Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Witcher - The Last Wish

So now that life has geared down a bit for the holidays I've had a chance to do some reading. Strolling around the mall the other day while waiting for new passports photos I pushed my way into Indigo books and took a look around. I really hadn't intended on buying anything but a couple books caught my eye so I picked them up.

The first book is The Last Wish. I written by a Polish best selling author and only translated into English a couple years ago. Its not a tough read and I tore through it in 3 nights. The tale is really a collection of short stories connected through a meta story that separates each part.

The witcher is a monster hunter, a human who was taken as a child and subjected to various experiments that makes him faster, stronger, and heal quicker than regular humans as well as see in the dark. Geralt, the protagonist, withstood the experiments better then most and so was subjected to more which left his with no skin or hair pigmentation.

The world itself is either heavily influenced by D&D or they share many common sources. The book has a rather dark sense of humor and most of the short stories are twists on fairy tales. One thing I really like about the setting is that magic is somewhat, well magical. In D&D, everyone (the players anyway) know what magic is and what it can do. In this world, magic is much more mysterious and there is always a great deal grey. There is no black and white clearly defined rule sets. For example, a mad wizard proclaimed that all princesses born after an eclipse would be cursed with evil. So all of these princesses were locked in towers (because killing them would be inhumane). Unfortunately there was a period where it became fashionable for princes to rescue these maidens. The rescued princesses then sought out revenge on the wizard who locked them up, which the wizards used as proof the women are evil.

There are lots of clever twists on the genre and the book is a worth while read. The witcher makes me want to try out the new magus class that is being play tested by Paizo. Very similar flavor.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas to all...

...and may 2011 bring you all plenty of natural 20s, both at the table and in the real world.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Demons need more Chaos

Look at this picture:

Now tell me quickly, are they demons or devils? If you are a true D&D/Pathfinder aficionado, you probably recognized them as demons. But they don't really look all that different from devils. You could easily file the serial numbers off that Hezrou and turn it into some new kind of devil. Think about that, the very essence of Lawful Evil and Chaotic Evil are virtually indistinguishable. This has never sat right with me. Demons are supernatural Chaos in its vilest form. They aren't merely superpowerful orcs, they are pure Chaos and pure Evil.

Now, the Evil part is fine. They slaughter the innocent, they corrupt the powerful and they destroy beauty and goodness whenever they can. However, the Chaos part just doesn't come through. One Vrock is pretty much indistinguishable from every other Vrock. If they were truly Chaotic (as opposed to chaotic), every demon should be unique and constantly changing. They should constantly be growing and losing new limbs, developing new abilities while losing others. The Babau you are fighting this round should suddenly morph into a Nalfeshnee next round and then a Dretch after that. What we really need is a random demon generator. Maybe it's too much work for the DM, especially if demons figure prominently in his campaign, or maybe such a system doesn't work well with an exception-based system like Pathfinder. It is something I've been thinking about trying for awhile, so I guess I will find out eventually.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

An AT-43 Christmas for me

With the demise of Rackham Entertainment back in October, the race is on to grab up the remaining stock of AT-43 and Confrontation pre-painted miniatures. Supplies are already dwindling at our FLGS, so I have decided to do a little proactive Christmas shopping. There will be a lot of Red Blok and Therians under my tree this year. I even managed to score one of these:

and one of these:

And guys, you better get down there soon if you want to snatch up some Confrontation minis before they're all gone.


Cross-posted at Rognar's Space Horror RPG Blog

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rippin' on...Vampire: The Masquerade

Zack and Steve blast ichthyoids in a cask as they mock the artwork of Vampire: The Masquerade.

Vampire: The Masquerade


Thursday, December 09, 2010

Pathfinder Bestiary 2 - more love for the Mythos

I was bouncing off the walls when I first noticed the Pathfinder Bestiary had an entry for the Shoggoth. So, I have been anxiously awaiting the release of the Pathfinder Bestiary 2 due for release early in 2011, in hopes that more Cthulhuesque goodness will be included. Imagine my joy upon seeing Paizo's new poster showing all the monsters that will be included. Not one, not two, but no less than four Cthulhu Mythos creatures will make an appearance. Of those, three, the Hound of Tindalos, the Gug and the Leng Spider are classic Mythos monsters. The fourth one, the Denizen of Leng, is unfamiliar to me, but the name clearly points to a Mythos origin. A fifth one, the Wendigo, is also found in the Call of Cthulhu game, but it is a creature derived from Native American mythology and therefore, the Pathfinder version may not necessarily resemble the Cthulhu Mythos version. A sixth one, the Serpentfolk, may be the Serpent People of the Mythos, or may be something else, like the Yuan-ti perhaps. Lastly, there is the Worm that Walks. This one is found all over the place including the Age of Worms adventure path, but it too, has a Lovecraftian heritage. Recall from Lovecraft's The Festival:

Wisely did Ibn Schacabao say, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from his charnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruption horrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrous to plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth's pores ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl.


Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Barsoom + d20 Modern = Cool!

Adamant Entertainment recently had a sale on DriveThruRPG in which they were selling pdfs of some of their titles for one freakin' dollar! Normally, I wouldn't give any of their publications a second glance, but hey, one freakin' dollar! Now, Adamant Entertainment is best known for their ICONS superhero game, but my interest in the supers genre is so low that even one freakin' dollar is too much to pay, but I did notice another of their games, namely Mars, a sword-and-planet game loosely based on the "Barsoom" stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs. I confess I've never read any of the Barsoom stories. Truth be told, I've never been a fan of the "planetary romance" style of pulp sci-fi, having cut my teeth on the works of Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke and Herbert, rather than Burroughs, Brackett and Howard. Lately, however, I've become a bit more interested in all that creaky old stuff, having become creaky and old myself. Besides, it was one freakin' dollar!

Mars uses the d20 Modern game system, one of my favourites. Damn, why didn't someone tell me about this earlier? There are six races, Red Men (civilized, native Martians), Green Men (savage, orc-like barbarians), White Apes (intelligent, war-like gorillas), Grey Men (not men at all, but rather octopoids), Synthe Men (androids) and Earthmen (humans from Earth transplanted on Mars). Most PCs will be Red Men and Earthmen, although PC White Apes and Green Men are also possible. Synthe Men and especially Grey Men do not make suitable player characters. Most everything in the rules is taken straight from d20 Modern except for how they treat the Defense Value, which is handled in a clever and superior manner to the standard d20 approach. The defending character decides as a free action if he will be parrying or dodging. Since the former is based on STR and the latter on DEX, a PC will typically choose whichever is better, although ranged attacks cannot be parried, so dodge is the only option in such cases. Each character class has an inherent parry and dodge bonus that is added to the ability modifier to give a total bonus for each type of defense. Armour does not factor into it, although heavy armour will seriously penalize DEX and even place a cap on BAB. In Mars, armour provides damage reduction, rather than an armour bonus. This is the first time I've seen this approach in a d20 game and I must say, I like it a lot. This rule change alone makes me want to play this game.

Magic is not part of this game, although it is suggested that the psionics rules from d20 Modern would be a good fit. Still, they do include rules for creating weird technology, called devices, which function very much like magic items. It would be interesting to see how these would stack up against magic in a campaign setting that incorporated both.

All in all, Mars is a pleasant surprise and I would recommend it to anyone who doesn't have an aversion to the d20 game system (and there is a Savage Worlds version if you do). Take up your rapier and your radium pistol, your sky-corsair awaits. Unfortunately, you will have to pay more than one freakin' dollar.


Thursday, December 02, 2010

Nerd or Geek?

CNN weighs in on this vitally important question. Personally, I feel much the same way as Futurama co-creator, David X. Cohen:

"To me, nerd is a compliment and geek is an insult," said Cohen. "I feel like with 'nerd culture,' [it sounds like] the nerds have triumphed. 'Geek' has a negative connotation. I'd rather be called a nerd. I love being called a nerd."

I don't view the term "geek" as an insult, but do I feel the subculture that embraces Star Trek, World of Warcraft and Dungeons & Dragons is nerd culture. Geeks are merely dilletantes who obsess over some aspect of that culture, but don't live it every day.

I am Nerd!