Iron & Blood: Warriors of Ravenloft

The 90’s were a lawless time. Hypercolor tee shirts, peace frogs, and Home Improvement walked the land, and our only hope was to hide behind our friends in No Fear apparel or the closest giant hair-do. During this bleak era, a game was release for the PC and Playstation 1. This game, like many before it, was a D&D game. However, rather than be set in Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance – remember, Planescape: Torment was still four years away from saving us all – it was set in Ravenloft. This was around the first peak of Ravenloft popularity. Sure, the setting was released six years earlier, but a few things happened to raise its profile over time. Knight of the Black Rose, the inclusion of Lord Soth in Ravenloft, was released in 1991, and I, Strahd, the first novel solely about that totally-not-Dracula Count Strahd von Zarovich, was released in 1993. More importantly, the film Interview with the Vampire was released in 1994. This coincided nicely with the rise of Hot Topic, which had an IPO in 1996. So, even though Ravenloft was released in 1990, it wasn’t until the mid-90’s that the 90’s new-goth scene was really taking off. So, it was a perfect time for a Ravenloft game to be released.

NPC For Hire – Print and Mobile Tools by Knights of Vasteel

There is a new Kickstarter project that I think you will really like from Nathan and Austin of Knights of Vasteel.  The project is called NPC for Hire and uses a 52 card deck of hand draw portraits that you can use in a fantasy RPG game to add life to your non-player characters. These cards are very similar to Paizo’s Face Cards that I have used in the past. But along with the NPC for Hire cards, there is also a companion application that they have developed for iOS and Android.

e-D&D and Parallel Experiences

In a lot of ways, I’m a curmudgeon of a luddite who is afeared of technology. I mean, sure, I’ve literally worked on space telecommunications, but for some reason podcasts seem new and terrifying. Video streams, and even YouTube channels, don’t seem weird or foreign, but podcasts? It’s strange magic performed in the woods by the Sheldon gang summoning the Black Goat of a Thousand Young. Shubby N. is a good dude, I’m sure, but we have a hard time relating to each other. We just have very different backgrounds, ya know?

Get to Know the Merfolk

It might seem like just a few days ago, I was talking about spooky creatures and practices in honor of Halloween. Well, now Halloween is behind us, and our next holidays in the US are Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. To that end, I will be covering the wide variety of militaristic and martial turkeys that dot the Dungeons & Dragons landscape. We’ll first cover the turku, a kenku variant, and then move into the gonzo stuff, like the turketaur and the turkesaur. Just kidding, let’s talk about merfolk.

Bluebeard’s Bride – Horror RPG Kickstarter by Magpie Games

There is a new role-playing game Kickstarter that you will find very interesting. It is Bluebeard’s Bride, and it is a mature feminine horror themed game based on Bluebeard’s fairy tale. There are several stretch goals already met that add a ton to the game that looks to be already full of awesomeness. Here are the details from Bluebeard’s Bride Kickstarter page:

Bluebeard’s Bride is an investigatory horror tabletop roleplaying game for 3-5 players, written and designed by Whitney “Strix” Beltrán, Marissa Kelly, and Sarah Richardson, and based on the Bluebeard fairy tale.

In this game you and your friends explore Bluebeard’s home as the Bride, creating your own beautifully tragic version of the dark fairy tale. Investigate rooms, discover the truth of what happened, experience the nightmarish phantasmagoria of this broken place, and decide whether or not you are a faithful or disloyal bride.

Back the game, download it from our first update, and give it a try!

Bluebeard’s Bride is based on the Powered by the Apocalypse system used in Apocalypse World, Dungeon World, Monsterhearts, Masks, and more. It’s a simple system; when your character takes an action that fits a move, the move tells you what happens, or you roll two six-sided dice to find out. Since this is a horror game, we have modified it so that the majority of moves use no dice; this harkens back to telling ghost stories around the fire.

Get to Know the Crossroads

After a diversion into some discussion of Nemesis, I return this week to encourage people to get to know things. In the name of this spooky season, I am continuing with demons, devils, ghoulies, ghosties, goblins, and so forth. Ok, so I covered a type of devil and scarecrows thus far for the month and that’s it. Whatever, let’s not make a big deal about it. Rather than discuss a particular creature, I wanted to instead talk about the folklore of the crossroads, and the supernatural beings that are said to patronize them. Don’t worry, there will be some discussion of D&D critters, though maybe not the ones you think. If you’ve missed the rest of the series so far, you can catch up with it here.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Success and Magic Items

Instead of helping people get to know D&D creatures and their lore, this week we will discuss something completely different: magic items and player success. So very often, these two things go hand in hand. The players accomplish a task (saving a village, killing a monster, etc.), and not only enjoy the victory, they are compensated materially. Sometimes, the goal itself is the attainment of a magic item. The discussions in which I have participated tend to agree that groups questing for items for each other is a good way to provide story for everyone, while linking it to an item. The warlock wants a spellblade that once belonged to a fallen paladin in order to forge a stronger link with her patron and power her magic with the broken oaths. Sounds like a good, terrible quest for everyone.

Get to Know the Erinyes

We’re official into October. For many people I know, October means one thing: Halloween. While I am certainly not opposed to a fancy dress party, not to be confused with the Fancy Dress Party, I’m not exactly someone who goes crazy for the holiday. I like making stuff, but going to a party means I have to socially interact with people, all of whom might realize at any moment that I am the worst. Rather than have it be proven, I prefer to stay at home to cultivate my mystique. I might have veered from the point. Regardless, this time of year sees a whole host of devil and fallen angel costumes, of the classical, re-imagined, scary, or sexy variety. A kind reader (you can tweet to @tribality or @standsinthefire if you want me to cover something, or just complain about/to me) asked if I would cover demons or devils in the new future, and this time of year is perfect for it. Without further ado, let’s talk about one of my favorite devils: the erinyes.

Azer | Kenku | Giants | Scarecrow | Erinyes

Open Legend RPG

A couple of months ago, a reader reached out to be to say that he had created a new tabletop game, and he hoped I would consider an article on it. We had a good conversation about it, and I agreed. History of the Classes has involved a lot of design critique, which is related to but (in my head if nowhere else) different from a review. Seventh Sphere Publishing plans to crowdfund through Kickstarter later this year, running from 18 October to 19 November. The core rules are available for free on the Open Legend RPG website.

Art by Stephen Najarian