Showing posts with label black rose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label black rose. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, Part 5. Plays Well With Others

I touched briefly on this with my posts on Building a Darklord, Castle Amber, and Horror Adventures, but one of the key strengths of  Ravenloft has always been its mutability.  It can go anywhere, it be what you need it to be and while some might bemoan its pastiche of horror literature stereotypes, that same familiarity allows it to work in a lot of ways with other books and games.

While I am perfectly happy, indeed happier now, that Ravenloft is more amorphous and less of a "world" there are plenty of sources out there if you want to expand it beyond what lives in between the book covers now to a larger world.

Here are some resources I am planning on using to make my Ravenloft campaign (whenever I can get that going!) a little more personalized.

Ravenloft and Cthulhu

While this seems to be a "no-brainer" just slapping Cthulhu into a game almost never works.  Sure there are some great monsters here, but the real value-add here are the sections on running a cosmic horror game.  This is a great overall resource, and a fantastic one when running an adventure in Bluetspur.

Ravenloft and Fantasy Horror

I mentioned already the utility that Pathfinder's Horror Adventures provides in setting up some details for a Dark Fantasy Horror game.  The 3.x d20 system in Pathfinder is similar enough to the 5e one in Ravenloft to provide plenty of ideas with a minimum of conversion needed.   If you must have them, the Fear, Sanity, and Corruption rules can be ported over to 5e Ravenloft.  Even some of the Feats can be used (but used sparingly).  Spells and Magic items can be ported over almost as is really. 

In fact, I have found it so useful in the last few days that I have moved it from my "Pathfinder" shelf to my "Horror" shelf.

BlackRose

Going back to some of the earliest posts on this blog are my ideas for a BlackRose game.  Now with the new 5e Blue Rose out, it is practically begging me to use it for this.  For me, the ideas behind BlackRose have changed a bit.  I think a Domain that is similar to Aldea, but maybe more of one of sadness.  Not Aldea, but using a lot of the ideas and rules.  Something more akin to my Kingdom of Rain.  Which has one foot planted squarely in Blue Rose and another in a melancholic sort of Folk Horror that would find a home in Ravenloft.  I ran an adventure under the title "Kingdom of Rain" a while back. It was a little Aldea, a little bit Innsmouth, and a little bit Alton, Illinois.  There are some solid Fey elements to it as well; I introduced my River Hags here.  A version of Kingdom of Rain is set to be published under the name "Witching Weather," so watch this space for more on that.

Ravenloft and the Runewild


Speaking of fey lands, the Runewild from Sneak Attack Press also provides a bit of a wilder fey world with tinges of Horror and Dark Fantasy.  If you ever wanted to expand on the Domain of Tepset then this is a fantastic source.  Again, as with the Horror Adventures and Blue Rose, there is material here that can be dropped into Ravenloft "as is" with very little modification.  The Runewild also help build up that "dream-like feeling" I like to use in Ravenloft before hitting characters with the Nightmares.

My Kingdom of Rain lives in the intersection of the triquetra-shaped Venn diagram of Ravenloft, Blue Rose, and Runewild.  I can also use this for expanding my new Domain with The Snow Queen as the Darklord.  Though do I REALLY want my Kingdom of Rain converted to a Dark Domain?  I'll have to suss that one out as I go through my books here.

Ravenloft and Ravenloft


Sounds odd, but most of the grief the new book is getting online is "it's not like the old Ravenloft." Ok, fine. If you must, make it like it.   Most of the Ravenloft books are fluff anyway.  Grab what you want from any of the old books and reuse it.  Want Viktor back instead of Viktra? Ok, do that.  I might create a Domain where they are both there and there is an intense rivalry between them.  I am thinking Father and Daughter.  Their creations of course are caught in this battle.  Rival evil scientists. Using their creations to get at the other.  Both wanting to capture their opponents' creations to learn their secrets. Viktor is intensely jealous of his daughter fearing her creation Else is superior, all the wile claiming she knows nothing that he did not teach her.  Viktra hates her father for never sharing his work and finds Adam to be an abomination.  

The more I type this, the more I like it.  Go all Hammer Horror for Viktor and Giallo horror for Viktra.  Set them on different sides of Lamordia where their minions search the countryside for parts for their experiments and to hopefully capture one of the more successful ones of their rival Darklords. 

It's one part Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), one part Lady Frankenstein (1971), and one part War of the Gargantuas (1966).  All set in Fantasy Gothic Horror Switzerland. Sprinkle in a little bit of Reanimator and I am good to go. 

Horror is my favorite seasoning for most games.  Ravenloft lets me do this with everything.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Classic Adventures Revisited: X2 Castle Amber

X2 Castle Amber (Chateau d' Amberville)
What can I possibly say about Castle Amber?

This adventure had always been something of a Holy Grail quest for me. I was a huge fan of Tom Moldvay, I had heard this adventure took place in Glantri and it was full of horror elements. As time went on and I still never found a copy I began to hear more; that it was a crazy dungeon full of crazier NPCs. That it is was more of a thinking module and not a hack and slash one and finally, it was heavily influenced by Clark Ashton Smith, whom I always felt was superior to Lovecraft in many respects.

I did finally get a copy from my FLGS, paid a lot for it, and I also got a copy from DriveThruRPG. The module lives up to the hype. It is not a particularly easy module to run and you better spend a lot of time with it. But for me at that time (the mid-90s when I finally got a copy) it became a great addition to my growing Ravenloft collection. It was not officially part of Ravenloft mind you, but so much of it feels the same that it would have been a crime not to bring them together.  

Later I ran it for my family under D&D 5e rules and it quickly became one of their most favorite adventures ever.  I started a trend in my family's games; they love anything done by Tom Moldvay. 

For this review and retrospective, I am considering my original Castle Amber module, the PDF and POD from DriveThruRPG, and the Goodman Games hardcover of the Original and 5e update.

X2 Castle Amber

Castle Amber is an adventure for characters level 3 to 6 for the D&D Expert Set.  It was written by Tom Moldvay, who gave us D&D Basic set half of the B/X D&D line. This adventure shows that.  While the Expert set was more focused on wilderness adventures, this is a romp through a "haunted house."  For many gamers of a certain age this became the template for all sorts of Haunted House dungeons that are still being published today.

Physically the original adventure was a 28 page book with color covers by Erol Otus with the maps of the titular castle in old-school blue on the inside covers.  The art inside is black and white and done primarily by Jim Holloway.  The art has a duel effect here.  Otus was the prime B/X cover artist, so the feel here is 100% his weird fantasy vibe of B/X.  Jim Holloway was also at this time the primary artist for the Horror game Chill.  Come for the weirdness, stay for the horror. 

Averoigne

The adventure is overtly an homage to the tales of Clark Ashton Smith.  The area where it all takes place, Averoigne, is used right out of the works of CAS.  The Amber family would fit right-in in one of his tales and that is the Colossus of Ylourgne, or rather his D&D counterpart, on the cover.  The adventure even includes a reading guide for those that want to read up on the tales of CAS, and I highly recommend doing so.

CAS, and his contemporary H.P. Lovecraft, were no strangers to the D&D world by 1981.  Indeed Molday's pulp sensibilities shine throughout in this adventure as much as they did with X1 The Isle of Dread and B4 The Lost City.  All three adventures have also been updated by Goodman Games for 5e in their hardcover Original Adventures Reincarnated series, making Moldvay their most reprinted designer. Even more than Gygax himself who as of this writing only has 1, soon to be 2.

There is a lot to love about this adventure too.  There are monsters to kill yes, but this is not a kick in the doors and kill the monster sort of deal.  There is a mood and atmosphere here.  In fact this is the prototype for the horror adventures of later date, in particular Ravenloft (which I will discuss).

On one hand, we have a haunted house filled with the not-quite-dead members of the Amber family.  This can be a pulpy nightmare or even a Gothic tale.  The room with the Tarot cards and their abilities gives us a sneak peak of some the things we will see in Ravenloft. On the other we have creatures from beyond that are quite Lovecraftian.  The Neh-Thalggu, or the Brain Collector, is a creepy ass aberration that can give the Mi-Go a run for their money.  

There is travel to other worlds via some strange mists and 16 new monsters. Some of these monsters also appeared in The Isle of Dread, but here they feel a bit different.  Plus what other B/X D&D book can you name that has "Demons" and "Pagans" in it. 

The background of this is rich enough that you want more of it. More on Averoigne and its connection to Glantri, more on the Amber family, and more on the world that this adventure implies.  It is no surprise really that much of this adventure and what it all implies found welcome homes in the BECMI version of Glantri.   

For me though the best connection is the one to Ravenloft. I have to admit the last time I ran this adventure I made the tie-ins to Ravenloft more specific, but I did not have to do much. I have to admit I was rather gleeful inside at the scene where they have to run from the "Grey Mists" to get into the castle.

Classic Modules Today & Revisited

I mentioned the Goodman Games hardcover above, but it really is a gem of a product.  With it, you get the original adventure and a 5e version of the adventure (where was that when I needed it!) as well as some fantastic comments about the adventure itself.  I wish Tom Moldvay had still been alive to give us his thoughts on this.   The 5e version expands on the Castle and those within.  There are a lot more monsters included and there are full NPC stat writeups for members of the Amber family. 

NPCs

Most of all this new version expands Averoigne in ways I would have loved to have had years ago. 

Additionally, there is the Classic Modules Today version published on DMsGuild by Chris Nolen. This one is a straightforward conversion. You need the original adventure but it is a fraction of the cost of the Goodman Games version.  I have both and have used both to great effect.   

Plays Well With Others

Castle Amber is a fantastic adventure and I am a big fan if you can't tell.  What I enjoy the most about it is that by the nature of the adventure itself and how it is written it can easily be added to any world and slotted into any sort of campaign. For me it was a no-brainer for my Come Endless Darkness campaign.  While that campaign is overtly a "Greyhawk" again the nature of it allowed a side trip to Mystara/The Known World. I would later use it as the "front door" to my Ravenloft adventure.  It was something I have wanted to do for so long and it worked so well I want to do it more.  A lot more.  While I gladly mixed and matched Basic, AD&D, 3e and 5e in my games, it is now much easier now that everything I want speaks the same, 5e, language.

Castle Amber & Ravenloft 5e

I have long postulated that not only is Castle Amber a Proto-Ravenloft, but Barovia is from Mystara/The Known World.   These connections are made more explicit with the D&D 5e adventure Curse of Strahd.  With the 5e Curse of Strahd, 5e Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft, and Goodman Games 5e Castle Amber this is now a trivial effort.

Ravenloft and Castle Amber

In fact, using the same process from Chapter 2 of Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft you could easily make the Averoigne of Castle Amber into a Domain of Dread. 

Averoigne is Gothic Horror and Dark Fantasy, with some Cosmic Horror and some Folk Horror.  I could turn up the horror elements a little, but I would not need to do much, to be honest.  Thinking back to my original running of X2 Castle Amber and I6 Ravenloft using the then-new 5e rules I had great fun. If I had tied them closer together then it would have been fantastic. 

Black Rose

Back in the early days of this blog I discussed a game I wanted to run; Black Rose, a combination of Blue Rose and Ravenloft.  Now with the 5e version of Blue Rose out, it would be a lot easier. 


I will have to write my review of the new Blue Rose Adventurer's Guide

This also begs for a good (or Goodman) version of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess for 5e.

Castle Amber is easily one of my favorite adventures and the appeal of it has only grown for me over the years.

Links

The Black Gate ran a fantastic series on Clark Ashton Smith.  I won't link all of them here, just ones that are germane to this discussion, but they are all good.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Travelling to Ravenloft

Traveller. I universe in a 3-Ring Binder.
Quick update.  

I was going to spend some time this week going over Traveller. From the Classic Traveller books all the way to the newest editions.  But in my research and reading, I found so much more material out there.  More than I can adequately cover in the time I was giving myself.  So I am continuing my readings, my research, and my analyses. 

There is so much to go through and I don't want to half-ass it.  I owe it to myself really and my love for my original Traveller Book (printed PDF version pictured).

Plus I have this other stack of educational research I need to read over and review for work.  No rest for the wicked right?

ed research

Honestly. I am looking forward to both research tasks ahead of me.

Speaking of wicked.  This came out today.

Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft

So I have even more reading to do before I can say anything intelligent about it. 

I am certainly going to be using it in my games. Been a Ravenloft fan from the very start.

Ravenloft through the ages

WotC's Ravenloft

I can't say much yet save that it looks like a lot of fun.

My son and I talked about what our plans were for this.

Cthulhu Mythos + Ravenloft

His Ravenloft has an avatar of the King in Yellow. So he is working on his own version of Carcosa. One unrelated to the Geoffrey McKinney version or the Fat Goblin Games version.

I think I am headed back to Black Rose.

Ravenloft + Blue Rose

It's going to be fun.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 A Look Back

Well, 2017 was an interesting year.

I managed to get a few PDFs out. Mostly for Swords & Wizardry:
And some more Strange Brew for Pathfinder:

So naturally, my blogging took a hit. This was my least productive year in terms of posts since the start really.  But that is cool.

Like last year D&D 5 dominated my play.  Though I did play some other games.

The big game of my year was not Starfinder as I expected, but rather Blue Rose.


I spent a month or so on it back in June and my adoration of it has not lessened.  Looking forward to some more Blue Rose in 2018.

Later in the year I also spent a lot of time with Mighty Protectors.


It was also a joy to review and play. Looking forward to some more.

Hope your 2017 was good. Here is to a better 2018.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Red, White and Blue Rose

June may have been "Blue Rose month" but I have so much more to say and do!

I am going to have a couple of upcoming "Plays Well With Others" coming up.  More details later, but here are some teasers.

First, something that was inspired by my old "Black Rose" game (Blue Rose + Ravenloft) and something that came to me in a flash on a recent run.  Something I am calling "Blood Red Rose".


Blue Rose + Vampire the Masquerade (2nd Edition).

Next is less of a Plays Well With Others and more of a "Campaign Model".
I give you my "White Rose"


Blue Rose + Swords & Wizardry White Box.

This is going to be great.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Blue Rose 2nd Edition, Part 2

Yesterday I spent some quality time with the Blue Rose Character Creation rules. Today I want to move to the next section of this huge book and cover The World of Aldea section.


Now when it comes to game-changing events I can make due with changes in power or in the way certain rules have been handled.  It is the events in the next few chapters that will have me scrambling for the pencils to re-do my campaign!  Well, Green Ronin never asked me what I was doing in my game and I never reached out to them to make sure they were not invalidating several sessions worth of my games ( +Chris Pramas, we will just have to talk in future! ;) ).

Chapter 5, What Has Gone Before, is still roughly the same as what we saw in the True20 version. If anything things are clearer now.  The art, of course, is better and some things, like the rise of the Darkfiends, are clearer.
As before we get a history of the World of Aldea, from the Mythic Age (when the Gods were created) to the Old Kingdom (the “Golden Age” of the world), the Empire of Thrones (or the rise of the evil Sorcerer Kings) to the present age in The Rebirth of Aldis.  The history of the world is given from the creation of the world by the four greater gods and then into the creation of the lesser gods, demons, and mortal races.

I think it is the goal of every RPG writer, either professional or just sitting at home, to create a mythology for their world.   These myths feel more like The Silmarillion than it does say the Bible or Greek Myth.  Though there is a fair appreciation for Greek Myths and Pagan beliefs in this.  In makes for an interesting world to say the least.  It has been asked more than once in my groups what gods do they believe in in the other parts of Aldea. Are they same with different names (likely) or they different ones altogether (a tantalizing idea)?  We see bits of how this could work in Chapter 7 where the different lands worship different aspects of these same gods.


The biggest changes do not come till much later in the chapter.  At some point between the True20 timeline and the AGE timeline. Queen Jaellin decided that she was "officially done with Jarek's shit" and invaded Kern via the hidden ShadowGate under the palace. The present day of the True20 version was 310 (Aldin calendar) to the new current day of the AGE version of 320.   A lot has happened in ten years.
I read this and was like "whoa" what happened here?  Personally, I'd love to have some scenarios where the PCs/Cast are part of that battle and raid.I think that would be a blast.
Also this was the last time anyone has seen the Golden Hart.  The mystery here, of course, is whether or not it used up all it's magic in this last battle.  We come to the "present day" in the game with political factions in an uproar, relations within and without in question and a Queen that has made some choices that many of her own court and people do not agree with.
Basically, it is like Valdemar at the end of the Winds of Fury.
Expanded from the True20 book this new chapter also talks more about the Great Rebellion that started Aldis in the first place.  I mean wouldn't that also be a great time to play?  The years leading up to Queen Seltha's reign.  Heck, the art of the Undead armies is enough to make me want to give it a try.

Chapter 6, Kingdom of the Blue Rose then picks up with Aldis proper and discusses what is going on.  We get background on the various races living in Aldis; human, sea-folk, vata, night people, and Rhydan.  Why do all these people get along? Well... they try to. The Rhydan wanted a land that all were equal and free and queen Seltha ran with that.
We get a section on the Royal Court of Aldis.  I REALLY wish I was good at running Court Intrigue. This would be the game for that.  A carefully balanced dual of wit, manners and subtle backstabbing.  This game makes me want to be better at it.  There is just too much potential here and frankly it is not my strong suit.


Anyone who ever thought that a Kingdom that was accepting of all peoples lacks intrigue has never really read or played this game.  Aldis is not just the idyllic land that some have depicted it.  It is “enlightened” but there are still internal strife, crime, the odd sorcerer or even a leftover gates from the time before the Sovereigns, and the ever-present threats from inside and outside. A number of threats to Aldis and Aldea are detailed. Various unscrupulous merchants, a very effective criminal organization known as “The Silence”, fallen nobles, bandits, defective shadow gates,  and the remains of various shadow cults.   In a handful of pages we get plenty of ideas for characters to do.  Plus we now have a Queen that may or may not be trusted by all her people. And the Golden Hart? Gone. Hasn't been seen since the raid on Kern.  Something new is happening here.
There is a section on gender, sexuality, and marriage. Much less that you have been lead to believe mind you. Frankly, it could do with a bit more in my mind. This is Romantic Fantasy after all.
Religion gets expanded a bit as well.  I like the new art for the Gods of Light, but I had to number them on my print out to keep track of them. I still rather like the Exarchs of Shadow. It helps solves the age old philosophical question of "From whence comes evil?" It gives a good explanation of how good gods such as these would have created evil beings. Plus in this version, they are more detailed with each exarch equated to a deadly sin.   I might not be able to do court intrigue, but I can do horror like nobody's business.
The real expansion though comes in the form of the City of Aldis. Note if you are used to the map in the True20 World of Aldea book (page 18), this one (page 161) is rotated 90 degrees clockwise. It also looks like the city has grown some more in the last 10 years.
Other areas of Aldis are detailed as well. These include the Pavin Weald (Magical Forest) and refugees from Kern that have not quite integrated into Adlean society known as The Trebutane.  If you want your spot to create Aldea-as-Valdemar and need a place for Holderkin Talia to be from, this is it.


Chapter 7, Lands Beyond deals with the lands and countries surrounding Aldis.  This includes the Theocracy of Jarzon, the Khanate of Rezea (the Kaled'a'in/Tayledras from the Valedmar books, or the Kingdom of Damar from The Blue Sword), the Roamers (also Kaled'a'in Shin'a'in), the Shadow Barrens (just a bad place), The Forest Kingdom of Wyss (a new place, not in the True20 version), the Pirate Isles (more information here, can Freeport Blue Rose be far behind?), Kern (the really, really bad place. Mordor to Aldis' Gondor) and the Matriarchy of Lar'tya (basically Themyscira.)

Each section of the nation/land deals with the history of the lands, their rulers, religion, and people. Larger cities are discussed but never in the detail we got with Aldis.  Some important NPCs have sidebars and their history, but no stats, are given.  The lands also all have rough equivalents to the organizations found in Aldis.  For example, the counterpart to the Rose Knights in Jarzon are the Knights of Purity and in Kern are the Knights of the Skull.

Of the lands, Jarzon and Kern are the most interesting.  Jarzon is an interesting place where it could have been just like Aldis save for the intolerance of the Theocracy.  I suppose then it is no surprise then that it lies south of Aldis.  I could see a Jarzonni based game dealing with various heretics.  Heck a fun game would be to play part of the Jarzonni Inquisition to discover a new threat to the whole world!
Kern is Ravenloft. Or maybe it is Thay. or Iuz. Or "The North" for the "Blue Sword" fans.  I KNOW I can't be the only one to have thought in reading this new version of the game that when Jaelin killed the Lich King that the "Shadowed Seven" would be an even bigger threat.


Think of Thay without SzassTam or Apokolips without Darkseid. There is a lot of adventure ideas here. Play these evil regents off on each other. Or imagine their machinations if they ever decided to team up.   I'd love a game where characters need to face off against these foes.  That might be too "D&D" or even too "Buffy" but it would still be a lot of fun.

So advancing the timeline and story by 10 years is cool but it completely WRECKED my older Blue Rose game I was calling Black Rose. Eh. No worries. I can come up with some new ideas and maybe even resurrect some of the Black Rose ideas.   Plus it will give me a good chance to pull out one of my old NPCs, Zenaida a Rezean Witch.

If you had the old True20 World of Aldea book then a lot in this section will feel familiar.  There is a lot more material in the current AGE book and of course moved up 10 years.

Next up is the Narrator's Section.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

It is an AGE of Heroes

Too nice here in the Mid-West to be inside. But I did pick up a couple of books this weekend.


I already had the PDFs, so getting these was a nice little addition to my collection.

Plus it is 100% compatible with Blue Rose.


I just need a cool campaign idea now.  My previous Blue Rose games wrapped up to a point where I don't feel the need to bring them back.  So something new. Something really, really new is in order here.

I might have some thoughts on resurrecting bits of Black Rose later in the week and there is something else I have been thinking about.

More later. Gotta get back outside.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

PWWO: Blue Rose

Continuing my deep dive of Blue Rose, it's systems and world I want to see how well it Plays Well With Others.  I think for the sake of argument I refer to Blue Rose when I mean the campaign world and True20 when I mean the system.


Blue Rose and d20
I am mentioning this one just to get it out of the way.  Yes, you can mix and match Blue Rose/True20 with just about any d20 system.  I have done this in the past but I feel something unique is lost. Much like the Borg assimilating other cultures to where their individualism is lost, d20 sucks up other games and makes them a pale imitation of D&D. Or at least D&D 3rd Edition.  This is a real valuable lesson though. For something to work for my PWWO posts the uniqueness of both games, systems, books, whatever need to be retained.  The d20 conversion appendix in the back of the Blue Rose core book helps a lot and it also guides how other d20-based/derived games can be converted.  Just remember that "conversion" isn't the only thing I am looking for here.

Blue Rose and Ravenloft
Ahh.  My original Peanut Butter and Chocolate. Also what could be one of the first, in spirit, PWWO style posts I have made here.  Ravenloft was one of my favorite game worlds for 2nd Ed D&D. Heck it was my only game world for 2nd Ed.  The then new 3rd Ed Ravenloft was great, but left me underwhelmed.  Mixing in Blue Rose to the Ravenloft world gave me something new. Not totally new mind you, but new enough to highlight what made both games really shine. The darkness of Ravenloft made the brightness of Blue Rose even brighter and visa versa.
You can read more about my Black Rose exploits in these posts and here, Count Strahd Von Zarovich for Blue Rose / True20.
In this case, I want to convert everything Ravenloft to Blue Rose/True20.



Blue Rose and D&D 5
A lot of what Blue Rose/True20 did was revolutionary. A lot of D&D5 is evolutionary.  Both games though can be brought together to build something that is truly fun.
Character creation in D&D 5 is not all that different than D&D 1 when it gets right down to it.  I say keep the general rules for D&D 5 but adapt some of the Blue Rose True20 ideas. For starters, use Blue Rose's Callings to replace Backgrounds.  Sure there can still be an element of Background to this, but now these Callings of the characters are something that continues on.  A Background in D&D5 is sometimes relegated to the "oh that was what I used to be, but I am a <<insert class>> now."  Which is too bad really.  Callings can, and should influence what a character does all the time.

In this case I want to convert everything over to D&D 5 with plenty of Blue Rose material still intact.
This is going to be the basis for my "Monster Naturalists" game, but I need to figure out how to use Blue Rose's/True20's non-lethal damage track with D&D5 so the monsters can be brought in alive.
+Mark Craddock over at Cross Planes has already made some conversions of various races.
Atlantis: Second Age (OmniSystem)
Atlantis: Second Age by Morrigan Press (now +Khepera Publishing) was/is very interesting update of the old Bard Games "Atlantis" and the “Arcanum” books which were written to be used with "any fantasy role-playing game" but the obvious choice was AD&D.
This game uses the Omni System. It is a bit like True20 and this can be used with True20 with a bit of tinkering.  The differences are largely on of True20 having DCs and the OmniSystem having a table of Successes.   The author of the game mentioned online that he was a little surprised when he saw True20 but it was an obvious case of parallel development.  The natural idea is to keep True20's DCs, but use the Omni Table for Critical successes.
The book is titled “Atlantis, the Second Age” so it is Atlantis, after the Flood. A bit odd, but I’ll go with it. Plenty of information on the world and despite the name you could run it as a pre-flood/pre-sinking Atlantean empire. Tons of new races, spells and magic, all pulled from the old Bard Games books ad updated to the OmniSystem, and naturally True20. Great as a game in it’s own right or as a guide to an antediluvian time for any other game.
Now what exactly does this have to do with Blue Rose? Well the worlds are very different, but not so different that commonalities can't be found.  Atlantis (sunken or not) can most certainly lie to the west of Aldis.  Atlanteans share a certain level of egalitarianism and progressive social awareness with the folk of Aldis as well.  It could be that Atlantis was there all this time but forgotten after the Shadow Wars.  Hesparia (from Atlantis) is almost like Lar'tya (from Blue Rose) turned up to 11.
Atlantis:SA provides a larger world for Aldea and Aldis. Is it a perfect fit? By no means. But it is a fun fit. Atlantis:SA adds a number of races that are not really what Blue Rose is about (Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Hobgoblins) but others such as the Andaman (animal headed humanoids) are close enough to the the "Change Children" of the Valdemar book by Mercedes Lackey that a strong case can be made.  In A:SA they are said to be created by Atlantean Sorcerers. Ok. Or the Sorcerer Kings of BR.  Tritons (A:SA) are jsut another form of Sea Folk (BR).  Skills are largely treated the same way, I would just use Blue Rose's skills myself.  Talents in A:SA are a lot like the Feats in BR/T20.  Many of these Talents can also be used as alternate forms of Arcana.   Callings in A:SA are not exactly the same as Callings in BR. They are however very similar to the Paths introduced in the Blue Rose Companion.
Magic in A:SA is a treasure trove of ideas for any BR game.  While some could properly called Sorcery in BR, others are all together new, like Alchemy and Witchcraft.

If one wanted they could take all the OGC from Blue Rose and what little OGC from Atlantis that is open and create something that would work well with both.  Though that is a lot of work for two effectively dead systems.  Though I still enjoy this Atlantis book.  The new Atlantis book from Khepera Publishing is much more polished, but is further removed from the basic Omni System (now Omega System). Plus the book lacks some of the charm of the earlier books.

Blue Rose & Birthright
Two other games that work well together, and fit the Mercedes Lackey Valdemar feel well, is TSR's Birthright campaign setting for 2nd Ed. AD&D.  Whether you use the countries in BR or the ones in BR (err..that won't work) Birthright, the political intrigue between the rulers is now the main story telling element of the game.  Birthright also has a lot to offer players of Blue Rose in terms of inter- and intra-court affairs.  I would limit the races to Blue Rose ones; Birthright already limits races from the menagerie that was 2nd Ed AD&D.
I will say that this combination really is the ONLY time that the Golden Hart will effect what the characters could or could not do in a game.
Birthright also has that "built in maturity" factor I associate with Blue Rose. That is there is a certain audience that will enjoy playing at this level of social interaction and that audience tends to skew older.  Neither Blue Rose nor Birthright are about killing things and taking their stuff.  Unless of course, you are a king. And the things you kill are armies of other kings.
Makes me want to pull out my old Birthright materials! Have not even cracked them in years.

Consequently, I'd also throw the Basic adventures B11 King's Festival and B12 Queen's Harvest as intro adventures to this mix-up.  Just downplay the combat aspects and change the orcs to humans.
I have one other PWWO that I want to try out, but I am thinking of posting that one by itself tomorrow.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Retrospective on Blue Rose

Cover for the new AGE version of Blue Rose
Blue Rose was always one of those games I felt people talked more about than played.  I remember running into it at Gen Con in 2007. I had wanted to go over to the Green Ronin booth since I was already enamoured with Mutants & Masterminds and thought Green Ronin seemed like one of those “cool companies”. Like Eden was in in the early 2000s and Cubicle Seven is today.  Green Ronin is still cool, but they are no longer the scrappy little upstart, they are elder statesmen and stateswomen now.

Blue Rose attracted me from the start. The Stephanie Pui-Mun Law art, whom I had known from her days at the Elfwood art website so long ago, was so eye catching and so different than anything else I had ever seen.  The game inside lived up to that art.
I picked up the book and saw the names. Of course I knew who Steve Kenson was (and he was standing just right over there too), I had played M&M and of course had his Witch’s Handbook from GR.  There was also John Snead, who only the most uncouth plebeians didn’t know.  I had worked with John on the Magic Box for the Buffy game and he was a great guy and great writer.  I saw other names that were unknown to me then (not now), but picked it up on the (substantial) merits of the first two authors.   Jeremy Crawford is now one of the people behind 5th edition D&D and he did quite a bit of work on 4th edition D&D as well.

Now I had an idea what “Romantic Fantasy” was.  I had read Diane Duane, Mercedes Lackey and Marion Zimmer Bradley, but years ago.  Reading through the rules then I was struck by how much was here that I wanted to work into my own worlds.  By 2007 I was weary of d20 and the True20 of Blue Rose seemed like such a breath of fresh air.  It was almost a Cinematic d20 to me.

I played a few games of Blue Rose.  I ran a few others.  I found that converting some of my old WitchCraft RPG plots to Blue Rose was actually quite easy. For example my “Vacation in Vancouver” under Unisystem became “Vacation beyond the Veil” under True 20/Blue Rose.  The story was essentially the same; gifted individuals were being kidnapped for a demonic sex trade. The problem in both cases was that some of the victims didn’t want to be “rescued”.  It looked into issues of slavery and sentience and what people do for pleasure.  In “WitchCraft” there is a serious horror over tone, but in Blue Rose the horror shifts away from the demon to the victim.  What if a victim is sentient and a slave, but in return lives in a lap of luxury and pleasure. Are they different than the “Companions” of Valdemar or the Blue Rose analogues, the Rhy-Creatures? It became an interesting story to unfold.  When I took a turn as player (because that is something you can do in touchy-feely story telling game) I want to explore this and have my witch (hey...gotta be me) “go native” and go from would be rescuer to something needing rescued.  Sadly like many games and most online chat games we never finished the story arc.

I went back to Blue Rose in 2009/2010 to try again with my “Black Rose” idea.  This was a merging of the Blue Rose and Ravenloft games I detailed a while back.  Now there was a fun game.  Also one that did not see a terminus, but that is fine.   In Blue Rose I felt there were a lot of the same things I liked about Ravenloft.  Emphasis on character development and storytelling, less on combat.  One by nature the other by choice.  In BlueRose/True 20 I saw the answer to a lot of the problems I had with Ravenloft.  Ravenloft as an idea was Gothic Horror stapled onto a fantasy action adventure game.  True 20 at it’s core was systemless.  It was much easier to represent more people with combinations of the Expert, Warrior and Adept classes than the standard D&D ones; or worse the 36 some odd classes we had in the d20 Masque of the Red Death.  For me the match was so good that I have considered to see what bits of both True 20 and Ravenloft are OGC to try it on my own.  I never went that direction, other games have since done it.  Some of the ideas from this game lived on in my current D&D 5 “Come Endless Darkness” game.

Some binders of notes for my various Blue Rose games.
“Kingdom of Rain” was game I ran inspired by Lovecraft.  My attempt to bring a little Innsmouth to the World of Aldea.  It was an intentionally short lived arc dealing with the Sea Folk and how some of them were becoming more like Deep Ones.  I will openly admit I based it more on the 2001 movie Dagon than the story “Shadows of Innsmouth”.  I wanted to continue the game dealing with some winter-related ideas, but I only got one session in.  This was also the first time I used a Wendigo as inspired by August Derleth.

I later went back to Blue Rose after reading the works of Barb and J.C. Hendee and came up with a “prequel” to Black Rose that I called “The Guardians of the White Rose”.  I went back to fertile ground and converted some ideas from a 2001 WitchCraft/Buffy game I was running at the time called “Coming Up Roses”.  The Guardians of the White Rose was the Queen’s special cadre of adepts used to fight the many supernatural threats to Adlis.  Their motif was a White Rose intertwined with a Blue Rose.  There were two characters, Helyg and Bryn, two new adepts.  Helyg had been a scholar in Jarzon and Bryn was raised with the Roamers.  They both were also caria daunen, just to add to the in universe feel.  Only got a little bit into that one, but played it out over a long course.  The lessons learned here? There is a LOT to do in Adlis that doesn’t require any form of “Murder-hoboing”.

More recently I have been going through the newer books of Mercedes Lackey. I picked up a bunch at a local library book sale and managed to Half-Price Book find the ones I was missing.  It has put me in the mood to try out some more Blue Rose.  This time I would feature the Guardians of the White Rose, but they are background.  This would be my monster hunter game.  The non-lethal damage track in BR/T20 makes this mechanically easier.  The idea is that the great Magerium is opening in Adlis. Rare and nearly extinct creatures are going to be brought in for study and give them a place to live.  Ah now if you are at all savvy to the Blue Rose world or many of the books that it is based on you will see a problem with this.  I want to see if my players do too.

I am now coming up on 9 and half years of personally playing Blue Rose. Nearly 10 years and four (or five) different and nearly unrelated campaigns.  I have read the background material and other books that would fit the definition of “Romantic Fantasy”. I think I am in a good place to provide a nice comprehensive review of the game.


Now I am going to be looking at the True20 version of the game, which I am sure is going to be sunsetted in favor of the new AGE version.  Well. When the AGE version comes out I'll have to review that one as well.

So until the new one is out, let's get to it.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Gaming Weekend

Did a little bit of gaming this weekend. My son got to play some Mongoose Traveller with his other group.  Here at home we started up a new D&D 5 game set in the Skyrim universe that my oldest is going to run.  So far it's a lot of fun. We are hunting down the murderer of the Emporer and have managed to hit level 2 already.

I also got a desire to dust off an older game and give it another go.  It was a lot of fun back in the day and I have been itching to do some more with it.


Should be fun.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

RPG a Day 2015, Day 27

Day 27: Favorite idea for merging two games into one

I have had a few to be honest.  In fact they get their own label here, Plays Well With Others.

My favorite though is "Black Rose", my mixing of Blue Rose with Ravenloft.

Here are some of the posts from back then.


It was a lot of fun.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Kickstart your Weekend: Blue Rose for the AGE System

Green Ronin has Kickstarted the newest edition of their groundbreaking game, Blue Rose for their in house AGE Adventure Gaming Engine.



https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/504269797/blue-rose-the-age-roleplaying-game-of-romantic-fan

I have not played much with AGE to be honest.  I have the first two Dragon Age sets and they look like fun.  I like the system, but it is one of those things I have not found an audience for.

I will pick this one up.  I really want to see what they add new to it.
I might even play the AGE system or back-convert it to True20.

In any case I am quite looking forward to this.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Strahd Von Zarovich for Blue Rose / True20

True20 might be dead, but that's doesn't mean I have to like it.  So to celebrate the new version of Blue Rose AND the start of my month of vampires here at the Other Side.   Here is D&D's first "Vampyre", Strahd as he appears in my Black Rose games.


STRAHD VON ZAROVICH
Type: 15th level Undead (Adept 4/Expert 1/Warrior 9)
Size: Medium
Speed: 30 ft
Abilities: Str +8, Dex +7, Con -, Int +3, Wis +1, Cha +3
Skills: Acrobatics 18 (+25), Bluff 7 (+10), Climb 8 (+16), Concentration 6 (+7), Diplomacy 10 (+13), Disable Device 2 (+5), Disguise 2 (+5), Escape Artist 2 (+9), Gather Info. 7 (+10), Handle Animal 2 (+5), Intimidate 13 (+16), Jump 2 (+10), Languages 5 (+5), Medicine 4 (+5), Notice 2 (+3), Ride 6 (+13), Search 4 (+7), Sense Motive 2 (+3), Sleight of Hand 2 (+9), Stealth 5 (+12), Survival 7 (+8), Swim 0 (+8), Knowledge (History) 2 (+5), Knowledge (Arcane) 2 (+5), Knowledge (Religion) 2 (+5)
Feats: Iron Will, Menacing, Leadership, Armor Training (Heavy), Armor Training (Light), Weapon Training, Armor Training (Heavy), Weapon Training (Long Sword), All-out Attack, Canny Dodge, Attack Focus (Long Sword), Defensive Attack, Diplomatic, Improved Strike, Dedicated, Influential, Fascinate, Uncanny Dodge, Power (Imbue Unlife), Smite Opponent, Greater Attack Focus, Power (Suggestion), Power (Summon Beasts), Power (Corrupting Shadow)
Traits: No Constitution, Dark Vision (60ft), Proficiency (Natural Weapons), Immunity (Mind Influencing Effects), Immunity (Sleep,Poison,Paralysis,Stunning), Immunity (Critical Hits,Fatigue), Immunity (Fortitude Saves), Unhealing, Healed by Harm (Harmed by Heal)
Powers: Imbue Unlife 7 (+10) DC 15, Suggestion 7 (+10) DC 15, Corrupting Shadow 7 (+10) DC 15, Summon Beasts 7 (+10) DC 15
Combat: Unarmed +18, Damage +8 (20/+3), Longsword +18, Damage +11 (19/+3), Defence +18/+19, Initiative +7
Saving Throws: Toughness +7, Fortitude +5, Reflex +11, Will +10

Not too bad I think.  Poor Queen Jaellin isn't going to know what hit her.

The Return of Blue Rose

Green Ronin has announced the return of Blue rose for the AGE system.
http://greenronin.com/blog/2015/03/23/ronin-round-table-blue-rose-returns/

And as you can imagine there are posting of varying degrees of interest.
http://therpgpundit.blogspot.com/2015/03/blue-rose-is-meaningless-until-someone.html
http://towerofthearchmage.blogspot.com/2015/03/blue-rose-review-part-1-again.html
http://spriggans-den.com/?p=1189

I am on the record many times over on the side of liking Blue Rose. I liked the idea, I liked the play and I liked the system.  Sure I ended up doing some very different things with it, but there was something there that I really enjoyed and never quite understood why the masses hated it so.

I have seen some people complaining about this new game and others praising it.

Currently I am in a "discussion" with RPGPundit. His stance is that most people praising it have never played it.  I take something of the contrary position: most people that criticize it have never played it.  We might be the exceptions to each other's claims, but I do stand by mine.

Here are my thoughts.  While I get why they want to use AGE (and it might even be a great fit) I am going to miss True20.

I hope that Green Ronin puts more support into this version of Blue Rose.  There Dragon Age products are very nice, but as a licenced product they can only go so far with it.  Blue Rose gives them a campaign background and a world to play in.

You can still find all the True20 versions of the books on DriveThruRPG


I hope Green Ronin does not pull these.  I still hope against hope that the True20 system will resurge one day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Campaigns I'd Like to Run: RPG Blog Carnival for May

I am participating in my very first RPG Blog Carnival.  The topic this month is Campaigns I'd Like to Run, and is being hosted by Lowell Francis over at Age of Ravens.

In truth there is a lot I'd love to run.  But there are some that stick out.

Black Rose
Black Rose is my Ravenloft/Blue Rose mash-up.  I detailed it in a series of posts back in the early days of this blog.  Black Rose takes place in the same world as Blue Rose, but only after it had been pulled into Ravenloft.  I am using more of the 2nd Ed and 3.x versions of Ravenloft, not the 4e revisions. I played the hell out of Ravenloft during the 2nd Ed era.  I loved it, but there were things about it that I wanted to do that didn't quite mesh with the "kill things and take their stuff" mentality of AD&D.  The True20 system, while it still has the same roots, can go a little bit beyond that.  True20 is also quite good for doing horror as I discovered.

Generation HEX/Ordinary World
Both of these campaigns would be in the same world and preferably use the same system(s).  Both come out of my enjoyment of modern supernatural books and TV shows.
GenerationHEX is a game focused on kids in a magical school.  Somewhat like Smallville meets Harry Potter.
Ordinary World is a game about supernatural types trying to live in a world full of humans.  sort like Being Human, but also a bit like Charmed.
Unisystem seems like the logical choice here, but I also considered using a different system each time to get a real feel for the characters.  This would be character focused, not plot focus.
Given the character focus of these games I also wanted to try something different.  I wanted to use a different system for the different eras in the character's life.  So Little Fears for when they are all children, Witch Girls Adventures or Monsterhearts for high school, and then Unisystem or World of Darkness for adulthood.  I would sprinkle in other systems for one shots as needed, like ChillCall of Cthulhu or Mutants and Masterminds.
This is something I tried with Season of the Witch and I liked it.

Greyhawk 3000
This one is D&D in SPAAAAAACE!  I'd mix up D&D 3.x and Star Wars with ideas from Gamma world, Star Frontiers, Planescape and Spelljamer.  Have all the D&D worlds as planets and the planes as something like solar systems.  I'd also use some ideas from Starships & Spacemen and some other games.  A bit of Traveler too cause I like that.
I do want to use the D&D mythology, just advance it to something like Star Trek Next Gen level tech.  I think it would be a blast to be honest.

Those are the ones I'd love to do that I don't see me doing anytime soon.  Have too many games going now.

One though I am very likely to run is my Celtic-theme Fantasy Game.

Éire
This game has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Unisystem, True20, Spellcraft & Swordplay.  I think with the release of the Codex Celtarum I might start adapting it to Castles & Crusades.  This is one I would really like to play and am working on getting it done sometime soon.  While I'd love to play this one with my kids, I would also enjoy a more mature approach.  Not "Adult" per se, but a group that appreciates Irish myth and willing to play in a world like that.

These are the campaigns I'd like to run.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Witch Appendix N

I have used many books in researching this class and all of it's related topics. Here are some of those books that I have found most helpful. I have used these books to get more at the witch of myth and history, rather than the modern witch of today.

Keep in mind that these books have nothing to do with RPGs, they are books of belief. Witchcraft is a real religion and people take their religious beliefs seriously and personally.


These books have been helpful for a variety of reasons. If for nothing else to get me to think about witches differently than other game authors have.



Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology by Russell Hope Robbins 
This book has been long out of print, and I got mine at a used book store, but it is the indespensible work on witches, the witch craze and demonology. The book takes a very pro-witch point of view as it frankly discusses the murder of women, children and even men in the name of god. Not to be missed, this book has been THE source for most of my writings. Several editions are out there, mine is the 1959 edition. I have seen them on Ebay as well.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0517362457/

The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
It would be unfair to compare this book to the work above it, because this book is very good. More a modern spin, it still deals with a variety of topics that are of interest to the witch or occult scholar. I used this book a lot when writing Eldritch Witchery. This book also has the advantage of being much newer and still available. All around a good mix of topics, witch myth is mixed in with modern Wicca, making difficult for the unlearned to know what is what. But for those who know a bosom from a common broom, then you will enjoy this book. If you have your own Bosom, then you might even find this book a little simple, but I found things there I did not know about, so I enjoyed it!
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/081603849X/

The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca, and Neo-paganism by Raymond Buckland
Another encyclopedia  This one though covers less but goes deeper on it's topics.  I like Buckland's writing style more than some of the others listed here.  Gave me a lot of insight on various witch traditions.
http://www.amazon.com/Witch-Book-Encyclopedia-Witchcraft-Neo-paganism/dp/1578591147/

Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi
Another encyclopedia of all things witchy. This one focuses on more modern practices, has a very large list of contacts, email and websites. Some overlap with Guiley's book. If you are interested in the nature of the religion of witches today, then this is your book. Or at least it is a good place to start.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1567182577/

Covencraft : Witchcraft for Three or More by Amber K
A nice a well written book for witches and lay-people (cowans) to understand what a coven is and does. This is not a primer to witches, witchcraft or wicca, this book assumes you know what you need to know and works on what you may not know. It is concise and intelligent and a good read, even for non-witches. Maybe especially for non-witches, so that others can finally learn what witches do. From Llewellyn Publications.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1567180183/

Witchcraft, Sorcery and Superstition by Jules Michelet, A. R. Allinson (Translator)
A good book that deals with the wicth craze of the middle ages. Discussion range from early "faerie stories" to pagan religions, to the church sanctioned murder of thousands. Sometime muddled, the book has a few rare gems. Plus it delves into the socilogy of fear, why these people did what they did. Gets as far as the Salem witch trials. Very little to do with modern witchcraft.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0806516860/


Cassell Dictionary of Witchcraft by David Pickering
Another in a series of encyclopedia/dictionaries about witchcraft. A very good beginners guide.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0304350982/

Witches by Erica Jong
More of a coffee table book than an indepth treatsie on witches or witchcraft. Heavy on the feminist side, but not man-bashing (it is an Eric "Fear of Flying" Jong book) it is visually stunning. An oversized book, so if you look for it in the library you might have to check the oversized selves. My local library cut out some of the more risque pages. So I bought my own copy.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0810981572/

The Modern Witch's Spellbook, Book II by Sarah Lyddon Morrison
I read this, along with Book I, years ago, towards the first drafts of my witch class. It has spells that can supposedly really cast. Never tried. But it is a good insight on how some witches view or can view magic. A picture of me reading this over the top of my glasses (Thomas Dolby style, there THAT's long ago it was!) made my High School newspaper!.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0806510153/

Man and His Symbols by Carl Gustav Jung
I alway's liked Jung. His psychoanalytic theory always sat better with me than Freud's. This book deals with many of the archetypes we deal thing at an uncounscious level, the witch is one of many type of female, or anima, archetypes. Jung is one of the greatest thinkers of the modern era, and this is one of his masterpieces (along with Synchronicity).
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0440351839/

Drawing Down the Moon : Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshipers, and Other Pagans in America Today by Margot Adler
This is the book on modern pagan practices. Since it deals with a real world religion i only used it as inspiration to the Witches Netbook I wrote. But if you want to know what is going on in the world of paganism today, then this is your first stop. It is very telling for the foresightedness of this book when you consider that it was first published in 1979!
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/014019536X/

To Ride a Silver Broomstick : New Generation Witchcraft by Silver Ravenwolf
Similar in nature to Adler's book above, this book deal with modern wicca and witchcraft. Ravenwolf is very much a witchcraft supporter and her point of view shows through in this book, for good and ill. A good place to start and then return to when you know a little more.  Generally speaking I am not a huge fan of Silver Ravenwolf, but at the same time I am not really her target audience, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.
She has similar fare in her other books, To Stir a Magick Cauldron and To Light a Sacred Flame.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/087542791X/

The Penguin Book of Witches & Warlocks : Tales of Black Magic, Old & New editied by Marvin Kaye

I have enjoyed the anthologies of Marvin Kaye for years. Ghosts, Vampires, Demons & Devils, and now witches. I found this in the library and had to get a copy from Ebay. It is a collection of short stories about witches, warlocks and witchcraft. The quality varies, but gems are true gems.
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140149910/

I will post more soon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Black Rose, Replies

It's reader participation day at The Other Side.  Here are some replies to my "Black Rose" posts.


Rhonin84 said...


The land that the Queen rules over is the last bastion of light besieged on all sides by the encroaching darkness, all of her allies are gone defeated in the wars to stave off the darkness.

Her dreams at night are haunted by a figure that is intoxicating and terrifying, this Dark Lord wants her for his queen, it's a dream that she has had for some time and the fortune tellers tell her that she has lived this before....

Just a thought with some imagery for you to chew on!

Greg: I agree. Aldea is the last bastion of light in an otherwise dark world.  But more importantly to the plot it is something for the characters to fight for, as opposed to fighting against the darkness.  Of course I like the idea of the Dark Lord haunting her dreams.  It can easily be anyone, but the best choice is obviously Strahd.

seaofstarsrpg said...


Very interesting, sounds like a good match.

Though I think I would make dark dreams and nightmare a constant sub-theme in this campaign

Agreed.  In order to do this well there would need to be a slow build up of darkness. Punctuated by increasingly dark dreams and nightmares.  There is so much that can be done with this.

 Ka-Blog! said...

I'm not that familiar with Blue Rose (I was more intrigued with the True 20 aspect), but I understood the romance influence on it.

I am a fan of Ravenloft, but was always stymied by:
- what the PCs do during the day time (sleep, I suppose); and
- isn't it monotonous to know that the big bad is someone you can't defeat (because he's a dark lord) and you live on his land?

The merging of the two gives some space for PCs to retreat and recuperate, and allows greater contrast when PCs must fight the dark lord on his own turf..
Yes.  Though in most cases I do not want them to fight the Dark Lord of the land, instead maybe figure out how to undermine their power.   In some cases I would want them to "free" the land's Dark Lord, to find out what is the source of the evil and stop it.  Thus freeing the lord to go on to whatever afterlife awaits them while their lands slowly dissolve back into the mists.  I want this to be more of a thinking game than a fighting one.  Not that there won't be fighting. There will.  The big issues are going to need a different tactic.
Like Rhonin said above, Aldea would be a "safe haven" for the PCs, but the mists might not always let them return.

 P. S. Mangus said...

This is a very cool idea. Personally, I never gave Blue Rose a proper chance. In hindsight I should have taken a harder look at the system, and over looked the problems I had with the background of the game. Ravenloft has always been a favorite of mine. I especially liked Masque of the Red Death, and felt it was a stroke of genius when it came out. Of course I could never get anyone to actually play it. Looking back at it now, MotRD was ahead of its time.

I never had the problems others did with Blue Rose.  I always felt it was like a dreamscape setting.  Yes there was this too-good-to-be-true kingdom with modern sensibilities and an extremely accepting culture.  But everything around them was dark and sinister.  They thing is that is a perfect backdrop for a Ravenloft game.  I am not wanting to do "Grim Dark Blue Rose", I am keeping pretty much everything in Blue Rose intact and I want characters to explore interpersonal relationships.  I want loves and loss and love again.  I think that this is an important part of what makes Blue Rose a good game.  Ravenloft though gives me something else and something that is not wholly incompatible with Blue Rose.  The Dreamscape is still there, but now it is tainted, a blacker on the edges.  This is done to make "Blue Rose" parts of the game shine even more.
The fictional tradition behind Blue Rose is struggling to discover yourself in the world and your own inner strength.  The tradition behind Black Rose would be struggling to discover yourself in the world, beset by horrors, and your own inner strength to defeat them.

BlUsKrEEm said...



I'm very impressed with how well thought out the setting / rules for this idea are. I would play or run this in a heart beat (if my player would give it a chance that is.) Thanks for sharing.
Thanks,  It is something I have been thinking about pretty much ever since I picked up Blue Rose years ago.  I never liked the feel of the d20 mechanics for Modern games, and True 20 seemed to be a better fit.  Likewise I was not thrilled with the d20 Ravenloft, though I did enjoy both Ravenloft and D&D 3 a lot.  True 20 (and Unisystem for that matter) seemed to be a better fit for the kinds of things I wanted to do in Ravenloft.  Same with Blue Rose.


Thaumiel Nerub said...


Idea is good. I personally think, that Blue Rose is way too cheesy for me. Adding a bit "black" to the palette would suit me well. You could concider also characters. They must aswell melt in the world. Otherwise it's just this background story where heroes do their job. Character's must also represent this "Black Rose" theme. Character's aren't necessarily those knights in shining armors or they even could be, but in every character there must be something tragic. Sounds a bit emo, but well, goth is that. Dark secrets, revenge, lust, depression.
I think that usually in fantasy games character's biggest goal is to "win" the plot GM gives for players like killing the evil dude or something. But even if in this Black Rose setting there is that "big evil", I think you could get more out of it, if there is also personal problems within characters. Some might be touched by darkness what is infecting him slowly and he is hiding it realising, he would be Shadowspawn soon (no cure, or it wouldn't be tragic). Knight who was not betrayed but was betrayer himself. Wizard who is eager for power, and knows the best mojo is in evil magic.
They all are heroes, they save the world, but in the same time they are tragic characters and the line between good and evil is thin.
Again, I liked Blue Rose from the start, but I do see why others didn't.
You are correct about the characters.  But I think instead of darkness, the characters need to harbor that self-doubt and humility that is often absent from characters.  Yes it does tend to skew things towards Emo, but I am not trying to play a game full of self-doubts and dark personal secrets.  Characters should be more fully flushed out than a "barbarian, and I hit things".   For example a member of the Royal Guard trying to live up to her father's expectations.  Or a witch, pretending to be something else so she is not discovered practicing "foul" magics, even though she is Light aligned.

I think the take away from all of this is players in a Black Rose game would need to spend quite a bit of time thinking about who their characters are, what are their hopes and fears, and then ask the important question of "when the Queen calls on you to fight the darkness how will you respond?"

The other half of this though is also finding players that would want to play this style of game.  My kids are too young really to do this now and my semi-regular group might not find this all that interesting.  Plus we get a full amount of horror RPGing in with our Ghosts of Albion games.

Maybe I should try it as a one-shot someday.  Or use it as a prototype for some other games I have in mind.