Thursday, August 30, 2018

Sleeping Not Yet Dead

Well, nowhere near dead really and not sleeping either (no worries, I am going to doctor next week) but I can't help but use a Jefferson Starship quote.

I might not be posting as much, but be assured I am busy.
In fact here is a bit of teaser. No here are two.
Coming Halloween 2018

Coming Winter 2018

I have lost track of how many new spells, magic items, occult powers and monsters I have written for these two. 

I am hoping to open 2019 with some new fun stuff, like my love letter to 80s horror, Völlig Losgelöst and Space Truckers.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Code of The Savage RPG

Spend anytime here and you know I love the 80s.   I am also a fan a video games, even if I don't talk about them much.

This game though looks like a lot of fun and worth mentioning here.

Code of The Savage RPG

It looks like a lot of fun and I like the NPC option to have yourself as an NPC in the game.

They are in their final hours, so check them out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Saturday, August 18, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 DAY 18: Art that inspires your game.

Day 18, Second Weekend.

DAY 18: Art that inspires your game.

There is a lot of art out there that inspires what I do.

For starters, I LOVE old woodcut artwork and early prints dating from the witch craze.

Something about them really transports me back in time.  Yeah it's the junk-art of it's day but something really grabs about it.

I also love the 1970's Occult Revival. While most of that are photographs, but there is still look here I want to capture in my own games.

 Among the "names" of this time is Rosaleen Norton, the Witch of King's Cross.

And at last.   The 80s with Larry Elmore.

Friday, August 17, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 DAY 17: Describe the best compliment you've had gaming.

What do we have today?

DAY 17: Describe the best compliment you've had gaming.

I have had some FANTASTIC experiences while playing games.

I used to run Ghosts of Albion games at Gen Con a lot.  Every year I would get the same group playing my games.  They told me, and others have as well, that would play ANY game I would run.
I thought that was a nice compliment.  These guys came from thousands of miles it was my games they enjoyed the most.

Interestingly enough, after I stopped running Ghosts (to enjoy the con more with my family) I played in a Buffy/Supernatural game.  The same guys were that too.
In that game, I got praise from the GM for playing the best Piper she ever had.

Kickstart Your Weekend: 5th Edition Players Guide to Aihrde

I want to feature this one again because it just looks like so much fun.

5th Edition Players Guide to Aihrde

I LOVE Castles & Crusades.  I Love 5th Edition. But right now all I can get people to play is 5e.  So this feels like a good compromise.

Plus there are still plenty of stretch goals to unlock!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 DAY 16: Describe your plans for your next game.

What do we have today?

DAY 16: Describe your plans for your next game.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon are going to be split up in the Abyss and need to work to get back to each other.   One of the characters, the Dragonborn Paladin will actually be sent back in time to Abier the lost world of the Forgotten Realms to fight the Dragon lords.  It should be a lot of fun.

I am working with the players now to figure out where each of their characters go. Someplace nasty to be sure!

Can't wait to do my Year in the Abyss!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Witch of Loch-Durnan

One of the things I love about GenCon are the booths selling cheap games.  There are lots books from the dismal 90s and a ton from the dawn of the d20 boom.

The Witch of Loch-Durnan was from the d20 dawn published by Mystic Eye Games who had a lot of cool books back then, some I still use.

This book though has vexed me.
First look at that Jhoneil Centeno art.  I can't recall seeing his work before or since.

Then I could never find it online at a decent price and there is no PDF to be had for money or love.

The 72-page adventure was written by Andrew Thomson. It is for four characters 5th to 7th level for the 3.0 flavor of the d20 system. There are some new monsters or more to the point a system of generating new mutations of monsters like scorpion dogs and goat men.

Then there is the eponymous witch herself.

Mellie, is the witch of Loch-Durnan.  She is also the central figure of this adventure.   Reading this makes me realize that this might in fact be the missing piece of my War of the Witch Queens adventures.  She certainly is worthy to join their ranks.

Mellie - The Witch of Loch-Durnan
for The Witch: A sourcebook for Basic Edition fantasy games

Female Half-elf
Witch 4th-level, Chaotic Neutral
White Witch* Tradition
Flock of the Moon Sisters Coven

Strength: 14
Dexterity: 14
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 10
Wisdom: 16
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Death Ray: 13
Magic Wands: 14
Paralysis or Turn to Stone: 13
Dragon Breath: 16
Spells: 15

+2 to magic based saves

Hit Points: 12
AC: 8
To hit AC 0: 19

Occult Powers

Cantrips (5): Dancing Lights, Detect Magic, Ghost Sounds, Mend Minor Wounds, Message
First (2+2): Charm Person, Mend Light Wounds, Protection from Spirits, Speak with Animals
Second (2+2): Augury, Evil Eye, Knock, Mind Obscure

*The White Witch is a type of witch featured int he Hunt the Rise of Evil campaign from Mystic Eye Games.  It is pretty much what you think a white witch is. Non-evil, focused on healing, protection, and divination magic.

Pretty close to her d20 counterpart.  I like it! Can't wait to use her as a Witch Queen!

#RPGaDAY2018 DAY 15: Describe a Tricky RPG experience you enjoyed.

Here we are, the half-way mark!

DAY 15: Describe a Tricky RPG experience you enjoyed.

Back in my later college days, my old High School DM had moved down to my own.  We were not gaming together at this point; I was working on getting into grad school and he had a new girlfriend if I remember right.
But anyway he invited me over to help him run the "Nightmares of Barovia" adventure option found in I10: Ravenloft II House on Gryphon Hill.

He introduced me to his group and we began.  I ran Ravenloft II and everytime they characters fell asleep he would pick up with the same characters in Ravenloft I6.

We had to keep track of various things that players were totally oblivious too.

We played it at a marathon session over a Halloween Weekend.  This was back when my school (SIU) through some pretty notorious Halloween parties, but the city had shut it all down the university was send everyone home.

The adventures were great, individually.  Together...welll I don't think anyone at TSR actually ran the "Nightmare" option.   But it was great.  Though by hour 36-38 I was done.

Still it was hard, lots of juggling and so, so much fun as a DM.  I would do it again in the drop of a hat, but I'dd need someone that whose style would be a good match for this.  Plus we would need to meet ahead to discuss how to handle things not covered in the two adventures.

I'd also need a group of players that know of Strahd, but never played anything with him in it.  Or at least never played I6 or I10.

It would be fantastic!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 DAY 14: Describe a failure that became amazing!

Day 14, We are at the two-week mark!

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Today is day 14 and the question is Describe a failure that became amazing!

Hmm. That's a cool question really.

We have all had failures and some of mine have been spectacular failures!

One of mine was this old combat simulator we were working on for the Tandy Color Computer in BASIC.   The first big run a black dragon attacked my ninja, basically pulping him in the first attack and then spending the next 400 hp of damage in attacks on my poor dead ninja!

It was quite amusing to watch.

Another great failure was the first magic system of Ghosts of Albion.  I had been challenged with improving on the already great magic system from the Buffy game.  Version 1.0 was not it.  Version 1.0 had some additional rolls and other effects but it was all noise.  More to the point in the playing these extra fiddly bits slowed down play to a breaking point.
My playtesters were gleeful.  But, I did tell them to break it, and they did.

I went home with the tattered bits of my game and my pride and sat in front of my monitor, clueless about what to do next. When it hit me it was like lightning!  I trimmed it down and made it faster. And now the magic system is the jewel in the crown of Ghosts!

Monday, August 13, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 DAY 13: Describe how your play has evolved

Lucky Day 13!

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My play has evolved?

Well for starters as a GM I no longer try to memorize rules.  Instead, I go for ease of play and general rulings.  For modern games that is pretty easy to do. D20 systems are all d20 + mods compare to a TN.  Unisystem is similar.

So I try to be more relaxed and let the game flow.  If that also means that the game goes in interesting places I had not planned, cool! Let's see where we are going.

I guess too I work more with the players than against them

Sunday, August 12, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 DAY 12: Wildest Character Concept

Day 12!

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So for wildest Character concept.  Hmm.

Wild is relative I think.  But the oddest mix is one of my current characters, Rowan.  She is a dual classed Warlock and Paladin.  Now you might not think those work together, but they do in the Old Faith.  Her paladin part is a Paladin of the Old Faith. Her warlock pact is a fey Pact of the sword.
She is like a witch guardian or a green knight.

So far she is working out great!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 11: Wildest Character Name

Day 11!

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So for wildest Characters name.  Hmm, hard to judge what "wildest" means here or for anyone else

But the odd name I like the best belongs to my youngest son's gnome bard "Erky Timbers".
Great name for a great character.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Domina Magica - A Magical Girl RPG

Back from Gen Con so lets look into a game you might be playing next year!

And it looks like fun.

Domina Magica - A Magical Girl RPG

The game has all the tropes expected with a Magical Girl game, so that is great, but it also just looks so damn cool.

The character sheet is also damn near fantastic.  A major trope in Magical Girl anime is the transformation sequence.   Well, this captured in the real world by this cool character sheet that you flip over for your Normal or Magical form (you will need to provide your own them music).

Sheet not final

The Cootie Catcher, the Dark Energy is obvious that designer Emily Reinhart is in real life a Magical Girl herself.  I hope she does not get into trouble with whatever powers gave her her powers.  Co-designer James McClure also proves that unlike Tuxedo Mask he is an important part of the team.   Both come to the table with enough street cred to make this a hit.  Indeed since I first heard of this and now it has been funded.

The art looks great and there are some fantastic stretch goals too.

So do yourself a favor and check it out.

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 10: How has gaming changed you?

Day 10 and I see we are not going light on the questions.

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The question today is, How has gaming changed you?

Wow. Where to even start on this one.  There are friends I have made over the years, many life-long good friends.  There are the skills I have picked up and then later perfected; degree in statistics, a job in instructional design that is not all that different than game design.

RPGs have helped me improve my writing, my math skills (or at least keep them from withering away) and my online social skills.  I used to be pretty introverted.

I have been playing for so long that it would be difficult to extract a non-RPG-player version of me from myself.

One thing is for sure I do think I am better off with RPGs in mylife.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 9: How has a game surprised you?

Today is Day 9 and the question is How has a game surprised you?

I don't get too many surprises anymore, but occasionally something happens.

I am usually surprised when a system or game can capture the feel of a setting well. Like Call of Cthulhu or Dark Places and Demogorgons.

It's the little things I guess I look for,

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Gen Con Gaming: Shrine of the Kuo-toa and Vault of the Drow

I have not talked about my Gen Con games yet, so let's get on that.

We got down to Indy a day early so we could have some extra time on Wednesday, but it also gives Tuesday to Saturday to play at night.

The Order of the Platinum Dragon continued their trek through the underdark.   A few random encounters including a run-in with Evelyn (and it was so satisfying to put her mini down on the table!) the party entered the Shrine of the Kuo-toa.

Of course, I had to make my own Blibdoolpoolp statue.  Though I will freely admit I spent more time on making her than she saw in the game.

To clean out the shrine of the fish people took a couple of nights.

The Order worked their way through the Underdark where they defeated Belgos and Silussia who nearly took out the entire party.  They finally entered the Vault of the Drow and the City of Erelhei-Cinlu.

Saturday, our last night we started really early and got right down to it.   After spending some time in the city and avoiding a cult of hobgoblin assassins the Order managed to get to the Fane of Lolth where they were able to stop a ritual. 

The trouble is the ritual, while keeping out the sun, was also keeping Lolth away.  Oopps!

They defeated Lolth, at least on this plane,

The Order was all sucked into the Abyss and now they are all seperated from each other.

My kids wanted to do something different for their next level, 14 to 15. So I split them up. 

I am going to run a series of one-shots all set in the Abyss.   I am not sure what they will all be yet, but I know one now.  The group's paladin and fighter are going to spend some quality time with Liberation of the Demon Slayer!   It's now a realm trapped in (or near) the Abyss and should be a lot of fun.
I had always known I wanted to use this, I just needed an excuse.  Well, Venger himself gave me an excuse when he put it up for free.  Oh an read my original review of it here.

This is going to be great.

Facebook reminded me that it was today, 4 years ago that we created characters for this campaign.  No records were broken for advancement, but it has been a great 4 years.

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 8: How can we get more people playing?

Today is Day 8 and the questions is How can we get more people playing?

Big question really.
I just got back from Gen Con.  I saw a lot of families bringing in the next generation of gamers. But that is largely the current generation bring their kids.  So unless you are having kids, you are not helping this particular issue.

I saw an absolute ton of new gamers that appear to be attracted to RPGs from "Critical Role".  I can't tell how many times I heard "is this the game they use on Critical Role?" and then watching the same people drop $250+ on a game.  They are young, they have some disposable cash and are willing to learn.

The biggest way through is this.

We need to stop being a bunch of Gate-keeping dicks.

Seriously.  Everything from pointless edition wars to telling people they are playing "wrong" to telling fans of the game they are not really apart of the game.

Look. I get it, there is a badge of honor to be able to say "I played when the Satanic Panic was at it's height" or whatever.  I even do it.  But looking down on people that started after you or *gasp* don't give a fuck what you do should not be derided.  Don't like Dragonborn? Fine, don't play one.  But don't tell me or others they are somehow "doing D&D wrong" because they do. 

I have seen a lot of people come into this hobby.  And I have seen a lot leave because the gamers around them couldn't stop being dicks for ten minutes.  I saw it this last Gen Con in fact.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Dark Places & Demogorgons: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed; How Soon is Now?

The Buffy crossover I did with Supernatural was so much fun I thought I would try something similar only this time for my favorite genre show of all time, Charmed.

Of course, this is not the first time I have done a Charmed / Buffy crossover.  Back in the days of my Willow & Tara games, I had an episode/adventure "Semi-Charmed Life".

This one though is different. This one needs to live in the world of "Sunny Valey, OH".  Thankfully, while transporting the cast of Buffy to 80s requires some tweaks, I can transport the entire cast of Charmed to the mid 80s (let's say 1986) with barely a change.

Ok, what do we need to know about Charmed in 1986 for a Dark Places & Demogorgons game?
Well. For starters, the girls are all young. Their mother, Patty, has been dead now for 8 years and they are being raised by their grandmother, Penny.  Penny, or Penelope Halliwell has blocked their powers to keep a warlock from feeding on them.  When Patty died she kept the power block in place to keep the girls safe.  Penny was no witch to mess with either.  While originally a peace-loving hippie witch, she soon learned that the only way to deal with demons and warlocks was to kill them.
Leo, the girls' Whitelihter and Piper's future husband, would also be watching the girls at this point.

We have a rule in writing Willow-centric adventures.  Try to avoid having her spells go awry.  It is lazy writing and unbecoming of someone that is supposed to be one of the most powerful witches in the world.  BUT.  This Willow isn't that yet is she?  She is young. She is eager to learn.  So let's say that one day she finds a spell to summon a witch teacher (this is a spell I actually use in my D&D games).  She takes the spell to Tara, who advises caution but can see nothing wrong with it.  There isn't until Willow casts the spell and asks not for a witch tutor, but the most powerful witches in the world.  She is a little shocked when she gets three girls just a few years younger than herself.

For an adventure, I would have the Charmed girls either be NPCs to the regular cast OR as PCs if there are new people.

I see Pru as being angry at first that she was transported here, then angry at grams for hiding their powers.  Pru comes up with the idea of blocking grams and Leo.  Pru also enjoys going on patrol with Buffy (a nod to their real-life friendship).

Piper would be the most out of sorts and the angriest.  I can see her having the most interactions with Willow; the both have issues with witchcraft to work out.
Phoebe would find this to be a great adventure and, this is 100% Phoebe, she is the one that learns Tara is in love with Willow.
Grams will scry for the girls, not get them, yell for Leo then yell at him. She will eventually find them, 100% safe and sound.  I would not be too surprised if she didn't have a word or two with Willow.

Now my first Buffy/Charmed crossover has such a great title. What should I call one from the mid-80s?

Episode Title: How Soon is Now?

Pru Halliwell
Born: 10/28/1970
Age: 15*
(assuming early in Season 2, 1986)

Class: White Witch  Level: 5 (temp)
Alignment: Good
Languages: English

STR: 11 +0
INT: 17 +2
WIS: 16 +2
DEX: 14 +1
CON: 11 +0
CHA: 17 +2
SUR: 16 +2

AC: 10     HP: 22    Attack Bonus +0

Courage: 6 +3
Critical: 5
Death: 5
Mental: 4
Poison: 3

Lives with an overprotective grandmother.  Acts as stand-in mother for Piper and Phoebe.

Class Abilities
+1 to saves involving magic, +3 to courage saves, healing touch 8/day, heal at double rate, summon light, see in darkness, advantage on saves, immune to fear, talk to animals and plants, create potions

Art +5, Math +1, Science +1, Knowledge (History) +5, Paranormal +4, Botany +3


Money: none

Minor (4), Major (1)

Power: Telekeniss.

Piper Halliwell
Born: 08/07/1973
Age: 13
(assuming early in Season 2, 1986)

Class: White Witch  Level: 3 (temp)
Alignment: Good
Languages: English

STR: 10 +0
INT: 13 +1
WIS: 13 +1
DEX: 12 +0
CON: 11 +0
CHA: 12 +0
SUR: 12 +0

AC: 10     HP: 12    Attack Bonus +0

Courage: 5 +3
Critical: 4
Death: 3
Mental: 4
Poison: 3

Lives with an overprotective grandmother.  Acts as peacemaker for Piper and Phoebe.

Class Abilities
+1 to saves involving magic, +3 to courage saves, healing touch 5/day, heal at double rate, summon light, see in darkness, advantage on saves, immune to fear, talk to animals and plants

Cooking +3, Math +1, Science +1, Paranormal +3, Botany +3


Money: none

Minor (4), Major (0)

Power: Molecular destailazation.

Phoebe Halliwell
Born: 11/02/1975
Age: 10
(assuming early in Season 2, 1986)

Class: White Witch  Level: 1 (temp)
Alignment: Good
Languages: English

STR: 8 -1
INT: 12 +0
WIS: 10 +0
DEX: 12 +0
CON: 10 +0
CHA: 14 +1
SUR: 12 +0

AC: 10     HP: 5   Attack Bonus +0

Courage: 3 +3
Critical: 4
Death: 3
Mental: 4
Poison: 3

Lives with an overprotective grandmother.

Class Abilities
+1 to saves involving magic, +3 to courage saves, healing touch 5/day, heal at double rate, summon light, see in darkness

Atheletics +2, Math +1, Science +1,  Paranormal +2, Botany +2


Money: none

Minor (1), Major (0)

Power: Premonitions.

My god, these characters look fun!  I should do this with more Charmed characters.

Take us home Morrissey!

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 7: How can a GM make the stakes important?

Welcome back to the #RPGaDAY for 2018.

This is hosted every year by Dave Chapman over at his blog AUTOCRATIK.

Today is Day 7 and How can a GM make the stakes important?

For me the GM can make the stakes important by getting player and character buy-in early on.  While the normal carrot for adventurers is the gold, that might not be enough for some groups.

In my "Come Endless Darkness" games there is over-riding issue that the sun is out and the sun gods are all dead.  The characters are invested because their world is in danger.  The players want to keep playing in this world so they are working hard, even doing things they would not do if gold was the only motivator. 

Of couse, if the stakes are important, then the rewards need to be equally important.  One of my players is even asking what it takes to become a god now!

External motivation is good, but internal motivation will help get worlds built.

Monday, August 6, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 6: How can Players make a world seem real?

It's Monday and my first "live" posting of #RPGaDAY2018 since it started. So let's do it!

This week starts the "HOW" questions with How can Players make a world seem real?

There is actually a lot that players can do to be honest, but I find a couple of things really help the most.  Invest one on who your character is and what he/she was "before" this adventuring life and what they plan to do afterward.  Make their character into a whole person.

Also, players can interact with the world at a level the DM can't. They interact with all the NPCs, monsters and these interactions can help make the world seem more real.  The DM can build the world and fill it with all sorts, but the players provide the needed glue to make it feel like a whole.

DMs and Players working together.  Sounds great to me.

Reminds me of the this Professor Elemental song.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 5: Favorite recurring NPC?

Finishing up our first week of #RPGaDAY2018

Let wrap up week 1 with Favorite recurring NPC

Currently, my favorite is in my Order of the Platinum Dragon game.  She is an elven princess turned thief name Evelyn, or as she known in court, Lady Nightshade, heir to the House Nightshade and the Summer Throne.  She has shown up, usually captured, in adventures going all the way back to my running of B2 Keep on the Borderlands.

She will reveal who she is if the players find the Deep Gnome encampment in D2, maybe even this weekend!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 4: Most Memorable NPC

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 4. Moving right along!

Today is Most memorable NPC

So many over the years.  There was the annoying assassin Kirkroy that plagued my characters for years.  I have used a vampire, Mal Havoc, to do the same to others.

I think my most memorable one had been the evil necromancer Magnus.  He was the big bad of my 1st ed games, constantly appearing to either taunt or try to kill the PCs.  He also, at times would help them, if it also helped himself.

I have been dying to bring him back someway. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 3: What Gives a Game Staying Power?

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 3 let's do this!

What Gives a Game Staying Power?

For me at least, it how many times can I go back to it and tell new stories.

Dungeons & Dragons has staying power.  WitchCraft has tons of staying power.
I mean seriously, how many times can I go to the Keep on the Borderlands?  Well, at last count at least 8-9 times.

After nearly 40 years of doing this I can get a lot of mileage out of most games.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 2: What is the first thing you look for in an RPG?

Here we are, #RPGaDAY2018 Day 2!

What is the first thing you look for in an RPG?

While my introduction to RPGs was a book of monsters, my first love is Magic.

I always look at the magic system first.  I love new and different magic systems and I love to try them out. Whether the system is fantasy, modern or horror, it's what I look for.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 1: What do you love about RPGs?

To get my posting muscles working aging I thought I would participate in Dave Chapman's annual #PRGaDAY for 2018.

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Today's topic is What do you love about RPGs?

For me, I think it is the endless possibilities of worlds unexplored. Of stories yet untold.  And it's also about sitting around the table with friends having a good time.

I have great RPG-related memories.  Some of those are the actions of real people, others are the actions on in our minds. And even more deal with the actions in and around the table that had nothing to do with RPGs directly.