Showing posts with label old-school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label old-school. Show all posts

Friday, September 23, 2022

Kickstart your Weekend: Gateway To Adventure Trilogy

A fun one today Correction, TWO fun ones today.

Gateway To Adventure Trilogy For Old-School Essentials

Gateway To Adventure Trilogy For Old-School Essentials

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

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

These books are updates to various new Appendix N books, a few I am going to review for my 100 Days of Halloween to Old School Essentials.

From the campaign page,

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

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

They just launched and are very, very close to hitting their funding goal now, get them a look.

And a late entry.

Raiders of R’lyeh: From the Tideless Sea—Epic Horror Sandbox

Raiders of R’lyeh: From the Tideless Sea—Epic Horror Sandbox

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1375282718/raiders-of-rlyeh-from-the-tideless-sea-epic-horror-sandbox?ref=theotherside

An adventure/sandbox set in 1900 for " RAIDERS OF R’LYEH tabletop roleplaying game and other d100 GAMES based on H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Call of Cthulhu’ and other mythos or pulp stories."

It also looks like a lot of fun and they are also very close to their funding goal.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Plays Well With Others: Horror in Space (BlackStar)

In space no one can hear you scream
It's Friday the 13th! Something of a holiday here at the Other Side.  

May is SciFi month and for the first two weeks here I have dedicated it all to Classic Traveller. I find myself at a bit of a crossroads.  Do I continue with the Classic Traveller OR do I go along to the progression from Classic to Mega Traveller and beyond?  Choices. Choices. 

In the mean time since today is the scariest day outside of October 31st (well, than and Walpurgis Night) let go to a discussion you all know I LOVE and that is horror in Space.  In particular, the Mythos flavored Cosmic Horror of Lovecraft AND the exploration of Space ala Star Trek.

Since I am going to look a few ways to do this I am going to put it under the banner of Plays Well With Others.

My "Star Trek meets Cthulhu" campaign is known as BlackStar and I have detailed the ideas I have had here.  

The game started out as a combination of various OSR-style games because that is what I was playing a lot at the time. But as time has gone on I have given it more thought and explored other RPG system options.  Every combination has its own features and its own problems.   Let's look at all the options I have been considering.

Basic Era/OSR

The first choice was the easy one really.  I went with the two main books for their maximum compatibility, Starships & Spacemen and Realms of Crawling Chaos.  Both are based for the most part on Labyrinth Lord.   This gives me a lot of advantages. For starters, and the obvious one, there is just so much stuff for this.  If I don't like the Cthulhu monsters from Realms, I can grab them from Deities & Demigods, Hyperborea, or so many more.  The Lovecraft/Cthulhu stuff is covered.  The "Weakest" link here is Starships & Spacemen.  Well, it's not weak, but it is not my favorite set of Trek-like RPG rules.

Starships & Spacemen & Shogoths

Given the rules, I could add in bits of Stars Without Number. That *might* fill out some of the rough spaces (for me) of S&S.  There is a lot, I mean really a LOT I can do with all of this.

It would also make running The Ghost Station of Inverness Five much easier. 

The Ghost Station of Inverness Five

D20 Systems

I'll admit it. I like d20. I enjoyed d20 games. There are LOT of options if I want to go 3.x d20.

d20 Games

Pathfinder, Starfinder, d20 Call of Cthulhu, Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos.  All of these are great and at least 90% compatible. Again, I am sick with riches when it comes to Cthulhu/Lovecraftian materials here. Starfinder is good...but it is not Star Trek.  In fact my preferred Sci-Fi d20 game is the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars.  I know. I am strange.  

Certainly, the d20 Cthulhu books would be easily converted to OSR, but they already have analogs in the OSR world.   But having all of these is certainly helpful.

Since my weakest link seems to be Trek-like rules, maybe what I need is a good set of Trek rules.

Star Trek RPGs

Currently, my two favorite flavors of the Star Trek RPG are the classic FASA Trek and the newest Mōdiphiüs' Star Trek Adventures.  Both are great. Both are really fun. AND there is even a Mythos/Lovecraftian game using the same system, Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20.  Now this game is set in WWII, but that is not a problem. 

Trek and Cthulhu

Here I have exactly the opposite issue.  There is a LOT of great Trek material and limited on Cthulhu/Lovecraft material.   I could add in material from Call of Cthulhu as needed. Also, I have the PDFs for Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 but none of the physical books. The 2d20 system is also much newer for me and I don't know it as well as some of the others.

Traveller

I have been talking about Traveller all month long and it would remiss of me not to try something with that.  Thankfully things are well covered there.

Traveller and Chthonian Stars

So I have not even touched ANYTHING yet regarding the Cepheus Engine or new Traveller, but to jump ahead a bit there is a game setting for Traveller Chthonian Stars. It takes place in 2159 (a date I can use!) and there is a lot to it, but the basic gist is Humankind has begun to explore the Solar System and that is about it.  Then we introduce Cthulhu Mythos material to that!  Sounds a bit like BlackStar: The First Generation.  I'll get a proper review up later in the month, but there are a lot of great things in this setting.  Reading over it it really makes me want to try this using just Traveller.  They really make it work well.  Plus I could still use the Classic Traveller system, more or less.

This provides me with a solid sci-fi game with great mythos support too. The publisher has since updated this game to their more inhouse version called The Void. Not sure if it uses the same system as their Cthulhu Tech RPG or not. 

The Expanse RPG
AGE System

I really love Green Ronin's AGE system. I also LOVE the Expanse.  So I grabbed their Expanse AGE-based RPG and am hoping to do a lot more with it.  So imagine my delight when they ran a Kickstarter for Cthulhu Awakens an AGE-based Mythos game.   The Solar System spanning of the Expanse is nowhere near the Galaxy spanning of Star Trek, but maybe I could run it as a "Prequel" game.  Get a ship out to Pluto to discover something protomolecule-like but instead make it mythos-related.  A prequel to my Whispers in the Outer Darkness.  A Star Trek DY-100 class pre-warp ship would fit right in with the ships of the Expanse.  I should point out that the Expanse takes place in the 2350s, the same time frame as my proposed BlackStar campaign in the Star Trek timeline. 2352 for the launch of the Protector and 2351 for the Expanse RPG.

Maybe this "First Mission" might explain why Star Fleet is building its experimental ships at Neptune Station and not Utopia Planitia.  There is something they discovered on Yuggoth/Pluto that makes the Warp-13 engines work. There is my protomolecule connection!

It is possible I could retweak my "At the Planets of Maddness" for this system/setting. Though in my heart I really wanted Shoggoths and Elder Things for that adventure.  Pluto and Yuggoth clearly imply the involvement of the Mi-Go.

--

I have all those choices listed above and that is also not counting games like Eldritch Skies that also combine space travel with Cthulhu/Mythos.

Chthonian Stars might have an answer for me.  What if this story is not being played out over a single campaign, but multiple lifetimes?

I could do something like this.  Note, this is only a half-baked idea at this point.  

Victorian Era:  Scientists work out the means of travelling the Aether to the stars. (Ghosts of Albion*, Eldritch Skies, Space: 1899. Using Ghosts to make the Protector connections a little clearer).

1930s: Scientist found dead with brain "Scoped" out. Investigate. (Call of Cthulhu)

2150s: Travel to Yuggoth discover an advanced civilization was once there.  Items from 1890s and 1930s are there. (Expanse, Chthonian Stars, Cthulhu Awakens)

2290s: Star Trek Mercy (this one is pure FASA Star Trek). Maybe this can be the one with the Klingon Skelleton ala The Creeping Flesh.

2350s: These are the Voyages of the Experimental Starship Protector. (OSR or Mōdiphiüs 2d20)

I could even do an epilogue in the far future of the Imperium.  

And some other stuff to include all my BlackStar adventures.

Maybe all of these are tied to the "Black Star" an artifact that makes space travel possible and is at the core of the Asymetric Warp-13 engine?  Some was found on Earth but there is a bunch of it on Pluto.

Too many ideas, too many systems.  Gotta narrow it all down at some point.  But one thing is for sure, the system used will depend on what sorts of adventures the characters will have. Mōdiphiüs 2d20 is best for adventures and exploring. OSR games are good for monster hunting. FASA Trek does a little of both.  AGE would be suit the New Adventures in Space theme well.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: Greys (Zeta Reticulians)

Nice meeting of topics here today.  It is May which this year will be the start of my Sci-Fi month.  We have the normal May the Fourth celebrations, and Mayday for Traveller was yesterday.  Plus we get Star Trek Strange New World premiering this week.  AND there is a new D&D Spelljamer on the horizon. So there are a lot of great reasons to celebrate SciFi. 

I also just got finished with my A to Z Challenge for April where I did Conspiracy Theories.  I leaned heavily on a lot of UFO-based ones.  So my appetite has been whetted for more.  And today is Monstrous Monday!  So I thought I would bring all of these ideas together today into a special Monstrous Monday!

Greys (Zeta Reticulians)

Grey Aliens

Of all the alien species that have purportedly visited the Earth few are as popular as the Greys.  These creatures are also known as Zeta Reticulians since they supposedly come from the Zeta Reticuli star system, approximately 40 ly from Earth.  This is based on a drawing from one of the most famous alien abductees ever, Betty Hill.  

Greys are called such due to their skin color. The skin seems to be a uniform grey.  While some are depicted as not wearing clothes, others have suggested that they are wearing skin-tight suits of the same color as their skin to protect them from Earth's atmosphere.  They typically stand 4 to 5ft in height (1.2 to 1.5 meters), are hairless, with large black eyes.  They have no ears nor a nose, save for small slits or holes where such external sense organs would be.  Their bodies are small, thin, and somewhat elongated. Their heads however are large with large foreheads giving the impression of large brains inside. Their hands are long with long delicate fingers. They typically only have four fingers (three fingers and a thumb) per hand, though there are reports of "hybrids" that appear to be greys with human eyes and five fingers per hand.

They do not speak but instead communicate via a form of telepathy. 

Their purpose with humanity is still unknown.  They may not even know themselves just yet since all evidence seems to point to them observing and experimenting on humans. Their experiments in removing eggs and sperm as reported by abductees, and the existence of hybrid forms at least point to an interest in our reproductive abilities.  It is postulated that they are using humans to help deplete their own lessening numbers.

Grey (Dungeons & Dragons 5e)

Grey for 5e

Grey (NIGHT SHIFT)

No. Appearing: 3-12 (3d4)
AC: 6
Move: 30 ft.
Hit Dice: 2-4
Special: Cause fear, psychic abilities (chosen at random), telekinesis, telepathy, Can't use magic
XP Value: Varies

Greys are aliens from the Zeta Reticuli star system. They have enhanced psychic abilities, but are vulnerable to all forms of magic.  They never speak but communicate via telepathy.  A group of Greys are typically a scouting party with various scientists onboard their spaceship. They will abduct humans or cattle, do experiments on them, erase their memories and return them to where they found them.

Grey (OSR)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d4+3 (1d10+2)
Alignment: Neutral [True Neutral]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
Armor Class: 7-5 [12-14]
Hit Dice: 
   Scientist: 2d8+2* (11 hp)
   Monitor: 3d8+3** (17 hp)
   Leader: 4d8+8** (26 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 18, 16, 15  (+1, +3, +4)
Attacks: 0 or 1
Damage: None, stun 
Special: Cause fear, paralysis, mind blank, telepathy, vulnerable to magic
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 10 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: Special
XP:
   Scientist: 35 (OSE) 47 (LL)
   Monitor: 100 (OSE) 135 (LL)
   Leader: 275 (OSE) 290 (LL)

Str: 7,9, 11 (-1, 0, 0) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 14, 14, 16 (+1, +1, +2) Int: 22, 18, 18 (+5, +3, +3) Wis: 16 (+2) Cha: 14 (+1)

Greys come in three castes; Scientists, Monitors, and Leaders.  Scientists perform the experiments, leaders lead the missions, and are the fighters of the group.  Monitors are a blend of the two, acting as leaders amongst the scientists.  The castes are not hierarchical, they are designed so that each role is filled by the most capable individual.  A group of greys encountered outside of the ships will all be scientists with at least one member a monitor or leader. 

Greys have psionic abilities to cause fear, paralysis by touch (save vs. Paralysis or be frozen for one minute), and to erase the memories of their victims.   Scientists do not attack. They leave this to the Leaders and if needed the monitors. 

Additionally, greys have no concept of magic, they save at -2 against all spells and take an additional +1 point damage from magical attacks. 

--

I might tweak these a bit more, but so far they look great to me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Review: Tome of the Unclean (Castles & Crusades)

Tome of the Unclean
Last week I spent a lot of time with the Castles & Codex series and it was great fun.  But there is another book that also works well with my universe building and it is not about the gods.  Rather quite the opposite.

Tome of the Unclean

Back in October of 2017 Troll Lords launched their Tome of the Unclean Kickstarter. With the idea to bring demons, devils, and other fiends to the Castles & Crusades game.  It would also work with Amazing Adventures (which is what I would end up doing later).  I was immediately hooked and knew I needed this book.

Fast forward to 2019 I got my book in the mail and I had been picking up the PDFs (they released as they were completed starting in Jan 2018) all throughout. 

I have just been really slow at getting my review up.

For this review, I am considering both the hardcover print version from the Kickstarter and the now final PDF from DriveThruRPG.

144 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art.

The book follows a format that is now common to many books about fiends.  A part that deals with Demons and Lords of the Abyss.  Another that covers Devils and the Legions of Hell. And a third, which often differs from book to book, covers other fiends of Gehenna and the Undead.  Adding in the undead is a nice touch in my mind and a value add for the book.

Demons & Devils

This covers the basic differences and how these creatures fit into the World of Aihrde, the game world of Castles & Crusades.  It also covers the basics of the monster stat block.

Lords of the Abyss

This is our section about Demons and the Abyss.  It cleaves pretty close to the AD&D standard with what I often refer to as "the Usual Suspects," so all the "Type" demons and succubi. The new material here includes Abyssal Oases which are areas that are habitable by mortal-kind that seem to come up at random.

Covered here are also traits about the Abyss and powers and traits common to all demons. 

The monsters are all alphabetical, so common demons are not separated from the lords.  There are a few lords present. Demogorgon and Orcus return.  But also Oozemandius (as a Juiblex stand-in) and Buer. Graz'zt is mentioned a few times, but no stats are given.  There are 32 total demons with four as lords.

Legions of Hell

This section follows a pattern similar to the Demons one.  The Hells are described, including the nine layers.  They have some new names and some differences, but if you are wed to the Ed Greenwood Dragon articles about Hell then there is not a lot to convert here.  

There are 53 devils, with 16 of these listed as unique Arch-Devils. There are more new devils here than there are new demons.  

Gehenna

This is our "Neutral Evil" plane in the Great Wheel cosmology of the world of Aihrde, taking the place of Hades or the Grey Wastes from AD&D.  This is home to the daemons.  Like the previous chapters, this covers the features of the land and it's inhabitants.  Reading through it is feels like equal parts of the Greek Hades and the Underworld of Kur in the Babylonian myths where Ereshkigal rules.  

Only four deamons are detailed here, with one, Charon the Boatman, as the only unique member.

Undead

The name of the book is the Tome of the Unclean. While demons and devils take up the vast majority of the book there is still some space for the Undead.

18 undead creatures are detailed here, most of favorites (but creatures Vampires are missing) and some new ones. 

Denizens. Fauna, & Flora

Covers various types of evil, non-fiendish, non-undead, monsters that can also be found.

We end with Aihrde specific information and our OGL page.

Tome of the Damned is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting more information on demons, devils, and their ilk for anyone playing Castles & Crusades.  In fact, if you are playing C&C and want demons then this is a must-have book.

The advantage of Castles & Crusades is that it can be adapted to AD&D or any OSR game easily.  So if you want more than what the Monster Manuals I & II can give you, then this book is also a good choice.   I f you are playing AD&D 2nd ed then this book will fill in many of the gaps left by that game.

Now, I have an entire library of books dedicated to demons, devils, and all sorts of evil monsters.  There were only a few things here actually new to me.  But I still rather enjoyed this book quite a lot.  It is a good addition to my Castles & Crusades library.

Castles & Crusades


Friday, February 25, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: Zweihänder, Sands and Old School Fun

A bunch of great Kickstarters this week so let's get to it.

The Valley Out of Time series for S&W DCC MCC

The Valley Out of Time series for S&W DCC MCC

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/science-wizard/the-valley-out-of-time-series-for-sandw-dcc-mcc?ref=theotherside

This one looks like a lot of fun. Has a whole "Lost World" vibe to it and I love that shit. It was already planned for DCC, MCC, and S&W and now with the first stretch goal Pathfinder 1st Edition.

Zweihander Fantasy Horror RPG Starter Kit

Zweihander Fantasy Horror RPG Starter Kit

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/zweihander/zweihander-rpg-starter-kit?ref=theotherside

I don't know a lot about Zweihänder. I know it is a clone in a sense of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying.  So I have been told to try this instead of Warhammer.  Creator Daniel Fox also takes credit for (rightly or not) taking down The Trove so that is a good thing in my mind.

This starter kit looks like a lot of fun and I think I am a good choice as a customer. 

The Sands of Despair: a D&D 5E and PF side trek

The Sands of Despair: a D&D 5E and PF side trek

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dlimedia/the-sands-of-despair-a-dandd-5e-side-trek?ref=theotherside

Recent seismic events unearth a long buried tomb in the desert, and the locals fear that a long dead tyrant's last words may come true.

Sounds fun to me! Plus I have been wanting to do more desert adventures. 

And the big one of the week!

Old-School Essentials Fantasy RPG Box Sets

Old-School Essentials Fantasy RPG Box Sets

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/exaltedfuneral/old-school-essentials-fantasy-rpg-box-sets?ref=theotherside

Ok we all know what this one is. It's the biggest kid on the OSR block right now and after 2-3 days it is sitting on half a million dollars.  Not too shabby really.

I have everything for this already. But damn this is attractive.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Review: Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy

Old School Essentials
Arguably one of the biggest success stories of the late OSR movement has been the publication of Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy (2019) and Old-School Essentials Advanced Fantasy (2021).  Indeed I feel that OSE has supplanted Swords & Wizardry, the darling of the middle OSR movement as the old-school game of choice.  It is the old-school game of choice here in my home game, alternating between it and D&D 5e, and seems to be the most talked-about game in the old-school discussion areas. 

This is all with good reason.  OSE is well designed, superbly organized, and has wonderful art.  There is a minimalist approach to the rules and presentation that does not detract from the experience, instead, it rather enhances it.   You can see my enthusiasm in my review of the Old-School Essentials Classic Fantasy Boxed set back in 2020.   So imagine my surprise when I learned I had not given OSE Advanced a proper review yet.

I have detailed my introduction to D&D many times here. But briefly, my "first" D&D was a poorly copied version of Holmes Basic with an AD&D Monster Manual.  My first "true" D&D, the one I could properly call my own was Moldvay Basic/Cook & MArsh Expert (commonly referred to as "B/X").  I would over the course of a year or so add in elements of AD&D.  Most importantly the Deities & Demigods, the Fiend Folio, and a copy of Eldritch Wizardry.  *My* D&D was always a mish-mash of Basic D&D and AD&D.  I later discovered that my playstyle was not at all unique.

Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy Edition really strikes at the heart of what this sort of play was like.  The familiar and easy Basic/Expert rules with AD&D layered on top.  Layered is the right word, AD&D had a lot of situational rules and rules used in tournaments and rules designed to cover what looked like medieval realism.  As real that is in a world where half-elves fought dragons with magic.  OSE-AF strips this down back to the B/X style rules found in OSE-CF and then adds in what people used the most from AD&D.  No weapon speed factors, no tournament scoring, just D&D-style play.  

OSE-AF is divided into two books, the Player's Tome and the Referee's Tome.

I am a sucker for a book with a ribbon

For this review, I am considering the hardcover books I got via the Kickstarter, the PDFs from DriveThruRPG, and extra copies of the Player's Tome I picked up at my FLGS.  All books were purchased by me and none were submitted for review purposes.

OSE-AF Player's Tome
OSE-AF Player's Tome

Hardcover. Black and White and color interior art and covers. 248 pages. Bookmarked PDF with hyperlinked table of contents and index. $40.00 for the hardcover print (retail). $15.00 for the PDF.

The Player's Tome covers everything an OSE-AF player needs to know. The book details a lot of the same rules that are found in the OSE-Classic Fantasy (or read: Basic) rules.  This new book though integrates the "Basic" and "Advanced" material together with some notes on the "Advanced Fantasy" sections. One might be tempted to say that this book is not needed if you have the OSE-CF book, but that is not really the case. While there are certainly more classes, and more monsters in the case of the Referee Tome, there is still quite a lot of new material here.  Enough to make AF twice as large content-wise as CF.   

The main feature of this book, and indeed all of the OSE line, is the layout.  All material is laid out so that everything you need to read is on facing pages.  So a character class always takes up two pages (even and odd) so that when laid flat everything can be read at once and easily.  There are very few exceptions to this rule and it gives OSE it's unique look and feel. Add in the art, sparingly but effectively used, the feel is elegant, if minimalist, efficiency.   This is the same design that made D&D 4e a joy to read.  The same feeling is here.

Advanced Fantasy follows its Advanced namesake and splits character race and character class into two separate things. Basic combined race and class so you got Clerics (always human) and Dwarves (always fighters).  Here is the option that most folks want in the "Advanced" game.  In addition to the four classes and the four races of Basic, this book introduces six more races and nine more classes.

In the OSE-AF book, we get: Acrobat, Assassin, Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Illusionist, Knight, Magic-user, Paladin, Ranger, and Thief.

There are also the "race as class" variants of: Drow, Duergar, Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-elf, Halfling, Half-orc, Human, and Svirfneblin.  The level maximum is 14 for humans and variable for others. All race/class combinations are detailed.  This covers our first 80 some odd pages.

What follows next are guides for character advancement, equipment, animals of burden, transportation, and crews.

The next biggest section is Magic and this covers all the spells for the magic-using classes. Since the max level for any human is 14, spells are limited. Divine spellcasters are limited to the 5th level of casting and Arcane to the 6th level. The advantage here is the clerics and druids are on more equal footing with each other and so are magic-users and illusionists.  Unlike their Advanced namesake, this book does not require spell components nor are their other details given.  The spells are firmly in the Basic format.

The book wraps up with Adventuring, Hirelings, and building strongholds.  

The feel is solid B/X Basic with enough "Advanced" added in to make it feel just a little different. Or in other words, exactly how we used to play it from 1980 to 1983.

OSE-AF Referee's Tome
OSE-AF Referee's Tome

Hardcover. Black and White and color interior art and covers. 248 pages. Bookmarked PDF with hyperlinked table of contents and index. $40.00 for the hardcover print (retail). $15.00 for the PDF.

This book covers how to run an OSE-AF game.  Some of the details here are the same as OSE-CF but there are enough rules additions and clarification to make it worthwhile to anyone that has OSE-CF.

The first part covers running the game and adventures along with designing a dungeon and wilderness areas.

The next section, Monsters, makes up the bulk of the book.  All the old OSE-CF favorites are here and most of the Advanced era monsters.  In 107 or so pages we get over 320 monsters.  Again the art is light, but it is there.  We do not get any Demons or Devils, those are coming in a future book from my understanding, but it is still plenty.

The next largest section is Treasure which includes intelligent swords.

We also get sections on monster tables by terrain, strongholds, and NPCs.

The main feature of this book, and indeed all of the OSE line, is the layout.  All material is laid out so that everything you need to read is on facing pages. This is less obvious here as in the Player's Tome, but it is still a solid feature.

The two-volume set might just be the ultimate in expression of the time period in which I was doing my earliest D&D play.  There are other Basic/Advanced hybrid games out there and they all provide a good mix of their sources, but it is OSE-AF that is the closest to what I was playing then. All of the fun of Basic with the options in Advanced I loved.   The modularity of OSE also allows for expansion.  While the 1 to 14 level range covers most of what people will play there is no reason why there can't be an OSE-Companion to cover higher levels.

OSE-AF Carcass Crawler #1
OSE-AF Carcass Crawler #1

PDF only, 32 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. $7.50 PDF.

The sometimes zine for OSE and named for the OGC version of the infamous carrion crawler.

This issue adds the new races to the Advanced Fantasy line, the gargantuan (like Goliaths), the goblin, and the hephaestan (logical, elf-like beings).  I am particularly happy with the Goblin.

New classes for Classic and Advanced fantasy are the acolyte (a type of spell-less cleric with healing), the gargantuan (race-class), the goblin (race-class), the hephaestan (race-class), the kineticist (psychics), and the mage (a spell-less magic-user with magical abilities).

There are new rules for fighters and thieves as well as black powder guns.  I like the fighter talents, help give it a bit more to do really.  They are at every 5 levels, but I might make them every 4 instead. 

OSE-AF Fantasy Reference Booklet
OSE-AF Fantasy Reference Booklet

PDF only, 32 pages. Color covers, black & white interior art. $4.00 PDF.

This handy guide covers all the major tables found in the OSE Advanced Fantasy line. For $4 it is a great little reference.

Through out all these books and the entire OSE line the art is both evocative of the old-school style and still modern enough to please new audiences.

This is the game of choice for me to introduce old-school style play to players of modern games. My regular 5e group took to it like ducks to water. They love it. They still love their 5e games, but they also like to do this one.  None of them had ever played B/X prior to this and it was a huge success.

I know that Gavin Norman and Necrotic Gnome have more material to give us for this, I hope it all lives up this new gold standard I set my OSR book to. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

My Old School Gaming Project

Spend any time here and you know that I do love my old-school gaming.  Also for me, my introduction to RPGs coincided with my introduction to computers.  For me, RPGs and computers have always gone hand-in-hand. 

So it should be no surprise then that if I am going to spend so much time working on bringing old-school games back to life I might be doing the same with old-school computers.

Here is my current project.  

Raspberry Pi CoCo

This a "proof of concept."  It is a 3D printed case, housing a Raspberry Pi with 8Gigs of RAM.  It is wifi enabled and has HDMI ports.  Currently running the CoCo-Pi software.

https://coco-pi.com/

Back in 1985, I bought my first computer. It was a Tandy Color Computer 2 with 16k of ROM, a tape-cassette drive for storage and I  plugged it into a color TV.  One of the first things I did with it was to write programs to roll dice, do character abilities and even mimic combat.  Eventually, my DM and I would spend our gaming sessions working on some software we called "BARD" and it was a combat manager.  We could load 10 characters in at a time, roll for initiative and have them battle any number of monsters we wanted.  Some special abilities were a problem (beholders gave us no end of grief) but we had it worked out so that even dragons with breath weapons worked well. I even had a character, my one and only even ninja, killed by a black dragon, taking 70 hp of damage in the first attack. The death was so spectacular that my DM and I sat back and laughed our asses off as this black dragon attacked only the ninja and kept on attacking him until he was at -400 hp. 

It was great fun and I still have the source code.

Fast forward to later this year when my brother got me this:

CoCo 2

CoCo 2

That's not just any CoCo2, that is the one my DM and I wrote BARD on.  He had sold it to my brother years ago because one of the EPROM pins broke off and at the time it was too costly to replace and better computers were out.  I have even gone from my CoCo2 to a CoCo3, to a Tandy 1000, to an 8086, and then to an Intel 286 by that time.  I was getting ready to buy my next computer, my Gateway 486 that I upgraded for years until it got to be so full I needed to keep the case off and have fans blowing in. 

But I digress.  This "new" machine is close to 40 years old and I have been spending my Christmas break cleaning it, upgrading the internal components, and even 3D printing new parts for it.  What I have not be able to make or re-use I have been ordering online.

I hope to show her off soon.  Right now I need to stop so I can transfer some files to USB.  Yes, I got it working with some new USB ports.

This will be a lot fun.  Scratch that, this has been a lot of fun already.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Boxing Day: Magic Realm

Magic Realm
After many years I finally treated myself to a game I have wanted for years.  Avalon Hill's "Magic Realm."

The game looks like a board game, but there are a lot of RPG elements as well.  And the game is notoriously difficult to learn. 

I have no experience with this game. At all. But I just knew I wanted it.   So instead of a review here are some other reviews.

So it looks like I have some learning ahead of me!

I also have no idea if my game is complete or not. I like what I have seen so far.



Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm

Magic Realm


Thursday, December 2, 2021

Plays Well With Others: Man, Myth & Magic and Lands of Adventure

Ok. "Plays Well With Others" might be stretching it a bit. Almost to the point of ridiculousness to be honest, but I have wanted to compare both Lands of Adventure and Man, Myth & Magic for a while now.

Man, Myth & Magic and Lands of Adventure

On the surface both games are attempts at presenting historical or at least semi-historical, roleplaying to a Post-AD&D world. Both games present various areas and eras of play to help facilitate that notion of historical roleplaying. LoA with its Culture Packs and MM&M with its adventures and Egyptian add-on.

Both games can best, and fairly, be described as overly complicated and in reality somewhat messy.

Both games have more complicated (than AD&D) character creation but attempt to create characters that are appropriate for their times.

Incidentally, both games also use real tiny d20 percentile dice that are difficult at best for me to read these days.

Thematically MM&M tries for historical accuracy despite having a rogue T-Rex running around as an ersatz dragon.  LoA probably does a little better here even though it does include several fantastic beasts and monsters.

LoA gives us two (more were planned) Culture Packs, Ancient Greece and Medival England.  They are separated by about 2000 years and characters are not expected to be able to travel to one from the other.

MM&M gives us a bunch of different cultures and the idea of "travel" between them is via Reincarnation.  The culture best (and I say that loosely) represented here is Rome circa 40 AD (or sometime around that).  Even then it has issues.

Neither system is one I want to cozy up with for long periods of time.  Not to mention there are plenty of other games that do historical roleplaying better, Pendragon and Chivalry & Sorcery are two that come to mind right away and there are others.  The idea of historical role-playing though is still an appealing one.

What is a Game Master to do?

The Fantastic Journey

Back in the late 70s there was a short-lived TV series, The Fantastic Journey, about a group of people that were traveling to different lands throughout time and space. It hit all the social and occult themes of the 1970s. A man from the future with psychic powers, the daughter of an Atlantean and an extraterrestrial, a scientist from the 60s (Roddy McDowall), a young African American doctor, and a super-smart teenager (Ike Eisenmann, fresh from Witch Mountain).  The show didn't last long, but it imprinted deeply on my psyche.  

It had similarities to the show Time Tunnel that came before it and Voyagers! and Quantum Leap that came after.  Though, unlike those shows that tried to pay a little lip service to time travel science, TFJ was pure fantasy.  There was magic and even a sorcerer and a werewolf.   I have often wondered how I could make a game that mimics this and fulfill the promises made by MM&M and LoA.

I could take a page from Herbie Brennan's other game Timeship for ideas. But honestly, that is just trading an easy solution for more problems.

I like the idea of a group of characters, unstuck in time, traveling to different periods.  Whether the characters themselves are doing it or they are reincarnations, I go back and forth on.   Part of me likes the idea of the idea reincarnation since that sets them in situ with the proper time and knowledge. OR maybe their consciousness is traveling and inhabiting new bodies ala Quantum Leap.  I would need a big bad of course.  Someone travelling through time, or maybe someone (or multiple someones) that are immortal and trying to do something to humanity.  Destroy it?  No, that is too easy. I am going to say advance them in the past so they are more powerful and deadly in the future for some nefarious means. I might take a page from the Doctor Who episode/serial City of Death.

Part of me wants to do this and each time the character travel in time use the system that best represents it.  So Pendragon, LoA, MM&M, even WitchHunt.   But that is, to put it mildly, insane.

I would use a simple system, likely NIGHT SHIFT to be honest. Survivors would work the best with the odd sage, psychic, and veteran.  Then adapting D&D-like games is easier. Each time the character travels they can pick up some odd skills or the like.

historical games? maybe.

Again, I hate to fall into another sunk cost fallacy here but I like to think I owe it to myself to have the game that I wish these games were.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Man, Myth & Magic

Man, Myth & Magic - PDF cover
It is the first of the month, so that means a new character.  I went through the effort of creating a new character for Man, Myth & Magic.  Well, I say "new" because it is a new character for this game, but it is someone I have used a lot in the past.

The Game: Man, Myth & Magic

I spent the day reviewing Man, Myth & Magic and it was rather fun. But not a game I am likely to play.  So in these cases I use the game to help inform characters that I might be using in other games.  In this case I am doing the human, still living version of a character that has so far only appeared in my games as a ghost.

The Character: Queen Boudica

Fans of the Ghosts of Albion RPG will recognize this name.  Boudica is the Queen of the Iceni Celts living in western Briton at the time of the Roman occupation.  So the time period is really perfect.  I set this at 61 CE.  If I am going to play a game in Roman Briton then I want to join the Queen as she burns down Londinium.

Boudica, or Boadicea, was a central figure in the Ghosts of Albion animations on the BBC and in the books by Christopher Golden and Amber Benson.  She became one of my personal favorite characters in the RPG as well.  While she is great fun as a ghost, getting the chance to play her as a still living and breathing human is too much of a temptation to pass up.

I am going to include a scan of the sheet with page numbers appended to it.  This was one of the bigger (but by no means unique) issues with this game.  You have to flip all over the place to get the information you need to create a character, let alone to play.  

Note: Windows updated and now can't find my scanner. So here is an image from my phone.

Queen Boudica

In Ghosts of Albion lore, Boadicea had some magic. She was in the middle of casting a spell when she was murdered in fact.

For Boudica here I did not include any spells, though I could have.  I didn't find any that fit well with the concept of her in this game.  Plus she is technically not a spell caster here.

In any case, she is a fascinating character and I could stat her up in several systems and not grow tired of her.

Boadicea Haranguing the Britons (called Boudicca, or Boadicea) by John Opie

Long live the Queen.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Review: Man, Myth & Magic (1982)

Man, Myth, & Magic RPG
I am going to be spending some quality time with the classic game Man, Myth & Magic by Herbert "Herbie" Brennan and J. Stephen Peek and published originally byYaquinto Publications in 1982, and now published (in PDF and single softcover formats) by Precis Intermedia.  

I was always kind of fascinated by this game. The name of course grabbed me for two reasons. There was the whole "Myth and Magic" side to it all which in 1982 was a big draw for me.  Also, there was the magazine and encyclopedia series also called Man, Myth & Magic that dealt with all sorts of occult-related topics.  

I read reviews for it in Dragon Magazine (#80) and White Dwarf (#41) and was actually quite curious about it.  The reviews really ripped into the game and I needed to know if it was as bad as they made it sound.  Sadly I never found a copy near me and a mail-order of $19.00 + tax and shipping and handling made it a little more out of reach when it was new.

But I was always drawn to historical games. I felt if I could play or run a game and learn something about history at the same time then it was time well spent really.  A few I have enjoyed quite a lot, mostly Victorian-era ones, and others I ripped online so much I promised I wasn't going to rip on them anymore. 

Man, Myth, & Magic sadly belongs to the camp of a historical mishmash, that is to say, it is about as historically accurate as an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some Xena and it is very entertaining in the right frame of mind.  The same is true for this game. Great, in the right frame of mind.  In fact, I think that now, living in a post-Xena world, there is a place for this game that did not exist in 1982.   

Man, Myth, & Magic

For this review, I am going to consider my original boxed set from 1982 (now minus the dice) and the newer PDF versions found on DriveThruRPG published by Precis Intermedia.  In both cases, the material is the same minus some of the extras that came in the boxed set like the dice and a pad of character sheets.

Man, Myth, & Magic

Man, Myth, & Magic was published in a boxed set of three books (same covers), with a pad of character sheets, some maps, and dice.  The PDF combines the three books into one 132 page volume. The original boxed set retailed for $19.00 in 1982 ($55 in today's buying power) and the PDFs sell for $7.95 today.  The books feature color covers and black & white interiors. 

Book 1

Book 1 is 24 pages and covers the "Basic Game" and the game most like the one as originally conceived of by Herbie Brennan.  In this game, the players play gladiators in the time of the Roman Emperors. Which one? That is up to a random dice roll unless of course, the players want something different. 

Who's in charge around here?

It's an interesting idea, but...well there are some problems here. According to the back of the box, it is the Summer of 41 CE. Cool.  But Caligula was assassinated in January of 41 CE.  Tiberius ruled 14 to 37 CE and Nero was Emperor from 54 to 68 CE.  The only Emperor in the Summer of 41 was Claudius. Adding dates in parentheses would have been a nice touch.  Let's not even get into the fact that Cleopatra VII, the last of the Egyptian Pharaohs, had died back in 30 BCE, 71 years before the events of this game, but that looks like her on the cover.  I'll talk more about this later.  In theory you can tun this game from 4000 BCE to 500 (or 1000) CE. 

You begin with your Roman Gladiator and your two percentile d20s and roll up your characteristics.  The characteristics in the Basic Game are Strength, Speed, Skill (not used just yet), Endurance, Intelligence, and Courage. The scores range from 1 to 100.  You add all these up for your Life Points (so 5 to 500), you fall unconscious at 20 or below and dead at 0 or below. 

The Basic rules take your gladiator from start to a bit of combat and adventure with the maxim that the best way to learn is to do.   This is a tactic that the rest of the game uses.  At the end of this, your character is ready for new adventures.

The neat bit, and one I want to revisit, is the idea of reincarnation. That is if your character dies they can be reincarnated. 

Book 2

Book 2 covers the "Advanced Game" and includes 40 pages. Here we learn more about skills, the Power score, and the different Nationalities (10) and Classes associated with each (2-5 each).  All are completely random and no real attempt is made to explain why say an Egyptian Sorcerer, a Gaulish Barbarian, a Roman Gladiator, and a Hibernian Leprechaun would all be part of the same adventuring party.  Ok. That's not entirely true, but the explanation takes some digging. 

Up first is determining your Nationality. Again a random roll gives you African, Briton, Egyptian, Gaul, Greek, Hebrew, Hibernian, Visigoth, Roman, and Oriental. Each at 10% chance.   Within each nationality, there are character classes.  Regardless of how many there is an equal chance for any given class.  Most nationalities have a sort of "fighter" like class and all have merchant.  There are two classes open to women characters only, Wisewoman (African) and Sybil (Greek).  Details are given for all the classes, 20 in total, but not a lot of information.  In most cases only a paragraph here and some more details later on.  This brings up a persistent issue, the rules are a bit scattered everywhere throughout the book. 

Additionally, there are two "Special Categories" of players (not characters) of "Orator" and "Sage" or essentially a storyteller and a record keeper.  Much in the same way Basic D&D has a "Caller."  Not much else is mentioned about these roles however. 

This character is considered to be your first incarnation.  Anytime your character dies, you can then reincarnate.  This allows you to change your nationality, class, and gender and retain a little bit of the Skill from a previous incarnation.  It is an interesting idea, I am not 100% certain though that it works. Knowing gamers I see a situation where players would play a character only to get them to die for a chance at a better character next time. 

There is a fun chart on inheritance that would be fun to port over to other games.  Related there are our ubiquitous tables of equipment.   

Some of the other secondary "Optional" characteristics are also detailed.  These include Agility, Charm, Dexterity, Drinking, and so on.  These are really more akin to "skills." The trouble is that some of these you have to roll higher, some you have to roll lower and others you don't roll at all.  There is no rhyme or reason here. 

Combat rules follow and they remind me a bit of Runequest.  Nothing really special really.  Strength points over 50 can add to your damage, Skill points over 50 can add to your "To hit" chance. Combat, like all the rolls here, start with a basic 50% chance to hit.  The Basic game just has you roll. The Advanced game has you make called shots.  Classes with Combat as their "Prime Ability" can improve their ability to hit even more. All classes can spend Power to also increase their to-hit bonus; 10 points of Power to increase your chance by 1%.  Interestingly armor does not stop you from being hit, it does reduce damage taken.

The goal of the game though is the accumulation of Power.  Power advances your character and can overcome that 50% failure rate.  Power also is the, well, power behind Magic. 

The Magic part of M,M,&M

The last third or so of the book covers all sorts of additional rules.  Some seem tossed in, to be honest. Poisons are covered as are spells.  

Magic, as expected, is given some special attention, though not as much as I was expecting.  Magic is assumed to be real and work, at least part of the time.  Magic is described as "Coincidence," a spell is uttered and something happens whether it caused it or not. "Science," Damascus steel is given an example. The superior technology was seen as magic. "Psychic Phenomena" which not really an explanation at all, likewise "Trance State" and as "Lost Knowledge."  Though no explanation is really given as to how magic works.  

Book 3

The adventures take up Book 3 and is 64 pages.  This book is for the Lore Master (Game Master) only and is also one of the weaker parts of the game.  The Adventures, while interesting, are a bit of a railroad. In order to succeed the players have to hit all the parts in order and then move on to the next adventure.   

The adventures include the following:

  • The Dragon Loose in Rome. Not a dragon rally, but a rogue T-Rex.  Not that this makes any more sense, but ok, points for effort.  
  • Apollo's Temple. Emperor Caligula sends the characters to the Temple of Apollo aka Stonehenge.
  • The Witches of Lolag Shlige. The characters then have to go to Ireland (Hibernia) and rescue a child from some witches.
  • The Great Pyramid Revealed. Caligula has issued a death warrant for the characters. They find themselves in the Great Pyramid of Giza.

These adventures are a prelude to the published adventures.   There are some neat ideas here, but the adventures lack something for me. Actually, it lacks a lot of things for me, but I could make some changes to make them work.

There are some encounter tables, but they only cover the areas that the adventures are detailed here. I also have to note there are no monsters here.  Just humans. 

One of the bigger criticisms of this game at the time was the then $19.00 price tag, about $55 in today's buying power.  Now $20 for a boxed set of three books, character sheets, and dice sounds like a steal.  With the PDF at just $7.95 it is at a price I think should attract anyone that might have been interested in this game. 

The art is in black & white, which is expected and welcome, but there is not a lot of it and some of it is repeated throughout the books.  

Man, Myth, & Magic at times feels like two different games, or rather two different ideas merged into one game.  I feel that the classic Roman Gladiator/Basic Game was Herbie Brennan's idea and the worldwide game of various nations and types or the Advanced Game was Steve Peek's. Given that Brennan started working on a game called "Arena" which was a Gladitorial RPG.

About Reincarnation

Reincarnation is quite a big deal in this game. This is not a huge surprise given Herbert Brennan's publication history.  His book "The Reincarnation Workbook: A Complete Course in Recalling Past Lives" could work as a guide for this game.  Personally, I would like to use the reincarnation idea to help smooth out some of the issues with different times.  So adventurers from Cleopatra VII's Egypt, can then deal with Tiberius, and then help in Boudicea's raid on Londinium.   Something similar to the Old Soul quality in Unisystem.  

Somehow using the idea of the Distant Memory which, like Old Soul, allows the characters to draw on past life knowledge and skill.  That is easy to do in Unisystem, not so easy to do in D&D like games with very rigidly defined classes. Maybe taking a level in another class might do it. 

Man, Myth & Magic and Man, Myth & Magic

I am sure there is more in the expansion, The Egyptian Campaign, but I don't have access to that set right now.

There is an interesting game here but I think the concept of it is greater than the rules as presented actually allow.  It never quite lives up to what the box claims.  Nor is it the abomination that earlier reviews made it out to be.  I think most reviewers balked at the price tag and the fact that the game did not offer anything new; at least not anything that meant going through the rather clunky rules. 

It is most certainly not a historically accurate game.  Historically inspired to be sure, but not by any means accurate. 

The bottom line is that the game really isn't good, in fact, it is rather bad in many respects. That is not to say that someone won't find this game interesting or fun. I just think that there are far, far better games out there.

Should you buy it?

I would say the PDF at just under $8 makes it worthwhile for the very, very curious.  I have my boxed set and I am happy with it, but my expectations were low and my curiosity was really high. 

The game itself is only worth about 2 stars.  My curiosity about it and my desire to have pushed it closer to 4 stars.  In the end, I am going to give 3 stars since I don't want to unduly affect Precis Intermedia games' overall rating.  But don't grab this unless you are really curious (which is a good reason) or want to see how not to design a game. 

Links