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0one's Blueprints: Megadungeons - Palace of the Vampire Queen
Publisher: 0one Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2020 15:56:26

Full review with other Palace of the Vampire Queen related material here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2020/01/classic-adventures-revisited-palace-of.html

This product is a pretty bare-bones affair, and that is exactly why you want to get it. You get 7 pages of "Blue" maps and 7 pages of black and white maps covering over 210 rooms. The rooms are labeled but that is all the description you get. There are sheets for you to detail the rooms with monsters, occupants, and treasure. This is perfect if you want to create a mega-palace for our mysterious Vampire Queen and stock it full of her undead minions. At just under $2.00 it is a steal.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
0one's Blueprints: Megadungeons - Palace of the Vampire Queen
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Palace of the Vampire Queen (Classic Reprint)
Publisher: Precis Intermedia
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2020 15:54:31

Full review with other Palace of the Vampire Queen related material here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2020/01/classic-adventures-revisited-palace-of.html

In the beginning, there was a belief that all DMs would naturally create all their own adventures and there was no market for pre-written ones. The only printed adventure out at this time was "Temple of the Frog" in Blackmoor. Seeing a need, the Palace of the Vampire Queen was written by Pete and Judy Kerestan. Yes, the very first adventure was co-written by a woman. The first edition was self-published, followed by a second and third edition by Wee Warriors (1976 and 1977) and distributed exclusively by TSR.

The "Dungeon Master's Kit" (module was not being used yet) presented a simple adventure with a singular goal; defeat the Vampire Queen. The plot, such as it is, is very thin even by the standards of what would later be the norm. The maps are fantastic, but the descriptions are little more than that; what's in the room in terms of monster and treasure. We get a background, the missing princess of the Dwarf King Arman of Baylor. Vampire Queen herself remains nameless.

The adventure itself is fairly straight forward. Go to the Palace, defeat the monsters and the Vampire Queen and save the Dwarven Princess.

Despite, or maybe because of, this limited background this adventure can be used anywhere with nearly every version of the game. I became aware of this adventure many years ago and it immediately went on to my "must find" list. Around 10 years ago I was able to get a copy and I ran it for a group using Moldvay Basic/ Cook Expert (BX) D&D. It was a lot of fun. There was no indication on how many characters were needed or what levels.

The adventure reminds me a bit of the Dungeon! board game. You walk the halls, kick in the door, kill the monster, take the treasure, repeat. Of course, this adventure is the first of such adventures so it gets a huge pass on this. There is a lot though here to keep any DM and party busy.

Since 1976 the adventure has had a few reprints. The first ones were by Wee Warriors. These prints regularly go for over $1,000.00 on eBay. There were two such covers, the "black" cover with a castle in the background and the "queen" cover, featuring the vampire queen herself.

Now today, Precis Intermedia has a new cleaned up reprint of the adventure.

This version of the adventure also preserves much of what made the original a classic. The PDF of this book has a "special feature" to show a reprint of the original NSFW art. The print copy is all paper, with the cover made out of heavier weight paper (like résumé paper). At 24 pages it might be the most faithful reproduction yet. While the cover is new art, the interior looks like the classic. No additions have been made to the text. The maps are cleaned up, darker ink and clearer to read.

At under $5 this is a great price for a piece of RPG history.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Palace of the Vampire Queen (Classic Reprint)
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V6 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Crypts of the Living
Publisher: Pacesetter Games & Simulations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2020 15:51:15

Full review with other Palace of the Vampire Queen related material here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2020/01/classic-adventures-revisited-palace-of.html

Crypts of the Living was written as an explicit sequel to the Palace of the Vampire Queen and makes more overt references to the first adventure. The booklet, 16 pages worth, says it is designed for 5th Edition, but all the stats are for OSRIC/1st Edition. No worries. Converting is easy. There are references to both the Palace of the Vampire Queen and Castle Blood. The other adventures are not 100% required to play this one, but it does help. The adventure is a fairly straight forward exploration affair. There are new monsters and new magic items so that is a nice bonus. Can be played in an afternoon or combined with the others for a longer campaign. A fun adventure that is easily adapted to a wide variety of games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
V6 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Crypts of the Living
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V5 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Castle Blood
Publisher: Pacesetter Games & Simulations
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/23/2020 15:50:32

Full review with other Palace of the Vampire Queen related material here: http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2020/01/classic-adventures-revisited-palace-of.html

The first sequel to Palace of the Vampire Queen is Castle Blood. Now here we get more modern adventure designs and maps. There is more background here too to hook the players in, The adventure is brief, but it is supposed to be, at just 16 pages. It can be run in an afternoon. I actually felt this worked better as a prequel to the PotVQ. You learn more about her history here. The eponymous castle is all detailed and above ground. You can meet the Vampire Queen here, but killing her is not the goal of this adventure, but rather finding out what is going on. A fun adventure that is easily adapted to a wide variety of games.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
V5 Palace of the Vampire Queen: Castle Blood
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B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/21/2020 16:20:14

In Search of the Unknown was not the first adventure ever created, it was not even the first TSR adventure ever created. It was though one of the very first adventures I ever encountered and one of the first I ever ran.

The adventure is a great case of both teaching tool for learning DMs (we were all new to this once) and DIY Dungeon. Some areas are detailed, but many are not, leaving room for the neophyte DM to record what monsters and treasure were in each room. There are also a plethora of cliche spawning Dungeon tropes, that were just getting started here. Magic mouths, one-way secret doors, a mysterious creator of the dungeon, or in this case, two, and strange magical artifacts.

This adventure was the perfect learning tool for me at the time since my own version of D&D was a mix of Holmes Basic and the AD&D Monster Manual. This "Basic" introductory module was released before the Basic game, but it moves elegantly between Basic and Advanced that begs you to mix and match your rules systems. Author Mike Carr even gives some guidelines on how to use this adventure with AD&D.

The module is pretty typical for the time. 32 pages of b/w art and text. Detached cover with blue maps printed on the inside of the cover. The first 6 pages are dedicated to running the adventure and how to run this one in particular.

I have used this adventure to start every new campaign I have ever run in D&D, regardless of the edition. The dungeon crawl here is so primal that it calls out to you. A true In Search of the Unknown indeed. The one thing I never did, however, was to investigate more about who Rogahn and Zelligar were and why they left their lair of Castle Quasquenton.

One thing that B1 did give me, in a roundabout way, was my very first witch NPC Marissia. She is in the lower parts of Quasquenton and she is attempting to summon the spirit of her master Zelligar and her father Rogahn.

The adventure has stood the test of time and it is a great combination of flexible dungeon design. Nearly anything can be put into this adventure to raise or lower the difficulty as needed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B1 In Search of the Unknown (Basic)
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Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition
Publisher: Wild Games Productions
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 01/07/2020 19:03:33

My first experience with D&D was the Eric Holmes version of D&D Basic. While I soon moved on to Moldvay and to AD&D 1st Ed, the Holmes edition holds a warm and fuzzy place in my gaming recollections. I know I am not the only one that feels this way. So anything that is done as an homage to Holmes I pay attention too. First things first, obviously the name of the game is a nod to John Eric Holmes' book "The Maze of Peril" and I can respect that. If you are going to do a Holmes' homage or pastiche then that is a perfect name really.

Secondly, some others have complained about the art. I rather like it to be honest. The cover is very cool and the interior is no worse than what you would have seen in Holmes. Taken as a retro-clone by itself it is not much different than Labyrinth Lord or Basic Fantasy RPG. The rules are simple, as befits the times it is emulating. There is some missing information in some areas (or not easy to find, which is just as bad really). There are tables for STR, INT, CON and DEX but not for WIS or CHA. This is an artifact of Holmes, but M&P expands STR into the AD&D1 numbers, but still does not include these other tables.Some other oddities are the XP levels for Cleric and Magic User. Some of the monster text is awkward to read. There are various grammar errors that even I noticed, and I am terrible at that. Taken as a "Holmes clone" it certainly does that, even to the point that they are little too similar in some respects. There are some spots of the text that are nearly identical, including some text that is more similar to Holmes than OGC text that is essentially the same in LL and BFRPG.

This is certainly a labor of love on the part of the author. And as a Holmes fan myself I can respect that. But I am left feeling that this is too close to the source material. It even shares some of the shortcomings of the Holmes book. I understand the desire, but to mimic the style, even to the point where some sections are not very clear, is not a good idea. This is one of the reasons the Moldvay book was made, Holmes was a transitional project.

Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition also introduces two new magic-using classes, the Enchanter and the Shaman. They join the classic Cleric and Magic-User. There is a design choice here to keep the Magic-User over the more widely accepted wizard and I am 100% cool with that. If you know any version of Basic D&D (Holmes in particular) you know what the MU is all about. The XP progression tables are lesser for this MU compared to their Holmes, B/X, AD&D counterparts. The max spell level in 5th, but that is not a big deal since the max character level in most cases is 12th.

The first new class is the Enchanter. The enchanter follows a similar level progression and the same spell progression as does the Magic-User.
They also learn their spells differently from a MU with a chance of a non-enchanter going insane after reading their spell books. I like the idea of the enchanter and I would certainly play one. I think though I would do something to make them a bit more different than the Magic-User. Given the mental nature of their spells I might make their prime stat Charisma or even Wisdom. They have some really interesting spells here and I think a lot can be done with this class. Just give it a little more to separate it from the MU.

Next up is the Shaman. Now the Shaman is a real treat. First it is a "primitive" type of spell caster, so their spells reflect that. They also have Atonement and Spirit Guardian abilities. Atonement gives them the ability to spiritually link to a weapon. I have to admit the first thought I had was of Rafiki the baboon shaman from The Lion King. Trust me, this is a good thing. My only "house rule" I would add to this is that the Shaman's weapon acts as a magical weapon for purposes of hiting undead creatures. Not a +1 but more like a "+0". The spirit guardian is a very interesting ability. I don't think it would be game breaking if the spirit animal could attack as a 1HD monster, but it is a guardian afterall. As a DM I would love to do a lot of cool things with this animal. Hell, it would make for a great "patronus" like spell. Also I would have the shaman need to go on a "vision quest" to find their spirit animal. Get all new-agey with it. The shaman fills the same niche as does the druid in other OSR/D&D games, but is not really 100% the same thing. This is good, a game could be run that has both druids and shamen in it and still be plenty for them both to do.

Which class to play will often be determined I think by their spell lists. If I were to play the Enchanter I might want to supplement some of his spells. Maybe grab a few illusionist spells some more Enchantment spells from the 3.x SRD. The Shaman works great out of the box. I would play both to be honest.

If you want to get a simple "Basic" system for a grittier style play then M&P is a good choice.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mazes & Perils Deluxe Edition
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Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde 3rd printing
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2019 22:34:23

At first I was not going to get this book. I had all three of the other monster books and this one seemed a bit redundant. But this one had something the others didn't; Demons and Devils. I don't want to say that this is the only reason I got it, but they were conspicuously absent from all the other books. Of course this book has more, a lot more, than just that.

I did enjoy all the new dragons and like it's "parent" book, this book has a bunch of new treasure. Some of the monsters are world specific, but nothing that can't be worked around. In truth most of these monsters are all brand new to me and that is worth the price of the book alone. Even most of the demons, devils and dragons are new. Likewise for the treasure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure of Aihrde 3rd printing
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Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters & Treasure 2nd Printing
Publisher: Troll Lord Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/22/2019 22:31:35

A fantastic collection of monsters from the original Fiend Folio, Monster Manual 2 and various publications. All revised to be used in in Castles & Crusades. Not a "must have" book, but certainly a "you will really, really want it and kick yourself if you don't get it" book.

It is a fantastic edition to my C&C collection and I am very glad I bought it. Actually the more I have it, the more I find myself turning to it.

The nicest feature of this book is the inclusion of a DMG style index of the monster stats from here and from Monsters & Treasure. So now hundreds of monsters are at your finger tips.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castles & Crusades Classic Monsters & Treasure 2nd Printing
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Reimagined: Fanfic Role-Playing Game
Publisher: Game Machinery
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 17:32:04

Original review posted here, with pictures. http://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2019/12/review-reimagined-fanfic-role-playing.html

Ok, now this is a fun one. At least it made me smile.

Reimagined: Fanfic Role-Playing Game

Reimagined is a "fanfic RPG" in which you take some other world and run with it. If you have ever read (or written) fanfic or have a personal "head-canon" (or even know what that is) then this might be the game for you.

The author, Katarzyna Kuczyńska, comes in with some solid street cred, just different than what I have seen in the past. This is a good thing.

The game is for two players using the X-Card system (a system I was not very familiar with). You decide on the fandom, what level of romance you want (Gen, Lime, Lemon and Smut), what sort of story you want (lots listed) and who the charaters are and what the themes are.

Now you and the other player work out your do's and don't (or yeses and noes) and move on the storyline. You have some tables you can roll on with a d6 (which makes it a game and not a series of collaborative storytelling). The tables will depend on the tone of your game and type of story.

The players go back and forth being the "actor" and the "director". I think with some tweaking it could be modified to accommodate more people and thus more characters. This is one of those games where people that really know each other is where it would work the best.

There is also an example of play given and some examples of the worksheets filled out. I love the example card shown of "Captain Carol and the God of Thunder" a Superhero story with Lemon (aka steamy) levels of Romance and tension. On the Noes are "Children being hurt", "torture" and "alcohol" ok, fine and on the "yeses" are Dragons!

Among our themes are "Superheroes Showing off", "Passionate Foreplay" and "Space Battles" you know...I am enjoying this one more and more. The main storyline, "Heroes team up to save an alien planet using their powers and spaceship."

Seriously, how does that not sound like fun?

Seriously off the top of my head, I came up with about 30 fandoms this would work with. Even some I wish I hadn't (gives the Mallfoy-Granger shippers some side eye).

I'd have to try it out. You need the right group to do this game with, but I think it would be fun. This is a very different sort of game for me and I want to try it out.

The PDF is full-color at 39 pages. There are also extra sheets included.

All for $3.00. That's pretty good really.

Plays Well With Others: BlackStar

Of course, this got me thinking. If this works well like this, maybe I could use the Story generation functions of this game in my other games. Sit down as a Session 0 to determine what we all want to do out of a series. IF that series is media-tie in, say like Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, or anything, then it might be a good starting point.

So. Let me try it with BlackStar.

BlackStar is part of the Star Trek Fandom, but it also has heavy doses of Cthulhu. It's going to be Dark, but Gen. Sorry, there won't be time for romance among the stars for this crew, I'll save all of that for the Captain and the Thunder God above.

It is an Alternate Universe and partial crossover. The only character I know right now is Captain Valerie Beaumont. BUT she is not in charge of the ship. She was supposed to be, but it has been taken over by NPC Commodore Taggart. He is the project leader and a complete dick. So that will make up some of the interpersonal dynamics.

I want to cover the themes of "Horror in/of Space", "We are not alone", "Science as a Candle in the Dark" and "Adventure! ...but don't go insane." I am saying yes to Monsters, Insanity, Death, and Visions of Hell. I am saying no to Vampires, Klingons (sorry!) and no to Deltan and Betazeds. Not because I don't like them, I love them, but empaths will have a really bad time here.

Yeah. This sounds like fun.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Reimagined: Fanfic Role-Playing Game
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White Mage
Publisher: DYS Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 16:19:11

The White Mage (which is an odd name for it. Healer would have been better but hey) is a 14 or 20 level class for "Basic-era" D&D-like games. In particular it is for Labyrinth Lord and ACKS. The White Mage combines magic-user and clerical abilities and spells.

It is 10 pages long, so after the OGL and title pages we have 3 pages of tables and 4 pages of content and 1 page lost to formating. It is only $1.50, but a $1.00 might have been a better price point.

The class is very playable. Some new spells would have been nice though as well.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
White Mage
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Character Workbook: Witch [PFRPG 1e]
Publisher: Dancing Lights Press
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 16:12:06

For a buck you get a pretty handy bit of work.

Nearly 50 pages this covers character creation all the way to 20th level.
Why am I reviewing this now? Simple, I used it and tracked a character from creation to 20th level and it worked fantastic.

Plenty of places for notes and there are guidelines all along the way, such as reminding you that your skills can increase and ability modifiers change. Even a worksheet for your familiar.

Realy a great idea.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Character Workbook: Witch [PFRPG 1e]
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Advanced Options: Patron Hexes
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 15:59:53

6 pages of 25+ hexes baed on the Witch's patrons. No specific patron is given, which is good, these are more generic (read as "flexible") in nature. They all seem great and the handful I have used in play have worked out well. Really helps add some new flavor to the witch class.

If you play a witch and have one of the patrons mentioned in the product listing then this is a must have. If you have a lot of witches (like me) then this is an essential product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Options: Patron Hexes
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[PFRPG] Breath Weapons
Publisher: Ennead Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 15:24:16

Sixteen pages on Breath Weapons for use by dragons and others. There are different kinds of breath weapons, different shapes and attack grids.

For $1.50 it is worth having just to use to modifiy for dragons and other creatures.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
[PFRPG] Breath Weapons
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Class Expansions: Witch Grand Hexes [PFRPG]
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 15:20:01

Seven new grand hexes for the Pathfinder Witch class. I rather enjoyed them to be honest.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Class Expansions: Witch Grand Hexes [PFRPG]
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FUDGE 32 (32 Psi, Healer and Misc Powers for FUDGE
Publisher: DCS
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/10/2019 15:17:08

Six pages (of the total 10) of new Psi powers for Fudge. Mostly powers for healers, but there are some other powers here as well.

It's not bad, it just could have been more.
No art.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
FUDGE 32 (32 Psi, Healer and Misc Powers for FUDGE
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