Friday, June 24, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Mutant Crawl Classics

Just a quick one today. Very busy at work.

This one might not need my help, but I want to share the word of the new Goodman Games Kickstarter: Mutant Crawl Classics.

I think I might like this better than Dungeon Crawl Classics to be honest. I have a soft spot in my heart for Gamma World and the type of gonzo play I associate with DCC works better in this world in my mind.

So check it out!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Teela Silvermoon, Faerie Witch

While working on my Faerie Witch post (and truthfully working on some ideas for "War of the Witch Queens") I went back to my archives.

One of my favorite witch books is from the Mayfair Games "Role Aids" book Witches.

I thought it might be fun to try to "update" one of the sample NPC to my Basic Witch book.  For this I want to choose "Teela Silvermoon" since she is also a Faerie Tradition witch.

The first issue off the bat is that my Witch book is for Basic-era games and it assumes that all witches are human.  There is an "Advanced" appendix to allow demi-human races so I am going to have to go with that.

Now I have used Teela before in my games. Not often, but enough to have at least some more backstory.  In my games she is mostly the same save that she is also in love with a human ranger that patrols her woods.  She loves him, but is sad because she knows that she will out-live him.
I also have a druid circle nearby that she interacts with.

Like all elven witches Teela believes that witchcraft was created by the elves. She has no tolerance for those who despoil her woods and less so for the ones that use magic to do it.

As with other builds I swapped her Intelligence and Charisma.

Teela Silvermoon
Elf Female, Chaotic Neutral
13th level Witch, Faerie Tradition

Strength: 11
Dexterity: 13
Constitution: 13
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 10
Charisma: 15

BG:Vidaniel by Smilika
Death Ray or Poison:  9/7
Magic wand or devices: 10
Paralysis, Polymorph or Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs and Spells: 11

To hit AC 0: 16 (15 with dagger)
Hit Points: 30
AC: 10

Occult Powers
Familiar:  Hawk ("Farseer") (Improved vision)
7th level:  Speak to Plants and Animals
13th level: Fey Shape

Cantrips: Alarm Ward, Chill, Daze, Detect Curse, Object Reading
First: Analgesia, Cause Fear, Sleep, Silver Tongue
Second: Broca's Curse of Babel, Enthrall, Invisibility, Phantasmal Spirit, Mind Obscure
Third: Aphasia, Locate Thief, Lethe's Curse
Fourth: Charm Monster, Polymorph, Spiritual Dagger
Fifth: Dream, Greater Command
Sixth: Mislead, Moonbow
Seventh:  Widdershins Dance

Cloak and Boots of Elvenkind, Dagger +1,

Looks good to me! Can't wait to bring her back into my games.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Class Struggles: The Faerie Witch

Still celebrating Mid-summer and all things faerie this week.  What better than to talk about the faerie witch for this weeks' Class Struggles.

The faerie witch is one of the easiest witches to use in a game because they most often fit the stereotype of the lone witch living in the woods.  It is a pervasive and well-established archetype of the witch.

The earliest witch classes did not split the class into traditions or covens, that is something that came later on, so it is hard to judge the merits of those classes as a faerie witch.  Certainly the Compleat Spellcaster Witch and the Dragon magazine witches had spells that would have made it possible to make a faerie witch, they were not overtly so.

I suppose I should really define what I mean by a faerie witch before I move on.  These are witches that are typically solitary, typically live in the woods alone, converse with various natural and supernatural animals.  They have practices that are similar to the druid, but certainly a reverence for nature. Often above and beyond their reverence for mortal lives.  They don't all have to be faerie-blooded or even elven, but sometimes they are.   The faerie witch also covers various hags and other witch-like creatures found living in natural environments.  To give you an idea of what I consider to be faeries witches here is a list of the characters I have built using the faerie witch tradition for various games:
The faerie witch was one of the first "Traditions" I ever wrote for the witch class along with the "Craft of the Wise", "Malefic" and "Tempenstarii" witches.  If you want a rough idea of what I was doing have a look at my Castles & Crusades version of the witch that included the faerie tradition.

So where did this come from?
There is a real-life witchcraft tradition known as "Fairy Wicca", but it would be a lie to say that is where this all came from for me.  Sure I read up on it a lot later on, but it wasn't what I was looking for.   This also me to the "Feri Tradition" as well. Looking back over my own notes over the last few days I can't tell where it came from originally except that I have a note on the back of a print out from my school's mainframe and the date on it is 1989.  The note just lists the Craft of the Wise, Faerie, Malefic and Tempenstarii traditions. Later, in a different color ink, I added Amazon, Veneficia and Voodoo.  But I know where those came from and that puts it closer to 1992.  On a side note it was interesting to delve into these paper archives. I could see the progression of technology as I flipped the pages. Mainframe printouts on white and green paper, my Tandy printer, moving on to a color Panasonic dot-matrix printer and then to the first HP Ink-jet that was the version complete version of my witch class.

Mayfair Witches
Around the same time, Mayfair rolled out it's Witches book by Nigel D. Findley for the Role-Aids line. This book was great and because of that I avoided it for years! It was published in 1990 and I saw it was doing something similar to me so I put it down.  I was deep into writing then and did not want to have my own class influenced.  I really didn't need to worry.  The "traditions" (which is a common word used to describe different kinds of witches) in this book were set up very differently than what I did.  In fact the relationship they had was more like Class and Sub-classes of the D&D 2nd edition type.  Mine had different powers, this one had different spells.  The spells really make it though and something I would like to try doing sometime.
The Mayfiar Faerie Witches (not to be confused with these witches) were more of a guardian of the forrests and friend to animals type.  Strong and fierce.  They were more Angelina Jolie "Maleficent" than the original Disney one.

The Witch & Eldritch Witchery
My faerie witch appeared in my 2nd edition and 3rd edition netbooks.  Their newest incarnations can be found in my "old school" books The Witch and Eldritch Witchery.  It is notable here because it is one of the very few traditions to appear in both books.  These witches have what I consider to be typical powers; summon familiars, talk to animals, lay devastating know the normal.  But also something that I have added to other versions in the past, assume a fey shape.  For evil faerie witches this would be a hag shape.  I have even toyed with the idea that hags might not be a separate race at all, but rather transformed witches.

The witches in Adventurer Conqueror King System's Player's Companion also are divided by tradition and features a "Fairy Tradition" known as a "Sylvan Witch". This tradition (and all the ACKS Witch traditions) have a collection of bonus spells and powers.  I rather like these to be honest. It makes for an interesting middle point between my witches and the Mayfair witches.

D&D 4
Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition actually had two pretty good "faerie" witches; the fey-pact Warlock introduced in the Player's Handbook and the witch sub-class in Heroes of the Feywild.  The fey-pact warlock certainly represents the dealing with the powers of the fae in a darker, more sinister way.  The witch of Heroes of the Feywild is really more of "Sub-class" of the wizard (something similar to 2nd ed with the witch kit) with a lot of powers and spells that give the witch flavor.

On one level I didn't like this since the witch isn't really a type of wizard.  But in reading it I can get past it since the witch is only a type of wizard "mechanically", she uses the same rules as a wizard and thus all the same powers, feats, magic items, Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies the wizard can use.  In this respect it makes her more like what I have done in the past where wizards and witches are both a type of "magic-user".   It gives the witch a lot of power to choose from.

The witch has two builds or covens she can choose from, a Full Moon Coven and a Dark Moon Coven, or if you prefer a good witch and a bad witch.  The covens have some powers associated with them, but the witch is still free to choose powers as she sees fit.
Only Paragon Path is given, the Legendary Witch, and it focuses on the two covens.  It lacks any strong thematic element, but this is a complaint I have had of the Paragon Paths of the post-Essentials line.
The Epic Destiny, the Witch Queen, though is quite good.  I had done something similar as a Prestige Class for 3.5.  This one is different but there are some interesting powers and effects.

What sets this witch apart from another Wizard or a Warlock are her spells and powers.  The witch relies on her familiar to learn magic.  Something I have seen more and more of late in FRPG versions of the witch. Her magic has a distinct feel to it different than that of the warlock, even if there seems to be some overlap.  Witches do get a minor healing power from the Full Moon Coven, and her magics in general are more subtle. She does not for example have a fireball like spell, but she can change monsters into other animals and they take damage for it.  Heavy on the charms and transformations.  Lots of powers with the Psychic key-word.  Some are similar in theme to the Warlock; Horde of Puckish Sprites is not too different, save in level than Pixie War Band.

There is something of an iconic character here in the witch Rowena (pictured above).  I'd like to find out more about her and maybe stat her up.

D&D 5
D&D 5 does not have a Faerie Witch or even a witch per se.  It does have a Warlock that takes the best properties of the 3.5 and 4e warlocks and makes something that I can use.  The warlock does have a Fae patron which has a lot of flavor to it.  A Fae-Warlock taking the Pact of the Tome makes for a pretty good witch-like character for me to be honest.  In fact, that is the character I am playing now in my D&D5 game and it is very witch-like in play.

I am sure there are others out there.  The archetype is just too pervasive not to be.

Hope you are enjoying this Mid-Summer and Full Moon.  Very witchy that.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

They Keep Killing Aleena, Back to Basic Part 3

This last weekend the kids finished up their foray into the Moat House near the Villiage of Hommlet.
Secrets were uncovered, but more mystery was also discovered.  Lareth the Beautiful, Dark Hope of Chaos was killed.  He did manage to break his Staff of Striking releasing the last 38 charges in a final strike that left everyone unconscious until the ranger Elmo arrived to return them to the Inn of the Welcome Wench.

Bargle, however, managed to escape, taking Cynder with him.
He also killed the cleric, Aleena.

When the characters woke up they were back in the present days with their memories intact.

Next up is a bit of break for these characters, but I hear there are some troubles nearby with some giants.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Midsummer Monstrous Monday: Fire Nymph

Today is the first day of summer, also known as Midsummer.

I know I was planning to do a review today, but a few things conspired against me. Work is really busy, plus today is midsummer and the RPG Blog Carnival this month is about faeries and the faerie realm. Also, my game over the weekend dealt with the disappearance of a character. This character's backstory is tied to today's monster.

Back in the early d20 days the Tome of Horrors hit the shelves and it had a number of old monsters updated for the then 3.0 d20 system and a few new ones as well.  The Fire Nymph was one of those new ones, but also struck me as something that should have been created earlier. Nymphs are fae creatures that also have elemental properties. Plus we have water nymphs, tree nymphs, air nymphs, earth nymphs, fire seemed to be the only one missing.

Since then the Tome of Horrors has been updated, converted to Pathfinder (and here) and to Swords & Wizardry.

What we don't have yet is a 5th edition version.

Fire Nymph

This creature appears as a very attractive and beautiful female with long, flowing fiery-red hair. Her eyes are pale blue and her skin is lightly colored with a cinnamon hint to it.

A fire nymph is a very beautiful creature that dwells on the Plane of Fire. It is akin to the nymph and dryad, though its origins obviously lie elsewhere. Fire nymphs rarely visit the Material Plane, though mages are known to request their company on occasion. A fire nymph is most easily summoned on Midsummers' Eve where they can walk about and interact with mortals and other fey. A fire nymph usually wears translucent robes of white or ash.

Summoning a fire nymph is relatively easy, but not without dangers.  The nymphs' passionate nature causes her to move from one emotional extreme to the next very quickly. When a fire nymph is angry her hair will burst into flames.

Also due to their passionate nature there are many gifted pyromancers that claim to be the offspring of a wizard and a fire nymph.

Fire Nyphs are also known as Pyroeads in some arcane circles.
Still working on creating 5e monsters.

Happy Midsummer!

Don't forget to include the hashtag #MonsterMonday on Twitter or #MonsterMonday on Google+ when you post your own monsters!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Spellbook Gaming Boxes Recap

Every so often I like to report on a successful Kickstarter project.  So today I want to share one I got this week, The Spellbook Gaming Boxes from Elder Wood.

I talked about them back in October and I got the boxes I ordered this week on my birthday no less!

The" books" came in a velvet bag, which was a nice touch.

I got one for myself and another for my oldest son.  My youngest didn't want one.

They are a little smaller than I thought they might be, but going back looking over everything they are exactly the size advertised.   Actually, I am rather pleased with the size.

My son filled his with his favorite minis, pencil and his metal dice.

I put in my favorite minis for my witch and the dice I use for Ravenloft and Castles & Crusades.

I think I'll get some dice special for this that I can use for that character too.  Sounds like some good Gen Con shopping!

Nice little latch on it to keep everything in place.

I kinda wish I got something on the spine, but that is fine.

The back looks good too.

I have to say I am very pleased with these and I think I would like to have another one.  They feel really sturdy, but I would not through them into a book bag.  I would use it to carry a figure or two with dice to a game or as a display piece in my game room.

No idea when they are making them for the general public yet though.
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