Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Review: Bunnies and Burrows 3rd Edition (2019)

Bunnies & Burrows has always been one of those games that elicits a variety of responses from gamers and non-gamer alike.  Most often it is "really? there is a game of that?"

I will admit I was and am a fan of the original 1976 Edition.  I never really got to play it, save for one time, but that was it. It was fun and I wrote a review for it

I did, however, spend a lot of time back in 2007 rewriting the Bunnies & Burrows article on Wikipedia.  Not only was I and others able to get the article to Good Article status, but I also had a Furry Advocacy group offer to send me money because of it.  I just asked them to donate the money to the Humane Society.  I didn't want my edits called into question if I Was doing them for pay.  I was doing it to further my own RPG knowledge.

So when the Kickstarter for the new edition from Frog God Games came up, well yes, I had to back it. They delivered it and it looked great. And I promptly put it on my shelf never to be seen again.  I was cleaning up some shelves to make room for more Traveller books when I found it.  I figure I should give it a go again.

If you have never checked out this game then I say do yourself a favor and remedy that. This is a great piece of the RPG past and should not go ignored.

I am going to review Bunnies & Burrows 3rd Edition from Frog God Games.  For this review, I am considering both the PDF and the Print version I received from Kickstarter.  There is a Print on Demand version, I have not seen it. 

Bunnies & Burrows, 3rd Edition

Bunnies & Burrows 3rd Ed comes to us from Frog God Games. Maybe more well known for the Swords & Wizardry line of books than rabbits, this game is still a solid contender for the Old School market. More so I say than some other games that people think of as "Old School."

In this game, you play rabbits.  Not anthropomorphic rabbits. Not mutant rabbits. But normal, everyday, common in your backyard rabbits.  If this feels a bit "Watership Down" then you are right on track.

Part I: Traits and Characteristics

Characters have 8 base traits, Strength, Speed, Intelligence, Agility, Constitution, Mysticism (was Wisdom in 1st and 2nd Ed), Smell, and Charisma.  Different Professions (Runners, Spies, Shamans...) all have a primary trait.  Traits are rolled like D&D, 3d6, and the bonuses are similar. 

Every profession gets some special abilities. So for example the Fighter gets a double attack and a killing blow.  It is assumed that your starting character is a rabbit or bunny. 

Bunnies & Burrow art

There are other choices too, Raccoon, Jackrabbit, chipmunk, skunk, porcupine, opossum, armadillo, and gray squirrel.  With the examples given, other small furry wild animals could be chosen.

Bunnies & Burrows

Part II: Playing the Game

This covers the rules of the game and more importantly, the sorts of things you can do in the game. Covered are important topics like Habitats, Grooming, Sleep, Foraging, Diseases, and dealing with other animals and at worse, Man-Things.

There is a huge section on encounters and how basically everything out there is harmful to you. There are predators, humans, dangerous terrain, rival animals, and the ever-present search for food and water.

There are many sample scenarios and even a few mini-games to play.

Part III: For the Gamemaster

The last part covers the last half of the book.  It has a lot of information on setting up a game, how to roleplay, and stats of all sorts.  A lot of rival and predatory creatures are also listed in what would the "monster" section of other games.




There are a bunch of maps, scenarios, and encounters all throughout the book.  There is no unified theme, nothing that ties them all together, other than "survive as a little thing in a world full of bigger, scarier things."

There is certainly a lot of Role0playing potential in that. 

Bunnies & Burrow art

Bunnies & Burrow art


Bunnies & Burrow map

B&B makes you feel like it could all be happening in your backyard.  That while we Man-Things sit on our decks and grill our burgers and drink out ices tea, there is a world not that far from us distance-wise, but one that is as different and far away as we can get. A world of survival just under our noses. 

The game is quite attractive in terms of color and art. It looks fantastic.

There is a feel from this, I am going to call it the S&W effect, that I didn't feel when reading the original game.  This is a polished game that is trying to feel old. As opposed to an old that was trying to feel polished.

The original B&B looks cheap by today's standards but it was such an "out there" idea for the time that it felt more important than say the representation it got in RPG circles.  This new B&B has a similar feel, but maybe lacks a little of the gravitas of the original.

In any case, it is a fun game, and one every gamer would at least try.  I don't think you can call yourself an old-school gamer unless you have played it at least once.

Real bunnies love B&B

This game is Simon Bunny approved!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Oriental Adventures, One Year Later

Oriental Adventures
Hopefully, I can put the latest tempest-in-a-teapot away for the one that was consuming us all last year.  

It was one year ago that the whole Oriental Adventures deal went down.  I am not going to go into all of it; there were petitions, camels, and a lot of chicken-little hysterics.  But here are some of the salient details.

A year ago game designer Daniel Kwan posted his concerns to Twitter about how culturally insensitive WotC's (formerly TSR's) Oriental Adventures is. 

This quickly devolved into the lowest sniping that is typical of these cultural debates. 

The end result was Wizards of the Coast putting a disclaimer on all older products about how they are an artifact of their times that honestly did not appease anyone.

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

So where are we now?

People made a HUGE outcry that they were going to be censored and that the older PDFs were going to get pulled or worse, they were going to be edited. People kept screaming slippery slope and other weak arguments.

None of that happened.

What did happen is that OA went from just a small handful of reviews and "just" a Platinum bestseller to a couple of score ratings (not actually reviews) and a Mithral best seller.

Screenshot 2020-01-03
Screenshot 2020-01-03

Screenshot 2021-04-12
Screenshot 2021-04-12. Only difference? Disclaimer and greater sales rank.

Comparing the files I downloaded when it was first offered in 2014, the one I downloaded in July of 2020, and the one I downloaded just now, they are all the exact same.  There is a difference of 11 bytes between the 2020 and 2021 versions that I can't account for yet, but every page is the same.

OA files
Your file sizes may vary due to name and customer ID#

Nothing in the file itself has changed.

I said at the time that WotC was not going to take it down and they were not going to change it.  I was right not because I had faith in WotC (far from it) I had faith in the money involved.

  • To take down a best-selling, low-cost, high ROI product is foolish.
  • To edit the same product incurs a cost, a high cost in many cases, that greatly reduces that ROI.

The intelligent thing to do is always make a new, better product to support the new current rules system, not anything at all for a nearly 50-year-old system with a diminishing customer base.

Also, the assertion that this would cause WotC to stop selling classic D&D pdfs altogether was easily dismissed. They kept adding more and more pdfs and PoD ready books. Focus has shifted a little from adding new pdfs (though the most recent ones are from June 18th or so) to get current pdfs PoD ready.

At the end of the day, Daniel Kwan was still making some very good claims.  These have been carefully spelled out in this series of videos. Warning this is over 26 hours long. If you want to dispute his point of view you need to watch this first.

Back then I said:

If I were in charge of the D&D line I would get in front of this now saying "Yeah, you have some great points. Let's assemble a dream team of experts both in history and in RPGs to make a new BETTER book."

I stand by that.  I have no idea if WotC is doing this or not, but I am a bit disappointed that no 3rd party publisher came forward to do it.  Now to be fair, Paizo very well could have done this and I just missed it. Brian Young has been doing exactly this for Castles & Crusades at Troll Lord Games.  Maybe the closest we have is Joesph Bloch's / BRWGames' The Golden Scroll of Justice. I don't have it, but I have read that it is good.  (edited to add. I just bought it to see how it is. First reaction, it looks good and has the level of quality I have come to expect from BRWGames, but I have no idea how representative it is, I am not qualified to measure that.)

People need to stop looking at these as "threats" and see them as opportunities to do better or at very, very least sell more books. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Groundling

 Been playing around with this one for a bit.  They started out as something akin to a mushroom person and changed.  Was out working in the garden with my wife all weekend and they kind of came together for me.

Groundlings
Groundling
Small Elemental (Earth, Fey)

Frequency: Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4 (2d8)
Alignment: Lawful [Neutral Good]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
  Burrow: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 1d8* (5 hp)
  Small 1d6* (4 hp)
Attacks: 1 weapon (garden tools)
Damage: 1d4
Special: Camouflage, damage by cold-iron, druid magic, spores, See below
Size: Small
Save: Elf 1
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: See below
XP: 13 (OSE) 13 (LL)

Str: 9 (0) Dex: 13 (+1) Con: 11 (0) Int: 12 (0) Wis: 15 (+1) Cha: 16 (+2)

Groundlings are small earth elementals that live on the material plane and parts of the lands of faerie.  They are distantly related to gnomes and other faerie races, in particular brownies.  They appear much as gnomes or brownies do; small with long noses and ears, quick and nimble fingers.  They are small, just under 2 ft in size with some only reaching 1 ft.  Their skin tone range from dark browns, to lighter shades all the way to a pale almost white.  They wear similar shades of light clothing making them 90% undetectable when they are hiding in the underbrush of their preferred forest homes. They wear large mushroom caps for hats. Groundling my travel underground via a natural burrowing ability.

Groundlings are rather peaceful and wish to be left alone to attend their mushroom patches and farms. If attacked they can defend themselves with their only weapons, their garden tools, for 1d4 points of damage. They can be hit by cold-iron to take an additional +1 points of damage.    If four or more groundlings are encountered then 1 will be a druid of the 2nd level and can cast spells.  Eight or more will have a druid of the 4th level.  Any creature or character foolish enough to try to attack a grounding within their own community is subject to a deadly spore attack that the entire community can release.  This attack affects all living animals in a 30-yard radius of the community.  The victim must save vs. poisons or choke to death. Groundlings are loathed to use this attack of last resort as they do not enjoy killing any creature.  

The most notable detail about groundlings is they do not have permanent biological sex or gender.  Groundlings reproduce via spores similar to mushrooms.  During the spring of each year, a grounding can choose to be "male" and release spores that are collected by groundlings who have chosen to be "female."  Within one month new groundlings are born and will maturity in 10 years.   Groundling may also choose either a male or female and maintain this choice for as long as they wish.  It is in this mode they will often try to relate to other species. It is during this time that they can also have offspring with brownies, gnomes, or other faerie creatures of similar size.

Groundlings have a simple society based around a family unit of 3 to 5 adults and up to 15 immature children. Their joys are tending their gardens, keeping small rodents as pets, and participating in a special form of community "theatre" where specialized spores are released to provide vivid hallucinations guided by the elders of their group. 

Groundlings do not keep treasure preferring to live off of the land. There is often enough in the community for the purchase of their garden tools.  They do make a particularly potent wine made from mushrooms that is a favorite among some of the wilder fey species. They do sell it, but often prefer to trade.

Groundlings as Characters:  A grounding may be used as a Player Character background.  They tend to favor classes like druids and witches of the Faerie, Green Witch, or Hedgewitch traditions.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Sword & Sorcery & Cinema: Pathfinder (2007)

Pathfinder (2007)
I have been wanting to see this one for some time now.  My wife and I have been on a Vikings and Norse Mythology kick for a while now and we both like Karl Urban. So I thought tonight was a good night for it.

I mean I had heard it was not great, but I wanted to see it for myself.

So from the start, there are some issues here.  There were no horses in America during the Viking era and the Vikings certainly didn't use them.  Nor was chain mail as depicted here used.  So yeah, this 

Karl Urban stars as "Ghost" a Viking boy, left behind after a raid. He is raised by the locals and has built a life for himself.    Fifteen years later the Vikings return and kill everyone except for Ghost, who is out hunting. Ghost watches them kill his father, and he attacks, killing many of the Northmen, called "The Dragonmen" by the Native Americans.

Ghost finds the other tribe, the one with Pathfinder and his daughter Starfire and warns them of the Vikings. 

The villagers leave and Ghost prepares to fight the Vikings.  There is a battle and Ghost kills a lot, but the braves from the village come back and they are slaughtered. 

The Vikings capture Ghost, Starfire, and Pathfinder.  They draw and quarter Pathfinder and force Ghost to show them where the next village is. He does so to protect Starfire.

All the Vikings are killed. Starfire becomes the new Pathfinder and Ghost guards the coast, watching for more invaders.

So yeah. It was not great.  My wife called it "Dances with Vikings."  I think that is being overly generous.  Clancy Brown is in it, but you can hardly tell. 

Gaming Content

This movie came out in 2007 around the same time as the Pathfinder RPG (2009).  I always conflated the two even though I was aware of the differences.  Though part of me would still like stat up the Pathfinder movie with the Pathfinder rules. 

The Vikings in this are more like Orcs than they are like Ragnarr Loðbrók. With their centuries too early arms and armor, this actually has more in common with Pathfinder the RPG than it does with the historical Vikings.  Their armor looks like they got from a GWAR yard sale.

--

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.

TSR's Not So Great Start

The new old TSR logo
If you have been online at all this week then you likely have heard about the new new TSR. Justin LaNasa secured the trademarks that were lapsed (again).  There was a TSR Games that produced the new Top Secret game and were involved with the short-lived Gygax magazine. 

The tale began before this, but let's take the June 15th date as a start of the new TSR in the public eye when they sent out their press release.

Lots of people have dissected this already and I have no desire to retread that ground.  There are a few things I want to talk about and for that, I need to start here.  So let's establish some facts. From the PR.

The team includes Justin LaNasa (CEO), Ernest G. Gygax Jr (EVP), Jeff R. Leason (COO, and Stephen E. Dinehart (CCO).

Ok. So far so good...almost. 

LaNasa has posted some questionable material online, on his own FB page, and on the Dungeon Hobby Shop page, now since deleted.  Now people are allowed to have opinions and they don't have to agree with mine. If someone deletes something they posted I am going to assume they had a moment, thought better of it, and deleted it.  That's fine. No need for me to bring it up. But there are others, and when a pattern begins to emerge well it is less like a momentary lapse of reason and more like behavior.

Here is one from a little more recently.

how not to do social media

As a card-carrying member of the "Woke Nation," I take exception to this.  You don't have to like my opinions to take my money, but don't hold your nose and laugh while doing it.  Sorry, but if "woke" means I actually care about the opinions and feelings of others, then fuck it, I am woke.  Not only that I am a pretty big Social Justice Warrior and I have the receipts (in many cases actual receipts) to back that up.  Guess what, I can spend my money elsewhere.

If that were all, I could almost ignore it. I certainly would post anything about it, I'd just not buy your stuff and move on with my life.  There are lots of things I don't like; I want to talk about the things I do like. 

But then there was this bit from Executive VP Ernie Gygax.  It's a long video. The salient bits have been transcribed over at ENWorld

Look. It's an interview, not a presentation, not a press junket, so there are some rough bits in the presentation. But the real rough bits are really rough.

There is an absolute misunderstanding of IPs and copyright. The complete dismissal of the players of 5e is also poor professionalism.  I get you don't like the game, you don't have to like it, but dismissing the players of 5e? Sorry, my kids are huge 5e fans and they are having every bit as much as we did; maybe more. Referring to them as lemmings, also not a fan.  Also dismissing the largest population of role-players with money right now? That's just really bad business practice. 

Again, irritating, but not 100% damnable. Anyone can say something stupid once.  

But completely insulting the LGBT players by dismissing "gender identities" is so not cool and extremely unprofessional. 

why a new TSR?

Online, Justin, in his capacity as CEO of TSR, has made the claim that this is just Ernie expressing his own opinions.  Well, that doesn't really fly. The interview was in his capacity as a spokesperson for the company he is Executive VP for.  Let's be honest. No one will pay the "nostalgia dollar" based on LaNasa's name alone.  They are banking that despite not having a real plan that I can see and a lot of hope that people will buy these products based on the "TSR" and "Gygax" name. 

They want to produce a new "Star Frontiers," they own the name, but that is all. None of the IP, none of the rules.  Nothing really.

I fear they are poking a very large bear (WotC/Hasbro) and I am not sure they get that.  

Shannon Appelcline has written an update on TSR 2.0 and TSR 3.0 for his Designers & Dragons and has posted it to his Facebook page.

There is more. Lots more. But I am not really interested anymore.  This feels like a cheap cash grab to go after the nostalgia dollar and doing it by appealing to the lowest common denominator of that fan base.

Sorry but the whole thing is leaving a rather bad taste in my mouth.   I hope to see some changes, but I am not holding my breath. But I don't need to give any more of my cash to people that utterly dismiss the experiences of people I know and care about. 

Get your act together TSR or you will follow the business trajectory of the last two TSRs. And doubling down on Social Media is not only unprofessional but it is also a bad look. 

BTW: Jeff Dee is not working for them. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: A Blissful Time in Oz

I have two Kickstarters today that look fantastic.

Holly G art

Up first is my friend Holly G's To the Heart of Bliss

To the Heart of Bliss by Holly G!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/hollyg/to-the-heart-of-bliss-by-holly-g?ref=theotherside

Holly is the artist that gave us "School Bites" and works with her husband Jim Balent on their comic "Tarot Witch of the Black Rose."

While this Kickstarter is for her oracle deck, the reason I am backing is for her wonderful art.

Holly has a perfect track record with her own Kickstarters and I expect this will be no different.

5e Adventures in Oz: Setting, Monsters & Maps (Oh my!)

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/doublecritical/adventures-in-oz-5th-edition-setting-and-sourcebooks?ref=theotherside

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Oz.  I had the books as a very young child and I was absolutely fascinated with the Wicked Witch of the West.  Yeah I imprinted early and hard.

This new Kickstarter looks fantastic. It is for 5e and given some of the retellings of Oz of late I think this going to be great.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Star Trek musings, BlackStar and Mercy

Been in a bit of a creative rut when it comes to D&D and D&D-like games lately.  I get my best ideas when running and I have not been doing that in the morning due to the day job.

In the meantime, I have been thinking about my two Trek games BlackStar and Mercy.

For BlackStar I spent some money and had a 3D model designed for my ship, the USS Protector.  I got the STL file from the designer and had my youngest print them out on our resin printer.  The results?  Well, I have to say I am thrilled to death with them.

USS Protector, various scales

Looking now I see the blue resin one is a little hard to see.  The green resin one I painted with a light-gray/off-white "Corax White" from Citadel paints.

The painted/green resin/smallest is the largest size we can print with the ship length on the y axis.  The blue is the largest we can do with the ship length on the z axis.

I am actually pretty happy with both sizes to be honest.

The Protector and the Reliant

You can see the blue resin one better here.  The front of the saucer section was where it was connected to the build plate.  Connor raised it by a couple of mm and it looks much better.  I gave that one to my friend Greg for his birthday and his own Trek game.

The blue resin also looks like it is the same scale as this little USS Reliant model I have. I also have an Enterprise A that is very nearly the same scale.

The Enterprise D and the Protector

The smaller one matches the scale (nearly) of the Enterprise D model I have too. 

If I compare to this sizing, the Protector uses the same space frame as does the Ambassador Class Enterprise-C.

The Starships Enterprise

I said originally that the Protector was 700 meters, that looks like a typo to me.  I am now saying 600 meters, so still longer that than the Enterprise C.  Most of that is in the nacelles.

It's kinda cool to have my own little starships coming out of what is this century's version of the replicator.

Speaking of centuries.  I have been discussing my Mystoerth Timeline with some others and it is a little like sticking a square peg into a round hole.  But it is still nowhere near as bad as trying to get my Star Trek timeline to line up.   I am not talking about trying to figure out how to work things like Discovery and Axanar into the mix, I am talking about trying to figure out how Trek and real-world history can co-exist!

One of the bigger issues comes from the episode The Space Seed, the one that introduced Khan.  In the episode Khan was supposed to rise to power during the Eugenics Wars in the 1990s. He then left Earth on a DY-100 sleeper ship around 2018.  

uh...Ok.  Look. The Space Seed aired in 1967. No one at the time thought people would still be watching Trek in the 1990s, let alone new Star Treks on the air at that time. 

How do I fix this?  Thankfully I stumbled on a video that neatly solves this problem (and some others) for me.

Moving it all to 2090?  Well, that works out great for me to be honest.  But I might even fudge it a bit more and say it happened in 2067, 100 years after the episode aired. Though that is only 46 years from now!

We know that  Zefram Cochrane made his warp flight on April 4, 2063, but there had to be sleeper ships still in use.  It works. It is inelegant in a way, there are other dates I'll have to move, but for *my* Trek universe it is fine.

In any case, it might not even come up in my games, though I am sure Mercy will deal with something from the Eugenics Wars. It's just too fruitful of a playground not to do something with it. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Review: Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide

Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide 5e
I am on record as being a big fan of Green Ronin's Blue Rose setting, both in its True20 and AGE versions.   There is just something about it that I find very, very compelling and think it makes for a fantastic game and game world.

I am also on record as being a huge fan of D&D 5th Edition.  While it wont replace my beloved Basic D&D it will sit on my shelves and game table very happily right next to it.  

So what happens when Green Ronin decides to take their Blue Rose world and used the D&D 5th edition rule system?  Well, you get the best of both worlds!  Let's look into this RPG chocolate and peanut butter creation and see what we have.  My only fear is that some of the things that made Blue Rose so special might get lost here.  Let's find out.

The Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide (5e)

For this review I am considering the PDF and POD versions I purchased from DriveThruRPG.  Note: As of the date of this writing the POD is no longer available. I suspect this has to do with the change in printing costs for "Premium Color" prints.  There was a successful Kickstarter (that I missed) to fund a traditional print run.  It looks like there will offset printing ready for your FLGS by the end of 2021.  I guess I better hold on to my now collector's item!

The book is 176 pages with full-color art throughout.  Once again the cover art is by the incredible Stephanie Pui-Mun Law who has given us the look and feel I associate with Blue Rose.  All of the art, as far as I can tell, has been used before in the AGE version of Blue Rose.  I do not see this as a problem. The art is so tied to Blue Rose for me that I would have a difficult time seeing anything else.  So this is a positive in my mind.

It is hard to believe that it was four years ago that I reviewed the "new" Blue Rose AGE edition (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  So a lot of what I said there will apply here.  

You do not need the Blue Rose core rules to play this, but you do need the D&D 5th Edition rules.

Introduction

This section from developer Steve Kenson introduces us to Green Ronin and Blue Rose.  It is a nice reminder that Green Ronin's DNA is deeply sequenced with D&D.  Many of the founders and developers at GR can trace their careers back AD&D 2nd Ed, D&D 3.x, and D&D 5.  These are not "johnny come latelys" these are people with a strong and credible background in game design and D&D in particular.   This also covers some naming conventions.  "Sorcery" from the True20 and AGE versions has been renamed "The Occult" here, so as not to confuse with the sorcerer class.  Similar distinctions are made later on with Priests and Clerics when dealing with the various theocracies.

Chapters 1 through 7

These chapters all deal with the history, people, and geography of the World of Aldea.  They are,in order, The World of Aldea, The Kingdom of Aldis, The Theocracy of Jarzon, The Khanate of Rezea, The Thaumocracy of Kern, The Matriarch of Lar'tya, and On the Borders.

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

While these sections are nearly identical to similar sections in the Blue Rose core rules AGE edition, they are not a copy and paste.  I covered those in Part 2 of my Blue Rose review.  The differences here are now largely one of rules setting.  Details have been edited to better fit the D&D 5e rules.  

This also works well as an overview for anyone wanting to play in Aldea regardless of which rules (True20, AGE, D&D5) they want to use.

Chapter 8: Aldean Ancestries

We are moving away from the old concept of race in D&D and I could not be happier.  This chapter gives us a good example of how this can be done moving forward.  There is a natural familiarity here for anyone coming to this version of BR from the True20 one.  The ancestries of the world of Aldea are here and how they can be played in D&D 5.  If you are thinking ahead then YES, you can now use Rhydan and Sea-folk in your regular D&D game.  

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

What was "race" is not split off into Ancestries (your "genetics" as it were) and Culture (where you were raised).  This is particularly useful in the cosmopolitan world that is Aldea and in particular Aldis. Sure you might a Night Person, but you were raised in a villa on the Northside of Garnet.  Your best friend is a Sea-folk and you spent more time on the waterways than whatever stereotypical things people think Night Folk do. Sure you might be naturally strong and fierce-looking, but the only battles you have ever been in are the Poetry competitions in Garnet. Which by the way are pretty damn fierce in their own right. In my Blue Rose games, Garnet has annual poetry competitions that have all vibe and energy of an epic Rap-battle.  The top prize is a lot of money, but more importantly, bragging rights.

I would like to say this should be back-ported into D&D, but I am pretty sure we will see this in future versions anyway.  This is an improvement.  Character customization at a new level.

Chapter 9: Aldean Classes

Ah. Here is what I waiting on.  Blue Rose AGE and True20 versions only has three classes.  An while this works remarkably well, D&D has a bit more.  So in the proud tradition of so many D&D 5 books, this book offers new takes on all the standard classes.  I want to focus here on just a couple I really like.  

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

The Monk gains the Blue Rose Spirit Dancers in the Way of the Spirit Dance and makes it better than the sum of it's parts.  I have never been a big fan of monks, I have only played one in my 40+ years of gaming.  The Blue Rose spirit dancers were a great concept, but again, not something I would play.  This new Way of the Spirit Dancer Monk is better than either and yes I would play one.  Imagine an acrobat with ballet training and grace and mix that in with aikido and karate.  Yes, that is basically Gymkata (Gods of Light help me) but so much better really.

Paladins get the Oath of the Rose and really just become the Knights I was always playing in BR anyway, but nice to see them on paper.

Warlocks.  You knew I was coming here. We get two Patrons here (from the Primordial Gods), the Autumn King and the Winter Queen.  A Winter Queen warlock is indistinguishable from how I like to play witches as to be the exact same thing.  But honestly, I expected nothing less from Steve Kenson and line developer Joseph Carriker. 

Wizards get a little psychic in School of the Psyche.  I would run wizards with a pretty tight hand in Blue Rose 5e. Not because of the lack of magic, just the opposite, there is a ton of magic in this world. 

These all are designed well for the World of Aldea, but I'd be crazy not to play a Queen of Winter Warlock.

Pages from Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

We also get some Feats to help round out some of the powers that characters can get in Blue Rose-AGE.  Not a lot, but 5e is not as feat-heavy as 3 was.  

Chapter 10: Aldean Backgrounds

Aldea is a new world so there are some modified and new backgrounds for it.  The best is the Reawakened.  Or the reincarnation background.  You know I am going to use that!

Chapter 11: Aldean Arcana

This covers the magic in Aldea including the Occult (what was called Sorcery).  Some spells from the Player's Handbook/SRD are marked as "Occult" spells.

I would have loved to see some new spells here, but I would need to go through both the Blue Rose book and the PHB to see if there is anything missing.

We get some new magic items including Ancestral and Rhydan ones as well as Occult Artifacts (great for any game).

Chapter 12: Aldean Creatures

This covers the monsters and creatures we find in Aldea not in the Monster Manual/SRD.  There are some important alterations to some creatures such as Griffons, Centaurs, the Fey, and undead, to correspond to the world better.  We also get Clockwork creatures, "upgraded" Fey Lords, and slightly different Fiends. Rhydan also get updated 5e style stats.

Shadow of Tanglewood

This is an included adventure for four to six 1st level Blue Rose heroes. 

There is an Index and the OGL statement.

While I was worried that some of the charms of Blue Rose AGE would be lost here there is more than enough to make up for it.  I mean there are no stunts or any of the other nice features of the AGE rules. There is no conversion matrix for bringing over characters from one game to the other.  But this book plays to the strengths of D&D 5e and still manages to give us an Aldea that feels special. 

What might have been lost from the AGE (or even True20) version is more than made up for with D&D5.  It's not exactly the same, but it is every bit as fun.

Who Should Buy This Book?

If you are a Blue Rose fan and a D&D fan then get this book.  If you are a Blue Rose player/GM/fan and your group is playing D&D 5 then you should get this book.  If you are a D&D 5 player, and you are curious about Blue Rose, Aldea, and the City of Aldis then most certainly get this book.

One of the great strengths of this book is its ability to introduce the concepts of Blue Rose and its world to a bunch of new players.  Honestly, D&D 5 players should be grabbing this book. 

If I were Green Ronin, I'd put a QuickStart adventure using Blue Rose 5e with some very simple concepts from the game.  Don't include character creation, but instead have a set of pre-made characters including a Night Person, a Rhy-Cat (or Rhy-Bear), a Sea Folk, and a Vata.  Show off their strengths and then get a group of YouTubers to play it. I know my youngest's group would eat this up in a heartbeat.  Slap a giant ad in the back for both versions of the game.

Now I just need a set of Blue Rose 5e dice to go with my set of Blue Rose AGE d6s.

Blue Rose Core and Blue Rose Adventure's Guide

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Motherland: Fort Salem Season 2 and NIGHTSHIFT

Last year's big surprise hit for me was Motherland Fort Salem and Season 2 starts tonight!

Motherland Fort Salem

And I can't wait!

The show gave us a very different sort of Army and a different sort of witches.  Now with Season 2 we have two different witch factions (the Army and the Spree) and an ancient group of Witch Hunters called The Camarilla.  I am also looking forward to learning more about the "Mother Language" that witches can speak called Méníshè.  Reminds me of what was trying to be done with Inha as a witch language

If this all sounds like a great RPG setting, you are right! This is a fantastic setting for NIGHT SHIFT.

I am stating up the characters up to the end of Season 1, but not including the game-changing season finale.

Raelle Collar
Raelle Collar
(Taylor Hickson)

5th level Witch

Base Abilities
Strength: 12 (0)
Dexterity: 13 (+1)
Constitution: 15 (+1) s
Intelligence: 12 (0) s
Wisdom: 13 (+1) P
Charisma: 15 (+1) 

HP: 19  (5d4) +5
AC: 6 combat armor
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +1  Ranged bonus: +2
Saves: +4 against spells and magical effects
Arcana: Innate Magic: Wind Shear (1d6 per level of witch)

Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Blue

Spells
1st level: Cure Light Wounds, Sleep, Wind Strike* (treat as an air-based magic missile)
2nd level: Continual Flame, Levitate
3rd level: Cure Disease

Raelle lived in the part of American known as the Chippewa Cession where the Indigenous Tribal Federations are.  She is a healer of great power like her mother was.  Her mother was reported dead by the Army and Raelle blames the Army and Gen. Bellweather in particular.  She doesn't want to be there and her plan was to get enlisted in the infantry and get killed as soon as possible.  Her attitude earned her the nickname "shitbird" from Abby.

Raelle attitude changed when she met and fell in love with fellow cadet Scylla Ramshorn.

Abigail Bellweather
Abigail Bellweather
(Ashley Williams)

5th level Witch

Base Abilities
Strength: 12 (0) s
Dexterity: 11 (0)
Constitution: 13 (+1)
Intelligence: 14 (+1) s
Wisdom: 11 (0)
Charisma: 17 (+2) P

HP: 18 (5d4) +5
AC: 6 combat armor
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +1  Ranged bonus: +1
Saves: +4 against spells and magical effects
Arcana: Innate Magic: Wind Shear (1d6 per level of witch)

Hair: Dark Brown
Eyes: Brown

Spells
1st level: Detect Snares & Pits, Obscurement, Wind Strike* (treat as an air-based magic missile)
2nd level: Levitate, Suggestion
3rd level: Curse

Abigail "Abby" Bellweather, of the East Coast Bellweathers, is the leader of the Bellweather Unit.  She starts out in the show as an arrogant, if even spoiled, girl of privilege. By the end of the series, she is the leader she was born to be.  Even her rivalries with Raelle and fellow East Coast witch Libba Swythe become something different as she accepts the responsibility of what being a soldier-witch means.

Tally Craven
Tally Craven
(Jessica Sutton)

5th level Witch

Base Abilities
Strength: 11 (0)
Dexterity: 13 (+1) 
Constitution: 14 (+1) 
Intelligence: 13 (+1) s
Wisdom: 14 (+1) P
Charisma: 16 (+2) s

HP: 18 (5d4) +5
AC: 6 combat armor
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +3/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +1  Ranged bonus: +2
Saves: +4 against spells and magical effects
Arcana: Innate Magic: Wind Shear (1d6 per level of witch)

Hair: Red
Eyes: Brown

Spells
1st level: Detect Evil, Detect Magic, Wind Strike* (treat as an air-based magic missile)
2nd level: Knock, Levitate
3rd level: Clairvoyance

Tally comes from the depleted Craven line. All her aunts had gone to fight in the Army and they all died.  She is the last of her line. She lived in the Matrifocal Allotment near Sacramento, California. She had not even seen a male until she answered her call of duty, an action her mother strongly wished her not to do.  Her power is to "see." She can detect disguised and hidden objects or people and might be one of the most powerful seers to come up in the ranks in a long time.

Tally is a sweet girl who loves with all her heart because that is what she knows.  She is fiercely loyal to her Unit.

Scylla Ramshorn
Scylla Ramshorn
(Amalia Holm)

6th level Witch

Base Abilities
Strength: 11 (0)
Dexterity: 13 (+1) 
Constitution: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 14 (+1) s
Wisdom: 13 (+1) s
Charisma: 18 (+3) P

HP: 27 (6d4) +12
AC: 6 combat armor
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +4/+2/+1
Melee bonus: +1  Ranged bonus: +2
Saves: +4 against spells and magical effects
Arcana: Innate Magic: Wind Shear (1d6 per level of witch)

Hair: Dark Brown
Eyes: Blue

Spells
1st level: Deathwatch, Obscurement, Wind Strike* (treat as an air-based magic missile)
2nd level: Levitate, Phantasmal Image, Suggestion
3rd level: Animate Dead, Speak with Dead

Scylla is a "Necro" or a Necromancer.  Because their power makes others uneasy they are quartered in a different part of the base. We learn that Scylla's parents were killed when she was young.   She meets and falls in love with Raelle.  Later we find out she is part of the terrorist organization known as The Spree, responsible for hundreds of deaths across the country.  Her job was to recruit Raelle, but she actually fell in love with her.

General Sarah Alder
General Sarah Alder
(Lyne Renee)

20th level Witch

Base Abilities
Strength: 13 (+1) 
Dexterity: 14 (+1) 
Constitution: 20 (+4) 
Intelligence: 17 (+2) s
Wisdom: 16 (+2) s
Charisma: 20 (+4) P

HP: 123 (10d4+18) +80
AC: 6 combat armor
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +8/+5/+3
Melee bonus: +7  Ranged bonus: +7
Saves: +8 against spells and magical effects
Arcana: Innate Magic: Wind Shear (1d6 per level of witch), Telepathic Transmission, Arcane Bonds (Biddies) 

Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue

Spells
1st level: Command, Cure Light Wounds, Detect Magic, Inflict Light Wounds, Protection from Evil, Wind Strike* (treat as an air-based magic missile)
2nd level: Cause Fear, Continual Flame, Lesser Restoration, Levitate, Suggestion
3rd level: Clairvoyance, Curse, Haste, Protection from Evil 10', Unholy Blight
4th level: Arcane Eye, Confusion, Hallucinatory Terrain, Phantasmal Killer, Restoration. 
5th level: Cloudkill, Commune, Domination, Telekinesis
6th level: Control Weather, Disintegrate, Feeblemind, Slay Living
7th level: Death Aura, Veneration, Wave of Mutilation, Windershins Dance
8th level: Antipathy/Sympathy, Damning Stare, Discern Location, Wail of the Banshee
9th level: Astral Projection, Breath of the Goddess, Mystic Barrier

"Honor me, make a place for me and my kind and we will win your wars."
- General Sarah Alder to Massachusetts Bay Militia, Say the Words

Sarah Alder was a survivor of the witch hunts of the 16th and 17th Centuries. She rallied her fellow witches at Salem, Massachusetts and presented the new government with a deal. Save us and we will fight your wars.  The US Government and the Witches have been allies ever since.  

Sarah maintains her youth with her select group of "biddies" or women that have sacrificed their own youth so she may remain forever young.  The biddies and Alder are all connected, much in the way a witch and familiar might be.  Thus Sarah can call on greater magics than her already high level has access to.

Sergeant Anacostia Quartermain
Sergeant Anacostia Quartermain
(Demetria McKinney)

10th level Witch

Base Abilities
Strength: 16 (+2) s
Dexterity: 17 (+2) 
Constitution: 16 (+2) 
Intelligence: 13 (+1) 
Wisdom: 15 (+1) P
Charisma: 16 (+2) s

HP: 45 (10d4) +20
AC: 6 combat armor
Fate Points: 1d10

Check Bonus (P/S/T): +5/+3/+2
Melee bonus: +4  Ranged bonus: +4
Saves: +5 against spells and magical effects
Arcana: Innate Magic: Wind Shear (1d6 per level of witch), Telepathic Transmission

Hair: Black
Eyes: Brown

Spells
1st level: Command, Inflict Light Wounds, Sleep, Wind Strike* (treat as an air-based magic missile)
2nd level: ESP, Levitate, Phantasmal Image, Suggestion
3rd level: Clairvoyance, Dispel Magic, Protection from Evil 10'
4th level: Arcane Eye, Phantasmal Killer, Produce Fire
5th level: Harm, Telekinesis

Staff Sergeant Anacostia Quartermain serves as the sergeant for the Bellweather Unit.  She is absolutely loyal to General Alder but also cares a great deal for the girls in her unit. 

She is a highly trained combat witch.

--

Motherland: Fort Salem would be an excellent setting, aka "Night World" for NIGHT SHIFT.  I am hoping to learn more about the witch hunters in the Camarilla this season and I hope Tally will be OK, and what ever happened to Rae and Abby.

Get NIGHT SHIFT here:

Monday, June 21, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Titania, Queen of Faerie

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, also known as Mid Summers Day.  So today's Monstrous Monday should celebrate that.  Here is a character that has been in my games a very long time.

The Lords and Ladies of Faerie in my games are at the level of lower-level deities or the demon princes.  At the highest levels are the various Queens and Kings, though there tend to be more Queens.  The two largest courts are the Winter Court, ruled by Queen Mab, and the Summer Court ruled by Queen Titania and King Oberon.  There are smaller courts of varying power, but almost all of the faerie folk pay homage to either the Summer or Winter courts. 

Dorothy Hyson as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, painting by Ethel Gabain
Dorothy Hyson as Titania byEthel Léontine Gabain
Titania, Queen of Faerie
Faerie Lady

Frequency: Unique
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Neutral [Chaotic Neutral, Good tendencies]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Fly: 150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: 1 [18]
Hit Dice: 14d8+14*** (77 hp)
Attacks: Sword+4 or by spell
Damage: 1d6+4 or by spell
Special: Command any faerie, damaged only by magic weapons, 50% magic resistance, Witch spells (13th level) 
Size: Medium
Save: Witch 14
Morale: 10
Treasure Hoard Class: U (VI) x10
XP: 4,200 (OSE) 4,350 (LL)

Str: 12 (0) Dex: 17 (+) Con: 15 (+1) Int: 16 (+2) Wis: 18 (+3) Cha: 24 (+5)

The Faerie Court of Summer is co-ruled by King Oberon and Queen Titania, though ask anyone who has been to the faerie courts and they will tell you the true ruler is Titania alone.

Titania will seem soft-spoken, demure, and even gentle, but make no mistake she is the iron fist in the velvet glove of the Summer Court.   She helps keep up the pretense that her husband Oberon is the ruler of the Summer Courts. While she has "good tendencies" it is a mistake to assume that the Summer Courts are good where the Winter Courts are evil.  These distinctions are far too simplistic for these courts and this is even more true for their rulers.

Titania prefers to never enter into combat if she can avoid it.  She feels that anyone that goads her into fighting is a failure on her own part to remain the distant and untouchable Queen.  She will have any number of lords, knights, squires even down to the lowest serf in her kingdom ready to take up arms to defend her.  She can, if needed, use her ability to command any faerie to do her bidding.  This will work on any faerie including elves and half-elves.  They must save vs. spells to avoid this compulsion.  Half-elves gain a +1 to their rolls.

If she must fight she has a specially designed rapier that acts as a +4 Sword of Sharpness.  She can also cast spells as if she were a 13th level witch of the Faerie or Green Traditions.

Titania is a notorious adulteress and will attempt to seduce any elf, human, or half-elf with a charisma score of 17 or greater.  She in particular likes the challenge of a pure and virtuous knight or paladin.  She will soon grow tired of her new paramour and discard them for someone new.  Since time moves differently in the land of the Faerie the former lover may find themselves years or even decades removed from their own time.

Titania as a Witch Patron: Faerie witches and some Green Witches may have Titania as their Patron. She doesn't grant them spells as a god does a cleric, but she will, often through intermediaries, instruct the witch on the secrets of faerie magic.


Friday, June 18, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: Calidar "Alfdaín Ascendant"

I am a huge fan of Bruce Heard's work.  Ever since I picked up GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri I have followed his work through his modules and the Voyages of the Princess Ark series in Dragon. 

His Calidar setting is a wonderful distillation of his career into a single setting.  So for me, it really works.

So when he has a new Kickstart up and it features warring elves in living ships...well I am going to pay attention!

Calidar "Alfdaín Ascendant"

Calidar

And there is a lot to pay attention to in this one!

So far he has Thorfinn Tait doing the maps. Jeff Easley tentatively for the cover art. Joseph Garcia doing the internal illustrations (b/w inks) and Janet Deaver-Pack line and text editing.  So a great team.

The pledge includes:

  • A Gazetteer: 132 pages color, PDF format or printed (hardcover or softcover). This book is already written and most of its maps are in their final states as of mid-May 2021.
  • A Players’ Guide: About 24-28 pages, color, PDF format or softcover
  • An Adventure Book: 24-68 pages, color, PDF format or softcover. Final page count will depend on stretch goals during the crowdfunding event. The more backers, the greater the adventure for the same price.
  • Two Conversion Booklets: About 24 pages each, color, PDF format or softcover. They provide all game stats from the previous three titles specifically for use with Labyrinth LordTM and OSRICTM.

Bruce really has his Kickstarters down to a well-oiled machine and I have been very, very pleased with what I have gotten in the past.  And now that I have SpellJammer I have a LOT of ideas for this.

Honestly, I could get this just for the elves, but it all sounds fantastic.

I want the Hardcover version, but the softcover would fit in with all the other books I am using in and around Calidar.  

The Kickstarter is doing great, but there are all those fantastic-looking stretch goals too.

This is another one of those projects that Kickstart was really made for.  Top-notch creative with big visions and the ability to get those visions realized, they just need a little help to get the ball rolling.

So back this one!




Thursday, June 17, 2021

Review: The Runewild Campaign Setting

Putting the Hex into hex crawls.

A while back I mentioned the Runewild Campaign Setting Kickstarter. I was quite excited about it and happily backed it.   I got my books and my PDFs, but it was in the middle of my Covid-19 fueled busy summer last year. The book has been sitting on my desk, mostly ignored since then.

That is a damn shame.

With all the fun I have been having with Van Richten Guide to Ravenloft lately I wanted to revisit this book and see what I can add to it from this book.  The short answer? A lot.  So much in fact that while there are some great ideas in this book for Ravenloft, there is a TON more for my War of the Witch Queens campaign for Basic-era (B/X, BECMI, OSE) D&D. 

So for this review, I am going to refer to both the Softcover print and the PDF.

The Runewild Campaign Setting

Published by Sneak Attack Press, written by William Fischer, art by Joyce Maureira, and Cartography by Toy Fayen.  306 pages. Full-color covers and interior art. Available in PDF, Hardcover, and Softcover versions. For 5th Edition, recommended levels are 1 to 10.  Available on DriveThruRPG and at your FLGS.

The PDF is fully bookmarked with hyperlinked Table of Contents. 

The Runewild Campaign Setting (Runewild) is overtly a "Dark Fantasy fairy tale" campaign sandbox guide and a hex crawl in one volume.  That is it in a nutshell but does not really do it justice.  Best to break it up a little more.  

From the introduction,

This book includes:
  • A history of the Runewild and its surrounding settlements
  • 150 detailed encounter areas for player characters to explore 
  • 8 new Backgrounds and a new Feat: Fey-Touched 
  • 21 unique magic items (like witch embers and the staff of clarity and confusion) 
  • 32 new monsters (including clockwork dwarves, fey lions, giant forest sloths, and the terrifyingly beautiful Golden Bodach) 
  • Detailed descriptions of the histories, motivations, and weaknesses of the witches of the Runewild, including the Whitebone Sisters; Missus Switch, the swine hag; Korthsuva, the Witch of Hours; and the Hag Queen Griselda, Mother of Ogres 
  • New optional rules for exploration and resting 
  • Advice for running a sandbox campaign 
  • Dozens of random tables designed to help GMs make a Runewild campaign their own

That is quite a lot. Frankly, I was just happy getting the material on the Witches of the Runewild, the rest is gravy for me.  I turn the page and suddenly my "gravy" turns into another dessert course when I am introduced to the "Witch Wars."  Oh. This will be fun.

The book is split into four sections, Running the Runewild, Magic of the Runewild, A Runewild Gazeteer, A Runewild Bestiary.

Runewild Magic

Running the Runewild: This section covers what the Runewild is and a bit of its history.  It also introduces the idea of a Sandbox Campaign.  While many gamers of a certain age will already be familiar with the idea of a sandbox (and even where the term comes from) this might be new to the majority of younger D&D players.  No inditement of their experience; everyone learns something new at different times. This is a good overview of this style of play for the newer generation of players.  

The advice given about Sandboxes vs. Adventure Path is solid and there is even something here that warms the cockles of my old-school heart.  To quote page 10, "e of the greatest difficulties in running a sandbox-style campaign is balancing encounters. In short, there are no balanced encounters in the Runewild."  Players and Characters need to get used to the idea of running away. 

While this might be a shift for some 5e players, it is not a hard or difficult one.  In fact, it is presented in the light of the characters have the ultimate freedom to do what they want.  It is wonderful really and to quote Darkseid from the Synder Cut of Justice League, "we will use the old ways."

The Old Ways describes Runewild to a tee. 

Among the "old ways" are plenty of Random Encounter tables with brief descriptions of what is encountered.  Adventure Hook tables, Scenery tables, Fey prank tables, general Runewild strangeness, random animals, random NPCs, and more.  For new schoolers, this will make the area feel vibrant and alive. For new schoolers, this will feel strangely homelike. Note at this point, 30 pages in, there has been very, very little in the way of stats. An encounter with a Skeleton is listed for example, but where you look up your skeleton is up to you.

We do get into Runewild Backgrounds which are 5e backgrounds.  For 5e they are great really, lots of great information here, and none of them feel overpowering (they grant a skill and a tool proficiency and usually a language) for other games, you can use the native skill system (Trained would be the equivalent in 3e, free Proficiency in AD&D 1.5) or wing it. One of my favorites is a Polymorphed Animal.  You used to be a normal animal and now thanks to strange magic you are human-ish.  Really fun stuff.

Magic of Runewild: This section covers some more game-specific information such as some new feats, curses, and new magic items (lots of these).  But the star attraction of this section has to be the Goblin Market.  There is so much here and frankly, they could have published this on its own and it would have been a great seller.  There are random tables of trinkets, goblin charms, treasures, and of course a list of vendors and encounters.  

Goblin market
“We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits:
Who knows upon what soil they fed Their hungry thirsty roots?”

One thing that I felt was missing from this section? Spells.  There are no new spells here.

A Runewild Gazetteer. This starts out with the hex maps of the Runewild. Numbered just like all old-school hex maps too! The hex encounters are then detailed throughout the chapter with a corresponding Challenge Rating. An improvement from older Hex crawls to be sure.  So yeah the party of first-level characters can enter a CR 0 hex with no problem and come out ok. They can also enter into a CR 10 hex with the same level of difficulty (that is, none at all) but they are not going to leave it as easily!  That's a hex crawl. There are no signs saying "You Must Be Level 5 or higher to Enter" if the player goes there, then their characters will pay the price.

Each hex of course has different levels of detail, but they are all given some quick bullet points to help the DM out.   For example:

2. The Last Tower (CR 4)

  • A ghost haunts the tower 
  • Ten giant rats feast on bandit corpses in the tower’s basement 
  • The bandits carried stolen treasure

Then more details follow.  NPCs are noted ad are monsters. There are maps where needed (even a player's map in a few cases!) and yes more random tables. There are 150 such encounter areas and it covers a little over 200 pages. Some encounters are a paragraph or so, others are multiple pages. 

A Runewild Bestiary: Now you know I love this section.  There are over 30 new monsters, monster variants, and (and this is my favorite) listings of  The Witches of Runewild. This includes a bunch of various witches (mostly hags), new types of hags, and the two major and one minor covens.  Again, if they had sold this separately I would have scooped it up the moment it hit DriveThru.   

Here is an example of one of the witches.

Goodie Sharktooth

There is no Witch Class.  Part of me is disappointed, but another part is happy since I can now do what I want with them. 

The chapter and book ends with Monster Variants. 

The art in this book is quite great and helps give the proper mood for this dark fairy tale land.

Using this with Basic-Era D&D

The book feels like a BECMI Gazeteer.   I could set this outside of Glantri and it would feel right. There are 5e stats, but not a lot.  Most of the monsters have an analog in other games.  For example, if you run this with say, Old School Essentials, just swap out the monsters.  BTW this would work FANTASTIC with the Dolemwood products

Runewild OSE

This is a wonderful book and resource and I am very pleased with it. My only regret with it is I wish I had picked up the Hardbound version instead!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

More Mystoerth

While I was driving on vacation, I get a message from Matthew Fenn, AKA "Matteus," on Facebook. It was his new version of the Mystoerth map.   Now I likely saw it right as I was getting ready to leave and responded back with a "wow, that is cool!" and then I sadly promptly forgot about it.  In my defense, it was 900 miles later when I actually sat down to look at social media again.

The map he sent to me is fantastic.  Click for a larger version.

Mystoerth

It is based on the James Mishler and Chatdemon map I love so much.

This would have been reason enough for me to talk about it today, but there is more! 

There is a discussion about this map on Facebook,

And at the Piazza Message Boards.  I even dusted off my old Piazza account to join in on the posts.

I am going to add some of these links to my Mystoerth page.   I also went to Map to Globe to get a globe of the world rendered.

Mystoerth globe in space

I also uploaded the huge TimeLine my co-DM from the 1980s and early 90s compiled to cover the combined Mystara-Greyhawk world.

While writing this I was chatting with Matthew and he is getting the map printed on cloth.  This made me think of my own Victorian London map I had printed by Banners on the Cheap.  I am going to check that out in a bit.  Though, maybe not as big as the one I have now.

London Map from Banners on the Cheap

So. Where does that leave me?

Well, it was not that long ago when I was talking about using the Orignal Known World for War of the Witch Queens.  

My problem is I love maps.  Every map is a new world to explore.  I have been using Old-School Essentials for my system of choice for WotWQ and I just got my OSE-Advanced Fantasy books and will be using those going forward.  Since OSE-AF is a nice mix of Basic and Advanced versions of the D&D game, why not use a world that is a nix mix of the Basic and Advanced worlds?

Ugh. I hate having to choose! Why can't I use both?  Right. Time. 

Maybe I can cheat. Make my Mystoerth hollow (I do love a Hollow Earth!) and use the Moldvay/Schick Known World map as the interior of my Mystoerth.  Hmm. I do like that idea.  It would help explain some similar names on the maps.  Though it gives me some problems with the Underdark.  The Moldvay/Schick map is much smaller, implying a smaller surface area.  It's been decades since I took calculus to figure out the interior surface area of a sphere. I could compare the outer surface vs. the inner surface and then work out the "depth" between the two worlds.  The crazy Hollow Earth book I have here assumes a "thickness" of 8 miles. I forget what the Rules Cyclopedia assumes. 

Sounds like time to do some math!