Showing posts with label DriveThru RPG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DriveThru RPG. Show all posts

Friday, October 14, 2022

Perfect Pairings, Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days

This post comes courtesy of a long-time reader and benefactor, Blackrazor who gifted me a great many books and treasures.  

You can find Alastair Reynolds at www.alastairreynolds.com and approachingpavonis.blogspot.com



Alistair Reynolds' Revelation Space is an excellent series of books however, Reynolds manages to zig-zag triumphant epics and eldrich horror in a way that does not make the reader envy the characters. There are too many Faustian endings. It is not the sort of series that makes excellent roleplaying, the players would feel cheated or screwed. 

Except for one game... called Golgotha. It was made for the Revelation Space. Specifically, it pairs with a pair of short stories called Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days. Sure, it's a hack but sometimes hacks make the most sense. 

In my last post, I wrote a great deal about the TV show The Rain. Enough to make the reader interested in watching it. This time, I would like to tell you about Golgotha more than Revelation Space because it appears to me that Golgotha is Revelation Space in RPG form. 


Golgotha is a hacked OSR game, where players generate their characters by special rules. Basically, if one stat is over a specific amount, the next stat must be 7. Once the 7 is assigned, you go back to random generation. It's good that the rules allow you to increase stats because sometimes the player will have some stinkers to start. That's pretty good. At least, better than D&D 3.x where everyone is racing to 18. 

This is a heavily modded OSR D&D-style game. Black Hack in particular. Rather than using tables, each stat is used as a target number for tasks and usually low rolls are better. The lack of tables makes this edition of ORS D&D very rules-light. Damage is based on class, abilities also on class. Oddly, characters have no Con bonus for hit points. This seems to be a scaling issue, where gobs of hit points would be detrimental to gameplay. 

At every other level, you get a talent that improves your character in specific Golgotha-themed tasks. And what an amazing list of tasks it has. Your goal as a character is to obtain materials for trade with an alien species for more power... or quirks. Rather than being trapped in the typical grind for experience, the completion of a task leads to more power. Not only do characters become more experienced and powerful, but they also get special powers based on what they collect for their alien overlords. Participation is equal to specialization because those other random skills make a character unique. It's D&D in Space plussed with fewer rules. That is a unique twist. 

Before I go, let me tell you a bit about the premise of Diamond Dogs which will totally explain why it's a great fit for Golgotha. In the 25th century, Roland and Richard discover something they call Blood Spire, clearly an alien artifact. Roland builds a team to crack the secrets of the Spire: a hacker, a gene-spliced and mind-altered mathematician, and a surgeon/body-modder, plus Richard. 

Each level of the Blood Spire has a specific mystery to be solved. Sometimes it is a difficult mental problem, other times it's a physical challenge. Failure results in ever-increasing peril. Level 1, get pricked in the finger. Level 10? Into the meat grinder, with no saving throw. Level 50, oh... you get the picture. 

It soon becomes obvious that there are several dark forces at work. Roland may be fixated on problem-solving in general or perhaps bewitched into delving deeper into the Spire. The hacker and the body-modder have their own goals. Richard and the mathematician have some history between them. What should be a linear story develops twists and curveballs. And the end has the biggest kicker. 
 
Go ahead and check out Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days : Tales from the Revelation Space Universe on AbeBooks. And don't forget to order Golgotha from Drivethru RPG. 

If you have a Netflix account, you can watch "Love, Death & Robots" for two adaptions of Reynolds stories called “Beyond the Aquila Rift” and “Zima Blue”. Not for children.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Perfect Pairings, Episode One The Rain

In this post series, I will be selecting TV shows and movies that pair nicely with different rulesets. I won’t be picking big-budget, well-known series that probably have dedicated rulesets, like Star Wars, Firefly/Serenity, Farscape, or anything in the MCU.

I wanted to start off with an easy one, a TV show is adaptable to many sets of rules.

The Rain is an amazing Danish TV series running 3 seasons. It is available on Netflix and it’s a very quick binge. The Rain’s story is covered in just 20 episodes, which is great for gaming. Once establishing the scenario, the tight episode schedule allows for a great amount of deviation for role play.

The main characters are Rasmus and Simone Andersen, two children who live through an apocalyptic plague carried by the titular Rain by escaping into a secret bunker. Cut off from the world, they live in isolation for 6 years. They are forced out of the bunker by an alarm and are taken captive by Martin, Patrick, Lea, Beatrice, and creepy Jean. Simone turns the tables on the raiders by revealing that there is a network of bunkers full of food and supplies the gang desperately needs.

It soon becomes clear that the raiders are atypical survivors who avoid as much trouble as they can. They live by their wits and their ability to hide. It is rather anticlimactic when the plot reveals a dangerous organization called Apollon that hunts survivors for unknown purposes, making Martin and Patrick’s gang far less dangerous than they seemed in the prior episode. Even Jean who starts off creepy is far, far less threatening than one would imagine.

The technology stays about 5-minutes in the future, with the highest tech items being either drones or one-off 3d printed affairs with little purpose other than to build suspense. The vast majority of the technology revolves around detecting various things and horror-style virology experiments gone wrong.

The series is weapons-lite, where the primary purpose is either defense or mayhem. This is kind of understandable given the possibility that the sky could open up and kill everyone. Marin has a semi-automatic rifle, but no one else bothers to pick up a piece. The scenario puts the rule of 3 in full effect: water, shelter, and food, in that order. Many of the other survivors have weapons but not the skill to use them effectively nor the ability to maintain them. Apollon is a paramilitary group that uses Humvees, body armor, and automatic weapons but is not terribly inclined to use them. The story is more of a cat and mouse game than a post-apocalyptic shoot ‘em up.

In adapting this universe for gameplay, the referee or gamemaster will be crossing off more items than they add to pretty much any ruleset. That makes for quick set-up and low maintenance.

I did notice some odd items that were missing in this series. Of course, cell phones are a thing of the past given that electrical power is not generally available. The same goes for private vehicles due to the total societal collapse. Some characters have bows and arrows. I found it odd that almost no one has a knife, axe, or hatchet. Nothing could be more useful in a survival situation.

This universe would be perfect for a low-tech introduction to any version of Traveller. Personally, I enjoy the Cepheus Light edition but literally, any edition will do. The lack of gunplay will increase the character’s survival rate because guns in Traveller are rather… ah, final. Traveller’s skill collection and mechanics are perfect for this sort of cat and mouse thriller but would require some careful choices in character generation. 

On the plus side, most of the characters in The Rain are under 30, so straight character generation might not be too off kilter. Simply replace certain items from the tables with more mundane goods. I would urge a referee to modify the tables in advance with goods and resources from the world of The Rain preloaded so players don’t feel cheated.

More than a few of Traveller’s skills are not made for a 5-minute in the future story but by performing the same preplanned swap for other skills is easy. Logistical and basic education skills are king in this sort of world. It is important to let the players know you aren’t taking things from them but substituting a skill that is more appropriate.

Another old ruleset that could work is Top Secret. That game has a good set of skills baked right at character generation. Going light on starting skills mirrors the feel of The Rain’s characters. Many of the main characters have no college education while a handful are “Super Asmodeus” types when it comes to knowledge. Depending on the player’s style and desired characters, you could make a “team level” pool of skill points where the party chooses who to dump points on. Top Secret isn’t set too far in the past, so it’s almost perfect for this TV show’s era. Again, the lack of weapons in the show will merely enhance character survival.   

My last pick of rule sets is After the Bomb by Palladium. The reason I place it last is The Megaversal system is so well integrated, it is easier to expand the possibilities than reduce them. Megaversal is a great system but the referee would need to cull a ton of bits to fit with The Rain. While After the Bomb seems a little off-beat for a bunch of plain Jane humans, I have not revealed details of the TV show which make this a sensible choice. 

The skill system is robust and sound. There is a total lack of MDC weapons used in The Rain but that doesn’t mean the heroes won’t encounter MDC tough items in the form of vehicles and bunkers and such. I like the hand-to-hand combat system for this sort of survival scenario. Lots of dodging and parrying and pushing, as opposed to city leveling MDC combat. 

What I haven’t mentioned in some mysterious events and people in The Rain, so as to avoid spoilers. After the Bomb and Traveller have the best rules to support these things while to my knowledge, Top Secret has none. A savvy referee could probably adapt these issues away while using the strengths of the Top Secret to keep things together. 

Now, you may wonder why I haven't suggested other rulesets. The reason for this is simple, three is reasonable AND this is a series where I'll make future pairings of movies and TV shows to game sets. Stay tuned, your favorite game may show up eventually. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Nostalgia '87 - The Character Sheet

Back in the day, there was no concept of "editions" for D&D. There was D&D and AD&D. The differences between Advanced and the B/X books are very noticeable. There are whole websites dedicated to the differences between these products and it is a massive rabbit-hole universe. I won't be covering that here. 

I would like to talk about a product I made and put up on DriveThruRPG. 

My friends and I had a mishmash world, where D&D and AD&D were treated as the same thing. Plus we had Unearthed Arcana in our set of shared books. Yes, we all shared books among our group of players which could number as many as 14 people on a given night. 

It wasn't easy to combine all these dissimilar products but one of the aids we had was our own computerized character sheet that we could print at will. It was created on my Mac 512 in Mac Draw. 

It was excellent (click to order).

From the title panel, you can probably guess that we had a ton of multi-classed characters and a lot of wacky rules to combine everything from D&D, AD&D, and UA. We actually learned a lot from this process of creation. 

First, no one liked Cavilliers or Theif-Acrobats. We like to use a homebrew method of character attribute generation, 4d6 with the lowest die discarded and order as you see fit. Humans received a plus one to a single stat as desired. Half-elves received either human or elf attribute bonuses. 

We tried to implement weapon adjustments, but it was very cumbersome. We did like weapon proficiencies. 

As an oddity of all of our shared worlds, no one invoked raise dead or reincarnation spells, the only thing that was used was wish or alter reality spells. And infrequently at that. 

It was often enough to cause problems in unexpected places. Encumbrance was a problem as characters willed a bunch of stuff from one to another. So our rule was all items had to fit on the character sheet, despite the actual size. A full 1/3 of our character sheet was dedicated to just equipment. 

I cannot tell you how many times one of our DMs would have to deal with "my character reaches in his pocket and pull out a ring of X", only for that player to discover that the thief now knows exactly what he stole 3 sessions ago. 

Meta-bedlam... 

Anyway, a few years ago I found a copy of this sheet. I scanned and uploaded it to DriveThruRPG to share with others. It is one of my more popular items, probably because you can download it for free. If you really like it, you can actually pay for it. It is PWYW, but I suggest 99¢. 

In uploading this document, I realized there were flaws, such as missing all of the Theif-Acrobat skills. The layout could be improved and so on. I created a newer sheet that had some of the old-school style captured in the first. However, it is sharper and cleaner as it is a wholly digital product rather than a scan. It too comes with the original character sheet. 

Good things come in threes, so I created a third variation of a character sheet. One that no one asked for: The 20-page character sheet! It's actually a single sheet of paper folded into a flip book. I used them for a B2 campaign. My kids and their friends enjoyed them so much that they kept them. 

So if you like old school goodness, please give my 3 character sheets a try. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

New Books From Todd Leback to Review

Author's Note: Sometimes, life kicks you in the balls. Sometimes it just doesn't stop. If you don't laugh some or all of it off, you'll go nuts. This post is in that laughing spirit. 

It pokes fun at my situation, skewers my reviews and pays homage to a spammer that used my 52 Weeks of Magic series to promote a consignment shop by implying items sold were possibly magical. It also promotes a pair of titles by Todd Leback.  

This morning, I found a package on my porch. I also noticed that it was snowing, which is odd weather before December. This is Buffalo, NY, so we are no strangers to snow, but snow before December is unusual. Typically, we get all 47 feet on one day and it stays no longer than January 2nd. 

Since it was unusually cool today, I knew this package contained a new book from Todd Leback. How do I know that? All of Todd Leback's books are magical. 

In defiance of all FTC rules, I told all of my readers Todd Leback's books are magically protected from fire. In all seriousness, it's totally true that one of his titles, Into the Wild survived a housefire. So clearly, there is some unknown physics happening here, if not out and out magic. 

Snow this early in Buffalo New York is so unusual, I find it hard to believe that a single book could possibly cause it before December. 

Well, it turns out that is correct. 

In order for me to cause it to snow so early in the year, I had to order two books from Todd Leback. I ordered both A Guide to Thieves Guilds and Basilisk Hills Ultimate Hexcrawl. This order was placed back on November 11th and arrived the morning of November 27. I know DriveThruRPG is urging people to order early to allow time for Christmas delivery, so I might have just been lucky. 

Or it was magic. You decide. 




Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Stuff to Start Again

Today I realized I didn't lose everything in fire. Up in the cloud are all the PDF I ordered from DriveThruRPG. Of course, I didn't have copies of the core books so now I am making a list of what I need to rebuild. 

First up is "my Dungeons and Dragons". The Blue Box, but not Blue Holmes set. I had a Holmes book, but it was acquired later in my gaming career. Of course, I do have a digital copy of BlueHolme which is excellent but doesn't match the memory of 11 year old me. 


D&D Basic Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)

D&D Basic Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
D&D Expert Set Rulebook (B/X ed.) (Basic)
With these two books, a lot of gaming can be done. They run $4.99 each. Unfortunately, they do not have a print option. I'm not sure why. That would be great if they did.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Second Look - The Moldy Unicorn

It's been about 18 days since the fire. Today, I want to start taking a look forward. The inventory of the house is complete. Let me show you a shelfie: 

Yeah. I can't dwell on that. 

Much to my amazement, this survived: 


Thanks to the Plexiglas frame it's only a little toasted. This is one of those products that reminds me so much of my youth and when I really took a liking to gaming. It still brings back the smell of the mall and Waldens Books. The Moldy Unicorn is great. I love this little book so much. It has a great cover, an interesting adventure and of course, an inn called The Moldy Unicorn. 

I had an interesting childhood. My dad was a big wargamer and would take me to conventions. I was a teenager before I realized that not everyone's dad played games or went to conventions. Or had a suit of chainmail or build castles to teach history. 

I don't think I had a moment where I thought playing games was odd or unusual. Or that this game was better than that game. My dad played WRG while I preferred D&D. Our middle ground was Chainmail, especially that little mini-game for jousting. He loved that as much as I did. Plus, he had the figures for it, which was totally extraneous but hella fun. 

So looking forward instead of backwards, I am going to take the time to really explore new things. This will be a new beginning. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

The Hex Pack Update

Today, I added some more files to my Hex Pack. This update adds color and centers the hexes so that there are 19 complete hexes and 12 partial hexes. There are 9 colors, the 7 of the rainbow plus white and grey. 

If you have already purchased The Hex Pack, the update is waiting for you in your DriveThruRPG library. 

If you haven't purchased it, take a look. It's pay what you want. Or check out my other products. 






Swashbuckler Character
Class for D&D and AD&D


Swashbucklers for D&D and AD&D
Zero to Hero:
Uncommon Heroes

Zero to Hero
Zero to Hero
Character Sheet
for AD&D

Character Sheet
Character Sheet for AD&D



Kobold’s Folly
Mini Setting

Kobold’s Folly
Kobold’s Folly
Compass Rose
Inn Mini Setting

Compass Rose Inn
Compass Rose Inn
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Review - The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Tradition

Title: The Basic Witch: The Pumpkin Spice Tradition
Publisher: The Other Side Publishing
Author: Timothy S. Brannan
Year: 2019
Pages: 65 pages
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is designed for Labyrinth Lord as part of the Back to Basic series. Originally, it started as a joke on everything Pumpkin Spice themed. It roughly follows the other books in the series, with the exception of some level limits for non-human characters. 

This is my favorite of the series. While not entirely tongue-in-cheek, it's a fun read. In my mind, it comes across like the film A Knight's Tale. Popular culture is mixed up and presented in a timeless way. The idea of harvest, fall, and Halloween is in this product's DNA, but in a way that would not detract from a series of Dungeons and Dragons experiences. Yes, there are jokey bits, but they are well thought out so they don't break the theme of D&D. If you like Angel or Buffy, these details will be right up your alley. 

This particular set calls out Labyrinth Lord but readers will find that it is a nice addition to any basic era game such as BlueHolme or the Red box set. With a little adaption, this book could be plugged into a great many rule sets like AD&D. The author specifically mentions a desire for this title to be cross-compatible, but noted they didn't make that the focus of this work. I suspect that Mr. Brannan wanted this book to cover a far wider range of game systems than I am familiar with using. Even if it doesn't go there, it's still a rock-solid offering. 

Usually, when I do a review, I mention the artwork. This product is loaded with art. I didn't count, but it seems like every other page or every third has something. In this book, most of the artwork is a quarter page and inline with the text, rather than being placed in the centerline like 3.5 books. Again, like the subject matter in the book, the artwork has a gothic summer-turned-autumn feel. 

Somehow, this version of the witch character class feels old, but not too old. It invokes a pleasant feeling of Deja Vu of my college days when game night also featured a movie or TV before or after. That feeling of people just out to get together and have fun. 

Reviewer's note: The date is taken from the forward, this could be the most recent update rather than the original publication date. If that is the case, my apologies but then that also means the author is providing an excellent experience by routinely updating his works. 

Thursday, April 1, 2021

More and more and more good ads

I like doing these posts of ads, which is unfortunate for my readers. Lol. 

Today's Ad of Six are from DriveThruRPG. These modules, gazetteers and guides are great. If I get a chance to play D&D after quarantine, I'm gonna run a few of these. 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Review: Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games

Title: Daughters of Darkness: The Mara Witch for Basic Era Games
Publisher: The Other Side Publishing
Author: Timothy S. Brannan
Year: 2019
Pages: 79 pages
Rating: 5 of 5 stars

I gotta tell you, this is my second favorite of all of Timothy Brannan's Witch character classes for B/X era games. The Mara Witches are some of the darker characters types available to the player. In fact, I find them so dark they are actually a special type of character that should have one heavy restriction. 

In every edition of D&D, there have been a few character types that are so special that they are limited to NPC classes. The idea of a shaman character class has always been a part of D&D and only available to the DM as an non-player character. I know a thing or two about great NPCs, my children are actually named Nathan, Paul, Catherine on purpose. 

Shamistic casters open up the possibility of playing a monster across tropes. An expert may assist the party because they have a higher calling. A sage may invigorate the party with a quest. Basically these are all people who may pick the party over their clan against some greater evil or some higher cause. Someone who may save the day in a heel-face-turn. 

This one book makes the best case for making witches a PC class only. Never should a DM be granted such power. While there is the distinct possibility of a Mara witch choosing an evil or chaotic alignment the player has to totally embrace The Three-fold Law, no matter how injurious or dangerous it may be to themselves. In the hands of a player, the Mara witch can shine and become a legend. 

In the hands of the DM, the person who dictates the story and arranges the plots and creates the scenarios, the Mara witch is too powerful. If the DM is the only person who can invoke repercussions of violating the Three-fold Law, then the role of the Mara Witch loses it main strength, the role of tradition. This could and would happen because while the DM may desire a moral story where the Mara Witch falls due to their own evilness, vanity or pettiness, this class can march all over the party. 

In the hands of a player, this type of witch is very subtle and powerful. To the player, chaos and evil don't really matter much because they have to abide the fact that their magic could backlash on them. Chaos and evil can take many different forms, but this witch class requires that guiding hand of the player to be an effective character. Someone who feels they have something to win and something to lose. 

Having created a number of character classes, including a book specifically about NPCs called "Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners", I think can say this character is so different it must be left to a player to make them come to life and should never be given into the hands of DM, except for the rarest circumstance. 

This book follows the format of the other two books I have reviewed, The Amazonian Witch and The Classical Witch traditions. Like the other two books, except for outward facing abilities like spells, no mechanic system introduced upsets other character classes, which is very important for consistency. All spells are well written and does not cause a power race with the standard character classes. While specifically written for Labyrinth Lord, it could be added to a great number of rule sets with little problems. 

Like the other two books, it has great cover art, wonderful interior art and nicely formatted tables, with blue tint for easy reading. I think this series of books captures the great cover art of second edition D&D while also maintaining the rougher aspect of the B/X era D&D books. The balancing act was well done. 

A final highlight to all of these witch themed books is the idea of Tradition. Each book paints an image of the many kinds of witches that have existed in mythology. While there may be a few changes in powers and abilities, each one is similar enough to easily grasp in a readthrough. 

Unlike the other two reviews, I spent most of my time looking over the spell lists. This book has 36 pages of spells. And every time I thought to myself, "I would tweak this spell in this way..." I found a second spell that met whatever my imagined need was. Not only are the spells well balanced for this class, they support one another to create a dark mysterious vibe. Which also reinforces the idea that witches need to handled by actual players and not thrown as NPC so the DM can run over the party. 

Reviewer's note: The date is taken from the forward, this could be the most recent update rather than the original publication date. If that is the case, my apologies but then that also means the author is providing an excellent experience by routinely updating his works. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Oh, Dear. What Happened? Review of Farscape Roleplaying Game

Title:  Farscape Roleplaying Game
Design: Ken Carpenter, Rob Vaux, Keith R. A. DeCandido, Gavin Downing, Lee Hammock, Kelly Hill, Christina Kamnikar
Rule Set: d20
Year: 2002
Pages: 320
Number of players: 2 or more
Rating: ★★

The TV show Farscape ran from 1999 to 2003 and was followed up by a 2 episode mini-series called The Peacekeeper War. The Roleplaying Game was released in 2002, which would have been in between Seasons 3 and 4. For this reason, the book only covers the first 2 seasons or so of action.

This is an interesting RPG as it tops out at 320 pages, which is one more than the Star Wars RPG which was produced by WotC. What is interesting about this is, WotC managed to cram 4 movies worth of information into a book 1 page shorter than the Farscape RPg as a stand alone work while The Farscape Roleplaying Game assumes ownership of The Players Handbook. Farscape was published sometime in 2002, which makes this The Player's Handbook the 3.0 edition. Maybe? In June of 2003, the 3.5 edition came out. If you did not play D&D, you wouldn't even know.

The results are rather interesting. As is the rest of the book. If I reviewed the first 144 pages, this would be a 5 star review. This section of the book is a recap of everything in the series to that point, plus a short story called 10 Little Indians. The layout is incredible, the information is dense, and it really captures the essence of Farscape.

However, this isn't that review. One of the stand out features of this book is the artwork, which is entirely from the show. All of it is great and it is laid out exactly like a product in this universe would be laid out. Titles appear in a machine-like flowing script which is readable with the proper skill (DC 30). Second, the margins are thick while the columns are diagonal. It's cute for the first 144 pages, but when you actually need information, it's really hard on the eyes. Like MySpace banner hard.

From page 145 on are the rules. Remember that disclaimer about needing the Player's Handbook? Yeah... I'm not so sure. Which is a good thing because I can't tell if this means 3.0 or the 3.5 edition. I think the 3.0 edition, but it doesn't seem that necessary. If you missed that caveat, you could probably play this game not realizing something was missing. It isn't that it's missing words or that the grammar is odd, it's the layout of the book that jams your comprehension. It's just that distracting.

Like The Player's Handbook, you pick a race, a class, generate stats, select feats, skills and powers, then select equipment. All of that works well, it's a proven method utilized by many products in the d20 line. And that is where it gets weird. I can't point to a single thing that would require another book, which is probably my gamer hack-it ethic running wild. It sure seems odd.

February 16th edit: 

I see it! This book is missing two parts for running a home campaign. First, it doesn't have the Experience chart. Second, it doesn't explain CR. Really? Because those two omissions actual require two books, not one. You kind of need the DMG and the PHB. 

But not really, which sort of BS. The information missing from the experience chart is in the d20 SRD. Like the one on Hypertext d20 SRD, which is an excellent site. I give it 5 of 5 stars for helpfulness. You'll also need a challenge rating calculator if you want your players going against monsters. Or Critters as John would call them. Again, Hypertext d20 SRD to the rescue. 

I am not sure why I didn't see this at first. It could be that edit blindness everyone gets when looking for extraneous words and typos. Or more likely, I couldn't see it because I would want my players to be the cast of the show. Be the heroes, which makes the experience chart unnecessary. 

I feel the missing Challenge Rating is actually in universe. The heroes throw in against anything they can, anyway they can. Crackers and Nuclear Weapons are both combat items in this show. CR was never a factor when it came to putting the heroes in the action grinder. 

After finding these two omissions, I would suggest one other change for the at home game. Use Vitality and Wounds. Farscape has simply relabeled Hit Points as wounds. Zero wound points is out cold, -10 is death. The WofC Star Wars RPG (click for that review) used Vitality and Wounds, which I feel is more cinematic. Vitality is how much punching around you can take, while wounds are limited to taking serious a blaster shot. One will knock you low for a day while the other one ruins your year. Also, considering how Control Points are used to activate powers, this game has more in common with Star Wars' Force Points than D&D spells or spell like powers.   

Back to your review, as it was written back in January of 2020. 

One of the flaws in the book is, being a recap of season 1 and 2, who and what the characters are not presented in a way that plays out in the TV show. Primarily, this shows up in the pregenerated characters. John is not particularly strong or smart according to his stats, which doesn't really fit with being a physicist and astronaut. On the other hand, all of the characters do seem to be balanced when only that group is considered. However, they are all rather high level, which you would think would lead to much higher stats.

Scorpius is listing as having a 9 strength, while D'Argo has an 18 which is not quite right. I would buy the 9 for Scorpius if he had some sort of Rage feat that allowed him to overpower other, stronger characters for a short period of time. He is a man with an actual cooling system, after all.

All and all, the book seems incomplete even when paired with the PHB and some that feeling is definitely problems caused by the layout.

At $9.99 at DriveThruRPG, I'd say it's for fans of the series or a person who wants a great coffee table RPG book. It is stunning to look at. Literally.

Two stars... only because I love Farscape.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What I Should Be Doing vs. What I Am Doing

Yeah, it's one of those days. I realized that I wrote enough reviews to take a long break, perhaps until March. I've a lot of things downloaded from DriveThruRPG and Amazon to read in order to do even more reviews. But instead, I find myself thinking about maps for my Peninsula of Plenty campaign. 

Yes, I'm going to get that back on the table. And I want a better map than this: 


Or this: 


Well, it's happening. And I'm making a better map. 

Recently, I downloaded Domain Building by Third Kingdom GamesSeafoot Games' The Abandoned City of Nexus 20x30 Battlemap, and reviewed both How to Hexcrawl and Hexcrawl Basics which all got the brain warmed up to the idea of maps and hexcrawling.

It only took a little more to get me moving. First, was a recollection of the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman schematic of the Empire's road system. It is not to scale, but it displays all of the major cities and roadways a traveller might need to cross the whole Empire from Britain to the edge of India. It's a parchment scroll, 21 feet long! Check out the link for the Wikipedia entry. It's amazing! The crazy thing is squashed and distorted yet still an accurate rendering of the roads. 

The second part of the push was a combination of a framed copy of Nate Treme's Moldy Unicorn plus a download of the HPS Cartography Kit I meant to review. Review, hell. I'm using and abusing it. I'm making a giant map of the Peninsula of Plenty in that same scale - 11 inches by 21 feet. One inch (or hex) is six miles, which translates to 1500  miles of roads and hexcrawling. 
 

I love the style of maps this hex pack creates. The pack is advertised as containing 400+ tiles, but it's more like 500 or 600. Go check it out. It's a steal. 

Update - Two new views of the work in progress.  




Saturday, January 23, 2021

Review - Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch Tradition

Title: Children of the Gods: The Classical Witch Tradition
Publisher: The Other Side Publishing
Author: Timothy S. Brannan
Year: 2019
Pages: 84 pages
Overall Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Text Only Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Of all the books Mr. Brannan has written on witches, this one is my second favorite. Were I to have it to do over again, I would have made my Coven of Ash witches in The Classical Witch Tradition instead of magic users. The power difference between a witch and a magic user is striking, the witch having the more subtle powers which I was aiming for with the Coven of Ash. 

This book largely follows the same format of The Amazon Witch Tradition, with a few twists. First, Part 1 runs down the basic description of witches of this tradition while Part 2 introduces the possibility of multiclassing. These are pairs of class, witch and one other class. They would gain experience far faster than the dreaded triple class characters. Additionally, the first part addresses what would be considered demi-human and monsters of this class, which is a great benefit to DM's desiring something completely different. In reading this work, I immediately thought to replace the Hermit from B2 Keep on the Borderland to this kind of witch. 

One small addition to this series is the use of color. The book is written for Blueholme and the blue tint on the tables is not only a nice touch, it makes everything easier to read. The artwork is also very nice. 

Part 3 describes the tradition itself and discusses how to add covens to your campaign. It gives 6 examples before giving suggestions for more coven types for your campaign. It's nice to have examples that are ready to go and the 6 provided could be plugging into many campaigns with no modification and all campaigns with a some modification. 

Part 5 explains the witches role in magic and provides 32 pages of spells. These spells are tooled specifically to this tradition of witches and includes ritual magic, a more powerful form of spells cast by several coven members. 

The book also includes 20 pages of new monsters or old friends reworked for Blueholme. Part 6 introduces some magical items and few artifacts. And the final chapter gives three examples of unique and powerful witches. This final part really reads like Deities and Demigods, but the powers are cranked back to almost-mortal levels. These are characters that you could adapt or use right of the book in your campaign for high level NPCs. 

And and not least, this book includes useful appendix of spells by level, useable by witches, clerics, magic users plus a complete alphabetical listing of spells. Those are perfect. 

This is a rock solid resources for any DM who desires a little mysterious magic at the table, something to knock the PC's clerics and magic users back a bit. Nothing is overpowered and is specifically meant to work with those classes without changing their core concepts. 

Spoiler Alert: I have four of these books and I am reviewing them in star order. This one is a solid 4.5 for the text alone and a 5 of 5 when the artwork is considered. 

Reviewer's note: The date is taken from the forward, this could be the most recent update rather than the original publication date. If that is the case, my apologies but then that also means the author is providing an excellent experience by routinely updating his works. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Review - Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch Tradition

Title: Cult of Diana: The Amazon Witch Tradition
Publisher: The Other Side Publishing
Author: Timothy S. Brannan
Year: 2019 (?)
Pages: 26 pages
Overall Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Text Only Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Continuing in the vein of the occult, today's review is of the Cult of Diana. This book is a part of a series on witches by Timothy S. Brannan for the Basic era D&D game. A word of warning, I play a mashup of B/X and AD&D 1e. I may let slip some observations which reference a set of rules that is not the one intended by the author of this book. 

To start, the entire series of books has excellent cover art. These are worth printing in high quality. Personally, I like to print the covers of DriveThruRPG books on photo paper. It is totally worth the effort. 

What makes witches worth of a new class in Basic era? The ideas, mainly, but also the integration within the rule set. Cult of Diana introduces some simple but powerful ideas to the rules. Mr. Brannan made sure these are carefully balanced so as not to be game breakers. Except for outward facing abilities like spells, no mechanic introduced upsets other character classes, which is very important for consistency. 

Like all characters, witches roll for HP, require certain modest ability scores (10 for INT, 11 for WIS and CHR), gain a bonus to experience for superior ability scores, and have limited armor and weapon selections. The author has provided 8 pages of new spells available to witches, none of which are unbalancing. 

What makes these characters different is their calling. Witches are part of a coven, granting them the ability to access new spells based on a particular tradition. This religiosity allows the witch to be of any alignment so long as they follow the tenants of their tradition. In the case of the Amazonian witch, their tradition is based on several gods such as Diana and Artemis. The author provides a brief section on what these beliefs mean. 

Circling back to the idea of covens, witches have access to ritual magic which requires many casters to participate in. Again, these ritual spells are well balanced. For both "normal magic" and "ritual magic" there are 8 levels of each described in the standard format for Basic era games. 

This particular set calls out BlueHolme but readers will find that it is a nice addition to any basic era game such as Labyrinth Lord or the Red box set. With a little adaption, this book could be plugged into a great many rule sets like AD&D. 

All and all this is a rock solid addition to your table. Text only is 4 of 5 stars. 

I tend to be colored by great artwork, usually shifting my rating upwards by one. In this review, I have ignored the excellent artwork and tables so as not to damage my rating scale too much. The art is superior for a supplemental book and completely inline with the Basic Era style. Considering the layout with the artwork, this book merits 5 of 5 stars. 

Reviewer's note: The date is taken from the forward, this could be the most recent update rather than the original publication date. If that is the case, my apologies but then that also means the author is providing an excellent experience by routinely updating his works. 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

New Links for Products by TheseOldGames.com

I've always wanted links to DriveThruRPG to look like links to Amazon. However, most of DriveThruRPG doesn't work like that. If you look to the left of this post, you can see an example of what I wanted, which is an affiliate tool for the Daily Hot New Book. You can get that link by logging in to DriveThru and scrolling to the bottom of the Affiliate Resources Page.

The code looks like this (excuse the image, blogger doesn't like code tags):


It displays the ad like this:

Hottest New Book
City of Nexus | 20x30 Battlemaps [BUNDLE]
City of Nexus | 20x30 Battlemaps [BUNDLE]

By harvesting their code, you can change what is displayed by manipulating the code, like I did for my Swashbuckler Character Class.

Swashbuckler Character Class for D&D and AD&D

Swashbucklers for D&D and AD&D

You can get the product page link via the Social link on DriveThruRPG. 




That will automatically append your Affiliate Id to the link, which is super handy. The image associated with the product can be directly linked to by right clicking the thumbnail and copying the image address. Many times you can plug that image link right into the code.  

Zero to Hero: Uncommon Heroes
Zero to Hero
Zero to Hero

The thumbnail seems to be generated by .css, which will rescale the image to 139 by 196 for the product page. However, if the author uploaded a larger image, you will have to rescale the image and host it yourself. That happened to me with all of my products. I should probably go back and rescale all of the images so DriveThru does less work to display a thumbnail. 

Character Sheet for AD&D
Character Sheet
Character Sheet for AD&D

You can combine the code above with the table html to create side by side links, like I did below.


Kobold’s Folly Mini Setting
Kobold’s Folly
Kobold’s Folly
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack
The Hex Pack
Compass Rose Inn Mini Setting
Compass Rose Inn
Compass Rose Inn