Wednesday, April 4, 2012

White Dwarf Wednesday #11

It's still Wednesday!

White Dwarf issue #11 has the magazine continuing it's stride.  We are getting close to the time when I had started playing, so I am coming into territory I find a little more familiar.

First off, is that a spacesuit she is wearing?  I am not sure, but I know this is not Dragon.

Getting right in to the articles, we have some new firearms for Traveller.  I think I had a bad photo copy of this article cause I remember trying to convert it to Star Frontiers some years later.  I remembered it because of the Stormtrooper on page 7.  Try doing that these days!

The Fiend Factory introduces us to some familiar to us now; the Witherstench, Sheet Phantom, and the Berbalang.  The others were also interesting and I am getting more curious on how the monsters were chosen.

What might be the highlight of the issue is the one page rules (and 2 page map) on the D&D bar fight.  I wonder if Lew Pulsipher has updated this at all?  Challenge to the OSR: Come up with rules for a bar fight, accounting for all the things found in a bar and make it easy and fun to use!  Right now I could print thi sout and use it in 3.x or 4e without much work.

Open Box gives us a review on Runequest (9/10) and SPI's Middle-Earth (5/10).
Also we are treated to a review of D1, D2 and D3 in their original format. Don Turnbull gives it a rare 10/10.  But this is a classic, reading the review gives you the sense of when this was all new. AD&D has arrived and the RPG hobby will never be the same.

We are treated(?) to an April Fools class, the Weakling.  We will see something similar in a future Dragon article, the Hopeless Character.
More of Four Winds and ads.

Speaking of which this the first issue where we are treated to this ad:

I have heard that this is Gary Gygax's daughter.  This ad is so 70s. The future is silver hot pants and big laser guns.

Willow and Tara: Doctor Who Adventures in Time & Space

I think it is an obvious conclusion, but if Willow and Tara had been characters during Russel T. Davies run of Doctor Who, they would have fared far, far better than they did on some other show.  Heck even under Steven  "Tipping the Scales" Moffat they would have been better off.

But that is the fantastic thing about RPGs.  They let us go places and do things we otherwise never could.

So what you have Willow and Tara been like as companions to the Doctor?

Willow, the Doctor, Tara and the Dodecahedron (my clock-face d12)
Well let's take them back a bit to when they were younger, maybe when Tara first showed up on the show.  Given that it is tempting then to use my WitchCraft RPG stats as a point of origin.  But there is an issue with that.  There is no magic really in the Doctor Who universe.  There are plenty of things that look like it and there are psychic abilities, but nothing like the magic I typically have the girls doing.  So for completeness sake I am going to look at stats I did about the same time the 10th Doctor was doing his thing. Something like my FudgeChill or Mutants and Masterminds stats. So maybe instead I'll go with their ages then.

So here is an idea.  Play up Willow's tech back ground a lot more.  She becomes, what is known in the game is a Boffin. Some one that can argue with the Doctor on tech and science. Sort of like what River Song can do now or how Romana was.   Tara is still shy and quiet, but she has a very good reason, she is psychic.  Like scary psychic. Makes for some great plots and gives me something weird and alien to work with, maybe even giving her some Carrionite ancestry.

I like it.

Willow Rosenberg (circa 2006)
Story Points: 12

Awareness 2
Coordination 2
Ingenuity 6
Presence 3
Resolve 4
Strength 2

Athletics 1
Convince 1
Craft 2
Fighting 1
Knowledge 4
Marksman 0
Medicine 2
Science 4
Subterfuge 0
Survival 1
Technology 4
Transport 1

Ambidextrous (not in the book, but in my reality), Attractive, Boffin, Photographic Memory, Technically Adept, Insatiable Curiosity

Laptop, Smart Phone (PDA Phone)

Home Tech Level: 5

Nationality: American
Profession: Software Engineer
Education: B.S. in Computer Science, 2003 University of California, Magna Cum Laude

Tara Maclay (circa 2006)
Story Points: 10 (2 points used)

Awareness 4
Coordination 2
Ingenuity 4
Presence 2
Resolve 3
Strength 3

Athletics 1
Convince 0
Craft 1
Fighting 1
Knowledge 3
Marksman 0
Medicine 1
Science 2
Subterfuge 1
Survival 1
Technology 2
Transport 1

Attractive, Animal Friendship, Empathic, Psychic, Telekinesis, Telepathy, Code of Conduct, Eccentric


Home Tech Level: 5

Nationality: American
Profession: Part time QMHP.
Education: B.A. in Art History, 2003 University of Southern California, Cum Laude,
M.A. in Psychology, Counseling emphasis, 2005 University of Southern California.

Looks good to me.  Now to see if they will ever run into Vastra and Jenny.

D is for Doctor Who

One of my favorite TV shows ever is Doctor Who.
I discovered it back in the 80s on PBS and was hooked.  Of course my dream was always to have a Doctor Who RPG.  There was a Doctor Who by FASA, and I liked it, but I never got a chance to play it much.

Well 2005 rolls around and we got a new Doctor Who on TV! Yeah! and A few years later we also got a new Doctor Who RPG! Double Yeah!  And I got to play-test it!!

And I know I am not the only one excited about it.  Doctor Who related posts are some of my most viewed.

Well there is a new version out and I wanted to let you all know about it.

Doctor Who Adventures in Time and Space is a great and worthy game to bear the name of the highly acclaimed "restart" of the Doctor Who series.

Using a simple 2d6 + attribute + stat + mod, roll over target number system, DW:AiTaS though goes beyond what is typically since in RPGs. Talking and Running are preferable to fighting, just like in the show and there many ways to measure success.

The system is really, really simple. In fact once you get the hang of it it "disappears" much like Unisystem does.

The system is similar to Unisystem and even GURPs, but not as "crunchy". This is a game of normal humans and the occasional alien battling foes that out match them, out gun them and out "tech" them. You are going to need to be very clever or lucky (or both!). While this could have fell into the Call of Cthulhu end of the spectrum on hero survival, heroes are expected to survive and even win.

There are two versions of this game out.  The Original or 10th Doctor version and the new 11th Doctor version.

For the 11th Doctor edition what do have?  Well the trade dress and artwork is all from the 11th Doctor/Moffat era.   But if that were all then there would not be much need to buy this.  There is an easy to use "Read This First" file, all the important stuff in two pages.  There are characters from the Matt Smith run, so The Doctor, River, Amy and Rory. All the new monsters (and the old faves) like the Atraxi, Cybermen, New Paradigm Daleks, and the Silurians. In fact there is quite a bit of "new stuff" that feel this is much more of an update than a simple re-edit and design.

Note: If you have the 10th Doctor version then C7 has the files you need for free.

Now the game is supposed to be played with 2 6-sided dice (2d6 in RPG parlance), but I have this cool 12 sided die with clock faces instead of numbers that is so perfect for Doctor Who that I can't not use it!  Plus as many Who fans know, the d12 is important to Who history.

I have done some character write-ups for Doctor Who: AiTaS, check them out.
  • Madame Vastra and Jenny: Everyone's favorite katana wielding, Victorian lesbian Silurian/Humans consulting detectives/warriors for hire.
  • And Count Dracula
  • And something special later on today!
Dave Chapman did a fantastic job with this game. Not just the writing, but the whole concept.  I love it. I only wish *I* had been the one to do it!

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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The "New" Conan movie

Hey all.  Quick one.

I am over at Jason Vey's blog talking about the newest Conan movie.  Anyone else see this?  Come by and let me know what you thought.

B is for Basic Clones

I was going to do Bunnies and Burrows today, but I wanted to stick a little closer to my home turf for this one.
BTW if you like, check out Bunnies and Burrows. It really is a classic and a piece of RPG history.

But today I want to talk about Basic Clones.
In the OSR (Old School Renascence) a Basic Clone is a game that emulates the rules of Basic D&D, or about the time frame of 1978 to 1984.  I talked about the D&D Basic Game last year and ACKS yesterday.  In fact I talk so much about it here it has it's own label, Basic.

D&D Basic was always my favorite system for quick and fast play.  D&D Basic has been long out of print and usually can only be found at places like Noble Knight Games or Ebay. So I was thrilled when the Basic clones began to come out.

Basic Fantasy is one of my favorites.  It is a simple game that covers the Basic D&D feel, but incorporates ideas from the later Advanced D&D game. Namely is splits up race (elf, human, dwarf) and class (fighter, cleric, magic-user).  In other words it was D&D like how I used to play Basic D&D anyway.  It is flexible, easy to use and totally free.

Labyrinth Lord is the biggest and arguably the most popular Basic clone.  It is closer to Basic D&D than BFRPG is, but for me it lacks a little of the charm.  Not to say that LL isn't great, it is and both lovingly sits on my shelf.

Dark Dungeons is another Basic clone aimed at emulating the old Rules Cyclopedia.  It is a good effort but feels a bit off to me.  Can't quite figure out why though.

Last year I also talked about the Companion rules. When the B/X version of Basic came out we were promised a book called the Companion rules that would take characters from 14th level to 36th level.  We did get one, but is was part of the BECMI version of Basic and thus not 100% compatible and you would have to be a HUGE D&D geek like me to even care about the differences. Or you have to be these guys, since they wrote their own.

B/X Blackrazor came out with his B/X Companion which I have talked about extensively here and is currently sold out. But it is a great book.

Another book is called the Companion Expansion by Barrataria Games.  It didn't get the same level of hype as the B/X Companion, but it covers much of the same ground.  I have not looked at them together to see how they cover similar topics, but they seem very compatible.  You can get the PDF of Companion Expansion for free at DriveThruRPG and a print copy for 16 bucks at Lulu.

My love for Basic D&D and the Basic clones is what prompted me to make my new witch book, The Witch, for Basic Era Games.  Look for that later this month!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Adventurer Conqueror King System

Welcome to the April A to Z blogging Challenge for 2012.
My name is Tim Brannan and this is my blog, The Other Side.  This month I am going to review Role Playing Games.  I am going to give you my opinions, overviews, reviews and maybe even some fluff or crunch.

For my "A" post I want to talk about Adventurer Conqueror King System.

ACKS (as it is also known) is what is known as a "Retro Clone", that is it takes a modern rule system (the d20 SRD) and make it emulate an older game.  In this case Basic/Expert era (1980-1982) D&D.  I discussed Basic D&D during last years A to Z challenge.

ACKS though is more than that.  Part of the game's premise is it has a definite beginning and end.  In game play characters are limited to 14th level.

Unlike other "Basic" retro-clones (like Basic Fantasy or Labyrinth Lord), ACKS also uses a skill system and complete rules for running and maintaining a kingdom of your own. Typically these kind of rules have shown up in later "Companion" rules.

Depsite the fact that there is nothing here I haven't seen before, I really like ACKS.  My son has been playing in a weekly ACKS game and I helped contribute to the Witch class in the upcoming Player's Companion.

Speaking of witches, my own witch classes from "The Basic Witch" and "Eldritch Witchery" are compatible with the ACKS witch.  You can use the same spells, traditions and magic with all three.  In fact having all three gives you a more complete class.

I have spoken about ACKS before here and here, but the one thing I haven't mentioned is that of the recent batch of retro-clones, ACKS is the best looking one.

Player's Companion promises to be very interesting and hopefully it will take the game to new areas.

Follow my posts for more games!