Monday, December 9, 2019

Monstrous Monday: Grýla the Christmas Witch

Grýla, by Þrándur Þórarinsson
Baby, it's cold outside, so wear a coat over your armor and grab a sword since for the next few Monstrous Mondays I am going to deal with Christmas monsters.   Let's start with a classic, Grýla the Christmas Witch.

Grýla, The Christmas Witch

Grýla, and her husband Leppalúði, haunt the dark, frozen mountains far to the North.  Grýla is a foul hag that is rumored to be descended from the ancient Frost Giants.  Every year on the shortest day of the year Grýla comes down to find the naughtiest children in the lands. She captures them, stuffs them into a large magical sack (treat as a bag of holding). 
She takes these children to her 3rd husband (who is too lazy to leave their cave) where she puts these children into a large cauldron to make her favorite dish, a stew of naughty children.

Grýla can move across ice and snow with no difficulty.  Her nose is infallible, she can dependently detect alignments.  She will avoid Lawful (Good) and Neutral characters if possible.  She will approach any Chaotic (Evil) characters to see if they have any children. She will also abduct children from their homes.

Much like the Callieach, Grýla is inactive in the warm summer months.  Her husband never takes action; he is simply too lazy.

Grýla can cast spells as 4th level witch of the Pagan or Winter Witch traditions.


Grýla, The Christmas Witch
(Labyrinth Lord)
No. Enc.: 1 (1) Unique
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Movement: 30' (90')
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 8+8*** (44 hp)
Attacks: 3 (claw/claw/bite)
Damage: 1d6/1d6/1d8
Special: Enhanced sense of smell, acts as "Detect Alignment", witch spells
Save: Witch 9
Morale: 10
Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,700

Grýla, The Christmas Witch
(Blueholme Journeymanne Rules)
AC: 2
HD: 8d8+8
Move: 30
Attacks: 2 claw (1d6 x2), 1 bite (1d6+2), witch spells
Alignment: Chaotic
Treasure: None
XP: 1,700

Grýla, The Christmas Witch
(Old-School Essentials)
AC 2 [17], HD 8+8 (44hp), Att 2 claw (1d6x2), 1 bite (1d6+2) + detect alignment and witch spells, THAC0 17 [+2], MV 90’ (30’), SV D13 W14 P13 B16 S14 (8), ML 10, AL Chaotic, XP 1,700, NA 1 (1) Unique, TT None
 Detect Alignment: Grýla can "smell" evil. This enhanced sense works as a Detect Alignment spell.
 Vulnerability: Vulnerable to silver, magic weapons and holy items. 
 Witch spells: Grýla can cast spells as 4th level witch of the Pagan or Winter Witch traditions.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Wizard's Quest

Last weekend I was at my parent's home for Thanksgiving and my dad's 90th birthday (he is doing great and looking great!). My brother had a gift for me!

Avalon Hil's Wizard's Quest board game.



The box is a little beat up, but inside everything is pristine and like new.  In fact, it is all unpunched.






I have never played it myself but I am really looking forward to trying it out.



PArt of me though doesn't want to punch it because it is in such wonderful shape.


But games are meant to be played.

I due a admit to a little of what I call "Traveller Envy".  Traveller had such a cool RPG and board games that all belonged to the same universe.  I thought it was such a fun immersive idea.
I always wanted to run a D&D campaign that also featured board games in the mix.  Something other than just Dungeon! for the players to do.  I caught a glimpse of what might work back in the 4e days, but that one didn't manifest in the way I wanted.  Thought I think I could work Zanzer's Dungeon into it somehow.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday Night Video: Crisis on Infinite Earths

Not music videos tonight but the trailers for The CW's Crisis on Infinite Earths five hour crossover that begins on Sunday.



It is no lie or exaggeration that Crisis. the comic. had a HUGE impact on me and my games.  We did our own Crisis of Infinite Oerths back in 1986-87 to bring all our various worlds into alignment.  I am doing something like it again with my Come Endless Darkness campaigns for 5e.

But this is a big one.

So what do we have?

Lots.








Even the fan-made videos look great!







I have been waiting for this since I was 16.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Updated Witch Links

I have updated my Witch Links Page.   Every so often I search the blog archives and find links to articles, posts or what have you on what others are saying or doing with witches.  Yeah, I am a tad obsessed, but anything worth doing is worth doing to excess.


So here are some of the ones I found that I thought were fun or interesting from the last six or so months.

If you visit, let them know I sent ya!
If you have a link you would like to share, post it in the comments below.

Boccob's Blessed Blog
20 Pathfinder Witch Quest Ideas
https://boccobsblog.com/2019/05/17/20-pathfinder-witch-quest-ideas/

Daemons & Deathrays
Eastern Gothic – Creatures of Slavic Folklore (Part 1)
https://daemonsanddeathrays.wordpress.com/2019/11/22/eastern-gothic-creatures-of-slavic-folklore/

Eastern Gothic – Creatures of Slavic Folklore (Part 2)
https://daemonsanddeathrays.wordpress.com/2019/11/29/eastern-gothic-part-2/

Greyhawk Stories
Iggwilv: Mother of Witches
https://greyhawkstories.com/tales-from-the-flanaess/iggwilv-mother-of-witches/

Greyhawkery
Witch Queen Iggwilv Discussion Tonight
http://greyhawkery.blogspot.com/2019/09/witch-queen-iggwilv-discussion-tonight.html

Hall of the Mountain King
Project - Blackmoor Land of a Thousand Witches - the Sisterhood
http://jasonzavoda-hallofthemountainking.blogspot.com/2019/05/project-blackmoor-land-of-thousand_16.html

Project - Blackmoor Land of a Thousand Witches - NPC Tuure
http://jasonzavoda-hallofthemountainking.blogspot.com/2019/05/project-blackmoor-land-of-thousand_17.html

Project - Blackmoor Land of a Thousand Witches - The Moon Hall
http://jasonzavoda-hallofthemountainking.blogspot.com/2019/05/project-blackmoor-land-of-thousand_22.html

NPC - Linnea Schnai Witch
http://jasonzavoda-hallofthemountainking.blogspot.com/2019/12/npc-linnea-schnai-witch.html

Hero Press
Which Witch Are You?
http://heropresstwo.blogspot.com/2019/10/which-witch-are-you.html

I Don't Remember That Move
a peeper deeper, Ready to Harvest the Witch's Garden
http://rememberdismove.blogspot.com/2019/10/a-peeper-deeper.html

Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque
Conjure Wife
http://talesofthegrotesqueanddungeonesque.blogspot.com/2019/10/conjure-wife.html

Satanic Temple, Witch Board Museum, Count Orlok, Lighthouse, Parasite
https://talesofthegrotesqueanddungeonesque.blogspot.com/2019/12/satanic-temple-witch-board-museum-count.html

Writeups.org
All of these are for DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Tara Maclay (!) but sadly no Willow
https://www.writeups.org/tara-maclay-amber-benson-buffy-vampire-slayer/

Evil-Lyn (Masters of the Universe cartoons) 
https://www.writeups.org/evil-lyn-masters-universe-cartoon/

Große Gott! It's Krampus Night!

Tonight is Krampusnacht or Krampus Night.

So it would be a great time to grab a copy of my Krampus PDFs.

You can get it for 5th Edition or Basic/OSR games.


They are Pay What You Want, so have fun!

Because let's be honest.  Nothing say's Holiday Cheer quite like a demon put kids in a sack and whipping them.

I already feel more festive! Where's my Egg Nog?

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Class Struggles: The Basic/BX/BECMI Witches

I have not done one of these in a while, and this one seems like a no-brainer. 

The Basic/BX/BECMI Witches

Maybe more so than AD&D, the witch, in one form or the other, has been a part of the Basic D&D game from the early days. 

Holmes Basic
The "Holmes Witch" has been talked about in old-school blogs for years, mine included.  The so-called Holmes witch never materialized, but it kept us waiting for years and kept bloggers entertained for even longer.

GAZ3: Principalities of Glantri
This is, without a doubt, my favorite of all the Gazetteers and one of my all-time favorite Basic-era books.  I reviewed this book in depth a while back and one of the most overt witches in my Basic book collection.
The Witches of Glantri are some of the most detailed of the Basic-era witches.  It's no lie, that red-head on the cover of the Glantri book was one of the inspirations for where I took my own witch character, even if the book came out a year after I rolled up the character (July 1986 for the character and June of 87 for the Glantri book if I remember right.  OR at least that was when I got it).

One thing I don't care for so much with this class is the charisma reduction, but it seems to come up a lot.

I detailed at least one witch, Skylla, using this witch class and it worked out well.  Also, years and years ago, I redid the Glantri witch to make it something closer to my Complete Netbook of Witches for AD&D 2nd ed.

In the AD&D 2nd Ed version of this book, Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, the witch is completely replaced by the Wokani.

GAZ7: Northern Reaches
This Gazetteer covers the lands Ostland, Vestland, and the Soderfjord Jarldoms.  I REALLY wanted to use this back in the 80s with the G-Series.
This book features the Wise Woman (Witches).  This class is considered an NPC Class, but we all know what that means right?  They get a nice balance of both Magic-user and Cleric spells (up to the 6th level), along with the ability to use magical runes.  I kinda wish I had done more with runes in my own Winter Witch book.
The treat I found here was Carrah the Witch Queen of Hel.   Given the focus on Basic/Expert rules, I would likely have made her 14th level.  Or more likely 13th. But there is some good backstory on her here. While the temptation would be to make her a Winter Witch, I think given her unliving status and her ties to Hel she might be more of a Mara Witch.  Maybe a Winter Witch who had been in a Mara coven.

D&D Master Rules Boxed Set
The D&D Master Rules, also the one I know the least about, has rules for non-human spell casters.  Shamans, who can use cleric and druid spells, and the Wicca who can use Magic-user spells.  The list of spells given to Wicca certainly has a witch feel to them. They are really only missing a cure spell or two.

Spells Usable by Wiccas
First Level Magic-User Spells
Detect Magic (B39)
Light (B40)
Protection from Evil (B40)
Read Languages (B40)
Read Magic (B40)
Sleep (B40)

Second Level Magic-User Spells
Continual Light* (B41, XI1)
Detect Evil (B41)
Detect Invisible (B41)
Invisibility (B41)
Levitate (B42)
Web (B42)

Third Level Magic-User Spells
Clairvoyance (XI1)
Dispel Magic (XI1)
Fire Ball (XI1)
Fly (XI2)
Lightning Bolt (Xl2)
Water Breathing (XI2)

Fourth Level Magic-User Spells
Charm Monster (X13)
Growth of Plants* (XI3)
Ice Storm/Wall (X13)
Massmorph(X13)
Remove Curse* (X14)
Wall of Fire (XI4)

Fifth Level Magic-User Spells
Animate Dead (XI4)
Cloudkill(X14)
Dissolve* (C20)
Hold Monster* (XI5)
Pass-Wall (XI5)
Wall of Stone (X15)

Sixth Level Magic-User Spells
Death Spell (XI6)
Move Earth (C21)
Projected Image (X16)
Reincarnation (C21)
Stone to Flesh* (XI6)
Wall of Iron (C21)
* reversible spell

The shaman and wicca are used throughout the Basic line in future books, though the name would later be changed to Wokan or Wokani.

GAZ10: Orcs of Thar
This Gazetteer covers playing orcs, goblinoids, gnolls and other humanoid creatures.  It also has a guide for using the book with AD&D. Goblinoid wicca are featured here but they use the rules already outlined in the Master's book.

PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk
Several non-human creatures are given options for Wicca levels. There are also plenty of new spells for Fairy spell-casters.  Many have since gone on in other products to have even stronger witch associations.  I reviewed this one in-depth yesterday.

PC2 Top Ballista
This also covers several spellcaster non-humans and new races.  In particular, we get gnomes and harpy wicca.  Gnomes advance to level 12 as wicca which is not too bad really.

PC3 The Sea People
Sea Wicca are also presented in this book but by this time we know what to expect.

D&D Rules Cyclopedia
By this point, the Wicca has been renamed to the Wokan, or the plural Wokani.  The spells usable are largely the same. That is to say, no obvious differences jumped out at me.  It also includes a fairly comprehensive list of monsters and what level they can advance to.  Interestingly enough Hags do not cast as Wokani, but rather they cast as clerics.

So. Wicca, Wise Women, and Wokani.  All three share a certain level of similarity and have, over the editions, been used in place of the other.  A good example takes all the way back to the dawn of D&D, Dave Arneson's Blackmoor.  Not the original Blackmoor, but the versions we got from 3rd and 4th edition.  For the 4th edition rules I talked a bit about the Wokani and their relationship to both witches and druids.  That version is no longer available, but the 3rd Edition version is.

Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Core Campaign Book
This is not a Basic-era book. This is a 3rd Edition book, or more to the point, a d20 book.  I bring it up only because we get the Wokani here again.  They read more like primitive arcane spellcasters with a closer tie to the natural world.  That would work fine with most of the products above, to be honest.  These casters use wisdom as their prime and spellcasting ability.  The Blackmoor connection intensifies with it sharing a few gods with the Basic Gazetteers. In particular Hel (Gaz7) and Hella (Blackmoor).  There are more, but that is the one that interests me the most.
The Wokani here seems to move further away from the Glantri Witch, but there are still plenty of commonalities.

Honorable Mentions
I could let things go without a mention of the witches Karelena, Solorena & Trilena from Rahasia. Though these seem to be more of the "witches as weird female magic-users" rather than as witches as I usually mean.

Also, the witch class from Dragon Magazine #20 should get a mention as well.

There is a lot of material here, but not say as much as you could find for the wizard or cleric.  The witch remains one of the great almost-classes of D&D.  Given the dates of all of these works including Dragon Magazine #114, it seems I was tapping into something needed back in 86.   Or, more to the point, we were all exposed to the same influences in culture and this is another fine example of parallel development.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Review: PC1 Creature Crucible: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk

This week I want to go back and revisit another favorite of mine from the Basic D&D line, but this isn't an oldie for me, but one I picked up just a few years ago.  I am reviewing the PDF and Print version.  There is no print on demand, so my copy was one I scored in a game auction a while back.

PC1 Creature Crucible: Tall Tales of the Wee Folk

The PC Creature Crucible series came at the end of the Gazeteer line for Basic D&D.  AD&D 2nd ed was my game of choice then, but reviewing this now I think I missed out on something fun.  The author of this book, John Nephew, who would later go on to found Atlas Games.  While reading this I was looking for any clues to what would be Ars Magica, but I think I was just projecting.

The book is 96 pages with color covers and black, white and green interior colors.  The PDF is 102 pages (for maps and covers).  It is divided into a 64-page DM's section and a 32-page Adventures section.  This book is something I would have loved back then, and really enjoy now.
The book covers playing several woodlands or faerie races.  The new race-classes you can play are Brownie, Centaur, Dryad, Faun, Hsiao, Leprechaun, Pixie, Pooka, Sidhe,  Sprite,  Treant, Wood Imp, and Woodrake.   One of the features of Basic-era D&D is Race-as-Class, so a Sprite and Halfling can feel like different things with similar levels of progression.

As per Basic D&D each creature gets it's own advancement table and ability minimums and maximums. All, save the Sidhe, have level limits. All of these creatures have a 0 level and in some cases, negative levels, they need to meet the XP requirements for. It all works rather well for Basic D&D really.  We know it can work since we used to do the same thing in Holmes D&D, only not with this much guidance.  It would not be difficult with these guidlines to adapt this to any other version of D&D in fact.   You can look to the 4th Edition Player's Option: Heroes of the Feywild as an example.  Like PC1 Creature Crucible, you can play a dryad, satyr, or pixie.  They even have a similar spell-casting class (more on that later).

The book has a solid Lands of Faerie or even a Feywild feel to it.  A nice green character sheet (which is cool and all, but prints and copies poorly) only adds to that feeling.  The conceit of  the book is to present the information as if given to us from the mouths of four different woodland folk of renown; Olyrrhoe, a centaur prophetess (years before a centaur would teach divination at Hogwarts) tells us about centaurs, wood imps, ,  Lotis, the dryad, speaks for dryads and hamadryads as well as fauns, hsiao, and treants, Robin Goodfellow (yes, THAT Robin) for pixies, sprites and others, and finally Oberon (also THAT Oberon) for Pooka, Sidhe and wood drakes.



This book also deals with three different kinds of spell casters.  Shamans (like druids or clerics, but no turn undead ability), wicca (which you know has my attention! magic-users) and fairy spell casters.  There are some new spells here that very much feel like woodland/wicca/witchy/druid spells.

We get some new equipment, some woodland realms, some organizations and of course our NPCs and a few more besides. Though no Titania, which is odd given the obvious (and necessary) borrowing from Mid-Summer's Night Dream.

That gives us the first 64 pages.
The adventure book makes up the next 32 pages.  We also get an AD&D 2nd Edition conversion guide.  Using these guidelines would help in converting to other versions of D&D, in particular, 5e.

The adventures are short and all share a woodland theme.  They can all be run in a few sessions, usually one per session.

There is also a fun woodlands/faerie themed character sheet.


This is one of those products that I never gave enough attention too back when it came out, but I really wish I had.
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