soon.  No such luck.  So we spent the night reading by flashlight and candle light.  I grabbed my old 2e Ravenloft Boxed set to flip through.

Saturday was spent grilling everything in the fridge so we would not have to throw it all out.

Eggs, toast and bacon on the grill. I might never eat inside again.

We then spent the day preparing and playing one of my favorite modules X2 Castle Amber.

And trust me, nothing was quite as fun as playing it all by candle light.

We played it under 5th edition rules.  Unlike Bone Hill, I did not have 5e stats for all the monsters in this adventure.  But fortunately the conversion process was very easy and most I could do one the fly.

Yeah that is my 1st Ed. DMs screen.  I had my kids grab everything and they also got that.

So far 5e is still working very nice for us.
Castle Amber is also a great adventure to play and run.  The kids are having a blast.  They managed to get through the west wing and they even found an intelligent magical sword.  I am not sure what do with that one yet. I hand-waved it for now since I have not found any D&D5 rules about intelligent weapons yet.

My family is loving this adventure so far and I have to admit I was rather gleeful inside at scene where they have to run from the "Grey Mists" to get into the castle.

The nice thing is that even though this feels like a "monster of the week" adventure there is a great tie-in to the overall "Cult of Chaos" plot I have been weaving through all the adventures.  Yeah, yeah I have seen the posts that D&D isn't supposed to be "cinematic" or "storytelling".  Screw that. I do what my family and I enjoy.   My youngest spends his time playing looking for any clues that might help him understand more about the mystery and my oldest wants to read Lovecraft now.

So next time they will finish the central forest and hit the East Wing and then beyond.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Zatannurday: The Amazing Adventures of Zatanna!

I have been spending the week with Amazing Adventures.

While Amazing Adventures is a "Pulp Era" game there is no reason that you couldn't use it for a Modern Game.  In fact it might be fun to try doing something more Silver Age.

A while back I did a Pulp/Golden Age version of Giovanni "John" Zatara for AA.  So I am saying this version of Zee exists in the same universe.

This is a young Zatanna. Maybe soon after her first appearance with the Hawks, but long enough that she has some magical experience.

Stephanie Buscema
Zatanna Zatara
Arcanist (CHA) 8th level
Human* Female, Chaotic Good
hp: 30
MEP: 60
AC: 14 (dex, stage outfit)
Move: 30'

STR: 10 (0)
DEX: 16 (+2)
CON: 10 (0)
INT: 16 (+2)
WIS: 12 (0)
CHA: 19 (+4)

*Zatanna is a member of the Home Magi race. She gains a +1 to CHA and a -1 to CON.
Zatanna, as a quirk of her own style of magic, must speak all her spells backwards in order to work.

Languages: English, Italian, Latin, Greek (native language is English)
Background: Entertainer (Actor/Performer) +4,
Traits: Spellgifted (transmutation), Spellgifted (illusion)
Skill: Knowledge (Arcana)

Gear: Top hat, wand (magical focus +2), tuxedo

0: Arcane Mark, Detect Illusion, Detect Magic, Influence, Light, Mage Hand, Message, Prestidigitation
1: Change Self, Charm Person, Daze, Obscuring Mist, Silent Image
2: Alter Self, Blur, Misdirection, Pyrotechnics
3: Major Image, Suggestion
4: Mirage Arcana

A note about spells.  I opted for spells that look best on a stage or in front of a group of people.  So no fireballs or even a lot of damage causing spells.  Also I choose spells I felt she had access too; ones in her father's library.  Zee gets her own powerful collection of spells later on.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Kickstart Your Weekend: Amazing Adventures

I have been talking about Amazing Adventures all week and it has been a blast.

The Second Edition/Printing is being Kickstarted now and I think it blew past it's funding goal in the first few hours.

It is not difficult to see why.
- It's based on the Siege Engine rules, the same that power Castles & Crusades.
- It's two-fisted pulp action 
- It's written by Jason Vey who worked on Buffy, Angel, and All Flesh Must Be Eaten among other games.

And if my posts this week have been any indication, it is a lot of damn fun.

Amazing Adventures: Spider Mutants

Spider scary the crap out of people. Despite the fact that we out-mass a spider by several orders of magnitude I have seen tiny spiders send 200lb+ grown men into paroxysms of fear.
So imagine what giant spiders can do?
How about giant mutant spider?
How about giant mutant spiders mixed with dogs, rats, bats or wolves?

Yeah. That is the recipe for fun.

Mutant Spiders

They could be the result of arcane experiments, mad science gone unchecked or aliens from another world.  In any case a mutant spider spells trouble for the PCs.

Mutant Spider-Dog

NO. ENC: 2-8
SIZE: Medium
HD: 4d8 (16 hp)
MOVE: 40 ft., 20 ft. (climb)
AC: 16
ATTACKS: Bite (1d8)
SPECIAL Poison, Web, Twilight Vision
SANITY: 1d6/1d8
INT: Animal
ALIGN: Neutral (Evil)
TYPE: Animal (Aberration)
XP: 100 + 5/hp (180)

The Mutant Spider Dog looks like a large spider with the head of a dog.   It's eight legs end in a hook like appendage and gives it a distinct "clicking" sound when in runs.
The Mutant Spider-Dog is a carnivore and it's preferred meal are humans.

Web and Poison as per Large Spider.

Gigantic Mutant Spider
NO. ENC: 1-2
SIZE: Large
HD: 10d8 (40 hp)
MOVE: 20 ft., 10 ft. (climb)
AC: 20
ATTACKS: Bite (1d12)
SPECIAL Poison, Web, Twilight Vision
SANITY: 1d8/1d10
INT: Animal
ALIGN: Neutral Evil
TYPE: Animal (Aberration)
XP: 1350 + 10/hp (1750)

Giant Mutant Spiders are true monsters.  Often towering 20' or more they can combine the features of a number of different animals with spiders.  Like all mutant spiders the preferred food for these creatures in the warm flesh of humans.

Want to battle these creatures?  Support the Amazing Adventures Kickstarter and you can!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Amazing Adventures: The Refrigerator

A while back I did a series of posts for Superbabes. It was a lot fun. Part of the conceit of the posts was that all these various super-women like Kim Possible and Justice were gathered together to face an evil so bad that it takes all of them.  Well that evil was a mad scientist by the name of the Refrigerator.

Here is what I posted then:

The big bad is this mad scientist known as The Refrigerator. He captures women and freezes them.  Plenty of subtle and overt S&M and dominance context that makes this guy a bit creepier than Mr. Freeze or Captain Cold, yet fits rather well in this.  After all the perfect foil for a Good Girl is a creepy misanthrope.  All these heroes are gathered together, kick his ass and rescue the original team.

I also found this the other day from the August 1937 issue of Horror Stories.

Now here is the deal.  This guy came, literally, out of a nightmare.  Around 1982 or so (I was 12) I was hit with a double shot of women being frozen alive, the movies were "In Like Flint" and "Kiss the Girls and Make them Die".  It really bugged the hell out of me and gave me nightmares for a long time.

Still kind of bugs me.  Of course later I learned there is a whole creepy fetish thing related to this.  I think my issue is far more basic.  I hate being cold and think being frozen is quite possibly the worst thing ever.

But that picture above deserves a villain.  I have not found the issue yet so I can't say if there is a story that goes with that cover. But I have enough of my own nightmare fuel.

History of The Refrigerator
Dr. Andreas Gelé was born to wealth and privilege but never to love.  His father was a was a rich industrialist who made his money on the work of others and his mother was a noted and beautiful stage actress.  From his father he gained his intellect and from his mother he learned lessons in cruelty.

As his mother aged she became more and more cruel.  In his mind's eye he saw her as beautiful. This was reinforced by all the pictures of her on the wall of their estates where she was young, beautiful and happy. Frozen in time.  Gelé began to work on a process to forever keep the beautiful women young.  He was drawn to beautiful women, and his prestige later as a doctor and his wealth made that easy.  But he never could talk to or relate to them having grown up socially stunted.  So Gelé embarked on a plan so he could have his desires met.
His first experiments in cryonoics were failures. Animals would not return to life when frozen and even when he perfected the process they still had damage.  Finally through a combination of fluids and gases at super cooled temperatures.  He tested it first on his hated father. He died soon after he was free of the ice, but Gelé expected that since the old man's heart was now weak.  He froze his mother next. He was overjoyed that the ice preserved her remaining beauty.
All his research though has left his fortunes depleted so he robs banks to keep himself funded for more research and to keep his "beauties" on ice.

Dr. Andreas Gelé "The Refrigerator"
12th level Gadgeteer, Male, Chaotic Evil

STR: 10 (0)
DEX: 13 (+1)
CON: 14 (+1)
INT: 18 (+3) P
WIS: 14 (+1)
CHA: 9 (0)

AC: 16 (protective lab coat, gloves, goggles)
HP: 51 (d6)
BtH: +3

- Starting: 70
- Current: 55
- Max: 85*  (Using his science as roughly the same as Arcana)

Fate Points: 10

Abilities: Medicine (removed Jury rig)
Background: Scientist (medical doctor, cryonics)
Trait: Focused

Languages: English, French, German, Russian

Gadget: Refrigeration Gun (self-created gadget)
- Freezing Stun (Sleep, 1st level)
- Freeze (Hold Person, 3rd level)
- Wall of Ice (Wall of Ice, 4th level)
- Freeze Ray (Cold of Cold, 5th level)

All in all a nasty piece of work.  But a good bad guy. I can't wait to try him in other systems too.

Don't forget to support the Amazing Adventures Kickstarter.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Amazing Adventures: Universal Monsters

It is no secret. I love horror movies.

A large part of that is growing up on a steady diet of Universal Studios' classic Monsters.  My dad had a bunch of book about the Golden Age of Cinema.  Most I never bothered with, but the one of the horror stories and monsters.  I wore that sucker out.   When I got older (11 or 12) I bought a used B/W TV that still used tubes.  The thing got so hot you could warm a slice of pizza on it (not really, but it was hot).  This was not a big deal for me since I could watch all my favorite "Monster Movies" when they came on KPLR-TV out of St. Louis.

One of the things I discover later is that almost in every case the stories were updated to the (then) modern times.  Dracula hung out with 1930s fashionistas.  The Wolfman smoked modern cigarettes in his John Talbot guise. Yes Frankenstein seemed set in earlier time, but the sequels were thoroughly modern.

Makes them perfect for Amazing Adventures.

Dracula (1931)
The OD (original Dracula...not counting Orlock) is Bela Lugosi.

Count Dracula

SIZE: Medium
HD: 15d12+10 (100 hp)
MOVE: 40 ft., 60 ft. (fly), 20 ft. (climb)
AC: 22 (cloak of protection)
ATTACKS: Slam (1d6)
SPECIAL: Blood Drain, Children of the Night, Dominate, Create Spawn, Energy Drain, Alternate Form, Gaseous Form, Entourage, Electrical Resistance (half), Spider Climb
SANITY: 1d6/1d8 (Dracula tones down his horror)
INT: Genius
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
TYPE: Undead
XP: 11050+15 (12400)

Dracula never carries weapons relying on his Dominate and physical strength.

Frankenstein's Monster & The Bride (1931, 1935)

Both the Monster and the Bride (Frankenstein is the name of their creator) are Awakened Golems.

Awakened Flesh Golem
NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1 (typically a unique creature)
SIZE: Medium to Large
HD: 10d10 (55 hp)
MOVE: 20 ft. (Typically these Golems are slow moving)
AC: 20
ATTACKS: 2 Slam (2d8)
SPECIAL: Berserk, Immunity to Magic*
SANITY: 1d6/1d8
INT: High to Genius
ALIGNMENT: Neutral (Evil)
TYPE: Construct
XP: 900+10 (1450)

An Awakened Flesh Golem possesses self-awareness, usually keen intellect and the self-reflection to abhor what they are.  This tends to make the creatures either tragic or villainous.

While immune to magic Frankenstein's Monster has been shown to be held under the thrall of Dracula from time to time.  Controlling the Monster though takes most of Dracula's attention.

The Mummy (1932)

Imhotep / Ardath-bey

NO. ENCOUNTERED: 1 (unique)
SIZE: Medium
HD: 10d12 (60 hp)
MOVE: 30ft.
AC: 22
ATTACKS: Slam (1d12) or by weapon
SPECIAL: Despair, Darkvision 60ft, Energy Drain, Fire Vulnerability, Magic*
SANITY:  1d8/1d10 (1d4/1d6 while in his "Ardath-bey" persona)
INT: High
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil
TYPE: Undead
XP: 60+2 (94)

*Imhotep does not have a mummy rot ability, instead he can drain life energy as if he were a vampire.  Also due to his curse he can not be raised.

The Invisible Man (1933)

The Invisible Man, aka Dr. Jack Griffin is a 5th level Gadgeteer who created a potion of permenant invisibility, but at the cost of his sanity. Dr. Griffin is currently in the 10-15 SAN point range and looses more all the time.

The Wolf-Man (1941)
Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright.

Larry Talbot, AKA the Wolf Man

SIZE: Medium
HD: 4d8 (16 hp)
MOVE: 30 ft., 50 ft. (as wolf-man)
AC: 16
ATTACKS: Bite (2d4)
SPECIAL: Beserke Curse of Lycanthropy, Wolf Empathy, Trip, Alternate Form*, Twilight Vision
SANITY: 1d8/1d10
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good as human, chaotic evil in wolf form
TYPE: Humanoid
XP: 120+4 (184)

Larry Talbot's curse of lycanthropy turns him into a human/wolf hybrid creature.  Him mind is gone and all he knows is animalistic desires such as hunger and killing.  While in human form LArry searches for the wolf that infected him hopping to find a cure. 

The Gill-man (The Creature from the Black Lagoon)  (1954)

SIZE: Medium
HD: 3d8 (12 hp)
MOVE: 30 ft., 60 ft. (swim)
AC: 16
ATTACKS: Weapon (by weapon), Talon (1d4), Bite (1d4)
SPECIAL: Breeding, Darkvision 60 ft., Saltwater Sensitivity, Water Dependent
SANITY: 1d6/1d8
INT: Average
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
TYPE: Humanoid
XP: 30+3 (66)

Gill-men are the rarer freshwater cousins of the Spawn of Dagon also called Fish men.  Biology though will keep them forever seperate since the Gill Man can no more tolerate salt water than the Fish Men can tolerate Fresh water.  It is suspected that like Fish Men the Gill Man needs human females for breeding purposes.  

Now I want to rewatch all of these!

Don't forget about the Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676918054/amazing-adventures-rpg

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #8 September 1975

Going back 29 years today for Owl & Weasel #8.

The front page news if England's first Play By Mail D&D game.  Interestingly there is a mention of a "computerised" one in America.  D&D is barely a year old and someone put it onto a computer!
Also covered is the first Northern Go Tournament in Manchester.

Steve Jackson moves to Brighton from London, but will still be working on O&W.

As we move on there is a brief guide on Patents for people designing their own games. The guide is fairly specific to the place and time, but still an interesting read.  Maybe not for the content but for the mere fact it is here and the dedicated so much (a page and an 1/6) to it.   Yes even back then, or maybe especially back then, people wanted to do things their own way.

Speaking of which the next page (the remaining 5/6ths) covers some of the "house rules" contributor Graham Buckell has been allowing for in his D&D games.  Also some that Steve Jackson has been using in his games. Party members get two attempts at opening a door for example.  Clerics also get an extra chance per level to pray for a specific spell.  The math is typical of the time P(granting spell) = (Spells needed/spells used) x (char. level/spell level) x 0.6.  They are only granted a number of these extra spells on a per year basis.
A house rule to give Fighting Men more hits (hp) is introduced. Basically they can't have less than 3 hp at 1st level.

A lengthy review/overview of the game Kingmaker is the "centerfold".
The new Sci-Fi war game "Galactic War" is discussed by the designer.  I don't know if the game was every produced or caught on.  I'll keep an eye out in future issues.

Third part of the article on Mah Jong is up.

The most interesting bit is shoved into the corner of page 11.  A "preview" of a new game "Empire of the Petal Throne" with the promise of a review after they have played it.

Last page has some ads including the TSR one and, yup there it is, Galactic War for £1.00.

A solid issue covering the ground well established by O&W at this time.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Page: Witch Links

There is one thing people keep coming back to my blog for time and time again.


My email says so. My Google Analytics say so. And posts I am tagged in say so.

But there is no way  could (or even should) be the one writing everything there is to say on witches. So to that end I have created a new page, Witch Links, that links out to other blog posts or resources about witches.

I am still in the process of building it, but if you have something you want to share then let me know.

Amazing Adventures: Plays Well With Others

The best thing, or at least one of the best things, about Amazing Adventures is the fact that it is based all around Castles & Crusades.  So not only is everything for C&C compatible with it, everything that works great with C&C also works for Amazing Adventures.

This means a lot of classic AD&D adventures can be played with little conversions needed.


I spent some time this past weekend going through the original I6 Ravenloft Module.  Pretty much everything in the adventure is covered in the Amazing Adventure Rules.  In fact things might work out a little bit better.  Imagine your party of world travelling adventurers. You have a big game hunter, a scientist, a gadgeteer, maybe a socialite.  All travelling by train to some dark corner of Eastern Europe.  That is till the mists roll in and train has to stop.  A carriage comes to pick you up and takes you to small village of Barovia where is looks like time has stood still.  People are fearful of you. Soon you learn of the castle in the mountains and the Lord of the castle is inviting you to dinner.

Count Strahd von Zarovich
SIZE: Medium
HD: 14d12 (84 hp)
MOVE: 40 ft., 60 ft. (fly), 20 ft. (climb)
AC: 25 (cloak, ring of protection)
ATTACKS: Slam (1d6)
SPECIAL: Blood Drain, Children of the Night, Dominate, Create Spawn, Energy Drain, Alternate Form, Gaseous Form, Entourage, Electrical Resistance (half), Spider Climb
SANITY: 1d8/1d10
INT: Genius
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
TYPE: Undead
XP: 10450+14 (10534)

Additionally Strahd can cast spells as an 10th level Arcane Spellcaster (Int based). He is protected by a ring of protection and an amulet that prevents him from being turned.

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks

If Hammer Horror is not to your liking then change the location to the deep jungles of South America or Africa and replace the castle with a crashed spaceship.

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks is one of the odder adventures out there, and certainly one of the most fun for my money.  The high tech works just as well on the characters of the Pulp era as they do on quasi-medieval fantasy.  But AA offers something a bit more to the mix.

First off I replaced the Mind Flayers in the adventure with a malevolent type of Grey.  When the adventurers arrive the ship is just waking up and will soon begin it's conquest of the world.  The Pulp Era though predates "saucer men" by a few years at least in the public consciousness.  Compare for example the serials of the 30s vs. that of the 50s in how aliens were depicted and treated.
If you want pure pulp action then replace the creatures in the modules with the various Lovecraft Mythos monsters found in the book.  Mind Flayers afterall have a vaguely "Cthulhu-ness" about them anyway.  Fill it full of shoggoths and Spawn of Shub-Niggurath. The plant spawn make for good vegipygmies.
Add more fun and have it so the ship had crashed into the Earth 65 Billion years ago and have all these dinosaurs in stasis.  That is of course until the ship systems start to wake up.

The Isle of Dread

A monster romp on a tropical island. The Isle of Dread has far more in common with the 1933 King Kong than it does with fantasy swordplay.

The Amazing Adventures core book already has a number of dinosaurs (and the d20SRD has more) and monsters that work well with this adventure.  Plus going by steam liner makes much more sense for our Pulp Adventurers.   Isle of the Dread is essentially a "Lost World" sort of adventure and that fits the Pulp story telling perfectly.

What About Guns?
Ok so our intrepid Pulp adventurers will fight vampires, aliens and dinosaurs. Unlike their fantasy counterparts they will be armed with guns instead of swords.

This is not a problem.

As we have seen in movies time and time again a gun is not very effective against the undead.  A pistol is about as effective (pro and con) as an arrow against a rampaging dino or giant beast. And in Barrier Peaks? Well they have the chance to find "ray guns".  So guns may not really give the character the edge you might think.

I am sure there are others that would work equally as well, but these are the big three genre-bending modules with roots near the pulp era.  In any case there is enough here to keep your players happy for a while even if they played these classics in the past.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Amazing Adventures Week!

I love doing posts where I take a deep dive into a particular book or system.

This week I want to cover Amazing Adventures by Jason Vey and produced by Troll Lord games.
They are currently working on a 2nd Edition (which will still be compatible with the 1st) and have a Kickstarter up to support it.

I have covered AA in the past.  My review of it can be found here.

One of the best things about AA is it is built around the streamlined Castles & Crusades rules.  So if you play 3.x or an OSR game then you can jump into this right away.

Not only that, if you play Castles & Crusades, an OSR game or something similar to old-school D&D then AA has a great psionics system you can use.

I am going to spend some quality time with this book all week.  I hope you enjoy.