Friday, September 24, 2021

Kickstart Your Weekend: ANKUR - Kingdom of the gods TTRPG 2E

Ok. So I did find a Kickstarter that interested me.

ANKUR - Kingdom of the gods TTRPG 2E

ANKUR RPG

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mad-scribe-games/ankur-kingdom-of-the-gods-ttrpg-2e?ref=theotherside

Honestly, it looks like my sort of jam.  In particular, it would be great for some other things I have planned.

Only 6 days left!

#FollowFriday: Ginny Di

It's Ginny Di!
I gotta admit I love the shirt!
Kinda burned out on Kickstarter right now.  So it's another #FollowFriday!

I will admit, I adore Ginny Di.  She has unbound enthusiasm about D&D and all things related.  I know she is young enough to be my daughter and I have characters older than her, but I still think she is great.

It is so refreshing to come to her Twitter or YouTube pages and see how excited she is over something D&D-related.  I'll read the posts or blogs of some of my contemporaries and wonder when the fun died in their lives leaving them as bitter old husks.

Plus she seems to irritate the right people, so that is a bonus all on its own. 

The fact that she also loves her witches has almost nothing to do with it. Well...maybe a little. 

I have already posted about her or her projects in the past.

This week Ginny is back with Morelia the Wood Witch in a POV roleplay. It is a fun little bit video, but it really helped me cement the idea that Morelia would be a great NPC in my War of the Witch Queens. 

Content Warning to Bitter Old Grogs Who Are Dead Inside: The video features a shop where an NPC Witch SELLS POTIONS! Gasp, the Horror! The audacity! The cheek of it all! 

Anyway. She is fun. She is funny. She has a ton of enthusiasm and I think she is great. In fact, I even sought out items she has been sponsored by at Gen Con because she made them look really fun.

So check her out. If you don't like her ask yourself, when did I die inside?

Ginny Di online

Give her a follow or a like or something.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

One Man's God Special: Syncretism Part 1, The Gods of Faerûn

Down to Earth Divinity
This is the start of a multi-part sub-feature of One Man's God. I am going to pull in material from older Dragon Magazines when needed, though not enough to count as a "This Old Dragon."  This series will also allow me to pull in more up-to-date material for the various gods and creatures beyond what was in the  Deities and Demigods. The D&DG will be my starting point, but I am not limited to it now.

Since I have completed all the myths in the Deities and Demigods the initial goal of One Man's God is now complete.  I might, after this, look to other editions of (A)D&D, in particular, 2nd and 3rd but for now, I want to explore some other topics that came up in my OMG posts.

One of those topics is syncretism.

Syncretism is the combining of gods or beliefs into a new set of gods and/or belief systems.  This is something that happens in the real world all the time, though maybe less so now as the prevalence of monotheism is worldwide.  We do see it more modern times in the cases of religions like Vodun and Santería.

While you typically don't see syncretism in AD&D there is at least one excellent example of it. Going all the way back to Dragon #54 from October 1981, we have Ed Greenwood's Down-to-Earth Divinity.  

I am not sure if this article lead to the later developments of what the Cleric can do with their gods or not, but it was most certainly ahead of it's time.  A quick reminder, while Greenwood has been telling us about his campaign for a bit now, the Forgotten Realms, as a product, was not due till 1987.  

I covered this in an early This Old Dragon, here is what I said about it then:

Up first in real articles we have something from Ed Greenwood. So this year (2017) I have been spending some time expanding my knowledge of the Forgotten Realms. This article is one of the earliest articles on the Realms I know of. Down-to-earth Divinity discusses how Ed has put together his Pantheon of Gods. You can easily see how this evolved into the gods of the Realms. I found it interesting that he includes the elemental gods from the Melnibonéan mythos. There are a lot of "reskinned" Deities and Demigods gods here too (which is the point of the article). I liked that Ed specifically mentions that witches worship Selûne. The article is long and seriously good.

I feel I undersold how good this article is for my purposes. So not only can use this as a One Man's God entry in the pure sense it is also the perfect place to discuss syncretism.  The insight to how the Realms gods took shape is fascinating, the implications of what is going here are much more interesting.

For the sake of today's discussion, let us just focus on the Faerûnian Pantheon as a whole.  While they have evolved much since this article (and a further point in my case here). For modern examples, I will refer to the Faerûnian pantheon at the Forgotten Realms wiki.  

Faerûnian Gods

In this article, Greenwood details how he created the Gods of Faerûn.  Many of these gods are "reskinned" versions of Earth gods.  While there is a very practical game-design reason for this there is also an implied in-universe explanation; clerics of those gods came to Toril and brought their gods with them.  We see this in books, like Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" and we see it later in the Realms itself with the Mulhorandi pantheon, which are the Egyptian Gods, not even changed all that much. 

For his Gods Greenwoodchoose to stick pretty close to the first printing of the Deities and Demigods.  Again there are very practical reasons for this.  Here is a breakdown of the "immigrant" gods to Faerûn.

Faerûn D&DG Pantheon Notes
 Azuth  Aarth  Nehwon  Direct port, concept-wise
 Bane  Druaga  Babylonian  Human form
 Chauntea  Demeter  Greek  Direct port
 Gond  Hephaestus  Greek  Direct port
 Ilmater  Issek of the Jug  Nehwon  Some aspects
 Loviatar  Loviatar  Finnish  Direct port
 Mask  Hermes  Greek  No Justice domain
 Mielikki  Mielikki  Finnish  Direct port
 Milil  Bragi  Norse  Changed
 Oghma  Oghma  Celtic  Direct port
 Silvanus  Silvanus  Celtic  Direct port
 Sune  Aphrodite  Greek  Direct port
 Talona  Kipuytto  Finnish  Direct port
 Talos  Storm Gods  Many  Combined aspects of other gods
 Torm  St. Cuthbert  Greyhawk  Concept only
 Tyche / Tymora  Tyche  Greek  Direct port
 Tyr  Try  Norse  Direct port
 Elemental Lords  Elemental Lords   Melnibonéan  Direct port
 Cults of the Beast   Beast Lords  Melnibonéan+   many sources

This is not to imply that all Gods in Faerûn are imports.  Far from it! Many of the gods discussed in the article are different enough from their sources to be considered new gods.  Which is exactly what syncretism does.  There are also plenty of brand new gods.  For example, Mystra is nothing at all like Hecate.

What About Demons and Other Gods?

One Man's God is supposed to be about gods and demons right?  Certainly, the demons of the Monster Manual ARE the demons of Faerûn.  We know that Orcus has had a lot plots and schemes in the Realms since the very start.  And in the opposite direction, One Man's Demon is another's God, Asmodeus went from the Arch Duke of the devils to a God of Evil.  The details of his rise and fall have been dealt with in many books, but the best ones for my money come from the Brimstone Angels series by Erin Evans.

Evans also shows how imported gods can work.  The Pantheon of the Untheric Gods, which were the Babylonian Gods, were re-adopted by the Abeir Dragonborn living in Tymanther. In her book "The Devil You Know" Evans shows Untheric/Babylonian gods first as human-like then as Dragonborn-like as more of the Dragonborn living in Djerad Thymar came to believe in them, in particular the God Enlil.  Is it possible then that Bane IS Druaga, just evolved through the ages that his form has changed?  Isn't that also syncretism?

Nothing Like the Sun...

I have been going over this article for a very long time. There is quite a lot here to tease out and use if you are willing to take the time.  A good example of this comes from a tiny tidbit of information found in the paragraph for Selûne, then just Selune.  We are told that Selune is "revered by witches (and a few may worship her)."  Later on, in the Deity/Character Relationships table, we are told that the witches used are the ones from Dragon Magazine #43.

Reading through the various works on the Moon Goddesses, Selûne and Shar, and the Elven Sehanine Moonbow, there is a lot of back and forth on who is an aspect of who and what not.   This all lead me to a bit of syncretism of my own to combine all three goddesses into one Goddess of the Moon with three aspects.  I detailed this years ago in my "Chanel Divinity" article Nothing Like the Sun.  Each goddess represents the aspects of the triple Goddess; Maiden, Mother, and Crone or Sehanine, Selûne and Shar respectively.  Here they are more than just the Goddesses of the Moon but the Goddess of Witchcraft as well.   The waxing crescent is Sehanine and her "moonbow."  The full moon is the Mother Selûne in her full glory.  The waning crescent is Shar and her sickles to reap the souls of the dead.  But like their Goddess they are reborn as the Maiden once more.

Maiden, Mother, Crone

Realms diehards might ask how can these Goddess exist?  Well, I also ask why does Zeus-Serapis exist when, supposedly, Zeus, Serapis, and  Osiris also still exist?  I like my Gods and Goddesses to be mysterious and strange and maybe a little contradictory.

For a little under 9 pages of text, Ed Greenwood really delivered here.  So much so that in truth this blog post was started months back.  I wanted to go back and reread posts I had made about this, posts I had made influenced by this, and more Forgotten Realms information.    In truth, I could go on much longer about this topic just in the Realms themselves, the world is much more dynamic that I had given it credit for, but I am going to stay on topic here and move on to other worlds and other gods.

So. Thank You, Ed Greenwood. This is quite a quality bit of work.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Seasons Change...

But I am still here doing what I do! 

Today is the Autumnal Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere and the Vernal Equinox for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere. 

For me, this brings the march to darkness and of course my favorite time of year.  The spooky season of Halloween.

And do I have a lot in store for you all this year!  Starting off with a couple of hosting I am doing all October.

October Horror Movie Challenge

I have been doing the October Horror Movie Challenge n for years now.  I just got a new DVD in the mail today of one I have been searching for forever so I thought today would be a good day to announce that this year I am hosting my own Horror Movie Challenge.  

I am not doing anything wildly different than in previous years, and I am largely following the rules as set out by Krell Laboratories.

You have 31 days, October 1st to October 31st, to watch 31 Horror movies. At least 20 of these need to be first-time views.  

Currently, I am working on my list of movies.  I wanted to do a Lovecraft film fest.  But I am finding that there are quite a few Lovecraft-themed movies I just don't have access to.  So I am going to expand my list a bit.

I have even created a new banner image to use.

2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

If you want to copy this to your own posts then here is the HTML code!

<div class="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"><a href="https://bit.ly/OctHorrorMovie" imageanchor="1" style="margin-left: 1em; margin-right: 1em;" target="_blank"><img alt="2021 October Horror Movie Challenge" border="0" data-original-height="687" data-original-width="563" height="400" src="https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-HChDOvCcaE0/YUuGbeVKj1I/AAAAAAABe-c/HzukajBzTkAZRMqNPfdI8vTJ0DxBjHsuACLcBGAsYHQ/w328-h400/October%2BHorror%2BMovie%2BChallenge%2B2021.jpg" title="2021 October Horror Movie Challenge" width="328" /></a></div>

Just copy and paste that into the HTML editing window of whatever you are using to post.

But that is not all that is happening here. 

RPG Blog Carnival
RPG Blog Carnival

This October I am also hosting my first ever RPG Blog Carnival.  This October will be all about Horror in RPGs.  So kinda what I like to do anyway, but now you can join me.   I will have an official post going up on October 1st for you to see all the details and link your blogs/vlogs/social media posts back.

You can check out the details at Of Dice and Dragons the home of the RPG Blog Carnival.

I plan to talk a lot about horror and how you can use it in your games.  I am also going to spend quite a bit of time with other horror games and how they can be mined for ideas.

Once again October is going to be a very busy time here.  Hope you all join me!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Post Gen Con Updates

Temple of Elemental Evil
Nothing gets my creative juices flowing better than being at Gen Con!  So I thought I might post some random updates on various projects, both public and personal.

Other Side Publishing

Fiend Folio II

This one has generated a LOT of discussions.  But here are my goals for it.

  1. This is just a project for me.  Not publishing it.
  2. I am doing it to get a good feel of monster evolution from OD&D to AD&D and from the late-70s to the mid-80s.  The "Sweet spot" of old-school gaming.  This will inform me on how to build better monsters for the Basic Bestiaries.
  3. I need to get in some Adobe Indesign practice.  This will give me that.

Basic Bestiaries

These are moving along nicely BB1 has 250 monsters in it now, which is by all measures a good number.  But I want to do some more for all the volumes I have planned so I can ensure a common look and feel across them all.  I am happy with what I have here and I am really looking forward to getting these out.

The High Witchcraft Book

What I have been calling my "last" witch book has been left on its own for so long it has mated with some other files on my hard drive and given birth to ANOTHER witch book! Yeah, I have enough material now for two books.  Those are a little later in coming.  I want to make sure I am not just putting out material because I have it, I want it to be good. The second book will come out first more than likely with the High Witchcraft book retaining the notoriety of being the Last Witch book.

Gen Con Brilliant Idea #1

My family and I got to play a LOT of games together over Gen Con.  Something came up during play that I think will be great.  Thankfully a lot of the work has already been done by my for other projects.  This project will complement the Basic Bestiaries, but one is not required for the other at all.  I am keeping this one close to my chest for now.

Personal

September Sales

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE????  My sales are like 4x to 5x what they normally are! I looked at the sales and thought it had to be wrong.  I rechecked the math and yeah.  My only guess is that it is because Halloween is so close people are looking for horror-themed materials for their games. 

So. I spent some money.  Well...I spent a lot of money.

The Wild Beyond the Witchlight

Classic D&D characters? the Feywild? Creepy ass carnival? Creepier clown named Thaco?  HELL YES! Honestly, there is so much fun stuff here. It portrays the feywild as it should be, equal parts light and dark, beautiful and terrifying, whimsical and deadly. And often all at once. 

There is just so much here. Stats and backgrounds for Kelek, "Charmay", Skylla, and more!  Personally I LOVE want they did with the Charmay/Skylla confusion. A slightly different twist than my own, but one that works well enough.

The Wild Beyond the Witchlight

Temple of Elemental Evil

Going from 5e doing Old-School to Old-School going 5e.  I also grabbed the Temple of Elemental Evil today.

Temple of Elemental Evil

This one is so massive it will need its own post.

Since I was in an old school mood I also grabbed the Codex series for Castles & Crusades.

Codex myths series

The Temple will be the end cap to my 5e campaigns.  So this is going to be great really.

And on top of everything else, I actually lost some weight over Gen Con!

Monday, September 20, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Opinicus

A little slow on the posts today.  Back from Gen Con and all.  Got to play a lot of great games last week. 

This beastie has been on my mind since playing some Blue Rose. 

Opinicus
Opinicus

Large beast (magical)

Frequency: Rare 
Number Appearing: 1d4 (2d4)
Alignment: Neutral [Lawful Netural]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
  Flying 240' (120') [24"]
Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 5d8+10* (33 hp)
  Large 5d10+10* (38 hp)
Attacks: 2 claw, 1 bite
Damage: 1d3+1 x2, 1d8+1
Special: 10% chance of speaking  
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: II/Q
XP: 400 (OSE) 460 (LL)

Str: 15 (+1) Dex: 15 (+1) Con: 16 (+2) Int: 9 (0) Wis: 12 (0) Cha: 10 (0)

The opinicus is a cousin of both the griffon and the hippogriffs.  They are smaller than griffons and a bit longer.  Like the griffon, they feature the body of a lion and the wings and head of a large hawk. Unlike the griffon though, the opinicus has all four limbs of a lion.

Unlike the griffon, the opinicus is a vegetarian, its preferred method of feeding is to swoop down into the back alleys of cities to eat the fruits and vegetables tossed out after market days.  Opinicus makes their homes in the tops of tall steeples and towers.  They feature as animal in many coats of arms.

The opinicus has a 10% of talking. They speak the local languages of the urban areas they live in. They have been known to help homeless humans find sources of shelter and food.  The opinicus has little use for treasure, but they do keep gems they find.

The female opincus lays a clutch of 2-8 eggs roughly the size and shape of a coconut.  Juvenile opinici do not have wings, developing them after their first year.  Opinici can live 50 to 60 years. 

NOTE: The Opinicus from Monster Manual II are considered to be Eastern Opinicus.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Back Home from GenCon 2021!

I just got back home from GenCon 2021.  We had a great time.  We stayed in masks a lot and we spent a little more time playing games in our room and outside, but all in all, we took a lot of precautions, washed hands a lot, and of course got vaccinated a while back.  

For this Con, I did not continue the Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign.  I have been building something cool for it and taking it to Gen Con would have been a pain in the ass.  Instead, we continued on with the War of the Witch Queens campaign.  Everyone really took to Basic Ear D&D well and my son even bought his own copies of Old-School Essentials.

Basic D&D

We picked up our Old-School Essentials at the Games Plus booth. They had a bunch on Day 1 and were completely sold out by Day 3!

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Games Plus' Booth

Oh. And despite some claims to the contrary, Gen Con was still full and there were plenty of people here.  We spoke to a few of the restaurant workers and a few owners and they were thrilled that Gen Con was back, even in this limited fashion.

Still crowded

Still crowded

Still crowded

People stayed in masks, for the most part. Though we are still going to quarantine for a bit just to be safe. 

We picked up some great games too.  The kids both work now so they were able to spend their own money. Which is great, cause I bought a lot for me.

Games

Games

Games

So far our favorite has been The Red Dragon Inn by Slugfest Games.  We had a blast with it. I have been wanting it for a bit now and I am glad we got it.

We played some NIGHT SHIFT and that was great.  While we were playing this guy stopped to see what we were playing. He mentioned he wanted to introduce his 10-year-old daughter to D&D.  Long story short, the drummer of the band Shinedown watched our game. I gave him a copy of NIGHT SHIFT, which he loved. 

Not sure what our plans are for next year, but we had a great time this year.  Glad to be back at Gen Con.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Zatannurday: Anyone have a Spare $1k I can Have?

Zatannurday

One of the best things about running this series for so long is I get some great tips via email from people with the same obsessions as me. 

That is the case today.  Though to take advantage of it I am going to need an extra $1000.00.  New from XM Studios is a 21" tall Zatanna statue.

Zatanna 21" Statue

Zatanna 21" Statue

Zatanna 21" Statue

Zatanna 21" Statue

Zatanna 21" Statue

Zatanna 21" Statue

Zatanna 21" Statue

Zatanna 21" Statue


Absolutely gorgeous and utterly frivolous. Wish I could justify it. 

Maybe I'll put it on my Christmas list and hope Santa thinks I was a good boy this year.

According to XM Studios, each statue has:

  • 2 headsculpt switch-outs: 1 with top hat, 1 without top hat.
  • 2 right hand switch-outs: 1 holding a spellbook, 1 holding a top hat with Detective Chimp!
  • Crafted in cold cast porcelain.
  • Each handcrafted statue is individually hand-painted with a high-quality finish.

Still...looks fantastic.

Friday, September 17, 2021

#FollowFriday Pauli Kidd and 'Lace and Steel'

It's another #FollowFriday!   Today I'd like to draw your attention a new RPG review site from a great "D&D" author.   

Pauli Kidd gave us the great Greyhawk novels White Plume MountainDescent into the Depths of the Earth, and Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

Pauli is still writing, but now she has a YouTube Review channel, Lace and Steel.

Lace and Steel

In particular, she has done some great sci-fi reviews.

Great stuff really.   And I am looking forward to more.

You can find Pauli online at:

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Mail Call, Part 2: Another Return to Ravenloft

Ravenloft Print on Demand
Well, I had forgotten I ordered this, but I am glad I did.  Waiting for me on my front porch after getting groceries today was a Print on Demand copy of I6 Ravenloft

It was not very expensive really, just under $9 for the book. I had bought the PDFs when it first came out so I just grabbed the Print on Demand version this time.  Getting both is $2 more than just the print but still cheaper than getting them separate like I did. 

It was about $4 for shipping and a buck something for taxes.  All in all, it came in just $15.   Sure more expensive than my original, but relatively speaking still cheap.

The scan is really nice. Not exactly what I would call crisp, but perfectly clear.

The maps are in the back of the book, as the pictures below will show. So not really useful. But when you buy it with the PDF you can print them out.  

Ravenloft Print on Demand

Ravenloft Print on Demand

Ravenloft Print on Demand

It's not like I needed another copy of Ravenloft.  I have ran it so many times now already I don't think I'll run it again as is.  But it is nice to have this.  It does compare well to my original edition and my 25th-anniversary edition.

Ravenloft three different printings

Not to mention the AD&D 2nd Edition House of Strahd, the D&D 3rd Edition Expedition to Castle Ravenloft, and the 5th Edition Curse of Strahd.  All of which are essentially the same adventure with tweaks to their respective systems.

All versions of Castle Ravenloft

I am likely to give my new copy to my oldest son who LOVES Ravenloft now.  This kid hated anything horror growing up and now can't get enough.

Maybe one day I'll run it with a distaff Strahd.  OR maybe Darlessa?

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

The New Golden Age of Star Trek

I have often thought that I was not doing a horror/old-school/vampire/witch sort of blog I'd be doing a Star Trek one.  I am that obsessed.  Thankfully for me there already is a great blog that does Star Trek and Doctor and more; TARDIS Captain.

Even so, I can't help but be excited for all the great new Star Trek heading my way.

Star Trek Day 2021

Here are the previews of all the upcoming Star Trek shows on Paramount+.



I am very excited!

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Mail Call: Chromatic Dungeons and Candy Corn Witches

Quick one today.  I got some great pre-Halloween goodies in the mail today.

Up first, my Kickstarter package of Chromatic Dungeons from Roderic Waibel and Izegrim Creations

Chromatic Dungeons

Chromatic Dungeons Basic Rules

Chromatic Dungeons Advanced Rules

Chromatic Dungeons Basic and Advanced Rules

The game is split between a Basic rule set and an Advanced rule set.  Unlike the games these take their names from there is 100% compatibility between the two.  You can start out Basic and move to Advanced. Stay in Basic with bits of Advanced or move back and forth as you desire.

The game is rather fantastic and I can't wait to give it a full review. 

This is not all I got this past weekend.

I got some "Candy Corn Dice" from Ice Cream Dice and to go with them a "Candy Corn Witch" mini from Hero Forge

Candy Corn Dice and Witch

Candy Corn Dice and Witch

The witch was supposed to be a "Pumpkin Spice Witch" but her hat is very much candy corn!

Pumpkin Spice  Witch

Yes. That is a PSL in her hand and the cup has a bat on it.  

I am ready for my Halloween games!

Monday, September 13, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Bad Idea Dept. Fiend Folio II

Fiend Folio
I should be working on monsters. I have ones to do for my Basic Bestiary. I have ones to do the Night Companion (ok, those are basically done).  But this is my busy time at the day job so there has not been  a lot of time to work on monsters.

So why not add some more work on top of it all!

I was rereading the Fiend Folio the other day as inspiration for my books and it dawned on me that we never got, despite an abundance of monsters, a Fiend Folio II.

So I was looking over all my magazines and thought there could be enough monsters.  Between White Dwarf #2 and #75 there are about 380 total monsters.  Some of those are already part of the Fiend Folio's 188 monsters.  If I needed more I could even use Imagine Magazine's 50 or so monsters.

What is my awful idea?  

I'd like to put together my own Fiend Folio II.  

This is obviously not for publication or profit. Just so I can have it sitting on my desk. I keep my Lulu-made "orange spine" Fiend Folio on my desk as my "working" copy.  This would be the same.  I already used the cover depicted above for my Lulu pod. So I'd need something different by Jeff Easley.

Again. This would just be for my own benefit, but I would want to re-write it all to make it flow better. Much like Turnbull did with the FFI.  

It sounds like a really fun project.  More to the point it sounds like something fun to have.

I know there is a so-called "Fiend Folio II" to be found online. It just collects the various Fiend Factory articles into a single PDF.  Not really what I want. 

Trouble is, something like this will take some time to do, time that I could be using to get the Basic Bestiary out.  Unless of course doing this gives me better insight into how to do better monsters.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Friday Night Videos: Viking Music!

The day job was crazy today!  Didn't get my last post in for Norse Week, so I thought I'd throw in a Friday Night Videos for it!

So what are Viking Songs?  

Glad you asked! 

Well, maybe not Viking songs exactly, but certainly ones that want me to play a Viking/Norse-themed game.

So up first, the most Viking song there is.

Is this a Viking song?  No.  But the band, Saga, always makes me think of the TSR Mini-game Saga, and that is good enough for me.

Do you know who does know about Vikings?  The British. And who better to tell us about it than Iron Maiden.

Ok. So. This song is not at all about Vikings, not even if you try REALLY hard.   But it is a song Saxon and I dig it. 

Sabaton is a Swedish symphonic metal band that pretty much only sing about Vikings.  I want to include them here too since I feel my "Norse Week" might have weighted too heavily on Norway.

Let's not forget the haunting "If I had a Heart" from the series Vikings. 

Skol!

Where I Stand

Lots of talk about lists. Red ones, Green ones, Yellow.  Talk about Neutral zones or somesuch.

While it should be obvious I'll restate it for those in the back.

Statement by The Other Side

Adjust your buying preferences accordingly. 

Thursday, September 9, 2021

This Old Dragon: Issue #110

Dragon Magazine #110
While this one was on my list to do, I moved it to this week for a very obvious reason, which I'll get to, but in the meantime let us looking what Issue #110, the Tenth Anniversary issue of Dragon has to offer.

It is June 1986 and what came to be known as the Dragon Wars had begun in my campaign world.  My regular DM had graduated and was preparing to go off to the Air Force.  I was concentrating on getting in as many math and science classes as I could prior to going off to college.  It was an interesting time.

I remember sitting down in the Pavilion at Nichols Park in my hometown reading over this issue. It seemed to be filled with great things.  I am happy to report that my memory lives up to reality. 

Before we get into the magazine proper let's take a moment to marvel at this cover by Kevin Davies, The Vanquished Cavalier.  Likely one of the top 10 covers in my opinion.  And it is art you can buy for your own projects. 

Kim Mohan discusses the 10th Anniversary of Dragon Magazine here, noting that there will be less hoopla now than in Issue #100.  Future anniversaries will have a bit more "pomp."

Letters cover the topics of the day, namely more revisions of the Ranger.  Seriously has anyone EVER been happy with the Ranger??  One letter asks if the Electronic Eye is ever coming back and we told that yes, a computer-based column is back in this issue.  I was quite pleased with this. I had just bought a new computer, a Color Computer 3 but they never covered games for it.  Backed the wrong horse that time, but I can't complain.  Like the Old-School Revival for D&D there is an Old-School Revival (of sorts) for old computers.  

The Forum covers the lament of the time, this too much Greyhawk in the pages of Dragon and the Unearthed Arcana.  I remember all of this. Oh to have those problems now.  

Our first article is from Ed Greenwood and it is a classic in my mind.  The Cult of the Dragon not only introduces the titular cult, it also introduces us to the Dracolich.  Re-reading it now I find it interesting that the genesis of this article comes from Dragonlance.  Well, the Realms Boxed set won't be released for a little yet. The article was an early favorite of mine and I spent a lot of time comparing this article to the classic Blueprint for a Lich from Best of Dragon Vol. II.  I really respected what Ed was doing here.  Rereading it now I am still marveling at how good it still is.  I might need to incorporate this into my games somehow.  The cult migrated from Krynn to Toril and then to the rest of the multiverse.   This is of course the best thing to use in a Dragon article; finding something and making it work for your game. 

Up next are two articles that would make up a One Man's God: Norse Mythos, Part II.  The two articles came to the Dragon offices at the same time so they decided to run them both.

The first is For Better or Norse: I Equal time for the members of the Vanir by Joel McGraw.  This one covers the Vanir gods.  Of personal interest, we get Angur-boda, Grid, and Gullveig are all described variously as witches.  There are also stats for Njord, Mimir, Nidhogg, and Utgard-Loki the "star" of the first Norse myth I ever read.  Honestly, these should be glued into my D&DG. Again none of these would really be considered AD&D demons.

Next is For Better or Norse: II New Descriptions of Some Old Favorites by Carl Sargent.  This one gives us some updates to the Norse gods found in the D&DG.  Featured are Niord (spelled differently this time), Frey, Freya, and Loki.  Loki gets the biggest change, going from Chaotic Evil to Chaotic Neutral.  I felt at the time this was a good change.  I still do, but now I have a greater appreciation of the myths and the character.  Again, I wish I could paste this one into my D&DG.

An ad for one of my favorite Near-D&D products of all time, the Arcanum.

The Arcanum

Another Ed Greenwood article is next and it is one only Ed can do; All about Elminster.  I went from being mildly annoyed by Elminster (here) to outright dislike, to rabid dislike (2nd Ed), to acceptance (3rd ed) and even a begrudging like (now).  The article is actually rather fun.  Elminster is a 26th level magic-user.  The article also includes some new spells which is expected.  I am not sure how these compare to his 3rd Edition stats.  Since my issue is falling apart anyway this will go into my Forgotten Realms boxed set.

The Role of Computers is up for it's debut.   Examples are given for the Macintosh computer, arguably the most advanced machine at the time.  

Leonard Carpenter is up with Dragon Damage Revisited.  This revises the damage done by dragons from the Fiend Folio, Monster Manual II, and the gemstone dragons.  This very conversation came up the other day online in talking about 1st Ed dragons.  You  can see how across the editions they made dragons more and more powerful.  These numbers look pretty good, I'll have to dig up the first in the series and see what their logic is. 

Our centerpiece adventure is The House in the Frozen Lands by James Adams.  I always thought this was more tied directly to the Norse myths, but I think that was only my memory.  The adventure is for 6-10 characters of 4th to 8th level.   If nothing else there are some good ideas of the types of encounters one can find in an arctic environment.  The adventure always looked interesting to me since it didn't feel like a dungeon crawl.

TSR Previews lets us know what is coming out in July and August of 1986.  I remember buying REF2 Character Sheets and then taking them to college where I ran off 100s of copies at Kinkos on different colored sheets.  In fact, I still have some.  Those sheets outlived both TSR and Kinkos.  I had never heard of some of the board games here, but I did find listings for The BROADWAY Game and The HONEYMOONERS Game.  Nothing though in my quick search for The PARAMOUNT Game.

TSR Previews July/Aug 1986

The fiction section is The Wizard's Boy by Nancy Varian Berberick. I didn't read it, but Berberick went on to write more novels and short stories including a few Dragonlance ones for Wizards. 

Moving on to the Arēs section. 

Knowledge is Power by John M. Maxstadt gives us a skill system for Gamma World. This looks like it is for 2nd Edition GW, but I will admit I am not knowledgeable on the differences between 2nd and 3rd.  

There is a bit on underwater action in Star Frontiers from William Tracy in Going for a Swim.  I am pretty sure that I never had characters go underwater ever in SF. Space yes, sea no.  BUT that all being said there are some good ideas here that are useful to most games. This includes getting "the bends" and movement and other hazards. The article really does read like a 20th-century point of view rather than a futuristic one.  I would assume that a culture capable of FTL flight had worked some of these other issues out as well. 

Piece of the Action details organized crime in Paranoia. This is another one of those articles that would later get Wizards of the Coast into trouble with the Dragon CD-ROM.  It is copyrighted 1986 by the author Ken Tovar. 

Gamers' Guide gives us our small ads. I love looking at this even if I know most, if not all, these places have long since closed up shop. 

Gamers' Guide 1986

One thing though. Lou Zocchi's ad mentions he is selling the original Deities & Demigods with Cthulhu and Elric. No shock there, but there is also a mention of the BROWN cover Monster Manuals that are the same of the current Blue cover.  What is he talking about here?  Does he mean the original 1977 cover versus the orange spine?  That is the only thing I can think of to be honest.

Lou Zocchi's ad

Convention Calendar gives us the happenings of Summer 1986.  None were close to me.

Dragonsmirth, Snarf Quest, and Wormy follow.

Gamers of a certain will go on and on about how great Dragon was in the early 80s. And to a large part I agree, it was great.  But the late 80s and even into the 90s Dragon was great as well, for different reasons.  The first 10 years of Dragon captured the hobby in its early days and its DIY attitude, which one of the big reasons people loved it AND the same attitude that drove the early days of the OSR.  Dragon entering its second decade was a more polished magazine and the article quality had improved.  DIY was still there, but not the gritty DIY of the 1970s and early 80s.  Still, I find a lot in these pages, 1986 to 1996, that I find very useful and more to the point, things I would still use today.