Saturday, March 6, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Barbarian Queen (1985)

Barbarian Queen (1985)
Roger Corman.  

What can I say about Roger Corman?  Well, to be honest, I am a huge fan. Sure his movies are schlock and represent some worst D-level movies and it is obvious that most of his casting choices were based not on the actress's ability to act but rather their willingness to take off their clothes.  But all that aside Corman is praised for his ability to keep a tight production schedule, find people that are willing to work with him again and again, and keep a film under budget and on time.

There are also many, many modern directors that have worked with him and praised his work. Directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Jonathan Demme, John Sayles, and James Cameron. Ron Howard has been praised Corman's work on many occasions.  He has over 400 producer credits and 56 director credits. 

Corman is only the EP here, but there are plenty of similarities between this movie and Viking Woman from 1957.  

Barbarian Queen (1985)

Barbarian Queen is a fairly typical fantasy fare.  A barbarian queen, Amethea (played by the late Lana Clarkson who was killed by Phil Spector) is due to be married to Argan (Frank Zagarino) when her village is attacked by raiders. People are killed and others taken as slaves.  Amethea and her friends Estrild (Katt Shea, who is likely the best actress in the bunch), Tiniara (Susana Traverso), and former victim Taramis (Dawn Dunlap) seek to free their people including Amethea's fiance.  They meet up with Dariac (Andrea Scriven in her only role), a young girl who lives with the local rebels who enlists the barbarian's aid. 

The first part is an excuse for some gory fights and a bunch of topless barbarian women running around or getting captured.  I'll the movie credit, it does like to show the barbarian women as being strong and powerful.  

Our big bad guy is Arrakur (Arman Chapman), he captures our heroines and threatens them with torture and death. 

Argan manages to get his fellow gladiator-slaves to join him.  The movie gets to the big fight and then just ends. Must have run out of money.

The movie is not terrible, it is just also not good. It could be the spiritual godmother to Xena: The Warrior Princess.  Though that Boris Vallejo movie poster is actually the best part of the movie.

Katt Shea is fun to watch really. She looks like she is having the best time of her life acting in this. 

Gaming Content

There is a torture chamber that would be good dungeon dressing. I like the idea of this being a "Queen needing to rescue the Prince" for once.

--

Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!


Zatannurday: WandaVision

Zatannurday

A SPECIAL Zatannurday today.

Normally I talk about DC's resident backward talking magician in fishnets, but today let's spend some time with her Marvel universe counterpart and talk Wanda, Scarlet Witch, and WandaVision!

Ok, so I am going to TRY to avoid big spoilers for this week's big finale, but I am going to talk about some plot points of episodes 8 and 9.  Not huge ones, I hope, well...one is. 

Anyway, you have been warned!  (OH and a minor Runaways spoiler too.)

WandaVision

So, it is not a huge secret that really I am not (or rather, was not) a huge fan of Wanda and Scarlet Witch.  She was fun and all, but when it comes to magic in Marvel I am much more a fan of Dr. Strange.  

WandaVision, and Elizabeth Olsen, have changed my mind.

The story is actually a simple one of grief pushing someone to the edge, and then right over the side into a weird alternate reality.  

We see Wanda, as wonderfully described by Agatha Harkness/Agnes (played by the WONDERFUL Kathryn Hahn in what is the casting of a lifetime really) as "a baby witch with years of therapy ahead of her" instead join a radicalized group (HYDRA we later learn in the movies) and "Little orphan Wanda got up close and personal with an Infinity Stone that amplified what otherwise would have died on the vine."  (Episode 8)

In just under 50 minutes we get the best version of Wanda's origin story ever that also explains her powers.  She wields chaos magic and in Agatha's own words,

You have no idea how dangerous you are. You're supposed to be a myth, a being capable of spontaneous creation. Here you are, using it to make breakfast for dinner. Oh, yes, your children, Vision, this whole little life you've made. This is chaos magic, Wanda. That makes you... the Scarlet Witch.
Wanda. That makes you... the Scarlet Witch

Now that is something.  The Scarlet Witch is not her code name, but a title, a "The" as it were.  That would make something akin to the Imbolc Mage that I use in my games; a superpowerful witch capable of spontaneous magic.  I do love a good prophecy about a superpowerful witch.

Beyond that the series, especially episode 8 was full of great material from Vision's "But what is grief, if not love persevering?" to Wanda's breakdown in the home that Vision bought for them (and pure Emmy-bait for Olsen).

But what I think is best about this whole series is not that it is about superpowerful people. It's about things we can relate to.

We are not watching Wanda because she is the Scarlet Witch, we are watching because she was a little girl, who loved her family, her bother, and learning to speak English by watching bootleg DVDs of American sitcoms. She lost her family, her brother, and the love of her life and despite being powerful there isn't a thing she can actually do about it.  In the end that is something that everyone can relate to.

Including Agatha "And I Killed Sparky too" Harkness is just the delicious icing on an already great cake.

Agatha All Along

And that is not even getting into anything else like fake Pietro (called that one early on too!) or even my FIRST Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau as Photon.  OH and another appearance of the Darkhold! The first was in Runaways Season 3.

Not sure if there will be a Season 2 or not, but it sets things up nicely for the next Doctor Strange movie.


Thursday, March 4, 2021

GM's Day Sales from The Other Side

It's DriveThruRPG's GM's Day Sales Starting today (well yesterday really).

GM's Day from the Other Side

With prices marked off a much as 40%.

There are plenty of books on sale from The Other Side.

For Basic-era Games

Daughters of Darkness
Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games

Reviews:

The Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch for Basic Era Games

Reviews:

Pumpkin Spice Witch
The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Witch Tradition

Reviews:

The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Tradition

Reviews:

The Warlock

Reviews:

GMS Day Sales


For Swords & Wizardry

The Witch
The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light

The Witch for Swords & Wizardry White Box

The Green Witch for Swords & Wizardry

The Winter Witch for Swords & Wizardry

The Warlock for Swords & Wizardry


There are plenty of other great games and resources on sale as well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

This Old Dragon: Issue #101

Dragon Magazine 101
It has been far too long since I did This Old Dragon.  I'll grab the next one of the pile and see what we have.  Looks like we are headed back to September 1985 for This Old Dragon #101.

This one is another with no cover.  That is interesting because I will admit it is among one of my least favorite covers.  I am not sure why really, it is Dave Martin and did the (in)famous Dragon #114 cover, but I never cared for this one.

One of the good things about taking so long to this is these now seem to smell less moldy and mildewy. That's a plus.

Kim Mohan's Editorial repeats a sentiment I have shared here; Aren't We All In This Together? Essentially they refused to run an ad that disparaged another companies product. I have often felt the same.  Other gamers, games, game designers are not my competition, they are my colleagues. Like Mohan maybe I am naïve. 

Some ads for Call of Cthulhu and ElfQuest.  The ElfQuest, one covers Sea Elves.  I have been re-reading Dragonlance, Dragons of Spring Dawning that introduced the Sea Elves. Been wanting to do more with them myself.  Maybe I should check on eBay for this.

The first article, Update from the Chief, comes to us from Gary Gygax himself.  This might be the last article written by Gary as a member of TSR.  He will be out in October of 1985.  The article covers many topics.  Unearthed Arcana sold over 90k copies in its first month and his Gord book did well.  Gary announces two upcoming publications, Oriental Adventures and T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil for AD&D and more "family-type" games including All My Children. Gary also briefly discusses the critics of D&D and RPGs in general. 

In a fortuitous (turn for me) Roger E. Moore's article on Kender in All About the Kender is up. I just posted stats for what I think is the very first Kender character I have ever made. Lots of people hate Kender. I will admit I never liked them much, but hate was too strong.  My dislike comes more from my enjoyment of halflings.  Moore's article, rereading it all these years later AND while also rereading the first Dragonlance Chronicle my opinion has softened.  Now I think I find Kender in the light they were always intended. What I disliked about them then is what endears them to me now.  I have to admit that some of what I did with gnomes in the 3e days were likely based on 1st ed Kenders.  I am perfectly happy to keep them on Krynn in my own games, but here they get to be as Kendery as they can.   Since I am going to be running DL15 Mists of Krynn, this is a great article to reread.

Plan it by The Numbers is up from Frank Mentzer.  This is a system he had planned on using in the D&D Master Set. It is similar in many respects to the Monstermark system from White Dwarf or the Challenge Rating systems from D&D 3-5.  The system was not used because it was "too heavily mathematic" but it seems rather simple to be honest.  Almost too simple. In any case I think I will give it a try for my Basic-era War of the Witch Queens game. 

Paul Suttie is next with For King and Country. I have say, I find nothing more tedious and dull than discussions about alignment. For something that is only one aspect of the game I find the multitudes of discussions on it largely pointless.  For example, this article covers five pages.  Why?  Do we really need that?  In then he just wants to dump the whole thing.  

The article is at least broken up by a cool black ad for the D&D Master Set.  Makes it look like a limited edition sort of deal. There is also an ad for Unearthed Aracana.

D&D Master SetAD&D Unearthed Arcana

The Role of Books covers the then-new offerings from SF/Fantasy.   I will admit I don't know most of these, but 1985 was around my turning point of leaving science fiction and fantasy reading and moving more into dark fantasy and horror.  Of the titles, I do recognize the novelization of "Ladyhawke" by Joan D. Vinge.  I enjoyed her "Snow Queen" and "Cat" series quite a bit as well as her novelization of "Return to Oz." 

Peter Johnson is next with Charging isn't Cheap on how to recharge magic items.  The nice feature of this article are the examples of how various wondrous magic items are/were created.  This is a nice change from the very formula-driven approach seen in 3e.  Other than the level restrictions on who can create or enchant these items, this could easily be added to any version of the D&D game. The levels might need to be altered is all. 

Jeff Grub, of Marvel Super Heroes fame, sets out to review a game that could be considered a conflict of interest; but he is very clear about where he is coming from on it. So instead of a conflict or a competitor, he comes off as "Expert."  This is good because the game he is reviewing is the DC Heroes RPG.  It's a good review and Jeff obviously loves the game as it is and loves it as a competition to his own MSH game. 

We get to the centerpiece, literally and figuratively, of this issue.  The Creature Catalog III.  I loved new monsters in Dragon Magazine, and the Creature Catalogs were among my favorite features.  This one has 24 new monsters for your AD&D game and includes submissions from the likes of Ed Greenwood, Roger E. Moore, and Stephen Inniss. With art from Marsha Kauth, Dave LaForce, and Roger Raupp.   There are a few very interesting monsters here too.  The avari are cool-looking bat-like humanoids. The bogeyman is another take on the bogey, bogle, boggart of myth and legend.  The creeping pit is a magical mishap gone wrong. Another hamadryad and lhiannan shee.  The mantimera is a crossbreed of a manticore and chimera (not sure I want to know how that happens). And the yale from mythological lore.   

Consequently, Owen Kermit Edwards is now doing posts on the monsters of Dragon magazine.  His first one is up today on his blog Haughty Fantasy Adventures

TSR Comming Attractions lets us know that T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil is on the way, as well as Book 3 of the Dragonlance Chronicles, Dragons of Spring Dawning.  I have been rereading that and am just about done.

Fiction from Brenda Gate Speilman.

We get to the Ares section now.  

One day I need to back through all of the Ares and see what I can use for my BlackStar and Star Trek: Mercy games. 

Roger E. Moore (our MVP of this issue) has his article on Starships and Star Soldiers on the use of minis in science fiction games.  Timely for me since I just started getting into some 3D printing of some of the FASA Star Trek ships. 

Sorry, Wrong Dimension from Mike Manolakes covers dimensional or parallel universal travel in superhero games.  As a big fan of both the comic and TV event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and someone that uses different universes in my fantasy games as well.  The 6-dimension coordinate system he has here is EXACTLY something we would have used back then.  This uses a 2d6 for determining dimensions. I like that.  But the d12 is my go-to sci-fi die, so I used that instead. 

More from Jeff Grub on The Marvel-Phile. This time back to Asgard with Beta Ray Bill and Sif.  

Out of the Sun covers man machines for Gamma World from James Ward and Roger Raupp.  And Michael Brown gives us The Stellar Diocese of cleric for Traveller.   That is something I should adopt for BlackStar, but only cultists.

Convention Calendar covers the hottest conventions for Fall 1985 and Winter 1986. Some small ads, notably for a couple play by mail games and art for your D&D characters. Something that I still enjoy getting. 

Wormy gets two pages. I think I need to reread that one from the beginning. I know how it ends, but hitting these in piece-meal, out of order fashion, I forgot what the hell was happening. 

Dragonsmirth gives us TWO different picnic scenes. SnarfQuest gets three pages, mostly about the Gaggleleech. 

I remember this one when it first came out. There is a lot of great material here and the Creature Catalog will certainly see some new use in the future.

Dragon Magazines

Still plenty more to go!

Monday, March 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Old-School Essentials

Old School Essentials Advanced
It's the first of the new month and time to introduce a new character!  Although this one is not really a new character. 

Back in January, I posted stats for Sarana, my version of Stevie from the adventure Tanglewood Keep in DL15 Mists of Krynn. I had a lot of fun with it to be honest. I am planning to use Tanglewood Keep with Sarana/Stevie in my War of the Witch Queens campaign.  I think it would be a lot of fun and it would fit great theme-wise and provide the multiverse hoping I really want to do with the campaign. 

The adventure is not a difficult one, nor particularly original, but it is fun.  

Though...there is one little issue.  The crux of the adventure is to regain a crystal to make a magical travel mirror work again.  The characters have to get the crystal and return to Sarana/Stevie's home so they can return to their own world.   The questions arise. Why can't Sarana/Stevie get it herself? Failing that why can't her Kender friend Twill Topknot get it for her?

The answer is timing.

The PCs have entered Krynn at two important points in time.  First, the PCs have entered Krynn during the events of the Dragons of Autumn Twilight novel and the DL1 Dragons of Despair module.  This means that, among other things, there are no gods.  No gods also mean no healing magic.

The second point deals with the accident of Twill Topknot and this brings me to my character for this month. 

In Tanglewood Keep, Twill is a 3rd level kender thief.   He is essentially a Tasselhof stand-in.  But I wanted to try something new.  In particular, I really wanted to try out Sara Thompson's combat wheelchair for my Old-School games.  This past summer when this was causing a stir I joked "I was going to make one and put a Kender in it!"  Well.  The idea was actually too good to pass up.

Putting Twill in a wheelchair makes a lot of sense since I need him to NOT to be able to help the characters; the Keep is not easily accessible.  

I am currently rereading the Dragonlance saga and the comment has been made that there are no old Kender.  They usually die before that due to accidents.  This is Twill's tale. He was adventuring when he slipped and fell off a cliff.  He was discovered by Sarana who used her witchcraft to heal him the best she could. While she could heal his wounds and kept him from dying, she could not heal everything.  With no healing magic from the gods, she did an admirable job. 

Thankfully for Twill, Tinker the gnome was able to craft him a "mobility chair" which Twill thinks is the best thing ever.  He has a pocket for his maps, cool little baubles, and a place for his hoopak staff.

Since my War of the Witch Queens is a B/X flavored game, I thought that my current favorite Basic-era game Old School Essentials would be great for these stats today.

Twill Topknot
Twill Topknot
Male Kender Bard, 3rd level, Neutral Good

Strength: 10
Intelligence: 13
Wisdom: 9 
Dexterity: 18 (agility) / 9 (movement)
Constitution: 13
Charisma: 15

HP: 12
AC: 4

Saves
D: 13  W: 14  P: 13  B: 16  S: 15 

Initiative: +3
Movement: 20

To Hit AC 0: 20

Weapons: Dagger 1d4 

Hoopak staff 1d4

I decided that Twill is better suited in my game as a Bard (I was not doing Bards in a vacuum last month).  One of the things I found endearing about Tasslehoff Burrfoot was his rich store of stories he knew and wanted to tell. I enjoyed it more on my recent re-read (and was profoundly irritated with Flint every time he told Tass to be quiet).   So a Kender storyteller bard sounds great to me.  I'll make an Arcane Bard since there is no divine magic in Krynn at this point.  Plus the Arcane Bard for OSE still has some thief skills to use.  

In my mind, Twill lives (platonically, for now) with Sarana.  She thinks it is to protect him (he doesn't need it) and he thinks it is to protect her, being from another world (she doesn't need protecting either).  So Twill stays with her in her little house in a haunted forest. He tells her stories that she delights in and she makes him tea. He shows her all his wonderful maps of Krynn and talks about dragons (still only a story now) and she tells him about wonderful worlds she has seen.

No wonder she has no real desire to leave Krynn.  But don't assume anything untoward! This is Krynn and there is a certain morality in place (that I seemed to have completely missed at 14 when I read it the first time).

Sarana and Twill
Sarana and Twill

Twill's Mobility Chair

Being a good-natured sort, Twill is quite proud of his remarkable "mobility chair."  He will gladly show off the pockets it has for his maps, dagger, and that really interesting thing the PC's just dropped and he was keeping safe.   There is even a place on the back for his hoopak.  He credits Tinker (a tinker gnome, naturally) for building it and Sarana for enchanting it to cover any ground or terrain. 

In fact, he will often state that life with his new chair is even better now, though he will admit he misses wiggling his toes. 

Thanks to Sarana's magic the chair can travel over any terrain that Twill himself could do save for anything involving swimming or climbing, with that he can levitate.  The wheels have permanent Floating Disk spells on them to provide levitation.  Since the chair is new he is still learning how to navigate stairs. 

Using the Combat Wheelchair 2.1 for 5e Twill's is a modified basic wheelchair. 

You can get (and modify) your own Twill Topknot mini from HeroForge.

ETA: Since I posted this I noticed that Hero Forge has added three wheelchair options.  

Here is a new version of Twill with his cat.



Saturday, February 27, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)

The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)
Working on something here that might become a regular feature.  I love movies. One of my first semi-professional gigs was writing movie reviews.  So really this is just me getting back to my roots.  My reviews, such as they are, will be like my October Horror Movie reviews, though I am likely to provide a little more detail since I doubt that any of these movies need to be protected by spoilers.  Also, I want to talk about any potential game material from the movies.

So let's start this with a movie from deep in the recesses of my mind and see if it lives up.  A special nod to Tim Knight over at Hero Press for reminding me of this cinematic gem. 

The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981)

I remember this one from first aired on TV back in 1981.  I remember the next day at school all the D&D guys (we had multiple groups going on back then) were talking about a "heartbow" for their characters. 

The movie starts with a long voice-over about the 12 warring clans and a world "that was or will be."  Anyway our story focuses on Toran of Malveel (Lane Caudell) the son of King Brakus (George Kennedy) is out hunting with his archery master Mak (George Innes) who wields "Elbe" the Heartbow, when he encounters Estra (Belinda Bauer) a sorceress (or seer, or witch) who is promised to kill Toran for what his grandfather did.

This one features Star Trek DS9's Marc Alaimo (Sandros), who, along with Victor Campos (Slant) might be the only decent actors in the bunch. Not only that but the script is fairly non-sensical. Game of Thrones it is not.

Anyway, Toran manages to get himself exiled. This turns out to be a good thing since Sandros betrays the king to Gar, the Draikian (Kabir Bedi), the leader of the Snake-men. But not before Toran can be blamed for his father's death.  Toran leaves his father to find the wizard Lazar-Sa, the only one that can help him become king.

Toran and Mak head out to find the wizard.  Of course, Mak isn't going to make it so the Heartbow is given to Toran.  The scene is different than I remember it, but not too different. 

Toran eventually encounters Slant (Victor Campos), a thief and opportunist.  Anyway, we hear from Lazar-Sa and he directs them to the first of three tests.   

The movie never really picks up at any point and ends with Gar getting a glove that is the evil equal of the Heartbow.  None of that I recalled. 

The ending isn't really an ending and sets up a series.  Lazar-Sa isn't found (there were three tests right?) and...well that is it really. 

Gaming Content

Well. The obvious is the Heartbow, but I'll get to that soon.  It is nice to see snakemen here, orcs are so over used.  Snakemen are fun and are always good for bad guys.  Plenty of  stats for them but I think that Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea does the best with them.  The snakepeople remind me a bit of the Duran Duran video Union of the Snake

Elbe The Heartbow - In D&D 4 or 5 this would be a masterwork bow that you would need to "Attune" too in order to use.  In other D&D it just means you have a limited number of such powerful items you can use (the limit is three in D&D 5).  Elbe can convert any arrow to a magical bolt of energy. 

In truth, go see Tim Knight's post, he details all the magic items in this failed TV pilotmovie better than I am here. 

--

Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters that is if I can get my co-admins to agree this is the best hashtag for this!

Thursday, February 25, 2021

One Man's God: Nehwon Mythos

Closing on one of the last of the named mythos for One Man's God.  I go to one that has a lot of importance for the creation of the D&D, the Nehwon Mythos of Fritz Leiber's Lankhmar series.

Nehwon Myths

You can now get Lankhmar RPG products for both 1st and 2nd AD&D as well as for Savage Worlds and Dungeon Crawl Classics.  To say it has left its mark on our hobby is a bit of an understatement.  Yet I find I really know very little about the stories.  I remember reading one of the books. It was either in late high school or my early college days, in either case, it was the mid-late 80s.  I recall reading the book and not really caring for the characters all that much.  I have been planning to reread them someday, but they keep getting pushed lower and lower on my to-be-read pile.

For this reason I had considered not doing these for One Man's God.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized it was a perfect chance to "level-set" what I am doing here.  Seeing if another culture's god can be redefined as AD&D Monster Manual Demon. 

Now I am certain that others with far more knowledge than me will have opinions one way or the other and that is fine.  They are welcome to share them.  A key factor of "One Man's God" is just that, one man's opinion on the gods. And that one man is me.  

So strap on a long sword and dirk and let's head to the City of Lankhmar.

Nehwon and Lankhmar in particular seems to have a lot of Gods.  I kind of lank this to be honest.  But how many of them are "Demons?"

We know there are demons here.  Demons and witches are described as living in the wastes. The wizard Sheelba of the Eyeless Face is said to be so horrible that even demons run from it.

Astral Wolves

These guys are great! Love the idea, but they feel more like undead to me.

Gods of Trouble

Ok, these guys start to fit the bill.  They are semi-unique, chaotic-evil, and have 366 hp. But they also have a lot of powers that demons just don't have.  They have worshipers, but no indication that any spells (for clerics) or powers (for warlocks) are granted.   They just seem to be powerful assholes.

Leviathan

There is a demon Leviathan and this guy looks a lot like him.  But this one is neutral and does not have any other powers except for being huge.

Nehwon Earth God

This guy appears to be an actual god, even if evil and non-human. 

Rat God

AH! Now we are getting someplace. Non-human, cult-like worshipers, described as the manifestation of men's fears, and chaotic evil.  I see no reason why the Rat God here could not be a type of demon with a larger power base.  At 222 hp he is actually pretty close to Demongorgon's hp.

The Rat God has some personal relevance for me.  I was riding the bus home in high school one day and there was a group of kids that were playing D&D. I listened in and guess in their game if you wanted to make boots that aided in your ability to move silently they had to be made from the pelt of the Rat God!  I always wondered what their other games must be like.

rat demon
Rat Demon (Prince of Rats)

FREQUENCY: Very Rare
NO. APPEARING: 1
ARMOR CLASS: 2
MOVE: 18'
HIT DICE: 222 hit points
% IN LAIR: 50%
TREASURE TYPE: P, S, T
NO. OF ATTACKS: 2
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 4-40
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Nil
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: 20%
INTELLIGENCE: Supra genius (18)
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
SIZE: L (10' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY: I

The Demon Prince of Rats is nearly powerful as other demon princes but he saves his interests and attention only for his rat and wererat followers.  He desires to overrun the Prime Material Plane with his children and feed on the bodies of all the living.

Spider God 

Same is true for this one.  I mean if rats are a manifestation of human fears then spiders are as well. This creature is also CE and at 249 hp that makes it more powerful than Lolth at 66!

Tyaa

Could be a demon, but had more goddess about her.  Again though, Lolth is both Goddess and Demon.  We will later get a demoness of birds in D&D during the 3e days in the form of Decarabia.  Tyaa requires her cult to sacrifice a body part, Decarabia cut off her own legs so she would never touch the ground again.

Bird Goddesses and Demons
Bird Goddesses and Demoness, separated at birth?

Obviously there a lot more here that could be done with these and the monsters/gods/demons that were not featured in the D&DG.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Ravenloft Returns to 5e D&D (Again!)

The word is out that next D&D book/campaign setting is going to be Ravenloft and I could not be more pleased!  

Ravenloft coverRavenloft cover

What do we know so far?

It will be released on May 18th, 2021 and it has both the normal and game store exclusive covers.  I have already preordered both.

Thirty Domains of Dread will be detailed. These include Lamordia, Dementlieu (both from the original 2nd Ed set), Kalakeri (new), and Falkovnia (revised).

Likewise, we are getting old, new, and revised Darklords. One that seems to be causing a stir is  Dr. Viktra Mordenheim and her creation Alyss. Not sure if she is a genderswapped Viktor, a daughter or something else.  I mean, lets be honest, even Hammer did the wives and daughters of all their great movies. Ravenloft can too.

Gothic Horror will be covered as well as more traditional "ghost" stories, psychological horror, dark fantasy, and D&D's own brand of cosmic horror.  Which is good, I love all that Far Realm stuff.

While the book is called "Van Richten's Guide" the eponymous Van Righten disappeared before he could complete his last volume "Van Richten's Guide to Witches."  So I am expecting, and am promised, new monster hunters to carry on his legacy.   Our cover girl appears to be Ezmerelda d’Avenir, one of the newer vampire hunters in Barovia.

There are two new sub-classes, College of Spirits Bard and the Undead Pact Warlock.

For lineages, there are dhampir, hexblood, or reborn characters, which offer vampire, hag, and undead lineages, respectively. 

Characters can also get "dark gifts" to aid them in their fights...or to help them become the monster they truly want to be.

There will be 40 pages on monsters; some new and some familiar ones.  I am expecting to see a Brain in the Jar myself. 

And a new adventure. A new take on the House of Lament.  

Ravenloft through the editions

It also sounds like they have a wide variety of voices and inputs on this which is great; horror is a universal concept. Many are horror authors.  I while I do love my Gothic Horror, I also love all horror.  I am looking forward to seeing the Vistani become something more than an uncomfortable stereotype. 

So folks are complaining about the "loss" of Falkovnia, but's let's be honest here. Falkovnia and Vlad Drakov were nothing more than the "leftovers" after Barovia and Strahd mined all the Dracula lore. I never even used it much back in the 2e days and I am certainly not missing it now. Falkovnia is now a zombie apocalypse land and I think that works better to be honest.  We didn't really have one of those.  

Sithicus may or may not show up, but Lord Soth certainly won't.  Also not a surprise really. Those rights were a tangled mess anyway.

I am rather looking forward to this book.  Ravenloft was MY game for all of 2nd Ed AD&D and college. I bought every campaign book, adventure, and yes even novel I could get my hands on.  I was contributing to the Kargatane official netbooks of Ravenloft material.  My 2nd Ed AD&D is Ravenloft; I don't separate the two.

My only question is do I put this on my D&D5 shelf, my horror shelf, or my Ravenloft shelf?

Links

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

I'm Going To Hell!

Well.  Not actually, but I am considering completely redoing all the Outer Planes in my D&D-like games, and the lower planes in particular.

My goal here is to restructure it is such a way that it works better for me and what I am doing in my games, and yet still be compatible enough with other iterations of the game, de that original game, OSR, or other OGL sources, that I can grab something off the shelf and make it work.  

Devil

Over the years I have talked about Hell, the Abyss, and other places such as XibalbaTartarus, and Tehom.  Pathfinder has added some of these realms into OGC, or rather have made SRD connections to Public Domain names (like Abaddon). 

I would also like to work in places like Sheol as well and homes for all the demon species I have been working on. 

Hell

Hell of the D&D universe is much more akin to the ideas of Hell from Greek myths, Dante, and Milton than it is from Judeo-Christian sources.  There are some ideas here from other myths as well.  

According to Dante, the main named devil in Hell is Lucifer/Satan.  He also mentions Geryon and names 12 individual Malebranche devils ("evil-claws") on Hell's eighth level, called here Malbolge.

According to Milton, the main devils are Beelzebub, Belial, Mammon, Moloch, and Satan. But on his way to Hell, possibly when he passes through Night and Chaos, are Orcus, Demogorgon, and Hades.

One of the first things I need to do is at least come up with some names for the Nine Circles / Nine Layers of Hell.  At least most people agree on nine.

Layer Name (D&D) Name (Pathfinder) Name (Dante)* Deadly Sin (Dante)
1 Avernus Avernus Limbo Virtuous Pagans
2 Dis Dis
Lust
3 Minauros Erebus
Gluttony
4 Phlegethos Phlegethon
Greed
5 Stygia Stygia City of Dis Wrath
6 Malebolge Malebolge
Heresy
7 Maladomini Cocytus
Violence
8 Caina Caina Malebolge Fraud
9 Nessus Nessus Pandæmonium* Treachery

I can't use the "D&D Column" with an OGL/OGC book, but the "Pathfinder" one is fine.  Well. It is fine, but lacks something for me. For now though I am going to use these.

*City of Pandæmonium

From Milton (Not Dante). This is the great city in the lowest circle of Hell. I am certainly going to use this.

Once I get my layers worked out I'll need to figure out who rules them.  The current (and some former) rulers are here.  Using D&D layer names.

Layer Name Archdevil Deadly Sin (Mine)
1 Avernus Druaga/Tiamat/Bel/Zariel
2 Dis Dispater Envy
3 Minauros Mammon Greed
4 Phlegethos Belial/Fierna Sloth
5 Stygia Geryon/Levistus Wrath
6 Malbolge Beherit/Moloch/Malagard/Glasya Lust
7 Maladomini Baalzebul/Beelzebub Gluttony
8 Cainia Mephistopheles Pride
9 Nessus Asmodeus *

I do like the idea of aligning Lord/Layer with a Deadly Sin. 

Now, not all of these Archdevils are OGC, and frankly I would rather use one of the Ars Goetia demons as the rulers.  In other cases, I am making changes.  Tiamat is a Chaotic Evil "Eodemon" in my games. Geryon is also now a "rage demon."  Druaga, or maybe now just Druj, will also be something else. 

At the moment I have about 650 demons and devils detailed for my Basic Bestiary II but none are sorted or detailed beyond basic descriptions. I need to start figuring out who "lives" where.

Links

Monday, February 22, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Aglæca

Here is a monster that has been rummaging around in the back of my mind for a while now. I have renewed my search for this creature thanks to getting all caught up on the new "Nancy Drew" series which has a solid supernatural vibe to it. 

The word seems to come from Beowulf, but there is a lot of debate over what it means exactly

We can go to the root word, āglāc, which can mean distress, torment, or misery.  It later derived the Middle-English word egleche meaning warlike or brave.  The Dictionary of Old English describes it as an awesome opponent, a ferocious fighter.  There is so much confusion and speculation on this word there is even a recent Master's Thesis on it, Robinson, Danielle, "The Schizophrenic Warrior: Exploring Aglæca in the Old English Corpus." Thesis, Georgia State University, 2015. 

Given the Beowulf connection, I did look to the troll connection; I always thought of Grendel as some sort of troll.  But I have already done a Troll-wife (a type of hag) and a Trolla (a type of troll witch).  There also seems to be a demonic or even diabolic association with this creature. But I have also already done demonic trolls.  Given the Old-English and Middle-English sources of the word I even thought that something along the lines of a proto-hag might work, but I have done those as well in the Ur-hag

Robinson details some comments from Tolkien on his reading of Beowulf and spends time talking about the monster (and true to her thesis, the noble warriors) that appear in the poem.

Both Grendel and his mother are described as aglæca. While I like to think of Grendel as a troll and his mother as more of a troll-wife, maybe there is more to it. 

Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæca
Large Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 8d8**+16 (52 hp)
  HD (Large): 8d10**+16 (60 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+4 x2, 1d8+4
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, sunlight sensitivity. 
Size: Large
Save: Monster 8
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,750 (OSE) 1,840 (LL)

The aglæca is a large humanoid creature that appears to be something of a mix of both ogre and troll. It is blue-ish grey in color with patches of dark blue that are the color of bruises. It smells of rotting meat,  decay, and the sea.  Its long muscular arms end in large hands with great claws. Its mouth has large fangs and tusks and maybe most disturbingly, its eyes burn with a fierce intelligence.

It is believed to be a descendant of the great giants and Jötunns of the north and the ancestor to the more common ogre and troll. Some scholars speculate that there is a bit of demonic blood in this creature, or even something more evil and primal.   

The aglæca causes fear (as per the magic-user spell cause fear) to any that sees it.  It will use this power to fearlessly attack opponents.  It will use its claws and bite in an attack. While it is intelligent and knows the value of weapons in combat, its berserker-like fury will cause it to abandon weapons in favor of its own hands.  The aglæca will take anything it kills back to their caves to eat. Their preferred food is humans followed by elves, halflings, and dwarves.  

Only magic weapons or magic can hit it and it can regenerate 1 hp per round.  The aglæca prefers to fight at night or in the dark.  It attacks at -1 in light and at -2 in bright sunlight. Aglæca speaks the local languages and giant. They are fearless in battle.

The origins of the aglæca are a mystery. It is speculated that they are very, very old creatures. Thankfully they are very rare and getting rarer to find all the time.

Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton
Grendel's Mother by Joseph Ratcliffe Skelton

Aglæc-wif
Medium Humanoid

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Lawful Evil]
Movement: 180' (60') [18"]
  Swim: 180' (60') [18"]
Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 6d8**+12 (39 hp)
Attacks: claw, claw, bite
Damage: 1d6+3 x2, 1d8+3
Special: Cause fear, magic required to hit, regenerate 1 hp per round, infravision, witch magic. 
Size: Medium
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: XIX [D] x2
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

The aglæc-wif is the smaller female of the aglæca species.  It is conjectured that there may in fact be larger female aglæca that are not aglæc-wif and the aglæc-wif might be another related creature.  So far the only aglæc-wif that have been recorded have been a pair with a larger aglæca.

Like the aglæca, the aglæc-wif appears to be related to the troll and/or ogres.  They also are quite intelligent and while they are perfectly happy to murder and eat any human they see, they are not just ravenous monsters.  The aglæc-wif also possesses the infravision of the aglæca but is not hampered by light or sunlight.  Also, like the aglæca, these creatures feed on humanoids, but they prefer humans to all other forms of food.

An aglæc-wif can attack with claws and bite like the aglæca, but she is also capable of using spells as a 4th level witch of the faerie, sea, or winter traditions.  Their preferred spells are charm-based. Any magic that provided protection from or special damage to Sea Hags is also effective on an aglæc-wif.

It is speculated that like a troll-wife the aglæc-wif can join a covey of hags as a third hag. Though none have ever been reported as doing so.


Friday, February 19, 2021

Friday Night Videos: New Daughters of Darkness and #FollowFriday

It's been a bit since I did a Friday Night Videos, but maybe it's the dark of winter that has my mood looking to some new music from some of my favorite women-fronted bands.  And while we are at it let's make this a #FollowFriday too!  Follow them all and don't forget to buy their songs, albums, or whatever they have.  People have been saying "we don't need artists during this quarantine" and to that I say bullshit!  Artists have kept me living in all of this.  We need them more than ever.

Let's get into it!

Up first is a favorite of The Other Side, Arden Leigh.

Arden fronted the band Arden and the Wolves. Now she has a new project she is doing Prospertine. Which consists of her and Jeremy Bastard.  Their first single is Home.

You can follow her, The Wolves, and Prospertine on the web at:

Arden

Arden and the wolves

Prospertine

Another favorite here is the sister group Neoni.  Their newest song Notorious is now out.  It has a serious Lorde vibe and I mean that is the best possible way.

Neoni also gave Fandom the gift of covering "Carry On (Wayward Son)" for the Supernatural Series Finale.  For this alone they have earned a solid place in geekdom.

You can find and follow Neoni at:

Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless has been putting out some great music for while now.  Their newest album, Death by Rock and Roll has a lot of great songs on it. Personal, Taylor is getting better with each album and I have to admit I am pleased she quit acting to do this full time.

Witches Burn grabbed my attention right away.


It's going to be interesting to see where she is in a few years because I think she is just getting better with each album.

Find The Pretty Reckless here:

Speaking of getting better.

Confession time.  When they first came out I really didn't care for Evanescence.  I mean I recognized that Amy Lee had a powerful voice, but they never connected with me really.  Fast forward a few years and I am listening to her doing duets and singing background on other artists' songs and I am just impressed with her.  I think she is a better singer now than she was 20 years ago. Here is Evanescence's most recent one and as a bonus Lzzy Hale is singing backup. 

You can find Evanescence on the web here:

Check them all out!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

TSR Minigames as Moldvay-era Adventure Modules

TSR's minigames
TSR's minigames
Last week I discussed how I saw Warlocks & Warriors as something of a "larger" minigame and thematically fitting in with Holmes Basic.   Today I want to fast forward to 1980-81 and talk a little bit about TSR's minigames.

I do not own all of these games, nor am I planning to hunt them all down. My FLGS has a few of them but I have other things on my list to find and buy first.  That being said having them all would be kind of fun.

There were eight total games and I own the first four, the same four that appeared in the 1981 Gateway to Adventure catalog.  The links below take you to their Board Game Geek pages.

Vampyre, my first one. This is for 2-6 players. Players hunt the minions of Dracula in an attempt to find and destroy his coffins.  There is a "wilderness" map and a map of Castle Dracula. Designed by Philip A. Shreffler. Art by Erol Otus.

Revolt on Antares. This game is for 2-4 players and is a "Sword and Planet" style adventure with three modes of play. Typical this boils down to the Terran Empire being the antagonists, protagonists, or neutral. Designed by Tom Moldvay and art by Bill Willingham and Erol Otus. Black Dougal makes an appearance here as well. Also listed for art are Jeff Dee (cover), David LaForce, and Jim Roslof

They've Invaded Pleasantville. For 2 players, a "Town" player and an "Alien" player.  Aliens have invaded Pleasantville as part of their global takeover plan. The town player must either stop or kill the alien sub-commander "Zebu-Lon" (wait a minute...) or get more than half of the townsfolk back to normal.  Designed by Michael Price with art by Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, David LaForce, Jim Roslof, and Bill Willingham.

SAGA. For 2-6 players. Players amass treasure, lands, and glory. The one that has the most glory at the end of 20 rounds wins. Designed by Steve Marsh with art by Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, David LaForce, Jim Roslof, and Bill Willingham.  Willingham's cover is one of the best and this also features some great Erol Otus art. 

Other minigames include Attack Force, Icebergs, Remember the Alamo and Viking Gods. I don't own these games, but their production values seem a touch higher than the first four. 

Minigames, the Gateway to Adventure!
Minigames, the Gateway to Adventure!

All the games feature a 16-page booklet with black and white art and a fold-out map.  Sometimes full color (Saga, Pleasantville, Antares) or two-color (Vampyre).  Vampyre is also the only one with the maps printed on both sides.  Each game also came with counters and two d6s. 

Vampyre minigame in clamshell, with dice, counters and map

They are all certainly playable and fun on their own.  I had a lot of fun with Vampyre back in the day. But that is not why we are here today.  No today I am going to dip a toe a little bit into my Traveller Envy and mix these with my current D&D games.   Let me start out with my old favorite and one I have used as an adventure in the past.

Minigames as B/X Adventures

There is a lot to love about these little games.  The Souvenir font really hits that nostalgia button hard for fans of the Moldvay/Cook Basic and Expert sets. Not to mention some of the best-looking Erol Otus art.   This troll not only belongs in D&D, but he is BEGGING to be in D&D.

Erol Otus Troll from SAGA
Erol Otus Troll from SAGA

Maybe it is the font, maybe it is the art but when I got these games the first thing I wanted to do was play them as part of my D&D games.  Of course, back then that meant Basic and Expert D&D.  Some of it also came from the desire to get the most out of my purchase with my limited paper route money.

Vampyre

My first minigame.  Now I am a HUGE Dracula and vampire fan so when I got the Cook/Marsh Expert Set and saw that there were vampires in it my first thoughts went to vampire hunts.  My first character was a cleric for this very reason.  The game Vampyre is set during the events of the novel Dracula with the same (or rather similar) characters.  So set in the 1890s. Since Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death was still a decade and a half away, I converted this to a simple Expert D&D monster hunt.   If I were to redo it I'd up the threat of Dracula.  In Expert, I made him a Greater Vampire

Vampire chic, circa 1981
Vampire chic, circa 1981

The dual map, a "wilderness" and a "dungeon" again BEG to be used in the Expert game. The parallels between this game and the Ravenloft adventure. No surprise since both draw from the exact same source materials.  The trick the next time I use this is to make it less like Ravenloft.

SAGA

This is the next piece of "low hanging fruit."  Like Dungeon! the connections to D&D are obvious here.  SAGA has heroes fighting monsters, exploring, gaining treasure. Sounds D&D like to me! There is a nice little Risk-like map of the Viking world. This includes all of England, Denmark, and some of Sweden, Norway, and Ireland.  The map also had "Thule" about in the place where Iceland would be expected (and to the map's odd scale).  The map is also just great to look at. 

Outside of the troll featured above the monsters include Dragons, Drow (not just dark elves), Ghosts, Giants, and Witches!  I am happy to see that witches are the next more dangerous creature after dragons.  The game has some fun spells and magical runes with simple effects and some named magical swords. 

While there are no dungeons in this game it is full of ideas. 

This got me thinking about how Vampyre and SAGA could work together.  In SAGA you travel from mainland Europe to England for treasure and glory.  In Dracula, the last act is the heroes traveling from England back to mainland Europe to hunt the monster.   Maybe with something like Draugr & Draculas as the connective tissue the mini-campaign can be changed from one of just glory to one of monster hunting across the continent to stop the master vampire. Call it Vampyre Saga.  Hmm. That sounds a little bit like a supernatural teen show on the CW.  I'll play with it a bit.

The next two are a little hard to fit in.

They Invaded Pleasantville

The premise of this game is great and recalls 50s alien invasion movies. But as Carl Sagan pointed out in The Demon-Haunted World today's alien abductions were yesteryear's demon possessions.  So swap out the aliens for demons and now this sleepy Midwestern town is a village in the Realms where demons are running rampant.  Stop the Alien Sub-CommanderDemonic Lord.

Revolt on Antares

This game is a fun Sword & Planet game, but remove it from it's setting it is a fairly generic "Us vs. Them" game of rebellion and oppressors.  Sure there are a lot of ways I could use this, but it gets it further and further away from its basic premise.  Maybe it would make for a good Star Frontiers game.

Party like it is 1981!

In any case, there is a lot more fun to be had here. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Fall of the House of Whedon

I was debating on whether or not to remark to the latest (and maybe the last) of the ongoing drama with Joss Whedon, but I think at least a summary and retrospective might be in order.  Besides one of the reasons of for the existence of this blog was due to the earlier incarnation of The Other Side getting hacked all the time by Whedon fanboys because they did not like my message then.  So. Here we are nearly 20 years later.

burning house

First, let's start with the most recent news.  On February 10th Charisma Carpenter took to Twitter to talk about how she had been treated by Whedon while filming her last season of Angel.  While widely known to many people in the fan community at the time, this tweet was a revelation to many.  Among the other issues were asking her if she would get an abortion to accommodate the Angel shooting schedule and storyline.  What followed was a tsunami of posts from fellow actors and people associated with Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. 

This has all lead to the #IStandWithCharismaCarpenter hashtag to trend.

The question that some are asking is why is this all trending now versus 18 years ago? Or why are the actors all coming out now as opposed to then?

Well, keep in mind that a lot of the actors and people involved DID come out with these allegations.  I remember talking online about it at the time, in particular, Charisma Carpenter's firing because she got pregnant (which is illegal by the way).  What is different?

First, the actors above have the advantage of a more robust social media infrastructure.  They can get their message out to more, quicker.  Cases in point all the Tweets and Instagram posts above.

Second, there was the MeToo movement which shifted the lens of belief from the auteurs to the actresses.  There are countless stories of Kubrick, Hitchcock, and of course Weinstein but that all changed in the last few years when such behavior would no longer be tolerated.  This gave Ray Fisher a chance to speak out about how he was treated on the set of Justice League.  Cases in point were the comments made by Kai Cole, Whedon's ex-wife on The Wrap.  This was also one of the reasons that Stunt Coordinator Jeff Pruitt And Stuntwoman Sophia Crawford shared their story yet again and that James Marsters felt he could share his story as well.

I mentioned Jeff Pruitt and Sophia Crawford above with a "yet again" they shared this story before. Back in 2000.  It was detailed by Jeff, quasi-anonymously, in his "The Parabal (sic) of a Knight."  He is the Knight, Sophia is the Handmaiden and the Young Prince who becomes King is Whedon. It is also fairly negative to SMG, but that is not what I talking about today.  While he had to hide this in a story, the Buffy fandom at the time dismissed all of Jeff's and Sophia's claims.  It only took 20 years before the fandom took them at their word.

Related to that is my third point. The fandom that revered and protect Whedon is largely gone.  Back in 2003 or so, Whedon was on the top of his world.  Any complaint would have been drowned out by the screaming fans that worshipped him. Case in point. Anytime I would post something to my older version of The Other Side my host would get attacked.  It got so bad that between 2005 to 2009 there was no "Other Side" on the web.  I created this blog since I figured Blogspot/Google would be better protected. Of course by that time I had decided to move on. 

People talk about "toxic fandom" and how it can be directed in a negative way at creators.  One facet they don't mention is how un-checked praise and even worship of creators can also be damaging to others that are trying to warn us about those creatives.  Woody Hall, Harvey Weinstein, Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, and yes Whedon all built their cult of personality and auteur status.  These same cults also shielded them from scrutiny.

The "Big Question" everyone is asking is "Why now?"

As I mentioned above the climate has changed.  These actors are no longer in a place where Whedon can damage their career.  They have moved on to other things. Charisma has roles, SMG is living the stay-at-home mom dream she has always wanted (and her husband Freddie Prinze Jr. is doing great), Amber has books out and has been behind the camera more than in front of it.  So the control he once had on their lives is not there.  The fan network has largely gone away as well.

Also, and this can not be stated too many times, other people do not have to conform to your timeline of healing.  Michelle Trachtenberg said it took her years to even come to terms with it.  Eliza Dushku only talked about the sexual abuse she suffered at age 12 three years ago. Michelle Trachtenberg mentions that it took her till she was a woman of 35 to deal with things that happened to her as a teenager of 15. I know others he has been involved with as well. The gaslighting he has done to them still bothers (enrages) them.  You don't get to dictate how others heal.

The question also comes up of why didn't others speak up or stop it.  Well, I think I covered that, the ones that did were blacklisted and deemed "difficult to work with."  You also have actors like Anthony Head and Amy Acker that said they did not see this abuse but support the others all the same.   Again, it can't be said too many times but abusers work by targeting those they know they can abuse and get away with it.  Bullies always pick on those weaker than themselves.  In terms of the power structure, everyone was weaker than the Grand Auteur.

Back in the early 90s I had a job at a head injury facility. I was a Qualified Mental Health Professional for the State of Illinois. I took the job because my own research was on cognitive development.  The job was so depressing. I would call my girlfriend every night after my night shift (she was living 300 miles away at the time; its ok though we got married in the end) complaining about how awful it was.  Not the staff, they were great, it's just the despair.  She asked me many times why I don't just quit.  I couldn't. Apart from needing this on CV for my Ph.D. program, I also needed to eat, pay rent, and have a job that a working grad student could do at night.  I couldn't just leave. Neither could these actors, and I didn't have a contract holding me in a place like they did. 

The Second Big Question is, for me, Why do I even care?

Over the years through my work on the Buffy, Angel, and Ghosts of Albion RPGs I have gotten to know a few of the people involved here. They are good people. In the years following, I have been able to get to know more. They are also good people.  They deserved a lot better than what they were given.

I guess really it is no surprise when given the chance to do my own versions of the Buffy-verse the people that made it over were "played" by Charisma, Amber, Michelle, Eliza, and also  Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan.

Truthfully the only answer one needs to give to a question of "Why should you care?" is "Because what happened was wrong."