Showing posts with label review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label review. Show all posts

Saturday, September 24, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood

Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood
Head back to not only just the OSR but to Old-School Essentials. This one is from Knight Owl Publishing who has been putting out some really great stuff lately.

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

Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood

PDF. 73 pages. Color cover, black & white interior art.

This book is a sequel and elaboration on The Chaos Gods Come to Meatlandia. I don't know much about that other product save that it seems to be a wild "anything goes" sort of setting.  This has a similar feel. 

This product includes both the Worm Witch and Worm Warden, classes.  Witches and Wardens are classes I have also explored in my various book so I am quite excited to see these.

The Worm Warden is like a paladin, ranger, or guardian for the witch cult. They are fighter types. Their primes are Strength and Charisma. 

The Worm Witch is a witch class and it shares many similarities with other witch classes. This is largely due to books we all read and the various means we all use to make classes.  Personally, I find this great. The Worm Witch could fit in well with all the witches I have played and still have enough unique features to make her special. What makes her special of course is her connection to worms. Even the worm witch's special abilities could be mapped on to my Occult Powers.

Both the Warden and the Witch share a secret language

The Worm Witch also gains witch spells. And there are some great ones here.  There is the expected ones like Animal Friendship and Charm Animal, and some really interesting ones like Infect with Worms, Mass of Maggots, Wave of Worms, and more.  Yeah, they do pretty much what you expect.

This is all about one-third of the book. And this was all then I would be really happy. I am glad someone wrote this book. This is a needed sort of witch that I would not likely write. Ok. I would have never done this one. Worms are great for my wife's garden, and that is about all the use I have for them.  So kudos to Wind Lothamer and Ahimsa Kerp for doing this.

We still have the rest of the book. 

Belinda Blood
The next section covers the land of Annalida, a land near Meatlandia. This is another third of the book and it is interesting, but I have no context for it. Still, the Witch Wood is very cool. 

The last third (or so) covers the monsters of the land, which as you can imagine, is full of worms. 

The NPC witch, Belinda Blood, is also presented. She was a very powerful Worm Witch and could fit the bill as a Witch Queen for my War of the Witch Queen Campaign.  It is also all written for Old School Essentials so that is another good fit. Alive or dead she would be a great Witch Queen.

As I mentioned this book is written for OSE and fits well.

So I bought this hoping for a class and a few new spells. I got that. I also got another class, a campaign setting, some monsters, AND a new Witch Queen to add to my Old-School Essentials campaign. 

That's pretty nice if you ask me.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Friday, September 23, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Stranger Stuff & Teenage Witchcraft (TinyD6)

I am jumping around on systems like a meth-addicted moth this week.  Tiny D6? Sure, why not!

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

Stranger Stuff and Teenage Witchcraft (TinyD6)

Tonight's game uses the Tiny D6 game system and is a supplement for Fat Goblin Games' Stranger Stuff game. Stranger Stuff is described as "80's Inspired Adventure, Horror, and Science Fiction."  I think it is pretty easy to tell where this inspiration is from and frankly, that is good enough for me.

I love how the book cover aims for an old-school writing journal look for the core RPG and a "Sweet Valley High" look to the Teenage Witchcraft book.  Really nice.

Stranger StuffStranger Stuff: Teenage Witchcraft

Stranger Stuff

PDF. 124 pages. Color covers and interior art; sort of. It is black & white with accents of red.

Both books use a similar notebook-style art as their background watermark.  So these books look like they were written in a notebook. 

Stranger Stuff is a Tiny D6 game, based on the Tiny D6 engine released by Gallantknight Games.  IT is also based on Fat Goblin's own vs. Stranger Stuff game.

Essentially you are playing a kid in the 1980s in a small town where things are, well, strange. There is a list of movies to watch to get the proper feel for this time, but I honestly feel that most of my readers have seen them. 

Character creation is simple. Come up with a concept, give them some traits, and disadvantages and you are set to go! There are only two stats, Toughness and Stress.

The system is based on the venerable D6 system, but stripped way down. 

The book is rich in background and has plenty of details about playing in this odd world during the year 1984.

Teenage Witchcraft

PDF. 44 pages. Full-color cover and black & white interior art with accents of red. 

This book takes the basics of the Stranger Stuff game and adds in the ability to become a witch and cast spells.  So if you are thinking the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina or The Craft, but in the 80s, then you have the right idea here.

Most of the rules involve the casting of spells, as appropriate, There is an example walk-through with two spells and many examples are given, but the fun, of course, is making your own spells. OR as in the case with The Craft or Charmed, finding the right mix of witches to work with.

The two combined look like a ton of fun and since the rules are easy, something you could pick up and do in an afternoon.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Review: Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition

Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition
This one has been sitting in my TBR pile for so long I actually feel kinda bad that I am just now getting to review it.  But this is my unofficial superheroes month so but late than never I guess.

Prowlers & Paragons Ultimate Edition

I like supers games. While I might be suffering from a little bit of superhero burnout right now I still enjoy these games. While I have not found the Prefect-for-Me supers game, this one is very, very close.

For this review, I am considering the POD and PDF I got from DriveThruRPG via their 2019 Kickstarter.  The book was ready rather quickly I am just really slow on my review.

PDF and Hardcover, 192 pages. Full-color covers and interior art.

This is a supers game so one of the first things I consider is the art. I know, that seems shallow of me, but comics are a visual medium. So are superhero movies and TV shows. The art of P&P is gorgeous. I read through it and wonder where is the comic that should be attached to this game? No comic. But the game still looks great.

Foreword and Introduction

The foreword from Sean Patrick Fannon talks about the game he wanted to create and then discovers that the original P&P from Leonard Pimentel did more or less everything he wanted. This new P&P updates the old with some new ideas from both Pimentel and Fannon.  

The Introduction covers the game and various glossary terms to get you going.

Chapter 1: Basics

The game mechanic is very basic and very easy to use. Every trait, ability, power, or what have you has a score. Figure our what you want to do, find the right combination, add those numbers up, minus any negative modifiers, and then roll that number of d6s.  "2s" and "4s" are one success, "6s" are two successes.  Compare that to the Thresholds table and you will know by how much you succeed, or fail.

Some special d6s would be nice, but that could get cost prohibitive. Keep in mind Fannon's original supers game was called "Handfuls of Dice" so it's good you can use regular d6s here!

Actions, Combat, Resolve, and Adversity are all dealt with in more detail in chapters 3, 4, and 5. But it is great to have here to get an idea on how to create your characters.

Chapter 2: Characters

The heart and soul of any supers game are the super themselves. Here we cover how to create your characters which will include types and power levels. This is a point-buy system so you get so many points depending on your power level and then use those points to buy everything you need. 

Abilities are your base abilities like what you can find in most games. Agility, Intellect, Might, Perception, Toughness, and Willpower.  Similar to D&D and very similar to Unisystem. 1d (1d6) to 6d represents the human norm. Talents are like skills, but broader.  We also have our huge list of Powers. Powers can have Pros and Cons. For example, Ironman and Green Lantern both need to have a power source for their powers. This would be a con. Characters can also have Perks (Wealth for Batman) and Flaws (Compulsion, also for Batman). 

The powers seem pretty comprehensive. Very much similar to say Mutants & Masterminds or other supers games.

This is the largest chapter of the book as expected.

Chapter 3: Action

This is the shortest chapter since action rolls are pretty easy to figure out.  Again you are rolling a bunch of d6s (determined by abilities, talents, powers, and other modifiers) and counting your successes ("2s" and "4s" are 1, "6s" are 2). Compare that number to the Thresholds chart. You can also embellish your actions.

Chapter 3: Action

Chapter 4: Combat

Combat is largely a specific type of action, but since fighting bad guys is so central to many supers games and the variety of ways to engage in combat, this one is a bit larger and on its own.

Chapter 5: Resolve and Adversity

It is not the powers that make heroes the heroes, but their ability to do what is right and fight on. This is Resolve.  Resolve allows the heroes to push through the tough times, to help their allies, to be able to "do this all day." It is a bit like the Drama Point system in Unisystem (Buffy, Ghosts of Albion). You can save it for the right moment for the best heroic action. Adversity is what challenges them. 

Chapter 6: Equipment

Utility belts, flight suits, fast cars, even swords, bats (baseball, not the flying kinds), and your base of operations are all covered here.

Chapter 7: Environment 

Street-level supers might be limited to the mean streets, but a supers game can take you anywhere and the players need to know how to handle these situations. 

Chapter 8: Friends and Foes

I always love these chapters in Supers games. We get a variety of heroes and villains to help populate our worlds. Often they are the authors' homages to the heroes and stories they love, but also to fill certain niches.  This chapter starts out with the basics; animals, extras (NPCs), and then we move onto the main heroes.  There are variations of some classics here; your speedster, your blaster, you martial arts expert, the super soldier, and so on. If you have read a comic...well...ever then you should know what to expect here. I can almost judge a game by how many of these heroes I'd like to use. So far this game is doing great since all of them seem interesting me. These are followed by the Foes. They are also very interesting. Sure in both cases (heroes and foes) are built on very, very familiar archetypes, but that is also why they work. 

Heroes and Foes

Chapter 9: Superhero Gaming

This last chapter covers running your Prowlers & Paragons games including creating villain and their motivations. Also creating scenes, stories, and series.

This is followed by a character sheet, a list of Kickstarter backers, and a good index. 

Honestly, this is really a great supers game. It is a little less on the complexity scale than say Mutants & Masterminds, but more so than say Icons.  

while the notion of rolling say 20+ d6s can be daunting for really powerful characters, the fact that you are just looking for success makes it go really fast. Plus dropping a handful of dice for an attack? Yeah, there is sublime satisfaction in that as well.

There is also a free Quickstart and free Character Sheets.

Character creation is pretty fast and very fun.  Here are some examples of ones I was able to do with just some of the Quickstart details and a pre-Kickstarter draft.

I am going to have to come back to this game for some more!

100 Days of Halloween: Elements of Magic - Mythic Earth

Elements of Magic - Mythic Earth
Going back a bit when the D&D 3.5 edition of the game was all the rage and ENWorld began publishing material under the OGL and d20 STL.

This one covers the mythic magic of our World. 

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

Elements of Magic - Mythic Earth

PDF in a zip file. 58 pages. Front and back cover supplied as separate JPG files.  

You can tell this is the early days of PDF publishing. The publisher provides a README file to explain how use the layers to make a print-friendly PDF. Vey nice I have to say. Very polite.

This book largely assumes that you will be using this in a modern d20 game where magic is real.  There is an appendix in the back about using it with "Fantasy d20" coughD&D3.5cough.

Preface

A one-page overview of what this book is and how it is updated from it's predecessors (other Elements of Magic books).

Chapter One: Myths

This chapter is the foundation layer for playing a "mythic" game. This covers what sorts of myths you to use or create for your game. The default is a modern high fantasy. We get some very basic examples of how myths work in the world. Such as the abduction of Persephone causing the seasons to a basic overview of A Hero with a Thousand Faces monomyth.

Honestly, there could have been a lot more here.

Chapter Two: Spellcasting and Magical Traditions

This covers the spell-casting basics.  This includes "regular" spell casting and ritual magic. Magic is largely a skill-based system. Because of this any class can cast spells but some are going to be better trained than others.  There are new backgrounds, new skills, and of course lots of new feats.  Feats are the primary vehicle to differentiate the various magical styles.  It works much better than it would seem or even to anyone that is "feat exhausted."

In truth, the feat system is really rather perfect for this, or maybe, this book's conceptualization of these different mythic traditions is well suited for feats.  In other games, these would be all different classes or sub-classes.  Here it is entirely possible to build an arcane dabbler that knows a little runic magic, some voodoo. Your dabbler will never be an expert in anything due to the limited number of feats you can take, but that is also true in real life. They are also designed to provide some interesting playability if you do take more than one Tradition feat.

Examples of some magic items and a ritual spell are also given.

Chapter Three: The Magic of High Fantasy

This is our campaign world; magical modern Earth. They make a distinction between our Earth, "Terra" and the magical Earth, "Gaia." It is not a particularly new idea, but it is well executed here and that is the important part. Detailed within are various organizations that exist on Gaia that are related to magic. There is the governmental "Bureau" that act as the law enforcement in the magical world and "The Knights of the Round" that enforce the treaties with the Fey.  There is room for many more.

We are also given The Mage, an Advanced Class for d20 Modern. This rounded off with some NPC Mages.

Chapter Four: Spells

Spells here are applications of magical skills. The ten skills are Attack, Charm, Create, Cure, Defend, Divine, Illusion, Move, Summon, Summon, and Transform.  Each skill must be trained. So it is easy to see you can have generalists in all skills and experts in just a few.  Each skill has a number of spells associated with it.  You can design spells as needed with whatever enhancements seem to work the best.  Each enhancement requires a skill rank.  So four enhancements mean four additional skill ranks. 

The system takes a little bit to learn but is easily adaptable and usable in play.

Appendix

This covers converting the Mage advanced class to a Base class for use in Fantasy d20 worlds. 

It is obvious to me that this was someone's favorite campaign model for a while. There are a lot of really great ideas here and few I'd like to try out.  Reading it now I am taken by how much of this could be ported over to True20 or even a modern OSR game.

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Monday, September 19, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Blood and Broomsticks - Sorcerers & Witches

Blood and Broomsticks - Sorcerers & Witches
Getting back to some Pathfinder tonight. There is just so much great material for this game I feel I am barely scratching the surface.  One thing is certain though.  Morpheus is the witchiest of all the fonts. 

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

Blood and Broomsticks - Sorcerers & Witches

PDF.  41 pages. Front and back covers. Credits (including art credits). Compatibility and References. Table of Contents. 1 ad.  2 pages of OGL.  About 30 pages of content, minus various bits of art.  Full-color covers and interior art.

This book gives us one sorcerer bloodline and two witch archetypes. 

We open with a word about magic and spells and how Sorcerer magic differs from Witch magic. There is a bit on what are some of the best spells for both classes to take. 

New Sorcerer Bloodline: The Altered. This is the offspring of a witch whose patron altered them in the womb.  An interesting concept and one I have also played around with myself.  These sorcerers get access to the Patron's spells as their own bonus spells.  They also gain access to a handful of Hexes.  Not as many as the witch of course, but enough to keep the class interesting.

New Witch Patrons: These are also related. The Blood Patron and the Family Patron are the direct extensions of the offspring of witches. Others include Greed, Kinetics, Metal, Pyre, and Sunlight.

New Witch Archetypes: The Ink witch is a tattoo witch and various powers linked to markings.  The Pyre witch is all about fires and flames. 

There are 14 new hexes (of all levels) and five new magic items.

There are also 13 new spells. All can be used by the witch, and most can be used by sorcerers. 

I like how the book looks and the game material also looks pretty solid and fun.  Certainly something I would use in my games.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Sunday, September 18, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Love Witch

Love Witch
Something a little different tonight. NUELOW Games has given us a lot of off-beat supplements for d20; many using old comics that have fallen into the public domain. It is a good idea really, some of these older comics are actually good and some are kinda creepy and many lend themselves well to all sorts of games.  That is what we have tonight.  Though I will admit I am not 100% sure if the comic used IS public domain OR if it is one they licensed for this use.  The copyright notice seems to indicate that Marv "Teen Titans" Wolfman still owns and it is used with his permission. 

Love Witch

PDF. 56 pages. Color Cover. Black & White interior art.

Not to be confused with the similar-sounding movie out the same year. 

This product is split into four major parts.  Parts 1 to 3 are the comics about the "Love Witch" and Part 4 is the OGL d20 rules to use some of the magic.

Burnick is our titular Love Witch. The first comic introduces us to this beautiful but evil witch. The next two deal with her various battles, with the last one dealing with her battle with her arch enemies the Druids.

The Game related sections start on page 36 and deal with the fall of Atlantis and the migrations of the Atlanteans.  The magic of Atlantis, at least in terms of the d20 rules are a bunch of different feats that can be taken to provide magical effects.  Not a bad method and it certainly feels different.

In the modern eras, we get two groups that continue the Love Witches fight. The Daughters of Burnick continue in the steps of the Love Witch and the Watchers of the Stones who are the modern-day Druids.

It's fun and I could easily see a "Daughters of Burnick" coven that I could use with my own witch books or even better with the Hyperborea RPG. 


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Saturday, September 17, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: The Pantheon and Pagan Faiths

The Pantheon and Pagan Faiths
Tonight I am doing my third Samurai Sheepdog product, but this was not planned out that way.  Also, this is another former Mystic Eye Games product that Samurai Sheepdog has brought back.  It is also one of my favorite books from the early d20 days.

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

The Pantheon and Pagan Faiths

PDF. 208 pages. Color cover. Black & White interior art. 

Released originally in 2003 by Mystic Eye Games this was part of their campaign "Hunt the Rise of Evil" for their World of Gothos world.  I remember at the time thinking it was a touch cliché but still fun and it kept my attention.  This was my favorite book in all their publications to that point. 

Samurai Sheepdog is, as far as I can tell, the same people that made up Mystic Eye Games. So this is not a case of a new publisher buying the right to old stock, it is a new publisher re-organized from the remains of the old.  Does this mean we could get more "Hunt the Rise of Evil" products? Maybe!  But until then let's discuss this older product.

The obvious spiritual parent of this book is AD&D 2nd edition Faiths & Avatars book. Right up the art of the various priests, shamans, and witches of the various faiths in a lineup. I will not lie, it did appeal to me and help me know right away what this book was about. 

The Usual Suspects 1

While this book is overtly for the Hunt the Rise of Evil campaign and the World of Gothos I used it rather nicely with my D&D 3.x games where I feel added materials from a lot of different d20 publishers.  It is "labeled" but also flexible.

This is also a good-sized book at 208 page and 10 Chapters. 

Introduction

This covers what this book is and how to use it. 

Chapter 1: Piety and Conversion

This covers the rules of dealing with the various gods and how they can grant favor. This is where we get to see our lineup of clerics. Additionally, there are rules for conversions. So if you are playing clerics in a d20/D&D 3.x game then this a great source of information. 

The Usual Suspects 2

Chapter 2: Core Divine Character Classes

Covers the expected classes like Clerics, Druids, Paladins, and Rangers. We also get Shamans and Witches/Warlocks. Both classes are well-detailed. These witches are, naturally, divine spellcasters not arcane. The witch can also choose to be a White Witch or a Black Witch which is also called a Warlock.  Witches are even further divided into covens associated with a different god of faith. The covens are actually very interesting and kept me coming back to this book. They are also fairly tied to this world and these gods. 

Witches

Chapter 3: Prestige Classes

I will not lie. I do like Prestige Classes.  I like the idea of being able to further differentiate your character later inplay.  I do wish that 5e had prestige classes not tied to their base classes so much. 

These Prestige Classes are tied to this world but it looks a little easier to detangle them given the way Prestige Classes were most often constructed at the time. Here we have the Beast Friend, Covenant to the Hunt, Furies of Destruction, Hammers of Justice, Inquisitor of Justice, Ovate Bards (one of my favorites here), Slaughter Priest, Sorcerer Priest of Vlag, Strictor, and The Taken.  I did not try many of these but I did try the Ovate Bard and thought it was really great.

Chapter 4: Feats

There are some interesting feats tied with faith, birth, and how people can approach the divine.  It takes a game mechanic and weaves it back into the structure of the world. I rather like it to be honest. But, let's be honest, there are a lot of feats here. Maybe more than we really need.

Chapter 5: Spells in Gothos

Ok. You know I love my magic and this chapter does not disappoint. We get new cleric domains and new witch and shaman spells. Nearly 40 pages worth. There are new spells as expected for Bards, Clerics, Druids, Paladins, and Rangers. There are even some new one for Sorcerers/Wizards. 

Chapter 6: Saints and Sainthood

Now, this is an interesting chapter. Back in my starting days of D&D Basic I played a Cleric. We decided that this cleric would later be a Saint of those who fight undead and demons in my AD&D world. (Interestingly enough that same said cleric is a Patron Saint in the Duchy of Valnwall now.) This chapter lists a numbers of saints and the benefit to having a patron saint. There are both good and evil ones here.

I think most gamers of a certain age will agree that the Patron Saint of Adventures is St. Aleena the Brave

Chapter 7: The Pantheon

This covers the gods, the major clerics, and centers of worship or divine power in the world of Gothos. The gods are wonderfully detailed though like gods should they are tied to their world.  

Chapter 8: Outscat Gods

Ah, now here is something not often covered in campaign books. (well. the Forgotten Realms does a good job here too). This covers all the gods that have fallen, been kicked out, or have left the main pantheons including our cover boy Chargrond.  The gods here also get some special rituals.  These gods are all evil.

Chapter 9: Outsider Gods

Like the outcasts, these gods are not part of the main pantheons. Unlike the outcast gods, they never were a part of it to begin with. Their alignments vary. Like the previous two chapters in addition to gods, we get major clerics/worshipers and some rituals. 

Chapter 10: Pagan Gods

 In modern parlance, these are the "Old Gods" to The Pantheon's "New Gods." These are the gods followed by Druids and Witches. Like the previous three chapters we gets gods, major worshipers including some specialty priests, and rituals. 

We end with the OGL and a very nice index.

This book packs a lot into its 200+ pages and for less than the price of a Grande PSL you get a good value.

The print option has long been OOP, but sometimes you can still find them on eBay or Noble Knight. 

I unloaded mine in my D&D 3.x purge. Well. At least I still have the PDF!

The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Friday, September 16, 2022

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


100 Days of Halloween: Tarot Magic

Tarot Magic
Digging deep tonight with one going all the way back to the d20 days. Everything about it just fills me with early 2000s nostalgia. Is it the lens flare on the logo? Is it the repeated use of the Morpheus font (which I STILL like)? I don't know. But whatever it is this one has been sitting on my hard drive for nearly 15 years or more (20 if you count the softcover I used to have) waiting for me to review it.

Tarot Magic

PDF. 90 pages, color cover, black & white interior art.

This book had been published originally back in 2002-2003 by Mystic Eye Games for the d20 OGL and STL. Yes we are going all the way back to the d20 System Trademark License here.

Now it has been updated in a 2016 re-upload by Samurai Sheepdog.  I still have my original PDF on a backup drive so I can compare them. The cover is the same, but a bit brighter and the Samurai Sheepdog logo and website is there.  Also, all mention of Mystic Eye Games is gone. The back cover is missing as well. But the PDF is also clearer to read and generally of better quality.

I will note that this book is filed under the D&D 3.5 category, but it is really D&D 3.0.  I don't think it makes much practical difference to be honest.

The book is divided into five major sections.

Chapter 1: Tarot Reading in the Game

This cover the basics of card layout and meaning and how they can be used in a game situation. In most cases, the book advises the GM to control what the deck will be saying to fit the narrative/structure of the game.  The most value here are the card meanings, though that information is also widely available elsewhere.

Chapter 2: Tarot Mage Class and Prestige Class

Now, this is fun.  Presents the Tarot Mage class that can be used as a regular class or as a prestige class.  Honestly, I like the option.  I think it works well as a Prestige Class with someone starting as a wizard, sorcerer, witch, or even a thief with some arcane ability.  Example NPCs of both a Tarot Mage and a Wizard/Tarot Mage are given.

Chapter 3: Tarot Mage Spells

This is a meaty chapter and kudos for coming up with all these spells. There are 38 pages worth of spells. Not a lot of art means a lot of text. 

The spells are all "Arcane" so they are also listed by their school.

Chapter 4: Magic Items

These come in three major types; cards, materials to make cards,  and items related to what are on the tarot cards. 

Chapter 5: Foul Locales

Ok. This one is odd. Chapters 1 to 4 all proper headers with large fonts.  This one starts at the bottom of a column when the magic items end.  The only thing connecting it to the book is the fact that members of the family living in this locale are all Tarot Mages.

In any case it is an interesting book and one I tried many times to use back in the 3.x days.  It is high on concept but the usability of the core class was limited compared to the Wizard/Sorcerer.  The prestige class was much more useful. 

Still it was rather fun.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


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!


Sunday, September 11, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches (DTRPG)

Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches (DTRPG)
Something different tonight.  

Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches (DTRPG)

This is the full text of the Public Domain "Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches" by Charles Godfrey Leland published in 1899.

There is no additional text or game content included. You are paying for the formatting and the cover. While I am happy to have another copy in my digital library there is nothing additional to what you can get for free on the Internet.

I would have liked to have seen some RPG content since this is on DriveThruRPG.

If you have not read it you can find it just about everywhere.

Here is the Sacred Texts version.





The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


 

Saturday, September 10, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witches and Pagans

Witches and Pagans
I adore the RPG Mage. Mage: The Ascension, Mage: the Awakening, Dark Ages Mage, and most of all Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade.  The witches of Mage, the Verbena, get special treatment and I am here for it.  The Witches & Pagans book covers them in detail.

Witches and Pagans

PDF. 96 pages. Color cover, Black & White art. 

The cover art is by Christopher Shy who practically defined the look of many occult and supernatural RPGs of the late 90s and early 2000s. So regardless of the actual game, this *looks* good on my shelves; both real and virtual.  All the interior art is by Richard Kane Ferguson. 

Chapter I: History

This chapter covers "pagans" as they might have existed in the World of Darkness if they had survived to the Renaissance.  If this is a bridge too far for the history buffs out there a quick reminder this is a game of world-changing magic in the hands of mortals. 

There is a collection of various "famous" pagans, but no stats to start with.

Chapter II: Knowledge

This covers the pagan magics including all the spheres and how the pagan mages would use them. Note it is not just the Life sphere that the Verbena are traditionally drawn to. Additionally, there are new rotes for mages as well. 

Given all the spheres and combinations of magic this chapter is fairly long.

Chapter III: Wise Craft

This chapter covers how the witches/pagans see their magic.  Central to Mage's theme is that each mage sees how magic works differently. The witches of this time rely on these tools and the ideas in this chapter because that is how their magic works for them.  A member of the Hermetic Order or Cult of Ecstasy has access to the exact same spheres of magic, but they approach them very, very differently. This is the heart of Mage. The pagan witches of the Sorcerer's Crusade are even more locked into this frame of mind.   While this means this chapter is the least connected, game mechanics-wise and more like mechanically supported fluff, it also means it is what makes this book the most interesting AND makes it the most useful for me in other games.

Chapter IV: Weavings

This chapter gets back to game mechanics in a bit but also covers the roles of the various pagan "witches" that go beyond "The Old Crone," "The Bestial Hunter," "The Alluring Temptress," and "Dissenfranchished Warlock."

I also found this chapter useful for other games to be honest.

One of the themes I like to play with in my games is the sunsetting of paganism against the growth of Christianity.  This game plays that out, though 500 years later than I typically do. Still for Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade this is a wonderful theme and a good one. It is not just Pagan vs. Christian, but Magic vs. Science. Makes for a wonderful interplay of forces.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween



Friday, September 9, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Witchfinder - A Swords & Wizardry Class

Witchfinder - A Swords & Wizardry Class
Let's try a little S&W tonight. You can have witches and not expect the occasional witch hunter.

As always, to stay objective I will be following my rules for these reviews. BUT also in this case I want to evaluate whether or not the various witch hunters are a good match for my witches.

Witchfinder - A Swords & Wizardry Class

PDF. 2 pages. One page content, one page OGL. Price: Free.

Let's hit the big points first. This PDF is small, BUT it is for Swords & Wizardry so a page for a class is good really. My own class books notwithstanding.  The second one is this PDF is free. 

For the price the click you have a new class.  Is it worth it?

The class has flavor and enough crunch to make it worthwhile. The details work for me. The XP calcs feel right, the powers they get also track.  I would switch the 17th level Holy Word power to 14th level myself. Clerics of 14th level can cast Holy Word so it tracks for WitchHunters to be able to do the same.  I would also have given them some sort of, well, witch-finding ability. But this was written likely with no specific witch class in mind. 

If you are using this with one of my S&W Witch classes then I would rule that Witchfinder can spot the magics of one of my witches and identify them. 

So yeah, I rather like this one.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween


Monday, September 5, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Heroes Weekly, Vol 5, Issue #3, Witchcraft

Heroes Weekly, Vol 5, Issue #3, Witchcraft
Some more Pathfinder tonight. This time for the Heroes Wear Masks RPG.

Heroes Weekly, Vol 5, Issue #3, Witchcraft

PDF. 13 pages. Color covers and interior art.

This one is a bit of a mixed bag really.

I love the idea of having an evil witch class. This one is also different enough from the base Pathfinder witch to make it worth a look.

I don't love that they chose to call their evil witch a "Wiccan."  After all no one would make an evil cleric class and call it a "Catholic" or anything like that.

These witches get powers but no spells to speak of; though the powers take place of the spells.

There are some print and fold minis near the end.  The art is mixed. I am not a fan of the cover. If this was for a modern sort of game it feels out of place.  The witch on page 2 would have been a better choice.

In the end, there is not enough here for me to recommend it. 


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween

Sunday, September 4, 2022

100 Days of Halloween: Bloodlines & Black Magic - The Witch

Bloodlines & Black Magic - The Witch
Back to a little bit of Pathfinder tonight, though with a modern twist. 

Bloodlines & Black Magic - The Witch

PDF. 21 pages. Black & White art.

This is a supplement for the Bloodlines & Black Magic RPG. A dark modern RPG based around Pathfinder. This one presents a witch class. 

It is largely the Pathfinder witch class with 5 levels. There are some new hexes presented here so that is nice. 

The art is really nice. Black & white, but fits the mood and tenor of the game, so it works here. Color would be a distraction. 

It could work with Pathfinder proper or even with D20 Modern 3rd edition as a Prestige or Advanced class.  Personally, that is what I would like to try with it.

I'll have to check out the full Bloodlines & Black Magic RPG.


The Other Side - 100 Days of Halloween