Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Birch (Dark Places & Demogorgons)

This is the not the first time I've talked about The Birch. I statted her for 5e here. If you haven't watched this phenomenal  horror short take a few minutes and change that.

The Birch seems like she could be transplanted (pun intended) to the States and found near Jeffersontown or wherever your game is set. She's is more vicious and nastier than her dryad sisters.

"For thee who makest me
I shall come
He who breaks me
Shall come undone..."
Armor Class: 16
Hit Dice: 4
Move: 12
Attacks: 1 per Round
Attack Damage: Claw 1d6+1
Special: Tree Portal*
Bonuses: +2 to hit 
Terror: 15
HDE: 4

*Tree Portal: The Birch can merge with any tree as a part of her normal movement and may also teleport from any tree to any other within 100 feet.

The Birch is ancient tree spirit. She lives in a forest on the edge of town. She can be summoned by making an effigy of her symbol and reciting the ritual words above. The ritual and her origins are described in the Tome of the Birch (which appears to at least partially made from the birch wood). While she protects children with good hearts, her methods are dark and brutal and many bullies have died at her limbs.

Light City - Alfred Pennyworth

When I designed my super-butler class for Light City, I definitely did it with Alfred in mind.

Level 7 Super-Butler
Real Name Alfred Thaddeus Crane Pennyworth
First Appearance Batman #16 (April 1943)
Str 10              Int 13
Dex 10            Wis 16 (+1)
Con 12            Cha 15 (+1)
5 HD (20 HP)
AC 9 [10]
Save 9
Attacks Unarmed Strikes (+5 to hit, 1d3+1 damage) or Shotgun (+1 to hit, 1d6+1 damage, short range)
Class Abilities: Reroll one failed Saving Throw a day, 1-4 chance on a 1d6 to read unfamiliar language,  Cure Wounds I 3/day, Cure Wounds II or Cure Condition 1/day, 1/day can temporarily gain proficiency in any armor or weapon for a scene or can regain the use of an already expended class ability
Equipment: First aid kit, shot gun

Survive This!! - Dark Places & Demogorgons Review

Survive This!! - Dark Places & Demogorgons is out and you need to pick it up asap. You can get the books at several places, such as Lulu and OBS, but I recommend buying them directly from source. That's where I picked up my copy of the Kickstarter exclusive cover hardback version. Now let me say, it's a bit more expensive than other versions but well worth it. It's sturdy and the glossy pages look fantastic.

This book is two hundred pages of OSR glory!

The game is set in Jeffersontown (or J'Town) in the 1980's. This is Stranger Things, Lost Boys, E.T., Erie Indiana... the game. The setting definitely has an influence on the game overall, but isn't required. You could easily set in Hawkins, Derry, Sunnyvale, Erie, or any other small town/city. With a little work you could even set it in other eras... but why would you want to do that? The game is phenomenal as is.

At it's core, this is a game we're familiar with. You have a class, level, hp, AC, attributes, and saving throws. Most of these will seem familiar, though there is some new stuff (like the Survival Attribute and the Courage saving throws). The classes are built off the classic teen 80's archetypes. We have The Brain (The Kid Scientist, The Nerd, and the Geek), Athlete (The Jock, Extreme Athlete, and Karate Kid), Outsider (Break-Dancer, Goth, and Metal Head), Popular (Preppy, The Princess, and Teen Heart Throb) and Rebel (Bully, Hood, and Punk Rocker). Class choices affect skills, attributes, and provide different abilities. They only go up to level 5 (in the book), but that makes sense considering you're playing minors. The abilities are pretty cool, btw. My favorite is that at 5th level the Metal Head can summon a minor demon!

So as I mentioned the game does have a skills system. Many OSR games don't, but this one works and isn't too complicated. You'll find some other familiar traits of previous Bloat Games, such as the Out of Action table and Advantage/Disadvantage. Like other Bloat Games releases, there rules are tools to use, but don't cover every minutia that could come up. This isn't Pathfinder (thank goodness). That being said, the game uses the best elements of games like that, such as the DC system.

The GM section includes three optional psion classes, Experiment X (Eleven), Pyro (Charlie from Firestarter), and Telekinetic (Carrie). The Adventure Seed section is one of my favorites. It presents several new monsters, with nice stories, and ideas in a monster of the week format. These guys will look really familiar to anyone who's watched 80's horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. This is followed by less detailed stats for human adversaries, monsters, and animals. Monsters have Terror stats. When you encounter a new type of creature you have to make a terror check or be affected by fear (with a nifty little chart that you roll on to see how you react). This is a cool idea, especially when you are considering your characters are (relatively normal) kids. We're given a villain generation table, adventure ideas, and such. This is followed by a short description of the setting, Jeffersontown, KY.

Throughout the book are 80's pics of the Bloat Games folks, their friends, and backers. This is a nice touch. Most of the art is pretty fitting and familiar. There are also tables and charts throughout the book with quick references to all things 80's.

My only complaint about the book is that there's advertisements about a fourth of the way through it. These would make a lot more sense at the end. I didn't like them breaking the text up. Honestly though considering how great this book is, it's a minor quibble.

I absolutely can't wait to run this game! I love supernatural teen games. I love rules light systems. This game is a fantastic combination of the two. You should definitely pick this one up. It's so damn good and the folks that made it are really great.

I'll review the Player's Options/GM's Guide and Jeffersontown Setting Guide soon. You can read my review of the vampire sourcebook here. When the werewolf sourcebook drops next month, I'll be picking it up too. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Light City - Bloodlines Parasites

Bloodlines Parasite
Real Name: Various 
First Appearance: Lobo Annual #1 (1993)
AC 3 [16]      HD 8 (45 HP)    Attacks X2 Claws (1d6+2 dmg + special) Move 12/ 12 (Climb)

These alien parasites drain spinal fluid from humanoids. If they hit with at least two claw attacks in the same round, the target is considered grappled. On the parasites next turn the target takes 1d6 damage automatically, as it's spinal fluid is drained. This paralyzes the target (who can make a saving throw each of their turns to break free of the paralysis and grapple). Non metahumans killed in this way have a chance to revive and gain superpowers. They are referred to as New Blood. 

The parasites have two forms. One his a hulking armored xenomorph-like creature and this other is humanoid with similar insect-like armor (but unarmored head). This armor is very powerful and they ignore 5 points of damage from all attacks. New Bloods ignore this damage reduction. 

Some Parasites have secondary powers, such as the ability to fly (Movement 20 fly), charm others (treat as the Charm Person spell), or have multiple limbs (grant extra attacks)

The ultimate goal of these creatures is to drain enough fluid to be able to sacrifice themselves to the Taker... a kaiju-like creature in hibernation aboard their ships.  Eventually this creature will spawn new parasites and the cycle will begin again.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Light City - Access

Access, Keeper of the Multiverses' Gateway
Real Name: Axel Asher
First Appearance: DC vs Marvel #1 (April 1996)
AC 5 [14]      HD 4 (20 HP)    Attacks Cosmic Punch (1d6 dmg) Move 12

Access is a both of both the Earth-616 post-Crisis on Infinite Earth's DCU. He can sense the presence of cosmic beings and objects that are related to his role as the Keeper. He can teleport from the DCU to the MU and through time, taking up to 8 people with him. He can also alter reality on a cosmic scale, combing different dimensions. He can use this to combine two beings from separate universes and create an Amalgamation of the two. Unfortunately, because of his powers he can't stay in one place too long or he'll create a spontaneous crossover. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Darkness Beneath Dalentown Review

The Darkness Beneath Dalentown is a Swords & Wizardry adventure for levels 8-12 by Tim and Matthew Bannock.

The adventure includes an intro (with background and summary), three chapters, and two appendices (one for magic items/npcs/monsters and the other discussing ancient tomes and such). The premise is pretty straight forward: the party must stop a corrupted adventurer who seeks to send an army of oozes to destroy the town.

The first chapter gives a barebones description of the titular Dalentown. While the authors mention that this could be transplanted to a city in  your campaign, it just seems like a lot of info here to just ignore. There are several hooks to get the players involved in adventure, including the classic "you're at a tavern" to being recruited by the local church or a guild. The chapter ends with a timeline of events (because bad things will happen if they don't stop the ooze demon), a few details about the sewer, and discussion of how to get into the dwarven hold (that the adventure takes place in).

The actual meat of the adventure takes place in chapters 2 and 3. Two focuses on the living quarters and great library of the hold. The third chapter focuses on the Waterworks and Crystal Mine. What I really enjoy about this adventure is while there are some nice fleshed out encounters and everything you need is there, there's also a lot of blank space on the map. You can truly make this one your own. One of my favourite parts of the adventure is the main villain's ability to see and speak through the
oozes that infest the adventure site. This can create some unique roleplaying and tactical options. 

There are definitely some interesting magic items and monsters in the appendices. Again, most of these are pretty slimy. I also love the inclusion of ancient tomes and secrets. I could see this brief section being put to good use in other adventures. 

If you don't like oozes, puddings, and slimes you need to steer clear of this one. Then again if you don't like those things and  you still decided to purchase an adventure with an ooze on the cover, that's all on you. Jubilex's pseudopods have definitely blessed this one. I think this is a fun OSR adventure and could easily be adapted to other sword and elf games.