Tuesday, February 28, 2023

A Balance of History- - Kosmo 68 & Hostile Rpg Crossover Game Commentary

 Today we're going to pick right up from this play session report here.  When we're talking about using Cepheus Engine & 2d6 resources. Paul Elliot's Outworld isn't often mentioned at all. And that's a big mistake because Outworld contains about everything that a DM needs to use Hostile within an established 2d6 campaign. And it also gives the DM the maxium coverage for the worlds of Kosmos'68 woodpress.com campain setting. A world that Paul Elliot created with his intial Kosmos 68 campaign. And according to the tag line 'A Soviet Future that will never be'. Or is it?! 

If we start looking at Hostile's setting book we've got a solid overview of coming history or at least the coming history of all kinds of upheaveal that make what we're going through in 2023 look like a cake walk. According to Zozer Games Website on Outworld; "OUTWORLD is a short and simple setting, inspired by the movies Alien, Aliens, Outland and Silent Running (amongst others) and it uses only the tools and rules of Traveller Books 1, 2 and 3 to help build a rough facsimile of those movies. The setting is entirely original, and not  connected to the settings of Ridley Scott’s Alien or Blade Runner movies, but it is inspired by his films, by the others in my list above and by later movies (the Alien sequels for a start).   It is not connected to my game HOSTILE, either." 
And this was my mistake reading this blurb. Not connecting Outworld into the universe of Hostile. If it's plugged back into the universe of Hostile and Kosmos '68 then events between the East & West begin to make a whole lot of sense. And this provides a backdrop for the events of Orbital 2100 which are a hundred & twenty five years prior to the events of Outworld & Hostile. 

And this could be the universe of Kosmos 68 as well & right in the introduction it says it all;"Mankind’s vices, arrogance, folly and greed followed him into space. Today, in 2168, the USSP is an impersonal bureaucracy, composed of interlocking layers of redundant commissariats, councils, worker’s soviets, constituent assemblies and executive committees. This Byzantine bureaucracy is essentially governed by the elite of the Global Progress Party, all members of the Politburo, the highest policy-making authority within the USSP. The Party apparatus creates a ladder of loyalty and power for those who wish to climb it – but the party machine itself is oiled with bribes, extortions, kick-backs and threats. The frontier colonies have quotas to fulfil in order to keep the richer worlds (home to many of the Party hierarchy) supplied with food stuffs and raw materials." 

And here's where the rest of Cepheus Engine comes into focus because lurking on the edges of the universe may be other powers. The Zuhki are utterly alien & without a human touch stone. And recently I've used Cepheus Journal issue #8 to introduce two human factions, the space force & the space patrol into our games.  These were a part of the Earth sector & Clement sector respectively. These two factions could easily be ported over into the Kosmos 68 setting as a part of the Soviet side. 

This is the same game that we introduced the Martians & sent the players scrambling for an escape craft. And there's a reason why the Martains were there besides they were in  Cepheus Journal issue #8. This all comes back to our mini campaign that centered around journeying through the Tanhauser gate anomaly. More to come. 

Monday, February 27, 2023

Hell To Burn & The Lord of the Flies - Dragon Issue # 28 & Adventurer, Conqeuror, King's Heroic Fantasy Handbook - Campaign Commentary


Dragon (Issue 28 - Aug 1979) contained one of the most controversial articles by "The Politics of Hell" by Alexander von Thorn covers "A history of Satan and the other fallen angels after the war against heavan and they had been cast down."  And its the unseen player that we get one of our primary antagonistic villains. Baalzebul get's his due in this article and according to Greyhawk on line; "In Dragon # 28, the article "The Politics of Hell" by Alexander von Thorn gives a different history to that detailed above, and includes statistics for Satan, Belial and Astaroth. Satan is more powerful than any other Devil, but lacks support, having been exiled from hell by Beelzebub following a revolution. Beelzebub ("Lord of the Archdevils") was himself overthrown by Asmodeus and is forever after known as Baalzebul ("Lord of the Flies," with "flies" meaning "little devils" in this context)."

"In Legions of Hell by Chris Pramas, Beelzebub (as he's called in that source) is described as a fallen throne archon. His servants in that book include Amitiel, the Archon of Truth; Flauros, who is consulted in divinations; Meresin, who controls lightning storms; Moloch, a former angelic patron of children who now welcomes child sacrifice; Murmur, who questions souls arriving in the Seventh Circle; Nergal, the Fetid Prince; Rahbad, Lord of the Lightless Seas; and Tamiel, Angel of the Deep." " 

What does Baalzebul have to do with Adventurer, Conqueror,, King rpg's Heroic Fantasy Handbook?!? Well a bit of everything really as we get write up's for new heroic style monsters and this includes cacodemons. Cacodemons range in power from imps capable of being a nuisance to ones that are capable of ripping dragons in half. 

 Baalzebul ("Lord of the Flies," with "flies" meaning "little devils" in this context)." here could easily mean Cacodemons. And if Baalzebul is in point of fact still one of the most powerful background entities within Hell. Than it stands to reason that he has a network of these horrors capable of moving between the 9 Hells. 
Now according to the Cacodemon's entry on Wik:"A cacodemon (or cacodaemon) is an evil spirit or (in the modern sense of the word) a demon. The opposite of a cacodemon is an agathodaemon or eudaemon, a good spirit or angel. The word cacodemon comes through Latin from the Ancient Greek κακοδαίμων kakodaimōn, meaning an "evil spirit", whereas daimon would be a neutral spirit in Greek. It is believed to be capable of shapeshifting.[1] A cacodemon is also said to be a malevolent person.

"In psychology, cacodemonia (or cacodemonomania) is a form of insanity in which the patient believes that they are possessed by an evil spirit. The first known occurrence of the word cacodemon dates to 1593. In William Shakespeare's Richard III Act 1 Scene 3, Queen Margaret calls Richard a "cacodemon" for his foul deeds and manipulations.[2] In John Fletcher's The Knight of Malta, Norandine calls Mountferrat, the play's villain, a "cacodemon" in the final scene.[3] In The Arbatel de Magi Veterum, written in 1575, the word Cacodemon is described as one of the Seven."

"In astrology, the 12th house was once called the Cacodemon for its association with evil.[4][5] Defined it as "a noise-making devil", Jane Davidson has noted an illustrated example of a cacodemon in editions of Ulisse Aldrovandi’s Monstrum Historia (Story of Monsters) as late as 1696.[6]" " 

So not only are Cacodemons powerful but thier far more formable
 then thier Hero
ic Fantasy Handbook entry suggests. And this puts 

them well in a league of thier own.  And Baalezbub knew how valuble these 

members of the Falare/were as this is reflected in the 'Politics of Hell' article;"

 Beelzebub does seem to have had a point. However, Beelzebub had difficulty controlling the devils. He could not order them about the way Satan had, because he had gained power by promising more freedom of action. In fact, some of the more powerful arch-devils told him (in a roundabout way) that his authority would be in jeopardy if he tried to assert himself too much. So, the only means that Beelzebub could use to get things done in Hell were by persuasion or by doing favors for the devils. Needless to say, these were not enough, even if Beelzebub had had the time to talk to all the arch-devils in order to explain why things had to be done, or to do all the errands that he had to do to get things done. The devils ended up aiding humans against each other, with little coordination, so that they fell into disrepute because they could not fulfill their conflicting promises."  And it's this confusion that borne the influence of the cacodemons within Hell. 
Why I'm I referencing Cacodemons so much tonight?! Because these horrors were some of the main horrors that decimated our party back in '86. These horrors also caused us no end of infernal issues for us players. Why? Because they were connected with the unique devils back on the first plane of Hell. We had to defeat some of the least cacodemons & believe me those were the worst. Why?! Because these cacodemons while not hugely powerful were none the less incredibly dangerous. These horrors often masquraded as perverse magic items and other trinkets while influencing thier owners. 

Why was Baalzebul picking on our player's PC's?! Simply put we had defeated his pet black wizard who had a pact with the archdevil & was his primary agent on Earth at the time. And when we killed him the arch devil appeared and took us with him! The PC's had to deal with being lost on the first plane and events began to get worse as time went on. 
Each time we got a few steps ahead, we'd get knocked back two spaces. We recruited three slayers from the prisons of Mammon. Baalzbul however was always lurking in the background. The Forgotten Realms Wiki entry on Baalzebul hones in one of the archdevil's flaws his personality;
Of Baazelbul's numerous flaws, his most crippling was his perfectionist extremism. His unfiltered dedication to achieving physical flawlessness and greater dominion was what caused his initial fall from the Seven Heavens, as such callous ambition was more befitting of a devil.[2][8] Seemingly incapable of realizing when he had gone too far, his utter arrogance led him to undermine his own plans by overreaching.[1][4] He might have even been able to defeat his rival Mephistopheles if in his overconfident scheming he didn't also aim to defeat Asmodeus, causing him to fall even further than before.[4]" Our party of adventurers were part of an elaborate plan to reclaim his kingdom.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Hell To Burn - Dragon Issue #75 & Adventurer, Conqeuror, King's Heroic Fantasy Handbook - Campaign Commentary



Dragon issue 75 was released in July of 1983 & it featured "From the Sorcerer's Scroll: New denizens of devildom" by Gary Gygax which had a listing of the following as a mini preview for the upcoming Monster Manual II :

And this issue of The Dragon magazine also featured "The Nine Hells, Part I" By Ed Greenwood which had detailed  descriptions of the first 5 layers of the Nine Hells (and their inhabitants) . Both of these articles were hugely influencial on us Eighties kids. And in fact my uncle at the time our DM sent our party  straight to Hell! There were two reasons for this one we were studying the Roman Slave Rebellions: First Servile War & Dante's Divine Comedy. But my uncle really punched those two articles up by drawing more from Dante. Each time we were killed we were put into a lower level in the nine Hells. You didn't just die you lost XP and levels. This got me thinking about ACK's & the Hells! Could an ACK's campaign survive in the Hells?! Then I started thinking about the ACK's Heroic Fantasy Handbook. The ACK's Heroic Fantasy Handbook is almost another side optional rulebook having heroic & Pulpy PC classes,alternative rules, and much more. But is it enough to survive the nine Hells?! 

We spend the first couple of months on Avernus avoiding Tiamat,her consorts, her children, and picking sport with the machinations of the unique devils. The unique devils picked us off one by one more then once; "The uppermost plane of the Nine Hells is ruled by Tiamat, the Chromatic Dragon, and serves as a home to all lesser unique devils. These are devils with individual names and characteristics, and powers of greater magnitude than those of a pit fiend (for all such unique devils of lesser power are soon destroyed by their enemies and the cruelty of their fellows), which are not otherwise placed in the hells as ruling archdevils or their direct servants."

Don't count out the unique devils because they handed more then a few PC's their behinds multiple times. We were screwing around on the first level & only made it too Dis after 5 month of game time. We spent a great deal of time as 'guests' of Mammon wading our necks up in the filth and horrors of Minauros famous swamps. 
Eventually after completing missions & combat sorties for several arch devils & their respective misstresses our party escaped from the Hells. However we each brought a piece of Hell with our PC's. The experience changed our characters we were no longer welcomed in our usual haunts. The PC's were rumored to have been dead or worse 'damned'. We carried this stigma for years as PC's and were the 'bad guys' hunted by paladins and knights because of our association with the Hells. Now my interest is peaked again to see if the players wouldn't mind a bit of time in the Hells. 

Review & Commentary On The Free Cepheus Journal – Issue #013 For The Cepheus Engine Rpg & Old School 2d6 Science Fiction Rpg's

 Cepheus Journal – Issue #013 is a mini Cepheus Engine supplement unto itself & I don't say this lightly. From a fantastic A.I. cover to a really silly comic strip there's a bit of something for everyone. This issue's premise is interesting; "Welcome to our 13:th issue. The theme for this issue was supposed to be bad luck. That is why there is a crashed spaceship on our cover. But we didn’t get any submissions on that topic. Some of the adventures posted may include some bad luck. But that is up to the referee to determine.

But we do have a bunch of other interesting stuff and also some AI experiments (including one silly comic). We hope that you will enjoy it."  From the Editors with Paul Drye/Brett Kruger recounts the OGL fiasco with Cowards of the Coast from the Cepheus Engine's Rpg perspective & it's a well thoughtout take on the subject. Ricardo Emilio goes into one of the most over looked aspects of the Cepheus Engine & Traveller rpg takes with his "Food Syntheszers" article & it's a good addition to the discussion. Andrew Boswell comes in with a solid introduction to his take on Paul Elliot's 'Kosmo 68" campaign. And this is an article I wish I'd had last night. Then Joseph Mohr comes in with his 'Snowball's Chance In Hell' which the cover of this issue take on. P-O Bergstedt + AI's comes across with his Torvald the Space Viking & the silliness occurs big time. We get another round of "Raiders Lament Part 7" by Jo Jaquinta. 

Paul Drye brings up the heat with "A Tetrad of Monsters" a ton of Pulp &
mythological monsters for your 2d6 fantasy rpg's & these are worth the
 price of admission alone! Here we've got a whole plethora of monsters 
for 2d6 fantasy rpging. So here's where Sword of Cepheus, Barbaric, & 
the others get new fodder. 
This isn't the end of the 2d6 fantasy fodder as we get brand new adventure
seed with Max & Elsa by P-O Bergstedt + AI. 

Timothy Collinson + AI are responsible for the  The Sapphire Sea adventure
 seed for the Cepheus Engine rpg. Again this is a well done little encounter 

& I understand that the Chatbot A.I.'s are controversial but this is solid little 

adventure seed. Finally we get a new 100 ton Frontier trader from
 Ricardo Emilio, a long range courier, & finally an inter system ten ton ship.
 I've got acual use for these ships
 with the Earth & Clement sector Rpg. Finally we get a 'What's New'
which goes into a ton of new Cepheus Engine rpg products. 

Cepheus Journal – Issue #013 is a solid addition to the already core market of 
Cepheus Engine rpg products (long may they continue) and is a must for any
old school 2d6 DM who loves new & optional material for the Cepheus Engine rpg family of games! Grab Cepheus Journal past issues right over here. 

Saturday, February 25, 2023

A Plea For Help - Kosmo 68 & Hostile Rpg Crossover Game Session Report The Journey Begins

 The players were in for something a bit special as they slept two years until they got to "The Autonomous Region" & then were taken aboard the Porter Space Station. The player's PC's were confronted by Allard Electronics 7 tigers mercenary internal security agents. And the players were also met 'Sonny'  Soveli head of operations for Green/Red bratva & his psion asistant  Harri. 'Sonny' Soveli begged the PC's to transport weapons, ammo, & provisions to the local UGS near the system's front lines. 

The PC's are going to have the Tigers along for security. The job pays very well however  & the Allard Electronics has been briefed on the Zukhi. The PC's have some idea of the threat that these aliens represent. The PC's were briefed on the alien threat. The USSP is aware of the smugglers & because of certain 'payments' were made is allowing the cargo to go through. The risk here is that the player's PC's could end up in 'Re - Education resort' 

What the players are not aware is the fact that they'll be picking up a psion for passage back into  "The Autonomous Region"  The Soviets are the only human faction that has psions within our Hostile rpg campaign.Contracts & Waivers were signed by the PC's. And 'Sonny' Soveli assured the PC's that there are significant opportunities for work & money making opportunities. 

The PC's went into hypersleep after the cargoes were loaded, inspected, and double inspected. The PC's hacker who had recently recovered from a series of cybernetic implantations. This came as a result of a shot gun blast to mid section. She was extremely skeptical of these cargos. And had her own eyes on all of them. There was also the fact that she was creepied out by Harri. The very idea of psionics was both foreign and yet familar to her. Psionic bio drugs & implants  are beyond cutting edge for her employers. While internal documents speculate they are not beyond the theory stage. 
The game ended with the USS Ben Franklin setting off on her journey! 

Let's All Go To The Faire - Wretched Darkness & Cha'alt Crossover Session Report One

My players today have been going into the deep end of the Wretchedverse. The year is 86 & the PC's are on the tail of a T.E.F. agent who disappeared in Halsberg New York state. 'The Biggest Little Town You Ever Saw' Halsberg is a part of the recent developments that have sprung up along the Hudson River. There's also the fact that over five agents have disappeared there since the beginning of September. The biggest common denomintor is the fact that each of the agents was cybernetically enhanced. So the agents in question made it the CirqueDiabolique. 

The circus is however merely candy coating. The real issue is actually an 'old friend' of the PC's. And by 'old friend' I mean a black hearted wizard from Cha'alt whose after the agents of the T.E.F. after a recent debacle three months ago. He's cut a deal with the members of the circus troop to lure the fools in. He's sold the other agents from the T.E.F. into slavery on Cha'alt. 
But he wants to do far worse with the PC's! He wants to drop the party into the gullet of his demon clown worm patrons! The party isn't too interested in   the CirqueDiabolique why?! Because the party has two aces up thier sleeves in the form of two Knights of Sanctity (Sanctifiers) .
While the knights do even the odds a little bit here the party didn't count on the Hall of Mirrors leading directly into the wastelands of Cha'alt. 
There was no black magic per say because it was merely a dimensional gate that lead directly into the deep wastelands. The PC's were taken directly from Agents of W.R.E.T.C.H. & then modified with some Cha'alt secrets. The majority of the PC generation for the six players was done from Wretched Darkness. 

Everything went like clockwork until the party landed on Cha'alt and then events went sideways as the agents of T.E.F. made short work of the hover car that was waiting too feed them to the worm! The party of adventurers were far more heavily armed then the wizard anticipated.Chartreuse Shadows provided the underlying vigior to the rest of the adventure with the PC's hiding out with some desert raiders who took them in. The party had to provide security for the desert raiders in exchange for food, new weapons, and equipment. The PC's are now making thier way across the desert to secure transport back home!

Friday, February 24, 2023

OSR Commentary On O2: "Blade of Vengeance" (1985), by Jim Bambra with Phil Gallagher For the BCEMI Dungeons & Dragons system & Your OSR or Old School Games

 "You are Erystelle of Dorneryll, famed elfin champion and magic-user. After years of adventuring, you have come home to the Emerlas?the hauntingly beautiful elfin woodland at the tip of Canolbarth forest. A place of legends and of peace."

"The journey has been long, but soon the winding forest track will bring you to Dorneryll, the majestic oak tree home of your childhood. Ahead, you glimpse a plume of smoke curling lazily into the sky. Dorneryll is close, and your mind floods with thoughts of home.

Suddenly, your reverie is shattered! The thin plume of smoke is gone, and in its place a column of red flame leaps high smoke the trees.

Dorneryll is under attack! Gripping your lance, you urge your mount into a gallop. Starbow surges forward; your war dogs close on her heels ". 

Let's get the obvious out of the way first folks and a quick history lesson;"O2: "Blade of Vengeance" (1985), by Jim Bambra with Phil Gallagher, is the second "O" One-on-one adventure for the Basic D&D line. It was published in February 1985" And O2 ranks among some of my friend's favorite one on one adventures. Why?! Mathew on the Amazon O2 review from Feb 2009 sums it up nicely; "I have played through over forty modules in the D&D world. I rank Blade of Vengeance in the top five. I ran this module as a DM. My friend and I just wanted to kill a couple of hours with a one on one adventure. We both enjoyed this module so much that we purchased the rest of Jim Bambra's modules and my friend adopted the pregenerated character as his own. The rules are for the expert set, but I have always just used the storyline and converted the module to whatever format I wanted. This adventure has a rich background story, a linear but engaging storyline, reasonable and creative magic items, bits of mythology, and some tough combat. The adventure is almost Tolkien like. I have played most of the modules recommended by "darkseraphim" (he also reviewd this module)and I tend to agree with all of his reviews. Enjoy this module!" 
What makes O2 "Blade of Vengence" so damn awesome?! We Mathew Leivers sums it up best with his 2011 Amazon review when he says; "While it is written as a One-on-one adventure(one DM, one player) It would be easily be converted to handle an entire party. You'd probably want to enforce all elves who were related and from the starting town. I'm sure you could work in some other races if you considered them adopted children."  And we used the adopted children adventurers angle when my uncle adapted this module back in '86 for our party. We set O2 within Mystara's Alfheim. This made the campaign easily movable when it was time to move over to Greyhawk. 

Because of O2: "Blade of Vengeance" adaptablility this module is a prime canadiate to move over to Castle & Crusades quite easily. Take the adopted by the Elves gambit & suddenly your adventurers have reason to deal with the Elves & fall out. And for a Tolkein bent this is a great module to play one on one with your DM as the origin point for your rangers or other wilderness with the Elves familial tie types. This is especially true for a druid or pagan style adventurer. O2: "Blade of Vengeance" (1985), by Jim Bambra with Phil Gallagher is a classic module & part of another era. And O2 is easily used with both classic & modern OSR retrclone resources. 

Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Blackguard Become The Hunted! - Hostile Session Report - Using T2000 v2 Twilight Nightmares From Game Designers' Workshop (GDW) & HOSTILE Situation Report 006 - Hunted

 During tonight's Hostile rpg mini campaign one shot the Blackguard were on Tau Ceti runnig operations against a Chinese caravan. When two of the PC's mercs were suddenly attacked by an unseen alien hunter. The player characters were knocked to the ground as a unseen alien slaughtered the Chinese soldiers to a man. This is not the PC's first encounter with an unseen alien hunter on Tau Ceti in the middle of one of the interstellar brush fire wars.The PC's faced down one of these unseen hunters on Earth's in Allard Electronics proving grounds back a couple of months ago. 

This time they retreated from the area & brought up classified documents after our group's commander DM Paul thought about the skinned corpses that turned up at the battle site. the party's first encounter came straight out of T2000 v2 Twilight Nightmares From Game Designers' Workshop (GDW). And ended with marines command shutting down the area after a horrific explosion turned 2 miles of Arizona scrub land to desert glass. 
Tonight's encounter ended with the PC's leaving valuable weapons & ammo behind. And simply walking back to base to thwart the alien hunter. 
The encounter in tonight's game was significantly different as the PC's discovered when they came face to face with the scene of a group of Grays that had been slaughtered. Yet there was no saucer nor evidence of other conveyance. Tonight's alien hunter was slightly different the last one encounter because tonight we were using HOSTILE Situation Report 006 - Hunted
The player's PC's have had zero contact with the Greys. The Blackguard as a whole have though the interacts with the colonial scouting mission through the Taunhauster's Gate campaign two or so months ago. 
What I did some months ago was to run T2000 v2 Twilight Nightmares From Game Designers' Workshop (GDW) twice. Once in a desert enviroment on Earth in Arizona & then in South America. The players were completely unaware of this. 
This allowed me to save a ton of time when it came to prep work.  HOSTILE Situation Report 006 - Hunted worked better with updated rules & more. The feeling in tonight's game was paranoia pure & simple with a ton of Predator two & Lethal Weapon qoutes being spoutted at the table top. The PC's are now using fly overs and such to try to spot the aliens. No such luck.  More to come! 

OSR Commentary On Dangerous Monsters & Creatures - AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue (Basic) By Jim Bambra, Phil Gallagher, & Graeme Morris For BECMI D&D

 "Are you ready to face the horror of the Hivebrood, the gruesome Geonid, or the dread Dusanu? These and many other baleful beasts lurk within the pages of this manual, waiting to challenge even the mightiest adventurers!

The Creature Catalogue is the first major expansion to the range of D&D game monsters. Within its covers have been collected all the curious creatures first presented in the official D&D adventure modules, plus many more new nasties, designed to challenge and perplex the heartiest heroes. Also included is a comprehensive index of all D&D monsters found in the Basic, Expert, Companion, and Master rule sets.

Whether your players' characters are 1st, 21st, or 31st level, this tome contains many fantastic creatures with which to test their mettle. Armed with the Creature Catalogue, you will be able to find the right fearsome foe to confront even the most foolhardy fellow." 

So last night we my DM's & the players, we were discussing a tome of monsters that can't be beat & that's the  AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue (Basic) By Jim Bambra, Phil Gallagher, &  Graeme Morris. This is a ninety six page monster tome of lot of different monsters  that can cause havoc through out your BECMI D&D campaigns. Looking over the Amazon reviews for AC9 Crimson Bassist has one of the best reviews & break downs I've seen; "YES!!!
This is IT!!
A whole softcovered book dedicated to the monsters of Basic Dungeons & Dragons!! This book, along with Chapter 14 of the D&D Rules Cyclopedia is all that is needed to have a whole slew of beasts to pit against your players. The monsters in this book are both new, and some are collected from modules and accesories from the 80's. Great, great, book. The only flaw I see, is that the monsters are not listed as one per page like in AD&D. Sometimes you will have 2 or 3 monsters on one page and the description of one of them will bleed over to the next page. But since the book is setup like this .... there is a BUTTLOAD of monsters here!

Keep in mind, this is NOT Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. This is NOT 3.0/3.5/4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.
This is BASIC Dungeons & Dragons. To use this book effectively, you'll need the Basic D&D Rules Cyclopedia book. This book like the Cyclopedia book may be quite expensive now, but both are worth each and every penny spent!" 
 What makes 
AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue (Basic) By Jim Bambra, Phil Gallagher, &  Graeme Morris For BECMI D&D worth it?! Simply put this book is essentially the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Fiend Folio for the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. 

There are well over 200 monsters that have been culled & included within the pages of AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue. And this means a Hell of a lot of creatures can be used with  the Basic D&D Rules Cyclopedia book. 
And it also means that many of these monsters are going to be unknown to the average modern gamer today. That as we found out last night is fact with Fifth edition players who are migrating away from Fifth edition into the OSR. 
 Jim Bambra, Phil Gallagher, &  Graeme Morris bring some excellent creepies & crawlies with a book with a singular U.K. TSR  art style & sensibility about them. Many of these monsters harken into the BECMI D&D focus on wilderness & beyond the dungeon adventures. Many of the monsters in the 'Conjurations' section are very deadly & powerful. Many of these horrors would not see the light of day again until the OSR k
icked in '04. Because AC9 is made for BECMI D&D it's very easy to swing these monsters & races into an OSR game campaign such as Lamentations of the Flame Princess or other OSR retroclone systems. 
AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue is a joy to work with as a DM. The monsters here are new, and subtly different from the AD&D first edition style. Here the monsters have a far more hand crafted aspect. 
And each & everyone feels like it could easily be dropped into a weird historic or strange European campaign easily
Here the crossover with D&D's Mystara is in ernest with AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue having the vibe of Mystara without the heavy laden background & location mythological glut that comes with the venerable campaign settting. 
In my humble opinion AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue is a hidden gem from another age.
AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue could easily be used with many other retroclones today including the Hyperborea rpg & many others. And it's the attention to detail that makes the AC9: D&D Creature Catalogue so invaluable to DM's even today. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Review & OSR Commentary On AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants By Various TSR Staff For Your Old School Basic D&D Campaign - Updated

 "Red dragons. Storm giants. Dragon rulers. Frost giants. They're all here, in this book, in complete, ready-to-play mini-adventures. No matter what level your characters are, there is something here for you (and them).

Need a diversion? Want to spice up a long-running campaign? Want to play, but don't have more than an hour or so? This is the book for your gaming group. As DM, you have everything you'll need to play right at your fingertips. As players, you'll have challenges worthy of your characters."

Eight seven was a bit of a rough year for me growing up transitioning in my home town from beloved grade school to high school. But Dungeons & Dragons mania was in full effect then & going into a local 'fundamentalist Christian' grade school/high school may have not been my smartest of moves. Why do I remember this so well? Two reasons the Satanic Panic was in full effect & the Dungeons & Dragons book that I was caught with at my local cavern of "holiness" was AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants.  
This book got me expelled for a week from the high school & was to study the King James Bible for a test when I got back. Going into high school I knew the King James front to back already having been exposed to it for years by ex hippy parents. But AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants is not a bestiary at all as I learned on my forced school vacation. Instead its another series of short old school adventures by a whose who of old school writers & designers. The list of authors was/is a whose who of TSR staff writers & designers from '87 James M. WardBruce HeardScott BennieBob BlakeDeborah ChristianVince GarciaThomas KaneJohn NephewSteve PerrinWarren SpectorCaroline Spector,Rick SwanJohn TerraGary Thomas& Ray Winninger

So what is the AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants book?
Its actually a well written series of anthology adventures connected by stringing together use of Dragons & Giants. Yes,Mayfair games had been doing similar monster ecology/adventure themed books around this same time. But these were officially lisenienced Basic Dungeons & Dragons adventures centered around   the cloud giant, fire giant, frost giant, mountain giant, stone giant, and storm giant as well as the black dragon, green dragon, red dragon, and white dragon, plus the ruby dragon & Opal the Sun Dragon! These adventures were meant to be run at the drop of a hat when you've got fifteen minutes before the players show up at your door!
AC10 was also another in a series of adventure anthology tittles from TSR in '87 which included B9 Castle Caldwall & Beyond which I covered yesterday on the blog.
AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants
 has some really major innovations which are mostly forgotten today was the Draconic Spell Generator which according to the Drivethrurpg product entry had a few flaws; "
 The draconic "Spell Generator". It had to be hand constructed from cardstock sheets, but when it was complete, it could be slid around to randomly generate spells for arcane and divine draconic casters alike.

Unfortunately a major printing error meant that players had to cut out many of the device's spell windows by hand. Despite this issue, this gaming accessory with its actual moving parts was a real innovation for TSR, matched only by the AD&D Fighting Wheel (1981). It was also a nice innovation for the "AC" series, which had already expanded the boundaries of production with its Dragon Tiles." This added a whole other aspect to the already expansive B/X game during this time. But its the monster expansion that really counts here.

There's a secondary type of Mountain giants in AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants that are super dangerous to PC's for the sheer variety of flavors of malice & malevolence that they come in; "Mountain Giants. Since hill giants were one of the earliest D&D giant races, it's only natural that someone asked the question, "But what happens when the hills become mountains?" In fact, Louis Boschelli asked the question first in the Fiend Folio (1981) for AD&D; his creation then became a Citadel miniature in February 1982 as part of their "Fiend Factory" line. This oafish, rock-throwing clod was pretty similar to its hill giant kin.

Basic D&D introduced its own Mountain Giant in Master Rules (1985). This new variant of Mountain Giant wasn't necessarily meant to match its Fiend Folio brethren. It could also throw boulders, but it was bigger and tougher than its AD&D kin. In fact, it could run as high as 20 HD, making it the toughest giant on record."
Yes I'm doing lot of copying & pasting when it comes to AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants but its really interesting & mostly forgotten monster & adventure  book these days. The real innovation was the gem stone dragons & how they relate to the expansive Basic/Expert/B/X cyclopedia dragons;
" The ruby dragon was one of Basic D&D's gemstone dragons. The idea of gem-like dragons also originated in AD&D, as gem dragons; in The Dragon #37 (May 1980), Arthur W. Collins wondered, if chromatic dragons are evil and metal dragons are good, what sorts of dragons are neutral? He then laid out a set of five dragons that answered the question.

The gemstone dragons of Basic D&D again aren't actually the same as the gem dragons of AD&D, in large part because they don't have a natural niche. Instead of being the neutral dragons, they cover the gamut of alignments from lawful through neutral to chaotic. They're mainly intended to trick players, because the five original gemstone dragons look almost exactly like the five chromatic dragons. The Master Rules thus details: crystal, onyx, jade, sapphire, and ruby dragons. A brown dragon in that book (which looks like a gold dragon) later became the amber dragon. The Dragon Rulers of Basic D&D are apparently precious stones too: the Pearl chaotic ruler, the Opal neutral ruler, and the Diamond lawful ruler all debuted in the Master Rules too."
This is all directly related to the AC9 The Creature Catalog which is considered by many dungeon masters & players to be one of the most perfect monster books published by TSR during the mid to late 80's period. The monster ecology articles had been going in Dragon magazine for a long time by the time the Creature Catalog & AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants had hit the shelves. But the D&D lore had already been established by this time & so this simply took monsters in several other optional directions.

AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants is loosely connected with Mystara & with various locations of that world setting. While this might seem to be a drawback it means that a dungeon master can connect the campaign location dots to their own world setting. Customization allows AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants  to become  much more fluid adventure anthology for OSR or even gasp fifth edition games with some adjustments. Are there better monster adventure anthologies on the market today? Sure there are but this doesn't mean that AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants needs to be consigned to the back shelves of Drivethrurpg or your gaming collection. Given a bit of time & consideration AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants could be used as a it was intended to add a bit more spice to on going campaigns & to get the dungeon master to use the wide ranging monster gallery of Dungeons & Dragons in new & interesting ways.
So who should be using 
AC10 Bestiary of Dragons & Giants? Any dungeon master whose using a Basic style OSR retroclone style system. The options with this book put it a bit ahead of some of the unofficial adventure anthologies. Its a quick & easy adventure tool that adds a bit more to the dungeon master's palette of adventures.