Showing posts with label magic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label magic. Show all posts

Thursday, October 1, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Doctor Mordrid (1992)

As typical, I start with some of the left-overs from last-year.  This one was high on my list due to some chatter online.  I guess the deal is that it was supposed to have been a Doctor Strange movie with Jeffery Combs playing the Strange role.   Here he is now Anton Mordrid, and it suits him better I think.  Brian Thompson is in this as well, playing, what else, the bad guy.

The effects are a little cheesy, but that is to be expected, this was low budget even 1992 standards.  It was fun to see some old-school stop-action effects.

The horror is roughly on par with the Doctor Strange comics.  All the elements are there, but you are never really expected to be afraid.

Combs and Thompson make for great adversaries, it is a shame we have not seen them in something else together.  Both look so damn young in this. But I guess this movie is nearly 30 years old.

The "I'll see ya again I promise," leads me to believe that there was going to be more, but sadly we never got it.

All in all a fun little movie.

Watched: 1
New: 1

NIGHT SHIFT Content

Doctor Mordrid's world is so adaptable to Night Shift that one wonders why I never watched it before this!  He is in all respects a version of Doctor Strange, but there is more to it than that.  Mordrid, for example, seems to be much older than Strange having waited 150 years for the return of Kabal.

Anton Mordrid, Ph.D.
20th Level Warlock
Str 12 (+0) Dex 10 (+0) Con 17 (+2) Int 18 (+3)* Wis 18 (+3)** Cha 15 (+1)**
XP: 4,000,000
Hit Dice: 11d4+18 (20) Hit Points: 66 AC: 7
Attack Bonus: +6
Check Bonus: +8*/+6**/+4
Armor: Magic cloak
Saves: +7 vs. spells and magical effects
Fate Points: 10
Class Abilities: Arcana 150% (knowledge about magic, rituals, cults, and spellcasting), Spellcasting 150% (160% if he has his Amulet of Kronos).
Other Special Abilities: Arcane Bond (Amulet of Kronos, adds +10% to spellcasting), Blaster, Enhanced Senses, Telekinesis
Spells Levels: 1:6 2:5 3:5 4:5 5:4 6:4 7:4 8:3 9:3

Mordrid has an extensive library so all spells in the core NIGHT SHIFT book are available to him





Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Review: Pages from the Mages

As I mentioned earlier, The Pages from the Mages feature of Dragon Magazine was one of my favorite features and I looked forward to seeing what new spells Ed Greenwood would relay from the great sage Elminster.  I was very pleased when I saw that the entire collection was pulled together into a single tome.  The original Pages from the Mages spaned roughly 10 years from 1982 to 1992 and both editions of AD&D. 

For this review, I am considering both the original print version sold by TSR and the PDF version sold through DriveThruRPG.  Presently there is no Print on Demand option.

Pages from the Mages

The book is 128 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art with full color, full-page art.  Designed for the AD&D 2nd Edition game.
The PDF sells for $9.99 on DriveThruRPG.
The softcover book originally sold for $15.00 in 1995.

This book covers some 40 or so unique spell books from various spellcasters from the Forgotten Realms.  Some of these spellcasters are well known such as Elminster and others less so or at least nearly mythic in the Realms.  This is one of the book's greatest strengths. While this could have been just a collection of books with known spells, it is the stories and the myths behind the books that make this more.

While many of the spells found within these books are fairly well known, there are plenty of brand new and unique spells. This is what attracted me to the original Dragon magazine series.  Within these pages, there are 180 or so "new" spells.  I say new in quotes because most, if not all, these spells appeared first in the pages of Dragon magazine and then again in the pages of the hardcover Forgotten Realms Adventures for 2nd Edition.

Additionally, there are a number of new magic items and even a couple of new creatures.

The true value for me, as a DM and a player, is to provide these new spell books as potential treasure items or quest items.  Even saying the name of some of these books, like Aubayreer's Workbook, is enough to get my creative juices flowing. Where is it? Where has it been? What other secrets does it contain?

I often refer to a product as punching above its weight class.  This is one of those books.  While overtly designed for the 2nd Edition game there is nothing here that can't be used with any version of the D&D game, from Basic all the way to 5th edition with only the slightest bit of editing needed.

While I have a print copy and the PDF, a Print on Demand version would be fantastic. 

A complete list of the spells, spellbook, creatures and characters in this book can be found on the Forgotten Realms wiki, https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Pages_from_the_Mages






This Old Dragon: Retrospective, Pages from the Mages

Another This Old Dragon Retrospective today. Today I want to cover one of my favorite series in the run of Dragon, and one that had far fewer entries than I thought, Pages from the Mages. Again this series is by Ed Greenwood writing to us as Elminster. It's a wonder I wasn't a fan of the Realms until pretty much 2001.


The premise is laid out in the first installment, Elminster (or Ed, sometimes it is hard to say) wondering aloud why we don't find more unique spell-books in treasure hordes. He goes on to explain that such tomes are very rare.  The set up is solid and less in-universe than The Wizard's Three.  But like The Wizard's Three, this is used to give us some new spells and some magic tomes worthy to build an adventure around.  So let's join Ed and Elminster and pour through these pages of a nearly as legendary tome, Dragon Magazine, and see what treasures we can find.

Pages from the Mages

Our first entry is in Dragon #62 which has one of my all-time favorite covers; the paladin on horseback challenging three orcs.   This takes us all the way back to June 1982, the height of my D&D Basic/Expert days.  The magic books we discover here are:

    Mhzentul’s Runes, with details for making a Ring of Spell Storing. Rings that become guardian creatures (but no details) and the spells Fireball, Fire Shield, Fire Trap, and Delayed Blast Fire Ball.

    Nchaser’s Eiyromancia, this book gives us two new spells, Nulathoe’s Ninemen and Nchaser’s Glowing Globe.

    Book of the Silver Talon, this sought after tome has a number of good spells, Read Magic, Burning Hands, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Erase, Write, Identify, Message, Shocking Grasp, Shield, Darkness 15’ Radius, Detect Invisibility, Knock, Ray of Enfeeblement, Web, Wizard Lock, Blink, Dispel Magic, Gust of Wind, Infravision, Phantasmal Force, and Protection From Normal Missiles.  Additionally, it has recipes for the ink for Read Magic, Buring Hands, Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Erase, Write, Identify, Message, Shocking Grasp, and Shield.  All in-universe and fluff, but fun all the same AND an often overlooked aspect of magic.

    Chambeeleon, the unique spellbook is described as a treasure.  In contains the spells, Water Breathing, Fly, Lightning Bolt, Fire Shield (cold flame version only), Ice Storm, Airy Water, Cone of Cold, Conjure Elemental (new version), Disintegrate, Glassee, Part Water, Spiritwrack, Cacodemon, Drawmij’s Instant Summons, Reverse Gravity, and Vanish. Which leads to the obvious conclusion that Drawmij was also moving between the planes between Greyhawk and the Realms.  This book is also considered to be a religious text by many priesthoods of aquatic gods.
 
In each case, we also get a little history and the last known or suspected whereabouts of the tomes. I say tomes, but thankfully Ed was not so limited in his thinking.  Some are books, some are collections of pages and others are stranger still.  I find it interesting that this entry is followed by the classic NPC class, the Scribe, also by Ed.

More Pages from the Mages

Our next entry comes from Dragon #69 which I also covered as part of my This Old Dragon Issue #69. Again a fantastic cover from the legendary Clyde Caldwell.  The article is titled "More Pages from the Mages" and has art by Jim Holloway. Interestingly there is a book in the art named "Holloway's Guide to Everything" could that be the next 5e book to come out?  The actual books covered here are:

    The Magister, this particular tome has no title so it is just called "the Magister". It consists of 16 sheets of parchment between two ivory covers.  It includes a treatise on illusion magic and the spells Change Self, Color Spray, Phantasmal Force, Detect Illusion, Mirror Image, Dispel Illusion, Nondetection, Massmorph, Shadow Door, Programmed Illusion, and True Sight.  There is also an alternate version of the Clone spell. There is also a lot of debate on what is exactly on the last page. 

    Seven Fingers (The Life of Thorstag), this tome is bound in leather. It describes the Void Card from the Deck of Many things. How wonderfully random! Yet so on point for an academically minded wizard.  There is also a recipe for Keoghtom’s Ointment, which may or may not be correct.  There is also some local history. 

    The Nathlum, is a rather non-descript book.  But there is some saying about books and covers.  This one will cause damage to anyone of Good alignment holding it! It includes recipes for poisons, so not all these books are limited to spells.  Something that honestly is not stressed enough. 

    The Workbook, there is no accurate description of this tome.  So Elminster isn't all-knowing (ok to be fair, Elminster and Ed would be the first to point this out).  This is rumored to include the spells Spendelarde’s Chaser, Caligarde’s Claw, Tulrun’s Tracer, Tasirin’s Haunted Sleep, Laeral’s Dancing Dweomer, Archveult’s Skybolt, and Dismind. All are new.

As I mentioned in my original post, back in the day I would go right for the spells, today I am more interested in the story behind the spellbooks.  Maybe the spells inside are some I have already seen, but that is not what makes it valuable to me now. It's the story, the history, maybe there is something really special about this book. Maybe the spellcaster is still alive. Maybe his/her enemies are and want this book.  My cup runneth over with ideas.

Pages From the Mages III

We jump to December 1984 and Dragon #92.  Damn. Another classic cover. This time it is "Bridge of Sorrows" by Denis Beauvais and he has updated it on his website.  what a great time to be a classic D&D fan.  This one is very special for me for many reasons. First, this was the very first PftM I had ever read. I didn't know a damn thing about the Realms (and I only know slightly more now) but as I mentioned in my This Old Dragon Issue #92 I remember going on a quest to recover Aubayreer's Workbook having only the glyph as a clue.  I don't remember all the details save that the quest was dangerous and the spells in the book were a bit anti-climatic given the quest.  Not that the spells are bad (hardly!) it is the quest was that hard.

This is also, at least from what I can tell, our very first mention of The Simbul, "the shapeshifting Mage-Queen".  I guess she is looking for a copy of this book too! I think I see a plot hook for my next Realms game (and playing on the events in The Simbul's gift).  MAYBE that quest was only half of the tale! Maybe the other half was really to get this book to The Simbul.  I am only 30+ years late.   Thank you Ed!  Of course, that is only one of FOUR magic books.  Let's have a look.

    Aubayreer's Workbook, this "book" is a long strip of bark folded accordion-style between two pieces of wood with a rune carved on it.  The spells are read magic, burning hands, dancing lights, enlarge, identify, light, message, write, ESP, wizard lock, dispel magic, explosive runes, fireball, and extension I. There three special spells  hailcone (a version of ice storm), and two new spells, Aubayreer's phase trap and thunderlance.

    Orjalun's Arbatel, not to be overshadowed this book's pages are beaten and polished mithril! Lots of Realms-centric details here. In fact this might be where many of these topics saw print for the very first time. This one includes two new spells Encrypt and Secure.

    The Scalamagdrion, bound in the hide of some unknown creature this book has a little surprise. The spells included are (and in this order): Write, erase, tongues, message, unseen servant, wizard lock, identify, enchant an item, permanency, blink, disintegration, feeblemind, fly, death spell, flame arrow, delayed blast fireball, invisibility, levitate, conjure elemental, minor globe of invulnerability, wall of force, remove curse, and dispel magic.  The book also has a unique monster bound up in the pages that will protect the book! 

    The Tome of the Covenant, named for the group of four mages that gathered together to stop the onslaught of orc from the north.  What this entry makes obvious is exactly how much detail Ed had already put into the Realms. There are four new spells in this book, named for each one of the Covenant wizards. Grimwald's Greymantle, Agannazar's Scorcher, Illykur's Mantle, and the one that REALLY pissed me off, Presper's Moonbow.  It pissed me off because I had written a Moonbow spell myself. Only mine was clerical and it was a spell given by Artemis/Diana to her clerics. My DM at the time told me it was too powerful at 5th level and here comes Ed with a similar spell, similarly named and his was 4th level!  Back then it was known as "Luna's Moonbow" named after one of my earliest characters. Ah well.  Great minds I guess.

Pages from the Mages IV

We jump ahead to Dragon #97from May 1985.  I also covered this one in This Old Dragon Issue #97. Rereading this article years later is the one where I thought I should stop being such a spoiled Greyhawk twat and see what the Realms had to offer.  It would still be a long time before I'd actually do that.  This one also had a bit of a feel of the Wizard's Three to it. The books covered here were:

    Bowgentle's Book, a slim volume bound in black leather. It has a ton of spells in it, so many I wonder how "slim" it actually was.  Cantrips clean, dry, and bluelight, and the spells affect normal fires, hold portal, identify mending, push, read magic, sleep, continual light, darkness 15' radius, detect evil, detect invisibility, ESP forget, knock, levitate, locate object, magic mouth, rope trick, strength, wizard lock, blink, dispel magic, fireball, fly, hold person, infravision, Leomund's Tiny Hut, lightning bolt, protection from evil 10' radius, protection from normal missiles, slow, tongues, water breathing, charm monster, confusion, dimension door, enchanted weapon, fire shield (both versions), minor globe of invulnerability, polymorph other, polymorph self, remove curse, wizard eye, Bigby's Interposing Hand, cone of cold, hold monster, passwall, and wall of force.  The two new spells are dispel silence and Bowgengle's Fleeting Journey. 

    The Spellbook of Daimos, this one has no title on the cover and described as very fine. Very little is known about who or what "Daimos" is.  The spells included are, identify, magic missile, invisibility, levitate, web, fireball, monster summoning I (a variant), slow, suggestion, confusion, fear, fire trap, polymorph self animate dead, cloudkill, feeblemind, anti-magic shell, disintegrate, geas, globe of invulnerability, reincarnation, repulsion, Bigby's Grasping Hand, duo-dimension, power word stun, vanish, incendiary cloud, mind blank, astral spell, gate, and imprisonment.   The new spells are flame shroud, watchware, and great shout.

    Book of Num "the Mad", this one is interesting. It is loose pages held in place by two pieces of wood and a cord.  Num was a reclusive hermit who learned a bit of druidic lore.  There are a few more spells here. But what is more interesting are the new ones. Briartangle, Thorn spray, and Death chariot.

    Briel's Book of Shadows. Ok, the title has my attention. Though it has little to do with the Books of Shadows I am most often familiar with.  This one has the following new spell, Scatterspray. It does have some details on uses of Unicorn horns and a recipe for a Homonculous.

These books really upped the number of spells included in each book.  Was this intentional? Is this the "Power creep" that was starting to enter the game at this point? It was 1985 and this was not an uncommon question to ask with the Unearthed Arcana now out (and now these spellbooks all have cantrips!) and classes like the Barbarian and Cavalier making people say "D&D is broken!"  The more things change I guess...

Pages from the Mages V

Dragon #100 from august 1985 was a great issue all around. From the Gord story, to Dragon Chess, to this. I really need to give it a proper This Old Dragon one day.  But until then Ed is back with some more magic.  
    Sabirine's Specular, the first book from a wizardess. It has a good collection of standard spells.  The new spells are Spell Engine, Catfeet, Snatch, Spark (Cantrip), Bladethirst, and Merald's Murderous Mist.
    Glanvyl's Workbook, what is neat about this book is it appears to be the book of a lesser magic-user and these are his notes. So like the workbook a student might have in a writing class.  There are three new cantrips, Horn, Listen, and Scorch. One new spell, Smoke ghost, which is level 4 so he had to be at least high enough level for that.  and the preparations for inks for the Haste and Lightning Bolt spell.
    The Red Book of War, this is a prayer book for clerics of the war god Tempus.  I liked seeing that spells for clerics were also offered.  These of course would differ from the arcane counterparts in many ways, or, at least they should.  Ed makes the effort here to show they do differ and that is nice. Many often forget this.  There are a number of prayers here that are common.  Also the new prayers/spells are Holy Flail, Reveal, Bladebless, and Sacred Link, one I enjoyed using back then.  None of these spells though would late make it to the AD&D 2nd published version of Pages from the Mages.
    The Alcaister, this is a book with a curse. Not the spell, but rather a poison worked into the pages that is still potent 600 years after it was written. Among the common spells it has three new cantrips, Cut, Gallop, and Sting. There is one new spell, Body Sympathy, and the last page of the spellbook is a gate! Destination determined at random.

Arcane Lore. Pages From the Mages, part VI

It is going to be a five-year jump and new edition until the next Pages comes in Dragon #164. The article has some subtle and overt changes. First there is a little more of the "in character" Elminster here.  Ed has had more time to write as the Elminster and I think this is part of the success of the novels. The overt change is now the spells are in AD&D 2nd Edition format.  Not too difficult to convert back (or even to any other edition) but it is noticed. It is December 1990, lets see what Ed and Elminster have for us. 
    Book of Shangalar the Black, a deeply paranoid wizard from 700 years ago you say?  I am sure this will be fun! There are only new spells in this short (4 page) spellbook. Bone Javelin, Negative Plane Protection, Repel Undead, and Bone Blade.  Well, the guy had a theme to be sure.
    The Glandar's Grimoire, now here is something else that is rarely done, at least in print.  This book is only a burnt remnant.  What is left of what is believed to be a much larger tome is four pages with new spells. Fellblade, Melisander's Harp, Disruption, and Immunity to Undeath.
    The Tome of the Wyvernwater Circle, this is a druids prayer book.  Now I know D&D druids are not historical druids that did not write anything down. So a "Druid book" still sounds odd to me.  But hey when in the Realms! This book has a few common spells and some new ones; Wailing Wind, Touchsickle, Flame Shield, and Mold Touch.
    The Hand of Helm, another clerical prayer book. This one is of unknown origin. It has 27 pages (and thus 27 spells; one spell per page in 2e), four of which are new;  Exaltation, Forceward, Mace of Odo, and Seeking Sword.

Is it because I know TSR had gone through some very radical changes between 1985 and 1990 that I think the tone of this article is different than the one in #100?  I can say that one thing for certain is that Ed Greenwood is more of a master of his craft here.  The history of the Realms is, for lack of a better word, thicker in these entries.  There is more background to the spellbooks and their place in Realms lore.  This is a positive thing in my mind in terms of writing.  It did make it hard to add them to my Greyhawk campaign, but by 1990 I was hard-core Ravenloft; shit just randomly popped out of the Mists all the time. If I needed one of these books I could make an excuse to get them there.



Pages From the Mages

It is now May 1992.  I am getting ready to graduate from University now and Dragon #181 is giving us our last Pages from the Mages.  It has been a fun trip.  A little bit of framing dialogue starts us off. I did notice we have gone from talking about "the Realms" to now saying "FORGOTTEN REALMS® setting" instead. 

    Galadaster's Orizon. This book is actually considered to be a "lesser work" in the eyes of the wizard-turned-lich Galadaster, but this is all that survived of his tower's destruction. Among the common spells there are three new ones. Firestaff, Geirdorn's Grappling Grasp, and Morgannaver's Sting.
    Arcanabula of Jume, another book from a wizardess (rare in this collection of books). This one is written in the secret language of Illusionists (which are, as a class, slightly different in 2nd Ed) and is a traveling spellbook. It has four new spells, Dark Mirror, Shadow Hand, Prismatic Eye, and Shadow Gauntlet.
    Laeral's Libram. I was just about to comment that while these books are fantastic, none of the names have the recognition factor of say a Tenser, Bigby, or even Melf.  Then along last comes Laeral. Now here is someone famous enough that I have box of her dice sitting next me! Laeral Silverhand is of course one of the famous Seven Sisters. So not just a name, but a Name. This spellbook has the common spells of feather fall, magic missile, spider climb, and forcewave.  As well as the new spells of Laeral's Aqueous Column, Jhanifer's Deliquescence, and Blackstaff.  The blackstaff spell was created by another Name, Khelben Arunsun.  This one would be worthy of a quest to be sure.
    Tasso's Arcanabula.  Our last spellbook comes from an illusionist named Tasso.  Tasso is almost a  "Name." I recognize it, but I am not sure if it was because of this article or some other Realms book I read. The spell book has what I consider to be the common illusionist spells and four new ones. Tasso's Shriek, Shadow Bolt, Shadow Skeleton, and Prismatic Blade.  That's where I have heard of him. I have used that Prismatic Blade spell before,

After this series, the Wizard's Three took over as our source of spells from Ed.

I have read that Ed created this series based on his love of some of the named spells in the AD&D Player's Handbook.  He wanted to know more about the characters and how they came to be associated with those spells.  I think that he showed his love here in this series. I also think it was made clear that sometimes the spell creator's name gets added to a spell not just by the creator, but by those who chronicle the spell, spellbook, or spellcaster later. Sometimes centuries later. 

We got away from this but now it looks like it is coming back. especially with the recent Mordenkainen, Xanathur, and now Tasha books coming out from WotC.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

This Old Dragon: Retrospective, The Wizards Three

Getting back into the "This Old Dragon" frame of mind. I thought I might try something new here and instead of looking at one issue, I would look at one feature across many issues. A few easily come to mind but I want to start with the one that gave me the idea in the first place. The feature in question is "The Wizards Three."

The concept is a bit silly. The great sage and mage Elminster has guests over to his place for dinner and light chat. The guests are typically other wizards. Most often Mordenkainen of Oerth (World of Greyhawk) and Dalamar of Krynn (Dragonlance). Later Dalamar was replaced by Mordenkainen's, young apprentice Rautheene. Hiding in a suit of armor and trying to remember it wall was out helpless scribe Ed Greenwood.

Like so many, Dragon was my first introduction to the Realms and to Elminster. Throughout my AD&D 1 and 2 years, I was focused largely on Greyhawk and then Ravenloft. I didn't even pay much attention to the Realms at all until later in the 3.x days and it was not even an option I took seriously until 4e.


Even so, I always enjoyed this series because I love the idea of the multiverse and that travel between the world can sometimes be done. Sometimes it is easy, as this series shows, and sometimes impossible; as this series also shows.

So without further ado. Let's grab a drinking jack, see if we can squeeze into Ed's old armor and spend a nice evening, or a dozen, with some old friends.

"The Game Wizards" by Jeff Grubb, Dragon #153
This one is not really part of the series, but it fits the mold well enough to be a proto-version of the tale. In this case, Elminster has come to our world and is imparting wisdom on Jeff Grubb.

"Magic In the Evening", Dragon #185 (56), September 1992
This is the first piece of the series before it was the Wizards Three. Here Elminster and Mordenkainen meet on Earth (with Ed hiding away). A lot of the conceits of the series are established here. Elminster with his typically archaic speaking. Mordenkainen always feeling like he is about an hour or two away from some cosmic victory or equally cosmic defeat. Some good-natured fun poked at each character, plenty, but never enough to make them actual caricatures. I did sometimes wonder how Gary, who had been long gone from TSR at this time, felt about Ed's portrayal of Mordenkainen.
I did enjoy how the characters did seem rather fond of each other. Maybe not friends exactly, but certainly more than co-professionals.
Also, the rules of their meetings are established. So this is the first meeting of this sort between the master mages.
One thing I get now, that I didn't then, was how Realms and Oerth lore was weaved into the conversations. Nice little treat that must have been for people reading all the novels at the time. The spells that were later presented we also worked into the discussions.

In the game mechanics bit at the end Ed let's know what discussions were connected with which novels and which adventures. I usually more up on the adventures than the novels.

This episode included the spells "Curse of the Grinning Skull", "Thundaerl's Universal Taster", "Lesser Spelldream", "Greater Spelldream", and "Moonweb". Anytime I could get more spells the better. I figure these spells have been out for a bit so no need to detail them all here.

This one also included Samader's Ring and the Alhoon creature, or the Illithid Lich.

"The Wizards Three", Dragon #188 (26), December 1992
This one is a proper Wizards Three since it now includes Dalamar the Dark. The Master of the Black Robes Tower of High Sorcery in Krynn. Elminster's power was unknown to me, and Mordenkainen was always a guess I safely put them both in the "above level 20" area. I knew Dalamar was below level 20 thanks to the hardcover Dragonlance book.


Moving on to the tale, tragedy has struck Mordenkainen, of which I had been vaguely aware of thanks to the Greyhawk books that had been coming out in the end of 1st ed and the start of 2nd ed. Most of the Circle of Eight had fallen to the hand of Vecna leaving only Mordenkainen himself. I know it was a tale, with characters that were not real, but I was always happy with the exchange between Elminster and Mordenkainen here. It seemed, well, heartfelt. This is contrasted well with the near come to magical blows that Dalamar gets into with the other mages when he is introduced. If Elminster and Mordenkainen are beginning to act like something akin to friends, the Dalamar has a long way to go before even trust is part of the relationship. But at least he agrees to stay for dinner.

The inclusion of Dalamar changes the tenor of the meetings and the nature of some of the spells.

Our spells include "Blastbones", "Double Spell", "Whip of Pain", and "Manshoon’s Xorn Talons."
Magic items include a "Ring of ESP", "Cloak of Healing", and a "Fleeting Fail." And some undead monsters.

"3 Wizards Too Many", Dragon #196 (82), August 1993
Dalamar relaxes enough to have some fun with Mordenkainen and he gives as good as he gets now. It is easy to forget that on Krynn, Dalamar is the big badass evil mage. I just never read him as really being evil I guess. Not in the Dragonlance stories and not here either. Selfish, sure, but not really evil. I am sure I just missed some of his darker exploits.

The spells include "Bloodglass", "Fistandantilus's Firequench", "Thultaun's Thrust", "Barrier Reaver" and "Dragon Breath". Magic items include "Helping Hands" and "Spell Mirror".

"The Wizards Three", Dragon #200 (20), December 1993
I recall this one quite well. The Dragon magazine had the then way cool hologram cover, and this Wizards Three features the Simbul. This entire exchange with the Three Wizards and A Witch Lady was reproduced in the Forgotten Realms book "Pages from the Mages". I liked this one, even if Dalamar did go back to acting like a petulant child. But I can overlook all that. This was not the first time I had ever heard of The Simbul, but it was the first time I had read about the character and really grew to like her. Here are the three greatest mages of three worlds and they all pay deference to HER.


I mean look. Mordenkainen is bowing to her. That's impressive.

This one has the most spells, which includes "Shadow Bolt", "Slowspell", "Acid Bolt", "Mordenkainen's Involuntary Wizardry", "Bonebind", "Bloodstars", "Lightning Storm", "Alamanther's Return", and "Tempestcone".

I didn't spend a lot of pixels on it, but this might be my favorite of the lot.

"The Wizards Three", Dragon #211 (82), November 1994
Now we are getting into ones a little less familiar to me. Some I read when they came out, but only briefly, others I did not encounter at all until I bought the Dragon Magazine CD-ROM Archive.

This installment finds Elminster with a burning tongue from chili and a Mordenkainen in a jovial mood. So much so he even pranks Dalamar. See I find this totally in-character for Mordenkainen, knowing what I know of Gary. Though I don't pretend to be an expert on either Mordenkainen or Gary. The three share reminiscences of "Nights of Shadows" past, or essentially Halloween. The text seems to suggest that Dalamar is a Drow, but he isn't, he is a "Dark elf" which is something very different on Krynn.
Their spell trades have moved now into subtle contests of who can impress the others more. It seems less about power and more about the story behind the spell; a bit I really liked. Who cares how powerful a spell is, how interesting is it? Though there is less sharing of the stories behind each spell.
This is the shortest one to date, but it has a lot of spells.
For those interested, Elminster contributed "Falling Wall", "Jonstal's Double Wizardry", and "Jonstal's Improved Double Wizardry"; Mordenkainen presented "Argaster's Cloak of Shadows", "Belsham's Mace", and "Othnal's Spectral Dagger"; and Dalamar set forth "Battlecurse", "Sphere of Eyes", and "Valiancy".

"The Wizards Three", Dragon #219 (90), July 1995
The subtitle of this one is "Warmer than Expected" which is appropriate. In July 1995 I got married and came home to the largest (and deadliest) heat wave Chicago had seen in decades (though we would surpass it many times later) and our AC was dead.
There is more "plot" in this story with the introduction of Shaan the Serpent-Queen. This whole set-up to trap the Serpent-Queen.
In the end we are introduced, sort of, to Mordenkainen's thee new young apprentices.
Spells featured here were "Handfangs" (turns your hand into a venomous viper), "Farscry", "Dauntra's Cloak", "Translocation Shift", "Temporal Freedom", and "Brainblaze".

"The Return of the Wizards Three", Dragon #238 (42), August 1997
The biggest gap of time between installments so far just occurred. Elminster even comments about the last installment noting reading about it on "the Net". Something about "gamers with dirty minds." I checked a little on the Usenet group rec.games.frp.dnd and there does seem to be some complaining. Was this the reason? Most likely it had more to do with the fact that this was a very dark time at TSR and Wizards of the Coast had either bought them at this time or was close. I just checked, this was one of the first Dragons to be published by the newly acquired TSR.
This installment tries to walk back some of the implied ribaldries of the last episode. We get nearly a page and a half of this before any other wizard shows up.
In something of a manifestation of this, we are introduced to Rautheene, one of the new apprentices of Mordenkainen. She was introduced to keep the number at three. Dalamar will not be joining the group this night, nor any other night, nor any other night for the next 10 years. I have to admit I was always curious about why exactly Dalamar was excluded. I know it had something to do with the relationship WotC now had with the Dragonlance properties. But for me, this was the big issue that overshadowed whether or not Mord and Elm went frolicking with young apprentices.
The addition of Rautheene also adds something akin to a Doctor Who companion; a younger, less learned character whose job is to ask "What is that Doctor?" or in Rautheene's case "What is that Lord?"
The spells shared were, "Spell Echo", "Scourage of Stars", "Firedart", "Turnblade", "Backshift" and the evocatively named "Mystra's Unraveling".

"Jest the Wizards Three", Dragon #242 (48), December 1997
This one comes a mere four months after the last. I know I said that I didn't care about the implied ribaldry between the old mages and young apprentices, but now I can't read about Elminster and Rautheene as nothing but really creepy flirting. Ah well. Thought maybe because of this Rautheene is also becoming a more developed character, though she is still something of a walking stereotype at the moment. But she is getting there.
The mages trade spells and strange flavor combinations (smoked salmon and ice-cream, which is something I think my youngest son has also done).
The spells include "Coinsharp", "False Ioun Stone", "Hither", "Wizard Gong", "Echo", "Fingerblade", "Nextremity", "Sortil's Aqueous Transfer", and "Spy".

"The Wizards Three", Dragon #246 (86), April 1998
This installment has the first full-color interior art. The artist, David Day has been with us since the start.



More discussion on how they can't reach Krynn. This installment is also fairly short, but there are some interesting spells. "Beneath the Surface" (looks beneath the surface of something), "Blade of Memory", "Brester's Beam of Light", "Onsible's Key", "Runefinger" (allows the mage to draw in mid-air), "Smahing Stike", "Standfast", "Tanatha's Melt", and "Tentacled Visage".

"The Wizards Three", Dragon #344 (56), June 2006
Previously we got three installments in eight months. Then eight years till this one! What changes happened to our trio of wizards? For me I went from being married and living in my brand new home to being married, having two kids, living in my second home, and having published a few of my own RPG materials. Soon I'll pick up the tattered remains of my old website and recreate it as this blog. This was also the time I had a subscription to Dragon.
Ed is still the author, but we get a new illustrator in Tom Fowler. Dragon is now published by Paizo, the system is now 3.0 D&D and TSR is almost 10 years gone.
Some other changes. Mordenkainen is now in his new "Anton Le Vey" look (ok that is not really a fair comparison, but he is bald with a goatee). Rautheene no longer seems to be his apprentice (though she is still called such), but a full mage in her own right, and she is sporting some new tattoos. Seems she was a college student in the 90s! Again, more lip service given to looking for Dalamar, this time it is Rautheene doing the looking. It occurs to me that an epic quest to find a completely lost world might be fun.
Interesting change in tone here. I attribute it to all the novels Ed had written since, but Rautheene is less the "giggling coed" and now more capable young mage. She is aware of the power difference between her and the two older mages, more so than Dalamar was, but for her, it is less "I am not as good as them" and more "that's going to be me if I learn from these two." I'd like to see if there is more about her out there.
The spells are now in 3e format, so they are for wizards and sorcerers. They include "Battle Tentacles", "Mailed Might", and "Wymcone". I would have liked some more discussion on the arrival of Sorcerers to these two worlds, but that has been discussed elsewhere.

"The Wizards Three", Dragon #359 (78), September 2007
This is the end of our journey. This is the last published, print copy of Dragon Magazine. I have not checked to see if any were published in the 4e online Dragon or Dragon+ for 5e. So let's see what this rather special installment has for us.
Dalamar has returned for this final meeting which I admit is a really nice surprise for the other wizards and myself. Rautheene now holds her own against Elminster.
This time Ed is outed, in a manner of speaking, as to why he hosts this gathering of wizards and the Wizards Four decide to let him live if he continues to show off their brilliance. Dinner is shared, but no spells this time.



The Wizards Three was a sometimes delightful, sometimes amusing little romp of the important worlds of classic D&D; Toril, Oerth, and Krynn and not to mention Earth.



I will admit I was disappointed in the end that Mystara was never represented, especially since the feature would share issues with such Mystara-centric features as "Voyages of the Princess Ark" and even an article about Mystara's wizards from Bruce Heard himself.

The spells were always welcome and I could never get enough new spells to be honest.

The series is also one of the few that is covered in both the Greyhawk online wiki and the Forgotten Realms one. The closest thing the online Dragonlance wiki has is an Ed Greenwood category.

Through these outside sources and from the articles I gathered that The Year of the Turret, 1360 DR marked the first meeting between Elminster and Mordenkainen on Earth (1992). On Oerth, this was shortly before the year 581 CY. I am unsure of what the date would have been on Krynn.

I am curious to know what the fans of the various worlds think of this series. Did it do your favorite mage justice? What else would you have liked to have seen? Who else? Ringlerun? Kelek?

I also wonder if this was re-done today what other wizards and worlds would be included. Would Dark Sun? Birthright? Eberron?

Edited to Add: Ed has weighed in on this!



Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Magic Item: The Witch Whistle

This image has been floating around the net for about a year.  Figure I should do something fun with it.  So here it is for Old-School Essentials.



Witch Whistle (Witch Flute)
Summons an army of rats when blown.

  • Summons 10-100 (10d10) normal rats when blown (usable 2x per day)
  • Or summons 5-30 (5d6) giant rats when a short tune is played (1 per day)
  • Or summons 1-4 (1d4) wererats when a longer song is played (1 per day)

These whistles are created by Pagan Witches and Death Pact Warlocks. Crafted from the bone of a wererat and petrified paw of a rat.  They keep the songs well hidden but allow the magic to be used to summon normal rats.  If the songs are learned the player can use one of any of the powers once per day.
Under any circumstance, the player does not control the rats that are summoned.
They arrive within one round.


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Old School Essentials: New Witch Spells

The hottest new property in OSR gaming is Old-School Essentials.  Justifiably so too.   It is a great reinterpretation of the Basic/Expert rules and it is a lot of fun.  It is also on sale today as the DriveThruRPG Deal of the Day.

I am still a little bit away, further than I want to admit, from finishing up The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witchcraft Tradition.  But in celebration of OSE's sale here are some new witch spells.

First Level Witch Spells

Call Spirits of the Land
Duration: 1d4 hours
Range: The Caster
Call Spirits enables the witch to gather local spirits of the dead and elements, which appear to the caster as small ghostly disembodied heads, and listen to their tales about the surrounding
land and people.
▶ Characters listening can make an Intelligence Ability check to learn something about the local area.
▶ Characters who fail the check by five or less hear nothing but endless ramblings and chattering, possibly in an unknown or ancient language, that have nothing to do with the subject at hand.
▶ Those who fail by more than five hear nothing.
▶ A roll of a natural 20 provides completely false and maliciously misleading information.

Material Components: The caster must pay for the information with offerings of food, alcoholic beverages, incense, song, and pleasant conversation. The offering should total at least 1 gp.

Salving Rest 
Duration: Special
Range: The caster or a creature touched
This spell allows its subject to enjoy soothing, peaceful sleep, free of pain and sorrow, whenever she slumbers. As a result of this salving rest,
▶ The subject of the spell will heal an extra 1d3 hit points during each day of complete rest.
▶ The spell ends when the subject stops completely resting or if she takes any damage.

Material Components: A tea made from valerian root and lavender.

Second Level Witch Spells

Chameleon
Duration: 1 turn per level
Range: Touch
This spell allows any character touched to blend into her surroundings to the point of becoming nearly invisible. The character gains a +4/+20% to hide in shadows. Characters affected by a chameleon spell can always hide in shadows with a skill of at least 25% chance. This spell is used to create elven cloaks.

Material Components: The scale of a chameleon or a bit of skin from a cuttlefish. Alternately a bit of multi-colored cloth will also work.

Inscribe Tattoo I
Duration: Permanent
Range: One willing target
With this spell the caster inscribes a tattoo onto a willing subject. Only three such tattoos can ever be placed on one subject.
Tattoos have different abilities
Become animal: Allows the subject to shift into a normal animal, chosen at the time of inscribing. The animal’s HD must be equal to or less than the subject’s level. The subject can only shapeshift once per month.
Strike true: The subject gains a +1 to hit/damage. Magical creatures can be hit with this magic.
Magical protection: +1 to saves vs. magic. This can be from spells, wands, rods or magic-like effects.
Battle protection: +1 bonus to AC. Tattoo must be visible to have effect.
Magical Affinity: Used by spell casters this gives as -1 penalty to target’s saves.

Similar tattoos do not add their effects. Two Magical Protection tattoos do not prove +2 protection.  Only higher-level tattoos can.
The caster cannot tattoo herself.

Material Components: Special tattoo pens, needles, and inks are required.

Third Level Witch Spells

Hopping Doom 
Duration: 1 turn/level 
Range: 60 feet
The witch can summon 1d10 x 1,000 slimy wet bullfrogs to a spot designated (crawling out from rocks, nooks and crannies, or otherwise dropping from the ceiling or sky). They jump madly about, getting underfoot, and croak at a deafening volume that prevents conversation within the area of effect. The distraction is such that spellcasters must save (spells) before they can cast, and missile users roll to hit at -2. Movement within the area is halved.
▶There is a base 10% chance (+5% per level) that 1d10 poisonous frogs will be in the group. ▶They will attack non-frog targets within the area of effect, forcing them to save (poison) at +2 or die. The poisonous frogs are colorful but otherwise identical to the rest.
▶The caster can move the mass of frogs by telepathic command, at a maximum speed of up to 60 ft per round.
▶The area of effect is determined by the number of frogs summoned (10 ft² per 1,000 frogs).

Material Components: A small fly.

Malice
Duration: 6 turns
Range: Touch 
Malice weakens the target creature's attacks: each time the target creature inflicts hit point damage on an enemy (by any means), damage dice must be rolled twice, and the lesser result used.

Material Components: The witch must be able to touch the target while giving a word of power.

Fourth Level Witch Spells

Venus Glass
Duration: Instantaneous
Range: One glass of water
The witch sends a prayer out to the spirits of her ancestors and to the spirits of those not yet reborn into her life for a vision. A question is asked to give her a vision of a face. Typically the witch casts a venus glass for a maiden hoping to see the face of her future husband.
She then cracks an egg and suspends the egg white in a glass of water
She can then see the future, usually, the face of someone important to the witch or whomever the witch is asking about.
▶ Face: the face of someone will appear. It may be indistinct or quite clear.
▶ Portents: If the egg has blood in it means that the person they seek with bring them death.
▶ Visage of Death: If the face switches from normal to a skull face then the person they seek will die.
▶ Unclear: No face is revealed. The witch may try again the next night.

Material Components: An egg from a hen taken at or just before the dawn and a clear glass of pure water.

Fifth Level Witch Spells

Flood of Tears
Duration: Instantaneous and one round per level
Range: Cone 60’ 
The witch begins to cry and creates a flood to wash away her foes. 
▶ In the first round, the tears flow creatures caught in the flood must make a save vs. paralysis or take 1d6 hp of damage for every two levels of the witch (max 7d6). Save for half. 
▶ For the rounds that follow the area remains inundated with water and the flotsam and jetsam of debris. Movement is reduced to half in this area. 

Material Components: The witch must cry.

Sixth Level Witch Spells

Eye Bite
Duration: 1 round per 3 levels
Range: 25’ + 5’ per 2 levels
The witch glares at a target. 
Each round, the witch may target a single living creature, striking it with waves of arcane power.  Depending on the target’s HD, this attack has as many as three effects.


HD
Effect
10 or more
Sickened
5-9
Panicked, sickened
4 or less
Comatose, panicked, sickened

▶ Sickened: Sudden pain and fever sweeps over the target’s body. A sickened creature takes a -2 penalty on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws and ability checks.  A creature affected by this spell remains sickened for 10 minutes per caster level.  The effects cannot be negated by a remove disease or heal spell, but a remove curse is effective.
▶ Panicked: The target becomes panicked for 1d4 rounds as if under the influence of a fear spell.  After the initial effect is over, the target can become panicked again if he sees the witch and fails a saving throw.
▶ Comatose: The target falls into a catatonic coma for 10 minutes per caster level.  During this time, it cannot be awakened by any means short of dispelling the effect.  This is not a sleep effect, and thus elves are not immune to it.

The witch can affect victims for 1 round per three caster levels.  Spell effects can last longer than this depending on the effect. 

Material Components: The witch needs to be able to see the victim.  She needs to touch her eye and point to the victim.


The Craft of the Wise: The Pagan Witch Traditions


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

April TTRPG Maker, Day 24

Day 24:  Favorite RPG thing to Create?

Hmm.

That's a toss-up.  I love making monsters.  Monsters are what got me interested in RPGs to start with.

I also love to make classes.  My witch is my foremost example, but I have many more.

But in the end, I would have to say spells.

According to my spreadsheet, I have written over 800 unique spells for various games.

Spells and magic are my favorites.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Calidar "On Wings of Darkness"

I have been a fan of Bruce Heard's work for sometime now.  Ever since I picked up a copy of the Glantri Gazzeteer for BECMI D&D I have been following what he does. 
His new project has been his world of Calidar and it has been a lot of fun. 
Now we come full circle to Calidar's magical kingdom.

Calidar "On Wings of Darkness"


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ambreville/calidar-on-wings-of-darkness

The book includes:

  •  History of Caldwen:  This chapter covers the origins of the magiocracy, from its ancient time on Munaan, a moon of Calidar, to present-day Caldwen. Includes a summary and a huge timeline of events.
  •  Lay of the Land: Geography, climate, local culture, main cults and races, economy, regional peculiarities, and local dynamics combine to depict each province separately.
  •  Intrigues of the Magi: Internal politics, government by academia, and the military overlaid upon rivalries among the wizardly aristocracy and the sorcerous hoi-polloi give the magiocracy a unique character. 
  •  Behind the curtains: Discover the odd brotherhoods and secret sects working from the shadows, scheming to make an already-challenging setting even more perilous.
  •  A Cast of Many: A host of political figures, academic personalities, and curious individuals populate these pages. They are presented here, with game stats, motivations, secrets, and connections galore.
  •  Master & Servant: A nation where demons serve the spellcasting class, local laws, and tools of lordship are presented alongside a who's who of Caldwen's most notorious demons.
  •  Beasties in the Dark: Some of the more curious creatures dwelling in Caldwen populate this section, complete with stats and illustrations, beckoning game referees to summon them during their adventures.
  •  At the Heart of Magic:  Discover Caldwen's schools of magic and how their benefits, tuition, philosophies, diplomas, and campus rivalries influence the fabric of the entire magiocracy.
  •  Secrets of the Cabals: Private guilds provide alternate career paths in the fields of Alchemy, Demonology, Dracology, Elementalism, Necromancy, and Skymastery, with deadly trials and fabulous powers.
  •  Blood of the World Soul: An order of mage-knights concerns itself with a mystical source of raw magical power forbidden to all but Caldwen's aristocracy. Though potent, it is deadly if abused.
  •  Sky City of Arcanial: The capital city is a wondrous place flying above a sprawling shanty town on the ground. Packed with encounter ideas, each district requires flying gondolas and teleporters to reach.

So really a must buy for anyone that was a fan of Glantri.

The Calidar books so far have been great and top notch in quality, so I expect nothing less here.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Kickstart Your Weekend: Domina Magica - A Magical Girl RPG

Back from Gen Con so lets look into a game you might be playing next year!

And it looks like fun.

Domina Magica - A Magical Girl RPG


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1445739002/domina-magica-a-magical-girl-rpg#

The game has all the tropes expected with a Magical Girl game, so that is great, but it also just looks so damn cool.

The character sheet is also damn near fantastic.  A major trope in Magical Girl anime is the transformation sequence.   Well, this captured in the real world by this cool character sheet that you flip over for your Normal or Magical form (you will need to provide your own them music).

Sheet not final


The Cootie Catcher, the Dark Energy Circle...it is obvious that designer Emily Reinhart is in real life a Magical Girl herself.  I hope she does not get into trouble with whatever powers gave her her powers.  Co-designer James McClure also proves that unlike Tuxedo Mask he is an important part of the team.   Both come to the table with enough street cred to make this a hit.  Indeed since I first heard of this and now it has been funded.

The art looks great and there are some fantastic stretch goals too.

So do yourself a favor and check it out.
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1445739002/domina-magica-a-magical-girl-rpg#





Thursday, August 2, 2018

#RPGaDAY2018 Day 2: What is the first thing you look for in an RPG?

Here we are, #RPGaDAY2018 Day 2!



What is the first thing you look for in an RPG?

While my introduction to RPGs was a book of monsters, my first love is Magic.

I always look at the magic system first.  I love new and different magic systems and I love to try them out. Whether the system is fantasy, modern or horror, it's what I look for.


Monday, April 30, 2018

So Many Spells

I didn't get a chance to do any gaming this weekend.  Not likely get in any in the next few weekends since I am going to spending my time helping my wife in her garden.

So while I was outside rototilling (before and after) I was working out some spells and some spell books.  I snuck inside to check some of my databases, files, folders and materials on my cloud drive and I figure a conservative estimate is I have about 12,000 different spells spread out over all the editions of D&D.  A good 800 or so are ones I wrote myself (I know I wrote close to 400 for Buffy and Ghosts of Albion and another 380 for the various witch books).


In CineUnisystem rules (Buffy, Ghosts of Albion, Angel) there is a quality called "Occult Library" which relates how many tomes of magic you can start with and thus how many spells.  This works because there is no real formal training for would be spell casters for the most part and often spells are found in old libraries and collections.  Much like Call of Cthulhu.

Occult Library is a variable quality.  Without giving away too much here is a breakdown.

Name Points # of Spells Notes
Poor 1 4-13 A spotty collection of Time-Life books
Fine 2 7-16 Access to the internet
Outstanding 3 11-20 Some really rare books
Amazing 5 21-30 Some unique tomes that no one else has

How would this translate into terms a D&D player could use?  Well, there is no economy to "buy" features in older versions of *D&D, but there is in newer versions.  D&D 3rd, 4th, and 5th all have feats.  Now keep in mind one of the reasons that wizards (and witch and warlocks and other spellcasters) go on adventures is to find new (or more likely "old") spells.  I do not want to lose that.  So given the feat economy in 4th and 5th edition, I would use this only for "starting" spells.  The character spends a feat to gain access to a number of spells.  I would also say that this feat is a Character Creation feat only.  So you can only take it at 1st level.

New Feat
Arcane Library
You have access to a large library of arcane tomes where you can study at your leisure.
Prerequisites:  Level 1 only;  Ability to cast Arcane spells.
Benefit:  You have access to a library of arcane and occult tomes.  This library will give 3-18 (3d6) spells of up to 9th level (2d4 +1) (GM's can work with the player to determine what spells are found).
These spells must still be learned, but they are here for when you can learn them.

For older editions of the game, I would suggest adding an extra 100xp to spellcaster's Experience to the 2nd level to cover this boon.  I would allow this for Witches, Magic-Users  (Elf as a class), Illusionists and Bards, but not Clerics or Druids.

I am sneaking this one in under the wire, but this is my contribution to the RPG Blog Carnival, hosted this month by Hereticwerks.  The topic this month was Journals, Grimoires and Spell-Books. 


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Joy of Basic D&D & Magic School

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of ALL editions of D&D.  I have played them all, and all to a significant degree.  But my start, and in many ways, my true love is Basic D&D.  B/X flavor in particular.  With the D&D Rules Cyclopedia now out in POD I am going to take some time to go back and play some of the D&D that I played the least; BECMI.

I have had some ideas for various "Basic" games over the years.  I want to take my 4e Campaign and reboot that as a BECMI one, but instead, I morphed it into a 5e one.  I still want my War of the Witch Queens to be a B/X adventure, but it really could become a BECMI one since I really would love to take advantage of all 36 levels that BECMI offers me.   But in truth, I had no idea what I wanted to do until this morning.

A couple of posts on Facebook in various "old school" groups has new players, maybe ones more familiar with Post-TSR D&D, lamenting that Magic-Users/Wizards only get one spell at 1st level.
While this is familiar ground for old-school gamers, I do sympathize with these players.
Some of this for me goes back to the 4th Edition games. In 4e a 1st level wizard is quite competent with a number of spells they can use right off the bat.  In a way, it is what you would expect from a graduate from a magic school.  But in other ways, it also makes a less compelling "story".  4e Wizards might be closer to Harry Potter, or Harry Dresden, but they are not close to the Luke Skywalker model of the new adventurer with plenty talent but no training.
This train of thought got me thinking about Basic and BECMI in particular as a means to "grow into" 4e.  A lot of my analysis was on how much magic and "Combat power" a single wizard has from levels 1 to 6 in BECMI and compare that to 4e.  The goal was to have levels 1 through 6 to be training and then levels 7 to 36 map roughly onto 4e's levels 1 to 30.  The math is not perfect, as to be expected, but there is enough wiggle room that I liked it.

Well. I am not doing 4e now.  But the idea of levels 1 to 6 as "training levels" still appeals to me.


So my plan now is this.  I am going to create a magic school (long overdue really) and the characters are all magic users.  They enter the school at age 13 at level 1 and spend the next six years working towards graduation witch each year being the next level. They will graduate at age 19 at level 7 to start adventuring.

I have a lot of ideas of what needs to happen, but I also need to figure out how to fill up 80,000 xp worth of experiences that fit with a school environment.   Along the way, they can pick up specialties (Necromancy, Enchantment and so on).  Students will take classes in languages, finger position, and diction in addition to ones on Magical Theory and Thought.  I also see students working on magic items and potions.  This is where all those magic items and cursed items come from.

I am also going to borrow heavily from The Complete Wizard's Handbook for 2nd Ed. I am also going to borrow some ideas from theGlantri books, GAZ3 The Principalities of Glantri (Basic) and Glantri: Kingdom of Magic (2e).


I *might* even set it all in Glantri, but I am also kind of wanting to set in my new campaign setting of West Haven.  Setting it in Glantri though has a lot of appeal to me.

Obvious sources for this are the Harry Potter books and movies, but also the Magicians books and TV series, the Magic schools from Charmed and Wizards of Waverly Place, various comics like the X-Men and Teen Titans and Miskatonic University.

I am going to give this one some serious thought, there is also so much material for this out there.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Mighty MAGIC Protectors

 Magic in superhero comics is often a problematic issue. Magic in superhero RPGs is no less of one.
Often, most games solve this by saying magic replicates any power or that the power you have comes from magic instead of a mutation or accident or not having parents.

Mighty Protectors by +Jeff Dee and +Jack Herman uses the approach that magic can be used to replicate a power and you can use the Arsenal ability to bundle a bunch of powers together as a spell.

I mentioned this before using the examples of my own characters Witch Queen and Teen Witch as well as my versions of Willow and Tara.

+bk adams is a YouTuber that has been doing a number of videos about Mighty Protectors.  They are great to watch if you are new to the system and need some "real world" examples.

Here is his two-part series on the Arsenal ability and how to use it as a spell book.





He has even put up his Spell Book spreadsheet for you to use.

I wanted to post something similar here, but frankly, he does such a good job there is no need for me to go over it more.   I do have a Spellbook I am working on that will also let me build spells from abilities.  I will combine some ideas from his as well.

This puts me in the mood to run some more Supers games in 2018!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #130

Not moving too far ahead from last week but that is cool.  We are coming up on an issue that I remember back when it was new but never owned till recently.  So without further ado lets go back to February of 1988 for issue #130 of This Old Dragon!

This cover, while it never gets mentioned in the same breath as some of the other great covers is still a favorite of mine.  Linda Medley gives us a very evocative cover (no pun intended) and she also did the cover for April 1987 #120.  I love the witch's hair flying all up in the air. It's a witch/magic-user/wizard, summoning a demon. What's not to love. Especially given the times.  In 1988 the Santanic Panic had winded down and was now just an embarrassing memory to many.  BUT there were still those out that there screaming D&D=Satanism, so much so that demons and devils were not even part of AD&D 2nd ed till much later.

I would love to have this one as an art print for my game room too.

The magazine has also gone through a couple of cosmetic changes.  The dark background banner "Magazine" now appears under "Dragon".  There are other changes inside that I associate with the "2nd Edition" era, although that was not really due to start yet.  I guess this could also be called the "Post Old Guard" era or even "The Roger Morre" era as he is the publisher.

Letters covers a wide gambit of people wanting more minis, people wanting to get their alt-rules D&D game published, and people talking about the visual change to the magazine.
Roger Moore's editorial talks about how modern times are weirder, and more dangerous than most sci-fi games.

Another ad for the Sci-fi book club.  I think I read most of these books.



The Forum has the usual rules clarifications and questions from readers.  One suggests removing the Illusionist class. Wait a year or so and you get your wish.

We get to the main feature of this issue, The Arcane Arts. A nice big section on magic. Not sure why I didn't buy this one then?

John N. Keane is up first with Get the Most From Your Magic. An article on what spells to take of various levels.  It's a bit meta-gaming and a bit informed career advice.  It is fairly specific to the oddities of 1st Edition, but I think some of it still applies to 2nd ed and of course most OSR books.
It is particularly useful for the list of spells, level, duration, and sleep and study times.  So you know how often to use it.  It is the sort of analysis that I really enjoy.

The article is interrupted for the small ads.  Weird. I assume it is to right the page count so we can have the ships in the middle with the instructions surrounding them.

Magic from East to West by Len Carpenter covers spells found in the Oriental Adventures book that can be ported over to the Players Handbook.  Again, fairly 1st specific.A couple of spells are added to round off the selections. There are some good ideas here of spells, but it's been so long since I read OA I am not sure if this is a good sampling or not.

Speaking of doomed Illusionists*, Brian Tillotson is next with Hold on to Your Illusions!
*Ok, I know illusionists did really go away, but the illusionist as a class as presented in AD&D1 did for the more flexible and more powerful AD&D2 illusionist. So this article still has a lot of value even in today's 5th Edition world.  Some of the spells have changed, the principles are still there.
Worth a read if you ever play an illusionist.

Nice huge, full-color ad for GDW's MegaTraveller. I do not dwell on past regrets when it comes to the games I have played or not, but I do wish I had played more Traveller when I was younger. I am still not 100% sure what are the differences between all the versions of Traveller.

John N. Keane is back with magical disguises in The Faces of Magic.  There are also spells listed that mimic thief abilities, as well as cleric and druid spells.

We come up to one of my favorite articles and one I remember the best from this issue.  Better Living Through Alchemy by Tom Armstrong gives us not only an alchemist class (some D&D has needed in my mind) but also a primer on Alchemy and how could work in the game.  There have been attempts both before (Bard Games "Compleat Alchemist") and after (Pathfinder), this is the one I liked the most.  Playing the class though was hard. It had higher XP per level than the wizard and there was little they could do without their lab. The article is dense. That is in the sense that there is a lot here to read and unpack. I think one day I am going to need to do a Class Struggles on the Alchemist someday.

Come up to the fiction section next. "Shark-killer" by Carol Severance.

Continuing the Magic theme, The Game Wizards by Jon Picken covers magic and the wizard class of AD&D 2nd Edition.

I think there was something in the middle here, maybe some ships?  But nothing is here.  Checking the CD Rom and my other copy.  Nope nothing. I could have sworn there was something here.

The Dragon's Bestiary has a collection of Gamma World monsters. I would have thought a collection of wizard/magic related monsters would have fit the theme better.

For Top Secret we get a collection of special watches in Keeping A Good Watch by Ryan Grandstaff.  A lot of these seem quaint now, but this was cool stuff in 1988.

Remember when Richard Branson opened up some game stores?  Me either, but Virgin Games Centre was totally a thing in 88.


Jody Lynn Nye has an article on Dungeon Etiquette or how not to be a jerk player.

Maybe this is why I thought this issue had ships.  Margaret Foy has an article on The Oriental Sea. Here though the ships are just described and given game stats.

Malcolm Bowers ends the regular section with If Looks Could Kill. An article all about gaze weapons and attacks and how to avoid them.

Speaking of Bard Games, there is a nice ad for Talislanta miniatures.

The Marvel-Phile has a bunch of heroes I have never heard of.

Role of Computers covers software.

Dragonmirth has a batch of particularily unfunny comics this month.  gah.
SnarfQuest and Wormy close out the issue.

Really a solid issue with a lot of material that can still be used today. My copy of this magazine is in pretty good shape too.  I think I will find uses for it at my table.

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf around the same time?  Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday #98.

Don't forget my newest book The Witch for Swords & Wizardry Continual Light is now out. At under a buck-fifty it can be yours!


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