Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label basic. Show all posts

Thursday, February 18, 2021

TSR Minigames as Moldvay-era Adventure Modules

TSR's minigames
TSR's minigames
Last week I discussed how I saw Warlocks & Warriors as something of a "larger" minigame and thematically fitting in with Holmes Basic.   Today I want to fast forward to 1980-81 and talk a little bit about TSR's minigames.

I do not own all of these games, nor am I planning to hunt them all down. My FLGS has a few of them but I have other things on my list to find and buy first.  That being said having them all would be kind of fun.

There were eight total games and I own the first four, the same four that appeared in the 1981 Gateway to Adventure catalog.  The links below take you to their Board Game Geek pages.

Vampyre, my first one. This is for 2-6 players. Players hunt the minions of Dracula in an attempt to find and destroy his coffins.  There is a "wilderness" map and a map of Castle Dracula. Designed by Philip A. Shreffler. Art by Erol Otus.

Revolt on Antares. This game is for 2-4 players and is a "Sword and Planet" style adventure with three modes of play. Typical this boils down to the Terran Empire being the antagonists, protagonists, or neutral. Designed by Tom Moldvay and art by Bill Willingham and Erol Otus. Black Dougal makes an appearance here as well. Also listed for art are Jeff Dee (cover), David LaForce, and Jim Roslof

They've Invaded Pleasantville. For 2 players, a "Town" player and an "Alien" player.  Aliens have invaded Pleasantville as part of their global takeover plan. The town player must either stop or kill the alien sub-commander "Zebu-Lon" (wait a minute...) or get more than half of the townsfolk back to normal.  Designed by Michael Price with art by Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, David LaForce, Jim Roslof, and Bill Willingham.

SAGA. For 2-6 players. Players amass treasure, lands, and glory. The one that has the most glory at the end of 20 rounds wins. Designed by Steve Marsh with art by Erol Otus, Jeff Dee, David LaForce, Jim Roslof, and Bill Willingham.  Willingham's cover is one of the best and this also features some great Erol Otus art. 

Other minigames include Attack Force, Icebergs, Remember the Alamo and Viking Gods. I don't own these games, but their production values seem a touch higher than the first four. 

Minigames, the Gateway to Adventure!
Minigames, the Gateway to Adventure!

All the games feature a 16-page booklet with black and white art and a fold-out map.  Sometimes full color (Saga, Pleasantville, Antares) or two-color (Vampyre).  Vampyre is also the only one with the maps printed on both sides.  Each game also came with counters and two d6s. 

Vampyre minigame in clamshell, with dice, counters and map

They are all certainly playable and fun on their own.  I had a lot of fun with Vampyre back in the day. But that is not why we are here today.  No today I am going to dip a toe a little bit into my Traveller Envy and mix these with my current D&D games.   Let me start out with my old favorite and one I have used as an adventure in the past.

Minigames as B/X Adventures

There is a lot to love about these little games.  The Souvenir font really hits that nostalgia button hard for fans of the Moldvay/Cook Basic and Expert sets. Not to mention some of the best-looking Erol Otus art.   This troll not only belongs in D&D, but he is BEGGING to be in D&D.

Erol Otus Troll from SAGA
Erol Otus Troll from SAGA

Maybe it is the font, maybe it is the art but when I got these games the first thing I wanted to do was play them as part of my D&D games.  Of course, back then that meant Basic and Expert D&D.  Some of it also came from the desire to get the most out of my purchase with my limited paper route money.

Vampyre

My first minigame.  Now I am a HUGE Dracula and vampire fan so when I got the Cook/Marsh Expert Set and saw that there were vampires in it my first thoughts went to vampire hunts.  My first character was a cleric for this very reason.  The game Vampyre is set during the events of the novel Dracula with the same (or rather similar) characters.  So set in the 1890s. Since Ravenloft Masque of the Red Death was still a decade and a half away, I converted this to a simple Expert D&D monster hunt.   If I were to redo it I'd up the threat of Dracula.  In Expert, I made him a Greater Vampire

Vampire chic, circa 1981
Vampire chic, circa 1981

The dual map, a "wilderness" and a "dungeon" again BEG to be used in the Expert game. The parallels between this game and the Ravenloft adventure. No surprise since both draw from the exact same source materials.  The trick the next time I use this is to make it less like Ravenloft.

SAGA

This is the next piece of "low hanging fruit."  Like Dungeon! the connections to D&D are obvious here.  SAGA has heroes fighting monsters, exploring, gaining treasure. Sounds D&D like to me! There is a nice little Risk-like map of the Viking world. This includes all of England, Denmark, and some of Sweden, Norway, and Ireland.  The map also had "Thule" about in the place where Iceland would be expected (and to the map's odd scale).  The map is also just great to look at. 

Outside of the troll featured above the monsters include Dragons, Drow (not just dark elves), Ghosts, Giants, and Witches!  I am happy to see that witches are the next more dangerous creature after dragons.  The game has some fun spells and magical runes with simple effects and some named magical swords. 

While there are no dungeons in this game it is full of ideas. 

This got me thinking about how Vampyre and SAGA could work together.  In SAGA you travel from mainland Europe to England for treasure and glory.  In Dracula, the last act is the heroes traveling from England back to mainland Europe to hunt the monster.   Maybe with something like Draugr & Draculas as the connective tissue the mini-campaign can be changed from one of just glory to one of monster hunting across the continent to stop the master vampire. Call it Vampyre Saga.  Hmm. That sounds a little bit like a supernatural teen show on the CW.  I'll play with it a bit.

The next two are a little hard to fit in.

They Invaded Pleasantville

The premise of this game is great and recalls 50s alien invasion movies. But as Carl Sagan pointed out in The Demon-Haunted World today's alien abductions were yesteryear's demon possessions.  So swap out the aliens for demons and now this sleepy Midwestern town is a village in the Realms where demons are running rampant.  Stop the Alien Sub-CommanderDemonic Lord.

Revolt on Antares

This game is a fun Sword & Planet game, but remove it from it's setting it is a fairly generic "Us vs. Them" game of rebellion and oppressors.  Sure there are a lot of ways I could use this, but it gets it further and further away from its basic premise.  Maybe it would make for a good Star Frontiers game.

Party like it is 1981!

In any case, there is a lot more fun to be had here. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Enduring Appeal of Holmes Basic & B1

Last week I talked a bit about Holmes Basic in regards to another game TSR put out in 1977, Warlocks & Warriors.  This led to a few more discussions online and some more reflection on my part.  It got me thinking about how much gamers of a certain age keep going back to Holmes.

I mean I get it, really.  There is a simplicity with Holmes that has appeal. This is not the strange mix that is OD&D or the complex rules for everything as AD&D.  It sits neatly in the middle and has a rule book that might be one of the clearest that 70s D&D has to offer.  It paved the way for Moldvay and Mentzer Basics, but it stands pretty well on it's own.


Holmes Basic and the Monster Manual

Once upon a time in the years between the Bicentennial and the dawn of the 80s was a time when the only Star Wars was "Star Wars" and home computers were just getting started there was D&D variant that I personally think a lot of people played.

For me that year was 1979.  The D&D was Holmes Basic and the Advanced D&D Monster Manual.  I, like many others, didn't care that "D&D" and "AD&D" were supposed to be different games. In fact I don't think I even knew until I got my Expert Set much later.  I mean yeah there were articles in Dragon about it, but I never saw those till much, much later.  Even then I don't think I cared.

But none of that mattered really.  Holmes Basic was likely set up as the gateway to AD&D and not really it's own line yet.  As has been discussed by others, most notably Zenopus Archives ("The Monster Manual is a Holmes Supplement." go read it), that the Monster Manual draws on Holmes for quite a lot of detail.  In particular it uses the "5" point alignment system of Holmes rather than the "9" point one of AD&D.  For example there are no Neutral Good, Neutral Evil, Lawful Neutral, or Chaotic Neutral monsters in it.  Those all don't appear until the adventures (GDQ series for example) and the Fiend Folio and Monster Manual II.

It also doesn't hurt that there are artistic similarities between these two books, not just their respective covers.

This was the central core of what was "D&D" for me.  

Looking over at the publication dates of various publications from TSR prior to 1982 you see there is a world's worth of playing here. Again, h/t to Zenopus Archives for this. Even prior to 1980 is full of great material.

Holmes Basic, the Monster Manual, and Eldritch Witchery give me so much potential. 

Warlocks & Warriors & Witches

Something dawned on me while reading some of the replies to my Warlocks & Warrior post.  What if the eponymous Warlock and Warrior were none other than Zelligar the Unknown and Rogahn the Fearless from adventure B1 In Search of the Unknown respectively.  It fits with the covers to be sure.

So if the Warlock is Zelligar and the Warrior is Rogahn, who is the Princess?  Well, if you spend any time here at all then you know who she is. She is Marissia (yes I am sticking with the wrong spelling). 

In my running of B1 Marissia is the daughter of Zelligar and one of the first witches in my games.  While there is a Melissa described in the adventure, I was really set on the name Marissia. 

From Melissa's room (key XXIV Mistress' Chamber) 

Melissa's room
From Roghan's room (key XXV Roghan's Chamber)

Melissa text from module B1

Melissa/Marissia, again I was 10.

So how about this.  "Warlocks & Warriors" is a game played in my D&D worlds that is an homage to the time when the King offered the famed adventures Zelligar and Rogahn the hand of his beautiful young daughter to whoever rescues her first.  It doesn't matter who won because the daughter Marissia was having none of that. She decides to go with the much older Zelligar who adopts her as his own daughter and trains her to be a witch. She then also becomes the lover of Rogahn.  Sometime later the former allies Zelligar and Rogahn turn on each other.  That is the cover of the W&W game and why "Melissa/Marissia" is looking on in cool detachment. Their falling out with each other is what leads to their stronghold, the Caverns of Quasqueton, to lie in ruins.  Again, turning to Zenopus Archives, there is a good place to put B1 on the W&W wilderness map. 

This slight revision still fits with my original idea that Marissia/Melissa is Zelligar's daughter and Rogahn's lover.  While in 1977 having a blonde on your cover was no great stretch, she does have a similarity to all the versions of Marissia I have done or thought of over the years.


It works since "Milissa Wilcox" premiered on Scooby-Doo with a Leviathan Cross in 1978. The ghost had green hair, but the person behind it was blonde. That episode and Scooby-Doo, The Phantom of the Country Music Hall would have certainly been on my mind in 1979.  This is the strange alchemy that fueled my earliest D&D adventures and is still called a "Scooby-Doo Adventure" by my wife.

Yeah, a load of coincidence, and my former Advanced Regression Prof is likely shaking his head at me now.  But it works for this. 

The point is there is a lot packed into all of Holmes' Basic set and I know we didn't know what treasure we had back then.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Class Struggles: The Bard, Part 2 The Basic Bard

My first Bard for B/X, Lars

It has been a while since I had done one of these so I thought today might be a good time to bring it back.  One of my favorite classes has always been the bard.  Back in the AD&D days I managed to get only two characters ever to become Bards.  One very early one who was later killed and another, Heather, who ended up being my last ever AD&D 1st Ed character before 2nd Edition was released. These days though I am all in on Basic-era D&D. Holmes. Moldvay. Even some BECMI.  But those versions of the game did not have a Bard really. Today, thanks to the Old-school gaming movement and clones I have many choices for Bards.

I'll point out that is a continuation of my Class Struggles: The Bard from all the way back in 2015.

The Basic Bard, Review

Basic-era D&D never had a proper Bard.  The version in the AD&D Player's Handbook was difficult to get into and harder still to get DM's will to allow it.  Second Edition AD&D had a Bard that was part of the Rouge Class, but it felt bland for lack of a better word.  I enjoyed playing Bards when I could and I considered doing my own Bard Class to go along with the witch.  Thankfully others have stepped in and up to do all that work for me.

Before I get into my new entries, I want to recap the Basic-era or even Basic-like versions of the Bard from my previous post.  More details can be read in that post.

Richard LeBlanc, over at Save vs. Dragon

http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2015/08/new-bx-character-class-bard-version-i.html
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2015/08/new-bx-character-class-bard-version-ii.html
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/search/label/bard

and to be featured in the Character Class Codex.
http://savevsdragon.blogspot.com/2015/08/cx1-character-class-codex-update.html

Richard LeBlanc has given this class a lot of thought and energy.  His Version I has more thief skills, his version II has more magic.  I think in the end I prefer his version II Bard.  I tend to like a magical flair in my Bards.  

Barrel Rider Games

James over at BRG has given us a number of Bard-like classes.

Running Beagle Games, B/X Blackrazor

The Complete B/X Adventurer from Jonathan Becker has a "Loremaster" style Bard.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

While not "Basic" the Bard from AS&SH 2nd Edition would fit well into a Basic-era game. 

The New Bards On the Block

When the Advanced edition of Labyrinth Lord was released I was hoping for a Bard class, but not unduly surprised when it was not there.  No problem I think, plenty of others (see above) to choose from.  But in the last few years, a bunch of new, Basic-specific Bards have come out.

Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy

One of my favorites is the BX style Bard from Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy.  Part of the Old-School Essentials line delves into the more "Advanced" features and in particular classes.  This is a single class bard as expected and redesigned to fit more with BX D&D than Advanced.  It uses Druid spells and is sometimes known as a "Divine" Bard for reasons I'll detail in a bit. It has language skills like I like and lore and charm abilities, but no thieves skills.  Since this Bard uses Druid spells I like to refer to it in my games as an Ovate.

With the recent OSE Advanced Kickstarter there was an exclusive "Inaugural Issue" of Carcass Crawler a Zine for OSE. This zine included a new Bard. This Bard uses Magic-user spells and has some thieves skills but no charm powers or languages.  Called an Arcane Bard in the zine I tend to call this one a Skald.  Both work great in a game.

Companion Expansion

This is not my first time with this particular version of the Companion Rules for B/X, nor is it likely to be my last.  Like Advanced-OSE above this set gives us a Bard, an Illusionist, a Druid, and Gnomes.  The Bard in this expansion also has the Bard casting Illusionist spells which I rather like to be honest. Something that Gnomes (races as class) also get.  The Bard has some nice features, but what I think I would do is redo the Arcane Bard/Skald from above and have it cast Illusionist spells as per this Bard.

Bard Class from James Mishler Games 

Likely the most complete Bard class this is a separate PDF from James Mishler.  This one is so new that the post he announced it in is still fresh!  This Bard has all the skills I want and like. The spells list is a combination of both Divine and Arcane (Cleric and Magic-User) spells, likely as it should be really. But what REALLY makes this bard a great class are the renaming of the spells. Each spell is named like a song or a piece of music.  Really gives this Bard a different feel.  If I were to import say some more Illusionist and/or Druid spells to this one I'd have to come up with some new names for the spells. 

All three (or four) are really great and I can see each one fitting into the game. 

A final Bard would be the semi-official Bard from Vol.2 Issue 1 of The Strategic Review from February 1976.  This Bard is for OD&D and there are 25 total levels for it.  It can charm and has Bardic Lore. It also casts Magic-user spells.   I use this as my basis of comparison for Bards going forward.

The proof they say is in the playing.  So despite all the warnings, the Internet seems to want to share, I think a party of Basic Bards might be in order just to see how they all work out.  While none are great combatants they all would bring various magical and thief skills to the mix.  Oh! I can see it now. A D&D version of the Beatles OR better still, The Monkees!  I'd use my Hex Girls, but I need four, unless I ignore the Arcane Bard.  

Hmm.

Hex Girls LunaHex Girls ThornHex Girls Dusk

It could work.

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Warlocks & Warriors (1977)

Warlocks & Warriors Box cover
The weekend before last I was at my FLGS and in their "glass case" there was a game that I have been wanting since I opened my first "Gateway to Adventure."  That game is Warlocks & Warriors.

While the game has some serious nostalgia value to it (details in a bit) the game itself is so simple it makes Dungeon! look like RuneQuest or Champions.

Choose to be a warrior or a warlock and move your pawn on the board.  Run into another player? Duel, which has the effect of pushing them back. 

The goal is to get the blonde princess back to her castle so her daddy the King can give you half his kingdom and supposedly the princess too. Hey, it was 1977.  Given the cover, I thought maybe the blonde was also a playable character.  I really should have known better, but I had hoped.

But there are a few things going for it.  First and foremost this game was designed by Gardner Fox.  Yes THAT Gardner Fox.  So I was hoping for a little more to be honest.  The guy that gave us Zatanna and Doctor Fate (among others) should have had cooler warlocks.

It is also an "Introductory Fantasy Game" so it would be fun as an introduction to old-school D&D tropes for younger kids.  Though the lack of anything like fantasy monsters (as moving pieces) or treasure limit the use of this for that.  The playing pieces are basic, but not really for 1977 standards.

The cover similarities between this and Holmes Basic can't be ignored.

Holmes Basic D&D with Warlocks & Warriors Boxes

It really seems to be the same "Warlock" and "Warrior" on both covers.  Both were done by David Sutherland and both boxed sets came out the same year.

This is also not the only time we see the "Princess" we next see her in the AD&D Player's Handbook looking over the collected treasure loot. 

The W&W Princess becomes her own hero!

Maybe she told the Warrior and the Warlock (and her dad)  to go get bent and she became an adventurer herself.  I mean she is eyeing that magic sword.

Zenopus Archives (the authority on all things Holmes) comments on how the map from this game would make for a good Holmes Basic "Hex Crawl".

Warlocks & Warriors Wilderness Map

The box itself is surprisingly light.  But I am judging it by today's standards.

Warlocks & Warriors box and pawns

Warlocks & Warriors instructionsEarly TSR catalog

Warlock & Warriors credits

Would this game satisfy my "Traveller Envy?"  I am not sure.  I think I could work it into a game somehow.  Maybe as the previously mentioned Hex Crawl for Holmes (or Basic Era between levels 1 and 3).  I could come up with a whole adventure for it to be honest.  Warlock holding a princess captive, hex crawl to find her.  But that is WAY too clichéd. 

Still. I can't help think there is a way to add this to the Holmes Experience.  Potentially add it to the Monster Manual for the full 1977 experience!  Or maybe the Ancient Ruins on the map are the dungeon from the Dungeon! board game. 

Elise Gygax, D&D, Dungeon! and Warlocks & Warriors. Party like it is 1977!

The game itself is really just a larger "mini-game" not much more complex than the mini-games that TSR would later release in 1981.  I'll even go on a limb here and say the relationship between Warlocks & Warriors to Holmes is not significantly different than the relationship between the 1981 mini-games and Moldvay Basic.

TSRs Mini-games

More on these mini-games at a future date!

Reviews

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Morelia the Wood Witch for Basic Era D&D (BX/OSE)

I make no excuses for it, I like Ginny Di. She is great and is having more fun with D&D than a roomful of dudes my age.  She often has content I enjoy but this week she has given her viewers three more NPCs to adopt or adapt and I just couldn't say no.

So with her (implied) permission here is Morelia the Wood Witch.  She has accidentally overdid it on a love potion and now the whole village is madly in love with her.  She is very happy to see any new PCs, especially ones not from the village.  She will work out a deal with them. If they can bring back enough Pixie's Tongue (it's actually a type of plant) then she can brew up the antidote for everyone.  But you better hurry! Two fights for Morelia's hand have already broken out and things promise to get worse soon!


Morelia the Wood Witch

Ginny Di as Morelia the Wood Witch
8th Level Green Witch*, Elf

Abilities
Strength: 12
Intelligence: 15
Wisdom:  13
Dexterity: 17
Constitution: 16
Charisma: 17

Saving Throws
Death or poison: 10
Wands: 12
Paralysis: 11
Breath Weapons: 14
Spells: 13

AC: 9
HP: 

Spells
1st Level: Bewitch I, Charm Person, Color Spray
2nd Level: Burning Gaze, Glitterdust, Bonds of Hospitality (Ritual)
3rd Level: Dance of Frogs, What You Have is Mine (Ritual)
4th Level: Bewitch IV, Dryad's Door

*The Green Witch Tradition from my Swords & Wizardry Green Witch book is perfect for her, but I also want this character to have access to some Pagan spells. Plus I want to use her as an NPC for BX/OSE, so she is a Pagan Green Witch.  Combine books and mix and match spells.

Helping Morelia now in the adventure will pay off later.  Morelia knows about the Tridecium and what is going on with the Witch Queens.  She will be an invaluable source of information. That is if she can fix her love potion mishap.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Dungeons & Dragons, Basic Edition

Monday of the first week of the year and it is back to the day job for me.  Thankfully I planned an easy (for me) one today.  To continue with the editions of Dungeons & Dragons we are now up to Basic D&D. 

Basic D&D Boxed set

The Game: Basic Dungeons & Dragons 

I have told the tale here many times on how I began with Holmes Basic, but the first D&D I ever owned was the Moldvay Basic Set.  I played Basic D&D, just "D&D" to me then,  but soon I and everyone else, were mixing it liberally with bits of AD&D.  Sometimes I think of the days when a Blue or Red D&D Basic book was used side by side with the AD&D Monster Manual and modules.

Spend any time here and you will know of my love for Basic D&D. So there is little more I can say here.

The Character: Áine nic Elatha

The witch class I am pairing with this is the one from Dragon Magazine #43 and using the guidelines set out by Tom Moldvay on what a witch should be. 

Dragon Magazine #43 was published in November 1980; the high point of Holmes Basic, the start of AD&D popularity, and one year before Moldvay Basic was released.  The class is overtly designed for AD&D, but as I mentioned we used Basic and Advanced interchangeably.  I suppose if I am being true to Basic I should drop the bonus spells per Intelligence the witch gains.

Given the time and this tantalizing promise, I can justify making it for a bastardized Basic/Advanced D&D.

The witch from Holmes

Áine daughter of Elatha is a human magic-user (Basic after all).  She is "the path not taken" for me.  My first "witch-like" character was Luna, a cleric that worshipped an unnamed moon goddess. While she would later morph into something else, I soon created other witch type characters, Áine is what that character could have been if I had chosen Magic-user rather than Cleric.

Áine nic Elatha
1st level Human Witch

STR: 10
INT: 17
WIS: 12
DEX: 11
CON: 12
CHA: 11

AC: 9
HP: 3

Spells
1st (1+3):  Change Self, Cure Wounds, Light, Sleep

Equipment
Dagger, backpack, iron rations, water, holy water, darts (3), 50' rope, staff.


Holmes & Moldvay Basic sets

If you are doing this challenge as well please feel free to post on the Facebook group, I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters.

Also, this month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month!

Do check them out!


Sunday, January 3, 2021

War of the Witch Queens Session 2: Into the Ruins of Ramat

We got a chance to play the second full session of War of the Witch Queens today, our last day of winter vacation.  Today's adventure dealt with leveling up the characters to level 1 and giving them a slight boost in HP.  The characters also got the chance to buy some real weapons and armor.

All in the process they learned about the terrible Ruins of Ramat from the villagers of Wydfield Woodfield.


The party searched the ruined church and found their way down into the underground structure where the clerics had lived and trained.   

They still need to find the spear and use it to defeat the ghost above.  Hopefully, we can get a session in this week, even with work.

The players are learning a key feature of Basic-era D&D.  Sometimes it is better to run away.  

Since everyone is now level 1, I am allowing the players to diversify their characters.  One thief is now an Assassin from OSE-Advanced. The magic-users are splitting up into a Blood Witch, Sorcerer, and Wizard.  I am going to let them choose from a common spell list, and then also a spell list unique to each class. One cleric is going to focus on being a healer.  So I need to get that written up with some ideas. 

For this game, I swapped out my New Big Dragon Game Master's Screen for the Old School Essentials Screen.  Both work great.

The tiles are Dwarven Forge and the temple is from Reaper Minis.

Can't wait to see where we all go next!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Queen is Dead! Session 1 of War of the Witch Queens

After Session 0 the other day we settled on three characters each to run through the funnel of The Witch of Wydfield; or rather the Witch of Woodfield as we kept calling it.

Witch of Woodfield

The adventure went as expected. I had everyone choose one of the "Basic Four" classes; Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, or Thief.  As they played we worked out what specific class each one would end up being.  One magic-user will become a sorcerer, the other a blood witch.  A cleric that worships the Moon might go into druid or might go into fighter, but tell everyone he is still a cleric. It's my youngest. That is what he does.

Witch of Woodfield

I had plenty of copies of Moldvay Basic so everyone had one.  I used my Old-School Essentials book and my GM1a Game Master's Screen from New Big Dragon Games Unlimited.

Since one of my goals is to use as many different kinds of OSR products I can, I think I am off to a good start. Everyone had so much fun they want to play again tomorrow.

I am likely to go with the Ruins of Ramat, this time for Labyrinth Lord. There are also versions for Original EditonCastles & Crusades, and an expanded Castles & Crusades version.  I have not decided which one to use.  Part of the fun is converting.

The characters (and the players) learn the first hint of the overall arc of the campaign; cryptic messages from a possessed girl and the moon (no, really) "the Queen is dead!"

No new hints in the next adventure, but we will see.

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Boxing Day: The World of Mayhem Campaign

A couple of weeks ago I posted about getting my 7th adventure from Mark Taormino's Dark Wizard GamesDread Swamp of the Banshee.  It is a great bit of fun and I can't wait to run it.  

I also know exactly what I want to do with them.


The World of Mayhem Campaign and I am going to run it using B/X rules, likely OSE Advanced Rules

OSE Advanced gives me the B/X rules I adore along with some of the rules from the Advanced era I want AND some additional options that were not available to me in either.   


Organizing the adventures from the lowest level to the highest you get a great spread from levels 1 to 14, perfect B/X and OSE levels.


I have talked about this in the past with the first five adventures, but the newer three only support this plan even more.

Arranged like this:

It makes solid coverage of levels 1 to 14.  If anything an adventure for levels 2 to 5  might be good.

With the addition of their Monsters of Mayhem #1, it makes for a full campaign.

I know the feel of these adventures is very much in the spirit of 1st Edition AD&D as well as the OSRIC rule set.  But for me, my "gonzo" gaming years were with B/X.  The rules of B/X were much looser than Advanced and these adventures really need a lighter hand on the rules.

I am thinking of also adding some material from Pacesetter's B/X RPG rules, in particular some of the classes.  Plus the B/X RPG rules play well with OSE, so that is reason enough to use them.  Plus I enjoy combining Palace of the Vampire Queen: Castle Blood from Pacesetter with Hanging Coffins of the Vampire Queen for a full saga of the Vampire Queen.


I have now run Vampire Queen for Basic, 1st Edition, and 5th Edition versions of D&D.  I think Basic was my favorite experience. 

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Miracle! I Started "War of the Witch Queens"

It's Christmas, spent some quality time with the family yesterday and today.  We built a new kitchen cart for my oldest to keep all his cooking gear in, made a turkey, got a new laptop (using it now) oh and we started the War of the Witch Queens today!


Started with The Witch of Wydfield.  Didn't get very far though, we just started with session 0.  

We are going to use the Classic D&D B/X rules.  I didn't pick a particular flavor yet but likely go with Old School Essentials.  Right now since this is a DCC adventure for 0 level characters I had everyone roll up three characters.  All very simple. I used the classic Basic rules and had everyone choose Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, or Thief at 0 level.  Once everyone hits 1st level, at 500 xp, I am going to allow them to specialize into OSE Advanced Classes or even something from BX RPG or anything really.  My goal is to say "yes" first and then direct them to something that works.

I had everyone roll 2d6+3 for stats. Yes that makes them all rather low on their abilities, but they are also just starting.  I am going to either allow them all a 1d6 per ability when they get to level 1 or give them 5d6 number of points to distribute amongst all their abilities.  This will in turn make their abilities a touch higher than average.  I am ok with that. I am still playing around with ideas.  I might even adopt some D&D 5 rules and let them add +1 to a stat every four levels or so.

Since they are super low level and below-average at this point I am saying they are all refugees from another village destroyed abut terrible weather.   This is of course the first "attack" of the witches with the Witch Queen now dead.  No queen so the more evil elements of the witchcraft world are running free.

This is going to be one of those only every so often games.  I am not 100% convinced everyone likes the old rules or are they just humoring me. 

I hope to pick up the next session soon.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Sea Witch Tradition

I have been playing around with a Sea Witch Tradition.   The Sea Witch is a powerful archetype and one that has featured in myths and legends since humankind looked out into the sea.  

Newes from Scotland. Witches brewing a storm in Scottland
Witches brewing a storm in Scottland

Among the media, mythological and literary examples are Circe from myth,  Calypso from The Odyssey, Sycorax in Shakespeare's The Tempest, the Sea Hag from Popeye, Ursula from The Little Mermaid (and from the original Hans Christian Andersen),  Tia Dalma in Pirates of the Caribbean, comics, and a story I recall reading as a kid that I have not been able to remember properly.

The Sea witch has power over wind, weather, waves, and various creatures of the sea and coast.  This would include the obvious fish and marine mammals, but also birds associated with the sea. 

Sea Witch Tradition

Witches of the Sea Witch Tradition are members of a very ancient tradition related to the Classical tradition but also the Pagan traditions and Chthonic traditions.  Witches of this tradition honor the sea in both it's capacity the cradle of life and in its capacity to destroy.

Role: Witches of this tradition often serve gods, goddesses, and other ancient powerful beings as their patrons.  Many will often refer to the Sea as a Goddess in and of herself and other Gods of the seas are merely Her extensions and proxies.

Joining this Tradition: Sea witches join this tradition typically very early in life. They will claim they have sea-water in their veins and the sea in their soul.  They feel drawn to the sea and will typically live near the sea if they are land-dwelling, or in it.  They will often grow up in families where many of the members are sailors or fisherfolk.  Some even are related by blood to creatures like selkies, mermaids, or even swanmays or nymphs. 

Unlike most Hags that are part of the Faerie tradition, Sea Hags are part of this Sea Witch tradition.

Leaving this Tradition: Witches rarely if ever leave this tradition. Even when they are physically distant from the sea they still "feel the call of the sea."

Occult Powers

Minor, 1st Level: Familiar. The Seas witch gains a familiar related to the sea. 

Lesser, 7th Level: Breathing. The sea witch gains the ability to breathe underwater if they normally breathe air, or the ability to breathe on land if they normally breathe water. This is a persistent power.

Medial, 13th Level: Shape Change. The Sean witch may shape change as per the Druid ability Wild Shape or Polymorph Self. This may be done once per day at the 13th level. The witch may only change shape to a natural sea animal that is within one size category of her normal size. So a Medium-sized witch may only change to a Small, Medium, or Large animal.

The number of times the witch may do this per day increases with every other level.  So 2 times per day at 15th, 3 times per day at 17th, and 4 times per day at 19th.  The witch may opt to sacrifice one of these times to go outside of her normal range of sizes.  So a 17th level Amazon witch could shift to Huge or Tiny once and her normal sizes the other two (total of 4 shapeshifts per day).

Greater, 19th Level: Raise Storm. Considered by many to be the ultimate form of the Sea Witch's power, the Sea Witch can affect the weather as per the magic-user and druids spells Control Weather and Control Winds.

Major, 25th Level: Longevity.  The witch stops aging.  Her appearance will continue to age but her body and mind will stay the same age she was when she reached this level.  She is also no longer affected by magical aging.  She can still be killed by normal means.

Superior, 31st Level: Apotheosis.  The witch becomes something else. This new form and powers are dependent on the Patron she serves.  For sea witches, her form becomes that of a sea creature.  She becomes something akin to a Triton, a Cecelia, or even odder combinations. 

Special Benefits and Restrictions: The sea witch will honor a god or goddess of the sea. The vow never to willing move further and a mile away from any body of water. Most prefer to be much closer.  Seas witches with a familiar can communicate with marine life and even other creatures that leave near the sea.

Equipment:  The tool of this tradition is the cauldron.  Like the sea, the cauldron holds all possibilities. 

Preferred/Barred Covens: Sea Witches are typically solitaries, but they will often meet up every few years with others. Sea witches also tend to be very territorial, so only one will typically be found in any one natural locale, such as a bay, cove, or other inlets. 

Relationship to the Goddess/Patron: The sea witch views the Goddess as the Sea itself.  "Human" manifestations of Her are but limited projections into the human understanding of what the Sea and the Goddess actually is.

This relationship with the sea also makes the Sea Witch a unique figure among sailors.  Many sailors are very superstitious and among those superstitions and fears are ones regarding having women on ships.  Many feel it is bad luck, others feel that a woman on a ship will cause the crew to mutiny. The witch is exempt from these notions. She is both a welcome and feared member of a crew.  

Male sea witches are a welcome addition to most crews even if they are just as feared and respected.

Source/Views of Magic: Like most witches, the Sea Witch views her magic as a manifestation of the Goddess who is the Sea.  The source of her magic is the endless ocean, the unfathomable depths, the irresistible urge of the sea.  

Archetypes: Most Faerie Witches see little use in the Good vs. Evil axis. The sea is both and neither, so why should they choose?  Most tend towards neutral if a little chaotic.

Other: Sea Witches tend not to hoard much wealth, but they do appreciate treasure. Especially treasure found in the sea or on it, such as a pirate's chest of gold, or something rare and beautiful from a faraway land. Pearls are valued over other gems and gold more so than silver or platinum. 

The Sea Witch
The Sea Witch

Other Traditions

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Mail Call: Dread Swamp of the Banshee

Mark Taormino has done it again (8 times the charm!) and I got my new adventure in the mail today.


Maximum Mayhem Dungeons #7 Dread Swamp of the Banshee came in the mail today.  I have had the PDF for a little bit now and I am really looking forward to running this one!

If you enjoyed the previous adventures in this series, like I have, then you know what to expect here. 



If you love the old-school style modules but want something that is just "a little more" then I highly recommend these.

One day my plan is to run these all with some flavor of B/X since the adventures top out at 14th level.  Though the adventures are very much in the 1st Ed D&D vein and not really "Basic", it's what I want to do with them. 

Maybe when the Advanced books for Old-School Essentials come in I'll revisit this idea.