Showing posts with label osr. Show all posts
Showing posts with label osr. Show all posts

Friday, October 7, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: OSE Style

A couple of Kickstarters designed for Old-School Essentials (the new hotness in the OSR scene) are up.  Let's have a look.

Dark Places & Demogorgons for Old-School Essentials

Dark Places & Demogorgons for Old-School Essentials

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ericfrombloatgames/dark-places-and-demogorgons-for-old-school-essentials?ref=theotherside

This one is the Peanut Butter and Chocolate of the OSR right now. Dark Places and Demogorgons is a fun setting, OSE is a great rule system. Two great tastes that are great together.

Honestly, outside of NIGHT SHIFT, these are the only two games that excite me right now. AND they both live on the same shelf, so this is kind of a no-brainer for me.

And this one has now hit its funding goal and headed for stretch goals!  And the stretch goals look FANTASTIC.  I am in on an early bird special, so I am looking forward to all the great stuff this one is going to get for me.


Gateway To Adventure Trilogy For Old-School Essentials

Gateway To Adventure Trilogy For Old-School Essentials

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

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

From the campaign page,

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

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


Thursday, September 29, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Jeremy Reaban OSR Classes

OSR Witch
Reviewing Twilight Fables the other day has put me more into the mood for more OSR material. So Given I am spending my 100 Days of Halloween talking about witches, lets go with some other OSR witch material.

As always I will be following my rules for these reviews.

Jeremy Reaban has published a good number of OSR Classes.  While they say OSR on the cover they do have advancement tables for "Original," "First Edition," and "Basic/Expert" editions.  So they are really quite flexible.  I do note that the "Basic/Expert" table does go to level 20, so great for Labyrinth Lord and Basic Fantasy, but you will need to cut off at 14th level for Old School Essentials. Keep in mind these classes all predate OSE in publication.

All his classes, and indeed all his publications, are Pay What You Want.  I like that. Given he is buying art for all of these at least pay him a couple of bucks.

Here are his classes that I think work well with the witch concept. 

PC13 - The OSR Witch

PDF. 15 pages. Color cover.

Covers the basics of the class including requirements, alignment, and all the other expected details.  There is a section on the special abilities of the class, in this case abilities all witches get.  Each witch also gets a "Focus" or what I have called a "Tradition" but could be read as archetype or even sub-class.  These include Black Witch, Fire Witch, Frost Witch, Light Witch, Mind Witch, Storm Witch, Wander Witch, Water Witch, White Witch, Weather Witch, and Wood Witch for a total of 11 (two more would have been great). Each gets some powers and a selection of spells unique to that Focus.

This is followed by the advancement tables. Witches get bonus spells for high Charisma. And the selection of spell common to all witches.  

There are 9 NPC witches of various levels and alignments. 

There are some design notes that talk about the lack of an official witch class and how most of the OSR ones are all done by "one guy" (no idea who that could be). 

We end with the OGL statement.

All in all a really fun class. If this one works for you then by all means go with it.  There are a lot of great ideas here. 

PC11 - The OSR Warlock

PDF. 14 pages. Black & White cover.

This is the "new" warlock from Reaban. I'll get to the "old" one in a bit.

Essentially this is a conversion of the 5.1 SRD warlock and I am totally happy with that.  You get a Pact boon and a bunch of Eldritch Invocations.

Listed are various Patrons the warlock can take. We get the Fiend, the Great Nature Spirit (this one is new), Faerie Queen (or King), the Great Old One, Elemental Prince, and the Celestial. Each gives the warlock powers and a collection of spells. 

This is followed by the advancement tables (with level titles!). Warlocks get bonus damage on their Eldritch Blast for high Charisma. And the selection of spells common to all warlocks.  

There are 7 NPC warlocks and some design notes. The design notes in particular discuss why this is the second Warlock Reaban has done and how the old warlock is now the Kineticist.

PC1 - The OSR Kineticist

PDF. 8 pages. Color cover.

This was the first OSR class done by Reaban and was originally called The Warlock. This class is a bit different. It is like a sorcerer in that has innate magic, but this is not due to bloodline. It has some blasty-like warlock powers, and some others making the class fairly unique. 

There are the advancement tables (with level titles!). Kineticist get bonus damage on their Arcane Bolts for high Charisma.

It is a new idea and I really like it. This one is so early that there are no NPCs. 

PC2 - The OSR Exorcist

PDF. 6 pages. Black & White cover.

Ah. Now here is a class that is not all that witchy, but one that is likely to come up in any game where there are a lot of witches and demons.  I have also played around with an exorcist class in the past and this one works so well for me I really don't think I need to do one now. 

Exorcists are a bit warrior, bit cleric. 

There are the advancement tables (with level titles!) but no NPCs yet in this one.

The class does exactly what is should do and does it well.

PC3 - The OSR Witch Hunter
PC3 - The OSR Witch Hunter

PDF. 7 pages. Color cover.

Can't have witches and not expect a few witch hunters. Like many of the "witch hunter" classes you can find this one is not limited to hunting witches alone but any supernatural evil. Like the Exorcist this one is a combination of fighter and cleric, though more leaning on the fighter side (they are considered a sub-class of the fighter).  They get a number of abilities to allow it to hunt down their prey and vanquish them.  

The witch hunter also gets a Bard-like Lore ability and the ability to read magic. They can even turn undead at 3rd level. 

There are the advancement tables (with level titles) for First Edition, Original Edition, Basic/Expert Edition, and Cyclopedic Edition (to 36th level).

PC8 - The OSR Amazon Warrior

PDF. 9 pages. Color cover.

This might be stretching my "witch" idea, but I did do a book, the Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch, and I like to use this book with that one.

This one gives us the Amazon Warrior class. It is a fighter, but with a more athletic bend to it. The have to have minimum scores of 15 in Strength, Dexerity, AND Constitution.  The Amazon Warrior can't use magic items unless that magic item is a weapon and provided to them by a god. 

There are the advancement tables (with level titles) for First Edition, Original Edition, Basic/Expert Edition, and Cyclopedic Edition (to 36th level).

There are 10 NPCs including a Red Martian (nice!), Zenia, and "Crimson Sonia" who is 25th level. 

There is also a section on the daughters of the gods and how they can generate ability scores. There are also role-playing notes on the children of gods.

All in all a really fun additional class.

PC10 - The OSR Beguiler

PDF. 15 pages. Color cover.

A related class, this one has also been called the houri, the courtesan, the temptress, or the hetaera. It is a Charisma based class that uses charms. She is also a poisoner along with her other skills, so in many ways she is closer in nature to the thief or assassin. 

There are the advancement tables (with level titles) for First Edition, Original Edition, and Basic/Expert Edition. 

This one also has some new magic items. There are 19 NPCs. 

PC17 - The OSR Enchantress

PC17 - The OSR Enchantress
PDF. 15 pages. Color cover.

This class is another spellcasting class, this time ismanipulates the emotions of others.  This class is a magic-user sub-class. 

There are the advancement tables (with level titles) for First Edition, Original Edition, and Basic/Expert Edition. There is also spell advancement to the 7th level.

The best part of this class, at least for me, are the new spells. There 33 in total. Some come from the d20 SRD, but that is fine. They work great here.

There are only 2 new NPCs here.

And finally there are two new Witch Focuses for the Witch Class; a Desire Witch and a Dream Witch.

Works great for me to be honest.

--

Lots of great classes here and I didn't even review them all.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Monstrous Mondays: Twilight Fables (5e & OSR)

Taking a break from Pathfinder for a bit on this first Monstrous Monday of Fall 2022 to do something a little darker.  There is a chill in the air here in Chicago. I have a flannel shirt on and my mood ever shifts more and more to Halloween.  A Halloween bestiary would be nice and thankfully Izegrim Creations has just the thing I need.

Twilight Fables

Twilight Fables

I swear the Kickstarter for this had just ended and I got my DriveThruRPG notification that the hardcovers were available. 

So for this I Monstrous Monday, I want to talk about both the 5e and OSR versions of this book, the Print on Demand and PDF versions, plus all the other material that makes up this line. 

OSR and 5e

Overview

Both books are huge volumes at 336 pages (5e) and 326 pages (OSR) each. The covers are full color as is all the interior art.  And the art is fantastic.  

Twilight Fables books

Twilight Fables books

Both books have a solid 5e aesthetic to them; colorful art and backgrounds, text describing the creature and its place in the environment/land/myths, and followed by a stat block.

art

The 5e book features a standard-looking 5e stat block, the OSR one is largely a modified Basic-era stat block. It includes everything you would expect along with descending and ascending AC, an entry for THAC0, and XP. The art for both books is the same.  There is a good reason for this, the OSR version was added on a little bit later in the Kickstarter.  The 5e version, with art, was done before the kickstart began (minus some edits I am told) so adding on the OSR version was a matter of adding the new stat blocks.  One nitpick there are listings for "DCs" in the OSR version for magic item creation (more on that later). I would have preferred something that felt a little more pre-2000.

Now in most situations, I would fear translation errors, but the author Roderic Waibel had already developed that very successful Chromatic Dungeons RPG (reviewed here) which is solid OSR.  So I know he knows OSR.  My only gripe is kinda wanted the OSR stat blocks to look as nice as the 5e ones!  But that is only a gripe for people that own both.

Like many of Waibel's publications we get nice sidebar discussions from the intelligent and rather civilized Gnoll "Fleabag." It is a very nice touch (I have done something similar with my 'From the Journal of Larina Nix') and it gives these (and his other books) character. 

Regardless of which one you get (get both!) you are in for a treat.

I grabbed both and will be using the OSR version in my Old-School Essentials game. My oldest grabbed the 5e version and is using it in his weekly 5e game. So far he says it is great and he loves all the different sorts of monsters it offers.

The Fables

The name of the book is Twilight Fables.  So you can expect that these are monsters from various myths, legends, and tales. And you would be 100% correct. Waibel has done his reading and there are a lot of great creatures here.  Even ones that might be familiar get new life and feel "new."  

For example, I mentioned one of my favorites, the Basajaun who appears in three different monster books. 

statblocks

Each one is a little different and yet each one 'feels' right. Perfect for DMs that want a familiar, yet different creature.

The creatures largely come from the myths, legends, and folklore of Europe. This is also what is advertised and leads to the logical assumption of Twilight Fables of other lands for future volumes. One for Africa, one for Asia, one for the Americas, all are possible.

In addition to the monsters, there are various legendary NPCs like Baba Yaga, Beowulf, Cailleach Beira, Cú Chulainn, Guy of Warwick, King Arthur, Little Red Riding Hood, Merlin, Morgan Le Fay, Robin Hood, Scáthach, Queen Úna of Faerie, and Väinämöinen. So yeah. Lots.

Cú Chulainn

There is a section on Mythological Treasures and Magic items. This includes some rules on how to make magic items as well. It is a very nice value add.  You saw this sort of thing with the old Mayfair "Fantastic Treasures" and something you see Troll Lord Games do with their Monster and Treasure books.

Both books also have rules for new character species (wanna play a Pech? You can!) and for 5e there are class options such as Warlock patrons and cleric domains.

There is even a small adventure (20 pages) to introduce these new monsters. 

The Monsters

All that is gravy.  The real meat here are the monsters.

In both cases, the monsters take up full pages. This includes the background and descriptions, the stat blocks, and whatever else is involved with this particular creature such as "Lore & Rumors", any special treasures, habitat, behaviors, and more.  In some cases, the material bleeds over to another entry, but not so much as to be an issue. 

There are, by my count, nearly 220 monsters here ranging in HD from 1-1 to 30+ (OSR) and CR 1/8 to 30 (5e).  So plenty of creatures to challenge any level of characters.

I have to say these are great books and well worth grabbing for your games, 5e or OSR, or both.  There is a lot of material here and plenty to keep many groups engaged for some time.

Extras

When you get the digital copy from DriveThruRPG you also get a bunch of tokens that can be printed and used in f2f table games or digitally online. It is another value add this game offers. There is also an RTF version of the book, a printer-friendly/no background version, and maps for the included adventure.

If you love monsters like I do then this is a must-buy.

Twilight Fables 5eTwilight Fables OSR


Friday, September 16, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: A Tale of Three Platforms

It is a "Kickstart Your Weekend Here" but I am going to feature three campaigns from the three fundraising platforms.  Let's get started.

Pay To Die - Horror Slasher Comedy Film

Pay to Die

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pay-to-die-horror-slasher-comedy-film#/

I do love indie horror films and Lauren Francesca (on the poster) and Shawn Phillips (on the cleaver) know how to have a lot of fun with theirs.  This is a throwback to the horror comedy of the 1980s so expect some laughs, some scares, and a lot of blood. It really should be great. 

Coyote & Crow: Stories of the Free Lands

Stories of the Free Lands

https://www.backerkit.com/c/connor-alexander/coyote-and-crow-stories-of-the-free-lands

Coyote & Crow had a record-breaking Kickstarter and now they are back on the new Backerkit platform to present some new adventure material in the alt-future city of Cahokia. I still need to review Coyote & Crow but the book is gorgeous and the game is rather compelling.  This should also do well.

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

Gateway To Adventure? Old-School Essentials? Oh hell yes! This should be fantastic. Appendix N does great stuff and this should be no exception. 

Lots of great stuff here!

Review: Vigilante City #4 Into the Sewers!

Vigilante City - Into The Sewers!
Our last day for Vigilante City! It has been a lot of fun. Our fourth book takes us Into the Sewers so let's get to it.

Vigilante City - Into The Sewers!

PDF and softcover book. 224 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.  For the purposes of this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the soft-cover books I picked up from Bloat Games' own store.

Here we see Bloat Games' TMNT love on full display. And it works well here. I am sure other supers RPGs have tried this before, but I can't think of any that do this so explicitly. 

If Book #2 gave us an overview of Victory City above ground then this book covers the sewers and underground. Sadly the sewers are full of radiation, mutants and eve worse dangers.

We go through the sections and neighborhoods of Victory City and discuss what is going on underneath. General features as well special ones such as Shayana's Bazaar. Great for all your underground (literal and figurative) needs. 

It would not be a SURVIVE THIS!! game without plenty of random tables and this one does not disappoint.  100 things you can encounter in the sewers. There are plenty of new creatures too and they are detailed in this book. Yes. There are alligators and vampires in these sewers. 

There are two new introductory adventures, "Into the Sewers, We Go!" and "We're In a Pickle Here" to get the PCs out of the relative comfort of the above world down to where the action is. 

Given all of the new focus on mutants, there is also an updated Mutant Class with more abilities to replace or augment the one in the Core Book.  Just reading through them I can't see any reason why you could not use both if you wanted. Different strains of mutants. Likewise, there is an updated Anthropomorph class.

We end with some new skill packages which include assassin and sewer rat.  In this game, you can have a sewer rat skill pack applied to an actual sewer rat Anthropomorph. 

Graf von Orlock aka "The Nosferatu"

Living in the sewers under Victory City is a monster feared by humans, supers, and mutants alike. This monster summons rats and other vermin by the hundreds. He is the undead monster known as The Nosfertu.

The warlord known as the Graf von Orlock was not a pleasant man even in life, his death and rebirth is lost to the sands of time and even he does not recall it. Unlike the suave vampires of film and television, the Nosferatu is a monster; both in appearance and deeds. Over the centuries his face has become more and more rat-like.

The Nosferatu


Thursday, September 15, 2022

Review: Vigilante City #3 Superhero Team-Up!

Vigilante City #3 Superhero Team-Up!
We continue our tour of Vigilante city with the next book in the series and the first expansion. If this one makes you think of the Teen Titans, then I think that might be the point.

Vigilante City #3 Superhero Team-Up!

PDF and softcover book. 176 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.  For the purposes of this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the soft-cover books I picked up from Bloat Games' own store.

Classes

This book presents some new classes for us to try out.  They are the Alchemist, Getaway Driver, Mutant Hunter, Occultist, Revenant Hero, Sewer Guardian, Tunnel Shadow, and the Weapon Master.

So bits of TMNT poking through again, but that is perfectly fine really.  The classes are good and few I really like. The Occultist was the obvious choice and yes I am a fan, but also the Alchemist and the Revenant Hero for running a game like The Crow. 

We get some new skills too. The nice thing about VC is the skill system is very flexible. You could even run it without skills if you like.  I try not to get too bogged down in the skills myself, but the system here makes it rather easy to use. 

Teams

This section is where I am getting the Teen Titan vibe, though it can cover all sorts of teams.  The first is team combo actions which give you some ideas on how teams can work together.  There is some detail on your base of operations as well. Covers everything from living in the sewers to a giant tower shaped like a T if that is your fancy.

Gear

Alchemists and Occultists can make potions so there is new gear associated with that. There are new items of equipment and vehicles. If you ever needed to know how much it would cost to build your own superhero lair then this book has you covered.

Dr. Azmournus and More

We get into a section of rogues next. Up first is the evil Dr. Azmournus and his crew. This guy does tests on mutants and Anthropomorphs to create even more mutated creatures. He is not a pleasant guy. We also get his mutated crew.

There is a vigilante group that doesn't quite operate within the law, the "Wretch Slayers," and a group of sewer-dwelling crime fighters that face off against Dr. Azmournus and his crew ("Insecto's Sewer Guard").

There are more, but you get the idea. Use them all or none, but they add a bit more color to the streets, and under the streets, of Victory City.

Adventures

What might be the best part of a book full of great parts are the adventures. Included here are "Backup"  by David Okum and homage to the "Buddy Cop" movies of the 70s and 80s.  "The SynGen Situation" by Melanie R. Meadors, an open-end, even "sandbox" style adventure to get players and characters acquainted with Victory City.  You get to meet other heroes and even have a run-in with a noisy reporter! There is even a tavern where you can meet up.  Michele Lee gives us "The Demonic Cabal" here you get to meet a mentor in the form of Roadkill an ex-cop and former vigilante.  Of course, Roadkill soon lives up to his name and is dead. It is up to the player characters to find out how and why. Friend of the Other Side James M. Spahn is up with "Quiver of Serpents" which is more of an introduction to the criminal organization, the titular Quiver of Serpents as the PC's version of the Legion of Doom.  

All in all the book works really well and is a worthy addition to the Vigilante City line.

Taryn Nix aka "Teen Witch"

Taryn is, as long-time readers might know, the daughter of my iconic witch Larina. She began not as a D&D character but as a Mutants & Masterminds one (back in the M&M 2.0 days) and a BESM 3.0 character.  Naturally, I would use her as my go-to character for trying out magic systems in superhero games.

She and Larina have, well, issues. No need to get into them here, but suffice to say that if Larina is a "witch" archetype then Taryn is my "warlock" archetype. Taryn is also my "embrace the stereotype" character. So she will wear a large witch hat and all the rest. I swear it is like she tries to piss her mother off.  She is a hero, or maybe a reluctant hero, because she likes to hang out west of town where she can watch the VC Yakuza's hanger's-on race their highly modified and not exactly street legal motorcycles. If she were in the Teen Titans she would 100% be into Robin. 

In this game, I would say she gets into some trouble because some potions she has made are being sold as drugs and now she has all the wrong people interested in her. 

Taryn Nix aka "Teen Witch"


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Review: Vigilante City #2 Villain's Guide

Vigilante City #2 Villain's Guide
Book 2 of the SURVIVE THIS!! Vigilante City core rules is the Villain's Guide and it was shipped out with Core Rules #1.  It's Vigilante City week, so let us get to it.

Vigilante City #2 Villain's Guide

PDF and softcover book. 300 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.  For the purposes of this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the soft-cover books I picked up either via Kickstarter or from Bloat Games' own store.

This book builds off of the Vigilante City #1 Core Rules. While it says "Villain's Guide" on the cover it is really much more than that. 

Victory City

We start out with the titular Vigilante City, "Victory City." We get the layout of the city and its districts. We get a great map of the city (and it is reprinted on the back).  

Map of Vigilante City

Since this is street-level supers we get a lot of gangs. The gangs do feel like what you might get if you took the gangs from the movie The Warriors and let them populate Gotham City from Batman the Animated Series for a while. Yeah, it is every bit as fun as it sounds. I bet the creative team had a blast working on this. 

There is a great section following about building your own city or adding to Victory City.  Personally, I would rather add to the existing VC.  I mean nearly every superhero story is defined by the city they live in. So for a Vigilante City game, I am going to want to play in Vigilante City.

Anthropomorph Island is our next big section and it is an island of anthropomorphic animals. Not all of them are teenage. It's a neat little addition to the superhero mythos. 

There are a couple of sample adventures, which is nice.

Rogues Gallery

At about 75 pages in we finally get the Rogue Gallery. Ok, "finally" is too strong. Everything up to this point has been great. But let's be honest it is the bad guys that are the most fun.

Nearly 90s pages of all sorts of bad guys (and girls and animals) here and they are all fun.

There are a couple of local heroes, some sample characters, and a bunch NPCs. 

Bestiary 

There is a bestiary that covers normal animals to were-beasts and other threats. Bigfoot is even here! Note: The Dark Places & Demogorgons Cryptid Manual would work great with this. 

Community Content

I *think* this material was part of the Kickstarter where backers could submit heroes and villains of their own. This is that section and it is a lot of fun really.  I mean really, we are getting an official version of the Acrobatic Flea? Worth the price of the book alone!

Its the Acrobatic Flea!

This book could have been also called the GM's Guide, with all the material here.  It is great stuff. Can you play VC without it? Sure. And you can also have Batman without the Joker and Gotham City but it would not be as much fun.

The stuff of my nightmares

The Refrigerator for Vigilante City

Time to revisit one of my favorite bad guys for a supers game, Dr. Andreas Gelé, AKA "The Refrigerator."

A while back I introduced you all to Dr. Andreas Gelé, aka The Refrigerator. He is a socially stunted misanthrope with mommy issues and the intellect to act out in the worst ways possible.

This guy came, literally, out of a nightmare.  Around 1982 or so (I was 12) I was hit with a double shot of women being frozen alive, the movies were "In Like Flint" and "Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die." It really bugged the hell out of me and gave me nightmares for a long time.  Still kind of bugs me.  Of course, later I learned there is a whole creepy fetish thing related to this.  I think my issue is far more elemental.  I hate being really cold and think being frozen is quite possibly the worst thing ever.

His name comes from the classic Women in Refrigerators website started by Gail Simone.

The Refrigerator in Victory City

What brings the infamous Dr. Gelé to VC? Well, I see him as sort of a Dr. Phibes-like character now, he freezes and defrosts himself periodically to inflict new horrors on the world.  He has moved his operation to VC to once again seek out beautiful women for his collection.  

Once again I went old school for this sheet.

Dr. Andreas Gelé, AKA "The Refrigerator."

I could see him maybe trying to do research at Victory City University's library (he is old school after all) where he sees my Larina working there in her guise as a librarian. Well...not a guise really she got a degree in this. He decides he needs to add her to his perverse collection completely unaware that she is also the superhero known as the Witch.

His big evil plan might be thwarted by my other big bad.  Who is that? Well, that will be revealed on Friday!

I can see this game taking the place of Icons or Villains & Vigilantes in my life. It is at the intersection of them both for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Review: Vigilante City #1 Core Rules

Vigilante City #1 Core Rules
It is the start of Vigilante City Week here at The Other Side for my unofficial Super Hero month of September.  

Vigilante City has been sitting on top of the computer I use as a home server forever.  I figure now is a great time to let everyone know about this great street-level supers game.

Vigilante City #1 Core Rules

PDF and softcover book. 292 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.  For the purposes of this review, I am considering the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the soft-cover books I picked up either via Kickstarter or from Bloat Games' own store.

Vigilante City, or more accurately, SURVIVE THIS!! Vigilante City #1 Core Rules, is a street-level supers game for the SURVIVE THIS family of games from Bloat Games. The same folks that gave us the awesome Dark Places & Demogorgons and the amazing We Die Young RPGs.  So right away these rules feel familiar.  But this game is more about teenage angst in the 80s and 90s. There are mean streets out there.

The game really is a great starter for anyone that has played D&D/OSR-like games and wants to get into a supers game.  Like all SURVIVE THIS!! games this one in class and level with levels topping off at 10. 

Right from the start, this game lets us know what it is all about. These are street-level supers. While there might the occasional mutant, anthropomorphic otter, Super Soldier, or power suit we will not be seeing the likes of Superman or Wonder Woman. This is Batman, Captain America, and Tony Stark down all the way to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and some guy with a baseball bat.  If this sounds like your kind of game (and really who wouldn't want to play this?) then buckle in, because this is going to be fun.

The Core Rule book covers the basic hero classes (this is a class/level system derived from the SRD) and basic rules.  I am going to point out here that the rules are very much the same as other Survive This!! games with notable areas to aid heroic play.  While in the past I have pointed out that teens of the 80s in Dark Places & Demogorgons can grow up to become the young adults of the 90s We Die Young, there is no logical progression here from those games. To be fair that is also not the designer's intent. I *can* see a world that involves all these games (that and their newer What Shadows Hide line) but let's first appreciate this game for what it is right now and not what inhuman creation I'll make with it later. 

Who was that masked otter?
The Basics

We start off with the basic rules, or maybe I should say "Basic" rules since these rules are designed from the d20 SRD to feel like old-school D&D, D&D Basic in particular. As mentioned before it shares this design with all the other Survive This!! games.  You generate attributes, the usual six plus a seventh "Survival," you generate your saving throws, pick your alignments, calculate your Vigilante Points, work out your Origin/Background (every good hero has a backstory!) and then comes the time to choose your class.

Human Classes

Basic D&D's DNA is peaking through here. You have your normal human classes and then a section on "Mega Humans." But let us talk about humans first.  Essentially these are the roles that an everyday, but not really average, human could pick up and say "I am going to fight crime as a ..." Yes a lot of these require training and/or to be born with the right genetic lottery (smart, rich, or both).  

These classes are: Athlete, Crime Fighter, Dark Avenger, Gadgeteer, Genius, Hardboiled Detective, Knight Nurse, Martial Artist, Mentor, Mercenary, Protégé, Sharp Shooter, Street Preacher, and True Vigilante.  Most, if not all are fairly self-explanatory.  Each gets 10 levels of advancement where they gain certain advantages. Like the comics that inspired them the character classes are fairly 2-Dimensional. THIS IS APPROPRIATE. You fill in the blanks with your backgrounds and skills. You can choose "Street Preacher" but you have to figure out if you are Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel's character in "From Dusk til Dawn) or Jesse Custer from Preacher. 

Mega-Humans

Much like the split between Demi-humans and humans in D&D, and Meta-humans/Mutants and humans in comics, we get our section on Mega-Humans. Mega humans are both a "species" and a "class" they can pick up skill packages to differentiate themselves, but largely this is what they are. Again, this fits the tone of the X-man comics.

Our Mega-Human classes are: Anthropomorphs, Borg, Mutant, Mystic, Powered Armor, Psion, Super Soldier, and Super Speedster.  Lots of choices here.  

The Mystic

These classes and their powers (spells for the mystic, psionics for the psion) cover the first 210 pages of or 2/3rds of this book.  That is expected really.

The classes are followed with Skils & Skill Packs, XP/Leveling, Gear, Vehicles, Game Terms and Critical tables.

There is a solid index and the PDF is bookmarked. 

The game has a feel of Villians & Vigilantes mixed with Mutants & Masterminds with the difficulty of Icons.  Any veteran of either of those games will pick this one up fast. Anyone that has played D&D or other Survive This!! games will pick it up even faster.  That is already given the fact that this is a quick and easy game to learn and play.  There are groups out there that are searching for the perfect Supers game and this could very well be it for them.  I find it very, very appealing.  

Like all games from Bloat Games, there is a lot of support online and in other books for this line.

Vigilante City

Larina Nix for Vigilante City

Give me a magic-using class and I am going to try it out with my Drosophila melanogaster of magic, Larina. 

Given this is an old-school game I opted to go old school with dice, a printed character sheet, and a pencil.  I spent longer troubleshooting my scanner than I did on this character build!

Larina Nix for Vigilante City

I like how she came out, to be honest. And I like how fast it was to create a 10th-level character too. I'll pick her spells later. I figure she would have access to all of them. 

I'll do this for the other books in the series as well, adding what each book adds to the game. This will be quite fun really. 

All I could think of while doing all of this was this song.  So play us home Steve!


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: OSR Alternative Classes

OSR Alternative Classes
Getting into some more OSR today with a book of classes, the witch is just one 13.

As always I will be following my rules for these reviews.

OSR Alternative Classes

PDF. 48 pages. 1 table of contents page, 3 pages of OGL (which could have be brought down to 2 with better formatting), rest content.

Ok the PWYW suggestion is 50 cents. That puts this book at 1 cent per page practically. Easily the best page-to-cost ratio here.  

The layout is basic to point of non-existence really.  Not to be to judgemental but it looks like a PDF save of an MS Word document. There is very little art. 

The 13 classes are Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User, Thief, Assassin, Scout, Dervish, Berserker, Cerves Brave, Witch, Ironskin (Siderenos), Sorcerer, and Bard.  All the classes are presented in B/X style; levels to 14th limited spells.  The classes have some connection to an existing campaign setting that is not explained well here. Moreover they are also compared to other people's IP/Copyrights that really you can't do with the OGL.   Each class also has a set of alternate rules that are interesting and would likely work well in Old-School Essentials or B/X game. The company behind this document has gone on to do other OSE-compatible products.

All of the new classes have quite a bit of detail which is good. A few notes. The Assassin and Scout get arcane dabbling which I like.  The Cerves are Deer-folk and has one of the few examples of art. Though I would not use the word "Brave" to describe a warrior type. The Ironskin is a neat idea.  The Sorcerer here follows the 3.x mold and that is a good thing in my mind. The Bard looks like it would play well, to be honest, but there are so many out now you can usually find one that does exactly what you want. 

The Witch

Let's get why I bought this. These witches are divine casters, so wisdom is a prime along with Charisma. XP values are similar to clerics as is spell progression, though they do get spells at 1st level.  This witch has various powers.  They can use animals to see at 2nd level, brew potions at 3rd, craft fetishes at 5th level, dominate animals at 7th, scribe scrolls at 9th level, and at 11th create magic items.  They form covens at 9th level and can curse or bless others. 

This witch has a spell list, drawn from Labyrinth Lord, but no new spells. There are also a fair number of optional powers.

Ok. So there are a lot of good ideas here that are almost lost due to the sub-par layout and formatting.  I am betting that newer books from the same publisher/author are much better.  This one could go for an upgrade to be honest.  There is a designation of Open Content, but it also seems to be from another book. So I am not sure whether or not it is for this book or not. 

For the price though it is good. Even if you only ever use one class here, or even just the additional ideas for the basic 4 classes it is totally worth it. 

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Friday, August 5, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: Twilight Fables Goes OSR

So this was posted earlier this week.

Twilight Fables OSR

So I guess that makes it official. You can get Twilight Fables in 5e AND OSE/OSR flavors.

There are new OSR tiers to choose from. I just updated mine to include both the OSE and 5e versions of the book.

--

Twilight Fables

Twilight Fables OSR

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1693797308/twilight-fables?ref=theotherside

Really looking forward to this one. It is for 5e and it looks AMAZING.  Rod was the mastermind behind Chromatic Dungeons, so you know the quality is good, but he has upped his game to the next level on this one. In addition to a Print on Demand version, there will be the ubiquitous PDF and Print-friendly PDF, and there will also be an accessible RTF file.  There is also an option for a glossy offset print if the stretch goal is made.

Additionally, you get a zip file containing tokens and markdown files of every creature, as well as dozens of printable images of the monsters. To be used at your table or virtual table. 

The book has a ton of monsters from myth and legend and more to the point the book is already done. That's correct, there might be some minor edits here and there, but the book is done, art is in place, and you will get your digital rewards (PDF, RTF, tokens) as soon as the funding is done.

That's the way to do it honestly.

And NOW an OSR option too!

Friday, July 8, 2022

Follow Friday: Wobblies & Wizards

Wobblies & Wizards
I like Podcasts. I can't keep up with all of them out there, but I do enjoy them and you get a different feel from them than you get from say a blog post.

Here is one of my new favorites.

Wobblies & Wizards

Run by Shane Thayer aka Logar the Barbarian. It is an old-school, new-school, and all-around cool geek-based podcast.

If anything he leans more into old-school and the OSR scene, but that is a matter of these are the game he enjoys. You certainly get the vibe here that all games are welcome AND all gamers are welcome.

I was on (should be up soon) and we spent time talking about The Misfits and Black Flag. He has some great OSE content, Satanic Panic, and talks a lot about world-building.

Really worth checking out. Give him a listen and follow him on social media.

https://anchor.fm/wobbliesandwizards

https://twitter.com/LogarHailCrom

https://www.facebook.com/wobbliesandwizards

https://www.patreon.com/wobbliesandwizards

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Plays Well With Others: Castles & Crusades Adventurers Spellbook

Castles & Crusades Adventurers Spellbook
Yesterday I talked about how well, or more to the point, how easy it is to use the Castles & Crusades Mystical Companions with old-school D&D and in particular AD&D 1st Edition.  I want to do something similar today but a little more focused on bridging that gap.

Today I want to look at Castles & Crusades Adventurers Spellbook as my example, but in truth, this would apply to any C&C spell collection.

I'll do a quick review and then get into my Plays Well With Others.

Castles & Crusades Adventurers Spellbook

For the purposes of this review, I am considering both the PDF from DriveThruRPG and the hardcover I purchased from Troll Lords.

256 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

This book covers (mostly) the spells of the four major spell-casting classes in C&C; Cleric, Wizard, Druid, and Illusionist.   There are also two new types of spell-casters in this book, Runic Magic and Chromatic Magic.

The vast bulk of this book is given over to the spells of four classes (170+ pages). The spells are listed by class and then the alphabetic description follows.  Many of these are going to be familiar since they are pulled from various C&C books and the Player's Handbook in particular. This is not a bug, but a feature. I wanted a book that had all of these spells in one place and this is what they advertise it as.

There are minor typos here and there and the art is recycled, but none of that matters to me. I am here for the spells.  Honestly, I have no idea how many spells are here but it has to be upwards of 1,000. For example, there are 379 Cleric spells (0 to 9th level), 366 Druid spells, 437 Wizard spells, 305 Illusionist spells, and over 200 rune magic spells.  That's a lot of magic. 

I mentioned Runic Magic a couple of times. Rune Magic. Anyone can use runic magic, but the character has to master the runes first via an attribute check, this also assumes they have the necessary codices needed in order to learn the runes.  

The spells of the Chromatic Mage is also presented here.  This class is detailed more in the Castles & Crusades Player Archive, which I will cover more tomorrow.

If you are a fan of magic, spells or just have a desire to have a complete set then I would say pick this up.

Plays Well With Others

It has often been said that Castles & Crusades is one of the first professionally published OSR games out there.  It takes the 3rd Edition base, reforms it forms it for a 1st Edition experience and even gave us rules and mechanics that would later be seen in 5th Edition.  Castles & Crusades is essentially what AD&D could have become in the new millennium.

So it is no surprise then that C&C can Play Well with other forms of D&D rather easily. 

1st and 2nd Edition D&D

1st and 2nd Edition AD&D

This one is such a no-brainer it barely needs to be mentioned, but there are some things to consider. C&C uses the same spell casting classes as 1st Edition AD&D, so that conversion is easy. Though it should be pointed out that all classes have cantrips and have spells that go to 9th level.

1st and 2nd Edition AD&D Cure Light Wounds

Converting the spells is so trivial it is hardly an effort. 

C&C spells casting times are in Rounds and saves are based on abilities. Largely you can save vs. Spells in AD&D unless some other sort of save (death, paralysis) makes more sense.

3rd Edition D&D

C&C might be modeled after 1st Edition, but its roots are in 3rd Edition D&D.  Spellcasters get cantrips and 9th level spells in both cases. 

D&D 3e

Saves convert roughly like this Reflex = Dexterity (or rarely Intelligence), Fortitude = Constitution or Strength, Will = Wisdom or Charisma.

Likewise both games have focus components that can be used. 

5th Edition D&D

C&C and D&D 5 have so much in common that you can just drop these spells right in. 

D&D 5e

Levels are the same. Cantrips are the same. Saves are the same. There is no warlock or sorcerer in C&C nor is there a dedicated Illusionist for D&D5, just the wizard archetype.  But the spells can be spread out well enough.  The Chromatic Mage though would make a good D&D5 style sorcerer to be honest with a little tweaking.

OSR Games

No point in going through all of these. If any of the above work then so do these.  A couple of caveats. 

Basic-Based Advanced Games

Basic Advanced Games

Basic D&D does not have the detail of spell descriptions that Advanced D&D does. So a lot of the stat blocks of the spells can be ignored or used as guidelines.  Saves are always vs. Spell.

Chromatic Dungeons

In the special case of Chromatic Dungeons, all the above applies, but I also think it would work out well if the Chromatic Mage was ported over (even via the OGL) to Chromatic Dungeons.  IT would work well as another, but a different classification of Magic-User.  I would use Wizard level advancement in CD and the spell progression in the Adventurers Spellbook.

I'll discuss this more tomorrow when I do my Class Struggles post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

It's June!

The last couple of months has been really busy here at the ole' Other Side. I went from the "April A to Z"  right into SciFi month.  I think June is a great time to get back to the bread and butter of this blog; D&D.  Plus watching Season 4 of Stranger Things has really put me back into the mood.

June was always a great D&D month for me.  While in school it meant summer break. After I got married and had a house it was the month when the planting season was mostly over.  My wife has always had a huge garden (+2,000 ft2, that's a lot for the burbs) so in April and May, every weekend is spent outside working.

I have to admit that of late I have been in a sort of creative lull.  Oh I am still picking at the various Basic Bestiaries and I am collecting art for them. My goal/plan/desire is NOT to do a Kickstarter for it. So I am collecting and buying art as I can.  I have not done much if anything on the High Witchcraft book. I have been sorting through the 800+ spells I have written over the years and trying to figure out which ones need to be used.  Both of these projects will be generic OSR, so not tied to any one rule system. I will use my own Compatibility Logos on them.  But the ideas have not been flowing really at all.  Oh I have picked some Fey Lords and a few different types of Angels (both are also discussed in the High Witchcraft book) but that is about it really.   You may have noticed that outside of NIGHT SHIFT I have not produced anything during Covid-Times. You also may have noticed the uptick in reviews here vs. new content.

My friend and day-job co-worker Richard Ruane pointed me in the direction of something going on on Itch.io.  Itch.io is an RPG PDF storefront similar to DriveThruRPG but catering more to the Indie crowd.  All I know about it is the prices of the PDFs are usually twice to three times what I expect to pay on DriveThru, but whatever.  The thing he pointed out to me was the OSR June Jam

OSR June Jam
https://itch.io/jam/osr-june-jam

I have never participated in a Design Jam for RPGs before. I have done plenty at my day job. So I thought I should give it a go.  

This sounds like a fun idea really, and I do have two completely brand new ideas I could do with this. I will talk about them later since I am looking into some details now. But a hint for one is "Halfling Folk Horror."

It is hosted on Itch.io but I have to look at my contract with DriveThruRPG since I think I signed exclusivity. I don't know yet.  Submissions are due at the end of the month so that gives me 28.5 days to get it all in.

I will also use my Compatibility Logos above for these, but my target system is likely to be Old School Essentials Advanced Fantasy and/or Advanced Labyrinth Lord.   Though there are some logos on the site they recommend.

Maybe this is something I need to shake off the cobwebs in my brain.

In the meantime check out all the empty space on my Itich.io profile: https://timsbrannan.itch.io/

Friday, April 15, 2022

Kickstart Your Weekend: Adventure! Romance! Chaos! Horror!

Lots of new Kickstarters out there.  So many in fact. Let's have a look!

Mini-Adventure #1: Shadow of the Necromancer 1E/5E & Box Set

Shadow of the Necromancer


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/marktaormino/mini-adventure-1-shadow-of-the-necromancer-1e-5e-and-box-set

Mark Taormino and Dark Wizard Games has another gonzo adventure for us, this time for both 1st Ed and 5th Ed D&D. As always it looks like great fun.

Swords & Chaos

Swords & Chaos

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/blackspirefantasy/swords-and-chaos

Swords & Chaos is powered by the SIEGE Engine, the same system in Castles & Crusades. Looks like it is cut from the same cloth as AS&SH or Barbarians of Lemuria.

Tome of Adventure Design

Tome of Adventure Design

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adventuredesigntome/tome-of-adventure-design

A revised and updated Tome of Adventure design for 2022.  I have the original and it is really useful to whip up something in a pinch.

An Unexpected Wedding Invitation (5e)

An Unexpected Wedding Invitation (5e)

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/midnight-tower/an-unexpected-wedding-invitation

A bit of change here is a Jane Austin-ish-inspired wedding mystery for 5e. Looks like a lot of fun.

Shield Maidens: A New Viking/Cyberpunk Tabletop RPG

Shield Maidens: A New Viking/Cyberpunk Tabletop RPG

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1990654819/shield-maidens-a-new-viking-cyberpunk-tabletop-rpg

Ok, this one sounds interesting.  Mixing cyberpunk, pre-apocalypse, and Norse myth.  There is also a free preview to get your first shield maiden built.  It is its own system, but it still looks fun.

The Art of Ménage à 3

The Art of Ménage à 3

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pixietrixcomix/the-art-of-menage-a-3

Now for something completely different.  Ménage à 3 was a fantastic webcomic about three roommates hopelessly in love with each other.  But that did not mean things worked out! It also launched the career of  Gisèle Lagacé.  This has art from the comic and new pieces.

Old Gods of Appalachia Roleplaying Game

Old Gods of Appalachia Roleplaying Game

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/montecookgames/old-gods-of-appalachia-roleplaying-game

Dark weird folk horror from Monte Cook? YEAH! Sign me the hell up! It is the Cypher system and you know the production values will be high.

FAST Core Rulebook - Multi-Genre RPG System

FAST Core Rulebook - Multi-Genre RPG System

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/563681582/fast-core-rulebook-multi-genre-rpg-system

A new multi-genre system that looks like it has a LOT of potential.  I like multi-genre systems since I tend to mix a lot of things together in one game. 


Swords of Cthulhu

Swords of Cthulhu

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brwgames/swords-of-cthulhu

Another cool one from Joseph Bloch who has a stellar Kickstarter track record.  This one brings the Lovecraftian mythos back (or back again) to AD&D/OSRIC.


Lots of choices!