Friday, February 28, 2014

Daily Cosplay (Emma Frost)

Movie Trailer ~ Godzilla

Suck it! This is going to be awesome!!!

Sword and Sorcery notes part 5

This is not really rules, but in trying to define the nature of a sword and sorcery game, I keep going back to this article at the Black Gate. It is worth a read for anyone interested. I am grossly summarizing
his basic points.

1. The heroes are men of action. They act because, well, that's what they do. Now this may fall into the realm of any RPG as all the player character's are, by the act of adventuring, men of action. However, I will point out that they are propelled forward with their own agency. Nothing bids them go forward, no mystical power forces them onward, they go onward because that is who they are. No reluctant heroes. Mechanically, this can be encouraged by rewarding characers for taking bold action (scaling the sheer cliff, defying a lord, engaging in combat).

2. The characters are outsiders. They come from outside civilized society or are removed from it and even if growing up in it, remove themselves from it by a disregard for it. The outsider is not part of the social structure. He is not a thrall to some lord, he is not a priest obedient to an order, he is not a member of a guild, etc. This is really a player's choice on how to play a character but can be encouraged by class or skills sets or whatever.

3. The characters is not defined by any morality but that of his own making. Good and Evil exist but ore not far separated and the distinction is completely local. For the sword and sorcery hero, concern for this is what others labor with.

4. The scope is local. Sword and sorcery tales are local in nature, the gods and mystical forces are 'background noise' and have little or no impact on the tale or adventures to be had. There is no save the world episode for a sword and sorcery hero, maybe a save the wench from the rapacious designs of a group of guards.

Oh, yes there are S&S female heroes so my tenderizing of the above is laziness on my part.

Also, S&S is a broad category so their will be give and take on some of these things.

Anyway, with that in mind, I am going back to create a system of rewarding and encourages a Sword and Sorcery type game.


Cosmic Companions (Horses)

There's something about this beast, when we look at it we are comforted and feel less alone. It appeals to us on a very deep level, a primeval level. Like the dog, the horse has joined us on our crazy journey through the cosmic woollymabugger.

Of course so does this guy, he's just not as bad ass!

Old Dead People

Death fascinates us. Its as if we believe that we are missing something, some huge part of the puzzle, and because of this we are drawn to it. Every death has a reason, some simple, some complex . . . the latter of which seems to comfort us.

Which leads us to this young lady . . .

Her body was found in a Munich archive. She'd been there for about 100 years, set there, it seems, by someone who had originally found her in the deserts of South America, frozen in time.  They think she was Incan.

A CT scan revealed the young lady, about 25 or so, had had her head bashed in. She was buried in a shallow grave, in the desert where the harsh, dry conditions preserved her body.  Her DNA revealed she suffered from a breathing disease, making breathing very labored. Her facial bones were broken, completely smashed in, probably with some blunt force item.

Archeologists speculate that she was killed in a ritual murder (they stress this is just speculation), perhaps because of her breathing condition. But they have no idea. But whatever the case this young lady's last few moments were not gentle ones.

A Hermit's Cave in New England

East Thompson also may have been home to a mysterious hill dweller. Hobbit or human? I’d bet human. Hobbits kept cozier quarters than this:
Beyond that, all bets are off. No one has shown convincingly who made this artificial cave above swampy Rocky Brook, or why.

Looks cozy enough for me.

Armor Up (Gunnarson)

Miinecraft the Movie

Warner Brothers has picked up the rights to a Minecraft movie . . .

Minecraft is a strange game. It redefined what's good graphics for video games. Having started video games way back in the 80s I've watched the graphic interface slowly improve until you have bad assery all over the place. But Minecraft is, for me, a throwback. But for kids, its just a game. Its gone from a thousand to millions of gamers who do everything from building huts to fighting in the Hunger Games.

Those who play could care less about the graphics, something I've always cared about, and just play the game for the fun of it. Watching so many kids play made me realize that video games have evolved, they are no longer judged on their beauty, or even their complexity, they are judged on their value as a game.

Its also spawned a mountain of youtube videos . . . warning this song is very peaceful and addictive.

And now we are going to get a movie! Trollzah. It should very interesting to see how they CGI this one!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sword and Sorcery note part four

Ohh magic. I never really worked out a lot in the realm of magic. I know that these were my issues;

1. Too powerful at high levels. By that, a player who had a good retinue of spells and knew how to use them could become an unstoppable force only counter able by ever greater or equal magic. The fighter would diminish in role with time. Now, the goal was/is to keep the fighter on equal footing with the mage without resorting to magical weapons and effects.

2. Fire and forget was not my cup of tea. Again, for a SS feel game, the fire and forget did not work well. I preferred a system whereby the mage would slowly get worn out casting spells. He would also know his spells. Period. Also, there would be a chance of failure.

3. Quick fire spells pace too fast. By this I mean that the rapid firing of spells, like a six shooter full of lightning bolts, acid arrows and fireballs, did not convey the mystery and type of magic I would want.

4. Spell selection and nature of spells should not be long range artillery. The mage played in The Game is mobile artillery. i don't like that.

5. Continuing with that, the medic. The cleric is a medic in the fire team. pure and simple and should not be.

My solutions were to create a mana based spell system or some such. I know I once tried using hit points to cast spells (that didn't work with low hit points.) In any respect, the mage is somehow limited but not with the fire and forget retinue.

Rituals and long casting times were to be a part of many spells. This adds an element of time to all situations and allows the SS major character to act (the swordsmen that is) and prevent the spell or something. Also, it gives good reason for that mage to have sword wielding henchmen at hand.

Once a spell is known, its known. Period. It can be cast as much as possible.

Spells would scale. The more powerful the mage, the more powerful the spell.

Reducing the effect or nature or putting limitations on the game changing spells. Time stop comes to mind. Anyway, there are some spells that can be so readily abused that the fire and forget limitation becomes one of the only ways to put the brakes on it. Scrying is another example of an uber powerful game (or session) breaker.

Here is an example. Recently we played a game in which we worked up to this greater demon encounter. We were all geared for it and prepped and much tension was at hand for a very difficult up heal struggle.

Except, I had, for some unknown reason, picked dismissal for my spell that day (something I rarely do and a pick for which Steve was unprepared). I dismissed the demon in one round, Nary a single blow was landed. Steve, being a good master of The Game, still managed a cool after effect that was a struggle to overcome. So the game went fine.

For an S&S type game I would rather the encounter have played out like this.

The cleric, realizing the creature was from the Wretched Planes, recalled a old spell that could dismiss it - he would have hoped it would as his recollection is faulty and the tongue of the spell is ancient and foreign. The demon leaps forward and the others die into a hard scrape battle while the cleric begins summoning elemental forces to pull the demon back. For reveal rounds this goes on and the others are getting worn down and pressed and begin to look desperately to the cleric for their salvation.

Then the spells go off and the demon is pulled back to the planes of the underworld. The cleric is visibly spent from the effort and the rest of the party torn and ragged.

Or, the spell fails and the demon laughs. The old warrior, tired beaten and bruised, damns the demon and all that is and leaps with cold steel in hand plunging the blade hilt deep into the creatures head killing it.

Either way, the creature could be beat with cold steel or magic. Time and the increasing potential for character death would be an essential elements for that encounter being dramatic.


Dejah Thoris returns to the comic world

Dynamite will also be launching a limited series in May, Dejah of Mars, which sees the Martian Princess on a quest to find a missing John Carter.  The four-issue series will be written by Mark Rahner, with art by Jethro Morales, and covers by Jay Anacleto, Fabiano Neves and Mel Rubi.

Actually Dejah, John Carter, Red sonja are sitting are doing pretty well at Dynamite. Think I might start collecting again - except they are so dang expensive.

Godzilla returns

That sucker is big. The first Godzilla I saw was Godzilla versus the Smog Monster.  The funny thing about that movie, only much later did I realize its undercurrent of environmentalism. Ahh youth and its innocence. I do recall sitting in the theater and and thinking, "is the world really that dirty?"

Smog Monster review

Daily Cosplay

Harrison Ford saves Indiana Jones

So, apparently Harrison Ford has decided to hold Disney to Ransom - for ransom - something. Whatever. He has told Disney he would return to Star Wars if they gave him two more Indiana Jones's movies.

How Awesome is that.

Now, we must find a way to hold Disney to ransom for a John Carter reboot. Maybe we can say we will NOT support the new Star Wars without a new John Carter.

With Dejah Thoris

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Daily Cosplay

Relax, I will give you everything you desire.

alignment: chaotic freaking evil (the purple is a dead give away).

The Path of the Righteous

Braelik has deemed that all shall walk the Path of Tefnut.

Or die.

My character in our current campaign has picked up a quest. ahahahaha, i'll see how long that lasts.

The following mini image was taken from Reaper Mini gallery

Halbarand, Cleric
Painted by Nic Daniel 
Sculpted by Tom Harris

The Legend of Conan



It is supposed to be released this year, but I can not find much information on it. The story looks to be some time after Conan was King of Aquilonia. Maybe he will punch an ox instead of a camel. I just hope they don't make hm grunt as much.


Damage on a Miss

Apparently there is a big dust up about this concept being used in D&DN. I know little about it and have no opinion on it right now, but I will have an idea shortly. In any respect, a conversation on cropped up about the discussion about DoaM. It got funny quickly.

So, a poster named Carfish had a funny take. I won't go into details, its on page 7 of the discussion, but his money quote comment is here (you might have to read the previous page's postings to understand how it ended up here.

Which is why accurately drawn boob armor creates the 'bikini' effect: the plates cannot be made any larger while still retaining their structural integrity. A breastplate that covers much more than a woman's areolas would literally disintegrate in real life.

It's not sexism - it's realism.
Catfish at

So that explains this

But not this

What lies in yon tower

It is a clear day. Not a cloud is in sight and the sun beams bright hot rays as the group descends the crumbling steps to the old keep's inner baily. There is a litter of debris at the far end of the yard. A smell, shifting shadows, something, something is not right.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Damage on A Miss or always hit

SO, the discussion over at enworld and rpgnet got me thinking. Yes, thinking. What if one always hits. All the time, always (in melee, not ranged combat necessarily). Never-the-less, you swing you hit.

So follow me,

Break hit point out into HP and Wounds. HP being high and Wounds being low.

Always hitting represents the death by a thousand cuts thing. Wearing an opponent down etc. The damage is always small, but adds up over time. If one does not 'hit,' the damage goes to hit points. Its small or whatever, but can quickly add up. Its small cuts, bruises, exhaustion and whatnot.

A real hit occurs rarely but when it does it goes to wounds. And death quickly follows. Wounds represent real hits with real effects like limb loss, head loss, etc.

Just a thought.

Always hit, haha, not a bad idea for a mechanic.

Daily Cosplay - nordica finishing

I want to drink what they are drinking!

Codex Nordica Finishes!

A very kindly thank you to everyone who joined us in bringing @Brian Young's latest book into the Castles & Crusades family. He and everyone here at TLG truly appreciate it. Thank you. Now its time for some well deserved rest . . .

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vikings! Kickstarter and Beer!

We've blasted through all our stretch goals but the final one! Now we are up against the wall for the beer mug. Please help us make this final goal.


You've unlocked the King's Table Board Game, the Custom Dice and all the other goodies, now lets bring it all home with this fantastic mug, complete with the Codex Nordica Hammer!


Codex Nordica

We just unlocked the Board Game King's Table! 18K. We still need to unlock the Custom Dice, but if you want in on this Nordica and all the goodies, its not too late!

This deserves a little more cosplay!

Shield Maiden

From History Channel's Vikings!

If you haven't watched the show, watch it, its worth it.

If you haven't backed Codex Nordica, we've only 12 hours left! Join the battle line here!

Codex Nordica Cover Art

Peter is in the final stretch of the cover for Codex Nordica. Kick that boy in the teeth.



Bewulf and the Dragon!

Daily Cosplay

We are channeling our Inner Viking: Codex Nordica on Kickstarter!

Follow Codex Nordica on Kicktraq.

Follow the Codex Nordica on Kicktraq!

We are entering the home stretch. It all ends tonight at midnight! Pledge now!

Castles & Crusades Codex Nordica -- Kicktraq Mini

Sample from Codex Nordica

~From the Codex Nordica

It is a pagan Nordic custom to swear oaths and vows by the passing of a ring. This ring is the bond to that event and is a powerful symbol. One example of this are the rings of the Nibelungs in the Continental Germanic tale. Warriors would often have their loyalty ring(s) fixed into their weapon’s handles or scabbards, or worn on fingers, ears or by a pendant.

Either the ring is just made by smiths and artisans for the oath, specially customized, or they are recycled. The ritual is a system that first is an exchange of words between the oath maker and the one that the oath is sworn to, and then the passing of the ring onto the oath maker. This can elaborate as a ceremony or impromptu if needed. These rings can be large for the arm or small in size, but they are rarely plain or generic.

There is a magic involved in the bonding between oath makers and the rings given. Depending on the level of the oath the after effects can be severe if broken. Listed below are examples of how this can transpire:

LEVEL    OATH                               EFFECT
1              Service/Duty                     -2
2              Marriage                           -4
3              Service to Noble               -5
4              Oath to King                     -6
5              Vow to a God                    -8

Beowulf in Original (a reading)

This is just the introduction, but holy carolina, this makes me want to take to the sea and go a Viking!

Skyrim Live Action

Armor Up

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Final 2 Days for Codex Nordica Kickstarter!

The end is here! No, not the Viking Apocalypse, apparently those dates must have been wrong, thankfully.  But the Kickstarter for Codex Nordica ends Monday! As of this writing, we are well over $15,000 and just unlocked our 3rd adventure to be penned by the Codex Nordica author Brian Young.  

We still have to stretch goals left however, and we want to reach them! They are as follows:

300 backers (at 271 now): 
Level $49 gets a set of C&C dice made exclusively by Crystal Caste. At level $69 or above, you will get the dice PLUS a wooden cask to hold the dice, marked with Odin's Rune.
    $18,000:  Level $49 gets King's Table Game in PDF.  $69 and $99 gets King's Table Game in paper form and $125 gets King's Table Game in wooden form with wooden pieces and pouch.
    Time is running out and we really want to make these goals.  If you haven't pledged yet, now is the time, and if you have, please help us by spreading the word as much as possible.

    Thank you all, it's coming down to the wire and we are very excited to bring all these great new products to you!

    Friday, February 21, 2014

    Daily cosplay



    The Queen of Hearts

    I liked the Red Queen better than the Queen of Hearts.

    Sword and Sorcery notes part 3

    So in going over stuff, I noticed some other directions I went. So, in lieu of designing a new game to fit the genre I was working The Game to make it more match what I liked.

    To wit, I borrowed a wound point system from somewhere but kept HP. Hit points were considered temporary damage and a character would progress in the same manner with HP as before. Wounds were real damage and could be lethal and debilitating.

    Wound points were derived from the Con score. Con equaled initial wound points. Wound point progression was slow and small. A fighter got 1 every level while an M-U gained 1 every 4 levels.

    First to HP. When a character was struck, they got a saving throw. If successful, they fended off the attack and took Hit Point damage. If they failed, the damage would become a wound and come off their wound points. After reaching 0 hp, all damage reverted to wounds. Upon reaching 0 wounds, a character was dead.

    This is where my notes got sorta screwy. 1-3 wounds from a blow was a cut or bruise but nothing debilitating. 4-6 damage was a bleeding wound or damaging bruise resulting in the loss of one hp a round and -1 on all checks, combat rolls, saving throws what have you. 7-9 damage was a staggering cut or deep wide bruise resulting in the loss of 2 hp a round and -2 to everything again. 10-12 damage added up to the debilitation of a limb whether through cut or broken bone (I know I also used various critical hit charts to see what type and the nature of the wound) with 4hp loss a round and -4 to everything. 13-16 beggared the imagination with doom despair and agony on the character with potential for limb loss, 8hp and -8.

    Fighting large creatures was dangerous.

    You can see the core of that HP/Wound as con has been done an upteem billion times in home games and later pubications. In almost all cases, that basic system greatly increased lethality.

    My heal side of the issue ran like this; hit point damage could be healed at 1 hp per round of complete rest and food and water, or some such, up to 60%/50/40/30 of total (depending on your wound point advancement. Then at 1 point per hour per level of rest.  

    Wounds took that number of weeks to heal as the damage. So a two point wound takes 2 weeks to completely heal. A 12 point wound took 12 weeks to heal.

    Anyway, retrofitting and designing a new game were my directions.

    The unmade Dune Movie

    So I never heard of this, apparently some dude named Jodorowsky was going to make a Dune movie. He never did. But someone made a documentary about his not making it.

    If you’re wondering why anyone would make 90-minute documentary about a movie that was never made, then you’ll probably need to watch this.....The script, as written, would have given us a 14-hour movie.... It probably comes as no surprise to learn that this bonkers piece of cinematic-overstretching came to naught for “financial reasons”. Although, not quite “naught”.


    And did you know Starburst Magazine still exists.

    I still got some old ones laying around - real old.

    Limestone Forest - Tsingy


    There is a National Geographic article (you have to register).

    Belit, my second favorite REH character

    Belit, like Conan, is primordial. More-s than most of the characters REH intorduced. So I liked her a lot. It sucked when she died. I was reading the comics at the time and had NO idea it was coming.

    I think Kull was my next favorite character, though they begin to blur. There should be a mini0series on Belit.

    Killing Zombies


    polearms versus zombies

    OK so polearms might be useful in a zombie fight, at least if one is faced with just a few zombies. A backup weapon would be necessary, but that is always the case. I notice no one has improvised a polearm in the walking dead.  At least I can't remember one.

    I would.

    A long one.

    With a pointy end.

    New shapes discovered - srsly wtf

    When I saw the headline I just stared. WTF I thought, what does that even mean? A new shape. I can see a new animal, a new star, a new whatever, but I sorta thought shapes had all been figured out or mathematically derived already.

    But I would be wrong and the foundation of my life has just been shifted. For those interested, the basic Game Die are platonic solids.
    Nearly 400 years after the last class was described, mathematicians claim that they may have now identified a new, fourth class, which they call Goldberg polyhedra. In the process of making this discovery, they think they’ve demonstrated that an infinite number of these solids could exist.


    I don't even know what they are talking about. Here is a wiki article.

    Memories from the Office of a Game Publisher – Office Space

    Everywhere I look across social media I seem to be encountering two things. Economic news about the pending commercial real estate collapse,...