Showing posts with label OSE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OSE. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Class Struggles: The Necromancer, Part 2

The Necromancer
I have not done a Class Struggles in a bit. Let's change that today.

The Necromancer is fertile ground for gamers.  I featured the Necromancer as one of the first Class Struggles.  There is still more to be said. Also in the last few months, I have bought at least three new necromancers. So lets see what we have.

Dragon #76 The Death Master
I spoke a lot about this one when I covered Dragon #76 in This Old Dragon and in my original Class Struggles. It really is the model I follow when creating an evil necromancer type though Len's here was a bit of an arcane necromancer with a bit of a death priest of Orcus mixed in. As I became savvier in what I knew about necromancers and the various D&D worlds I decided that Death Masters were unique to the Word of Greyhawk's Oerth. 

The Death Master became a playable class in the 3.x era with the publication of Dragon Compendium Volume 1 (there was never a vol. 2). Here the Death Master got a full 20 levels and was based directly off of Len Lakofka's class. Personally, I think a Prestige Class would have been a better choice. In fact a Prestige Class with just 13 levels like the original. I'd structure the prerequisites to need 3 levels of cleric and four levels of wizard or something like that. Sadly the Dragon Compendium Volume 1 is not just out of print, it is also not available on DriveThruRPG.  But Amazon has a copy and sometimes Noble Knight Games has them too.  

The Genius Guide to the Death Mage
Speaking of the old Death Master by Len Lakofka in Dragon Magazine. Owen K.C. Steven remembers! it! And this 20-level class for Pathfinder "feels" like that class, but it is its own thing.

This class is a stand-alone class (like most of the Pathfinder classes) complete with new powers and spells over 14 pages. In truth, it is a lot of fun. The author compares it to necromancer wizards, death priests, and undead-bloodline sorcerers, and how it is different. A better comparison is to druids. But where the druid is dedicated to life, the Death Mage is dedicated to death and the spirits of the dead.

There are five "Sub-types" of Death Mages presented. Corpse Mages, Ghoul Mages, Tomb Mages, Reaper Mages, and Shadow Mages.

There are 11 new spells. I think an opportunity was missed here to have 13 spells.

One of the newest necromancers on the block and designed specifically for Old School Essentials.  This is designated as "Play Test Material" but it really is ready to go. There have been necromancers for OSE before and there is at least one necromancer for other B/X-Basic games written by Gavin Norman already. Here the Necromancer is a subclass of the Magic-user, as would be expected, and some notes are given about using these new spells for the magic-user.  But thematically they fit with the necromancer much better. The new spells are from 1st to 6th level and there are 12 of each. I see why there are twelve of each; to fit the style and layout of what Gavin does with his OSE games. But I would have been tempted to make it a nice 13 per level myself. 
The spells are good and fit well. Some we have seen in other forms and formats over the past few years, but that does not detract from this book at all. Do you want a great OSE necromancer? Well, here it is.
The format used here could be adopted for all sorts of other magic-user type classes or subclasses like the Illusionist or Enchanter for example.

Castles & Crusades Black Libram of Naratus
I am a huge fan of Castles & Crusades and frankly, I don't think the game gets anywhere near as much love.

So I grabbed this one since it deals with darker magic and was part of the Haunted Highlands campaign (which I also enjoy). There is also the cover which is a call back to the infamous Eldritch Wizardry of OD&D. The first part covers necromancers and necromancer spells. This includes a way for normal spell casters to gain a level of Necromancer. A nice little add-on for any CK really. There is also a great spellbook in here called the "Grimoire of the Witch Queen" that makes the whole book worth it to me all by itself! That's the first half of the book. Later we get into Ritual/Sacrificial magic, magic items, and some new monsters. Given the types of games I run and the magic I like to have this is a "Must Have" book for me. The book is a tight 38 pages.

I have to give special attention to my other "new" necromancer.  This one does not differ from the previous editions of AS&SH/Hyperborea. At least not that I can tell. The necromancer here is cut from the "evil cultist" mold like their warlock and has a lot of great spells and powers. It is still one of my favorites, but the new OSE one has a lot of great spells to go with their's so a combination might be in order. 

For Pathfinder we have a few choices. 

Mysteries of the Dead Side: Sacred Necromancer
This book is presented in landscape orientation for easier screen reading. We are given a 20-level base class for Pathfinder with six "Callings" (sub-types). I have to admit this got may attention since my cabal of evil necromancers is called "The Order of Six" so I could restat them as one of each type here. No new spells, but there is a fully...fleshed out...NPC. So it is worth the download really.

New Paths 7: Expanded White Necromancer
This 17-page book gives a new perspective a, GOOD necromancer that protects the dead. I like the idea, to be honest.  It comes with a complete 20-level base class and six new spells. There are also feats and stats for various undead companions. It makes for a great companion piece and counterpoint to the 3.x Death Master from Dragon Compendium Volume 1.

Special Mention: Shadow of the Necromancer

Not a class, but an adventure from friend of the Other Side Mark Taormino. This is a short adventure for 1st to 3rd-level characters. And most importantly (to me) it comes in both Old-School/1st Edition and 5th Edition D&D versions!
The adventure comes with a map, in beautiful old-school blue for the 1st ed version and full color for the 5th edition version. The module itself is 16 pages (one page for title and credits, one page for OGL , one page blank).  The adventure is a simple "strange things are going on! The PCs must investigate!" situation. It turns into "stop the minion of the Necromancer from finishing his evil plans." It's tried and true and it works fine here.  The adventure, as with many of the Darl Wizard/Maximum Mayhem Dungeons, is a deadly affair. Not as deadly as the Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen, but it is not a walk in the graveyard either. It is a fun romp and really captures the feel of old-school playing. Both versions are great and I can keep the 1st-ed version for myself and give the 5th-ed version to my kids to run.

Shadow of the Necromancer


I certainly have enough here to do an "Against the Necromancer" sort of campaign. Or even bring back my Order of the Six.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Islands, Hyperborea, and Party Like it's 1979

Sort of an overview, sort of me doing more mental gymnastics. 

Note: This one got away from the original thesis, so I cut chunks out for another post later. 

Some light reading material

I have been thinking about a few things this week, namely my 1979 Campaign and my Isles of Avalon one. I flirted briefly with combining them and then realized quickly that by doing so I would lose everything that made the 1979 Campaign special. So I might have ideas that work for that, but I think I need to keep it as it is for now.  One day I'll play it. 

Isles of Avalon is less of a campaign and more of a campaign location. I have a lot of ideas for it. Too many to be honest. But two things in it are prominent. 1.) It has to include an Island nation of Necromancers. 2.) It has* to be run under AD&D 1st Edition.

How are those connected and what does it have to do with today?  Well, I was going over the materials for the IoA idea and began merging the two projects. I quickly realized that I would lose what made the 1979 Campaign idea special to me (moving from a hybrid Holmes Basic/AD&D to pure AD&D) and I also thought maybe I am not wed to the idea of IoA as a pure AD&D 1st edition setting.

I love AD&D 1st Edition. Really I do warts and all. I do want to do a lot more with it in my personal gaming even if it is never seen by you, my reader. After all I never really talked much about the AD&D 2nd Edition games I was playing in here.

But these last two weeks (and most of October) have given me some moments to pause and think. The question remains "What is it I want out of this really?"

The AD&D First Edition Experience

This one is key. I want something like AD&D 1st ed. Which will prompt many to say "then play AD&D 1st Ed, dumbass!" Which is very, very valid. But I also have all these other games that I want to try and I played AD&D 1st ed, for over a decade. I love it, but it sometimes feels like moving back in with your parents or hooking up with your ex-girlfriend.  So. What are my options?

Old-School Essentials: Advanced Fantasy

This one is great, but it isn't really AD&D is it. Plus this is the system I am using for War of the Witch Queens and it is really great for that.

Hyperborea

I have been reminded this week of how much fun Hyperborea is. It is much closer to AD&D. The game is tied very closely to the world and it is a world I enjoy, but some pieces of it don't fit with my idea of what I want to do for my various campaigns. One thing is certain, the ethos of Hyperborea will inform what I do with my Isle of Avalon.

Castles & Crusades

I do love Castles & Crusades and it does provide the AD&D 1st experience I want. Plus I LOVE all the Codex books on world religions and myths. It doesn't quite have the same feeling to it as Hyperborea though.  On the continuum of gritty to light it goes Hyperborea, then OSE-Adv, then C&C. With the endpoints as DCC on the gritty and Hero's Journey First Edition on the light. Still, though I do love this game a lot and I really want to do a lot more with it. 

Special Note: The 1979 Campaign

This one is a special case. The purpose here is to recreate a certain style of play that I would have done in the Fall or early Winter of 1979.  I will only use materials that would have been available then or is closely related.  Rules are a mix of Holmes Basic (not B/X) and AD&D, in particular the AD&D Monster Manual.

--

Why all these mental gymnastics? I am aware that my kids are getting older and moving on. My oldest is a professional pastry chef now. My youngest is in college and spends all their time writing code. They don't have time for dad and his elf-game anymore. Well...they do still play D&D, just with their own groups of friends. My time to get some games on with them is limited and I want to maximize what I can.

So. Let's see what I can cook up here. I know...get to the point already.

Vampire Queen
Isles of Avalon

While I love this name, people who have seen it online and not bothered to read the posts (if you are reading this then that is obviously not you!) were confused with the Arthurian Isle of Avalon and felt they were informing on something. Thanks, but I wrote tons about that in Ghosts of Albion. Still, though, I might tweak the name to be Isles of Avalon Hill to honor its origins. 

So before I put together a campaign (and this would be a sandbox or hex crawl) and try to figure out what rules to use, I think I need to work out some details.

1. This archipelago of islands is old. Really, really old. An empire rose here, grew to greatness, fell into decadence, finally to infighting and decay, and then to dust and forgotten legends.  

2. There is an island of Necromancer kings. This was one of the key notions. Of all the islands, this one is the one that still yearns for the "old times." I think I am coming around to the idea that there is someone called "The Necromancer." Feels ominous. 

3. There is a small island that is home to the Vampire Queen. The Vampire Queen is a reoccurring character in my games. One of her influences is the classic Palace of the Vampire Queen from Wee Warriors, then Pacesetter, now Precis Intermedia.  Wee Warriors and Precis Intermedia also have the Misty Isles, which is another model for my own Isles.  The Vampire Queen lives on a remote island here. 

4. There is the "Big Island" that still has active wizards. The Empire is gone, but there are still wizards that come here for the same reasons there was an empire here. The connection to magical energies here is the strongest. Whether it is a confluence of ley lines, built on the remains of a long-dead but highly magical creature, a magical meteorite hit here, or some combination of all the above.  The only remaining edifice of those times is a place called the Citadel of Conjurers (or at least my original notions of what that place was when I read it in Dragon #91).

Not looking for grand plots. Not looking for world-changing apocalypses. Just a place to do some hex crawling.

Either Castles & Crusades or Hyperborea would fit this fine.

I am leaning more towards Hyperborea for this, but I really, really want to play some Castles & Crusades.

Anyway, random thoughts on a cold Chicago day.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: Indiegogo Edition

A couple of really fun ones on Indiegogo this week. Both of which you will see more of here.

Amazing Adventures Multi-Genre RPG

Amazing Adventures Multi-Genre RPG

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/amazing-adventures-multi-genre-rpg#/

I have talked a lot about Amazing Adventures here and elsewhere. It is the Modern multi-genre RPG that uses the same Siege Engine as Castles & Crusades.  This is a new printing that reorganizes the material and has it cleave a bit closer to the Castles & Crusades printings. 


Pan, His Majesty in Yellow

Pan, His Majesty in Yellow

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pan-his-majesty-in-yellow#/

Fairy Tales + Lovecraftian Horrors? Hell yeah!

I am going to have more to say about this one, but for now check out their fundraiser for the Old-School Essentials version. 



Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Mail Call: Old-School Essentials Classic and Advanced

Been on an Old-School Essentials bender now for a while. It has pretty much taken over as my OSR game of choice. So I was quite pleased when my OSE boxed sets came in the mail this past week.

They are quite great.

Old-School Essentials Boxed Sets


Old-School Essentials Classic Rules

Old-School Essentials Advanced Rules

Let's take a look at that Old-School Essentials Product Catalogue 2023. Cause I have to admit that hit me right in the nostalgia.

Old-School Essentials Product Catalogue 2023

Old-School Essentials Product Catalogue 2023

Old-School Essentials Product Catalogue 2023

It reminds of the old "Gateway to Adventure" ones we got in the various Basic Sets and it is the size of the old Kenner Star Wars ones.

2023 Gateway to Adventure

It is reasonable to ask why did I get this when a.) I have a bunch of OSE material already and b.) It is really the same game I bought 40 years ago?

Well, I am running my War of the Witch Queens game and my oldest is running his own OSE/BX game now in addition to his 5e games.

Old-School Essentials Family

Old-School Essentials Family

Old-School Essentials Family

These will get a lot of use.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Monstrous Monday: Year of the Monster and Mastodon

I am at a pivot point with my Monstrous Mondays.

I have a bunch of projects I am desperate to get out because I am tired of them languishing on my hard drives and instead need to be on my, and hopefully your, game shelves.

So much so that I am dubbing 2023 "The Year of the Monster." I just have so much I want to do.  I ma hoping to have the first thing in your hands by December 26, 2022, the last Monday of the year. But I really need to get my butt moving on that.

In other news, I have a new place to scream into the void. I set up an account on Mastodon. I don't have much there right at the moment.  Now I have no intention nor no desire to leave Twitter. So you can still find me there.

Ok, let's bring this all together for a post.

One of the coolest things about living in Illinois is the number of mastodon fossils that can be found here. My uncle dug some giant molars from my maternal grandparent's property 60 years ago and we still have them now. I also used to love going to the Illinois State Museum in Springfield to see the Mastodons and other Ice Age fauna on display.  So why not an ode to my new social media account, one of my oldest favorite ice age creatures, and all for the newest iteration of my oldest favorite game.

Mastodon at the Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL

Mastodon, Undead

For Old-School Essentials

Undead remains of an ancient elephant species. Prized mounts of winter warlocks and sought-after guard animals of frost giants.

AC: 4 [15], HD 12 (45 hp), Att 2 x tusk (2d6) or 1 x trample (4d8), THAC0 10 [+9], MV 120' (60'), SV D8 S9 P10 B10 S12 (8), ML 10, AL Chaos XP 1,900, NA (0) (1d4), TT Tusks

  • Charge: In the first round of combat. Requires a clear run of 60 feet. Tusks inflict double damage.
  • Trample: 3-in-4 chance of trampling each round. +3 to hit medium (human-sized) or smaller creatures.
  • Ivory: Each tusk is worth 2d6 x 100 gp.
  • Undead: Makes no noise until they attack. Immune to effects that affect living creatures (poisons, gases). Immune to mind-affecting magics (charm, hold, sleep).  Turns as a 7-9 HD monster. 

Mastodons are larger than elephants but smaller than Mammoths.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: Last Call for Gateway To Adventure

 With just a little over 20 hours left on this I am reposting.

Gateway To Adventure Trilogy For Old-School Essentials

Gateway To Adventure Trilogy For Old-School Essentials

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gamersandgrognards/gateway-to-adventure-trilogy-for-old-school-essentials?ref=theotherside

Appendix N is kickstarting a trio of books for Old-School Essentials. So the "Gateway to Adventure" is quite appropriate.

From the campaign page,

Within the Gateway To Adventure trilogy you will receive optional rules and classes based on the Mid-Realm campaigns of R.J. Thompson, as well as lore for the various kin and classes. All of this information will be presented in a way that will be easily transferable into any campaign setting! These books are meant to be cherry picked by referees and players alike to create the campaign that they want to have! Similarly to how we present our adventures, so that every table's experience is different, so too with our rules variants, we want everyone to have their own unique game! All of this in an A5 format so these books fit on your shelf right next to the core Old-School Essentials line!

Sounds like a lot of fun and OSE is my current OSR clone of choice.


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Old-School Essentials Class Compendium

Ok, this is not a product you can buy, but one made out of necessity.

Old-School Essentials

My War of the Witch Queens is moving along rather nicely, to be honest. I would like to get more games in but that is the way things go when you kids are older and have lives of their own.  My oldest, for example, has his own games going. For his annual all-weekend-long Halloween horror game-athon he is going to be running his first Old-School Essentials game.

That, plus War of the Witch Queens, has prompted me to collect all the various classes and class information from all the OSE (and related) products I have.

So I gathered up all my OSE books, all my copies of Carcaa Crawler, some Complete Vivimancer, Wormskin, Octhorrorfest, my witch and warlock, and more and printed them all out.

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

OSE Classes

I also added all the spells and some equipment. Everything the player needs to start their characters. 

It is a nice addition to my growing collection of OSE material.  It will be a "table" copy along with my spiral-bound classic rules.

OSE Collection