Thursday, March 29, 2012

Episode 2: Attack of the Actual Play

And now for the next Adventures in Oz Podcast. I recorded this at DunDraCon over the space of 3 and a half hours. And then there was the daunting task of editing it. While some people may prefer an unedited recording for Actual Play, I decided to edit this for a few reasons.

1) Dead air/Dithering: This is one of my major sins as a Narrator. I wound up taking out a lot of "Um"s, as well as trimming down a lot of the silent moments during the session.

2) Distractions: During this portion of the recording, we had a couple of people pop into the room for various reasons. Since this effectively stopped play while it was going on, it was no loss to the recording to remove it.

3) Content: This was a session involving grown-ups, who occasionally talk about grown-up things. While I've tried to preserve as much of the fun and humor of the session as possible, I have edited out some of the more ribald jokes.

Please note: This version is extremely reduced in quality in order to keep file size down. If you want a higher quality version for your iPod, you can get it here

Thursday, March 22, 2012

First of all, sorry about missing last week. I was editing the audio for my Actual Play podcast and I very nearly had it ready last Thursday. But it still needs a little more work and the time to do it is not presenting itself. Maybe next week.

This week, on top of letting all of you know that I'm still alive, I'd like to announce that I've signed up for the A to Z blogging challenge starting April 1st. So look for the podcast next week and not long after, 26 blogs, 1 for each letter of the alphabet, throughout the month of April.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: The Talking City of Oz

The Talking City of Oz
Author: Ron Baxley Jr.
Illustrator: G.T. Adams
Publisher: E.E.T. at Coci's Press

If only these walls could talk... Well, with all of the other things that talk in Oz, why not?

The story starts slow, with a dialog between Dorothy and Ozma setting the stage for the action to come. For those who think this means a big, steaming infodump, fear not! Ron manages to make it tolerable, and even entertaining. The characters have a realistic back and forth with some amusing background action. He also avoids the "idiot lecture", in which two fully knowledgeable people state the obvious for the benefit of the audience. If there's something that he feels the reader should know that doesn't fit into the dialogue, he finds a place for it in the narration.

It seems that Ruggedo the Nome King had a backup plan in case his invasion described in The Emerald City of Oz didn't pan out. A creature named Jaggedo has lived under Oz ever since, making plans and staying carefully under the radar in spite of magic used to seek him out. In fact, the Wizard is out gathering magical ingredients to cast a spell that will reveal him.

From this slow start, the action (and the puns) begin to flow freely. Dorothy encounters the Metronome (an urban Nome with a good sense of rhythm) in the Emerald Palace as he is making his final preparations to steal the Emerald City. Although she is able to make her escape from the city, she looks back to see the City shrink into the ground and seemingly say its first words.

Haunted by this thought, she then encounters the Woggle-bug leading a quartet of flies. Dorothy made the mistake of trying to swat a friendly fly in the opening scene and this is where it comes back to bite her (not literally, of course). Dorothy makes a formal apology to the fly in front of the Professor, which he then accepts. She also explains the predicament to the Woggle-bug and he and the flies gladly agree to help. They then shrink by means of a magic lantern, reversing the process which caused the Woggle-bug to his current size, so that they can mount the flies and take to the air.

From there, they travel through the Tar Nation (with its population of Tar-Tars), help a house that has been coated in pain (because someone left the "t" off of the paint) and buy a dime novel (a story etched onto a small coin) before they discover and thwart Jaggedo and recover the Emerald City, which has been animated by the Powder of Life.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cast An Ozzy Spell: Mrs. Yoop's Magic Apron

First of all, I'd like to announce that I'll be participating in the GM's Day Sale over at RPGNow and DriveThruRPG. For the duration of the sale, you can get Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road in Print, PDF, or the Print/PDF bundle for 10% off! (I'll also be mirroring this sale on my Lulu Store for those of you who prefer to shop there.) [EDIT: Actually, it gets better. Since this was my first GM's Day Sale, I wasn't sure if I should be marking down my products or if they were. So I reduced my prices, then the sale kicked in and reduced them further! BEST PRICES EVAARRR!!!!]

This month, I wanted to do a magic item that points out something interesting about the magic of Oz and how it works with the rules of the game.

Mrs. Yoop's Magic Apron

Power: Apportation 4 (2)
Scope: Self/Person/Object (0)
Ritual: Simple (Say "Open!") (0)
Item: Limited Use (only to open and close things) (-2)
Effect Power: 0

What makes this item interesting isn't the effect itself, but who is wielding that effect. Since Mrs. Yoop is a Yookoohoo, she doesn't normally have access to Apportation magic. But she does have the ability to create an item that uses Apportation. Just one more instance of a time when a magic item is better than a spell.

Since this sort of thing has come up a few times, I just wanted to present something of a "Master List" of the times when you'd want a magic item rather than a spell.

If you don't want to roll: Creating a magical item does not require a roll, while casting a spell does. If you need a particularly large or potent effect, or are worried that your Brains skill is not up to the task, a magical item may be a better expenditure of Oz Points than trying to get a big enough bonus.

If you want an enduring effect: Only some spells offer permanent effects (Transformations and Transmutations) and those have significantly raised Difficulties. Duration is not a factor for items, so their effects last as long as makes sense.

If you need a power that only magic items can provide: Some things, like Scrying or Travel, are exclusively limited to items. Other times, such as with Mrs. Yoop's Apron, it can allow you a form of magic your training doesn't normally allow you to use.
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