Sunday, March 31, 2024

#AtoZChallenge2024: Sunday Special, Introduction to Dungeons & Dragons Editions

 I am going to use Sundays of this Challenge to talk about the various Editions of the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) game that have been published over the last 50 years. 

One of the challenges people have when getting into a game like D&D is where do you start? Generally speaking, you are always best starting with the edition that people around you are playing. If they are playing the newest edition (right now, 5th Edition), then great! This will make finding products easier. If it is an older edition, then great! All editions are fun. 

But what are the Editions? Are there 5 then? is a bit more complicated than that. Hopefully, this graph (making its rounds on social media and started on Reddit.) will help. The editions are all only sort-of compatible with each other. I'll explain that throughout the month. 

Timeline of D&D Original D&D AD&D 1st Edition D&D Moldvay Basic D&D Mentzer Basic AD&D 2nd Edition D&D Rules Cyclopedia (Basic) The Classic Dungeons and Dragons Game (Basic) Dungeons & Dragons Adventure Game (Basic) The Dragon's Den (Basic) D&D 3 D&D 3.5 D&D 4 D&D 4 Essentials D&D 5 One D&D (D&D 5.5 or 5R)

So there are, by some counts, 15 different versions of D&D. Some are 100% compatible with each other, some less so. 

For my posts, I am likely to focus on Basic era D&D (1977-1999), Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1988), and D&D 5th edition (2014-2024).  Right now "One D&D" is not out yet. It is due near the end of the year, and by all accounts, it should be 100% backward compatible with D&D 5. We will see. 

Here are a couple of notes for people who don't know (or care) about the differences in these games.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition is the edition made popular by Stranger Things and E.T. the Extra-Terristrial. It was the one popular in media in the 1980s, though there is some evidence that it was D&D Basic (edited by Frank Mentzer, aka "The Red Box") sold better.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition is the edition made popular by Critical Role

I hope that this month I can help with some of the confusion and mystery and maybe, just maybe, make so new players out of you all.

The A to Z of Dungeons & Dragons: Celebrating 50 years of D&D.

In addition to doing the April A to Z challenge, I am also doing the Ulitmate Blog Challenge

Ultimate Blog Challenge


I hope to have some good entries in the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted in April by Codex Anathema on Favorite Settings.

RPG Blog Carnival

Friday, March 29, 2024

#FollowFriday: The Bewitched Parlor

 Gary Con is not just a great place to see old friends, play some great games and sell some books. It is also a great place to meet some new friends. I want to spend some of the next few #FollowFridays featuring some of the great folks I got to meet.  Up first Luna and Blaise at The Bewitched Parlor.

Luna is in charge of this eclectic shop located in the aptly named Salem, WI. So they are local to Gary Con and this was their first con.

They were selling some fantastic handmade witch hats, journals, leather goods, and yes, even some dice. Actually, everything is handmade by Luna, except for the dice, but you can choose a handmade set.

Luna from The Bewitched Parlor
Shop owner Luna

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

Jason with a hat
Elf Lair Games with a new Witch Hat

Plus, they had the coolest looking booth and even a fireplace!  Luna and Blaise were fantastic, and I wish them all the best!

You can check out all their links below. Head over to her website and pick something up!

The Bewitched Parlor 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

More Lejendary Adventures

 Lejendary Adventures had its heyday from 1999 to 2008 or so. Not bad when you think about it. The game had its own problems (a lot of problems), but the biggest issue was the introduction of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition and the OGL, which took the gaming world by storm.

Lejendary Adventure Books

Still, it seems that Legendary Adventure had its devoted fanbase. It left Hekaforge and then moved over to Troll Lords for a time while Gary was partnering with the Trolls. Sadly, that partnership ended with Gary's death and the bad advice Gail was getting that Gary's material would be worth more if she waited a bit. Now we are at a time where the Troll Lords have their licenses back to do Gary's material. Does that mean we will see more Lejendary Adventures?  Somehow I doubt it. The Trolls have a great game in Castles & Crusades, one that Gary himself called the "Spiritual Successor to AD&D," and Lejendary Adventures...well, it was always late 80s game design introduced in the late 90s. It was "old feeling" then, and it would fare much better today.

Still, there is nice support for it on Dragonsfoot, and the Perilous Journeys Publishing company has produced a Steam Punk game, SteamCraft, that uses the same (close) system. Here, it seems to work much better. The world even feels like the same Lejendary Earth in the Steam Age. 

So while Lejendary Adventure might not be the game for me (or even for many) it is the game for a lot of others and they all seem to say something rather similar; the game reads poorly but plays great.  I can certainly see that with SteamCraft. 

My Future with LA/Lejendary Earth

I half-joked that I am just mental enough to want to try and merge AD&D, Mythus, and Lejendary Adventures into one game but sane enough to realize that it is, well, completely insane. 

But there are, as I have mentioned many times, some interesting ideas here.

So how about this. What about a world, obviously related to Oerth, Learth, and Ærth, with these "legendary" and "mythic" connections.  It would need to be conventionally Earth-like to do the things in Dangerous Journey/Mythus and Lejendary Adventures, but also fantastical enough to cover the Oerth and maybe even Urt, which also seem to have the Gygax connection. 

I also joked that with Earth, Oerth, Learth, Urt, and Ærth all we were missing was Ierth or Iarth. There is an Uerth and a Yarth mentioned by Gygax. On Uerth, Iggwilv/Tasha's double is a sorceress known as "Ahsat."

I will not create a new RPG rule system for a thought experiment like this. I don't have that sort of time or inclination. BUT I do have a system that is AD&D adjacent, has a lot of options, and is already tied to a mythic Earth. That system is Castles & Crusades. Their world is Aihrde, but originally it was called Erde, which is the German word for Earth.  I should point out that Tolkien (a professor of Middle English) used Arda as the name for his Middle Earth.

Now Troll Lords have a great world, filled with history and myths, and so on. But they also have the Codices which detail Earth's mythologies.

So. How about this.

There is a world, right now I am calling Erde but that can change, that looks like Earth. It has similar but different land masses. Say something like the Earth clones we see in Star Trek or Mondas from Doctor Who.

I would use the Castles & Crusades system. Use all their mythological codices, and adopt ideas from Dangerous Journeys and Lejendary Adventure. It could be fun. I could find places for all the Gygax adventures on Earth, like the GDQ series (and T and some B) and find ways to work them into an Earth, not Oerth background. If I am doing that I might as well include my various myths like my Roman/Germanic pantheon. Thanks to the magic of the Internet I even have an idea about some of the Lejendary Earth gods

I don't know. Maybe I am desperate to make something out of both of these games. More Sunk Cost Falicies, I guess.  I mean I have Wasted Lands for my "near Earth" games, but it's still not quite this Erde thing I am trying for. 

Ah well. Let's see what develops here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Review: Gary Gygax's Lejend Master's Lore and Beasts of Lejend (2000)

Gary Gygax's Lejend Master's Lore (2000)
Today, I will cover the last two books of the Lejendary Adventure core, Gary Gygax's Lejend Master's Lore and Beasts of Lejend, both out in 2000, the same year as D&D 3rd Edition.

These reviews will go rather fast.

Gary Gygax's Lejend Master's Lore (2000)

Gary Gygax. 204 pages. Color covers. Black & white interior art.

Published by Hekaforge Productions.

This was the next book in the Lejendary Adventure line. Often considered to be one of the greatest books ever produced for any RPG in any edition is Gary Gygax's Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) for AD&D 1st Edition, published in 1979. It is a massive tome with all sorts of details for handling an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game.  This book only shares two things in common with that other tome. 1. Gary's name is on the cover. and 2. there is an organization to the material that can best be described eclectic. 

Like the DMG, the Lejend Master's Lore book seems to be an information dump. 

We start with Avatar Knacks and Quirks, which should have been in the Player's book. While there are some neat ideas here, simple things the characters can do and personality quirks both on d100 tables, not all will work well for all players. I mean, what if I don't want my character to have Wylfphobia and hate "elves"? 

There is a section on setting the various prices for goods for items and an attempt to get it to work with modern ideas of how much gold is worth. Nice idea, but I think that in practice, it is a bad idea. Not to say you should not work out your economy, but trying to tie it to the real world is difficult.  

A lot, 70 pages, is given over to Extraordinary (Magic) Items. There are some neat ideas here for this game. In terms of adapting to other games? Well, I think there are analogues in many games for these, so not a lot to mine here. 

Halfway through the book, we actually get to the sections of Lejend Master's Reference. This covers a lot of situations that the Game Master will likely run into and how to deal with them. And there are a LOT of tables. Lots.

Ok. Comparing this book, or any Game Master book, to the DMG is not fair. The 1979 DMG set the watermark for all other GM books to follow and many do not meet that mark. The DMG is also a good guide for a lot of different sorts of games. It is dense, information-packed, and assumes a level of intellectual competency that you typically do not see in many books.  But it is fair to compare the Lejend Master's Lore to the DMG. Same author, 20+ years apart. This book doesn't even come close. There is no evidence of 20 years of evolution of thought here and anything that is good, we have read before.

If anything, this book is just very disappointing.

Gary Gygax's Beasts of Lejend (2000)
Gary Gygax's Beasts of Lejend (2000)

Gary Gygax. 204 pages. Color covers. Black & white interior art.

Published by Hekaforge Productions.

A quick note. I am confused by the differences in layout between all three of these books. LML and BoL both look similar until you dive into them and both are different enough from the Player's book to make me think different teams or different people did the layout. Again, it is not fair of me to do this, but compare to the D&D 3e books out at the same time. The three cores are obviously related and have a similar look and feel.

This is our book of monsters. The back cover says over 500 creatures, and yeah, that seems right. The stat blocks are small, with descriptions and some art of varying quality.

Now in general, I like monster books. This one is not bad. It might even be a good monster book for this game.

The creatures are divided into sections, which is not a bad way to do things. We have Animals, Creatures of Lore, Dragonkin, Living Dead, and Unquiet Spirits (including demons and devils), and Human-like creatures. No. I am not using Gary's weird ass spellings anymore.

Pretty much any monster you think should be here is here. There are a few interesting variations on monsters, but nothing worth hunting down a copy for. 


So in the end of all of this, what do we have? In truth, a rather lack-luster Fantasy Heartbreaker that doesn't bring anything new to the table may be made even sadder due to the author's pedigree. 

Is it a fun game? Maybe, I am sure others could find joy here and I won't rain on their parade. But I have scores, if not hundreds of other games that far, far better and at least dozens that do exactly what this one is trying to do.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Review: Gary Gygax's Lejendary Adventure (1999)

Lejendary Adventures - Core Rules (1999)

Let's go forward a few years and see what lessons, if any, we have learned from Dangerous Journeys and Mythus.

So 1999 was an interesting year. I had been away from D&D for a while (nearly four years) and had been playing other games. I picked Chill back up but had not played it much, played a lot of WitchCraft RPG and dabbled a bit in Mage. Meanwhile, AD&D 2nd Ed was winding down, and 3rd Edition, the first from Wizards of the Coast, was on the way.

This was the environment in which Gary Gygax chose to release his Lejendary Adventure.

Lejendary Adventure - Core Rules (1999)

Gary Gygax. 208 pages. Color covers. Black & white interior art.
Published by Hekaforge Productions (originally). Troll Lord Games would later pick up this game and publish new material for it.

This game is hard to quantify. I can't tell if it feels old because this is 2024, 25 years after it was released, or if it would have felt old in 1999. It is wonderfully complicated (though less so than D&D) in the over-wrought way of many games of the late 80s, though I will say there seems to be less "High Gygaxian" here. Though there are plenty of odd spellings. I'm unsure if they are here to be different or to keep the lawyers from snooping around too much. "No, your honor, these are Ilfs and Wylfs, not Elfs." There are a lot of terms to digest for characters, and it makes for an unnecessary uphill climb. This is a game for gamers. 

This is a fantasy RPG and just a few steps removed from a Fantasy Heartbreaker, to be honest. If it had been designed by anyone other than Gary Gygax, it would be an interesting curiosity. Though there is a robust character creation system here. Gary wanted to go beyond classes and allow players to play what they wanted. Many games have already done this, so this feels a little like trying to catch up. I still applaud the efforts and the results.

We get the basics. What is a Role-playing game? What are the players' roles, and what is the role of the Lejend Master? Yes, that is what the GM is called and how it is spelled. It is interesting to see Gary's lament of winning interest in RPGs by younger players. People who had not even been born yet when he wrote this are now playing the fifth edition of his first game in numbers that would have been staggering to him in 1974. It's too bad he did not get to see this. 

We do get a Glossary in the beginning. It is full of terms like AB Activity Block, ABC Activity Block Count, AEP: Activation Energy Potential...and I am already forgetting what I just read five entries ago. 

The Avatar

The Avatar is your character in the game. It was a term that felt odd then, but now I think most people can grasp it quickly enough. This leads some weight to the rumor that this was developed as the basis for a video game RPG, not a tabletop one. But I am not sure.

Anyway, your Avatar can be one of the following Species (yes, Gary does say Species, but he also says Races): Dwarves, Ilves, Wylves (Elves both), Oaf, Orc, Trollkin, Gnomes, Kobolds, and Veshoge.

The core mechanic is a d100-based one. Character abilities are represented by Base Ratings in Health, Precision, and Speed, with an optional rule for Intellect. The Base Ratings have 100 points to distribute among them, keeping in mind the minimum and maximum for each race. Then you can roll to get a bit of randomness. This can result in base ratings ending in .5 in some cases (most often Speed) and later on some other awkward numbers. I am already getting Mythus flashbacks.

Abilities are numerous and cover things Alchemia, Arcana, and so on. Think of these as skills in other games. Each of these 38 Abilities are tied to the Base Rating. So Sorcery for example is part of Speed. I get the distinct feeling that Gary wanted something akin to the "Mental," "Physical," and "Spiritual" he had used in Dangerous Journeys, but those were being used now in BESM and Tri-Stat (the Tri stats, Mind-Body-Spirit).  Again, abilities are largely determined by race. Which is an unfortunate hold-over of an age now gone. So yeah, not a fan really. 

There is a good section on page 13 that helps define your character I mean Avatar. It would be useful in other games too. There are three examples of helpful character creation. 

The Race descriptions are next. While there are some similar names here, don't go in respecting them to be the same. For example, the Kobold are more like thin halflings. Oafs are ogres, and trollkins...well if you can picture the Trolls from the various Trolls animated movies, the ones where they sing not eat Christians, then you have a better idea.

Orders and Benefits

These are like classes, but not 100% really. I mean they used to tell one magic using type from another, but I guess a better description is an occupation.

Avatar Abilities (details)

This details the various skills, aka "Abilities," the Avatar has and the effects they have. These abilities can change what Orders you could belong to. Also, while the Base Ratings affect the Abilities, the Abilities also raise the Base Ratings. I guess the logic here is like exercise; you can get more skillful at something AND build the muscles you used to do it at that same time. The logic is not unsound but has some interesting (and annoying) side effects. Namely, as you advance your abilities, your base ratings change. I have created one character, and I am already seeing Base Ratings change a lot (and I am also getting numbers like 14.6 and 58.4), so I am prepared to use that eraser.

Equipment Lists

Gary always loved his Equipment lists.  So here they are.

Enchantments, Geourgy, Necrourgy, Psychogenic, Sorcery, & Theurgy

The magic and "spells" of the various Orders. Each one gets its own chapter-sized section. This covers about 110 pages. 

The Journey

These are the rules for play. Interestingly enough, this is a small section that covers the basics and most of the situations the Avatars will run into. I think the bulk must be in the Lejend Master's book.

Making a Character

Ok, I made a character. To be honest, I am not 100% sure I did everything right, so I am waiting until I read through Lejend Master's book.

The Lejendary Earth / Mythus Ærth Connections

Like Dangerous Journeys, Lejendary Adventure was thought to exist on a parallel Earth, sometimes called Learth. Compare that to Dangerous Journeys Mythus' "Ærth" and D&D's "Oerth" and "Urt" or "Uerth" from the Frank Mentzer-penned D&D Immortals. I guess we are just missing an "Ierth."

It feels like there are some solid similarities in the campaign worlds of these two games. No surprise since Dangerous Journeys was cut down long before it could become big enough to support a detailed campaign world. In some ways, I like to think of all these worlds, Ærth, Oerth, Learth, and Urt, as having connections to each other. 

There is not enough here to make me think that Lejendary Adventure is in any way a redo of Dangeous Journeys. In truth after going over this, and then Mythus, and then back to this I am struck by how some of the material in LA that I considered to be "High Gygaxian" doesn't measure up to the text in DJ:M. 

One of the companies that gave us Lejendary Adventure is named Hekaforge (cover has Hekaforge, the interiors have Trigee), so I think Gary was really invested in the ideas of Dangerous Journeys, but maybe not all the applications. 

So LA reads better than DJ:M, but it also lacks some of the charm. Neither game is going to replace AD&D on my table.

I am 100% certain there is a group out there that has, in the past, tried to reconcile Dangerous Journeys, Lejendary Adventure, and AD&D. The desire is there for me to try, but it is not strong enough to actually do it. Maybe I'll make avatars for all these Gygazian Earths (Oerth, Uerth, Ærth, and Learth) and how they come together somehow. In truth, I should make a unique Witch Queen for each.  Given there are four worlds, maybe each is also attached to an element? I think I'll search online and see if others have done much with these games and see what I can glean from that. After all, if YOU put in the work into these games to actually run a campaign or two, then that deserves to be memorialized. 

Up next, the Lejend Master's book and then some monsters.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Gary Con 2024

 I am back from Gary Con 2024! Well...back is an odd word, I drive up from home every day and drive back at night. Just about an hour to get there, not too bad. And I had a GREAT TIME!

Elf Lair Games at Gary Con

I was there with Elf Lair Games, selling copies of NIGHT SHIFT and Wasted Lands. I have to admit, we did really great.  I was going to run some games, but in truth I was so busy at the booth that I never had the chance, but no worries this year we were joined by our long-time writing and collaboration partner from our Eden Studios days, Derek Stoelting, ran all our games. He is particularly good at it, too, and he has written many of our adventures.

The Con itself was fantastic.

New Friends and Old

I got the chance to talk with some really great people. We went in with Pick Up and Go Games for our booth, which was great. They are really fantastic. 

Next to us was Black Oak Workshop, which was selling these great dice sets. Including the 31-Themed Dice set above, which I am going to feature in October. I will open one up a day!

Across from us was The Bewitched Parlor. They were great and had a lot of cool witchy-wear including some rally great hats. Jason bought one for his wife. Plus, they had the coolest looking booth.

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

The Bewitched Parlor

Of course, I HAD to stop by Troll Lords Games' booth.

Troll Lords Games

Picked up the only two books they had that I didn't own. We went separate this year from them as an experiment and I say the experiment worked out quite well for us.  But if you missed them, Jason WILL be with the Troll Lords at Gen Con selling copies of his new Troll Lords books. He has a few more coming out with Troll Lords, but I am not 100% sure if they will be ready for Gen Con or not.

I was THRILLED that so many came by to chat, say hi, ask about what we are doing next. There were so many folks I wanted to talk to but didn't get the chance. Manged to chat with Tim Kask for a bit. I found out we hung out at a lot of the same places at our university, except 15-20 years apart. His brother lived in the same dorms I did. I gotta remember I need to get him to sign something next year.  

Speaking of which.


I am not an autograph hound, but this year, I wanted to make an effort to get the signatures of some of the people I grew up admiring while I still could.

Signed books

Dave "Diesel" LaForce

I got some art from Dave "Diesel" LaForce and had him sign a few of my books, including a cool Eye Monster in my early printing DMG. We talked about how this Con was more like a work reunion for him and how he got to see many old friends and co-workers again.  We talked a bit about Trampier and others no longer with us.

Darlene's art

I also got some more art from the ever-wonderful and lovely Darlene. I also got her to sign my DMG as well.  Those Greyhawk map art prints are really great.  I also got a LOT signed by Jeff Easley. He was also fantastic. We sat there and chatted for a bit during one of the infrequent lulls in his booth.

Death's Ride

Larry Elmore was there, but I have a lot of things signed by him and I have a lot of his prints since I see him at Gary Con and Gen Con. 

David "Zeb" Cook

David "Zeb" Cook

I also got to meet David "Zeb" Cook and that was fantastic. 

Jeff Grubb

Jeff Grubb was there. He even came by to see us at Elf Lair Games, which was really great.

I got him to sign my Manual of the Planes, which is still one of my favorite books.

Luke Gygax signatureLuke Gygax signature

I waffled back and forth on whether or not to get Luke Gygax to sign my AD&D books. But in the end, I figured he was "Otiluke," and Gary Con exists because of him.  I am glad I did. We talked a long time about the Con, his dad, his little dog "Grogu," and more. Honestly, He was great, but that tracks everything everyone has been saying.

Deities & Demigods

I also brought my Deities & Demigods for everyone to sign too. As you can see I have been at this one for a bit. This was the only thing I got signed by Erol Otus. I think next year, if he is there, I'll bring my B/X books.

So Gary Con was AMAZING! I had a great time and I am looking forward to next year.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Kickstart Your Weekend: Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook

 A very special one today! This is from my very good friend Djinn and she has a new art book coming out.

Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook

Djinn Unboxed - NSFW Artbook

Djinn has been a good friend for a long time and she has wonderful characters. She began doing illustrations of her D&D character, Solaine, a witch with a knack for all sorts of trouble, and they took off.

If you have seen her work in the past,, you know what to expect here, and it should all be fun. She is in Italy, so the books will be shipped from there, which will cause extra charges for shipping and handling. 

I am hoping this is a big success. Djinn is a great person and we all want to support real human artists, well. Here she is!

Get on this one right away.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Review: Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus Magick (1992)

Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus Magic (1992)
I needed a bit of a break before tackling this one.

I covered Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus on Tuesday. I also wanted to go over the second (or third) volume of his Mythus game, the book of magic called, easily enough, Dangerous Journeys: Mythus Magic (1992).   I will not go into as much detail on this one for the same reasons I actually find this book more interesting, it is largely a collection of spells and rituals.

Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus Magick (1992)

Gary Gygax with Dave Newton. 384 pages. Color covers. Black-and-white interior art.
Published by Games Designer Workshop.

We open this book and it is described as "the Colossus (or more appropriately, the Merlln) of all magick books!" is certainly large and very in-depth.

I will start in the middle and mention that a full 270 pages of this book are "Castings," so Spells, Cantrips, Rituals, and the like. They are interesting in a very academic sense. If you are going to play this game (ve con Dios) and play any type of spell caster, then this is a must-have book.  IF you are the type like me and love reading about different sorts of magic and magical systems, then this is a very interesting book with some RPG applications. I am not about to try to convert these to any form of D&D mind you. It just would be easier to convert something like Judika Illes' "The Element Encyclopedia of 1000 Spells." And at least Illes writes in a way that can be plainly understood. 

The spells range from the useful (Heka Bolt, Find Traps) to the oddly named (Acclumséd—make someone clumsy) to the largely unneeded (Candlemake Formula—make 10 beeswax candles. Still need 10 BUCs of supplies; might be cheaper to buy them.) That's fine; it's hard to come up with 1,400 different spells. All of these spells are split up by vocation. So, at least, we have that going for us. 

Returning to the beginning, we get a repeat of the material from the core book on what Heka is. Or rather, I should say the core book summarizes what is here. 

We learn more than we ever wanted about the sources of Heka. To be fair, there is some material that people might find useful in their games. However, I will point out that a lot of this can be found by going to other sources. No, I am not saying that Gary copied anything here! These are some classical ideas (crystals, times of day, times of the year, places) that have more or less magical energy. Gary takes these ideas and codifies them for his game. Again, similar information can be found in other sources that are a bit more approachable. Bard Games' "The Complete Spellcaster" comes to mind. Still, this is much easier to read than, say, Isaac Bonewits' "Authentic Thaumaturgy."

There are chapters on Heka Users, Replenishing Heka, and the Structure of Magick. Look. I like reading this stuff, but there is more here than any RPG needs. 

This covers the first 30 or so pages. We learn that Heka (and it's pronounced "HEE-ka" not "Heck-Ah") is the sum of your Heka-producing K/S STEEPs, and every casting level has a base Heka cost and sometimes extra costs.

Remember all of those Spell Points and Mana systems for AD&D that started appearing on the internet (and before if your town had a good-sized gamer population)? Well, this is that dialed up to 17. If you play a caster, then your books are going to get used—a lot.

After all the spells there are sections on how to create new castings. Useful, for this game, but not others. It would be easier to create your own. There is even a section for on the spot creation. I think someone got a glimpse of Ars Magica or Mage and realized that for 1992 this was already an old and clunky system.

There are chapters on non-human Heka using HPs and Heka-based powers.

The last Chapter covers various magic items, which makes it a good read. 

There is a huge Bibliography that dwarfs Appendix N. What stops it from being truly useful are a complete lack of publication dates and publishers. I mean, yeah I can figure them all out (and have more than a few in my own library) but it seems...well, sloppy.


We also get a tome sheet for all the spells you can cast.

So, maybe even more than the Core Rules, I enjoy reading this book for the content, and I hate it more than the Core Rules in terms of playability.  There is just so much dense text here geared toward such low returns. People point to D&D Basic and Expert (B/X) as a masterpiece of word economy. In just 128 pages total there is everything you need to play to last years. That's not hyperbole, that is a documented fact at this point. Something that Mythus can't do in 800 pages (so far). This is yet another example of how a good editor is worth their weight in gold. 

If we look at this game as a Fantasy Heartbreaker, we can be amused and laugh a little at some of the ridiculousness of it all, and then brush of our heavily marked characters sheets and try to play a session. No one though in 2024 is going suggest playing a regular game of this though. Fun for an experiment while one of the regular players is away and you put the campaign on hold.

If we look at this though as something that was supposed to be the Magnum Opus of the father of RPGs, then we can't help but come away a little confused and maybe even a little sad about it.  What went wrong here? How did this get out of Gary's hands and into mine? Was it hubris? Was it something else? Was there so much desperation here to keep this from looking anything like D&D that good ideas were thrown out in favor of bad ones? I honestly have no idea. But here is the score right now, Gary made two games (or 1½), D&D and AD&D, that are nearly universally loved to this day. Then he made Cyborg Commando and Dangerous Journey, which are nearly equally reviled. 

I was going to spend some time figuring out Larina's spells, but honestly, I really can't anymore.

Dangerous Journeys: Mythus

A Note About Mythus: Epic of Ærth

I had this book once upon a time and I will readily admit I enjoyed it. For fluff it was great stuff and reminded more of the Gygax of old. Yes I also remembered there were some questionable bits in it, but nothing I can recall off the top of my head. It was enough that I unloaded years ago at a game auction.

Ærth in the Mythus books reminded me a lot of the sort of Earth one sees in games like "Man, Myth, & Magic (1982)" or "Lands of Adventure (1983)." A mythical Earth that only exists in some sort of dreamtime.  Mind there is nothing wrong with this as a game world. In fact arguments could be made that these sorts of Earths are great for gaming. Obviously, I am a fan of the idea and would 1000% do a "Crisis on Infinite Ærths" one day.  If trying to get those three to work together didn't drive me insane first.

At the end of this I find this is where I am at. Mythus does not give me anything that Man, Myth, & Magic didn't also do 10 years before. Even as a Fantasy Heartbreaker, it doesn't live up. But I keep coming back to it, hoping to find something here that I missed. 

Sadly, due to the lawsuits that did come from TSR, Game Designers' Workshop was forced to close in 1996, leaving games like Traveller, Twilight2000, and Dark Conspiracy adrift for a number of years.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Enchanted World: Fairies and Elves

Time LIFE The Enchanted World: Fairies and Elves
Today is the Spring Equinox, an in-between time of light and dark, winter and summer—the perfect time to talk about Fairies and Elves. My reading of this has already been fruitful, with two more monsters added to my Basic Bestiary: the Trollkönig and Rübezahl. I am sure there are more to come. Many of the Faerie Lords you will find in my Basic Bestiary can also be found here, in one form or another. So let's get into it.

Fairies and Elves

by Editors of Time-LIFE Books, 1984 (144 pages) 
ISBN 080945212X, 0809452138 (US Editions)

There is a certain Euro-centrism to this book and that is to be expected, though there are plenty of creatures that are similar to Elves and Fairies around the world. This gets better with other books and we saw this in the Wizards and Witches and the Lore of Love books.

Like all the books, this one is hardcover with canvas-like covering (this time green) illustrated by John Atkinson Grimshaw.  This volume has four chapters. Also like all the books this one is lavishly illustrated with both new and classical pieces. 

Chapter One: Lands Behind Enchantment's Veil

We are introduced to the worlds of the faeries and their myriad of names; the Daoine Side, the Tylwth Teg, and the Tuatha Dé Danann. Sometimes, they are also divided into camps of light and dark, like the Seelie and Unseelie or Liosálfar and Döckálfar. And all have multiple spellings. But all are immortal, or nearly so, and are members of a world long since gone by the time humans, or at least Christian humans, enter their lands.  But for a time, a brief time the Fair Folk and humans could live side by side and these tales would enter into the legends of a later time. 

Chapter One: Lands Behind Enchantment's Veil

Here, the fairies were more similar to humankind, with an air of regalness and otherworldliness, and of course, there were tales of their magic. One how the mere touch of the Queen of the Seelie court cured a young knight of his curse. Other tales on how trees would spring magical fruit or fountains of ale and wine. 

Some lived on the land, but many lived under it or even under the sea like the chieftan O'Donoghue. These lands, regardless of where they were had the same otherworldliness about them. 

A World in Miniature 

The great peoples of the fairies reduced in nature and size, so when the lands they had lived in were settled, it was believed that they had shrunk and were living, somewhat literally, under our noses. 

Chapter Two: Guardians of Field and Forest 

Here, many different types of fairies are discussed, and we move further afield than just Northern Europe. We meet the changeable Leshy, who could grow from diminutive size to that of a giant. Sylphs, some as small as mice, would flit about in the air. Hobgoblins like Robin Goodfellow, also known as Puck, were tricksters, but others like Churn-milk Peg were malicious. Willow fairies from Czech legends were as common as German wood nymphs and the mountains of Rübezahl.  Nearly every type of natural setting had a multitude of faeries of all shapes, sizes, and dispositions. 

Chapter Two: Guardians of Field and Forest

And that was the problem. Wander too far off into a fairies' home territory and one ran the risk of becoming lost and not finding their way home for years, if ever.

Not all faeries were human in appearance, either. The Kelpie was an underwater horse that drank the blood of swimmers, for example. 

Others fit a theme. Russia's Father Frost was the lord of Winter, except in Denmark where that role was taken by the Snow Queen, and in Scotland it was the dreaded one-eyed hag, the Cailleac Bheur that ruled over winter and the cold. 

All faeires were considered to be part of and guardian of their locales or area. From the dread three Faerie Lords and Ladies of Winter mentioned above to the tine Brown Man, who was content just to protect one small house.

The Myrtle Tree's Sweet Tenant

This is the tale of a dryad of the Myrtle tree and her love of a human prince, and the women who were jealous of her and the extent they would go. To match with the theme the tree from which the dryad came from was in the prince's palace courtyard. She would come to the young prince at night for lovemaking and disappear before sunrise.  This infuriated the women he had been pledged too and must choose among them a wife. They stripped the leaves from her tree and broke of branches.  Out came the dryad and the women turned on her, stabbing her and breaking her bones. The prince distraught, gathered the bark, the leaves, and the bones and tried to fix the myrtle tree, but could not. He stayed in his chambers, distraught. The rains came and new tree grew and when it had bloomed, the dryad stepped out again. The Prince married her and cast his former mistresses into his dungeons.

Chapter Three: Of Fairy Raids and Mortal Missteps

The last chapter had a happy ending, but that was not always the case when it came to fairy and human interaction. Princesses were abducted by fairy kings. Faerie maidens seduced otherwise virtuous knights, and faeries of all sorts made sport with the poor wives and daughters of locals. Sometimes though the mortals were the ones looking for trouble, stepping into faerie rings to become lost or seeking out their feasts, or, as in the case of the infamous Goblin Market, find their wares. 

Chapter Three: Of Fairy Raids and Mortal Missteps

Faeries were notorious for stealing children, leaving ugly, mal-formed changelings in their place. Sometimes the babes could be found and rescued, other times, most times, they could not.  

Tam Lin 

It wasn't always the maidens that had to fear from the intentions of faeries, often mortal men were the target. Such was the case of Tam Lin the son of the Earl of Roxburgh. He had caught the eye of the Fairy Queen. He would have been lost forever had it not been for the courage, strength, and love of a mortal woman named Janet, who was able to turn Tam Lin away from the Fairy Queen. 

Chapter Four: The Heart's Far-Carrying Call 

Love between a mortal and faerie was never an easy path to take. Swan maidens could love a mortal, but only if the mortal hid their feather cloaks from them. Lamias craved the love mortal men, but equal craved the flesh of their children. Tales abound that if a mortal man ever struck his fairy bride she would leave him forever; maybe good advice for mortal brides as well!

Chapter Four: The Heart's Far-Carrying Call

Though not all tales ended bad, but all had a common theme; the road to true love is a hard one. We saw that in Lore of Love as well. Such is the next tale.

Trials of a Charmed Passion 

Sir Launfal was a knight in King Arthur's court. By chance, one night, he spied a fairy lady of such beauty that all thoughts of mortal women left him. She also saw him and would visit him whenever he wished for her by name, Tryamour. The Queen, though, became jealous and asked him who it was that had given him so much happiness. He then insulted his Queen by saying she was not as beautiful as the fairy lady's lowest handmaiden. An insult, of course, and one that nearly got him burnt at the stake. But Tryamour comes to the court, and all agree that there is no way that Sir Launfal is lying or insulting. They ride off together, leaving the mortal world.

Again, like Wizards and Witches, the theme here is that once there was magic in the old world, but now it is gone. Though that theme is less overt here and more of a given. Faeries, creatures of magic, were once part of this world and now they are not.

Again the stories tend to bleed into each other and there is the feeling of half being told a story and half reading a factual account of things that had happened. The effect is an engrossing one. 

It reflects what I have felt games like D&D have been missing. While yes, there is a Feywilde and lands of Faerie in many versions of the game, there is no real magic to them, if you know what I mean. There is nothing about them that brings them to life. There are few, if any, Faerie Lords and Ladies, and no reasons for them to do what they do. This is a book I'll come back to for more ideas and certainly more names and ways to use them.

Next time: Here there be Dragons! (for real this time)

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Review: Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus (1992)

Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys: Mythus (1992)
 This week is Gary Con, so I thought while I am celebrating 50 years of Dungeons & Dragons, I would also spend some time with Gary Gygax's other two games he made after leaving TSR, where he created D&D. This week, I am coving Dangerous Journeys: Mythus.

A bit of background for those not 100% up to speed. Back in 1985, D&D brought in a lot of money, but the publisher, TSR, was in debt of $1.5 million. These reasons have been explained better and in more detail elsewhere; suffice to say that by the time the dust settled (almost), Gary Gygax had been kicked out of the company (but not yet the industry) he helped create.  He spent some time doing some novels with his New Infinity Productions where he also published his near-universally reviled Cyborg Commando. No, I am not going to review that one. Plus I don't own it.

After a little time away he returned to RPGs in 1992 with his new game, "Dangerous Dimensions," or DD for short. Well, TSR was not going to have any of that and threatened to sue (in fairness, it is from a playbook that Gary helped write), and his new game became Dangerous Journeys, and Mythus became the fantasy setting. 

Dangerous Journeys would be his new core system with Mythus, the Fantasy RPG. There was a mention of the supernatural horror game Unhallowed, which would have been fun. Plus, I would have loved to have had a fantasy RPG and a supernatural horror RPG that used the same system. 

Eventually, more pressure from TSR would kill Dangerous Journey, leaving only Mythus produced.

But what is Dangerous Journeys, and what is its setting, Mythus?

Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys (1992)

Gary Gygax with Dave Newton. 416 pages. Color covers. Black-and-white interior art. Some full-color art plates.
Published by Games Designer Workshop.

First some clarifications.

Dangerous Journeys is the system being used here. Mythus is the Fantasy RPG that uses the Dangerous Journeys system/rules.  Mythus is also divided into Mythus Prime, which is a basic game and Mythus Advanced, which is the advanced or full game. This book covers both the Mythus Prime and Mythus Advanced games.

This game was designed to address some of the perceived shortcomings of AD&D, though Gary could not come right out and say that. He had to be a bit oblique about it.  This book is huge and there is lot going on. 

Welcome to the Mythus Game

This introduction introduces us to the game and some RPG ideas like what an RPG is, what a Gamemaster is, and so on. None of which I think are needed here to be honest, its a bit much. But the meat is the Game Premise and, in some ways, the most interesting to me. Mythus takes place on Ærth, a world like our own but 1000 years in the past, so at the time of publication, 992 CE. Here, the myths of old are real, and we know about them because of Ærth's connection to Earth. So elves, dragons, and vampires are stories here, but there they were/are real. The trouble I am having with Ærth as presented is there is very little to differentiate it from our Earth save for window dressing. This is disappointing really since I feel there is something here if given the chance to grow a little. The maps and hints throughout the book are tantalizing but not enough.

Here we are also introduced to the next two books in the line "The Epic of Ærth" and "Mythus Magic." Of those two, I only have the Mythus Magic book. We are also introduced to the concept of the Basic and Advanced games. 

Your character in the game is a persona, or Heroic Persona, or HP. This game uses regular d6s and d10s for all the rolls. There are also d3 and d5 rolls here, but most will d%.

Dangerous Journey Mythus

Mythus Prime Rules

Note: There is also a "Basic Set" sold separately as "Mythus Prime" that is a 144-page book. It is essentially the same as this section, with some expansions. 

This is the "Basic" game designed to get people started in the Mythus game. It is like the Advanced Mythus game in many ways but obviously simpler. I am not going to delve too deep here. I have read it many times over the years and I like some of the ideas here. But I can talk about them when I cover the Advanced Rules. This does cover the next 45 pages or so. Reading the chapter Creating your Heroic Persona, though, is a good one since the Advanced Mythus points back to it for character creation. There is more in the advanced game.

HPs (remember, Heroic Personas) have three Traits: Mental, Physical, and Spiritual. It is not a bad division, really, Tri-Stat would later do it to much success. In this Basic section all the steps are outlined by an example. So choose SEC (Socio-Economic Class), Traits, Vocation (not a class...), choose K/S (Knowledge/Skills), and STEEP points (Study, Training, Education, Experience, Practice); get your finances and possessions., and round off your character.  Compared to the flipping through pages, one has to do with AD&D 1st ed. This is an improvement, but compared to other games from around 1992, like, say, Vampire the Masquerade, it already felt dated. Still better than World of Synnibar, released the year before.

All characters get three K/S for free, Perception (Mental), Perception (Physical), and Riding/Boating.

There is a chapter on rolling and success. I go into that in detail with the advanced game. The same is true of the chapter after the next on Combat.

The third chapter is on Heka, or the force of Magic in the Mythus world.  Now this was an interesting one to me. In the 90s I was dying for a new magic system. It is interesting but wildly crunchy. Heka is determined by your HP's magical K/S. Again, more on this in a bit. 

Improving Skills & Abilities is after Combat, and the rules here as simple enough. you spend APs (accomplishment points, our XP stand-in) to improve. This one also gets more complicated in the Advanced Game.

A Chapter on Playing your HP, moving to the Advanced Game and some Gamemaster advice.

I like the idea of a simpler game to introduce the more complicated one, but I can't help but feel that the real game, the one that would been more successful, isn't somewhere in between. I mean we all did the same with Basic and Advanced D&D.  Feels like the same mistakes are being made here for completely different reasons.

There is a brief adventure for the Basic game, High Time at the Winged Pig, at the end of this section. To be honest, it's not really all that interesting, especially given that this is the same guy who gave us B2 and the TGD series. I mean the HPs meet in a tavern. Fine for 1974-1977, but 1992? We deserve better than this really.

Advanced Mythus

Now 55 pages later, we are now in the Advanced Mythus game.

We are referred to the Basic Mythus game often, but the steps for character creation are pretty much the same.

1. Determine Socio-Economic Status. It may not be the best way to run a game since no one will go here first anyway. People choose a concept and/or a class first. This, though, does have effects on what your HP can and can't do. A table of the percent of the population of every SEC level is also presented. Not sure if it is here for illustrative purposes or if you are supposed to have your character population conform to it. I should point out though that frequency distribution for "rolled characters" will never match the SEC Populations table, no matter what you do. This is why I wonder why it is here.  A lot depends on your HPs SEC. If the acronyms get to be too much, remember this is a Gygax game, and there will be a lot more. Now personally, I am not a fan of so much to be dependent on my HPs SEC (damnit now I am doing it), I mean I have my Taxes for that. I want to make kick-ass characters. Honestly, I'll just choose my vocation and then find an SEC that fits it.

2. Generate numbers for Traits/Categories/Attributes. We have the same traits as before, Mental, Physical, and Spiritual. These are divided into two categories each. Mnemonic/Reasoning (Mental), Muscular/Neural (Physical), Metaphysical/Psychic (Spiritual).  Each of these six has three Attribute scores: Capacity, Power, and Speed. So a total of 3+6+18=27 numbers to describe your character, I mean HP. That seems a bit excessive. Granted, we only need to roll up 18 of those (OR assign 6 in the point spread) and the others are derived. These scores range from 6 to 20, with 8-11 as the average. The maximum of any human attribute is 30 for physical (cap, pow, or spd) and 40 for mental or spiritual (cap, pow, or spd). There are two ways to get these numbers. The first is a point distribution method. You get a range of numbers to divide among the 6 categories the split them up for the cap, pow and spd scores and then add them up for Mental, Physical and Spiritual. The second is a 2d6+8 rolled for all 18. Again, examples are utilized here which helps. These numbers are used to determine "Critical Levels," "Effect Levels," "Wound Levels," and "Recovery Levels." They will also be used to determine an HP's Heka. 

3. Calculate STEEP for the HPs Knowledge/Skill areas. Players are encouraged to look over the vocations to see what areas they need to increase here. The same basic vocations are here, but a lot more are added. Now, vocations are not classes. Classes are picked in other games and then the skills are given. Here you start with the skills. While there are vocational packages that feel like classes, you could in theory ignore them and build a vocation of your own. There is an Appendix (E) here for that.  STEEP scores are 00 to 91+ with 00 as "no knowledge" and 91+ as Ultra-genius. There is a K/S of "Witchcræft," and it is sadly presented as nothing but pure evil. Even Demonology here is not so vilified.  Yes. I am taking this as a challenge.


4. Choose the HPs K/S sub-areas. This goes along with the various vocations. In the advanced game, there are three additional automatic skills, Etiquette/Social Graces, Native Tongue, and Trade Phoenician, which is the "Common" of Ærth.

5. Determine Personal information. This can be random or chosen.

6. Calculate the HPs Resources.  This is random based on SEC. The unit of currency is the BUC or...Basic Unit of Currency. So 50' of rope costs 10 BUCs. I am not sure if this is clever or irritating. 

This all covers about 70 pages. I glossed over a lot of it. 

Core Game Systems

These are our core rules. Rolls are made with the K/S areas. The six difficulty levels all have a multiplier to the HPs STEEP. They are Easy (x3), Moderate (the default x2), Hard (x1 [one would think a x1 would be the better default]), Difficult (x0.5), Very Difficult (x0.25), and Extreme (x0.1).  So if I want to read a scroll and my K/S in Dweomercræft is a 20 then if this were an Easy Challenge, then my chance to succeed is 20 x 3 or 60%. Moderate is 40% (20x2); if it is Very Difficult, then 20x0.25 or 5%, and 2% for Extreme. While so, a lot of the math is front-loaded on figuring out those K/S scores. These are roll-under abilities (roll under or equal). So, rolling 96% or above can be considered an automatic or even a special failure. 

We get guidelines for combining efforts, for rolling a K/S vs another K/S and so on.

There is also something called a Joss Factor (JF) which work like luck or hero points. At least...I think they do. There is not much here about it at all. If there are rules about how to regain Joss (and WHY is it called that?? Oh, I found an "in game" reason that explains nothing.) I have not found them. 

Spending APs is also covered for Traits and K/S areas. For this, advanced K/S descriptions are given. 

Combat is largely an application of the appropriate K/S areas. Combat is done in units called Critical Turns (CTs) of about 3 seconds each. The initiative is a d10 roll.  Armor reduces damage so HPs can take a lot of damage.  Combat can target hit locations, given the names with damage multipliers of: Non-Vital (x1), Vital (x2), Super-Vital (x3), and Ultra-Vital (x4). This is to account for creatures that might have different sorts of vital parts. It feels weird, but given what this game was trying to do, I can see the utility here. 

There is an insanity and madness mechanic, but as I have said before, I am never very fond of these. 

Heka & Magic

Heka was the god of and the word for magic in ancient Egypt (or Ægypt in this book). Now I will freely admit, this is also one of my favorite sections. It is a wonderfully complicated system that would have made Isaac Bonewits proud. We get a few spells, but there are more in the Mythus Magic book (Thursday).

More on Personas

This covers anything that can change in an HP, like a change in SEC to becoming a vampire. This also covers some basic monsters.  There are some examples of NPCs, or er...NHP? Oh, actually, they are OPs, or "Other Personas."  The "monsters" are divided into three categories: Evil Personas (EPs), Monstrous Personages (MPGs), and Mundane Personas (MPs).  Other than being descriptive, there is no real difference between these that I can tell, save for name/label. Maybe if they had different point spreads.  There are also Friendly Personas (FP), which are what they sound like. 

Magickal Items

Pretty much what is says on the tin. There isn't a lot of stuff here.

Condemned as Galley Slaves

An adventure for new HPs. 

Appendices follow.

So. This game. 

Let's be honest. It is not good. It's actually kind of embarrassing how bad it is. Not to say there are not good things in it.

There are a lot of things I do like about it, though. I love the idea of Ærth, and Necropolis is still a fun adventure. The Mythus Magic was also a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to going over it again on Thursday. That said, I love some of the fluff here and there are things I could use, but it is a lot od shifting wheat from chaff here. 

Larina ferch Siân
Larina ferch Siân of Ærth

The over-heavy-handedness of the "Witchcræft is pure evilTM!" and the inclusion of "wicca" vis-à-vis through the Wisewoman/Wiseman vocation (or Mystic, the book is not very clear on this) is just too tantalizing to pass up, even if character creation in this system has been universally reviled.  I think I will try the character today and some spells on Thursday.

I did find some character sheets online, but I am going with the one in the back of the book.  I considered doing the point spread, but I opted to roll up a new character instead. The numbers I got were a bit higher, but not very different from the point spread or the sample character. It also works out since I wanted a character similar to her AD&D stats.  

I admit that rolling up the characteristics and getting my derived scores was much faster than I expected. But then I got to the K/S area, and things ground to a halt. It is not that it is hard, just tedious.

Note: For all the talk that this is a Class-less system, the Vocations are classes in all but name really. 

So, our basic K/S skills are figured out as follows:

  • Etiquette/Social Graces: SEC Level (6) x 5 = 30
  • Native Tongue (Welsh/Keltic): 30 (above) + MMCap (16) = 46*
  • Perception (Mental): 2d10 + MRCap (15) = 31**
  • Perception (Physical) 2d10 + PNCap (12) = 28
  • Trade Language: SEC (6) x 3 +MMCap (16) = 34
  • Riding: SEC (6) x 5 = 30

* In some places it says SEC x5 for language others SEC x3.
** The formulas are reversed for these in the book. 

Now, I have to pick my Vocational K/Ss. I picked Wisewoman for Larina since that fits well, but be sure I'll be bumping up her Witchcræft. Since this is a spiritual Vocation, I can choose which perception to use, so I chose Perception (Mental). I think I could figure out how to knock together a "White Witch" option per Appendix E, but instead, I am just going to tweak the Wisewoman a bit.

For this, I just shifted the same K/Ss around and kept the same number of STEEP points (248).

Crap. Forgot to adjust for age. Not going to do it. Say I rolled the appropriate number, and those above are the adjusted ones.

Attractiveness: Got a 16. Not bad. Should adjust for age or other factors I am sure, but not going too.

Joss: Rolled a 62, so 10 Joss factors. 

Not rolling for birth rank, despite some fun things for a 7th child of a 7th child. This character is way established in my mind as the 1st born daughter. 

She is from Cymru (Wales), and her birthplace was near Gŵry (Gower).

Quirks: A bit of roleplaying fun here. A lot like Qualities and Drawbacks in point-buy games. I'll choose two as long as they don't change any trait numbers (good or ill). I am not recalculating all of this. I'll take Psychic Awareness and Heka Channeler. For "Conter Quirks" I'll take Obsessive/Compulsive and Low Tolerance to Alcohol. 

Connections: She gets two of these, so I am giving her access to the local Druid Hierarchy and an Apothecary; both of these are due to her parents.  

Results below.

Larina ferch Siân of ÆrthLarina ferch Siân of Ærth

Larina ferch Siân of Ærth

Ok. That was fairly tedious, but in the end, I got a character that I think will be fun to use IF I ever play this game.  I'll figure out her Heka and do spells on Thursday.

I need a mental break now.