Monday, February 29, 2016

I Want to Believe

I know I am late (by a week) to the game here, but I just watched the last episode of the new Season 10 of X-Files.  I want to start off by saying how phenomenally pleased I was with the entire season.

Now I was a huge X-Files fan back in the day. This was my favorite show.  I was just moving up to Chicago. Had a new apartment in the heart of the Near West side after living in nothing but small Southern Illinois towns (under 20k people).  I was working on my Ph.D., engaged and X-Files was my Friday night (later Sunday night).  I loved the Myth-arc, the monster of the week episodes and getting on the internet on Monday to talk about it on  No world had pulled me in so hard since Star Trek or Doctor Who.

Like Trek and Who, X-Files came back.  But I was worried that so much of what had made it awesome was gone.   Clinton wasn't in the White House anymore. The nascent internet is now ubiquitous. The paranoia of the 90s has turned into the .... whatever the hell this is we have now.

I was surprised and very, very pleased how the new X-Files picked right up.
Not only picked up, but made the intervening years part of the larger story.  I was excited to see Mulder and Scully back in action. I loved the subtle changes made to their dynamic and even the addition of Miller and Einstien. I laughed out loud during Mulder's "Shroom" trip and the "blink and you'll miss them" cameo of the Lone Gunmen.  X-Files was back and hitting all the notes in my book.

I'm not a geek. Not at all...

At first I thought 6 episodes were plenty, but very soon I wanted more.  A lot more.
Maybe we will get more, Chris Carter certainly thinks so, but time will tell.

In the meantime I am now wanting to dust off all my Conspiracy X books.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mail Call: WITCH Fated Souls

Mail call from yesterday.
I just got my copy of WITCH: Fated Souls by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul.

The book, screen and Tarot Cards look great and can't wait to try it out.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Interview with Debra Hoenig Parizek

Debra Hoenig Parizek is working on bringing here late husband's dream to life, The Everyverse RPG.

I thought I would spend some time with her to talk about the Everyverse RPG.

Tim Brannan/The Other Side:  Let’s start at the beginning,  who are you and what is the Everyverse RPG?
Debra Hoenig Parizek: I am the widow of the author now, production and marketing director for EVERYVERSE RPG. Both the author, Dennis, and I grew up in Iowa and graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA. I spent 34 years in IT. Since being laid off in Dec, 2014, I have been working in online marketing. I was nudged to bring EVERYVERSE RPG to market after a long weekend gaming session with friends at the end of last June.

EVERYVERSE RPG is a universal system that may be applied to any setting.

TB: How long did your late husband work on this game?
DHP: At least 10 years

TB: How did you get into gaming?
DHP: I got into gaming because my late husband was a gamer. I believe the first scenarios he and I played were Star Wars based using an early version of what is now EVERYVERSE RPG. Later, I joined his gaming group of college friends. That group started meeting again with the 2nd generation (i.e. sons of 2 members) playing with us old timers.

TB: What are some of your favorite games? Why?
DHP: I've played Cyberpunk and AD&D. To be honest, I've been spoiled by playing EVERYVERSE RPG.

TB: What is one of your favorite features about Everyverse?
DHP: I think using The Attempt to resolve all outcomes. The structure of The Attempt is simple -- what action is performed, applicable character attribute score or skill cascade score, modifiers. That's basically it then roll your 4D10.

TB: What is Everyverse to set it off from other multi-genre games?
DHP: It features 5 methods of character generation, uses the Bell curve (the curve used in real-world IQ measurement) where a score of 100 is average for a population in character attributes and skills scores for more meaningful information at a glance, has skills cascades to describe a skill set from general to more specific and uses a single method, The Attempt, to resolve all outcomes.  Also, it presents tables for conversion from other systems to EVERYVERSE RPG.

TB:  What sort of games/stories do you expect that people will use this for?
DHP: Most recently, it was used by folks who play online to do a supernatural hunters scenario. We have used it to play low-tech, high-tech, Star Wars, Highlander. I believe we will be doing a Harry Potter scenario for a podcast next weekend.

TB: What are your future plans for this game?
DHP: The basic rules are available now and I am prepping a supplement on Paranormality. Then, there is a High-Tech Equipment supplement and a Future History supplement. I also want to expand some adventure scenarios into modules for sale.

TB: And finally where can we find you on the internet?
DHP: my website is
my facebook page is
my kickstarter is

TB: Ok last question and this is for my own benefit. Who is your favorite wizard, witch or magic-user
DHP: Harry Potter


There are a lot of really great things that Debra is giving away for this game.  It would be nice to this game make it.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Witch Game

Jonathan Becker of the excellent B/X Blackrazor posted this to my Class Struggles post yesterday:

Have you considered (or run) a game where witches simply replaced magic-users?

Reading this post and your earlier ones, I'm struck by the idea that the "witch" (which I've written several times myself) may need to be something setting-specific, rather than an archetypal class. So much of the witch...and version (folkloric, historical, literary) intimately tied to its particular setting, mainly with regard to culture. Sure, they do magic...but that magic varies from source to source (I know you're an expert on the subject, so you can draw references from tons of sources). Real witchcraft is extremely personal to its practitioners, and in a way that parallels the media depiction of witches: each filmmaker or TV producer or book writer has their own personal interpretation of the abilities of a witch. There's a shit-ton of differences between Bewitched and the film Warlock and those Harry Potter books...and a galaxy of difference between any of those and Baba Yaga!

The real defining thing about witches is their (sub)culture, not their powers. They are outsiders from normal society. They are close-knit (have shared ties) with each other. They're feared and often persecuted (or shunned if too powerful...see Baba Yaga). Even so, they can be helpful to non-witches. They seem to have an appreciation for the natural world, especially animals and plants. Their "natural world" also includes forces that mundane folks see as "supernatural" (whether you're talking about spirits, sympathetic magic, or whatever).

The default setting of most editions of D&D don't really leave room for this culture of the witch. People don't shun and persecute magic-users. Magic-users are prone to secrecy and isolation in order both to guard their power and to prevent every Tom, Dick, and Jenny from banging on their door asking for help with some quest or village plight. The evil ones go crazy and live in dungeons and command legions of orcs and monsters. The helpful ones are out on adventures, fattening their purses, getting in knife fights, and acting as magical artillery. I don't know...for me, there's just nothing "witchy" there (culturally speaking).

To really do witches, you need a specific campaign setting that works with their culture. After that, most any spells or abilities will work (and there's plenty of inspiration to draw from). But without the right setting? I don't see a real place for witches in the D&D game.

Jonathan knows his stuff. He also did a very excellent witch in his Complete B/X Adventurer. He makes a lot of excellent points.

Let me dive in, in detail.
>>Have you considered (or run) a game where witches simply replaced magic-users?

I am currently in one now and have played some in the past. In general the witch is less powerful than a same-level wizard, but has some advantages the wizard doesn't have, such as healing.

>>There's a shit-ton of differences between Bewitched and the film Warlock and those Harry Potter books...and a galaxy of difference between any of those and Baba Yaga!

Oh yes. That is part of the problem, and part of the fun.  I  could find some similar differences in say a thief. Like Robin Hood vs. The Grey Mouser vs. The Stainless Steel Rat and others.  D&D only models a particular type of reality.  I have often said I'd kill to do a Harry Potter game, but damn if I know how I would build Hogwarts in D&D yet.

>>The real defining thing about witches is their (sub)culture, not their powers. They are outsiders from normal society.

There is a ton of good in these two sentences. It also concurs with things I have said in the past, repeating what Tom Moldvay has also said.   One thing to consider is that one man's cleric is another man's cultist.  So often a "witch" really could just be a wizard, cleric or some off-the-wall druid.
It really does give weight to the idea of a "magic-user" class.

>>I don't know...for me, there's just nothing "witchy" there (culturally speaking).

Which I think is why the witch has traditionally been an NPC class.

>>To really do witches, you need a specific campaign setting that works with their culture. After that, most any spells or abilities will work (and there's plenty of inspiration to draw from). But without the right setting? I don't see a real place for witches in the D&D game.

For me though I think this can be handled in right role-playing environment.
Pathfinder does a good job makeing their witch very different from their wizard.  D&D4 had a different take on their witch, but it was still fun.  In both cases there is a lot of "background" to help seperate them from the other spell casters.  I tried to do this with the Traditions.

I see your point that the differences between a witch and wizard are largely cosmetic (my words) or cultural (your words); but even the "wizard" as an archetype has a lot of variety. I mean is Hermoinie a D&D wizard or witch? She is called a "Witch" but her magic seems more "Wizard" to me.

Heck. In some ways your B/X Witch is more "witchy" than mine!

In any case I like that these points are made.  
I do like the idea of a specific campaign setting that supports a witch.  I suppose in many ways that is my "default" game setting.  But "my D&D" tends to have healthy doses of horror in it as well, so the witch, potentially a person that deals with these elements from beyond, is more of an outsider.

But you have given me some material to consider and I appreciate that.

OD&D Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes

The "last" OD&D supplement is out this week, Gods, Demi-gods & Heroes.
This was always one of my favorites and I remember it well from the days playing Basic D&D and discovering that there was this "whole other D&D game".

I remember getting my first copy many years ago and thinking it didn't live up to the hype in my head, but years later I really enjoyed that crazy little book.

It has seen better days.
I still find use for this little book and glad to finally have a good copy in PDF.  Even if it doesn't match the version I have above.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Class Struggles: Clerics, Wizards and Witches

This is Zohir Totek. Is she a cleric, wizard or witch?
Ok so stop me if you have heard this one before...
a Cleric, a Wizard and a Witch walk into a dungeon...

ok, you likely haven't heard that one before.  Why? Well there is still some confusion over what roles each of these character classes play.

I mean we all, old-school gamers and new-school, seem to have a good grasp on the concept of what a wizard does, or at least can do.  They cast spells. They are the "smart guys" in the group. So I am not going into detail about them just yet.

Clerics also cast spells.  But they also heal and are better at bashing in skulls and killing undead.  Some old-school blogs in the past have posted things about not needing clerics in games. I believe that Lamentations of the Flame Princess doesn't even have a Cleric class.   I have seen other posts over the years that also attest to this anti-Cleric vibe.    This is not even getting into the divide between clerics, druids, mystics and invokers.   I never quite got this. My first character was a cleric.  For me he was a hunter of the Undead and later demons.  While certainly there is the "party medic" part to the cleric's job, there is the "occult" aspect too.  When you stop fighting orcs and goblins and move to ghouls, vampires and demons then you are going to need/want a cleric in your group.  Yes. Wizards can and should cover some of this as well.

It is fairly well known that the idea behind clerical undead turning  came from Peter Cushing's Van Helsing characters in the various Hammer Dracula films.  Why not extend the metaphor to include the rest of Van Helsing's portfolio.  As a class that puts a high value on Wisdom then the cleric should be a font of knowledge. Sure, this can also be done by the Wizard,  but the cleric's input should not be understated.  For me I guess I look at what is the prime attribute of the any-school Cleric.  Wisdom. Always has been, likely always will be.   Compare this to the equally constant Wizard; Intelligence, always has been, likely always will be too.
For me, if your cleric and wizard are not getting into heated arguments in the game then you are missing out on some good roleplaying experiences.

Matters become more complicated when you through in a witch or a warlock (as I am wont to do). Or even and Oracle (Pathfinder), Druid (any), Invoker (D&D4), and/or a Sorcerer (Post D&D3).  It can quickly become a mess really.

I have talked at great length on what the roles and powers of a witch are or should be:
so I am not going to recount those all here.

In my book The Witch I have an appendix of things you can do with the Magic-User to make it more Wizard like.  I know this goes against the central conceit of the "magic-user" but it is what has worked for me. Yes you can play a by-the-book magic-user and give her "witch" spells.  I have done this for every edition of D&D I have ever played to be honest.  I spend a lot of time and energy on this topic.

So here are some rough guidelines.  These are based on my games really and focused on my own particular flavor of Old-School.  So your mileage will vary.

Clerics (Wisdom, Divine): Max spell level 7, some powers (turning undead, healing magic in other editions), greater combat ability and greater hit points.  Knowledge of outer planes and evil magical monsters.  Worship and follow their gods.  Best healing spells.
See also Mystics, Druids, Healers, Invokers.

Wizards (Intelligence, Arcane): Max spell level 9, not a lot of extra powers (I give them Read Magic for free). Weak combat ability, best at knowledge on monsters.  No special attention is paid to gods.  Best at spell research and magic item creation.  Best damage dealing spells.
See also Sorcerers, Illusionists.

Witch (Charisma, Occult): Max spell level 8, extra powers. Spells are overall weaker than a wizard. Weak combat ability.   Knowledge of supernatural and fey creatures.  Learn spells from patrons via familiars.  Might call them gods, but they are not necessarily so.  Best change of condition/state spells (curses, polymorphs) that may or may not cause direct (HP) damage.
See also Warlocks.

I can see a relationship that goes like this:

Of course, this is overly simple. But I can see other magic using classes here.
I wonder what is in the center?  Any ideas or guesses?

Compare to this RPG Archetypes graphic I saw on facebook, G+ and recently over at Observations of the Fox.

Click for much larger

I love graphics like this.  I could do the next 10-12 Class Struggles on that triangle alone.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Review: Scum and Villainy

"Scum and Villainy" is likely to be the most aptly named supplement for the White Star game I have picked up in a long time.  After all, if White Star is the godchild of Star Wars and 70s D&D then Scum and Villainy had to come up sooner or later.

S&V is a 17-page book (cover, credits page, table of contents, 1.5 pages of OGL bring us to 12.5 pages of content) for playing the low-life of the galaxy.  Written by +Omer G. Joel it also features some really nice art from +Luigi Castellani.   It is very evocative. I see that and I think "Traveller" and that is not a bad thing.  Nor is it an accident.
I am in love with that cover.

There are two new classes, the Assassin and the Rogue who do pretty much what you think they do, but there are some nice features to make them fit the WS universe a bit better.

The gems of this though are the expanded rules. How to go unnoticed in space. How to sell stolen goods.  Really the stuff that you expect to see in a book like this, but never really do.

There is a section on ship mods, new equipment and new weapons.

There was a lot of good things here, but I was hoping for more.  Maybe a bit on a notorious crime synidicate or something along those lines.

With 17 pages at $3.99 I was expecting more.  Compare this to the B/X Rogue which is 24 pages at $1.50 and covers similar ground.   Combining the two would give you some really potent rogues!

Monday, February 22, 2016

What is "Other Side Publishing"?

Sisters of the Aquarian Order continues to not only do well, but it is surpassing my initial beliefs of how it will sell.

I want to take a moment here and talk about my new "label" The Other Side Publishing.
This new outlet gives me a better degree of control over products that are a little closer to me and allows me to get some books out that other publishers might not want to do.

I enjoy freelancing and I have the luxury to be able to pick and choose which products I get to work on.  This is really just an extension of that.  I am not looking to become the next big thing.  I am looking to have a little fun, get some books out of things I'd like to play and if I make some money while doing it; well it will buy art for the next book!  Yeah not the best business plan, but one I can live with.

No idea what is coming next.  I have a supplement I would like get out the Basic Psionics Handbook.  I have a bunch of research material left over from my witch research over the years to get some other books out.   Also I have OSR, 3e and 5e material I'd like to get out there; so it is a really odd mix.

My hope is that you all will find this as much fun as I do.

Friday, February 19, 2016

I'm Number 3!

Ok. So maybe not the cry you normally hear, but I am still happy.

Sisters of the Aquarian Order is doing much better than I expected! Getting to #1 would still be nice.

Check it out and make my weekend.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Sisterhood of the Aquarian Order

The Sisterhood of the Aquarian Order

“Our only limits are imagination.”

    - From the Records of the Sisterhood of the Aquarian Order

A new class for the White Star RPG.

The Sisterhood of the Aquarian Order is a class human mystics that have guided humanity towards the stars for centuries untold.

In ancient times when mankind was still battling over feudal lands, the Order was plotting the motions of the planets. When humanity was first using solid fuel rockets the Order was projecting their consciousness beyond our solar system into the stars.  When humans first set foot on alien words, the Order already knew the songs of these Aliens. Now that humans have taken their rightful place among the stars the Order does what it can to keep humanity moving forward.  To what future, only they know.  They believe that humanity is on the cusp of a new consciousness and a new age.

This book includes:
  • The Sisters of the Aquarian Order Class for White Star
  • Psychic Powers and Rituals of the Order
  • New Equipment and space ships
  • Advice for using the Sisters in your games
Details on the Capricorn Heresies and the future of the Order.

Now available in both PDF and Print!


All the files have been submitted, proofs checked and rechecked.

Just waiting on RPGNow to do it's thing.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sisters of the Aquarian Order: The Geminian Prophecy

The Sisters of the Aquarian Order believe in reincarnation.  They have seen the same souls over and over again throughout their long history.  While the memories of former Sisters live on in the Gestalt, the "souls" are reborn again and again.

Such is the case with Kimbra III and Kelleigh III.  Not only reborn but reborn as twins again.
Unlike most Sisters, Kimbra III and Kelleigh III were left for the Order after showing signs of power at a very early age.  They already had advanced telepathy between themselves, they are Anamchara and showed knowledge of the Order that many Initiates did not even have.

Tragedy struck the young twins when they were separated in a conflict between the Star Knights and the Void Knights.  Kelleigh III was believed to have been killed, though her sister knew better.

Kimbra III now serves as a "cultural liaison" to the Star Knights.  Here she provides them details she has learned about the Void Knights in her studies.

Kelleigh III is still alive, but now a member of the Capricorn Sisterhood. Here she also works as a cultural liaison to the Void Knights.   Only Kimbra knows her sister is alive via their Anamchara link.  The Aquarian Order suspects she might be alive and is watching Kimbra closely for any signs of heresy.

In truth both sisters work toward the same goal, the discovery of the return of the Old Ones.

Kimbra III
5th level Aquarian Sister

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hit Points:  16
AC: 7
Base to hit: +2
Saving throw: 11

Empathy, Telepathy (Anamchara: Kelleigh III)

First: (2) Far Sight, Read Languages
Second: (2) Agony, Hold Person

robes, baton

Kelleigh III
5th level Capricorn Sister
(Note: to Aquarian Sisters she is an Omega Level Heretic)

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 12
Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 16

Hit Points:  17
AC: 7
Base to hit: +2
Saving throw: 11

Empathy, Telepathy (Anamchara: Kimbra III)

First: (2) Cause Fear, Drowsy
Second: (2) Detect Thoughts, Phantasmal Force

robes, baton

The Geminian Prophecy
The Geminian Prophecy is so old that most Sisters don't even know about it. It is not in any database, but only recorded in ancient preserved scrolls.  So old in fact that there are no Heresies surrounding it.  The prophecy states that twins will be born into their powers early in life.  They will represent two sides of the same duality and they will either unite it or destroy it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Planetary Profile: Gaia

>Galatic Data Network...Accessing.
>Begin Database transmission.
>Planetary database connection enabled.
>$ Information request: Gaia
Planetary Data File: Gaia
Name: Gaia  (Ouranos 2)
Class: M. Rocky with nickel-iron core
Satellite: Phoebe (natural)
Semi-major axis: 85,114,187 mi
Orbital Period: 258 planetary days (300 galactic standard days)
Rotational Period: 20.95 hours (20 galactic standard hours)
Mean radius: 3,645 mi
Gravity: 1.176 g
Geography: 75% land, 24% water, 1% polar ice
Mean Surface Temperature: 65 degrees F
Atmosphere: 75% nitrogen (N2), 23% oxygen (O2), 0.9% argon, 0.5% helium, (He), 0.04% carbon dioxide (CO2), 0.02% water vapor (H20) 1.3% other gases.
Government: Planetary Hierarchal Theocracy
Leader: “Her Gracious and Wise Eternal Mother, Cassiopeia CXIV, the 1,153rd Mother Eternal”

The Sisterhood of the Aquarian Order make their home on the small, but lush green planet of Gaia.  No one but members of the Sisterhood are allowed on the planet surface.  This is one of their most inviolate laws.  Scattered across the surface of the Planet are their 40,000 temples, also known as a Priory. Each is controlled by an Prioress, an 8th level or higher Sister.  Forty temples  are controlled by an Abbess. Ten Abbesses report one of 100 High Priestesses who in turn report to four Hierophants and finally to the Mother Eternal.  The current Mother Eternal is Cassiopeia CXIV, the 1,153rd Mother Eternal.

Each temple can house up to 25 individuals of various degrees.   All are connected by the Gestalt.
Nothing happens on the surface of Gaia that all the Order does not know about.

There are a few “lay-members” on the planet, the so-called “little Sisters” that did not pass the trials of the Order.  They provide a number of the support services to the temples.

The one thing the lay-members are not expected to do is physical labor.  Gaia is a fully technologically advanced planet, but their use of much of the technology is limited.  The food is grown on the planet by the members of the Order themselves.  They are a fully self-sustaining agrarian society.  Space ports and meeting areas for off world visitors are all dealt with in their state of the art space station on their moon, Phoebe.  Here Sisters may meet with other species who wish to visit their planet.  Transport to and from the planet is done by space ferry and transmat beams.

New Release Tuesday: Eldritch Wizardry

The OD&D supplement I wanted the longest is now out on DriveThruRPG.
Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry.

This was the one that grabbed my attention the most back in the day.
Though this is the cover that I know best.

Demons, Artifacts, Psychic Powers, Druids. Everything I wanted in MY D&D.  It was also missing the one thing I felt it needed above all else.  Witches.

It is also the spiritual godfather to many of my witch books, especially "Eldritch Witchery".

Why not pick them both up today!!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Weekend Gaming. Modern threats and Ancient enemies

This weekend was the end of the first part of the module A3; the boys are about to enter the city of Sudderham.  But before they left the maze they took a long rest.

And then the dream sequence kicked in.
The boys were transported back to the Dawn War where He Who Was was killed by The Destroyer (who will become Demogorgon) and Dis, the god that dies and then becomes the demon Orcus.

The old Dungeons & Dragons toy troll and ogre are Demogorgon and Orcus prior to the battle respectively.

I had them fighting a new creature, well, new "then"; demons.

I ran the game using 30+ level "gods" using the B/X and Companion rules (with some AD&D 1 to smooth out some edges).

It was a lot of fun.

Now to tie it into the current adventure.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday Night Videos: Supernatural Soundtrack, take 2

Been meaning to do tthis for my kids for a while now.

This is an expansion of a similar FNV I did a while back.

I have taken some liberties with the song selections, but the spirit is there.

This is a long play-list. 25 songs, about an hour and half long.

Kickstart Your Weekend: Everyverse RPG

A couple of weeks ago I featured an RPG Kickstarter here, The Everyverse RPG.
I liked the premise and the story behind the game. didn't get funded and that is a pity really.  But the creator's widow is back and with another go at it.

You can also read more about it on their blog at,

+Debra Hoenig Parizek is working on getting her late husband's game made and I think this is exactly the sort of thing that Kickstarter is best for.

Give it a look and maybe through a couple of bucks her way.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Blog Roundup: Gods, Vampires and Blinky Thieves

I have some edits that I need to make to Sisters of the Aquarian Order today, so I won't be getting that out to every just yet.

I have some posts I need to wrap-up, but I am headed to an early morning meeting today so some links will have to do.

+Ray Chapel over at Quasar Knight's Fantasy Blog has put together something I have been meaning to do for a while.  A comprehensive list of all the White Star products on OneBookshelf.
It is an impressive list to be honest.

+Sean McG over at The Power Score has done another of his fantastically detailed analysis of a D&D monster. This time it is for the Vampire. A long time favorite of mine.

+Chris Kutalik and +trey causey have both given us some detail on the so called "Erol Otus Pantheon" on their respective blogs.

It is a nice little trip back to the 80s.

+Mark Craddock has been steadily releasing D&D5 material over at the DM's Guild for a bit now.
His biggest project is Deities and Domains: Specialty Priests of the Forgotten Realms (39 Feats for 5E).  At 25 pages  and 39 dieties this is one of the larger products.  While overtly for the Forgotten Realms, there is so much here that any D&D 5 palyer should grab it and just swap out the names for their own gods.  Plus it comes with a printer-friendly version.  I am already using the cleric of Mystra, only in my game it is a cleric of Wee Jas.

His newest is Psionics Unearthed: Tesseract.   I just got it and love it.  The best way to describe it is "blinky thieves" but it would work for any martial class too.  It might actually be a little underpowered compared to say the Arcane Trickster, but the fact that a Tesseract can use their powers multiple times between long rests makes up for it.  My kids will fight over who gets to use this one!

My favorite though has to be Character Crucible: Dhampirs.
Not very large, but it does exactly what it needs to do.  The Dhampir is a great race to play in any version of D&D, but Mark capitalizes on the strengths of D&D5 to make a fun race.  I would have an easier time working these Dhampirs into my games than the Dragonborn and Tieflings my kids want to play all the time.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Expanding the White Star Universe

It is no secret that I am very fond of +James Spahn's White Star RPG.  So with my proof copies in I just had to take a "family" picture.

Of course I am also a fan of +Matthew Skail's Between Star and Void.

I love how these copies turned out and I'll be making it live soon.

I love all the great DIY products coming out for this.
I don't know or have them all, but there is the White Star Catalog that has most of them released as of November.

I have not tried to be 100% compatible with anything other than White Star, but I have also kept it open enough that you can drop the Aquarian Sisters into most games.  The galaxy should be big, and weird.
For example I have no idea if my Aquarian Sisters work well with the Star Sailors of Star Sailors: The Magical Girl Supplement for White Star RPG.

On that note though, Sisters of the Aquarian Order is 100% Open OGC.  So if you want to use the Aquarian or Capricorn Sisters in your product? By all means go right ahead. You don't even need to ask me.  But if you do let me know! I'd like to see what they do in the hands of other gamers.

So what are your favorite White Star products? Sell me on your favorite!

RFI Podcast

You can hear me today as well as read me.

The Roll For Initiative Podcast I was a guest on is up now.

If you are interested in the Victorian Gamers Association I mentioned on this the link is here:

Thanks to +Vincent Florio and +Erik Tenkar for a great time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Age of Aquarius ... coming soon

The moon is in the Seventh House.
And Jupiter has aligned with Mars.

Soon. You can steer to the Stars.

Geek note:  The computer above it is my new Toshiba Chromebook.  I wrote the entire SotAO on this.

Blackmoor and Greyhawk

Today's new releases take us back to the worlds that were the cradle of D&D.

Dave Arneson's supplement to Original D&D is now out (again). Blackmoor gave us the first ready to run adventure published by TSR, Temple of the Frog, the Monk and Assassin classes and the often forgotten D&D to hit location system.

In later editions of the game Blackmoor would appear in both the World of Greyhawk and the Known World of Mystara.

The D&D Gazetteer for 3e came out as soon as 3e did and established that Greyhawk as the default world for D&D 3.   It was quickly eclipsed by the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, but both had really nice poster sized maps.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Weekend Wrap-up

Busy weekend!

Started off by guest posting over at Angry Hamster Publishing, home of the fantastic new game WITCH: Fated Souls.   I posted my top 5 witches.  Have some you like? Post them there!

I also played a LOT of Pathfinder Deluxe Munchkin this weekend.  Didn't win a single game, but I still enjoyed it.

Sunday I was part of the next Roll For Initiative podcast.

I hung out with +Vincent Florio and +Erik Tenkar of the eponymous Tavern while we talked about social media, blogs and boards, Pay to Play DMs and Kickstarters.  I'll post a link when that is live.

In other news the proofs of "The Sisters of the Aquarian Order" are on the way.  That should be going live soon.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Night Videos: Songs of the Aquarian Order

The Sisters of the Aquarian Order are full of idea I have had for a number of years.  Some of those ideas have come from the music I listened too while conceptualizing it and other from music I listened to while writing it.

So here is a brief selection of songs that get me in the mood to write and play.

First up is a favorite of mine, but a newer song.
The Sword know how to do witchy imagery well.  The protagonist of this song, "The Veil of Isis" is an Aquarian Sister if I ever saw one.

A lot in this book is what I like to think of as "left-over hippie shit".  The 70s were a heady brew of occultism, psuedo-science, emerging technology and science fiction. If that was the stew that fed my creativity then this is the broth.   The 5th Dimension recorded "Age of Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In" in 1969.  It featured prominently on the soundtrack for the musical Hair.  I never liked Hair, but this song I always kind of enjoyed.

True fact.  I love Psychedelic Rock, especially if it is in that sweet spot between 1968 and 1977.  If sounds like the band took a lot of drugs and traveled in space then I am there.   The Amboy Dukes really only had one hit, "Journey to the Centre of the Mind".  But it is exactly the sort of thing I enjoy.

Slightly earlier, but no less awesome, was Procol Harum.  "Whiter Shade of Pale" is just one of the songs that seems to call out to me from some great distance of time and space that I can't quite transverse.  An echo of something I should have heard, but have no idea what it was and only have the memories. I think it is the Hammond organ to be honest.

On the other side is 1979's "Children of the Sun" by Billy Thorpe. It is almost so corny and campy that you would assume it was a parody song, but Thorpe meant it in all earnestness.  From the album of the same name it was one of his biggest hits in the US.  I can honestly say this.  The seeds of the Aquarian Order are here.  I remember the summer of 79, I was out riding my bike and I heard this song and thought about a group of Space Wizards. Interestingly enough the album was released by Capricorn Records.

Even getting further away, but still close enough to matter to me, is April Wine's "Sign of the Gypsy Queen".   Something about this song really gets to me.

If Stevie Nicks is an archetypical witch then Grace Slick is an archetypical Aquarian Sister.  I have had a long and complicated relationship with Jefferson Airplane/Starship.  "Winds of Change" hits a lot metaphorical notes for me.  From 1983 it fits into my timeline for solid D&D/Chill game playing.
"Sleeping, not yet dead."

Kickstart Your Weekend: Andreas Walters' Monster Babies

If you remember a while back there was this great Kickstarter for the Baby Bestiary.
It was fun and I liked the concept.  Plus the art was amazing.

Well +Andreas Walters is back and now Baby Bestiary 2 is being Kickstarted.

If you missed out on Vol 1. you now have another chance to get it.

I think it looks great.  Plus it has my good friend +Elizabeth Chaipraditkul of Angry Hamster Publishing doing some monster write-ups.

They just got going and are already doing good.  Please check them out!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Show. Don't Tell.

I was thinking about my post from this morning about Tharizdûn, the Temple and various things that happened in the wee hours of history.
While I have a nice little mythology going here with bits that date back all the way to when I first started playing my players, my kids, do not have the same investment.

I told tell them the story of course, but that is just a story.
Then I recalled the old adage; "Show. Don't tell."

So via a dream or flashback sequence, I am going to have my players participate in the Dawn War.
Here they are going to be figures from that mythical age in the fight against Tharizdun.

Here is what I have so far. The participants in the war are Tharizdun, Orcus and Demogorgon, though he only had one head at this point. I will also have some of the other Elder Evils there too.
On the side of good are He Who Was (who will be killed here), Bahamut (as a PC), Samuel (a PC, HWW's right hand and the future Asmodeus), Corellon Larethian (also a PC) and some others.  Maybe Wee Jas.
Tiamat and Lolth will be there, but they do not fight.  This is why Tharizdun hates them.

I am going to let the battle play out.

I thought I would stat up all these gods in 5e and put them at 30th level.  Sure I could make them all 3rd level and the battle will be similar, but I want my players to feel like these are really powerful beings.
But I started thinking about D&D 5. It is great, but I have not done a lot of gaming at 20+ level with it.    So to add to the dream-like quality of it all AND to get the characters up to the 30+ level AND to have them be true immortals I am going to do something fun.

I am going to run this dream/flashback battle using D&D Basic.  Though OD&D is also on my mind.
The players know the rules, but they will be just off enough to make them have to think about what they are doing.  Plus looking down and seeing 31st level and over 100 hp will impress them.
It will also give me the chance to use some of my favorite B/X-BEMCI material.

Now I need to make some good looking "God" sheets and figure out who was there and who is going to play who.   Obviously if a character worships a god that is who they will be playing.

I have done this in the past, use a different system to invoke a different feel in the players.
When the dream is done each character will get a boon from that god to help them out later on.

The more I think about the more I like it.

Replacing the Temple of Elemental Evil

Not replacing as in removing and putting something else in its place, but moving it to a different place.

The "Come Endless Darkness" plot is moving along nicely. But I really need to introduce the Temple of Elemental Evil at some point.  I am now thinking of upping the HD of all the monsters and putting it into place right after the A series but before the GDQ series.

Which also brings up an interesting point.  The characters in the current game are now 7th level, almost 8th.  Goblins, in enough numbers, are still giving them a run for their money.  More so than I recall 1st Ed doing.

If the big bad is Tharizdun in his aspect as the Elder Elemental Eye, what's Lolth's stake in this?  Demons don't work together.  Maybe through Ghaunadaur.  OR maybe Ghaunadaur is manipulating events to get Lolth out of the picture.  That could work.  Ghaunadaur is nothing more than a puppet of Tharizdun anyway.  Given that he is the God of abominations, then I could put him in the Temple prison instead of Zuggtmoy. It's an idea anyway.

Of course if he is in prison, how did he work out this long plan?  Well maybe this is only the body, the mind has been roaming free.    So if Tharizdun's mind or ego is trapped in Ghaunadaur's body.  Where is Tharizdun's body?  Well that is trapped in the lowest part of the Nine Hells.  Sages call it Zargon the Returner.  When these two meet then all Hell breaks loose.  Though I think three parts is better.  To cover the three evil alignments (Lawful Evil, Neutral Evil and Chaotic Evil),  as a parody of the "holy trinity" and also (and more for me) as a representation of Tharizdun's Id, Ego and Super-ego.  Zargon is the Id, Ghaunadaur is the ego and now I need a Super-ego, the one pulling the strings together. Maybe that is Tharizdun himself.

The Darkening of the Sun is not only beneficial to the Drow, Vampires and Mind Flayers, it is the sign of Tharizdun's return.

Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Back to Greyhawk!

I was pouring over my World of Greyhawk boxed set over the weekend and my D&D 3.0 Greyhawk Gazetteer and now look at what Wizards has released for us.

OD&D Supplement I: Greyhawk (0e)

Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (3.0)

While Greyhawk is not the default setting of D&D 5, it does get a lot of nice shout out in the rules.
Plus the Living Greyhawk Gaz is 90% setting material, so it can be used in any version of the game really.

This is great for me because as soon as the kids are done with the A series they are headed to the Free City of Greyhawk.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Order vs. the Slavers Stockade and introduction of the Drow

Over the weekend the Order of the Platinum Dragon completed the Secret of the Slavers Stockade.

The managed to kill all but one of the Slave Lords in the stockade, freed 140 slaves including a Tiefling Warlock name Crowley who is staying with the Order.
The Rogue discovered two short swords of sharpness and quickly named them 'Snicker' and 'Snack'.

The Order enters the torture room

The order was leading the slaves out when they encountered the brainwashed Markessa's double, whom they also saved.  As they were leaving a group of Drow leading 20 more slaves in.  In typical fashion my youngest made a called shot (I am aiming for her eyes) and rolled a natural 20.  Solid.

They are now spending some time returning some of the Slaves to their homes in the Duchy of Urnst.  They left Highport and are travelling by ship up the Wooly Bay following the river in.  This gives me a chance to get them used to this area of the world, including Greyhawk, AND a a chance for the Slavers to recover a bit more to be ready for them.

All in all a great time this weekend.  No one leveled up, but the treasure was nice.