Showing posts with label Night Shift. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Night Shift. Show all posts

Monday, February 5, 2024

Monstrous Monday: Greater Astral Spiders

 For the next few weeks, I will be posting monsters for use in the various "Powered by O.G.R.E.S." games I work on and use. These are NIGHT SHIFT, Wasted Lands, and the upcoming Thirteen Parsecs. I would also like to use this space to feature some new artists and their work. 

Up first is a favorite around here. This one is bigger.

Astral Spider by John Kozlowski
Astral Spider by John Kozlowski

Astral Spider, Greater

No. Appearing: 1
AC: 4
Move: 40 ft and Special (Astral)
ViD: 8
Special: Wits and toughness drain. 1 point/day each
XP VALUE: 1,600

Greater Astral Spiders are larger and more terrifying versions of the smaller Astral Spiders. Like their smaller cousins, they are not true spiders but creatures of the deeper dark.  These creatures are about three feet high and six feet long when manifesting in the material world. Since they are not true spiders but creatures of fear from the Deeper Dark, they are not limited to just 8 legs.

As their name suggests, these creatures are native to the astral plane, but they are attracted to people with psychic or empathic abilities.  These creatures drain Wits (wisdom) and Toughness (constitution). Like the smaller varieties, these creatures are invisible. They find targets that have high levels of empathy (psychics, witches, sorcerers) and attach themselves to feed. They do not have a physical attack in terms of Vitality damage.

An astrally projected or sensitive witch can see these creatures, either on themselves or others. A Dismissal spell can remove the spider, but they can only be attacked in the Astral Plane. A Dimensional Anchor used against it can prevent it from latching back onto a victim.  A Lesser Restoration and one week of bed rest for each day of ability loss will cure the victim. Without magic, the recovery period is one week per point of Wits and Toughness lost each. Thus, a minimum of two weeks.

Use in the Wasted Lands

During the Dreaming Age the Astral Spiders were far more common and could manifest in the Material World more easily. There is conjecture on their relationship to the other denizens of the Deeper Dark, but few are willing to study them up close.  These creatures can sometimes be summoned by dark-aligned Sorcerers, but with no real means of controlling them, they can be the victim just as often.


These creatures cause much fear in the communities of psychics and witches. There is a lot of talk on various online groups on how to best deal with them, but there is little to no consensus.

Astral Spiders online

Use in Thirteen Parsecs

As in the Dreaming Age, Astral Spiders are able to manifest in the Material World. What is worse that due to their ability to travel via the Astral, attacking starships on the Solar Frontier is as easy to them as attacking a sleeping person back on Earth.  The closer a planet is to the Solar Frontier, the more likely an attack by an Astral Spider will become. 

Monday, January 29, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Brigid for Wasted Lands

"A Bhrigid, scar os mo chionn, do bhrat fionn dom anacal."

 Something a little different today, a little bit of Wasted Lands myth-making applied to D&D rather than just using Wasted Lands as a D&D substitute.

One "character" that has been a feature of many of my games (fantasy, horror, sci-fi) is that of Brigid. My version is based on the famous saint, St. Brigid of Kildare AND the goddess Brigid of Celtic myth. I figured with Imbolc (Feb 1) coming up, it is a good time to talk about her.

Brigit (of Kildare / "Cil Dara")

Who Is Brigit?

A simple question with a very complicated answer. In the mytho-historical tales of Ireland there are two Brigits. The Goddess and the Saint. Was the saint named for the goddess? Was the goddess named for the Saint thanks to a 2000+ plus oral tradition that mostly predates writing? In the years I have paid (casual) attention to the academic debates, I have seen them shift back and forth a little (or a lot, depending on the journal).  She is also related to the ancient British Goddess/figure Brigantia, who the Romans saw as aspects of the goddesses Minerva (Athena), Tyche/Fortuna, and Victoria (Nike). She is a complicated Goddess. 

This is fascinating but only tangentially related to my games, save for how my readings add to them. 

She is a Goddess, a Saint, and a figure in Celtic Pagan Witchcraft. So yeah, I am going to find a place for her in my games. Given her influence on me, I don't think it is a surprise that I have so many redheaded witches.

In my games, Brigit is more of a force than a character. I have talked about her in terms of Celtic Myth. The Witch Guardians for D&D 3.x and 4e. As a historical figure in my modern horror games. And as Protectors of Éire for my Ghosts of Albion games.

In my games where I like to play on the themes of the Rise and Fall of Paganism vs. the Coming of the Christian Faith, Brigit is my chance to "cheat a win."  In these games, Brigit is a pagan Goddess. She has a following of women pagan worshipers who are no longer druids but not yet witches. My version of Bodhmal is a great if not prime, example of this.  In these games/set-up Brigit tucks her fire-red hair under a nun's habit and continues on.  Her witches now hiding in plain sight.

I never worked out how that works for her, but with Wasted Lands I can give it a try!  Before there was the St. Brigit of Kildare, or there was Goddess Brigit, there was the woman Brigit. She was many things: warrior, philosopher, healer, and the spirit of her land. Because of her connection to Ireland, she is remembered by many in many different forms.

Brigit (of Kildare / "Cil Dara")
Brigit (of Kildare / "Cil Dara")

Class: Warrior / Theosophist / Spirit Rider
Level: 15 (5/5/5)
Species: Human
Alignment: Light Good
Background: Animistic

Strength: 15 (+1) A
Agility: 12 (+1) 
Toughness: 17 (+2) 
Intelligence: 11 (+1) 
Wits: 16 (+2) N
Persona: 17 (+2) N

Fate Points: 1d12
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 114
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +7/+4/+3
Melee Bonus: +5 (base) +1 (str) +2 (touchstones)
Ranged Bonus: +5 (base) +1 (touchstone)
Magical Attack: +2
Saves: +2 to all saves (warrior), +2 to Persona saves, but -2 on Magic away from Ireland (Animistic).

Animistic Powers
Mystical senses, Speak with Plants and Animals,  Animal Summoning 1 (spell)

Warrior Abilities
Combat Expertise, Improved Defence, Melee Combat, Master of Battle, Supernatural Attacks (melee and ranged), Spell Resistance, Tracking, Masters of Weapons, Extra Attacks (x2), Extra Damage

Theosophist Abilities
See Dead People, Turn Undead, Summon the Dead, Channel the Dead, Protection from Undead (2/day), Command, Death Knell (Banshee Wail), Suggestion (1/day)

Spirit Rider Abilities
Innate Magic (5), Arcane Power (2), Commune with Spirit, Limited Power (outside of Ireland), Magcial Battery, Add Wits bonus to Supernatural attacks

Arcane Powers
Empathy, Precognition

First level: Gout of Flame, Restore Vitality
Second level: Eternal Flame, Lesser Renewal
Third level: Concusive Blast (Fire)

Heroic/Divine Touchstones 
1st Level: First Level Spell: Black Flame
2nd Level: +1 to melee combat
3rd Level: Charm Power
4th Level: Favored Enemy: Undead
5th Level: +1 to all checks, attacks, and saves
6th Level: Immunity to Undead Attacks
7th Level: Character ceases to age

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Craft, Fire, Warrior

Sword, Leather Armor

Brigit in the Wasted Lands

For these stats, I played up the aspects of her character that will become important in my games: her connection to fire and her hatred of the undead. This is the warrior aspect of her personality.  Her Animitic background (from Wasted Lands) and her levels in Spirit Rider (NIGHT SHIFT) play very well with each other. As long as she is in Ireland (however I choose to define that) she is powerful and can avoid corruption, outside she is less protected.


From NIGHT SHIFT I get her Theosophist class (Core Rules) and her Spirit Rider class (Night Companion). This works well for me since it also gives me more mechanics to represent her aspects.  Brigit is still active in the world of NIGHT SHIFT since she is the head of the Daughters of the Flame coven. A world-wide organization of witches dedicated to Brigit. 

Brigit in Thirteen Parsecs this one is fun. How does a Celtic Goddess find her way out into the Solar Frontier? I guess this is my answer to the infamous question, "Why does God need a Starship?"  In my Black Star games (soon to be converted wholesale over to Thirteen Parsecs), there is a ship in the Mystic line, the Imbolc Mage NX-3119. This ship is the sister to the Protector NX-3120. I have not talked much about that ship because I have been using it as an NPC ship. I have also been using it as my test-run ship for ship-to-ship combat rules. Brigit herself is not on this ship, but she has a vested interest in it. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games. Thirteen Parsecs is coming soon.

Character Creation Challenge

Sunday, January 28, 2024

True Detective: Night Country and Valhalla, AK

True Detective: Night Country
I am a fan of the HBO series True Detective. I had a bit to say about the first season here and here, so I am a fan. The new season, Season 4, is out now, and so far, it is excellent, too.  I am not going to get into any spoilers here, but Jodie Foster is fantastic in this. Maybe some of the best acting of her career, and I have been a fan of hers forever. And Kali Reis is amazing so far.

This season, subtitled "Night Country," is a fantastic idea. It takes place in the fictional town of Ennis, Alaska just north of the Arctic Circle. It is a detective drama, but there appear to be elements of the supernatural in it as well. Plus, it ties directly back to the first season of True Detective.

It also sounds a lot like what I wanted to do with my Valhalla, AK

Now, let's be honest here. The idea is a good one. Plus, I know there is really no way Issa López (showrunner, writer, and director) has read anything I have ever written here. It is just a great idea. Mine might have been a little closer to "Northern Exposure," though my Valhalla would be somewhere south of Ennis and a bit north of Cicely. 

While it is a great idea and one I have some fun with, I am not sure I could get away with building anything for it now for publication. Sure, I have the benefit of having my Valhalla predate Night Country and the first season of True Detective, but I am not sure I could really do it justice.

So, I am thinking of going back to my original idea and doing it as something for free here online. Something people can use in their NIGHT SHIFT games. Hell, if I throw in more alien abductions, then I can add in bits of Thirteen Parsecs, or other games from Elf Lair Games.  

Something I have been working on for Thirteen Parsecs is the fact that the barriers between the multi-verses are very thin here. People wander and get lost and end up in a different universe. One of those Earths is a planet called Gaia where history is like our own, but due to disease and runaway climate change, the population is only a 10th of Earth's, and the global temperatures have risen an average of 7-10 degrees Celius. Valhalla, AK, on Gaia, is much warmer and wetter than it is here. I mentioned some of this in the Night Companion book for NIGHT SHIFT.

I hope to develop more ideas and ways to use this weird little town in NIGHT SHIFT. 

Starting Adventure Seeds

The Last of 97s

In this seed there is a local gold mine. The mine has been shut down since the turn of the last century. Then, one night, a stranger comes to town with handfuls of gold he claims he has taken from the mine. His paperwork is all in order and legal for his purchase of the mine. He begins paying the locals in this gold. Soon he, his miners, and anyone he gave gold too end up dead by mysterious and brutal ways.

The Culprit: The ghosts of the dead miners from the failed rescue of the 1897 Mine Collapse do not want their gold taken away. Getting to bodies is difficult. The only way to quiet the dead miners is to return all the gold taken out.

Prophecy in the Petroglyphs

A cave with petroglyphs from the last Ice Age seems to be depicting scenes in the nearby town. Are these a warning from the past about the future or is history repeating itself?

The Culprit: Unknown as of yet. But it's likely something I can add to another adventure.


The Fur Trapper's Curse

An old abandoned fur trapper's hut is discovered along with the frozen remains of two Russian Fur trappers from the late 1700s. They walked over the frozen sea during one of the coldest winters of the last 400 years. They froze, and their faces were frozen in terror. But what else is there? A nearby cave, now uncovered due to warming temperatures, has the answer. 

The Culprit: A giant frozen bear that is a throwback to prehistoric times. It is bigger than any grizzly or polar bear recorded. Maybe it is an Amphicyon

The Wrath of the Wendigo

This one is obvious.

The Culprit: The wendigo!

The Strange Auroras

The Aurora Borealis are a common sight this far north. But not these. These auroras have strange colors and patterns; if you listen closely enough, you can hear them whisper to you. It is a strange language that worms into your mind, and you can't get it out of your head, no matter how hard you try.

The Culprit: Unknown as of yet!

Aurora Borealis


A reclusive tech billionaire builds a self-sufficient town in the Alaskan wilderness, promising a new age of peace and progress. But beneath the sleek surface lurks a sinister secret, fueled by technology and dark bargains.

The Culprit: You think it is the billionaire, and yeah, he is to blame, but it has more to do with the creature he has made a pact with.

These are just a few of the ideas I have. There are more where this came from.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Tanith Winters for Wasted Lands

 It's still cold outside. So another winter-themed character is needed, and nothing is more winter than the Winters family of witches and my current character, Tanith Winters.

Tanith is a great character to test for Wasted Lands. For starters, I have been playing her in both D&D/OSR clones and for three editions of Hyperborea. I also have used her in NIGHT SHIFT as part of the modern versions of the Winters family.

Tanith Winters sheets

Wasted Lands and Hyperborea have similar DNA and can be used to play very similar sorts of games. The biggest difference between them setting-wise is that the Wasted Lands takes place in the distant past, and Hyperborea is in the far future.

Both games are solid in their Old-School sensibilities and feel. Both games are a lot of fun for that Dark Fantasy mixed with horror overtones with more than a little influences of Howard, Lovecraft, and Smith. 

Tanith Winters
Tanith Winters

Class: Witch (Sorcerer) 
Level: 12
Species: Human (Hyperborean)
Alignment: Neutral
Background: Barbarian

Strength: 10 (+0) 
Agility: 12 (+0) 
Toughness: 14 (+1) N 
Intelligence: 16 (+2) N
Wits: 12 (+0) 
Persona: 16 (+2) A

Fate Points: 1d10
Defense Value: 5
Vitality: 53
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +5/+3/+2
Melee Bonus: +1 (base) 
Ranged Bonus: +1 (base)
Spell Attack: +6
Saves: +5 to Spells and Magical effects (Sorcerer), +2 to Toughness saves (Barbarian), +1 to Cold (Touchstone)

Sorceress Abilities
Arcana, Arcane Powers (4): Familiar: Owl Psychic Power: Cryokinesis, Enhanced Senses, Supernatural Senses

Sorceress Spells
First Level: Arcane Darts, Chill, Protection from Good/Evil, Armor of Ice
Second Level: Create Wated, Cool Metal, Lock, Unlock
Third Level: Slow, Dark Lightning, Dispel Magic, Curse 
Fourth Level: Control Tempature, Life Drain, Control Ice
Fifth Level: Blight, Elemental Wall
Sixth Level: Invoke Weather, Disentergrate

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: +1 Saves vs. Cold
2nd Level: +1 attacks w/ Cold
3rd Level: Magical Recovery
4th Level: Defense Cold
5th Level Ray: Ray of Cold
6th Level: Cold Immunity

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Winter

Familiar: Snowy Owl, "Beira."

Cloak of Winter

Wasted Lands & Hyperborea

Both the Wasted Lands and Hyperborea scratch a similar itch for me. I would have to say that I can play many similar games with both games. The tenor is different enough that playing the same sorts of adventures do feel different.

I'd love to try out a set of adventures, maybe even featuring the Winters family, in both Wasted Lands and then millions of years later in Hyperborea. 

Character wise, this version of Tanith is great. Hyperborea has a few more choices in spells than Wasted Lands, but there is also a big difference in size of the rule books. Granted, the spells are also largely interchangeable.  


You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Character Creation Challenge: Raven Ebonflame for Wasted Lands

While I am done with the various versions of Johan Werper, I am still working on his family. Today, the girl that Johan Werper III fell in love with and their adventures in "Ravenloft."

Bit of a background first. The period between 1986 and 1989 or so was a transition period for me and for my games. I was leaving High School and headed to University so I wanted to wrap up a lot of different loose ends in my game world. This was one of the reasons why I wanted to merge my world with my DM's world in what would become our Proto-Mystoerth. This was also a time I wanted to do a new world, one that was more horror-focused. Eventually, I would find this with the AD&D Ravenloft campaign setting, but for the time before that we were just calling it "ShadowEarth."  This is where Johan III would end up.

Part of the problem was the girl he was in love with. A girl known as Raven.

Raven Character Sheets

Now I will be truthful here, my Raven (full name Morgan "Raven" Ebonflame) began as little more than a copy of the infamous Richard Kirk's "Raven Swordmistress of Chaos," a book I had seen but had never read (yet). So my mind was already primed for this character idea.

Back in 1986, my DM Michael Grenda wrote up a new class he was calling "The Riddle Master," which was essentially a Psychic-powered class that looked like a combination of a fighter and wizard. They were more than that, but that is the overall gist. It was an experiment in class creation. This was the same time I was making my first witch class. While I had made one Riddlemaster already, I wanted another one. Someone that fought undead (sorta my thing then) and in particular, vampires (very much my thing then). Combine all of these together, and 1987 Raven Ebonflame was born.  She was the daughter of my assassin character and, what I said then, an angel. Though he did not know the woman he was with was an angel. Raven then was a supernaturally strong girl with blond hair, who's task was to destroy vampires.

Look. I am not going to sit here and tell you I invented the idea of the Vampire Slayer. 

I am going to sit here and tell you the idea was not as original as some Vampire Slayer creators might want you to believe. Hey, maybe if my father and grandfather had been big-name Hollywood writers, I could make this claim. Plus, I also know at least two other creatives who did similar things and, in one case, had published their work before the Buffy movie and series.

So Raven was a slayer hmm hunter of vampires. I used the Riddle Master class for her as a test bed for what would later become the Shadow Master class. NOTE: Don't expect to see the Riddle Master, Shadow Master, or Beast Master classes anytime soon. They were grossly overpowered even if the XP per Level were excessive. 

Fast forward to the early 2000s. I would revisit my Raven using the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. She would even be a part of my Buffy "Season" The Dragon and the Phoenix

I did a version of the Richard Kirk Raven (her "Godmother") for Wasted Lands last year, I figure I should do my Raven now.  There is no Riddle Master analog in the Wasted Lands, so what is she? I thought maybe I could build her out XP for abilities like I did her namesake. It would be fitting given how the Riddle Master class came to be. But the more I thought about it the more I kept coming back to the same conclusion.

Morgan "Raven" Ebonflame is a Chosen One from NIGHT SHIFT.

Morgan "Raven" Ebonflame
Morgan "Raven" Ebonflame

Class: Chosen One (NIGHT SHIFT)
Level: 8
Species: Human*
Alignment: Light 
Background: Warrior (Wasted Lands p. 185)

Strength: 17 (+2) A
Agility: 18 (+3) N
Toughness: 18 (+3) N
Intelligence: 16 (+2) 
Wits: 16 (+2) 
Persona: 18 (+3) 

Fate Points: 1d8
Defense Value: 1
Vitality: 87
Degeneracy: 0
Corruption: 0

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +4/+3/+1
Melee Bonus: +5 (base), +2 (STR)
Ranged Bonus: +5 (base), +3
Saves: +3 to all Saves, +2 to Toughness (Warrior background)

Chosen One Abilities
Brutal Warrior, Melle Combat, Stunning Blow, Killing Blow, Supernatural Attack, Difficult to Surprise, Improved Defence, Ranged Combat, Survivor Skills (Level 2), Mental Resistance, Regeneration

Heroic/Divine Touchstones
1st Level: Sense Evil
2nd Level: Favored Weapon: Sword
3rd Level: 
4th Level: Smite
5th Level: 
6th Level:  Great Smite
7th Level: 
8th Level: Destroy Undead
9th Level: 

Heroic (Divine) Archetype: Protection

Longsword, leather armor, vampire hunting kit

Wasted Lands as D&D and Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Ok. THIS is Raven. At least this is the Raven I imagined she was when I made the character so long ago. Wasted Lands + NIGHT SHIFT gives my the perfect combination of Fantasy plus Horror that I really enjoy in my games.  Here stats are high because her mother was a freaking angel after all. 

Of course, now I am a little sad I don't get to share this one with Grenda. He would have loved it. In fact I can hear him now saying "Oh shit! That IS her!"

I am going to have to go through my various folders of characters and see who else I have in this Dark Fantasy Horror theme and see if they are as equally improved by this conversion. 

You can get the Wasted Lands RPG and the NIGHT SHIFT RPG at Elf Lair Games.

Character Creation Challenge

Sunday, December 31, 2023

TARDIS Captain's 31 Day Character Creation Challenge 2024

 Tomorrow is New Year's Day and the start of 2024!

I am also participating in TARDIS Captain's 31 Day Character Creation Challenge. This is always a lot of fun.

Character Creation Challenge

This year, my theme is "Wasted Lands as my Dungeons & Dragons Replacement."

And to put my money where my mouth is, I am going to make Wasted Lands versions of 31 of my past D&D characters from the last 45 years. Now I understand that most people will have no interest at all in *my* characters. So this will be less about how to convert that character on a one-to-one basis and more about how to get the proper feel for the character, and the particular version of Dungeons & Dragons being used.

I am also going to bring in bits from NIGHT SHIFT to show how flexible O.G.R.E.S. is and talk about Thirteen Parsecs a bit too.

But the real goal here is to show how you can have fun with a great fantasy RPG and support the small publishers out there at the same time. 

Yes, yes. D&D is a fine game. We would not be here 50 years later if it wasn't. But there are also other great, games that offer the D&D "experience" and none of the D&D overhead.

Join me all month long!

Buy Wasted Lands & NIGHT SHIFT

Don't forget, Thirteen Parsecs is coming soon!

Friday, December 29, 2023

Kickstart your Future! Thirteen Parsecs

It's the end of the week, the end of the month and the end of the year. So lets look to the future!

Thirteen Parsecs

13 Parsecs

Thirteen Parsecs: Adventures Beyond the Solar Frontier is the latest tabletop role-playing game project from Elf Lair Games, producers of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars and Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age. It forms the third of our trilogy of core games - we've given you modern and fantasy, and now we bring sci-fi to the forefront with the same rules, completely customizable and ready for you to build exactly the type of science fiction gaming you want. As always, it's your game your way when it's Powered by O.G.R.E.S.!

I am so excited for this.  I have been dying to work on a solid sci-fi game since forever.

What is Thirteen Parsecs?

Like our other games, NIGHT SHIFT and Wasted Lands, Thirteen Parsecs is an O.G.R.E.S.-powered game. So if you have played a classic RPG then you know how to play this one already.

Also like NIGHT SHIFT, Thirteen Parsecs will be a "toolbox game."  We are going to give you the basic rules and structure for all sorts of Science Fiction style role-playing. So whether you want to play heroic characters in an epic space opera, explore strange new world with a group of explorers, battle alien threats, deal with a post-apocalyptic hellscape, or tackle humankind's first leap to the stars, then this game is for you.

BUT that is not all. Like NIGHT SHIFT we will encourage you to make your own worlds and setting to make it the sci-fi game YOU want. 

I have been talking for years, decades even, on how there has not been a sci-fi game that connects with me. Thirteen Parsecs will change that for me. Here are the worlds I am planning to bring you as my contribution in one form or another.

Space Truckers

This one began as a bit of joke and I have tried in different systems. It is "Smokey and the Bandit" meets "Blake's 7" with a dash of "Red Dwarf" and "Quark."  It is supposed to be silly fun about the lives of long-haul "truckers" on the edge of the Solar Frontier. The Colonies need their light beer too. I am planning on designing this to work with any of the other settings we have.

Dark Star (formerly BlackStar)

I have talked about this one a lot, my "Star Trek meets Cthulhu." The deal here is that Jason also has one he wants to do and so does our other member Derek. So it is very likely they will all get combined somehow into something new and better.  The basic idea here is "In Space, the stars are always right."

Völlig Losgelöst

My love letter to 80s sci-fi horror. This one might appear later due to space (heh) issues. If you enjoyed movies like "Lifeforce," "Galaxy of Terror," and "Xtro" then you will find a lot to love here. This one is explicitly a NIGHT SHIFT/Thirteen Parsecs crossover game, so I might wait until after the core rules are published. Essentially I want to create the future as we saw it from the mid-1980s. 

I have more ideas and these are only mine. Jason and Derek have a ton as well. 

So please sign up and watch for more details!

Want to know more? Just ask!

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Coming in 2024: Thirteen Parsecs

 You know how I have lamented how I never have found the perfect sci-fi RPG?  Well. That all might be changing.

Thirteen Parsecs

13 Parsecs

Thirteen Parsecs: Adventures Beyond the Solar Frontier is the latest tabletop role-playing game project from Elf Lair Games, producers of Night Shift: Veterans of the Supernatural Wars and Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age. It forms the third of our trilogy of core games - we've given you modern and fantasy, and now we bring sci-fi to the forefront with the same rules, completely customizable and ready for you to build exactly the type of science fiction gaming you want. As always, it's your game your way when it's Powered by O.G.R.E.S.!

I am so excited for this.  I have been dying to work on a solid sci-fi game since forever.

A bit of background, I think I have mentioned in the past that prior to switching gears to become a psychologist I had actually started out in physics, and astrophysics in particular. I got to a point in calculus where I just stopped understanding it, so I had to switch. BTW this makes my former Actuary (with degrees in math) wife laugh her ass off all the time. 

So it will be wonderful to put all this knowledge I have about astronomy, space, and science to good use.

Launch is not till later in the year, but Jason is already working out all sorts of great things. I hope to resurrect Space Truckers, get some more mileage out of Dark Star (formerly BlackStar), and more.

So please sign up and watch for more details!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

D&DGII The Black Forest Mythos: Verwildert, the God of Wild Nature and Wood Maidens

 Today's god leans a bit more into the Greek/Roman side of the equation, though there are still bits from the Norse and even Norse-Celtic influences.  Introducing Verwildert, the God of Wild Nature and the Protector of animals, grains, and other parts of nature.



This god combines aspects of Pan/Fanus as well as Bacchus/Dionysus.  From the Norse side, we get wilder aspects of Odin and Freyr, especially in Freyr's roles in fertility and fecundity. Many of Æsir gods of the Norse pantheon have more in common with Pan than the other Greek/Roman gods. 

My group of Pagans here are living very close to nature (and Nature). Not, out some sort of neo-pagan ideal dreamed up by 20th Century writers (and 21st Century game writers), but because that was their reality. This group was a bad winter away from total barbarism and they knew that. A God like Verdwildert was the manifestation of that. The god that gave them grains and crops they could cultivate, the wolf that ate their sheep, and the storms that destroyed their farms and homes.  

Nature is always just a few steps removed from madness.

VERWILDERT (God of Wild Nature)

Intermediate God

MOVE: 36"
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  1d8+3, 1d8+3
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Inspire Madness, Druid magic
SPECIAL DEFENSES: +2 or better to hit

SIZE: M (5' 9")
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral
WORSHIPER'S ALIGN: All, Farmers, Druids
PLANE: Erde 

CLERIC/DRUID: 23rd level Druid
FIGHTER: 10th level Ranger
MONK/BARD: 20th level Bard
S: 18 I: 15 W: 22 D: 18 C: 20 CH: 23

Verwildert is the God of and the Protector of Wild Nature. He first taught humans how to cultivate land, not to tame nature, but to learn how to work with it. He is not an agricultural god, per se, but he is the patron of all growing things. He is also the god of the storm and flood that destroys, the wolf that kills, and secrets hidden it dark places. 

This god appears as a grizzled old wild man of the woods, with the antlers of a stag as headdress. He is hairy and bearded. Often, his idols feature an enormous phallus, which some claim is true for the god himself. Verwildert has little time for humans, though he is not overtly hostile to them at first. Like all nature, he is dangerous and can destroy.  Even he fears the raw power of Nature herself in the form of Mutter Natur, who is his own mother. Despite this human worshippers usually find Verwildert to be more approachable than Mutter Natur.

Verwildert can attack with two great fists or cast spells as a 23rd-level Druid. Three times per day, he can Inspire Madness, which will cause those who fail to save to drop their weapons (or whatever they are holding) and attack anyone close to them. Spellcasters are unable to cast spells. 

Animal: All, but the Wolf is a favorite
Rainment: (Head) horns of a stag (Body) none
Color(s): Red, Green
Holy Days: Nights of the New and Full moon; Also May 1st
Sacrifices: Everything is sacred to Nature, the weakest animals culled so the pack may survive
Place of Worship: Any natural setting. 

Verwildert has two groups of followers/worshipers he is associated with. The Wild Hunt and Wood Maidens.

The Wild Hunt

This band of hunters is known across the continent. In the times when Verwildert leads them, they ride and run across the land on the nights of the New Moon. These hunters are a mixed lot. Supernatural hunting dogs (like Hell hounds), undead hunters (wights), ghosts of hunters who died while hunting, and warriors not allowed into Himmel. 

Wood Maidens

Wood Maidens are a type of demi-goddesses, or semi-goddesses, that are the personification of wild nature. They appear as nymphs, but are more akin to the Maenads of Greek/Roman myth. These goddess represent nature run wild. They are the goddesses of wine, ecstasy, and fertility. It is said that they are active to still the blood of men and women.

They are the face of Nature that humans try to tame but ultimately cannot. 

Wood Maidens

WOOD MAIDENS (Demi-Goddess of Wild Nature, Ecstasy, and Fertility)


MOVE: 36"
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 1d6+1/1d6+1 (claws)
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Inspire ecstasy

SIZE: M (5'2")
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Neutral
SYMBOL: Maiden's face
PLANE: Erde (Prime Material)

CLERIC/DRUID: 4th level Druid
WITCH/WARLOCK: 5th level Witch
S: 13 I: 14 W: 16 D: 15 C: 18 CH: 24

Wood Maidens are demi-goddesses representing wild nature and the power to renew life. They are also the demigoddess of wine, ecstasy, and fertility. They claim they are the offspring of Verwildert and Liebhaberin or even Verwildert and Ôstara. Possibly both are true. 

They can be found roaming the lands, inspiring ecstasy to renew life where they can. But they also represent nature running wild; they create life and they also can destroy it. The same ecstasy that bring lovers together can also drive them apart, or drive people to jealousy. This aura extends 60' from their person. This is increased by an additional 30' for each Wood Maiden in a group. There can be as many as dozen in a single group. This will produce an aura up to 400'.

They appear as wild women. Often running through the wilderness wearing simple clothing and often barefoot even in the deepest of winters. When they run they often have wolves accompanying them leading to the belief they are werewolves (they are not).

Wood Maidens are the chaotic counterpart to the Ides.

May 1st, May Day

On the First of May, the Wood Maiden gather in large numbers of a score or more. They can be seen running across the land, where their wild aura can extend even further. At this time they are chased by the Wild Hunt. Overtly it is so the Wild hunt can run them down in an etiological myth of Man vs. Nature. Often the Wood Maidens are captured by members of the Hunt. Just as often the Maidens kill the Huntsmen. In the case where a Maiden is captured and she doesn't kill the Huntsman, the Maiden becomes a normal human; often as a high priestess of Verwildert. The moral here is that Humankind can't tame nature, much less conquer it. 

This is symbolically celebrated in a fertility rite where the young women of the community run through the woods in an attempt to be captured by the young men. The women wear flowers in their hair which they can give to whomever finds them. This is considered akin to a marriage proposal. It is said that any child conceived in these rites is blessed by the gods. 


Of all the myths I have written, this is the one most likely to have survived to modern times to feature in NIGHT SHIFT. It is a Folk Horror sort of tale. Think "Midsommer" and "The Wickerman."

A good hook is something from Norse/Germanic myths. The PCs are on some sort of hiking trip, and they come across a nearly naked young woman running through the woods chased by something.  The PCs naturally try to help her, only to discover that she is part of an ancient rite.  Is she innocent? Is she the monster? Likely it will be more complicated than that. 

I'll need to develop these more.


Thursday, August 31, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 FAVOURITE RPG of all time

 This is a tough one. I have had so many favorites over the years. Each one representing a different point in my life and gaming.

Favorite RPGs

Most of these will be known to readers here.

Basic (B/X) D&D - not the one I started with that would be the Holmes Basic, but the one that got me deep into the hobby.

AD&D 1st Edition - This is the one I played the most in those early days. The Monster Manual was my gateway drug to RPGs coming from Mythology.

Chill 1st Edition - This was either my first or second RPG after D&D (tied with Traveller) but it was my first horror RPG, and it spawned everything after.

Call of Cthulhu - Not my first Horror RPG, but one of my favorites. Really set the bar on what a horror RPG should be.

Masque of the Red Death - not an RPG by itself, and a bit wonky, it did something I always wanted: it brought my AD&D 2nd ed rules to Gothic Victorian Earth and Horror. Ravenloft brought some of this earlier, and both were my game of choice throughout the 90s until D&D-burnout set in and I went to my next big thing. 

CJ Carella's WitchCraft - I can't overestimate how much this RPG changed things for me. The world was close enough to that of Chill, Call of Cthulhu, and Masque of the Red Death that my ideas for those games gained new life under Unisystem. I loved the game so much I pestered the publisher, Eden Studios, to let me write for them. The result was my next favorite.

Ghosts of Albion - while this might be self-serving, it is my favorite for a reason. Everything I wanted in a Unisystem game is here. Victorian era, magic, horror, and Unisystem. I would have happily written for Unisystem for ever if I could have.  Which leads me to my last one and the top of my list.

NIGHT SHIFT Veterans of the Supernatural Wars - Again, a little self serving but NIGHT SHIFT is everything I have ever wanted in a game. It combines the best mechanics of all the games above along with a play style I love and in a world, or more to the point worlds, I enjoy.

If I only get to pick one, then it will be NIGHT SHIFT.


I have had the luxury and the privilege to work on a great number of RPGs over the years. Some of which were dream jobs and dream games. I consider myself lucky. But of all of those, NIGHT SHIFT is not just my favorite game, favorite rules, and favorite setting; it was also my favorite writing experience. Only Ghosts of Albion and my various Witch books come close.

Thank you, Dave Chapman for hosting this again! I had a great time.


Friday, August 18, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 Favourite game SYSTEM

 Favorite game system? Well, I have two, but they are related.

NIGHT SHIFT and WitchCraft

NIGHT SHIFT with O.G.R.E.S. and WitchCraft with Unisystem are not just my two favorite games but also my favorite game systems to use.

Both let me play my favorite sort of game; a modern urban supernatural horror one, but they are both systems I like and have written for professionally.

NIGHT SHIFT is largely a love letter to both Old-school D&D and to WitchCraft. 

I love them both.


Sunday, August 6, 2023

#RPGaDay2023 Favourite game you NEVER get to play

 My favorite game I never get to play? Easy.

C. J. Carella's WitchCraft.

CJ Carrella's WitchCraft

I love everything about this game and I never ever get to play it.  I think the last time was at Gen con maybe 10-12 years ago.

It was my inspiration behind Ghosts of Albion and NIGHT SHIFT. Neither of those games would have been made if it had not been for WitchCraft.

I can't even adequately put into words what this game means to me. Only the AD&D Monster Manual comes close.


Monday, June 26, 2023

Monstrous Mondays: Shayṭān and Ifrit

 Been spending a lot of time with Gods and monsters over the last few weeks. Today I wanted to continue that idea with some of the creatures in between. Also, I want to talk more about using monsters like these in the WASTED LANDS and NIGHT SHIFT RPGs.

Shayṭān and Ifrit
Your humble author surrounded by Shayṭān and Ifrit

Shayṭān and Ifrit

The wonderful thing about O.G.R.E.S. as presented in the WASTED LANDS and NIGHT SHIFT rules is how flexible it can be. Many monsters are simplified down to basic concepts.  A demon for example is give some basic power levels and then a number of powers that can be added or swapped out for nearly infinite variety. Even the name "demon" is flexible.

Here I think old-school players (and Game Masters) will recognize the foundations of many monsters and fans of modern horror RPGs will recognize the flexibility baked into the system.

While this means there is no great need for multiple Bestiaries, there is still utility in spelling some details out for players that need something quick.

Enter the Shayṭān.

I have been spending a lot of time going over the myths and legends of the world. They are all quite fascinating really, and while my love for the original AD&D Monster Manual knows no equal, one thing is clear, that the monsters depicted within pale in comparison to the monsters of myth. This is not really a slight. Space in the MM was limited, and there had to be a game focus.

Take the Effriti from the Monster Manual and to a lesser degree, the one from the D&D Expert Set. I mention the Expert set specifically because it's entry for Effriti was similar, but different enough, from the Monster Manual to make look into the creature more. The tantalizing and (in my mind) poorly explained "Lesser" also sent me out to explore more. 

These creatures are interesting, something of a cross between a devil and a fire elemental. Interesting enough to be featured as the cover of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide. ut the Ifrit of myth are more interesting still.  

There is also no way I can do them justice here, but I would love to take a start at it.


The Shayṭān are a class of spirits corrupted by the Deeper Dark. They are, or were, predominantly elemental spirits like the Ifrit, Jinn, and Marid, but some are lesser spirits like the Qareen, and others still are greater spirits like Iblis.

In their corruption, they have become similar to demons, and many scholars will conflate the two. Indeed their methods and their purposes are also very similar.

Like the wind, Shayṭān will most often be invisible and intangible but can appear as various mundane creatures. The greatest power of the Shayṭān is to form bodies out of the base elements (fire, air, earth, water) to interact with humans, whom they tempt away from goodness.  For example, the Ifrit are the Shayṭān of fire. 

The typical Ifrit is a "Rank III demon," according to scholars. It has the following differences, it can only gate in lesser Shayṭān, not other demons. They are harmed by celestials, supernatural attacks, and Chosen Ones (NIGHT SHIFT). 


Iblis appears as an Ifrit of the largest size, but he can also appear as an angel/celestial or as a normal human. He is the ruler of all Shayṭān. 

No. Appearing: Unique
DV: 0
Move: 30ft. Fly: 60ft.
Vitality Dice: 22 (180 Vitality Points)
Special: 4 attacks (2 claws, bite, 1 great sword), Shayṭān abilities, Summon Rank I shayṭān 100%, Summon Rank II shayṭān 85%, Summon Rank III shayṭān 75%, Summon Rank IV shayṭān 60%, Fear gaze, spells, +3 or better weapon to hit, regeneration (4 vitality/round), see in darkness, telepathy 200 ft.

Iblis, sometimes referred to as the Great Duke, the Enemy, or even just The Shayṭān, is the ruler of all shayṭān. His preferred form is that of a normal man, sometimes in the guise of a priest, pilgrim or other holy man. He can also appear as an 18' ifrit surrounded by flames. He has a third form, that of an angelic being that some claim is his original form before he was corrupted. 

Ilis enjoys corrupting other mortals as he himself had been. He shares no love for the other denizens of the Deeper Dark and sees other shayṭān as his to control. He claims no kinship to any other group and maintains that he alone is the source of evil in the world (a dubious claim at best).

Iblis is very knowledgeable about magic and there is no spell that he does not know or have access to. Sorcerers often seek him out to learn secret lore, but the summoning of Iblis is a secret itself and to do so incorrectly invites his wrath.

Use in the Wasted Lands

In this game, Iblis and the Shayṭān are new to the world and are seeking out ways to control the minds, and souls, of the humans left here after the Old Ones have departed. 


Is this the same Iblis as the one from The Dreaming Age? Iblis himself seems to think so but plenty of scholars and occult philosophers point out that we know when he began to appear in myth and texts and say it is unlikely, save that this Iblis occupies the same concept as the Iblis before. Or they are indeed one and the same 

Use in Old-School Games (OSR, Dungeons & Dragons)

Iblis is on par with the powerful Arch-Dukes of Hell. In fact he is their rival in many things. Iblis considers the Arch Dukes to be "lesser copies" of himself and the Lords of Hell feel Iblis should be brought to heel as a renegade member of their ranks. Their multitude of similarities only heighten the minor differences they have.


Please don't forget to sign up for the WASTED LANDS Kickstarter beginning tomorrow!

Friday, June 9, 2023

Kickstart Your Weekend: The Wasted Lands

This one has not launched yet, but the sign-up page is ready. 

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Role Playing Game

A tabletop RPG of cosmic horror, swords, and sorcery in a savage lost epoch, 1000 years after the Old Ones fell to their eternal sleep.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Core RulesWasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Campaign Guide

I am very, very excited about this one. Although I am not really part of the development, I get the joy of seeing it in development and enjoy it as a fan. Plus this has been Jason's baby for years, my typical nonsense can be added at my table. 

From the Kickstarter:

The Old Ones are gone...

Stories tell of the day when the skies fell in showers of fiery rock, when the world groaned and shifted, the great beasts of the Old Ones died in an instant, and the stars themselves changed, sending the Old Ones into a deep, eternal slumber. Humankind, now free from the cruel grasp of our former masters, now rules the world from the shining kingdoms the Other Gods left behind.

We now strive against the remaining minions of the Other Gods, their remaining cults, and a world ravaged by the energies of the Deeper Dark. Some with names like Isis, Odin, Quetzalcouatl, Bel, Hecate, Minerva, Marduk, and others will forge legends that remain through the ages.

This is the birth of gods.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age is a game of swords and sorcery in a savage lost epoch, set millions of years ago. You play the all-too-human origins of the gods of classic mythology, whose stories will form our own ancestral memories and civilizations. As you engage with mythology, you gain special powers that will lead you on the path of apotheosis. 

The game is offered as a two-volume set: the Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age Role Playing Game, which contains all the rules of play, and The Gazetteer of the Dreaming Age and Campaign Guide, which contains the setting, bestiary, and game master information. Grab one or both!

How can you not be excited about this? 

I hope to post more about this game all month long. I still have some characters I want to make and some adventures to talk about.

This game uses the same RPG system as does NIGHT SHIFT (The O.G.R.E.S.) but it will include conversion guides for Spellcraft & Swordplay (O.R.C.S.) AND Castles & Crusades (SIEGE Engine).

This could also be the non-OGL D&D replacement you have been looking for. 

More to come!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Wasted Lands Playtest: Ereshkigal

Queen of Night
We are in the midst of the Wasted Lands playtest right now. It is fun to play a game I am at the same time familiar with (it is very similar to NIGHT SHIFT) and yet brand new at the same time.  For me, there is extra fun here since I can use so much of my own One Man's God material in my home games.  

My home game, right now, is a bit of a riff on my "Second Campaign" ideas.  Recall that in the Wasted Lands during the "Dreaming Age," the first generation of humanity (or proto-humanity) has thrown off the yoke of the Old Ones (the stars went "wrong" again), and now they have an Earth to themselves.  It is part Mythical Age and part Post-Apocylptic. 

With the Old Ones gone, humanity renews its battles with their most significant threats, the reptiles. So I have reptiles and Snake People as my big bads here, at least for this trail run of the game.

Since the characters will become the gods of our myths and legends, I want to try out some of my favorite gods here.

Up first is one I have called "The World's First Goth Girl" Ereshkigal.

She was the Queen of the Underworld and the Goddess of the Dead in Sumerian mythology. In the Dreaming Age, though, she is now just a 1st Level Necromancer.  This is good for me since my very first D&D character was a cleric dedicated to destroying the undead. So a nice little flip side to that.

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age uses the same O.G.R.E.S. rules as NIGHT SHIFT does. So following along here will be easy. 

So. Let us see what we can do.

Siouxsie Sioux as Ereshkigal
Siouxsie Sioux as Ereshkigal

Class: Necromancer (Persona Aspect)
Level: 1
Species: Human

Alignment: Dark Neutral

Strength: 16 (+2)
Agility: 13 (+1)
Toughness: 15 (+1) N +1
Intelligence: 13 (+1)
Wits: 15 (+1) N +1
Persona: 17 (+2) A +2

Fate Points: 
Defense Value: 7
Vitality: 5 (d6)

Check Bonus (A/N/D): +2/+1/0
Melee Bonus: +2
Ranged Bonus: +1
Saves: +3 to Persona based

Special Abilities
Channel the Dead 22%
See Dead People
Summon the Dead 15%
Command (Spirits)
Protection from Undead
Turn Undead 20%

Divine Notes: Death, Earth Psychopomp
Background: Undertaker

Leather armor: DV 8
Dagger: 1d4

Here is my concept for her.

At this time, Ereshkigal of Irkalla & Kur is the daughter of Nanna, an oracle of the moon. It has been her task to take care of the dead of the city and in particular, the dead that have been killed by dark magics. 

I have yet to do much with her, but rolling her up was as easy as rolling up any D&D-like character. Faster even if you are a fan of NIGHT SHIFT. Now I don't have everything figured out just yet, but I want to get her into a game to figure it all out. 

The campaign I am working up will be against a cult of Snale Men that are trying to rise up in the vacuum left by the Old Ones. Humanity is on the brink of being wiped out before they even begin and only one group will inherit the Earth. 

Since I see Ereshkigal as the world's first goth girl, it only makes sense that she is portrayed in my games by Siouxsie Sioux.

Want to know more about The Wasted Lands? Head on over to Jason's blog to read more.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Wasted Lands: Don't be the Hero, Be the God.

Busy time. I have not written anything in over two weeks, but I am hardly idle.  On my plate this week?  Playtesting the newest game from Elf Lair Games.

The Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age

Wasted Lands: The Dreaming Age

This is a new Swords and Sorcery RPG set in a savage lost epoch, millions of years ago. A time lost to current humanity.  Players will take on the roles of human (near human) characters struggling against the remains of the Old Ones, ancient gods and alien threats. 

These characters will fight, and struggle and eventually, they will become the Gods we know today. 

This game uses the same rule system as NIGHT SHIFT: Veteran of the Supernatural Wars.

Playtest is now underway.

Wasted Lands Playtest

Wasted Lands Playtest

Wasted Lands Playtest

Wasted Lands Playtest

Wasted Lands Playtest

I am hoping to use some of the material I have created for my own One Man's God posts in my Wasted Lands game.  In particular, I will use this to flesh out my Roman-Norse Pantheon, actually play out the legends that would later become these gods.  And of course, because I have a rep to maintain, expect to see some gods/goddesses of magic and witchcraft.

I am quite excited about this game and I hope to get you all excited about it as well.