"Go to the sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious inn on the edge of the Thieves Quarter, in the City of Greyhawk, and look to your own wrist. If you perceive a bracelet and dangling dice, watch for the next throw in the war between Law and Chaos and be prepared to follow the compelling geas." -Signal

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Z- Zebulon's, Zombieland, Zoologist, Zucchetto and a Thank you!

Zebulon's Guide to Frontier Space was intended to be the first ins a series of game supplements for the Star Frontiers game. In addition to having additional equipment and setting information on different planets it also contained new rules. These rules changed the game system in a fairly major way taking it from more of a skill based system to a more standard, at the time, character generated system. For this reason there are still people who dislike this book. I like the game either way it is run and this book in particular is one of the books I enjoyed being able to add to my collection. The sad part is that though it was supposed to be an ongoing series this is the only one that was ever made. I suspect that it was a victim of the turmoil occurring in TSR at that time.  It is also fairly hard to find and a little on the pricey side when it does show up. If you like Star Frontiers you will want to add this to your collection.

Movie:

Zombieland would not normally be my cup of tea in the realm of Zombie movies. I am a fairly rapid zombie fan and have often said "I'm holding out for the Zombie  Apocalypse" and that I am rooting for the zombies when it happens. This movie would have normally added too much comedy and not enough realism for me. All that said I love this movie. I think it is just the fact that it is so well done as a comedy and that the cast is so strong that you can't help but like it. The 30 rules, everyone using locations as names I like everything about it and I don't even care that much for Twinkies. It may not have that much for fans of AFMBE or other post apocalyptic games but I think this is strongly a gamers movie and seeing it will make most gamers want to game. That and it made me want to visit Wichita for some reason!

Plot:

Zoologists arrive on the scene on a mission from the local regent. He has tasked them to compile a reference of all the fauna in the realm. This is not something that is well suited for the academia types that have been asked to do this. They will begin asking around town for adventurers that will be creative enough to not kill the prey they are looking for because the regent not only wants a catalog of the beasts he has his mind set on creating the greatest zoo in all the realm so he want them all alive and eventually wants mated pairs or what would be a normal grouping of the beasts. The Zoologists have been instructed to not only pay the adventurers who help a generous fee based on the beasts captured but also to allow them to keep any booty gained in the process. When done this will have to be a grand an glorious zoo though it has also been said that the regents brother is building a ship that will rival all others ever built so it is not sure what will be the better of the two.

Magic:

Zucchetto's of Hope will be attuned to a particular deity when they are found and can only be altered through use of extreme magic such as a Wish spell or a long ritual process by clerics of another deity. The Zucchetto is a small skullcap made of material appropriate for the deity it is attuned to and will be of colors and decoration that is appropriate as well. The Zucchetto will when worn by a cleric of the deity it is for grant all worshipers in a 100 yard radius a +2 to all saving throws they might need to make for them or their possessions. It will also double the number of  first level spells the cleric can cast per day. There is a 50% chance that a particular Zucchetto will also double the second level spells and a 25% that it will double the third level spells. The wearer will also be able to cast a Commune spell once per game week. There is also a version of this that is cursed. When found the Zucchetto will appear to be for the deity of a cleric in the party or lacking a cleric for the deity of someone in the party. In reality is will cause the cleric donning it to suffer a radical alignment shift and become a cleric for their former deities most bitter rival.  This can only be altered by the ritual that would be used to attune the item previously mentioned. This will require one week of game time per point of Wisdom of the victim.


Thanks:

I want to thank anyone who has happened upon my blog during this A2Z endeavor and a special thanks to any who commented and again for those that started following me. I also want to thank anyone who added me to their blog rolls. I have an idea on where I will go next. I will still be posting scans of items from my collection but I will also try and post some other form of new material each day. I dug through some of my old writings and found some stuff of note. Most will be from the era of 1e transitioning in 2e so it may not be OSR specific but hopefully it will find an audience among that group.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Y - Yin-Sloth, Young, Yeomen, Yergler's

I know that the Palladium game system does not sit well with many gamers and I am not going to try and defend it except in that it does have a wealth of source material of which most is fairly well done. The Yin-Sloth Jungles supplement fits into that category nicely. It provides the GM with information on the native inhabitants, the environmental and climatological perils of a jungle setting. It also provides those playing the actual game a number of different O.C.C.s for the players. Even the "character classes" and game specific items could be adapted fairly easily. In addition there is the ever present selection of maps that can be ripped off for any purpose. I would say why not give the game system a chance if you have not and if nothing else you can have some source material to borrow from.

Movie:

Young Guns may not be the best western out there but it is far from the worst. It should more than serve as inspiration for the GM running a Boot Hill, Eights & Aces or other Gunslinger/Western based game. It features an all star cast some of which would fade into relative oblivion and others that would become quite famous and then even caricatures of themselves and the roles they play. I will leave it up to the gentle reader to decide which cast member did that (Tiger Blood). The movie also gives a pseudo history lesson though nowhere near accurate enough to pass as one. In the end it is also an enjoyable enough story and overall movie. If you want a lighter more modern take on the Western start here and then when in the depth of the campaign check out Unforgiven, Tombstone, True Grit, Pale Rider and The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Plot:

Yeomen arrive in town in short advance of a large caravan and a fairly large entourage of what would appear to be court hanger ons. Thee group proceeds to pitch camp on just the outskirts of town among which are four or five large tents. There are those in the group that need to stay in town and eventually will find there way into the local tavern where the player characters are taking their evening repast. The locals are of course all abuzz about having such a different level of visitor in their town. The visitors in the tavern.inn will have no lack of people pestering them and buying them drinks. If the players watch close they will see that they are not the only ones watching an not interacting though. The players might not want to try and figure out who the hoopla is for but they might have to. It couldn't be the soon to be princess on way to her pending nuptials could it or is it just someone on way to the event? And if so who were the people so interested about them in the tavern?

Magic:

Yergler's Haversack is what most would call a utilitarian magic item that most would not get excited about. The Haversack will be found with a collection of food and beverage. There will be enough in the Haversack to feed 3-7 people. The magic of the Haversack will cause it to refresh each day with food and beverages every morning. The food and beverages that appear will be something very palatable to the owner and if they care to experiment they will discern that what appears is something they had thought  during the previous day. Yergler created these so that parties exploring and searching for things for him did not have to carry large stores of food and it ended up being cheaper for him. The DM can decide exactly who Yergler was and what he had people hunting for. Fully 90% of the Haversacks found will be made of wool or similar materials that sacks would be made of or even leather in some cases. The remaining 10% will be made of material of higher quality and perhaps even rare monster hides. These Haversacks will always have enough food and beverages for seven people, will be of a higher quality as if for those of a refined pallet and it will weigh only one pound regardless of content where the others will weigh what would be expected. Apparently Yergler sometimes went adventuring himself!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X - Xvarts, X-Men, Xenophobic, Xorn Claw

Xvarts are one of those oft forgotten creatures that were brought to us by our brothers across the pond. From what I was able to discover they first appeared in White Dwarf #9 but were taken onto the big scene with their inclusion into the too often maligned Fiend Folio. I know that some of the creatures in that book were off but they were taken from reader submissions to an early RPG publication from a culture that though very close to our is different enough to be different. This is the second in a series of three adventures. I picked up all three on eBay back when the last one was released. Reading over it they were very well done and interesting enough. Today they could probably be marketed better, done via print on demand and be wildly popular. If you get a chance to pick these up I think you will not be disappointed. Thank you for giving us this adventure Ben Burns.

Movie:

X-Men came out over 10 years ago. I find that almost impossible to believe. This movie sports what was an even more all star cast back then and was released as one of those super hyped summer fares. It had a better than average chance of being The Hulk #1 before the Hulk was but luckily it had Bryan Singer at the helm. Coming from the man that gave us Keyser Soze how could it fail. This really is no news for anyone running  a super hero based game but I needed an "X" so I used it. It is too bad that The Specials or better yet The Watchmen did not start with X. The former for being one most people may not have seen and the latter for being a better movie.

Plot:

Xenophobic messages have been found magically written on non human victims over the course of the last few weeks. The victims have all been found in the early morning hours naked and with derisive messages about their particular race. They do not recall how they arrived where they were or how the messages have gotten there. The subject material can be left up to the DM and can be either mild to horrific as appropriate for the game or audience though the messages seem to be escalating in severity. The population of the town should have a large enough demi-human population where this is getting to be an issue and it is having an effect on cross race relations. The question is what group amongst the human population profits from this as it would seem that there is nothing for them to gain since all this can do is make things better for the other races....

Magic:

Xorn's Claws are exactly what the name suggests. These will be mummified claws from a Xorn that was slain on the Prime Material plane. The claw will serve both as a magical weapon and a magic item of usefulness to those who explore caves and caverns. The claw will be treated as a mace as far as attach speed and weapon damage. It will most often have a dweomer that will allow it to affect creature hit by only magic weapons of any level though it has no bonuses to hit or damage.  The other benefits are that four times per day the owner can have the claw cast a Dig spell as it the owner were a 12th level caster. The claw can also cast a Passwall and Move Earth spell once per day again as if cast by a 12th level caster. If the claw ever comes within 900' of a living Xorn it will immediately draw the attention and ire of the the living Xorn.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W- Warhammer, Wizards, Wagon, Wrap

Warhammer Fantasy Role Play was originally released back in 1984 though the book pictured here is the 1989 version of the game unless I am mistaken. In 1984 the game was a hard cover book and I seem to have lost, traded or sold it at some point. To the best of my knowledge the 84 and 89 versions are very close if not identical. This was without a doubt my introduction to Dark Fantasy but I am still not sure I like my fantasy as dark as this makes it out to be. That does not mean that the game design and mechanics are not to my liking it is just the setting and you can always lighten that up. When I first opened the book in the store the art caught my attention but it was the character generation that hooked me. It reminds me of a greatly expanded upon Traveler system. There are career paths but you are not locked in by your initial choice all the time and there are enough options that characters are not cookie cutter. The major drawback is the magic system which as I recall was overly complicated making it not so fun or easy to play a caster character but that eliminates parties of all caster as well. I have not had much of a chance to review the new edition of the game so if I was going to recommend picking up something WFRP related it would be the 1e of the game.

Movie:

Wizards was directed by Ralph Bakshi who is probably best known for his early attempt to bring the Lord of the Rings to the big screen via animation. On an aside I sort of liked the animated version but onto Wizards. Wizards is a story set in post apocalyptic America where the two sides are lead by two brothers. One side is steeped in fantasy and magic while the other side in based off of technology. The story has a fairly adult theme and storyline so please do not rent this for your children (like most anime should not be) to watch. The story was entertaining enough though the message was perhaps a little heavy handed. If you want to play a post apocalyptic game setting that involves technology and magic this would work for ideas though the flip side where technology is invading a fantasy world would find ideas as well. I really agree with the premise that they can not coexist and find the idea of a campaign based on that intriguing.

Plot:

Wagons tightly covered and guarded arrive into town just as the sun begins to set and the guards remain with the wagon though the passengers on the wagons disembark and spread out about town going to various location but eventually meeting back up in a central location. The passengers will be of a nationality that the players have not seen before and speak in a tongue that none of the party know though the passengers speak the common tongue of the realm. The players can choose to ignore them but at some point a fight breaks amongst the strangers out and the level the fight goes to whatever level the DM needs. Hopefully the fight, the strangeness of the travelers or the mystery of the covered wagons will be enough to draw the players in. In reality none of this is exciting or adventure material, but the results of the characters action could be. Sometimes you have to throw the players a red herring and let them create their own adventure.

Magic:

Wraps of Transformation will be cloth squares anywhere form 5' to 20' square, The can also appear to be anything from ratty linen to finely woven silk. This makes them hard to identify which is part of their nature. The Wrap allows the owner to wrap an item up and then by speaking a command word transform the item into something else. The two items need to be close in size and weight but other than that can be as different as the owner desires. The Wrap can not affect living beings though. Anything that is changed by the Wrap will radiate a strong aura of magic if that is detected for though without some other sort of identification magic nothing more can be determined. Items changed in this fashion will retain their new form for a maximum period of one day per level of the person using the Wrap (I would use this as a plot hook but that's just me) after which it reverts to its true form. The item can be switched back by re-wrapping it in the Wrap. The Wrap can only transform one item at a time and can be used no more than 6 times per day and can have no more than a dozen transformed items at any given time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

V - Valley, Vanishing, Vandals, Volume

Valley of the mists is an adventure/supplement for the FGU game Bushido. I have not looked inside this item in years and maybe only once the entire time I have owned it. Way back when I had a friend who was of Japanese heritage so when he discovered the game Bushido existed he wanted us to play it. I ended up finding a copy and had everyone create characters and I think we played it all of three times before everyone else was onto something else. We tried a lot of different games back then. Just so you can see it here is the product description.

"Come visit Hida Province in the land of Nippon. Be wary though, for all is not well. The ruling clan is not as secure as they would wish. Enemies surround them on all sides and, perhaps, even lurk within their domain. Mystery, magic, and menace await the bold adventurers who shall eventually descend into the Valley of the Mists. "VALLEY OF THE MISTS is the first adventure pack for use with BUSHIDO. This is not a complete game. Fantasy Games Unlimited's BUSHIDO is necessary for play. It contains three inter-related adventures which take place in and around Hida Province. Background material concerning the province is presented as well. Special bonuses include several new Legendary Beings and a new form of magical skill: Tea Magic." 

Movie:


Vanishing on 7th Street will be a movie you have most likely never heard of and very few people have probably seen. It had a limited distribution for theaters and the only reason I saw it was because you could see it using On Demand while in the theaters via my cable system. It has a fairly well known cast but the acting was not the best. I think it might have been the script but who knows. With all that aside the premise and story were pretty spooky. I think anyone running an Urban Noir or modern era game will be able to appreciate this and take ideas from it. It could also be of use as an idea for a post apocalyptic game setting. This should be available in video stores or through Netflix etc. I would suggest watching it just don't pay too much and please forgive me if you hate it as it may not be everyone cup of tea. Let me know if you get a feel that someone liked a Stephen King story too much as well!

Plot:

Vandals have been striking church and shrines to a minor deity in the local area. They have also been destroying businesses operated by followers of the deity. The issue is that the Baron over the region is coming for a state visit and they are a follow of the deity and a fervent one at that. Having the shrines and church targeted by vandals will not set well with the Baron. There has been a fairly large reward offered for anyone determining who the culprits are, stopping the acts and bringing them in. The baron will be arriving in less than a week so there is not much time. One can only hope the Baron does not sue this as a reason to replace the governor who he has never liked with his nephew which he has been itching to do for some time and has been looking for a reason to do so......

Magic:

Volumes of Research will be moderate size collections of tomes and scrolls prized by those doing research in general and magical research in particular. This applies to alchemists, sages and even wizards research new spells or trying to craft new magic items. These tomes/scrolls send emanations out through a number of different planes and possibly alternate prime material planes. These emanations will detect written materials connected with the researched subject and copy themselves onto the pages of the  tomes, These writings will persist until the research is done at which time regardless of the success or failure of the research they will fade away waiting to begin again. The Volumes will grant a 1%/day of use additional chance of success to the research up to 90%. If this is being done for spell research the bonus is divided by the level of the spell being researched and magic items will be treated as the highest level spell effect or 6th level in general. These items are not with their drawbacks though. The emanations have a cumulative 5% chance per week used of attracting an unwelcome guest of some nature. This will most often be connected with what is being researched in some manner though pulling a powerful being from an alternate Prime Material is not unheard of.

Monday, April 25, 2011

U - Unearthed, Underworld, Ulcers, Umbra

Unearthed Arcana was released in what I would call the silver age of roleplaying. Not in that it was the second best but using the age rankings from the comic world. I personally think that the 1e products were the best products that TSR ever released. Unearthed Arcana which came out near the tail end of the 1e is probably the weakest of these. Even the Wilderness and Dungeoneers Survival Guides were probably better. The spells and magic items in the UA are not overly bad. I think it was the character classes that did it in....that and comeliness. Still it is worth picking up if you can find a copy that hasn't fallen apart...I forgot to mention that there were binding issues didn't I. Most people may not know because it didn't get opened that much.

Movie:

Underworld is not the modern era vampire movie as they have come to be though it has parts of it. The pros of the movie would be Kate Beckinsale, political intrigue amongst the vampires, a war with the lycans, a new spin on the genre where lycans were created to serve the vampires, the gothic nature of the vampires and did I mention Kate Beckinsale in a leather cat suit. On the downside the entire romance angle is overplayed and the vampire villains are not as good as the lycan villains. The followup was not all that great either though the third installment was somewhat better than the second. I would say watch the first one and leave it at that. This could serve as inspiration for a World of Darkness or Vampire game setting or perhaps something along the line of Chill or even a side adventure in a CoC campaign.  So over all and you again Kate Beckinsale in a leather cat suit wielding killer weapons!

Plot:

Ulcers have begun appearing on the land near the outskirts of the local village. They appear at random and go down farther than anyone has been able to safely explore. When they first open there is a release of gas that kills anything nearby. There has never been anything like this and there are no other physical manifestations of what would suggest natural phenomenon. The ulcers go down anywhere between 900 and 1600 feet and are treacherous to navigate. Getting to the bottom of one will allow the players to discover a previously unknown mega cavern system to explore. The reason for the ulcers is still not readily discernible. Is is a naturally occurring event such as escaping seismic gases or is something more sinister such as breaks into the Prime Material from an elemental or quasi elemental   plane. Or is it the natural inhabitants opening cracks so that they can receive fresh air where theirs is becoming lethal....

Magic:

Umbra Dust is a magical item that will be of limited use to an adventuring party but of great use to anyone with a keep, established residence or business. Umbra Dust when used will create an area of complete and utter darkness that no light source can penetrate or exist in. The person using the dust though can see in it as they normally would with available light sources they carry or are in the area. The darkness once created is permanent unless dispelled by a Wish, Limited Wish or Dispel Magic where the latter needs to be cast by caster of no less than 18th level. Anyone entering into the areas of darkness will have a -8 applied to all rolls for anything they attempt to do and anything based on sight will fail. When found, unless the DM feels otherwise, there will be enough dust to mark out a 50' x 50' area. The darkness will extend as high and as far down as the average of all sides used to create the area of darkness and is stopped by walls and the like. Umbra Dust is made with materials of the Negative Material Plane, The Demi-Plane of Shadow and Limbo. Light absorbed by the darkness serves to feed creatures on those planes and they will linger near the points of contact. Should the darkness ever be canceled there is a 50% chance that a creature from one of those planes can make it through as a result.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Basic Roleplaying - Chaosium

Chaosium games were always easy to learn when you started playing a new one because they were always basically the same system without being the same system. They were sort of GURPS without being built on the premise of GURPS. Their games even often had a short Introduction book that went over the basics. This is what the system evolved into and now they have their own system and will perhaps begin publishing games that won't rehash the core functionality each time.

There will be two sides to this coin. There is something to be said for the whole system being built into the game. If I want to play a game about a n empire in decline led by an albino prince who sells out the kingdom to its long time enemies because by cousin usurped the throne it is nice only have to buy one book and see everything I need there written specifically to that setting.

On the other hand if I want to play in a game where older beings powerful enough to be gods want to return and claim a world/dimension that was theirs first along with a superhero setting with BRP I can now perhaps by setting books which might be cheaper after buying the game system initially.

I am not sure how it will play out and I don't have any strong feelings one way or another. Anyone care to share their thoughts on the matter?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

T - Tales, Time, Talismans, Triton

Tales from the Infinite Staircase is a series of eight short scenarios that are interwoven among each other. The module was unique in that they can be played in any order and that the actions taken in any of them will affect the course of events in the others and even in the reverse of that. Returning to the locale of a previous adventure may find it changed because of actions in a later adventure. The adventures themselves are all fairly entertaining through maybe a little on the macabre or weird but it is Planescape after all. The module though designed for Planescape campaigns can be played as a stand alone larger adventure set in any campaign world. There are even links to other adventures published in the Forgotten Realms as I recall. I would suggest picking it up and used as the DM sees fit. Either robbing it of ideas, playing it piecemeal rt using it in its entirety....whoever it is used there is something good that can be gleaned from it.

Movie:

Time Bandits is a movie that I had the good fortune to see in the theater when it was released. I recall nothing thinking I wanted to but a friend drug me along before one of out gaming sessions. Needless to say it sparked all kinds of ideas. Looking back I want to call it The Hobbit meets Bill & Ted. The premise is that dwarves working for the Supreme Being steal a map showing "time holes" and they go on a spree to steal treasure. They end up encounter our protagonist along the way. I won't say much more for fear of spoiling it. I can't recommend it highly enough....did I mention that Terry Gilliam was the director and had part in writing it. I am not sure he can make a bad movie. Run don't walk to your Wal-Mart or whatever and buy this. Don't waste money renting it because you will end up buying it!   

Plot:

Talismans connected with a long dead deity who is no longer worshiped were brought into town by a young boy who had found a hidden entrance to a cave complex in the near by hills. The deity the talismans are connected with can be who ever the DM uses but was the god of greed, avarice and gluttony from ages past whose worship faded from the world. Legends though tell that temples for the god were tomb like labyrinths filled with large quantities of riches. The most valued treasures of the sect were those stolen from others trying to loot their temples. One can only wonder what lies in the complex the child happened upon and he is willing to show the party the location for a fee. Between his willingness to help and all he useful information on the dead god from that bejeweled fat sage how can this not go well....after all he has no worshipers anymore and is dead right?

Magic:

Triton Stones are items desired by almost anyone connected with being under water. The wearer of a Triton Stone, which is usually a blue or green gem of unusual luster and value, will have the ability to breather underwater with no time limit. They will also find that they can swim at twice the normal speed that they would normally be able to. The can also survive at twice the depth that a person of their race would normally be able to survive at. Those are the commonly known abilities. If the wearer is sixth level or higher they also gain the ability to polymorph self, while submerged, into a sea creature up to three times per day. The effect will last as long as the spell by the same name. In addition if the wearer is ninth level or higher they can use, again only while submerged, a Monster Summoning ability. The last and least known ability is that once per game week, is submerged in the ocean or or the Plane of Water and of 12th or higher level,  the wearer can call a Triton to their aid. The Triton summoned will be a Mage of 7-10th level or a Cleric of 8-11th level. They will be compelled to help the wearer but if the wearer is evil the Triton will try to be a literal in helping and if possible twist the help.

Friday, April 22, 2011

S- Soviet, Shrek, Students, Stone Seneschal

Back in the 1980, to paraphrase possibly the last great American president ever, there was an evil empire that the American's were ever vigilant against. There was an ever present fear of the third World War. GDW gave gamers a name for the result of that and it was Twilight 2000. Sadly this war did not give us two headed talking badgers. It gave  us a dark and sobering look at what the war might really be like and lead to. Now we all know that Twilight was simply the end of American literature and the twisting of teenage culture but I digress! Twilight 2000 gave us a world where the third world war had was happening in the year 2000. The game has gone through at least three versions. This is a supplement for the first edition of the game. It serves as a guidebook for the various vehicles in the Soviet/Warsaw Pact war machine. There was a version for American Vehicles as well. All of these supplements are worth having as is almost everything for every edition of T2K.

Movie:

Shrek is a movie that I would not normally think I would have ever recommended. I normally do not like and in most cases won't even see animated movies. I barely even watch animated TV shows with Family Guy and sometimes The Simpson's being exceptions to that. Shrek caught be by surprise as did another movie I mentioned....Aladdin. I know it might not be serious enough for many gamers to draw ideas or inspiration from but it has all the elements. A damsel in distress, the plucky sidekick, an evil curse and the bad boy turned reluctant hero and oh yeah a dragon. I won't even suggest that this is as good as The Princess Bride but I put it in the same ball park... well maybe the same neighborhood where the ball park is. The story is good, it has humor and barring the talking donkey, animals and inanimate object it could be a traditional fantasy story....it's a fun fairy tale and if you can't get something from it then maybe you should just go back to your swamp!

Plot:

Students from a far eastern realm arrive at the same village where the player characters happen to find themselves. They are in search of their Master and mystical mentor Lhao Ni. It seems that five years ago Lhao left with a scroll he had discovered had information on part of an ancient item of unimaginable power his order had been trying to complete. The order was just now able to decipher the information on the scroll and come hunting for their master. The scroll suggested it was in the general vicinity of this area. Doing research will find people who remember a strange older "mage" type who was here maybe five years ago. There were language issues but they did determine he was looking in the old ruins about five miles east of town. Perhaps the players will look on their own trying to find the relic or assist the students. They are looking for a powerful beneficial item.....but beneficial how and to who?

Magic: 

Stone Seneschals are small pale gray man shaped items usually no more than 5 to 8 inches in height. If examined for magical nature it will radiate a faint aura of magic but nothing that suggests what it might be. Unless it is found with the command information it will require a cleric to cast Speak With Dead to discover the activation phrase. This will also provide information on the abilities of the Seneschal. The Seneschals are actually physical manifestations of being from the Plane of  Nirvana and are here to serve anyone who is lawful in nature. On demand the owner can bring forth Tenser's Floating Disc with a weight limit of 9000 gp. The owner can also call upon an unseen servant no less than six times per day. The owner can also once per day have the the Seneschal call forth a version of Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound that will serve for up to eight hours. The Seneschal will not work for a character who serves chaos and if any such person posses the item they must make a save versus Death Magic. If they fail they will love 1-3 points of intelligence and wisdom until the item is given up. These losses are cumulative and if either attribute ever goes below three the character will suffer a radical alignment shift to LN and their stats will be restored.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

R - Return, Resident, Rakshasa, Rod

There are few gamers that started with anything 2e or older that have not played or run the original Keep on the Borderlands. When Dungeon Magazine rated the top adventures of all time the original came in at #7. Sadly I am not writing about that one. I needed to have the "Return" portion. This module is done well enough and some would say in some areas improves upon the original. One area it is said it improves on in that it does give more NPC detail. I was OK with less detail as that allowed me to put more of my spin on it. It also gives a time line for the area and what has occurred over the last 20 years. I would suggest getting it just to see how the new version compares to the older. If you don't have either of them and can only by one go with the classic, the original B2.

Movie:

Resident Evil is a movie that I liked for a number of reasons. I still like the original movie and for the most part the second installment in the series. I never played the video game so I can't speak to that. I love Zombie movies and almost anything dealing with the breakdown and downfall of society. Resident Evil will serve as fine inspiration for the fans of AFMBE (All Flesh Must Be Eaten) or any other game dealing with the modern era as the zombie aspect could play second to the scientific intrigue or working with the complexes computer. The Hive as a whole works for a number of different genres and could even serve as a terrestrial based Metamorphosis Alpha. Plus it has Milla and Michelle so we can end on that note :)

Plot:

Rakshasa have infiltrated the local government, the nobility and the hierarchy of the local guilds. That is what the crazed priest on the street was screaming about just before he ran up and plunged a bolt into the chest of the Counts magistrate. The retainers were quick to cover the body up even perhaps before they were sure that they were actually dead. That and recent changes in policy and "feel" about town makes one wonder if this is actually something that might be possible. But that is something you will have to check on after you see the wizard about the new plant they found with the almost man sized pod cases....

Magic:

Rods of Vision are clerical magic items. These allow the cleric to cast a number of useful spells without having to petition their deity through prayer for them. The Rod will allow the cleric to cast Augury once per day for every 2 points of Wisdom the posses. The Rod will also allow the owner to cast Locate Object once per day for every three points of wisdom. The Rod will also allow them to cast Divination 3 times a day and finally once per week the owner can cast True Seeing though doing so makes the Rod become inert for 2-5 days. The Rod can not be used as a weapon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q - Q, Quest, Quarrel, Quiver

The Q-Manual is a supplement for the James Bond RPG put out by Victory Games in the late 80's and may have been published into the 90's but I am not certain. Anyone who has ever seen a James Bond film will already know the purpose of this book but I will write away anyway. Q is the person in MI:6 is in charge of gadgets for lack of a better word. Today with miniaturization and the rapid development of new technologies many of the things we see in the Bond films are not all that exciting but back in the day that was not the case. Ejector seats and exploding pens were all beyond the realm of reality for the average person to think of. This book helps the GM by providing them statistics for all those cool gadgets.

Movie:

Quest for Fire was released in 1981. It is the story of a prehistoric tribe and their quest to regain fire which was lost. The movie has no understandable dialogue but yet conveys a story that anyone can follow and understand. This alone makes it worth watching but the quest itself will help spark pitfalls that could be used in a wilderness trek. If you have not seen this hidden gem, and I am betting most have not, please treat yourself and try to scare up a copy of this. You won't be quoting anything from the movie but it will provide you ideas that will long outlast any dislogue you might have remembered.

Plot:

Quarrels made of a strange black bone like material and bearing runes that can not be identified have been found in the dead bodies of town watchmen every morning for the last week. The head of the militia and the town leader are obviously concerned and are looking for help. As usual our intrepid band of adventurers are just where they need to be. The quarrels when inspected will be found to be made of a obsidian like material but not one that has been seen before by any local sage. The runes will also defy any magic that would normally let someone read unknown languages. The question is who is using the quarrels and for what purpose. Is it a band of thugs looking to weaken the towns defenses or is is something much worse. Perhaps an extra planar being who is hunting someone in particular amongst the militia and for what reason?

Magic:

Quivers of the Elements will allow the user to pull forth magical arrows or bolts as needed. These will be +1 in nature and there will always be a score or more in the quiver at any given moment. Anything pulled from the Quiver will disappear in two rounds after being pulled forth. The bolts/arrows pulled forth can also have additional properties at the behest of the archer. Any arrow can be called upon to have an element attached to it. This will cause the arrow to do an additional D6+1 in damage to beings who are especially vulnerable to that type of attack. Using ammunition in this manner is not without its peril though. If there are more than 10 pulls from the Quiver with the additional abilities there is a 10% chance per arrow pulled to summon forth an elemental of  8 or 12 hit dice from the appropriate plane for the item pulled. This being will immediately attack the person pulling for the arrow and attempt to obtain the Quiver and return with it to their plane of existence.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P - Prayers, Pans, Pilgrams, Pole...and a Princess Bride

Prayers from the Faithful is the clerics answer to Pages from the Mages. Prayers from the Faithful add a slew of new clerical spells long lost to the AD&D game. It was designed for use with the Forgotten Realms and for the 2e but can be easily adapted into any setting and edition of the game. The layout of the book is fairly straight forward explaining new prayers and the history behind them. I would not consider this essential and though I have not verified most if not all the spells may be in the multi-volume Priest Compendium. Still it is not a bad investment for the DM especially if they do not have the compendium and they are running a FR specific campaign.

Movie:

Pan's Labyrinth gets the nod only because I am sure a slew of other P entries today might be for my first choice. Pan's Labyrinth is set in 1944 Spain and deals with the real world issues that were going on there as the backdrop for the real story. That of a young girl and her discovery of a fantasy realm that exists on the fringe or just next to our own. The imagery for this movie surpasses the story in my humble opinion and this is saying something. It is had not to be moved by the story and still feel a sense of awe for the magical realm that the girl discovers. Still my first choice and all time favorite movie is The Princess Bride. It did not win Oscars like Pan's but it has left a bigger mark on gaming and fantasy culture than anything other than the most epic of movies and more than most of those....inconceivable but true!

Plot:

Pilgrims for one of the player characters deities, a cleric if they have one, arrive in town having suffered an attack on the road. One of the orders relics was stolen and a high ranking NPC kidnapped on the road not more than two days travel outside of town. If the player can not convince the party to participate in the retrieval of the object and rescue it may fall upon them to have the party as a whole subject to a Quest spell from one of the faithful. The real question is why an object of no real magical value was stolen and why the specific NPC taken when it is easily discovered that there are better people to have taken if ransom is the issue. Who knows why.....unless of course it was an inside job and the intent is really to set of an internal power struggle and clerical coup in the order?

Magic:

Pole of Tapping will appear as a non-descrip pole of anywhere between 5.5 and 10 feet in length. The Pole will typically be made of a hard wood though there have been some found that have been made out of metal and bone combinations. The Pole will be a +1 weapon though it can affect creatures that can only be hit by +3 or better weapons for some reason. The Pole allows the welder to cast a Hold Portal spell up to 6 times/day. It will also allow them to cast a knock spell on demand. Once per month the Pole has the ability to cast Otto's Irresistible Dance though if this is cast the Pole becomes inert for a full moon cycle or 28 days which ever is longer. An often unknown side effect of the Pole is a tapping sound that can be heard by those who would be opposed to the person carrying the Pole. This has a 60' range and causes a -2 to all surprise rolls for the party.

Monday, April 18, 2011

O - Oak Lords, Outland, Omens, Olin's Steed

The second in the DLS module series. This series deals with the time just after the War of the Lance and how the people begin to recover and start over. This module deals specifically with the Qualinesti and the return to their homeland. I have never had a chance to play this module so I can't say much about it directly. I know there is a contingent of gamers out there that love the DragonLance saga and series of modules. For me as books they were good but as modules they did not work for me. Modules as a whole can be a little to linear in nature but these read like an instruction manual for the adventurers or a less free form Pick A Path. Still the setting is an interesting one and this module has information on a specific area and people so it is something that should have good information for a DM running an open campaign in the DL world.

Movie:

Outland came out in 1981 and starred Sean Connery. The story is set at a mining colony on Io and centers on a Marshall and his investigation into a series of deaths. The deaths end up being murders...and I won't spoil it from there. Players who play Traveler or Stars Without Number could use a movie suggestion to. This is a lesser known movie and was done well enough though I suspect it has not aged well. If you are looking for a more mundane idea for a space based game setting this will give you a number of ideas plus it has James Bond in it so how bad can it be.

Plot:

Omens have foretold of the coming of a hero that will restore the power of the relic in the local monastery in the town of . While passing through it is discovered that one of the player characters is a spitting image for the hero that has been foretold. This can be appearance based or some mark/item that the player has. The characters can try and ignore this but the townsfolk will become more and more aggressive and demanding until such time that they will actually try and kidnap the legendary hero. This can either be a situation where the players can be overpowered or a morale dilemma where they have to decode how to get out of there and not be complete jerks or hurt anyone. Then again what if the legends are true....

Magic:

Olin's Steed can either be a relic or a magic item that has multiple copies at the DM's discretion. Olin's Steed will be a smallish crude representation of what could be a horse if a four year old made it out of clay and it had been baked. In reality it is a powerful magic item that will upon command become any sort of non magical steed that the owner desires. There is no limit to what it can become and no limit on the duration on how long it can be active. The Steed will arrive with all required accessories and if appropriate armor. While in use the beast will require no rest or nourishment and can fight if called upon to do so. When no longer needed the owner can use a command word and restore it to its inert stare. The Steed will also have a limited number of times where it can be commanded to become a magical steed  with the abilities that such a steed would have. When commanded to become a magical steed it will have a duration limit of twenty four hours at which time it will revert back. The magical steed will not fight even if forced to and any damage that would kill it will cause it to revert back into its inert state. The steed will have 7-12 magical transformation on it when found. After the last transformation is used the steed will become worthless.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

B1-9 In Search of Adventure

In the wake of the success of T1-4 "The Temple of Elemental Evil" TSR began to publish what were marketed as super-modules. These were almost all 128 page (or so) perfect bound compilations of older modules. There were a few that were compilation of shorter new material which were designed to be one or two session adventures used a filler between other modules or inserted into home brew campaigns. None of these super modules met with the same success as TEE except for the GDQ1 which surpassed it and this one. This is perhaps my favorite other than TEE. This gives the DM a combined source of starter modules and these span the entire range of Holmes, B/X and BECMI. I can't recall if any of the included modules were published after the Rules Cyclopedia was. Regardless this is my second favorite and what I feel to be the third best of all the super modules. It won't take your characters from 1- 8 (or higher level) and it is not the world/plane spanning epic of GDQ but it does give the sometime novice or sometime lazy DM a nice selection of kick off points for a campaign.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

N - Native American, Neverending, Noxious, Nightstone

I have previously posted that other than the initial experience with Dungeons & Dragons no other game has sparked my interest and imagination more than Shadowrun. The Native American pair of books are perhaps the best of the supplemental books that have been produced for the game. These books expand on the various tribes that have some into being or reformed since the Awakening. There is also an adventure in the book. Others suggest that the details on the Nations is not detailed enough but I found it enough so I could use as it and add to it when needed without feeling that I was breaking canon if I wanted to mix things up. This is the first of  the two books and I advise you getting these even if you are playing a newer edition of Shadowrun. Lets also not forget about the fine Elmore art used for the cover.

Movie:


The Neverending Story is one of those, yes yet again, classic 80's fantasy movies. The story revolves around a bullied young boy who wants to escape. He happens upon a mysterious book that eventually brings him into the world of Fantasia. The world of Fantasia is being destroyed by The Nothingness. Of all the ways that a world/universe could be destroyed this was perhaps the most alarming/scary to me. The scary part is not the destruction but the thought of what happens to the people and things that are destroyed by nothingness. It plays off the loss of innocence and fear of insignificance for me. If I had been younger when I saw this I really think it might have been too jarring but then again I would not have had all the baggage I had either if I had been younger. If you have not seen this make a point of renting or buying it. The world itself will have good gaming ideas but the underlying currents of the story are worth it as well....the sequel not so much though.

Plot:

Noxious fumes have been either emanating from the sewers or sweeping in off the docks at night for the last week. These vapors have the effect of a double sized Cloudkill spell though the save it at +2. The players can be brought in by the near death or death of a favored NPC or perhaps lesser henchman. The source of the vapors needs to be found and eliminated. Is it possible that a young green dragon has some how found its way into the sewers or even placed there for some nefarious reason. Perhaps a periodic gate to some corrupted elemental plane is being opened for a reason and the gas clouds are a result of that or is simply a crazed mage of chaos wrecking havoc for some insane deity......

Magic:

Nightstones will be jet black stones with what will be a fleeting hint of green or white lines that appear and fade across it's surface. The stone will be anywhere from 2 - 6 inches in diameter though they will weigh more than expected though not so much as to be cumbersome to carry. These stones are highly prized by Rangers or anyone who spend extended periods of time in the wilderness as well as by dungeon explorers. Nightstones when activated will allow those who have attuned themselves to the stone prior to "ignition" to see as if there were a large camp fire up to 120' if desired. The stone will also provide warmth for those who would be made comfortable by it. Once activated the stone much remain within 60' of where it was placed. Moving it beyond that point without first "extinguishing" the stone will deactivate it and have a 20% chance of destroying the magic. To attune oneself a person much touch the stone within one round of the activation word being used. The stones light will also have the effect of improving the chance of surprise by two.

Friday, April 15, 2011

M- Mercenaries, Mad Max, Musicians, Monstrance

Mercenaries, Spies and Private Eyes (MSPE) has gone through a number of publishers and editions. I am not sure exactly what version this is now as it is packed away. I am thinking that this is the earlier edition that was released in 1983 by Blade which is a division of Flying Buffalo who published Tunnels & Trolls. The MSPE is is loosely based on the T&T system though it is distinct enough I would not call it  part of that system. This game is very fun and never got the credit that it deserved in my humble opinion. I think it suffered from being published by a smaller game company and not being in a niche that had a lot of appeal to begin with. By that I mean there are other games that specialize in settings that this could cover where this was more broad spectrum of a number of sub genres. Still if you have a chance pick up a copy and give it a try.

Movie:

Mad Max is the first movie in a series that is most better known for the second and third in the series. The best was most likely the second though I think the Mad Max is more of a dystopian future move and the second is all post apocalyptic. The two are not always separate genres but can be different types of movies. I think all three have their place though in the third Master/Blaster is better than Aunty Entity as a villain and wish they had used them as the main villain. I would start with Mad Max and then watch the rest in order as Mad Max sets the stage for what will come and explains why Max is the way he is. It can work as inspiration for all different types of games and is just worth watching.

Plot:

Musicians connected with the Royal Symphony have been disappearing. Though this was a problem for the Maestro it was not of note until one of the kings nephews was one of the ones who have disappeared. The question that comes to mind is if the others were just part of a cover to hid this for some reason and is there some plot against the crown connected with this. There is also a possibility that the musicians are needed for some sort of mystical ceremony or summoning. The most gruesome would be that they are being used pieces part is the construction of some sort of specialized flesh golem or creation of a magic item.

Magic:

Monstrances of Turning are very ornate holy symbols. these can belong to any deity though there will be some that are generic in nature being aligned as good or evil. They are sought after because they will add anywhere from +2 to +5 on turns and double the number can be turned or destroyed. They will also allow a priest to as needed recast any spell that they have previously cast in the preceding 24 hours. There is also a version of this item that is connected with the darker deities. This version is the Monstrance of Summoning and it will allow the user to summon undead three times per day. The undead summoned will be determined by rolling as if they were turning and with a minus four to the roll. The number appearing will be determined as if the creatures were appearing in a lair.The undead will serve the summoner for 9-24 rounds and then if they have not been released from servitude will most likely turn on the summoner.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

L - Lankhmar, Ladyhawke, Love Letters, Lodestone

Having always been a sucker for city settings and a fan of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser I knew this is something that I wanted to have. It combines enough of the elements from the story along with enough of a generic nature to let the DM run adventures in Lankhmar but give them their own spin to the world. TSR also produced a number of modules for the setting so there is enough material there that the DM can have a good mix of their material and yet not have to create everything from scratch. I have not had a chance to go over the newer D20 spin on the city but do have it and hope it does the city right.


Movie:

Ladyhawke is yet another in what I would consider the great 80's era of Fantasy/Sci-Fi movies. The tale is a classic one of true love spoiled by the the unwanted attention of another but with a great twist in the curse that was laid upon the two lovers. I recall that seeing this movie made me want to add the epic quest back into the campaigns I was running at the time. And although she was in Grease 2 and Scarface it really brought Michelle Pfeiffer into my world and that is not bad. Add in Rutger Hauer and Matthew Broderick and we complete a great story with an all star cast...and oh yeah it is a Richard Donner film. I guess I know what I am watching again this weekend!

Plot:

Love letters are being left for one of the characters after a short stay in the local town or city. These letters are of the secret admirer kind. It will be up to the character to figure out who the sender is and how they became so infatuated with the player. The questions from this are many and could be far reaching in the campaign or a side note. Is the admirer a person of no consequence who if spurned will find a way to implant themselves in the life of the character or eventually become important enough to make the spurned advances costly. Is it possible that the sender is already someone of note...perhaps a child of local nobility or worse a disenchanted spouse? The flip side could be used as well. Does the recipient already have a significant other and how do they react. Or is it possible this is all a ruse to by a previous nemesis....

Magic:

Lodestones of Negation are items that most players will not want to have around. These items are the bane of  most other magic items. The Lodestone will usually be found as a necklace and unless placed near another magic item are nothing more than jewelery. When the Lodestone is placed within and inch or on another magic item the other magic item needs to make a save after one round. Failing that save the other magic item is drained of all magical qualities. The item must make an additional save for every hour the proximity still exists. Artifacts, relics and other unique or particular items will be immune to this effect though they can make certain abilities inert for a random period of time.  If two Lodestones should ever find themselves in contact then each round they are in contact there is a cumulative 5% chance that a 12 foot diameter sphere of magical annihilation will occur. This will persist until the stones connection is severed. It should rumored that in some instances a Lodestone of Negation can also serve as a Lodestone of Transference where if two items are in contact with the Lodestone the magical nature of one will be moved or if both are magical they will be swapped.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

K - Kithbook, Krull, Kleptomania, Kharg's Doom

The entire Kithbook series is some of the best material that White Wolf has ever released in my humble opinion. Some of them are more desirable for collectors and this is the one that everyone wants. I am not certain myself why the Pooka book is the most desired. I have read parts of all of them and have not been able to determine why. It may be just that the race is the most desired by most to play. The Pooka are by nature tricksters and makers of mischief. The can also shapechange which makes them adaptable to almost any situation. I guess when you type it I can now see why this might be the most sought after of the books. If you get a chance to read this or any of the Kithbooks and find Changeling in anyway interesting make a point to do so.

Movie:

Krull is another of those early 80's fantasy films that are still fairly well received today. I would have to say that that period in time may have been the Golden Age for fantasy movies. I would also probably attribute that to the popularity of D&D at that time. I do not think the Mazes&Monsters hysteria had struck yet though I am not sure of the timing. Regardless of all that Krull is a fun movie with though predictable plot still worth watching. In its day the special effects were well done. That and after watching the movie who did not want to find a way to use the Glaive as a weapon!

Plot:

Kleptomania strikes one of the player characters as an affliction. The character affected can be selected at random but I would make it the most uncomfortable choice possible. If there were a paladin in the group it would be him...only for the role playing aspects of it and plot. The onset can be slow and spread over a few sessions or longer. The character will begin finding things that they do not remember how they got and then start carelessly picking things up and forgetting to return or replace them. Eventually it will become a full on Kleptomaniac stealing without control until caught. Obviously a curse but why, how and who....maybe that Thieves Guild the group played a hand in thwarting awhile back.....

Magic:

Kharg's Doom is a legendary mace from the great Orc War that occurred sometime in the campaigns distant past. Kharg was the leader of the great Orc unification that brought not only most all of the Orc tribes but also many of the other humanoid tribes under one banner and leader. The humanoids once unified were a near unstoppable force. They armies they mustered were able to run roughshod over the smaller kingdoms and were slowly whittling away at the large human and the elf kingdom. The dwarves had shut their halls trying to weather the storm. The elves though were able to enlist the aid of the dwarven smiths and between them constructed a weapon to destroy the Orc King.

Kharg's Doom will a mace of unusually large size adorned with a mix of elvish script and dwarven runes. The head of the mace resembles or is a metallic orc skull. The mace is +5 in nature making it already formidable weapon but it will also do double damage to any humanoid when struck. When wielded by a character of at least 15th level the weapon will have a 50% chance to kill on contact any humanoid of less than seven hit die.  The last effect is what allowed the destruction of Kharg though. The mace allows the caster to take the form of any desired humanoid for an indefinite period of time but they must declare a task when this occurs and any deviation breaks the spell as will accomplishing the task. The change allows them to understand and speak all languages that would be appropriate. When the task is completed or change is broken there is a price to pay. The wielder will have to safe versus Death Magic or lose half of their levels with a save only costing them one quarter. This save is made at a -1 for each week they were changes. Finally they will age one half of any remaining years of their normal life expectancy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J - Journey, Jason, Judges, Jumping Jacks

Journey to the Magic Isle is one of the location modules for the Shadow World campaign setting. There were a number of these made and though I don't have all of them all the ones I do have have been excellent in quality. This book deals a secret magic academy and the hidden isle it is located on. In addition to being a location guide it also has different adventures that the DM can use that are set in or connected with the isle and the academy. Over all and in particular I would advise at least getting a chance to review this book. I am sure that it can be stripped for ideas if not sued outright.

Movie:

Jason and the Argonauts is one of those movies that I know helped shape my love of mythology and that would eventually lead me into role playing games. I am not sure I like this as much as I did the Sinbad movies but it is a darn close call. Regardless of which ones you prefer these all have the classic storylines that all most all adventures can be formulated around.  I know that the special effects on these old movies can't compete with the CGI world of today's movies but I think that for hear they run laps around them. If you have a free Saturday afternoon why not grab one of these from your local video store, make up a giant tub of popcorn and get ready to be inspired to game.

Plot:

Judges arrive in town to investigate the death of one of the local nobility or their family. When things like this happen it can only mean that the adventurers are in town and things are going to happen to them. It will play out in one of two ways. The first is that one of the characters will be falsely accused of the crime (hopefully they didn't really do it) and the character whose player did not make it that week is taken into chains and the others must find a way to clear their name and get them freed. The other most likely way it can play out is that the players are needed to track down the accused and bring them to justice. The party can rest well knowing that the brought the right person to justice....can't they?

Magic:

Jumping Jacks will resemble the child's toy jack though these are about 2-3 times the size of the normal jacks. Even normal toy jacks by nature, as any parent can attest, serve well as a poor mans caltrop. Jumping Jacks because of their larger size will be even more effective. Anyone stepping one one of these will suffer 2-5 (d4+1) points of damage. The real nature of these will then be discovered. Once stepped on the jack immediately springs into the air with great force. This will require the person that stepped on them to save versus dexterity at a minus equal to the amount of damage they took. Those who fail will fall to the ground due to the loss of balance and will spend X number of rounds regaining their feet and their bearings. The X will be one the number they failed their save by with a minimum of one. The racket from this will allow all in range a chance to detect the event at double the normal rate of success. Once activated the Jumping Jack becomes non magical in nature. There will be anywhere from 21 to 40 Jumping Jacks normally found at any given time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I - Iron Crypt, Interview, Inhuman, Ice Cubes

This module was the 2006 GenCon version that was only available at the convention. I really wish I could say that I picked it up personally but I didn't. Someone from online asked if anyone wanted one as they were going. I am afraid that we were the reason Goodman Games seemed to sell out fast that year. This is the 1e version of the module so that makes it just all that cooler.

Movie:

Interview with a Vampire is based on the book by Ann Rice. I attribute her books as being the start of all the Vampire love that runs rampant today. Anyone who says otherwise is probably just deluded and part of Team Jacob...did I really just use that phrase. If you can look past Tom the movie really was fairly well done. It is worth looking at for anyone doing the vampire gaming if for nothing more than the setting and the interaction between the monsters. Pay special attention to the creepiness factor of Kirsten Dunst's Claudia character as well.

Plot:

Inhuman creatures have been found washed ashore at the local beach or pier. This while noteworthy itself is added to by the fact that one of the monsters had a satchel filled with gold that could only be from a gold fleet that was lost somewhere at sea over 300 years ago. On that fleet was also rumored to be an artifact of great power that would outstrip the gold in value. This will hopefully inspire the characters to partake in a great undersea adventure. They can solve the mystery of what the creatures are (mutated sahuagin or something worse), if they gold fleet really sank nearby and if the artifact was in fact really and/or still there.

Magic:

Ice Cubes are small magic cubes that will be no larger than a 2" square and are often smaller. The cube will appear to be made of glass and is transparent. It will also be cool to the touch though not uncomfortably so.  It is actually part of the core material of the Plane of Ice or similar location. The cube will function as both a Ring of Fire and Frost Protection. It will also allow the use once per day to cast Wall of Frost and Cube of Force. In a more mundane use the cube when dipped into any liquid will bring it to just a few degrees of its freezing point.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wilderlands Hex Sheets - Judges Guild

This is a pretty simple item so there is not much to say about it. Judges Guild had  perhaps on of the most detailed early campaign settings there was. I go back and forth between it and Harn though. The settings was spread out over a number of different products and any one would have been enough for the whole campaign. Getting back to the item at hand. This map pack included four double sided 17" by 22" map sheets. They said it is designed for use with their Wilderlands product but can be used for any mapping project. Hexes were individually numbers. I very much wish they still made this product today as I think the JG mapping system is perhaps my favorite.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

H - Hole, Heavy Metal, Horns, Hideous

The Hole Delver's Catalog is a mixed bag in my book. There are items in here that one can take serious and then there are ones that are just plan silly. It is as if they couldn't decide what they wanted to publish or perhaps they did not have enough material for a serious product and a fun one so they meshed the two together. It is also possible that I am missing the full point of the item in some way. Regardless I will say that if you can read this item it will yield some useful material and in some cases make you chuckle but in others just groan. Don't rush out to try and find it or even go slightly out of your way!

Movie:

Heavy Metal is another of the great gaming type movies that came out of the early 80's. It was inspired by the magazine of the same name and contains story lines that first appeared in the magazine. It was actually an import or clone of the French magazine Metal Hurlant. The magazine and the movie are both worth checking out as they will be rife with gaming ideas and inspiration. How can a movie that starts with "A shadow shall fall over the universe, and evil will grow in its path, and death will come from the skies. " and that gave us the Loc-Nar not make you want to game!

Plot:

Horns from an unknown beast have been brought into town by farmers that live on the far outskirts of the region. There have been another band of intrepid adventuress that had come through the area with tales of a Black Dragon and his hoard that they had a map to. The farmers tale mentioned that the horn was found amongst what could have been the remains of the adventurers and they in fact have a very minor magic item that helps this assumption along. The problem is that the adventurers did not find a Black Dragon in the swamp as expected. They happened upon a double sized lair of catoblepi (catoblepas) and while the adults were out they slew one of the young ones and took all the treasure. The adults tracked the adventurers and that was the end of that. The adventurers will find this out as well if they pursue the lead.

Magic:

Hideous Helms are most often magical helms that will be found on higher level henchmen of evil wizards. They just by their design and appearance are meant to instill if not fear then sense of unease by any that view them though this has no measurable game effect. The Helms will have other abilities that make them favored by those who lead by fear. Once per hour the wearer is able to have a Scare effect (as per the spell by the same name) on the desired target. The wearer can also three times/day have an effect equal to a Fear spell and onetime/day the wearer can cast an Emotion spell. The wearer also has the ability to at will cast a Message spell.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G - Game of Thrones, Gladiator, Gorgeous, Globe

This is one of the better written D20 products i have ever has a chance to pick u[. The subject matter makes much of this possible but their adaptation of it is very well done and true to the source material in most ways. If you have not had a chance to read Game of Thrones I would do so. HBO has made this into a series as well and the trailers I have seen look good. It is a race between this and their Borgias series as to which I want to see more....probably Game of Thrones.

Movie:

Gladiator is a good story with great actors and and amazing director. Add to that is was a summer movie so the budget was bigger than it should have been and you have a sure fire recipe for either cataclysmic failure (Mars Attacks) or a classic that other than the fact that a good portion is CGI will most likely stand the test of time. The story of a man on the brink of great success is done in by the plotting of his lessor and has his life ruined. The story is about revenge and it is done well. Most everyone has seen this but if you haven't this is sure to give you some good plot and gaming ideas.

Plot:

Gorgeous strangers have been seen about town in the various local meeting places late at night. This is not unusual but the steadiness of the stream had been drawing attention. There has also been an increase in the number of people who have been ill. The illness has some unusual side effects the most notable are weakness and in some cases changes in hair color and there has been at least one death from this. The group is asked by a local order to investigate as they fear Succubi or Incubi. Is this the case or is it just that the location is on route to a major hub where the nobility are recruiting young attractive people for some purpose. Maybe a local young illusionist is using a polymorph spell to make themselves attractive as a way to 'meet" people.

Magic:

Globe of Obscurity in its normal form will appear to be an overly large pearl or opal which are its base components. In reality it is a defensive magic item that can be used in the dungeon, the wilderness or on the battlefield. They were originally designed for the battlefield. The Globe creates a dome of invisibility that allows others to observe the surroundings without being noticed. It will also prevent others from wandering in by jumping any who would break the dome to the other side of the dome. The dome is only 20' in diameter so it is not large enough to hold more than a few people. The dome will move with the wielder as well though there is a 10% chance for each round of movement that the dome will drop. The Globe can only be used once per day. It should be noted that the dome does not obscure sound or odors.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

F - Fires, Fright, Flapping, Forrat's

Fires of Zatal (FMA-1) is a module set in the Forgotten Realms. It was the first published for the Maztica line which is a boxed set for what mirrors South America and the Aztecs. This is a line that never had more that passing appeal to me. Even in movies and literature South American adventures have never been as appealing as those set in Africa. Still it is an alternative to the traditional settings that most modules seem to have. I would go with something else by default but exploring the Amazon appeals to some.

Movie:

Fright Night is another movie that crosses outside the fantasy types of movies I have been trying to suggest. It is still worth seeing as again not all adventures are fantasy based. This can serve as an inspiration for those running a Chill campaign or Stalking the Night Fantastic. It is the time old tale of boy likes girl, neighbor moves in, neighbor is vampire etc. I won't spoil it in the off chance someone has not seen it. I even recall hearing of a possible remake. I am not sure if this has, will or is even still set to occur. I really wish some movies would be left alone.

Plot:

Flapping sounds as if made from giant wings have been heard the last few nights near the outskirts of the village, town or city that the player characters find themselves in (do they ever wonder why things only seem to happen when they are in town). This has been accompanies by an obscuring fog in certain locations. There have also been rumors of the homeless going missing (this is false) about the same time. Many fear that it is some lesser demon or devil that has been summoned to the Prime material to wreck havoc. This has been known to happen but sometimes young dragons find it safer to learn to fly at night (is a chromatic or metallic)  and then yet again a CN Gnome illusionist might not be doing it to cause chaos would they?

Magic:

Forrat's Fang is a magical dagger that was crafted from a slain red dragon who amazingly enough was named Forrat. The dagger is +3 normally but will have a +5 to hit/damage when used against creatures who would be considered cold or ice based. It will also serve as a Ring of Fire Protection and once per day the wielder can cast a 6D6 Flame Wave. This is a wave of flame that will be centered off the caster and emanate out 60'. The caster is immune but all others can save for half damage. The dagger is an intelligent one though not in the normal sense. It still has some of Forrat's spirit attached to it and Forrat wants some revenge and Forrat had many young and it has been a few generations so its young have had some young. These young are drawn to the dagger if it is ever in a 100 miles so the dagger seems to pop from hoard to hoard for some reason!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

E - EverQuest, Excalibur, Electric, Earrings

EverQuest for those not familiar with it is an MMORPG. It was not the first but it was the biggest and best until World of Warcraft broke on the scene. It even spawned such terms as EverCrack. It is a first person role playing game where you can interact with others but online. The folks at S&S saw the untapped potential here and created a pen and pencil role playing game from it. The idea was good in principal but I don't think the people playing online crossed with the traditional gamers much or they never went back to pen and pencil. Still the setting is nice and I know of a few groups that had tried to do it manually before. More of a nostalgia item for former people who camped Befallen.

Movie: 

Excalibur is another movie that I think had the distinct advantage of coming out at the right time in addition to being good. There was a serious drought of good fantasy movies before this came out. I think it was Excalibur that paved the way for the rush of fantasy films that came out in the early 80's. The classic storyline combined with above average production values and cast that includes Helen Mirren, Gabriel Byrne, Patrick Stewart and Liam Neeson. If you have not seen this get it now. If you have watch it again. Who has not tried to use the Charm of Making in their game

Plot:

Electric flashes are seen in the in the early evening where none should be. In a village these are near the site that has always been shunned for one reason or another. In a city setting these will be located in the seedier section of the city. Are these flashes weather in nature, the work of some mage learning his craft and not knowing how broad the effect is or is it something all more sinister. Perhaps the fabric between planes or worlds braking down. Let's just hope you don't see a tall body builer that says "I'll be back" as a result.

Magic:

Earrings of Tongues are not the most exciting of magic items. The accomplish what most people would think they do. They allow the wearer to understand almost any spoken language. The rarer version will even allow the wearer to speak in the appropriate tongue when called for. The real trick is to find the unmatched pair. These will allow both of the above and will actually allow the primary wearer (random determination but set once determined) to speak through the other person and hear what the other person is hearing. 

 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

D - DMG, Dangerous, Diamonds, Doublets

I feel comfortable saying that the 1e DMG may be one of the landmark books in the RPG industry. Today I can still pick it up and feel amazed at the amount of information it contains and how it accomplished what it set forth to do. Compiling useful information for the DM all in one location. I am sure there are perhaps books that have done it just as well or perhaps better in the 30+ years since this was published. But it has been 30+ years and this is still close if not the benchmark others attain to meet.

Movie:

Dangerous Liaisons is one of my favorite movies. I am pointing it out because I think one of the most underused and forgotten items in a campaign are the NPCs. This movie has two primary characters but it is the ancillary characters that help make this a great movie. Add to that all of the Machiavellian going ons and how could it not be a great movie. I guess what I wanted to point out is give the NPCs a little depth, history and motivation and I think your players will apprciate the effort more than just a better described dungeon.

Plot:

Diamonds that the players have brought back from a recent excursion into the local depths are found to belong to a local noble with some relationship to the kings court. The diamonds had gone missing recently though the details are less than clear. As a result the players are accused of being the individuals who misappropriated said stones. This of course is not true, right Mr. Thief? Or is it possible that the stones were not stolen at all but then why were they reported missing. Regardless the players must find a way to prove themselves innocent and find a way to identify who really took them. That or turn the party thief in.

Magic:

Doublets of Station will allow the wearers clothing to appear to be what ever is appropriate for the situation they are in. They can appear to be anything from dirty rags a street urchin would wear to the the robes and trappings a noble would wear. The illusion will cover not only the visual but all other senses as well. The most common variety of  these magic items will not have any effect other than clothing. There have been a small percentage of these (10% or so) that will allow the wearer to appear to the appropriate race and will make anything they say be in the correct language as well as allow them to understand that language. These items are most coveted by spies and thieves allowing them to blend in and have all the changes of clothing they need to do a job or accomplish a mission right on their back the whole time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

C - Cities, CHUD, Clerics, Choker

Cities was originally produced by Midkemia, the second edition of that version is above, and then later released by Chaosium as well. I have both versions but have not had a chance to compare them. They are a means of randomly creating a city for use in your campaign. I as stated earlier an a random table junkie. I also love city settings so I had to have have this. I would think that the later version by Chaosium would work as well as tis version and is probably more affordable.

Movie:

C.H.U.D. or  the full title of Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers was not the first "C" movie I was going to use but I just had a change of heart. It dawned on me that not all role playing is fantasy based. This is for the CoC, Chill or  modern day game players. I saw this movie back in the days of VHS when there were not a million cable channels and things like this were sort of new. If I saw it today as it is I am not sure it would have the impact. Still how bad of a session could man eating monsters in the sewers of a major city be!

Plot:

Clerics of a new found religion arrive in town heralding some major event. They are also pronouncing one of the player characters as the savior/villain connected with this event and are calling for their protection/destruction. They do not take any direct action but as events progress and some of the predictions become true more and more of the locals begin to become true believers and may act on their own. Is this a case of mistaken identity or are the clerics bringing to light one of the player characters unknown destiny?

Magic:  

Chokers of True Lies are rare magic items that were originally created as gifts for the faithful of the campaigns deity connected with mischief. If one does not exist then it is one that no longer has a following. The Choker enables the wearer to lie in such a way that the lie will always be believed unless some strong form of magical detection is used to detect it. These items are of course highly prized by diplomats and those who otherwise live on lies. They were designed for the faithful and anyone wearing it and not being a worshiper will have a 5%/week of owning it of having it turn on them. They will still be able to lie but the magic of the item will twist reality to make the lie they told the truth but in a cursed way so as to adversely affect the wearer and only them. Legends tell that this also held true to the deity which might explain why they are not so well known anymore if not present :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Stormwatch Newsletter #1 - Dragon Storm

Stormwatch was the house newsletter for the Dragon Storm card based RPG. This came out during what I like to call the dark days of RPGs. M:tG was in its heyday and in something that I thought would never happen a once upstart card company that had been turned down by most of the industry giants bought the once 800 pound gorilla in the room. I know because at one time I had become an card flipper.

Dragon Storm was at best a fringe game in either genre but it and the other failed attempt by WotC called Everway had already done their damage. The seed long planted will sometimes take sprout as evidenced by Hasbro's new-found desire to make everything RPG into a card based system.  Somewhere in the corporate offices some boy genius who was never a real RPG player but had for three months played 3e remembered this game and mentioned how easy it was to get gamers to pay $2 to $3 for a pack of cards and making some more rare than others just ups the ante. I personally think that this is the death throws of what was D&D. In the long run that may be the best thing for the industry but it is sort of like seeing Carrie Fisher in Sorority Row...I would rather have remembered he in the gold bikini.

PS. There were actually some nice ideas for adventures passed along in these newsletters.

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