Showing posts sorted by relevance for query cthulhu. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query cthulhu. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

OMG: Cthulhu Mythos

I am fresh off of Gen Con 2019 where I got the chance to play a lot of Cthulhu; Call of Cthulhu and Cthulhu Tech. We even checked out Cthulhu Wars.  I figure it is a good time to talk about the Cthulhu Mythos as they appear in the Deities & Demigods.


Of course, there are a few points that need to be cleared up.  Or rather, should be clear already.

There is a lot of talk about how TSR didn't have the rights to the Cthulhu myths and that Chaosium threatened lawsuits.

Well, here are the words right from the author, Jim Ward.


Ok that out of the way. Let's talk about the mythos in D&D.

It is not an exaggeration to say that for many gamers their first exposure to the Cthulhu mythos were the entries in the Deities & Demigods, published in 1980.  The Call of Cthulhu RPG came out in 1981.  Zenopus Archives has a nice rundown of what was going in D&D and TSR at the time.

One of the main purposes of One Man's God is to fit the gods and monsters into the likes of AD&D style demons.  It would be easy to do this with the various Cthulhu monsters.

I absolutely do not plan to do this.

The biggest thing about the Cthulhu mythos and Lovecraft's purpose is diametrically opposed to this. "This" meaning to lump the Cthulhu Mythos into the likes of demons, devils, werewolves, and vampires. 

In fact, D&D would later change to accommodate the Mythos with the addition of the Far Realm.

The Far Realm was introduced in the pages of the 2nd Edtion adventure The Gates of Firestorm Peak and later expanded in 3rd Edition's Manual of the Planes.  It is a bit of a Lovecraftian pastiche, but it still works nicely. It was expanded even more under 4th Edition where it became part of the core cosmology and in-game history.

Outside of the Deities & Demigods and the books mentioned above, Cthulhu and Friends would go on to make more appearances in D&D.

If 3rd Edition is still your jam, then you have the Call of Cthulhu d20 rules, the Pathfinder Bestiary 4 for monster stats, and Sandy Petersen's Cthulhu Mythos - Pathfinder, plus the aforementioned Manual of the Planes.

For the OSR crowd, we have Realms of Crawling Chaos and Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea

This only a fraction of the 2300+ entries on DriveThruRPG and even more elsewhere.



Of Gods and Monsters
Back to the present discourse, what does the D&DG have for us in terms of Cthulhu mythos?

In D&D terms we have our Gods: Cthulhu, Azathoth, Cthuga, Hastur, Ithaqua, Nyarlathotep, Shub-Niggurath, and Yog-Sothoth. All of these gods are "Greater Gods" with the maximum 400 hp, save for Nyarlathotep who is a "Lesser God" at 200 hp and Ithaqua a "Demigod" at 250 hp.

The monsters include Byakhee, Cthuga's Flame Creature, Deep Ones, the Great Race, Mi-Go, Primordial Ones, and Shoggoths.

Most of these are not even what we could, or should, consider demonic.  Sure they are monstrous and even some are evil, but mostly they are another kind of life that is not really interested in humans.

With that, we will leave the Cthulhu myths and head on to other gods.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Cthulhu by Gaslight

What do you get if you mix the horror of H.P. Lovecraft with the Gothic Horror tradition of the Victorian age? You get today's C post, Cthulhu by Gaslight.

I love Victorian era games.  They are my favorite actually.  Cthulhu by Gaslight has always been one of those rare hard to find treasures.  Whether or not you play it as a gothic game, a period horror game, a darkly inspired Sherlock Holmes meets Dracula game, or as a Call of Cthulhu game there is something here for all sorts of horror game fans.  It is the chocolate peanut butter cup of horror games; two great tastes that taste great together.

The book is divided up in terms of creating your Victorian age character, the Victorian world, Strange Britain, Gaslight Adventures and an a very nice Appendix on Victorian literature and some handouts.

The Victorian Age Character chapter is typical of a Call of Cthulhu game. Skills and professions are discussed. Some familiarity with Call of Cthulhu is helpful here since this book assumes you have a copy of Call of Cthulhu.  Te times assumed here are 1890 to 1900.  No discussion on Victorian Age characters is complete, or really can even begin without a discussion on social class, which we get during character occupations. This section is expanded over the 2nd Edition with inclusion of common terms from the age.

The Victorian World covers the world of the British Empire including it's place in the world, a time line of important dates and biographies of important people from the time.  My favorite part is the locations in and around London.  This chapter is well researched and great for any Victorian era RPG.

Strange Britain is a great overview of the occult scene in Britain in the 1890s.  Lodges, Fortean events, and a gazetteer of strange sites in the British isles. All of these are great for all sorts of games.  The Cthulhu mythos portion comes later and has some new ideas for old monsters, both mythos monsters and classic ones from the British Isles. The chapter continues with some fictional characters from the time.  Though one might want to figure out how some authors can appear with their fiction creations.  My favorite part though is the Martian Invasion.  H.G. Wells meets H. P. Lovecraft.  Some Victorian adventure campaigns are then discussed.

Gaslight Adventures helps Keepers (Game Masters) with some ready to run adventures; "Night of the Jackals" and "The Burnt Man".

The Appendix is full of great information about various sources of information on Victorian England, Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper and Britain in general.  Though if I have a quibble it is that the sources are a bit dated, nothing for example from the last few years.

All in all the 3rd edition is a great update of this great game.

You can buy Cthulhu by Gaslight from Noble Knight Games or DriveThruRPG for older editions and DriveThruRPG for the new 3rd ed.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Willow and Tara: Call of Cthulhu

I was talking with my good friend Dr. Lloyd from my days on the Kittenboard.  He was interested in my old RPG sessions of The Dragon and the Phoenix.  I updated him and he was thrilled.  He shared with me this idea he has had to run his own "Call of Cthulhu" game with Willow and Tara.
We talked back and forth for a while and this is what he came up with.

He came up with this "Uber" campaign. What is Uber you ask? Uber has it's roots in Xena fandom.
You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uberfic

Well where Xena and Gabriel go, Willow and Tara often follow.  This is some I have used in my games many times. It was a central feature in The Dark Druid, Heaven Bleeds, and This Blessed Plot.

And of course I am not the only the only one who does this.  There is an entire subsection of fandom that is dedicated to this.  You can see some of them on the "Uber Willow & Tara" site "Through the Looking Class".

Below is an "uber" version of Willow & Tara for the Call of Cthulhu RPG.  This one is set in the 1920s.  These would be the prior incarnations of the girls prior to their appearance in the 1980s (birth) to the present day.

The following was all created by Dr. Lloyd & Rebecca Ashling, enjoy!

When Buffy met Lovecraft

 This is a character build out for a BTVS campaign centering on Willow and Tara that is set in the 1920's world of HP Lovecraft.
There are two build outs for these characters.  One is the "Canon" one, where Buffy is the slayer abet 75 years earlier and everything is the same otherwise.  The other is the "Uber" campaign where Buffy is merely far too inquisitive young woman investigating the super natural.

Willow Rosenberg

Investigator Name: Willow Rosenberg
Occupation: Student/Witch
Colleges, Degrees: Sunnydale
Birthplace: Sunnydale, CA
Mental Disorders: Insecurity, Monomania, also Homosexuality was treated as one
Sex: Age: 20
STR: 8 DEX: 11 INT: 18 Idea: 90
CON: 11 APP: 14 POW: 22 Luck: 110
SIZ: 8 SAN: 110 EDU: 20 Know: 100
99-Cthulhu Mythos: 74 Damage Bonus: -1D4

Accounting 10% Anthropology 11% Archaeology 11%
Astronomy 46% Bargain 5% Biology 41%
Chemistry 46% Climb 40% Conceal 25%
Credit Rating 30% Cthulhu Mythos 25% Dodge 22%
Drive Auto 20% Electrical Repair 30% Fast Talk 25%
First Aid 40% Geology 21% Handgun 20%
Hide 10% History 50% Jump 25%
Law 20% Library Use 60% Listen 25%
Locksmith 1% Machine Gun 15% Martial Arts 1%
Mechanical Repair 20% Medicine 35% Natural History 30%
Navigate 10% Occult 40% Operate Hvy. Machine 1%
Other Language: Hebrew 36% Other Language: Latin 36% Persuade 25%
Pharmacy 26% Photography 10% Physics 56%
Psychoanalysis 16% Psychology 25% Ride 5%
Rifle 25% Shotgun 30% Sneak 30%
Spot Hidden 25% Submachine Gun 15% Swim 25%
Throw 25% Track 10% Fist/Punch 50%
Head Butt 10% Kick 25% Grapple 25%

Willow Rosenberg is a Jewish, Lesbian, Wiccan, and well educated young woman, which in 1920s America *any*of those qualifiers will drawn unwanted attention.  Her father ,Ira, is an investor in the shipping business, and her mother Shelia has a Masters degree in Sociology and is very active in local philanthropic and charitable women’s groups as well as supporting her husband in any business functions. Her father travels a good deal, and her mother is frequently involved in social work. As such this means Willow is almost always left to her own devices.

Her closest friend and companion growing up was the son of the housekeeper, Xander Harris.  They went to school together and while Shelia isn't too happy about their friendship, it makes her feel progressive that her Daughters best friend is a working class child.   Xander's father died of Influenza years before.  In many ways Xander is her "beard" to deflect unwanted questions about marriage.

Willow met Buffy in school in a similar way to "Welcome to the Hellmouth" and worked under the mentor ship of local antiquarian and librarian  Rupert Giles.   She met Tara and fell in love with her as a Freshman in college.  While their closest friends know about their relationship, almost no one outside that circle do and would be hostile if they did.

Having said this, two single women living together for the entirety of their lives itself would not raise any eyebrows even if it led to them both being termed spinsters.
In the uber campaign she and Tara have limited access to magic, and almost all of it is complex ritual magic.  However, because of the emotional, romantic, and spiritual connection between the girls, they are able to work as a Coven of 2.

 This means for the purposes of spells they can combine their POW and Magic points, and loose 50% less sanity from ritual magic when together.

In the "Canon" campaign they have a wider list of spells, and when holding hands use 50% less MP for a spell.

Tara Maclay

Investigator Name: Tara Maclay
Occupation: Student/Shop girl
Colleges, Degrees: Student in California college
Birthplace: Birmingham, Ala
Mental Disorders: Shy, beleaves she may be evil
Sex: F Age: 21
STR: 8 DEX: 12 INT: 15 Idea: 75
CON: 13 APP: 14 POW: 18 Luck: 90
SIZ: 9 SAN: 90 EDU: 19 Know: 95
99-Cthulhu Mythos: 99 Damage Bonus: none

Accounting 10% Anthropology 21% Archaeology 1%
Astronomy 26% Bargain 25% Biology 1%
Chemistry 41% Climb 40% Conceal 40%
Credit Rating 15% Cthulhu Mythos 0% Dodge 24%
Drive Auto 20% Electrical Repair 10% Fast Talk 5%
First Aid 50% Geology 1% Handgun 20%
Hide 50% History 35% Jump 25%
Law 5% Library Use 55% Listen 50%
Locksmith 1% Machine Gun 15% Martial Arts 1%
Mechanical Repair 20% Medicine 5% Natural History 20%
Navigate 10% Occult 50% Operate Hvy. Machine 1%
Persuade 15% Pharmacy 21% Photography 10%
Physics 1% Pilot: Read Latin 55% Psychoanalysis 1%
Psychology 40% Ride 5% Rifle 25%
Shotgun 30% Sneak 50% Spot Hidden 60%
Submachine Gun 15% Swim 25% Throw 25%
Track 10% Fist/Punch 50% Head Butt 10%
Kick 25% Grapple 25%

Tara Maclay is an independent young woman who is a student as well.  She lives far from her estranged family in Alabama, and lives on meager resources.  She works as a shop girl in a local book store and has a small inheritance from her dead mother that was ostensibly for her Hope chest.  Her stutter is more pronounced in this world, and her knowledge of occult even great that Willow's because of her family traditions.   She formerly was sure she was damned for her Witch tendencies, but has learned from Willow and Buffy that this is not the case.

To help set the structure of the campaign, here is a description of Buffy.


Buffy Summers

Investigator Name: Buffy Summers
Occupation: Slayer
Colleges, Degrees: Sunnydale HS
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Mental Disorders: None, but suspected
Sex: F&nbspAge: 20
STR: 21 DEX: 21 INT: 13 Idea: 65
CON: 20 APP: 15 POW: 16 Luck: 80
SIZ: 18 SAN: 80 EDU: 12 Know: 60
99-Cthulhu Mythos: 79 Damage Bonus: +1D6

Accounting 10% Anthropology 1% Archaeology 16%
Astronomy 1% Bargain 25% Biology 11%
Chemistry 1% Climb 65% Conceal 55%
Credit Rating 35% Cthulhu Mythos 20% Dodge 42%
Drive Auto 20% Electrical Repair 10% Fast Talk 50%
First Aid 40% Geology 1% Handgun 20%
Hide 45% History 20% Jump 55%
Law 15% Library Use 35% Listen 55%
Locksmith 1% Machine Gun 15% Martial Arts 66%
Mechanical Repair 20% Medicine 10% Natural History 10%
Navigate 10% Occult 35% Operate Hvy. Machine 1%
Persuade 35% Pharmacy 1% Photography 10%
Physics 1% Pilot: Detect Vampires 70% Psychoanalysis 1%
Psychology 35% Ride 15% Rifle 25%
Shotgun 30% Sneak 50% Spot Hidden 65%
Submachine Gun 15% Swim 50% Throw 65%
Track 60% Detect Undead 65% Fist/Punch 50%
Head Butt 10% Kick 25% Grapple 25%
Stake 65% Sword 55% Axe 55%

Buffy is the daughter of the  well off and often wooed widow Joyce Summers.  Her father was a well off Military officer  but died in the great war.  Her mother took the loss hard, and turned to spiritualism and mediums to deal with the loss.

In the "Uber" campaign Buffy tried to use the numerous magical paraphernalia her mother had to divine her future, and accidentally got a tiny glimpse of the horrors about us.
Her strength,  speed, and fighting skills are all within normal human parameters but are very high.  She was close to her father and he taught her some martial arts he learned in Philippines during the rebellion, and now she is determined to make the best of it.

In the "Canon" campaign the above is still true, but the trigger to her adventuring  was her watcher contacting her as in the show.

The Buffy in both of these worlds is far more fatalistic than the one in the show, she is aware that the cosmic deck is stacked against her and is not optimistic of her having a normal life.   There would be a feeling from her and the other Irregulars that the horrors of the Great War were part of a larger scheme to end the world by unknown forces.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Seven Best Horror RPGs

I wanted to get this out in time for Halloween weekend gaming.

This is based on a conversation I was having on Facebook where we all discussing the "Seven Best".  I had a number of people ask me what I felt were the Seven Best Horror RPGs.

For this I immediately thought I am not going to include any horror RPG I have either written or worked on, but as it turns out that is a non-issue since my top seven are all ones done by others.  If this was a Top 10 then we might have other problems!


So without further ado, here they are my Seven Top Horror RPGs, arranged by year and one honorable mention.

Seven Horror RPGs
There is a chill in the air, gloomy clouds in the sky and leaves are all turning.  It is October and it's the time of the season for horror games.  I have been playing horror games for as long I have been playing RPGs.  Even my fantasy and sci-fi RPGs take on a slightly darker tinge to them.  So with Halloween just around the corner I wanted to talk about my Seven Favorite Horror RPGs.

Call of Cthulhu (1981)
Call of Cthulhu might not be the exact first horror RPG, but it was one of the first and the most influential. It was certainly the first horror game that most of us have played or knew about.  It perfectly blended the mythos stories of H.P. Lovecraft with RPG mechanics. Out of the gate the game did exactly what it was supposed to do, which is why the changes in the first six editions are relatively minor.
Call of Cthulhu was monster hunting, but it was so much more than that.  “Monster hunting” covers D&D pretty well but there the similarities end.  In CoC you had to investigate, you had to research and then maybe, just maybe, you found the clue you needed.  If there was magic you used it only in the direst of circumstances and even then your victory or your sanity was never assured.  For many in the 80s, CoC was their first introduction to the weird and alien worlds of the Cthulhu Mythos. Stories from 30-50 years prior were now in vogue again and influenced a generation of gamers and game designers.
The Basic Roleplay System from CoC also powered other games namely Stormbringer (1981), Superworld (1983) and RuneQuest (1978, 1980).

Chill (1984, 1992, 2015)
Chill has the distinction of being the second RPG I ever played (Dungeons & Dragons was first).  Chill is a horror game in the vein of the Saturday night creature feature monster movies, or monster hunting TV shows of the 80s to today.  Here our heroes are brave (mostly) but are expected to push back the dark for just another day.  Chill First Edition came out of Wisconsin and Chill Second Edition came from the Chicago suburbs, so it had a strong Midwest flavor to it that drew me in immediately.
Like Call of Cthulhu’s investigators the characters of Chill are normal humans caught up in an abnormal world.  There are monsters and they need to stop them.  Not always because they are the best at what they do, but because they are the only ones that can. Unlike CoC, the characters of Chill are expected to survive, more or less.  Call of Cthulhu has investigators, Chill has heroes. The definition is subtle in play, but you can feel it.
Chill introduced me to the idea of a meta-plot in RPGs. That there was more going on than just what your characters did. There was this worldwide organization, S.A.V.E., and they helped with the beasties and things that went bump in the night. As the books came out the S.A.V.E. plot expanded.   But we ignored this for the most part with 1st Ed.  In 2nd ed and later 3rd Edition, this became more of a central feature of the game.

Vampire: The Masquerade (1991)
Very, very few games have changed the business as much as Vampire.  Up to this point, you fought the monsters.  With Vampire you became the monster and the battle was with yourself.
Vampire asks the question, what would you do to stay alive? What price is your humanity to just exist for one more long night?  There is personal horror here along with existential horror.    There are also other horrors. Things worse than you, things less human than you are.
The mechanics of the Vampire game, later the Storyteller System, were nothing new; a dice pool with successes and botches, but combined with the story and the effects it became the system of choice for many in the 1990s.  In fact it captured the fear and horror of the 90s so well that it can be better compared to the fear and horror seen in Dracula at the turn of the prior century (1890s).  Though Vampire owes its largest debt to Anne Rice and embraced (pardon the pun) by those who grew up on “Interview with a Vampire” and “The Vampire Lestat”.
For better or for worse Vampire changed not only how we view games but how they were also marketed and sold.

Kult (1993)
Kult asks the question “What is reality?” and the answers are not ones that normal people want to hear.  Characters can come from all walks of life and persuasion and the background can be any large modern city.  But that is where most games stay, Kult goes beyond that and characters (and players) discover that reality is an illusion and the real reality is a battleground of supernatural forces vying for control.
If WitchCraft posits that “All Things are True”, Kult’s point of view is “Nothing is true”.  In many ways, it presaged the ideas from the movies “That Dark City” and “The Matrix”.  There are supernatural creatures that control various areas of human action and interaction behind the scene and some humans know about these creatures, Archons and Death Angels, and follow them in cults. The characters do what they can to discover these forces or keep them at bay.
The game had a great concept in Mental Balance that was the first real challenger I felt to Call of Cthulhu's Sanity score in terms of gauging the mental health of the characters involved. More out of balance you are the stranger you become even to the point of not being altogether human yourself anymore.
With Kult, the horror is also of an existentialist variety, but in that way, only the Scandinavian seem to do well. If Call of Cthulhu is Lovecraft and Chill a Saturday Night Monster Movie then Kult is Søren Kierkegaard.

CJ Carella's WitchCraft (1999)
WitchCraft is, hands down, my favorite game.  Period.  Picking up a copy of this book back in 1999 was just like picking up a copy of the Monster Manual in 1979.  Everything I ever wanted in a game was right there. Everything.
WitchCraft had such a profound effect on my gaming that I can draw a rather clean line between what came before and what came after it.
The central idea behind WitchCraft is the same as most other Modern Supernatural Horror games.  The world is like ours, but there are dark secrets, magic is real, monsters are real. You know the drill.  But WitchCraft is different.  There is a Reckoning coming, everyone feels it, but no one knows what it is.  Characters then take on the roles of various magic using humans, supernaturals or even mundane humans and they fight the threats.  Another conceit of the game (and one I use a lot) is that supernatural occurrences are greater now than ever before.  Something's coming.
You can play the same sort of games you played in Call of Cthulhu or Chill as well as Vampire.  WitchCraft assumed that all supernatural views of the world were equally likely. So vampires could rub elbows, metaphysically speaking, with elder horrors from beyond. Your characters can be there to stop them, study them or join them as the case may be.

Little Fears (2001)
When was the last time you were really, really afraid? Most people would say childhood.  Little Fears is exactly about that.  Little Fears is a game of childhood fears.  The monsters are real, they hide in your closet and under your bed. The scary old lady down the street really is a hag. But don’t worry. You are protected by Belief and items that seem mundane or meaningless to grownups can help you.   Little Fears is based on a simple system, as befitting its nature of school children fighting monsters adults can’t see. 
Little Fears also has the notoriety of being one of three RPGs one of my FLGS will not sell in the open.  You can order it, but they don’t stock it.  I don’t agree, but I respect their choice.
While it is a game about children, it is not a game for children.  The subject matter of abuse and death can be a bit much for some adults, let alone kids.  It is also one of the most effective horror RPGs I own.

Sorcerer (2002)
If Vampire is all about what will you do to remain human, Ron Edward’s Sorcerer is all about what price will you do for power?  Created at the height of the creative output of The Forge, indeed the first RPG from and starting the independent RPG movement from The Forge. 
Like Vampire your character struggles with their Humanity. But where Vampire can be described as the Beast Within, Sorcerer is the Beast Without or in this case a personal Demon.  You make a pact with a Demon for power and the more power you need, use or take causes you to lose your humanity and become more and more enthralled to the demon.  The game can do a lot of different types of play, but it is all centered around this central idea.

And one more.

Special Mention: WITCH Fated Souls (2016)
I know I am only doing Seven games, but WITCH Fated Souls by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul combines a lot of what made all these other games so much fun.  You have the struggle with power vs. humanity vs. damnation you see in Vampire and Sorcerer. The hidden world of Little Fears, Chill, and Kult and the power struggle between faction you can see in WitchCraft and again in Vampire.   All against a background that is as unique as Call of Cthulhu and Kult.
I picked up this game last year and have not done enough with it yet.

All these games are great and many have won numerous awards over the years.  They have been enough that they cover most aspects of horror.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

True Spell Casting: True 20

True Spellcasting – an Alternate Spellcasting Rule for True20

I have been enjoying playing with True20 off and on and it has really met my needs in a game, but there are still some things about it that I miss from other games. In particular is magic.

The True20 powers system is a very good one and it can emulate almost any magical system I have wanted to try, but there is one area where it falls short and that is in terms of spells. By spells I mean magical effects that are typically written down and can be learned or taught. Yes, very similar to D&D, but also spells that could be found in Call of Cthulhu or the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPGs.

Why Spells?
Part of it is one of storytelling, sometimes I need a one-time magical effect and I don’t really need a new power to describe it or I need a way of transmitting the knowledge of magical effects in a portable means; ie. in books.
The other the is one of necessity. I have dozens of D&D 3.x/d20 books, many are filled with spells, so all in all hundreds if not thousands of spells.
Wouldn’t powers-as-spells work just as well? Well yes, and in fact it would work for I guess 80% or more of all the spells. With a limited power selection the difference between Adepts are often mostly cosmetic.
Also there are spells that there are not True20 Power equivalents, wish is a good example, and most of the spells in d20 Call of Cthulhu.
And finally, I like to run a magic-rich game. True20 is perfect for this low-magic game I am working on now, but less so to emulate say D&D or my modern horror/supernatural game.

How to Do it?
I do not want to abandon the Power structure in True20, nor do I want to adopt the d20 Spell system wholesale either, but a simple compromise seems to work out well.

To do this I have created a new Supernatural Power called simply enough, Spellcasting. An adept can take Spellcasting up to nine (9) times.
To actually cast the spell the adept uses the Spellcasting power just like any other power.

Spellcasting 1
Concentration
You can cast spells of the First Level. Read the spell description for effects and it the spell needs to be Maintained and if it is Fatiguing.

Spellcasting 2
Concentration
Prerequisite: Spellcasting 1
As Spellcasting 1 except now the caster can cast spells of Second Level.

And so on…

Learning Spells
Taking the power at a new level is not enough to cast spells. The adept must first take the power then learn the spell. This allows the Gamemaster to control which spells can be entered into the game. It also allows which spells can or can’t be learned. For example the Gamemaster can restrict Wizard spells or even “Ranger” spells to a particular group of casters, or even by schools or descriptors (Necromancy or “Fire”).
Spells could be learned via enrollment in specialized “Wizard schools” (D&D or Harry Potter), from occult libraries (Buffy) or found in ancient tomes (Army of Darkness, Call of Cthulhu).

To learn a spell requires a difficulty check.

DC = 15 + Spell Level (in magic rich games) or 20 + Spell Level (in magic rare game)

The bonus for this check is like a skill check. A d20 + Bonus
Bonus = Power Level (Adept Level + 3) + Key Ability (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma)

Alternately you can make this a true skill check with Knowledge (Supernatural) or even bringing in the Spellcraft skill.

If the spells can be found the Adept can learn 3 + Key Ability number of spells per Spell level in total, though they can have as many spells in their library as they can.

For example, Taryn, a 1st level Charisma-based Adept takes Spellcasting 1 as a power. She has Charisma +2. She can cast 1st level spells and can learn up to 5 total 1st level spells (3 + 2). Even though she has a library full of 2nd level spells from her mother, they cannot be learned until she takes Spellcastng 2.

Casting Spells
To cast a spell the Adept needs to have appropriate level of the Spellcasting Power.

Casting a spell is not quite the same as using a Power. They often do require the movement of hands, saying special words and the use of material components. Because of this anytime a spell is cast, a spellcasting check needs to be made.

Spell Casting DC = 10 + Spell level
Bonus = Adept Level +3 + Key Ability.

So in our example Taryn our 1st level adept casts Color Spray, a 1st level spell.
The DC for her to cast this spell is 11 (10 + 1) this represents her getting her colored sand and saying the words.
Her bonus is +6 (Adept level 1, +3, +2 for Charisma). So she needs to roll a 5 or more on a d20.

To Save Against a Spell
DC = 10 + Key Ability + Spell’s Level

Converting Spells
D20 spells are not written like True20 powers, but there is enough similarity to allow conversion, for the most part the conversions are dealt with in the True20 book.

Healing or Damage that does 1d6 per caster level has a damage bonus of +1 per level of the Adept.
For the odd case where damage is 1d8 or more then use the follow conversions.
1d6 per caster level = +1 per adept level
1d8 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +1
1d10 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +2
1d12 per caster level = +1 per adept level then +3

Damage the effects abilities is dealt with the conversions below
1d3, 1d4 = 1
1d6 = 2
1d8 = 3
1d10 = 4
1d12 = 5

Converting Spells, Part 2: d20 Call of Cthulhu
The spells in the d20 Call of Cthulhu are mostly d20 compatible. What they lack are spell levels and most cause some sort of damage to the caster, usually damage to an ability, but often damage in terms of sanity loss.

For ability damage divide the listed damage by 2.
For HP damage use the conversions above.
For Sanity use the Mental Health track from the True20 Companion. Sanity damage effects the base Sanity Bonus (page 88, T20C).

To convert Sanity damage take the amount the of d6’s rolled as the loss. For example if sanity damage is 3d6 then the damage to the Sanity Bonus is -3. For any die other than a d6 then add +1. So Sanity Damage in d20 CoC that causes 2d8 would be 2+1 or -3.

Spells in d20 Call of Cthulhu are all considering to be 1st level in terms of learning and casting. But do not let that fool you. The CoC spells are all difficult to cast and often dangerous to both friends and enemies alike. The DCs to learn the spells are often given not with the spell itself, but the books in which they are written in (the Necronomicon, Nameless Cults, etc.)

Alternately you can consider CoC spells to be of level 10, thus requiring another level of Spellcasting in order to cast, but that removes the ability of the regular investigator to cast these spells.

Converting Spells, Part 3: BESM d20 Advanced Magic
Spells in BESM d20 Advanced Magic were another attempt to overhaul the magic system. Instead of levels the spells are given in terms of DCs.
To find the level of any spell take the DC divide by 10 and round up.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reviews, True20 Edition

Some more reviews from DriveThruRPG.  Since I have been on a True20 kick again of late, here are some True20 products.

Colonial Gothic (True20 version)
The world of Colonial Gothic using the True20 system instead of it's normal house system. Typically when a product is converted to a "generic" system some of the style and feel is lost. Though I will say that CG survived with much more of it's soul intact. The system is normally a very easy one to learn so the conversion here does not sacrifice complexity. The game is still same, one of a supernatural New World as it becomes a new country, America.
The conversion does highlight many of the pluses of the game including it's atmosphere and style of play. It also allows you know to bring other True20 that might be helpful. In some ways I prefer this to the original. This one also gets a plus from me as a fan of this time period for play. So kudos for giving revolutionary era America a go.
5 out of 5 stars.

Legends of Excalibur: Arthurian Adventures (True20)
Legends of Excalibur, True20 edition. This conversion of the very, very good d20 edition is also very, very good. In some ways I prefer it since it takes much of the d20 overhead and trims it out. Instead we are now focused on a game that strives to emulate Arthurian Legends with a very tight and neat system. Everything in the d20 version is also here, so this is not a "trimmed down" version of anything except rules. Maybe some of the unique flavor is lost (no prestige classes or new magic systems), but they are all there expressed in terms of the True20 system, so what would have been a class in d20 is now a background feat in true20. I think the system works well in presenting that low fantasy, high romance feel that one often associates with Arthur too. In the end I think the True20 version works better than the d20 one.
I think I even like this better than Pendragon.
5 out of 5 stars.

Gearcraft: Amazing Machines and Their Construction: The True20 Steampunk Sourcebook
Gearpunk and Steampunk for your True20 games. It is in interesting book. Not set in any particular genre or time the illustrations are evocative of Victorian Steampunk, Pulp and even weird science. The rules are fairly straight-forward on how to build various machines; almost as if they were characters in their own right. Feats and skills are discussed. If you have True20 or a TRue20-based game and want to add some gear based machines (no Matric here yet) to it then this a great little book.
4 out of 5 stars.

World of Nevermore (True20)
Ever wonder what the lands of dream are like? Wonder no more with this world guide book, World of Nevermore. Filled cover to cover with a fantastic world where dreams live. A perfect world for someone with True20 and desire to do something very different. Take your characters (and players) out of their reality and into this one. The book reads like one part Lovecraft's dreamlands, one part Shakespeare's land of the fae and one part Ravenloft.
Plenty of new rules for characters including roles, feats and powers. Plenty of new monsters and 200 pages worth of world to play with them. Really fun stuff here.
5 out of 5 stars.

Shadows of Cthulhu
Any game that tries to do H.P. Lovecraft mythos has an uphill battle against the very venerable "Call of Cthulhu" which is arguably not just the best Mythos game, but maybe the best horror game ever. That is some steep competition. Shadows of Cthulhu holds up quite well really. Looking at it as a Modern Supernatural game using True20 it works out really, really well. There are plenty of new roles and backgrounds for characters. SoC does what only CoC has been able to do well and this incorporate a sanity system into the game that makes sense. Here SoC makes good use of the True20 rules and gives us the Sanity Save. Works just like the damage track already used by True20 it works very, very well with the system.
There is a great section on role-playing in the 1920s (as it should have) and a great section on sanity and the Mythos, which includes the magic common to the HPL games. All regulars are here in the bestiary and some of the "gods" of the Cthulhu mythos. I didn't notice anyone was missing. The book ends with a bit on the town of Innsmouth.
SoC had an uphill battle, but I think it did a great job of giving us a good mythos-based RPG. You would think that we were all Cthulhued-out by now, but SoC is so good and makes True20 really shine. Fantastic use of True20 and the rule additions, while not earth shaking, are great all the same. A must buy if you are Cthulhu fan or a True20 fan.
5 out of 5 stars.

The Imperial Age: True20 Edition
True 20 has become a great solution for all sorts of Modern d20 based games for me and Imperial Age shows why. The rules are adapted from the Imperial Age supplements for d20, so a lot here has been seen before, but all of it looks new through the lens of True 20.
All the Imperial Age products ooze style and this one is no different. There may be better Victorian Age games out there, but one can't deny that this is a great product and a welcome addition to any Victorian gaming library.
5 out of 5 stars.


Unlike some of the d20 books, the True20 games even by 3rd party publishers, seem to work together a bit better.  Hope these games are as fun for you as they were for me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Call of Cthulhu 7th Ed on Kickstarter

The new Call of Cthulhu is now up on Kickstarter.
http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/448333182/call-of-cthulhu-7th-edition

First off the $40,000 goal seems lofty for any game book, but it is likely that CoC can pull it off.
Afterall, funding just started and it is already at $10k.

No. The odd thing to me seems to be the changes in the rules.

Call of Cthulhu is one of the steadfast games in my collection.  Book from my 2nd ed work with my 5th ed, 5.6th and 6th editions.

A change like this could introduce some new sort of horror to the CoC fans, the Edition Wars.

So I am not 100% certain on this one yet.  I am certain it will be fantastic and quality work.
I'll be keeping an eye this one.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #138

October 1988.  I was a sophomore in college, but not just any college. I was at Southern Illinois University and Halloween was a HUGE deal. I debuted my first version of my "Astaroth" devil costume.  A couple of my friends got wasted, damaged part of the football field and got arrested.  I also "invented" the "Bush Whacker"; a double shot of vodka washed down with a Bush beer.  Never been able to drink vodka after that night.  My college roommate had a new girlfriend so I ended up with a dorm room all to myself.  It was pretty sweet really.  I had finished my first draft of the Witch class nearly two years prior and was now into deep playtesting and revising.   It's October 1988 and this is issue #138 of This Old Dragon!

As far as Dragons go I consider this one in my top five.  I remember walking to the bookstore down "The Strip" (Illinois Ave) to pick this up.  The cover could not be more Halloween-themed if it tried.   The material inside completely lives up to this cover.

Roger E. Moore is now the Editor, replacing the departing Kim Mohan.  I am not sure when exactly this took place, but I do know that this was the first issue I really noticed it.   This is post-Gygax TSR and if we didn't know that know we soon will.  Not that I am trying to draw parallels between Moore and the people that took over TSR.  Far from it.  But there was a new direction in art and in in content in Dragon and other TSR works that really began to show about this time.  It is easy to lump it all into 2nd Edition era, but it started before that.

Letters cover the lack of Dragon magazine indexes.

Nice big full ad for Space 1889. I picked up this game used not soon after, but sold it in one my "purging" moods.  I finally got another one at Half-Price books a while back.

The Forum covers a variety of topics, heavy on contributions from IL I notice.  At the time I really had no idea how good I had it.  I have heard of an Original D&D corridor that ran from Chicago and Lake Geneva all the way down to Carbondale, IL (where I was) and hitting nearly every major university along the way down south.  Even in my hometown, there were several independent D&D groups running at same time.   The Egyptian Campaign (in Carbondale, aka "Little Egypt") had been running since it's involvement with fellow Saluki (SIU alum) Tim Kask.   All I knew was I had access to books, games, and people and I thought everyone had this.  Later I learned this was not the case and one of the reasons these other games and supplements began popping up, to fill a gap.

We get some advice on painting undead in Through the Looking Glass.

Ad for Dragonfire computer-aided DM's software.  I know people that swore by this.


I have heard that this software had been released as share-ware, but I could be mistaken.

The unofficial start to our Halloween issue is Sage Advice. Here Skip Williams covers various questions about the undead that I found very useful.  I notice that a lot of what was written here later informed the undead monsters of 2nd Edition.

Page 15 we hit the meat of this issue, all about horror!

Up first a little something for the Call of Cthulhu game. The Black Book and the Hunters by Craig Schaefer introduces The Black Book of Shub-Niggurath and the Hunters of Shub-Niggurath (Greater Servitor Race).  While I am not sure if I ever used these in CoC, I certainly used a lot of ideas from this article in dealing with demons.  In fact, I penciled in "Lesser" and "Greater Servitor Race" on many demon entries.

Double page ad for the SF&F book club.  Some great books here!

Up next is something from none other than Tom Moldvay.  No wonder I love this article so much.
The Ungrateful Dead expands the ranks of the undead with some monsters I STILL use to this very day.  These horrors include The Bloody Bones, Skleros,  Dry Bones ("Dem Bones"), Gem Eyes, Shock Bones (something I had come with independently based on a nightmare I had as a kid), Galley Beggers, the Walking Dead, the Lesser and Greater Colossus, the hungery Dead, Le Grand Zombi, Ghula, Baka, Gelloudes, Spirit Ghouls, a Wendigo (!), Black Annis and her cat, and the vampire like Callicantzaros.  Whew. A ton of undead from myth, legend and popular culture. So many I have used over the others and others I had forgotten!

Up next is an article I have a bit of contention with.  Not this article per se, but ones like it.
Ed Friedlander gives us madness in fantasy RPGS in Methods to Your Madness.
The article itself is not bad and really focuses on the fantasy aspects of the game and the potential effects.  In general, I find many bits on madness, "insanity" and psychological impairment to be hamfisted at best and dangerously wrong at worst.  My background is in Psychology. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in it. I spent years working as a Qualified Mental Health Professional in a group home setting with schizophrenics. I don't like "sanity" rules in most games.  I like the ones in Call of Cthulhu because they work within the confines of the system and the mythos.
The rules in this article work because they do not try to cleave to close to modern psychology.  Instead of a diagnosis of a disease, we get descriptions of behaviors.

Eileen Lucas is up with an article I didn't read much then but have since come back too many, many times. The End of the World: Of plagues, player characters, and campaign worlds.  I think I am not the only one.  Remember the old Knight Rider TV show?  Every season it seemed like they had to crash and nearly destroy KITT (and sometime Micheal) to only rebuild it and make it stronger, better.  I see this sometimes in Campagin Worlds.  We saw it in Greyhawk and I am not sure how many times in Krynn and the Forgotten Realms.  The article though is very, very good and has a lot of great ideas on how to end the world and start again.  At this time in my own gaming the "Dragon Wars" had just happened and my world had been largely destroyed.  When I wanted to bring my world back for 3e I went back to this article to read up on the plague and the after effects of wars.

We break from disease and death to talk about lasers.
Martin Landauer is next with Putting Fire into Firepower or lasers for the original Top Secret game.  I always thought of this as the bridge between Top Secret and Star Frontiers.  Maybe they were in the same universe.

The fiction piece is next, Between Lightning & Thunder by Nancy Varian Berberick.

Cool full page ad for DC Heroes with my first introduction to Amanda Waller.


The Role of Computers covers the then cutting edge of computer games. Many with new CGA graphics!  Many games are listed at around the $40-$45 area.  Interesting how the price of games has not changed all that much.

A couple of pages of small ads.

Role-playing Reviews covers a few horror-themed game titles.  Cthulhu Now is a supplement for the Call of Cthulhu changing the setting to modern times.  Future versions of CoC will fold this information into the core book to some degree.  GURPS Horror was at this time considered to be the MUST HAVE horror supplement for any game.  I remember looking for it for years in my local stores; so much for easy access!  Beyond the Supernatural was also considered one of the hot horror games of the late 80s.  It is notable not just for it's content but for also starting the writing career of many horror RPG authors like C.J. Carella who would later go on to write WitchCraft.

A page of TSR Previews. This features (and there is an ad later) the LAST AD&D hardcover to be produced, Greyhawk Adventures. This book was notable for being 1st Edition, but also having 2nd Edition AD&D stat blocks for monsters.


I can't help but notice that the blue background on this is almost the same blue background that will be later used for the AD&D 2nd Edition preview book.

Convention Calendar is next.

DragonMirth has some comics including newbie Yamara.
SnarfQuest hits episode #62.
There is no Wormy.  Little did I (or anyone else) know Tramp had moved and was living about 2 miles from where I was.

Lots of full color, full page ads.

Wow. What a packed issue.  AD&D 1st Ed was in it's twilight years and we all knew it.  What we didn't know was that soon AD&D players would engage in "The Edition Wars".  Yes there had always been the AD&D vs. D&D ones, but that was minor when it came to the 1st vs. 2nd ed or the TSR vs. WotC ones over the next, well, forever.

But until then we have this brief moment of stillness and this really great issue.

What are your memories of October 1988?

Monday, October 12, 2020

October Horror Movie Challenge: Underwater (2020)

Underwater (2020)

I was looking for a change of pace tonight and this one showed up as recommended.  Sure. Why not.

This one turned out to be rather fun to be honest.  Not great, but not bad either.  Kristen Stewart was actually pretty good in it. It was pretty much like every other deep-sea monster movie; man ventures to places where he is not supposed to go, sea monsters attack. 

This one had both "humanoid" sea creatures and a great big mother-like, kaiju creature.  It would not be a stretch to think of her as Mother Hydra from the Dagon myths.  Or even Cthulhu.
There are Cthulhu symbols drawn on the various maps, so there is that.
The director has even said the creature is supposed to be Cthulhu himself, but I think Dagon or Hydra works better.

This only reminds me I need to do a Lovecraft Filmfest one month.

Don't go to this movie looking for great insights or deep plotting.  But if you like sea monsters then this is a fun romp.

It does have T.J. Miller (Deadpool) and Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist) in it as well. So those are pluses.

Watched: 22
New: 14


NIGHT SHIFT and BlackStar Content:  A few notes.

A giant underwater creature is a little harder to pull off in a Night Shift or Old-School game.  But I am still thinking about my cross-generational game.  Maybe there is a London 1968 chapter, an Earth or Mars 2087 chapter (or even Enceladus which could be a vast Ocean), in any case, what is found here in 2087 on an under-water drilling base is a human, or near human, skeleton.  Then this leads to the mission in the 23rd century.  All horror.

So many good ideas really.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Plays Well With Others: B/X Gangbusters

Yesterday I reviewed the new B/X Gangbusters game and talked about its potential due to its Basic-era roots.  I stand behind that and a recent dive into some of my favorite Basic-era games supports this.  So let's see how well Gangbusters, B/X edition Plays Well With Others.



Realms of Crawling Chaos
Both are built on similar B/X designs.  Realms of Crawling Chaos adds Lovecraftian Horrors to your B/X Gangbusters games.  Both also support the same era of play, more or less, and have similar offerings in terms of playing normal humans. In fact, adding Realms of Crawling Chaos can add an edge to your "Educated" characters they might not normally have. 

Of course, at this point, you might ask why not just play Call of Cthulhu or d20 Call of  Cthulhu.  The answer, of course, is to be able to play this as a B/X game.

Amazing Adventures
AA is a Pulp-era game based in and on the 1930s; so about a decade later.  But there is still a lot in this game that would be helpful to the Gangbusters player or Judge. Not to belabor it, but the are equipment lists here that have different items that the GB Basic book.  The Amazing Adventures classes also give the GB Judge some go ideas for playing Powered Characters.

Basic Psionics Handbook
Moving further afield we have Richard LeBlanc's Basic Psionics Handbook.   While psionics have a "complicated" relationship to Fantasy games, they seem to work just fine in semi-modern ones.  In particular, a psionic wild talent would fit well into a GB game.  Let's not forget that the 1920s was also the time of Harry Houdini and his magic shows.  In real life he was a debunker of claims of the supernatural, but who knows what he was doing in YOUR world.

This along with Realms of the Crawling Chaos gives you a Lovecraftian style game that is less "Call of Cthulhu" and more "Cast a Deadly Spell".
I want to try this with a hard-boiled private eye that used to be a boxer and has seen a little too much magic.  I'll have to name him Robert Howard Lovecraft.

Starships & Spacemen 2e
Moving even further out from Psionics we have another one from Goblinnoid Games, Starships & Spacemen.  How does this one work?  Glad you asked!  One of my favorite Star Trek Episodes is "A Piece of the Action" where the crew of the Enterprise beam down to Sigma Iota II to investigate the crash of the Horizon from 100 years earlier.  They discover that the Iotians, a very creative and intelligent humanoid race, have recreated Chicago from the 1920s based on the book "Chicago Mobs of the Twenties", which had been published in (their version of) 1992.  The Iotians recreated their entire civilization based on this book.  At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Dr. McCoy misplaced his communicator.  Kirk and Spock state they will analyze the technology and that by the time they come back they could be the Federation.



There was an attempt to do a sequel to this by Michael Piller for TNG and some comics.  For me though, it was a throw-away section in the FASA TNG Officer's Manual that when the Federation came back to Sigma Iota II that they found a fully functional Federation style Space Station waiting for them.  Frankly, I would use that in a heartbeat for my own BlackStar games.  Maybe even adopt Piller's idea that this was a Federation, with the morality of the Chicago gangs.
It sounds like a lot of fun really.  I'd steal more ideas from FASA Trek for this too, including the interim uniforms they were using for the Enterprise-C era.   I will have to come back to this.

There is a lot more you could do with Gangbusters and the vast library of Basic-era B/X compatible material out there.


Monday, March 3, 2014

March Madness OSR Challenge! Part 1

I have bitten off more than I can chew this month.
New month is the big April A to Z blog challenge and this month I need get some more done for work and my witch book.

Plus I am still sick.

So....I am going to have to do this in chunks.
I want to thank Tomb of Tedankhamen for hosting this.

1 What was the first roleplaying game other than D&D you played? Was it before or after you had played D&D?
It was over 30 years ago so it was either Traveller or Chill 1st Ed. This was all after D&D.

2 What was the first character you played in an RPG other than D&D? How was playing it different from playing a D&D character?
I ran Chill. My first character I played in another game was "Zaphod" in Traveller.  The skill system was a new idea for me and I liked it.  Plus the D&D mode of "kill things and take their stuff" doesn't work in most games.

3 Which game had the least or most enjoyable character generation?
In my mind the character creation for Traveller gave me the most trouble.  The easiest is anything for Unisystem. I can pretty much create a character for Unisystem in my sleep.

4 What other roleplaying author besides Gygax impressed you with their writing?
Easy.  C. J. Carella. His WitchCraft game is a work of art. He created the Unisystem game system and the Cinematic Unisystem.  I was fortunate enough to be working on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG when it was in development.

5 What other old school game should have become as big as D&D but didn’t? Why do you think so?
Chill. It lived in the shadow of Call of Cthulhu. Of course Chill is seeing some new light from Goblinoid Games in the guise of Rotworld,  Majus and Cryptworld.

6 What non-D&D monster do you think is as iconic as D&D ones like hook horrors or flumphs, and why do you think so?
I am not sure that flumphs are as iconic as say beholders or mind flayers, but that is a discussion for later. For other games  I always liked shoggoths and gugs from Call of Cthulhu.  The "Mean Old Neighbor Lady" from Chill is also fairly iconic for that game.

7 What fantasy RPG other than D&D have you enjoyed most? Why?
Runequest. I liked it because of it's connection the the Chaosism's BRP system which meant I could add in things from the Elric/Stormbringer/Hawkmoon games and Call of Cthulhu as I liked.

8 What spy RPG have you enjoyed most? Give details.
None. Not my cup of tea really.  I liked how Spycraft was put together, but I never played it.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #75

White Dwarf #75 takes us back to March 1986 with new(ish) Editor-in-chief Ian Livingstone.
The cover is a very Call of Cthulhuesque one with Buckaroo Banzai and Elvira battling a creature on a chees board floor.  Just out of curiosity I wonder if One Night in Bangkok had be released in the UK at this point? (yes...almost a year before.)
Ian Livingstone gets right in and talks about the changes that have been happening and more are on the way.  But we knew that really.  The changes we are seeing here are not really abrupt; they have been happening for a while now, but they do become apparent in later issues.

Open box is getting into a wider variety of games, but a lot of them seem to come from Games Workshop:  There is the Supervisor's Kit for Golden Heroes (8/10), Terror of the Lichemaster for Warhammer (9/10), Judgement Day for Judge Dredd (9/10) and Cosmic Encounter Boardgame (8/10).  The only non-GW game this issue is Fragments of Fear by Chaosium for Call of Cthulhu (7/10).  Detecting a trend here.

Critical Mass is back.  I only want to touch on a couple of things here.  Dave Langford talks about how long C. J. Cherryh's Forty Thousand in Gehenna is.  I agree. But that didn't stop me from using it and going back to it time and time again for ideas for my AD&D games (despite it being Scifi).  There is also a title I have never seen before, "Sex Secrets of Ancient Atlantis".  Looks fun.

2020 covers some mid 80s horror  movies. The Return of the Living Dead and Fright Night are featured.  I enjoyed the heck out of Fright Night despite (or because of) the gruesomeness that reviewer Colin Greenland seems to disdain.  Word of advice, if you don't like gore, don't review horror movies.  He also mentions Teen Wolf which is horror only in the way that connecting puberty to lycanthropy in the hands of Micheal J. Fox can be.  Which is to say, not at all.  Granted it isn't a horror movie.  To see a much better take on this idea see Ginger Snaps.

Oliver Dickinson has some thoughts on the upcoming RuneQuest 3.
Pete Tamlyn has ideas on Superhero games. There are ideas here to make Superhero games, and by proxy comics, more adult oriented (not themed) and they are not bad.  This article though fails today because it was too close, but on the other side, of the great breakout of the Graphic Novel.  Yes, the Dark Knight Returns was just out and Watchmen was on the way, it was still just a little too late (or early depending on your view) for the masses.

Gamemanship covers some idea on how to put the mystery back into AD&D.  Some of the ideas would later see similar treatments in AD&D titles like Ravenloft and eventually story-based gaming.  Most of it is still good advice today.

Mass Media by Andrew Swift covers how the news is delivered in various Tech Levels in Traveller.  My personal favorite is his predictions of the smart phone-like device in which to read the news on (TL 10) AND Google Glass (TL 11).  I mock Traveller often, and really unfairly so, for it's ideas on computers.  But this one was really fun to read.  There are ideas for characters too.  I now have a desire to play or run a bunch of intrepid reporters and muckrakers for the Galactic News Service.

Graeme Davis gives us "Nightmare in Green" an AD&D adventure for 4-8 4th-6th level characters.   There is the adventure and a few new monsters which is nice.  I like adventures that introduce a new, maybe one-off monster. Also it helps make up for the loss of Fiend Factory.

The Heart of the Dark is a Call of Cthulhu scenario.  It deals with a murder and you know it only gets worse from there.  I have always liked WD Call of Cthulhu adventures.  Actually most of their adventures for any game are rather good.

Treasure Chest has something really nice, a system for Character Backgrounds for AD&D.  Today we add a +2 to some skill that you had before you took up the adventuring life, but since AD&D is not like that this works out rather nice.

Tabletop Heroes covers oil painting.

Not a bad start to the stewardship of Ian Livingstone.  The articles and adventures are good.  Open Box seems a bit doggy to me, even given the gushing reviews gamers typically give their favorite games.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

White Dwarf Wednesday #60

The beginning of the 60s takes us to the end of 1984 which may have been one of the best years in gaming.  Issue #60 comes to us from Dec. 1984.  Let's talk about the cover for a bit.  Two warriors on horseback, one with a woman behind, either fighting or raising their weapons in salute to each other.  Majestic castle in the background.  I think I like to think these are not enemies; their stances do not scream combat to me though that is what the artist had in mind I think.  Doesn't matter. The cover is 30 years old and I get to see what I like now.  Again, we have Chris Achilleos to thank for this one.

Ian Livingstone kicks things off with an editorial about the price of metal minis and how they have tripled in price.  I never bought many metal minis myself, price being one of the factors, but mostly I can't paint worth a damn.  It seems odd to me that the idea of doing plastic minis didn't catch on then.  I think that the metal ones were very detailed (still are) and preferred by the people that do the painting (still are).  Hard for me to say really, not at all my area of expertise.

Up first is First Issues or how to start a supers game.  Really, if you are looking to start up, re start up or even just reboot a supers game then this is a must read.  They suggest minis, which I like and is not really as needed as they say, but you can also use good old fashioned action figures.

Open Box has a few classics on hand.  The Elfquest RPG from Chaosium is up.  I dismissed this game as a "kiddie" game back in the day.  Yeah, yeah I know how wrong I was now.  Murray Writtle rubs salt in that old wound by giving it a 9/10.  Three modules from TSR are up.  In case there was any doubt that this is the Silver Age of Gaming, included in this group is DL1 Dragons of Despair, the first Dragonlance module.  Now at the time I liked this and thought the concept was cool, new and exciting.  Graham Staplehurst agress and gives it an 8/10.  I have to admit I hated (and still do to far lesser degree) the Kender.  Also up are the next two UK modules in the new trade dress. UK2 and UK3 get 8/10 and 7/10 respectively also from Graham Staplehurst.

Graeke Davis has part 2 of the magical item manufacture rules.  This time covering rods and potions; ie things all characters can use.  Again, these have been superceded by similar rules in 3.x, but the flavor is great and it is much more than a list of spells and XP expenditures.  When dealing with magic in games, flavor text is often everything.

Steve Williams and Jon Sutherland are up with The Bleeding Stone of Iphtah (god choice for I day!) this scenario for Call of Cthulhu featuring one of my favorite races, the Yithians or Great Race.  CoC works best when it works in small doses like this. A mystery, some investigation, 1 (and not much more) monster or race and really nothing from the Great Old Ones.  If Cthulhu shows up in your game then play D&D.  This adventure is nearly perfect for me.  I'd love to try it either as a Cthulhu by Gaslight one or a Ghosts of Albion one.

Marcus Rowland has some tips for Scifi gaming.  If I was smart I should scan these in or copy them and put them in a folder for the next time I try Traveller.

Stuart Hunter as an AD&D adventure "The Fear of Leefield" for 4-6 characters of 3-5 level. The adventure is longish. It uses a new race from a whle back (Mandrake people) and has a new spell and magic item.  The scenario involves slavers and drugs, so it could be used just about anywhere.

Microview is back with some computer games.  Games Workshop was in the Sinclair Spectrum games biz for a bit and gives us Tower of Despair (also known as Argent Warrior). This game lives up to it's claim of "State of the Art" graphics and gets a 9/10 from Kevin Westbury. D-Day is also reviewed and gets a 9/10 from Andrew Miller. Lindsay Paton gives Lords of Midnight 9/10 as well.
Now here is an interesting thing going on here.  The Atari for all intents and purposes is seeing a decline in the home game market at this point while computer games are getting better and better.  Is the silver Age of RPGs related to the rise of computer games?  Or visa versa?  There were certainly some interesting things going on in 1984/85 on both fronts.

Ars Arcana details the uses of various new 8th and 9th level spells from AD&D.  I have read lots of articles like this over the years, a DIY in D&D (not DIYD&D) if you will.  Doing more with the tools you already have. Always a good idea or two.

Fiend Folio is up with some new AD&D monsters.  Felines, Fungi and Phantoms is the subtitle. We get a Bush Cat that changes stats as it ages. Also there is the Helghost, or an undead magic-user that was particularly vile in life.

Letters tackles such topics as Thrud and why won't WD cater to every type of gamer everywhere.

RuneRites has some monsters. I think. Hard to say really. There are pictures of monsters, there are stats, but I am not sure if I am supposed to take the Furballs, Wereballs, and Dragonballs seriously or not.  They look like Pokemon to be honest.

Table top heroes details brushing techniques.

News is up. First note is the Mayfair / TSR dust up is over. some rumors of Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers getting into the RPG market. Major new British RPG is on the way Dragonroar is set to take the world by storm.

Ads, and finally that last nail in the coffin of the Golden Age, an ad for software graces the back cover. Not only that but for Adventure Writer, a program that allows you to create the adventure in English on your computer.

If there was ever a doubt that we are in a new age, look no further than issue 60.  1984 was a big year in gaming. Lots of changes. Even the covers of the now classic AD&D are changing.  Next time it's 1985.


If you are looking for my A to Z post, just scroll down.