Saturday, January 31, 2015

Zatannurday: Multiversity

Not sure if you have been paying attention to the world of comics but DC has been gearing up it's Multiversity arc.  From the mind of Grant Morrison (and others) this brings back the DC multiverse hinted in the 52 series.  There are 52 Earths and each one is different.

And I love Multiverses!

Read more here:

Personally, if I were Green Ronin I would jumping all over this for the DC Adventures RPG.

Of course one of the first things I did was try to track down as many Zatannas as I could.  Here is what I know so far.

Earth 0
This is the Zatanna of the new 52.

Earth 1
This is the fishnet wearing Zatanna of the Pre-52.  I also call this the "Paul Dini" Zatanna.
This is just a guess on my part though.

Earth 3
The "evil" reversed Universe where all the bad guys are good and visa versa.
The most powerful sorceress is Annataz Arataz.

Earths 67 and 8
These have Marvel connections so not likely to have a Zatanna here.

Earth 11
This is the "gender switched" universe of Superwoman, Batwoman and Wonder Man.
Here is where you find Zatara.

Earth 12
This is the Earth of the Batman Beyond timeline.  Likely we would find John Zatara here.

Earth 13
Annataz Arataz is this world's Zatanna and member of the League of Shadows in the horror themed Earth 13.

Earth 16
There are some contradictions online.  Earth 16 is listed in the Multiversity book as "Earth-Me" other places link it to the Young Justice animated show.

Earth 19
No pictures yet, but this is the Earth of the Elseworlds Victorian stories.

Earth 21
This is the "Darwyn Cook" universe. I am sure it will look fantastic.

Earth 22
This is the world of Kingdom Come. So this is the home of Zatanna's and John Constantine's son John Zatara.

Earth 23
This is the world of Kal-L of Krypton. In his alter ego of Calvin Ellis he is President of the US.
Not much is known yet of this Zatanna save she prefers a neck tie to a bow tie.

Earth 32
This is the home of the mashed up world of the Justice Titans.  Here the most powerful sorceress is Ravanna, a mash up of Zatanna and Raven.

Earth 37
Appears to be the Thrillkiller world.  I'd imaging the Zatanna of this world looks something like this.

Earth 42
Home of the Li'l Leaguers.

Earth 50
Home of the Justice Lords from the Justice League Animated series.
No idea if Z is on their side or not but I found this fan pic online.  Bruce Timm style and reminiscent of Earth 3's Annataz Arataz.
A multiverse of Zatanas.

Now I want to run a Multiversity game!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Iron Maiden

Last week went great.  Had some good hits and some requests.
So lets get back to it.

This week I want to feature a band who I, and many others, consider to be the quintessential Dungeons & Dragons band.

Iron Maiden!

I was introduced to Iron Maiden via my Jr. High School DM.  He was a huge Iron Maiden fan and lived close to the Capitol Records/EMI plant. So we would ride our bikes there and shift through the discarded tapes that would litter the back lot.  We found tons of Kenny Rogers and The Tubes, but finding Iron Maiden was a treat.

He would come up with adventures based on the album covers (at the time he had all five of their first four studio albums and "Maiden Japan") and songs.  Later when we got to High School and a new DM (we both kept on as players) we would work "Eddie" into a our universe as an undying assassin. I don't think we ever came up with stats.    

Somewhere in Time was my favorite album of those days.  So first up is one of my favorites, Wasted Years. This video also features a pictorial history of Eddie up to that point.

"Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea, for the Devil sends the
beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short...
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the
beast for it is a human number, its number is Six hundred and sixty six."

Honestly. Could have anything sounded cooler to a bunch D&D obsessed 13 yearolds with an healthy obsession with the occult?  No. Nothing else was a cool as Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast.

No discussion of Iron Maiden and my early D&D days can happen without at least acknowledging The Trooper. This was my DM's favorite song and the one video we would wait for before playing.

And another great one from the time, Flight of Icarus.

And my first request, from Mercurius Aulicus, Fear of the Dark:

Going through all these videos and memories I realize I have enough for a Part 2!  So look forward to that at some future date.

Have a request?  Hit me up!
Want to be a guest VJ (video jockey for those that don't remember MTV)? Also hit me up!

Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: January Reviews

Here are the reviews from the first month of the Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge.

I got off to a pretty good start this month with a bunch of books I have been wanting to read or reread.

The Witches of Echo Park - Amber Benson
"The Flood is coming, Lyse. Prepare yourself."
I picked this up the same day I posted about joining the Challenge. I picked it up as both an audio book and as an ebook.
I fist have to say that it is a real treat to hear Amber Benson reading her own books. I feel I am getting something extra that I would not get from another reader.  The Witches of Echo Park is the first book of a series and thus we are hit with a lot of characters at once and the plot builds.   We meet Lyse and her great-aunt Eleanora first and they are focal characters of this book.  Lyse is your very typical Amber Benson heroine; quirky, a little neurotic, sweet and absolutely no clue about what is in store for her.  I can picture her sitting down with Calliope (from her Daughter of Death series) over coffee and talking about who had it worse.  But also like Calliope, Lyse has a hidden reserve of will and power and hopefully we will see more of it.   We are also in turn introduced to the other members of the Echo Park Coven. Devandra, the tarot card reader and mother of two.  I am expecting her daughters also have some power.  Arrabelle, the second in charge (behind Eleanora) and the herbalist of the group.  Daniela, a powerful empath and equally forward flirt.  She has a lot of secrets.  And lastly Lizbeth. She is the mystery here. 17, mute, and a terrible childhood.
Now it would be easy to complain that this is only a set up and by the time the book gets going it is over.  But no, this book is the set up, but there is a reason why this book does what it does and ends where it does.  The plot is about to be turned up to 11 and our witches are in for a wild ride.
Amber has really honed her craft here.  I like the switching narrators (the various members of the coven) to give a different point of view.  The pacing is good and I feel like I am in for a great ride here.
By the end of the book I did want more, and that is a good thing. The next book can pick up where this left off or a couple months down the line; either way I am excited and looking forward to the next one.
Witch Count: 6 (or 7-8, if you count Dev's daughters)

The Last Apprentice (Revenge of the Witch) - Joseph Delaney
This one I picked up for my son but went through it really fast.  Plus it is going to be a new movie, so I thought I would read it first.  The book deals with Tom, the seventh son of a seventh son.  He can see things others can't and this makes him perfect for the his new training as an apprentice "Spook".  Spooks are men that are charged with keeping the things at bay that would harm mortals. Tom quickly learns about ghosts, boggarts and witches.  He also learns that people fear and stay way from Spooks. That is til they need them. Tom learns his trade from Gregory, his master and the area's Spook.  Though a series of events with a local girl, Alice, and the Spook being lead away. Tom has to deal with a powerful witch, Mother Malkin and her family including Boney Lizzy.
Witches are depicted in this book as being evil, but that changes as we read and Tom comes to understand more and more.
Again this is a start to a series and a great one at that.  One could easily make a D&D campaign based on this world.  Actually, even though the book is aimed at younger readers, Lamentations of the Flame Princess has a similar vibe.
Spooks would work as an alternate type of Ranger.
Witch Count: 3 explicitly mentioned, but it is likely to be 4.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - J.K. Rowling
Of course a total re-read. This time I listened to it on audio book.
I read this book the year after it came out. People online where raving about it.  I have been wanting to reread it now after seeing the movies dozens of times and read it with full knowledge of what is to come.  I have to say the book stands up extremely well.  There are so many details in the book that my awe and appreciation of JKR has increased, if that is possible.  She set the stage for Book 7 very early on in Book 1.  She may not have known all the details yet, but she still knew what direction she was going in.  I am hoping to start Book 2 on audio here very soon.  Waiting for my library to get it in.
I do have to admit that I would love to work on a Harry Potter RPG.
Witch Count: Hundreds if not thousands.

Want to see what others are reading?  Here is a list.

Current Level: Initiate (Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Troll Lords Games Sale

Castles & Crusades is guilty pleasure of mine.

I love the game, but I rarely get a chance to play it.
To me it is the best of D&D 3.x and AD&D 1, all in a really awesome system with great writing and art.

Sadly I hardly ever get to play.  So you can imagine my irritation when Troll Lords puts everything on sale at 60%!

The great thing about Castles & Crusades is that given it's 1st ed and 3rd ed genes it can be used with any OSR or New School game.  In fact a lot of the innovations in D&D 5 have their genesis in C&C.

It really is like a Rosetta Stone system.

So check out their sale.

Check out the prices on the core books.

Castles & Crusades Castle Keepers Guide, $9.33  (normally $39.99)
Castles & Crusades Players Handbook 6th Printing, $8.39  (normally $29.99)
Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure, $8.39  (normally $29.99)

All for $26.11.  That is not a bad deal at all.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Checking in on my Plan

Over the years I have discussed my Plan.  The Plan is what adventures I am going to take my kids through.

For D&D 3.x I was content to take anything as it came, make stuff up and generally going towards a  stopping the cult of Tiamat plot.  It was/has been fun and we are nearing the end of that.

For the new adventures I was looking at 3rd, then 4th, then 1st and now 5th Edition as the primary game system.

At the present here is where I am.
  • B1 Into the Unknown, levels 1-3
  • B2 Keep on the Borderlands, levels 1-3
  • L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, levels 2-4
  • X2 Castle Amber, levels 3-6 (where we are now!)
  • I6 Ravenloft, levels 5-7
  • A0-5 Slave Lords, levels 4-7
  • G123, Against the Giants, levels 8-12 (I also have the Stone Giant one from Dragonsfoot, just need to find it)
  • D12,3 Against the Drow, levels 8,9-14
  • Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits, 10-14
  • CM2 Death's Ride, levels 15-20. (Again, unless I use it in my current 3.x game which the boys want me to do)
If I don't do Death's Ride I am seriously considering the classic H series to go after Orcus.
  • H1 Bloodstone Pass, levels 15+
  • H2 The Mines of Bloodstone, levels 16-18
  • H3 The Bloodstone Wars, levels 17-20
  • H4 The Throne of Bloodstone, levels 18-100
But I would REALLY edit these since they have a lot of issues.  Truthfully my best plan is to just use H4 and add bits from H1-3 and maybe even some stuff from the 4th Ed E-Series.  But that is if I want to have Orcus as the big bad guy at the end.  It has appeal.

Also I have the mind flayer adventure A Darkness Gathering to work into the mix.

It has taken me a while to get through all this because I am alternating with my 3.x game, some AS&SH and other games.

So far the adventures have seemed random and the characters are wandering about.  But they are about to get some items in the X2/I6 series that will help them later on.  

Right now, with out their knowing about it the Drow, Vampires and Illithids have gathered together to put the final phase of their ultimate plan into motion.  The PCs will discover a little of this plan when they encounter the Slavers.  The slavers are all vampires now and they are not dealing in slaves, but human cattle.    After they have defeated them the last part of the bad guys plan comes into fruition.  

The sun goes completely out.  

There is panic. Everyone gathers in the Freecity of Greyhawk.  The Church of Pelor/Ixion is hardest hit, but also the loudest voice.  All the "big names" are there and they are trying to figure out what to do.
There is a plan to set the moon a flame, but the various clergy of the Moon Goddesses are against that.  Finally they agree to instead use a large asteroid to keep life going till they can re-ignite the sun.
While all the big names are trying to figure this out the PCs have to deal with some raids nearby of giants...

The PCs will then go through the GDQ series to discover the plan and that the drow are working with mind flayers.  After defeating Lolth in Q1 the PCs will have to deal with the vampires who have Pelor captured.  In order to re ignite the sun they will need to set him free from his prison in ..... and that is all I have.

Yeah it is kinda story-gamey.  It's my game, my house and my kids. They will eat this up.
I guess it is hard for me to get away from the idea of vampires as the big bads.

Those of you who have been reading this blog a long time might notice that there was a similar plot in my Buffy Season 7 game, Episode 12 No Other Troy.  Though that one the sun being blocked was a side effect. 

I am inclined to use Orcus as the big bad holding Pelor.  
I have a huge ass mini of him and a crap ton of material for him.

But I have also wanted to use Camazotz as the demon-god of Vampires in his abyssal plane of Xibalba.  Maybe I still can use him in some way.  It is possible he is something like a high priest to Orcus and his job is to sacrifice Pelor on a bloody altar.  Once that is done Orcus will suck up his godly powers and reign as the God of Death and Darkness.

And he would have gotten away with it too had it not been for those meddling PCs.

Owl & Weasel Wednesdays: Owl & Weasel Index

Here is an index of all the Owl & Weasel reviews I did over the last year and some change.

O&W #1 April 1975
O&W #2 May 1975
O&W #3 April 1975
O&W #4 May 1975
O&W #5 June 1975
O&W #6 July 1975
O&W #7 August 1975
O&W #8 September 1975
O&W #9 October 1975
O&W #10 November 1975
O&W #11 December 1975
O&W #12 January 1976
O&W #13 February 1976
O&W #14 March 1976
O&W #15 April 1976
O&W #16 May 1976
O&W #17 June 1976
O&W #18 September 1976
O&W #19 October 1976
O&W #20 November 1976
O&W #21 December 1976
O&W #22 January 1977
O&W #23 February 1977
O&W #24 March 1977
O&W #25 April 1977

Here is the index for all the White Dwarf posts.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bundle of Holding: Unisystem

Many  of you know about the Bundle of Holding.  Well the newest one features Unisystem powered games which are some of my favorites.

Here are five games in the starter collection:

  • Conspiracy X 2.0 (retail $17.50): UFO conspiracy in the post-9/11 world. As an agent of Aegis, you're our best hope against the alien threat.
  • CJ Carella's WitchCraft (free): The magical Gifted have been persecuted for centuries. Now, join with your coven-mates to shape the modern world. WitchCraft was the first Unisystem game.
  • Armageddon: The End Times (retail price $15): The Apocalypse has arisen, but not the way anyone predicted. Play as an angel, a demon, or a mortal brave enough to challenge a god.
  • Ghosts of Albion (retail $5): Explore occult Victorian London in this complete RPG (widely regarded as the best version of the Cinematic Unisystem rules) inspired by the 2003 BBCi series co-created by Amber Benson.
  • Terra Primate: Savage adventure in a world where Man is the missing link.

I have gone on and on about my love for these games. Admittedly I am biased.

WitchCraft might just be my most favorite game of all time. In my mind WitchCraft is the perfect game, it has everything I have ever needed in a game.

Armageddon is a "sequel" to WitchCraft. It extends the myths and expands the system to include some greater supernaturals and more metaphysics.  Armageddon isn't a "post apocalyptic" game, you are in the middle of the Apocalypse right now and you have a chance to send the world in a completely new direction.

Conspiracy X 2,.0 updates 90s paranoia to a post 9/11 world. Written by Dave Chapman (of Doctor Who fame) it uses the same system as WC/Arm but presents a very different sort of world.

Terra Primate also uses the same Classic Unisystem rules as WitchCraft, Armageddon, Con X and All Flesh Must Be Eaten.  In this game though all the characters are (or can be) intelligent apes.  Think Planet of the Apes.  Really great and  underrated game.

Ghosts of Albion.  What else can I say about this game?  It's my baby, my magnum opus.  I love that they mention that is is "widely regarded as the best version of the Cinematic Unisystem rules".  If WitchCraft is my favorite game Classic Unisystem game then this is my favorite Cinematic Unisystem game.  In fact I have often said that Ghosts of Albion is my love letter to WitchCraft.

The bonus books are really, really awesome.

  • Conspiracy X Paranormal Sourcebook (retail $17.50): Alien vs. ghost -- who wins? With your luck, you'll be squaring off against them both.
  • Conspiracy X Extraterrestrials Sourcebook (retail $17.50): Planning a close encounter with alien invaders? This is the Conspiracy X sourcebook you need.
  • Mystery Codex (retail $11.50): New WitchCraft skills, powers, metaphysics, and, above all, vampires.
  • Abomination Codex (retail $8): More skills, powers, metaphysics, secret organizations, voodoo magic, and -- because the vampires weren't enough -- were-creatures.

The Con X source books will work with the WitchCraft/Arm ones and visa versa. You just have to figure out how to get the myths of both worlds to interact.
Mystery Codex and Abomination codex are also long out of print, so getting these PDFs is the only way you can get the books now.

So if you don't have these books yet now is a great time to check them out.

I give ALL of them my highest recommendations.
Plus 10% of your contribution goes to the American Cancer Society.  So there is that.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Listserv - Going, Gone

It was going to happen sooner or later, I have to admit it was much, much later than I ever would have thought.

I just got this email from Wizards of the Coast regarding the listserv emails.


On February 15, 2015, Wizards of the Coast will terminate our LISTSERV
system that manages this (and other) mailing lists. We've watched the usage
of these mailing lists dwindle due to the rise of other communication
platforms, such as forums and social media. Given this decreased usage, we
have made the decision that it was time to turn them off.

Please take these two weeks to back up or archive any emails you wish to
keep. After February 15, 2015, they will no longer be available and these
lists will cease to function.

—Wizards of the Coast
So the communication tool that began with (remember that?) and once was the primary voice of TSR (and later WotC) on the internet is now slipping away to join other relics of the 90s tech like the TSR pages on AOL  and Compuserv.

Frankly I am surprised they were still active, though the MYSTARA-L list was pretty much active the entire time I have been on it. That dates back to the early 90s.

So I don't have a good song to toast the life and death of the Listserv, so the Dropkick Murphys will have to do.   Going out in style.

BTW. Anyone know who the girl is this video?  The one in the screen grab above.

Satanic Panic!

I am fascinated with with the Satanic Panic of the early 80s.  Partially because I lived through it but also as someone who isn't religious I found the whole "panic" to be very confusing.
Here is an article that covers part of it.  D&D makes brief cameo.

A Brief History Of "Satanic Panic" In The 1980s

To get an idea of how serious people took this stuff here are a few other posts I made with links to articles and videos.,  Turmoil in the Toybox videos.
Here is a direct link to the D&D video (starting around 3:30)

And a few other videos I have watched, but not otherwise shared.

I LOVE that he used my Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of the cover of Dark Dungeons track.  It is too bad that no more of this series was produced.  I also got a kick out some of the picture of old D&D stuff.  He had another series on his older account.
The first one is here: (the production values are a bit low).
There is a playlist by another user of all these videos, warning there is a lot of crazy here.

I have to admit my own (at the time) anti-theism influenced my early D&D games.  So lots of undead, demons and (you guessed it) witches.  An immature reaction? Yeah. of course! But I was a teen at the time; by definition, immature.

It has though been fruitful in one respect, I have a ton of material that I wrote back then that I'd love to pull out sometime.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Zatannurday: Zatanna Bishoujo Statue

Once again, I have to give a shout out to my buddy Calvin up at the Cave of Cool for finding this for me.

It is not due out till late September of 2015.  But I am thinking pre-ordering is a good idea.

I noticed there was a Batwoman one as well.  But I can't justify getting two. I can barely justify getting one!  At least there is a good reason for Zatanna to be wearing high-heeled boots; she is a stage performer and this is a costume.  Batwoman should be wearing red combat boots.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Night Videos: Werewolves

This is something I wanted to start the year off with, but for some reason didn't get it set up.

Maybe it is the age I started playing or the time, but there was a strange alchemy that has forever link D&D (and most RPGs) and music together for me.  When I was in Jr. High we would not start playing until we saw at least one Iron Maiden video on the then commercial free MTV.  And in High School it was through D&D that I was introduced to scores of new bands and music that I remain a fan of to this day.

So it is with that in mind that I introduce my newest weekly feature.
Friday Night Videos.  I'll post a couple of videos, maybe around a theme, and talk about how they tied into my games.  I won't just focus on the 80s, though there will be a lot of that, nor will my focus be purely D&D related.

For my first post I want to include a video that I first saw on the show "Friday Night Videos" on NBC back in the day.  Just like the original, I'll have this up on Friday nights at 11:30 PM Central time.

First up is Ozzy Osbourne with the title track from his 1983 album, Bark at the Moon.
Honestly to this day I can write about werewolves and NOT think about this video.  I put this album on repeat when I was working on the monster section of Ghosts of Albion.

My Jr. High DM introduced me to Ozzy and my High School DM introduced me to Rush.
Of course the song has more to do with paranoia (and Paranoia) and a police state, I took it more literally as an enemy within yourself.  From 1984's Grace Under Pressure, "The Enemy Within".

Finally. Really how can we talk about werewolves and not include Warren Zevon's classic.
Excitable Boy was one of those albums that my DM threw at me and told me I had to listen to it before I came back for our next game (we were doing the Slave Lords adventures then).  The album is fantastic and it is almost regrettable that people usually only know "Werewolves of London".  You do get people that know about "Lawyers, Guns and Money", but most don't know what album it is from.   "Lawyers, Guns and Money" of course I used in my Buffy/Angel games.

"Werewolves of London" is honored in my games a number of ways but the most obvious is my vampire run strip club Mayfairs.

So what songs remind you of gaming?  Put in your requests below and I might pick them up on next weeks Friday Night Videos!  (People posting on Friday nights get to move to the front of the request lines).

Return to Dolmvay

So on a whim (and to celebrate the fact I sold like 6 print copies of the Witch in December) I spent some of my hard earned freelancer money on +Pete Spahn's  hardcover of the Guidebook to the City of Dolmvay (Special Edition).

Sorry for the blur on the spine.  But I wanted to show that this is a thick book.

What I have said in my earlier review of the PDF version still applies here.
The font size is larger than I expected. This is both good and bad. Good for my Grognard eyes but a smaller book might have been nice too.  In the end, I think it is a good thing.

The book will look great on my "OSR" shelf.  It will help build up that shared world idea I have.

So what makes this the "Special Edition"? Well it includes the adventure "Oak Grove Whispers" adventure for 1st to 3rd level characters.  The pdf of this adventure lists at $4.95, so to including this in the special edition is a real treat.

The book really nice to be honest.  A nice hefty tome at 261 pages. If you want to see what it looks like, grab the PDF, it is Pay What You Want.

Still want to make a Witch Cover for it.  Now that I have the Oak Grove adventure I have some better ideas.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Gog and Magog for Advanced Era Games

Don't you love it when you are doing a bit of research on a couple of different things and suddenly you read one thing and all these disparate threads come together as a nice whole?  Jung used to call it Synchronicity.  I say that if you bury your head in something for long enough your research numbed brain will see connections everywhere.  In either case this is some thing that clicked for me the other day.

I was doing research on the the original Balor/Type VI demons in 1st Ed AD&D and how there are only six of them.  The DMG lists them as Balor (their leader and the largest), Errtu, Ndulu, Ter-Soth, Alzoll, and Wendonai.  Wendonai.  Doesn't exactly fill you with fear does it.  Since I am using the OGC Balor as the basis of my own Baalor in my games I wanted to expand them a bit.  So these names are purely off limits (save for Balor).

That tied in with all the myths I have been reading (well, since forever) of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales (er Walesland?).  There was a Balor there too.  Only he was a giant with one eye on his forehead and another on the back of his head. I was reading about all these giants when I came across Gogmagog.

I had been familiar with Gog and Magog and Gogmagog because of an off-hand reference on Doctor Who years and years before.  I had scribbled down that Gog and Magog were akin to Ogres, but divine.  I choose ogres because of something the Doctor said "Gog, Magog and Ogre",  pronounced 'O-gree'.  In the book of Revelations Gog and Magog were the ultimate enemies of God's people.  Though to be fair Gog and Magog hopscotch all over the Bible and one is never really sure if they are individuals, peoples, or lands.  Gog and Magog also appear in the Qur'an as a monster (the monster of Gog and Magog) or again as a land.

Recently I reread the Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien.  The chief of the Balrogs was a being known as Gothmog.  I knew I was on to something.  Obviously Tolkien, a professor of English literature and languages (especially Old English) knew of Gogmagog. In some early versions of Tolkien's work Gothmog is even described as a "son of Melkor and the ogress Fuithluin",  Later a "Gothmog" was also the orc in charge of Mordor's army in the Return of the King.  Obviously named after the Balrog (and less confusing than Glorfindel of Rivendell vs. Glorfindel of Gondolin).

All of this though has given me some ideas.

Here they are using OSRIC and  LL Advanced  Edition Companion.  All text below is considered Open for use under the OGL.

Section 15: OSRIC Chapter V copyright 2007-08 by Stuart Marshall, Chris Hopkins, James Boney, Robert Ross, Jeremy Goehring, Mike Davison, Daniel Proctor, B. Scot Hoover, Chris Cain, Bill Silvey, Floyd Canaday, Vincent Frugé and Matthew James Stanham.
Advanced Edition Companion, Copyright 2009-2010, Daniel Proctor. Author Daniel Proctor.
Adventures Dark and DeepTM Bestiary, Copyright 2011-2013 BRW Games, LLC.
Gog and Magog for Advanced Era Games, Copyright 2015 Timothy S. Brannan.

Gog and Magog
Class F Standard Order (true) Demons
Frequency:  Very Rare (Unique Demons)
No. Encountered:  2
Size: Large, 13' (Gog), 13' 5" (Magog)
Move: 60 ft; 150 ft flying (AA:III)
Armor Class:  -3 (Gog) / -4 (Magog)
Hit Dice*: 10d8+10 (Gog), 10d8+21 (Magog)
Attacks: 1 bite or by special attack
Damage: 1d12+4
Special Attacks: Flaming great sword (2d8) (Gog) or Flaming great axe (2d8) (Magog) + 3d6 fire
Special Defenses: +2 or better magic weapon to hit
Magic Resistance: 75%
Lair Probability: 0%
Intelligence: High
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level/XP: 9/3,750 + 13/hp**

Gog and Magog are two unique demons of the same sort of Balor.  While they are larger and more aggressive than their kin, their natures preclude them from ruling large numbers of lower demons as their brethren might.   Gog and Magog are described as "brothers" and this has never been proven by any occult scholar.  They share a physical similarity to each other.  Gog is large, predominantly red in color with black hair and beard. He wields a large flaming sword in battle.  Magog is larger, predominantly black in color with red hair and beard.  He wields a large flaming great axe.  Either causes an extra 3d6 points of fire damage per hit.
Gog and Magog can also use the following powers at will: detect invisibility, detect magic, dispel magic, fear (as the wand), pyrotechnics, read languages, read magic, suggestion, telekinesis (600 lbs.), and symbol (despair, fear, sleep, and stunning).   A +2 or better magical weapon to hit.
Unlike other demons, Gog and Magog cannot gate in lesser true demons.  Instead they may summon 2d6 demonic Ogres each.  These creatures appear as normal ogres save that their skin is red and they are immune to fire, poison, sleep and charm spells.  They also need a +1 or better magical weapon to hit.  Demonic ogres always have the maximum hitpoints for ogres.
Much like other demons, these two will bicker and fight and even plot against each other.  However when confronted with a common foe the will work together to defeat them.  They are completely loyal only to each other. They are often found in each other's company.
They are most often found on the Material Plane, the summoning ritual for one will also summon the other and only rarely in the Abyss.
They are violent, aggressive and constantly angry.  Neither is much for planning, but when pressed they are good strategists and have been used as generals by stronger Demon Lords and Princes.  They have even been known to serve the Baalseraph Ahriman, also known as Angra Mainyu.  A common tactic among the Demon Lords that engage their services are to choose a location and let the brothers go.

*Many "Advanced Era Games" use a d8 for monster HD. I prefer to use a d10 myself.
** Adjust according to your preferred system.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Monster Guides over at The Power Score

The Power Score, a great blog that could use some more attention has been doing some great D&D monster guides.

In these Sean has been taking various monsters and looking at their growth and changes across as many editions of D&D he can as well as supplementary products.

So far he has covered:

Plenty of art and comparisons between the editions.
The thing I like is he treating the editions as evolving understanding of the monsters.

So pop over and check these out. A leave a comment or two. That's the neighborly thing to do really.

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #25 April 1977

Here we are, at the end of all things.  Err. Not really. It is April, 1977 and this is the last issue of Owl & Weasel.  I missed noting last issue's price increase to 20p.  It could have just been for the double sized issue, but the increase remains here.  Maybe it is the special Silver Jubilee price.

Our editorial details the end of Owl & Weasel and the start of White Dwarf.  Well at least overtly. It is loaded with a bunch faked melodrama that frankly I would have been happier not reading.  I am going to chalk it up to actual emotion and the separation of an entire ocean and nearly 38 years.

The index for the Article Competition is up and on page 3.  Ian Livingstone spends some time talking about them and mentioning that they will be looking for more material like this for White Dwarf.

Page 5 covers various news items. One item mentions the Dungoneer magazine.  That is one I would like to cover sometime too, but I am missing some issues and the ones I am missing tend to be quite expensive on eBay when they show up.

Page 6 is the "Big Reveal" of the White Dwarf contents and cover.  Of course at they only have an artist mock up and it doesn't look like how the magazine will later look. But that is ok.  They talk about what they will be doing; D&D articles, society news, letters and "The Other World" a section on non-SF/F gaming.  That never really happened. They also talk about what they are looking for in terms of contributions.

Pages 7 and 8 cover D&D Society news including more names and addresses.

Next up we actually have some content. There is a review of FGU's Gladiators game. It is a board game, with no board or pieces. Seems a bit odd to me.

Next up is a reader contribution on what makes an interesting dungeon.  The advice is solid, if a bit dated.  Make sure it is interesting, has some traps, some new monsters...that sort of thing.  It is 1977, benefit of the doubt here.  The next page is another reader contribution. This time about how to store counters for games.  No Container Stores or Ikea's yet in England of 1977 I am guessing.

We end the issue with the Games Workshop price lists.

Wow. What a run.  I have a few more things in mind for White Dwarf Wednesday; mostly book keeping sort of things.  But I Really hope you have enjoyed all of this.  125 issues of both White Dwarf and Owl & Weasel.  It's been a great deal of fun.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Reviews: Titles from Sacrosanct Games

I picked up a few PDFs over the last couple of weeks for ideas for my big 5e game.  The rule system is 5e, but the adventures themselves are all 1st ed or Basic.  

In the process I noticed that I had picked up a few titles from Sacrosanct Games and I thought I would share what I found.

B1 Journey to Hell
This one grabbed this because I needed an adventure geared toward 18-20th level.  Also it is about Hell, so that got my attention.  I bought it on a whim based solely on level and "hell".
First off you get a lot of adventure for your buck. 45 pages of adventures and maps (granted it is the same adventure twice, but still).
The artwork is great, coming primarily from sources like The Inferno. This is quite fitting given that the adventure itself is quite reminiscent of Dante's great tale.  It does include some art from the Larry Elmore CD that was out years ago, but doesn't properly cite it in their OGL page.
It is dual stated for the OSRIC and Altus Adventum Role-Playing Game, always a plus in my book, but it can be played with any number of OSR systems or their fore-bearers.
4 out of 5 Stars

Classes of the Far East
Grabbed this because my youngest wants to play a ninja like character.  It has a ninja, as well as a monk, a mahoutsukai (spell caster that uses both magic user and cleric spells, and a lot of them), and the yokai which is a race as a class of animalistic humanoids, and of course the Samurai.
Weapons are listed (damage and cost) but no descriptions are given and no artwork of the weapons.  And that is pretty much it.  If you don't know what these weapons look like, then you are on your own really.
Looking over the mahoutsukai it is grossly overpowered. It basically advances as cleric and a magic user at the same time.  So by 14th level it has 12 each of 1st through 5th level spells, 7 6th level and 1 7th level.  It has limits, namely limited to the same arms and armor choices as a magic-user, limited to 14th level and can't turn undead.  But that is still a lot of spells.  Honestly it should one spell list that combines select magic-user and cleric spells and it should have some limits on what it can and cannot do.   Right now it is not a class I can recommend using.
3 out of 5 Stars

Reclaiming the Caves on the Borderlands
I picked this up because I do enjoy seeing what others can do with such well trodden ground as the Keep and the Caves of Chaos.  The cover claims to be 5th Edition compatible and uses the current OGL to get there.  Personally if I were a publisher I would be staying away from this.  It is murky legal ground right now and one I would not tread on.  But lets move on.
The cover is nice and drew me in right away.  The book is 24 pages, but minus 1 for cover, 1 for ogl, 1 for a blank page, 1 for an ad, 4 for maps and 1 more for a character sheet. So 15 pages of text.
The Good:  There is a good section on pages 4 and 5 on playing humanoid races such as orcs, bugbears, gnolls and so on.  Just the stats, nothing really on "how to play them" No big, these are the standard baddies for the last 40 years. We know them.
There is detail on how the caves are controlled and what can be the expected losses of the various groups of humanoids living in the caves over time.
The Not As Good For Me: The caves and the rooms themselves are not detailed.  There are blanks left for the DM to write in what is there from monsters to items.  The main conceit here is that the inhabitants of the Keep have taken over the Caves now.  It is all very sandboxy which is fine, but not what I was expecting.  I am perfectly fine with sandboxes, but that it not why I buy pdfs.  I buy graph paper for that.
The Bad: This PDF uses scanned images from the original map of the Caves of Chaos from B2.  It has been run through Photoshop and some alterations have been made, but I can overlay a scan of the blue/white Caves map and line it up perfectly (including grids) to the "Reclaiming" maps. Not very professional at all.
The Ugly:  Additionally there is a really bad scan of the old D&D Basic era Character sheet.  It has been edited (poorly) to make it more in line with 5th Edition, but honestly it is just plain ugly. The artist would have been better off starting from scratch and making a 5e sheet that looked a bit like the Basic one rather than include this. Better still would be not to include one at all.  It is just ugly, shows really poor Photoshop skills and a copyright infringement to boot.
So in the end, despite some promise and high hopes, this falls really flat.
2 out of 5 Stars 

Monday, January 19, 2015


Have had a few colds or upper respiratory tract infections running through the house the last few days.  Not a big deal, but my efforts have been more focused on taking care of others rather than gaming.  But I did manage to get something fun in.
My wife, my youngest son and I have all been binge watching Grimm.  We burned through Season 1 and are not 3/4 ths of the way through Season 2.

It's great fun and my youngest (much like me at that age) loves all sorts of spooky, mystical stuff.

I was, as I typically do, working on some projects while watching.  I was also spending more time with my D&D 5 DMG.  It got me thinking about what sort of system would be the best for Grimm.

Typically if it is mystical or is modern monster hunting, then I first look to Unisystem; and Cinematic Unisystem at that.  After all, it is TV and I quickly figured out several Qualities and Drawbacks that the star Nick Burkhardt could have as a Grimm (Enhanced Senses, Honor, Increased Strength, Hard to Kill...and so on). It's not a difficult exercise.  But CineUnisystem, as much as I love it, is not really a perfect fit.
Despite some potions and some odd powers, there really is nothing along the lines (well yet) as magic as I defined it Ghosts of Albion or as was defined in Buffy/Angel.  Sure, Army Darkness might work but still not just right.

So I was thinking Chill and it's more modern cousins, Majus and Cryptworld.  I even know already there is a zombie episode coming up, so Rotworld is also in.
Why these games vs. the Unisystem line?  Well I believe that system strikes a tone with how you play.  Which is also why I ruled out Call of Cthulhu (despite how much I enjoy it).  People in the Grimm world are, well, regular people.   There are some monsters, some Wessen. But Cryptworld can deal with that. If I would opt to have Wessen as PCs then I can use some cues from Majus.

I thought about looking into the Fantasy Flight Games RPG "Grimm",  and it looks like it could work a little too.  But I don't own it and only know it through reputation.  Other than that there does not seem to be a Grimm tie in RPG.    I did a search and seems like most people would use Buffy/Angel/Ghosts of Albion, which does give me a bit of professional pride, even if I am not agreeing with them.

Does anyone watch the show? NO Spoilers please!  If so, what system would you use? What do you think about Chill vs. Unisystem.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gen Con 2015

Chatted with the family and we are heading to Gen Con again this year.

So far we have no big plans.  Last year was dedicated to D&D5, this year no plans yet.
I might run something.  I have a couple of Ghosts of Albion games I would love to run.

The kids are thrilled.  I am excited.
Looking forward to it!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Zatannurday: Zatanna and Constantine

Last night was the return of Constantine to the small screen.  We still have no clear idea yet if it will be renewed for a 2nd season, but I am not getting my hopes up.
This certainly means we won't see John and Zee together on the screen anytime soon.

So here they are on the smaller screen.

Bleedin' Las Vegas by conjob1989 on DeviantArt

Zatanna and Constantine by m0nstersInside on DeviantArt

Constantine And Zatanna That old Black magic... by samayoa on DeviantArt

Surprise by armadillo-CDQ on DeviantArt

Justice League Dark Combo by elena-casagrande on DeviantArt

Commission - Deadman, Constantine, Zatanna by tyrannus on DeviantArt

Zatanna and John Constantine by montrosity on DeviantArt

Hope we get to see more!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Happy Anniversary Hero Press!

Today Tim Knight is celebrating 8 years of blogging with Hero Press!

A very worthy achievement.
You can see his first post here and it gives you no indication of how useful or how vital Hero Press has become.

For me Hero Press is usually where I hear about all things comic, movie, sci-fi television or gaming first.  All with a style and a quality that I think only Tim can bring to it.

Let's all be honest here, blogging is as much about personality as it is about content.  Sometime those personalities can be so grating that it drowns out the content.  This is not so with Tim Knight.
I always feel like the implied welcome is "come on in, have a pint, hey did I happen to tell you about this thing that has me really excited right now?..."
No one has ever said a bad thing about Tim Knight or Hero Press ever.
Yeah I know I was just railing against personality cults last night.  But it doesn't count if the person is a genuine nice guy.

So please join me in celebrating Tim's great accomplishment. Stop by Hero Press now and give Tim your congratulations.  

I want to hear more about the Acrobatic Flea and Barney the Bunny and how your kids are doing. Keep telling us more about the new TV shows you are getting before we do and visa versa.

You have kept us entertained and informed for 8 years.  Here is 8 more!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I Want My Own Cult

Seriously.  Where do I sign up for that?

I spent part of my day arguing with a group of people (non gamers) about something and despite overwhelming, demonstrable evidence to the contrary of their opinion I and my small band of like minded rationalists were overwhelmed by their cult like mentality.

I could not even get to click on one link to Snopes that destroyed their entire argument.

I left that after my wife told me to stop poking the zoo animals with pointy sticks.  I came back to it just an hour ago to find the situation far worse.  I did the only sensible thing. I gave up.

Come back here to the safe haven of RPGs only to see more Cult of Personality type behavior and the inexplicable fawning over people vs. ideas.

So while I am watching these two "cults" fight each other over who thought up what ever idea first I have decided I want my own cult.

It really shouldn't take much. I'll post like I always do. You just agree with what I say!  You don't even have to read what I posted!  I get a sense of self-worth, you get that nice warm feeling of belonging to something larger than yourself.   Best part is when I eventually do something really stupid you have deep conversations with people on what it was I was really saying or not.  And when I totally go off the deep end you can have a moment of clarity and talk about how you knew all along I was full of shit!

So how about it? Join my Cult of Personality. No weird initiations. No fees.  But if I get enough people then maybe we can have a secret handshake. Or a secret milkshake. Whatever.


This has been passed around a lot lately, but still an interesting read.
The development of the module Quagmire by Merle Rasmussen.

The article is less about module design than it is about commercial module development.  It is insightful on how things were created in the heyday of TSR. Also if you look hard enough you can even see the seeds of TSR's eventual demise here.

I post this though because it is an interest footnote to me.  I remember this adventure. I picked it up and completely gutted it because what I wanted was a swamp with a tower in it.  All that hard work detailed above and I chucked it all!

This article did make me want to pull my old copy out, but I remembered that it was one of the many pre-2e materials I lost back in the mid-90s. Thankfully I do have the PDF.  I might use it in my current game, but everything is so packed now I fear I will end up doing exactly what I did in the past; chuck the adventure and make it an interesting locale to stop over in.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Owl & Weasel Wednesday #24 March 1977

Issue 24 of Owl & Weasel is fresh off of their packed Games Days and moving right on in their D&D Day.  To celebrate this issue is an all D&D issue.  My favorite bit in the editorial is where they mention the hall only holds 250 people and that unless you get there early you could be turned away.  "Sorry, you can't play D&D today, it is just too popular right now!"
The issue is pretty solid really. Very, very much like what we will expect to see in White Dwarf.
Though they do start off with some pretty bad game fiction. Yes it is supposed to be humorous. but I got bored with it really fast.

Page 5 gives some advice on dungeon mapping. Not bad really, but very much an "early days" sort of article.  You don't see stuff like this outside of blogs anymore.
In typical O&W fashion there is a naked angel at the bottom of the page telling us "the end is nigh! See page 11 for details."

Pages 6 and 7 are dedicated to the D&D Day hall and schedule. It runs 10 hours and there competitions for best mini, best room and best magic item. I do admit a certain level of curiosity to know what won.

Pages 8 and 9 give us some meat to chew on.  We have two new character classes.  The Samurai and the Psionist.  The Samurai is what you would expect; it is a take on the fighter with more attacks per round and an unarmed attack.  Not a lot in terms of flavor, but that was supposed to be what the player brought to the table and what the DM gave a background for.
On the other side of the coin we have the Psionist. Using the psionics rules from Eldritch Wizardry this class excels in psionic attacks, defenses and effects, but not much else.  They get a d4 for hp and then after level 10 they get .5 hp per level!  Their powers are determined by level and they have a 15% cum chance per level to develop another random talent.  There are Standard and Special abilities.  Despite it's lack of detail the class looks pretty solid and playable.   I could have used this class back in 1989 when I was playing an OD&D campaign with psychic (not exactly psionic) characters.  It is also something my youngest would like.
There are also some new weapons, interestingly enough nothing particularly related to either class.

Pages 10 and most of 11 are dedicated to the 80 names of people in the D&D society. This is the full list to date. Bottom of page 11 is the announcement that next issue is the last issue of Owl & Weasel. Ian and Steve tell us that they want to shift focus to more SF/F games with an occasional dip into other games.  The new magazine will be called White Dwarf and have higher production values.  Subscriptions will transfer over to White Dwarf from Owl & Weasel unless of course you don't want to.

Finally Page 12 covers all the games that Games Workshop has to offer in their store.  Far more than a year ago.

This is the most "White Dwarf-y" feeling issue to date. In fact, other than the size and layout it feels more like White Dwarf #1 than Owl & Weasel #1.

Next week, The End.