Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Xena & Gabrielle: Blue Rose 2nd Edition

It's June and I think I'll spend a good part of this month going over the new AGE version of Blue Rose.  What better choice than a couple of characters I have done in the past and ones I think will work great under Blue Rose.  Xena and Gabrielle.


I have done Xena and Gabby for Army of Darkness and Spellcraft & Swordplay in the past.  So I am basing this on those versions.  I might have some of my stats for Blue Rose a little off, I am still figuring out this game.  But I am having a great time doing it!

Why Xena?
I make no excuses of my enjoyment of Xena: Warrior Princess.  The show was silly, irreverent and always a fun time. Frankly, with it's mix of comedy, drama, memorable characters and a mish-mash of historical and mythological events, it really was the perfect D&D TV show.

There is one thing that Xena does better than any RPG.  It attracted a huge female audience and kept them.  Granted, one could argue that "Friend in Need" might have killed that, but up until then.  I think Xena works for the same reason that other successful shows do.  Great characterizations and great characters.  You know all about Xena and Gabrielle, but they are still great to watch.  Adding them to your game might just be that spice you didn't know you were missing.

Adding Xena and Gabrielle to your Game
Given their wanderings across the world it should actually be only a matter of time before the characters would run into her.  Maybe they know of her infamy as a conqueress.  Maybe they know of her turn and desire to do good to atone.  Or maybe it is just one of those things where the PCs and Xena arrive in the same place at the same time.  Fate is funny that way.

Like with my other builds I am setting these AFTER "Friend in Need". Obviously, Xena had to come back to life for some reason and now her and Gabrielle are back to doing what they do best.

Friend in Deed
"Friend in Deed" (FinD, and it is "in Deed" and not "indeed") is my let'sts go find Xena and bring her back to life because she is the Promised One" adventure/episode. Takes place after the series finale ("Friend in Need", get it?), Gabrielle is struggling to live up to Xena's legacy and struggling to continue living without Xena. While her intentions were initially good, she has been spiraling into darkness and depression. She has forgotten what she had learned as Eli's student. She has been traveling on the Path of the Warrior, trouble is she is close to leaving that and been straying onto the Path of Vengeance.

And that was about as far as I got.

I know the plot is not only to rescue Xena (she is in an in-between spiritual plane) but to rescue Gabrielle as well. I always imagined Gabrielle trying to continue Xena's journey, but feeling like she was failing and sinking deeper into depression. That is where your characters come in and help her save the day! Or something.


Xena, Warrior Princess of Amphipolis (Kern)
Level 13 Warrior


ABILITIES (FOCUSES)
4
Accuracy (Brawling)
2
Communication (Leadership, Persuasion) 
4*
Constitution (Drinking, Stamina)
4*
Dexterity (Acrobatics, Riding, Stealth)
5*
Fighting (Bludgeons) *many are part of Warrior
1
Intelligence (Cultural lore, Heraldry)
2
Perception (Tracking)
4*
Strength (Intimidation, Might)
4
Willpower (Courage)

COMBAT RATINGS
SPEED        HEALTH       DEFENSE       ARMOR RATING
   12                82                  14                           5
ATTACKS
  WEAPON           ATTACK ROLL          DAMAGE
Sword                        + 7                           1D6 + 3 (slash)
Chakram                    + 7                           1D6 + 2 (slash)
POWERS, TALENTS, AND SPECIALIZATIONS
Favored Stunts: Disarm, dual strike, lighting attack, mighty blow
Talents:  Quick Reflexes (J), Thrown Weapon (M), Armor Training (J), Single-weapon style (sword) (M)
Specializations: Champion Talent (M), Outrider (N)


Medium Armor: Studded leather

Calling: Atonement (Judgement)
Destiny/Fate: Compassionate/Despondent (Nine of Swords)
Corruption: 1 (might have paid off by now)
Goals: To atone for past misdeeds. To bring good into the world. To stop the machinations of cruel gods.

Relationships
Gabrielle (5), "Gabrielle is the best part of me. I do everything to be worthy in her eyes."
Ares (3), "Ares is everything that I hate about the gods, and in my former self."
Joxer (1), "Gabrielle's friend, useful but a pain. Still, his heart is good."
Autolycus (1), "Prince of Braggarts more like it. He is a good friend and helpful in a tight situation."

Gabrielle, The Battling Bard of Potidaea (Matriarchy of Lar'tya)
Level 12 Expert


ABILITIES (FOCUSES)
4*
Accuracy (Brawling, Light blades, Staves)
2*
Communication (Investigation, Persuasion) 
4
Constitution (Stamina)
4*
Dexterity (Calligraphy)
5
Fighting (Bludgeons, Heavy blades)
1
Intelligence (Historical lore, Natural lore, Writing)
2*
Perception (Empathy)
4
Strength ()
4
Willpower (Self-discipline)

COMBAT RATINGS
SPEED        HEALTH       DEFENSE       ARMOR RATING
   12                74                  11                            3
ATTACKS
  WEAPON           ATTACK ROLL          DAMAGE
Staff                         +5                            1D6 (bludgeon)
Sai (2)                      +5                            1D6 (bludgeon)
Grand Katana            +5                           1D6+3 (slashing)
POWERS, TALENTS, AND SPECIALIZATIONS
Favored Stunts: New friends
Talents:  Pin-point attack, Oratory (J), Performance (N), Linguistics (J), Inspire (N), Unarmed style (N), Take aim, Stunning attack, Lethality
Specializations: Bard (verse) (M), Martial Artist (N)


Light Armor: Soft leather

Calling: Explore and Discovery (The World)
Destiny/Fate: Curious/Jaded (Queen of Rods)
Corruption: 1 (might have paid off by now)
Goals: To aid in Xena's redemption by letting the world know of her good deeds. To recover Xena's soul.

Relationships
Xena (5), "Xena is everything I ever live or die for."
Joxer (2), "He loves me, but he can only be my very good friend."
Autolycus (1), "He is not as evil or as mercenary as he lets on. One day he also discover that."

--
Ok. THAT was a lot of fun.  Can't wait to try out some more!

A couple of things I am not sure about. Xena's nerve pinch "touch" and Gabby's anti-magic dragon tattoo from the last episode.

I think these numbers are good, but I will need to try some more to be sure.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: The Hero and the Crown

"They call you Witch's Daughter - and so you are, and more."
- Agsded addressing Aerin, "The Hero and the Crown"

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley is a bit of an older book (1984) and one I recall from back then.  I had read the "Blue Sword" ages ago and this was it's prequel.  I actually liked this one better, though I am re-reading Blue Sword now.
The story centers on Aerin Sol, the princess and only daughter of the King of Damar.  Aerin, also known as Aerin Fire Hair and Aerin, Lady Dragon Killer (more on that) is shy, awkward and generally clumsy.  Pretty much the archetype of what would later become a trope of female characters in "Romantic Fantasy".  This story gets a huge pass because it helped establish this trope.
In Damar all those of royal blood have a "gift" or some magical power, Aerin's doesn't appear to have manifested cause some (but not her father or her cousin Tor) to suspect she is not really of royal blood. They called Witch Woman's Daughter since the suspect the queen's second wife of being a witch.
Aerin learns to move through life trying to be unnoticed, which is hard because of her fire-red hair (she claims it is orange) and the fact she is as tall as most men.  She hides away in books, where she happens on an ointment to protect one from the fire breath of dragons.  Dragons in this book are small things and are more annoyance than a threat.  So she imparts on a career of killing dragons.  A useful task but one with no honor. It also earns her no friends in court.

In her travels and quests she learns of a "Great Dragon" whom she later kills and is nearly killed in return. Hears the summons of a "not quite mortal" mage. Recovers two lost artifacts, the aforementioned Blue Sword and the Crown of Heroes.

The book, like the Blue Sword, starts out slow. But this one builds quickly.  Of course you know that Aerin will succeed since she is legendary in Blue Sword,  but that doesn't mean things will be easy for her.  I have to admit I forgot this when I was on the part where she was laying in a river with burns covering half her body.

The book is older and for a younger audience than me. But I am reminded that we still need more Aeirn Sols (and Hermoine Grangers) and fewer Bella Swans and Anastasia Steeles.

Robin McKinley can be found on the web at http://www.robinmckinley.com/

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 14
Level: Mother
Witches in this book: Aerin's mother. Her uncle, Agsded and maybe Aerin is a witch too. Witches seem to have red-hair in this world.
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Half and half.
Best RPG to Emulate it: This one is easy. Blue Rose is the best. In fact this is one of the books most often mentioned as an inspiration for Blue Rose.
Use in WotWQ: I love the idea of historical legends being brought to life.  I might want to have the players start out by playing the Witch Queens first.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Wonder Woman on the Big Screen

This is just a drive by post.

We saw Wonder Woman last night.  Holy shit is that a FANTASTIC movie. It is very nearly pitch perfect.  I have been waiting so long to see Diana of Themiscyra on the big screen and I was not disappointed.   In fact, we are planning on going again.

I have said that no one could replace Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.  I was wrong.
Gal Gaddot IS Wonder Woman. She is so good in this.
Every scene lights up with her in it. Whether she is kicking Patriarchy ass or tasting ice cream for the first time.  Fighting or cooing over a baby.  THIS IS Wonder Woman!


Go. See this movie now.

Plus if you are a Wonder Woman fan like me there are so many easter eggs.  No post-credits scenes, but that is fine.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Kickstart Your Weekend: Comics Edition

Only 12 and half hours to go before Wonder Woman tonight! Been looking forward to this for years and have had my tickets for weeks.

Let's look at some new comic kickstarters that feature powerful women or created by powerful women!

First up is Witches Trine: Rebirth.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1986208350/witches-trine-rebirth

Issue #0 was given out at GenCon 2016 and there are other issues out on DriveThruComics.
The story covers the lives of three immortal witches and the threats they deal.
The issues I have read so far are great and this should be a fantastic looking book.
Eva, Olivia, and Victoria are a group of witches I could really get to like. Hell, I liked Victoria from the first page I saw her on.

I can also confirm that the book is complete. So it should ship right away.


Up next is the WONDERFUL Gisèle Lagacé and Ménage à 3 Volume 8 & more!


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pixietrixcomix/menage-a-3-volume-8-and-more

While you can follow the adventures of Zii, Didi and Gary online, these collected volumes have so much more to them.

While these are "adult" comics, they are more "Benny Hill" than "Fanny Hill".

There is more than just the sexcapades of a bunch of young adults in Toronto.  You also get the misadventures of Chole, the not-really-evil Succubus of Dangerously Chloe.



I say support both of these worthy Kickstarters.  This is exactly what Kickstarter was made to to do, help small publishers get the capital to start.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #79

I like to post This Old Dragon on Thursdays.  Feels like a good day to do it really.  Today is June 1st which also means we have five Thursdays in June.   I should have been looking ahead since that sounds like a great time for a month of theme postings.  But since I rarely know which Dragon I am going to pull out of the box, and often know even less what's going to be in when I open it, planning ahead doesn't always work out.  Today's Dragon has no theme.  So let's head back to November 1983. I was a freshman in High school and this is Issue #79 for This Old Dragon!

I remember this issue. We used bits of it a lot in our games back in High School. My HS DM had it, but I don't think I read it till almost a year after it was published.

Well.  I am not sure about this cover. I doubt it is anyone's favorite but it is a fun one.  Feels more like an April fools issue or if it is a harvest scene then September would have been better. It also has nothing to do with anything else in the issue going by my first read.

Kim Mohan discusses some upcoming changes to Dragon, namely the change of typeface. This is the evolution of the magazine that I think many gamers my age remember the best.  There are more changes coming including the inclusion of The Forum feature (not in this issue) and the eventual demise of the Phil and Dixie comic.  In retrospect, it feels like another marker of the end of the Golden Age of D&D. That's not too bad though, some cool things are coming up.

Susan Lawson is up first with The Ecology of the Treant.  Interestingly I don't remember this one at all.  Rereading it now I see why. There is precious little information in the article.

Sage Advice covers some smaller letters sent in covering various topics from previous Dragon articles.

Coming up on the first meaty article, Magic resistance What it is, how it works. No author is given.  The article discusses the hows and some of the whys of magic resistance.  Namely, how does it nullify spell-effects and what control the creature with magic resistance has over this power.   The article tries to highlight some of the issues with the depiction of MR as presented in the AD&D rulebooks and I think creates more confusion than clarity.  The article is not bad, but it also doesn't help.  It is easy to see why MR, as presented in AD&D, was removed from later versions of the game.

We get some pictures from the Gen Con Miniatures Open '83. Some nice looking minis here too. Modern molding techniques and 3D Printing make some of these look, well, dated, you have to admire the artistry all the same.  This is an aspect of the hobby that will never go out of style I think.



Gregg Chamberlain must have enjoyed "The Twilight Zone: The Movie" from the summer of '83.  In his Blame it on the gremlins: Militaristic mischief-makers we get a bunch of the little monsters. In truth his version is closer to the old military superstitions of Gremlins than the Twilight Zone movie (or even the Gremlins movie due out in another 7 months; June 1984).
I always liked the idea of gremlins, but never the execution. Plus to me they seemed a little too 20th century to me.  If I want a mischievous creature I had loads of fae to choose from including the Brownie, Boggart, and Buchwan that also all did this sort of thing.   Though this article is very clever and has a lot of great ideas.  I could have my cake and eat it too by adopting these to "Trooping Faeries" of the more mischievous sorts. I think even Charmed did something like this. A little surprised the Supernatural hasn't yet.

Up next is an article we used a lot in our games.  Setting saintly standards by Scott Bennie details a divine class of ascending mortals, aka Saints.  Not being Catholic (or religious at all for that matter) this article had no connotations for me outside of D&D.  I really liked the character of St. Kargoth, king of the Death Knights and immediately figure that he had to be the "13th" Death Knight.  I used him a lot in my games.  At this point, my first generation (Basic D&D) of characters had retired and the next generation (AD&D) was going strong.  I worked with my DM (whose issue this was) to make my first character into a Saint according to these rules.  I figured if there is a "Saint" of the Death Knights then my character, Father Johan Werper, would be the patron saint of those that battle undead.  I have detailed his history here and his Sainthood is covered in the Guidebook to the Duchy of Valnwall Special Edition. So yes, not only did I make him a Saint, I made him an officially published OSR Saint!  It all started with this article.  It was also not the last time I used an "Ascended Human" in my games.  The whole plot of my Buffy Game "The Dragon and the Phoenix" revolves around an ascended witch.

The centerpiece of this issue is an adventure for Top Secret.  Wacko World by Al Taylor.  I never played Top Secret. Spy games were never my thing.  I have no means to judge this one to be honest.
If you played this adventure then let me know you think of it!

Page Advice II: Getting started covers writing for your favorite RPG.
The genesis of this article is stated in the first few lines, "However, it is apparent from those responses that the vast majority of readers who sent for the TSR submissions packet have had no experience with freelance design"
Well. Off course they don't! Your readers are fans. If they were like me at the time the most they ever wrote was a term paper.  The article though does go into some helpful tips.
Their advice, "Pick up a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk and White - an invaluable book." is spot on and I think I picked up a copy soon after.  I still have it.  A bunch of other books are also mentioned and selection of *D&D modules, but the best advice they give is practice. You can't get better at anything without practice.  The article looks like it is setting up for a Part III, delievering what the publisher wants.  I'll have to look into that (or if I have an issue 80).

The fights of fantasy: Good generalship from a non-medieval viewpoint by industry leader Lew Pulsipher discusses the differences between a historical medieval battle and a fantasy one. Certainly this draws on the uniwque history of our hobby having grown out of historical miniature battles to fantasy battles.  Putting content of this article aside for a moment I want to address an meta-issue around this article.  As the first Generations of Grognards move on to the sandbox in the hereafter (not being a dick, it's sadly just true) the remaining generations, myself included, are moving further and further from these roots.  This is neither good nor bad, like old age, it simplly is.  Sometime though I feel the need to honor the grogs that came before me and do a real huge fantasy battle.  I have done some in the past, but I mean something truly epic.  World War II meets Crisis of Infinite Earths meets the Battle of the Pelennor Fields meets the battle of Endor/Death Star II.
Lew's article is getting saved for that day.

Lew is back in a double header this issue with Be aware and take care: Basic principles of successful adventuring.  Lew's article read a lot like his lecture series on YouTube.  You get the feeling of hearing a learned sage, but all along the answer you sought were with you all the time.  More or less. Reminds me of some lectures on Socrates I had some years later in college.
Both articles are good but also really long.  I wonder if they were light on page count for this issue and needed these.  The lack of a lot of art in this issue and the editorial about change leads me to think this.

We come to some ads next.

The On the Shelf feature deals with new books from Ray Bradbury, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. Le Guin, Philip K. Dick, Peter Straub, and Alan Dean Foster. A "whos who" of sci-fi/fantasy literature.
At this time I was huge into my Tolkien and then Moorcock kick.

We end with Wormy and What's New.

80 pages.

Certainly some memorable articles and some I didn't remember at all.

Want to know what I was saying about White Dwarf magazine during the same month? Check out my White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #47.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blue Rose now in Print!

SSStopped by my FLGS tonight for a nice surprise.   Blue Rose in print!



This is a great looking book! I mean seriously.
+Green Ronin Publishing makes some great looking books, always have, but this is above and beyond anything they have done before.







At nearly 400 pages this book is huge. It's bigger than the True20 books, combined.

The game is so fantastic too. I'll get into the game here in a bit.
Kudos to +Chris Pramas and all the Green Ronin staff on this.

Going to Your First Con

It's just about Summer and that means Cons are in full swing.   One question that comes up from readers is "what do I do at my first Con?" or even "how do I prepare?"

I have talked about these ideas in the past and was recently inspired to share some of these ideas in honor of the Amazing Las Vegas ComicCon coming up at the end of June. If you're trying to plan your travels for your first ComicCon there are awesome Las Vegas package deals to suit anyone's needs.

I would say I have not been to a lot of cons, but so far this year I guess I have already been to three! So as always, your mileage may vary.

What Should I Bring With Me?
Many Cons are now limiting what you can bring in with you. Some don't want you to bring in fake weapons anymore, others might allow real swords, but have zip-tie on them.  If you are cosplaying be sure to check the rules first!
At many cons, the lines for food, drinks, and everything else are long. Sometimes really long. If you can bring in a bag, pack some snacks.  I still hear horror stories about the year that Gen Con ran out of bacon! So plan accordingly.
No one loves caffeine more than me, but skip loading up on sodas and energy drinks and instead opt for water.  IF you are walking a lot (and you do at most big cons) you will need it.

What should you wear? 
Comfort is the key.  If you are going to a large con then again you will be walking a lot, so comfortable shoes are a must.  This is also your time to let your freak-flag fly. I have an entire collection of t-shirts I can only wear in public around cons! Nothing offensive, but certainly ones that only my Geek brothers and sisters would enjoy.

If you are Cosplaying, again comfort is key.  Granted you might not be walking as much since you could be posing for pictures more, but consider it.  I have a great Victorian outfit I wear. But the trouble is it is also all black wool.  Great, as long as I can stay in some AC all day.

Whatever you decide, make sure you have everything.  Like any trip make sure you have extra clothes too.   I also make sure I have room for the t-shirts I'll buy at the con too.

What are some important dos and don'ts?
Please, PLEASE, check with your con's website to see if they have any special rules long before you go.
Many/all cons have a website FAQ of things you can and can't do.  Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con, for example, has a FAQ here: https://www.amazingcomiccon.com/about


DOs
- Pace yourself! You have a lot to see and do, no sense wearing yourself out Day One.
- Eat well! Plan your meals. Cons are great times, but eating sometimes gets pushed aside.
- Wash Your Hands!  Ever hear of "Con Crud"? You will! Exposure to so many different people leads to new viruses. Add bad eating habits, less sleep and different levels of exercise you have a nice mix that leads to Con Crud.
- Bring cash.  Not every place takes credit/debit card and some autograph lines only take cash.
- Budget yourself! Don't spend all your money day one.
- Have a great time! This is great experience and you should enjoy every moment you can.
- Looks for hidden treasures! Every town that hosts a con hopes you enjoy yourself.  See what they have to offer. I have found great places to eat and some I get just as excited about as the con itself.

Make sure you have your hotel and travel plans set and ready to go.

But there are also a few DON'Ts
- Don't be a jerk. Other people are coming to the con too. Some it might be the only one they go to this year or for many years. Don't be a jerk and ruin their con.  That goes for people working the cons, people working at the hotels, restaurants.
- Don't forget you are there to have fun!

I have to add that when it comes to Cosplay.  Cosplay is NOT Consent. Come on, don't be a jerk.
I don't care if you know every line of every Deadpool issue there is, that girl wearing the Gwenpool outfit that she spent hours (maybe days or weeks) working on is just as welcome here as you are.  She (or he) doesn't need Geek Gatekeeping from you, harassed or touched.  Tell her "hey, that's an awesome Gwenpool!" Ask her if you take her picture and then move on.

Remember the rule: "Butt on the floor, pictures no more."


Cons are becoming more and more family welcoming. So remember that this is also a lot of little kids' first cons too.  Give them a reason to want to come back every year!

Ready?  Let's go!


--
Don't forget that the big OSR Sale is going on over at DriveThruRPG.  Just a little over 10 days left. Lots of great titles on sale including some from The Other Side.  Check them out.